Sacred Heart School

Each month we will visit a new school to see how they use software in their classrooms. This month Sacred Heart School, Portlaoise tell us how they use software.

SacredHeartSchool Portlaoise Crest

Sacred Heart School ( is a primary school catering for children from junior infants to sixth class level in Portlaoise Co. Laois. The school network is based on Windows XP. 
The school has a fully equipped computer room complete with sixteen networked computers, a teacher workstation with a laptop and data projector.  All classrooms are equipped with at least one PC which is also part of the school network. 
ICT is integrated at all levels in school. Classes are timetabled for twice weekly access to the computer room and can engage in follow-up activities in their classrooms. ICT programmes and activities are planned on a monthly basis and are directly linked to supporting and enhancing curriculum learning and teaching. 
All staff have full Internet access. Students are allowed Internet access under teacher supervision. Staff and students are encouraged to use technology in class and in their own work, where appropriate to support curriculum and project work. Sacred Heart School received the Digital School Award for excellence in ICT integration across the curriculum in 2006.

Sounds Great

Sounds Great contains two student CD-ROMs with interactive stories and activities to enhance the teaching and learning of phonics. All of the initial consonants, final-consonant 'x' and the short vowels are covered through an onscreen story – 26 in all – and up to six onscreen activities. The activities tackle letter names and sounds, rhyming words, word building and decoding skills. Children are guided through the stories and activities by friendly text. In addition, a third CD-ROM provides teachers with an assessment facility through the use of quizzes, and records the children's scores on a class list. Other teacher resources include lesson plans which give ideas for whole-class activities and independent work. There are story overviews available and a set of eight photocopiable worksheets for completion away from the computer. The children were motivated to use the program because it was colourful, interactive and easy to use.

Rainbow Readers

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Rainbow Readers Complete Pack is aimed at helping children to learn to read or those with special needs. It includes a Teacher's Guide, 26 talking books and 56 interactive activities, all on CD-ROM. It also comprises a set of 26 alphabetically based reading books, which include appendices, useful during group reading at word level: the entire story printed over just two pages, a list of new words, a related spelling list, copies of letters to practice in handwriting, a phonic practice list and an alphabetical useful word list.

The stories can be read through by the children themselves, or there is a 'read to me' option. The interactive activities are based on phonic awareness and provide a reward on completion, for example, watching a rocket launch or watching one of the characters perform a task. The activities are also timed, giving encouragement for the child to re-do the task and 'better' his/her score. The Pack is aimed at first time readers and older children with Special Needs. The Teachers Book is aimed at saving time, providing resource sheets for spelling, handwriting and phonics work. It is possible to use the software on stand alone machines as well as on a network and is useful for whole class teaching, particularly, when using an Interactive white board. The activities and books also help to develop basic ICT skills such as mouse control.

Who Stole Mona?

Designed specifically for Irish children, by teachers Robbie O'Leary and Simon Lewis, this program takes children on a virtual tour of all the existing and applicant EU countries as they seek to discover which cunning thief has stolen the Mona Lisa painting from its home in Paris. Based on the best-selling CD ROM Who took the Book? by the same authors, this detective-style quest fully engages children, as they decipher the clues they retrieve, and ultimately, by a process of deduction, discover which of sixteen suspects is responsible for this dreadful act.

More than an interactive geography lesson, Who Stole Mona? Includes a vast range of historical and cultural information as well as extensive Mathematics and English activities cleverly integrated. It ensures that children read, remember, research, calculate and solve problems throughout the adventure. Based on the recommendations of the Revised Primary Curriculum, Who Stole Mona? promotes discovery-based learning, including collaboration, problem-solving and active engagement with meaningful activities. This is a cross curricular title which children will find appealing and enjoyable as they embark on their mission, tracking down the missing painting and the perpetrator of the crime.

Once they work out the clue to a particular country children must complete a curricular activity to proceed. This could involve a piece of comprehension, a mathematical problem or, indeed, a geographical exercise that may include a consultation with their Infopad (an easily accessible database of information of all the relevant countries). At regular intervals a text message arrives courtesy of the pop-up mobile phone that will assist the virtual detectives in eliminating one or more suspects, and bringing them closer to identifying the thief.

Who Stole Mona? is suited to collaborative group work in fifth and sixth classes and with teacher guidance numerous extension and follow-up activities can be undertaken.
With Who Stole Mona? the authors have succeeded in creating a series of educational activities which are varied, challenging and interactive and are enhanced with superb graphics, video, sound and animation.

