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World Religions

  1. Published by Indigo Learning

  2. KS2 (Years 3 - 6)

  3. RE

KS2 Content Evaluation by Julie Wilson

The software aims to cover the RE Curriculum at Key Stages 2 and 3. The accompanying booklet suggests that the language is suitable for 7-13 year olds. The articles are brief and the author felt that the software is best suited for 8-11 year olds, as older pupils would need to look up topics in greater depth. The title encourages pupils to perform their own research on a given religion, or topic whilst using their ICT skills. It allows teachers to set short tasks where pupils can simply look something up, or longer tasks, which involve copying pictures and text and adding their own work. The software is divided into sections according to religion and then subdivided into topics; each topic includes information and pictures. The software has a trail facility making the looking up of information easy. It encourages pupils to work independently by making research easier.

It is best suited to pupils working either individually, or as pairs who are using a classroom computer to look up topics for an RE lesson. It can also be used to promote ICT skills, as it is so well set out. The author felt that the software was easy to get to grips with even for the most reluctant ICT teacher.

The main weaknesses are that some of the photographs are not very clear and the use of the sound symbol is inconsistent. When clicking on the sound symbol, only the title is read out. Most articles contain words in italics. When these words are selected, a short explanation appears. When the sound symbol accompanying the title to the explanation is selected, the whole definition is heard.

The software was easy to install and did not cause any conflicts with other programs, nor did it alter the machine configuration. The software loaded quickly and responded well to input from the child. All the information loaded fast enough. The software does not have any web links. The software can be easily uninstalled.

Curriculum Relevance
The software supports the RE (and PHSE) Curriculum, as well as the parts of the English Curriculum concerned with research.
PHSE: 2e) to reflect on spiritual and cultural issues; 2l) to appreciate the range of religious identities in the UK; 4I) understand the differences and similarities between people arising from religion.

English: Reading for information - scanning, obtaining specific information.

Design & Navigation
There is no onscreen help. However, the accompanying booklet provides the user with enough information to use the software. There is an introductory sequence, which displays choices that the user needs to make. To reduce the amount of information, users are required to decide whether they wish to search by topic, or religion. The software is well designed so it is easy to move in and out of each section. A trail back facility enables the user to record which articles have been used, in the order that they have been used in.

It is possible to make electronic notes whilst using the application. By selecting 'notes' on the toolbar, WordPad is automatically opened. Small elements of text, or whole articles can be copied by selecting 'copy' from the tool bar and then highlighting the required text. Pictures can be copied by double clicking on them. These can then be pasted in to WordPad.

The language is appropriate for Key Stage 2 pupils. The software can be used by pupils unsupervised and is suitable for use in pairs, or individually. The search facilities are ideal for Key Stage 2 pupils, as they are easy and straightforward to use. The software is genuinely interactive, as pupils can use the information to create their own scrapbook.

Ease of Use
Pupils can use the software with a minimum amount of help. The software is clearly set out and it is easy to move around. The vocabulary is accessible to the pupils. The index is in alphabetical order and the search facilities are logically set out. The trail facility enables pupils to navigate back through the software and they can work without supervision.

There are pictures accompanying the text. Definitions of vocabulary can be listened to, but the main articles themselves are not accompanied by sound and there are no video clips.

In order to finish using the software, the user needs to click on the cross in the top right hand corner of the screen.

The supporting documentation is clearly separated into chapters dealing with running the software, photocopiable sheets and ideas for use in the classroom. It provides information on what the software does and how it works without actually running the software. The classroom information is appropriate for Key Stage 2 pupils and the worksheets are designed so that they can be adapted for individual use.

The software encourages pupils to use an index facility to look things up. When reading a text, pupils will see important words in italics, which when selected, will provide a definition. Pupils are able to conduct their own research and make their own notes either in written form, or electronically. This in turn leads to the suggestion that pupils can combine different sources of information in their own work. The software could be used to support a number of objectives of the Literacy Hour, particularly in searching and locating information.
It would be most appropriate to use when pupils were learning how to conduct their own research and make their own notes. Once the work is completed, it can be printed and shared with the class. If pupils have not completed their research, they can still share ideas such as how they looked up a particular topic/ word with their class. The reading age of the software best suits Key Stage 2 pupils. The author felt that it may be slightly too easy for Key Stage 3 pupils. There are no drop down menus and it is possible to listen to some pieces of information. There are no differentiated text versions available. It is possible for a poor speller to look up information, as there are a number ways that information can be access: by using an index, or by viewing all the topics available.

Special Needs
Neither the size nor the colour of the text can be altered for young, or visually impaired children. The author felt that if the teacher needed to make text larger, one option would be to copy it and then enlarge the font in a word processing application. Some text can be spoken, although this is not the main body of text, only definitions of words. The software cannot be personalised in any way. Pupils who have short attention spans, or who have difficulty looking up information in books would benefit from using the software. It can easily be launched and operated by children working independently.

No exercises are offered onscreen. However, the accompanying booklet contains some general exercises that can be used to supplement research of any of the religions.

The title is aimed at Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils for supporting the RE Curriculum. It is easy to navigate and the articles are divided in to topics and religions thus making it easy for pupils to perform searches. There are accompanying pictures with most articles. There is a notebook facility, which is very easy to use. Pupils are able to copy chunks of text and pictures into the notebook.

The handbook supporting the software is clearly presented and it includes a number of worksheets, which contain a basic framework of questions, or research. These worksheets can be used for whatever religion is being studied.

