I’m not sure if you’re aware but there’s a bit of a shindig on this week. I believe it might be a royal wedding involving a couple called Wills and Kate. Now it occured to me that some of you might be looking for some royal things to do in school (if you’re indeed actually in school – my school is on hols until after the bank holiday!!) so I thought I’d gather together a few ideas of things you might like to do with your classes
I’m really pleased to see (although not at all surprised) that those fantastic people at Purple Mash have put together a small selection of activities for the event. There are some great Publish Projects with beautiful clip art created just for the occasion, including a fabulous newspaper template for reporting the event – some top ideas for pupils from Foundation age upwards. There are also some great apptivities available via Purple Mash that have could also be used to tie in with the celebrations: you could make a crown using 2Design and Make or use the castle or palace available via the Fairy Tales section of the Paint projects to create the perfect royal party venue. If you print off more than one copy of your palace you can get creative and join them together for a bit of small world play – just look here to see what I mean! Of course Purple Mash are not the only online site with some great resources available for you to use. TESiboard has also added a range of royal themed resources: from creating royal wedding outfits to a cake creation sequencing activity. In fact, TESconnect has got a whole list of resources in one convenient list – why not check it out!
There’s also a whole load of great websites you could use with your students if you want to get them to carry out and present research on the British Royal family, including their own official website and Mandy Barrow’s really useful Project Britain site, which has loads of sections just right for researching all sorts of areas of the royal family. If you want pupils to present their work via PowerPoint you might like to download this template of the Union Jack or this one of London. You can even take a tour of Westminster Abbey online if you want to! If you want to go down the design route, or do something completely different, why not get pupil’s to design wedding outfits using the ideas presented here or get them to actually plan a wedding, using spreadsheets to keep track of expenditure? It might just be the thing to get them interested! Other ideas you might try could involved designing place mats, wedding invitations or cards ( 2Publish+ or Microsoft Publisher would be good for this if you want the activities to be ICT based) or designing a menu fit for a princess (although possibly not along the lines of this activity!!!!). Whatever you decide to do I’m sure you’ll have a right old time!
Flash cards. Vocabulary cards. Word cards. Whatever you want to call them every classroom has them and a lot of teachers scour the web to find something already created in an effort to save time. In truth they don’t take a long time to create: some people just find it a fiddly job or just don’t feel confident enough with software to have a go. But there will be occasions when the vocabulary you want will not be available elsewhere and you need a quick alternative to get you sorted. Here are a few ideas.
One of the things that can make or break a good word card (in my opinion anyway) is the choice of font. I prefer to use fonts that include a round lower case ‘a’ and there are some good ones around if you don’t have the option of Sassoon fonts. My preference is for a free font called Lilly: it’s not perfect but it is much more ‘grown up’ looking that something like Comic Sans yet still has a child friendly look about it. For other ideas on good free fonts with the correct shaped ‘a’ have a look at Free Fonts – Round A: a list of fonts I put together that offer and alternative to the usual fonts you might use.
Now…to the cards! I prefer to use Microsoft publisher to create flash cards as I think it gives me the most control over the look of the cards. I’ve recently changed over to the 2010 version and while it did take a little getting used to I’m quite happy with what I can achieve using it. A short video clip is above and the method is adaptable to other versions of Publisher. I find I have much more control with Publisher or PowerPoint for this sort of thing: Word does not give you the same options. A particular thing I like about Publisher (and Powerpoint for that matter) is that you can make picture cards (using the same method as outlined in the video) and just right click your original image to change the picture for the next card!If you’re not confident using Publisher, and I know not everyone is, there are online options you might like to try as an alternative.
SENteacher.org is a fantastic site for all sorts of things, including creating flash cards. Please don’t be put off by the SEN tag – the site is full of fabulous things that teachers everywhere can make use of! There are great templates available for both Literacy and Numeracy (some would be suitable for cross-curricular use too) and they are all free and adaptable, with different colour and size options on many of the templates. Another useful site to add to your favourites is Brendan is Teaching: full of all sorts of activity generators (including flash cards). The site also includes lesson plans, classroom tools and other downloads you may find handy. It is definitely worth a look!
