Pedmore CE Primary School and the Year 4 Meerkats
Putting the RM Learning Platform to work for a very good cause
See how are the Year 4 Meerkats at Pedmore CE Primary School saving the rainforest using technology and the RM Learning Platform, and getting a lot of recognition for all of their commitment and hard work.
An Award-Winning School
There's just no stopping the staff and pupils at Pedmore CE Primary School in Stourbridge. In October 2010 they were the proud recipients of the RM Learning Platform Success Award for Community Links, and they were national finalists in the 'Make IT Happy' awards sponsored by the Government and businesses to help get the community online. In November Steph Ladbrooke, Year 4 teacher, Literacy Co-ordinator and accredited Philosophy for Children teacher, was selected for the UK final 10 in the Microsoft® Innovative Education Forum 2010 Awards for her philosophy-based project Towards a Community of Enquiry with her Year 4 pupils.
Speaking about her achievement Steph explained more about the project, "Through our enquiries and with technology as the enabler, children developed and applied their thinking skills in an exciting and diverse range of contexts. Our enquiries led to Geography mini-projects about Mountains and Rainforests, half-termly school assemblies with an RE focus, discussion threads, philosophy blogs, trips and presentations. Extensively using programs such as Microsoft® Office and through the RM Learning Platform, questionnaires showed that over a hundred parents & grandparents became more engaged in children's day to day learning as a result of this project."
Now they've gone and done it again, and they're been shortlisted in a national essay competition, giving two children, one from Year 4 and one from Year 6, the chance to represent the school in a national debate about rainforests. Very exciting stuff!
Rainforest Action Teams
Steph, once again the driving force behind the project, has embraced technology and the RM Learning Platform to enhance teaching and learning with her Year 4 pupils. Each year they choose a name and this year they are the Year 4 Meerkats, and their project is taking a close look at the plight of the world's rainforests.
When they started the project the Meerkats grouped themselves into Rainforest Action Teams with a very clear objective to come up with and implement ideas for making a positive difference to rainforest conservation. Each team chose a name (including Team Tapir and The Red Eye Tree Frogs!) and used a wikispace on the RM Learning Platform to post and share their research about rainforests. Using their research they've expanded their wikispaces to shape their ideas about saving the rainforests, such as saving electricity, recycling more and refusing to buy products that damage the rainforests.
Keeping an eye on the rainforests via the Web
They've also embedded Web cam links in the RM Learning Platform to closely follow activities in the rainforests in Brazil and Ecuador, thanks to the World Land Trust. And when they're posting their news and views on other sites such as VoiceThread, e-safety is a top priority so they have 'cryptonyms' to post with, and they keep a directory in the RM Learning Platform. This allows them to have a public voice about such an important subject, whilst safely using anonymous names such as Toucan, Tree Frog and Cougar.
During this latest project they've also had support from Mandeep Atwall, Taking IT Global (a Microsoft Partner organisation) who worked with the Meerkats on their initial ideas, and following her visit each team created a Project Action video. They will soon be posting these in the RM Learning Platform to share with fellow pupils, parents and other members of the community.
There's no stopping the Meerkats!
In the next stage of the project the Meerkats wrote essays about their ideas for saving the rainforests. 19 of these (9 from Year 4 and 10 from Year 6) were submitted as entries for the Living Rainforest National Essay Competition - in all, 14 were shortlisted - 9 children from Year 4 and 5 from Year 6. The next step is the National Rainforest Debate in March.
But their efforts don't just stop there. Through the World Land Trust the School and the Meerkats have purchased half an acre of rainforest in India to help create a corridor for elephants to move from one region to another. And closer to home they have been lobbying their local MP about national woodlands in the UK, and she will soon be visiting them to see the fantastic work they have been doing, and the positive effect of technology on the children's learning.
We think their use of technology and the RM Learning Platform is well worth all the recognition it's received, especially for such worthy causes. But the final word goes to Head teacher Bev Hartland Smith whose leadership and vision has supported the embedding of technology and platform-based learning from day one; Bev added, "I'm delighted that Steph has been recognised for her innovative approach to using ICT as a tool for children's learning. She has a real flair for seeing the links in learning and making it exciting and relevant for children. We're very proud of her achievements."