Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Inclusion’

This Sporting Life

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There are so many things going on this year – it’s difficult to keep up!!! This summer’s Olympics must rate pretty highly though and it gives so many opportunities for learning. Here are a few ideas that might inspire you to try something new or different in your classroom.

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Now I love Google Sketchup. It’s one of those programs that the children can grab hold of and just run with. What’s even better is that there are plenty of tutorials available for using it – just check out You Tube! And what better way to use it than to get pupils to design an Olympic village, sports facility or stadium? Or, if you’re trying to inspire your pupils to write, get them to design one of the above and then write instructions on how to do it for other pupils to follow. Genius.

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Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to get to the Olympic site. But you can take an aerial tour of what it looked like while being constructed. Tours from above is a great idea and contains many other useful aerial tours you could use in the classroom – perfect for those times when you want to whisk your class away to somewhere different.

The statistical data that gets thrown at you during big sporting events makes them perfect for linking to maths. Why not think about introducing some games based learning? Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games would be perfect for this and has already been used in classrooms for this very purpose. I know a number of educators have developed ideas for using this, including the ever wonderful Steve Bunce, so why not give it a whirl?

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Obviously there are so many more ideas that could be mentioned. There are numerous videos of past Olympic events that could be used to inspire pupils to write or as discussion points in the classroom. There are a whole load of links on the Project Britain and BBC sites that could be very useful. I’ve created an ICT challenge pack for UKS2, that includes PowerPoint templates and other bits and pieces. You could create news items, based on past Olympics using the BBC On This Day, as used here or design your own sporting outfits. Whatever you choose – I’m sure it will be fab!

 

A New Direction

Well, hello. It’s been quite a while since my last blog post, and with good reason. Last year I changed my job; no longer am I school based. These days I work at TES, devoting time to finding and creating quality resources that support pupils with SEN. I still, however, like to keep up to date on what is happening in education and spend time exploring lots of web based ideas I think might be interesting and I thought, what with today being the 29th February and therefore a little special, I’d share a few new finds an old favourites. All these sites have some link to inclusion (even when it’s not obvious – I will explain) and all of them are free to use. So here we go – a special top ten for a special day! Hopefully there’s something for everyone here.

1. Doorway Online: I love this site. I cannot stress how useful it is for so many reasons! All the activities on here have been created with inclusion in mind and would be useful across a number of different settings. All the activities have a clear font and an uncluttered layout. It’s just lovely 🙂

2. Poisson Rouge: If you haven’t indulged it the joy of the Red Fish you really need to check it out! No instructions and some areas are undeniable French (it is a French website after all) but within the madness there are some great activities The ‘School of English‘ (the castle) is quite handy for learning vocab and other languages are supported too – making it great for MFL. In the bugs section (flower on the windowsill) there are lovely basic mouse skills activities and matching games that would be useful to use with pupils in EY or SEN settings. Everything is brightly coloured and engaging. Some items might be a little annoying (the choir is distinctly odd) but there is a wealth of usefulness within the site – both ICT skills wise and across other curriculum areas.

3. Literactive: This is one of those websites you will either love or hate. It’s free to register and you can ask to register with UK English (the site is American). I just found that the Road to Reading  section had some really useful sequencing and memory based activities that some pupils with SEN found both engaging and enjoyable. It is pitched at a young audience but the animated content in the sequencing activities and some of the more cartoony elements mean that you could use it with some slightly older pupils if you needed to.

4. Help Kidz Learn: Another website that has been created with inclusion in mind (after all – it is from the bod at Inclusive Technology), this one has lots of beautifully presented and helpful activities across a number of areas. As you would expect, the activities are switch accessible and are all aimed at a basic skill level. This doesn’t take away from the beautiful design of them and I particularly like the creative section.

5. Bembo’s Zoo: I have a real soft spot for this website. It inspired one of my first blog posts and is truly beautiful. You would need to be creative to find lots of ways to include it in your teaching (although animal and alphabet focused sessions are a given) but it’s worth exploring. Even if it is just for fun.

6. TESiboard: I was a big fan of TESiboard long before I went to work at the TES. I’m still a fan. A plethora of great interactives from, EY to KS2, that can be used in a number of ways. And, from read aloud story books to creative activities (taking in lots of great curriculum topics along the way), there is so much here that’s available to support pupils with SEN. I remember suggesting this one to a 1 to 1 TA when the class were writing about their families – she needed something quick and accessible for her charge and this did the job brilliantly!

