Sharing, not scaring!

Engaging parents and boosting confidence of Year 6 pupils at Blackheath Primary School. Phil Timmins, ICT Coordinator at the primary school tells us how he made this possible using their Frog Primary learning patform.

The lesson
I was teaching a group of Year 6 children aiming to motivate them using a haunted house picture and sounds that you might associate with spooky houses. The enthusiasm in the room was brilliant and it turned into one of those lessons that you wish was an observation lesson.

Blackheath story descriptions

I was really impressed with the efforts from the children and wanted to share it with others – so I recorded each of them reading out their work and uploaded it to Frog. Once we’d established who would read theirs aloud and who wanted to type their work up to share, I simply recorded it on my phone and uploaded them to our Frog Primary learning platform.

There are free programs out there which you can use to do the same thing, Audacity works really well. Using the MP3 widget in Frog Primary, I then made a page called story settings and put them all on. I copied and pasted the typed up ones, setting descriptions of the ones who were feeling uncharacteristically shy and saved the page. Altogether it took half and hour and by the time the children came back from lunch I was finished.

Check out Brandon’s recording:

 The response
On the same afternoon it was ICT and was our second session introducing Frog to the Year group. The response to the new settings page was brilliant. One of the children suggested that it would be nice if we could leave a comment about someone’s work and two minutes later I had a wall widget on the page and the children were leaving messages about how good they thought they were.  

The next week the children were coming to my group and couldn’t wait to tell me that they had played it for their parents or that they had been to Nan’s and played their story setting for them. It was great to see a real sense of pride from a group of children who don’t often feel that they produce work that is good enough to share with others so publicly.

One of the many challenges we face as teachers is sharing with parents the amazing things their children achieve every day. I really like parents evening because it is a chance for parents to find out what their children really do all day and for me to praise them or point out good work that they have done since our last meeting. I have sat in meetings with parents and their children praising an excellent piece of work that the child was really enthusiastic about at the time and the response from the child is usually the same “I don’t even remember doing it.”

Learning platforms have many benefits for a school, but for me the ability to share with parents instantly is an amazing way of getting them involved in their children’s work.

The future
I have had lots of ideas similar to the settings page and I am always looking for opportunities to share the work we are doing. I’ve used the video widget to share videos of science experiments we have done in class already but I would like to do more, especially as it’s so easy to do and is a really quick and easy way to record and share the work they are doing.

I just need to keep my eyes open and be willing to go off planning when I see the opportunities to do something different. As much as I would like to share things everyday, I do feel that the novelty factor was what made it such a big deal for the children. Doing it too often could end up overkill and loose the excitement it caused on my first few times.

We are now half a term into our time on Frog Primary, and half of the school are now online. When setting up new classes one of my first questions to the teachers will be “How are you going to share children’s work?”

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