Characteristics of an Excellent ICT Lesson

Terry Freedman, blogger and podcaster from the UK has just posted this on TechLearning Blog.

“Here in the UK we use the term “ICT” — Information and Communications Technology — rather than “educational technology”, and in many schools it is taught as a discrete subject. So what is it that makes an ICT lesson excellent?

In this list, I have tried to suggest some of the characteristics that may be present — although I hasten to add that one would not expect to see all of them in the same lesson!

This is taken from a much larger list that I published in my newsletter, “Computers in Classrooms”, back in December. You can download the newsletter from here, if you wish to look at the whole list. Look at the list below and tell me what you think:

  • The lesson forms part of a unit which forms part of a scheme of work. There is a good starter activity, one that gets the pupils settled down and in the right frame of mind to do the work the teacher has planned for them.
  • The teacher spends time at the start letting pupils into the secret of what the objectives (intended learning outcomes) of the lesson are, ie what is intended to be achieved by the end, and how this lesson fits in with the preceding and following lessons
  • Pupils are given open‑ended tasks (as far as possible), or at least not tasks with a glass ceiling. (Even lessons designed to impart a set of skills can still be more interesting than “drill & practice”).
  • There are plenty of resources for the pupils to use, enabling the teacher to give quality guidance, ie not confined to explaining how to save the document! Such resources will include “how to” guides and posters, on‑screen help (which the pupils will have been taught how to use), and each other.
  • Ample time is allowed for the plenary, thereby allowing it to be somewhat more useful than the POLO model: Print Out and Log Off. The plenary is an essential part of the lesson, used to check what learning has taken place, consolidate learning, and prepare pupils for the next stage. In fact, a lesson might have two or three plenaries rather than just one at the end.
  • Homework is set in order to consolidate and extend the pupils’ understanding of the work they have been doing in lessons.
  • Pupils are given plenty of time on the computers, with the teacher helping individuals and small groups.
  • Work is set at an appropriate standard, taking into account the pupils’ prior learning and attainment, and what is expected of their age group in terms of national standards.
  • There is a lot of questioning – probing questioning – and assessment for learning techniques are in evidence.
  • There is a good range of material to provide for differentiation (higher attainers and children with special educational needs) and personalised learning.
  • The teacher is aware of individual pupils’ needs, such as their individual education plans – and makes use of the assessment and other data she has – remember: data only becomes information if you do something with it!
  • Not all work takes place at the computer: there is ample opportunity for discussion and reflection. What is important is not the use of technology per se, but the appropriate use of technology.
  • Pupils respect the equipment and the room. For example, they do not leave discarded print‑outs on the floor.
  • Pupils are happy and confident enough to try out things which the teacher has not actually shown them: they ask help from each other or look at the posters and manuals that are available for them.
  • Pupils keep looking at the clock on the wall, because they want to get to a certain point in their work before the end of the lesson. They have a sense of urgency.
  • Pupils want to work at lunchtime and other non-lesson times.
  • Pupils want to show off little tricks they have discovered, such as keyboard shortcuts.
  • Pupils ask questions that the teacher is unable to answer.”

I feel bad because I have taken Terry’s post in it’s entirety to post here. I do so because it is such a great list and I identify so much with his points and I want to encourage people to read it who may not necessarily follow my encouragement to click and read. Posted with permission from the man himself- thanks Terry.

Feed Journal Newspaper

Again through my Twitter network via @Murcha from Aussie and @MrKp from the UK I found a link to a fun website,, that makes your most recent blog posts via the RSS feed into a newspaper

Lifeisnotaracetobefirstfinished.pdf (page 1 of 3)

article that you can download as pdf.

Life is not a race to be first finished pdf

To see what it looks like click on the above link or the graphic. Great if you’re not fond of reading on line. A thought ran through my mind as I re-read the newspaper- without this blog I would not have the motivation to write at all- and I have written and shared quite a bit over time!

And then to finish off I uploaded it to Issuu an on line publisher to give a cool little page turny look to the whole thing. To see it in a better size click on OPEN PUBLICATION.

It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do but I keep getting sidetracked by new finds and interesting conversations. The school holidays are great.

The writing of my first cluster milestone is starting to weigh heavily on my mind. I suppose its a bit like writing school reports- a necessary evil.

Animoto Educational Account

Good for Animoto for sharing their educational account so that teachers can now create longer than 30 second videos for free and download them for playing and keeping on your computer- great for playing and sharing if your internet is slow and spends a lot of time buffering.

As Ewan McIntosh says- it takes zero skill levels to create great videos. To access the educational side of Animoto use this link and ask Rebecca for an educational registration key. She does ask to be kept in the loop as to the kinds of things you are creating.

The quick example I made celebrates my first term as ICT facilitator for Discover IT Tasman.

Movie and Digital Excellence Awards

MADE Awards - By Schools for Schools - Details
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Here is one just for Kiwi Primary Schools! Today I got a few requests for Twitter followers and two of them were from the guys at Selwyn Ridge School in Tauranga. Through these links I found out aout the Movie and Digital Excellence Awards for NZ students. They say…

“The MADE Awards were started from a collaborative exploration of finding ways to celebrate student achievements in community settings by Tahatai Coast School and Selwyn Ridge School.