7. ARKive: A fabulous website with so much information included it’s mind boggling. It even has a layer you can use when accessing Google Earth! Loads of video and photo content, which is fabulous quality, and supporting teaching resources and games too. I think it’s just an amazing site that you (and the children) will want to explore time and time again.

8. Qwiki: It’s not perfect but any website that allows you to search for a topic then watch a slideshow about that topic while listening to audio content (a little fast but still useful) has to be a winner. Yes, the automated voice is a little annoying (but you can control the volume and pause the slideshow/go back over things) and the images are sometimes not the most accurate (check something before you let the children loose) but the pros still outweigh the cons as far as I am concerned. It even has read along captions with the slideshow which you can turn off if you want to.

9. Dabbleboard: There always seem to be new tools appearing that can be used to support collaborative learning and thinking skills within the classroom. Dabbleboard takes elements of both and fuses them together seamlessly. You can draw. You can type. You can add shapes, arrows and lines. You can share. You can chat. You can insert pictures and documents. Truly fab.

10. Teacher LED: Lots of nice, clear activities for your IWB. Many are maths based but other areas are covered too. I really like the new Word Circle activity, mainly as it reminds me of a similar idea I had using PowerPoint. I’m also a fan of the Map Maker. Some of the maths based interactives are the best I’ve seen – just take a look for yourselves.

Are you an Angry Bird (addict)?

So…here goes with my second post of the day – I must be mad. I did, however, promise a few people I would share a few of my bonkers ideas for using Angry Birds as a basis for learning in the classroom. I’m sure many of you have some ideas of your own to go with this topic and I have a few friends who have already been using Angry Birds activities as a way of engaging pupils in the classroom. Now not all of these ideas are ICT based but I promised I would share them so…here we go…

First the mad part. I was sitting on the train the other day with my ipad and I saw a mum bring out some home made toys for her little one. Simple felt balls, about 6 cms across, (created as shown above) with little eyes and extras on. I thought how that would make a lovely idea for a school fete or similar and made a note of it.  Then she brought out a blue one that looked just like an Angry Bird – my mind went into overdrive. My initial idea was to get pupils to create them (or, possibly a friendly adult) and stuff them with a set weight of kapok so they could be used in maths for weighing/comparing/measuring. Maybe sort them so that the black one weighs twice as much as the red one which weights twice as much as the blue ones (if you know what I mean). After this, mind still in overdrive mode, I thought about creating a separate set of blue ones which had three mini blue ones inside – for times tables work or counting (but  I realise this might be pushing things a little too far…). Of course, if money is no object, you could always purchase a complete set of Angry Birds plush toys but I doubt many school budgets would stretch to them!

Let’s move onto my next batch of mad ideas then. After maths I moved onto science. How about using the little blighters you’ve just made for maths in a lesson on forces, complete with giant catapult. Too dangerous? Well it’s just an idea. Coming back down to earth with a bump (!!!! – sorry, couldn’t resist) why not use autoshapes, or another shape drawing program, to create your own Angry Birds? They could be as simple or complicated as you like. The one above is fairly straightforward – I bet the pupils could come up with something better. Another ICT idea I came up with involved the use of 2DIY (or maybe even 2DIY 3D if you have access to Purple Mash): creating games based on the Angry Birds story and characters. Maybe a journey game where the birds have to sneak past the pigs. Or a collection game for finding golden eggs. Again – the children are bound to come up with much better ideas.

And so to my final few ideas for today (and, I’m warning you, I have loads more): let’s link to literacy. If there are pupils who are really familiar with the game they could hone their instruction writing skills by creating walkthroughs for other children to follow. I think this would be a lovely exercise that could involve some really obvious peer assessment. I also think that the initial introduction to the game would make an interesting story starter and, if you want to get really into it, why not get pupils to storyboard and create their own game trailers, similar to the one seen here? I bet they come up with some corkers!

Getting Better All the Time

Well done to the bods at 2simple! They’ve just revamped their fantastic creative online space, Purple Mash, and, I have to say, it looks rather spiffing and works very well. New graphics, new menus, a lovely clear layout and an amazing array of content. If you haven’t tried it you really should: it’s inclusive, adaptable, cross curricular and a whole lot of fun. Pupils can have their own logins and save work in their own online space or to their own computer: meaning they can be creative at school and at home. Of course I’ve been a fan of Purple Mash for quite a while but, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, let’s have a look at some of the new developments.

