Wordsearch maker

As I am on my final placement now I have been looking at different ways to utilise ICT in my placement school. I saw this on twitter, thanks to @fjostsons, and gave it a go. Our topic is The Austrian Tyrol.

You can either make up a word search to fit into your own website or put it onto its own webpage. Children can then complete it online by clicking on the first and last letter of the word, the word will show in green and the word on the listing will be struck through. I think it’s a great idea and an extremely useful way to build up topic focused vocabulary.

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Where ICT meets the classroom – Vision statement

The use of ICT in classrooms and whether ICT should be seen as a tool or as a subject in its own right opens up a wide debate. Living in the 21st century, a very technologically motivated time, we know that ICT has to be a feature of the classroom. However we need to change, to move forward to keep up with the expectations of society today. The role of ICT in the classroom and how it is envisaged through the new, draft ICT Programme of Study is that the three strands of digital literacy, computer science and information technology will be required to be taught in primary schools.

The PoS is in its early stages of development by a working group headed up by BCS and the Royal Society. Amongst its members are Computing at School (CAS) and National Association of Advisors for Computers in Education (UK), Naace. CAS have devised a Draft curriculum for ICT “Computer Science: A curriculum for schools” which defines the three strands contained in the ICT PoS. Computer science which teaches us how to be an effective author of computational tools (i.e software); Information technology which teaches us how to be a thoughtful user of those tools; Digital literacy as the ability to access, use and express ourselves using digital technology, together with an understanding of its use in society and the world today.

Within our ICT lessons we have explored programming through the use of Scratch and in previous years we looked at logo and programmable toys, but in future, within the classroom this will only be a part of computer science; we need to also ensure that children understand how to solve problems using computational thinking and why it is necessary to be able to do so. Dr Tom Crick, a member of the PoS working group, says “that learning how to program is not the endpoint, but part of the journey of equipping children with the necessary digital skills to solve problems”.

The importance of our own digital literacy, as trainee teachers, has been highlighted over the course of my degree, and I agree that this is an area in which children need to put down solid roots early on in their learning journeys. E-safety is a crucial element of digital literacy and needs continual reinforcement in the classroom. Retrieval of information from reliable and credible sources using search strategies involving databases and advanced Google searches is also essential. In the good old days of books, generally we could easily tell a reliable source from an unreliable one. In fact there probably weren’t too many unreliable ones used in schools in the first place because of cost factors. However, today with the availability and ease of accessibility of information through the internet, this is a vital part of a child’s education; consequently we need to ensure they are safe and exploring appropriate web sites to support their learning. At university we have also explored ways in which children can now present information through a variety of platforms; my favourite needless to say is the blog.

In their report Shut down or restart”, The Royal Society were critical of educators suggesting that “there is a shortage of teachers who are able to teach beyond basic digital literacy”. Whilst I consider I still have much to learn in the teaching of ICT, the fact that we, as trainee teachers, are aware of the need for greater competence within the teaching of ICT, should ensure that through our own CPD this is addressed. I feel that through the university classes we have all developed as ICT teachers and I am sure that many will now feel secure in their knowledge in order become ICT subject leaders in the future. We need progressive, forward thinking professionals; professionals who are willing to develop their own CPD independently as well as through their school. We cannot stand still in the fast pace of developing technology, we need to ensure that the children in our classrooms do become the technologically savvy students that are able to take on the roles in the workplace that is required from today’s society. We, as primary teachers are at the base of that development.

BCS identify that ICT should be taught as an independent subject but that Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) should be incorporated into all subjects within the curriculum, using ICT as a tool to enhance learning. Throughout my blog I have explored and realised ways of utilising ICT within the classroom. It has been an interesting if pacy learning journey but one that I look forward to continuing in my own classroom next year.

Resources within ICT have changed remarkably over the past few years, we now have the tablet available to use within the classroom but, whilst the ipad is an incredibly versatile device we must be aware that only 4.5% of primary schools presently have access to this resource. With many of the resources we used within our university ICT classes using the ipad my advice would be for all educators to invest in an ipad. They can be used to support delivery of lessons, immediately record assessments both visual and online, support special needs and reluctant learners and with the number of apps now available which are free and easy to incorporate into planning growing daily, there will be something we can use across this medium to really ‘hook’ the children. Looking through the Apple in Education profiles demonstrates how useful ipads and ipods can be in the classroom setting.

