Latest News

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.

The Digital Education Show Launch Dinner, London

| September 10, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

The Digital Education Show Launch Dinner

The-Digital-Education-Show-UK-2015-LogoAn evening dinner at The Apartment at Kettner’s, Soho, London, to launch The Digital Education Show UK, a huge event which will take place at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, on the 30th June and 1st July 2015.

The event next year will focus on empowering learning through technology and includes Sir Ken Robinson as one of its keynote speakers.

We looked at the disrupters in the technology and education sector, the challenges for educators in the UK, the size of opportunity for technology companies, what the future of digital education will look like, and how the event will be next June with its important audience, learning focus, and top speakers. Followed by a Q & A session, and then dinner, this was a full evening.

A big Thank You to Emma Williams Project Director, and General Manager for Terrapin Ltd, for organising this special event, and our involvement., and sharing her thoughts here:

‘I am delighted to be hosting the Digital Education dinner this evening with guest speaker Tim Rylands. The dinner is intended to bring together professionals who work within education and technology to network, collaborate and share ideas. In association with this, Terrapinn run The Digital Education Show happening 30th June – 1st July 2015 in London Olympia. The UK edition specifically focuses on how we can use technology to enhance learning within schools. If you have any questions or would like to be involved feel free to contact me on 0207 092 139 or email at’

Some of the things we used this evening can be found HERE

Lego Movie Maker app ~ Stop motion movie magic

| September 10, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Lego Movies

With the LEGO Movie Maker app, you can “Build your own LEGO® adventure, then capture your story”!

This movie creator doesn’t just have to have LEGO as its subject but you can help bring LEGO, and other characters, alive in a stop-motion movie.

Simple tools and guides make it easy to shoot, edit, and even score your movie with music. Choose from 7 different soundtracks, or add music from your library, then save your movie to your camera roll. Add text to your movie with custom dialog cards and add LEGO sound effects to any frame, or record your own sound effects. Helpfully, you can edit the duration of each frame, making it possible to create some masterpieces.

LEGO Movie Maker works on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (on devices with a camera!) and supports operating systems of iOS5 and up. Intriguingly, it states that you “Must be 18 or older to download”.

edPuzzle ~ Make any video into an interactive experience

| September 9, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

edPuzzle LogoA potentially very useful tool: edPuzzle enables the editing, and use of, interactive videos on on any subject

Add your voice and insert audio notes or record over a video with your familiar voice. Add questions through the video to give your students immediate feedback and track their understanding. Either use ready made content, or upload your own videos to EDpuzzle and make them perfect for your class.

Check where the students are struggling. Also, check their answers to your quizzes. Select only the interesting parts of long videos. Spark curiosity by asking open questions through the video

Unigine Crypt demo ~ immersive exploration

| September 9, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Crypt logoCryptUnigine Crypt is a WebGL Demo. This could be used as another step to explore in an Epic Citadel, Gothic, or medieval type of experience.

Useful as a stimulus for descriptive narrative, and so much more. Explore the crypt, the guttering candles, the last supper-like mural, intriguing statues and dark, mysterious atmosphere. Stand still, or survey the scene.

The graphics are very impressive (working best in Firefox, it seems) and engaging ~ wish we could go further…

Enter FULL SCREEN, press SPACE to pause the camera, ENTER (or RETURN) to switch to the next camera, and ESC to change settings.