Well, firstly, there are some nice little changes to the main menu and subsequent areas. For a start there’s the addition of links for the different educational phases, making it easier for teachers to see what content might be age and skills appropriate. As you hover over each icon a lovely, unobtrusive pop up menu explains what to expect when you click through. They’ve also included a link to the most seasonal activities, the most popular activities and their latest content. All these features make it far simpler to get find what you want which, for busy teachers or impatient pupils has to be a good thing.

One of the most anticipated developments in Purple Mash (especially among some of the pupils I know) has been the inclusion of 2DIY 3D – a fantastic maze game creator that has a cross curricular purpose while, at the same time, being a whole lot of fun. I’m not going to wax lyrical on this now (although I think it’s absolutely fantastic) as there is a fantastic post available for you to read right here that will pretty much tell you all you need to know. I will, however, say that I think this activity lends itself you finding interesting textures that can be used to create the stunning 3D landscape (as seen above). I quite like to use a site I’ve mentioned before called CG Textures and, in the above screenshot, I used a tiled sky texture to create the ‘roof’ of the activity. The walls of the maze were created using a tree image I created especially. I think I’ll probably make more elements like this and post them as a bundle at a later date. Finally, I used a picture of the grass in my garden on the floor: I was trying to get a foresty feel as the game I’m creating is linked to the fabulous children’s book ‘The Gruffalo’ and I will be posting about this some time soon. Of course games are to be played and need to be shared and 2Simple have even got this covered. Once games created with 2DIY 3D have been completed and saved there’s a ‘share’ option allowing you to link to the game or embed it in a blog post/school website. Genius!

Going back to the main menu, another addition which I think teachers will find really helpful is the new Themes section which can be accessed from the tabs across the right of the page. As more schools go down a creative curriculum route they need to be able to find resources on a given theme quickly and efficiently. This section is just the job: I counted over 30 themes available at the moment and, when you consider how often the team at 2Simple are adding new and relevant content, that’s only going to blossom and grow even more.

So there you have it: quick, initial thoughts on the revamped Purple Mash. I think it’s getting better all the time: have a look and see what you think.

It’s Your Letters

I wasn’t going to blog today. Honestly, I wasn’t. But then I thought, following on from yesterday’s post, I’d make some letter cards to share with everyone (and you can download them here). What struck me while making these was 1. – how difficult it was to find letters that were not watermarked or copyright protected and 2. how few lowercase letters were actually available. I had the most success looking at craft and home furnishing sites and I ended up creating some of the letters by using word art and filling them with unusual textures.

With this in mind I had a bit of a brainwave. Why not send children out and about (around school or possibly when you’re offsite) with a wordlist, plus a camera or mobile device, and let them find the letters required and take photos of them. You would have your own bespoke set of funky letters to use. It would be a really hands on way to support spelling and I’m sure the results would look great on a display.

 

World in Cartoon Motion

Comic strips and animated cartoons have been around a long time. Everyone I know has, at some time in their life, bought a comic book or read a comic strip; be it a small 3 frame strip in their daily paper or a large graphic novel. The great thing about comics is their accessibility. the pictures tell the story. Written text is often kept at a minimum and often a single word is all you need to portray a ‘sound’ or a mood: and that’s great when you’ve got some reluctant writers. Cartoons are another item that have something for everyone: from simple cartoons for the very young up to more sophisticated Manga or full length features. During our lifetimes most of us will have sat and watched Scooby Doo, or something a little more edgy, and thought it would be fun to have a go. Unfortunately not all of us are artistically blessed but you just don’t have to be!  With that in mind I thought it was worth sharing a few online or downloadable comic strip or animation creators that could be useful in a classroom setting.

