How can digital technologies engage a Year 7 class in creative writing?


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This resource was part of assessment for Secondary English PGCE course at Sheffield Hallam University and is being released with permission of its author. It accompanies the case studies produced as part of the "Digital Futures in Teacher Education"; for more information see

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How can digital technologies engage a Year 7 class in creative writing?

  1. 1. How can digital technologiesengage a Year 7 class increative writing?Digital Technologies:PowerPoint.Interactive Whiteboard.Visualiser.Flip Cams.Video Clips. Megan Griffiths
  2. 2. Influences• Warren et al. state that ICT seems to carry ‘an immediate guarantee of engagement’ (2011: p4).• We live in ‘an ever-changing technologically rich society’ (Clark et al. 2010: p204).• ‘The computer somehow releases their (pupils’) natural creativity and desire to learn’ (Buckingham 1999: p5).
  3. 3. Lit Review!• 2003 Lewin et al: Impact IWBs can have on attainment, behaviour and attendance.• 2010 Hughes and Tolley: ) Engaging students through creative uses of digital technologies.• 2011 Turel: IWBs ‘offer numerous benefits for effective instruction in terms of permanent and active learning and engagement and motivation’.• 2011 Warren et al: Michael Green and ‘The story of the fruit machine’, looks at an evaluative account of a creative writing seminar where the digital technology comprises a random story generator.• 2012 Fitzgeral et al: Inter-university collaboration looked into PGCE trainees and their experiences of creative writing.
  4. 4. Methodology and Data Collection Y7 Case Study.  Pupil Focus Group. Staff Interview.
  5. 5. Nature of Evidence and AnalysisQualitative: Word Data.1. Case Study: 5 Lesson Plans and evaluations.2. Focus Group: Notes taken from pupils discussion.3. Staff Interview: Notes taken from questions and checked by staff.
  6. 6. Findings: Visual Elements.IWB• More ‘interesting’ to work on and that having tasks on the IWB as a visual reminder helped them with learning (Pupil).• IWB could be boring because ‘all the writing’s hard to follow’ (Pupil).Video Clips• The ‘action’ made the clips interesting to watch and claimed that they helped ‘give me ideas for writing’ (Pupil).• To get involved in the story or plot line I think that clips can be a really effective tool in helping to get the juices going’ (Teacher).Visualiser• They were motivated in their writing by using this digital technology because it helped them if they were ‘stuck for ideas’.
  7. 7. Findings: Kinaesthetic Elements.Flip Cams• Pupils were asked to write a script, then to film themselves using flip cams. Pupils were certainly enthusiastic and keen to complete their scripts as they wanted to be able to film their stories (Evaluation).• Filming their creative writing helped them to ‘express feelings better’ (Pupil).• They get to see themselves in instant playback and this motivates them to get the work done. They’re really excited to get involved.’ (Teacher).
  8. 8. Findings: Interactive Elements. I suggested that the IWB, use of video clips and the flip cams were helpful in engaging pupils interactively, however staff and pupils only mentions the IWB in my data collection.IWB• They enjoyed using it as ‘you get to be involved and share your opinion, it helps me to learn’(Pupil).• They use they IWB as a source of competition, pupils are ‘really motivated and eager to join in as they love to beat one another’(Teacher).
  9. 9. Findings: Relevance to Real World .Pupils felt that because the technology didn’t remind them ofschool, they were more interested in the learning.Flip Cams• Pupils were excited to become directors as it was something they hadn’t experienced before in school. It had a purpose.IWB• We can write on the board and play games, it’s like a computer at the same time . . . computers are better, I like playing on computers and games at home so it’s more interesting (Pupil).Video Clips• Engage pupils more effectively as they feel they’re doing less work watching a film, but it still allows them to learn about themes and impressions of characters’(Teacher).
  10. 10. Strength VS Weaknesses. Strengths:• Inclusion of pupil and teacher opinion. Weaknesses: • Collecting Evidence. • Distinctions between technologies.
  11. 11. Suggestions• Up to date training sessions of how to use technologies.• Reflections on how the technologies were received.• Sharing good practice amongst the department and school.
  12. 12. Conclusion.The ‘truth’ that digital technologies canengage in creative writing seems to arise in the way these tools engage is though the way a teacher uses them.
  13. 13. Rationale• I am really interested in how quickly technology moves forward, which was what made me focus my research project on this area.• I feel comfortable with using a lot of new technology as I use much of it in in my spare time, but I thought that many teachers may not feel as confident.• I wanted to hear from both students and teachers so that I might find the best ways to share good practice with other English teachers in the future.
  14. 14. Is there a massive gap?Students’ knowledgeof digital technology Teachers’ knowledge of digital technology
  15. 15. Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School…• Has over one thousand PCs on site.• Uses the ‘Moodle’ VLE.• Is trialling ‘Mimeo’ IWB software in some classrooms. Technology can become outmoded or ineffectual after only a few years. This must be a huge financial concern for schools when deciding which technology is invested in.