Whilst I am sure we would all like to have ipads or ipods in our classrooms for all the children to use, finances will unfortunately only allow this in a minority of cases. Although the TES in their article this morning suggest that ICT budgets in schools are increasing, which could mean more schools will be able to utilise this valuable platform in the future. We therefore need to look to other platforms for our resources and there are many out there. I have written a separate post relating to a few of the most popular being used in the classroom at present, sourced directly from educators on twitter, to whom I am extremely grateful.

I firmly believe that blogging has a strong future within the classroom. It gives children a powerful outlet for their ideas and writing, knowing that they are being given a global platform to showcase their work gives a real buzz. Utilising Quadblogging immediately links schools around the world together giving children a personal angle to support their exploration of communities, countries and cultures.

Reflecting on my blog, its impact on me and others and the growing number of blogging schools clearly demonstrates the ‘power of the blog’, and whilst the debate over whether ICT is a tool or a subject in its own right will continue, ICT within the classroom is here to stay and I am very excited to be supporting children in their learning journey through this valuable medium.

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My best ICT resources via twitter

It seems that there are plenty of great apps around to use in the classroom BUT of course it is necessary to have an ipad or access to one, at least for the teacher if not the whole class. At present, according to Besa only 4.5% of pupil facing computers are tablets which led me to consider which resources then are the favourites within the primary classroom for use on pc’s/laptops. I posed the question to educators on twitter and here are some of the suggestions.

Tom Barratt tweeted this one – Funky Mummy a fun game incorporating number bonds to 20. On the website there is also a Golden time register, dinner register and ICT games for maths from Andy Barratt .

Jodie Lopez-Collins recommends Comic Life, it looks great fun and can be utilised within all areas of the curriculum. Another favourite to stir up those reluctant writers! Here’s a quick guide.

2Simple Software’s purple mash is popular with many teachers including  Andrew Evans and Camilla Mercer with 2paintapicture coming highly rated. We looked at some of these in year 1 of our studies and it’s great to see they are recommended and used in the classroom. Here is a link to 2paintapicture in action.

Chris Dicken recommends ACIDplanet great for music creation and the kids love it he says because it makes “real music”.

This is one that I wanted to share although it is for the ipad – Carol Allen tweeted this one  from Ian Beam. I recommend exploring these particularly for use with SEN.

Thanks to all who contributed, I will definitely be using these in my classroom in the future.


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I have just seen a tweet about Quadblogging and wanted to share it with you. The topic came up at the recent BLT meet shared by Andy Evans from Kingswood Primary, Corby and is a brilliant way to ensure your school blog gets the interaction from others it deserves. David Mitchell developed Quadblogging in 2011 initially between 4 classes in his school, then between 4 schools in the UK with the tweet I had today saying “100,000+ pupils in 3500 classes from 40 countries blogging and collaborating” via Quadblogging. This is absolutely amazing and has given children’s work huge global exposure. Through those links with other schools will come increased awareness of countries, cultures and communities. Through blogging children’s work gains massive exposure which is a huge incentive to children to showcase their work, as David Mitchell explains when interviewed by Steve Wheeler (2012)Give a learner a global platform to publish their learning and you’ll see these learners apply 100% effort because if they don’t, their audience will tell them!” A rationale for blogging which I agree with as I appreciated when developing my ICT poster last year the real “Power of the Blog”. Even Pie Corbett makes a case for blogging in the classroom on David Mitchells blog! Take a look and be inspired to join in.

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Brilliant use of cross-curricular ICT

This morning I am following @chrisleach78 as his class unfold the Gunpowder Plot in tweets. This is a brilliant demonstration of the cross-curricular uses of ICT in the classroom. Have a look and follow #gtp2012.

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Mobile Technologies: curriculum applications (Session 5)

Today we are going outside!

We are looking at using QR codes in the primary classroom. QR stands for ‘quick read’, these are quick scannable images, like bar codes, which take you to a digital destination such as a written or spoken message (using audioboo), a document, website or photo when you hold the camera of an iPad, iPod or a smart phone, up to them. You need to download an app first in order to be able to read them, we used scan.me but once you have they can save time and paper and can be used in a variety of ways within the primary classroom. Scan this one to see a special message!

Kerry, Chad and I decided to generate a scavenger hunt with QR codes hiding the pictorial clues and a key word. When all key words have been collected an inspiring quote from Albert Einstein will be revealed. This we felt added an extra literary challenge to the outdoor activity and was a way of ensuring all participants followed the hunt clues and not each other around!

On reflection maybe we were ambitious wanting to add picture clues rather than word clues but we felt it added another element to the challenge which could then be adapted to suit all learners. It was time consuming in that we had to add the word clue to the image using PowerPoint  then upload our images to Photobucket and use this image to create the QR code using scan.me.

