January 5

Don’t Forget… Padlet

As part of a review of the year it occurred to me that there were plenty of apps, programmes and ideas that shouldn't get lost over time, but are often overlooked. So I thought a 'don't forget series' might remind teachers of what is out there.

Number 2 – Padlet

I wrote about Padlet here.

 

Padlet is great because it is a quick, versatile tool that can be embedded and saved once created. Think electronic post-it notes. Padlet is growing, and in recent months has changed. It now includes an account which registers Padlets you have answered on as well as a multitude of options for privacy.

You can still just click 'create a padlet' and get going however!

And for a while Padlets were embedded 'everywhere'… Or at least in posts like this and this. For a few simple reasons:

  • Easy sharing – a link, an embed, or a code for the site. Anyone can contribute to your Padlet.
  • Protectable – embed one in your class blog and protect it with a password.
  • They can be anonymous, or invite only. In class you can insist everyone contributes, give a synonym, extend a story, write a question for a numerical answer. Whatever your focus, leave a Padlet on a computer and then let the pupils contribute.
  • They work on all systems. At least, i've not come across one it doesn't work on yet.

In the classroom:

  • Use it to assess knowledge prior to teaching, an open question about a topic, or a question that opens up more questions.
  • Great for PHSE – different answers to sensitive problems that can be anonymous (or not)
  • Quick fire vocabulary collecting – 'how is the wolf described?'
  • Embed pictures to showcase work.

 

Created with Padlet

Resources:

Ideas for history teachers.

Teachers guide here.

 

April 12

From Padlet to Twitter – a Digital Classroom Journey!

I thought I would share a recent example of of the integrated way in which various digital/social platforms can be linked and used in the classroom.

Context first:

Y6 class, space topic.

The pupils have a blog, created on blogger, which the teacher updates.

 

Literacy unit (and linked work) was newspaper linked, journalistic writing and so on.

 

How we started:

A very simple lesson – aimed at questioning skills and linked to interviewing an astronaut – the children had to think of questions they would ask and build these into a report they were writing. These were collated on a Padlet, which was embedded in to their class blog.

 

The pupils are well versed in contributing to Padlet – and did so at home.

 

Next we linked to Twitter. The pupils are aware that there is a school Twitter account, it has been used before for contacting local businesses and sharing photographs of work. We discussed how we might limit the questions in order to keep to the restricted number of characters, and, more importantly how we could find someone to ask…

It's all about relevance…

Luckily for us the Channel 4 Space Season and been a hit – and that has hash tags and twitter handles all over it. So we started there… It's worth mentioning that I did do 'live' twitter search – but I used an iPad and Air Server and so was able to put Air Server on once search completed….

We then tweeted what looked like a willing volunteer, an Astronaut who had been on the Space Station itself – who – amazingly replied!! (Huge thanks to him!!) He was able to answer several questions, and used photographs and links to the Space Station live to get his messages across.

 

Every day that week I was able to show the children more photos, more answers and really keep the topic alive! – The links for their writing, and with the blog at home were really clear – genuinely exciting (for staff and pupils) – and produced some awesome, genuinelt motivated work! Enthusiasm was everywhere, and the whole school buzzed with the pictures and replies we were getting!

 

What we learnt:
  • It was great for e-safety, the other twitter users who got involved provided the perfect opportunity to discuss advertising and online 'stranger danger'.
  • Use of the blog both in and outside the classroom was also beneficial, those children who cannot access the blog were still a big part of the lesson.

 

 

August 6

Introduce your class to safe tech use: 8 things you should try!

Starting the new term with a new class is always exciting! Get them off to a good start with the tech in your classroom with a few simple activities designed to have them think about what they use tech for, and why! These activities are very easy to set up and might inspire you as well!

 

 

  1. Is everything they read on the internet real? Look at this Dihydrogen Monoxide site – it’s only water, but when will they figure that out? Read about saving the tree octopus here.. Take a look at Victorian Robots here.
  2. How safe are they online? Ask them to take part in challenges on Think U Know and find out!
  3. Create a paper computer! An intesting activity for the younger ones, naming computer parts.
  4. Take part in a collaborative blog challenge.Try the 100 Word Challenge here, or the Nrich Maths challenge here.
  5. Remind them about last years Hour of Code challenge, before the new one this year!
  6. Ask them… What do they use computers for? Create a joint class padlet on Padlet.com
  7. Build a paper cup robot, complete with instructions! Use the excellent lesson plan from csed.com here.
  8. Join in a #mysteryskype – set up a skype date with an unknown country! Find out more here

 

March 15

Digital Literacy – getting the experience.

Following on from this post, we next look at how we actually integrate ‘digital literacy’.

As discussed, the skills of digital literacy are tough to pin down precisely, but we are able to think roughly about what skills, concepts and experience we want our pupils to experience. Ask yourself some key questions:

Does the school model effective use of social media?

