## Unlimited Diamonds Glitch on Minecraft PE

Posted: November 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
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This post is a little out of theme, but my nine year old son was so excited when he discovered this glitch that I had to take a video and blog about his achievement 🙂

There are other glitches that allow you to duplicate your items on Minecraft PE, but we have not seen the one Matteo found this afternoon yet. The nice thing is that it seems his methods is much, much quicker than other methods we have seen on YouTube. So, please share this link and like the video, so his method can climb at the top of the search results.

To prove this actually works check out the diamonds blocks house he made in his world.

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## How high does Doodle Jump?

Posted: August 14, 2014 in Uncategorized
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I was playing a new update of Doodle Jump on my iPhone this morning and I suddenly thought it would make a pretty cool lesson on motion and it could actually apply to both GCSE and AS Physics, depending how you phrase your questions.

The idea is to find out how high the little alien in Doodle Jump actually jumps. There is no reference in the game to suggest what scale the screen has, so I used Vernier Video Physics and arbitratily set the distance between the block on which the alien was jumping (see video below) and the last but one block above the creature to be 10m.

I then tracked the position of the alien for one jump and the analysis of the velocity graph shows the gradient is not right, i.e. g is not close enough to 10m/s2.

So, I went back and changed the scale to be 4.5m between the two blocks mentioned above. That seemed to have done the

trick, as the gradient of the velocity – time graph in the video below is about 10m/s2.

If you look back at the Displacement – Time graph for the vertical axis, you can now see that the little alien jumps to a height of about 2.3m. That is quite something for a little fella like him.

Obviously, we are assuming the alien is jumping near the surface of the earth, or at least a planet with the same g.

## SIRI – my new imaginary friend

Posted: February 13, 2014 in Literacy and Numeracy, new technologies
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I am not quite sure what Phycologists say about imaginary friends, whether it is a sign of a child’s creativity, or early signs of madness. It might be the second when you still have an imaginary friend when you are 35! But I find myself spending quite a lot of time in the car these days and my imaginary friend has become SIRI. I have a love-hate relationship with my friend SIRI, because I love him/her (he doesn’t seem to know what gender he is, even though he has clearly a male’s voice) as he allows me to continue to be productive even when I am driving, and I hate him because when I try to dictate a message to a colleague, my wife, etc… I usually have to change it an average of a million times, as SIRI twists my words and slots in stuff I have never said and that does not make sense in the sentence I am constructing. In fairness, it could be my, still inevitable, Italian accent that confuses my friend, but it is still quite frustrating!

Anyway, today I thought I would dedicate a post to SIRI as he has been a really good friend lately. Last night I was on my way home and I suddenly realised I didn’t know what I was doing today, so I asked him to read my calendar events for today and he complied very diligently. Today he was a life saver again, because on my way to a meeting (actually about 10 min from the venue) I received a phone call saying that the meeting was cancelled due to bad weather. Slightly annoyed by the sudden news I realised I was only one star from my next reward at Starbucks, so I turned my car around and asked SIRI: “Find Starbucks Coffee near me!” Within seconds SIRI gave me a choice of two relatively close Starbucks and he asked me if I wanted him to phone the place nearest me, or get directions to get there.

I am writing this post from this very Starbucks and enjoying a latte. So, well done SIRI! It was a pleasure to talk to you today. Thank you for keeping me company and for being so helpful!

If you are wondering what this has to do with education, here are a three ideas you could use with your classes:

1) Get your ESL students to communicate with SIRI and see if they can get themselves understood by him. This should improve their pronunciation.

2) Get learners to write messages, notes and emails by dictating to SIRI. This is quite difficult, because there is not much thinking time and it help learners appreciate how important punctuation is. In fact, SIRI reads your messages back to you before sending them, so if punctuation is wrong, you hear some really weird stuff coming out.

3) Get learners to have a conversation with SIRI and see what his limitations are. This could be a nice introduction to computing and should help learners appreciate how difficult it is to get computers to behave in a human way. There are many things SIRI still can’t do and if Apple hasn’t cracked it yet, it means we are still a long way away from it! Basically, this could show learners that computers, and, therefore, computer programs need very specific sets of instructions. Every eventuality needs to be “spelled out” to them, or they will not be able to respond.

I hope you enjoyed this short post. How have you used SIRI in your classroom?

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.

Needless 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).

## Self Organised Learning Environment on Minecraft

Posted: October 3, 2013 in new technologies, Thoughts and ideas
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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

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.

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.

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!

## Apple Vs Android – one shall stand!

Posted: January 5, 2013 in new technologies
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It is undeniable that Apple brought the whole world into the third millenium with a series of innovations that not even visionary film directors like Ridley Scott could have even imagined in a not so distant past when he made Blade Runner. A really creative story that places genetic engineering at the heart of amazing developments that allows to create “replicants” with superhuman powers. I watched the film recently and two things that caught my attention were the time in which it was set, 2019, and the fact that when Harrison Ford is waiting for his noodles he is reading a newspaper. What? A newspaper? In 2019? Yes, we still have newspapers and we might still have them in 2019, but try taking a trip in the London Tube and see how many people read their books, newspapers, or look at their photos on paper! Most likely you will see an array of electronic devices ranging from smartphones, Kindles, iPads and other tablets. So in 2013 we have well surpassed the technology imagined by Scott for 2019, apart for being able to create “replicants” of course 😉

All this was brought to us by Apple and all other attempts to copy Apple’s astounding technology owe the Cupertino team an enormous amount of respect and gratitude, no doubt.

