Archive for June, 2012

Insta Grok

| June 30, 2012 | 0 Comments 

A valuable gem*, and one well worth experimenting with, is InstaGrok – a search engine with a few differences.

“What do you want to learn about?” is the enticing question on the front page. Choose the level of results you’re looking for, along the scale from beginner to genius, and then start exploring.

The initial search is a bit like a cross between VisuWords and WordSift – a malleable, click-able, drag-able spider’s web of connected results. Alongside this, there are connected key facts, web pages, videos, images, other related concepts and even quizzes around the subject.

InstaGrok collates the sites you have been to, and sets you up a journal to record your investigations. As a way to organise some detailed research, or a way to discover alternative pages to the ones brought up by traditional searches, this can prove fruitful.

This is a useful tool, for children of many ages, and abilities. It can have some limitations in certain searches, but provides a rich and fascinating alternative route through internet “finds” and resources. Go Grok!

grok (v): to understand thoroughly and intuitively

(* and one we’re surprised we haven’t mentioned earlier).

Mona Lisa… erm… smile

| June 29, 2012 | 0 Comments 

Visit the Interactive Mona Lisa site for the chance to manipulate that enigmatic “smile”. As you can choose the facial expressions and moods in English, French, Spanish, Danish, German, Greek, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Finnish, Swedish, Czech, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindi, Russian, Slovenian, Polish, Maltese, Hungarian and even Esperanto… this could be a useful language tool too. Give us a smile!

“That film”

| June 28, 2012 | 7 Comments 

Often, I meet people and they say – “Oh! You’re the Myst bloke! I’ve seen you doing a lesson on the web”.

In reality, Myst is only one element of what we do. A powerful aspect, but only one of the many ways to use technology, (or otherwise) to inspire children of all ages and abilities. But it does work in wonderful ways.

The idea that some one has “seen a lesson” is slightly more bemusing because, what they are often referring too, is a short film, made quite a long time ago, that is just a slightly static glimpse into part of the concept.

But that film has survived the test of time, and it was just an “amateur” film made, quickly, of my class  “in action”. Continue Reading

Lino It

| June 27, 2012 | 0 Comments 

In planning for presentations next week, I am finding Lino It genuinely useful again. Lino It has some really powerful attributes, including the opportunity to link to pictures and even videos from a post-it note pasted on your collection of thoughts.

Lino It’s great for individual, or group, mind mapping & recording of research. It can be used on a large screen with a whole class. Add photos, pictures, videos & web, to each note, and get sorted. Now, if I could just stop faffing… I’d be finished!

EUOnIA and AnOthEr OnE yOU And I lIkE

| June 25, 2012 | 0 Comments 

euoniaEunoia is the shortest word in English containing all five vowels – and it means “beautiful thinking”. It is also the title of Canadian poet Christian Bok’s book of fiction in which each chapter uses only one vowel.

Read some intriguing extracts in this article on the BBC Today site.

There are some lovely comments about the idea:

I think this is slightly silly! – Michael Phillips, Southsea

…his gift is instilling illicit instincts in I!!
Jayne, Prestatyn, Wales

Yes, very clever: yet empty. He expended energy yet he vexes deeply. Berk! John Dudley, London.

How about setting students a similar challenge.

MystIII 056Or go the other way: using every vowel in every word.

A great example is the sentence “Unsociable housemaid discourages facetious behaviour”! What a headline.

A few other occurences of this include: “Austin Powers”, “Slovak Republic”, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Born in the U.S.A” (or, after seeing him at Glastonbury I wonder if that should be “Bored of The U.S.A” – but that doesn’t work!

Oh! Loops on bold fonts now form lots of words for books…

iPiccy – Great online photo editing

| June 24, 2012 | 0 Comments 

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 many 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!

Talk Typer – A Chrome voice to text tool

| June 23, 2012 | 0 Comments 

Talk Typer is a great online speech to text tool, which works within the Google Chrome browser. It does need a little help with some punctuation and, like any speech recognition, can make some mistakes, but is a good free way to experiment with spoken-to-written word.

Oxford Owls – Digital books

| June 22, 2012 | 0 Comments 

Another, delightful, collection of stories for children. With the Oxford Owl site, you can explore a collection of around 250 FREE picture books, that can be leafed through, perhaps on a whiteboard, and they are read aloud in an engaging way. There is a chance to buy printed editions, but you can enjoy all of the books, free of charge, in a digital format. Favourites for us included How Many Sleeps, for younger children, through to Storm Chasers, for 9-11 year olds. Got to go & cuddle up with a book…


| June 21, 2012 | 0 Comments 

Smories is children reading stories for children. It came from an idea by Lisa Swerling & Ralph Lazar’s daughter, filming herself reading stories to entertain her little sister on a long journey. There are many, including tales such as If You Swallow Your Gum!

Children bringing unpublished stories to life, giving the chance for writers to try out their creations to a new audience, or just a delightful collection of fascinating fables. Fun!

The Kirkby Collaborative of Schools, Day 3

| June 21, 2012 | 14 Comments 

The last of three, special, days with the Kirkby Collaborative of schools. What a remarkable bunch!

To have a group of schools working together, enables some powerful opportunities.

It also means that, when there is such a broad range of needs, abilities, interests, enthusiasms, skills, and confidences, there is the chance for experimentation, support and inventiveness. Continue Reading


| June 20, 2012 | 0 Comments 

MapZone 1The MapZone website aims to present British and European Geography in a fun and eye-catching mannner which will appeal to children.

The majority of the information is accessed through interactive activities, animations, quizzes and map-based games.

There are also printable resources.

MapZone4Pupils are able to strengthen areas such as using grid references, compass directions and knowledge and understanding of map symbols.

Pupils are able to contribute to the ‘Favorite Places’ area of the site which will hopefully build up to become a useful resource.

MystIII 059The Homework Help area of the website provides pupils with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of a range of map skills.


Although this site has been designed for Key Stage 3, it is an appealing website that has the potential to be used as a useful teaching tool in Key Stage 2 as well.

The site is available in Welsh and English, and covers a wide range of Geographical skills and concepts, including map symbols, grid references and understanding scale.