Is there an esafety policy which incorporates pupil voice and has some pupil led elements?

Is it integrated into the curriculum, through computing led topics?

Do teachers model the skills they expect children to be able to use, for example searching, creating, using the internet safely?

Are there any whole school projects or activities which link effectively to Digital Literacy?

Let’s take three concepts and look at what we can practically do in schools.

Keeping Safe Online

Probably the easiest just because there are so many resources out there. As a school you need to ensure your staff are up to date with issues, build in regular training and share resources frequently. This site, from e-safety adviser is choc full of recent updates and a newsletter which can be shared with staff and parents alike. You can also use various dates in the year to highlight issues, such as Internet Safety Day.

In the classroom, e-safety needs to be covered regularly, I would advise a refresh with each new topic, especially if you asking the children to research and use the internet. Ensure children are happy with the language used to describe internet safety, who they can talk to and what happens (as a school) if something that they are uncomfortable with takes place. Key discussion questions, age appropiate, are helpful and can be a shared staff discussion. Displays, posters and regular discussion are key.

More information, and a year by year breakdown can be found here: Curriculum information here.

 

Communication

The concept of ‘communicating responsibly, competently, confidently and creatively’ is probably the hardest one to quantify. As a school this needs to be modelled, to pupils and parents. Teachers need to ensure they too are able to navigate this and mdoel these skills. Whilst you may not be ready for class blogging projects or whole school email just yet there are lots of ideas that can give pupils these experiences.

  • Simple commenting and sharing writing can be done a number of sites which don’t require whole school log in Lend Me Your Literacy, 100 Word Challenge. Other sites encourage the sharing of ideas and resources, such as the NRich Maths Site
  • It doesn’t always have to be about writing and commenting. Skype is the perfect example of communicating digitally, the education site is a great way of getting started.
  • Communciating within the school is also a good way of modelling skills. Beyond whole school projects such as Google Drive, or a VLE, you can also ask children to collaborate on shared projects in the classroom: Haiku Decks, Padlets, Scratch – all allow a class to register and then to share the outcomes.

 

Information

Accessing information online can be a minefield – and the lessons of old where resesarched and made notes need to be fine tuned to ensure that they fully understand what they are doing. Again, modelling this is key. From early on the teacher needs to be using search engines, looking at specific sites and modelling how to navigate the huge quantity of information which can be found.

This is very much linked to how networks and the internet work, which is a curriculum aim, and there are a number of resources out there. The BBC are currently putting lots of effort into this, and have some great resources. Building this into a fun topic is one of my next jobs…

Remember as well that it should not always be about ‘googling’ information. Finding different opinions, sharing what they find and examining different opinions are all key to this aspect of digital literacy. Using apps for informatiom finding, and digital books is also important – representing information in different ways!

 

Other resources:

Simon Haughton’s site is choc full of ideas and incredibly practical resources for all aspects of computing.

The Literacy Shed, and other Sheds! Perfect for digital media, inspiration and information.

 

December 30

Catch up on Coding

An inset plan for Primary Schools….

Coding has now been in Primary Schools for a term. This post looks at how you could spend an hour or so reviewing teacher resources and ideas which for teachers to check their knowledge.

Key Resources:

The Computing At School Progression Chart can be found here.

Somerset Authority site here has great links and ideas.

Specific language use for Scratch from Somerset

Planning and progression support from Simon Haughton’s website

A really easy to read mini-book by Simon Haughton.

Digital Storytelling – royalty free resources and other ideas here.

Ideas, map packs and resources for beebots here.

Barefoot Computing – excellent resources and ideas here

eyfs2

 

select, use and combine a variety of software (including internet services) on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information

Begin with a look at progression – specific focus on language and vocabulary.

Starting with EYFS: – Key ideas here revolve around providing opportunities to talk about technology- using age appropriate vocabulary and language.
Some ideas are here

There is also a consideration about language and vocabulary for teacher knowledge- this site here is a great source of information.

2. Teacher knowledge – where to start! What is coding?
This is a good time to consider what coding actually is – and how much we, as teachers, are confident with the teaching of it. Good online starter activities can be found here – at code.org. A discussion around why we are teaching coding would be useful – will it support other areas of the school curriculum? Are we teaching discreet units- or should it feed into other areas of the curriculum? Much of this will be school specific, but there are some obvious links…

It is also important here to stress that we need to model the good use of technology as well. Consider how often we use technology as part of our professional and personal life. Do the pupils in your class see this? Have you used apps such as Skype to connect your classrooms? Started emailing with other schools? Collected ideas and thoughts with a service such as Padlet? These type of activities are super easy – but model how technology can be used to support learning.