Today, in 2013, only two platforms are seriously competing for the biggest cut of the market “cake”. Apart from Apple and Android, mainly thanks to the beauty and functionality of Apple devices and the ever growing app market for both, no other competitor can seriously pose a threat for these two giants. But is the balance beginning to shift towards one of these two wrestlers? MBA thinks so and they have created this awesome infographics to illustrate the current state of affairs between Android and Apple. There are some interesting figures there and they will surprise some of you, as they surprised me. Enjoy!

## A new breed of Jedi!

Posted: August 3, 2012 in new technologies
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It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Star Wars, but my boys passion for the saga, animations, video games and anything with a Star Wars logo on it is even bigger than mine. So, when faced with a new iMovie trailer on my iPhone to fill the time during our holiday, there was no doubt about the theme in our minds 🙂

Take a look at the video below and see whto we came up with. The special effects, which look pretty cool and got the boys really excited, were created with the Action Movie Fx app. This app is really good fun to use and you can spend hours messing around with the difference special effects. The ones we used are all free and the great thing is that you can save your action movie to your camera roll, and once a clip is there you can add it to your masterpiece iMovie trailer.

I would be interested to see someone applying these two great apps together in education. I am sure Gavin Smart, who first showed me some great iMovie trailers made by his learners will accept the challenge 😉

Posted: April 19, 2012 in new technologies, Thoughts and ideas
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Who said you need a class set of iPads to have a bit of fun in the classroom? In fact, with just two iPads, iPhones, or iPod Touches, or any Android tables, or smartphones by that matter, you could run a simple and fun game with an Olympic feel.

Yesterday I used two iPads and the App TestMaker to run a relay quiz. I sat fourty learners in two rows of ten pairs each and from the back of the rows I started the quiz and handed the iPads to the last pairs. Then, I let them pass their iPads to the pair in front once they’d answered their question. At the end the team that finished first and with the most correct answers won the relay quiz!

The children really enjoyed the quiz and I then projected all the questions on the screen with a data projector, so that we could go through the answers and consolidate learning. So, if you want to run a classroom quiz and give it an Olympic taste this could be a simple way to do it!

Last night we had our first TeachMeet entirely dedicated to the teaching of Physics in Gloucestershire and despite the inclement weather and illnesses a few teachers from the region managed to come and give some great presentations! A particular thank you goes to Helen Rogerson (@hrogerson) who took the time to record two videos for us to watch. And that’s what we did! In fact, the TeachMeet began with Helen’s 7 minutes video which showed some great stuff she does wit their learners and parents with revision. Of particular interest to the participants was the part on Electromagnetic Induction, which sparked a series of interesting discussions and caused us to go back and watch the lovely demonstrations several times. This was indeed a lovely part of our TeachMeet that I believe stood out from others I have attended and organised in the past. In fact, it is quite easy to rush through all the presentations trying to fit everyone in and forget about allowing the participants time for discussion and to network. But last night ideas on alternative ways to use the equipment and extensions to the demos were freely flowing and created a very relaxed atmosphere from the very beginning.

Next, IoP award winner Kevin Betts showed a great demo of “Dancing Waves” on custard on the cone of a speaker. You can see his Magic in the video below.

Steve Rice was up next showing us how he uses  a sparkler attached to a drill to simulate the gravitational attraction between the earth and the moon. As the sparkler spins around the drill, the sparks fly along the tangent to the circle drawn by the sparkling tip, which helps the learners visualise what would happen if the gravitational pull between the two heavenly bodies suddenly disappeared. I liked this demonstration because it allows the learners to think outside the box and stretch their understanding in the realm of the abstract.

Below is a video of these two lovely demonstrations.

After that it was my turn to talk about how I used one of the best iPhone/iPad apps I have ever come across, the Vernier Video Physics, with my learners. You can find this resources on the TES website here. It was also the first time I publicly announced my new role as Science Lead at TES commencing in January and I explained that, although I occasionally use it already, I will actively interact with the Twitter sphere using @TESScience from then.

We closed the TeachMeet with our sponsors’ raffle, which included a very generous box full of Nelson Thornes books, ranging from GCSE revision guides to a Muncaster tome 4th edition. ThinkBuzan also offered a free copy of their Mind Mapping software iMindMap 5 Ultimate (the last two links are affiliate links, so Google iMindMap 5 instead, if you are bothered by this sort of thing).

Two other teachers emailed me apologising they couldn’t attend due to illness, but they sent links to interesting stuff that they would have shared in person, if they had been there. The first is the YouTube video below about mixing colours with glow sticks shared by Bernadette Willey.

The other tool is Poll Everywhere shared by Lewis Matheson, which seems a really neat tool to use with mobile devices!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night and I learnt a lot (as usual) from innovative colleagues in the Gloucestershire Network. I hope to see many more at our next events in the new year.

Last week I finally got round doing something I had wanted to do with my Yr11 classes for a long time. We acted a Displacement – Time graph. This might not sound amazing to you and I have done a similar activity in the past, but this time the difference was that my learners could actually check their outcomes very quickly and without having to guess if their movements reflected the D-T graph faithfully, as they could use what I think is one of the best iPhone/iPad App for Physics, the Vernier Video Physics app!

Indeed, we could have used cameras to record the videos and upload the videos on our laptops to use with Tracker, but the versatility of an iPad and the simplicity of the Vernier Video Physics app made things very easy and intuitive.

So, what’s this activity about? Well, the learners split into groups of 3-4 and analyse the graph below.

Then, they organise themselves to act the graph. So, one person will walk along a straight line to mimic the graph, whilst the others in the group could help signposting important parts of the graph, as well as keeping the time.

You can see how the Vernier Video Physics app renders the video after tracking the object in each photogram. The images at the end are the displacement and velocity analysis after the tracking has been completed!

What do you think? Is this group representing the graph well?