Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Google Maps’

The Ideas Factory

There’s been a huge rise in the number of TeachMeets taking part recently, and this can only be a good thing. Last weeks saw TMGloucester, TeachMeet Holywell High School and TeachMeet Sunderland. Next week there’s TeachMeet Essex and TeachMeet X (in stoke on Trent) happening on the same night. There are also a few that are taking place after half term and I’m looking forward to taking part, one way or another.  The TeachMeet phenomenon is really gathering pace, mainly due to the use of social networks and PLNs (like Twitter and Facebook)  to let people know about such events. Additionally, the fact that these events are streamed live over the internet means you can watch and take part without the need to travel to the venue – fantastic if you live a fair distance from the actual event (which, in my case, is all the time). You’re also able to take part virtually: pre recorded video presentations, prezis or live video and skype links really embrace the use of modern technology and make such events more accessible and interesting.

I really enjoyed taking part (virtually) TeachMeet that took place at Holywell High School last week. For a start, it was great to see another TeachMeet happening in Wales, albeit too far away from me for me to actually attend. The atmosphere was great and there were some great ideas being shared: some I knew about but hadn’t tried yet (therefore making me even more determined to try them soon), some I hadn’t thought about using in the classroom (like PptPlex – a very cool piece of kit – thanks @nellmog!), some which were truly inspiring (like the power of blogging and howler monkeys from @deputymitchell!!) and some I just adored and would love to try at some stage (origami for listening skills!!!! – genius from @ColinTGraham). The whole evening was packed with great ideas and everyone was sharing their own experiences: what could be better? I had also sent a video presentation to be used (on Google Maps – and, no, it’s not an obsession) which you can look at here (there’s also a follow up available here) and had gained a few new Twitter friends by the end of the evening – fantastic!

The following evening was TeachMeet Sunderland, which had a completely different set of people presenting , which meant a whole new load of ideas were shared and discussed. There were a couple of stand out presentations for me: the pencil puppet idea was simple yet effective (thank you @dominic_mcg), @islayian’s presentation on education in his neck of the woods was really enlightening and the fantastic (and fast paced!)  presentation on esafety by pie man extraordinaire @simfin was really insightful! It also appeared that everyone was really enjoying themselves and getting involved in some interesting discussion, and that’s no bad thing.

Making connections with people is always important and the power of TeachMeet proves how necessary this is. Next week I’m going to enjoy a couple of TeachMeets from the warmth of my living room (mainly as they are to far away to get to – otherwise I’d be there) and I’m really looking forward to it. There already interesting sounding presentations listed on the wiki for both events (although, as they’re both on the same day I will take part in one and catch up on the other later). I’m really looking forward to catching Twitter’s latest television personality , Dawn Hallybone (she’s the teacher on the new Nintendo DS ads don’t you know) presenting  at TMEssex (suitably enough on the use of gaming to engage pupils) and cannot wait to see what the marvellous Bill Lord has to say about books and literacy at TMX. So, even if you’re not in the vicinity of a TeachMeet, why not join in with the live streaming like I do – you’re sure to get some great ideas to use in your classroom!

Something for Everyone!

It all helps when we pull together as a team so let’s share some ideas! Here’s one called ‘The Magic Chair’, an activity I have seen many times over the years but that you might be unaware of. This activity involves sitting a child on the teacher’s comfy computer chair (or any chair with wheels) and sticking a number on the back of the chair so the child cannot see it. The teacher then wheels the child around the circle of children so all but the child can see the number (you could recite a little poem along the lines of ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ only it’s more like ‘We’re going on a number hunt, will it be a big one? will it be a small one? we’re not scared…’). When the chair comes to a stand still the child has to ask his friends for three clues about the number: e.g. it’s one more than seven, it looks like a snowman, it’s an even number…should lead the child to the correct answer of number 8! Why not adapt  this activity to different themes (e.g. if the class theme is space she might change the rhyme to ‘We’re blasting into space today, we need to find a number…) and ideas (animals, words, letters,shape)?

Another good idea for maths has recently been shared with me – number towers. There were 2 different types of tower: Number tower 1 and Number tower 2 . The first had four columns of numbers and should be folded into a square tower, held together with paper clips. This number tower is used by an adult with the children, either as a mental maths exercise with a large group, where the teacher points to a number and asks a question with the number as a starting point (e.g. what is four more than this number?  for young children, or what is the answer when you multiply this number by 9, for older/more able ones), or for small group work  at a table. By laminating the towers you can write on mathematical symbols or focus on negative numbers – just make changes every day. The second tower should be folder into a triangular tower with each side having 2 columns of numbers with a clear space in between. These could be used for anything from number bonds to quick calculations – there are lots of possibilities!

