A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

at Leicester and UN

March 26, 2015
by Jean
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Minecraft – can it support learning?

Next Monday (30th March) there is a programme on Radio 4 called ‘Minecraft: more than a game’. Its on at 11am and than available on iplayer and on Box of Broadcasts if you a university student.

minecraftIn this programme the presenter, Jolyon Jenkins, explores the computer game Minecraft. Children have the opportunity to create and manipulate in the digital world. Recently a school here in Northampton tapped into the creative potential of Minecraft in a whole school project.

You can read more about this experience here at the Bridgecraft Blog

You can find more about the creative potential of Minecraft here.

Have you got any experience of Minecraft in school or at home?

What are your thoughts about the radio programme or about Minecraft generally?

Post your comments below.

March 17, 2015
by Jean
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20th March – Solar Eclipse!

On Friday March 20th (if it is not too cloudy) we will be able to view a solar eclipse. An solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the earth and the sun blocking the sun’s light from reaching the earth. This is the only total solar eclipse of 2015 and the last total solar eclipse on the March equinox occurred  in 1662 on March 20th

solar eclipse

Meteorwatch 2015a

The picture on the right shows what a total solar eclipse looks like. This will be visible in the North Atlantic. In the UK we could see a partial solar eclipse similar to the picture below.

sl

Meteorwatch 2015b

A partial solar eclipse is when the sun, moon and earth don’t quite line up from the observer’s location.

The timing of the eclipse over the UK is around 9.30 to 9.35am on Friday 20th March. You can read more about the timings and see the progress over the UK on a map at this link.

This week, starting on Wednesday 18th March, on BBC 2 the Stargazing programme is focusing on the eclipse and includes a live broadcast on Friday morning from 9am.

If you are going to observe the eclipse it is important to do some research and make sure that you are properly prepared. There are some useful resources and activities at the Stargazing website that can be used at school or at home.

It is most important that we do not look directly at the sun, but rather use special glasses, a pinhole camera or other projection devices. Below is an idea from the Radip Times Magazine website for viewing the eclipse through a colander.

Projection through a colander

Simply hold up a kitchen colander during an eclipse and you will see that myriad small crescents – corresponding to the eclipsed phase of the Sun – are cast in the shadow. Each hole acts in the same way as a pinhole camera, projecting an inverted image of the Sun, and this works even if the holes are not round. This effect can also be seen when sunlight shines through leaves on a tree or other foliage, with the gaps between leaves acting as pinholes and creating crescents of light in the shade on the ground.

Casting the image onto a white piece of card held about 50cm away will increase the contrast, making the event easier to see, however any light-coloured surface will work. Try varying this distance to find the sharpest image, as the size of the holes in different colanders will affect the view. This method is the cheapest and easiest way for a group of people to simultaneously view the eclipse and its progress with no risk to either eyesight or equipment.

The results can be easily photographed using any conventional camera. The only downside is the size of the crescents are quite small. Increasing the distance between the colander and the projection screen will make the crescents larger, but also less defined. As such, other than the crescent itself, no details such as sunspots can be seen.

Pros: Cheap and easy, great for large groups of people

Cons: Views are quite small, no detail can be seen apart from the crescents (Radio Times staff, 2015)

If you or your school are doing anything special for the eclipse do let us know by posting in the comments below.

Reference list:

MeteorWatch (2015a) Total solar eclipse. [online] Available from: http://www.meteorwatch.org/solar-eclipse-march-20th-2015-easy-guide/#more-5998 {accessed: 17/03/15]

MeteorWatch (2015b) Partial solar eclipse. [online] Available from: http://www.meteorwatch.org/solar-eclipse-march-20th-2015-easy-guide/#more-5998 {accessed: 17/03/15]

Radio Times Staff (2015) Experience the Eclipse. [online] Available from: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-03-09/how-to-watch-the-solar-eclipse [Accessed: 17/03/15]

March 10, 2015
by Jean
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Next Northampton Inspire network meeting

On Monday 23rd March we will be holding our next Northampton Inspire Network Meeting.

This will take place in the Sulgrave building – go to reception and you will be directed from there. it will start at 4.30pm although refreshments will be available from 4pm.

We will be creating immersive sensory experiences around a theme.

IMG_5936-z64choThis session explores cheap and effective ways of creating multi sensory environments for visual and sound stimulation using portable dark and white rooms. We will experiment with a wealth of light and sound equipment, create images using luminous paint, and project sensory iPad apps and video onto 3D objects. The aim is to create controllable experiential activities that encourage engagement and interaction for all learners, and to think about creative ways of theming these. We have been inspired by the work of Richard Hirstwood: http://youtu.be/ihMSw8BIXF4 and http://youtu.be/PkIKpOn7y98.

