Howes Primary School Cluster, Coventry

| June 18, 2012 | 15 Comments 

A full on day, at Howes Primary School, Coventry, bringing together heads and their ‘teacher enthusiasts’ from schools across the cluster, to look at technology and all it can do. Using technology creatively and developing a strategic vision and approach is a key element of this project.

The first session had a focus on using virtual worlds in the classroom and involved children from Year 6  and 22 folk, including a headteacher and ‘ICT enthusiast’ from neighbouring schools, joining us in a journey in to the world of words and beyond, with the starting point of standing still within an intriguing land. In the second session gave opportunity to pick apart the learning coming from the first session.

In the afternoon we looked at using games based resources and at making our own tools to engage and motivate children of all ages, and abilities.

We finished on a fast paced journey, alongside staff from Howes Primary school and additional staff from the other schools represented, and explored the plethora of free online tools that can be used to inspire learners.

A huge thank you to Carol Brammer, Head Teacher Howes Primary School, for organising our visit today. Carol has been head at the school for four years and during that time has been able to put technology to a whole host of creative uses for learning. She also have a son of 19 who is at Derby University doing a 3D game and animation degree. He has been a keen game/mod developer since the age of 12.

In our planning for today, and discussions with Carol, we made a link with the work of Ali Carr-Chellman, and her TEDxPSU talk Gaming to re-engage boys in learning

Ali pinpoints three reasons boys are tuning out of school in droves, and lays out her bold plan to re-engage them: bringing their culture into the classroom, with new rules that let boys be boys, and video games that teach as well as entertain. Ali is a former third-grade teacher instructional designer and author who studies the most effective ways to teach and to make changes at school. Her recent research projects include “Bring Back the Boys,” looking at ways gaming can be used to re-engage boys in their elementary education.

Ali discusses the fact that we have a problem with boys, “and it’s a serious problem with boys. Their culture isn’t working in schools. Not all boys exist within the rigid boundaries of what we think of as boys and girls, and not all girls exist within those rigid boundaries of what we think of as girls. But, in fact, most boys tend to be a certain way, and most girls tend to be a certain way. And the point is that, for boys, the way that they exist and the culture that they embrace isn’t working well in schools now.

So what do we do? We need to meet them where they are. We need to put ourselves into boy culture. We need to change the mindset of acceptance in boys in elementary schools. More specifically, we can do some very specific things. We can design better games. Most of the educational games that are out there today are really flashcards. They’re glorified drill and practice. They don’t have the depth, the rich narrative that really engaging video games have, that the boys are really interested in.

So we need to design better games. We need to talk to teachers and parents and school board members and politicians. We need to make sure that people see that we need more men in the classroom. We need to look carefully at our zero tolerance policies. Do they make sense? We need to think about how to uncompress this curriculum if we can, trying to bring boys back into a space that is comfortable for them. All of those conversations need to be happening.

Ali says “We need to find more money for game design. Because good games, really good games, cost money, and World of Warcraft has quite a budget. Most of the educational games do not. Where we started: my colleagues — Mike Petner, Shawn Vashaw, myself — we started by trying to look at the teachers’ attitudes and find out how do they really feel about gaming, what do they say about it. And we discovered that they talk about the kids in their school, who talk about gaming, in pretty demeaning ways. They say, “Oh, yeah. They’re always talking about that stuff. They’re talking about their little action figures and their little achievements or merit badges, or whatever it is that they get. And they’re always talking about this stuff.” And they say these things as if it’s okay. But if it were your culture, think of how that might feel. It’s very uncomfortable to be on the receiving end of that kind of language. They’re nervous about anything that has anything to do with violence because of the zero tolerance policies. They are sure that parents and administrators will never accept anything”.

We really need to think about looking at teacher attitudes and finding ways to change the attitudes so that teachers are much more open and accepting of boy cultures in their classrooms. Because, ultimately, if we don’t, then we’re going to have boys who leave elementary school saying, “Well I guess that was just a place for girls. It wasn’t for me. So I’ve got to do gaming, or I’ve got to do sports.” If we change these things, if we pay attention to these things, and we re-engage boys in their learning, they will leave schools saying, “I’m smart.”

