2cass logoThere are plenty of buzz words that do the rounds in primary schools on a regular basis, but one has popped up constantly this year; Programming. ICT teachers have the task of a changing curriculum with a completely different outlook and focus. So for the past few months I have been thinking of programs and teaching ideas, that I already use with the pupils, that encompass the themes and outcomes of the changing curriculum.

2cass overall

Pupils made some none fiction texts based on nocturnal animals.

One that came to mind, and one that I love using with pupils of all ages is 2CreateASuperStory. 2SimpleSoftware produce some great programs, and are always easy to use with the pupils, but 2CASS adds something else, and extra dimension. Like other software it has the simple drawing tools that all pupils are used to, but it also comes with a whole host of pre-made characters and shapes ready to be manipulated. When loaded into the page children have the ability to programme its movements, the direction, and how far it travels. They can even add text, sounds, and change the movement of the book. The best thing is that the children don’t even know they programming. They get a simple and clear understanding of direction and distance whilst making and sharing some great creative work.

Control instructions made the owl fly across the image.

Control instructions made the owl fly across the image.

Where next? 

Next year I plan to make the movement and control side of the program more of a focus. Rather than just telling pupils to animate their pictures I think I will give them more specific instructions. This should show me that they can programme, and if necessary, debug a sequence of instructions (or algorithm!). I also want to develop the type of activity I do using the software. It has oodles of features and different style that I just haven’t got round to using with pupils, I tend to be lazy and stick to the simple mode.

How many of the different features have you used? What programs that you use now lend themselves easily to programming and control? 

In January of this year I made myself a second twitter account. My first one was a personal one, used to follow celebrities and football players. My new one was to be my professional one, an account to improve my teaching and get new ideas from around the world. 6 months, 300 followers and 450 tweets later it’s safe to say that I’m addicted. I have made connections with teachers from around the world and I share any ideas, and my blog posts, through the twittersphere. I can track projects other teachers are running, and stay ahead of the game with government changes and plans (very useful as an ICT teacher). For any teacher who don’t use twitter, or need help convincing other to use it, have a look at how it has helped me:

  • Professional Connections Through Following other professionals, teachers and education companies I have networked and got to know so many people. I have links all around the country as well as Bradford, and I can share my ideas with them in an instant. In my local area we also have a Professional Skills working group where we regularly meet to share curriculum ideas, for this we also created a hashtag for us to keep the connection going on twitter. 
  • CPD training If I ever have any issues, or any confusion over anything I have to teach I simply take to twitter. There will always be someone there to help! Always! If you want to start a project in your school and have some reservations about how to go about it have a look on twitter. You can guarantee someone has tried it, thought about it, or done it somewhere.
  • Work Life Balance One of the main reason I have become addicted to twitter is that it’s fun! It provides me with an escape from the world of lesson plans and assessment. I get to speak with like-minded teachers during the day. Being a specialist teacher can be a lonely job in a primary school. You are the department, just you. Twitter allows me to thrash out ideas, share my thoughts, and vent when I really need it!
  • Resource Sharing I have previously shared my teaching resources with others through the TES website, but Twitter gave me another outlet. I can share anything from small teaching tips, to full schemes of work. It works both ways too, if I’m stuck from a resource give it a search.
  • Make sure you #Hashtag! Hashtagging is basically adding a link to your tweet, so that you can connect with others tweeting the same thing. Great if you want to search a topic of word. Some useful hashtags to search for and save are:

#Edtech – anything to do with technology in the classroom
#education – anything to do with education
#elearning – mostly about computer based learning
#teachers – focuses on the teacher
#edchat – a weekly and lively discussion about all things education
#teachmeet – connecting teachers
#ukedchat – UK teacher chat
#gct – Google certified teachers
#ednews – news feed

  • Discussion and Debate – Every Thursday from 8pm to 9pm is the fast-paced #ukedchat discussion where a question or issue will be posed by the host, with contributors offering their thoughts, experiences and resources by tweeting, and including the hashtag #ukedchat in their tweets. Topics of debate are voted for during the week before each debate so that users have an influence on what is discussed.

So that’s how I use have used Twitter, and how it has had an influence on me as a teacher. I would love to start using it the classroom with pupils, but I have too many safeguarding shaped hoops to jump through. Has anyone used it with pupils? If you know a teacher who you think would benefit from using Twitter please pass this on to them. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

3258548724_dbd3f0e992_oJust a quick little post for a Sunday evening. On Friday my class and I were taking part in some creative writing. The idea is to give the pupils 10 mins to plan out a story plot, including things like characters, setting and main events. To do it we used the Thriller Whiz tool. They loved it, some of the titles we generated were amazing. I would say you could use it from year 5 up, there are some quite complex vocab, and see where the website takes you pupils. Our favourite was ‘The Dwarf Interpreter’, we loved it so much we went on to create the whole story using collaborative writing. Have a goo and see what you think!


icteacher typoeffects

 

I absolute adore this website. Typoeffects provides an amazing new twist on the word cloud. My walls in my suite are covered in pupil examples, as well as titles and labels. It takes the word cloud idea and gives it a fantastic twist. Placing your desired words into shapes and colours to match an image. The results are stunning, though often take a while to tweak and alter to get the perfect finish. Give it a try, and share your results with #typoeffects

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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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