You can book free tickets here and feel free to let others know about the meeting – it is for students. teachers, teaching assistants and other interested people.

March 9, 2015
by Jean
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Graduation 2015

I was so pleased to be sent this photo of some of our FDLT graduates from last month.

tracey

The photo shows Jo, Tracey, Karen and Victoria, who are all now on the BALT course.

Tracey called this photo ‘Look how far we’ve come’!

 

March 6, 2015
by Jean
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Two perspectives on Autism

Over the last few weeks on the One to One programme on BBC Radio 4 John Harris, a journalist on The Guardian, has been talking about autism. His son is autistic, in these two programmes he talks with an expert on autism (Professor Simon Baron-Cohen) and an adult who was diagnosed as autistic in her thirties (Penny Andrews).

one to one 1In the first programme John Harris talks with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. In this conversation the development of understanding about what autism is is discussed. Its interesting that he talks about discovering people with autism who could talk about the experience, something that at the time was new as it was assumed that people with autism would not be able to function in day to day life.

In the conversation John Harris discusses how difficult it is for him to conceive of how his son understands the world. Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that we do inhabit the same world in some respects and that we do have things in common. He uses the example of structure, repetition and routine where he comments that many people with autism need but so so many other people, something John Harris agrees with.

Simon Baron-Cohen discusses the concept of neuro diversity – there are different types of brains in the population rather than a single ‘normal’ brain, similar to the concept of biodiversity, that we encounter in the classroom. He talks about how some of the traits or qualities of autism can be seen as areas of strength – remarkable attention to detail, fascination with patterns and an ability to persist and go deeply in one topic.

one to one 2In the second programme John Harris meets an adult who has been identified as autism in adulthood and who works as a university researcher – Penny Andrews.

This is an interesting conversation – John Harris picks up on some of the points made by Simon Baron-Cohen and that he has notices in his own experience with his son. He is keen to have her perspective as his son is to young to be able to articulate and explain his feelings and needs.

Towards the end of the conversation they talk about how Penny’s employer is able to adjust and support her so that she can work effectively.

It is also interesting how Penny explores the connections between herself and people who are not autistic and people who are considered to be severely autistic.

For many of you who work with children on the autistic spectrum both these programmes are of interest, giving you some background and perspective on autism historically, theoretically and personally. From a student point of view it is interesting for you to notice how John Harris compares the research of Simon Baron-Cohen with experience of Penny Andrews – we often ask you to make these connections between research and practice in your academic work.

Both programmes are available on iplayer here They were broadcast on 17th and 24th February 2015 and  can be found in the episodes list. They are also saved in Box of Broadcasts if you are a university student.

If you listen to these programmes and have any comments please add them below.

 

March 4, 2015
by Jean
0 comments

Get Creative (Part 2 of 2)

You might have heard on BBC TV and radio lots of references to their campaign to encourage creativity called Get Creative!

You can browse the website here.

In the early weeks of this campaign there have been some programmes focusing on creativity and the arts. One was the BBC Four Arts Question Time.

Arts Q timeA panel of leading creative people answer questions from the audience about the challenges, opportunities, failings and future of the arts in the UK.

There was also a radio debate ‘The Front Row Debate’ where John Wilson hosted a discussion exploring the relationship between the state and the arts. You can listen to it here.

You can watch / listen to these on iplayer until the end of March and I have added them to Box of Broadcasts which you can access if you a University of Northampton student.

20 minsIf you explore the Get Creative part of the website you can see lots of ideas for creative activities and articles about related people and issues. You can sign up for the weekly creative challenge – you’ll be sent an email with a 20 minute, an hour and a half a day challenge so you can choose the one that fits the time you have.

 

an hourThis week the challenge is based around colour and looking around us. The responses can be shared with others through the 64 million artists website or by using #BBCGetGreative on social media.

 

 

half a dayI’ve signed up because I think the ideas could be useful for using in teaching as well as in my own art.

The approach – setting an open challenge – could be a useful one in school too. It would be interesting to set the challenge on a Friday afternoon and give children the opportunity to respond at home and at school and then take a look at what they did after a week.

You can also explore Get Creative in your region here. There are lists of organisations nearby that offer creative activities.

If any of you are using the BBC Get Creative resources in school (or at home) comment below and let us know how you are getting on!

 

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