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I was having a play in PowerPoint this morning (like you do) and stumbled upon the fact that you can change the dimensions of slides so that they are A4-sized.
Already being a fan of using placeholders (the proper name for a content box) to enable children to easily and neatly insert text and images into pre-defined positions on a slide, I suddenly had the idea that you use these on an A4-sized slide to allow children to also easily create perfectly-sized pieces of work for printing out.
It just requires just a little setup prior to use however to customise it the particular needs of the activity:
The only thing to be aware of when using this template with the children is that if you are using the 2003 version of the software, it can be tricky to change the photographs after they have been inserted (unless you do it immediately using 'undo') so I would get the children to do this bit carefully first so that they don't need to worry about changing it later on. More recent versions of PowerPoint let you just right-click on a picture and choose 'Change picture...' so this isn't a problem any more.
One final thing to mention is that because this template is made in PowerPoint, you can easily save the finished work/slides as PNG image files when doing 'Save As..' - this is espescially useful if (like me) you want to bulk-upload examples of work for showcasing on a website/blog using services like PhotoPeach or Shape Collage.
I hope you find this template useful and as per usual, please do write me a comment underneath to let me know what you think of it!
Over the past few months, I've started to enjoy designing my own borders for displays in the ICT suite and find them much more attractive to put up than border roll.
Different people probably have different ways of making display borders, but I find using Microsoft Word to be the easiest method.
You can download the template I've created to make them by clicking here - it allows you to print off two sections of a repeated border pattern onto a sheet of A4.
To design the border, all I do is fill the big background rectangle in with a colour (or fill effect) and insert four clip art images on top - these can either be the same or different depending on how I feel. You can download some good technology-themed clip art on the Communication 4 All website by clicking here. Two tricks I use here are to space the images out with the first image touching the left edge of the border section (enabling me to clearly see where and how wide the four gaps need to be) and to change the line colour of the border edge to a colour similar to the background colour (so that traces of them don't show when I cut the border out with scissors/a guilotine).
It's important you check how many border sections you need to print off and make. The display boards in my ICT suite are square-shaped and need three and three-quarter border sections for each side, although I normally print out an extra couple just in case I make a mistake with the cutting out or in case the laminator doesn't laminate properly.
Please do let me know if you've found these instructions helpful!
Here's a nice one-off ICT lesson which I was inspired to do by @chrisleach78.
As well as teaching the children how to enter suitable search terms into an Internet search engine (I encourage them to use 2 or 3 key words) and how to only click on hits thatlook useful (by examining their: title, blurb and author, for instance), I also think that it's important to teach them the value of cross-referencing information found on different websites to help check the likelihood of its validity/accuracy.
To give them some practice at doing this, I made up an activity document in Word that contained several questions about their current class topic (Judaism) for them to research the answers to on the web (using the child-friendly Google Safe Search) and asked them to copy and paste the URLs (aka web addresses) of two websites that they had found for each question which contained the same answer on.
They seemed to respond well to this and worked their way through the questions at a good pace quite independently - I gave them five straightforward questions which just required a one-sentence answer, followed by a final question which was a little more open-ended and required a two/three sentence answer.
To make sure that they didn't just copy and paste the question into the search box and to ensure that when the pasted the possibly long URLs onto the page they automatically appeared in a smaller-sized font, I used the form building tools in Word to specify where I wanted them to type (and in what: size, colour and font style) and locked the document down to prevent them changing things I didn't want them to.
Whilst it might not look the most exciting of lessons, the children seemed to enjoy doing it and it is definitely one which taught them a valuable Internet researching skill whilst at the same time enabled them to hopefully develop a greater understanding of their class topic.
As a final point, I ended the lesson by asking them a question - Why might lots of websites contain silly/inaccurate information on 1st April and therefore make cross-referencing facts a little harder? The answer of course is because it's April Fool's Day and many websites (including the often-reliable BBC News site) put a daft article online as a joke so you need to be a little more cautious on that day with what you believe you have found out!
At the start of last year, 2Simple launched a new program called 2Create a Superstory - a superb piece of software for creating interactive books with. Being really keen to use it in the classroom as soon as I could, one of the first projects I did with it was to spend four weeks with Year 2 creating multimedia stories. The idea was to base the work around the literacy unit 'Narrative Unit 2 – Traditional stories' whereby children had to write an alternative retelling of a traditional story. In theory this sounded like a really good idea, but being the first time I'd done it, it did have a few faults on reflection - notably: children found typing the name Little Red Riding Hood (the story which they based their work on) an absolute pain (as it contains four words with four capital letters!!!), some children failed to finish the work (as they struggled to think up imaginative ideas on-the-spot in their short ICT sessions) and many children found illustrating their work with animating characters too complicated to achieve successfully on their own.