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (15)

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  1. Jo says:

    Thank you for the work you did with us today. The pupils and teachers were engaged and inspired by your ideas and I am sure we have all taken some new learning away with us – I know I have! I will be using ‘white noise’ this week as my ‘tool of the week’ and I plan to use Epic Citadel very soon.

  2. Joseph Darnley says:

    A fantastic, inspirational day providing teachers with a range of resources and experiences that can be used within the classroom to fully engage children, allowing them to fully immerse themselves into a gaming world. Great ideas to be used as a stimulus for children’s writing! Super day!

  3. Tim says:

    Thanks JO – I am glad you found it useful. Enjoy the effect that Whitenoise can have on creating atmosphere in so many contexts. Keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

  4. Tim says:

    Hey Joseph. Thanks for the feedback. It would be great to hear what you try out and how the children get on. Go for it!

  5. Paul J says:

    Hi Tim
    A huge thank you for a superb day! It was brilliant to see you inspire the youngsters of Howes with the morning lesson, those children who would not always stand up and take part within the classroom arena, sure made themselves (and their teachers) very proud!
    I am taking in my old Playstation next week in order to do something very similar, linked to some extended narrative work with my Y5 class. Your ‘virtual world’ lesson has got me fired up and ready to take my teaching to the next level!
    Thanks again, kind regards


  6. Tim says:

    Thank you Paul
    ‘Glad you feel ready to “power up” to the next level.
    We would love to see what you, and yours, come up with
    You have a right to be very proud of your children today
    Keep in touch

  7. Clair Robinson says:

    Thanks for a very interesting and useful day. I feel that today has up-skilled me in many ways and enabled me to consider how I, as head teacher, can facilitate teachers to engage learners through ICT
    in ways I had not come across before.
    Tim- you inspired me today- in several ways.

    Thanks so much to Carol at Howes too!

  8. jacqui johnson says:

    I can’t believe that Jo and the rest of her school have had the pleasure of your company Tim and your awe inspiring ideas, tips, manner and enthusiasm….Jo was in one of my very early classes when I taught in leicester. Bless her! Last saw her at my celebration dinner in 2010 – not only was she a great pupil, she has followed in my footsteps. Great to see that she shall share your inspiration too!xxx

  9. Chris says:

    Thank you for a very enjoyable day. Lots of ideas and food for thought.
    I still won’t be playing Myst but might well be using it!

  10. Tim says:

    Great to hear Clair
    Glad you found the day useful
    We’d love to know what you try first
    Keep in touch if we can help you out in any way

  11. Tim says:

    We had a great day with Jo and the rest of the Howes community
    Didn’t know that connection Jacqui as time was a whirlwind
    Let’s see how we can come and “play” with you all too eh? 😀

  12. Tim says:

    Playing or no playing Chris, we’re sure you will have great fun
    Enjoy what comes from your travels through the Mysts of time ;-D

  13. Carol Brammer says:

    Thanks for a great day Tim. It was wonderful to see the children so focused and engaged. Some children surprised me in their willingness to speak up and share their work within such a large audience and surrounded by so many teachers!! It is always great to be surprised by children as they help to push back the boundaries of our expectations.
    Our fast paced day has left us with lots of ideas and possibilities. Thank you to all the schools who participated. I hope we will be able to continue our collaboration of learning with and from each other.

  14. Tim says:

    Thank you Carol. You have a right to be very proud of your school, your staff, colleagues, and children. I am glad folk found some useful gems. We hope that we can carry on our collaboration too, as there is so much we as teachers can learn eh?
    Keep in touch and let us know what you all get up to before we come back and “play” some more
    Tim and Sarah

  15. Irene Hand says:

    Thank you Tim & Sarah for a hugely enjoyable and inspiring day. Your morning session involving the children blew me away – Tim, a master story teller, expert in engagement techniques, methods of persuasion (it must have been you who sold all that sand to the Arabs) – utterly mesmerising! You’re incredibly adept at making people think outside of the box. The day was not quite what I was expecting, but I have to say that it’s the first time in quite a long time that I’ve spent out of busy busy work and not felt like it was a waste of my precious time. I’m an ICT Manager, not a teacher, but still came away with some great ideas and useful resources to pass on to others and… feeling like… maybe I might like to… teach!! Well, no, maybe I’ll just play Myst!

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