Monday, November 09, 2009

The Last Post

This will be my four hundred and sixth post on this blog. I have really enjoyed using this as a place to explore one of my biggest passions, ICT in the Primary School. This blog has taken me places and enabled me to meet lots of fantastic people. But sadly it now has to close.

My contract in Redbridge will not be renewed therefore it is time to move on. Thank you to all you who have read, commented and chatted further about the links, videos and thoughts on here. Nicholas and I have had a great time working togther and inspiring teachers, TAs, parents and ultimately children in this borough.More recently Dawn, Alex and Dan Lea have greatly enriched this fantastic little community of practioners, who I hope will carry on to do us proud.

However I won't be offline forever. Next month I take up a new post as Online Content manager at 2Simple Software, a role I am hugely excited about.

Bye for now.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sketchup Unit

I have very much enjoyed working with children in Years % and 6 on 3D Modelling during the last two terms. I have written up some of my ideas for using sketchup in the plan below> if you have any suggestions for improvements, do let me know. I must point out that I have stood on the shoulders of giants with this work, well Simon Haughton, who inspired me to pursue Sketchup in greater detail this year. I hope I have built on his work.

Help Videos to support the unit


Here is the draft planning: Google Sketchup Unit

Help Videos to support the unit

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dan Lea


Last night, I watched the Teaching awards and I was thrilled to see Dan Lea, from Gearies Infants, receive the Next Generation learning award.

Dan is not one to shout about his work, he is too busy planning the next lesson or pondering his next creative idea and therefore many people won’t have heard of him. He is not on Twitter but he does share all his ideas and tried and tested projects on his blog.

To prove that Dan’s work is a cut above, take a look at his entry to last years Redbridge Film Awards, which was based on a project on refugees:


Dan has been an AST in Redbridge for some time and I am pleased to say he will be working with Redbridge Primary ICT to help us in NQT and Subject Leader events over the next few weeks.In preparation for these events and because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, I went to see him teach last term.

I have to say I was quite blown away by what I saw. For one, Dan never seems to set an ICT ceiling on his learners, they have long since given up following neat QCA units or working in a one size fits all environment. What struck me about this learning environment was that there was a good deal of autonomy and choice. Children were given clear input on how to edit and customise their blogs and edit with Movie Maker, but then they worked in teams to bring their projects to completion, tutoring each other along the way.And while this went on their teacher would intervene sensitively and where necessary with questions and challenges in order to push the groups on further. I must also point out that this cross-curricular work is backed up by weekly ICT lessons from the school ICT Coordinator Val Barker, who is equally dynamic and keen to be at the forefront of new tech.

In one 90 minute session, I saw a group editing their blogs, and lets be clear the blogs here were not substitute school websites they were journals of enquiry around science and environmental themes. These seven year olds knew how to blog too, they could quite happily lead blogging workshops for adults if they were asked. The girls I talked to didn’t need any help or advice from this professional blogger thank you.

Also taking place were groups of children transferring video clips from Flip cameras to Windows Movie Maker, and then editing down their film and beginning to consider their audience.

In an area outside of the classroom a group of children had created a cardboard city called New Paris, which a customised Beebot (it had a a Flip camera taped to it) was being programmed to film a virtual tour.

I managed to film these children explaining what they were doing, along with some other pupil attempting to explain how they had been using green SMART USB wristbands. These devices, which were kindly loaned by TAG Learning, store a copy of SMART Notebook student edition and allow children to create notebooks at home, which can then be shared in school on the board.





Read more about Dan on the Teaching Awards Site- click here

Get the latest from Dan’s Blog -here

Watch the awards on Iplayer – for a limited time – click on the link

teaching awards pic iplayer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Walk to School Week and Walk with Me

I visited a school today to help them think about how they could integrate ICT into Walk to School Week. Here are are a couple of tools we looked at:

We could use the Zero Footprint Site to help children to investigate and visualise their Carbon Footprint:

carbon footprint

What this site does it to pose a series of questions about your lifestyle and the calculate your impact on the planet. You can then compare your data with the average use in your country. Note this is Canadian site but you can still look at UK figures and compare your footprint with National average.

I am not too happy with my results as it looks like i need to make some changes fast, my lifestyle is costing the earth!


On the whole this is a very good sight and looks like it could really bring data handling and environment education together. You may need to explain some of the Canadian questions, like ‘Do you have a cottage?’, but this is a small issue.

The other tool that this school will be using and on a small scale is -



‘Walk with Me’, for Nintendo DS. I can not believe that no-one has done anything yet with this game. Its another one of those games/tools that Nintendo market towards 30 somethings for self improvement and yet has real appeal for Key Stage 2 use.


With Walk with Me, you carry round an activity meter for a day and then download your step to the DS at the end of the day via infa red in the device. This is like twenty first century Data-Logging. Then the software displays your steps for the day and points out how long you have been still and ho long your were on the move. The great thing about this is that the game allows you to use your Nintendo MII to show your steps and you can use energy gained during the day to play simple games, like powering light bulbs. Extra motivation is given by attributing your activity level to an animal. In the last month I was mostly described as either a galloping horse or a busy ant, which feels ok.


