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PawsExplore ~ eSafety

| September 18, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

PawsExplorePawsexplore is a website which provides up to date e-safety information. Although there aren’t a wealth of resources, as ICT co-ordinator I have found the visual ideas a great starting point to generate our own school ideas for e-safety.

For example, we will be creating a competition for our children to create their own monitor displays for the dos and the don’ts of e-safety.

The only issue that some schools have faced is that the site may be blocked
because of the word created by the end of paws and the beginning of explore. :-)

Very useful in terms of creating a foundation for e-safety (and also helping towards our e-safety award evidence!)

Tiffany Thorpe, Coleshill Primary

Coleshill C of E Primary, Coleshill ~ Day 1

| September 18, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Coleshill C of E Primary

Coleshill C of E PrimaryOur first of two days at Coleshill C of E Primary, Coleshill. Today, we took off on two explorations of digital worlds, one with upper Key Stage 2 children, and a brave excursion with Year 2 travellers ~ Superb analog responses to remarkable digital stimuli.

After a good deal of discussion, the children wrote spontaneously, producing work of a high quality full of vivid imagery. They were also encouraged to refine their spoken language & clarify their ideas. Despite the length of the session, they remained on task and enthusiastic throughout.

Thank you to Andy Kershaw, head teacher, and motivator, for sharing his reflections:

Andrew KershawThe interaction between the “presenter” and the “audience” is crucial. Tim was able to engage all of the children, and adults. within seconds of meeting, by creating an intriguing, and exciting, atmosphere.

The richness of the stimulus used (a virtual landscape), was full of visual delights, and sounds, which immersed the children and stimulated them to use their imagination.

Through his charismatic personality, Tim enabled all pupils to feel individually engaged with his ideas. The children, who were sat in groups, were so encouraged, they spoke, listened, and participated fully. They enjoyed his almost electric presence in the room. They were able, and keen, to usethe skills, which Tim had spoken about, to enhance their descriptive sentences and extend their understanding, and use, of this remarkable literacy.

Thank you, too, to Felicity Blundell, Year Six teacher, for her thoughts:

The experience of being able to interact with the program, from the point of view of “being one of the children”has been invaluable. It has enabled me to be part of their discussion, see their enthusiasm and share the high quality of writing based upon it. I can really see the potential of this, in my class room.


| September 17, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


Help your students improve their grammar and writing skills with NoRedInk

The site is “currently free for everyone – teachers, students, parents, tutors, school administrators, and all who want to improve their grammar!”

Turn Off The Lights with Chrome

| September 16, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

TOTLWe have mentioned a couple of great ways of watching YouTube, and other, film sites, free from distractions.

Here’s another: the Google Chrome gem “Turn Off The Lights”, means that with one click on the lamp button, the entire page will fade to dark, (with many adjustable options) so you can watch the video as if you were in the cinema. Click again, the page will return back as normal.

Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn, Pontypridd, South Wales ~ Day 2

| September 16, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn

Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn

A second day at Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn and a pair of lessons with children from across the age range.

One of the elements we looked at, were ways of communicating, as a class, often without hands up.

Putting your hand up can often act like putting a cork in a bottle. Nothing comes out and nothing else goes in.

How many times have we asked a child, who has their hand up, for their idea, only to find them shaking their head, grin sheepishly, and admit that they have forgotten what they were going to say?

Children can “switch off” with their hands pointing at the ceiling.

By modeling ways of organising, contributing to, and taking part in a group discussion, children begin to listen more attentively too, so that they can find the right point to add their thought. This means that the ideas of those around them start to matter and form part of their contribution.

Investigating different methods of handling a group “hands-free” discussion, the children today were soon listening to the offerings of their classmates more attentively, and, when they found the right time to contribute, their interjections were more expressive, and responsive to what had gone before.

We discussed the different visual and auditory clues we can give each other that we are about to speak or that it is O.K. for the other person to continue. What an incredible positive impact this has on the flow of a lesson.

Thank you to all of the staff and children involved in today. Don’t listen when people say “Put a cork in it!” There ain’t no stopping your flow now! :-)

Text Compare

| September 15, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

TextCompareTextCompare could be a useful way of looking at changes between 2 texts. Paste, or type, the texts in to each box, and see the differences highlighted.

Or, try Grammarly, which we mentioned here.

Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn, Pontypridd, South Wales ~ Day 1

| September 15, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Ysgol HeolyCelyn

Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn

Our first of two days at Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn and an INSET to boost writing across the school.

Ysgol Heol-y-Celyn is a bilingual school, with Welsh spoken in many areas. Great, to spend time with teachers, and TAs, who understand how it is the learning that flows behind the technology which is most important.

