This week we had a major development at work. We started to host our very own radio station! Unity FM hit the airwaves. We had our own jingles done by the amazing people down at BCB radio, news from around the school and great celeb interviews!

The digital leaders spent the day split into 2 teams with their iPods create .wav files for us to use in the show, before editing them using audacity. One with myself conducting interviews, while the other was with the amazing Mr Simmons finding all the latest news and views! We had interviews with new members of staff, as well as a quick interview with Bradford City midfielder Raffaele Da Vita. They all shone in their roles and loved hunting down great stories for us to present.

In the build up they all spent some time coming up with suitably nerdy DJ names, and thinking of future features they could run on the show. After a few practice runs (with the head teacher sneakily listening to) they kids were ready to present and show their talents. All that said their were a few hiccups. We had a bit of feedback from one of the speakers in the studio, and some of the recording quality on the iPods wasn’t up to scratch. However that just gave us goals to reach on our next broadcast. Our next step is to take our broadcast worldwide. This week we chose to only present to the other classrooms in the school, keeping the stream on our local server.

To keep in with my blog, and my usual geeky self, I starting thinking of different ways a teacher could use a radio station in their lessons. Below are a couple of ways you could use it: 

  • An engaging and exciting extra-curricular activity for learners – Different groups of pupils and teachers around the school could start to create podcasts of the work they are doing. Trust me when I say pupils love the sound of their own voices.
  • A way of communicating across the school with staff and pupils – Get your radio station broadcasting to parents. We all know our pupils tell parents nothing so this could be a great way to share news and events.
  • An opportunity to develop scheduling and organisational skill – Preparing for a live broadcast is HARD WORK! To produce our 1st half hr show our pupils spent a whole day sorting out sound files and running orders. However, it allowed me to see those pupils who shine under pressure and are capable of thinking on their feet.
  • Develop Speaking and listening skills – Any english teachers out there they will hopefully be thinking of about 50 different speaking and listening activities they could do with a radio station. The kids were beaming after the show, as well as all the other pupils who contributed in sound recordings. Utilise this!
  • Writing and presenting for an audience – Pupils need to think about who is going to be listening to their show, and what type of music, information and news their audience will be interested in. This is something that is hammered into the pupils when creating a piece of writing in Literacy lessons, this gives them that real world outlet.

 

To take this a little bit further I also wanted to add a few little hints and tips for those who are planning to do something like this in their schools. Hope they help!

  • Practice, practice, practice! Take the time to go through the show again and again with your pupils. They need to know exactly who says what and when to sound professional.
  • Get as much pre-recording done as possible – Doing the bulk of the work beforehand allows for the show to run much smoother. You could even add some of the jingles to the start of songs to avoid any confusion on the sound board.
  • Get a decent sound recorder – For our 1st show we use iPods to record interviews. The mic quality was terrible, and this was only amplified when broadcasted. Next time we are definitely going to use a proper mic.
  • Prepare you sound boards – Set out any jingles, songs or sound clips you are wanting to play well before the show starts. You could also put them in order to help you as you go through the show.
  • Check your licensing – You don’t want to get shut down before you’ve even started! There are strict rules on what you can an cannot do when presenting to the public. Some of these licenses can be quite  pricey as an initial cost so this needs to be included in any start-up costs.

 

Hope that helps some of you get started and good luck! In future I will be sharing a link to our live streams via my twitter feed (@theicteacher) so keep your eyes peeled to see how it goes! If you have a radio station, or are planning one, please get in touch and share your experiences.

If you haven’t used Padlet yet where have you been and what the heck have you been doing!?

Padlet is an interactive wall that all can have access to and add to. Pupils are able to add either a quick little note, or a wide variety of files from images, links and videos. And the best thing about it is that it all happens live. Pupils can see their friends adding the work and take inspiration from them. As a teacher I get to see who adds what, and how long it took them to do it. You also have overall control of the Padlet when logged in, and you can quickly trash any that don’t meet your standards. This could be down to the fact that it is inappropriate, or even just not a good enough sentence! In my lessons we tend to use this as either a quick starter activity or a nice little plenary to show what they have learnt in the lesson. Brilliant way to track and store the progress made by the children.