During the summer I got very excited about the educational potential of this tool and emailed whoever I could get hold of at Nintendo. Just think what would happened if we gave a class of 30 an activity meter and they competed against themselves and each other during Walk to School Week. However it has fallen on deaf Nintendo ears as we still await a reply.


In the meantime in the school I visited today, they’ll be using two activity meters and pitting the head teacher against another member of staff to see who makes the greatest number of steps during the week. Perhaps Consolarium will pick this one up, or have already

Blogger Labels: Walk With Me,data handling,earth,environment,Nintendo,Activity meter,steps,energy,motivation

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Learners Y Factor

Yesterday was Day 1 one of the Handheld Learning Conference. This three day event offers some of the best formal and informal CPD and could probably teach other major ICT Conferences a thing or two. One of the best parts of the week is when children get up and share how they have been using Technology. This is the Learners Y Factor.

During the Y Factor, a number of schools take to the stage and showcase their work with handheld or other cutting edge technologies. Schools are then judged by two guests and the readings shown on a clapometer (an IPhone App which I have yet to discover).

I was privileged to be in the small room yesterday when this took place and I managed to capture just three of the schools and I include these below The first video shows Burnt Oak Junior school and their work with Ipod touch devices 

Embedded below is a video of Loughton Scratch Club, its great to see an example of this brilliant software being used and being steered by children in their computer club.

Finally I have embedded the presentation form our own Oakdale Junior and their work with games, Nintendo DS and the Wii. Yes I am bias, but this was an entertaining and articulate presentation and shows why their teacher Dawn last night won an award for her work.



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Teachmeet SUKE


Never let it be said that Nicholas and I don’t know how to enjoy ourselves. Last Friday we sped down the M25 and then the M20 and some other roads to Teachmeet SUKE.


This was a real return to the heart of Teachmeet as I understand it , which is a few teachers meeting in a pub to talk and share. Ok, so the Hop Farm wasn’t a pub, but it was a simple rustic barn and there were probably only about 30 of us and lots of free tea. Makes a change from the last Teachmeet I went to, which took place in a tree.

In some of the larger and more impersonal Teachmeets you can be lucky to pick up any new tips or classroom applications. Whereas on this occasion, I felt I came away with a lot to share and indeed use in the classroom. Where possible I flipped (filmed) the proceedings, but it was impossible to get it all.

You could of course watch the Flashmeeting if you missed it:

Here is a round up of what I caught on Flip, though please see Mark’s blog for a more thorough run down of the night.

Mark Warner began with a talk about a great tool called, Memiary .

Memiary allows you to post your class activities online and look back at these over time. Mark suggested that teachers could create a wordle of these activities to share with pupils and parents. It also makes a great tool for reflection on targets, achievements and just memories.

I’ll let him explain this in the film below- apologies for the usual poor quality:

If you want to know more Mark has written a blog post on this some time ago.

Evans and Hughes Talked about APP and ICT and ended up giving out many copies of the sheet which Julian developed for us. One punter obviously liked this part as she commented on the Wikki

teachmeet comment

Joe Dale -

Talked about making Powerpoints engaging, interesting and interactive. I had battery failure in the middle of this,but I recoemnd you watch his Teachers TV programme which has a similar message to his talk, yet without the beard(sorry Joe)

Stephen Lockyer – Stephen talked to us about  the Japanese  Bansho technique, a different way of presenting ideas on the IWB or even the blackboard. This is worth watching and giving greater thought too, you’ll see Stephen’s efforts to evaluate and move on in his pedagogy using Bansho, while also pondering how to make this tool more interactive.

James Barrett

James gave a very interesting and entertaining presentation about some of his games and tools, that he has created and shared on his ICT Games site. I remember using the  Calmness Counter from his site in my Y6 class to settle them down.I can also remember passing on the Change Exchange to teachers on my IWB courses and getting a great response. But tonight, James showed us some brand new tools, in the clip below you’ll see some IWB  Word Bank tools a funky number line and a Key Stage 1 safe search tool.


James’s site is a vast treasure chest of resources, though its well worth familiarising yourself with all of it, particularly if you are a Key Stage 1 teacher or IWB trainer.

Danny Nicholson

Danny shared two exciting tools, first a count down clock from Class tools. This tool has a number of MP3s that you can use to accompany the descending clock, or you can upload your own track. I think I’d use this tool at tidy up time as an alternative to the class rushing round chanting “Tidy Up Time .. Tidy Up Time”. Danny also shared his use of Prezi with us, a wonderful presentation tool that allows presenters to zoom in, out and around their ideas, alongside the facility to seamlessly embed videos.


Can I just plug Mr Nicholson’s blog here, which is an essential feed to stick in your Google Reader? Danny keeps three steps ahead of what is happening in the world of whiteboards and always seems to have a new link or idea to share.

David Philips of ICT Cover Lessons showed us how to use a WII, or rather Sonic vs Mario Olympics to teach databases.Though he stressed this idea was intended for secondary, Nicholas and I thought we could see this context being used for Primary too. I am sure player data could be put into 2Calculate or 2Investigate. If nothing else I want to buy this game

And Finally here's a word from Mr Hughes on the DSI in his classroom

A huge thank you to Stephen, Danny, David, Leon and all who had involvement in the evening. An inspiring evening and well worth the scary drive home along those dark roads.