lego-building-virtual-in-chrome

I seem to spend a good chuck of my life trawling the internet looking for useless rubbish I find cool. Well last night I came across a corker. Google Chrome have teamed up with the guys at Lego and create an amazing little web app.

It really is as simple as it sounds, start of with your blank board and you’re free to build anything and everything. At the moment I’m in love with all thing retro gaming, so I obviously started off by building some classic gaming characters (below). The app is easy to use, and involves the pupils using their mouse as well as several hot keys on the keyboard. Pupils of all ages should be able to pick it up in no time. The app is only available on Chrome at the moment as an extension, this could mean it isn’t accessible in all schools, so check on this 1st.  build with chrome copy

What makes it even cooler is the way it links with Google Earth in a similar way to Google Sketchup. Each one of your building boards is a small section for the Earth that becomes your plot. Some of the better examples have been small models of the Eiffel Tower in its correct location, maybe some of your class could build your school in Lego.

As with a box of real Lego, your imagination is the only barrier to what pupils can make, and given some free time on the app who knows what they could come up with! Think of all the learning advantages of Lego, but without standing on any of the see through pieces!

 

This week Digital Leaders had a fantastic day at the National Media Museum in Bradford. For those who haven’t been, it’s FANTASTIC!  Floors full of historical technology and media, packed with a wide variety of interactive and engaging activities. We spent the morning walking through the museum looking at the history of the internet, and working or way through to playing on some vintage arcade games. Great Stuff. The museum has some great blue screen set up with allowed the children to go sky diving and even visit Coronation Street. They also had a go at news reporting for the BBC. The best thing about the museum was the sense of real world applications. They were able to see how technology has influenced the world of media, and the part they could play in the future.

We can do things that we never could before. Stop-motion lets you build tiny little worlds, and computers make that world even more believable. Nick Park, Aardman Animations.

For the afternoon though we had booked a session with their resident animation expert, Jack Lockhart, looking at the method of making a stop motion animation video.they loved the session and worked hard to produce and edit a short video file in the time given. Of course myself and my support staff HAD to have a go as well, (see video below if I can get it working!). The session was designed to show the DL’s how they could teach Stop Motion Animation to a younger year group. they took on all the information and had some great discussion on what  they could do at their ICT club. As we walked out my head was full of hints and tips from the day that I thought would be great to share with other people wanting to give animation a try, so here goes:

  •  Think about your set up. When we got back to school I instantly thought of different animation projects i could do with classes, but I needed to think about the logistics of it all. Where would the tripods go? what would keep them secure? Will my webcams be of good enough? Do I need to purchase any animation software? all of these things need to be considered before you can start to projects. The big thing I had to think about was a space where the set up could be left. If a group gets half way through a scene in a lesson I want them to be able to come back to it.
  • Get the right software. There are so many choices when it comes to animation software, you need to pick the one that suites your needs. If it’s for working with KS1 think about a simple program like 2animate. For the more advanced pupils something like iMovie or Zu3D might be more appropriate. Something I look for my KS2 pupils is the ability to ‘Onion Screen’ their work. This means being able to see the previous frame over the current one, a big advantage if something is knocked or moved. It also allows them to see how big the movements are between frames.
  • Planning. You really have to over prepare and make sure you have everything ready. This means things like the characters you will be using and the props you need to make. What are you going to use as a background? What are your character made of? Something like Plasticine is great because it remains solid, but it also easy to manipulate.
  • Set aside a whole heap of time! The process of capturing the frames, putting it all in order, adding sound and effects, and putting the whole thing together as one is a LONG process. Don’t expect to have a quality video done in a day! Try working with small groups at a time, taking it in turns to do small parts of the projects. Younger pupils can get bored with the process very quickly, so it’s best to split it up.
  • Think about the output. How are you going to present you work. This really needs to be considered in the editing stage. You should think about what file type you are using and the quality of the frames. The bigger the screen it will be played on, the higher the image quality needs to be. You could also think about putting it on your school website, so you could think about how you could store and stream the video online.

Hopefully these tips should give you a bit of a start, and help you avoid some of the pitfalls. Enjoy!

 

 

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!

