Category: 2) Useful n Interesting

Tony-b .org

| June 9, 2017 | 0 Comments 

Tony B.org gives you the chance to weedle on a simple, but very enjoyable collection of retro keys. Go noodle!

A bit of word wizardry

| May 12, 2017 | 0 Comments 

 A man with a cane leapt out and actually made us do things. Scary stuff for teachers and support staff. After all, a day in a golf club had sounded kind of relaxing. But Tim made it fun, striking a good balance between opening up his box of tricks, guiding us through some of the best sites on the web, and focussing on the way children learn.

We had the opportunity to experiment with one of the Myst games too. Tim’s ideas about using the landscapes to develop writing were very inspiring, and we were put in the position of learners ourselves. Role play of a visit to a castle showed us how we could use Powerpoint Shows alongside drama techniques to immerse the children.

I went back to school itching to try out some of these ideas, but first I had a problem to sort out. My topic with my Year 3 and 4 class had gone a bit off course. I needed to steer it back in the right direction. It was based on the idea that the ‘happily ever afters’ had been cancelled in Fantasy Land. The fairy tale characters now had to cope for themselves.

The idea behind the topic was for the children to think about being entrepreneurial, and invent ways of helping the characters to think for themselves and make a living. I’d put a poster on the wall of the Lord High Wizard – who’d decreed ‘Austerity in Fantasyland.’ ( See Attached) The children had got deeply into the topic – we’d had a letter from Hansel asking for our help. The children had decided to call themselves ‘The Fairy Tale Savers’. They decided that the ‘Lord High Wizard’ in the picture on the poster might not have the right to revoke the happily ever afters.

One of the children suggested he was actually Hansel’s evil witch in disguise. So the class had started to focus on how we could get to talk to this man to find out who he really was, and to challenge him. I was concerned that this could simply become a meeting between a mob of angry fairy tale savers and the Lord High Wizard. Our very own riots! However, I didn’t want to say no, and for the children to lose interest. What could I do?

Tim had introduced us to Crazy Talk, a way to animate pictures. So I came up with the idea of a Lord High Wizard who would get their sympathy – a sad Lord High Wizard who’d lost his father. To make this more real we could make a portrait of his father talk, Harry Potter style, so the father himself could tell the children why he’d decided these measures should be introduced. I downloaded Crazy Talk, played around with it and had a few technical problems. I’d commented on the blog the day after the training and knew Tim was very approachable and so I sent him an email asking him for help. He was fantastic. Over lunchtime the same day, he took the script I’d written and the picture I’d found and animated it brilliantly – and sent me back the file. When I heard his voice, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the part so well!

I had a wizard’s hat so I took on the role of the Lord High Wizard! I displayed the animated portrait behind me on our huge screen in the hall. The children were taken through the scary forest (otherwise known as the playground) through the able imagination of my wonderful teaching assistant. When they came in they were ready to believe I was not just a middle aged woman in a rather floppy hat, but a real wizard… but would they still want to riot? As they began to talk to me they saw I was still really upset about my father’s death – and I told them he had been the one to introduce the austerity measures – and let him tell them why. They listened intently and the exercise really improved their speaking and listening skills – you could see them working out how they could respond kindly but still challenge gently. And their engagement was evident in their reactions.

Our clever ICT technician, Sian Hirst, who never gives up on anything –made a Powerpoint incorporating sound files of the children’s reactions, and the video of the talking portrait. We showed it in assembly to explain this complicated topic to the parents, and performed short plays written by the children about the fantasy characters and how they’d reacted – from Hansel and Gretel using their initiative and protecting their assets, to The Wizard of Oz group who focussed on the difficulties of making money when you had other businesses nearby.

Godfrey Evans, one of our governors, then used Crazy Talk to animate our learning animals – the animals remind us about how to use our learning skills.

And so Tim’s influence is ongoing. I follow this blog using the RSS email feed, and every day something bright and glittery drops into my inbox. One of the most useful things was Triptico (link) which has some great tools. I often use the grouping program –  the computer generates random groupings from my class list. The children are now used to working with lots of different people, improving their ability to work in any team, a real life skill.

And sometimes Tim’s ideas come at exactly the right time, as Machinarium did recently.  I’m hoping to use it to bring our environmental project to life. The web is full of exciting things, as long as you know where to look. Tim’s blog shines a light for us – and he likes to see how people are using his ideas. Do take time to let him know, and if you’re not sure about something just ask. He’ll answer, I can guarantee that – and you could well find your learning taking off in new and rather wonderful directions.

DO try this at home

| May 11, 2017 | 0 Comments 

DO Try This At Home.

‘Always enjoy dipping in to Tim Meek‘s fabulous blog, a glorious mix of analogue and digital ideas, to get children of all ages active and involved.
Go play (experience, build, learn, and more)!

SNAPPYwords

| May 11, 2017 | 0 Comments 

Snappy Words is a bit like InstaGrok, GraphWords, WordSift and Visuwords and has the advantage that you can sometimes double click on a node to dig deeper.

It’s an online interactive English dictionary and thesaurus that helps you find the meanings of words and draw connections to associated words. You can easily see the meaning of each piece of vocabulary by simply placing the mouse cursor over it.

Learn how words associate in a visually interactive display. Get ideas to help write content for your blog, article, thesis or simply play with words!

For younger children, Snappy Words shows that words are malleable, playful delights, to be picked up & juggled with. For older students, it beats “right clicking words in Word”!

Type words in the search box and click Go or simply hit Enter. Once the words branch off the main query, you can double click a node to find other related words. To explore the features:

Place the mouse cursor over a word to view the meaning.
Double click a node from the branch to view other related words.
Scroll the mouse wheel over words to zoom in or out. This helps you see more
associations or view words and meanings more clearly.
Click and drag a word or branch to move it around and explore other branches.

