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Spring Lane Primary, Northampton ~ Day 2

| March 15, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Spring Lane Primary

Today saw another new steps taken in the age of adventure, with the children. What fun was had, in the lands of technology today! Exploring uncharted territories, discovering distant digital domains, and generally stretching technology in wild and wondrous ways. We set foot in the high~ways, low~ways, no~go~ways, by~ways, here~ways, share~ways, there~ways, slow~ways, up~ways, down~ways, under~ways, wonder~ways, no-wonder!~ways, plunder~ways, try~ways, wonder-why~ways, explore~ways, never~before~ways, your~ways, my~ways, our~ways, oh~the~power~ways, who’d~have~known~ways, should’ve~known~ways, newly~truly~alone~ways… To tell a tale, of any kind, is a challenge. To do so, with access to the wondrous opportunities that technology offers, these days, surely makes it simple?! Well, it does produce a lot of potential, but also introduces challenges of their own. The children showed some remarkable, mature, problem solving techniques, through which we all learned a lot ~ the mark of great digital leaders. To teach is to learn. To be open to learn teaches us a lot. “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” John Cotton Dana Empowering learners, teachers and sharers of discovery in so many ways.


Co Sketch

| March 14, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

CoSketch is a multi-user online whiteboard designed to give you the ability to visualize and share your ideas as images.

Anything you paint will show up, for all other users in the “room”, in real time. It only takes one click to save a sketch, as an image, for embedding on sites and blogs. Runs in all common browsers without plugins or installation. CoSketch is free & doesn’t require registration. Draw freehand, or use icons from the library.

Now with Google Maps support. Draw on a blank canvas or use Google maps as the background for your sketches to show directions or share trips. Get doodling.

Spring Lane Primary, Northampton ~ Day 1

| March 14, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Spring Lane Primary

Spring Lane PrimaryThe first of our two days at Spring Lane Primary. A school situated in the centre of Northampton town, serving with respect a diverse and vibrant community. Thanks go to Headteacher Alex Owens for inviting us, her staff and her colleagues from neighbouring schools and the Collaborative Academies Trust: St Barnabas Church of England School, Lumbertubs Primary, Willowdown Primary Academy, Priorswood Primary, Wellesley Park Primary, Manor Court Primary, Willow Brook Primary and Woolavington Village Primary.

Thank you to Gary Avery, Assistant Headteacher, for coordinating our visit, and for his thoughts here:

We are looking for ways to inspire our children to go ‘beyond’ what they think they are capable of, to develop imagination and creativity. Our teachers do a fantastic job but we think something different, innovative and that taps directly into the things our children are interested in will provide the spark for rapid progress. We have complete confidence that our staff will be able to integrate the new ideas and then add to them so that we end up with something that is perfectly adapted for our children.

On screen digital keyboard

| February 29, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Can’t get much more simple than this: a virtual keyboard, that can be used on whiteboards, in musical activities, …including playing along to X Factor!

Click the mouse pointer on one of the ‘piano’ keys, or press the letters on your keyboard. The ‘Chord Mode’ button allows you to select sets of notes. Click the ‘play chord’ button to hear it played.

Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School, Dublin

| February 29, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School

A wonderful opportunity to spend a day with the pupils and staff at Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School.

A huge THANK YOU to Susan Nic Réamoinn, Junior Infant Teacher for coordinating today’s sessions and to Tomaś Ó Dúlaing, Priomhoide of Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School for accommodating us and making us so welcome.

The VillageA full morning with 50+ 10/11 years olds, with their teachers, exploring a ‘Village’ setting in Myst 4: Revelation. Talk. speculation, sharing, thinking and taking ownership of this place, brought it from the virtual, into reality. Similes, and silences, enabled their ideas to flourish and take shape, forming images in our imaginations – gorgeous! We met characters, children up for tackling new ideas and risk-taking, found themselves becoming confident in their roles, expanding on fictional happenings with great detail and flare.

PlantIn our afternoon, we adventured with with the 6/7 year olds and teachers, adventuring through their creations, notions and persuasions, as we wandered through caves, climbed trees and became intrepid explorers.

The children in this group wondered, and enthused, about strange objects as we investigated Edanna, the helix plants and the birds inhabiting this beautiful world, talking and writing with passion and interest – WELL DONE.

CESI Conference 2016

| February 27, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

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Great to be in CESI, Computers in Education Society of Ireland, voluntarily supporting ICT in Education in Ireland since 1973. It is for anyone with an interest in the potential of technology to enhance the teaching and learning experience for all involved in education.

The conference is the highlight of the activities of CESI each year. It provides a welcome opportunity for those who have been communicating on line to have face to face time. There is a mix between presentations and workshops where practitioners have the opportunity to share with one another in a practical way. You can view the details of many previous conferences in the conference section of this website. Live streaming of the keynote and capstone presentations has occurred more frequently as bandwidth has increased. You can view some of these presentations on the CESI YouTube channel and see pictures from previous conferences on the CESI Flickr page.