This year, I therefore decided to address these issues by making a few changes.
For starters, I chose to spend an extra three weeks on the project this time to allow the children to spend three weeks working on typing three pages of their story (the: beginning, middle and end), three weeks illustrating them and then a final week finishing off/sharing them with their friends.
As my timetable involves me working with the Year 2 class in three mixed-ability groups lasting about 35 minutes each, I have to be quite enthusiastic when teaching to ensure that everyone works at a good pace and doesn't waste any time dawdling - especially if you consider that 5 minutes is lost due to swapping over and at least another 5 through saving work at the end. One of the biggest faults last time was the fact that because each child made up their own story, it meant that they all typed it up at different speeds and I really struggled to help them each illustrate it effectively in this time limit. To solve these problems, I therefore chose to give the children some restrictions with what they could write about this year (so that I could give them appropriate clip art easily enough later on to illustrate it with) and provided them with some prompt sheets to help give them ideas about what to type about. Thirty minutes isn't long to tell children: what you want them to do, get them to think up creative ideas (with restrictions) and to then ensure that type up them accurately, so giving them support in this way seemed to work well as it allowed them to spend their ICT lesson concentrating more on their typing rather than wasting it trying to think up ideas from scratch.
I also decided this year to change the traditional story they were retelling to be Jack and the Beanstalk (as I think it's easier to add a twist to since you just have to change what's at the top of the beanstalk) and let them choose the name of their main character (so I wouldn't get bamboozled by helping children type the ridiculously long name of Little Red Riding Hood).
For the second half of the unit where they had to illustrate their story, I opted this year to do the lessons step-by-step with the children to make sure that they all understood the different options available in the software - including how to insert sound effects and how to use the animation timeline properly to carefully sequence events on each page. Whilst each story required a different collection of characters which all said different things, since they all followed the same general narrative journeys (e.g. the main character meets a baddy who threatens them with something bad) I could demonstrate to them how to apply an animation effect before letting them copy it and tweak it to their own individual requirements independently.
You can download all the clip art they used here - Download Clip Art.
The finished story books they made can be viewed on my school website by clicking here. I think that they worked out a lot better than last year - not only because every child completed them, but also because I felt I had learnt how to support them more effectively this time around to ensure that they produced story books of a good enough standard within the restraints of the time available. When they played their stories they all seemed really impressed and pleased with what they had managed to create and seemed eager to want to use the software again in future.
It was nice to meet up with lots of TeachMeet 'newbies' this time - as well as the regulars too. The presentations all (with the exception of one <cough>) shared some fantastic, inspiring ideas to take back into classrooms to help improve teaching and learning, as well as make it more 'fun'. They included:
I talked about my Primary History and Infant Encylopedia websites as places where children can safely go to find out information on the Internet, as well as doing a quick demonstration of the free apptivities available on the Purple Mash website. I must thank everyone who took the time to tweet or talk to me at the end to thank me for creating the history and encyclopedia websites - I really do like hearing about how other people have used them successfully in their schools.
Thanks must also go to all the sponsors who very kindly supported the event to help make things run smoothly and to provide: food, drinks and competition prizes for the attendees. Even though they didn't present and only displayed a few unobtrusive adverts in the room, their contributions shouldn't go unnoticed. They all recognised the real nature of what 'TeachMeet' is about and their valued role is appreciated.
I look forward to attending my next TeachMeet Manchester hopefully in the not-too-distant future!
The final lesson I do on Logo is always my favourite one - I teach the children how to program the on-screen 'robot' to draw a pretty picture of a flower.
The commands they need to enter are fairly straightforward (in that they are all ones which have been encountered before), so the activity also serves well as an opportunity to recap on/consolidate the Logo programming skills I've covered with them.
I start by asking them to create two procedures - one which draws a square (to be used in the flower head) and one which draws a leaf (which is basically 2 quarter circles). I prompt them to test that they both work to ensure they correct any mistakes early on. Every year it's a guarantee that several children will need to edit their work here as Logo is very particular about syntax - it definitely doesn't like that missing space or square bracket at the end!
