Telling our Own Story – some work in Middlesbrough UK

Have you ever thought about using ICT as a storytelling medium to build curriculum resources? Ask John Wiffen, headteacher at Whinney Banks junior school, Teesside. As part of a digital learning project, his school put in a bid for support time with a visiting specialist to develop resources about the local area. "We decided to focus on part of a geography project we are developing around caring for our fragile world," says Wiffen. "We selected 10 students from years 4 and 5 along with a year 5 teacher to work with a visiting specialist for a day in late May. We wanted to get clips of developments in our area and help the pupils use these to create a resource for other children."Working in pairs and using a mobile tape recorder and Tag Learning's Digital Movie Creator 2 camera (£84 excluding VAT,, each group began gathering information about their selected area. One group specialised in making panoramas from key vantage points around the community. Another used a professional sound deck to record interviews with local people.First, class teacher Gill McCredie got permission for the interviews to be conducted. Then the students put their questions to seven local residents, including Betty from the chip shop, the head of the local community centre and even a retired resident who was resting on a garden wall as the children passed by.Another group acted as guides to local parks and amenities, at times offering thoughtful pieces to camera about areas that had become run-down and fallen into misuse. "As a number of new building projects are under way in the area, some of the footage they gathered will serve as a unique record of earlier times," says McCredie.Back at base the students spent the afternoon editing their clips and assembling and titling them using the Movie Maker software that comes free as part of Windows XP. The interviews were also imported into Audacity sound-editing software and the noisy bits removed before they were turned into a short radio programme for use with future local study courses. Finally, students drew a map of where they had been and this was scanned in to provide a front menu for the work."We learned a lot and it was a clear proof that much of the learning is in the doing," says McCredie. "The fact that each group had its own particular focus and assets to gather also made a big difference in giving students a sense of responsibility for their area."The resources are being placed on to CD for sharing with the local cluster of school which is working on a series of complementary projects. According to Wiffen, a final key outcome is that "we have developed a group of pupil mentors who will support other children (and staff!) doing similar work next autumn."· John Davitt is an ICT writer and freelance thinker. Please email your queries to | E-learning | Young movie makers create snapshots of a fragile world

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