English

14th April 2000 at 01:00
How to tame ICT's insatiable appetite for your school computers.

The secret with money and English teaching is not to worry. What you need to think about is teaching a curriculum that is relevant, exciting and stimulating.

As a result, what goes on in many English lessons is as relevant to today as last year's newspaper. Find ways around all of that, of bringing it to life with technology, and people will race to your door carrying goodies they want you to be associated with. They'll want to know how to move forward and you will be able to tell them.

With money, the first place that you need to start is in your own school. Ask the people who control the purse strings why they are restricting the ICT in English and the usual answer is that the department has shown little enthusiasm. Therefore English is often under-resourced with ICT.

Does your school have an ICT committee? If so, get on it, start shouting. There is the standards fund to be argued about, the NOF training to be talked through. That amounts to around pound;450 per teacher. Make sure it is the kind of training you want, not what someone thinks you might want.

Talk to any adviser who has discretionary funds to give out for projects and tey will all tell you the same thing: they want the money to go where it will be well used, where it will move the subject forward. Message: get the department fizzing.

One way is to give your work a research dimension. There are questions that many want to know the answers to. What are the best ways of using an interactive whiteboard in an English classroom? How does an English department use an intranet? Does writing Web pages increase pupil motivation? How can English teachers make a creative use of the Internet?

Once the department does fizz, go to software houses, hardware suppliers and offer the department or school as a test bed for their products - beware though, competition will be fierce.

Don't waste time expecting business to fund you. They won't. What they will be interested in is a real organic partnership and it will have to grow out of a belief that you need to learn from them and they need to learn from you.

Make sure you have started to think beyond the school. There is software that will enable you and the department and students to work at home. Not only should you explore that but you should write up its use as a case study so others will know about that way of working.


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