Reviewed by Bob Eckhard
While wandering around the BETT exhibition in a dazed state (normally associated with that last hour of a long hard day at Olympia!) I happened by chance to find rest at the Prim-Ed stand. Here, as I aimlessly surveyed the multitude of books before me, my eye was curiously drawn to something on the carousel display rack at my side. On closer inspection of the item, a sense of discovery began to dawn on me as I realised that the photocopiable workbook was no ordinary product but rather an innovative resource to be used in conjunction with the Internet! Was this the answer to the literacy co-ordinator's ICT dilemma? Read on .....
Armed with the three books, I arrived at school the next day ready for action with my year six class who would play guinea pig to the new materials in the computer room. The worksheet having been explained to the class, the pupils quickly accessed the Prim-Ed website (www.prim-ed.com/netschool) and began searching through the text for the relevant information that would provide answers for the questions on their sheets. This worksheet was well set out with helpful instructions and simple icons to inform the reader as to what questions would require searching of the screen text as opposed to other more conventional methods that could be carried out back in the classroom. All pupils seemed to understand this and set about the task with great relish.
In the period that followed, I observed pupils (in pairs) using a variety of different reading strategies, scaffolding one another, offering counter argument, reaching consensus, rephrasing answers, and much more. As the lesson was essentially intended as one to do with literacy, the workbooks (all of which have their emphasis on skills such as using alliteration, similes, etc) seemed to achieve their main objective of providing a genuine opportunity for the core subject to be delivered using ICT.
From the use of these materials in class, I concluded that although these resources do not always fit succinctly with a rigid following of the Literacy Hour, they do however provide an excellent opportunity for schools linked to the Internet to develop a range of language skills. Indeed, as the content of these book centres on texts and comprehension activities related to non-fiction, it is quite possible to see the appeal that this resource might have for boys who are often reluctant readers of fiction. However, a cautionary note must be given here as the level of reading required for some of the texts meant that at times they had to be confined to year 5/6 top set literacy groups.
In summary, the Internet Theme Series by Prim-Ed is a useful resource in any school's ICT development plan. The innovation of its easy-to-use website and resource pork is a great asset for teachers who nowadays spend much of their time before school running around trying to find and photocopy texts for use with literacy. Of course, not all of the texts are appropriate, though this criticism might be levelled against any scheme of work. In short, the Prim-Ed Internet Themes series is a useful resource collection and well worth the £30 (special offer) I paid late in the day on a tiring afternoon in January.
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