Posts Tagged ‘NGfL Cymru’

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 😉

Last night I had the great pleasure and privilege to give an online workshop on Livestream and how my Yr10 classes used it to produce a “TV Show” on the EM Spectrum on our Croesy Physics TV channel (you can read more information about the project here). The CPD was organised by the great @stevebunce who works for Vital, an agency that provides great courses and opportunities for teachers’ professional development in England. I had joined two of these online workshops before as a spectator, and had the good fortune to see @deputymitchell showing the great work he does with his Primary Blogs!

Vital uses a service called Elluminate, which allowed me to stream my face (the least interesting part of the course) from a webcam and/or send a screencast to all the attendees. I was quite amazed to find that I could even show Livestream and Procaster in action and I was broadcasting live on our NGfL Cymru Live channel on Livestream, whilst running the course on Elluminate. It was also very nice to be able to answer the questions from the audience that were posted on the chat room in Elluminate. You can now see the recording of the session here.

This service that Vital provides is one of the best opportunities for CPD I have ever experienced. It just takes half an hour of your time and at a time of the day which is quite convenient to most people (even someone who has three little boys to put to bed like me)! In a time of financial difficulties that is seeing many schools tightening their CPD budget, Vital is showing great initiative,  innovation and real understanding of teachers’ needs.

Thanks Steve for another great opportunity.

After a whole and very intense day at BETT 2011 I am really shuttered, but I am so excited and inspired about the great things I have seen and the great Educators I could network with that I feel compelled to blog about the Thursday at BETT 2011!

The day started off by finding good old friends at the Microsoft stand (you can’t really miss it). Stuart Ball (@innovateach) and Dan Roberts (@chickensaltash) looked fab in their MS blue polo shirts 🙂 and it was hilarious to spot Dan using an iPhone 4 near the stand with his polo (that naughty chicken).

Then, I had the privilege to represent our yr10 pupils at Croesyceiliog School at the ASUS Stand (K29) and present our “EM Spectrum Show” as one of three finalists in the Guardian Classroom Innovation Awards and it would be great if you took 10 seconds of your time at BETT 2011 to vote for us. Just drop a dark blue ball in the long perspex tube at the stand, please! I was getting all excited when two foreign guys walked towards me and asked for a ball. I handed a dark blue ball to them and told them to put it in the tall tube with a smile, but they thanked me for the ball and walked away with it, obviously not understanding what the ball was for 😦 I was at the stand for over an hour and I had a good look at their excellent equipment and I have to say that I was well impressed by two things in particular; their Tablet netbooks (I just loved the portability and how versatile they felt and also the very competitive price) and their laptops. Again I was really impressed by the value for money of these machines! I had a complete tour by Jonathan and he showed me their awesome 3d glasses on their laptops too and their new Android Tablets. It’s well worth spending a few minutes at this impressive stand and seriously considering some of their kits for your pupils.

After lunch I went to get Dan for our joint session at the BrainPOP stand as part of the TeachMeet Takeover. They are great supporters of TeachMeet and they will make a Tim and Moby video to advertise your local TeachMeet events if you ask nicely. They also throw in some nice freebies to give out at your events! By the way have seen their iPhone App? It is awesome and my three little boys absolutely love it (especially Moby nodding when they get the right answer!). My theme was “Why is broadcasting our kids work a confidence booster?” and I am repeating the same talk tomorrow (Friday) at the Scholastic stand at 12.30, still with Dan stealing 7 minutes from me ;-). I hope to see you there! Dan was showing the great stuff (his school) does with Web 2.0 tools, hand held devices, etc… (really worthwhile attending our team TeachMeet Takeover)!

Then, I did spend a few minutes on our NGfL Cymru stand J59 and had a chat which some lovely people that stopped to look at our free resource and took with them our free Thinking Tools CD!

The day ended with a great and inspiring event; the Collabor8 4 Change. Great talks for about an hour and then into tables for 4 x 20 min sessions. I lead one of the tables and was really privileged to meet so many passionate colleagues. The discussions that everyone generated were really thought provoking and enjoyable! I was presenting two sessions. One was the same as the TeachMeet Takeover and the other one was “Why can’t my kids mindmap?”. In both sessions the questions and answers from the Educators on my table really helped me reflect on issues I had not thought about before. The event ended with a really cool video shown by Steve Bunce (@stevebunce) from Vital of his two year old boy playing with an iPad and it was just amazing to see how he could choose and use different apps and get really really excited about it. Steve’s theme was about how quickly technology changes and the possibilities that these changes open up for our children’s development and learning.

I am looking forward to another great day at BETT tomorrow!

Hi, have I told you I work for NGfL Cymru? Probably a thousand times 😉

In the video below I show a great animation on convection currents in a room heated by a radiator that you can find on our website here. However, I don’t just give a tour of the animation, but I show how you can use it to encourage your students to talk about Physics in a creative way. It is a role play where you introduce the animation as a talk show of the life of the “Particles” family, which is your class. Well, the rest is in the video and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I believe this approach is an interesting way to develop Communication and Literacy skills in your pupils in a fun way!

