They had to research what a circus was and what would happen if it came to their school. They also took on roles as clowns, animals and acrobats and had to prepare their performances.
To help them prepare for the circus the teacher introduced the character of Koko the Clown.
Talking to Koko the ClownThe class teacher realised that Glow could be used both as both a stimulus and catalyst for the project by bringing Koko the Clown into the classroom using Glow Meet.
She press-ganged a willing volunteer into the role of Koko, who, in the clown costume and make-up, used another room in the school with a computer and webcam to communicate with the children via Glow.
Using the class’s interactive whiteboard she logged into Glow, initially with the camera turned off so only the audio was available. When Koko spoke, the children could hear a voice in the room but they couldn’t work out who it was or where it was coming from. It wasn’t long before one of the children shouted 'Maybe it’s Koko', at which moment she brought up the video link, presenting a huge image of Koko on the interactive whiteboard.
The reaction in the room was one which neither the pupils nor the staff in the class will ever forget. In fact they still talk about the day the clown came to St James’s. The impact upon the children was instant. Pupils who might have been reticent to ask questions in front of others in the past were keen to talk to Koko.
Using the shared whiteboard within Glow, the children and Koko brainstormed ideas about how to set up a circus in their school, what resources might be needed and who might be involved.
The pupils’ enthusiasm continued to rocket after this activity. Koko the clown ended up becoming a bigger part of the circus than the teacher had ever imagined, as the children loved the excitement of having a clown as a 'consultant' to them for their project.
Improving literacy skills
The children often sought Koko's advice on setting up a circus by using Glow Messenger.
This was used in preference to Glow Chat as the member of staff answering their questions was able to do this under the display name of Koko, thus ensuring tjat the ‘magic’ of Koko the Clown was maintained.
Messages would suddenly appear on the interactive whiteboard saying 'Hello, it’s Koko the Clown here. Are you the school that is putting on a circus?' The children quickly noticed the words appearing and became quite excited. They began to decode the messages and this was highly engaging, especially for some of the reluctant readers in the class. The children suggested suitable replies, offering spelling for words and sentence construction. This was a way of providing ‘backdoor’ language lessons and practice under the guise of fun!
Enabling the pupil voice
At appropriate times during the project the teacher experimented with the Glow survey tool, which allowed the children to vote in X Factor style. This allowed the teacher to personalise the learning by encouraging every pupil to have a say in planning the next steps.
As the project took off, the class teacher created a Glow Group. This enabled both her and the children to continue learning outside the classroom and provided an easily accessible space for collaborative working.
The pupils could post up their planning and ideas for the ‘Circus Big Opening Night’ on a discussion board - a secure and safe environment controlled by their teacher.
As the project progressed, the class uploaded photos, artwork and video clips of their work and the children were encouraged to peer assess and leave comments.
Through Glow the children had the ability to access their class work at any time and from any location. A lot of the children, with the help of their parents, accessed their Glow Group from home and were able to show their parents what they had been doing in class that day.
Building on the home-school links
The class teacher was quick to realise the potential that this close relationship between school and home provided.
Inside the Glow Group the teacher uploaded current news and events and posted homework tasks. These tasks included hints and tips for the parents on how best to maximize their children’s learning. She provided additional resources and web links, reinforcing what was happening in the classroom with learning at home. The parents were highly enthusiastic, saying they felt truly involved in their children’s learning.