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Last week my Digital Leaders were given the opportunity to go and show off their work at BMobLe14 in Bradford. With them they took 3 different activities they had created using the MakeyMakey boards. It was brilliant seeing them talk and share their work with other professionals from the region, as well as with other Digital Leaders.

In this post I wanted to share with you the work they produced, and how they set it up so you can have a go yourself. I have posted pics of all the activities and tried to include how they work in the photo gallery above. The 1st activity they set up was a simple music game. Using 2 different boards, running to the same computer, they created 2 ways of playing sounds. Using 2 sheets of cards, staples and a bit of copper tape the pupils made a great little keyboard when paired with a Scratch app. Using the same app they also made some musical art. Using a sheet of A3 paper and a high density pencil (8B) they made shapes and lines that could connect the to board and make amazing sounds. When the other pupils and staff saw this and had a go there were smiles all round. Really simple but really effective.

Another game they made for pupils to use was a simple Frustration/Buzz game. This involved me making the game out of some old firewood and hydraulic tubing (raided my dads garage!), and bending it into shape. The pupils then connected the right wires and made a simple app on Scratch that made a sound when ever the 2 touched. This was another game where we could run 2 from the same board so it made for exciting challenges and competitions at the conference.

The final activity my DL’s produced also used a game created using Kodu. My top leader made a quick single player game on Kodu and then built himself his own Xbox style controller. Using staples and some quick wiring behind the card, it made for an effective gamepad. Just using up, down, left, right, space and the W key he made a working game that everyone had a go at. By the afternoon a few of the wires had come loose which was a shame and he look absolutely gutted. The great thing was afterwards he came up to me and told me 4 different ways he thought would strengthen it.

Overall I had a great day at the conference and the kids left really happy with their work (and a bag full of freebies obviously!). Please share any other ideas you have used in school, or ones you want to try!

 

Makey Makey Magic

May 12th, 2014 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in Lesson Ideas - (0 Comments)

This week I was lucky enough to arrive at work and find a box of 5 Makey Makey sets sitting on my desk waiting for me. Obviously this was VERY exciting, and all my other plans for the day were instantly thrown out of the window. Within an hour I had made myself a little Pacman controller (very rock and roll). Within 2 hours year 6 had made themselves a game-pad out of card and staples to work with Kodu. And within 4 hours a group of year 3 pupils had made some amazing musical art. The creativity in my room  was amazing.

 

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After a day like that I HAD to take the box home and tinker in my office for a few hours (much to my wife’s annoyance!). I spent some time looking online at what others had done with the Makey Makey boards and took inspiration from fruit! I made myself a wonderful working piano from grapes! Really simple to do, and it looked great. I started off with the simple Piano app on the MakeyMakey website and a hand full of the fruit!
I began by connecting the board to my computer, plug-in and go, no need for drivers or installation. Then connecting my crocodile clips to the corresponding places on the Makey Makey board. Before finally attaching the opposite end of the clip to the grapes. The key to making the board work is having a grounding wire. You need to be holding this so that you complete a circuit when you touch the fruit. I hope my little diagram explain this better than I just did, and yes this is the scrappy plan I did before putting it all together! The Makey Makey board is essentially a keyboard override for your computer. Anything you can get your keyboard to do with an app or website can be done on the Makey Makey board. When you complete the circuit the board tells your computer you have pressed the key. Easy.  I could have made this much more advanced by adding a whole bunch of grapes (pun intended) to create my own full piano. If only I knew how to play a tune on it!

When working with the children at school I have been starting off with the app on my screen rather than the tech in my hand. Whether it’s downloading something from the MakeyMakey website, or building one for myself on Scratch. You need to have the software for the hardware to work on! This is something that can be great to do with kids. With year 3 I gave them the musical app, they had to come up with the art work to connect the board to. To challenge why KS2 pupils a bit more, or to begin with my Digital Leaders, I plan on getting them to build their own musical sound effects using Scratch.

Relatively cheap technology like this really can inspire both children and adults with the coming changes in the curriculum, my pupils spent a whole day programming without even realising it! If you have used the MakeyMakey boards, or are planning on, please get in touch and share your creations. Happy Computing!

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.

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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? 

An Afternoon of Kodu

January 15th, 2014 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in ICT Resources - (0 Comments)

koduAt the moment my year 6 classes are looking at all things gaming, and yesterday I introduced them to the wonderful world of Kodu. Kodu is something I have always been meaning to play with, but never been brave enough to. It always seemed a bit complex and fiddly. Our unit of work has looked at classic games, and what makes them great. Then we are moving on to make a variety of games using different programs. They are experts with 2DIY, which is brilliant to use and so adaptable, but I wanted them to move to something with more complexity. I’m working my way towards Scratch, and Kodu seemed like a nice middle ground.

Due to the fact that my knowledge of the program was fairly minimal I left the majority of the teaching down to the kids. I showed them the very basics and set them free to play, explore and make plenty of mistakes. When the lesson finished I realised that this was probably the best way to do it. Those who struggled stuck to what I had shown them, and with a little encouragement pushed themselves and added new details. The best part of the lesson was seeing those who understood it quickly without my coaching. The freedom of the lesson allowed them to flourish and make some fantastic worlds at their 1st attempt. It left me eager to see what they can do with more time, and more development from me.

