ICTDT - No time to chicken out

7th October 2011 at 01:00
Great ideas were hatched from pupils' interest in ethical farms

Recharge the Battery is a project that has had an incredible impact not only on our students, school and community but internationally, too. Literally thousands of schools around the world are using the scheme of work that our students created right here in Cornwall.

One day a few years ago some of my students came in to my lesson talking about how shocked they were after watching a documentary on television about intensively farmed "battery chickens". They asked me: "Sir, why don't we learn about things like this in lessons?" I replied: "You will, but not until you are in Year 11." But they were impatient: "We want to learn about this now, it is really important."

So that is what we did. Because the students were so passionate and engaged with the subject I wanted them to take responsibility for their learning. So I said that they could use the next three lessons to collaborate and develop a scheme of work to communicate the advantages and disadvantages of intensive and extensive farming systems to a wider audience. It was a risk as exams were fast approaching.

Within two hours of getting started on the project, the students had created their own curriculum. They then decided they would use mobile technology to produce resources to communicate their message to a wider audience. The rationale behind the decision to use this type of ICT was that it engaged them and their fellow students and allowed for greater flexibility and more creative outcomes. They said that it enabled their project to be replicated by other students around the world as most children have access to mobile phones that can record sound and video. They wanted others to produce their own videos and podcasts to provide a balanced argument.

To launch their project, the students rescued seven battery hens from a local farm and brought them to live a free-range life in the school's small livestock area. We even installed an "eggcam" so people all over the world could see how the chickens were changing in physical appearance and behaviour.

The long-term impact of this simple project has been amazing. It was not just about the science behind intensive and extensive farming but also about questioning moral and ethical opinions of farming and social responsibility.

Because of our project, kids all over the world began talking to their families about where their food comes from and what choices they make as a family, even to this day. This would not have happened without the technology and potential power of student voice.

You can keep an eye on the chickens by visiting the "eggcam" at www.saltash.netlivestock. And you can watch the case study on the project Recharge the Battery at http:bit.lyaDabiC

You can download the Recharge the Battery scheme of work by signing up for free to Microsoft's Partners in Learning Network at http:tinyurl.com63a7p2z

Dan Roberts is deputy headteacher at Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall. Follow him on Twitter at @chickensaltash or read his blog "Why did the Chickenman cross the road?" at http:chickensaltash.edublogs.org


For more inspirational lessons around this topic try Camcdermont87's Powerpoint on Animal Welfare and encourage pupils to get their thinking hats on. It's getting rave reviews from teachers, so why not add yours?

See www.tes.co.ukresources004.

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