Monthly Archives: January 2010

Web 2.0 Week 3.

Before I post, I’ve noticed that some of the keys on this laptop are a bit sticky,so apologies for any typo’s.

I’ve not used a lot in the way of web 2.0 in class this week, which I feel in an odd way is a positive things. Whilst one of my aims for 2010 was to utilise the web 2.0 more in class, it’s important that it’s used to enhance what is already there, not just to ‘show off’ what is there on the internet or what my new ‘find’ of the week is.

What we have done this week is used word to edit some stories. My experience is that using word for this gives the redrafting process a lift as well as producing good-looking stories at the end of the process. I feel that children like the edit process on a word processing tool. Unlike a rubber there is no grubby mark left in word!

Also by word processing it is then a short step to publishing on the web, which I have made a start on this week on my class’s blog page and on Buddy Bear’s Diary page.

My class are using some of our web tools out of school now which I am pleased about. Several children have created their own wallwisher sites. There have been the first set of comments left on the blog and I received an e-mail through GLOW on Sunday asking for some help with writing up Buddy’s weekend diary. I’m pleased at the beginnings of what I hope is taking learning beyond the classroom walls.

Next week we will be using simple wikipedia to do some research on movie making. I’ve forgotten now whom I got the link from for that site, but I’ve had a look around it and it’s really good. It gives children just the facts they need without them getting bogged down in technical language.

Web 2.0, week 2

This week, as you can read below, we’ve used a range of IT across the curriculum in P7.

Our maths has used the wii extensively for work on mean, mode and median averages, and we have used to create online mindmaps about how to make Buddy Bear famous. There is more about using in the post below.

We also used wallwisher to suggest ideas about how we could make Buddy famous. This has been done entirely out of school and can be seen here. Hopefully we’ll get a stream of ideas going onto this page. Again,I like wallwisher as it is a simple way of children putting down their simple thoughts about something, a book, a unit of work etc and it is also a kept record of their ideas (as opposed to the piece of large paper with post-its beginning to fall off). 4 of my class have now created their own walls using wallwisher to post (with their friends) their favourite pets, sports etc. This suggests to me that they find using the software both stimulating and effective.

I have created a blog for Buddy Bear, using blogger. The idea behind this came from the postings on wallwisher suggesting we put a film of Buddy on youtube and post some pictures of him onto the internet. Blogger seemed a good way of bringing all of these online ideas together. I will also use that blog site to allow the children to tell the world of Buddy’s adventures when they get to take him him. Buddy’s blog can be found here.

I read Tom Barrett’s excellent articles on bloggging, specifically the ones about using Blogger with his class. This seemed like a good option for Buddy Bear’s Blog, as I wanted to have text (his diary entry) and pictures (of his visits) and eventually video all in the same place. By adding some tools to the basic blog my class can gauge how successful they are in making buddy famous around the world. The tools I added were a feedjit live traffic feed, a clustrmap and a simple hit counter. The class enjoy looking at the blog and some have viewed it at home, but as yet only I have left a comment.

I created a picasa account for the project which I will put pictures of Buddy in as the children take them. Blogger runs using google accounts so the account for the blog provides a picasa account and an e-mail account to which the children can e-mail their pictures in as they take them.

We began our new topic this week, it’s all about trying to make Buddy Bear into a famous film star. He’s not been successful so far, and he wants our P7 classes to help him. Much of the planning of this topic needs to come from the ideas the children have, so an obvious place to start, I thought was with a mind map.

I’ve made mindmaps before using Publisher very successfully, but our LA doesn’t seem to support Publisher in primary schools, so I wondered if there was an online web 2.0 type alternative. I posted on twitter and 10 minutes later I got a response from @atstewart suggesting I had a look at it on Tuesday evening and had a bit of a play and it seemed really simple to use.

I liked the fact that it could easily use pictures from the internet (it has a built in google image search), as well as the fact that I found it a really simple, but smart piece of software to use. It created good quality mindmaps easily. It took away the need for rubbers, rulers that don’t have a ‘nick’ in them and felt tips that don’t work and allowed the children the chance to edit their maps as they went along, without making a mess.

When we used the program on Wednesday, the children soon worked their way around it and as ever helped each other out and found out quickly what could be done. The program autosaves work to the account it is signed in to. It allows the maps to be saved and then printed by a variety of means, including pdf. There is also a publish to web option.

You do need a sign-in to use the program, but I created a temporary one (in that I deleted the account after the lesson) and shared the username and password with the whole class. Through using their GLOW passwords the children invited their friends to collaborate on their  mindmaps.  As I hoped, the children are beginning to move past the ‘msn’ novelty of collaborative work and are just adding to and editting each other maps.

I thought this was a really good piece of web based software which I feel we will use regularly in class and hopefully the children will use it out of school too.

