Category: teaching


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Brain pop is a useful web resource for a number of subject areas, and they have now released a free app. This could be really useful for students to download and use in things like tutor time, or as a starter in maths or science.

http://www.brainpop.com/educators/blog/2010/04/brainpop-launches-free-ipad-app/

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I have been a massive fan of Evernote for the last few years, and like it so much that i have become a premium user. As a teacher i have found Evernote useful for a number of things. I wanted to just list the things i find Evernote really useful for and why.

  1. Saving emails; with the integration between outlook and Evernote it is as simple as clicking a button to move a copy of an email into Evernote. I find this particularly useful to store important emails which i want to tag and use as evidence. The premium account means that the attachments are saved as well. As the managed service we have at school has a small user area size, this frees up space for other things in my school user account.
  2. Storing assessment evidence; students email me work and i move it to Evernote to have as evidence of my assessment with classes.
  3. Syncing from a file; there a number of different backup storage sites on the market. Dropbox and Syncplicity are two that immediately spring to mind. But Evernote makes it very simple to sync a folder across from my school network to any other device i have Evernote installed on. More on this in a later post to come.
  4. Storing tweets that catch my eye; I email my Evernote account with any tweets that i am interested in reading, which normally have web links that i want to look at on my laptop (i usually use twitter on ipod touch to read twitter). These are then easily accessed at a later time.
  5. As a bookmarking application; when i see webpages i would like to keep or refer to later, i add them to Evernote by using the web clipper.

These main uses, and some others, mean that Evernote is a really important tool for me as a teacher, and is moving me towards an office with less and less paper.

How do you use Evernote? Do you use Evernote? I would be interested to hear you thoughts.

Differentiation

I stumbled across this post by Deven Black  during my blog reading,  about differentiation http://bit.ly/hcu7Tv. It got me thinking. I really like this post as it reinforces what good teaching should be about. At the heart of this lesson design is choice. Too often teachers prescribe what is to be done, and then prescribe how it is going to be done. Students need choice. This means they can match the task to their learning preferences, and also choose a task that is going to keep them interested in the work. If you can get this right then students will amaze you with what they are capable of achieving. I am always striving to set up lessons where i make myself redundant. Someone told me once ‘the students should leave your class knackered, not you.’ In other words, they should be doing all the work and we should be pointing them in the right direction, and answering their questions not our questions to them.

I have come across www.spezify.com recently, and thought that it might be useful for presenting information in an interesting way. The traditional way of presenting in schools is powerpoint, and the problem with this is that some teachers (and many more students) just read out the text that is on the screen. Not good practice! Spezify is at heart a search engine that delivers text, picture, tweets, sound and video based around your search term. You can then look at your search results and ‘favourite’ particular results that could link into your presentation. This then means that you can use the favourites to talk about, rather than talk from. You do need all your links and pictures etc in the favourites, and if you need to change your subject, you need to redo your favourites.

This is a really good example of this in action from Doug Belshaw;

I recently looked into Learning score as a planning tool, and used it to deliver a maths lesson to a group of year 9 students. It seemed to work quite well and allowed students to be much more autonomous in their learning.

 

 

 

I combined the #UKSnowmap, which @tbarrett had started and crowd sourced from his twitter network, with the learning score planning tool. I uploaded the Learning score lesson onto our VLE (click here to read more), and got students to download the file. This allowed the students to immediately access the sites and examples directly infront of them, and show them what they needed to produce by the end of the lesson.

This managed to combine both Maths and ICT skills through the use of excel to handle the data, and also then answer questions about the data itself to show understanding. Students liked the idea of having the lesson mapped out for them so they could see where they were going, and move around the lesson freely.

Example of what was produced;

Headteachers have a really difficult decision to make when it comes to closing a school for snow. If they close the school the are blasted for disrupting the education (and child care arrangements) of students, but if someone was to slip and hurt themselves, this would be seen in an even worse light.

