The Internal Conflict of External Posting…

Monday, May 18th, 2015

‘He wanted his posts to be read, and feared that people would read them, and hoped that people would read them, and didn’t care if people read them’… (Nussbaum 2004)– just some of the feelings experienced by a teenage boy posting on a blog.

boy-on-computer-350

‘He wanted to be included while priding himself on his outsider status. And while he sometimes wrote messages that were explicitly public — announcing a band practice, for instance — he also had his own stringent notions of etiquette. His crush had an online journal, but J. had never read it; that would be too intrusive, he explained’ (Nussbaum 2004).

Reading these findings from Nussbaum’s research has made me reflect on WHY we post online.. is it for affirmation? Do we, as social beings, need other people to affirm our identity? The question, then, is how can we be affected if our post on a blog or social media site goes unliked or without comment?

Pros and cons of the iPad

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1137-the-pros-and-cons-of-the-ipad-as-said-by-teachers.html
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If you’re a teacher working in the UK, there’s a good chance that you use a tablet as part of your work. Online magazine ‘Innovate My School’ originally set out to publish an article on the different tablet devices available to educators, but the response to the questions was so Apple-oriented, the article ended up focusing entirely on iPads.

This article is comprised of the opinions of ten different education professionals, either teachers or former teachers- one of whom is me! If you are interested in finding out what we thought, or maybe considering getting tablets at your school or home, perhaps this article will shed some more light on why- in my opinion- iPad is currently king of the tablets.

Augmented Reality = Augmented Learning

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

AR_EdiBear0001390_1http://www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/item/1085-augmented-learning-using-augmented-reality-in-schools.html

Virtual book reviews and a living art gallery… Ever considered used Augmented Reality (AR) in your classroom? All you need is an iPad with a camera, and an AR app such as Aurasma- which is free! You can then add amazing 3D images and animations to be triggered when you scan a marker. Read my latest article on AR to learn more and see how easily you can use this technology in your school to excite and inspire your pupils!

TabToob Case for iPads!

Friday, August 8th, 2014

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The one question that many teachers interested in using iPads in the classroom ask me is, ‘what cases do you use?’. With older pupils, a simple gel case will suffice, but when it comes to Early Years or pupils who may have reduced mobility or other Special Education Needs, something more substantial is needed.
What a delight, therefore, when I discovered the TabToob, an EVA foam, affordable, shock-proof case available in sizes to fit all versions of iPad, including the new iPad Air!
The case (available in blue, black or red) is lightweight, easy to grip, and even has an easy-to-remove velcro screen protector, which doubles up as a stand for your iPad! This is especially useful for hands-free access with younger pupils.
The thickness of the case means that even when dropped from standing height, the iPad is totally unscathed; the TabToob website takes this one step further and shows how even when being throwing over a bannister, the iPad is still protected!
You can buy additional products to enhance the TabToob; the ‘tabstrap’ (£4.99) is a neck or shoulder strap, easy to adjust in length, and can be worn by the user to avoid dropping, or- usefully- provides a bagless way of transporting the iPad around the school or home. The TabToob would also be a great asset if taking iPads out on a field trip or residential- easy to wipe clean if it gets muddy, the TabToob would take the worry away from the devices being damaged.
Another nice touch is that the TabToob comes with a set of appealing, brightly coloured stickers which display the friendly TabToob logo, and I envisage these being particularly useful where pupils are required to use the same iPad each lesson- by adding coloured stickers, pupils easily know which iPad is the one they were using last time.
And are there any down-sides to this product? I have to admit that when you first try fitting the iPad into the TabToob, it is a very snug fit- but the thoughtful, enclosed note that came with the product did inform me of this, and put my mind at rest! Once in the case, you can rest assured pupils will not easily be able to remove the device! Secondly, although the TabToob has cut-outs in the case for charging, adjusting volume, and plugging in headphones, it is not possible to turn the iPad on or off once the case is fitted. Personally, I do not wish pupils to be able to turn devices on or off, but on the off-chance that an App malfunctions, and you need to restart the iPad, you can be faced with a battle or first trying to remove the iPad from the case. Luckily, these occasions are very rare.
The TabToob case certainly provides piece of mind, and it is refreshing to find a simply but effective product that really does what is claims to do. I look forward to approaching the budget department at the start of the new school year to hopefully buy several for our Early Years department! Fingers crossed!
Why not have a look for yourself at http://www.tabtoob.com