My ICT tip today involves the use of Google Maps: something I blogged about a while ago but I’ve now found more uses for, like using the distance measuring tool to find out which child in the class lives closest or farthest away from the school, drawing on a route or using the street view to look at places pupils are going to be visiting. You could also use the photos included to inspire story telling (I could pretty much retell Pie Corbett’s ‘Chalie’s story’ using photos around the our area). Why not have a go?

Getting Yourself on the Map

I spent yesterday afternoon following and contributing to TeachMeet East; yet another great event that was excellently organised and superbly run by top Twitter bods @tomhenzley and @missbrownsword (plus a host of others – you know who you are). Not that I was actually in Norwich mind you: I was taking part via live streaming and had even submitted a video presentation for the event!! Needless to say, the event was fabulous with lots of great presenters and presentations (French + dancing = audience participation: who’d have thunk it?) and I left me feeling even more inspired for the TeachMeet I am organising this summer in Pembrokeshire .

After the event had finished a bunch of us were chatting on Twitter and someone suggested that it would be great if there was a map we could all use to help plan future TeachMeets: somewhere you could add your location to so that other like minded people could see where you were based. That way we could see who might be able to attend TeachMeets in any given area. Well. low and behold, another top Twitter bod (@ianaddison) got on the case and came up with this fantastic TeachMap (he’s blogged about it here too) via Google Maps! Stunningly simple and truly useful, you can see at a glance where interested people are located. It’s already helped me track down a few people near me that I hadn’t come across before and I’ve now added them to my Twitter network. If you’re interested in attending TeachMeets why don’t you add yourself! Maybe you’ll find some like minded people in a location near you that you hadn’t come across before 🙂

Ordinary Joe versus the Volcano

Here’s  a little bit of problem solving, using the Icelandic ash cloud as a basis for the idea. I based the idea on a great resource that Donna Hay (aka @dwsm) put myway . The idea was to find a way of getting back home from one of three different destinations: New York,  Barcelona and Paris. Using the interactive ash cloud pupils can look for places they could possibly reach and can then check details like flights, car hire, ferry tickets etc. using internet searches. The rules aresimple – get home however you could, as long as it was a realistic journey ( no teleporting in a TARDIS or just saying you would fly from a to b without flight details to back it up!!).

A few things need to be thought through carefully. Firstly, a large number of pupils may have never been abroad. That means they have no real idea of how long journeys take or how large other countries are. They might think it’s totally feasible to cycle from Barcelona to a ferry port, or that a taxi from Paris to Calais would be a reasonable option!!!If you’re doing this in real time you might find available flights only for them to disappear from the screen within minutes. You could get a flight from New York to Quebec, then get another to Norway, get a boat to Scotland then hire a car and drive down to Wales – the route works but it certainly is the long way round.

BETTcha by golly wow 2010!

Like many other technologically minded people I made the (in my case long) trek to Olympia last week to spend a bit of quality time at the BETT2010. My main objective was to get to the Teachmeet and pick up some useful and interesting tips from other like minded professionals but, I have to admit, the whole time I was there (and that wasn’t very long compared to some!) I felt on a natural high. The excitement of meeting (and trying to recognise!) people I had previously only spoken to via twitter, or educational forums, combined with the whole learning new things and seeing new products was unbelievably uplifting.

I arrived on Friday night just about in time for the Teachmeet (I did miss a little bit of the action but not much). The atmosphere was fantastic and there was a real community spirit in the room. As well as meeting, chatting and mingling with a fantastic group of people I’d never before met in person , one of the things that immediately struck me was the totally supportive nature of all that were in the room. And there were some great presentations too: some heartfelt and passionate (take a bow Mr Drew Buddie) others fun and informative (yes, Miles Berry, I mean you). If you weren’t there, you were really missing out on something special. Here’s the main things I took away from the Teachmeet…

1. If you’re in ICT (or just in education in any capacity) and not on Twitter, sign up now  : I’m not kidding, it will change the way you teach and, by following the right people, ideas will flood in thick and fast.

2. Someone else can give an old favourite a new twist and get you inspired: I was not particularly enthusiastic about Scratch (although I did use it) until Miles Berry made it look more accessible and fun filled – many thanks 🙂

3. There is so much out there, so investigate and ask others: Hadn’t tried Glogster (despite knowing about it) until Drew inspired me at Teachmeet Takeover on Saturday, and there were lots of similar presentations that showed the possibilities of things I had looked at in passing about but hadn’t tried.