If you are looking for something that can support pupils with SEN (especially if you don’t have any symbol supporting software at your disposal) you might also like to look at the printable cards section that is available via Do2Learn : a great site with lots of resources that can be used with pupils who might need a little extra help (you might also like Ispeek: no flash cards to print but a great symbol site that is based in the UK). This site is not for everyone but is useful and does contain a number of freebies that you might be able to make use of.
There are, of course, other avenues available if you are creating your own cards. 2Publish+ has a handy Multi setting that supports images and text: use it to make multiple copies of cards one at a time. Writing with Symbols and Boardmaker are both useful, especially if you are working with pupils who required picture or symbol support. I’m sure you can think of others! It’s worth exploring your options to create something that is truly your own! Before I go, I’d just like to mention Flashcard Machine:a site that brings flash cards right into the 21st century! The site is free to register and allows to you tocreate study cards and use their ipod and ipad apps to view them when you’re on the move. How cool is that!
You all know I’m passionate about inclusion and that means including pupils who are more able in certain areas. It’s something that we all need to be aware of in the classroom as such pupils need to be challenged there’s nothing worse than being bored. But how to do it? Where do you start? I have a number of things I like to use; some free, some not, but the trick is to keep them interested. Here are a few ideas that you might be able to use in your classroom.
- The Challenge Box…: I have two special boxes in my room. They are undeniably spangley and a little OTT. They are called challenge boxes: one small (for Foundation Phase challenges) and one large (for KS2). Inside there are a range of colour-coded cards (different colours for different skill levels) that have ‘one off’ challenges on them. I also have a couple of additional cards hanging up in poly-pockets, for quick challenges. Anyway, if a child finds a task too easy or finishes it quickly I always have a few meaningful extensions planned. If there is still time in the lesson and they have completed all tasks I will direct them to take a card of whatever colour from the box. The challenges will always relate to skills we have covered before – they are just independent tasks to get them thinking. For example…
- It’s a mystery: Regularly, particularly if there is something happening in the world that I think needs investigating (like the World Cup, World Book Day etc), I will come up with a set of mystery challenges (usually 5 or 6) which I place in sealed envelopes. In each set there’s usually a challenge linked to Science, Geography, History, Literacy, Mathematics and local (i.e. Welsh or British) interest. There are some examples of these challenges here and one of the important things I feel is that I am sourcing a number of the resource – this cuts down on the children wasting time looking for relevant stuff. These sessions challenge all pupils and sometimes work better when pupils are split into pairs or small groups but that’s up to you.
- Show them something cool: with younger pupils who are more able it’s nice sometimes to show them something extra a program can do and let them share it with their classmates (or other teachers) during a plenary session or back in class. It’s nice to feel special and kids love that you’re sharing a piece of added information just with them 🙂
- Give them choices: let the pupils choose the best way to complete their task. I love planning activities for pupils as young as Year 1 where they can select what they want to use. In a recent session (recording factual information about the Antarctic gathered by using Zoom School) Y2 pupils chose to record their work using either 2Publish+, 2CASS or 2Publish Extra (via PurpleMash). They also chose their own template and the way they presented work, leading to work that ranged from fact sheets to reference books while all covering the same skills ( importing, copying, pasting, etc.) and the same topic. This also works with older children: asking them to make a multimedia presentation might lead to a selection of videos and animations fitting in alongside more traditional Powerpoints or items made using web based tools like Animoto or Prezi.
- Use things that inspire and engage: if you can make room for a little gaming or game creation: it might take your lesson in unusual directions. I’ve recently brought in my ipad and shown pupils some of the great apps available – many of which could be used in the classroom. They are totally in love with it! Bringing in a console or something hand held (like a Nintendo DS) can have unexpected results – it just depends how you use it. Check out ideas from fantastic people like Tim Rylands and get technology working for you, and the pupils, in your classroom. On the flip side get pupils to create their own games or quizzes to challenge each other and link to topics or learning intentions. I’ve mentioned 2DIY recently (which I’ve just used with more able, younger pupils to create quizzes linked to their topic) but there are other things out there, includingScratch, which are equally useful especially with older pupils.
