Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Chromebooks and collaborative learning

So our chromebook journey continued today with me team teaching with a fellow colleague. All part of my leadership project of using ICT to improve KS2 writing attainment.

What strikes me so much about Chromebooks?
It's the pace at which these little beauties can load up and be ready to use that strikes me the most. Within 5 minutes even a class of 31 year 2 and 3s can get logged on and be ready to learn.

Power, the power that google have built into these with google classroom is phenomenal. Today we had 3 groups of 12 year 3's collaboratively creating a slides presentation about Victorian railways. The finished product was fantastic and the vocabulary learnt from using the 'explore' button to research content was amazing. When an SEN child from the class came to me and explained how the pistons on a steam engine worked, in such a clear and detailed way. I knew that learning in this way is perfect for so many children.

How will doing sessions like this improve writing?
One of the key aspects to getting children to write is getting the child to be inspired by the topic. That is why 'texts that teach' has been such a relevant discussion for so long. But why must it be a book that teaches? In some cases why can't it be a quality  Internet article that inspires the learning? It certainly did for the children in Y3 today.

So inspiration achieved, how does this translate to writing progress? Well i guess this is the trickier bit, but when you tactfully match a lower ability (LA) child with one of a higher ability (HA), something magical seems to happen. Suddenly LA can see the work and slides  (on the collaborative slides presentation, set up through google classroom) that HA is doing, and over time (in 9/10 cases I have studied over the last 2 terms) LA raises their own aspirations and belief.

Does it always work this way? I have only experienced one negative session where a learner became jelous of others work and deleted their slide, once ground rules had been put in place, that same child later on really praised the effect the activity had on their subject knowledge of the topic.

Mr LA is now writing using precise vocabulary (learnt from the inspiring research at the start of the topic) and is including writing features (that they have picked up from reading and sharing ideas with Mr HA over the term) leading to them creating a much more complete final write up.

Writing progress achieved. Would this have been possible without IT? Possibly via peer marking of books, but would that have had the same inspiring effect?

Today's questions for debate...
Should collaborative mixed ability learning be more widely used? Or are your experiences less positive than mine? Or have you seen positive outcomes also?

How do you use collaberative learning within your own classroom?

Supporting SEN and EAL with the chromebooks
A slight side note. The Chromebooks have been wonderful for SEN children in our school. We have been specifically using seesaw so that children can mind map their thoughts and ideas through speech and drawings. This has allowed some of my more reluctant writers to get their thought processes down and the added bonus of translating tools in chrome has also unlocked doors for our EAL children. They then turn these mind maps into a boxing up plan (talk for writing) and then draft plus edit their work, before writing a final. This process has seen 4 of my class boys, change their attitude from I can't write, to I want to write more. Simple steps but huge impacts on learning.

I love these devices. I truly do. They have already been revolutionary in our school.


  1. Paul, there are some very interesting thoughts here. The skill of working collaboratively on projects is going to be so important for these children in the future.

  2. Hi Paul, how long did it take the children to learn how to collaboratively prepare a slide presentation on the Chromebooks compared to how long it would have taken them to do a similar activity using textbooks and writing, drawing illustrations on paper etc. (the old fashioned way)? Or is this something that would have been impossible for them to do before the Chromebooks were introduced? Are they more enthusiastic about using the new technology rather than the more traditional methods of doing their work? ~ Chris Riches