Posts Tagged ‘school’

This is another mind map you might find useful when thinking about what will happen in phase 2 of the National Support Programme for the implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework in Wales. You can use the HD image below as it is in presentations, or download the iMindMap version to edit it from this Biggerplate page, or just navigate through the map via this online viewer. Whatever you do with it, please acknowledge the source, Alessio Bernardelli (@asober). Let me know if you find this useful.

Stages of Phase 2

It is quite amazing what you can learn by a simple visit to your old school (well I am on a Secondment, so it is still my school…). And it is quite scary, because I got this really cool demonstration by the guy who is covering me for this year and I am starting to fear they will want to get rid of me to keep him :-S

His name is Jonathan Wallace and he is an NQT at Croesyceiliog School (Cwmbran in Sunny Wales) you can contact him at jonny.wallace@live.co.uk

Anyway, have you ever seen the trick of the jelly marbles disappearing in water? Well that happens because these marbles are superabsorbent polymers that get filled with water when the come in contact with it, so when you put them into water they seem to disappear, because, being filled with water they have the same refraction index as the water surrounding them, i.e. light goes straight through them without being refracted (bent)! There is a really nice explanation of this phenomenon on Steve Spangler’s blog and you can buy these jelly marbles quite cheaply here.

But what William (Oops, I meant Jonathan) showed me a really nice twist, especially because it uses items that are a bit more familiar to the kids than some superabsorbent polymers, although they are really cool! William (Blow! I’ve done it again, I meant Jonathan) pours glycerine in a Pirex beaker and an empty (and very clean) test tube inside.

At this point you can still see the test tube inside the beaker, because the air inside the tube refracts the light going through it! But what would happen if we add Glycerine inside the test tube too?

Magic! The test tube disappears in the Glycerine! So, has the Glycerine dissolved the glass of the test tube, is it real Magic, or just another wonder of Physics? What does really happen here?

The answer is quite simple and it is very similar to the jelly marbles. The Pirex and Glycerine have the same (or at least very similar) refraction index and, therefore, light is not refracted at their boundaries and carries on through its path undisturbed by refractive effects, which means that the test tube appears to be invisible!

Thanks to William Wallace (again? Sorry, I meant Jonathan; I know it’s not funny if you are not a member of staff at Croesy, but I have to take the mick) for this great demonstration!

 

Dear All,

I would like to introduce you to a very interesting competition organised by the Guardian. In this competition schools have made 3 min videos to outline how they have used technology in effective and innovative ways to make an impact on learning and teaching. Croesyceiliog School has entered with our “EM Spectrum Show“.

I would be very grateful if you could support our project (which we think was very innovative and had a major impact in our pupils learning experiences) by following the link below and casting your vote for our project (it is the third from the very bottom and you can see the thumbnail image below).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/classroom-innovation/award-video-entries

Thanks for all your support!

Alessio.

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 http://www.echalk.co.uk/. 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, info@eChalk.co.uk) know if you spot any bugs in the Circuit Builder, so they can be put right! Your feedback is very much appreciated, as always.
Thanks!

Yesterday it was quite strange not to walk in a classroom for my first day of work. After teaching for six years I am seconded for a year to work with National Grid for Learning in Wales (NGfL Cymru) as a Field Officer. I feel excited and refreshed to be part of this valuable and interesting project!

So what is NGfL Cymru and what do we do?

NGfL Cymru is a non-profit organization funded by the Welsh Assembly Government for the development and sharing of teaching and learning resources. Membership is free to any teacher and to download most of our resources you don’t even need to be logged in. Having a membership is useful though, because it gives you access to quicker and easier ways to organise and find the resources and topics you are interested in!

One of the great things about NGfL Cymru is that almost all the resources uploaded are available both in English and Welsh and this makes NGfL Cymru a unique portal for Technology-rich Leaning in Wales. And if you teach in a school in Wales you will be glad to know about our partnership with eChalk. In fact, they have agreed to allow all schools in Wales to use their resources free of charge and without the need of subscribing to anything. So, next time you find yourself in a school in Wales have a look at the resources that are available to you via eChalk, many are very good IWB lessons starters/enders.

