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Kar2ouche Primary

  1. Published by Kar2ouche.

  2. Cross-curricular

  3. KS2

KS2 Content Evaluation by Wendy Kirkman

The educational theory behind Kar2ouche is that children learn best when they are engaged in making choices and decisions using the advanced visualisation techniques usually found only in computer games. Kar2ouche Romans is one of a series of titles designed with this in mind. I for one will certainly be looking at acquiring Kar2ouche Primary Shakespeare too.

The title supports the Key Stage 2 History Unit on Early Peoples, including subject specific vocabulary. Children will certainly learn a lot from experimenting in creating Roman environments and are sure to enjoy the experience, whilst improving their ICT skills whatever their starting point. The multimedia approach is ideal for work in English and Drama, as well.

Support materials are of good quality and include specific lesson ideas for using with the program. The latter are fairly basic, but provide a few ideas. Movie presentations can be produced, or screens can simply be printed out.

There is opportunity for stretching the most able pupils, while Special Educational Needs pupils can gain from the experience too.

I installed Kar2ouche on a Compaq Armada V300 using the Typical Option, which allowed use of the program without the CD-ROM being in the drive. This is recommended for improved performance, but takes about 500Mb (Compact installation takes about 50Mb and needs the CD-ROM in the drive). Installation is easy and the accompanying User Guide offers extensive help with all aspects of use.

I found no conflict with other programs. The lesson plans give suggestions for copying Kar2ouche screens into Word documents.

The program loaded quickly and generally responded quickly to child's input. It also closed down quickly when required, without tedious credits.

_Curriculum Relevance
This title offers excellent support for the study of Roman daily life and the life of a soldier. It helps place Roman Britain in a chronological framework. Within a historical framework, it encourages pupils to be creative and can be used to design storyboards for a dramatic presentation. Pupils can write their own story to accompany the picture frames and record the text.

Through using the worksheets accompanying this program, children can develop ideas from plan to structured written text, practice note making and make inferences and deductions.

Pupils will learn scrolling techniques to move efficiently between pages develop mouse control and drag and drop skills and combine text and graphics amongst other ICT skills.

Design & Navigation
Navigation is fairly simple, with large coloured icons to the right and bottom of the screen.

The Kar2ouche Quick-Start Guide lives up to its name and is supplied on card for durability. A second card gives a guide to more advanced features such as changing the composition of layers to give 'depth of field' effect.

The graphics are clear and engaging and the program offers a large variety of backgrounds, characters and props for manipulation.

The stories can be read, or listened to and children can record their own sound clips. In fact, it is possible to play up to four clips simultaneously.

Ease of Use
Clear icons explained as the mouse hovers over them, make for easy use of the title. Year 3 children, including some with mild learning difficulties, soon got to grips with the basics.

The accompanying user guide consists of Quick Start Guide Cards and the more detailed notes elaborate on more complicated features. References are given for customer support, via website, email, post, telephone and fax!

Special Needs
The clear visual impact of the program appeals to the less able pupil. Some photocopiable worksheets are provided at two levels to cater also for the younger, or less able. Other sheets are divided into sections, which begin more simply and advance to more demanding tasks.

Kar2ouche is intended to be flexible and versatile enough to cater for a wide range of abilities.

The backup material is extensive and fairly well designed. There are hard copies of the glossary and texts, lesson ideas and photocopiable worksheets for History, English and Literacy. The worksheets provide useful starting points, but could, I feel be improved on (on History Sheet 3.2 for example, a picture had been superimposed, obscuring part of the text). They provide differentiation and are intended to be used with Years 3-6 across the whole range of abilities.

It is possible to take out membership with Immersive Education and this entitles you to supplementary materials on a termly basis.

Kar2ouche Romans offers an excellent medium for enriching pupils' learning about Roman Britain by means of a cross-curricular and flexible approach. The package is engaging to the whole junior age range with its attractive graphics and clear icons. It is easy to use, but can incorporate high order skills in its advanced features. It is intended for use by pairs, or small groups.

KS2 Classroom Evaluation by Wendy Kirkman

I was impressed with the versatility of the program, as was the English coordinator who hopes to purchase the Primary Shakespeare title for the school too.

The Quick Start guide allowed to me to get stuck in without too much preparation and it was easy to look up anything I was in
doubt about.

Children were impressed with the wide range of graphics, which enabled them very quickly to create picture frames. They were soon involved in heated discussions on improving and extending their presentation. I used it with younger pupils, but I can see that it could challenge even the brighter older child.