As always, I really value your feedback, so spend 10 seconds to leave a comment, please!

It was a great privilege to be at the Innovative Education Forum at the beginning of this week. It all began with a very inspiring Innovative Teachers Meeting. A very informal gathering for all who wanted to be inspired and make new links, talk about Education with great Educators and indeed join the craved Chicken Karaoke organised by the legendary @chickensaltash (more on this later on). It was nice and rather daunting to open the meeting with my Yr 10 students’ EM Spectrum TV Show and in 10 minutes it was quite difficult to explain the extent of the project, but at least after that I only had to sit back, relax be inspired by so many other great presentations. I was particularly inspired Dawn Hallybone (@dawnhallybone) talking about her Games Based Learning and the nice examples she showed. Really good was also David Mitchell’s presentation (@Deputymitchell) who showed the importance of leaving comments on children’s blog posts! And I have to confess my favourite was Daniel Stucke’s presentation (@mrstucke) on the great work his kids are doing as Digital Leaders. Very inspiring and it reminds me of the Pupils’ Voice project I began in Torfaen a while ago now. There were other great presentations and the evening was really enjoyable and it ended with big cheers and nods of approval when @chickensaltash clucked that he would have led us to a traditional Chinese Karaoke. He said it would take only ten minutes, but it was more like twenty. So, you can imagine our great disappointment when we arrived exhausted at the door and discovered that the place was shut. I could only forgive that Chicken because he eventually took us to an excellent Kebabs take away! But lets move on to the main event, the U.K. Innovative Education Forum 2010.

It started off with an inspirational talk by Michael Furdyk and the launch of the project Shout which invites educators and students to take an active role in global environmental issues. Connect online with experts in the field, share ideas, and collaborate with people around the world committed to solving environmental challenges. This is a really nice opportunity for Educators and Learners to get involved in real and meaningful research and appreciate the importance of collaboration. You can watch Michael Furdyk’s talk on demand on the NGfL Cymru Live Channel.

We then went to our first workshop, which for me was Building games in the Classroom with Kodu. I was particularly interested in this one from the viewpoint of an Institute of Physics Network Coordinator, because I would like to explore the possibility to get children to create virtual worlds to discover the effect of changing physical laws and, therefore, better appreciate the role these laws play in our everyday life! But I have just ideas at this stage and a lot of testing to do before I can build a workshop on it.

My second workshop was with @chickensaltash, by only few known as Dan Roberts, who showed great Web 2.0 tools that can be used in Education. Really nice to see real examples of pupils’ work and I particularly enjoyed the Saltash’s take on mobile devices and social networking. The bottom line is that if we just ban children from using these tools, they will use them  in inappropriate, and potentially dangerous ways, in other environments, but if we educate our pupils in the acceptable and responsible use of these technologies, they will respond and become more mature users of these tools. So, is just making it up and risking their children’s protection? Well, the awards they win for their policies in the use of mobile devices and social networking would suggest the opposite! You can watch this workshop too from the NGfL Cymru Live channel on demand.

My last workshop was with Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach) on Office 2010 and some great features to facilitate learning activities. Of particular value was the demonstration of how OneNote 2010 integrates so beautifully with PowerPoint 2010, with real time polling, collaborative note taking and sharing, etc. Finally, we were shown how Mouse Mischief works and I got to PLAY 🙂 This is a fantastic plug-in for PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 that allows you to connect up to 25 mice to your computer and use PowerPoint as a voting system, multiple choice question generator, and collaborative games and with the ability given to each mouse to draw on some slides!

It was then time for the second Keynote Speaker Prof Sugata Mitra. I had watched his talk on TED, but I have to admit that seeing his passion for Learning and his research live was even more inspiring. I also had the privilege of broadcasting his talk and presentation live and you can see it on demand on the NGfL Cymru Live channel (just after the Q&A session on the video). One of the most intriguing aspects of his talk is his hypothesis that “Education is a self organising system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon”. Prof Mitra will continue his research and actively seek to find hard evidence for this speculation. The data he has already gathered are really encouraging and point to that statement!

And last but not least, the moment that ten people in the conference room were all waiting for. After their hard work and commitment to their children, four of the ten finalists at the UK IEF 2010 were invited to represent Britain’s finest Education at the European Innovative Education Forum that will take place in Moscow in March 2011. And the fantastic 4 are:

Gareth Ritter

Jennifer Blum

Jo Debens

Louise Dorrian

I was overjoyed when I heard that Gareth (@ritzertech) because he is a Welshman and works in Willows High in Cardiff. I first came across him when I did a presentation about NGfL Cymru resources in his school. At the end of the presentation he comes up to me and says: “The stuff you do is really cool! How can I get involved in all this?” I only had to tell him “try the UK IEF 2010!” and in a week he put together an award winning VCT. What will he do in the time he has between now and March? Great job Gareth. Read about his awesome project on his blog

At last I have found some time to check Prezi out, and it’s even better when you can use this time to fit it in with your job. As a Field Officer at NGfL Cymru, I am trying to develop resources that give opportunities to learners and educators to explore the latest technology and its applications in sound Learning and Teaching. So, I could not leave Prezi out, especially after all the feedback I had received before I started using it myself! However, I wanted to find a use that was not just different from another way of presenting (which in my opinion is not the point and certainly not what would make Prezi stand above PowerPoint, because we’ll soon have death by Prezi if we are not careful),  but that would have real educational value and that would be an advantage to anyone using Prezi in this way!

