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NAPE Computing & EDTECH Conference 2016, Oxford

| October 20, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


nape-header-1Fantastic to be presenting a keynote for the NAPE Computing & EDTECH Conference 2016, at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford.

NAPE is The National Association for Primary Education. It brings together everyone who has a concern for the learning of children from birth to 13 years. Members and affiliated schools work to improve education through the Early, Primary and Middle Years.

Our keynote focused on enthusing and inspiring learners, including in there of course teachers, using technology.

Technology won’t improve children’s learning without the passion and enthusiasm of those who use it.

We showed how technology can be used to deliver teaching that reaches out to all children and gives them hooks to learn from, how the tools technology delivers can fire their imagination, can entice the reticent learners and can engage the whole class so that learning becomes fun and exciting.


We loved sharing technolgical tools that have proven impact to excite and lift the eyebrows (as well as the writing hand) of even the most reluctant scribbler! Using freely available tools that can be used within 2 minutes in the classroom, with the aim of taking pupils onto another level of creativity and enthusiasm for writing.

Have a look at the great creatures created today, and thank you to our elephant keeper for being so kind.

As always at these events: a huge thank you to Pip Marples and Peter Cansell for coordinating our involvement.

Thank you too to Stuart Swann-Director of the Kassam Conference Programme.

Stuart began his career in primary schools where he was responsible for music and ICT. (Sounds like Mr Rylands) During that time he played a significant role in developing the role of ICT across the curriculum to the point where the subject was considered to be above national expectations. In demand to deliver INSET for the local authority, Stuart moved out of the classroom in 2002 to lead on the curriculum in the City learning Centres in Greenwich.

stuart-swannOver the next ten years, Stuart implemented a number of initiatives to raise standards through the use of technology. These included games based and handheld learning (and a partnership with Nintendo UK), the use of creativity within the curriculum and of LEGO Education products.
Stuart was responsible for the management of both the Apple Regional Training Centre and LEGO Education Centre in his borough.
Stuart is a LEGO® Education Academy Certified Trainer, an Apple Distinguished Educator, an Apple Professional Development Authorised Trainer and a Digital Creator, trainer and assessor and so much more. He is Vice Chair of NAPE

gooseberry-panetSe7ca76be0a0b5c713972ae5788fd0420tella James, is Founder of Gooseberry Planet (@gooseberryplan) teaching Online safety through gamification (#womenintech). Safeguarding is currently one of the most challenging areas for education. Stella James offers practical information about how online access impacts safeguarding.

  • What a school needs to do to meet the statutory requirements.
  • What are the latest trends.
  • What’s in,what’s out.
  • How to keep your school safe.

Miles BeADE Global Institute 2012 Miles Berryrry,ict (another “BECTA ICT in practice awards” soul like Sarah and Tim) shared the stage with us.

Many have argued that the concepts and approaches of computational thinking have applications beyond computing itself.

Now that computing is firmly established as a subject in many schools, there is a great opportunity for pupils to apply their newly acquired programming skills in the context of some of the other subjects they study. Ranging from Monte Carlo methods for estimating pi, to composing music with Sonic Pi, Miles takes a quick tour of some ways that pupils can practise their programming in meaningful contexts and deepen their knowledge and understanding of other disciplines.

Had good chat with Mark Taylor about Education on Fire.

ed_on_fire_t_shirt2-2Education On Fire is a podcast that interviews teachers and educators. We want to share the creative and inspiring way children are learning today and support you with ideas about how to enhance your own classroom or school. When it goes live, take a listen and hear how vibrant life can be.

Music Theory .net

| October 17, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Music, by Ricci Adams, is a site I have referred to before but Ricci keeps adding new material and extending the range of lessons and activities.

Music is often the first site you come to if you do a search for “Music Theory”, and it deserves to be there.

Lessons, Trainers, and Utilities. The site is available in British English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, and Serbian. Not bad eh for a free site eh?

From the basics of staves and clefs, progressing through to some quite complex aspects of musical notation.

Each lesson is illustrated in a step-by-step Flash animation so this could be useful to a member of staff in a session, or to pupils as reinforcement of a section of study. These can all be progressed through at your own pace. One great feature is a pop-up keyboard, so that you can “play along” with the lessons or experiment on your own.

This keyboard (when accessed from the site itself) could be used beyond the website as it remains in a, resizable, pop-up window.

Very, very useful, in many contexts.

There are also instrument trainers. The brass trainer, for example, asks you to hold down computer keys that correspond to the valves on a trumpet, French horn, trombone (which asks for slide position), tuba, and euphonium!

