‘Improving Literacy Through New Technology’ – 5th July with Pie Corbett and DeputyMitchell


I had been rather excited about this conference since its conception earlier in 2013. I have hosted a number of conferences with Pie Corbett over the last 18 months with each one offering a unique learning experience for me. Throughout my life, Literacy has been a battle, a battle which at school I kept on losing. There’s something about understanding failure that ignites a passion, a passion shared by one Pie Corbett. Pie and I agreed little over a year ago, that we would begin a journey together. This journey has since become a mission to not only improve the teaching of writing, but showcase methods and tools we feel should be an entitlement for ALL children. This conference at The Palace hotel in Manchester hosted our latest efforts to do just that!

Pie spoke with experience and wisdom about the teaching of writing, then he led a scintillating shared writing session using the delegates – as he would children in class. The results (below) were astonishing:

‘Drifting snow powdered the dark, desolate forest, smothering the silent earth like a polar bear’s coat. Bernard peered out of the window from his little stone hut, wondering if he would ever see his father’s familiar face again! The full moon stared through the skeletal trees like a knowing eye. At that moment, he heard the rhythmic beating of wings. Scanning the skies, Bernard could just make out a scaly shadow. Was it the dragon?’

What was rather special about this conference was the collaboration going on beyond the conference. 6000 pupils across the UK (including a school in New Zealand) were registered on this blog poised to use the results of the shared writing in lessons. Once 11am arrived and the shared writing session was complete, the prompt was uploaded and children from all over the UK got stuck in using this writing as prompt to develop.

I thoroughly enjoyed delivering my part of the morning showcasing the journey my learners went on over the last 4 years. It’s powerful stuff and the real life examples of the impact the use of blogging and Web2.0 tools I used hopefully challenged delegates to try some new tools or to take a risk and try something different.

After lunch, it was time to showcase one of the most powerful Web2.0 tools out there as far as I’m concerned – Coveritlive. I have used Coveritlive for nearly 4 years now. Here are a few examples of how I have used it with my pupils.

Coveritive is a tool that allows you to open an interactive window inside a blog post. Through this window, you can share audio, images, video and chat simultaneously with any body viewing that particular blog post. When pupils are on one side and a ‘Literacy Expert’ on the other, this is the result:

You onlyhave to scroll through to see the impact such targeted formative assessment is having on these pupils. Thanks to Cherise Duxbury’s class for taking part!

I runded off the conference showcasing a couple of examples of Voicethreads that I had used. During the conference, we had taken a close look at the teaching of writing, however, it’s what to do with it that is important too. Here are a couple of Voicethreads that show this quite powerfully:

This Voicethread shows the potential use as a tool to perform writing:

This Voicethread shows the potential for peer assessment:

This conference felt good, it felt right and the children working behind the scenes on these two blogs:

Project Blog
Backup Project Blog

Please visit the blogs and add comments if you can spare a couple of minutes.


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