Holding a Robot Workshop

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Am really excited to have gotten my hands on 5 Lego Mindstorm robots this week! I am going to be holding a Robot Workshop with a class of Year 6 pupils (10-11 years old) tomorrow to explore programming and debugging. The workshop will begin by showing the class the Mindstorm interface on the computer, explaining different sections such as the ‘common palette’ (toolkit). Pupils will then work in groups of 5 to create a program for their robot before downloading it onto the robot itself. These robots are great as they have light sensors, sound sensors, and the ability to ‘talk’ by playing sound effects or sound clips. The highlight is going to be a competition ‘Escape!’ where each group will need to forward-think in order to create a program that will also their robot to move form the ‘starting line’ (wall) to the classroom door! If you have held a robot workshop or used robots in school yourself, I would love to hear from you!

Reviewing…

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 18.29.34I think I have found a new hobby for my spare time at work (Ok..so not that there is ever any spare time…)- reviewing products for schools! Primary Teacher Update approached me to review an online literary resource for their magazine, and my review came out in this month’s (July 2014) edition of PTU; it meant free trial use of a product that could feed into my teaching, and trying to summarise the programme in just 250 words was an amusing challenge! Looking forward to many more reviews to come- if you have an educational product that needs testing, please get in touch 🙂

Measuring ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in our Primary Schools

Sunday, May 18th, 2014
Are there any empathy tests out there?
We are looking for measures of the following:
1. Pride 2. Friendship 3. Generosity. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
(EMONET)
 
I read this quote (above) and it really resonated with everything I’ve been thinking about for my next piece, ‘Exploring the Sociology of Pupil Leadership in the Primary School:  How is Emotional Intelligence Developed in Key Stage 2 Pupils through the Employment of a ‘Digital Leaders’ Scheme?’.
First of all, the quote raises the question, what is emotional intelligence? I mean, really, what does it mean to be emotionally intelligent- is this, in fact, an invalid concept, and are we infact dealing with the binaries of general intelligence and rationality? Secondly, how easy is it to measure if a pupil is emotionally intelligent? And thirdly, if emotional intelligence is important for leaders to possess, how can teachers develop this in pupils at school? It seems that quote has provoked more questions in me than I have answers, but when we are preparing our pupils to be the adults – and leaders- of the future, perhaps we need to move away from teaching so much knowledge in the classroom, and instead consider how to make our students more emotionally intelligent?….

Success at East London Consortium

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Success at East London Consortium

This morning I could not have been prouder of my four year 6 Digital Leaders who carried out their first public speaking at the ELC!! The girls created their own Prezi presentation independently all about their experiences of the DL scheme at our school, and spoke confidently and clearly. It was lovely to fuel the passion for ICT that these girls have, and they (and I!) also relished the opportunity to hear from other girls and teachers at our senior school about the positive impact iPads have had on their learning. Feeling very inspired! It has really made me keen to find more occasions for the pupils I teach to share their knowledge in order to encourage best practice in ICT!

Two things I really, really want in my life!

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Two things I really, really want in my life!

1. More robots! After the successful (slightly painful and hair-tearing-outty) construction of the 12 Lego WeDo alligator robots with my Year 6s last week, I am keen to get programming in our next lesson. As much as I like these alligators, I want something more adventurous and open-ended to build with my pupils… Lego Mindstorms are on my wishlist! Also hoping to run a Robot Workshop in the Summer term- watch this space/ blog to see how it goes!

