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Thursday, 23 March 2017

Song Lyric Flowcharts

Firstly, I have to start by thanking the fantastic @SteveBunce for this idea. He shared it a couple of year's ago when I saw him at Animate to Educate's Tech on the Tyne conference. I am very much looking forward to presenting their again this year.

So the idea here is that children take a song and break down the lyrics down into a flowchart. Using the repitition and patterns in songs, the children can start to consider the different symbols and links when creating a flow chart.

The idea is a great unplugged activity that can develop some computational thinking skills:

Here we are decomposing, abstractin, writing an algorithms with patterns.

We started by considering some other examples such as:

So my digital leaders gave it a go today and they loved it. Here are some of their examples. Once created, the children then snapped a picture of their efforts and using the app Shadow Puppets Edu, recorded a short video alongside the music following the flowchart they had created:

Monday, 20 March 2017

Planet Earth: A Nature Documentary - The Latest ReadWritePerform Pack

It is finally here! Both myself and John Murray have been working very hard on the latest pack. We apologise that it has taken a little longer than hoped but we are so proud of this pack.


In this pack, the children read, deconstruct and then write their own information text about an animal which they perform by making their own nature documentary just like the legendary David Attenborough.

In fact, an excerpt from one of David's fascinating documentaries is featured as a comparative text. 

The Unit of Work is aimed at Key Stage 2 & 3.  The aim of our packs is to cover all elements of the English curriculum in an engaging and purposeful way using a variety of media.  

With an additional focus on  Fluency for Meaning, this pack will help your learners appreciate the role of the narrator more fully. It will support them as they gain a better understanding of the narrator's role when reading aloud and help them to reflect upon how their voice can be used effectively, not simply to convey what is happening but also to bring the text to life. 

The pack also contains contextualised SPaG sessions that focus on a how to add extra information through parenthesis and relative clauses.

This pack includes:

  • Comprehension lessons that integrate and develop core reading skills at Word, Sentence and Text Level.
  • Writing lessons that encourage collaborative learning and independent creative writing that embeds grammar in a meaningful way and helps learners understand what it means to be a real writer, one who writes for an authentic purpose and with a particular audience in mind.
  • Performance lessons that develop reading fluency and a deeper understanding of their own work and that of others, as well as help improve personal social skills and confidence.

By the end of each Unit of Work, teachers will have written and video evidence of each of their students' work. This work can be shared with a wider audience, be assessed for moderation and will inform your future planning.

In addition, another app which will link perfectly to this unit of work is the Story of Life app. 

Here is an example of work produced following this scheme:

Click the picture to check out our other packs:

Sunday, 19 March 2017

(No one knows me) like the piano - Emotional Literacy Comprehension Lesson

I have previously blogged about using different songs for developing reading comprehension. I am currently working on a top secret project with John Murray where we will be developing this further by creating something very special which should be ready by the summer (fingers crossed.)

However, I had to share this beautiful song I recently came across by Sampha - (No one knows me) like the piano. 

Here are the lyrics:

No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
You would show me I have something,
Some people call a soul
And you dropped out the sky,
Oh you arrived when I was three years old
No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home

You know I left, I flew the nest
And you know I won’t be long
And in my chest you know me best
And you know I’ll be back home

An angel by her side,
All the times I knew we couldn’t cope
They said that it’s her time,
No tears in sight,
I kept the feelings close
And you took hold of me and never,
Never, never let me go
Cause no one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
In my mother’s home

Here is the music video to accompany the song:

There is also a 360 degree version too:

Before deconstructing the lyrics, it maybe worth sharing this tweet from Sampha that explains the song as a whole:

Teacher Note: In 2010, his mother, Binty Sisay, had been diagnosed with cancer. Since Sampha was the only member of his family still living at home — his father died from lung cancer in 1998 — he’d become her primary caregiver. At the time, he’d been working hard to get somewhere in music because, much to his mother’s dismay, he’d dropped out of university a couple of years before. Her cancer went into remission in late 2012. In the relief-fueled year that followed, Sampha’s career blossomed. By the end of 2013, Sampha had moved out of the family home and was living by himself in East London. The plan was simple: hit pause on collaborations and start focusing on his debut solo album. But plans often go awry. His mum’s health was up and down, and in late 2014, her cancer returned. Sampha moved home to be with her in the South London suburb of Morden. Some weeks, she was in and out of the hospital every couple of days. This past September, she lost her life to the debilitating disease.

