I've just had a great ICT afternoon with Year 4 and felt that it just needed sharing.
As it's the last week before Easter I decided to do an Easter-themed activity with them, looking at what different symbols associated with the celebration represent.
Last year I literally just told them this information but this year I decided to make it a bit more practical and engaging by doing a slight twist on the 'Mix-and-Match' Kagan Structure for Co-Operative Learning. I: gave each child a card I had prepared that detailed either the name of a symbol or the meaning of a symbol, asked them to mix up around the room and then got them to pair up with others in a corner of the classroom who they felt had the matching symbol/meaning. We then discussed what their initial thoughts were and I annotated on the board what the correct matches were, with their help.
Next, I then did a quick explanation of what I wanted them to do on the laptops - i.e. to create a poster in PowerPoint presenting this information about the different Easter symbols. As I've previously mentioned, the strategy of breaking these instructions down into four manageable steps worked extremely well and makes the whole task seem much more 'doable' than just bombarding them with lots of things to do. I also tried to talk through these instructions at quite a fast pace since most of the ICT techniques involved weren't actually new - the children are already familiar with them so all I was doing was telling them how and in what order to apply them. Again, as I've blogged previously, you take away much of the learning and 'discovery' moments from them if you spend too long teaching them all the details of everything.
During the main part of the lesson, they then worked quite independently to create their information posters - helped by the use of the 'Independent on the Computer Tokens'. The backgrounds for the posters contained either three of four boxes over which children could put text boxes - this both allowed for some differentiation and also gave them a bit of structure in where to position different elements so that the finished posters looked neat. All the pictures/clip art they needed I had prepared beforehand and put in a folder on the desktop - remember to resize them so that they don't appear overly big when inserted (with Year 3 I often put them at the correct size but with Year 4 I prefer to make them a little bit too big so the children are forced to use the resizing handles to reduce them down). I obviously supported those children who needed it and tried to show the more confident children a few extra things too (e.g. changing WordArt fill colour and holding down the SHIFT key to keep an image's proportions when being resized). I also paused the children mid-way through lesson to get them self-assess their current progress in doing the task using the: 'good', 'great' or 'super' criteria I've recently started implementing - this appeared to help them realise where they were currently at and what they could do to further develop/improve their poster.
I've found that children always seem to enjoy and work well when doing these PowerPoint poster lessons. It helps them to practice/consolidate their understanding of implementing a combination/variety of ICT tools for a purpose in preparation for creating more complicated slideshows of numerous slides when they move up into Year 5.
I finished the lesson by letting them share their work with others using Edmodo and asked them to give a final judgment on their attainment in the lesson, explaining their reasoning to a partner. You can view their completed posters on my school's website by clicking here.