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(Almost) Analog August

| July 16, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


Traditionally, each year, we have Almost Analog (Almost) August, ~ a chance, and a challenge, to “switch off”.

This year, we will be working in Sweden for some of August so won’t be able to achieve the total shut down of previous years. However, wherever you are, and whether, and whatever your role, and setting, you are able to “power off”, we wish you a top up of energies, a regrouping and re-energising if you can take some time, however long or short.

Did you Sir? Did you miss?

| July 13, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


Metro Map Creator (& a walking tube map)

| July 11, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Metro Map CreatorMetro Map could be a superb way to draw things like a finished “mind map”, or a guide to an interesting process. You could use word, or PowerPoint, but this is easy.

Start a fresh map, draw your routes, and add stations. Choose the direction of texts, and other settings, with the control panel.

As an aside, if you live in, or are visiting, London, and want to be slightly more active during your travels, try THIS MAP to find out how long (or surprisingly short) it would take to walk between two locations, instead of take the tube.

Computing to Inspire, Nottingham

| July 11, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Nottinghamshire Conference

A great, full on day, at The Nottingham Computing to Inspire Conference, Eastwood Hall, Mansfield Road, Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, with opening and closing keynotes, and three workshops.

Liz Kitts, Education Improvement Consultant for the county, shared these thoughts:

NCC“Computing to Inspire”, the Nottinghamshire Education Improvement Service’s summer conference, was a great event for subject leaders to network, share good practice, gain inspiration, and ideas, for the teaching of computing, and the use of technology in primary schools.

The event built upon the good relationships the LA has developed with schools, involving delegates from subject leader networks, in planning the event. Suppliers, at the request of schools, provided an exhibition showcasing new technologies.

This year saw the introduction of the Nottinghamshire Computing Framework. This is an adaptation of the Nottinghamshire ICT Framework, updated to meet the requirements of the new curriculum. It is designed to give schools support in interpreting the programme of study whilst not having the restrictions of a scheme of work.

There was a vast range of workshops from local providers:

iPads EYRS KS1Joanne Bardgett shared how Annie Holgate Infant School uses iPads in both the EYFS and KS1 curriculum.

She shared her knowledge, experience and enthusiam of the apps that fit so well with children’s interests and curriculum subjects. There were some iPads and apps to trial to help us get hands-on!

AppsDr Craig Small, consultant educational psychologist, and Sam Whisker, HTML jedi-coder and industry expert, demonstrated how teachers and pupils can build their own web Apps for mobile devices using the Mobile Rockit platform.

This workshop gave absolute-beginner-HTML-coders live hands on experience using code to build, style and publish Web Apps.

Beyond a GameIn our workshop, “Beyond a game!” we aimed to build confidence and ideas on how to use virtual worlds and associated tools back in the classroom, inspiring speaking and listening, writing, and creativity in children of all ages and abilities. An investigation of how virtual worlds, with their stunning landscapes, peaceful characters and realistic challenges, can be used across subject areas, abilities and age ranges to deliver remarkable effects.

Primary ProgAndy Board, Headteacher of Tollerton Primary, and Clare Board, Computing Subject Leader of St Peter’s Church of England Junior School looked in to Primary Programming, exploring software and approaches to programming in the primary classroom, giving practical examples of programming in action in a primary school setting.

Coding for EveryoneMark Burrows, Head of Education at 2Simple, investigated Coding for everyone – the enthusiastic, the inquisitive and the slightly terrified, showing how the coding element of the computing curriculum can be taught across the primary school by teachers of all abilities, experiences and interest. So Simple!

Augmented RealityThomas Adby, Partake AR Ltd, Augmented Reality Education shared Virtual object investigation in 3D through Augmented Reality, demonstrating the app he has developed for the iPad and show how it can be used to enhance lessons and be used as a stimulus for creative writing, Design and Technology, exploring history and beyond …

the future is now.

Making Computing AccessibleKate Hudson, Valiant Technology, lead a session entitled Making the computing curriculum accessible & not scary, a hands-on workshop showing how the new Roamer provides a scaffolded approach to programming. Full of cross-curricular ideas that satisfy the requirements of the Computing Curriculum. A brilliant starting point to take back to school to reassure colleagues that they CAN do it.

KoDuAdam Newman, ICT Coordinator at Farmilo Primary School and Nursery School, gave colleagues a tour of the KoDu Game Design software and demonstrated how they can create a unit of work, showing what pupils can achieve and how this can link to the new computing curriculum. And it’s Free!

Self-review FrameworkChris Stott, Professional Officer for Nacce, looked at ‘School improvement with the Self-review Framework’, where the Framework has come from, who supports it and how it is a powerful tool for school improvement through the effective use of technology.

Notts FrameworkLiz Kitts, Nottinghamshire County Council Advisory Teacher for Computing/ICT, introduced the Nottinghamshire Computing Framework.

Thank you to Liz; Craig Wilkie who helped to plan and organise the conference; Lauren McGarry for providing admin support; and admin team manager Alison Fawley.

Wordles of Character

| July 10, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Here are a few more examples of some Wordles of Character. They are worth watching through, or reading, slowly. Poignant and thought provoking. A real development of empathetic writing.