Students love to use digital media to discover, explore and communicate learning. Much of the fantastic work completed by students has an audience limited to their class peers, sometimes a school assembly, and occasionally to a proud parent who has popped into class.

The MADE Awards seeks to establish an outlet that enables students to show their work with a much wider audience, to be proud of their efforts and to share their learning. The MADE Awards, in partnership with business sponsors, seeks to reward the best efforts of entrants with fantastic ICT equipment which will further enhance the place of ICT in the learning world.”

I need to get back in a classroom to have go in one of their categories- commercial, music video, storytelling, curriculum and static image. Hope they do it again next year!

They will be judged in three ages levels to give everyone a go- Year 1-3, Year 4-6, Year 7-8.

School Tour

The second to last week of term I facilitated a very powerful tour of local Nelson schools. We picked up a mini-van full of Discover IT Tasman teachers and prinicpals and headed for town. First up was Brightwater School– just humming. Brightwater principal, Janice Gulbransen, and her staff have embeded the inquiry approach and the use of ICT into daily programmes of work. Children are engaged and are able to articulate their learning. They use the Mark Treadwell inspired KnowledgeNet extensively as a hub for their on line activities and all classes are actively creating content on the web.

We visited Liz’s class and saw children locating on a world map where people are who make comments on their blog. Great learning in a meaningful context. It was great to be able to wander the school and have children able to tell us what they were learning and why they were learning it.

Next stop was Henley School. Henley is a large urban school. We were in awe of the art works abounding in the school and had a good chance to have a look at how teachers were using interactive whiteboards and see their computer suite in action.

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

We then broke into smaller groups to have a look around Nayland Primary and Broadgreen Intermediate where they had a limited FM radio station in action.

It was very powerful for us to get out of our classrooms and schools to see how others are going- it was affirming for us to know how others are implementing the curriculum and building on learning experiences for children enhanced through the use of ICT.

A big day out.


Last night when I was checking out Twitter (as you do). @BrianCaldwell from Plasq twittered that he was keen to give away some registrations for Doozla- first in first served. I like everything Plasq does so I went for it. Doozla is a vector drawing programme for the littlies. It is interesting that Plasq has a Twitter log in so you can subscribe to updates and news about the application. A good idea I think.

Picture 1
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch! You can colour in, add to a pre-drawn background, add to your photos taken on your iSite camera and just straight draw.

 I liked it in that it automatically smooths your lines as you draw them and gives your etchings a nice even look.

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I liked the little extra prompts as you chose the colours- happy sounds. The littlies would love it I think. Worth a play for the little tackers. You can play with it through a free month’s trial like Comic Life.

Adobe Educational Leader

So it’s pretty much official with a visit yesterday from Brenda Frisk from NextSpace in Auckland. I have been invited to be an Adobe Educational Leader and have registered for the Adobe Educational Leader’s Institute in San Francisco. There are 118 others globally so it is quite an honour. We fly out in July for a week of fun, learning and frivolities.

I have been invited to join my fellow AELs at Adobe’s San Francisco office as well as San Francisco State University’s Multimedia Studies Program (MSP) for hands-on work with the latest Adobe technology and open discussions on best practices in teaching and learning with technology.

Adobe Education Leader 2008
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

At the institute we will:

  • Take part in focused instruction on Adobe creative solutions.
  • Learn new ideas for integrating digital tools into the curriculum.
  • Talk with product managers and provide them with crucial feedback.
  • Hear the latest about Adobe technology and what it means for teachers.
  • Network and collaborate with fellow AELs on the latest innovations in teaching and learning with technology.

For a small town girl who has only ever been over the Auckland Harbour Bridge once it is a pretty big deal. It would never have happened if I had not opened my classroom walls and let people in through the power of Web2.0- blogging, wikis, podcasting, collaboration, networking and on-line creativity.

I will take you on this journey with me.


I couldn’t resist the temptation to play with Microsoft’s Australian piece of software- Marvin before I got taught. I was looking for something new to do while I couldn’t use the internet much as my broadband allowance for the month is all used up and I have five days left of dial-up before I can be set free again.

Microsoft Windows XP
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Being Microsoft of course I had to fire up Parallels so I could work with it on my Mac but that only took a second or two. The software is as intuitive as Microsoft ever gets but the end results are visually quite stunning. I see some great possibilities for digital story telling and a way to give voice to children using the product.

After adding the background and loading your avatar you can customise your creation by having it do a variety of actions and speech. I didn’t try to have it record my own voice- I wonder if that is an option? When compiled it can animate on your screen or you can export as an .avi and upload to your blog like I have done here for my class blog.

It is a pity it is only a 30 day free trial before it expires. When compared to a Comic Life registration for $4 I wonder if it won’t be a bit of a novelty which wears off after a bit. Has anyone published anything created with Marvin to convince me otherwise?

Tweet Clouds

The word clouds being generated by Tweet Cloud are interesting as they give an indication of the sorts of things a person who tweets talks about.

Tweet Clouds
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I thought the cloud generated by my tweets was interesting. I highlighted some of the most often used words- they emit a sense of what I want my interactions with my on-line network to be like so I am quite pleased.