On Thursday I visited Cardinal Newman secondary again. Eileen Mallaghan PT computing introduced me to English teacher Patrick Mooney who is working with iMovie.

I was luckily enough to be able to visit two classes, one year one and one year two, and talk to Patrick and the pupils. Both classes were working on speech but it quickly became obvious that there was a lot more involved. The pupils task was to do a bit of research on a individual and talked about them. Patrick explained that the project had allowed pupils who had difficulty in staying focused during English lessons to become much more involved with their learning and motivated them to finish the work. In between the research and the ‘talk’ there was a pile of writing, co-operative working, ict, assessment (for learning) and the production of a movie for final assessment.

Patrick and the pupils explained the workflow. Starting with research, online and in the library the pupils gathered facts and images about an individual they were interested in. There was an impressive range of characters, Ann Frank, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, DJs, footballers and pop stars. Although the pupils worked on their research and writing individually they then worked in groups to film and record the talk and then work in iMovie to remove the video and add images to their movies. Just watching the pupils it was obvious how engaged with their work and their partners they were, eyes on screen, fingers pointing and a hum of quite conversation. When I spoke to the pupils they were all enthusiastic about working in this way and could identify many of the things that they were learning, most mentioned helping each other and being helped and the benefits of working in groups. Many appreciated the difference between talking to camera and talking to a whole class. Patrick was very clear on the improved motivation and discipline in the classes. He is cascading the practice to other classes in the department. The pupils were already talking about using iMovie for another project. At the end of one session we watch some of the finished movies, the children were all attentive and appreciative of each others movies. Apart from the ease with which the children were handling the software there was a nice atmosphere in both classes all the pupils seemed to be focused.

Patrick made the point that iMovie was perfect for this sort of work, he had used windows and moviemaker before but felt it was not as suited to the task as iMovie. Previously a pc user he is now converted to mac. The children were obviously at ease with both platforms, the classroom had a trolly of pc laptops, 4 mac minis and a few macbooks in evidence.

In the past Patrick has managed the project with one mac and was in no doubt of the practicality of the project with only one computer. It was great to see ict embedded in learning in a way that felt natural, the pupils found the ict element exciting but had been introduced to it in a way that the tech did not get in the way of the teach and I look forward to hearing more about Cardinal Newman’s use of ict in there classrooms.