For anybody considering introducing https://www.showbie.com/ in their school, here is a collection of resources that I've created that you might find helpful/useful:
For anybody considering introducing https://www.showbie.com/ in their school, here is a collection of resources that I've created that you might find helpful/useful:
Over the years I’ve followed a number of primary school projects online in which children are given the opportunity to lead their own pathways in what they learn during lessons, focusing on developing skills through topics that interest them. These include:
Inspired by this work, I’ve attempted to implement a similar approach on a couple of occasions in my ICT/Computing lessons and thought I’d share some of my evaluations on their impact with you.
The first – and probably most important – decision which I had to make was when exactly to run the projects. Whilst I eventually opted to do them with Years 4 and 6 once I had covered all my essential skills lessons, it is worth noting that given a reasonable amount of planning there is no practical reason why they couldn’t be done with any year group when you consider the amount of child-led, independent learning that goes on in EYFS settings.
The second decision to make involved how much freedom I was going to give the children in the topics they worked on and with the two classes I actually ended up using two different methods – with one I felt that I gave them too much independence as the quality of their final, finished pieces of work suffered with me not being able to effectively support every child each doing completely different tasks; with the other I felt that their understanding of how to implement skills suffered as I gave them too much guidance from which many just copied.
The third decision that I needed to consider was how the project work was going to be presented to the children. In comparison, the two different methods I used both worked reasonably well – one involved the children being given a grid of generic tasks from which they had to select which to do (e.g. ‘Use Pic Collage to create a collage of photos of a place or country.’ ‘Use Keynote to create an animated scene using build in and build out events.’); the other involved children being given a booklet of tasks that got progressively more challenging as they worked through it.
For anyone wishing to implement independent projects in their classroom, I would therefore make these recommendations to make the lessons as successful as possible:
I hope these suggestions are helpful and please do let me know if you've found any of them helpful.
These are all the resources I use in my lessons - you are FREE to share them with your children and colleagues:
If you and your children have found my resources helpful, please leave me a comment underneath!
The 'flipped classroom' approach to teaching and learning is one that I've been aware of for quite a while (having first spotted in this blog post by @bradflickinger in 2011) but I've always just filed it away, whenever it has come up, as something that is only really appropriate and useful in secondary school environments with highly motivated students.
Its popularity appears to have grown and grown in recent years, however, and this weekend at BETT I finally found a teacher (@chriswaterworth) in the UK who has implemented it in their primary school with great success - see their presentation:
As you can see, flipping a classroom doesn't remove the teacher fully from the learning process but instead changes their role and the structure of their lessons to have greater impact upon their children's learning. In simple terms, the children access some materials online at home prior to a lesson (pre-reading if you like) and possibly do a short challenge or activity related to it. The teacher can then monitor the results, thus enabling them to focus more time in the subsequent lesson to: discussing the topic, addressing any misconceptions or problems and applying skills to meaningful contexts (e.g. word problems in maths or investigations in science).
The homework tasks and activities - especially with younger children - shouldn't be too long or challenging, from what I can gather. They shouldn't take long to create and generate little marking, but should provide a quick snapshot of who has completed some pre-lesson work and how well (at a basic level) they seemed to have understood it.
Examples of pre-lesson tasks that I think children could be made to easily complete include:
Examples of simple online assessment activities which could be set to monitor children's completion of the tasks and their understanding of them (e.g. using the free Edmodo website that I absolutely love) could include:
From my reading, teachers who've had success with flipped learning have done so not because they have dictated that children must do the pre-lesson 'homework' but because they have instead challenged the children to do the work beforehand and the children - being naturally keen to: learn, be curious and want to impress their teacher - have chosen themselves to do it. The popularity of doing the work at home has then naturally grown as the children want to keep up with their peers and appreciate the value in being given much more target support in lesson times.
Have you used flipped learning in your classroom? I'd love to read any examples of other primary schools where it has been successful in!
I regularly get asked if I have any documents to show progression across the different year groups that I teach primary computing to. My answer is that I do have documents but that they aren't presented as skills progression grids which I think many people would expect.
