Teaching Forces on a trampoline!

Posted: June 4, 2014 in Thoughts and ideas
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It can be tricky to find good examples to show how forces add up to give a resultant force. In particular, sum of vector forces in AS Physics is something that takes practice in order for students to grasp. So, when one of my boys enjoyed a ride on one of those trampolines where they strap you to two elastic ropes to make you jump very high I thought it would be useful to share this photo with you. The tensions from the two ropes pull him at the same angle on either side, but he jumps up vertically. Why does this happen? You can ask students. Then force arrows could be drawn and look at their vertical and horizontal components to see that the horizontal components are balanced and the vertical components add up, etc…

What other useful concrete examples do you use with your students?

Sorry the photo got uploaded on its side instead of the right way up, but you should be able to easily rotate it on a PPT presentation, or you could mess with you students and tell them it was taken at the Equator 😀 and see what they say!

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.

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 Saltash.net 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 http://garethritter.wordpress.com/

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 attended my very first TeachMeet in Cheltenham at the Parabola Arts Centre (Cheltenham Ladies’ College) and it was a worthwhile experience. There were not as many teachers as I would have expected/hoped, but it was still a great opportunity to network with like minded educators and to see some great stuff in action.

The meeting kicked off with some lovely demos on 2D and 3D animation from Liz Pratten, Glenfall. What I liked about her presentation was the large amount of kids’ work she showed us. Nice, funny and engaging pieces of work from her pupils… can’t get any better!

Then, @mrjstacey took us through a nice Hystory lesson he made in Prezi. I liked the video hidden inside the photo and the showing off of the depth of zooming in that can be achieved in Prezi. I tried to get my pupils to use Prezi in class, but they found it very heavy and frustrating that they had to wait so long for things to upload, etc. This seemed to be @mrjstacey experience too I think. He showed this lovely Prezi on Chemical Scales too!

Next, was @isaachsenalex showing some fantastic work he did as a cross curricular  project with the Geography department using Macs and photographs taken by the children on school trips. There was a lot of good teaching and learning thinking and practice in the way photos were used by the kids.

To balance out the Apple presence @innovativeteach gave a very quick and snappy 2 min presentation on the many examples of free software available from Microsoft and the Partners in Learning Network. From Deep Zoom Composer to Autocollage, Songsmith, etc… I think most of the audience was literally blown away by these great examples of free educational software. And again the focus was on the pupils, not on the technology.

Then, @atomicjam showed us how Google Reader can be used to keep track of all the blogs and websites you are following. I had used it before, but I got a couple of tips I didn’t know about!

@mrjstacey was up again talking about a really nice blog he uses with his Politics class in WordPress. A great example of how blogging with your class can be a very useful and enriching experience for you students. I liked the was he builds up trust with his classes, e.g. starting from allowing only comments first and slowly handing the writing of the post to the students. I also learnt you can email your posts to your WordPress blog directly!

After the break I was up showing what I did with what I baptised “The Ultimate PowerPoint Macro”. My good friend Mike Ebbsworth (WJEC) gave me this PPT template and he got it from here. So, I showed a version of the Caterpillar learning journey I made using it for some of the resources I am working on at NGfL Cymru. This macro is phenomenal and it does a great deal of stuff, e.g. rotate objects, edit text in slideshow mode, resize objects… You can download it directly from the link below. I also quickly introduces the Stimulating Phyiscs Network and TalkPhysics.org.

And the @mrjstacey was up again to close the meeting with markup.io and with the thanks, etc. Unfortunately there was no more time for more presentations, but the experience was certainly worth living.

I am looking forward for the TeachMeet in Bristol on the 10th November were I will do a 7 min pitch on “Why is broadcasting your students’ work a confidence booster?” Hope to see you there!