After watching the video and listening to the song, pose the following questions:

  • Why has the singer chosen to use brackets for the song's title? How does this create a double meaning?
  • How do you know his mother is no longer with us? 
  • Do you think he misses his Mum? Does he love her?
Consider the first verse:

No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
You would show me I have something,
Some people call a soul
And you dropped out the sky,
Oh you arrived when I was three years old
No one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home

  • Why does no one know the singer like the piano? He would use it as a form of escape when dealing with his poorly mother. 
  • Why is this now important to him? Despite it maybe reminding him of the pain he went through, it reminds him of his talent and how his mother supported him with it.
  • Who else lives at his mother's home? No one, just him and his mother, there doesn't seem to be a father, otherwise, it would be parent's home. 
  • Who do you think he is singing to with the second line? It could be the piano as it provided an escape from reality. In the difficult times his piano is his way to realise that he has soul and passion. Alternatively, it could link to his mother - her support of him and his music has helped him and his career and when he returned to his mother’s home he was reminded of how she loved him.
  • Do you think the piano was dropped out of the sky? Why does he use this phrase? He uses the phrase represent the piano as being a dream so dropping from the sky. A dream that started at three years old and has carried on into a career.
You know I left, I flew the nest
And you know I won’t be long
And in my chest you know me best
And you know I’ll be back home

  • Why did the singer have to leave? For him to fulfil his dream and goal he had to leave the place of comfort and pursue his dream.
  • Why does he use the phrase 'flew the nest'? It is an idiom, the nest is the parents home where you grow up and you fly (leave) but have to do that on your own. 
  • Why does he say he won't be long? He knows home is where the heart is, he is thankful for everything his Mother has done for him and he will never forget it. 
  • Why does he talk about his chest? Inside his chest is his heart, we talk about our heart when we discuss love but also our passion and dreams. 
  • Why does his mother know he be back? She isn't angry about him leaving but knows if needed he would be back when it mattered.
An angel by her side,
All the times I knew we couldn’t cope
They said that it’s her time,
No tears in sight,
I kept the feelings close
And you took hold of me and never,
Never, never let me go
Cause no one knows me like the piano in my mother’s home
In my mother’s home

  • Do you think the singer is religious? How do you know? Yes, he talks about an angel being by her side when times were very hard and it helped them through.
  • Why didn't he cry? He was trying to stay strong for his mother when he knew it was nearly her time. 
  • How did he cope with these feelings? He played the piano.
  • What does he mean by his mother taking hold of him? She has put a lasting impression on him by supporting him and allowing him to fulfil his dream.
  • Why does he repeat the word 'Never'? For emphasis.
Whole Text: 
  • What significance has the piano had on his life? 
  • Is this a sad or happy song? Why do you think this?
  • What lasting impact does his Mother have on the singer?

I hope you find these ideas useful and keep an eye out for this new resource John and I are working on.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

AlbertClock for extra maths practice!

Thanks to @Gareth_Metcalfe for this new app AlbertClock you can download on your devices! See it in action here:

A post shared by Lee Parkinson (@ict_mrp) on

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Some thoughts and ideas on #WorldBookDay

Here are some thoughts and ideas about World Book Day from my latest VLOG:

As mentioned in the video, for some tech-inspired World Book Day ideas, visit this link. 

I also mentioned the fantastic work done by @TheDistrictCE through their Year of Reading. 

A quick breakdown of some of the impact:

  • Reading attainment improved in all year groups, significantly so in Y4 +12% more pupils at ARE, and Y6 +30% more pupils at ARE.
  • Comparison of KS2 pupil surveys (before and end of YofR) found more pupils were sharing books at home and there was approx. 20% increase in pupils going to the library out of school.
  • Comparison of KS2 pupil surveys (before and end of YofR) found approx. 20% increase in confidence of how pupils feel about themselves as readers.
Some other case studies:

I had to also share this poem about World Book Day written by Michelle:

