For you to print out and share with your colleagues in school!
For you to print out and share with your colleagues in school!
Here's a brand new website that I finished creating this week that I'm sure you'll want to share with your colleagues, children and parents:
Made by me, my deputy head @mrmkemp and a few Year 6 children from my school, Parkfield Primary School, it contains a series of maths tutorial videos explaining how to progress and improve doing: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division calculations.
The videos have been recorded using the Educreations app on an iPad - they can be viewed via Flash on a PC or opened up in the free Educreations app on an iPad (I'm led to believe that an iPhone/iPod Touch version is coming soon).
You can use the website to ensure that there is a consistent approach to teaching calculations at your school and use it in lessons as a tool for children to independently access for support, such as when completing a calculations sheet like this:
I hope you find this site useful!
You've probably heard of a few schools that have their own in-school radio shows which are broadcast from their own miniature recording studios and been envious of their achievements - well I now reckon that you can create something similar in your own school which is just as good but costs just a fraction of the price...
An audio podcast is basically a short audio recording which is shared over the Internet, published as part of a series of similiar episodes often at regular intervals. Whilst radio shows have to be broadcast and listened to live, audio podcasts can be downloaded to listen to by children at a time of their choosing thus giving them a much wider audience reach.
A weekly school podcast doesn't have to be particularly long (just a few minutes will do) and the episodes could even all have a similar running order of content, such as:
The key is designing a show which is so easy to create for each podcast that you could hand the running of it over to a group of able children, assigning roles to different members of a 'podcast team', such as:
Script writing could be done as a collaborative effort between different members of the team to ensure that they all have direct input into the final show. Unlike producing a school newspaper which: costs money to print, takes quite a while to design well and is limited in size by the paper type, producing a weekly podcast: has no running costs, is extremely easy for children to produce (since they just have to read out sentences from a script) and isn't limited in size (since audio could be recorded for any length of time, within reason). Having so few restrictions, I really believe that children could produce their own regular audio podcast much more independently than with a printed newspaper. Watch this example of Bethke Elementary School in the USA to see a podcasting team in action for yourself:
Although they obviously have a big set up with microphones etc., you could quite easily record and publish your own podcast online using just with an iPad/iPod Touch and by sitting in a quiet room. The app I would recommend for doing this is Voice Recorder Pro app because it: is free, has a simple trimming tool to cut-out the start/end of the recording with (so it is nice and clean) and offers a range of sharing options for outputting the podcast with.
You could even play in sound: cues, jingles or effects from another device whilst recording using the My Custom Soundboard app (69p) too.
How you choose to share your podcast is up to you, but the way that I'm thinking would work best at the moment is: converting the recording into a .mp3 file, opening it up in the Edmodo app's library and then attaching it to a new post to share with a 'podcast' group which children can join. I like this method because it: is free, has no limitations (e.g. upload limits), promotes technology which children are already familiar with, encourages online discussion through writing replies underneath and creates an RSS feed automatically on the public page (which you could even set social media services to auto-post updates from).
Setting up a school podcast could really have a big impact in a school because it: encourages children to use technology, gives extra responsiblities to a group of more able children, allows regular prasising of children's achievements and is accessible to everyone who can listen well (unlike a newspaper which would likely be written by a high-attaining child at a reading level above most other younger children in the school).
How would you set up a weekly podcast at your school?
I wanted to get Year 1 and Year 2 children to create their own multimedia story books on the iPads. Although this would seem like a fairly straightforward aim, the amount of preparation that I ended up doing to ensure that the children were given an appropriate level of challenge and the finished books were all of a high quality was quite a bit so I felt that I should blog about it.
The most child-friendly e-book authoring app available for iPads is Book Creator so this naturally felt like the most appropriate app to teach the children. What's nice about it is that it allow you to create a fixed-layout book (some e-book authoring apps don't have this option) and offers just the right amount of formatting tools so as to not be too confusing for young children.
