Category Archives: IT

Coding…

There’s a lot of talk, documentation and directive about coding in schools currently. My opinion is that it’s something that can be learned by children, can be taught by teachers and for some of our children (like all subjects) it will be ‘their thing’ for life.

How to learn coding…there is another question.

I was lucky enough to come across Erase All Kittens at Mozfest last year and Doug Belshaw nudged it my way again in his weekly newsletter.

It’s a great program which introduces coding to children in the form of a game. To complete the game, you alter the code of the game itself. (For example, you can’t jump that chasm, alter the jump parameter, or the size of the chasm from the code). E.A.K. shows you where to change the code and suggests the change you might make.

The developers are keen to get children testing their program out and keen to observe what children make of it in person.

Children should enjoy this approach and find it a good introduction to coding and programming. Have a look, and see if you and your class might use it.

 


 

Why I teach…

2042 Saturday night, and I’m checking my twitter feed to see if my letter to the ECB has got a response yet and I come across…

which has also been favorited by Sam’s Mum.

I’m pretty certain I never showed this program to Sam, but I know I shared it with his older brother’s class.

I love Sam’s creativity with it and the fact that his parents are sharing with me and the world.

Like it says…why I teach!

My Journey to the Scottish Digital Leaders Network.

On Wednesday 25th September, I presented at the SLF teachmeet on the topic of the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. Here is that presentation

 

2 years ago I taught ICT across the school as RCCT cover…it nearly killed me. Not the ICT bit, I loved it for enabling children to do fantastic creative work, and powerpoints, the way they could discover things, share things and be enthused and curious about learning. Parts of it were like an advert for the teacher training agency.

What nearly killed me was the day to day problems which got in the way. Flash updates, word templates not working, no access to colour printers, flash updates, using IE 6, aspects of filtering, flash updates, java…you get the picture. It really got in the way of me extending the children’s learning in ICT. As part of my ICT role I spent two days at a NAACE conference in Crewe where I met some amazing people and was introduced to the idea of Digital Leaders.

 

Rather than me try to define a digital leader, I thought I’d share with you a child’s own view of the role, taken from an Edmodo post…on a Sunday afternoon.

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And then rather than get you to read loads more, made a quick wordle which highlights helping, technology, responsible, and for some reason curtain.

Slide3

Digital leaders are a group of children in school which help with ICT in loads of different ways. They have expertise in ICT, are responsible and are given positions with real influence and real responsibility in your school. They exist in every school.

Last year I decided to turn our ICT group at Uphall into a Digital Leaders group. Something I felt would go beyond an after school group and something where I wanted the children to have more of a leading role.

So, having decided to give digital leaders a go, we asked them to apply online and we interviewed them and selected our first 13 digital leaders.This interview and application process is an important part of the digital leaders ethos in my opinion. It helps create a standard and expectation for the children, parents and staff and it is a process our children took very seriously and were brilliant at. I was fortunate enough to have my headteacher involved in the process which added loads to the process.

 

Over the year they made videos, created a resource website to help replace education city’s maths games,  taught numerous children how to do many things, helped install firefox, used webmaker tools and finally the P7’s wrote the interview questions for this year’s cohort. Much of this work we shared on our blog space.

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This was great, but what they desperately wanted was to meet other digital leaders, online and in real life for meetups and beyond…and I had some ideas I thought they could develop too!

Slide5Many of these ideas also involve taking digital leaders beyond our school and meeting up with similar groups.

So I thought I would try and set up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. The network exists currently on Google + and we have an edmodo group. I am happy for the resources and network to reside anywhere where we can easily do the things we want to do, so we’re not tied to any medium. These are the things you’ll find there.

Slide6

One of the really exciting things going on this year is the badges for DL-ers from digital me. Digital me help young people gain skills and confidence through new technology and work alongside groups such as Nesta and Mozilla to develop young people’s skills. The badges look brilliant, and there you can view the prototype designs in the G+ group.

Slide7

What I would like you to do, is, having seen this, consider whether Digital Leaders is something you could start at your school. If it is please drop me an e-mail and I’ll organise you joining the network and hopefully we can support you and share ideas and solutions.

If it’s something you’re already doing under a different name, it would be great if you’d consider joining the network and making connections with people, I really think your children would enjoy the opportunities of working with other people.

Obviously, any questions please get in touch via e-mail, twitter or the comments below.

That was my presentation and slides and I’ve been really pleased with the feedback so far. There are a few hoops to go through to get into a google + group. You need a google account and you need to have activated your G+ account. I went for G+ as it offers webmeet capacity across the UK and beyond, which sadly Glow doesn’t yet and Skype calling seems unavailable in many schools.

The Edmodo group for Scottish Digital Leaders is here. You need to drop me an e-mail or DM for the code.

Badger, badger, badger, badger.

There’s a lot of work going on at the moment about using badges for crediting skills, experience in education and the workplace. I came across this template for designing your own badges and shared it last night in the #dlchat. People in the chat seemed to like it, so I thought it might be worth posting it here also. Getting my Digital Leaders becoming badge creators and awarders is an aim for my Digital Leader project next year, as it has multiple benefits. I hope they’re keen to be badgers.

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Thoughts on using Technology in schools.