Since the subject is constantly evolving - due to new apps/programs being released and emerging technologies becoming more popular - I would find it extremely hard to set down a definitive list of computing skills that children should learn, moreover assign them to specific year groups. Instead, each year group has a list of lessons that I teach to them, with each list being a working document that I'm forever tweaking, changing and modifying to take into account of:
This method works extremely well because it enables me to quickly see how much time I have to teach each year group and arrange lessons around current events and topics where possible. It also lets me be very flexible with my curriculum: easily removing old software/hardware references when needed and effortlessly slotting in new lessons where I feel they can be best placed (and indeed repeat them with other year groups too so that they don't miss out).
These documents essentially act as my long term planning for each academic year because they outline what I need to teach on a week-by-week basis and clearly allow me to see how I cover everything that I both am required and want to teach the children.
When writing these long term plans, I try to:
Here are links to my ever-updating primary computing long term plans for 2014-15 (note that the weeks in each term and the marked events are specific to my school and will likely be different for you):
Also, here is a link to blog posts of all the primary computing lessons that I've taught at my school, including LI slides and examples of the children's work - http://www.parkfieldprimary.com/parkfield/computing/.
Please let me know if you find them helpful - I really do appreciate comments from people who've been inspired by them!
Here are some of my lesson resources that you can you use to help teach the theory requirements of the new computing curriculum:
A few months ago I read this blog post aboud building a 'craft computer' with children and was very inspired by the idea. I thought the activity sounded so simple yet so effective - stick different computer components onto a net of a cube and then construct a 3D paper computer by building sticking it together. Something a bit different and quite a fun way to teach what could potentially be a boring theory lesson.
Like most things I read online, the idea stewed in my head for a long time as I thought about how I could adapt it to work in a whole class situation - there is no way I am going to ask lots of young children to do lots of cutting out since I personally feel that it would take up too much valuable lesson time. The solution which I came up with - after much thinking and building several prototypes myself - was basically a photocopied picture of an iPad onto which children could then draw the different components which make up the computer system behind it.
To make the paper iPad look realistic, I have created one that can be printed onto two sides of an A4 sheet - the front being a picture of an iPad and the back being a simplified representation of the motherboard, with several blank spaces into which children can add the components. Since components are getting increasingly smaller over time, I've opted to enlarge some of them just to make the task a bit easier for the children. I've also chosen to only leave spaces for what I consider to be the major components whose funciton can be quite easily explained - the batteries, the lens, the storage, the memory, the processor and the WiFi card.
I've not actually used this resource in a lesson yet but I thought I'd blog the idea just in case somebody wanted to try it out and give me some feedback. My plan at the moment is to use in to two different ways:
In my head, both lessons appear to 'work' and I can imagine the children enjoying them so if you do want to try either of them with your class, I'd really appreciate your comments!
UPDATE MARCH 2014 - Having taught both lessons this half-term, I want to let you know that they worked BRILLIANTLY and all the children really, really enjoyed them.
Here are some links to share with your children to help them learn about Nelson Mandela's life and the legacy he leaves behind in South Africa:
In the new computing curriculum for KS2, schools will be required to teach pupils how to:
Although these computing topics may initially sound quite challenging, I've created some resources for them which are translated into child-friendly language (suitable for your average 7-11 year-old) to help you cover the theory (knowledge and understanding) behind them in just a few lessons, freeing you up time to do more practical lessons actually putting the skills into practice (e.g. researching the history of computing using this writing frame or debugging Scratch or Python programs):
I've just finished creating a 10-page children's guide to programming in Python, in readiness for the introduction of the new primary computing curriculum in 2014. It has been tested using the Python 3.0 for iOS app (I chose this particular iOS app simply because it was the cheapest at the time I downloaded it).
Please let me know how you get on using it as I would really value your feedback on how child-friendly it is (indeed a lot of it is adapted from my old A Level computing notes)!
I've explored and tried out several painting apps on the iPads in school over the past year but the best one has clearly been Drawing Pad. It has just the right amount of tools for children to use and presents them using an realistic-looking (and therefore intuitive-to-use) graphical interface.
Children can use the touch of their finger to make marks with virtual: pencils, colouring pencils, felt tips, poster paints, wax crayons and chalk. Different paper types, stamps and picture stickers are also available. The most recent update to the app now allow text labels to be added (great for putting names onto work!) and custom brush styles/colours to be chosen, if desired.
I've used the app with great success to a wide age range of children and they've all loved the creative possibilities it offers and been able to independently improve their digital painting skills to a level appropriate to them.