With Music, Ricci Adams continues to have reason to blow his own trumpet!

E xplore

| October 13, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

E is for EXPLORE is a superb analog/digital resource for teachers and parents. They develop fascinating learning activities, and search the internet to compile additional ideas from other sources. Well worth a rummage!


| October 11, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

iPiccy has many easy to use photo tools, enabling you to edit pictures, apply photo effects, add text or paint freehand from scratch.

iPiccy is free and no registration is required.

The iPiccy editor seems accessible enough that children, of loads of ages and abilities, can edit and create artistic reworkings of photographs, without too much of a learning curve.

As well as retouching individual pictures, it takes very little time to make collages of multiple images. (This does require allowing temporary access to a local drive). Useful!

Vcasmo – a handy way to record presentations

| October 3, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Screenshot 083Vcasmo means that you can film a presentation and synchronise it with the slides a presenter is talking about

Useful for recording the goings-on at a conference. But also in a classroom environment, perhaps when preparing for an interview or other presentation.

We have used it with great success in a “challenging” setting, and therefore we wouldn’t have clearance to show you how the children flourished using it. A great boost to their confidence to see themselves and their presentations “as one” though. Also a good opportunity to discuss presentation styles and techniques. Powerful!

Any presenter sometimes has to think twice about putting their presentations on-line. Not because they don’t want other people nicking them, but because people might think that they have had “the full experience”. I think that you can never fully understand the impact of a presentation unless you were there.

I think we may have a next step towards recording an event on a level that goes beyond just putting static PowerPoint slides on-line though, with Vcasmo.

There is an awful lot more that you can do to extend the virtual presentation experience.

Use video, audio/music, PDF, PowerPoint, photo/images in the presentation.

Slides can be synchronized with video/music.

User-friendly visual editor to arrange the slides in a timeline.

Video seeking Skip to any part of the video without having to wait for the whole video to be downloaded.

There is the power to take things even further, as you can link to other webpages inside slide.

Presentation can be for public, private, friends or group of selected people and password protected.

It is possible to embed presentations in your webpage or blog.

Receive comments about the presentation from visitors.

Go play…


| September 27, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

There are many mind mapping applications out there. However, the desktop apps are often bloated and not intuitive, and most web apps charge you for premium features.’s MindMap is free, open source and it’s full of HTML5 goodness.

This is a prototype of an HTML5 based mind mapping application. It lets you create neat looking mind maps in your browser.

It is also available offline? You can use the app wherever you are, there is no need for an internet connection.

It is so easy, it could be useful for pupils planning a project. Could it also be helpful when doing your own planning?


| September 23, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Memidex is a massive collection of well sorted links for investigating the meaning and sounds of words.

A free (mobile friendly) online dictionary & thesaurus with a simple interface, adult-filtering, & millions of external reference links for definitions, audio, and etymology.

Rowlatts Hill Primary School, Leicester ~ The Return

| September 21, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 



Great, to be invited back, to Rowlatts Hill Primary and, this time, with the children and teachers creating our composite creatures.

Thank you to Jay Virk, Headteacher,  for inviting us to be with her colleagues and children for the day; special thanks to Deb Swann, Deputy Head, for coordinating arrangements wonderfully and to the staff and Y6 pupils for being to up for the challenge of investigating some of “the other parts” of our computing needs.

…to create wondrous wildlings, mysterious intriguing oddities, using some inventive digital, and analog tools. We brewed up our own concoctions of combination creatures, researched about them, and presented our findings using some magical, online gems.

Each group generated their own beast; found out fascinating “facts” about those elements; (and even made up their own; then presented the findings, using other resources.

“I know this is true because I made it up myself”.

We discussed the aspect of pupil motivation, engagement, and involvement, being some of the most valuable elements of powerful learning experiences, and crucial to enable an initial “take off”. They also ensure that children remain in touch with their own development, and learning, with improved outcomes, in terms of standards, confidence, and developing that desire to fly.

Finding additional, effective approaches, techniques, and tools, is the root of our work over our two days, in different settings. So it is is powerful, as today, to be invited back to extend these aspects event further.

The common factor is that desire for children to be passionate about their life long learning.

Information, is accessible, available, downloadable, and discoverable, in many forms, for free, and just a click away, these days. It was superb to share, swap, discuss, and develop opportunities to build, discuss, and extend, ways that folk here today could continue the great work they are already doing, in moving beyond the older model of education when the focus seemed to be on generating “memorising machines”.

