Technology integration in planning essays

Our novel study this term is Skellig, by David Almond and is th story of a creature who changes the life of a young boy and his family. In addition to exploring themes of the supernatural, love and friendships, this novel provides Year 6 with their first essay. They are very greatful to me for that.
In preparation for our essay on the novel, we looked at the different instances of characters changing their perceptions. Each student compiled a few examples from the novel that they might want to use in their essay. Historically, students shared these in a class discussion and and refined their ideas. They went on from this point and drafted their essay.
But here is the point where we have introduced ICT in order to enhance the learning experience for the students. Instead of discussing and refining, the students enter their examples into a Google Doc. This allows students to

  • Be validated by others having the same responses
  • Refine their ideas and potentially merge them with others, leading to a better product
  • Access the ideas of other students that they hadn’t thought of
  • Be more engaged because technology is being used.

It also allows us Teachers to

  • monitor and refine entries
  • identify inaccuracies
  • See students interact with the collaborative tool
  • Identify students in need of support
  • All with increased ease and efficiency

The primary motivation for the use of technology at this stage of the task was to facilitate collaboration in a meaningful way. Already we can see the engagement and motivation in the students is greater at this stage of the task than in previous years.

An additional benefit that this integration provides is that it provides significant redefinition of the task in the form of additional scaffolding for the students that was not possible without the use of the collaborative document. Students are now being given extra assistance in the form of peer feedback and collaboration as part of the planning process as opposed to getting these as a reflection on the planning process. This redefinition of the task from a design point of view provides a meaningful presence of technology in the classroom. For the majority of students, this extra support takes away a potentially difficult portion of the task and allows them to get on with the pure joy of writing their first essay.

Collaborative planning online

Collaborative planning online

The proof will still be in the proverbial pudding of the final essays, but at this stage it looks like the level of thinking and analysis that the students will be capable of will be higher and deeper, and ultimately, a learning experience has been enhanced through the use of ICT.