Monday, 24 August 2015

Context, Hooks and maps

Just listened to a couple of very thought provoking talks:

Daniel Kahneman
Daniel talks about two ways of thinking about problems - an inside view and an outside view and how it is so very hard, and yet so very beneficial, to see our context from an external viewpoint.

Its part of Edge Masterclasses, which whenever I invest the time in watching, throws up interesting and accessible ideas. Must watch more of them.

John Green's TED talk lends the great metaphor of the lines on a map to what I see as learning hooks - a point of reference for learning which has a personal meaning for the learner. Once a point of the map has been discovered, the adjoining points can be explored:
But I do believe that while maps don't show you where you will go in your life,they show you where you might go.
along the way, the map of my life got better. It got bigger; it contained more places. There were more things that might happen, more futures I might have. It wasn't a formal, organized learning process, 
His passion for lifelong learning is contagious and his talk is well worth a watch.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A gformative experience

Another one bites the dust.

I was taught that rhythm as a tool for helping resuscitation.

That's what it feels like as I write this first post for about two years.

Push and Pull
I am pulled to write it by the excitement I got from participating at the KL GAFE - Google apps for Education.
I am pushed to write it with the impending JAWS Maths conference in Penang this weekend.

So what should I present?

During our BSO inspection (last week!) I wanted to attack data handling but wanted to use some great tech tools for learning to enhance the process and streamline.
I didn't want this:

I also wanted to be able to share using our FrogOS learning platform.

I greated a google form and, with help from our Learning Technologists, embedded it into the yeargroup Frog page.

When sharing the google form, I needed to set the sharing rights carefully: we are in the process of making decisions and setting up student google accounts.  At present children in our Primary Campus do not have gmail.  So I needed to set it so that all visitors to the (password protected) Frog page, could answer the questionnaire or form.

Data from Google forms populates a spreadsheet automatically.  Fabulous!  All we needed to do in those tense days before the inspection, was to tidy up the data, delete duplicated answers and check it looked ok.

I then printed out data sheets for both classes involved in the project (to simplify the lesson and reduce the possibility of mistakes).  I also included links to the results on the Frog page (this was useful later on when the children were asked to make a graph of their own using the class data.)

We created graphs using the data and planned lessons which targeted questioning skills, the language of data handling (most popular, favourite, questionaire, population, survey etc.) and the features of graphs.  We extended the learning by questioning the usefulness of a particular graph when answering a particular question.

The final product for the children was to produce high quality graphs of their own which could be used as classroom displays, Head teacher displays, online examples (children uploaded their own work using the Frog filedrop widget) and also as a book for me to bring along to the JAWS meeting.

Children were excited by the purposeful research and even found out which ice cream flavour was the most common favorite popularity popular.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Opposites are attractive!

I'm working my way through the Open University MAST program and am currently looking at how inverse operations should be taught by thinking about them as "undoing" another operation.  This leads to a natural teaching approach which is to accompany any teaching with it's inverse or opposite.

Some topics seem to fit well.  Forces are almost always taught with a focus on push and pull.  Addition is usually taught alongside subtraction....that's when I start to get a bit stuck.  During the reaching of Literacy, maybe I should contrast vastly different genres:" How does this poster differ from a playscript?  What might you expect to find in a poem, but not in a recount?"

Then I got to thinking about my current unit on World War Two.  Maybe a study of the Nobel Peace Prize should accompany this history unit.  It would be a great Internet investigation, provide a wealth of Worldwide Geography and politics but could open up some fairly challenging topics for 8-9 year olds.  Famous characters such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela could form the backbone of research. Research could be simply structured around the who, what, where, when, why, which, how question word framework.

I think another approach would be to spend more time in thinking about how an English child's life differs now from during wartime.  Comparison often produces interesting reflections and gives a greater sense of meaning.

Opposites do seem to be quite attractive.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

At home with sick child

I was looking after my sick daughter today and we stumbled on My Story, a BBC TV programme aimed at young children.

I really liked the format, particularly how it makes the story relate to a book. We watched the farm episode and also the one about pandas, both through iplayer.  It is a great introduction to oral stories and personal history.