To cut a long story short, I was wondering what it would be like to mind map with Prezi, and by mind mapping I mean following the mind mapping rules set up by Tony Buzan (the creator of Mind Mapping himself). One of the greatest advantages of Prezi in drawing mind maps is the ability to embed videos in your Prezi mind maps, something we haven’t seen before (at least I haven’t in other mind mapping software). Also, assigning a path to your mind map allows you to show and share your thought process very clearly. In this way using a Prezi mind maps could become a very effective presentation tool, but also a revision tool for your students who will need less assistance from the author of the mind map, because the sequence of events and areas of focus is decided by the path set by the author themselves! However, if a learner prefers to go at their own pace and stroll around your mind map their way, they can still do this by zooming in and out with the scroll on your mouse. You can also set the Prezi to be public and with the option to be copied by people who bump into them! So, your students could copy your Prezi mind map in their Prezi accounts and edit it to make it more suitable to their learning style, or simply add to it. Why not starting a template Prezi mind map and let the learners complete it? Then, you could share the contributions from different pupils in the class and complete your draft as a collaborative mind map created with each learner’s contributions, which is a very useful and highly effective mind mapping technique!

Click here, or on the image below to see my first Prezi Mind Map on the Kinetic Theory.

I found the iSeismo App for iPhone a few months ago thanks to an email on the PTNC (the Institute of Physics mailing list). It is a free App and also a brilliant one. I am developing resources for the WJEC Separate Science Specification (Physics 3) here at NGfL Cymru (National Grid for Learning Wales) and one of the topics is Seismic Waves, so I couldn’t resist the temptation to create an activity that would take advantage of such a great App!

iSeismo displays a seismograph for movements along the x, y and z axes using the inbuilt accelerometer in the iPhone and it is very realistic and quite accurate too. The needles look just like a real Seismographer writing on paper rolls, but with this electronic seismographer you can freeze the screen and pause it at a particular moment, as well as other interesting things.

I am giving you another sneak peek of what’s coming soon on the NGfL Cymru website. Below is the video that I created this morning to go with this activity in Wallwisher. The cool thing is that when the iPhone was at rest I received an email and the phone vibrated. The needles on iSeismo showed a vibration along the x and z axis, but not on the y-axis. So, the vibrator must be fixed onto a plane which is perpendicular to the y-axis. I bet you didn’t know that about the iPhone, did you? At least about the iPhone 3GS.

I created the Wallwisher wall as an example for teachers, but to use it with your classes you would need to register with Wallwisher and create your own wall by linking the video to the YouTube video in this blog.

As always I really value your feedback, so please leave a comment!

As I have posted in this previous article I am on a secondment with NGfL Cymru (National Grid for Learning, Wales) this year and we work in close partnership with eChalk. Dr Iestyn Jones (Managing Director of eChalk Ltd) was proudly announcing his latest tool, the eChalk Circuit Builder.

When he told NGfL Cymru this tool was finally completed he used these words “I think it’s a world beater – for a web based resource in any event”, and I certainly agree with him. I really think this is the Ultimate Circuit Builder, because of it’s simplicity and its powerful functionality. It will be available free of charge as a “taster to try” to everyone for a limited time from the eChalk homepage So, don’t let this opportunity pass you by, have a try before it is moved in the members’ area! Before you use it have a look at the video tutorial (which can be opened directly when you launch the resource). The video will show the real potential of this fantastic tool and you will be amazed by what this application can do!




After this initial trial period the resource will be moved also in the NGfL Cymru area on eChalk. This means that all schools in Wales will be able to access it, like all the other resources (all subjects). Please, remember that this applies only when you are physically inside a school in Wales and using the school network!


You can reach this area from this page on the NGfL Cymru website. Just click on the link at the bottom of the last paragraph (not the one in bold) when you are in your school and check out the great collection of resources you can find there!







If you are not teaching in a school in Wales, you can still subscribe for a very affordable price for your school. It really is worth it for the amount and quality of resources you get!

Please, let us (or eChalk directly, know if you spot any bugs in the Circuit Builder, so they can be put right! Your feedback is very much appreciated, as always.

I am writing a series of lessons on refraction of light for National Grid for Learning Cymru (NGfL Cymru) and I needed a place to store the photos for a lesson starter activity in Wallwisher, so I thought I could write a blog about this and share the idea with all my readers. This blog post will also give you a preview of this series of resources and hopefully tickle your interest to follow up on the final product!

The idea is to create a wall on Wallwisher like this one and let the students add comments next to each of the images below to explain how the effect they see is produced. Basically like the famous placemat activity (I have attached a copy of the placemat version in Word at the bottom of this post).

I hope you will enjoy the activity with your classes and let me know how you have used it, the outcomes and any suggestions for improvement!
Download the Placemat activity in Word Refraction placemat (LS)