A slightly overworked and stressed doctor, an embarrassed teacher caught in a bit of a pickle, a “cool and trendy” vicar, (or so he likes to think) a farmer experiencing a bit of a flash-back to a slightly uneasy memory, a newspaper boy with an aversion to the colour red, and, for us, the most captivating, a teacher reflects on what sparked her career path all those years ago. Fascinating insights from ones so young.

Remember that these are designed, written and created by 10 and 11 year olds but I think they are of a quality we might expect from a design agency. Take your time, and watch these subtle animations…

Continue Reading

Freemake Video Converter & Video Downloader

| July 9, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

freemake-video-converter-logoFfreemake-video-downloader-logoreeMake Video Converter is a useful tool for any Windows users who need to change a file from one format to another.

You might also try FreeMake’s Video Downloader as an alternative to Firefox video Download Helper

You’d have to think about copyright elements, but you can edit out the culturally sensitive elements of a film, for example, to use in your classroom, and then in any format.

iFake Text

| July 8, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

iFake text Barak ObamaiFake TextiFake text, is not a new idea, but it is worth revisiting, to make surprisingly real communications, between characters, about something intriguing maybe…

Get children thinking, wondering, or writing, about the background to the texts, or creating their own conversations, perhaps between historical figures, or personalities in a play or novel. What would YOU talk about with… anybody… …

Filtering ~ (Hopefully this isn’t blocked)

| July 7, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Filtering 4“To filter, or not to filter. That is THE big question”.

Our local authorities are the ones who need to be provoked into thinking. There is so much inconsistency in policies and practice.

The aspect of training children, and students, effectively is intensely important. We filter so heavily, in some places, that they are given such a false sense of security; it is no wonder they stumble across undesirable content, when they go home, and are searching in an unprotected environment.

The internet is a vast resource; a wonderful wilderness of opportunities. There are some dark, unsavoury corners that we need protect our children from, through careful advice as much as monitoring. The web is exactly that, and there are some less than lovely spiders within it.

Filtering 3YouTube is blocked in a large number of educational contexts. However, it is a HUGE resource, and the biggest Aladdin’s Cave of valuable learning material ~ How to-s, thought provoking films, an archive of rich value.

One of the biggest reasons (offered) for blocking YouTube, is the comments that are logged in reaction to a lot of films. These can sometimes be written by people with a limited grasp of acceptable English or a desire to shock.

There are some (somewhat expensive) ways to filter out the comments. There are, however, some “freebies” such as ComentSnob, Quiet Tube, Cleanr, and NicerTube.

Filtering 5This is a wonderful time to be alive. The internet offers very powerful tools for research, collaboration and interaction. If we, as teachers, come across sites that are truly innocuous, and harmless, but enhance good teaching, we shouldn’t sit there and complain without taking action.

There are the possibilities of unblocking such sites, on an authority level perhaps. We have a professional right, and, in fact, duty to contact the people who administer our networks, and alert them to the fact that something useful is being restricted by the , understandable, blanket filters.

Filtering 6There has to be some consistency, and adaptability, but that depends on us being proactive. Open, as much as possible, but in a thought through fashion.

In our travels around the country, we are always amazed by how varied access is. We’re also startled by what people are denied access to, and why: In a lot of authorities, though not all, Noughts and Crosses is blocked! Why? Because it is “A Game”. Badness incarnate, surely!

Even the BBC site CBBC games is blocked in some authorities.

Filtering 2When we try to upload content to the blog, our ftp site is, sometimes, though again not always, blocked. This seems illogical. We need a password and detailed technical knowledge to enter it. We are uploading content not downloading some kind of strange unknown elements that might digitally corrupt a school computer network.

The ThinkUKnow sites offer some really valuable activities and resources when exploring internet safety. Visit the 5-7 site, 8-10 website , parent pages, and resources for teachers. Look back through this blog for others.

Filtering 7There are many remarkable, and powerful, resources out there.

We need to think. We need to act. Filtering can feel like action.
Is it making us complacent in terms of our responsibilities to children?

Which Date Works

| July 4, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


Whilst many folk may use online calendars, to organise a group, “WhichDateWorks” is a simple, and effective, free way of coordinating different people when trying to find a time when everybody involved is free. (Next Thursday. 6!)

Newspaper Maker ~ & other front page generators

| July 4, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

NEWSPAPER MAKERNewsNewspaper maker enables the creation of convincing eye-catching headlines and articles.

You could also try the newspaper creator from JaguarPaw, or AddLetters version

The image chef generator (used to the right) creates a quick headline on The Examiner

News of the Future ~ “You are my density”

| July 3, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

“Back to the … …” With a news theme this week, it might be timely to mention the quirky site that is News of the Future.

Who needs a Delorean time machine when you can link to future news? Oil at $180 a barrel, Talking search engines, First Marathon Under Two Hours, and Euro Banknotes Invalid by Friday It raises some fascinating questions, like Can Paralyzed People Walk in the Future? Even some of the advert banners are mock ups of future possibilities: “Beam Yourself Around the World with Telebeamer!” There are also some more serious sides to the site. An example: a section on AIDS offers some sobering thoughts.

The way the site looks back at “past events” from these days, offers a good insight into how reporting can present or misrepresent “facts” too. In the words of Marty McFly: “Well, history is gonna change”

Who knows what might happen, but “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything”.