Teaching with this Product
This program offers a flexible medium in which pupils can extend their learning about the Roman period, whilst improving their ICT skills. Children were involved in making choices and decisions and for this reason I decided that they should work in pairs, or small groups.

Its advantages for classroom use were the wide range of attractive graphics and ease of navigation. After a couple of sessions, Year 3 children were confident enough to create a presentation of three frames, including audio.

Classroom Organisation
I introduced the title to small groups of Year 3 children working in a computer club after school. They had been chosen to attend the club because they had no access to computers outside school and we wanted to offer some positive discrimination to close the gap between them and other more advantaged pupils. They did have some previous experience of creating pages with a background and objects, using other software. We have been studying The Romans and had paid a visit to Caerleon, an excellent example of a Roman fortress with remains of baths, barracks and amphitheatre. The children worked in small groups.

Use of ICT to Achieve Objectives
This title offered excellent opportunities to study Roman life and enabled pupils to recreate scenes from the period for themselves. The glossary helped with specific historical vocabulary. It offered a good way to assess pupils' learning at the end of a project to see if they had an appropriate sense of period and could use correct terms such as hypocaust.

There are endless opportunities for improving Literacy through a historical topic using ICT. Pupils can read and listen to the
stories. They can write their own stories, or dialogues and record themselves reading them.

Using this Product
Children had previous experience (with other software) of loading backgrounds and adding characters. They found it very easy to get to grips with dragging and dropping, manipulating characters, improving their mouse control and using a range of formatting skills to collect and present information.

It offered opportunities of collaborative work on creating presentations for parents, or other children.

Monitoring & Assessment
Teacher observation and examination of finished presentations will be needed to monitor and assess the pupils' skills.

Special Needs
Less able children found the icons easy to use and were inspired to learn more about the Romans. They were able to listen to the prepared story texts and select samples to accompany their own picture frames.

The worksheets cater for a range of levels of ability.

KS2 Content Evaluation by Spencer Cartwright

Kar2ouche is a cross-curricular graphics based program that uses multimedia-authoring tools to create storyboards, animations and publications to support learning. The program is highly visual and is intended to allow pupils to explore and interpret texts, while developing their creative expression. This version of the program came with a content library based around the study of Romans and so is linked to the historical study of Romans. The program allows pupils to generate scenes using pre-loaded backgrounds, characters and objects, to create graphics based on a text extract, or to create their own stories. Visually the program is stunning with excellent graphics and 3D-models that can be rotated, scaled, re-coloured and placed onto a superbly rendered background. The program has an easy to master interface and is intuitive to use. The program allows pupils to construct high quality visual representations enabling them to interpret situations in a new and exciting way.

Installation of Kar2ouche was simple and straightforward. Auto run starts the installation program automatically, whereupon you are presented with three choices - install, run, or cancel. Choosing install starts the installation routine, which asks for the usual user information (name, company and serial number) followed by the type of installation (typical, compact, custom). After that the relevant program files are installed from the CD-ROM. Interestingly, the program installs all the files it requires onto the computer's hard disk, meaning the program can run without the CD-ROM being present. In a busy classroom, I often start a program only to find I've neglected to put the CD-ROM in the drive, so I appreciated this feature. The program loads quickly and runs at a good speed. It does require a lower specification of screen resolution/ desktop area than is perhaps the standard on most computers, but it takes care of this automatically and restores the settings on exiting the program.

Curriculum Relevance
Kar2ouche Primary Curriculum Romans is designed to support a study unit on the Romans in Britain. It fits in well with the appropriate National Curriculum requirements. There are opportunities to work on Literacy and English skills and, of course to develop ICT capability. The program is not a teaching program, by which I mean the children will not learn much about the Romans beyond what they can gain visually from the program. The teacher (and then the learner) has to be an active user of the program to gain maximum benefit. The program can create good learning opportunities, but these need to be carefully planned in order to use the program in a meaningful way. The program allows for the easy creation of stunning pictures, but to use the program just as a graphics program would be missing the point. The educational benefit of the program is gained from the way users compose, interact and respond to the graphics and any associated text.

