Posts Tagged ‘Blog’

Aaron was only 10 when he introduced me to WordPress and blogging. It is thanks to him that this blog ever started, so it fills me with joy to be able to blog again about another great achievement of his in the world of technology.

Now that he is 16 and in the midst of his GCSE exams, he has developed his first game for the iPhone/iPod. This was his personal project that he set himself over the Christmas holidays. He was not prompted by his ICT teacher, nor set this as a homework from school, just his own interest in coding and developing something good and rewarding.

You can find his game, which is actually really good and, in my opinion, stands up there with the big viral and highly addictive games like Doodle Jump, Angry Birds and Flappy Birds, here. RFLKTR is a really engaging game that uses mirrors you draw on the screen to guide a laser beam through gaps in the walls it encounters as it travels in space. This really interesting and stimulating feature of the game, which sounds easy, but believe me it is really hard, makes it a really engaging tool for Physics teachers when teaching Reflection of light!

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At the moment the game doesn’t seem to work on the iPad, but I am sure a later release will fix this and I would love to have other features of light that could be used to guide the laser beam across the screen. For example, it would be awesome to have blocks of glass and other materials of different refractive index appearing every now and again so that the player could move them in front of the incoming beam as well as changing their angle, so the beam can be refracted instead of reflected with these special items, etc…

Please shout out about this game and download it, because I believe learners who take their own initiative to create something like this deserve to be recognised for their effort and creativity!

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Anyone who insists technology is disempowering has probably not come across really young learners interacting with it. Today I was reminded about how intuitive, engaging and formative technologies like the iPad really are.

I want to call Nonna!

My 2 year old boy, Martino, felt like talking to Nonna (grandma in Italian). I say talking, but, although he can say quite a few words, he hasn’t learnt to say many sentences yet. What he has learnt to do, and very quickly, is to use an iPad. In fact, he’s so good at it that today he ran in the kitchen, took the iPad Mini and came back to the sofa looking pleased with himself. Then, he turned it on, swiped to access the apps, found FaceTime inside a folder and called my mum from the recent calls. When Matteo (my eldest) heard the ringing sound of FaceTime he asked Martino, if he was calling Nonna. “Sí, Sí!” answered Martino.

IMG_1666Needless to say that this unexpected call made my mum’s day, but what I’ve witnessed today, and many other times since Martino was one and a half, is something that made me think deeply about the power of technology.

Our learners are deeply engaged with technology, they grow surrounded by it and naturally embrace it as part of their learning. I believe it is essential we engage our students with technology to harness this enthusiasm our young people show for it. I heard of many primary and secondary schools that began to use iPads when they noticed their youngest learners kept touching the screen of PCs and laptops the first time they used them. iPads, smartphones and tablets are engaging and an integral part of many learners’ every day routines. They are drawn to them and naturally interact with such devices with great interest and proficiency, so using them in the classroom seems to me to be a logical way to engage children in their learning. This will make schooling more fun, but that should never be the driver for integrating technology in the classroom! iPads and other technologies open ways to redefine pedagogy and learning experiences. They empower learners and teachers, so that students become more independent and creators of knowledge, rather than simply consumers of knowledge. Let’s embrace technology for the right reasons and not thinking that the kit will solve all the teaching and learning challenges in our schools.

There are many ways to use technology creatively and innovatively to enrich our learning environments and much can be learnt from educational blogs such the CollaboratEd.org.uk Blog (@Collaborat_Ed), Neil Atkin’s Blog (@natkin), maybe this Blog you are reading and, one of my favourite, Gavin Smart’s Blog (@GavinSmart).

It’s been a while since my last post, so my fingers are itching now, especially because what I am going to write about had virtually no input from me. My four boys have been completely immersed in Minecraft for quite a few months now. In particular, they love playing together on two iPads and an iPhone, so they can cooperate, send messages to each other and they’ve even made three beds in each of the houses they built, so they can sleep together in any house they find themselves in when it gets dark (and for those who are not familiar with Minecraft you better go to sleep when it gets dark, or zombies and creepers will come to get you).