We have been blessed to do keynotes before at CESI.

A 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.

ShipWholly without warning, wild wet winds woke us wailing weirdly -waging war with wind-tossed waters. We witnessed a wreck within this watery wasteland, where withering westerly winds, and waves wrought swathes of wretchedness.

Yet not one withering wallflower awaited us!

We witnessed wayfaring weather-beaten waifs, wearied & well-nigh weeping, worn-out from their wanderings. We worried for their well-being. This was wasted

Roller CoasterWaiting within wattled, withered & weighty wooden walls, these waterproofed weirdos, instead of wailing woefully, welcomed us warmly and wrapped us in wondrous words, wild with what wholly warranted ripples of applause.

Writing isn’t “working”. Word wizards waved their wooden wands – whittling, wringing worlds from words, sending them wistfully wriggling, wheeling, windmilling, & weaving in to the air!

We wished we could wend our way further, but with well-timed wisdom, we wound up our walks. Well done one and all. Wonderful!

On Saturday 27th February 2016 the Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI) held its annual conference. The venue for this year’s conference being Dublin City University (DCU). The conference was preceded by the now-traditional TeachMeet CESI event, which was heldat the Regency Hotel, Dublin.

Conference Theme

2015 saw the launch of Ireland’s Digital Strategy for Schools which aims to “greatly enhance the learning experience and lifelong learning skills of all our students”. The foreword to the strategy calls upon all teachers “to use ICT in the classroom to bring learning to life for students; to give learners the tools to collaborate and to examine engaging problems; to research and analyse information; and to use ICT resources to communicate their ideas and to share what they create with others beyond the walls of their classroom or school”

With this in mind, the theme for the 2016 CESI annual conference was “Our Digital Strategy – making IT matter”. Ireland’s Digital Strategy for Schools was put into practice by the participants of this conference in the years to come. This year’s event focused upon an understanding of the importance of information technology in education, the potentials and problems that lie ahead in implementing the Digital Strategy for Schools, and the ways in which it can make a meaningful and magical curriculum for the learners.

Questionaut ~ an intriguing game

| February 19, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

QuestionautQuestionaut is a great game, we have mentioned before, made for BBC Bitesize from the makers of Samorost and Samarost 2.

 

Journey through strange worlds of Questionaut and test your knowledge of English, Maths and Science on this magical mission to recover your friend’s hat.

 

This is now an archived site, but well worth an explore.

Bath Spa University, Bath

| February 19, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Bath Spa University

A return visit to trip to Bath Spa University to work with their Primary and Early Years PGCE trainees.

Thanks to Emma Asprey, Senior Lecturer, at the School of Education for inviting us to the university, to spend precious time with her students,

Thanks to Emma for her thoughts: We were very pleased to welcome Tim and Sarah back to Bath Spa University to mark the halfway point in the PGCE programme and provide some extra magic and inspiration to our trainees as they embark on their final placements. It was such a treat to be immersed in Tim’s playful and imaginative world of learning. Staff and trainees enjoyed learning together, having fun and exploring their own creativity in a unique blend of virtual and very real experiences. We’re thrilled that so many children will benefit from these ideas being brought into classrooms to enrich their learning.

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Encouraging confidence, and creativity, in children of all ages and abilities, CAN help them achieve

Analog principles are vital to make digital tools effective Energy, in some ways, is even more valuable than the books, pencils, and technology in our rooms. It’s about ethos, character and atmosphere. This energy starts with one individual in every classroom: the teacher. It is always good to remember, though easily forgotten, to show our classes we are glad to see them, and also show them how happy we are to be there, excited by what is going to happen, or could happen, if they join us. How important it is to greet your pupils as they arrive. Meet them smiling. Smile as much as possible during the session too. Then, and this is essential: Say farewell to every one of them, as they leave, past you, at the door, perhaps with a handshake. At least, with a smile. This can build a real positive confidence in a child: “Whatever I didn’t get, didn’t understand – whatever I became frustrated with, whatever I lost my patience with – whatever mistakes I made, my teacher STILL THINKS I’M ALRIGHT and TOMORROW WILL BE O.K”.

Exploratorium ~ the science of music

| February 8, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

The Science of Music collection will keep you experimenting happily for a while, and discovering lots about the theory behind real audio.

These online exhibits, from Exploratorium, will help you mess around with music in ways you probably haven’t before, and learn a lot too.

Kitchen Sink-o-Pation, explores the concepts of visual dominance, hearing sounds out of context, and playing with concrete sounds in an unusual setting.

Produce some mashed up music with Dot Mixer, playing with sound samples from different styles. An interesting investigation of the science of sound itself.

Take the Beat Back, and explore the everyday origins of some extraordinary instruments, or even form your own Online Drum Circle.

Head out in to the open with real and found sounds in the Headlands Experiments, or get even more physical with Step Remix, a fun way to explore rhythm, body percussion, combining beats of contrasting structure, to create complex poly-rhythms & dances!

Headphones are recommended, or at least a decent set of computer speakers.