Here is the finished article using Photo Peach.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination” (Albert Einstein)

Having looked at guides on ‘How to use QR codes’ I had a look at coolcatteacher’s flat classroom website as she always has some great ideas. Here is her QR code guide  which although targets year 8 students (her class) has some interesting ideas about using QR codes in all classrooms.

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Musical Fireworks 2

Carol Allen has just tweeted with a great app which I have downloaded and can’t wait to use! Sounds great for cross-curricular ICT with Art and Music. Watch this space.

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Mobile Technologies (Session 4)

In our ICT class today we played with the ipads. Well I say played actually we were researching apps for use in the classroom (OK played) with a view to developing our own resource next session. I really liked the QR codes using scan.me which enables you to create your own QR codes which you can then use in a multitude of ways in the classroom; from giving displays a new twist allowing children to talk to you about their work to developing an orienteering trail or scavenger hunt using the school grounds.

I then moved on to looking at the imovies app which enables you to create your own movies or trailers using pre-loaded themes. This is something I intend to spend a bit more time looking at. I then went on to creating my own character using the morfo app which I intended to use in my imovie but unfortunately ran out of time. I don’t actually know where the time does go in our ICT classes at the moment. Anyway here is my character:

Once made the characters can be made into a video which could then have been ‘spliced’ into my imovie, but is I say time just ran right out.

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BLT meet update

Last night Chad McDonald and I went along to Simon de Senlis Primary School to attend the latest BLT meet. It was a great venue for a great event. There were 70+ attendees ranging in status from humble students like ourselves through NQT’s, ICT coordinators, Headteachers and even ‘celebrities’ such as Tom Barrett, and Ewan McIntosh. We had a great time sharing learning with our teacher colleagues. Attendees were given 2 or 7 minute slots to tell us about something ICT related going on in their classrooms. We had a range of  classroom ICT related items; successful blog stories, lots of ipad app’s were shared the best in my mind being GreenScreen and tagging. Tom Barrett outlined the use of tags to share and track the learning journeys of children in the classroom using Evernote; brilliant for assessment.

We worked together using the brilliant reusable and stickable Magic Whiteboard roll (a Dragons Den success story) to create 100 ideas in 10 minutes on ‘How might we make learning better for pupils?’ The crazier the better.

These were then mounted on the walls and we all had the chance to explore them.

A great forum for shared learning all round, and highly recommended.

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Better Learning using Technologies

I am excited to be taking part in the Better Learning using Technologies (BLT) meeting on Wednesday 23 October. The discussion focus is ‘How have you made use of technologies to make learning better for your pupils?’. I will be attending with Chad McDonald and 70 others! We’d like to think we will be sitting quietly at the back taking everything on board, and tweeting the best bits.

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Scratch – warning

Whilst using Scratch this weekend Phoebe happened upon an extremely distasteful animation ‘game’ which was not only graphically obscene but also included explicitly written dialogue. We flagged this up using the ‘flag as inappropriate’ link but I felt the need to share this with you all. As with all websites we use in the classroom great care needs to be taken even when allowing children free access to explore websites we believe are safe.

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Computing: curriculum applications (Session 3)

Following on from last week, Kerry, Chad and I worked together to produce a unit of work using Scratch. The unit of work is aimed at Year 6 children, as their final ICT project before moving to secondary school.

Overall unit objective: We are learning to create an animated game.

Part 1: Testing games

In the first activity the children are to work in mixed ability pairs to play a range of games from the sqowrl set. They are to add words about what makes a good game to the class answer garden. Children can all work on the class answer garden at the same time, with the words presented updating in real time. If a child likes someone else’s word they can click on it and then re-submit it. This makes the word bigger, showing that more people agree with this opinion.

Ingredients of a good game… at AnswerGarden.ch.

The answer garden can be turned into a word cloud (the one in this blog post was made in wordle). The class can discuss the different words that they have come up with together to ascertain what are the most important ingredients of a video game.

Part 2: Fish tank game

Discuss as a class how video games are created.

Introduce the children to Scratch. Go through how to create a simple fish tank game. Get the children to work in friendship pairs. Provide the children with the online video demo of the game, so that they can refer to it when making it in their pairs.

When the children have created their fish tank game they can upload it to the Scratch website and to a class sqworl link (containing the games made by the different pairs). They can they select different scratch card activities to help them further explore the potential of Scratch.

Part 3: The Dragons’ Den

Show the children the Morfo video of Duncan Bannatyne setting the challenge for the children by clicking on this link: The Dragon’s Task.