Design & Navigation
The program is colour and icon based. The program's interface is very intuitive and easy to learn. It uses a system of colour coded tabbed layers to access the various features. These are organised in a logical way and it is quick and easy to jump from one part to another. There are several tools that can be accessed via buttons, causing them to pop out. This means that the working environment is never cluttered, allowing the user to concentrate on the task in hand without getting distracted. A nice touch is the graphic libraries can show either one, or multiple images at time. This allows users to easily find the image they are looking for. However, if you leave the library and return to it later, it returns to the standard on image view. The children found the program easy to navigate and learn, in part mainly to the use of icons and colours. The children quickly picked up on the drag and drop nature of the composition window and were easily switching between layers and tools when they needed to. The only part that caused some difficulty was right clicking on an object or character, to access its properties menu (the Manipulator), especially when they wanted to work with more than one object/ character. However, once the children began to think more logically about what they needed to do and realised that the program highlights the object/ character currently selected, they became much more proficient at it. The whole program had a very "clickable" feel to it, due in part to its large 3D-tabs. This was especially true when we used it on an interactive whiteboard.

The program's utilities (print, save, options etc.) were also very easy to use and configure. The main functions of loading, saving and printing were all accessed from the tabbed layer system and again, accompanied by easy to interpret icons. The program also contained a section to allow the teacher to turn certain features on or off, specify file directories, or to restrict access to certain elements of the program. All these options were password protected and quick and easy to change.

Ease of Use
The program is a powerful one, enabling the user to generate impressive graphics, but is intuitive and easy to use. The whole program is driven by drag, drop and click methods of operation, in a highly visual environment. The children found the program easy to learn, quickly mastering the basic principles and controls. The package came with two double-sided A4 Quick Start guides (one for basic features, the other for advanced). These were very helpful and allowed the user to quickly learn how to do something she/ he hadn't been able to work out for him/ herself. The more detailed instruction manual was also very clear and user-friendly, particularly since there was a comprehensive section structured in a "How do I ....?" format. There is not an online help system, but I don't think one was necessary, given the intuitive nature of the program. The ease of use was also enhanced by "tool tips" - labels that appear when the mouse cursor hovers over a button.

The different aspects of production (graphics, audio, presentation etc.) are grouped together on different colour coded tabbed layers, making easy to switch between different components and to keep track of what you are working on at any one time. The whole process of assembling a storyboard is extremely logical, linked together by a visual timeline that displays the different scenes with the soundtrack. Controls for playback are clear, consisting of the usual video controls with the option for full screen playback. Saving and loading too are a simple matter.

One feature that seems to be missing is the ability to compile one storyboard from several files. If, for example, a class is working on one project and each child takes a different aspect of the topic and creates an associated storyboard, there is no way to compile all the children's work together in one master file. I don't know whether this option is available with a networked version of the program, since the evaluation was carried out on a standalone version.

Special Needs
The program does not have any specific Special Educational Needs features, but it does have options that allow Special Educational Needs children access to the program. The fact that the text can have an associated sound file means that children can use text that is above their reading ability. The colour-coded and icon driven nature of the program makes it easy to follow,
there is little onscreen text to read. There is the ability to change the screen fonts for certain elements, which could help visually impaired children. The whole package could suit some children's style of learning where, for example, visual representations of text help them to understand and interpret stories and play scripts. The program encourages pupils to become engaged with text in a non-threatening way and so may help reluctant readers, or those who find more traditional approaches to Literacy difficult.

The package under evaluation came with two pre-loaded stories - "The Sussex Horde" and "Romulus and Remus". These are used in several of the lesson plans offered in the Education Support Pack. Both the stories and lessons offer a way of using the program in different Curriculum areas, but are perhaps best suited to upper Key Stage 2. Certainly the level of the text (due to the language used and inference needed) would mean that younger children would find the stories hard going. It would have been good to have included some more straightforward stories (A Day in the Life of..., A Tradesmen Comes to Town, for example), which would have been easier for younger children to follow and at the same time learn about Roman life. The lesson plans are comprehensive and demonstrate the various ways the program can be used. Many of them would need more than one session to complete.

One of the big features of the program is the fact that it is open-ended. Although this particular title is based on the topic of the Romans, the material it contains can be used in many different ways, in several Curriculum areas. The flexible nature of the program means that children's learning can be either through guided activities, or by discovery. A competent teacher would be able to gain much from skilfully guiding pupils through the program accompanied by careful questioning.