The 7th Microsoft Innovative Education Forum is a one-day conference, free of charge to all teachers and educators who wish to attend and will look to address the theme of ‘Connecting Learners, Connecting Teachers.’
This forum aims to connect Teachers with Teachers, Educators with Educators. Allowing you to share expertise and learn from each other. Giving insights into how you can connect your students with technology and connect them with their learning. The forum is sponsored by the Partners In Learning Network where many teaching resources for a wide variety of subjects can be found. Have a look at the links to some Science resources (below) and keep reading if you want to attend the conference.
This year the Forum is being held at the Hilton Deansgate Hotel in Manchester on the 30th Nov.
We have a packed agenda with Keynote speakers at the event will be the world renowned Prof. Sugata Mitra famous for his ‘Hole in the wall’ project and Michael Furdyk CEO of the young person’s online community , Taking IT Global.
In addition, Delegates will be able to choose from a range of practical workshops covering areas such as using free software and Web 2.0 technology, games based learning and managing innovation in schools.
Workshop 1- TakingITGlobal – Mandeep Atwal, TIGed UK
Workshop 2- Outdoor learning & technology – David Rogers, The Geography Collective
Workshop 3- From the cloud to the classroom, making innovation stick! – Guy Shearer, Head Teacher, Lodge Park Technology College
Workshop 4- Creative use of technology in the classroom – Dan Roberts, saltash.net community school
Workshop 5- Office 2010 in the Classroom – Stuart Ball – Microsoft Partners in LearningWorkshop 6- Kodu Games based learning – Nicki Maddam, Hartsdown Technology College, Margate
Find out more details about each workshop here>>
For the first time we are holding an Innovative Teacher Meet, 29 Nov. at 7:30pm
Join us for drinks, canapés and a series of TeachMeet style pitches from leading teachers at Hilton’s vibrant Cloud 23 bar, providing 360-degree views of Manchester.
Share with like-minded teachers in a series of 3-minute open pitches.
Also, find out who are Microsoft’s 2010 Award-Winning Innovative Educators. The awards will be presented at this event, to Teachers who have submitted projects that illustrate the innovative use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Not only will they receive award recognition, but have the chance to be invited to The European Education Forum being held in Moscow next year. These project will be on display at the event.
Don’t miss out, register today http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com
Stuart Ball | Innovative Teachers Programme Manager | Public Sector | Microsoft Ltd
Mobile +44 (0) 7970 778 360 | Email

Register today for our free conference – http://uk.partnersinlearningnetwork.com

When I wrote the blog post on my top 5 list of features in Office 2007 I mentioned INK for Office 2007 as one of them and one of the reasons I like it so much is that you can use it in PowerPoint to create very nice mind maps that blend beautifully your own handwriting and powerful images that you can find on the internet. It is very important in the mind mapping process to have the freedom to write and draw on your map by hand and so expressing your creativity. That is why no mind mapping software has yet been able to substitute your hand in this highly effective and enjoyable activity, although iMindmap is very good and the closest to fully hand drawn mind map in my view!

Anyway, although drawing your own images is important in mind mapping, in a subject like Physics accuracy and clarity are also important. That is why using images that can be pasted on PowerPoint together with branches and words handwritten using INK (which you can find on the bottom left corner in presentation mode, or on the review ribbon, if you are using a Tablet PC) can be a very powerful tool. Well, pasting images from the internet can also save a lot of time and still make your mind map very beautiful and articulated.

I made the mind map in the above video to help my A-level Students to understand Magnetic Fields, but then it occurred to me that they would have probably been confused by it without an explanation of “my mind”. So, I decided to narrate the mind map to them! I did that in class, but I also recorded my explanation using Community Clips, so they could download it from our VLE and use it for revision any time they wanted (I would love to be able to say I can picture them with their earphones on the bus listening to my mind map on their iPods, but I can’t).

Anyway, that was the mind map and the idea was that they would have narrated the next mind map I made and the third one they would have both created and narrated. We had a very professional sounding narrator who would give a really hard time to any BBC presenter, but I didn’t think it would be fair on him to display his voice to the world without asking.

I hope you have enjoyed reading and listening to this post and that you will start using mind mapping with your classes too, if you haven’t already!

Any feedback is welcome. Thanks!

A couple of days ago Microsoft has launched Office Web Apps and this is great news for Educators. In fact, this is a great tool to enhance collaboration in the classroom, at home for collaborative projects that go beyond teaching time and even to collaborate with other classes worldwide!

Not only you can create and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote files directly from the browser, but you can also edit in your desktop where you can use the full functionality of your installed Office packages! And what about those pupils who haven’t got Office 2007 or 2010? It is no longer a problem, because they can edit from the cloud, directly from their skydrive. Basically all they need is to link their existing email (which could be their school email) to a Live ID.

If you thought this was great, keep reading (and watch the video below)  because Office Web Apps also allow you to share your files with whoever you want and multiple users can contribute to the files simultaneously, e.g. edit the same spreadsheet the whole class is using!

