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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

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Choose Life.... by Year 6

So a couple of weeks ago, I went to see the sequel to a very iconic British film. I enjoyed it immensely. My favourite scene has to be the iconic 'Choose Life' monologue.

It got me thinking about a more age appropriate version for young people to relate to.

So with my Year 6 digital leaders, we considered all the different aspects of how to live a happy and successful life.

I did not mention the film at all (for obvious reasons) I just gave the group a clean version of the original 'Choose Life' monologue:

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, wishing away your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, brats you raised to replace yourself.
We discussed the message here and how it is criticising society, consumerism and the system.We all want the same things (nice cars, clothes etc) and conform to society's conventions forgetting about our real dreams and when we realise we didn't fulfil our dreams it is too late to do anything.

Following a similar idea of living life to the fullest, reaching your potential and being happy, the group wrote their own 'choose life' monologue. The children listed all the things that matter to them such as school, sport and technology. They discussed some issues affecting them and others; fake news, internet safety and inequality.

The children wanted to promote a positive outlook for others to follow. When the children were told they were going to perform this monologue as a video which would be shared online, this seemed to motivate them more with their writing. When I explained that other young people who may feel alone, stressed and feel like they can't achieve their dreams might watch their video and feel inspired and this further added purpose to the task.

Once they had completed writing, they used Adobe Spark Video to create visuals to link to their words and then filmed themselves in front of the greenscreen. The videos and visuals were linked together in Doink Greenscreen. I had to then put the iconic music from the film to finish it off!

Here is their finished effort:

Choose life, choose your future, choose education. Choose to listen, enquire, invent and think. Choose to go to school not because you have to, but because you want to. Choose to read, not because it is a gift, because it is a right. Choose to read to get lost in great stories and not just to answer questions. Choose to write. Choose to tell stories, express ideas and be creative without worrying about the active and passive voice to tick a box.
Choose to exercise. Choose to go outside and run. Choose to jump, climb and play.
Choose to use the internet. Choose to be positive and share your ideas with a global audience. Choose YouTube, Instagram and blogging. Choose to be famous because you have excelled and achieved something not just for looking good behind a filter.  
Choose to be happy and confident with your self no matter what your size and shape as it is what's on the inside that counts. Choose to be respectful and appreciate that people are different and have different views but we should all be treated equally and work together. Choose to value the truth. Choose not to believe everything you see online and in the media as they can have hidden agendas. Choose to value people over money.  
Choose to have a passion and follow your dream so when you grow up working makes you happy and fulfilled. Choose to be happy. Don't just wait for the sun, dance in the rain. Choose to put your phone down and experience the incredible world around you. Choose to talk to your family and friends. Choose to make memories.  
Choose to be a master of technology and not a slave to it. Choose to make mistakes knowing it is one step closer to being a success. Choose to be the change you want to see in the world. Choose your future. Choose life.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Another adventure with Mrs May!

Here it the fourth instalment of the adventures with Mrs May. This time looking at the book "Don't be silly." Enjoy! 


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Tinybop apps to enhance learning in the classroom

I feel technology can enhance and transform learning in lots of different ways. On my training, I focus more on using the technology to create content. There are however, some fantastic consumer apps that are a fantastic way for children to learn and practise and deepen their knowledge and understanding. Some recent apps I have thoroughly enjoyed using in the classroom are the Tinybop collection.

I have previously blogged about using the Robot Factory app, you can read about it here. 

I have been enjoying using the top row of Tinybop apps in the classroom linked with our science topics. The Human Body, Earth, Weather and Space apps are fantastic ways for children to explore and learn through play and discovery. 

The apps have been purposely designed full of interactive activities for children to play and learn about different concepts. My children have been learning all about the human body and so the Tinybop Human Body app has been a great way for children to learn more about the topic. The attention to detail is fantastic. The students can explore every aspect of the body and deepen their understanding through play. There are lots of different activities the children can play to learn about how the body works. The app works well for both KS1 and KS2 and children of all abilities will be able to use the app to help enhance their topic learning about the Human Body. You can see the app in action here:

The whole range of apps work in a very similar way and are a fantastic resource to enhance learning in Science. The team at Tinybop have also created some great guides for teachers which you can read here.

I am very excited to have 5 copies of the Human Body app up for grabs through my Facebook page. Please watch and follow the following instructions:

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Interactive Timeline about the Romans

This afternoon, I had the pleasure of working with our Year 5 as they embark on their Ancient Roman topic. We decided as a class to create our own interactive timeline. Firstly, we discussed which important events we would include and tried to link some of these to the impact Romans had on Britain.

Once we had decided on the events, we put them into a timeline using the app Popplet.

