Mark Robinson of Ambleside School has created a site that has some good literacy games and ideas. He has also found a new program, called Quandary, that is useful for literacy. It is a linking program that enables pupils to work in non-linear ways. Mark believes pupils can come to terms with this way of working in minutes with this simple program. That kind of work is at the heart of Vivi Lachs's new book, Making Multimedia in the Classroom. Vivi has done some excellent non-linear multimedia work with students in Hackney and her book should be on the shelf of every department. This is the way many will write in the future.
Inspiration, from TAG Developments, is an adjunct to the word processor. Few English teachers have done very much with the outlining facilities of word processors. Inspiration emphasises the structure of written work and makes brainstorming easier. Try one of the demo disks or download a copy from the TAG site.
It is interesting to see the use that many teachers are making of PowerPoint in the classroom as a way of presenting lessons with more impact. This Microsoft program, part of the Office suite, has many, but not all, of the virtues of Apple's HyperCard. If you are new to PowerPoint there is an excellent guide to its use in the classroom. Other technical advances that could be useful are the creation of a departmental intranet where all the work of the department could be made as accessible within the school as any texts on the wider Internet. It sounds intimidating but is easy to do.
Aimed at primary schools, Young Writers' Workshop from Granada Learning gives the young writers an audience for their creativity. They are asked to do real tasks: scripting programmes, writing photostories, biographies, captions. There is a website with links to other material. An added bonus is that the disk will work in French, German and Spanish. The CD is produced in a very attractive way and the tasks will have a relevance to all children. but particularly some who are not stimulated by traditional approaches.
On the Internet, RM's subscription site Living Library continues to be a valuable resource. The access to the archives of The Independent and The Mirror is particularly important. A new feature is "Literature Onlinefor Schools" which has been developed to help students fulfil the objectives set out in the QCA A-level document Subject Criteria for English Literature (1999) and the International Baccalaureate Language A1 literature course. The new material is closely harmonised with the latest syllabuses and will be important not just for literature but also the teaching of key skills.
The online "English Resources" is continuing to grow. It started life as a resource for secondary teachers and it has now opened up a primary section. Most of the material is contributed by teachers and the quality is high, a lesson to some of the official sites. Teachers tend to go to the Web for texts. There are other aspects. Poets and novelists are presented on the Web reading their work. It is possible to listen to poets as diverse as TS Eliot and Sylvia Plath. Hearing Ezra Pound's gravelly delivery adds another dimension to the appreciation of his work.
Where next? Watch out for DVD, broadband and interactive whiteboards. DVD will give you an unparalleled ease of control over playing video and superior image quality. Make sure that you buy a player (multiregion) that will play DVDs from any area. Broadband (high-capacity network access) will improve the multimedia capability of your Internet service, and an interactive whiteboard will put all this material in front of your students in a compelling form and for all to see.
Jack Kenny is a freelance writer and chair of examiners for English for one of the major GCSEexamining boards
British poetry from two world warsPrice: pound;85Tel: 01484
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19.99Tel: 08700 768853 The Tortoise and the HareBroderbund RMPrice: Pounds
17Tel: 01235 826969Wellington Square (reading scheme)Granada LearningPrice:
pound;49Tel: 0161 827 2927Useful websites
www.ambleside.schoolzone.co.ukamblewebindex.htmQuandaryhttp:web.uvic.calt;NIPgt; hrdquandaryInspiration www.tagdev.co.ukEnglish
collection of news linkshttp:pppp.netlinksnewsOutta Ray's
headwww.cgocable.netrayserindex.htmTales of Wonder
Centrehttp:etext.lib.virginia.eduFree resources for English teachers