Morning all.

The time has finally come, the end of term. Time for sleeping, reading and sitting in the garden. Oh, and a bit of work maybe? Whilst dragging myself out of bed was a killer this morning I am quite looking forward to today. I am off timetable as teaching staff will not be taking their PPA time. This means I get to sit in my room, headphones on, working through the endless list of admin tasks that seem to fall on the shoulders of the ICT coordinators.

I will be creating profiles, changing class list, as well as the tedious task of adding passwords to accounts. For some reason though I actually like these jobs. Organising everyone in to the right place, setting us CSV files ready for upload is a great little task!

I also get the rather ruthless task of going through this years ‘Teacher’ drive. Going through working out what we need to keep, and what is just rubbish saved to show the kids one picture. I then have to decide what makes it into the archive, and what makes its way to the recycle bin. I’m sure I’ll get most of it right, but you can guarantee I will have a teacher moaning at me when a file goes missing!

Well, wish me luck with work today, I’ll try to get too distracted and get through the boring bits. I have my wife and a drink waiting for me when I get in after all!

 The last time I updated about my quest to code I had started using codecademy. I had started learning the basics of HTML, before moving on to CSS. I found the HTML OK, a bit tricky but it all made sense to me. It was almost therapeutic putting all the tags in the right place, making sure the grammar was correct, and adding punctuation in the right places. It eased my OCD nature. Im really glad it was the 1st thing I chose to learn, I can see it giving me the basic understanding for other coding languages.

Then came CSS. This was a little harder but I got through it and found to enjoy it by the end. The best think was using codecademy to do it, I was getting instant feedback and I was able to view my code at every stage. Really easy to learn with. While the styling I was able to do was very basic, the fundamentals were there and I can see how I could put them into action with a website. Creating the little things like buttons and links is really satisfying, #NerdAlert.

This week I started learning Javascript. I feel like my brain is melting! At the moment I’m finding it hard to learn the grammar and language of it. I’m sure I’ll get their in the end though. Anyone else struggling with Java script? I want to understand this as I would love to start making simple games with the pupils when the new curriculum comes in. I have also been challenged by one of the pupils to come back after the summer with a working game for him, little nerd!

The overall aim for me though is to be able to develop my own website. As much as I like using primaryblogger I find some of quite restrictive and I would love to have the freedom to create my own space. I think I’m some way of that level yet, but its nice to have that goal. Can anyone recommend some coding software to use for macbook? When I’ve mastered javascript I want to start writing my own little projects. Is anyone else in the process of learning to code?

Shhh…..don’t make a sound…the end of the year is just around the corner, we don’t want to scare it away! Almost there teachers!

The end of the summer term has been the usual mix of chaos, performances and our year 6’s going off the rails. in the past 2 weeks I don’t think I’ve had a ‘normal’ timetabled day, but we love it really!

As an ICT teacher it’s a time for me to try out some of the one-off lessons, some of the little websites that is great to see pupils using, but you struggle to build it into a SoW. Today had pupils making their own memory word clouds on Tagxedo to share with their friends. The work that they produced on the site was brilliant, some great vocab and they all made sure they had the design perfect before printing. Another example of these mini lessons happened with my year 6 group when trying to think of how they could leave their teacher with a fitting memory of themselves. their idea was to make a video diary and email it to her. Obviously movie has been part of my curriculum with them, but this time I just sat back and let them run the show. They chose what the video was to be about, who was in it, and what they needed. As teachers I think we always have our eyes peeled for independent learning!

 

So another year down and we’ll be back to start all over again in 6 weeks. Forget what Gove and the hater say about our holidays. We all know this is the time for planning out the year, for developing new projects and for reviewing the year. The work never stops….the only difference is we get to do it in the sun now!  Have a good summer!

