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
What is ThingLink?
Your ThingLink Account
Base Images and Videos
ThingLink Creation and Tag Types
Embedding Microsoft Tag Ideas
Accessibility and Publishing
Collaboration and Teams
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.
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.
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.
The use of a personalised bitmoji allows us to make a connection with our pupils. This is mine.
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.
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.
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).
They 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.
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].
Life expectancy is falling for the poorest for the first time in 100 years. As child poverty rises, children and young people in the poorest parts of our country are two to three times more likely to experience poor mental health than those in the richest.
After the 2008 credit crunch it was the most vulnerable in our communities who experienced the severest consequences of austerity, with devastating effects on their mental and physical health. This not the hallmark of a kind society.
We must not make the same mistakes after this pandemic.
Kindness could transform our schools, places of work, communities and families. Let’s shape a society that tips the balance in favour of good mental health, for all of us, but especially for those who are most vulnerable.
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.
Earlier in March FDLT Y2 students had the opportunity to explore augmented and virtual reality and consider how it could support learning now and in the future.
The UoN students had a go at using the VIVE virtual reality headset and controls, exploring Google Earth and TiltBrush. They also looked at using greenscreen apps and CoSpaces. We discussed how virtual reality could have the potential to give pupils’ experiences they couldn’t possibly have eg distant places, places from the past, places they couldn’t possibly go and imaginary places. They brought up the points that some children could find it hard to distinguish between virtual reality and real world; the relationship between virtual reality and what pupils experience in gaming and the expense of the equipment along with a need for technical support. We wondered if, over the next ten years. this could become one of our tool for teaching and supporting learning, or whether it will remain something less commonly used in schools.
The Leicester students visited the Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience, where they explored the works of Van Gogh in a digital exhibition. We lucky to be in the exhibition at the same time as a class of young children, who were captivated with the way the pictures had been subtly brought to life digitally. An example was a series of landscapes with a railway line running through which had the train moving through the pictures and then steam from the train appearing around the floor and walls. My favourite was the blossom – petals fell and swirled on the floor. As the paintings were brought to life and spilled out of the frames and onto the walls, ceiling and floor the children became more engaged with the spectacle.
The exhibition also contained the opportunity to have a brief VR experience during which we could see children talking with each other about what they could see. They could also draw a picture, scan it and see it projected onto the wall immediately.
Last Sunday we were delighted to see so many of our FDLT and BALT students graduate from their studies, along with some former BALT graduates completing their journey to QTS and being presented with their PGCEs.
It was wonderful for us as staff that one of our students, Grace Murphy, made the student vote of thanks.
Despite wild and wintry weather it was a lovely ceremony for graduates and their families.
This year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are based around the hidden power of mathematics. They are broadcast on BBC4 at 8pm on 26th, 27th and 28th December and available on iplayer.
Outline of each lecture:
“In Lecture one, Hannah seeks to find the luckiest member of the audience. It seems a sensible plan. The biggest events in your life – finding the perfect partner or a job, staying healthy and happy – rely on a huge element of luck. Or does probability allow us to understand and predict complex systems?
In Lecture two, we see how ‘chaining probabilities together’ help us to understand even more complex systems. Through entertaining examples, Hannah shows how data-gobbling algorithms have taken over our lives and now control almost everything we do without us even realising.
In Lecture three, Hannah looks at why maths can fail and asks what the limits of maths are. Are there problems maths can’t or shouldn’t solve? And in an age where ‘fake news’ abounds and statistics can be twisted to prove anything, should we always trust in numbers?” (The Royal Institution, 2019, lines 21-34).
There is further supporting information and resources here.
“Structured practice debate kits on the topic “Should our town centre be self-driving cars only?”.
The kits have everything you need to run a debate on a controversial topic. They are set up to help students learn how to structure a debate, back up their opinions with facts and consider other points of view.Our Science Debate Kits (a free STEM resource) develop students’ discussion skills around scientific issues.
They contain 8 debate cards outlining the opinions of fictional characters with an interest in a given science topic, and teachers notes to help you to carry out the lesson effectively.
I’m a Mathematician, Get me out of here! is an online student-led STEM enrichment activity where students connect with people using maths at the centre of their work.
Funded by the Royal Institution, The CHRISTMAS LECTURES Zone (6th – 31st January 2020) will focus on the themes of this year’s Lectures, including statistics, probability, big data, algorithms and machine learning.
Your class will go online to ask their questions to a range of mathematicians, technologists, engineers, scientists and more.
You’ll need two lessons to run the activity with your class, and can book a live chat at a time that suits your class this January.
As a student at the University of Northampton you have access to a resource called Box of Broadcasts, an On Demand TV and Radio for Education, also called on Learning on Film.
You can access it here. When you click sign in, type ‘northampton’ and choose the University of Northampton and use your university log in details. You can then choose to record or find and save any free to air TV and radio to playlists. You can also edit them to make clips to use in learning and teaching.