- Buddy pupils up! Use your more able pupils to assist the ones that need a little extra support – not intrusively, just as a someone to encourage or chivvy them along. I also like using older pupils along side younger ones (in a sort of Yoda style mentor role). again this isn’t intrusive, just supportive, and the pupils really seem to get something out of it.
So there you go. Not rocket science but a few ideas to than can be used to extend and stretch your pupils. I’m sure you can think of loads I’ve missed but I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps. If you’re looking for a place to start (to get more ideas – technology wise) then this might be worth a look.
Boys. What can you do with them? Never a day goes by when you don’t read or watch something relating to improving attainment in boys. It wasn’t that long ago that we chatted about the differences between boys and girls learning styles on ukedchat and we’ve also seen Gareth Malone recently going on about it on our TV screens. Getting boys engaged in learning is the hot topic of the moment. Everyone’s trying to do something about it. Both Pie Corbett and Tim Rylands give inspiring insets on storytelling, poetry, using Myst, and getting kids interested and there are plenty more people who do the same thing. You can get fabulous ebooks and graphic novels (many from Rising Stars who sponsored TeachMeet Pembs) and Scholastic’s interactive Read and Respond are also full of inspiring ideas let’s face it, who doesn’t like Stig of the Dump?).
Just recently I’ve been enthusiastic about visual literacy – great for engaging pupils of all levels. I’ve found some great resources linked a few different titles. If you’ve not checked out The Mysteries of Harris Burdick I’d suggest you check it out! There are a number of resources for it on both You Tube and SlideShare and there are also great resources based on books by Shaun Tan and David Wiesner . There are, additionally, some great video resources available online that they could use in class in a similar way, including a number of Pixar shorts and items from both the BFI and Film Education. Well worth investigating!
ICT can be a good way in when it comes to getting boys engaged in learning. This is just as true for pupils with SEN and here are some great ideas! The youngest pupils, many of whom might not be ready for a mouse, can have fun using the Switch activities on Help Kidz Learn (which are also set up to work with a space bar if you don’t have switches) while those slightly can enjoy exploring the land of the Red Fish. Pupils also enjoy accessing 2Paint a Picture and some of the PurpleMash Paint Projects using a touch screen. Older children are just can have lots of fun using the fantastic Publish Projects, again on PurpleMash, which really help them because the features (like the prompts and videos) are just so inspirational and inclusive. I’d also suggest using 2CASS to present work, another fabulously inclusive tool, which I’ll be blogging about at a later date. I’m sure these activities will be loved and adored by any number of boys (and girls) so why not try them out.
Here’s an idea for a very short ICT session. What if all the children all do something completely different? No two children covering the same topic. Each one working independently, at their own level using the software of their choice. The only criteria – they have to discover something new that they hadn’t known before.
So this was how it works. Use the fruit machine style random name/word picker on ClassTools and fill it full of different topics: some which children will find irresistible and others that could be a little more academic or challenging. Put in a few things that I knew the pupils would have very little knowledge about (e.g. The Grand Canyon) and others that they would have studied in previous years. Each child can choose how they present any information (Ript, Prezi, PowerPoint, 2Publish+, 2CASS, Movie Maker, etc.). Explain the challenge to them, get each child to click the fruit machine and take the topic that came up. Then straight to the computers and off to work. They might come up with all sorts of new pieces of information, some of which you might refer to as ‘totally useless’ (a bit like a certain DJ’s ‘Factoids’). No matter! After all, everyone learns something new – including you!
So, the Easter holidays are finally coming to a close and there seem to be a plethora of great things happening in the world right now (or very soon) that are perfect for covering in the classroom. There’s the forthcoming general election, the recent Icelandic volcano incident and a little matter of the football World Cup. This could make it a topical and jam packed term and it seems a shame to sit and let such opportunities pass. So …what to do?
Election wise there are opportunities for producing persuasive information, possibly using the recent Marmite adverts as a stimulus to get them to design adverts for imaginary products – both printed (using Microsoft Publisher or 2Publish+) and as a multimedia task (using Movie Maker, PhotoStory or PowerPoint). Ideas for this could be planned out using storyboards or writing frames and then move on from there.