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 paint.net 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

Incredibox is…well…incredible! Awesome little site where you can mix and match different Effects, Beats, Melodies, Chorus and Voices to create unique music in an acapella style. You music can be recorded, shared, downloaded with peers. A fun little lesson that will leave pupils wanting to come back and use it again and again. My year 6 class love using it, and it works well for me as a reward activity. From the musical side its great for matching beats and rhythms, and could be used as a fantastic music starter. Have fun with this!

snappy wordsWhat is Snappy Words visual English dictionary?

It’s an online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus that helps you find the meanings of words and draw connections to associated words. You can easily see the meaning of each by simply placing the mouse cursor over it.

Why use Snappy Words visual dictionary?

  • Easy to use dictionary and thesaurus.
  • Learn how words associate in a visually interactive display.
  • Get ideas to help write content for your blog, article, thesis or simply play with words!
  • No limit on number of searches. Look up as many words as you need anytime.
  • It’s free and fun!

How do I use it?

Type words in the search box and click Go or simply hit Enter. Once the words branch off the main query, you can double click a node to find other related words. To explore the features:

  1. Place the mouse cursor over a word to view the meaning.
  2. Double click a node from the branch to view other related words.
  3. Scroll the mouse wheel over words to zoom in or out. This helps you see more
    associations or view words and meanings more clearly.
  4. Click and drag a word or branch to move it around and explore other branches.

5Recently I started using Google Sketchup with my year 4 class. The found the initial tutorial process hard, and it took them a while to get to grips with the complexity of the tools, but after a few weeks they became more confident in their ability and started to be more creative.

The task I gave them was to create their own ancient Egyptian scene, complete with pyramid, desert landscape, and ancient artifacts. They loved the challenge and set about think of ways to create this in Sketchup. As I have said in a previous post you have to get into the Google Sketchup way of thinking, and they certainly did this!

We had a class discussion about which parts we should make ourselves, and which parts they thought we should use the Model Warehouse. They we incredibly mature, with some pupils arguing that ‘If they worked hard they could make that’. Amazing to see.

The topic was rich in ideas to use with the pupils, and I can see us continuing for a few weeks with it. What has been your favourite Sketchup project? Any ideas or questions?

buttonbass.com

 

While it’s not my taste in music my pupils are loving this in their Golden Time at the moment. They are able create fantastic music at the touch of a button, testing their brain power with which beats go with which rhythms. Visually stunning, with a great choice this should be a winner with your pupils. The website is nice and diverse, with instruments such as mixers, guitars, pianos and drums. Have a go with the instrument above, see how creative you can be!

One of my favourite lessons of the year. Over the past few weeks my year 1 pupils have been tracking Barnaby Bear as he travels around the world. He spent some time in Australia, stopping off in Peshawar and Paris, before finishing his journey in Bradford. Pupils used the animation software on 2CASS to bring Barnaby to life.

The pupils started off by creating different backgrounds of the world Barnaby has visited. Then using the animated characters they created a version of Barnaby. With links to literacy the pupils then had to add a couple of sentences telling me where Barnaby was, and what he was doing. As an extension I asked the pupils to use a connective in their writing.

The outcome was good, with pupils enjoying the lesson and creating some great work. what really makes this a good lesson is the ability to expand upon it using the 2CASS story. The next lesson will be adding a new page to their book, only this time they will have to copy and paste a picture in. An easy task for us, mind blowing to a year 1 pupil!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2diy - VikingsI wanted to share a quick idea I had when using 2DIY with pupils. We had spent some time building our own viking longhouses on Google Sketchup (see the planning here) and wanted to have a bit of fun with them. So we took our designs as inspiration and created a quick collecting game on 2DIY.

Start off by drawing a quick background, a few paths and trees on landscape. Then start to build your village by turning the ‘Sun’ icons into a mixture of houses and stalls.

Now to add an element of danger to the game! Time to add some villains. Turn the ‘Enemy’ icons into vicious dragons! The kids loved drawing these. Remember to animate them, a stationary dragon is an easy foe!

As the dragon hoards attack our poor village a Hero steps forward! Arm your Viking Warrior with Sword and Shield and send him into battle! Obviously he is protecting the villages most precious items added by you. change the ‘Apple’ icons to various items of value. You could go for coins, brooches, swords, shields, etc.

Now we are finally ready to play our action adventure game. For an extension activity get the pupils to add an instructions page, then swap games with the person next to them. They could even review each others games.

Have fun!

Skip to toolbar