Teachers telling stories a new old approach

Storytelling The Myst Opportunity in many classrooms

Sometimes it’s just a simple step that is needed to change for the better the way in which we use technology in the classroom. When Tim Rylands, teacher at Chew Magna Primary decided to leave the standard position at the front of the class and sit down amongst his class, talking students through key movements in the Myst adventure game they were watching and exploring together he was breaking a mould. It was as if he was rediscovering an older and deeper form of dialogue as he sat down amongst the class with a wireless keyboard and mouse in the half-light and quietly asked the children to describe, predict and invent what might come next. In fact he was revealing an alternate way of working with the technology of projection in the classroom. This “digital Socratic” method also seems to lead to exam success particularly for the boys in the class who saw literacy come alive with such an approach. One hundred percent reach level four, compared to 67 percent in 2000.

It’s a lesson that many teachers are now taking to heart and with the use of a cordless keyboard and mouse alongside the classroom projector. The recently launched Logitech Revolution MX mouse for instance looks like the ideal tool for use around the class – it even allows scrolling and searching of the internet with a spin of the wheel taking you through up to 10,000 lines of text on screen.

At Little Heath Special School in Essex, ICT specialist David Ware uses a similar approach at the lunchtime video club, stopping the film occasionally asking students to predict what is coming next. At the club students also get a chance to look at video work prepared by other students as part of their studies. Making films about what they are learning has become a core part of the educational experience for students at the school. By pausing and reflecting on the work they have made the teachers are making sure that the opportunities to learn from this work are not wasted.

The moral of the story is that just because you have a projector (or even a whiteboard) it doesn’t mean you have to spend your life caught up in its beam ‘dancing in the light fantastic’. The recipe is clear for teachers, at times it pays to vary the approach. Why not get down and quirky and sit in the dark with the students and ask some powerful questions. Just put and interactive game or even a subject based CD ROM or web site on the computer and start talking it through.

Tim Rylands is currently on a year’s sabbatical, investigating further the use of games and collaborative learning opportunities and spreading the word on creative new approaches to ICT in the classroom. http://www.timrylands.com/

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