Here’s a Padlet of Christmas ideas for the classroom and beyond.
December 14, 2020
November 20, 2020
Today, on World Children’s Day, the Digital Futures Commission (DFC) has been launched to explore digital innovation with a focus on children and young people and informed by their voices. Their research focus is on:
You can read the results of a consultation called Children and Young People’s Voices here. The report focuses on the question: what do children and young people value about the digital world and what changes do they call for? in relation to the three research focuses listed above.
Today the DFC has launched a consultation on play called ‘Free play in a Digital World’ and is seeking views from children and young people, parents and carers, and professionals who work with children.
You can download it here. The consultation opens today and runs until the end of February 2021. If you fall into any of the categories above you can join in by taking part in a 45 minute discussion online. Read more details on p4 of the document.
You can also read more about free play and why it matters here in a blog post by Dr Kate Cowan who has written a review called The Panorama of Play. As a student you would read the blog post as a way into reading the actual review, which you would find informative for your work in PDT1076.
July 13, 2020
Many of you will be using iPads to support learning in the classroom. As you use the iPad you and your pupils will quickly be able to work out how to use various tools as and when you need them. One of the great features of the iPad is the way you can use it intuitively and rapidly work out how to use it to support your own learning and the learning of your pupils.
Another way of developing your skills is to complete the Apple Teacher course available through the Apple Teacher Learning Centre. You can access it here.
Once you have used your Apple Teacher ID to sign into the site you can work your way through the iPad modules: iPad, Pages for iPad, Keynote for iPad, Numbers for iPad, iMovie for iPad, Garageband for iPad and creativity with iPad. Having worked your way through these modules and taken a test you can then display the Apple Teacher digital badge on your blog and email signature. In addition to the iPad learning there is also set of four modules with a focus on coding and Swift and a set focused on using the Mac.
The modules are user friendly and informative, based around digital books that you can download and return to. Alongside them are many other useful resources in the site that can take you further with using tools such as Clips and explore themes such as being creative and remote learning.
If you have completed Apple Teacher let us know in the comments below. How has it supported your work in the classroom?
July 6, 2020
ThingLink is a digital tool available for all to use in a free and in a paid for version. The tools available through the free version are a great place to get started. Although it is available as an app it is also available online. You can access it here.
It is a tool that allows you to add tags to images and video. The tags can include text, audio, images / video and links to a wide range of other resources and tools. You can then share your ThingLink with users who can access all the materials from the one place. There are useful accessibility features that make it supportive for all users. ThingLinks can also be embedded into blogs and digital books made in BookCreator and added to Padlets.
A useful way to get started is to complete the Creating Visual Learning Materials ThingLink course in the Microsoft Educator Center. This is a comprehensive introduction for the new user but also contains information about recent changes that was helpful to me as a longtime user of ThingLink. The course contains the following:
Modules Overview – Each module has an interactive video ThingLink and helpful overview
After you have completed the quiz you can download a digital badge to display on your blog or email signature.
A recent example of a ThingLink I made is this one that introduces you to the AR features in Google.
If you join ThingLink and browse existing ThingLinks you will easily find inspiration for using this tool in school. There are so many examples across all age groups and subjects.
How might you use ThingLink in your practice? Share a link to any ThingLinks you make in the comments below.
June 30, 2020
BookCreator is a digital tool available to all of us to use through Google Chrome. You can access it here.
It is a tool that allows you to create digital books of your own incorporating a very wide range of media including text, images, video and digital items from other other sources. The accessibility features make BookCreator a tool that supports inclusion for the reader.
A useful way to get started is to work through the Book Creator Certified Author Level 1 activities. These provide a comprehensive and user friendly introduction to the tool. If you have not used BookCreator before this a great introduction. I have been using BookCreator for a while and I learned a lot too, especially about the range of accessibility features available to the writer and reader.
You can see in the list on the right that each module is a short and focused introduction to an aspect of the tool. If you work your way through the items and complete a quiz you can gain a BookCreator level 1 certificate and a digital badge to display on your blog or email signature.
I have made BookCreator books with pupils and students, often to share their work on a topic or area of study. More recently I have created digital text books for students to use as the basis of university sessions. Being able to choose to have the text read them was supportive for some students who accessed the books.
This is a digital book to support a session of developing vocabulary when supporting learning in English and across the curriculum. It is written for university students in the first year of their degree. It was especially useful to be able to share information in this way when most of our study and learning took place online recently.
I also made a more practical book based around different ways of using technology in supporting learning in and teaching English. This book allowed me to collect together and share a range of other digital tools that can be used in English lessons.
How might you use BookCreator in your practice? Share a link to any books you make in the comments below!
June 17, 2020
You might have come across the idea of the #bitmojiclassroom on social media. Over the last few months, with many teachers and TAs away from face to face contact with their pupils, the idea of creating a virtual space that is visually and user friendly for pupils and parents has become popular. Combined with the tools to create emojis that look like ourselves and add links to images in Powerpoint and GoogleSlides there are now many examples to take inspiration from.
You can make your own bitmoji by creating an account here.
Once you have an account and you have made your bitmoji you can then easily search for it in many different versions and positions to use in making resources.
