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

at Leicester and UN

September 24, 2020
by Jean
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Applying for the FDLT and BALT courses to start in September 2021.

The Learning Hub

The Learning Hub, Waterside Campus

We are now accepting applications for the FDLT and BALT courses starting in September 2021. If you work in a supporting role in an educational setting and are interested in studying for a degree at the University of Northampton you are most welcome to come to our Open Day on Saturday 26th September from 10am until 2pm online. 

The courses are taught on one day a week and are taught in both Northampton and Leicester venues.

You can find out more about it and book a place here

You can find out more about the FDLT course here and the BALT course here

There are some FAQs about the FDLT course here and about the BALT course here.

In September 2021 we teach the FDLT Year 1 course in Northampton on Mondays and in Leicester on Wednesdays; FDLT year 2 in Northampton on Thursdays and in Leicester on Tuesdays and the BALT course in Northampton on Wednesdays and Leicester on Mondays (subject to numbers).

Do come along to talk with our tutors at the upcoming Open Days or email me, jean.edwards@northampton.ac.uk if you would like to talk about the courses further.

September 7, 2020
by Jean
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Your first day (FDLT)

We are looking forward to welcoming students to the FDLT course next week (week beginning September 14th). You will have been receiving emails from us and from the university about starting the course.

What should I do before I come to the first day?

Make sure that you have completed pre-enrolment. You can find out more about this here.

Make sure you have introduced yourself to the group on your group’s getting to know you padlet. The information about this was emailed to you last week. Go back to this padlet a few times to read new posts and comment on some to start getting to know each other. You will meet each other face to face next week.

You should contact ASSIST if you have any additional needs relating to disability, medical condition, autism, specific learning differences (like dyslexia) or a mental health difficulty including if you will need assistance during arrival.

What should I bring on the first day?

When you come please make sure that you have everything you need to complete your enrolment. There is information about this here.

Bring a bag as we will be giving you things and you are likely to collect your laptop if you are enrolling as a full time student (ie with no exemptions from modules).

You should make sure that you bring a mask to wear. Information about our Covid19 precautions can be read here

You should also bring a pen and something to make notes in.

You might like to bring a drink and snacks although there are refreshments available to buy on campus. 

Where should I come to on the first day?

the atrium in the learning hubBoth groups will be coming to the Waterside campus for the first day. The Leicester group will be based at Devonshire Place thereafter. You can find out more about the location and parking at Waterside here.

We will be meeting in the large open space on the ground floor of the Learning Hub. Look out for Abbie and Jean and email Jean if you get lost or need help.

Look out for students whose posts you have read on the getting to know you padlet as well.

There is a map of the Waterside Campus here.

What will happen on the first day?

On your first day you will meet the course leader, Abbie Deeming and another of the course tutors, Jean Edwards. You might already have met or talked with us at an open day or interview. We will guide you through the day. 

We will first take you to enrol and you will also collect your welcome package laptop at some point in the day. 

After that we will have an induction session in one of the large classrooms so we can be together as a group and still appropriately socially distanced. Abbie and I will talk you through key information about the FDLT course and you will have a chance to ask us questions.

What if I have any worries or questions?

It is natural to feel nervous when you are embarking on a new part of your life. Starting at university is a big step but you have all applied for and been offered a place on the course because it is the appropriate next step for you right now. There will be lots of people supporting you at home and at school and you will find that there are lots of people here at university to help you too, both as part of the course and in the wider organisation. 

If you have any immediate concerns or questions email the Admissions Tutor, Jean Edwards, jean.edwards@northampton.ac.uk 

We are looking forward to meeting you next week.

Google AR TL image

July 6, 2020
by Jean
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Learning to use digital tools 2: ThingLink

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.

screen shot from Microsoft course pageA 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

  1. What is ThingLink?  
  2. Your ThingLink Account  
  3. Base Images and Videos  
  4. ThingLink Creation and Tag Types  
  5. Embedding Microsoft Tag Ideas  
  6. Accessibility and Publishing 
  7. Collaboration and Teams  
  8. Support and Resources – Followed by our Quiz!  

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
by Jean
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Learning to use digital tools 1: Book Creator

book creator logoBookCreator is a digital tool available to all of us to use through Google Chrome. You can accesslist of book creator modules 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!

 

children's cook covers

June 3, 2020
by Jean
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How can we work for a better world?

As you keep up to date with the news you will no doubt be considering how we in education can work for a more fair and equal society. In classrooms using children’s literature as the basis for conversations is a good way in.

children's cook coversThe list of children’s books linked here is curated by critical literacy organizations, The Conscious Kid and American Indians in Children’s Literature and it is called “31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, racism and Resistance. 