3. Linking our curriculum with Scratch, and Espresso Coding – iPad apps and on paper!
Quizzes
Digital Storytelling
Beebots – a huge fan of bee bots  – they can be used for maths, literacy and exploratory activities. (Video from TTS)


Lego

Other areas to look at – how the internet works:

E-Safety:

Download (PDF, 619KB)

4. Taking it further….

Unit plans: Consider how specific areas of your curriculum can be used to teach the computing curriculum. There are many great ideas in the resources (above) – and an example from a previous year (below)

Download (DOCX, 47KB)

wpid-Photo-20140808121855.jpg

 

Subject Coordinators, or particularly interested teachers may wish to take on further study for coding – Code Avengers offers free introductory courses. Future Learns excellent MOOCS also offer a free teach computing course. 




How is the computing curriculum settling in at your school? We would love to hear!

 

 

 

 

September 6

Classroom Collaboration – what you can try straight away!

Classroom collaboration was cited as one of the key reasons to begin using technology in the classroom in a recent (and quick) question and answer session….

There are many, many ways to get your pupils to collaborate more, and obviously using tech is only one strand of this. From role play, drama, team games and problem solving; once you get your pupils used to the different roles and the collaborative techniques of listening and working together it all becomes so much easier. How then can digital technology help?

An incredibly effective way to get collaboration is through a classroom (or school) blog. If the school is reluctant to get involved with this there are plenty of ways that you, as a class teacher, could get involved. It is very simple to start a blog through a free service such as blogger – and then use it in class to get children to collaborate on ideas such as storytelling or problem solving. Children can add their contributions in the classroom.

Give a voice…

A side effect of collaboration is that there will always be some children that are not heard, or who dot get to contribute. Programmes which allow for pupils to get involved without standing up in front of their classmates, or even saying anything, can be useful.

images
This example from educationismylife.com .

A simple idea is Padlet – and I’ve mentioned this lots on the site already – Padlet allows you to create a very quick whiteboard space which can be added to by clicking. You could set up a Padlet during a lesson with a question -and leave it on the computer for them to contribute to. For example – different ways to start a story, or solutions to maths questions. Using that Padlet’s code they can also contribute from home or through a different device in the classroom. I have already shared several examples of this – this post here looks at the use of Padlet for questioning.  However it has many uses – and even more so if you have a classroom blog which can be accessed from home-  groups can work on Padlets for different concepts, science planning and questioning for example. You can even password protect the Padlet so only children from your class can contribute.  The use is limitless – and a great way to get contributions from your pupils.

Popplet is another collaborative tool – allowing the group discussions to be contributed to, and accessed by anyone with the code for that popplet. It is also an app, and a website -so again if you have more devices in class the children can contribute as they see fit. I have used this versatile tool when story planning, allowing children to take their story off in different branches whilst we watched on the whiteboard. Again – I have written about Popplet before – and their are many examples of it’s use to be found!

Be creative…

More creative forms of collaboration were also mentioned by those advocates of technology in the classroom – a group working together to create something. iPads and tablet devices work brilliantly for this kind of thing – whether working together around one device or sharing and adding to their work. Obvious contendors for the iPad are Book Creator, Garage Band and Explain Everything. Garage Band is a particularly powerful tool – for example creating a radio advertisment with voice and music can be a powerful group task and the results using this app will sound impressive,

image

These apps are all incredibly easy to get started with and easily share the work within the tablet systems. But computers and laptops can be just as good for collaboration: Google Drive is another great way for pupils to contribute – registering your class as a user (either with a class email, or a temporary made up one) and when the pupils log in they can all share work and contribute to it. Of course, if the infrastructure is there you could register indiviuals in order to better control their work. This presentation has lots of ways to get you started!

Online apps such as Scratch also allow for collaboration – saving the class work, (or your example) on there lets the children take what you have created and then ‘tinker’ – indeed improving and debugging forms part of the KS2 computing curriculum anyway and Scratch is a perfect way of doing that.

General Tips

Just getting started with collaboraton can be tough in a primary classroom – it will only work if children are aware of the point of the collaboration and the behaviours expected!

  • Begin by giving roles – for example within a science lesson you might have a ‘recorder’ ‘analyst’ ‘equipment manager.
  • Demonstrate and be a role model for how you expect the groups to work -e.g. you might have to take part as a member of a group and then refer to the class for solutions when problems arise. An example might be a maths puzzle – one person may be the ‘accuracy checker’ – and then ask teh class what happens if you find a mistake? What should you do?
  • In the beginning have a tight hold on the technology – for example a blog where each group is to record their end result – model how you expect it to be used.
  • Then ‘loosen up’ – once the children are aware of the different tools at their disposal let them choose – for example how they present their art project is up to them – and the key is that they don’t have to make use of any digital technology at all!

 

I hope this helps – other common uses for technology came out of the twitter chat, and I’ll explore those later! Thanks for reading – feel free to comment!