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.

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!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

To type or not to type

My classroom is overflowing with intervention groups...but they seem to be working.
I'm not too sure about the touch typing group however.
This resource gives many possible typing tutor, including dance mat typing, all I need to do now is get one which sends me information about how my students are learning.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Maths resources - algebra and Utah interactives

Found these matchbox resources from my ME830 maths course - while reading Listening Counts.

They are a great way of introducing the unknown in a simple and unchallenging way.  Very clever.

Also stumbled onto these manipulatives - looks like a huge range of resources for interactive whiteboard use or class blogs.  would be great if they were easily embeddable.

Here's the classic towers of Hanoi puzzle.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Great link for web tools

Here are some brilliant tools for the web.

Would add lucidcharts though.

Poetry on Slideshare

Just finishing a 2 week unit on imagery in poems and the class have done a great job of using similes.

I like teaching poetry partly because you don't need to write so much so, in terms used on the MAST maths course, it is a lower threshold activity. They used to call this lower barriers to entry in my Degree Economics course. Again, similar to my MAST activities which were rich tasks, it is definitely a high threshold activity, allowing children to soar when they get the bug!

Our home learning in class this week is to write a poem. Last week 29 out of 33 children handed in their project home learning with an incredible range of presentation styles. Have extended the deadline again this week to just over 2 weeks to allow a slower, more thoughtful, and hopefully higher quality end product. I was reminded of the great slideshare site with its enormous range of slides.
Here is a great teacher resource if you want to save some time teaching a number of poetry styles:

 Here is one I'll also post to the class blog.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Lucid Chart

This site allows you to create great free visuals.

Here's one which I made for my Year 5 class to learn about explorers.
I like the site because it allows a visual internet supported approach to research.

How to get over the problem of copy and paste though...any suggestions?  Just had a comment from Lucid Chart offering me help with cutting and pasting!  I meant the problem of children cutting and pasting into their presentations!  Thanks Lucid Chart for the quick response!

I also uploaded to TES - an increasingly useful site for finding a multitude of resources quickly.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Richer Tasks

It's been a long while since I last posted, oh notional reader.  But here's what I'm thinking about tonight.
As part of my Maths study I'm thinking about "Richer tasks":

  • must be accessible to everyone at the start;
  • needs to allow further challenges and be extendible;
  • should invite children to make decisions;
  • should involve children in speculating, hypothesis making and testing, proving or explaining, reflecting, interpreting;
  • should not restrict pupils from searching in other directions;
  • should promote discussion and communication;
  • should encourage originality/invention;
  • should encourage ‘what if’ and ‘what if not’ questions;
  • should have an element of surprise;
  • should be enjoyable.
Ahmed, 1987, p. 20.Better Mathematics, London, HMSO
Wouldn't it be great to have a bank of there?  NRICH is a good start.
The task centre kit site here seems another creative option for fun and inspiring maths challenges.