I've been using iplayer in class this week when learning about WWII, note taking and non fiction texts.  We we using episode two of Wartime Farm.

It's such an a amazing resource to have in the classroom and almost makes up for not being able to view YouTube through the school web filtering.  We were able to stream live and can search easily.  Visual learners really responded well and it was a great way of learning for children who had more difficulties accessing text.

The downside is that it is only available in the UK and many programmes are only available for a limited time.  However, since September, the BBC has allowed viewers to download programs to iPads and tablets so they can be viewed offline for up to 30 days.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Ipad apps for primary school

I'm slowly getting to grips with ipad2 and am looking for apps for my school in Britain.
Not having much of a budget and only just venturing into apple territory in our school, I'm going for free apps although I couldn't resist iMovie.

I'm looking particularly for maths and literacy apps for both key stage one and key stage two as well as foundation stage.  I particularly want uk pronunciation and spelling for the reading and writing apps.

When I meet other ICT coordinators, I swap app titles, but would love a way of sharing a list of apps, not just single apps.

Enter curate.  This is a relatively new search term for me.  I have used compare, define and other terms when searching the Internet but curate seems to allow me to find an individuals personal selection.  I've used diigo, but want to keep up with other options.

Here are some apps to help you curate.

Friday, 21 September 2012

ipad apps for Primaries and youtube

My daughter is 2 and I was thrilled the other day when she started to recognise the number 4...pushy parent teacher that I am.
This morning after breakfast I thought I'd try her on an ipad app which I'd found through a diigo ipad group called iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch Users Group.  The diigo bookmark was for a webpage called
Diigo Home

20 iPad Apps To Teach Elementary Reading | TeachThought 

The app is called Play & Sing and is amazing.  It's free and is quite diverse, testing colours, animals, shapes, numbers and letters.  It has a draw facility with stamps, and guidelines which teach children to draw common pictures.  There is a number and letter handwriting section, a music composition and listening area and a audio recording facility.
I was really pleased to hear an English accent.

This find was one of the first really helpful ways which I have received good advice from diigo.  So far I have shared to my hearts content, mainly for myself.  I've invited others to join groups and have had little success.  So the way forward seems to join groups which have the focus you want...don't start off being a trailblazer, alone in the webworld of diigo.

Tonight another daughter of mine mentioned a song arranged from Nick Clegg's apology.  I am amazed and in awe of the way the web allows people to share their hobbies and interests in an entertaining way.  My middle daughter had been swatting up on her last day of revision for the 11+ (yes they do still exist) and had found this mean mode median video. Shame it's blocked at school, but with you can at least download at home and bring into school.

Monday, 23 April 2012


I've been blogging for the past 4 or 5 years as a teacher, with 3w, and Sycamore Class, This blog as well as a few others.  I've found it invaluable to share what we are doing in class with parents and children, to cope with emergencies like foot and mouth outbreaks and Asian Flu and to publish children's work to a wider audience.

I have taken part in blogging exchanges with other classes and have done all of this through blogger.  Most of this I did when working at a leading international school.  Internet was carefully monitored and filtered and I was able to use blogger very successfully.

Since working at my current school I have been protected by a more prohibitive regional security layer.  This has meant that children are safe from the big bad world of the internet when they are in school.  However it has meant that my default blogging platform has been unavailable.  After adding an exception to the filtering, I was then able to access most of the features of blogger, but children were unable to comment from within school and I was unable to post from inside school...the whole platform became much less reliable...and much less interactive.  From then on I have been on a quest for a different platform.  One which was more accessible and interactive.

Enter kidblog.
Kidblog, has
  • let me open blogs for each child in my class
  • not required children's emails or information
  • enabled me to create a safe blogging environment in which I moderate all posts and comments
  • inspired my class to read and write for a purpose
  • given me the option to give access to guest visitors...the head teacher and the literacy coordinator, for instance
  • allowed me to open the blog up to all visitors, should I choose to do so.
Children in my class have taken to it like ducks to water and are finding features, adding hyperlinks, inserting pictures and above all reading and writing for a purpose.

Long may it last!