This is a useful guide to how to create a virtual classroom using GoogleSlides by teacher Thomas Blakemore.
If this is something that interests you, it is worth browsing social media for examples, as there are many that you can learn from and repurpose to use for your own pupils. Search #bitmojiclassroom on Facebook or twitter to find posts and videos that will help you.
Last week I made my first #bitmojiclassroom to find out more about how to do it. It is based on learning outdoors. You can access it below. Click on the ‘present’ triangle symbol to explore the links attached to many of the items in the image.
One important area to consider when making your virtual classroom is protecting the intellectual property rights of the makers of resources available online. You will find yourself searching google images for pictures and google for links and it is important to note and acknowledge these. When searching for images you can choose ‘labelled for non-commercial reuse’ in the search settings and keep a note of the information to reference. For the resource above I have another slide with the references related to this image listed.
May 29, 2020
As the month of June begins there are some interesting activities taking place to draw our attention to the natural world.
The first is the annual event run by The Wildlife Trusts: “30 Days Wild“.
At the link you can sign up to take part as a family, a care home, a business or a school or group. When you sign up you will receive a downloadable wall chart to help you plan a month of wildlife centred activities along with some other useful and fun resources.
You can see the first two weeks of the calendar here.
Another activity that takes place next week is international Nature Journaling Week (1st to 7th June 2020). The aim of the week is to “come together as a world-wide community to celebrate and document the beauty and diversity of the natural world”. (NJW, 2020, lines 7-8).
As well as a theme of each day and “live” online activities there is a useful ‘for parents and teachers” page. It has suggestions for how to involve children in observing and recording nature in the early years, primary years and teenage years along with a website link to John Muir Laws’s resources.
Finally, of course, as always at this time of year Springwatch is running on BBC and social media channels.
There are live broadcasts on social media at 9am, midday and 5pm along with the terrestrial BBC2 program at 8pm on Tuesdays to Fridays for three weeks. There are live webcams streaming all the time, allowing wildlife to be observed live from wherever you are.
The weather is great so now is the time to go and look at the outdoors wherever you are and notice what is happening in the world around.
Nature Journaling Week (2020) Welcome to International Nature Journaling Week. NJW website. [online] Available from: https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/ [Accessed 29/05/2020].
Nature Journaling week. (2020) For parents and teachers webpage. NJW website. [online] Available from: https://www.naturejournalingweek.com/parents-and-teachers [Accessed 29/05/2020].
BBC 92020) Springwatch. BBC. [online] Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007qgm3 [Accessed: 29/05/2020].
The Wildlife Trusts. (2020) 30 Days Wild calendar. The Wildlife Trusts. [online] Available from: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/2020-04/combinepdf%20%282%29.pdf [Accessed: 29/05/2020].
May 18, 2020
There are lots of fantastic resources to support learning at home available on the British Library website.
In the one outlined here we are shown the collection of miniature books called The Infant’s Library which were created in the nineteenth century. They were 5.7cm x 4.7 cm in size.
The collection can be explored online here.
Some of the tiny books in the collection were created by Charlotte and Anne Bronte about their own toys and others were made for Queen Mary’s Dolls House. Many are handmade by famous authors.
After exploring the collection of miniature books there is an activity that outlines how to plan and create your own miniature book.
You can also watch contemporary authors and illustrators read their own miniature books here.
When you’ve made your book you can share it social media using #discoveringchildrensbooks to @BL_Learning or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are concerned that your pupils do not have access to the internet the British Library are distributing printed packs through public libraries, food banks and sheltered accommodation as well as emailing PDFs to teachers.
There are lots of other creative and story based ideas to explore here.
May 7, 2020
Between May 16 and 24, Save Our Street Trees – Northampton will be asking people to turn over a #newleaf with a Virtual Urban Forest in their windows for everyone to enjoy on their daily walks, along with people all over the UK.
We’re tasking families and children to design a bare tree and display it in their window – and each day craft a #NewLeaf to slowly build up a tree canopy. Each #NewLeaf can have a message for passers-by, such as tree poems, tree quotes, forest facts and calming/motivating messages to get people through lockdown.
The idea is one of celebrating urban trees – but also new beginnings, new life, positivity and regeneration. We will be providing downloadable tree trunk templates, leaf cut outs, and lots of leaf art ideas nearer the time.
Watch this space! We’d love you to share photos of your trees and leaves during the Urban Tree Festival week via
Facebook event: Save Our Street Trees – Northampton and Urban Tree Festival here, and on
Join the Facebook group here.
April 30, 2020
There are lots of creative and inspiring ways for pupils and schools to show that they are together, even when not in the same physical location.
This is a great PicCollage made by the teachers of a local school where one of our graduates works.
This wonderful collection of miniature dolls was made by a teacher in the Netherlands, Ingleborg Meinster-Van der Duin, and represents the pupils in her class.
A school in England has made made a huge circle of pupils holding hands (shared by @AdrianBethune on Twitter).
These lovely videos were made at the school of another of our graduates.
Finally in this school in Wales has created a wonderful ThingLink set in the school and allowing all the staff to send messages.
You can view it here.
What has your school done to keep in touch? If you want to share ideas let us know by commenting below.