Lots of painting apps are either too simple and don't offer many ways for children to really develop their skills or are too complicated and have interfaces which aren't really child-friendly - Drawing Pad strikes the right balance in my opinion and I highly recommend you download it so you can share it with your class!
Here's a brand new website that I finished creating this week that I'm sure you'll want to share with your colleagues, children and parents:
Made by me, my deputy head @mrmkemp and a few Year 6 children from my school, Parkfield Primary School, it contains a series of maths tutorial videos explaining how to progress and improve doing: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division calculations.
The videos have been recorded using the Educreations app on an iPad - they can be viewed via Flash on a PC or opened up in the free Educreations app on an iPad (I'm led to believe that an iPhone/iPod Touch version is coming soon).
You can use the website to ensure that there is a consistent approach to teaching calculations at your school and use it in lessons as a tool for children to independently access for support, such as when completing a calculations sheet like this:
I hope you find this site useful!
You've probably heard of a few schools that have their own in-school radio shows which are broadcast from their own miniature recording studios and been envious of their achievements - well I now reckon that you can create something similar in your own school which is just as good but costs just a fraction of the price...
An audio podcast is basically a short audio recording which is shared over the Internet, published as part of a series of similiar episodes often at regular intervals. Whilst radio shows have to be broadcast and listened to live, audio podcasts can be downloaded to listen to by children at a time of their choosing thus giving them a much wider audience reach.
A weekly school podcast doesn't have to be particularly long (just a few minutes will do) and the episodes could even all have a similar running order of content, such as:
The key is designing a show which is so easy to create for each podcast that you could hand the running of it over to a group of able children, assigning roles to different members of a 'podcast team', such as:
Script writing could be done as a collaborative effort between different members of the team to ensure that they all have direct input into the final show. Unlike producing a school newspaper which: costs money to print, takes quite a while to design well and is limited in size by the paper type, producing a weekly podcast: has no running costs, is extremely easy for children to produce (since they just have to read out sentences from a script) and isn't limited in size (since audio could be recorded for any length of time, within reason). Having so few restrictions, I really believe that children could produce their own regular audio podcast much more independently than with a printed newspaper. Watch this example of Bethke Elementary School in the USA to see a podcasting team in action for yourself:
Although they obviously have a big set up with microphones etc., you could quite easily record and publish your own podcast online using just with an iPad/iPod Touch and by sitting in a quiet room. The app I would recommend for doing this is Voice Recorder Pro app because it: is free, has a simple trimming tool to cut-out the start/end of the recording with (so it is nice and clean) and offers a range of sharing options for outputting the podcast with.
You could even play in sound: cues, jingles or effects from another device whilst recording using the My Custom Soundboard app (69p) too.
How you choose to share your podcast is up to you, but the way that I'm thinking would work best at the moment is: converting the recording into a .mp3 file, opening it up in the Edmodo app's library and then attaching it to a new post to share with a 'podcast' group which children can join. I like this method because it: is free, has no limitations (e.g. upload limits), promotes technology which children are already familiar with, encourages online discussion through writing replies underneath and creates an RSS feed automatically on the public page (which you could even set social media services to auto-post updates from).
Setting up a school podcast could really have a big impact in a school because it: encourages children to use technology, gives extra responsiblities to a group of more able children, allows regular prasising of children's achievements and is accessible to everyone who can listen well (unlike a newspaper which would likely be written by a high-attaining child at a reading level above most other younger children in the school).
How would you set up a weekly podcast at your school?
I wanted to get Year 1 and Year 2 children to create their own multimedia story books on the iPads. Although this would seem like a fairly straightforward aim, the amount of preparation that I ended up doing to ensure that the children were given an appropriate level of challenge and the finished books were all of a high quality was quite a bit so I felt that I should blog about it.
The most child-friendly e-book authoring app available for iPads is Book Creator so this naturally felt like the most appropriate app to teach the children. What's nice about it is that it allow you to create a fixed-layout book (some e-book authoring apps don't have this option) and offers just the right amount of formatting tools so as to not be too confusing for young children.
Since I have 30 minutes a week to teach ICT to: a Year 1 group, a mixed Year 1 and 2 group and Year 2 group as part of my school's 'Fabulous Friday' afternoons in which the children carousel around different subjects, it was clear that the whole project would have to be broken down into small chunks that were each self-contained lessons. These were:
I did think about swapping the order around slightly to do all the typing lessons first then the painting lessons but felt that spreading them out would make the project more interesting and likely consolidate skills more since things would be re-visited over a longer period of time.