Comic Strip Creators

  1. Make Beliefs Comix: This site was one of the first comic strip creators I used with pupils, quite a few years ago. I like it because it’s really simply presented and the children could work out how to use it really quickly. There are a selection of characters included (new ones have been added) but,  and this is a disappointment if you want to create an epic, you can only create four panels at a time. The site doesn’t have a save facility (a bit of a downside) although you can send a copy to your email address. I used to get children to hit the Print Screen key and paste it into PowerPoint (so they could crop it and add more if they wanted to) – a small step that children pick up quickly and are quite happy to do in order to preserve their work. Obviously, comic strips don’t have to be in English, so why not use them to support work in other languages?
  2. Bitstrips: I have never used Bitstrips but thought I’d include it here as some of you might find it useful. You seem to be able to have a go without registering if you want to try it out (although that appears to be free). Like Make Beliefs Comix,  it includes a selection of characters (and a separate activity where you can design your own) and looks to work in the same way. You are able to save your creations although I think this is to an online gallery – you might be better off using Print Screen! There is a Bitstrips for Schools option, which offers additional ideas support and features, but this service is not free.
  3. Super Hero Squad: I can easily see this site appealing to children as it includes recognisable characters from Marvel comics and is very bright and eye catching. On the negative side, the emphasis on the Marvel universe could limit the usability and flexibility of it within the classroom but it still a useful thing to have access to. It allows users to create small comic strips (with 1-4 panels) or a longer comic book story and does include lots of nice features, including a selection of fonts, and artwork. Completed work can be printed or downloaded to your own computer in pdf format.
  4. Lego Comics: Similar to the Marvel website in options and settings, this Lego style comic creator  is worth a look. It’s not one of my favourites as I think it is too heavily weighted towards boys character wise (girls like Lego too!!!!!) but it’s still worth checking out.
  5. Comic Life: Not an online creator or a free download but still the most complete comic strip creating tool for schools. Comic Life allows you to use your own photos and has a whole load of layouts and options available. It’s available for Windows and Macs and there’s even an app for your ipad. To get truly inspired check out some examples from Porchester Junior School in Nottingham.
  6. Stage’d: Another one I haven’t tried out properly but thought was worth including, Stage’d combines comic strip creation with animation. To try it out you need to install the Unity Web player to get it running online but once it is running you’ll that you have two choices of character: one called TS and another called Robot (they look like little wooden men). Once you’ve got started there is a little question mark in the bottom right of the screen – click this and up pop a selection of handy hints to get you started. the panel on the left shows you a selection of options for ‘dressing up’ the characters and allows you to select their actions. This tool is probably best for pupils in UKS2 and beyond – have a go and see what you think. Now time to look at…
Tools for Animation
  1. Domo Animate: Domo might not be to everyone’s taste but it’s a cool little thing from the people at Go animate (another one you might like to look at). Simple characters, lots of options, free to register (once you’ve registered content can be saved) and pupils I’ve shown it too have absolutely loved it. I’m pleased to see they’ve got rid of the word ‘fart’ in the sound effects section as this had the potential to send some children into fits of giggles!
  2. Shidonni: Simple, Foundation Phase/KS1 friendly website. Needs Microsoft Silverlight to run properly. Children design and draw a little character and bring it to life. The hand drawn quality makes it a little different to other animation websites and it certainly is cute. I can see this appealing to girls more than some of the other websites listed here but boys would have fun with it too.
  3. Zimmer Twins: Another animation creator that looks appealing and is free to register. I haven’t used this in school but have shown pupils in UKS2 what it can do and they’ve gone home and tried it out for themselves. There’s a great video showing how to create you movies included and the set up is quite similar in look and feel to Domo Animate.  There are lots of completed movies to look at, including this one on Cyberbullying. I like the way that you can rate completed animations and make comments and there is a teacher area if you are interested in using it within the classroom.
  4. DoInk: I’m not entirely convinced about this site as some of the recently created videos you can access are not suitable for sharing in school. It also needs a little more artistic flair and mouse control than the others featured here so might not be accessible or suitable for everyone. that said, some of the animations are beautiful to look at and I’m sure, with time and patience, good results could be achieved.
  5. Kerpoof: Make a Movie: Another activity available via the Kerpoof site: this has similar themes to the story creating activity shared yesterday. Each theme includes a selection of backgrounds and animated characters along side other options like your own doodles, text etc. Items have to be dragged onto a timeline to animate the movie, making it a little tricky for younger pupils, and there is no guidance included – you would have to have a go before sharing it with any students. Some of the characters included in the menus have to be bought in the Kerpoof store and this is not made clear until you choose them! I’m sure some pupils would find that frustrating! You might still like to give it a go though (or, as I did with Zimmer Twins – mention the site to pupils so they can show their parents and use it at home).
Obviously this list is incomplete. There are lots of other activities available online, or to download, so I thought it best to focus on those I have used or already knew about. Considering the animation element; there is plenty of information available regarding animation software that can be used in school (Scratch, Pivot Stick Figure, Anithings to name but a few) and I have previously blogged about creating stop motion animation and using mobile apps.  If you would prefer to use something you already have available in school, like PowerPoint, you could look at some of the activities I’ve created here. Just remember: animations and comic strips can be used across the curriculum in all kinds of ways. And, what’s more, children seem to love them.