For those of use with a need to maintain the aesthetics there is a wide variety of backgrounds to choose from, and all the work placed by the children is easy to move around and organise. And for the extra nerdy teacher there are loads of options for sharing/exporting/embedding the Padlet to go wherever you want.

Pupils need to be given a URL link to the wall as I tend to keep them hidden from public view.If you have any issues with privacy or accessibility there a  whole host of options to open up or lock down the site when needed. The URL can be changed and edited to something personal if it is available, or just kept as random letters.

Below is a quick Padlet I produced to show you all how it works. Please feel free to add to my wall, to get started all you need to do is double click somewhere on the wall. I can not tell you how useful this is in the classroom and how much the kids get out of seeing their work live. Remember, please like/share/comment!

Embedded image permalinkExciting  time ahead at school! This week we are organising the arrival of some living eggs.We ran this project last year and the kids took so much from the experience, the picture to the left is when our chicks were just a few hours old. They got to see this whole process, coming up and visiting the chicks during the day to see their progress. As usual we tried to add a little ICT to the mix by setting up a live stream via a webcam. This worked really well, with the classes checking the feed every morning during registration.

This year I want to add a bit more tech to the equation, and get the pupils using the experience more in the classroom. Applying the technology and making sure it is all up and running allows for the classes to make the most of the birds, and hopefully allow for some great learning to take place. Below I have listed a few ways that a school could use ICT to make the most of having living eggs, and some possible lesson ideas.

  • Set up a webcam with a live feed on your network. This can stream live on your school website for all to view. This could be used by pupils or parents at home. It could also come in useful for the member of staff who is in charge of the project, allowing them to have a look and check up throughout the day
  • Allow the pupils some time to work with the digital cameras. Pupils get the most from photography when they have an interesting subject to use. Allow them some time with the birds to try and get some interesting shots, then come back to the computer suite to do some quick photo editing.
  • Internet Research. Often it can be a couple of weeks before the eggs start to hatch, so keep the pupils interested and give them the opportunity to find out how the whole process works. Older pupils could research before taking younger pupils to see the chicks while explaining the process.
  • Google Sketchup. Anyone that follows my blog will know I’m a big fan of Sketchup, and using it with all ages. The idea of using it with this project came from a pupil last year who did it in her own time. She emailed me a file which showed a dream environment for the chickens to grow up in, all mapped out on Sketchup. The level of detail was superb, and the research beforehand to find out the ideal conditions was great. So I stole her work and got the rest of the class to do it!
  • Blog about it. Pupils could start a ‘Chick Watch’ blog, keeping other informed of developments and changes, the literacy coordinator loved this! Pupils can also learn to embed images to their work, and for the toppies they could embed the live feed or a video. On a similar note some pupils could create podcasts to broadcast on your website. These could be live updates or information on how they develop.
  • Literacy tasks. There are a whole heap of literacy based activities that could be done on the computers too. For example (big breath) letters of thanks to the farmers, descriptions, stories, newspaper reports, information booklets, instructions for care, day by day diary and invitations to parents.

 

Wow, as I was writing that I came up with a few more ideas that I originally thought! I can honestly say that having something like living eggs in your school can be a great inspiration and discussion generator. I can do nothing but encourage it! Please have a share or comment, and if your school is planning on getting some living eggs please keep up updated! I would love to link with another school doing a similar project.

Wunderground Weather

October 17th, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in ICT Resources - (0 Comments)

Wunderground is a great little website I want to share with you all. Although I don’t think it was designed for use in education it can easily be commandeered! Wunderground pulls information and data from weather stations all around the world, and presents them in lovely maps and graphs. Great for and data handling topics you might be doing. As well as showing you the weather data it also tracks any different weather events such as tornadoes or heavy storms. This can be a great discussion starter with your class, plus with all the data and images available you could be on here daily! Enjoy and share!