Enjoy your experiments with some sound science about the science of sound.

Chirbit audio

| February 4, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Chirbit is a useful tool that enables you to record, upload & share any audio files easily. Embed your audio anywhere with the HTML5 player.

Record using a webcam or microphone connected to your computer, or upload an existing audio file, which can be in wav, mp3, ogg, amr, m4a, wmv, aiff, and 3gp formats. Upload 120MB of audio per file. That’s 2 hours of audio for each.

Record directly from your browser using a webcam or microphone, or post audio from any smartphone with a voice note app and email. It is also possible to get an instant QR code for each of your audio posts, & attach an image.

Parklands Primary, Leeds ~ Day 2

| January 14, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Parklands Primary

A second day at Parklands Primary in Leeds joined by staff from Grimes Dyke Primary, Manston Primary and Manston St James Primary Academy.

Well done to all of the children and staff for taking off with words, in magical and mysterious ways. A wonderous morning with courageous 60+ Year 3 and Year 4 pupils, their teachers, teaching asistants, and visiting colleagues.

… followed by a lively, talented Year 1 class …

 

Thoughts from Tom Cunliffe, Year 4 Teacher:

The VillageThe children are flowing in with a hubbub of anticipation as they gaze upon the screen. Already you can see them looking deeper into the mountainous realm wondering where it is, asking questions to each other.

We’re welcoming Tim Rylands and Sarah back to day 2 at Parklands Primary School, Leeds. Whilst this will be a mesmerising session for the children, it is the teachers that are sat with notebooks and ‘writing sticks’, in eager anticipation of new teaching techniques and resources to inspire over the coming year.

Mr WalkerTim has just introduced ‘Mr Walker’, his back up walking stick (sadly number one has started a new journey with a thief). In the space of 3 minutes, Tim has got the children thinking about the holes in Mr Walker. Children are conferring; “Mr Walker has holes so he can breathe” one child says, “A fox with long, sharp teeth bit right through it” says another. Personification at its best.

By giving permission for children to ‘go for it’ and rewarding answers with ‘a ripple’, every child in the room now wants to give their answers and there is an ocean of hands up in the air – 80 different reasons why Mr Walker has holes in him. This is testament to the power of allowing ‘silly answers’ and welcoming them the same as any other. Children are engaged, encouraged and excited.

The children had almost forgotten about the mystical land dancing away on the screen behind. Often there is a fear in the teaching profession about technology distracting children – stopping them from thinking independently and discussing ideas. Yet that idea has been thrown out of the window here. What is clear, is that with the right guidance, it can only enhance the fantastic imagination that children already have. We sometimes forget that children WANT to speak and they WANT to be involved in the now. They are proud of their ideas. There is a child next to me, laughing because he can’t get his idea in for the amount of children sharing their ideas. He’s even standing now. Too late, but point proven.

WritingWithout ‘permission’, children are scribbling ideas into their books. This is exactly what we want children to be doing; Writing because they can, rather because they have to. And now…competition time – When we hear Tim say a ‘simile’ we have to go really high and screechy! Re-enforcing children’s understanding through games is a fantastic way of embedding knowledge. It’s now the children’s turn and in the space of 1 minute we have 80 similes soaring around the room like… (pop your similes in the ‘Add your Thoughts’ at the top of this blog!).

Writing time, and the scratching of ideas is magnificent. Children believe they are immersed in the setting – not because they can see it, but because they have talked about it and have shared ideas with explanation rather than just a ‘title of their idea’. Byron is going to share his description (with a name like that he best be good). ‘Smoke as hot as lava. I can hear a rattling of leaves and see a building, black as people’s hair. Nailed it. Well done Lord Byron.

We’ve talked about paragraphs, personification, similes, metaphors and now we’re using rhetorical questions, but the children don’t even know they are using them! Far too often we introduce a literary skill by introducing it by name, e.g. ‘This is a rhetorical question, does this sentence need an answer?’ rather than discovering it through talk. This way, children take ownership of it and are much more proud to use in their writing. One thing to stress is that these are not all new singing and dancing teaching techniques. Rather, Tim is reminding us of the importance of questioning and not stopping when we get to a ‘good’ answer.

PaperAs teachers, ideas are thrown at us from all directions and as we pick something up, inevitably other ideas will go from our minds. I remember my teacher training, leaving with so many fantastic ideas and enthused to use them in the classroom. Yet the reality of day to day teaching is that things are left on the side. Tim has reminded me of the wealth of resources, skills and ideas out there. His techniques are nothing new; they are solid and herald good practice. Yet the resources enhancing these techniques are constantly evolving. We must not rely on electronic resources alone, yet we must not dismiss them as ‘things for home time’. A whole world can be unlocked to journey through, and you’ll be amazed at where the children take you!

By Tom Cunliffe, Year 4 Teacher.

A massive THANK YOU to Tom for his reflections, and again to Head Teacher Chris Dyson for having the passion and vision to invite us to his school for these two days.