Kar2ouche Primary Curriculum Romans provides opportunities to explore and interpret texts using a storyboard approach. The quality of the program is high, from its user-interface to the graphic files that are supplied. The program is simple and intuitive to use, making good use of icons and colours to guide the user though its powerful features. The nature of the program encourages exploration and discovery, rather that completing tasks in a pre-determined manner. This is a program that can stimulate discussion and debate between its users, if used skilfully. To use the program only as a simple picture generator (although a valid and useful aspect of the program) would be to miss out on the programs full potential. Kar2ouche in my opinion does fulfil its remit of a "cross-curricular, role-playing program that engages pupils in highly visual environments". However, younger pupils will need the support of a skilful teacher in order for pupils to use the program to interpret texts and empathise with characters.

KS2 Classroom Evaluation by Spencer Cartwright

Our topic was The Romans and I used the Kar2ouche program after our visit to the Roman Baths at Bath. The Romans usually participated in several activities while at the baths and I used Kar2ouche to create a storyboard to show the various stages involved in a visit to a Roman bathhouse. The children were organised into groups and were supported either by a learning assistant, or myself. The children used the program to create scenes based on their knowledge of bathhouses and added text using speech and thought bubbles. Later, I created some text upon which to base the scenes, in order to give some groups more guidance. One group followed on from the work of the previous one - the aim being to create a class storyboard based on our visit.

Teaching with this Product
This title was used to support the study unit of Roman Britain. I used it with a class of Year 3 children who had already done some work on the topic before using the program. I wanted to use the program to allow the children to draw together the different aspects of their previous learning and to demonstrate their understanding. In particular, I wanted to concentrate on the learning associated with our recent trip to the Roman Baths at Bath and to develop the key skills of historical enquiry and interpretation. Due to the timing of the arrival of the package to be evaluated and term dates, the children were not allowed as much time to use the package as I would have liked. It also meant that I was only able to use the package at a preliminary level, rather than using it as an integrated aspect of the children's learning. I began by showing the children how the program can be used to create pictures. We explored the interface and "played" with the various tools that manipulate characters and objects. We discussed the suitability of the various characters provided and which scene they would be most appropriate for. Since we were concentrating on Roman Bath Houses, the choice of appropriate characters was somewhat limited. I feel it would have been useful to be able to see easily all the different poses that the characters had. For example, if you want to add a character that is sitting, you either have to remember which character can sit, or spend time searching through each characters' set of postures. We had many Roman Bath House backgrounds to choose from, each one beautifully drawn. Unfortunately, we couldn't actually place any of our characters in the water. The backgrounds are composed of one or more layers, objects in the foreground on one layer, objects in the distance on another. This enabled you to be able to place characters and objects behind each other. You could have a character coming out from behind a pillar for example, or have him sat behind a table. The water in the Bath House backgrounds was not a separate layered element, so we couldn't put our characters behind or "in" the water, which was a shame. Incidentally, I found teaching the concept of layers difficult until I played around with the properties of the backgrounds. Each component (background, character, object) has a property tab through which you can alter its colourings (colour, brightness, contrast, transparency etc.). By changing the different elements that go to make up a particular background to different colours, it was easy to see how the backgrounds were constructed and what each layer consisted of. Once the children were familiar with the program, I allowed groups to compose scenes based on what we had learnt from our visit. At first I allowed the children to construct their scene without much guidance, but then I felt it was necessary to impose a bit more structure to their work. I therefore used the text feature of the program to add some text, which described the various stages that a Roman person would go through in a typical visit to a Roman Bath House. For each stage the children could them compose a scene. This worked much better. The children then added appropriate speech, thought and comment boxes to their scenes. The idea was to then to add suitable sound (narration, dialogue and perhaps sound effects) to the completed storyboard. Unfortunately, we didn't manage to complete it before the end of term.

However, in that time the children had opportunities to reflect on the relationships that might have existed between a servant at the Bath House and the person he was serving. The children used the program to create scenes based on some role-play that we did at the Roman Baths, incorporating the knowledge they gained about what a person might need for their visit (strigils, oil flasks etc.). It is not surprising that we would have appreciated some of these items in the object library!

The children quickly learnt how to use the program with only the scale tool in the "Manipulator" tool box requiring a bit of practice to master. This required a click, hold and then a vertical drag to scale a selected object. The other tools (turn, pose) responded to a single click on an arrow, as well as horizontal dragging. However, after a little practice the children soon mastered the skill. Resizing of the speech and thought boxes was in the usual way, but some children found it hard to line up the cursor in the right place to make the resizing arrow available. I believe they would have found it easier to resize these boxes by first clicking on them which would then activated drag handles and used these handles to resize and move the boxes. This would certainly have made things easier when using the program on the interactive

Classroom Organisation
The main use of the program was through using an interactive whiteboard. This allowed the easy demonstration of the program and allowed children to share their work with others at the end of a session. The program was great to use in this way because the user interface had such large buttons to click, which made most aspects of the program easy to control using an interactive whiteboard. I could only install the program on one computer at a time, due to the restrictions of the single user licensed copy. Ideally, you would have all the children working on the program simultaneously (if you're using a computer suite). This would have made it easier to allow all the children time to develop their skills and explore their ideas. As it was, I organised the children into small groups and each group had a session using the interactive whiteboard as a large computer, supported by a teaching assistant, or myself. All the children had access to the program over the course of its use, through a rotation of activities.