In pairs, the children were then given an event to research and find more information about. They had to then choose an app to create a 30-second presentation about the app where they could demonstrate what they had learned. They could use apps such as Tellagami, Shadow Puppets Edu or ChatterKids

Each video was linked to the timeline using the app Thinglink and saved to our Thinglink account.

The class could then load the thinglink of their devices and watch every other group and learn about that event from each other.

This is an idea that can be easily adapted to any topic and gives the children the opportunity to demonstrate their learning in a more creative way.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Learning about the body with the amazing Curiscope Virtuali-tee app!

I love using technology to create moments of awe and wonder with my pupils. Two of the best tools for this are Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Imagine an app which combines both to make learning about the Human Body more fun and interactive than ever before!

I have been following the progress of the Curiscope project for the best part of a year after backing the campaign on Kickstarter. It is fantastic to finally see the app and t-shirt available.

The app is FREE however it needs one of the t-shirts to work. The t-shirts come in a variety of colours and sizes and can be ordered here.

Once you have the t-shirt, one pupil can wear it and the others can use the app on different devices to scan the t-shirt, where they are then able to see inside the body! As you can see with the following gif created with my sons.

The app allows you to investigate different physiological systems such as the circulatory and respiratory systems. You can tap an option to have a voiceover share interesting facts and information about the body. There is also the option to view using virtual reality, meaning if you get the app on an iPhone or similar device you can use a Google cardboard or VR headset and give the children a fully immersive 3D experience.

The app is a superb example of how technology can transform the way in which we learn, in this case, about the body. 

I am very excited to announce that the fantastic team over at Cursiscope have given me TWO t-shirts to give away through my Facebook and Instagram page. To be in with a chance of winning, please like, share and comment on this post on Facebook. You must comment for me to see that you have shared it.

You can also win by liking and commenting on this post on Instagram:

Sunday, 5 February 2017

It's the Weather - Another adventure with Mrs May!

The third installment of the #BeLikeMrsMay takes a look at Mrs May's behaviour management strategies and the SATs monster:

YouTube link:

Some thoughts on #SaferInternetDay

I felt compelled to make the following video with some thoughts and ideas about how we should be teaching Internet Safety.

If you want a YouTube link:

If you want to download a version to use and show in a staff meeting:

Click Here 

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Fantastic Toontastic to Create Animated Films!

In this rich digital world we live in, we are exposed to visuals more than every before. We engage with visuals more than text and children especially seem to engage watching endless Youtube videos, films, TV shows etc. One thing we should be teaching children is that the only way to get decent visual media is to write decent content first.

When children are given the opportunity to transform their writing from lifeless text on the page to a digital story, it motivates them, gives them a purpose and the opportunity to develop a range of other important skills.

This approach underpins a lot of my ideas on the blog and also the READWRITEPERFORM approach.

A new app I have discovered which is a fantastic way for children to make their own animated films is Toontastic 3D.

This FREE app from Google allows children to draw, animate, and narrate their own cartoons. This video made by the guys behind the app gives you an insight into how the app works:

The app is so easy and simple to use.

  • You start by choosing the type of story you want to tell.

  • You are then given a story mountain to help you structure your story.

  • You tap on the beginning and then choose your setting. You are given the option to draw your own.

  • You can then add characters to the scene. Again there is the option to draw your own or use the camera to add yourself to the story.

  • You can click start and the iPad will record anything you say and anything you do on the screen including moving the characters, their limbs, tapping on them to perform a gesture or holding down on the character to make their mouth move.
  • Once the recording has finished, you have a variety of soundtracks to choose from to enhance the scene further.

  • The finished project can be exported to the camera roll to be shared and evidenced through a range of tools.

Some of my Year 6 pupils were tasked with transforming some of their fantastic story writing into an animated film. Here are a couple of their efforts:

The opportunities for use in class is immense, storytelling has never been so much fun! But the opportunities for presentations, explanations and other non-fiction texts.

Entreprenaws - Bringing business and enterprise into the classroom!

 My blog is all about sharing ideas to try and make learning more purposeful through the use of technology. Some of my previous posts about this worth a read are: When learning is real, learning matters! and Traditional Tales with Nando's

I am a massive fan of using technology and apps that provide a real world context for children to apply their knowledge and understanding. A new app, which fits this category perfectly is Entreprenaws. 

The app has been created by the Stepping into Business team, who are on a mission to try and teach and educate younger students about entrepreneurship and business. The app does this by developing a range of skills in a fun and engaging game. 

I have known about this app for a while as some of our pupils were lucky enough to test some early versions of the game. The reaction to it from our pupils was extremely positive: the discussions, explanations and problem solving the children were demonstrating from using the app was really impressive.  

I am very lucky to be given some free codes from the app on both Apple and Android. To be in with a chance of winning head over to my facebook page - and share the following post, which shows you more about the app: