ZooWhiz is on the move at Chatham Primary School

Graham East, managing Director of EdAlive recently spent time with Tim Clarke at Chatham Primary School. Here’s a little of what he found.

Tim Clarke

Tim Clarke

When ZooWhiz was first released in February 2012, Tim Clarke at Chatham Primary School in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs was one of the early adopters. Tim is a seasoned professional with a commitment to differentiated learning and quickly recognised the potential of ZooWhiz to engage and motivate the children in his year 3 class.

Tim uses a collection of Vic Department of Education supplied PCs supplemented with a collection of Macs old and new. The main ZooWhiz site works well on the newer machines whilst the ZooWhiz mobile site designed for iPads is just great on the older Macs.

The initial launch of ZooWhiz lacked the ability for the teacher to direct the children’s activity but was perfect for self directed learning and home use so Tim developed a place for it in his overall IT program, encouraging the children to use it at home, as part of the regular reading program and as a motivational reward in the classroom. ZooWhiz has a wide range of Maths, Reading and Word Skills activities that target children’s learning with sufficient depth to extend the most able and support less able.

Over the past month, Tim has been trialling the host of new features added to ZooWhiz of recent times. Graham East, Managing Director of EdAlive visited Tim’s class in early September to see how the enhancements were going down and to get some constructive feed back.

Tim already had some of the new features put to work but was absolutely amazed at the power and flexibility of the new system as Graham explored some of the more remarkable features.

ZooWhiz is now fully correlated with the Australian Curriculum allowing teachers to select activities by using the increasingly familiar Australian Curriculum framework and ACARA content descriptors. This is the same structure as the Victorian AusVELS uses. After a few minutes, Tim could see the potential of ZooWhiz to allow him to select content and apply it to individual children, groups of children or the class as a whole. ZooWhiz now tracks the results of all activities and can create comprehensive, detailed reports allowing the teacher to fully differentiate learning and assess the results.

Tim is a very competent computer user and was really keen to access exports of the data behind the reports and Graham was pleased to inform him that the comprehensive export functions will be implemented before the start of Term 4.

By the end of the hour together Tim was really enthusing about the enhancements to ZooWhiz. As an accomplished user of technology, he was marvelling at the comprehensive nature of the work done and the programming time behind it.

Tim is now looking at ZooWhiz as a core instructional asset with renewed interest, it having been transformed from a supplementary learning tool to a serious bespoke learning environment.

having been transformed from a supplementary learning tool to a serious bespoke learning environment.

“ZooWhiz now tracks the results of all activities and can create comprehensive, detailed reports allowing the teacher to fully differentiate learning and assess the results…”

In an effort to boost the computer to child ratio, Tim will be trialling a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program in Term 4, 2013. ZooWhiz with its HTML5 capacity and iPad compatibility will form a vital part of this new initiative it being one of the only online resources capable of operation on iPads and Android devices.

The ZooWhiz system is currently being fine tuned as Graham visits a range of schools seeking feedback from users at the coal-face. Tim was also able to make observations and suggestions that will form part of future releases of ZooWhiz ensuring that the it matures into a resource that teachers love to use as an integral part of their teaching day. EdAlive would like to thank the many teachers like Tim who have given of their time in this fashion.

All in all, Tim was greatly impressed with the changes to ZooWhiz and plans to make increasing use of the flexible power that is now at his fingertips.