Spring has sprung and, as far as schools are concerned, we are now well into summer, or summer term at least! The good news for us at Aspire2Be is that it also sees the start of a brand new cohort in our Ospreys in the Community Schools Programme training, which took place last Friday morning at the Liberty Stadium. 25 new schools were introduced to the Programme which means training teachers often new to digital technology and also new to the applications (apps) that we deliver our training on. Always an exciting time!
The best thing about the training is seeing this new group of teachers meeting us and their fellow teachers for the first time and discussing what awaits them over the following five weeks, hopefully a time for learning, understanding more about the Ospreys and their unique brand and seeing where all this fits into a busy curriculum back at school.
The key thing for me, and my training colleague Laura Davies, is to ensure that we deliver the training with the enthusiasm and engagement that we hope the teachers return back to the classroom with and deliver to their children. With the content that the Ospreys provide and the apps that then deliver this content in an extremely engaging and creative way, we are halfway there, but Laura and I are passionate about the need to ensure that the training is delivered in a positive and enjoyable way, in order that the experience is as enjoyable as possible for the teachers.
With this in mind, Friday’s session started by outlining the inspirational sessions the schools can expect over the coming weeks by visits to their classrooms from many of the Ospreys first team squad. In order that the absolute most educational benefit can be extracted from these visits, I began by outlining the importance of ensuring the children are as prepared as possible for the visits by the player. This means lots of research by the children on the player concerned, and then putting that research into an order where the questions will flow freely to the player, in the style of a professional press conference. The literacy benefits of this research for the children are clear to see.
The first app I introduced to help in this process was Popplet.
This is a mind mapping tool that allows the children to focus on a key topic – the player – and record information about the player in boxes around the original image. This information then leads on to the questions that the children then create and develop for the interview. These too can then be laid out in a Popplet and used a script on the day. Pictures can be inserted to each “popple” to increase engagement for the children.
Laura then introduced Thinglink as an app that can be used both in the research process and also after the “press conference” to record what’s been learned.
Thinklink uses a target image – a picture of Alun Wyn Jones for example – and allows “targets” to be assigned to the image which contain various media, created by the student. For example, text can be written about the player, videos and photos added to illustrate, if the interview with the player was recorded, that could be added to. And if the student found a website or even a video clip of the player playing, then these can also be added. As usual, Thinglink had a big impact on the teachers as they understood its value in creating potential project work with a strong link to literacy.
Following on from Thinglink and the strong literacy theme, I then showcased one of my favourite, yet most simple apps to use, Wordfoto. This app allows the user to download a photograph – say Dan Biggar – and then applying what the student has learned about their hero, assign key words to this image, almost in the form of a collage. The end result, is an image of the hero concerned, with every pixel of the image made up from the words assigned. This is an incredibly engaging app, whose simplicity masks the literacy benefits it contains. As usual, this was a winner with the teachers who had never seen it before.
Last, but certainly not least, Laura showcased one of our most popular apps. All of us at Aspire2Be have taught with the apps we give instruction on, in a classroom setting, and for us all, Shadow Puppet is one of our top three apps we showcase. It is basically a presentation app that you can assign a string of relevant images to – photos of the visiting Osprey to your classroom for example – and then arrange the photos in order and basically assign a commentary. It is a fantastic app for those children who are reluctant to stand up in front of an audience to speak, and is a great help in creating that confidence of speaking to an audience without actually having to stand out in front. The app is also brilliant for supporting differentiation in the classroom while recounting and storytelling. There are also options for adding background music and digital pointers.
So, Friday was a busy morning where lots of new apps were shown, but most importantly, time was given to the teachers to practice on these apps, creating their own examples and then leaving the session with the knowledge and confidence to introduce to their children back in class. We’re already looking forward to session two this Friday at the Liberty Stadium…no better place to be in the summertime!