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Valley Road Primary, Oxfordshire ~ Day 1

| October 19, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Valley Road Primary

Valley Road PrimaryAfter an incredible couple of weeks in South Africa, it was a joy to spend an INSET day with the folk from Valley Road Primary School, Valley Road, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, and The Henley Partnership of schools.

Colleagues joining us from Shiplake CE Primary, Trinity CE Primary, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary and Badgemore Primary.

Thank you to Head Teacher Tim Coulson, for inviting us to spend two days with his colleagues. Tomorrow, some mystical explorations with the children and staff.

Today, we started off with a joint exploration of some of the visual literacy ideas. Exploring some of those remarkable elements of the computing curriculum. We had a good look at how we can use a huge variety of resources as a spring board for creativity across the curriculum. When using computer games as a stimulus for writing, there are so many different genres that can flow from the images and experiences. With many immersive games, descriptive narrative is perhaps the most natural, due to the engaging nature of the landscapes.

However, a huge variety of writing styles can be inspired by our journeys through these worlds.

We had a look, today, at some of the other forms including journalistic writing, holiday brochures and informative texts, instructions and explanations, poetry, interviews, and so much more.

We are looking forward to working with the children of the school tomorrow, and our focus will be investigating the power that digital games have in developing confidence in many forms of analogue writing.

And then, a twilight, with folks coming along after an already long day teaching, to experience a whistle-stop tour through some of the wonderful digital resources available out there.

Valley Road Primary

Socrative ~ still a great tool

| October 18, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Socrative is a system that uses cell phones and or laptops, for gathering feedback from students. “As easy as raising your hand”.

You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more “fun” question formats is the “race” format in which students can work individually or in teams to answer questions as quickly as possible. This video offers a nice overview of the Socrative system.

Pilanesberg nature reserve, South Africa

| October 17, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

12095300_10153700712302392_7805247859389276263_oWe have been blessed to experience some of the remarkable side to South Africa. Johannesburg, Cape Town, The Cape of Good Hope, and more. This was topped off by four days at the Pilanesberg Nature Reserve. Phenomenal! We even got to see a herd of TWELVE camelephantelopelicanaries!

A remarkable, restful yet utterly, compelling, and fascinating experience. From the moment we arrived, to the moment we departed, this was an incredible visit. We felt so looked after and experienced a remarkable amount.

Wheels aloftAs a man occasionally in a wheelchair, it could be considered that a safari trip would be a challenge. The Ivory Tree Lodge folk could not have done more to make our break more accessible. We were welcomed by Janet, the assistant general manager, and me and my chair were carried in to the lobby. Our villa was gorgeous, and a peaceful place to relax in at the end of each of our three and a bit days of exploring the game reserve.

Sarah with cameraFor our dawn and dusk drives, we were in the capable hands of Michael, who took us to see so much wildlife, in jaw dropping settings. Elephant, hippo, giraffe, wildebeest, warthog, rhino, and so much more.

We were even blessed to see a leopard and cub for about an hour, on a rocky outcrop, and know that Michael’s understanding, and knowledge of the Pilanesberg, enabled some incredible “spotting”

We learned some fascinating insights in to those animals, as we coyaged around the stunning, varied, and remote feeling, scenery of the park.

Back at The Lodge, everything was done with a stylish and elegant safari touch. Thanks all. Beyond expectations. (Take some time to flick through the pictures above. Incredible!)

Pilanesberg Game Reserve

Just Paste .it

| October 17, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

JustPaste.It is a free, simple note sharing service. In its simplest form, Just Paste It provides an online word processor for writing notes and documents. It is also possible to add images and videos into your JustPaste.It pages. When you’ve finished, just press the “publish” button. This creates a unique url for your page. Students and teachers can easily share notes with each other, or test out a web layout.

It is possible to Just Paste content from a word processor in to a JustPaste.It note so also provides a way to convert Word documents in to a format that can be easily used online.

Crawford School, Johannesburg

| October 12, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Crawford School
Logo_Preparatory_FourwaysAfter a few spectacular days exploring the realities of this remarkable country, we are blessed to head back to Johannesburg for a day of exploring in the world of words. A full day of lessons and training for Crawford School, Johannesburg. Thank you to Robyn Hardy for coordinating our visit and to Ian Rothman, Principal, for his support and to the team at Fourways for their expertise and enthusiasm.

Today, we went wandering in the world of words, yes, but also way beyond. These journeys are extremely hard to define or describe. They are, inevitably, different from what is expected. Importantly, slower in terms of distance travelled geographically, yet we journey many miles in the world of language and imagination.

Essentially, your idea could be in complete contrast to the person alongside you, but you’re both right:

There is no “right idea,” because, even better, there’s no wrong idea.

Seeing the products of such work and the boundless enthusiasm that flows from it (where some pupils actually have to be asked to wait before writing down their thoughts!) is an impressive and influential experience.

We ran a session with Grade 7 students developing speaking, listening and writing, and then an exploration of a virtual landscape with children from the foundation phase. After this, we took the staff on a whistle stop tour of the wondrous world of digital delights there are out there to extend and broaden the curriculum. Well done all!