Try out GraphWords, WordSift and Visuwords to see which one you find the most useful. Remember that InstaGrock uses the interlinked word and concepts graph, and then allows you to dig in a different way too. But the others focus on the word play and vocabulary aspects more fully.

Snappy Words requires no registration or software installation. All you need is an internet connection and a browser (Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and others). It’s free and fun!

tips for writing

| May 8, 2017 | 0 Comments 

We always focus on getting children to take off and fly: Above all -enjoy it! Good writing should make you feel like you are flYING

some top tips for getting started…

 

Don’t guess at things. If there’s something factual about your story, check it. Research can be great fun.

Get someone you trust to check it through for any mistakes (but don’t let them re-write it for you!).

And, of course …..

It doesn’t always have to be digital…

Writing is the way we communicate when we’re not there

| April 29, 2017 | 0 Comments 

Writing is the way we communicate when we’re not there

in Speaking we can modify our emphasis and gesticulate

in Writing we have to pick the right words, framed in a real context

Children need a real purpose in order to encourage engagement with writing

Teachers need, regardless of their route in to the profession, a real understanding of what grammar is. Not conjugating verbs, but understanding REAL structure for real needs

Skilled users of language and socially adaptable

Complex range of literacies in a constantly changing world full of a huge range of literacies

Grammar for Writing is still a useful tool but, more essentially, grammar needs to be taught in exciting vibrant contextualized ways

 

Emancipated autonomous users of language

Phonic development is really important but not as a standalone, every now and then subject

Needs to be taught consistently and in an exciting way, a development continuum,

Reading is an essential precursor to writing and writing is an essential precursor to reading

Teachers need to plan experiences that require an ever widening range of forms for an ever increasing range of purposes and audiences

Make it real!

Reading is a stimulus and model building sophistication in children’s writing

Speaking and listening, comes 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

Peer revue and analysis is powerful in the “work in progress: stage not just at the end. Intervention early, helps children move forwards far more effectively than if it is just picked apart when it is complete.

A finely honed set of skills is near useless unless it can help, and be used, in real contexts and challenges.

Blogging, and other ways of publishing, planning, and preparing online, are fantastic opportunities to create authors.

| April 28, 2017 | 0 Comments 

Sorry footie fans, Keeping Score is an interactive invitation to explore some of the greatest classical music, by reading the musical notation and investigating background information, from the grandest ideas, to the most subtle of emotions.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score is designed to give people of all musical backgrounds an opportunity to explore the music and life of the composers such as Mahler, Beethoven, Berlioz, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, Tchaikovsky, and Aaron Copland.

Extensive audio, video, and interactive material offer an engaging and quite in-depth online learning experience. By following scores and exploring musical techniques, as well as the personal and historical stories behind some key pieces of music, we gain a real, and dynamic, understanding of just how remarkable the mind and soul of a composer is.

In one small excerpt, for example, we discover that, after the premiere of his First Symphony, Mahler found that the opening “sounded far too substantial for the shimmering and glimmering of the air that I had in mind.” So he changed the instrumentation to the whispery sound of string harmonics. He continued revising the instrumentation for five more years before the symphony’s publication!

The site also includes a historical timeline that takes users deeper into the eight individual composers’ political, social, and cultural milieus as well as downloadable lesson plans created by teachers who have experienced the Keeping Score Education program.

Keeping Score aims to connect music to all subjects in the curriculum as a way of bringing learning alive.

The site is designed to appeal particularly to secondary, college and university music appreciation students and their teachers, but contains some brilliant elements that would work across younger age groups.

The great thing about classical music is its ability to reach us at all levels. So relax, pick the piece of classical music you love the best, and take a great journey with your students!

 

Category: 2) Useful n Interesting

creativity

| April 5, 2017 | 0 Comments 

Allowing children to explore the world of “creativity” guides them to places in which imagination can grow, aspirations can be raised and self-confidence enables them to explore the potential of the world around them.`

iPiccy Great online photo editing

| March 8, 2017 | 0 Comments 

A fave: 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. (Requires  temporary access to a local drive) but SO handy.

Rhym(ing all the timing)

| January 13, 2017 | 0 Comments 

Rhyme ‘n Learn, (“Music That Puts The Cool Back In School”), is maths and science taught by mnemonics. Mnemonics use word associations like rhymes so that a term or fact is easier to recall later. An example of a mnemonic is “In fourteen hundred ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” or “Thirty days hath September. All the rest I can’t remember!”

Rhyme ‘n Learn was created by teacher Joe Ocando, who has taught maths and science to students of all ages and discovered that many find it difficult to memorize hundreds of new terms and facts. Rap seemed to help, and does seem to make some concepts easier to remember.

The concepts covered are more suited to older students Examples include Pi Rap | Don’t Let Pi Make Ya Cry and Rational and Irrational Numbers Rap | E-rational Thoughts

Type a maths or science term in the search bar on the site to find a mnemonic for it. If you can’t find it, send content suggestions to joe@rhymenlearn.com

Don’t forget another teacher led site “MathTrain”. Mathtrain.TV is a free educational “kids teaching kids” project from middle school mathematics teacher Eric Marcos & his students.

Both sites could be a great inspiration to students to create explanatory videos, or raps.

That is NOT cool

| December 5, 2016 | 0 Comments 

Thats not cooltnc_logoThat’s not Cool is an interesting site, dealing, as it does, with slightly older students, and their experience of internet, and mobile, etiquette, or the lack of it.

Your mobile phone, and online profile are all digital extensions of who you are. When someone you’re with pressures or disrespects you in those places, that’s not cool. Draw your digital line about what is, or is not, okay in relationships.