Here is a vimeo to watch explaining it all!

Mind42: Introduction from Stefan Schuster on Vimeo.

Wii Sports for Mean, Mode and Median.

My final lesson of the week to involve the Wii used the practice option for batting on Wii sports baseball.
I decided that I wanted to create a larger range of numbers for the children to find the median number of. Wii sports baseball batting practice allows you to have 10 swings at 10 pitches. It records (quite quickly) what the distance is that you hit it. It was this data we recorded for our averages lesson.

As with the bowling, there were 10 numbers to record, meaning we had to split the 5th and 6th numbers to find the median.
After a discussion about the best way to do this, we managed quite well and got better at it as we progressed through the tables taking their turns at batting. The children were by now quite good at finding the mean and mode for the range of numbers.

One of the more interesting discussions we had whilst using the Wii for averages, was the way the modal average differed between the bowling game and the baseball game. In the bowling game, the mode was 10, and the mean average score was frequently around 9. The children could clearly see that the mode and mean were closely related in that scenario.

However, despite some of my group being ace sluggers, (the record was 7 homers out of 10 attempts!), the mode for each set distances was 0. This was not close to the mean average, which was around 110m. We briefly discussed the reasons behind this and talked about which average is most useful in which situations.

One final thought about the Wii bowling. The scoring of bowling is quite complex when spares and strikes are involved (which with my class they always seemed to be) I wonder i there is some maths to be investigated  in how the scores are made, maybe with a secondary class devising new scoring methods for bowling and using the Wii bowling game to see how they would work, comparing the scoring methods with each other.

The children throughout the week certainly enjoyed our use of the Wii, and they seem to have learned how to calculate the mean, mode and median averages for a set of numbers.

An enjoyable and productive week in maths.

Wii for Mean, Mode and Median – The Outcome.

I thoroughly enjoyed our maths session on Monday, using the wii and I think the children did as well. As ever, I’ve learned a few things which would lead to a few ‘tweaks’ if I was to do it again. Before I discuss those I must say the P7 children are all far better ten-pin bowlers on the wii than I am and had a range of entertaining styles all of which proved to highly effective!

The lesson had a sparkle to it to begin with as the class noticed straight away that the wii was set up. ‘Are we using the wii in maths?’ was a popular question!

That moved on to ‘We’re not using brain training are we?’ which I found interesting and probably reinforced the point that just having a wii on for maths isn’t enough. It needs to be properly targetted and integral to the lesson, not just the lesson itself.

We formed our teams and each team played out their first frames, and we got used to recording our scores. Bowling is good for this, as you can pause between throws to make sure everyone is up to speed.

On the second frame I introduced the idea of modal average. The skills on show ensured that we quickly identified 10 as the modal score. The class found this quite easy.

After the third frame for each team we introduced the mean average. We needed a bit of calculation help on this to get the division by 12 done. We also spent some time working on rounding to 2 d.p.

After the fourth frame we began to find the median also. In hindsight I shouldn’t have had 4 teams, as it meant we always had an even number of scores to find the median for, and this made understanding of this concept harder.

We carried on and completed the game. I changed my idea of getting the averages onto the board and adding on points as I felt I didn’t want to pressurise the groups too much! We also dropped finding the mode after 6 frames as it was always going to be 10!

In summary the class and I enjoyed it, the lesson had an exciting feel to it and I feel the children learned the objectives I had for them at the start of the lesson.


Wii Sports for Mean, Median and Modal averages.

I’m teaching averages this week with my maths group and I decided yesterday to begin the week by using wii sports bowling to create the data for is to work with. I first came across the idea of using the wii for maths through Tom Barrett’s Site and from Tom’s interesting ways.

I know the children will enjoy using the wii – it’s always the most popular choice in Golden Time, so that part of the plan seems fine.

I also know from assessment of the group that they need to learn about averages. Averages can tend to be a once or twice a year topic so I thought using the wii would make it memorable and thus allow the children to recall their learning easily.

I’m going to split my group into 8 groups of 3, and then into 4 groups of 6. These groups will then be the 4 teams for bowling, with each team member bowling consecutively on their team.

The teams will each have to fill in a scoresheet for each bowl from every team. This will just record the total for both throws (not the actual bowling score with strikes and spares).

From round 2 onwards we will calculate in each team, the mean, median and modal score for the entire game. One member from each team will then write their answers on the board. If the team gets all 3 answers correct I will award 5 more pins to their team score in the final total at the end (or on the excel on the IWB, not sure yet!)

We will do this until the game is complete.

I need to think about where I position the wii and TV in the class and how to place the tables I will have to move. I need space for the bowlers and space to let the group see the events. I need access to the chalk board for teams to write their averages up and also space for them to work without other groups overhearing them!