I think that closing the school is the best option. Firstly for health and safety reasons, but also, lets let children have some fun in their childhood and have snowball fights, build snowmen and generally enjoy their formative years!

 

learning score is a lesson planning tool which gives teachers a way of bringing together multimedia and lesson overviews so students know where the lesson is going. @dougbelshaw did a good review of the software, which was developed by John Davitt, which can be found here. I read this review a good few months ago, and also heard John speak at a conference i attended, which got me thinking about the software. I looked at the website ( http://www.learningscore.com/) and downloaded the free trial to evaluate whether it would be useful for me.

What i have found is that the ‘score’ (which is what i am calling the lesson plan) can be exported as a SCORM file, and as such, can then be embedded into Fronter (our schools VLE). This is useful for a number of reasons. Firstly it means i can store the score on the VLE, and not take up any of my limited storage space that the managed service gives me. Secondly, it means that the students can have immediate access to my lesson plan. They are then able to follow this, and see exactly where we are going. lastly it could lead to discussions about what style the group prefers, and enable me to refine future scores, for example more group or individual work included.

To import the score into Fronter, you first need to export the file as a SCORM file which you can do from the file option (export for web). Once you have this saved you need to go to the ‘room’ in Fronter that you would like to place the score into. You need to make sure that the room has the Course option in the room tools;

 

Once you have that, click the course option, and upload the file from your documents. Make sure that you check the open in seperate window option. Once you have uploaded the score from your documents, you then need to link to it using an internal link and selecting the file in the course folder. Now that you have a link on the front page the students just need to click on the link and wait for the score to open;

Here my link is the snow data lesson.

This shows the Learning Score in Fronter as it appears. You can’t edit the score, but you can view it and interact with it. Any website links just need to be clicked on and they open in a seperate window. 

If you need any help with this please let me know and i will try to explain in more detail.

This is the prezi i used in the staff training session on e-safety. I tried to keep it informative and relevant, while at the same time getting the message across.

http://prezi.com/oi4821lxesxn/e-safety/

I am going to try and document how i have used certain tools in the classroom (mainly web 2.0 stuff) and reflect on the impact and usefulness in my teaching.

To start with i have been using www.jaycut.com as an online video creation site. It is really useful to use, as the creation of the video is very simple, and then the students can publish to their jaycut account and get a url for the video, or they can save to their documents.

All they then need to do is to email me the link to the video and then i can mark the video and give them feedback.

The students seem to like this idea, and i used it in maths to summarise the properties of triangles and quadrilaterals. This allowed them to create an individual video and show their knowledge of the key terms associated with the topic.

All in all, it went quite well! What video creation tools have you used, and how did it go?

Firstly if you don’t know what QR codes are, here is a link to some more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_Code , and a clip to show how they are used.

I first started to get interested in QR codes after i read the blog of @mrrobbo (http://thepegeek.com/). He talked about using QR codes to identify different bones on a skeleton, and making worksheets ‘come to life’, or as extensions.

So how have i used it?

  1. As a starter; I have used QR codes as a starter with an ICT class, in a bit of a competitive way. I simply pointed them at my site, which i use for resources and tutorial videos, where i had embedded a QR code which simply told them a key word to tell me. I gave them absolutely no help. They had to research what QR codes were, how to read them and then actually read the code! It took the quickest group about 7 minutes from never seeing them, to telling me the answer!
  2. As assessment evidence; I asked a maths class to produce a video on www.jaycut.com (an alternative to movie maker), then once they published the video, it created a unique URL for their video. They then took this to  http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ and generated a QR code for their video. They then printed this off and stuck them in their books as evidence of the work we had done on line. (Thanks to @deputymitchell and the blog post http://mrmitchell.heathfieldcps.net/2010/11/20/4d-books-linking-analogue-to-digital/ which inspired the idea)

I am sure this idea will continue to grow, and as i explore more with QR codes, i will keep posting thoughts here.

How have you used them?