The author felt that this approach was suitable for Key Stage 2 pupils. The software appears to be straightforward for all Key Stage 2 pupils to use to supplement any research that they may be doing. The articles give a taster of information without going into too much depth, or detail.

KS2 Classroom Evaluation by Julie Wilson

Pupils were working on The New Testament in their RE lessons. A set of questions was prepared, which the pupils had to answer. The author ran through how to use the title and then pupils worked through the questions in pairs. Once they were familiar with the title, pupils were then given another exercise, which required more skills. This time they worked alone and had to find some information, copy it into WordPad and then write a set of questions accompanying the text. They then tried to answer each other's questions.

Although at first glance pupils were not keen to use the title, as they had recently been using software that contained a greater element of 'fun', the work went very well. Pupils found it easy to use and to navigate around and they were able to get on without teacher intervention. The pupils managed to research the topics, which were being covered in their RE lessons without becoming too bogged down with too much information.

Teaching with this Product
The key learning and teaching objectives of the lessons were:
ICT: To use indexes, copy information and then use it. To explore the use of Links.
RE: To conduct their own research to find out information about Jesus and His life and disciples.

These objectives were met by using the title and giving the pupils short tasks to complete. The title was helpful in allowing pupils to quickly retrieve information. The title may not be appropriate if pupils were trying to research a topic in real depth, as the articles give a small amount of information. The title allowed the use of research skills to be developed by encouraging pupils to decide exactly how they were going to conduct their research before starting their work. Pupils are able to gain access to historical information by selecting the topic of 'Key Figures', which contains articles about prominent members of the various religions, including their founders.

It is possible to compare different world religions. This can be achieved by selecting a topic. Once this has been selected, a list of articles is displayed. Each religion has it's own symbol, thus allowing the user to select articles about different religions.
There are no Internet links.

Pupils had been working on Jesus and His life. Therefore, they had some knowledge of Jesus and His disciples. They have good mouse control and are used to using a selection of software. They needed to be shown the path into the software and how to copy text. This they managed to do without any problems. When texts were copied into WordPad, pupils were shown how to use the paste icon as a short cut. They needed to be shown how to move from a picture back to text, as well as how to access information about a picture once they had enlarged it. As the title was so easy to use, this did not pose any problems.

Pupils were asked initially to write down two, or three facts about Jesus in the Wilderness (the most recent topic in RE). Next, they had to find an article about his disciples, copy it and then write their own questions. Marking their answers to the first exercise assessed their progress. As the second exercise was onscreen, their progress was monitored by other pupils' reaction to the questions, which had been set. They were also instructed to report back if an article had not been fully copied into WordPad.

Judgements on pupils' progress were based on their ability to answer questions correctly.

As pupils progressed through different topics in RE, the author found that the title was a good resource to have to encourage pupils to look up information. It is also ideal for introducing ICT skills such as trail facilities and copying text, as pupils find it so easy to use and it appears to run trouble free. Work completed onscreen was also reinforced by looking at other methods of research and by linking the information in to work covered in class.

Classroom Organisation
Pupils used a single screen. The author introduced the title. Pupils watched whilst the title was demonstrated. For their first go on the computer, pupils went on in pairs and then they went on alone. Pupils were set short tasks. Thus, when the class was working, pupils spent five, or ten minutes completing the task set. This went on throughout a variety of lessons. The use of the software was not disruptive at all. There is the facility to listen to articles being read out aloud. The author chose not to show the pupils how to do this and they never tried to.

Use of ICT to Achieve Objectives
The title was effective in supporting pupils' research skills, as they were able to quickly access information. Each article has a symbol by the side of it. The symbols represent each religion. Therefore, pupils could easily see which topics were relevant to them. It allowed pupils to use the trail facility so that they could easily retrace their steps and return to articles, which they had previously read. Pupils were not required to print anything. Nor did they copy any pictures. There was no discussion about changing fonts when working in WordPad. Therefore, there was no need to worry about presentation. However, some pupils chose to use bullet points in their work, as this had been covered in previous lessons. No extra credit was given for this. Pupils were always given set topics to research so that they would not roam freely through the software. Pupils were required to write the answers to a set of questions and then they were required to copy and paste a text into WordPad, as well as write their own set of questions.

Pupils used the resource to conduct their own research and they were able to get a feel for the religion by viewing accompanying pictures. The title was easy to use with reference to looking up answers to questions.
The title was useful for narrowing down the number of articles that pupils were presented with. By selecting a topic, they were faced with a smaller list of articles than if they had not narrowed their research. The title encouraged pupils to select their own information. However, when it came to copying chunks of text, pupils tended to copy the whole text, as each article was so short. The title made it easy for pupils to copy information and add their own.

Using this Product
The pupils were already familiar with using different titles. They were shown how to select a topic and how to copy text into WordPad. They were also familiar with using the terms: search, copy and paste.

Monitoring & Assessment
There was little need to intervene with the pupils' use of the title. Their progress was monitored by their ability to answer the questions set. Individual achievement was recognised when they were able to produce their own set of questions to a set topic. Credit was given for managing to draw the information out of the title, rather than rely on previous knowledge. The author was able to check this when pupils copied the text and then produced their own questions relating to that text. Greater emphasis was placed on work completed as individuals, rather than in pairs. Pupils worked in pairs merely to become familiar and confident with the title.

Pupils were able to save their work as they progressed through the title. They each have their own folders and they were able to save work to these without any help. They also opened up their work for their friends to access too.

Special Needs
Pupils who find looking up information difficult, or who have problems writing would be encouraged by this title, as it is so easy to use.