A big Thank You to Robyn Hardy, teacher at the school, for coordinating our visit, and to Ian Rothman, Principal at Crawford, Fourways. Fourways operates  in the heart of beautiful, tranquil, surroundings, where the indigenous trees are home to the Lesser Bush Baby. ‘We believe that children attending our school have the unique opportunity of learning through exposure to nature’.

Crawford Fourways is a small primary school in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg South Africa. As you enter the school you are greeted with the sign, ‘In This Space you are Free to Dream’. With this belief in mind, we aim to motivate each child and  instil the will to reach his or her dreams. As part of this process, we provide our students with many opportunities to develop their creativity and deepen their thinking. We are therefore very excited to have Tim and Sarah working in our school with our teachers and students, helping us learn new ways to use technology to support and develop creativity. ~ some great thoughts on careers

| October 9, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

“Need some ideas for the future? Some inspiration on what kind of career might be right for you? Just want to find out what’s out there? iCould can help you to discover what you could do and how you could get there”.

iCould features videos of people sharing stories and experiences from the working careers. Many types of job are covered, from Accountancy and Advertising, through to Travel and tourism.

The site contains a huge range of very well produced films and could be a realistic, yet inspiring, guidance to many at a secondary level, when students are making those crucial decisions about their future. It could also be a great way to help younger pupils realise what it really entails to become, let’s say a sports person, or a pop star!

Image manipulation

| October 6, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

If you find blank spaces in our blog posts, then it is probably because your school filtering system is blocking what it thinks to be “dodgy stuff”. Things like social networking and images get filters in a jitter.

We sometimes use Flickr to host some of our pictures and, unfortunately, this is sometimes blocked. A real shame as we have so many delightful pickies of smiling folk on our days around the country. Have a look at home and you’ll get a lot more out of the experience.

One of the best elements of Flickr though, is that they allow outside (”third party”) applications or websites to communicate and exchange information with the images you host there.

Some of the best websites for creating cool new images and fiddling with Flickr Photos include:

PicJoke …What fun and madness you can create, so easily.

It is free but does require logging in (easy and discrete.) Look what Sarah did to the bald bloke! The (Toblerone) cheek of it!

Big Huge Labs Flickr Toys

and our old fave, Spell with Flickr – not a way to edit or alter your images, but a neat little tool to create pictures from text. Try it.

The Digital Education Show Africa 2015 ~ Johannesburg

| October 6, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Digital Education Show Africa

The Digital Education Show AfricaA keynote at The Digital Education Show Africa 2015 at The Sandton Convention Centre, Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa, with its title of “Empowering learning through technology”

We explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact on raising confidence in children across the creative curriculum.

Animal magic! A mission improbable

dig ed showAn intriguing, imaginative and exciting exploration of tech, leaving folks with copious amounts of practical ideas, approaches and tools to take back and use in your own teaching. We investigated how fascinating challenges can be used across subject areas and age ranges, with remarkable effects: developing speaking, listening and writing skills and raising confidence and self-esteem.

With a focus very much on creativity, particularly to inspire writing, we explored ways of working that are centred on innovation and capturing children’s imagination, and left folk with many ideas, mostly free, that they could be using from the web and beyond.

We need to inspire young people and work with their imaginations; enhance their creativity and confidence so they can pick ideas up and start to juggle with them; encourage resourcefulness through challenge, but also the ability to reflect, and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life.

We shared an accessible, range of ways to engage, and motivate learners 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 … and enjoyment!

Thanks to Tanja Du Plessis, Project Director, The Digital Education Show Africa 2015, Miss Jerodé Moodley, Conference Manager and Operations Manager and Tanys Goosen, Experience Manager for Terrapinn Ltd

Vcasmo ~ a handy way to record presentations

| October 5, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Screenshot 083Vcasmo means that you can film a presentation and synchronise it with the slides a presenter is talking about

Useful for recording the goings-on at a conference. But also in a classroom environment, perhaps when preparing for an interview or other presentation.

We have used it with great success in a “challenging” setting, and therefore we wouldn’t have clearance to show you how the children flourished using it. A great boost to their confidence to see themselves and their presentations “as one” though. Also a good opportunity to discuss presentation styles and techniques. Powerful! Continue Reading

Behold ~ Creative Commons Image search

| October 2, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

The search engine Behold helps you find good Creative Commons licensed images for your presentation, blog, or video. Behold sifts through tens of thousands of Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr. This is an advance on the Search by License option in Flickr as it also factors in the quality of the found images.

Behold searches for actual image content rather than just on the tags that the originator has assigned to the image. Useful when you are preparing material, or when helping students find appropriate, and useable, content.

We Tell Stories ~ Interactive Fairy Tale & more

| October 1, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

A couple of years back, Penguin set six authors the challenge of creating online stories, that would develop as they were written. This was called We Tell Stories. Some of these tales were aimed at a mature audience.

The result of the third week was the interactive, personalized fairy tale by Kevin Brooks, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen. This could be useful when investigating the structure of traditional tales.