I’m really looking forward to it, let’s see what happens!


Web 2.0. Week 1

I don’t know if I’ll keep this up, but I thought when I use a new program in class (which I’m aiming to do a lot of this year) I’ll post on here to say how it’s gone.

My first application/program I used was wallwisher. My class enjoyed this and have produced their reflections of 2009 and ideas for 2010 here. One of my class went home and made her own wall for favourite animals which I was really pleased about. We’ve also done walls for our class novel and for some snow haiku we wrote.

I’ve had a couple of problems with it which I feel I should share.

Firstly I embedded our 2009-2010 wall onto our class blog page. I noticed after a couple of days that when I was logged into the wall to approve and edit, it also allowed people viewing on the blog page to approve and edit! I decided that for now the best idea was to take off the embedding and replace with a link.

Secondly, on our haiku wall I showed the children how to put a picture on. In showing one of my class how to do this I seemed to have planted the picture on the wall, completely independently of the wall. I cannot edit the picture, nor delete it! It has become detached from the writing as well. I may begin a new wall. Apart from those hiccups it’s been great. I now need to ask the LA to unblock it from Pupil Internet access as so far I’m entering them up on my machine only.

The other program I used was primary pad. This was really popular with the children, with comments like ‘this is better than MSN’, and children asking how they could share a pad with someone at home. We created a word list for snow poems and this seemed to work really well with 18 different users on the pad at once. What was interesting was how thoughtful the children were about not overtyping. I hadn’t used it with so many children in one go so I didn’t really know what to expect (or how our internet would hold up). They coped really well and were considerate of other people’s feelings and word ideas.

I will try to find the opportunity to do some more collaborative writing using primary pad in the next couple of weeks and we will certainly continue with wallwisher.


We’ve been doing shape in class this week and I’ve been trying to find some more interesting ways for the children to learn. I find that children have a set visual idea of certain shapes, and when they are confronted with a shape that doesn’t conform to that idea, they cannot define it. For example when asked about a hexagon, the children will think of the regular hexagon shape, yet a hexagon is any polygon with 6 lines (the l shape is often found to be a problem).

To address this we did lots of work on pinboards, drawing shapes with certain properties. For example, on a 3 by3 pinboard, draw a hexagon which has 4 right angles. This practical activity got us all thinking and certainly seemed to help move away from pre-conceived ideas about what a shape should look like.

A resource I used a lot this week was a book called ‘Activities and Problems, Shape and Space’ from the Gateshead Numeracy Team. I have my copy from when I taught in Gateshead, given freely to Gateshead teachers, but now it costs £20 from the GAL education website. The book contains a lot of great ideas for teaching shape. It has a mixture of some games, some active maths lessons and some challenging shape and space problems.

Another book I used was Measures, shape and space for Y7.  This has some really challenging shape and space activities which extend the children as well as some good games which can be played at a variety of levels.

I also got the children to create posters for the facts about shape we had discovered during the week. This was a popular activity which helped to reinforce the properties of shape we had been learning.

A website I found and wish I had found at the start of the week was Tangram. Children enjoy trying to solve tangrams but often the cutting up of pieces of paper and the subsequent lost pieces makes the lesson more of a challenge than it should be. The website solves all these problems and allows the children the chance to try to create a variety of shapes from the given tangram.

Literacy Starters

Primary Pete has posted on Twitter asking about favourite literacy starter ideas. He said he liked the ideas on everybody writes which features the ideas of Pie Corbett. I was lucky enough to attend a writing conference run by Pie Corbett in Jan 2007, and despite a raging toothache (mine,not his!) I thought he was great. Great enthusiasm for writing and really good ideas. I’d not come across the everybody writes site before, but I will be using it a lot in class I think for English starters.

The main resource I use for starting English lessons are the VCOP activities I downloaded from the TES resource bank. The link for these resources is here. The activities are self-explanatory and allow for focus on one of the VCOP areas. Importantly when I use these activities there is a buzz around the class with the children wanting to take part and try out new and interesting ideas. These ideas are often reflected in their subsequent writing.

Time-Lapse Photography

A site I have used for around 7 years is this one, Plants-in-Motion. The site has many examples of time-lapse photography of plants, seeds and seedlings on it. I’ve found it useful for showing children in a short space of time scientific processes which take a long time (and often cannot be seen by the naked eye anyway). It has certainly helped children to understand some concepts which can seem quite abstract and hard to grasp.

My classes have always enjoyed looking at the footage, and my use of the site shows how far ICT in schools has come. Initially we were all looking at it around a monitor, having to download the movie first so it would work. Then it became a whiteboard projector showing it to the class. Now our ICT education of children has led to the point where children can embed the footage into presentations of their own. A further step for a class could be to use a webcam and a stop motion animation program to create their own plant life movies using modelling materials.