The only problem I had with the lesson was that the kids spent a good chunk of the time concentrating on their world design and the aesthetics. Next time they are in their challenge will be to focus on the game side of it and try to make a working game in an hour. Seeing their minds working on the look of their work was good, but without the core game working their work seemed hollow. Another little tip for a lesson like this would be to give the children question cards. I limited my pupils to 2 each. this encourages the children to ask their peers for help and work with each other, plus it stops them from hassling you when you don’t have the answers yet!

If anyone else is a bit apprehensive about using Kodu in a primary school I would say go for it, but put the focus on the kids. Make them learn and push themselves to find what they can do. A good website to look at before hand is Planet Kodu, it’s filled with tutorials, downloads and some great inspiration for the children. Have you used Kodu in the classroom? Any helping tips for others or myself?!

I was recently on a course looking at how you can bring programming into the ICT curriculum in a practical way. As part of the course we looked at some great hands on tools, as well as some fantastic web-based programming resources. A handful of these were the Mozilla based coding tools. It’s like someone delved into the mind of an ICT teacher and pulled out exactly what they needed! Can you tell I nerded out over these a little?!

x ray gogglesThe 1st is the X-Ray Goggles. To start with you need to install it as a bookmark on your web browser, the instructions are easy enough and on the webpage when you 1st load it up. Once installed you can visit ANY website and start to play with the coding behind it. Simply click on any element to start changing and altering both text, links, and images. This is a great intro to the world of HTML with pupils, and shows them the structures and scaffolding behind their favourite websites. The thing I like most about this tool is the fact that you can publish your changes as a URL, allowing you to send and share your work with others. Tip: Discuss the idea of copyright and keeping work appropriate when online. who knows what they could write left by themselves!

In a nutshell: It works great as a quick and easy way to see the coding behind a website, however it can be fairly limited, for example it doesn’t allow you to see the style sheet of the overall page. 

 

The second web tool developed by Mozilla is Thimble. Thimble is a web-based code editor designed to give complete novices a space to quick build, share and practice their skills. While there are other similar products out there Thimble is designed with the newcomer in mind. It really focuses on the teaching of basic HTML, rather than the more advanced side of things. For the more adventurous I would suggest something like Codecademy. Thimble runs as a side-by-side code editor and output, allowing you to instantly see your creations in real-time, providing you with instant feedback and tips if you do something slightly wrong.

As well as giving you the freedom to create and develop anything you like Thimble also offers a selection of ‘Remixes’. These are projects created by others and offered out for people to edit and play with. I tend to use these 1st with my pupils to give them some ideas and inspiration on what they build in HTML, before moving on to creating their own.

In a nutshell: Really simple and easy to use web editor, that offers some great instant feedback. However, for some security reasons it doesn’t support Java so be away before you get started. 

For those, like me, who are a little daunted by the world of programming and coding these tools can prove as a great starting point. Give them a go, and share what you think!

Last week I posted about my plans for the curriculum in Key Stage 1, and how I was going to meet the criteria with lesson ideas. It seemed like a popular post, and as I have done the same for Key Stage 2 I would be a shame not to pop it on the site.

As with the format before I have included it in a mind map for you to explore and search through. The map is split up into the 4 main sections of Digital Media, Programming, Data Handling and Technology in our lives. Having this variety of learning areas means pupils take part in a wide range of activities, making the learning fun and accessible. I have tried to include a number of different equipment types, not just the computers. This included things like digital cameras, ipod/ipads, and Lego robots. While your school might not have these available yet, there are other cheaper options to give the pupils similar experiences.

Hope you find this useful, and please share it around.

 

 

 

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Exciting times ahead in the world of ICT! With the new curriculum changes starting soon I’m sure we are all looking at how be can develop our subject, and what changes to teaching need to take place. Over the past few weeks I have starting thinking about how I am going to structure ICT, and what activities or programs I could use to deliver the new standards. Below is a mind map I created showing a few program ideas and possible teaching activities in Key stage 1. I am structuring ICT in 4 key sections; Digital Media, Programming, Data Handling and ICT Beyond the Classroom. By doing this my pupils are able to take part in a wide variety of activities, not just the coding that Mr Gove seems to want! Have a look and see what you think.

iPad Screenshot 5This week I have been given the task of making the teaching of ICT more mobile and physical in Reception. Sounds fun at 1st but then the reality sets in and I have to find enough work to do on fairly short notice. One of the things I have planned to do is using the iPads a lot with them, looking at some different apps, and different uses in the classroom.

Daisy the Dino is a control based app that works much in the same way as Scratch. Pupils create lists of where and what they want Daisy to do on the screen, it gives the pupils the chance to learn the basics of programming with a fun cartoon! the app is free and easy to use with drag and drop features. Kids of all ages can animate Daisy, making her move, dance or grow as she moves across the screen. The children should grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving the challenges set by the app. using the app can be developed further by pupils downloading a program on their computers with more functionality, but personally I would use this as an intro to Scratch.

Give it a go and see what you think, overall I think this a great introduction to the world of programming for younger pupils.

iPad Screenshot 4iPad Screenshot 3

 

 

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