Next, I put up on the IWB the commands they need enter to draw the flower, which involves calling the two procedures just made. We discuss as a class why each line of command(s) is required so that everyone understands why it is necessary to put each instruction in.
Once they've successfully drawn one simple flower, I then allow them to spend the rest of the lesson drawing other flowers which look more attractive and encourage them to save their designs by going to 'Bitmap' > 'Save As...' from the menu bar at the top of the program. Things which they like doing to improve the appearance of their flowers:
The flower pictures which they produce look amazing each year and they really enjoy experimenting to see what different, creative designs they can each produce.
Logo is a fantastic program for teaching programming skills in my opinion. Even in this modern age, the children still love trying to solve the challenges it gives them and like seeing the effects of executing (running) the different commands they enter. Do give it a go with your class - your children will definitely thank you for it!
If you've not already see the blogging work that is going on at Heathfield Primary School in Bolton to improve children's writing standards, then all I can say is that it's outstanding. Their achievements were recognised at the start of this week by being broadcast both nationally on BBC Breakfast and Radio Five Live and regionally on BBC North West Today.
(I just love the wonderful comment Alice ends it with - "It is the best day of my life.")
Embed code for those who want it:
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I try to cover a wide variety of ICT: tools, programs and devices in my EYFS activities to help children appreciate its many uses/applications and to get them enthusiastic about using it to support their learning across many different areas.
One lesson which I do each year involves giving them a 'taster' of what the software 2Music Toolkit offers. This is best described as being a suite of programs for composing music on the computer, with each one varying in the amount of functionality it provides and thus enabling more simple/complex melodies to be produced. For this reception lesson, however, I just focus on 2Beat and 2Explore - possibly the two easiest programs available in the collection.
Being reception-aged children, I don't tend to spend too long stressing on the value of creating pleasing melodies - I just try to encourage them to think about the sequence (order) they are playing their instruments in and try to prompt them into making melodies which contain repeated elements in a pattern.
It's always a lovely lesson to do in my opinion as it lets the children be musically creative whilst at the same time gives them a little independence in learning a new user interface (watching the child who discovers how to change the tempo of their composition in 2Beat show it to their friends is nice to watch, as are those children who choose to tap/clap along to their work to keep a rhythm). Just look at these photos on my school website and you can clearly see the children enjoying themselves composing and sharing their melodies with each other. Making music using ICT is great fun!
Blackpool is becoming a dab-hand now at running TeachMeets, with their fourth event having taken place tonight at Anchorsholme Primary School. Once again it is was brilliantly organised by @mister_jim and @tomsale and kindly sponsored by Vital (who provided a lovely buffet), Scholastic (who provided a competition prize) and BrainPop UK (who made the traditional introduction video to show at the start). It was great to see around 100 enthusiastic people attend and the evening flowed at a good pace - with everyone who wished getting their chance to present for their 7 minutes allowing proceedings to finish on-time (espescially helpful if you had travelled a long way from outside the authority to get there).
For those who missed it, here's a quick summary of tonight's talks:
Having looked last time at ways to keep your personal information secret from strangers on the Internet who might lie about who they, for the second e-safety session, I therefore do some work with the children on other hazards which they might encounter when online.
I started with a simple matching activity in this PowerPoint file I made, where the children just had to drag-and-drop the definitions for: spam, cyber-bullying and virus so that they are alongside the relevant words. This ensured that they all clearly understood the correct meanings of the names given to different hazards and what they were.
Next I asked them to identify the safest action to take to four different potentially dangerous situations (picking from one of two options) and got them to type a sentence explaining why they believed it to be the safest thing to do. We discussed everyone's thoughts and responses together as a class after they had been given some time to do it independently and I found that this worked well as it taught them a range of strategies to use like:
Having done this, I then let them explore the fabulous Cyber Cafe website from CEOP which has been specifically designed to help them learn how to keep safe when using different types of technologies, reinforcing all the things we've just covered in a more interactive way. It is split up into various sections, with each one containing an activity where they must make the right decisions about how to deal with potentially risky/dangerous/upsetting situations (e.g. cyber-bullying through mobile text messages) as they click through it. I especially like the 'personal profile' section on this which teaches them that whilst your address is personal information, your town name isn't (as thousands of people live in it so it would be hard to identify you amongst them) - indeed, being aware of this information about other people can be interesting and helpful if they live in a different country where a time difference is involved.