T’was the night before World Book Day and all through the town,
Parents were pacing, their faces a frown.
They’d sat by the door and listened with care,
In hope that Amazon soon would be there.
With costume plans dashed, the children in tears,
Mummy sends Dad for emergency beers.
The children are finally sent to their beds,
While Mummy regrets coming off of her meds.
She scrambles around while Daddy looks on,
He knows in his heart that his evening has gone.
She opens the chocolate, forgets making tea,
Raises the threat level to DEFCON 3.
Out comes the craft box, the scissors, the glue,
The felt and the cardboard, the staple gun too.
She sits back and ponders what she could create.
The tales that her costumes would grandly relate.
A Cat in a Hat. A Snail or a Whale.
Harry or Wally. Some random male.
A Mr. A Miss. An Ant or a Bee.
The Tin Man or Peter Pan. The Faraway Tree.
Alice. Hermione. A Witch or the Queen.
A Pirate. A Knight. Jack’s Magic Bean.
A Lion. A Tiger. A Bear named Baloo.
A Greek or A Viking. Thing One or Thing Two.
Mum throws back the beer admitting defeat,
Mum of the Year. No need to compete.
When what to her wondering eyes did appear,
Dad at the door, his eyes full of fear.
He holds up an Elsa, an old Batman cape,
“Maybe a princess? Or Severus Snape?”
“Snape isn’t Batman” Mum shouts in disgust,
“And Elsa is covered in ketchup and dust”
“A wet-wipe will soon get that ketchup right out,”
His smile starts to waver, his eyes full of doubt.
Mum looks at the floor. At the cardboard and felt.
An old pair of tights and Daddy’s old belt.
“Well Batman’s a comic so I guess that’s OK.”
She’s starting to see the error of her ways.
“Why spend all that cash when the answer’s right here?”
“Elsa works too. Now pass me a beer.”
Dad heads for the fridge. He stops and he turns.
His body held rigid. Face full of concern.
“But Frozen’s a film, not really a book,”
“Well at this stage darling, who gives a…”

And finally, when it comes to World Book Day, only one teacher can show us the way! So here is a special World Book Day according to our hero... Mrs May video!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Sentence Tree from Foxtype

I blogged about the app sentiopiary (now known as grow grammar) a while ago. This quick video explains how it works:

Grow Grammar - Create - The Beautiful Apple from eeiioo on Vimeo.

Now the app is priced at £4.99 and while it is a great way to revise SPaG, with school budgets tightening it may not be affordable for some.

However, I have recently discovered a website that does a very similar thing. FoxType's Sentence Tree is a free website where you can type in a sentence and it will define every part, for example:

Having this open on your laptop and checking the odd sentence as a quick reminder for children and can be a really useful revision tool.

Visit the Sentence Tree Website Here.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Creating our own VR with CoSpaces!

Embracing Social Media as a teacher has completely transformed my teaching. In fact, it has taken my career on a path I never dreamed possible. I love how many ideas I pick up from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. This is one app I spotted recently:

I have been wanted to find a way to create my own VR for a while and CoSpaces seems to be a great tool for this.

The website and app both allow you to create your own VR environment. It is free to use and just needs an email and password to get going. This week my digital leaders gave it a whirl and they absolutely loved it.

To begin with they were given some tinkering time. I gave them 15 minutes to simply play, experiment and discover the app and the way it works.

We then looked at focusing on using the tool to create something with a purpose. The website gives some suggestions, such as:

  • Storytelling - Using the tool to retell a story or create their own story. The app allows you to add different scenes, objects, characters and even a voice recording for children to narrate their creations. 
  • Virtual Exhibitions - The app can be used to exhibit different pictures, which can be linked to a range of different curriculum areas. A timeline, an artist's portfolio or sporting greats. 
  • Creative Play - Using the app to build and create pretty much anything! Just being creative!
  • Infographics - Using the program to present information and data in a more immersive way.
  • Modelling - Building 3D models to explain and demonstrate different concepts in subjects like science.
It was amazing to see the children jump straight into the app and create something. The collaboration, discussion and engagement was very impressive. My head was full of other ways to use this app across the curriculum. So watch this space!

As far as what the children created, here are a couple of examples. Once the children had created a project, they were given the chance to view their creations using a Google cardboard headset:

This first example is the retelling of the classic story, Little Red Riding Hood. If you have a VR headset, give it a view in 3D:

This next example is of a Haunted House, accompanied by a spooky soundtrack composed by the pupils using the app, Launchpad.

As stated before, watch this space for some more examples of how we use this great tool to enhance learning across the curriculum. Please share any other examples of how you use it via Facebook and Twitter