Oddizzi at my school
Dan Bright – Geography Coordinator and Year 1 Teacher – Green Lane Academy Leeds.
Every day, as I walk around the school, children delight in telling me that they have been onto the site to find out some interesting facts or take part in the Umbuzo quizzes. This was evident recently when we read an Oddizzi rainforest-themed guided reading resource. A child was so inspired by what he had read that he went home that day and did some further research into rainforests.
Integrating new technology into a school and making sure it is quickly embedded across Key Stages can be challenging. However, knowing the Oddizzi team were only an email or phone call away, to assist and advise me at any point, took the pressure off significantly. Oddizzi even offered to deliver a ‘How to use Oddizzi’ Skype tutorial from London to my teaching colleagues at Green Lane.
One of the many brilliant features of the site is that it is tablet-compatible, so children can use Oddizzi on their own ipads and iphones (as well as those of their parents!). I have heard first-hand from parents and carers about how their children have rushed home so that they can log onto Oddizzi to access learning content and score points on the Umbuzo quizzes! I also know that Oddizzi has captured the imagination and interest of older siblings of children at Green Lane who are at high school. They have enjoyed, indirectly, using Oddizzi whilst helping their younger brother or sister with the Umbuzo quiz questions.
Another way the site has been used by children at my school is to produce individual research projects. The ‘Explore the World’ section offers wonderful facts, videos and photos, which children have been able to embed in their topic work. To illustrate how Oddizzi inspires our children, a Year 4 pupil once went home and wrote about the topic of ‘Mountains’. He handed it in the next day to his teacher, who was absolutely thrilled his pupil had shown such enthusiasm for geography learning. His piece of work began with the words: “On Oddizzi I have learnt the three different parts of a mountain”.
At school, staff have found the site helpful to support their teaching. For example, recently Year 3 and 4 teachers were introducing the topic of ‘Volcanoes’ and found the videos of famous volcanoes such as Mt St Helens a brilliant teaching resource. All the photos are of the highest quality – they are clear, full of colour, a good size and constantly being updated to reflect the changing nature of the world the children live in. Some teachers have used the Umbuzo quizzes as a fun way to start their lesson. Others have chosen to use the quizzes as an ‘end of the day reward’. In addition, my colleagues have fed back to me the value of the support material on the site (such as the medium-term plans and resource packs). Some of our classrooms have a permanent ICT area of provision, and Oddizzi has been the perfect site to have up and available for children to access.
My principal, Tammie Prince, has written about Oddizzi’s incredible impact on our children. In her words, “Oddizzi immerses children in the real world. [It] enables children – wherever they are – to ‘break out’ of their own world and join a global community of like-minded children” (see her Oddizzi blog post on 27th April – principalsblog.primaryblogger.co.uk). This impact is immense for us as a school, because of the nature of the population in the school’s catchment area. Historically, children generally grow up in Garforth and live around here for the rest of their lives (a significant number of our children’s parents are former Green Lane pupils). What Oddizzi has done is literally ‘bring their world to life’, because it has presented to them the reality that there is a world beyond Garforth waiting for them to discover, explore and travel to one day.
The team at Oddizzi live and breathe the mantra ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. They are highly motivated by their desire to ensure that primary teachers have everything they need to deliver high-quality geography lessons in their schools, to inspire the children they teach. The team have a very clear idea of the needs of teachers, because they regularly request and seek feedback from them on improvements that could be made.
Oddizzi’s quest to come up with new ways of supporting teachers to plan and deliver lessons is also evident through the creation of a new topic planning area, medium-term plans and end-of-topic assessments. The new KS1 and KS2 assessment grids will be tremendously useful, as it is a high priority for our academy to have an assessment tool like these for non-core subjects.
The magic of Oddizzi lies in the highly skilled and talented team who run the site, many of whom are former teachers, so are able to empathise with, understand and appreciate the challenges of purchasing, administering and co-ordinating an e-learning resource inside a school community.
I have always believed, and continue to, that at a time of challenging economic circumstances for schools across the country, Oddizzi’s prices represent, quite simply, incredible value for money. The breadth, quality and range of the resources Oddizzi offers its subscribers, I believe, sets it apart from all others. The team really have thought of everything a teacher may need support with when delivering primary geography in the classroom. From recent discussions with our academy ICT subject leader, I have gained an accurate insight into just how competitively priced Oddizzi is compared with other leading educational e-learning resources.
What makes the Oddizzi team unique is that they are all united by the same dream – to inspire children with a deep and lifelong love of geography. From what I have seen at my school, I can testify that Oddizzi is proof that dreams can come true.
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