Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘tes.iboard’

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.

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I’ve Got the Music in Me

Everyone loves music. Be it classical, rock, hip-hop or something else entirely, every one I know can pinpoint a tune, a song or a style that they enjoy. Children are no different: they instinctively move to a groove and can tell you how music makes them feel. Music and rhythm is so ingrained in all of us that most of us dream about playing an instrument, writing a song or joining a band at some time in our lives. In the past this was not an opportunity offered everyone: instruments are expensive, reading music can be tricky, learners need time to rehearse and develop – great for those who money, time and energy to devote to it but not exactly inclusive. Luckily access to technology is changing this and now everyone who wants to can find a way to make music if they wish. Over the next few days I’m going to post a few ideas and links to show what is available: whether it costs nothing or needs to be bought and installed across your school system.  Today we’re looking at the freebies.

For starters, on the web based front, there are a number of fun and free activities to get things going. Incredibox was one of the first I came across and I’ve been showing it and using it with pupils for a while now. A simple idea, that’s really well executed; it’s particularly good for showing pupils how to build up layers of sound and put them together. The bonuses add a bit of frivolity and silliness to the proceedings but children seem to love them and happily embrace the madness! The website has been advertising a move towards version 2 soon: I can hardly wait to see what it brings us. In addition to Incredibox you might also like to check out iNudge: a great little music pad type mixer where you just colour in different squares with your mouse and create something that can be quite magical. Great advantage of iNudge is that you can get a link to the tune you’ve created or generate an embed code so you can add it to your blog or VLE, making your creations available for others to listen to – like this

Another great free web based music generator, that I have to say is becoming a bit of an obsession for some of my older pupils, is Isle of Tune . It’s a music sequencer which is (kinda) presented like one of those internet based games you see on sites like Facebook – making it both appealing and familiar before you even start using it. I don’t want to repeat what others have said about this already, so it’s worth checking out this post on The Whiteboard Blog to get a bit of basic information.  What I would say is that it’s worth showing the pupils how to use separate bits of road to create their tune: one piece of road for the rhythm track (these are the street lights) and other road layouts for the main tune and supporting harmonies. The most successful tunes posted are mostly using this method and, after a bit of playing around, you’ll be able to get something together too. I’m warning you now – it is a bit addictive!

For those of you wondering about what’s available to use with younger pupils: there are still a number of nice free web based and downloadable options to try out. BGfL has a marvellous virtual keyboard, which I am sure would be great fun on an IWB as would this delightful raindrop activity. SEN teacher has a download link for Music Games (available for both windows and Mac) which is worth having a play with and, although I can’t see them listed on the site now, both this chimes activity and this tunes activity were ones that I originally found through SEN teacher (quite some time ago) and are absolutely great on a touch screen or and IWB. There are also a number of useful and simple musical activities available via the Tesiboard and Poisson Rouge: you’ll just have to look around to find them!

Of course, there are a lot more activities of this type available on the web: I’m just flagging up the ones I’ve used and found useful. And I’m going to finish with one which is a (ahem) ‘big hit’ with the boy in Year 6 and another that is just too good to leave out. The ‘big hit’ is obviously Ken’s Virtual Drum Kit which I first saw being demonstrated by the ever enthusiastic Kevin McLaughlin during BETT 2011 on a touch screen IWB. Since going home and having a play I found that you can also operate the kit with the keys on your keyboard and this means it is accessible to everyone in school regardless of the computer or laptop they’re using. As I’ve already said, boys in particular seem to take to it and I’ve seen a few of them writing out keyboard sequences for their drum riffs so that they can replicate them at home – how cool is that? And in case you’re wondering which activity I’m highlighting as too good to omit: it’s Microsoft SongSmith. Yes, I’ve mentioned it before but it deserves mentioning again (and again) as it is just so useful! Want to get the kids writing raps to help them with their revision? – it’s great for that. Want to write your own jingles for adverts linked to persuasive writing? – big tick again. I could go on.  The benefit of this program is not only the pure amount of support and guidance available via the website (and there is loads to look through and try out): it’s the fact that it is so easy to pick up and use in the classroom. And all you have to do to get this free is join the Partners in Learning Network. Really… you’d be silly not to.

All You Need is Love…

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!

Looking through the spectrum

Trying to engage children through the medium of ICT is, in most cases, easy to do. There are so many different ways of making ICT engaging and ‘wow’ that children usually find software and activities that they just love to use! Game based learning, for example, is a fantastic way of inspiring writing and a great way to introduce or extend a topic. Computer generated art is another popular avenue – there is just so much choice and so many things that are freely available that a child is bound to find something they adore and want to create with and share. I could go on (I’m sure you could too). Yet one of my favourite jobs  is finding and discovering ideas for pupils with SEN. Once they take to something they really have the ability to run with it and take it to unusual places – and that’s something I can really relate to.

