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Recently I found Taggalaxy, an amazing Flickr searching web tool that creates a visually stunning way to explore images.  Taggalaxy puts your search into the metaphor of a planet, with connecting ideas and themes as smaller planets around it.

tag-galaxy

When you click on a planet it collects images from Flickr with your tag, and allows you to browse and zoom through hundreds of pictures. Brilliant in the classroom for an inspiration board, or as a discussion starter. I used this last week when asking children to create mood boards on Ancient Egypt, worked perfectly and had the children captivated. It really has to bee seen to be believed.

 

This site currently features in my 25 education websites, to have a look at the other 24 click here.

 

I think it’s fair to say that I am a MASSIVE Google Sketchup fan. I try to use it with as many topics as I can,  and like to get my pupils started with it as soon as possible. As a teaching tool it is fantastic for motivating pupils and get them excited about ICT, they are mesmerized by the ease in which they can create 3D shapes. Due to its nature the program can be used in all manner of topic, from creating vivid art galleries of their work, recreating Viking villages, or designs for a new space station. It’s really is up to you how far, and in which direction, you want to take your pupils with it.

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‘The Lego Bricks of learning’

 

Often to get pupils started I like to give them something the love. A Lego Brick. We loved them, parents love them (except when the get stood on) and our kids will love them. this little brick of coloured plastic can provide that real and tactile connection with the work on their screens.

They key factor in having the pupils create model Lego brick is the tools they use. It touches on most of the features, and uses them in a nice and simple way. It basically sets them up for using the product in future. Get the pupils to snap the top circle the same height, use the rendering tool, add 3D text, all useful in future projects.

The Google Sketchup way of thinking

 

When my pupils come into a Sketchup lesson they know that they have to change their mind-set. They know they should start thinking differently about their work. When trying to create something, or trying to add something they know that they are not going to get it looking prefect, but should aim for something that looks similar. Pupils can get easily bogged down in trying to achieve perfection in their models and miss out.

If you haven’t used Google Sketchup in the classroom yet give it a go, but be prepared to do some homework, it’s tricky for teachers to learn, never mind pupils! Before long your pupils will be creating wonderful graphic models really to be explored and manipulated.

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A model of our ICT suite created by Year 6 pupils

Below I have included a lesson plan and accompanying PowerPoint for your 1st lesson teaching the topic. Any questions or hints please get in touch.

1st Sketchup Lesson Plan

1st Sketchup Lesson PPT

10 reasons to start using Prezi in your classroom instead of PowerPoint.

Amazing tool, bring you learning to life for your pupils. Its a completely new way for pupils to think about the work in lessons. It helps them see in a non-linear way, allowing them to see the whole picture. Don’t get me wrong, PowerPoint can be a wonderful tool when used correctly, but more often than not you get the boring slide by slide journey through a topic. Using Prezi can change the way you look at presenting your ideas. Simple and easy to use, it’s almost more difficult not to make it interactive for your audience! Another bonus of Prezi is the sense of community on the site. Don’t go out to try and re-invent the wheel. Have a look what other users have created and see if you can make it your own!

Sometime last year Prezi was bought out by Google, so now you have all the ease of a Google product. Instantly add YouTube clips, videos or soundbites to your Prezi.

I like to think using it got me a new role in my school, have a look at the Prezentation I created about implementing a new VLE system. How have you used Prezi? Have you used it in the classroom? How do your pupils use it?

 

A few years ago I stumbled upon the amazing site that it Instagrok, and my pupils haven’t looked back since! It takes the basic features of a search engine, and adds on all the little extras your pupils will need.

It links your search with other related topics allowing your pupils to widen their further understanding of the subject. It also has brilliant extra features like:

 

  • Key Facts show important facts about the topic
  • Difficulty Slider adjusts the difficulty of the material
  • Quizzes to test pupils on the subject matter
  • Glossary for those tricky words your pupils struggle with

Give it a go and see how your pupils get on. While it’s a brilliant tool when conducting research, for a quick little question you still can’t beat Google!

 

So for the past few years I have been a big advocate for getting pupils to blog about their work, school life, and anything in between. However for some strange reason I have never created my own. I share my work and ideas with people of twitter and on the TES, but sometimes you just need a bit more room to move. Hopefully this is the right place for me.

Right now it feel like I’m sat at my desk talking to myself, please comment, share, and discuss anything I write!

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