In terms of linking some work to the recent volcano incident; unfortunately there has not been much evidence of the ash cloud in our own local area, but there are opportunities to use a lot of stuff that’s already out there as part of their study. There are some fabulous useful bits and pieces on The Whiteboard Blog, another usable site here and the every lovely and industrious Simon Haughton has posted some great stuff in the TES Resource Bank. I am currently putting together a selection of Icelandic photos and creating some resources for Communication 4 All but, if you want to get a presentation together, you can use this PowerPoint template to get you started. I’m thinking of also covering this topic fleetingly – maybe some ‘lava pictures’ using the wet paint and ink settings on 2Paint a Picture or use This is sand to create a volcanic landscape. I’m sure you can come up with other ideas.
Finally I’m going to talk about the football World Cup. I think it’s going to be a marvellous topic to cover for a number of reasons. For a start pupils in our area will not automatically support England (we are, after all, Welsh) which always makes for a good split in the classroom and a great deal of discussion – so they will be enthusiastic already! But the possible links to different areas of the curriculum are fantastic. I’m just about to finish an ICT challenge pack (I’ll post the link when it’s ready) covering ideas that link to maths, geography, history and literacy and there are already a number of great ideas out there! There are some truly fantastic resources available for this topic already! The selection here is truly mind boggling and comprehensive and there are also useful resources available via The Literacy Trust . Another great find (thanks to EBD35) is this site linked to the Paralympic World Cup which has some great free downloads. For me the possibilities, particularly from a mathematical standpoint, of activities that could link to this famous event spurred me to create this pictogram activity for Excel 2007 (it also includes instructions for creating one in 2003) and a few additional mathematically based resources but there are so many good angles I’m sure you’ll find a way in that pupils will love. In fact I’m sure you’ll be able to link to all three ideas (although, as Meatloaf said, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad)!
It’s Fairtrade Fornight again (22nd February – 7th March) and for some of us that means finding activities and ideas to use in the classroom. So I thought I’d share a few ideas with you that might be useful as a starting point. Some of them you might have come across before and some are ideas I’ve created to use in school but hopefully there’s something for all.
I’m sure many of you have come across the CAFOD website and it’s excellent resource section. Well there are some fantastic downloads and ideas to use during Fairtrade Fortnight included in both the primary and secondary sections. I particularly liked the look of the Banana split activity listed on the secondary resources page but also suitable for UKS2 too. And there are lots of other useful websites you might like to look at. The Fair Trade Resource Network also offers a range of teaching resources and if you want something more visual, or feel like creating some multimodal PowerPoints there are plenty of useful clips available online.
One activity I thought of was to create a Publisher cook book using a suitably themed template and this website. I have to say some people might be disgusted by some of the recipes but pupils can ones they liked, looking for suitable images to accompany them etc. If you don’t want to produce a cook book why not use this themed publisher paper to get you started on a poster or something similar?
You could create a survey about the use of Fairtrade products and use the data collected in Maths sessions to link into data handling. Younger pupils can also have fun with Fairtrade: get them to produce posters or leaflets on Fairtrade produce using 2Publish+ or look at some of the nice activities on Oxfam’s Cool Planet and Dubble that could be used to tie in with Fairtrade. I’ve also put together a Healthy Eating Challenge Pack which has a number of PowerPoint Templates that may come in handy (one of the activities is also Fairtrade based and you could adapt the others if you wanted to) for pupils in KS2. Another idea would be to use Google Earth, to follow a banana’s journey, or to create some informative multimedia work with Prezi, PhotoStory, Animoto and PhotoPeach. I’m sure you can think of some other fun ideas too (please share them here if you’ve found or created anything fabulous!!!).
Want a quick Christmas idea for younger pupils – what better activity than to design table mats for the occasion using 2Publish+? Use the Borders setting to create out table mats, choosing template number 5. Then click on the square black arrow at the bottom of the felt pens to get to the additional tools, as these can really enhance the design and look of your table mat. Then create a repeated border design within the magnifying glass, using the fill tool to add a background colour first. A good idea is to use the fluffy cloud tool on a dark background to replicate snow: the effect looks amazing and is definitely the right choice for a snowy picture! The other details can be added using the felt tip pen tool. Of course it doesn’t have to be a snowy scene: you could create a tree using the fuzzy brush or draw other Christmas images. The important thing is to get the children to experiment with the different tools rather than just draw a design with the felt tip pens.