Finally, we finished with a short discussion on the reasons why you should only communicate and join age-appropriate websites, highlighting points such as: you won't be breaking the terms and conditions of the site by lying (I stress this word) about your age, there will be greater safeguards in place to ensure that you don't become the victim of cyber-bullying attacks and the material on them is going to be more appropriate for your age (e.g. not contain explicit/violent images which could offend/upset you).
I'm going to admit that the fourth lesson I do on LOGO is complicated - the understanding of the programming commands that is required is of a high level and any mistake made (even the tiniest one) will result in either commands not being executed properly or error messages popping up on screen. It is, however, a lesson which the children rose to the challenge of today and which they were extremely impressed with when they saw what on-screen patterns they had managed to produce by its end. The age-old saying "you only get out what you put in" was certainly true today!
Last time, I showed the children how to use the REPEAT command to draw regular polygons and stars so the natural progression was therefore to teach them how to create procedures this time. I explained a procedure as simply being a set of commands which are given a name, which when typed are run (done/executed).
I began by asking them to follow my demonstration on how to create a procedure which draws a triangle when it is called. This is done by going to File > Edit, typing in the name of the procedure (I opted for 'tri' as it requires less typing than 'triangle'!) and then entering the desired commands.
Having done this, I then asked them to copy a series of commands from the board which calls the procedure to create different effects on screen:
This helped them appreciate the main advantage of creating procedures is that you don't have to do as much typing later on when using it. I allowed the more confident children to use the setpc and pu/pd commands they were already familiar with to draw patterns of different colours on the screen at once.
The next procedure I asked the children to create was one which drew a square shape. In this though, the forward movement value is replaced with :length - this is an example of a variable (a number which can be changed) and allows you to draw a square with sides of any length that you specify (unlike the triangle one which only draws a triangle with sides of 40 length).
Again, having done this, I then asked them to copy commands off the board which call the procedure to see what effect specifying the shape's length in the calling has (the technical term for this being "passing data through parameters").
To push the more able children, I allowed them to experiment changing the turning angle from 6 to create different effects and taught them how to use setpensize [5 5] (where both numbers have to be identical and where the bigger the number the thicker the line which is drawn).
As in previous sessions, the children all got really excited (and I do mean this) by seeing what lovely patterns they could produced by calling the square-making procedure and loved exploring changing the pen color and thickness.
If you look closely at the content in the lesson it does look hard, but if you stand back and look at what the children actually have to do (mostly just copying and exploring changing colours etc.) it is quite straightforward for them to achieve. Need I say more than quote this comment a girl put on my school website just after doing it - "download logo its free and easy also theres one big AND,and that's massive and is ITS REALLY FUN SOOOO download it".
In upper KS2 I teach two e-safety lessons with year 5 to help them develop an awareness of the range of risks associated with different using digital communications and to teach them the safest strategies for dealing with them.
During the first lesson, I ask them to complete a PowerPoint activity file (downloadable from here) that I've made which asks them to:
I always think that its a fine line between making children aware of e-safety issues whilst at the same time not scaring them too much about the dangers that are out there I find. This lesson works well though as it gives them the right balance I find between learning the risks associated with using digital communication tools whilst at the same time teaching them that they can be managed using a variety of methods to help minimize them.
Having drawn regular shapes last time, I begin the third lesson by asking the children if they spotted a pattern whilst entering their commands. This then leads nicely on introducing the REPEAT command to them as a way of running the same set of instructions several times automatically - technically known as iteration.
So that they have lots of practice doing this, I keep the work fairly straightforward - just asking them to use the REPEAT command to draw the same shapes as last time (but a lot quicker!) and to draw some regularly-shaped stars with different numbers of 'points' on too. This seems to work really well as it gives everyone the opportunity to consolidate their programming skills independently whilst also gives the more confident children some time to work on developing their use of more challenging commands - such as to use pu/pd to draw multiple shapes on screen at once, setpc to set the pen colour and setfloodcolor/fill to colour in shapes.
It's always amazing to see how much children love solving programming problems and it was espescially nice this year to see some children even opt to try and draw their own regular shapes that I'd not even shown them (e.g. decagons and dodecagons)!
To finish the lesson off, I lastly asked them to have a go at predicting what shapes these commands will produce on screen (a circle and semi-circle) to get them thinking about the degrees in a circle - something which will be built on in a couple of weeks.