Activities to trust

21st March 2003 at 00:00
Practical ICT

Primary resource packs, one for each year of Years 1 to 6, pound;200 for complete set, subsequent copies pound;100, individual booklets pound;35 each

The IT Learning Exchange, School of Education, University of North London, 166-220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB

Tel: 020 7753 5092

Sample pages can be downloaded from:

Are you looking for tried and tested activities for using ICT in your primary classroom? Do you want activities that are practical, adaptable and come with support material for both teachers and pupils? The IT Learning Exchange possibly has what you are looking for - Practical ICT guides.

Each Practical ICT pack describes and supports ICT activities for a year group from Year 1 to 6. The packs consist of five detailed activities for each year group, with extensive notes for teachers and support materials for pupils. Each pack also includes, where appropriate, referenced CD-Roms and work files on disk.

The activities have a good pedigree as they are based on training materials used extensively by London teachers undertaking New Opportunities Fund training with London Learning (the Teacher Training branch of the IT Learning Exchange). The activities were also given the blessing of the Teacher Training Agency whose quality assurance report noted: "They are generally seen as practical, child centred, relevant to classroom situations and quite adaptable."

Each guide has an identical structure: "Try it!", is an introductory activity with a focus on teacher observation, common to each guide; "Communicating Ideas" is an activity supporting literacy; "Finding Things Out" is about searching and using information sources; "Handling Information" is about tallying, databases and spreadsheets; "Making Things Happen" is about LOGO and giving instructions.

I like the way each activity follows a common format, with clearly explained guidance material for the teacher and, where appropriate, "how to" sheets for teachers or older pupils. Support files are included on disk. Each activity includes sections for the teacher on relevant vocabulary, key ideas, techniques and the skills being developed. There's also advice on curriculum links, preparation required and detailed teaching advice, including classroom organisation, pre-computer activities and teaching strategies.

On the negative side? One area that has been overlooked in the "Making Things Happen" sections is control technology. Although it is fine to continue to develop children's expertise in LOGO year by year, by the time they get to Years 5 and 6 pupils could be using control software (like Flowol 2, for example) to control a variety of systems. Apart from that, these Practical ICT materials will be welcomed by most teachers. They could even form the basis for the scheme of work although this is not their intention. A set of these guides on the staff room shelf would provide an invaluable "dip into" resource for all staff. Thoroughly recommended.

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