Since I have 30 minutes a week to teach ICT to: a Year 1 group, a mixed Year 1 and 2 group and Year 2 group as part of my school's 'Fabulous Friday' afternoons in which the children carousel around different subjects, it was clear that the whole project would have to be broken down into small chunks that were each self-contained lessons. These were:
I did think about swapping the order around slightly to do all the typing lessons first then the painting lessons but felt that spreading them out would make the project more interesting and likely consolidate skills more since things would be re-visited over a longer period of time.
For the three 'typing the story' lessons I gave the children prompt sheets from which they could copy-type their stories from. I chose to do this because there is limited lesson time to get a group of 20 children to each come up with a creative idea and the focus needed to be on ICT skills not literacy skills. To allow them some creativity and ensure they all typed slightly different stories though, I created different story outlines for each group:
In the prompt sheets, I also gave them lots of open-ended parts in which they could insert their own vocabulary (e.g. adjectives) and produced two or three different sheets with varying amounts of sentences on for each group (so the more confident typists had more to type and were challenged to include a greater range of punctuation which they would have to find on the keyboard). Here are the prompt sheets I used, although be aware that they are in a slightly jumbled order and sometimes contain a few of the same prompts on one page so that I could save on printing:
Obviously, the 'typing the story' lessons couldn't just have the children copying from the sheet so I encouraged them to change the text style and page background colour once they had finished to make it look nice.
For the 'painting the illustrations' lessons, I chose to teach the children how to use the lovely Drawing Pad app which has a very graphical user-interface which is perfect for KS1. As I'd given the children set storylines to follow, this meant that I could support them effectively when it came to illustrating them - I could clearly instruct them to 'paint your character, a house and a beanstalk' rather than the more vague 'paint what happens in the opening to your story', for instance. I modelled what I expected a good painting to look like beforehand and encouraged them to add fine details to it too:
For the final lesson, I then asked the children to do three things:
From doing the project, I discovered a few little things which you might find helpful:
Don't be afaid about the setup required - it isn't actually that much when you consider it's spread out over seven weeks. The project, in my opinion, is brilliant - the range of ICT skills that it covers is huge and the quality of the finished work is just superb. In the last lesson, get a few children to share their books with the rest of the group using Apple TV, stand back and be amazed. I very nearly got emotional yesterday when the children did this - they were just so proud of what they had achieved it was lovely to see!
I've spent the last fortnight investigating Evernote as a tool for organising EYFS observations and thought I'd share my thoughts on why I believe it to be so great.
To begin with, its worth noting that there is both a free and a paid-for (£35 per year) Evernote service and how you intend to use it will dictate which one you will need. In simple terms, they can be differentiated by their data limits:
If you just intend to use one Evernote account to observe one class of children then I would say that the free version is perfectly sufficient. If you intend to use one Evernote account to observe multiple classes of children however (e.g. a few reception classes in the same school), then I would possibly say that you would need the Premium version. Do test it out though first - don't upgrade to the Premium version until you have seen in practice that your free data limits have been reached. A school might want to have one Evernote account for the whole school, with each cohort of children being grouped into a separate notebook (with possibly each child having their own notebook too) - although it's worth remembering that Evernote limits each account to just 250 notebooks so would having a separate account for each cohort instead (e.g. using a username with their year of entry in it) be better in the long term and mean that each account could be free?
Once you've set up an Evernote account then tags will need to be created. These are key words that are put with each note to identify what is being shown in the observation. To ensure that they are organised neatly and are quick to find in the alphabetical order Evernote puts them in, I would recommend you add them in this format:
Making an observation using the Evernote is extremely easy. In this iOS app, for example:1. Tap the add button.
2. Tap the camera button to take a photograph.
3. Type a title or caption to accompany the observations to describe what it shows
4. Tag the note with the characteristics of effective learning and aspects of learning and development being observed by ticking them off from a list.