2. AURASMA!! I have been reading a lot about augmented reality and how it can enhance primary school learning….. especially through the App Aurasma. Hoping to get cracking with this in the summer term too! Just need to get Aurasma installed on our school iPads and figure out the best ways to increase the potential of learning and sharing in my school.

If you have any tips or recommendations on robots/ augmented reality, please get in touch!
❤ Will make these two goals reality at some point!! ❤

10 Ways to Encourage Students to Take Responsibility for their Own Learning

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

10 Ways to Encourage Students to Take Responsibility for their Own Learning

I was talking to another Learning Support Adviser at my university job today about the differences between teaching children in a school, and supporting adults studying a university course.

The discussion led to my reflection on how best to equip both school-age children and adult learners to take responsibility for their own learning; ultimately, don’t all learners, regardless of age, desire the same outcome?

I found these 10 ways to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning courtesy of Ed, a teacher, on his blog ‘What Ed Said’ and thought I would share… I think Point 3 would be a particular challenge for me sometimes!!! Points 7 and 8 nicely tie-in with my philosophy of teaching, and I am intrigued by Point 10! Please read and let me know what you think…

‘1. Don’t make all the decisions

Allow choice. Encourage students to make decisions about how they learn best. Create opportunities for them to pursue their own interests and practise skills in a variety of ways. Cater for different learning styles. Don’t expect everyone to respond in the same way. Integrate technology to encourage creative expression of learning.

2. Don’t play guess what’s in my head

Ask open-ended questions, with plenty of possible answers which lead to further questions.   Acknowledge all responses equally. Use Thinking Routines to provide a framework for students to engage with new learning by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities.

3. Talk less

Minimise standing out front and talking at them.  Don’t have rows of learners facing the front of the class.  Arrange the seats so that students can communicate, think together, share ideas and construct meaning by discussing and collaborating. Every exchange doesn’t need to go through the teacher or get the teacher’s approval, encourage students to respond directly to each other.

4. Model behaviors and attitudes that promote learning.

Talk about your own learning. Be an inquirer. Make your thinking process explicit. Be an active participant in the learning community. Model and encourage enthusiasm, open-mindedness, curiosity and reflection.  Show that you value initiative above compliance.

5. Ask for feedback

Get your students to write down what they learned, whether they enjoyed a particular learning experience, what helped their learning, what hindered their learning and what might help them next time. Use a Thinking Routine like ‘Connect, extend, challenge’. Take notice of what they write and build learning experiences based on it.

6. Test less

Record student thinking and track development over time. Provide opportunities for applying learning in a variety of ways. Create meaningful assessment tasks that  allow transfer of learning to other contexts. Have students publish expressions of their learning on the internet for an authentic audience. Place as much value on process and progress as on the final product.

7.  Encourage goal setting and reflection.

Help students to define goals for their learning. Provide opportunities for ongoing self-evaluation and reflection. Provide constructive, specific feedback.   Student blogs are great tools for reflecting on learning and responding to their peers.

8. Don’t over plan.

If you know exactly where the lesson is leading and what you want the kids to think, then you‘re controlling the learning. Plan a strong provocation that will ‘invite the students in’ and get them excited to explore the topic further. But don’t  plan in too much detail where it will go from there.

9.  Focus on learning, not work.

Make sure you and your students know the reason for every learning experience. Don’t give ‘busy work’. Avoid worksheets where possible. Don’t start by planning activities, start with the ‘why‘ and then develop learning experiences which will support independent learning.  Include appropriate tech tools to support the learning.

10.  Organise student led conferences

Rather than reporting to parents about their children’s learning, have student led 3-way conferences, with teacher and parents. The student talks about her strengths and weaknesses, how her learning has progressed and areas for improvement. She can share the process and the product of her learning.’ courtesy of What Ed Said, blog.