As you can see in my last post we recently had the wonderful @deputymitchell in our school. We had a great day blogging, but he also took some time to show me one of his tried and trusted web resources.

Animoto is a great little website that allows you to make professional looking videos out of a selection of photographs. All you have to do is choose a theme, add your images, and click go. The software then stitches it all together for you with a nice soundtrack. Everything on there is copyright free so no worries.

In the week since David came I have been trying to find collections of photos to use, it’s very addictive! I have also shared it with other staff at my school who all got a bit giddy when they saw how easy it was!

There is a subscription fee to get all the features of the site, but there is a sneaky free account for teachers available, they hide it well so you really have to hunt for it. On their homepage scroll right down to the bottom and click on ‘Education’. When you’re on their education page in small writing there should be a link that says ‘Are you a teacher?’. Click this, fill in your details and you will receive a promo code for a free account. Below is a quick example of an Animoto, apologies but I am a MARVEL nerd so it was too tempting to make an example with them!

Have a think about how you might use this in your school and please give this a share!

photo 1Yesterday we had the amazing Deputy Mitchell come and pay us a visit as school, to try to get our pupils to start blogging. Shattered now, but I think everyone involved had a fun day. Our school is part of a trust with other schools in the surrounding area, and for this event we all came together as digital leaders.

It was great to see so many young digital leaders take to blogging so easily. During the day they were given an introduction to blogging, ranging from creating a blog post to embedding elements into their posts. With their own blog available to them they spent the day adding new and interesting posts about the work they were taking part in.

In the afternoon the pupils got chance to look at how other schools and communities around the world use blogging. They looks at different classes and how pupils used their sites, as well as how some schools used it as a website. They were also given the opportunity to comment on and share what they had found.

The highlight of the day for the pupils though was when they took part in a quick writing challenge. They connected (using blogging power) to another primary school over in Manchester. After a few minutes of introductions and questions they moved on to creating sentences and paragraphs from image inspirations. I loved seeing pupils engaging with others, both in the classroom and across the web.

After a very long day I think everyone got the most from the event. The pupils were engaged for the whole day, and the teachers got chance for a quick catchup (always fun!). I would also like to say thank you to David for coming and inspiring the pupils within the Shine Partnership. We are all ready to start blogging, and hope you come back soon to see how we’re getting on!

This morning the BBC posted a video on its website showing the new possibilities for solar panels. Currently solar panels require a battery to store the charge. Batteries can be costly, bulky and ineffective meaning they aren’t really a viable solution in developing countries. A new chip developed by Toshiba means that a solar panel can be directly linked to a device providing enough charge to power it. So for the small price of a commercial solar panel you can power any type of device, a real game changer in the developing world.

However we could think about we could use this tech in the classroom. In the future could we see a sustainable ICT suite? I don’t even like to think about how much electricity it uses to keep my room working all day. Could we see classrooms with solar panels on the roof powering the room? One major question is would it be a viable option in the UK. I work in Bradford and sometimes I struggle to remember what the sun looks like! I think it would a really interesting project to make a ‘Green’ classroom. Have any other schools tried it? Have you tried to make your school carbon neutral?

 

Last week I posted about my plans for the curriculum in Key Stage 1, and how I was going to meet the criteria with lesson ideas. It seemed like a popular post, and as I have done the same for Key Stage 2 I would be a shame not to pop it on the site.

As with the format before I have included it in a mind map for you to explore and search through. The map is split up into the 4 main sections of Digital Media, Programming, Data Handling and Technology in our lives. Having this variety of learning areas means pupils take part in a wide range of activities, making the learning fun and accessible. I have tried to include a number of different equipment types, not just the computers. This included things like digital cameras, ipod/ipads, and Lego robots. While your school might not have these available yet, there are other cheaper options to give the pupils similar experiences.

Hope you find this useful, and please share it around.

 

 

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