As the activity developed over the weeks, I used the interactive whiteboard to review what previous groups had done and suggesting how the next group might continue the "story". At the end of the session, we would come together again to see what progress had been made. If using a site-licensed copy in a computer suite, it would be easy to divide the class up into groups and give specific aspects of the task to each group. For example, a group could be allocated a scene to create and then that group could be sub-divided into two, one creating the visuals, the other the audio. However, there may be difficulty in combining the results into one master storyboard, as mentioned earlier.

Use of ICT to Achieve Objectives
Kar2ouche Primary Romans was used to enhance the study of the Romans, a topic that we had already started when this program arrived for evaluation. Therefore I was using it to enable the consolidation of previous knowledge and understanding, rather introducing new material. However, due to the nature of the program, the children had access to a different set of learning experiences than pure knowledge acquisition. The children were able interpret and reflect on everyday Roman life as they created their scenes. I encouraged the children to think about how the characters would be interacting in the situation that they had just created. The children had to use their historical knowledge in a new way. These more implicit skills are difficult to teach in a subject such as History, but Kar2ouche did help towards some children having a better perspective on Roman life.

Kar2ouche is not designed to "teach" the children. It is more a utility program that allows children to be creative, but keep within the confines of the topic set by the teacher. The learning objectives it covers cannot be specified unless the program is used in a specific way. Nevertheless, this Kar2ouche title can be used to cover many objectives in Literacy and History, particularly interpretation and inference skills.

By using Kar2ouche Primary Romans, a teacher could cover some of the historical skills required by the National Curriculum and introduce some of the key information required. However, this program is a tool for investigating and exploring, rather than teaching factual information.

As stated in the evaluation, the teacher will need to be an active facilitator of learning when using this program, if the children are to gain maximum benefit from it. The lesson plans provided give good starting points to how the program might be used and what learning objective could be fulfilled. For my purposes, given the limited time with the program, I could only explore the fundamental aspects of using the program - that is picture creation, although I encourage the children as much as possible to use the text provided and to think about their historical knowledge to help them create authentic situations and to then reflect on the scene.

Using this Product
The program is very easy to learn. Although it creates stunning and professional results, the simplicity of the program makes it a pleasure to use. There was little additional ICT knowledge needed to access the full potential of the program. If you wanted to record a soundtrack using original sources (voice recording for example), you would need to be familiar with your computer's sound set up. Using the sound in Kar2ouche is very simple, just access the relevant file and drop it onto the storyboard's timeline.

Kar2ouche also has a record direct button, which allows you to use the computer's default sound recording settings to create an audio file. The program uses click, drag and drop to create the pictures, so users need to have a grasp of basic mouse controls. The program works well on an interactive whiteboard, although we did have difficulty when we wanted to resize text boxes (but this was easy to do using a mouse).

Monitoring & Assessment
The program does not offer any form of monitoring, or assessing of pupils work because it is not that kind of program. The teacher needs to be actively working alongside the children in order to get the best out their time with the program. In this way a teacher can monitor and assess the pupils' progress.

For my purposes, the end result of each group helped to show me how well the children had managed with the basic mechanics of the program. In most cases they coped will and were able to work things out for themselves that I had not previously showed them. As my children were working in groups of about five to eight children, it was difficult to assess individuals' contributions when I wasn't supporting that particular group. However, careful questioning and sharing of ideas at the end of the session was a good way to assess individuals. As the weeks progressed and the children became more used to thinking about how the characters might have interacted, they were more able to empathise with them, or to make inferences about Roman life. Quite often the children would want to research something that the discussion brought up and perhaps incorporate that into the developing storyboard.

One feature of the program that I liked was the ability to save the finished storyboard as a Quicktime file, allowing the children to take copies of their work away with them and view them on another computer, although file size might be a consideration here.

Special Needs
There were no children in this group with any relevant Special Educational Needs address by this program.