NOTE - Ensure you go to settings to change the note image quality to 'small' - you can store over 400 small images per month using the free Evernote!
Having an easy tool to use is extremely important - especially in the busy EYFS environment! Recording observations on a mobile device on the go using the Evernote app like this on an iPod Touch or iPad also means that practitioners can instantly note their comments on children's learning whilst they are still fresh in their mind.
The beauty of Evernote is that it is a cross-platform service which works on a wide range of devices that sync up with each other automatically at regular intervals. This means that a practitioner could record their observations on an iPad during school time and then scrutinise them more closely afterwards using either the Evernote website or program on their laptop without having to manually move memory sticks around.
Evernote also lets you search through all your notes and filter them to only display ones which meet certain conditions - such as all those showing a particular child. This makes it easy to assess how capable and developed the children in the class are and is much quicker than sifting through reams of paper.
When it comes to sharing your observations beyond those devices which you are logged into, you will need to make a decision about how you organise your Evernote structure:
The other thought to consider is printing observations out. Obviously the aim is to create a paperless environment but sometimes hard copies of things are needed. If you just click the 'print' icon in Evernote it's worth noting that it doesn't print any tags related to an observation. For practitioners this could be a major issue but I did discover a sneaky workaround - if you open a note in a new window using a certain web browser (I know IE7 and the latest Mozilla Firefox work) then you can just do File > Print and the tags are printed alongside the note! You would not believe how long it took me to find this apparently simple trick out...
I would argue that in most settings, the free version of Evernote would work extremely well, as would just having one notebook shared by all the children to put observations into. The potential it has to transform observations is huge in my opinion and I just hope that others can see it too!
Will your assessment co-ordinator become addicted to following your account to check for minute-by-the-minute updates of the outstanding learning opportunities your children are receiving? ;-)
I regularly get asked for my advice on how to introduce Edmodo in a school so I decided to create a mini presentation for people to use to help them:
Note: You may also want to pre-register your school for an Edmodo subdomain before rolling it out at your school - it enables you monitor usage and reset teacher passwords. More information is available at www.edmodo.com/institutions/
I've been blogging over the last couple of weeks about my thoughts and ideas on how to develop my ICT/computing curriculum to make it meet the requirements of the proposed new national curriculum (explained here) and to allow children to become much more independent learners. I just thought that I'd write this blog post to summarise the work that I've done so far and to clarify a few thoughts in my mind.
What do you think of this idea? I appreciate that a lot of schools would find it challenging to deliver due to varying ICT competences amongst staff but I do think that children are a lot more capable at using technology than people give them credit for and hopefully this idea would capitalise on this.
I've done a couple of things today to develop my ICT/computing curriculum idea:
The more work I do on this idea, the more that I'm beginning to realise that it could actually work...
I've recently started listening to the fabulous Big Finish audio dramas (which I would highly recommend by the way) and it got me thinking - wouldn't it be great if children could record and share their own stories with others as audio books?
There is a free app called Voice Record Pro that would let children record their voice quite easily using the built-in microphone on an iPad/iPod Touch:
All they would then have to do is share this audio file onto Edmodo (either using the 'Open With Other Apps' tool or by emailing it to me so I can upload it for them) and then all their friends could enjoylistening to it!
As ideas go it isn't new but the technology is now available to make the whole process very child-friendly and so much simpler to do!
You read a lot about children sharing their writing online but I also believe that sharing children reading stories out aloud could have just as big an impact in schools since it allows:
To implement this idea all you need is: an iOS device (which many schools now have anyway), a set of headphones (which I would imagine every school has), the free Voice Record Pro app and possibly a free Edmodo account too if you want to use their service to share the stories on. Consider the price of all this in comparison to the specialist hardware that is available elsewhere on the market being sold to schools for hundreds of pounds!
A few more days have past and I've been having some more thoughts on my ICT curriculum idea: