Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Multimedia’

World in Union

Well, the 2011 rugby World Cup has started and I, for one, am pretty excited about it. Maybe it’s because I’m Welsh but I’m pretty sure others feel the same so I thought I’d share some resources and ideas you could use with your class. And I’m going to start with those super people at Purple Mash who are yet again ‘on the ball’ (excuse the pun) when it comes to current and relevant content to use in the classroom. There are a few resources to choose from here, including a great template for writing a match report , and all of the activities include fantastic themed clip art in addition to word banks or writing prompts. There are also other resources that would fit into this theme. There’s a Welsh Celebrity Profile writing frame which includes rugby themed clip art (great for writing about Shane Williams or your favourite Welsh player) and a Sports Star Profile (no rugby themed clip art but you could use the drawing tools). There’s a writing frame for describing the rules of a sport (rugby clip art included) and, if you visit the creative tools section, there are some useful writing frame templates available via 2Publish and 2PublishExtra. Make a rugby themed word wheel! Or a poster! Or a leaflet about one of the counties involved! Loads of lovely possibilities all in one handy online space. You could even use 2Investigate to create a graph about the top players. If you’ve not used PurpleMash before and would like to know more then get in touch with the bods at 2Simple or send them a message online (via Facebook or Twitter).

Of course the statistical information involved in any sporting event makes it obvious to link this topic to Maths and there are lots of possibilities. There is plenty of statistical information available on the official site but it might be nice to follow the event and come up with activities of your own. During the last Rugby World Cup a friend of mine used the pools as a sort of mini competition between the groups in his class. 4 pools – 4 groups. Pupils were in charge of keeping a note of all the scores recorded by teams in their pool and using little numbered rugby balls to keep their total updated every day. A bit of a competition with a smattering of basic number skills and place value thrown in – the winner being the table with the most points scored. There are also plenty of investigations that could be done based on the rugby field itself: area, perimeter, measuring etc. and a bit of fun to be had with angles (linked to goal kicking). There are also fantastic opportunities to link the topic to DT/Art (flag, kit or mascot design, build a stadium), Science (investigations of fabrics used in sports kits, forces), Geography (pick any of the countries involved) – you name it!

So what about activities linked to ICT? Well, in addition to the great stuff available via Purple Mash it would also be worth searching through resources available via TES Connect (there is bound to be something useful) and seeing what the teaching resource section on the official site has to offer. You could get pupils to make adverts, publicising the games ,using Windows Movie Maker, Photo Story or iMovie or use Pivot Stick Figure to make some rugby themed animations  I’ve put together made an ICT challenge pack aimed at KS2 (but you could adapt the idea) if you want to have a go. I’ve also added a selection of clip art to my posterous blog (it’s already included in the challenge pack) if you felt like creating top trump cards or something similar – in fact, why not get the children to do it. That’s far much more fun!


A Little Bit of Northern Soul

This time last week I was sitting in a hotel getting ready for Sunday lunch after a few days away and the Northern Grid Conference. It was a truly fantastically organised event: Simon Finch and his team had pulled together a group of people who all had great ideas and were truly inspirational. The fact that they considered me one of them and invited me to present a workshop was a real honour and I owe them a great deal of thanks for that. Although the day went past in in a blur of meeting people (both old friends and new) and listening to inspirational speakers, there was much to take away. Here are my lasting thoughts and the things I most remember.

  • I arrived a little late (although I did set out at 3,30am…blame the plane). No one was in sight. Rather than wander around aimlessly I decided to tweet that I had arrived and ask where everyone was. I had quite a few replies, all of them leading me to the room where Russell Prue was kicking the day off. I’m so glad I managed to get there in time to listen to him. He managed to be inspirational AND put everyone in a good mood, setting us all up nicely for the day ahead. No mean feat!
  • I wasn’t sure what to see before I set up for the morning workshop. Imagine my relief when I saw a few familiar faces: Jan Webb and Ian Addison. I decided to sit in on their workshop and catch up with a few other friends at the same time: Bill Lord (who was presenting a workshop at the same time as me later on) and Dughall McCormick (he appears to be the happiest bloke on the planet whenever I see him – that can’t be bad). Ian’s presentation (15 ideas in 15 minutes) was full of great ideas, some of which I’ve mentioned on the blog and others which are worth checking out for yourself. Jan Webb talked about collaboration and showcased some great ideas and tools, some of which come from the Partners in Learning network (including SongSmith which I mentioned on here only a short while ago). Jan finished her presentation with the statement ‘it ain’t what you do  – it’s the way that you do it’ and then, to underline the point played a snippet this 80s classic. Being of a certain age, I enjoyed this as Bananrama were quite significant style icons during my teenage years. I was fairly shocked, however, when I realised I had turned up in a rather ‘Bananaramesque’ outfit myself – at least my hair wasn’t back-combed 🙂
  • I was presenting in the same room as Jan and Ian a little while after they’d finished. I was pretty nervous at this time (possibly a little bit hyper too – I had been drinking a fair amount of coffee) as I’d only been through the presentation a couple of times since extending it in length (oh, how I missed Mary Farmer!). I felt an instant sense of relief when two people I had never met before but know quite well ‘vitually’ turned up to wish me well and watch the presentation. Martin and Rachel, you can not imagine how pleased I was to see your friendly, supportive faces. After more coffee and a storming introduction from Simon I was out of the starting blocks and everything to be over very quickly. I hope it all went okay – it was very difficult to tell from where I was standing. I was relieved to have finished… and then it hit me that I’d have to do it all again later on…
  • I thought it was great to see so many exhibitors were laid back and not at all pushy – quite different to some places I’ve been where everyone has a patter or a pitch and is ready to sell, sell, sell!! Equally nice to catch up with some some of the exhibitors I already knew, especially Alan from 2Simple and Karen from Rising Stars – you are fabulous.
  • Didn’t see any workshops in the afternoon: mine was repeated after lunch (which was scrummy, even thought there was a distinct lack of pie) and again it was soothing to see someone I knew sitting in front of me. After that (and a little chance to chat to more friends) I hit a brick wall (it had been a long day) and needed more coffee. This meant I missed the last round of workshops before heading off to the main room for the big finish…
  • …which was Steve Wheeler. I don’t think anyone could have done a better job really. Relevant, humorous and thought provoking in equal measures, he had some great things to say and put a different slant on many things that are at the forefront of the technology in education ‘debate’.  I felt like I was mentioning significant points from the presentation via Twitter every few minutes – there was so much worth repeating and sharing. And The Lord’s Prayer was fabulous!
  • Dughall did not win the raffle. Not even a pen.
  • After a bit of a rest in my hotel it was out on the town with a group of great people from Northern Grid, plus a few others who had been speaking at or attending the conference, for a few drinks and a bit of tapas. A lovely time was had by all and we whiled away the evening discussing Children’s TV of our youth and rock bands we had seen live (along with other pointless, yet enjoyable, conversations). At one point we were playing ‘guess the TV theme tune’ and discussing The Flashing Blade and its awful dubbing – surely life doesn’t get much better than that.
So, there you have it. My first Northern grid Conference and it was fantastic. If I’m really lucky they might invite me back!


Shiver me Timbers!

This week I’ve had a lovely time using 2Create a Super Story  (or 2CASS) with pupils in Year 2. As I’ve said before, it’s a fantastic program to use with pupils as it’s so inclusive, lots of fun and can be used across age groups for all sorts of projects. This week the focus was a little different: Year 2 were recapping copying and pasting skills. I wanted to make this as much fun as possible so decided to link to their current pirate topic and use a program that they’re familiar with. As it happened I also wanted to improve their knowledge and usage of 2CASS as they move towards year 3: we’ve recently invested in a community license project with 2Simple and 2CASS is one of the programs pupils are now accessing at home. A perfect opportunity then to cover quite a few bases with one program.

Now one of my golden rules (in life generally) is to be as creative as possible and I have to say I’ve taken a few liberties with some of the tools and items in 2CASS as I’m using them in a different way to how they’re presented in the program. I don’t think it matters – if you can find more than one use for something then go for it! Here’s what we did…

  • Firstly we choose the scroll setting: I felt this was pretty much perfect for the topic we were covering as it gave it a pirate map feel. We did discuss the other options available but the children agreed that the scroll was our best choice.

  • We filled the picture area with a nice blue colour for the sky. We wanted a similar colour for the water as the other blues were a bit too dark (although some children were happy with them and were able to choose them). By double right clicking the one of the blue colours we brought up the full palette  – this gave us much more choice.

  • We chose the boat animation template from the transport section. We filled it with our base colour (brown) and then removed parts of it with the clear (or, as the children like to call it, magic) pen. This makes a huge difference to the look of the boat. We use the filled rectangle to colour the sail and used it again with the clear setting to give the ship three sails. We added a simple animation of the sails flapping and we used the path follow tool to draw the route of the ship on our background.

  • We then used the fire animation template to create seaweed. The fire movement was perfect for making the seaweed move under the water. We right clicked to select copy and then right clicked to paste the seaweed up to three times .

  • Choosing the shapes option from the animated templates; we used the square to add clip art. I always suggest using this square shape to the children to add any extras to their backgrounds: it means they can reposition and resize things and animate them if they want to – far better than something static on a background. We added suitable weather clip art which some of the children choose to animate. We again used copying and pasting skills to add additional clouds.

  • To add more interest some of the children added some fish, using the filled circle and the pens to make their little creatures as realistic as possible. There is more information on creating underwater animations that is worth checking out  on Simon Haughton’s blog . I also showed the pupils how to move things to the front or send them backwards: this gave them the option of having the fish swimming in front of or behind the seaweed and is a skill they will use in a number of other programs as they go through school.

  • To save pupils having to draw out their backgrounds a second time I showed them how to duplicate a page. This meant they could use the same page, complete with animations, for the next part of the story too – the example included at the end of this post shows how an island could be added with very little effort while making a big difference to the overall look.

  • We created pirates using the same tools as we used on the pirate ship – this time on the human template. When one pirate was complete (animations included) we copied and pasted to create a second and then just edited the outfit. Using the clear pen allowed pupils to add things like peg legs and hooked hands – very effective!
Of course these projects are not finished yet and there are other things I’d like to mention. We talked during the session about which fonts might be appropriate, which led to many children using old fashioned looking fonts they felt were in keeping with the theme. We also had a nice long session to carry out the first part of the project: these things take time and if you want a piece of work to be worthwhile pupils have to be given time to try things out. An unfinished example of our work so far can be seen here and I’m hoping to add a few examples to the fantastic 2CASS Archive soon – a site well worth investigating if you’re using this software in school. Next week we’re going to be adding even more detail to our stories and I can hardly wait!



Fun with Science

It’s been a bit of a busy week for me: I’ve done quite a bit of travelling and I can’t complain. On Tuesday I was invited to present at a Science and ICT day in Cardiff, and what a fab day it turned out to be. In addition to catching up with some fine folk I got to fine out about all the great stuff currently available on the NGFL Cymru website (thanks to Alessio Bernadelli) and I got to share some ideas. I started by sharing a few great places online: some that can be used to help with lesson plans, some which had great activities and some which had some interesting web 2.0 tools that could be used in science (you can download the list here). I love sharing ideas and I think there’s something for everyone on the list but that was not the end of my contribution.

I spent a bit of time showing everyone how to create Multimodal PowerPoint and how they could be used in science. There’s a short video tutorial above. You can download an additional help sheet, with links to additional online tutorials, here. It’s safe to say it was quite a day for PowerPoint as Alessio had already showcased a great PowerPoint macro he had used. But I always think that PowerPoint is one of those universal programs that most educators use, although they may not realise how much it can do. Needless to say the teachers of Cardiff left with a few additional ideas on how they might use it!

A great deal of focus during the morning session was on thinking skills and how you can embed them easily within the classroom. Alessio had already shown some great ideas and I talked about learning logs and how they could be linked to science to develop metacognition skills. I had talked about them at a previous TeachMeet, and the host of the Cardiff Science and ICT day (the fabulous Karen Jones) encouraged me to share the idea on Tuesday. Hopefully there’ll be some Learning Logs popping up around Cardiff in the next few weeks!

