SCHOOLS INTEGRATED PROJECT 026  

The Role of ICT as a Support To Learning  

Background

SIP Groups

Childrens Work

WordShark Evaluation

Prior to one day course given by Brian Dillon in Ballinahinch N.S. on February 23rd had practically no knowledge of the contents of or how to use Wordshark CD Rom.  I felt quite guilty about this since so much money had been spent on them and I know they come highly recommended.  Having learnt so much about the CD.  I was all fired up and enthusiastic about using them as part of my remedial classes.  However, I was quite disappointed to find that even though I serve four schools.  I was only able to successfully use the CD in one of them.  Thankfully this was the school involved in the SIP project (Rearcross).

I found it to be an extremely valuable learning aid for most of my pupils.  Once I had set up the pupils on it under the Teacher Facility they were able to access their own word lists and play their own games.  This obviously was easier for some pupils than for others

Depending on age and ability.  I also loaded it on the computers of the classrooms for the pupils to work on independently as and in their own time.  The teachers involved told me that they found this to be a great asset to them as sometimes it can be difficult to allocate work to these children while the rest of the class is doing something else.

I have two boys in Sixth Class and they for some reason especially liked the dictionary games and in particular I found the alphabetic sort games very beneficial in helping them to put words into alphabetic order, an exercise which appears regularly in textbooks. 

I myself find the shark game one of the best as they actually have to type in the correct spelling of the word, I believe they also have to do this in the higher levels of the sentence game, which we have not reached yet.  On that point the pupils who have a good knowledge of the layout of the keyboard have an advantage here and I think I may need to do some lessons on the keyboard with all the pupils continuing with Wordshark or in tandem with using it, as some of them take ages to find the keys and with time so short speed is of the essence.  I also feel that the fruit machine games and the lotto games are a bit unnecessary as kids being kids they always want to play these and therefore lose valuable learning time.  I feel there should be some way to bypass these via the Teacher Facilities so as they don’t appear on the screen.

Another minor disadvantage which both the Resource as and I noticed (as we both have one child with special needs in common) is that this particular child quickly realised that if she can’t spell the word (in the Shark game) all she has to do is “peep” and the word appears.  Now she doesn’t even bother to attempt to spell the word, which should be well able for, without peeping therefore I believe that this is another facility, which should be optional on the teacher’s discretion.

Obviously having used it for such a short period of time there are lots of aspects of it, which I have not fully explored yet and I look forward to doing so.  I have read about adding your own private word lists and believe this is a good option to have as each child has their own problem words and this would be great way of consolidating them in their minds in a fun way.  Also I have not ventured past Level 1 on most of the games nor have I played any of the games, i.e. card games, competitively, which of course would add interest.

Overall I found the CD to be a very comprehensive programme for phonics and spellings.  I have started giving spellings and spelling tests based on it.  It is very useful in that some pupils as soon as they come in to me can go to the computer, access their lists and work or play away while I do something else, e.g. hear the reading with the rest of the group and then they can switch over.  The pupils seem to enjoy it immensely, except one pupil I have whose reaction was “Oh no not that CD again” when I produced it for the first time.  Apparently, she had used it with the previous remedial teacher.  Luckily for her the sound does not work on the computer in her school so I was unable to use it with her!  The children are learning while they think they are playing while using the Wordshark, which is a vital component in software for kids with special needs, and I believe it has enormous potential in the Remedial classroom.

LEARNING SUPPORT TEACHER

by Sheila Carey

Rearcross N.S.