Author Archives: AlwaysComputing

About AlwaysComputing

ICT Co-Ordinator and E-Learning enthusiast.
Always looking for new and innovative ways to enhance learning in primary schools. For (almost!) daily updates follow me on twitter @alwayscomputing

I hope to share good practice, great resources, and a few things to brighten your day!

Padlet – Make the most of the Wall

October 22nd, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in ICT Resources - (0 Comments)

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!

Animoto – step away from the slideshow!

October 13th, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in ICT Resources - (0 Comments)

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!

Blogging Day with @Deputy Mitchell

October 5th, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in Quadblogging | Thoughts - (0 Comments)

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!

The Solar Powered Classroom?

October 2nd, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in Questions | School News | Thoughts - (0 Comments)

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.






Exciting times ahead in the world of ICT! With the new curriculum changes starting soon I’m sure we are all looking at how be can develop our subject, and what changes to teaching need to take place. Over the past few weeks I have starting thinking about how I am going to structure ICT, and what activities or programs I could use to deliver the new standards. Below is a mind map I created showing a few program ideas and possible teaching activities in Key stage 1. I am structuring ICT in 4 key sections; Digital Media, Programming, Data Handling and ICT Beyond the Classroom. By doing this my pupils are able to take part in a wide variety of activities, not just the coding that Mr Gove seems to want! Have a look and see what you think.

A Few More Notebook Hints and Tips

September 22nd, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in ICT Resources | Lesson Ideas - (0 Comments)

 A few weeks ago I posted a few handy tips for using the Notebook software on the IWB’s after giving a training session my school. Well last week I held another session, with a few more hints for my staff to use. Some of these are a bit more advanced that before, but should really improve how you use your SmartBoard in lessons.

Handwriting Recognition – Make quick labels or headings that can be seen by all. Write with the pen on the screen, then on the drop down menu choose ‘Text Recognise’. Your written text will then turn into typed writing. This makes it easy to move around, resize or rotate.

Shape recognition pen – Choose the shape pen and watch as Notebook turns your roughly drawn shapes into clean and clean shapes. Fantastic for adding boxes or circles to highlight quickly. Really useful and much easier that trying to add shapes in a hurry.

Cell Shade – Really quick little tip but one I use ALL the time. Often with a table I don’t want the pupils to see all the elements to begin with, or I want to hide the answers. With a cell that you want to hide from the pupils just right-click inside it, and click cell shade. This should grey out the cell until you click on it when you’re ready to show the pupils.

Adding links and Sounds – This is actually surprisingly easy on Notebook software. Select the element, click the drop down and click on ‘Add Link’. You then a few choices, hyperlink or sounds. You can link it to a webpage by pasting the URL in the box provided. To add a sound just point it at a sound file on your machine, it then plays that sound when clicked. Easy.

Locking items in place – This one is useful when allowing the pupils to come up and use the board. You don’t want them to wreck your hand work by deleting or changing what you have done too much, so lock the vital elements in place. Click to the items drop down menu, then you have some locking options. You can completely lock it, just allow it to be rotated or even moved in certain areas (but not deleted).

Dual Screen – My last little tip is something I only found recently. You can change your view from a single page to 2 slides. You can also pin one of these pages in place. This allows you to keep some info on-screen at all times, while flicking through others. Handy!



I know for a lot of people using a SmartBoard is like second nature, but for others it can be quite a daunting task to integrate it into your lessons. Please share this with other teachers! 

Roald Dahl Day 2013 – Adding some ICT to the mix

September 13th, 2013 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in 2DIY | 2Publish+ | Fun Stuff | ICT Resources | Lesson Ideas - (0 Comments)

Ok, so I know it’s a bit late in the day, but I thought I’d share a few of the teaching ideas I have used for Roald Dahl Day. One of my favourite days in the school calendar, where children get to enter some of the most fantastic worlds.

1. Character blogs – allow your pupils blog on your VLE as one of Roald Dahl’s famous characters. Get them to enter the minds of The BFG or Matilda and share their experiences and thoughts. Add some images to their text and share it online, you will be amazed with the feedback you get.

2. Gaming – Use some gaming software like 2DIY to make a Roald Dahl themed game. This year my class have been playing as Danny the Champion of the World trying to catch pheasants! Why not make a game where you get to collect Snozzcumbers or Fobscottle bottles? The possibilities are endless!

3. For older children why not try a quick hot seat using Skype. Get pupils to dress up in an adjacent room and Skype the rest of the class. Get the pupils to interview the character on their motives and emotions.

4. Character Creation – One thing Roald Dahl always got perfect was the creativity in his characters. They were always fantastically odd and never boring. Try to make some new ones with your class. You could you try and add them to one of his stories, maybe make a sequel! Use something like or 2Publish so that pupils can bring their creations to life.

5. I have saved the trickiest till last, for only the bravest of teachers! For those that don’t know Roald Dahl did all his writing in a little shed at the bottom of his garden. It was the perfect writing space for him, warm and cosy in the winter, peace and quiet, and a pencil and paper on his lap. Get your pupils to think about where they could write, what would be their ideal space? When they have come up with some different ideas get they to try and create it on Google Sketchup. Use the modelling software to make their perfect little hideaway!


‘Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it’

-Roald Dahl

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