Onceyou are happy with the design apply it as a border. The background colour really helps the border stand out (and they look beautiful when printed off – even if I say so myself!). Then it’s time to add the text!
In the upper text box the write a Christmas greeting. Get them to change the style of font (you could also made it Bold, italic or Underlined) and the colour. You can even change individual letters, or groups of letters, into an array of different colours, which looks really eye-catching. Then ask the children to write their names in the lower text box and make changes (choosing different fonts and colours if desired). If the font appears too small (even at pt 72) you can type in a higher number (100) and the font will be automatically sized to the largest size possible. The text in both boxes looks best if centralised and then it’s time to draw the central image.
Again, add a background colour with the fill tool and then create a seasonal design. Again use a selection of different tools to create designs – the finished designs will all be different, even when some have similar elements.
It’s that time of year again. Time to go over ‘the greatest story ever told’ with children of all ages and record it in some way. You can use 2Create a Story to allow pupils to record their own version of the Christmas story. I know it sounds like I enthuse about 2Simple software a lot (maybe because I do!) but it has a huge impact on the type of work younger pupils, and those with SEN, are able to create when using ICT. A quick tip I always encourage children to click the edge of the frame first – it allows them to set a background colour before starting to draw and can make a big difference to their finished piece of work.
The application makes it easy to add simple effects (both visual and audio) to their stories and it’s very straight forward and intuitive to use if you’re already a user of other 2Simple programs.
its also a good idea to have a collection of sequencing images that could be imported into 2Publish+, using the layout setting (or other programs). The ability to copy, paste and import into this program really extends your opportunities to use it in a cross curricular and structured way. After all, not all pupils are adept at drawing their own images in small boxes on the page (although the range of tools does give a lot of scope for this).
The final ICT based activity I want to share is a book-style PowerPoint Show with type on slides and individual word banks on each slide. This uses the same set of still images as above; I considered adding animations but felt this might be too distracting, so still images it was.
This activity is probably the most appealing choice for older pupils; I think the fact it is in PowerPoint format possibly helps it feel a little more age appropriate.. I also think that the addition of mini word banks is also key as it means pupils do not require a word mat to assist them. Try it out and see what you think.
If you’re looking for a quick Christmas theme activity to carry out with some younger children then writing a letter to Santa is always a popular option. And using 2Publish+ to complete the activity gives it a lovely personal touch.
You can start by using the borders setting on 2Publish+ to give the letter an individual twist. One of the choices available for use is the perfect letter layout, with space for the child’s address in the upper right hand corner. The thing that makes the activity is the child’s opportunity to create a beautiful custom border, particularly when you use the additional tools available. The child just draws their design in the magnifier and this is automatically added to the page when you click onto the document.
I suggest you take the time to model some suggestions for the border on the IWB, creating the images out of basic shapes that the children can easily replicate. This can help get the creative juices flowing but I also think that a good design doesn’t need to be fiddly: showing the pupils how to add a coloured background using the fill tool (I always think it makes a difference) and some ideas using basic shapes (e.g a Christmas tree from a basic triangle) helps them appreciate how a simple design can look effective. Of course the fabulous range of tools help tremendously! The ‘fuzzy brush’ (well that’s what I call it anyway) gives a tree or robin an extra dimension, the ‘splash’ tool makes a beautiful instant star on the smallest setting and the cloud tool produces a great snowy or fluffy look for your snowman or Santa.
Once your custom border is applied it is time to compose the letter. you could encourage the children to use a funkier font than usual and to change the colour so that it really stands out. you might like to install a few free Christmas and fun fonts to give the pupils even more scope for creativity. You could also add any vocabulary they require to the IWB (I always use the handwriting recognition tool on ActivInspire for this, especially with younger ones).
The finished letters will look lovely and colourful when printed out and you could even print some extra ones for a special Christmas display!! All in all it is a really lovely Christmassy activity 🙂