In January of this year I made myself a second twitter account. My first one was a personal one, used to follow celebrities and football players. My new one was to be my professional one, an account to improve my teaching and get new ideas from around the world. 6 months, 300 followers and 450 tweets later it’s safe to say that I’m addicted. I have made connections with teachers from around the world and I share any ideas, and my blog posts, through the twittersphere. I can track projects other teachers are running, and stay ahead of the game with government changes and plans (very useful as an ICT teacher). For any teacher who don’t use twitter, or need help convincing other to use it, have a look at how it has helped me:

  • Professional Connections Through Following other professionals, teachers and education companies I have networked and got to know so many people. I have links all around the country as well as Bradford, and I can share my ideas with them in an instant. In my local area we also have a Professional Skills working group where we regularly meet to share curriculum ideas, for this we also created a hashtag for us to keep the connection going on twitter. 
  • CPD training If I ever have any issues, or any confusion over anything I have to teach I simply take to twitter. There will always be someone there to help! Always! If you want to start a project in your school and have some reservations about how to go about it have a look on twitter. You can guarantee someone has tried it, thought about it, or done it somewhere.
  • Work Life Balance One of the main reason I have become addicted to twitter is that it’s fun! It provides me with an escape from the world of lesson plans and assessment. I get to speak with like-minded teachers during the day. Being a specialist teacher can be a lonely job in a primary school. You are the department, just you. Twitter allows me to thrash out ideas, share my thoughts, and vent when I really need it!
  • Resource Sharing I have previously shared my teaching resources with others through the TES website, but Twitter gave me another outlet. I can share anything from small teaching tips, to full schemes of work. It works both ways too, if I’m stuck from a resource give it a search.
  • Make sure you #Hashtag! Hashtagging is basically adding a link to your tweet, so that you can connect with others tweeting the same thing. Great if you want to search a topic of word. Some useful hashtags to search for and save are:

#Edtech – anything to do with technology in the classroom
#education – anything to do with education
#elearning – mostly about computer based learning
#teachers – focuses on the teacher
#edchat – a weekly and lively discussion about all things education
#teachmeet – connecting teachers
#ukedchat – UK teacher chat
#gct – Google certified teachers
#ednews – news feed

  • Discussion and Debate – Every Thursday from 8pm to 9pm is the fast-paced #ukedchat discussion where a question or issue will be posed by the host, with contributors offering their thoughts, experiences and resources by tweeting, and including the hashtag #ukedchat in their tweets. Topics of debate are voted for during the week before each debate so that users have an influence on what is discussed.

So that’s how I use have used Twitter, and how it has had an influence on me as a teacher. I would love to start using it the classroom with pupils, but I have too many safeguarding shaped hoops to jump through. Has anyone used it with pupils? If you know a teacher who you think would benefit from using Twitter please pass this on to them. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

madewithoverAt the weekend I published an article on using ICT in literacy. It proved to be a very popular post, to which I’m very grateful, but the OCD nature within me it itching to do one similar for Maths. I had a meeting in the past week with a Maths consultant who comes to help out at our school. She is one of those people who never seem to stop, and AMAZING ideas just pop out of their head all day. During the meeting we had a quick brainstorm about how we use, and how we could use, ICT in maths. Have a look and see what you think:

 

  1. QR Codes – I love using them in the classroom and they can be great for independent learning. Why not try making a quick video of a method for a mathematical sum. Then if a child forgets how to do it they can grab a mobile device, scan the code, and get help. It’s all about making it up to them, and giving the children the confidence to go and find the answer.
  2. Digital Cameras – I try to encourage my teachers to use their digital cameras more and more in the classroom, and not just to take pictures at sports day! Quickly snapping some excellent work, or using the video for pupils to record themselves. These are all great in Maths and really encourage the pupils to share their work and progress.
  3. School Website – We have recently been developing our school website, giving it a full rebrand and makeover. Part of this process meant developing a page for the parents to interact with. This included the usual things like letters and notices, but we also included media to help with Maths learning. Wa added quick little videos showing the methods for calculation we use in school. This meant that we get the same learning taking place at home and in school. it also increased the level of parental involvement which was fantastic.
  4. Maths Folder – Now this might seem like an obvious point, and I’m sure that every school has its own maths folder, but is it up to date and organised? Do staff know what’s in it and where to find it? Have you gone through it with new members of staff? If your teachers don’t know where to find the ITP’s or some of the National Strategy Spreadsheets then they aren’t being used! Every now and again just go through and have a tidy up, make sure everything is stored in the right folders.
  5. Staff Training – As head of department this is something I am giving a bit focus to next year. I am making myself much more available to staff, and freeing up a few extra hours a week to go and work with them in the classroom. Looking at practical ways to use technology to aid teaching and learning. Are you staff making the most of the websites you buy into? How effectively do they use Education City for example? Are they using all the tools and features that are included in the SMART Software? If you’re working on a tight budget make sure your staff are making the most of what you’ve got.

