29 Jun

The New Curriculum – Nearly there…

So.. this is kind of Part 3 for the New Curriculum for me.. we are at the stage where we have now used it, planned for it, and now buying resources and getting excited about the teaching of it.
Yes, you heard me, we are now getting excited about it.

I’m in the lucky position of, over the last few years, having worked in several different schools, all of which take a very different approach to the development of the curriculum. To my, rather crude, eye I see three key types of curriculum approaches:

  1. The school that is still doing units from the old QCA documents (yes, they do exist…)
  2. The school who buys in their curriculum – whether it is a maths, literacy and then something comprehensive like the International Primary Curriculum, or just parts of those. This is the school that, somewhere, will have cupboards full of folders.. LCP PE anyone?
  3. The school that develops it’s own curriculum, perhaps with some help from elements of Chris Quigley design... or another bespoke support

For all of these schools, or those that best-fit, we have unique challenges. Time, cost and competence being the most obvious. The schools will have a mixture of these to deal with. For example, the school that hasn’t moved on since QCA units is not in a worse position to any other, but may have to put more time into developing the resources they need. The school who buys into the curriculum may  be in a unique position of waiting for updates, and then paying to send staff on training.   For the most part however we find ourselves at the same point now – we need to get a move on. The final ‘curriculum planning’ meeting then went like this.

  • We discussed the key changes (Haiku Deck underneath)
  • We looked at our topics (we had already discussed what we want to keep and the drivers we had)
  • Then we went away and we planned.
  • The curriculum coordinators studied the units discussed, ensured we had even coverage and we were not repeating ourselves.
  • Finally we got together as a staff team and discussed our topic outlines, added to them, shared them and improved them.

New Curriculum – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Next steps: progression for assessment and linking the units to books for literacy

 

I would love to hear how you are getting on – I am also collating a list of schools who have published on their website their new units and topic outlines. Please comment if your school is willing to share! Thanks!

 

Resources: Again and again I recommend Michael Tidd!

Another school’s story here from @BelmontTeach

The Primary History Association here.. 

The Primary Geography Association 

Brilliant Science resources here from the STEM centre…

And from STEM Centre – Maths resources

14 Jun

Jack Hunter – The Worlds First Augmented Reality Interactive Book?

Hmm.. bold claims indeed! The website for the latest book by author Martin King sings loud and proud about the interactive and augmented reality features of ‘The French Connection’ which promises to bring to life the adventures of Jack Hunter.

I should mention here that the publisher did send me a couple of copies of the book so I could have a play with it (and share it in school)! Thank you for that! I’d never gheard of it before – and would happily recommend it to those struggling to get readers hooked!

Augmented Reality

JH5The premise of the book is fairly simple – obviously you can enjoy the book as a story in itself- but to get the most out of it you download an app. (A code comes with the book to unlock the full features) – however completion of the game does unlock links to Book 3 – and an extra chapter.

 

The puzzles, images and games are triggered by the pictures in the books – and the first few times the children do this they are very, very impressed! It really does showcase how well augemented reality can be used!

The book tells the story and Jack Hunter and how his school life is interrupted through the seemingly haphazard discoveries he makes with his friends. The children do enjoy reading about other experiences of school and I really liked how the book started with this. It quickly expanded into an exciting adventure with plenty of danger!!  Having not read the other books it all made perfect sense and I didn’t feel we needed to know about the other adventure.  It’s not a book i’d choose to read aloud to the class – the language and dialogue can feel a little forced at times – but the pupils really got into it, and I know my 9yr old newphew will love it!

Interactive?

The idea then is to solve the problems in the book as you go, exploring fantasy settings and helping the main characters with puzzles – a kind of modern day ‘Choose your Own Adventure’ (for those of us old enough!) – I’ll be honest, I thought the children might find the links a little tenuous, and not bother,  but they were motivated! They were enthused to read on, and wanted to help one another with the puzzles.

JH4

 

 

The way in which the puzzles are set out, and the controls of the game, will be familiar to anyone who plays videogames. I found it very similar to many of the first person perspective games – although the touch screen controls can be fiddly – it all worked well! It gives plenty of on screen instructions as well, and there is a system of buying clues with ‘gold’ – presumably you could buy more of this with real life money, but we never needed to.

In the classroom?

JH2Obviously I was interested in how well it worked in the classroom, it did feel a tad ‘gimmicky’ at first, but it turned out that was only to me. The children lapped it up, and given some thought you could probably get some great writing from some of the settings, puzzles and history in the images. Non-fiction instruction writing, guides to the settings, adventure journals and so on… It’s definitely something I will be exploring.

 

The puzzles were difficult for some, usually those children who didn’t have much experience with games and puzzles, but they quickly caught on – or asked others. It’s fair to say that they would be a great addition to classrooms that have access to mobile tech.

The adventure is also linked nicely to a blog post on the website – giving the children the chance to continue the relationship with the main characters in the book.

 

Future?

Are these types of interactive books the future? It’s interesting as a concept because it does bridge the gap for those who are just not motivated to read, and I’m sorry to day that it can be chiefly boys. It does just add a layer of fun to the whole proceedings, but I often found myself thinking that if it was just an e-book it would all be so seamless. However, the ‘physical’ book does mean they get to read it wherever they like without any restrictions around access,

Thoughts around this type of literature in the classroom could be a whole other article!!

But this is just the beginning – I would like to see more ‘character’ in the games – interacting with the narrative more and even making choices which could potentially affect the treasure / chapter at the result. Changing the look of the characters, or making good / bad choices which feed into a story on the webpage for example. It is a genre type that can really be explored..

Final word?  It was definitely a hit with the children – and is worth investigating if you have access to the tech in your classroom!

 

JH1

02 Jun

Supporting Parents with e-Safety

Childnet

A post I’ve been meaning to do for a while – as I enjoy delivering workshops with parents for e-safety. There is lots of support for schools in delivering the e-safety curriculum – I look at this here, however, many  parents can be confused by the advice, and schools can be a great ‘first port of call’ for any concerns.  Make your advice on e-safety as clear as possible – and share this with parents. Coffee mornings, evenings, parents invited to assemblies even events led by your Pupil Digital Leaders. I have even share You Tube Clips of some of Playstation / X Box Games with parents so they can see what they look like! 

 

 

A web page with information for parents is also crucial – and share links on there as well.  I also think that it may be necessary to spend time actually looking at what devices children have at home – and what you can do to make sure they are safe. Remember appropiate training for staff, governors and parents should be at least an annual event! I can throughly recommend the Esafety Adviser Site for helpful ideas, and training.

 

Top tips for parents:

  • Talk to your child about their use of the internet! Be part of what they are doing…
  • Make sure you know what devices connect to the internet and how.
  •  Set boundaries! Be clear about how long they can be online and what they can do online.
  • Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space.
  • Don’t forget though: Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills. They can have a play at this site.
  • Don’t let them lie about their age, most social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat) are not for children under 13.  There is more guidance here

 

More resources:

Get Safer Online also covers many aspects on online security such as online banking, identity theft and keeping children safe.

There is a great Digital Parenting guide from Vodafone here – this contains details of setting up mobile phones with parental controls and how to use safety modes on other apps and services.

Reminding parents of the nature of Social Networking sites – a great childine leaflet can be downloaded here.

What every parent needs to know about Video Games – the Guardian Guide

If you have a child who is due to start Secondary School find more information here.

Remember – Internet Service Providers (such as Virgin, BT, Sky and PlusNet) all have parental controls which you need to ‘switch on’ – just contact your provider, or take a look at these videos here.