The learning, behind the tools we discussed, was all about nurturing independent, (yet cooperative) analytical, (and open) questioning, (and accepting) thoughtful (and thinking) critical children. Children who are able to assess the voracity of that readily available stack of “facts”. Children who are able to be involved in guiding their own learning, and (perhaps the most important role of quality learning), able to consider approaches in knowing, (or working out) what to do when they don’t know what to do. Well done all.

Music Theory Is Your Friend

| September 12, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Music Theory Is Your Friend friend could be helping you make extraordinary music.screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-14-47-27

34 Music Theory Hacks: contains Theory Ideas and Techniques that could spice up your music. How To Read Music is a guide to getting up and running in record time! What about 208 Songwriting Tips: Yes! : 208!

Key signatures can be really confusing when you are starting out. What Are Key Signatures?

How about 6 Steps to Harmonising a Melody simple approach to the basics of 4 part harmony

In Understanding Modes you can have a go at untangling one of the most misunderstood subjects in music theory!

A Lesson from Steve Reich’s Clapping Musicscreen-shot-2016-09-12-at-14-56-01  is a simple but powerful lesson in using process-driven rhythmic patterns!

 Modes Reference Guide: Yeah, lists. But hey, it’s a reference guide not a John Grisham thriller!

Arranging Chords: Does not mean hanging your trousers in interesting ways!

Potentally worth investigating.


| September 2, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Exploratorium copyThank you to Kelly Campbell for the nudge towards a few astronomy tools. She oversees a small team of retired educators and librarians who volunteer their time with EducatorLabs. The primary role of this team is to answer resource requests that come to them from educators every day, on a variety of topics. Each time they get a request, they put together a resource toolkit to be used in the classroom.

Here are some Astronomy Lesson Plans. Some Educational and Fun Astronomy Games. Find our about Solar System Facts and Astronomy with Planets for Kids. Or Space Exploration Insights & Resources.

Some eclipse links and resources here, come from Exploratorium which we have been fortunate to visit at Pier 15, in San Francisco.

EducatorLabs is funded by donations and fueled by help from people like you. They greatly appreciate any help you can provide!

Abbeymead Primary, Gloucester

| September 1, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Abbeymead Primary

AbbeymeadToday we had the pleasure of providing an INSET for the staff of AbbeyMead Primary School.

Thanks go to Amy Coole, Assistant Head, for coordinating our visit.  Amy has been along to our sessions before.

Today we focussed on tech, but, more on the power of picking up words an juggling them. Reading is a stimulus and models building sophistication in children’s writing. Speaking and listening, come alive when we expose children to new, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences. Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence … sometimes, making it up as we go, verbal, or written “jazz”, produces some of the most intriguing, and fascinating results. Today, we looked at how to inspire all of these elements, through the use of technology and beyond. Well done all.

Everybody here today was “Up for a challenge”! The aim was to have a look at some of the plethora of ICT ideas available, and how they can, even further, enhance the curriculum, particularly in the area of writing.

Today, we explored an increasingly speedy whizz through many analogue and digital gems. Folk were up for the challenges, and stuck with us on some quite technical wizardry, and a range of free, accessible tools that can be powerful in many contexts, in the classroom and beyond. Too many to mention in fact. Thanks one and all, for your laughter as well.

We splattered folk with oodles of accessible tools and ideas for raising the levels of creativity, writing, speaking and listening among children of all ages. We looked at the powerful effect of using games, Web2 tools, software, handheld devices and more and explored ways of teaching that focus on quality learning, rather than the latest gadget.

The school have a focus on the children enjoying their writing, having a belief, and confidence to believe they can do it, understanding that creativity is possible alongside the pressures that raising standards can put on teachers, and children. Feedback marking has its place, and benefits. We explored ways of developing enthusiasm to write, to enable that feedback to be based on real writing, for purpose, and building the desire to take off and fly.

This is a group of teachers who are up for anything. A bubbling passion can make the difference between a mundane, meandering, unfulfilling session and an incredible, meaningful learning experiences.

Writing can sometimes feel like something we inflict upon children and, whilst they do it, we go off and do something else, far more mysterious, intriguing and interesting, almost as if writing is beneath us.

It is vital to join children in whatever, essentially challenging, enjoyable task we set. Modelling can be one of the best ways of scribing. Some children don’t know what enjoying working looks like. Much in the same way that if we read a newspaper in front of a toddler we might find that they are imitating us and doing the same thing (O.K. It’s upside down but it’s the idea) it can be valuable to sit, amongst our pupils and rise to challenges ourselves.