I was back in Cardiff on Thursday for the first ever TeachMeet Cardiff – another great TeachMeet event. There were some great ideas shared (as per usual at such things) and I especially enjoyed Ceri Williams presentation on dyslexia friendly classrooms: simple ideas that we could all implement easily. I, incase you were wondering, talked about the wonderful free Andrea Mosaic and Google Maps.  TeachMeets are fast becoming the best CPD there is available: many at Cardiff had not attended one before and everyone went away enthused and inspired. Karen did a great job at keeping things ticking along and Alessio held the fort at the technical end. As a proud Welsh person it’s great to see the capital city suddenly become such a hotbed of collaboration. Long may it continue!

Sound Affects

We all know that pupils need choice when it comes to recording and plan their ideas. The written word can be the only outlet for some. Using pictures and bullet points might suit others. But simply speaking about your ideas, directly onto a digital recorder or another device, like an Easi-Speak microphone, can be a revelation for those children who have difficulty with traditional recording methods. Obviously the use of Audacity in the classroom could also enhance this and there are some ideas for this here but when we want to put the recorded sound together with visual content it might not be as easy for some as others, and we want their ideas and thoughts to be recorded in a way that suits them and makes them feel like they’re achieving. So which pieces of kit are best for this?

My first suggestion would be to use Photo story 3: it’s free, easy to use and the results look fabulous. There are a number of simple tutorials for this online but basically the program allows pupils to import photos, add basic effects, text, music and narration to make a short movie. It’s a very versatile, if simple, piece of software and can easily be used by pupils in KS1 (with support at first) and pupils with varying levels of SEN. The results look professional and ‘grown up’: pupils can be proud of their achievements and share their efforts with others easily. It’s great for topic based or diary type work but is just as good for tasks like story sequencing and retelling. I’ve used it many times with pupils where the pictures of a well known story have to be imported and rearranged in order, allowing for a retelling of the story in the child’s own words (and it’s even better if the child uses a program like 2Paint a picture to create their own images from the story first).

There’s only one trouble with Photo Story 3 (and it’s not really a problem with the program itself): if the pupils have used it in KS1 and lower KS2 they will want (and need)to move onto something different eventually! Some pupils, however, find that transition difficult: particularly those with recording difficulties when it comes to the written word! They want to put their ideas down but get frustrated when they can’t do it with the ease of others. The natural step would be to move to Windows Movie Maker but this is not always the best piece thing to use in a busy classroom (it’s not as straight forward or intuitive to use, it tends to crash or freeze, some pupils lose patience with it…). My solution is to get the pupils to record their ideas and speech directly onto PowerPoint – it’s easy to do and it gives pupils who may need a bit of extra time to get to grips with something like Movie Maker.

The technique is great for lots of topics but can easily be used to assist with literacy, particularly planning stories. Pupils can use a PowerPoint Storyboard (or perhaps something a little more jazzy, like the Movie Style Storyboard ) to help plan their stories: instead of adding written captions to their storyboard they could record their own comments instead. This would also work with a template like the Story Mountain Planner style one above – pupils could just use a microphone to record their ideas directly onto the slide and the need for written text is minimised.

From an inclusion point of view there are a number of other programs available that allow pupils to record spoken content directly onto their work: 2Create a SuperStory springs to mind, as does 2Connect, and there are others available. But if you don’t have those yet, and you need to give pupils opportunities to record their work in different ways (ways that suit then) then this is worth a go. Every pupils I have shared this with has been thrilled with the independence it has given them. I’m not saying they don’t need to write: I’m just allowing for the fact that some pupils, for whatever reason, are better at verbalising ideas. This is one way of making sure their contributions are as valued as everyone else.

Let’s get thinking!

We’re winding down to the end of term and there’s a chance to have a little bit of fun.  I have come up with something the pupils could do in their ICT time which is fun on a number of levels.

I’ve been looking at the Molly Potter books recently and they have some fantastic activities to get pupils thinking. This activity (which I called What if? ) really produces a lot of interesting discussion. Give out a list of objects that all have magical properties and ask pupils to decide which ones they could use in school and on what day ( so they could link it to their class timetable if they wanted to). Items include a magic hat which helps you remember things and a key that can answer a certain amount of questions. Some of the items seem more obviously useful than others (although all have their merits) and listing a few possible uses can assist some of the pupils. Some pupils might play it safe and use the items to help them with class work etc. but there is scope for ideas that are truly inspired.

