What Activities Work And Why?
The use of task sheet to present a structure of activities to groups was successful. The task sheets included a variety of challenges as well as guidance, freeing up the teacher to offer practical help to each group, rather than instructing the class through the package. Each group could work at their own pace. They followed instructions without difficulty and were able to answer questions.
After the difficult tasks were performed, it was essential to offer the pupils an opportunity to play with their work i.e. refine the presentation of their database by adding colour, changing font style etc. In a fun and creative way, they revised their word processing skills, gained more confidence using tools, felt rewarded for their patience and problem-solving and took more pride in their final product by making it their own, unique to their group.
What Is Not Helping And Why?
As the ICT aspect got underway it was difficult for the pupils to speak in the foreign language. They did not get as much practice asking questions and using sentence structure, as the teacher would have liked. While they learned language willingly and quickly, the language acquired consisted mostly of nouns used in isolation. However the constant repetition of certain nouns helped with their spelling and pronunciation in a very real way. Another language lesson preceding or succeeding the database exercise would have helped to consolidate the vocabulary learned.
Pupils were slow to type in data however the concentration required gave them a natural opportunity to study the foreign language vocabulary.
The colour cartridges are extremely expensive and seem to use up very quickly. Unfortunately they didnt get a colour printout of their labour because the cartridge had run dry. This particular brand is not always available in common computer stores and took some time to order. The pupils were happy with a black and white version.
Other Observations (Benefits,
Some groups took time to establish their own ground rules such as working out a system of sharing they keyboard, mouse, reading aloud, writing answers etc. However they relished the opportunity to share the workload and the freedom to discuss their work. By lesson two some of the groups had devised strategies to share the equipment and workload e.g. timing two minutes each at the keyboard.
One group (a self-chosen friendship group) realised that the group dynamics were not complimentary to their performance. They asked to be sub-divided into two smaller groups of two. Fortunately this was possible and indeed worked very well.
None of the pupils had ever used Microsoft Access before. However while the topic of databases was new to all, a small number of pupils have used computers before and are more comfortable clicking around and experimenting. Those less experienced and weaker pupils benefited enormously from the group approach as they quickly learned from their peers through observation and collaboration. The combined effort of the group saw the tasks to completion. There was no individual pressure on any one pupil to produce a database.
Each email group could compile a table of their corresponding email group. Pupils in one language class could question the pupils in another language class in the school. Other languages such as Irish, English could be used. Results could be graphed and analysed, incorporation mathematical skills such as calculating percentages, drawing graphs etc .
A database of all the pupils in the school could be compiled. Each group could take a different class and enter fields such as their surnames, first names, ages, room number, teachers name, gender PC allocation etc. All tables could be compiled to produce one database on the school.