Generate success criteria for computer games with the children using Spicynodes. The children could have a baseline target for how many of the different elements to include in their games, for example 3. Here’s an example of a success criteria we created earlier:

Part 4: Making games

Children work in friendship pairs to create their games. They use wallwisher as a working wall to document their ideas and queries. We liked the idea of this in principle, but we found that in practise it was chunky and we’d prefer to have it for reference at all times – not just in ICT.

Part 5: Poll rating

In the final stage of the unit of work the children present the work to a panel of Dragons. This can be supported with a poll on the class blog for children to vote for their favourite game.

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ICT Talking points

Felix Baumgartner on the edge of space – Stratos live jump

Imagine the ICT involved in this?

“Talking Points provide a chance for in-depth consideration of everyone’s ideas” (Dawes et al 2010).  We should not underestimate the validity of talk within ICT. Encouraging children to think about and discuss uses of ICT and how they affect and impact on our lives (even in this extreme example) has a place in the primary classroom.

See image reference here.

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Computer Science or just programming?

Here’s an interesting article from The Telegraph (not my usual choice of reading matter I will admit) discussing what we should be teaching children in school (ICT related obviously). I think he’s right but wouldn’t we be discussing with children why they need to learn to code anyway? Here’s Dr Tom Crick’s blog for you to take a look at too!

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Computing skills and techniques (Session 2)

I must admit to feeling a little fazed initially by the word ‘programming’ but having seen my daughter (year 7) use Scratch in year 6 at her after school ICT club I felt it was something I would be able to understand and hopefully in time use within my own classroom. Scratch is well set up with many video tutorials to explain the necessary basic elements of programming, enabling speedy results to be achieved.

Here is my initial effort (a very simple animation with sound), which produced interesting comments from Phoebe who in turn then added some of her own elements to an existing and much more interesting game found on the Scratch website.











Here’s the link to the actual game on the Scratch website


Whack the most witches in the time allowed. Click on the witches to make them disappear
Learn more about this project
I must admit seeing Phoebe use the Scratch programming tools with ease has inspired me and I know the children in schools will love it!

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Blogging inspirations

My introduction into blogging in the classroom came from placement 1b and the excellent Spratton Primary School Class 3 Blog (see their new blog). From that inspirational introduction into using a blog came my ICT poster The Power of the Blog:

Although Blogging within the primary school is relatively new those teachers who have managed to set them up within their classrooms, have found a new way for their children to show off their work – worldwide. Boys’ writing in particular has been a ‘hot topic’ for teachers for some time and they seem to find using a blog a very stimulating format for their writing. Is it because boys love anything ICT? Maybe some of you can answer that.

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Internet safety (Session 1)

Within the primary classroom there are many ways to enforce the vital message about being safe online. There are many websites covering internet safety; here are a few of my primary school appropriate favourites:

  • Think you know is run by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and is a great site for all key stages and includes information for parents/carers and teachers. It incorporates the Hector’s World Safety button a brilliant device for use in KS1 when children see something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Clicking on Hector causes the screen to be covered whilst the child  seeks help from a teacher or adult.
  • BBC I particularly like their Horrible Histories video where Guy Fawkes gets himself into a spot of bother when using social networking sites. This enforces the message in a fun and interactive way.
  • Kidsmart contains resources for teachers and parents and uses animations interspersed with real children to highlight issues children may encounter when using a variety of ICT and media tools. This links through to the Childnet website which contains some really useful videos and advice particularly for trainee teachers when using technology within the classroom.

It may be worth using a search engine especially developed for children such as Yahoo! KidsAsk KidsKidsClick or AOL Kids (BBC, 2012).

When using twitter in the classroom which is an excellent resource offering 140 character challenges, e- safety adviser have some great tips on using twitter in schools.

Internet safety is not only an important consideration where children are concerned, we all need to ensure we are aware of issues surrounding privacy settings on sites we use in particular social networking sites. Make sure Google doesn’t hold any surprises when your name is searched, which may impact on your future as a teacher.

Also when using videos in class it is worth downloading videos you may wish to use rather than exposing your children to the often inappropriate advertising or recommended video links some sites such as Youtube offer.



(Image ref: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-stay-safe-online-6/)


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Hello world!

Welcome to my blogfolio.

This is my first foray into a professional blog, I have my own blog in which I share my crazy family’s escapades.

Using a blog in your classrooms with your children is an excellent forum to showcase their work.

My brilliant introduction to this was Spratton Primary School’s Class 3 blog.



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