Saturday, November 28, 2009

Developing Digital Literacy

I've been working for a while on a scheme of work for year 9 to improve their digital literacy. This was prompted by a conversation with a drama teacher at school who was concerned that year 10 Diploma students seemed to have very little idea about how to research effectively or present their results. As the ICT KS3 co-ordinator this concerned me as we were obviously not equipping students with the ICT skills they needed for KS4 study.

Looking round for ideas to structure a series of lessons round I came across this video:-

The DISCOVER model seemed ideal for what I had in mind:-

  • Define
  • Inquire
  • Search
  • Collect
  • Organise
  • Verify
  • Express
  • Reflect

I needed a project that I could build round these steps. Last term I tried a group project based around students researching where in the UK their family could move to. They had to look at jobs, schools, house prices and recreational facilities. My hope was that given a large amount of information to find, process and present they would have the opportunity to work in a team and try out the tools and techniques I was showing them. The results were very mixed to say the least. Analysing what problems had been several issues were evident:-

- The topic - moving house - was not impersonal enough for the students. Rather than seeing it as a research project they looked on it as deciding where they wanted to live and included criteria such as where their grandparents lived or where they had been on holiday
- They soon got bogged down in details - looking at individual houses to live in rather than researching areas and general housing markets
- I had allowed them to choose their own groups and this had resulted in fairly small groups and some very low ability groups who were unable to access the project without considerable support.
- I ran the project in the summer term when students' motivation and engagement tends to wane.
    So over the summer holiday I had a rethink. I needed a different research topic, one that students would be interested in but which would not have the same level of personal involvement as the moving house topic. Then I came across this site from Google:-

    A whole set of lessons and resources focusing on researching swine flu and similar outbreaks. Topical and loads of different aspects which could be researched. On materials covering research techniques I came across another gem from Google - an excellent resources with a series of presentation on search techniques:-

    This video was an attention grabbing starter:-

    This time I have decided to select the groups myself and have divided the class into four mixed ability groups of 7 or 8 students. 

    In line with other year groups and courses this year I have set up a Google site for year 9 and have added this scheme of work to it. Still work in progress but it's starting to take shape.

    Year 9 Google Site

    The unit has also been given an added focus as this year I am part of a team delivering the Personal Project element of the Diplomas which requires each student to complete an independent research project. The unit will give students the opportunity to develop the skills they will need to complete this project successfully.

    I will be documenting how the unit progresses and develops over the next few weeks.

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