I can’t wait to use this great tool with my pupils, but to be more effective with it I have created an Online OneNote Notebook (that anyone with the link can see) to share ideas on how we can use these fantastic tools in Education. However, to make your contribution I have to invite you, so please get involved an ask for an invitation by sending me an email at: aso.ber@ntlworld.com

Don’t miss the chance to share, as it is by sharing that you get a better understanding of how to maximize your effectiveness as a teacher and learner!

You can now watch a preview of our Yr 10 EM Spectrum “TV Show” directly from this blog. The section we are showing below is part of the EM Spectrum News Report. If you want to watch the whole show click here.

A few weeks ago I introduced the E.M. Spectrum to my yr 10 classes (14-15 years old) by asking them to produce activities that we would broadcast on our very own online “TV” channel http://www.livestream.com/croesyphysics

Needless to say they were very excited by the idea, especially because they were given complete choice on the type of activities they could create, the groups they were working with and even the software they could use. So, we got activities ranging from News Reports and Revision Songs to Documentaries and Comics. The whole process was highly enjoyable for them, to the point that some pupils who normally would not be that interested in the subject and that would find it difficult to focus on the work given became those who were always working very hard at their project and even came back at lunch time several times to make sure they could complete the activity in time to be broadcast.

Our pupils used a range of sources of information to produce their activities. Many used the internet, but most also checked their facts on Science Textbooks and made sure that their content was both relevant to the AQA Specifications (our examination board) and scientifically sound!

As I mentioned above, all groups had complete choice on the software and format they were using. So, some groups used Photo Story 3 to record short documentary-like videos.Photo Story 3 is very easy to use and very intuitive. It basically lets you choose a sequence of photos and record an oral narration on each frame. Other groups used Songsmith to create lovely revision songs. If you are a teacher, you can download Songsmith free by joining the Partners in Learning NetworkSongsmith gives you a choice of musical bases and by singing to the software your voice is recorded and the base is turned into the melody you’ve created. You can then export your song in Movie Maker and add background images, text and effects, like our yr 10 pupils did.

One of the highlights of our show was the News Report created by our pupils using only PowerPoint 2007 and Movie Maker. Michael asked permission to ITV News to use their music and he then produced the most amazing PowerPoint presentation I have ever seen. In this presentation he included the videos created by the other Reporters in Movie Maker and it looked really professional, as well as containing really good Physics. I think the most powerful message we could get from work like this is that we don’t really need to spend thousands of pounds in highly expensive equipment, nor have a state on the art recording studio in our school, because what really makes the difference is the creativity and engagement of our pupils.

Some other groups used Community Clips to record their presentations directly from their computer screen. Community Clips is a very useful free tool from Microsoft Research that lets you record a video of whatever happens on your screen. You can also narrate what’s going on and your voice will be captured by Community Clips. A Good example of use of this software were the instructions made by our pupils on some useful websites for revision, towards the end of our show!

So, how did we broadcast? Well, we used a free software called Procaster that lets you broadcast live directly on your Livestream channel. But the great thing about Procaster, and what makes it stand out from any other free broadcasting tool, is that you can choose to show just your webcam view, your screen, or a lovely 2-D or even 3-D mix of the two. The result looks very professional and the quality and speed of streaming is also pretty impressive for a completely free service. Your Livestream channel is also free and there is the option to let your audience interact with the show and with each other via the chat built in the channel. You can also link the channel to your Facebook and Twitter to maximise advertising possibilities. Our E.M. Spectrum show went live on Thursday 17th December 2009 at 20.30 (U.K. time) but it’s now available on demand in our Croesy Physics Livestream channel. Please, watch it and have fun!

Croesy Physics Livestream Channel

Have you ever used live streaming software, or websites? What was your experience?

We had a very Special Viewer during our live broadcast, Les Foltos, the Director of edLAB
Puget Sound Center for Teaching
who commented: “Dude.  Really great.  Or as you said it, Bringing Physics to Life is Amazing.” Les also asked our pupils: “What is the benefit of sharing your work in this online show?” and this are some of their comments.

Michael: the benefits are that we are in control of our learning and the research that we did to produce the “TV show” allowed us to take everything in and understand all about what we were learning.

Niall: some of the benefits would be the new and great technologies and software and being able to watch the show on the internet.

Jess: the benefits are that your parents can see it and get involved with what you’re doing in school. Also, it was more fun knowing that lots of people can see it!