Know Your Ireland

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Know Your Ireland is a map based geography application designed to help students of all ages to develop and test their knowledge of Irish geography. Students are introduced to provinces, counties, towns, mountains and rivers.
Know Your Ireland presents the user with maps of Ireland which they interact with to complete quizzes and games. It offers a unique learning concept in that Know Your Ireland utilises three styles and levels of learning thus enabling the user to learn at their own pace. The programme also includes a series of high quality worksheets which can be printed and photocopied for use in class. The programme allows for the teacher to track the progress of each student therefore allowing the teacher to focus on areas of the curriculum where students are having difficulty. Know Your Ireland was developed in consultation with teachers and the Irish primary school geography curriculum and is ideal for use with senior primary school students ages 9 – 12.


The Computer Classroom Series

The Computer Classroom Series is a fully interactive educational tool developed from the primary school curriculum and suitable for children 5 or 6 years old. Published by Nightingale Press, The Computer Classroom Series contains four levels with approximately thirty units of interactive learning in each which incorporate graphics, animation, text and sound. Students self-select from a numbered index and may repeat units at any time. The units are designed to assist understanding and reinforce the learning process. Any unit may be repeated as often as desired. Each level represents approximately 15 hours of interactive learning and covers the equivalent of 1 year's work. The software keeps a running record of units completed. Lessons may be terminated and restarted at any time. Each level incorporates activities in Maths, Language, Reading, Spelling, Writing and Punctuation. The Computer Classroom series is well designed and user friendly. It can be used as reinforcement and enrichment. Children find that they can direct their learning of work in peer groups. Sample mathematics units from level 2 include Numeration, Space and Measurement. The Numeration unit incorporates ordering numbers 1-10, ordering first to last, introducing the + and = sign, adding to 10, problem solving with  addition, introducing the - and = sign, subtraction number sentences. The Space unit includes matching 2D shapes to their names, counting angles and sides, completing patterns, investigating symmetry, building grids, naming different types of lines, investigating open and closed shapes, matching 3D objects to their names. Sample literacy units at level 2 include Reading, Spelling, Writing and Punctuation. Reading takes the form of poetry and prose presented in various ways through video, text, voice and music. Reading for meaning is emphasised with opportunities to complete sentences using words in context and answering questions.  Spelling is reinforced through the Look, Cover, Type, Check method. Word building activities are included in several of the units, assisting the students to build upon their knowledge of spelling patterns and bank of sight words. Writing takes the form of choosing story paths to create a variety of real or nonsense stories. The variety of descriptions and simple plots in the stories are appealing. Punctuation in the form of capital letters, full stops and question marks is taught in context.


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Is sraith leabhair leictreonacha mar áis foghlama (léamh agus scríobh na Gaeilge) é Lóbó. Tá gníomhaíochtaí le dul ag gach scéal. Is dlúthdhiosca idirghniomhach é Lóbó. Tá naoi scéal ar an dlúthdhiosca agus cluichi le gach ceann. Baineann na scéalta le téamaí an Churaclaim Nua. Is iad San Ospidéal, Lá Breithe, sa Sorcas, sa domhan fo-thoinn, Lá ‘le Pádraig, sa Bhaile, san Ollmhargadh, sa Choill agus óíche Shamhna.

Ta timpeal dódhéag leathanch le gach scéal. Cuir síos ilmheánach atá ann le pictiúrtha éifeachtacha, gluaiseachtaí, caint, giotaí ceoil agus téacs i ngach ceann acu. Tá an canúint cruinn soiléir. Léitear an scéal ós ard dona páisti ag an dtús agus is féidir leo focal ar bith aa chloistéail arís ach é a bhrú. Tá deich gníomhaíocht bunaithe ar gach scéal. Tugtar rogha dona páistí iad a dhéanamh tar éis an scéal a chloisteáil. Is iad sampla dena cluichí ná “lion na bearnaí”, “crosfhocal”, “fuaim le focal”, “fuaim le pictiúr”, “rogha freagrai” agus a léithéid. Tá mórán ar an dlúthdhiosca seo agus bainfidh meán agus ardranganna sástacht agus tairbhe as.

Microsoft Photostory 3

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Photo Story 3 allows the user to edit pictures and to create a slideshow with the digital images. The picture or photo-story can be enhanced with the addition of music, narration, motion, special effects, transitions and text. Photo Story 3 includes pan and zoom effects, picture rotation, and cropping tools to customize photos. It facilitates composition of an original soundtrack from directly within the programme. The touch-up features make it easy to remove red eye and correct the lighting of pictures. There are also several different options for saving a story and its associated project so that it can be edited later or shared immediately with others via e-mail, television, computer or a Windows Mobile-based portable device. To run Microsoft Photostory 3, Windows Media Player 10 or hugher must be installed. For more information about Photo Story 3, including how to get a copy, see Photo Story 3 for Windows.

Software Central have an evaluation of Photostory3 completed by another primary school teacher.

By Anne Maria Ryan (Sacred Heart School Teacher)

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