I came across this via zite which I use to find and share a load of good reading, infographics and ideas. This pretty much sums up my thoughts about using Technology in schools, and is what we should be aiming for when embedding ICT across the curriculum.

As it says at the bottom, it’s a tool not an outcome.

technology

About Dropbox.

Online/cloud storage is becoming more popular with many services available, to store and sync my documents I have been using dropbox for around 4 months now and find it’s a great service which has never once failed.

I discovered dropbox via my Personal Learning Group on twitter.

Basically, Dropbox is a web based storage facility which allows you to drop files/folders/stuff into your dropbox on one laptop, and then access the same stuff via the dropbox on your other machines. The stuff in the dropbox auto-sync and immediately appear in the ‘box’ on any other laptops you wish to sync with.

I use it in quite a  simple way. On both my school laptop and home laptop, I downloaded the dropbox install package and it placed a shortcut on my desktop. Open the shortcut and you can place files and folders inside and they will appear within a minute on the other machine also. Each time you save a version of a document, that new version is saved on you other machines too. It’s just like placing a file in folder on your desktop.

There is also a web login which means you can access your files which are saved inside dropbox on any machine with internet access, even if it hasn’t got the ‘box’ downloaded and on the desktop.

Dropbox is free for 2GB of storage, which in 5 months has proved ample storage for me (and is similar to many pendrives) and you can upgrade to 3GB by getting your friends to sign up. If you need more storage, you can upgrade to 50GB for $9.99 a month or $99 for a year. Or you can upgrade to 100GB for $19.99 a month or $199 a year. I would certainly consider upgrading if my current storage got used up. It can be downloaded onto more than two machines if you need to.

For collaborative working, you can share a folder with a colleague who has a dropbox account also. Again, this is a very simple, efficient process (and can earn you a bit more storage).

To read about the other online storage options, have a look at Doug Belshaw’s excellent blog which has a posting about what else is available.

Using tutpup in my classroom.

I was introduced to Tutpup through Year Six Teacher’s Blog in this article. It is an online mental maths and spelling game in which the children play against children around the world, in realtime. It is also free.

To begin, the teacher needs to sign up first as… a teacher. Once this is done you can create classes for your pupils to use. I currently have two classes, one for my class and one for my maths class. You set a class code for each of your classes and the children need this when they sign up. It would be possible for one teacher login to run many of the classes in a school but I wouldn’t recommend this. Each teacher would be better creating a teacher login as they then have access to the data on how their children are progressing, and can move their children onto the games which will develop their pupils skills appropriately. Once the teacher has logged in and created a class or classes the children are ready to be introduced to the program.

The children create their own login using this simple interface. They choose a colour, animal and then a number and that is their playername. They then need to create their own password – on a side issue password creation, remembering and retrieval is a skill that our children need so much now for their lives inside and outside of education, do we discuss this enough with them? – and the enter the class login that the teacher creates in their login process.

You may find that some of the colour and animal combinations have gone (i.e. they do not have any numbers left), but the children in my class really supported each other in this. As soon as one child had found a colour and animal that had numbers, they told the class who then went to that combination and created their login.

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Online quiz making program – ProProfs.

I was teaching a lesson on Lent to my class, and was looking for an approach which I thought would motivate the class. I’m a bit of a fan of quizzes and thought the children might like to create their own quiz/comprehension activity based around a non-fiction text about Lent.

I created a text using simple wikipedia and then discussed the idea of making a multiple choice quiz. We also discussed making  all of the answer choices plausible, so as to make the quiz that bit trickier.

Part way through the session I decided that it would be great to type up the quiz onto the class blog page, that idea developed into the more interactive idea of creating an online quiz and then embedding it into the page. A quick search on google led me to the ProProfs site.

Once on there I signed up (for free) and had a quick play with the software. It was very easy to use, so I shared the site with the class on the whiteboard and we set about creating our online quiz.

ProProfs has quite a range of styles for your quizzes as well as a range of endings to the quiz. These include creating a certificate for each entrant in the quiz.

The possibilities seem great. As well as using it with children creating quizzes for the blog, they could create one for their parents, they can embed them easily in a wide range of sites, as well as teachers being able to create them as a fun way to assess children’s learning.

My class certainly enjoyed making the quiz and entering up the questions onto the program and then seeing the results live, on the web, in a matter of minutes.

Have a look at the quiz so far here.

Web 2.0 Week 4/5

It was also a 3-day week in our authority, this being our spring half-term week. Despite this we had a busy time.  I did an update of my class’s blog page with 3 new stories based loosely on some Burns’ poems which an excellent group called Oor Rabbie came in and worked on with my children.  There was also a creepy tale about a bed, based on a story by Anthony Horowitz.

When entering these stories, I learned a new feature -the insert more tag – which I put to use on these stories. It means we can show more headings and postings on the front page of the blog. If you want to read more, you click on the read more link. I think in future I might mention this to my class and allow them to tell me where to put the ‘read on’ break. It will make them think carefully about the shape of their writing and create a ‘suspense’ spot from where the reader has to click to read on.

I also updated the Buddy Bear Blog with  a new adventure from Buddy, who visited Jacob’s house. The class are finding the diary being posted on the blog very motivating and look forward to publishing their entries. I have also added on some pictures now. If you have a look on the page,  a comment would be really appreciated by the class.

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