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.

 

 

 

 

madewithoverAt the weekend I published an article on using ICT in literacy. It proved to be a very popular post, to which I’m very grateful, but the OCD nature within me it itching to do one similar for Maths. I had a meeting in the past week with a Maths consultant who comes to help out at our school. She is one of those people who never seem to stop, and AMAZING ideas just pop out of their head all day. During the meeting we had a quick brainstorm about how we use, and how we could use, ICT in maths. Have a look and see what you think:

 

  1. QR Codes – I love using them in the classroom and they can be great for independent learning. Why not try making a quick video of a method for a mathematical sum. Then if a child forgets how to do it they can grab a mobile device, scan the code, and get help. It’s all about making it up to them, and giving the children the confidence to go and find the answer.
  2. Digital Cameras – I try to encourage my teachers to use their digital cameras more and more in the classroom, and not just to take pictures at sports day! Quickly snapping some excellent work, or using the video for pupils to record themselves. These are all great in Maths and really encourage the pupils to share their work and progress.
  3. School Website – We have recently been developing our school website, giving it a full rebrand and makeover. Part of this process meant developing a page for the parents to interact with. This included the usual things like letters and notices, but we also included media to help with Maths learning. Wa added quick little videos showing the methods for calculation we use in school. This meant that we get the same learning taking place at home and in school. it also increased the level of parental involvement which was fantastic.
  4. Maths Folder – Now this might seem like an obvious point, and I’m sure that every school has its own maths folder, but is it up to date and organised? Do staff know what’s in it and where to find it? Have you gone through it with new members of staff? If your teachers don’t know where to find the ITP’s or some of the National Strategy Spreadsheets then they aren’t being used! Every now and again just go through and have a tidy up, make sure everything is stored in the right folders.
  5. Staff Training – As head of department this is something I am giving a bit focus to next year. I am making myself much more available to staff, and freeing up a few extra hours a week to go and work with them in the classroom. Looking at practical ways to use technology to aid teaching and learning. Are you staff making the most of the websites you buy into? How effectively do they use Education City for example? Are they using all the tools and features that are included in the SMART Software? If you’re working on a tight budget make sure your staff are making the most of what you’ve got.

 

I hope some of those help, and give you some ideas. Linking ICT to other subjects is not just about giving them a few websites to play on, it’s about making an impact on the teaching and learning taking place. How does your school link the two subjects? Any other ideas to suggest, feel free to comment.

 

outside

This week I got to go on a fantastic trip with my school. We took 9 pupils on a sailing ship for 3 days.

We went out on the Humber Estuary, and into the north sea. The children loved it. They spent their days as crew of the boat leaving myself and another teacher to supervise. Due to the small space on the boat the sleeping arrangements felt more like camping than being at sea, so on an evening we had great fun playing games and having family style meals.

But then my ICT teacher brain kicked in. Before we set of I grabbed the case of iPods and iPads and stashed them away on the back of the coach. I could resist the chance of some 1st class outdoor technology learning. So I though I would share how we used them on our trip to give you some ideas for yours.

  1. Google Maps – We followed our route from the school to the Dock, then when out at sea we were able to see where were in relation to the coast. 
  2. Geotagging – On one of the evenings we took the dingy to shore and tagged our location in an email back to the school.
  3. Journals – On an evening pupils wrote a quick paragraph of their day and then sent it back to their school email. This was then picked up on our return and used in their English lessons
  4. Video Diary – Pupils spent some time telling anecdotes of their day using the front facing cameras on the iPods. rather than a full diary entry we were sharing what interesting things happened to them.
  5. Evening Games – We spent the evening playing games with the pupils. Some classics like ‘Pass the Squeeze’ and ‘I’m having a Party’, but then we moved on and started using the iPads. We used Brushes to play Pictionary, as well as asking them to draw a scene from the day.
  6. Sailing lesson – As part of the trip pupils we asked to learn about the boat and how it worked. They aided their lessons by using the internet to research and share what they were looking at.

All of this was brilliant for me to see as their ICT teacher but it took some setting up. Obviously we made sure we had enough chargers and docking stations with us, and checked with the captain that we were able to use his electricity storage for this. We also brought with us some of the Mi-Fi boxes to provide the pupils with internet access. Remember – fail to prepare, and prepare to fail!

Have you used technology outside of school? Could you think of another way my group could have used them on the boat?

 

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