This author notes that: “Beyond addressing issues of race and racism, this children’s reading list focuses on taking action. It highlights resistance, resilience and activism; and seeks to empower youth to participate in the ongoing movement for racial justice. Children not only need to know what individual, institutional, and internalized racism looks like, they need to know what they can do about it.” (The Conscious Kid, 2019, lines 22-270).

Another great source of book recommendations in this field is from classroom teachers. Year 4 teacher, Miss Newton (@MissNewton91 on twitter) has shared this presentation of her recommended picture books. You can access it here.Going beyond sharing and talking about stories it is also vital to integrate the black experience across all the subjects that we teach. Miss Newton shared her planning for a Year 4 history unit which you can access here

From children themselves as readers we can begin to understand how it feels to find oneself represented in the books that are around. Ananya Ganesh, a fifteen year old, had written about this in her blog post ‘We need more #ownvoices books’ which you can read here

As well working in our individual classrooms in stories and the curriculum there are also organisations to support and develop diversity in education. One of these is BAMed:

“BAMEed is a movement initiated in response to the continual call for intersectionality and diversity in the education sector. All members are volunteers and have committed their time and efforts into creating a tangible support network to equip teachers and leaders with the tools to progress into and through the workforce.

BAMEed connects, enables and showcases the talent of diverse educators so they may inspire future generations and open up the possibilities within education careers.” (BAMed, 2020, lines 3-5).

BAMed is developing regional networks, resources and and a network of speakers. They have collected a useful book list which you can see here. This was curated by Darren Chetty (@rapclassroom), Kaen Sands O’Connor (@ksandsoconnor) and Books for keeps (ABooksforKeeps).

Letterbox Library logoThey also recommend exploring Letter Box Library which specialises in selecting and recommending books “in which all children can see themselves and which reflect our world community in all of its diversity” (Letterbox Library, 2020, lines 9-10).

Now is the time to use the amazing stories, resources and networks that we have around us to educate ourselves and the children we support to take action to grow up in a more just and fair world. 

If you are interested in exploring the representation of black and ethnic minorities in children’s literature this CLPE survey was published in 2018.

References:

BAMed. (2020) About us. website [online] Available from: https://www.bameednetwork.com/about-us/ [Accessed; 03/06/2020].

Ganesh, A. (2020) We need more #ownvoices books. website. [online] Available from: https://www.ananyaganesh.com/post/we-need-more-ownvoices-books [Accessed; 3rd June 2020].

Letterbox Library (2020) Letterbox Library. website. [online] Available from: https://www.letterboxlibrary.com/ [Accessed 3rd June 2020].

The Conscious Kid. (2019) 31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, racism and Resistance. Notew0rthy. [online] Available from: https://blog.usejournal.com/31-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-and-resistance-9dbabc28360e [Accessed: 03/06/2020].

The Conscious Kid. (2019) A children’s book list for anti-racist activism (image). Notew0rthy. [online] Available from: https://blog.usejournal.com/31-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-and-resistance-9dbabc28360e [Accessed: 03/06/2020].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2020
by Jean
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Notice nature in June!

As the month of June begins there are some interesting activities taking place to draw our attention to the natural world.

30 days wild calendarThe 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.

screen shot from NJW websiteAnother 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.

BBC springwatch website 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.

References 

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 26, 2020
by Jean
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Digital tool: Classroom Screen

I came across a useful digital tool last week, introduced to it by Mat Pullen on twitter (@mat6453). It is called Classroom Screen and it is an online screen that gives you access to many of the tools available on a classroom interactive whiteboard.

blank classroom screenWhen it opens it looks like this image. You can choose from a range of backgrounds, animations, colours and your webcam. 

At the bottom of the screen the tools appear in a bar and these are the tools you can select and use.

They include: a random name generator, dice, sound level monitor, QR code generator, drawing screen, text typing screen, work symbols, traffic lights, a timer, a stopwatch, a clock and a calendar. All of these can be presented on coloured backgrounds, some can modified in size and in other ways and moved around the screen.

screenshot of tools open on classroom screenHere’s an example of a screen with some of the tools open.

This is a great tool for allowing you access to the classroom organisation tools you might be used to having in the classroom but on your laptop or tablet to use use a virtual classroom scenario. It could also be useful to access in a classroom that does not have an IWB but does have a laptop and screen.

At present the screens cannot be saved so it is a use and use again tool.

Mat has made a useful demonstration video that you can access here.

 

 

May 7, 2020
by Jean
0 comments

Take part in the Urban Tree festival!

Save Our Street Trees is delighted to be taking part in the first-ever virtual Urban Tree Festival – to celebrate our beautiful urban trees.

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

Twitter: @SaveStreetTrees

Instagram: @saveourstreettrees

Join the Facebook group here.

 

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