  16. 16. Literature reviewdigital literacy is … much more than a functional matter of learning how to use acomputer and keyboard, or how to do online searches (Buckingham, 2008)sheer diversity of specific accounts of “digital literacy” that exist (Knobel &Lankshear, 2008)teachers need to be digitally literate so that they can empower students with the skillsand knowledge that they will need to be successful in a workplace dominated bytechnology’ (Pianfetti, 2001)‘the older generation of teachers ‘don’t believe their students can learn successfullywhile watching TV or listening to music, because they can’t … they didn’t practice thisskill constantly for all of their formative years.’ (Prensky, 2001)
  17. 17. Prensky, 2001
  18. 18. Methodology• Interviews with members of the English department (individually).• Interviews with year 9 pupils (grouped)• Interviews with year 12 pupils (grouped)• Findings organised by issue as it ‘can make comparison across respondents more economical (Cohen, 2007: p.467)
  19. 19. Findings – 1. Time“We’re not experts in it, in our mind we have a mentalimage of it taking a lot of time to prepare.”“I think there’s a sense of kindof re-doing things that youmight already do electronically... Replacing something willalways come slightly lowerdown the priority than perhapsdeveloping something fromscratch.”
  20. 20. Findings – 1. Time• This feeling wasn’t unsubstantiated – PowerPoint andMimio Notebook for example.• Perhaps showed a reluctance to create digitalresources if the teacher has already expended time andeffort in creating something beforehand.
  21. 21. Findings – 2. Use of PowerPoint“Most of my lessons do have PowerPoints in them.Really these days PowerPoints are replacing my lessonplans.”This mirrored the findings of Holbrook et al. (2012:p.219-220), who state that: ‘technological toolsbecome a means for increasing efficiency.’
  22. 22. Findings – 2. Use of PowerPointYear 9 students expressed dissatisfaction with the wayPowerPoint is used in their lessons:“They put writing on the board and sometimes we haveto copy it out and like you don’t read it properly so youdon’t understand what you’re actually meant to bedoing.”This could imply that whilst some of the teachers withinthe department use PowerPoint to ‘increaseefficiency’, some students view this ascounterproductive.
  23. 23. Findings – 2. Use of PowerPointSusskind (2004) did a study into student response tothe use of PowerPoint, focusing on HE. It found that‘students viewed themselves as more effective’ andthat ‘it was easier to understand the lecture and takenotes.’Is it possible that age matters when using presentationsoftware?
  24. 24. Findings – 3. ‘Hands-on approach to CPD’Two thirds of the English staff that I interview stressedthe need for a practical, hands-on approach to trainingin digital technology.
  25. 25. Findings – 3. ‘Hands-on approach to CPD’“There should be times that we are assigned that wecan do some training and ... Have a go at playing withtechnology a bit more.”“If you buy technology at home or you buy a new car,you tend to learn how all the buttons work kind of asyou’re learning it, rather than by reading the manual orbeing trained to use it and maybe teaching doesn’treally allow you to do that”
  26. 26. Findings – 3. ‘Hands-on approach to CPD’“the problem is if you don’t then go back and dosomething with it straight away you may as well nothave had it. It’s kind of lost really.”“It’s all very well and good having the training but thenyou have to find the additional time to do somethingwith it so you’ve got all the information before it slipsout of your head.”
  27. 27. Findings – 3. ‘Hands-on approach to CPD’• From these comments, it felt like there was a realenthusiasm for digital technology, but a certain amountof frustration at how CPD sessions and training inschool is spent.“I don’t learn by watching somebody do things on acomputer, I have to do it myself.”
  28. 28. Findings – 3. ‘Hands-on approach to CPD’When is there time to experiment?
  29. 29. Findings – 4. VisualYear 9 students highlighted the use of visual technologysuch as film:“It depends if we’ve like done a play or like read a playsometimes afterwards we’ll watch the play, gives like avisual of what it’d be like to see.”“Like if we read the story or watch the film afterwardsas well I think to like it in action, help understand itproperly as well.”
  30. 30. Findings – 4. VisualIt could be suggested that these students’ viewssupport Kress’s (2003: p.64) views of ‘visual grammar’:‘The screen more than the page is now the dominantsite of representation and communication in general ...The screen is the site of the image, and the logic of theimage dominates the semiotic organisation of thescreen.’
  31. 31. Strengths- Helped me realise that students like tobe ‘left to go and do stuff’, thereforetaking the onus off teachers to masteras much technology as they possiblycan.
  32. 32. Weaknesses- Interviews with year 9s were notparticularly strong as it could be arguedthat I directed them towards answeringnegatively.
  33. 33. This resource was part of assessment for Secondary English PGCEcourse at Sheffield Hallam University and is being released withpermission of its author. It accompanies the case studies producedas part of the "Digital Futures in Teacher Education"; for moreinformation see www.digitalfutures.orgExcept where indicated otherwise, the content produced withinthe project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales.