Creativity In Schools - Freeing The Mind And Removing The Barriers With ICT

Yesterday was my first time attending the Capturing Creativity Conference, hosted by the Cambridgeshire based ICT Service.

The ICT Service is a wonderful organisation that supports Cambridgeshire schools in their ICT needs including SEN assessment and ICT support.

Today The ICT Service brought together representatives of more than 40 schools to take part in workshops and experience technology that is used to support learning within primary education in the county.
Technology that was showcased ranged from 3D printing which highlighted the principles of design and it’s implementation , through to making music with touch sensitive bananas!

A 3D Printer - Printing an egg cup!

There were pupils from Over Primary School showcasing how they learn using the popular Minecraft platform which was fascinating.  At first glance it looked like they were just playing a first person strategy game but whilst watching I could overhear their conversations with their headmaster which was more about learning than just playing a game.

Students from Over Primary School learning with Minecraft Software.
The pupils were tasked with having to build a rocket to send a message into space, but they first had to produce the materials which in this case was iron.  To get to the iron they needed to smelt the ore which needed heat.  This required wood to burn so they had to learn about growing trees, grow the trees and then cut them down, make fire, smelt the ore and then turn it into iron.
The questions were all centred about the process and so it would seem that a popular computer game could be used to stimulate learning in a different way.  Great for visual learners and of course for pupils with dyslexia.

I attended a talk from the head master of Great AbingtonPrimary School, Guy Underwood, who detailed their transition to using Google Classroom to support learning using Chromebooks and Android tablets.  This was a fascinating insight into how multimedia technology can be used to not only support learning but aid the transparency of what the pupils are learning engaging not only teachers and pupils but also the wider community.

A highlight for me was to take part in recording a radio drama using Audacity (free and open source) software with about ten other teachers.  The workshop involved teamwork, imagination and a lot of fun with technology.  Again this is an activity that is hugely inclusive.  I will post the resultant recording when I get a copy of it to this blog!

Finally, I took part in the Freeing The Mind (Removing the barriers to SEND) workshop with Richard Riley from the ICT Service.

The aim of the workshop was to find ways to remove the barriers for creativity for pupils with SEN challenges and we got the group to put together a digital mind map of what we all thought were significant points in removing the barriers for pupils with SEN.  The mindmapping exercise did not require any skill in spelling or grammar. The aim was to just get the ideas out and then export the resultant mindmap into a Word document which could then be checked using SprintPlus, text to speech software for phonetic spelling, homophone usage and be read out using the speech technology.
Click here for more information about SprintPlus

The workshop showed us all how there are times when accurate spelling and grammar are important, but sometimes it is more important in a classroom to empower pupils to be creative first and then be accurate later.
The workshop used Widgit Software’s Ideas Mind Mappingsoftware and Jabbla’s SprintPlus text to speech software.  Both available for purchase.

Personally I loved attending today.  It would be impossible to come to this conference and not be inspired as a teacher to try great new ways of learning through technology and I commend The ICT Service for a successful conference.