 

I hope some of those help, and give you some ideas. Linking ICT to other subjects is not just about giving them a few websites to play on, it’s about making an impact on the teaching and learning taking place. How does your school link the two subjects? Any other ideas to suggest, feel free to comment.

 

Currently I’m writing my curriculum plan for next year. As part of my TLr role in the school I look at how other subjects could best use and incorporate ICT into their lessons. This could range from simple little hints, or large term based projects. As a specialist teach I also get to spend lots of time working with the lead teachers in our school. I know not all schools have this luxury, but if you can it’s really worthwhile, I wanted to share some of the ways I have worked with our Literacy leader to use ICT:

  1. Blogging – Get your class blogging in their lessons. Get them blogging about anything! Giving pupils the understanding that what they write will be published puts great emphasis on their content. To find out more about blogging have a look at this previous post.
  2. QR Codes – place QR codes around your classroom for pupils go independently use in lessons. The possibilities are endless as to what the codes could link to. In the past mine for linked you sites containing adjectives or connectives to try to increase their vocabulary, but I have also used them for things like character fact files when looking at a specific text. Really good for providing pupils with opportunities for independent learning.
  3. Podcasting – My school recently started broadcasting its own radio station, with it we started to produce some podcasts. Initially it was the digital leaders, but our plan is to spread it across the school. Your pupils could speak about book for a project, or share ideas on a poet. Maybe you could podcast about a character and their journey through the book. The possibilities are endless!
  4. Instructional Texts – Use your pupils literacy skills to help others in ICT. One of my year 6 groups set up a quick blog space that was designed to help others with their ICT problems. It worked a bit like the genius bar at Apple stores, only without the blue t-shirts! Pupils would post questions, with my genius’ getting back to then within a couple of days. They also posted self-help guides and crib sheets. Not only was it making my life easier, but I got to see some fantastic instructional writing from my pupils! Give it a go!
  5. Skype Hot Seating – I got this idea from a recent teach meet. I haven’t had the chance to try in myself, but I would love to in the future. The idea is that your class use Skype to hot seat a character or person of interest in their current topic. This could be an astronaut during a space theme, to Santa at Christmas time. Get another teacher in your school to take on the character, and be prepared for some fantastic questioning from your pupils. A word of note to the person being the character….prepare! Kids will ask HARD questions!!

I hope some of these ideas give you some inspiration, and try to incorporate ICT in literacy. Activities and ideas like these prove that it’s not just about online word game websites!

Do you have any other ideas I could have written about? How do yo use ICT and mobile devices in your literacy lessons?

360 Panoramas

July 2nd, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in Fun Stuff | ICT Resources - (0 Comments)

panoramaI just wanted to share a quick post on here as I didn’t think I’d have enough characters on twitter….in fact I’ve probably used all 140 explaining this….

 

Anyway, I recently shared a 360 panorama on Twitter and it got a good response so I thought I’d chat about it. The link to the panorama in question is here, have a look! I love using this app to capture scenes and memories, but I have also started to use them in the classroom. Sharing places and experiences with pupils in an immersively stunning way. The panorama I took was from our sports day this year, but I have also taken a few while on school trips. These provide a great visual stimulus for discussion when back in the classroom, and the interactive nature of the image means you can focus and inspect an area when back at school. What makes the app brilliant is viewing it back on your phone or iPad. It has a button for using the gyroscope so the image moves as you move the device, it really gives the feeling of being there.

The app I use is 360 Panorama and it’s just 69p on itunes, though it does seem to be free every now and again. Another one that you could use in the classroom is Photosynth. This is free from Microsoft, though it does take a lot longer to stitch together.

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