Last year I was asked to plan and teach “e-safety” to upper KS2 for half a term. My first thought was “Half a term? Two weeks will be plenty! What on earth can I do for 7 weeks?” I obviously didn’t want to spend a half a term going over and over the same things because it would be boring and pointless.

I asked those lovely people on Twitter for some help and got pointed towards a great resource which then led me onto other resources and ideas and before I knew it my 7 weeks were full.

First of all I used this excellent video from CEOPS to introduce the topic. It’s pitched just about right for that age-group – not too babyish, and clearly shows the potential dangers of social networking sites, without being so graphic that children go home and have nightmares. I have just one word of caution about the video: some of the lower ability children took it very literally and believed that as long as they didn’t leave their front door open they would be safe, and it took a while to help them understood otherwise. Others believed that because the man in the video was arrested at the end, that the correct response to anything computer related was to call the police. It took the remaining 6 weeks to convince them that the best way to deal with spam email was not dialling 999.

However, that aside, the video prompted a very lively discussion about the dangers of chatting to people you don’t know on the internet, and about things that would help people find out more about you from photos: school uniform, names on clothing/jewellery, road name signs in the background…

We talked about how to make sure that privacy settings were secure, and what to do if anybody they’d been talking to made them feel uncomfortable.

The children completed a Venn diagram (which I found here) of statements involving talking face to face and talking over the internet. We looked at the Zip it Block it Flag it  slogan and what it meant, and the children role played giving advice to a friend who was planning to meet up with someone they had just met on the internet.

After this we spent some time looking at cyberbullying, helped out by this superb video from the Smart Crew at Know it All. The children talked about the best way to protect themselves from cyberbullying (eg making sure their privacy settings were set to make sure only their real friends could see their profile). They thought about the similarities and differences between cyberbullying and playground bullying, discussed in small groups what they should do if it happened to them or their friends, and made a list of trusted people they could talk to.

That was really all I’d thought about when I first started thinking about e-safety, but the fantastic Smart Crew had plenty of other ideas and videos to accompany them.  We looked at spam emails (how to recognise them and what to do about them) and viruses (how to avoid them, what to do if you get one) and the children discussed what advice they would give the younger children in the school.

Finally we looked at the reliability of information found on the internet (thanks again Smart Crew) and the best ways to make sure they found accurate information when doing research in school or at home.

As I only had 35 minutes for ICT each week, this filled most of the sessions, and just left enough time for the class to prepare a Powerpoint presentation in pairs to show what they had learnt, and then to present to the rest of the class for peer feedback. This gave an opportunity for assessment, and correcting any remaining misconceptions.

For teaching or tutoring in the north Birmingham, Sandwell and Walsall areas, visit www.sjbteaching.com. For links to other interesting education related articles, come and Like my Facebook page.

The Language Show Live 2012 – What I learnt from Helen Myers

Helen Myers gave a run-down of her favourite language learning ICT tools.

Subscription ones

  • Linguascope: I’ve tried this one myself, and personally I don’t like it, but I know that other MFL teachers love it. What I didn’t realise, that I learnt from Helen Myers, is that once you have paid your subscription, you can use their images in your own resources within the school.
  • Task Magic: I’ve never used this, but it looked quite versatile for creating games – and unlike some MFL software which is biased towards learning vocabulary and set phrases, this one can be used for practising grammar, such as conjugating verbs, as well.
  • Vocab Express: this looked like a good way to help pupils learn vocabulary. There are pictures and audio to go with the written words to aid memorisation. While they are revising, pupils can group the words in any way that makes sense to them, which I think is a great idea. It has automated tests for blocks of words, which means you can set vocab tests to be done in individual learning time and free up lesson time which would have been spent of tests teaching instead.
  • Euro Talk: not much was said about this one, and after looking at the Euro Talk website I still can’t work out how useful it would be. If anyone has used this, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Free Ones

  • Mylo: I’ve tried this since the show. You can just go to the website and start playing, or sign up for an account to earn points that you can spend on styling your avatar.  I tried a few activities and found it…how shall I put this?….boring. I thought the graphics were odd at best and extremely confusing at worst (a cube wearing 3D glasses and holding a tub of popcorn to represent “brother”). It’s possibly useful for reading and listening activities, but over the Language Show weekend I saw ICT used in so many new and exciting ways that I was underwhelmed by this one. Having said that – it is free so you have nothing to lose by trying it yourself.
  • Quizlet: I’ve tried this since the show as well. This has a few different types of activity, from flashcards to race against the clock games.  I liked the variety and I can imagine younger children would enjoy some of the games. My only criticism would be that there are no visuals, and I think for some children (and adults!) having a picture alongside the word is an important part of learning new words.
  • MS Office, Windows Movie Maker and Audacity combination: The end product of using a combination of these three tools was a really professional looking video which could be used for introducing or revising vocabulary. It looked quite a time-consuming process, and over on the iPad stand the demonstrator showed how children could create a really similar end product on their own in about 30 minutes. However, if you don’t have an iPad and you do have time to invest then this process would definitely be worth looking into. It involved creating a PowerPoint presentation for the words and pictures, and then combining these pictures and music to make a video. The one they showed had vocabulary for clothing, but they suggested it could also be used for songs, poems, raps, recording news items and modelling conversations.

To see how their school is using ICT in language learning pay a visit to www.ashcombe.surrey.sch.uk

Have you used any of these suggestions in our own classroom? If so what do you think of them? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

For language teaching and tuition from beginner to GCSE, visit my website www.sjbteaching.com.

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The Language Show 2012 – What I Learnt from Isabelle Jones
The Language Show 2012 – What I Learnt from everyone else
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