Tools for the job

14th February 2003 at 00:00
The annual BETT show in London's Olympia is the key platform for educational technology. Chris Drage trawled this year's event for the best of all things ICT

Sometimes, teaching can seem daunting enough without the added burden of having to incorporate ICT into all that we do. However, pupils'

statutory entitlement includes ICT, so just bite the bullet - we have to teach it, and, thankfully, there are many superb resources available to help us make the most in planning, implementation and assessment.

Planning

Of the two off-the-peg solutions available, Nelson Thornes' Primary ICT is undoubtedly the most comprehensive paper-based teaching programme (with its handbooks and website). It is linked to QCA schemes of work and has been developed to be supportive yet flexible enough to suit all teachers, whatever their level of ICT expertise. Primary ICT encourages you to develop your own skills at the computer so that you can plan, deliver and assess ICT in a confident and targeted way - go to www.nelsonthornes.comprimaryict The scheme is heavily geared towards Granada Learning's Toolkit software, which may prove restrictive to some.

RM's ICTAlive is the complete electronic solution, and this can be purchased as a one-off cost or as an annual subscription (see panel). Each of these two solutions offers schools a complete ICT package.

If your budget does not permit such expenditure, or the off-the-peg approach does not appeal, an excellent foundation for schemes of work is available free at www.northerngrid.org. In fact, a great deal of information and help can be found on the web. In www.google.co.uk, type in the following search: "ICT planning" AND "primary" AND "UK". It reveals more than 450 sites with gems, such as www.ICToxon-lea.gov.uk, which offer all manner of assistance.

Implementation

When it comes to implementation, Nelson Thornes' Primary ICT handbooks (pound;10 each) contains a range of straightforward, practical teaching activities, enabling you to integrate the teaching of ICT in other subject areas. They allow pupils to apply and develop their ICT capability in meaningful curriculum contexts and offer advice and guidance on generic hardware and software, key processes and skills.

If you are simply looking for a "dip into" type of resource, the award-winning IT Learning Exchange has produced a practical guide.

Consisting of five detailed activities for each year group, each Practical ICT pack (pound;35) describes and supports activities using ICT and includes extensive notes for teachers and support materials for pupils.

These also double as excellent teacher-training materials.

Developing ICT Skills (pound;17.99), from Hopscotch Educational Publishing, is a very practical set of resources specifically written to complement the QCA scheme of work for ICT. Written for the non-specialist teacher, these books comprise sets of manageable and highly appropriate activities, all of which can be delivered in the one-computer classroom.

They offer ideas for a whole-class introduction, activities for groups and individuals and photocopiable, differentiated activity sheets where the same activity is presented at three levels of ability. The books also include extra photocopiable resources to support and extend the lessons and an assessment page to record individual progress.

EduTech's LessonMaker Suite (pound;125) aims to take the hard work out of identifying appropriate software and creating files to meet the requirements for ICT in the curriculum. It provides a structured approach to teaching the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to enable pupils to develop ICT capability. LessonMaker offers schools a consistent means of delivering ICT across the whole school. Schools using it are finding that its complete, integrated approach gives teachers the confidence to enjoy teaching ICT. Some will find LessonMaker restrictive, but others will welcome its structure and pace.

Assessment

Levelling of assessments is a difficult area for teachers in ICT. Here, www. northerngrid.org comes to the rescue with a complete, free, electronic portfolio of levelled work, scanned and annotated to make the whole process of creating your own so much easier. Set up to develop consistency in the levelling of ICT work, it should be used as a general reference guide to expectations in ICT according to the curriculum level descriptors, and should help to inform planning, teaching and assessment.

ICT assessment at KS3 is set to become far more manageable with TAG Learning's Managed Assessment Portfolio System (pound;195 per pupil to pound;325, depending on the size of school). Managing multiple classes and setting tasks is easy with MAPS which will soon be available for KS2.

Pupils can view individual tasks and deadlines that have been set by their teachers, and teachers can attach digital resources. A library of ICT assessment tasks is designed to fit in with all 15 units of the QCA scheme of work. Teachers can set their own assignments or use those provided by the LEA.

Driving licence

What about teachers' own ICT needs? Although the New Opportunities Fund training scheme aimed to empower teachers with the ability to integrate ICT in their teaching, many felt that it would have been better to provide skill-based training first. The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) is an excellent qualification for everyone, and now there are ECDL training materials designed for teachers in all phases of education. Aston Swann's ECDL for Educators (pound;495 initial registration fee plus a payment of pound;25 for each user) is an ICT learning programme approved by the British Computer Society for all teachers and support staff. It leads to the widely recognised ECDL qualification through tasks specific to the teaching environment. The qualification will support the application of newly acquired ICT skills in the classroom and beyond.

Finally, we all need advice and help, and the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) is doing a great job of offering teachers just this. Try www.ICTadvice.org. uk.Simply register to access the site. ICT advice is just one of several excellent areas on the Becta portal. Check out the Virtual Teachers Centre as well.

Hopscotch Educational Publishing: www.hopscotchbooks.comLessonMaker: www.r-e-m.co.ukNelson Thornes Primary ICT:www.nelsonthornes.comprimaryAston Swann:www.educatorsecdl.comRM: www.rm.com

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