Before Christmas, it was suggested that we follow David Andrews‘ example of using a learning wall to support classroom learning, which had a particular focus on increasing blogging. We agreed that the learning wall would be where children would keep their work rather than in a book. This way, every child would have all of their work on display, meaning they would hopefully value it a little more. As with David’s learning walls, the children were each allocated their own space for which they would have responsibility.
Seeing as we have been using Google Apps, our team made the decision to make use of Sites so the children were able to create websites specifically about their topic (London).
The image shows how the wall was divided just as in David’s example. Each child had their photograph alongside a bulldog clip and a small plastic wallet with which to collect their work. By the end of the topic, the children had a real range of work on there, from notes to photographs and artwork to diary entries. Once they started building their own sites, we were able to make QR codes. In future, this will be a task for the Digital Leaders but they weren’t in place at this point.
Google sites is quite an intuitive tool to use as far as website building goes. It is easy to add and delete pages or to change themes and layouts. Adding written content is easy and the children quickly found out that they could add a whole range of their own Google creations without a problem. This meant that work we had collaborated on as a whole class could be embedded easily, as well as anything the children had created individually.
As with all areas of the curriculum, some children are more carefree and willing to make mistakes than others. We regularly had children teaching the whole class how to do things, such as changing the background to a picture or adding a new font. This opened my eyes to the abilities of children that I had perhaps previously seen as quiet, reticent or nervous – they just needed their outlet.
It is also possible to add videos (either directly from Youtube or via Vimeo), Popplets and Photopeach slides. The HTML option brings up the site in the code so the children can embed their work manually this way, which will of course allow you to embed a whole range of other content.
Our settings for Google Apps ensure that everything is shared only within our school. However, for the websites, the children were able to change this to ‘Public – the whole world’ so that they wouldn’t have to sign in and out when accessing through the QR codes.
I also added each child’s website to the class blog (please do have a look).
Finally, we invited parents in at the end of the topic to share all of the learning, but made sure to promote the websites. The parents were very impressed with how the children could use different technologies to support their learning – it was a genuinely lovely afternoon.
Some teams have already started their next topics and have set up their learning walls without it being discussed. To me, this shows the success of the trial – both teachers and children have enjoyed using them. The learning walls act both as celebrations of achievement and as a working wall.
Next, I want to look at how to use the learning wall for a wider range of learning opportunities. If anyone has any ideas, let me know!