A self organised geography lesson

One day my six year old invited the other two, four and eight respectively (the two year old can use the iPad very well, but on Minecraft he tends to destroy stuff, so it’s better to leave him out of a creative session 😉 ), to join him in his Olympic Games. So, they set off to build flags for each country (well, just a few actually, but I was pleased they added Italy). They found out what colours the flags for the countries they wanted to add were and made them out of Minecraft blocks. You can see the results below.

Italy

Japan

Japan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of Literacy

Then, they created various games. There was a ring for sword fighting, a hurdle race track and even target shooting. The boys also placed some signs with some basic rules for the games, as you can see below.

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And finally a bit of numeracy

Now it was time to mark out the difficulty of the target shooting game, so they added some signs to show how far from the target the archers should stand for an easy, medium and hard shooting session. This shows how you can develop “using number and measuring skills” through a video game that kids find incredibly engaging. So engaging, in fact, that they set off to create what became (in my opinion) a great learning journey completely independently. I believe this is a really nice example of a SOLE (Self Organised Learning Environment) that Sugata Mitra talks about and that the nature of the game, the intuitiveness of iPads and the ability to collaborate in real time from different devices facilitated this process many folds.

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The power of technology

I’ve always been fascinated by the way very young learners interact with new technologies, and it was observing my nephew searching the internet when he was ten that prompted me to start this Blog, but I have never seen anything as powerful as an iPad in allowing children to create their own learning journeys. I watch my two year old who can get in and out of the apps he wants, build helicopters in the Lego app and fly them, call my mum with FaceTime (it’s true! It happened several times), etc… Then, I see my four year old who since he was three could create amazing buildings and objects in Minecraft at a speed that makes me feel dizzy, or my six and eight year old boys who use iPads to search for information they are interested in, find video tutorials on YouTube that show them how to create portals in Minecraft that take them to other worlds, etc… and I see so much that I am proud of. But I also see a fantastic tool that empowers them to learn through play. If they can learn things by themselves using these amazing technologies, think about how much more could be done in the classroom with them!

I am finally finding literally 5 minutes to catch up with a few things I have been doing since the beginning of the term and I wanted to share with you how I am using kidblog.org to create collaborative feedback between different schools and cross-phase. Our Yr12 Blog is here.

I believe allowing our learners to Blog is a powerful learning strategies for a number of reasons. Firstly, our students get a real audience and are more likely to take their assignments seriously and be enthused by the thought of communicating their work to the world. That is why it is so important for them to see comments appearing on their posts, as they get the feeling that their efforts are appreciated by others! Also, comments are a powerful and simple means to peer assess each other’s work, as well as, obviously, for the teacher to leave some feedback too.

So, I introduced my Yr12 to our CroesyPhysics Blog and set a couple of assignments for them. The first is something I have been doing for the last couple of years and it is about the learners writing poems to describe the Photoelectric Effect, more about it on this previous Blog post. But the second was a collaboration between our Yr12 learners and a Yr6 class  at Highlawn Primary School. In these Blog posts our learners had to explain energy levels and photon absorption and emission to an audience of 10 year old pupils. You can read the Blog post to set the assignment here. Our Yr12 students could present this Physics topic in whatever form they wanted, but it was very clear to the majority of the Bloggers that they needed to find a way to get their message across in a simple and coherent way, and that they could not assume anything, not even that the Yr6 learners would know what an electron, or an atom is!

So, I gave them a link to the PowerPoint I would have normally shown them on the topic and told them to use that and their text books to gather the information they needed to support their creations. I was pretty confident they would not copy and paste, because if they had, they would have failed to be understood by the Yr6 learners, who are reading our Blog posts and leaving comments to feedback on our students’ presentation, clarity and accuracy. It must be said that the comments we have had so far are really thorough and very well written for learners of that age! Learners at Highlawn Primary certainly know what it means to reflect on learning.