Alun Rees, Head teacher, shared these thoughts:

“I have always been a firm believer that a child needs to enjoy learning and that you can learn through enjoyment. IT and video games are a normal part of everyones life at the moment and children enjoy playing on them.We can use this technology to improve and raise standards in schools also by using todays technology to enhance provision and to stimulate the pupils creatively. This is why I have asked Tim to come to Heol-y-Celyn to do an INSET on the use of IT in writing”.

DoorsA recurring theme of today was the balance that is needed between planning what you want to achieve in lessons, and flying with ideas. Children can lead in many of the game based sessions, but you do need to have a clear idea of objectives and intended outcomes. However, it is important to take the brakes off and fly a bit as well.

It is really crucial to explore game environments in a structured, but not overly planned, way initially. e.g. to have an idea about what kind of things you can cover but not predetermine a route or how long you are going to spend in each location.

It is important to become familiar with the games yourself at first. Then, when you begin explorations with a class, to be prepared to cover less physical ground than you might expect.

You may only “move” one “pace” but the children will be able to see how a new paragraph can begin with just a turn of the head, or reaching out to move a lever. Standing outside a door is a classic example of how tension and expectation can be built within a writer’s, and reader’s mind.

| September 12, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Life fills us with stories.  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  Stories fill us with life.

LegendLEGEND is an online platform enabling teachers to use stories to create meaningful and engaging content for their pupils.

Visual story telling is a fascinating way to cover, or introduce, new ideas and concepts. Use images, video, and text to make unique learning opportunities.

Legend is easy to use: drag and drop elements in to place ~ a virtual collection appropriate for your students.

The site is in Beta stage at the moment, and they are interested in educators who are up for signing up to try it out.

UNI•C – National Agency for IT and Learning, Copenhagen

| September 12, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


Following yesterday’s conference, in Odense, we made our way, by train, to Copenhagen, for a session with  the National Agency for IT and Learning in Denmark, leading an informal session for executives. We shared a vast range of online possibilities to expand the curriculum.

There are so many pressures put upon educators these days that enjoyment, inspiration, creativity, and fun can be forced out of the classroom.

We looked at innovative ways to tackle the computing aspects of modern day life, but also how we can harness technology to inspire young people, and fire their imaginations, across the curriculum.

We took apart the powerful effect of using many Web2 tools and software (most of it free), hand-held devices and more, – modelling a way of teaching, where quality learning is the focus rather than the latest gadget; ‘what is said, rather than what is used to say it’. As well as showing a huge, and accessible, range of ways to engage, and motivate students of all ages, and abilities, we reinforced how these elements are not only essential for quality learning experiences to take place, but how they can also have a massive impact on standards, achievement… & enjoyment!”

Thank you to Claus Berg, Finn Togo and Karen Balle for the past two days in Denmark.

Stoodle ~ Online collaboration

| September 11, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

“Someone knows what you need. Someone needs what you know”.

Stoodle “makes it easy to learn from and teach fellow peers online”. For iPad and desktop browsers!

Real-time collaboration on a virtual whiteboard with infinite pages.  Real-time communication through voice conferencing and text chat. Permanent storage of all classrooms for later access. Support for image uploading.  Access to basic drawing tools and colours

This is one we don’t have a lot of experience of, so please, investigate and let us know your thoughts…

ICT-based learning in education, Odense, Denmark

| September 11, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


Danish Ministry of EducationA Danish Ministry of Education Conference about ‘ICT-based learning’ in Odense, Denmark.

The conference is a part of the Ministry’s five research projects collaborating with some 30 schools which, within different aspects, are focusing on how to work with digital learning in primary schools. The research projects are part of a big strategy on ICT and digital learning in the Danish primary and secondary school sector, to which the Danish government has allocated funds between 2012 and 2017.

Together, we looked at different perspectives on practical and creative use of  ICT and media in education as an inspiration to the teachers and scientists participating in the research projects.

Thank you to Claus Berg, who, on behalf of UNI•C – National Agency for It and Learning – engaged us to contribute to today’s special event.

We were here in the birth place of Hans Christian Andersen, so bountiful stories unfolded.

We have always said that we don’t advocate using virtual worlds as an alternative to getting out and about in the analog landscapes around us. (Although, it is a lot safer and a lot less insurance than a school trip!!)

Myst 4 BubblesThere is no better experience than taking a group of children out into the world. Many schools, and some folk here today in Denmark, have told us, though, the experiences children have within the classroom settings we have been developing over our last few visits, (and the structured way these activities develop speaking and listening skills) have had a big effect on the way their classes take part in trips and camps.

Groups of children sharing ideas and solving problems collaboratively and creatively, using some of the skills they have acquired in their “virtual travels” ~stories, and fresh experiences, abound. “HCA” would have loved it, we were told.