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?

So a few months ago I decided to set myself the challenge of learning to code. I’m from an age where coding just wasn’t something we learnt, computers did it all for you, there was no need to! Will changes to the curriculum I thought now would be a good time for me to learn.

I started off with a friend showing me a few bits. I found it helpful, but I could see he was itching to get me onto some of the cooler things you can do with code, meaning I was missing out on some of the more basic elements. I could see this was not going to be the way for me to learn. So I took to twitter and Google to try and find a website or course that could help my cause. After looking at a few the one I found to be best for me was Codecademy. Simply create a profile, choose a lesson and get started.

Being an avid gamer the thing i like best is unlocking achievements within the website. I love earning the little badges (i’m such a child!). The instructions are really easy and simple, and offer a step by step guide to learning the language. The practice board is well laid out, giving you instant results on whether you’ve got it right or not. You also have easy access to help and tips with the task, so if you completely forget how to do it you can remind yourself without stress. I always challenge myself not to press it though! So far I have learnt the basics of HTML and HTML styling, and I’m working my way up to having a go at CSS. Give it a few more months and I’m sure I’ll have a crack at designing my own web space.

While it’s great fun, though sometimes infuriating, there is a point to all this. Changes to the curriculum mean that coding and programming will become essential for teaching ICT. An ICT teacher can no longer just step into the role and go. I see it as a similar role to a Music specialist. Yes the core of all lessons is teaching, but you need to have the subject knowledge to deliver it. I know I could handle pupils in a music lesson, but give me a guitar and you’d be covering your ears! Would I get the most from the pupils? I doubt it.

How many of you can code? Are you learning or practicing? Will you be starting the learn soon? Please get in touch!

 

 

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So yesterday I visited bMobLe for the 1st time…and loved it! A fantastic assembly of geeks! I recently moved to Bradford to teach so it was great for me to meet and chat with fellow geeks in the area. One of the main things I took from the event was the amount of technology and learning taking place. The previous LA I worked under was so far off what goes on in Bradford it’s unbelievable! I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck in and get to work!

It was also great seeing my digital leaders in action. They were there to present on the work they have started, and what they like to do as part of the project. I have never seen anyone so calm when about to present in front of a crowd. They really didn’t care about how many people were there, and at one point even went around trying to drum up more interest in their work.

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What really made me chuckle though was talking to them afterwards about how they got on. I obviously asked how they thought it went, were they nervous, what they enjoyed best? That last question gave me a brilliant answer, what did they enjoy best……….the free pens and the stress balls. Forget the successful presentation, massive round of applause and real interest in their work, where are the pens at?! Another highlight was seeing them attack some Ipads, I have never been so worried/wanted Ipad protection to work so badly!

imagesThe teachmeet at the end of the day was the thing I will take most from though. The amount of ideas, hints, and inspiration I got in just a few hours was fantastic. As this was my 1st go at a teachmeet (a TM virgin as Dughall put it) I did bottle it and fail to present, but I  PROMISE I will contribute next time. Now I know the level and depth of items presented I am going to have to work very hard to find something to impress and astound.

As good as the meet was, the bits in between were just as good for 2 reasons. 1, The food was delicious. 2, I got to meet some of my favourite twitter peoples and had some wonderful discussions about our routes into teaching, how we use social media, and e-safety.

 

At the end of the day I was tired, full of curry, and ready for a good sleep. However all I could think about where what I wanted to put into action straight away, and how much I had got out of the day. On the day the organisation was fantastic and our pupils were looked after really well, and I have to thank the Bradford boys for that, well done! I look forward to the next one!

 

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.

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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.

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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

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