You could also try this second challenge (called Stranded!), which is about surviving in remote places and being able to design a shelter out of the things around you. Pupils are again given a list of possible choices and need to choose  five items that might help them survive on a desert island. Some of the choices were electronic but, obviously, all of these needed battery power and some needed an internet connection (which there wasn’t likely to be on a desert island). Other choices included a torch, a sleeping bag  and compass (obviously great if you know how to use it), in addition to other useful (or not?) items. This activity is another good one for problem solving and developing thinking. If you really consider the choices on offer you can come up with some great sensible answers (including making sure the torch was a wind up one) and good explanations on which items should be used and how(e.g. A sleeping bag would be useful as because you could unzip it and use it as a roof for a shelter). Some pupils, on the other hand, might look at the technology choices first (not considering signal or battery power) and may need a little guidance. But, however you use them, one thing both challenges are is fun.

The Great Outdoors

Linking ICT with the Outdoor Curriculum can often be a head scratching experience. They’re not a combination that, at first glance, appear to fit together. And yet there is more and more focus in our school lives on being outside (and not just for excursions or PE!!). So what can you do? Is there an easy answer? Well, new opportunities for linking ICT and the Outdoor Curriculum and there is much to be discovered and explored. Here are a few suggestions for younger pupils!

  • Bring your BeeBots outside: Now this might not seem to be an obvious choice (after all – BeeBots need a smooth surface to run best) but it’s not too difficult to set up. you could develop an outdoor BeeBot area with a track and a clearly marked out area, but any large table will do – just make sure it’s on a level surface. Perhaps children could make obstacles for the BeeBot to travel around (extra DT is always good fun) or you could provide them with card, precut to 15cm x 15cm, to design their own track. You know everything is twice as much fun in the sunshine 🙂
  • Get some walkie talkies: There are so many uses for walkie talkies in the outdoor area. As a starting point they’re great for role play – maybe you’ve got a vet or hospital topic going on? What better way to link in a little ICT than to have a paramedic or a vet radioing back to base with details of injuries or requests of assistance? They’re also good on a trip to your Forest School area, local beach or any other outdoor excursion, as pupils can use them to chat to each other compare information between groups.
  • Get detecting: If you’ve got a large outdoor sand play area, or you’re out on a trip to the beach, a metal detector is a lovely addition to your equipment. Maybe you could use it to check different materials (metal/non metal) or actually hide some treasure for the children to find (nice if you’ve got a pirate topic going on) – I’m sure you can think of more suggestions.
  • Talk about stuff: Got some Easi-Speak microphones? Then take them outside and let the children record what they’re doing so they can share it with others back in class. Slightly older pupils could record information while on excursions and use the recordings as a basis for their writing afterwards. What about using a digital recorder to help you remember the sounds you heard? Then use the recording to get an atmosphere of the excursion back in class.
  • Give them a camera: Digital cameras are great in the outdoors 🙂 Younger pupils use could use cameras like these and then use Photo Simple, on the basic setting, to edit them back in class. You’ve then got a perfect opportunity to use PhotoStory 3 (or whatever else you might choose) to make little movies from your images. Alternatively get hold of a Flip Video camera and use it to record pupils’ activities for playback later. You could even get the children to record their own adventures!
  • Plan an audio trail: Leave clues for the children using recordable speech bubbles or talking points in addition to some written or visual clues. A bit like a treasure hunt but with added sound!
  • Make some music: Remember Tom Hanks on the big floor piano in Big? Why not recreate it with a roll up keyboard? A bit of music in the outdoors is always enjoyable – for you and the children.

Hopefully you’ll find something in this little list that you haven’t tried before and be tempted to give it a go. Although some activities will work better with a little adult supervision there’s plenty of opportunity for a little independent learning. There’s also great scope for including pupils with SEN and getting them as involved as everyone else – so go out and explore the possibilities.