4. We can achieve much more by working together: the number of collaborative projects that have sprung up in the short time I’ve been using Twitter have really changed the way I use certain resources (like Google Maps and Google Earth) with children (Tom Barrett’s Google Maps maths idea is one that instantly springs to mind).

In fact, the whole Teachmeet vibe is what got me through giving my own takeover presentation about the use of Dabbleboard in the classroom(thanks to Mark Warner for the above photo) on Saturday:  cannot believe I did it and that people stayed and listened. You can even see a video of my efforts (I’m not saying you have to here) and the other contributors to the takeover sessions.

On a personal level I had a great time hanging out with new friends and just generally discussing how we use ICT. It was great to put faces to names and realised that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet. Everyone is aiming for the same goal – how to get better at doing what they do and the atmosphere was certainly conducive to such an ideal. It was also amazing to discover that some of my pupils had won a 2Simple competition (a total surprise!!) and it was a pleasure to just hang out with the enthusiastic team that work at 2Simple, who are producing such wonderful stuff at the moment You only have to read the blog regularly to see how keen I am on their products!

So there you have it: my BETT 2010 experience. See you all next time (looking forward to it already).

On the 15th day of blogging…

So, we’re just about to bring 2009 to a close and looking forward to 2010. It’s been a great year for my adventures in ICT: lots of fun with free online applications and downloads, the ongoing developments from the bods at 2Simple (which leave me in constant awe and wonder!), a new blog, a club wiki, the collaborative power of Twitter, Google Maps and Docs, Etherpad (soon to be RIP but many appearing in its place), the list of high spots goes on! So I thought I’d recap a few of my favourite moments – hopefully it will bring a smile to your faces too 🙂

Firstly I’d like to thank all the fantastic people I follow on Twitter for encouraging me to start this blog – the feedback has been amazing and I love reading everyone’s comments and ideas. I wasn’t really sure I had enough to contribute to the ever expanding use of ICT in the classroom (I know my OH would disagree) but I’m hopeful that I have ignited ideas and inspired  some of you a little bit. It’s always nice to read a comment or see a tweet that refers to something in the blog – at least I know I’m on the right track and the help and support I have received from others has been most welcome. Thank you all!

I’ve also enjoyed using (or playing with) lots of the free tools available online or to download and fitting them into activities and planning. I’ve got a few particular favourites too: Ript – great for collecting and arranging research, Dabbleboard – collaborative brainstorming fun (plus all its alternative uses too), Mapwing, SumoPaint and so many others! Ongoing use in the fantastic range of products available from 2Simple software has also given me a huge amount of pleasure. It’s great to come across a collection of products that is so versatile and everyone enjoys using. If I’ve bored you with my ongoing waffles about the wonders of 2Paint a Picture and 2Publish+ (plus many others) well…tough! I will be boring you some more in 2010 with further ideas because I just love the stuff!! If you’re interested in finding out even more about 2Simple ideas then check out their own blog – it’s full of useful ideas and information!

I should name check a few people who have helped me along my way (with the blog and other ideas) – there are many and you all know who you are. I’d still be typing come Christmas day if I listed all of you now! Some, however, need to be properly thanked for their ongoing help and support to a relative novice. So…drum roll please… first up is Mark Warner (without whom I wouldn’t have even started tweeting or blogging): the man is full of ideas and runs a seemingly endless selection of inspirational sites (check him out if you haven’t already). I’d also like to give a special mention to the wonderful Tom Barrett for lighting a spark to get me started on creating a few curriculum linked Google Maps. So far I’ve created 3 (Pembroke Castle shapes, Amazon Rainforest and Castell Henllys) , but more are on the way (particularly linked to storytelling).  Anthony Evans has also been a great inspiration for a long time – firstly through his Redbridge ICT blog and now through his work at 2Simple. He’s also the only person I have spoken to who is more obsessed with Doctor Who than I am (well – maybe) so, Anthony, I salute you. Finally a couple of shout outs to a special gang of Twitter friends. Fellow blogger Nicola Stables (we started blogging the same week!), plus new bloggers EDB35 and Simon Haughton (watch this space – they’re both going to be fab blogs that will be well worth following): you keep me going and I love getting your comments and feedback on ideas. Here’s to a productive 2010!!!