For the three 'typing the story' lessons I gave the children prompt sheets from which they could copy-type their stories from. I chose to do this because there is limited lesson time to get a group of 20 children to each come up with a creative idea and the focus needed to be on ICT skills not literacy skills. To allow them some creativity and ensure they all typed slightly different stories though, I created different story outlines for each group:
In the prompt sheets, I also gave them lots of open-ended parts in which they could insert their own vocabulary (e.g. adjectives) and produced two or three different sheets with varying amounts of sentences on for each group (so the more confident typists had more to type and were challenged to include a greater range of punctuation which they would have to find on the keyboard). Here are the prompt sheets I used, although be aware that they are in a slightly jumbled order and sometimes contain a few of the same prompts on one page so that I could save on printing:
Obviously, the 'typing the story' lessons couldn't just have the children copying from the sheet so I encouraged them to change the text style and page background colour once they had finished to make it look nice.
For the 'painting the illustrations' lessons, I chose to teach the children how to use the lovely Drawing Pad app which has a very graphical user-interface which is perfect for KS1. As I'd given the children set storylines to follow, this meant that I could support them effectively when it came to illustrating them - I could clearly instruct them to 'paint your character, a house and a beanstalk' rather than the more vague 'paint what happens in the opening to your story', for instance. I modelled what I expected a good painting to look like beforehand and encouraged them to add fine details to it too:
For the final lesson, I then asked the children to do three things:
From doing the project, I discovered a few little things which you might find helpful:
Don't be afaid about the setup required - it isn't actually that much when you consider it's spread out over seven weeks. The project, in my opinion, is brilliant - the range of ICT skills that it covers is huge and the quality of the finished work is just superb. In the last lesson, get a few children to share their books with the rest of the group using Apple TV, stand back and be amazed. I very nearly got emotional yesterday when the children did this - they were just so proud of what they had achieved it was lovely to see!
I've done a couple of things today to develop my ICT/computing curriculum idea:
The more work I do on this idea, the more that I'm beginning to realise that it could actually work...
I've recently started listening to the fabulous Big Finish audio dramas (which I would highly recommend by the way) and it got me thinking - wouldn't it be great if children could record and share their own stories with others as audio books?
There is a free app called Voice Record Pro that would let children record their voice quite easily using the built-in microphone on an iPad/iPod Touch:
All they would then have to do is share this audio file onto Edmodo (either using the 'Open With Other Apps' tool or by emailing it to me so I can upload it for them) and then all their friends could enjoylistening to it!
As ideas go it isn't new but the technology is now available to make the whole process very child-friendly and so much simpler to do!
You read a lot about children sharing their writing online but I also believe that sharing children reading stories out aloud could have just as big an impact in schools since it allows:
To implement this idea all you need is: an iOS device (which many schools now have anyway), a set of headphones (which I would imagine every school has), the free Voice Record Pro app and possibly a free Edmodo account too if you want to use their service to share the stories on. Consider the price of all this in comparison to the specialist hardware that is available elsewhere on the market being sold to schools for hundreds of pounds!
As well as displaying a learning intention slide on the IWB during ICT lessons, I also like to give older children an accompanying skills checklist too in some lessons when they are doing longer projects spanning a few sessions. These contain a matching set of success criteria as displayed on the board (with a few extras) but with space for children to 'tick-off' where they're currently at in their work. When they're using software with lots of tools available, this can be extrememly useful in helping children track their progress and see what tools they've still got to try out using. These are broken down into the: 'good', 'great' and 'super' sections to make it clear how relatively challenging each skill is and thus how the task can being differentiated to meet each child's current ability. I also like to include space at the bottom of some of them for a small peer-assessment box into which another child can give them some feedback part-way through a project which they can then respond to.
Please let me know if you find these checklists useful in your classroom!
I'm sure that many of you will be familiar with the BBC Bitesize and Learning Zone Class Clips websites being great to use in the classroom but I wonder how many of you also take time to look at the CBBC website too? Whilst a good proportion of its output is clearly meant to entertain its target audience of 6-12 year olds, there are quite a few parts of it which can be used in school as well for educational purposes:
As an early Christmas present to my readers, I've decided to share my Christmas-themed ICT lessons with you so that you have chance to do them with your children before you break up!