I Wanna Tell You a Story…

There are a whole host of online tools, downloads and websites around that are really useful when you want children to get creative with their story writing. Some are very simple and others are absolutely astounding but, as the spotlight seems to always be one the literacy (and numeracy) skills of pupils I thought it was about time I shared a whole bunch of them on here. Many of them you may have come across or used before but I’m hoping there might be a few tools here that you can use in your classroom to inspire both you and your pupils. So, here we go…

Getting Inspired…

  1. We Tell Stories: A site well worth mentioning if you haven’t come across it before; We Tell Stories includes six different stories told in six different ways. Each has something to offer, depending on the age of your pupils, but the one I really like for primary school use is the Fairy Tales one. The child needs to make a number of choices to complete the story and, if they don’t agree with how the story turns out, can write their own epilogue at the end. Every class I have shared this with has loved it – including the boys, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect given the genre.
  2. Lightning Bug: This is an Australian website, full of  ideas to help with the story writing process. It includes a Teacher Resource section and numerous links to useful online content; including author sites and things like a plot bank.
  3. The Story Starter: This is very simple – it does exactly what you think it would do. You click a link and it generates a sentence to get your story started. Could work in conjunction with a story mountain or a ‘BME’ story plan structure. There is also a version available for younger children but be warned – some of the sentences (on both versions) are not what I would choose to use!

Creating Story Books Online

  1. Zooburst: Zooburst is a really unusual 3D Story book creator that I’m sure pupils will find really cool and (hopefully) inspiring. The 3D pop-up really brings a story to life and gives this site an extra something when compared to other book creating sites. You can rotate around the book in 3D, add your voice to the characters and use a webcam to introduce a bit of augmented reality. You can register on the site for free and there are a number of stories in the gallery you can check out before you get started. I would suggest you have a few goes yourself with it before unleashing it on a class but it certainly has the ‘wow’ factor and could get a few of your reluctant writers interested .
  2. Storybird: If you haven’t checked out Storybird before you need to visit it sometime soon. Again, it’s free to register and they have accounts specifically for classes. What sets Storybird apart from some other sites is the inclusion of beautiful and breathtaking original art – enough to inspire pupils to create wonderful things.  Whatever their age or level, students (well – everyone really) can create something that looks beautiful and can easily be shared with others. Check out the About Us section of the website and get inspired
  3. ArtisanCam Picture Book Maker: This picture book maker is a very simple online book creator that is both unique and beautiful. There are not many options here but the artwork is homely and childlike and it could be useful with younger children.
  4. E2BN Myths and Legends: Free and cool to use, the Storymaker tool available here has loads of options (recorded speech, added sound effects etc.) and you can register for a whole school account. Completed stories can be downloaded and can be short and sweet or far reaching epics. I think the style of clip art included here would really appeal to the boys but girls would enjoy it too.
  5. British Council Storymaker: A fabulous little tool that could be used to inspire older  pupils with SEN or used with younger pupils. It is not quite the same as the other activities listed here but deserved inclusion nonetheless.  This is an activity that guides you through the story writing process by giving you choices, starting with the three different types of story you could write (fairy, horror or science fiction). It’s simple but effective.
  6. Picture a Story: This activity might look a little twee, with it’s old fashioned styling, but it still allows pupils to use the items at their disposal (backgrounds, characters, props) to create a story. Stories can be written or recorded using a microphone (making it suitable for inclusion purposes in a class of pupils with differing abilities) and can then be shared with others via email.
  7. Little Bird Tales: This site is fairly new and was brought to my attention by the fabulous Tim Rylands. All I can say is it looks fabulous and is worth finding out about – check out Tim’s blog for more information (as there’s no point me repeating it!)!
  8. Kerpoof Storybook: Beautifully presented and appealing story creating activity with six themes of story included. Similar to the Myths and Legends site, but a little more modern in appearance, I like this one for a few reasons. Firstly, you can fill the pages with a background colour if you want to, possibly making it a suitable tool for pupils with dyslexia. Secondly, it has really been designed with children in mind and is pretty intuitive to use. You can easily change the size of your font and there are three fonts included. Story characters are included in a range of positions, there are loads of backgrounds and it also has speech bubbles you can add. To access the site fully, so you can save work, you have to register (again – it’s free) and there are lots of other great activities available via the site.
I hope you find something that will inspire your learners in that group of tools. Tomorrow I’m going to share a whole load of online animation tools and comic book creators! There will be something for everyone!