At the moment there are a number of great online resources that can engage and are accessible for these pupils: Poisson Rouge , Help Kidz Learn and Tes IBoard are just a few sites I think are fantastic. There’s also a great range of inclusive new equipment, with Easi Speak mics , V-Tech cameras and BeeBots among the favourites. There’s also the amazing Story Stage from Scholastic and Storybird (both of these can link to developing social skills as well as enhancing their curriculum). There’s so much available for these pupils in the realm of ICT at the moment, but what I’m really excited about is the current selection of products from 2Simple.

Pupils seem to have a fine time using 2Paint a Picture and 2Publish+. Even the youngest pupils can enjoy activities like creating repeating animal skin patterns. In an attempt to link their efforts in ICT with a more hands on activity, you could print out the designs and use wooden animal stencil to cut actual animal shapes out of the appropriate skin patterns. Which brings me nicely onto…

…2Design and Make. The mix of ICT and DT is a marvellous thing! Pupils can create houses and vehicles for a street scene, coloured dice for maths activities and masks for role play. There’s nothing quite like getting the scissors and glue out and making something with your own two hands and the pupils just cannot wait to print out their efforts and bring them back to the classroom to stick together. And I’m all for that 🙂

Animal Magic

There are some topics that just always crop up in one way or another and animal topics always seem to be popular. It’s a wonderful area of discovery  as there are so many things you can link in – jungle, minibeasts, woodland creatures, polar animals, dinosaurs…the list goes on. Luckily there are a huge number of free resources on the web to help support this topic – here’s a few you might find useful.

it’s worth investigating the fantastic Be Your Wild Self website . The website allows pupils to create and image of themselves and then add animal features. A pair of wings. a lion’s mane…there are a huge number of choices and you can even add a background to. When you’ve finished your creature the website provides a print out which gives your creature a name (made up of bits of all the chosen animals – see above) and the printout will also provide you with facts about each of the animals you’ve chosen. You could use this in  conjunction with work on ‘The Gruffalo’ –  simply get pupils creating their own monsters and printing them off for display. The website could be equally successfully with older pupils. Try linking it to ‘Not Now, Bernard’: pupils can capture screen shots of  finished creatures, paste them into a PowerPoint template and use descriptive language to describe them. I’m sure you can think of more uses for this amazing resource so go and check it out!

You’ll also find a number of ideas linked to animal topics on the wonderful free tes iboard site. In fact there are all sorts of animal ideas (minibeasts, farm animals etc.) that are sorted into subject categories (and colour coded suggested target age groups). Covering angles and distance? Also in the middle of an animal topic? The tes iboard has an activity for that (Catching Flies Chameleon). Covering Insects in class? Like to sort some using a branching database? Again tes iboard has an activity for that. In fact it’s a seemingly overflowing pot of ideas. And it’s going to add KS2 activities soon (although many existing activities would be suitable for Y3/4 and pupils with SEN). I can hardly wait!

Younger children, and those with SEN, also have access to a fabulous number of accessible and simple activities linked to this topic. HelpKidzLearn (shown above) contains a number of basic, clearly designed (and switch accessible) activities and the bugs section on Poisson Rouge has some nice easy activities that I have used successfully with playgroup age pupils and those with co-ordination difficulties (the activity where pupils click on the yellow bugs to make a picture is great for developing mouse control and encouraging pupils to scan the screen fully). And, when thinking of little ones. let’s not overlook the absolutely jam-packed CBeebies site ( I really like the Tinga Tinga section) as well as the well used (and for good reason) ICT Games (loads of great creature themed activities) and Kent ICT Games . I’ve had pupils using the BeeBot shell designer to create BeeBot shells of almost any creature you could mention (and there’s plenty of other good stuff too). And, before I forget, while we’re talking about the Kent ICT site check out their fantastic child friendly, themed search tools ! Fabulous stuff 🙂

There are also plenty of ‘creature feature’ websites that could be useful in KS2. The ever excellent BBC Science and Nature section is great and I recently saw a group of pupils using the WWF Climate Trackers website to research endangered species quite successfully. To my mind, however, a truly excellent selection of resources and information can be found on ARKive. Stunning images and videos are all part of this fabulous resource and it’s even got an area where pupils can use it in tandem with Google Earth. You might also like to check out the education section as I’m fairly sure you’ll find something of interest there.

So there you have it. A selection of creature themed resources across a number of age groups. If you still cannot find what you need and you’re handy with ICT why not create some resources of your own? Be inventive with triggers in PowerPoint or create some cool multimodals. If you’ve got 2Do it Yourself you could create some activities (Like the one pictured above ) using the wonderful selection of available templates (lots to choose from –  pairs or labelling are useful for creating IWB resources that could be used in big group time). Spending a little time to get a big wow is always time well spent.