I think we’ve had some really good Blog post so far and this excercise has been useful for our learners, but I would love to hear your opinions and if you can spare a couple of minutes, please read through some of our learners’ work and leave a comment for them here! They will be thrilled to see others value their work.

With this Blog post I will start a series of posts on the ASUS Transformer Tablet and I am actually writing from one of these right now. This post is about First Impressions… in fact, my brand new Tablet arrived just yesterday and I already love it.
I am in a hotel room in Copenhagen representing Britain, together with other Science Educators (mainly from IoP), at the Science on Stage Europe Conference and, while I would normally have taken my laptop and iphone out and used them extensively by now, I have mainly used my Transformer so far and my laptop has not come out of its case yet.
I will post on more specific issues in this series, e.g. how I used the ASUS Transformer for work and leisure and how my three boys are responding to it, but for now here are my first impressions.
Great features:
1) The full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad are just out of this world! I probably would not be bothered writing this post with a Tablet, if I hadn’t this feature. Docking the tablet just makes life a million times easier and it is so quick to navigate apps and the internet with a mixture of typing from the keyboard and swiping of your fingers on the screen, a perfect match! Quite amazing is also the extra battery the keyboard gives you, as well as extra ports, etc…
2) Flash!!! At last I own a fully portable device that actually allows you to browse the internet freely. I was showing the Tablet to my friend and colleague Neal at lunch time and we started to talk about NGfL Cymru resources (the company I work for) and eChalk (one of our Partners). As both have resources based on Flash I could still show Neal all our stuff without the frustration of pointless blocks… He was well impressed and I gained a convert 😉
3) Front and back camera! Really handy and quite impressive quality. This is a photo of my stand at the conference taken with the Transformer.

This is the first time I upload a photo in my blog directly from a mobile device and I have to say that ASUS has made it surprisingly easy 🙂

Not so great:
1) The docking station isn’t that easy to fit and it seems to get disconnected quite easily, but that could be just me having to get use to it.
2) The interface, though very sleak and pleasing in design, isn’t as intuitive as I was hoping. It took me a while to get round a few things, but that will get better when I will have had more time to play 😉

Overall, I am absolutely delighted to have such a lovely device to use and I am very pleased with how much easier it is making my life already, e.g. one thing I haven’t mentioned was the ease of downloading documents, like rich pfds, directly on the Tablet and how useful it was to be able to read the programme of the event on the plane before getting there!
Look out for my next blog post on this new breed of high-tech Transformers 😉

Hi,

This is my first blog ever, so I thought it’s just fair to have as a subject the person that introduced me to Web Logging, my 10 year old nephew. As an Educator with a passion for new technologies, I enjoy watching the behavious of my nephew as he uses technology in his personal life and how much positive impact this is having in his development.

For example, last year he needed to find out how to hatch a Dragonage (at least I think that’s how you spell it) egg, so he got to his computer and searched the net to find what he needed. It was just amazing to watch him reading and selecting the information he needed. He could quickly distinguish between links that would lead him to a dead end from useful sites and in a matter of few minutes he found a detailed explanation of the procedure, applied it to his “Viva Pignata” game on his X-Box 360 and got the desired outcome. In this exercise, which he enjoyed thouroughly, he displayed and developed very useful skills, e.g. he developed his reading and comprehension skills, analysis and synthesis, etc.

Today, he was showing me WordPress and he subscribed me to it. Then he showed me how to create a blog and how he uses his blogs. Then, he needed a code from another domain in his computer, so he logged off and logged into the other partition, found the code, opened his browser, emailed the code to himself, logged in to his other domain and used the code from his email. Some of my Yr 11 pupils would not know how to do that. What was impressive wasn’t the fact he can use online email services, but the way he made technology work for him and how he solved quite a complex problem for his age.

By the way here is his blog:

aaronwyn.wordpress.com

So, has technology made him a genius? Probably not. He has always been a bright boy and has an enquiring mind, but I am sure technology has had and still has a very positive impact on his development!

Alessio