Tune in to programming


Posted by MacKinnon | Posted in ICT, programming | Posted on October 26, 2012

With advances in educational ICT, programming with children is becoming more common in primary schools. In fact many education experts are assuming that in the new ICT curriculum (now due out circa 2014) computer science will take prevalence.

An examples of a programming system in schools already is LOGO.
Using a basic number of commands children are able to move a turtle animation in different directions, leaving a trail behind them, which can be various colours. Children could use this to try and write letters or create patterns. This is a good starting point for younger children to start computer programming and then move onto more difficult programming systems.

The programme that we used in session was Scratch. It has basic commands that are accessible for children, they can add costumes, backgrounds, sounds, characters and movement.
In an hours session I tried to explore the most I could and created this:

Learn more about this project

Teachers tools


Posted by MacKinnon | Posted in internet, teacher, Uncategorized | Posted on October 17, 2012


Prezi is a website that was recently recommended to me, it is a way of presenting work or information in a fast free flowing style.
Registration for the basic features is free but for a fee you can get more advanced tools. The presentations can be shared between users, meaning both parties can edit and tweak a presentation ready for display. For teachers who are sharing a project or giving ideas to other this is ideal. With simple steps and ‘cheat sheets’ getting started is easy.

Presentations can be edited and updated, so during a class project that is cross curricular the staff or children can upload and add their own explanations and examples of work. This presentation could then be used in; an assembly at parents evening or as a reflection at the end of the project. After a school trip a Prezi picture presentation could be shown or emailed to long distance family.
This example is about recycling.

I would let children add their own opinions about different aspects of a project and decide on which pictures to add.
There is already a stockpile of pre-made presentations that can be accessed by anyone, so as the starter to a topic or an informative teaching tool Prezi is easy to access, suitable for the classroom and an alternative to powerpoint.

When working on a student led seminar, we chose to use Prezi as a form of presentation. We picked a simple and clear design and put simple bullet points to outline our understanding. By making ourself all administrators we could all edit our sections from home.



Safe Searching


Posted by MacKinnon | Posted in internet, parents, safety | Posted on October 10, 2012

Being at university and being surrounded by computers and the internet often means that we as adults forget that not all children know about the internet, not all children can get onto the internet at home and it is our responsibility to give them the oppportnity to both use and be safe on the internet.

In some schools I have been placed in it is clear which children  have access to a computer at home, these children were confident and liked showing other children what they could do on the internet.

It is not only up to us as teachers to teach children about internet safety but adults also, specifically those parents or carers who are not computer literate.  There are easy to access videos on youtube aimed at children but also warnings for parents.

There are many different websites available to parents, children and teachers for example thinkuknow.
For children there are cartoons are videos explaining in a child friendly way why it is important to stay safe.

Cyberbullying is a very current issue, becoming more prominent with celebrities getting abused via social networking, for example Tom Daley’s very personal attack in August.

E safety can be tackled in many different ways by schools, but there is no doubt that children should be made aware of the dangers that they face online. For example an assembaly using a video such as this:

Are easy to find and tackle the serious issues, while the children should see similarities and engage.  Children could also be given the task of promoting e-safety around the school. Possibly even making a video similar to the one above.

Oftsed have published guidlines for E-safety called  ‘inspecting e-safety’This document suggests that staff, pupils and families all recieve training and information on how to stay safe online. The document gives examples of how and why internet safety can be taught, the main point from the document appears to be that maintaining a whole school consistent approach is the strongest way to teach.


Useful Phonics Links


Posted by MacKinnon | Posted in ICT, phonics, teacher | Posted on October 3, 2012

During a previous assignment I researched four phonics websites that would be helpful to a teacher that needed to improve their phonics knowledge or for a teacher wanting to look for new ideas. Hyperlinked are the four websites with some information on what makes them useful to teachers in either KS1 OR KS2.

Top Phonics

Mr Thorne

‘Mr Thorne does literacy’ is a great website. A real life teacher giving other teachers advice on various aspects of literacy. He recommends tried and tested; resources,  ways of teaching and games. Videos can also be found on youtube, Mr Thorne has his own iphone, ipad and andriod apps. The website has 244 videos for phases 1-6 as well as information and videos on topics like homophones and grammar. The videos would be perfect for use on the interactive whiteboard as the start of each new sound.
The website has a fun character of ‘Geraldine the Giraffe’ that young children would love. The Giraffe puppet teaches various sounds and would be great as a running theme over a series of lessons or as a re-cap of learnt sounds.

The website gives the options for you to be able to contact ‘Mr Thorne’ if there are any queries.


Phonics Play

Games and activities from phases 1 – 6
A worthwhile resource for all of key stage 1 and early key stage 2.  If the school subscribes, there are more resources and extended activities both children and teachers can use. This is a brilliant resource for teachers who aren’t overly confident in using and teaching phonics. With plans for each phase and daily ideas, this website excels in content for phonics in the classroom or at home.
It includes information for teachers when phonics isn’t meeting every child’s needs, with handy hints and a glossary. There is guidance for how to apply phonics, with activity ideas and assessment ideas, assessment guides and information as well as resources for all of the phases. These resources are printable so could be set as homework or extension work.
This website would be great to refer to parents who are struggling to understand phonics or how to aid their child with phonics. The free games and activities can be accessed by children whilst at home, whereas the subscriber-only games can be used within school and during phonics sessions.
There are resources that are designed for the interactive whiteboard during a phonics session. Another idea could be to have one to one time with a member of teaching staff for a child who is struggling with their phonics either in key stage one or two.


Phonics International

This website can be subscribed to to gain more content, but has a lot of free resources that are very worthwhile. I advise this website to teachers who are not overly confident in their knowledge of phonics to use this website as a refresher of their knowledge. There is an area that contains sound clips for the different phonemes and graphemes, with example words and images. There is a message forum for teachers and parents to contact each other, to give advice or ask questions. There are 70 free resources for unit 1 of 12 as a taster pack to encourage joining the scheme. There are some helpful tracking registers and various charts are also available for teachers to use alongside various flashcards and posters relating to unit 1. There is also the option to sign up for free tutorials on how to use the resources and what is available if you sign up for the rest of the scheme.



This website has 856 activities, including games, songs and fun videos with well known Cbeebies characters. Not all of the activities are solely for phonics, a lot of them involve use of the ICT and phonics crossed with other curriculum subjects. For example ‘Staying Healthy’ song which could be used in a science project.
The website gives you the option to pick an age range, time limit or a theme to differentiate the activities. The website has support features and information for any adults that are trying to boost their child’s learning using the website. It includes information explaining the premise of phonics and why it is so key in child development.
Resources on the website include; videos of high frequency sounds, printable worksheets and stories to read along with.