The next three chapters will introduce ideas for using ICT effectively in learning and teaching within and across all National Curriculum subjects. References to the requirements for teaching the National Curriculum are taken from the QCA (2008a) and these are aligned with the Primary Framework for Literacy (DfES Standards, 2008). We begin with English. There are plenty of activities in this chapter to whet your appetite.
ICT or not ICT?
Before you introduce technology into the learning or teaching of any lesson, in any subject, it is essential that you consider whether or not ICT should be used at all. Don’t just use it for the sake of it, ask yourself the following questions. Does ICT:
facilitate teaching or learning that could not be achieved by traditional methods (e.g. the interactivity provided by an interactive whiteboard, the ease of editing and formatting work using a word processor or the ability to record and recall learning events using a digital camera);
make it easier, quicker or more enjoyable to accomplish a task;
Using word processors to write
Software can be categorized as ‘content rich’ or ‘content free’. Talking Story CD-ROMs are an example of the former – the content already exists (and most likely can’t be modified). Content rich packages have the advantage of offering pre-existing, high-quality materials which potentially save teachers a great deal of work. They do however suffer from several disadvantages – they most often don’t give you ‘exactly’ what you want, they may not help to achieve specified learning goals, they can provide the wrong sort of motivation and, of course, they come at a cost.
Several software packages (e.g. Cloze Pro and 2Simple Developing Tray) provide cloze exercises. Children fill in the gaps in the text produced by the program. It tests knowledge of language use and reading comprehension. Words may be chosen from a bank and the word chosen for each gap will be the most appropriate one that fits the sentence and paragraph in both grammar and meaning.