Well, my role will mainly be that of Content Developer, which is like a dream come true for me. I will be focussing on Physics and Science, but I am hoping to have the opportunity to coordinate projects from different schools and subjects too… Oh, didn’t you know? If you are teaching in a Welsh school you can apply for an IRF (Innovative Resource Fund) which means that you can submit the proposal for the development of an innovative learning resource and either your school will be paid to release you for the time needed to develop your creative resources, or you could be paid for the work done in your own time. That is how my relationship with NGfL started! I submitted two IRFs and eventually applied for the secondment as Field Officer, and because they were so fed up with my nagging they gave me a job I suppose 😉

Please, have a look at the NGfL Cymru resources and enjoy using them with your classes, because they are there for you!

I recently come across a really nice, simple and quick Web 2.0 Tool called vozMe. It is a fun application that turns whatever text you write in the text box provided into an electronic voice message. I used it a lot to freak out my classes as they came in and to build some rapport by having a laugh at the beginning of the lesson. It is also quite useful to share the lesson objectives in a fun way with your pupils and it works magic when you use it to rebuke a misbehaving child (only the first two or three times though), because they actually listen to the voice, more than they would listen to you, and do what it says!

You can choose a male or female voice and also the language you want to write on. This will change the sounds the computerized voice will make for given letters and syllables. I can see how this could be used in MFL lessons to get your pupils to check their pronunciation of foreign words, etc. But I believe it could be used in English Literature as well to show the importance of intonation and emphasis of words! Try writing one of Shakespeare poems in the text box and play it back to the children to see their responses! And if you have big school Drama Productions you might just need a robotic voice in some of your plays.

vozMe is very simple and many could think quite pointless, but sometimes the simplest ideas are great and can work wonders. Have a go with your classes and let me know how useful, or not, this tool has been to you!

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!

Please, share this blog with as many people as possible!

On the 18th November 2009 a group of Physics teachers from South Wales met in Caerleon School to build giant air cannons out of a 200 litres water butt. I organised the event with Cerian Angharad’s help (South Wales Network Coordinator) and the lovely cakes that Ann Dunster (Head of Physics at the school) provided! All the equipment could be found in Wickes (though the first time I went to buy some of these huge water butts in the Cardiff branch, they told me they either got lost, or stolen… Mmm I still have to figure that one out).

Cutting holes through the butt

These chaps were not very happy when I produced my electric saw after they struggled for 15 minutes to cut their butt with a wood knife, but certainly that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

This workshop is very useful if you are organising some spectacular activities for your Open Evening. I trialled it in my school (Croesyceiliog School, Cwmbran) and both parents and children loved it. In fact, we filled the giant air cannon with fog from a smoke machine and started shooting at people, who would see these massive smoke circles getting towards them and eventually blasting in their faces! But the fun was not over because we used McFlurry cups and tops to get the children to make their own mini-airzookas. And again the kids loved it, because they could take a little present home that costed nothing to my department, but was good fun for them.

Blasting the cameraman!

The below video shows how you can make you mini-aizooka. All you need to do is going to McDonald and order a McFlurry icecream. The rest you probably have in your house!

But what is the educational value, you might think! Well, there are a number of projects and experiments you pupils could carry out with their mini-airzookas:

1. They could make some observations about what affects the shape, speed and distance travelled by the smoke ring. E.g. by tapping the rubber in different ways, by pulling it and releasing it, etc…

2. They could try to measure the speed of the smoke rings and/or the distance travelled when they tap using more and more force. This activity could generate some very good discussions about reliability of results and method.

3. They could also measure the diameter of the rings at a certain distance from the cannon.

4. A follow on from experiment 2 could be a project were they need to design and build the most reliable tapping mechanism they can. You could even embed this as part of a long term project on electromagnetism, as the children could try to make an eletromagnetic tapper, and so on.

Please, add some more suggestions as comments!

Coming back to our

Hi,

It’s nearly been a year of Innovative Teachers in Torfaen and I though it’s just the right time to blog about our past experiences and successes.

How and Why we started!

It all began when Torfaen LEA in collaboration with Microsoft ITN asked me to put together a community of Innovative Teachers from the Secondary Schools in Torfaen in November 2008, as if that were an easy task. While I was driving back from the Innovative Teachers Network Specialists meeting, a vision came to me! I was determined to get our learners in Torfaen to have a say and a major input in the work of our community. I had to start somewhere, so I surveyed all pupils in my school (Croesyceiliog School, Cwmbran) and asked them what makes a good lesson and how they use technology in their learning. Then, I invited one to two teachers from each school in Torfaen and two of their pupils to attend our first Torfaen Innovative Teachers training day. The day opened with the video survey of our pupils and that formed the foundation of our work. In fact, the pupils invited from schools around Torfaen would become our Software  Experts.

Pupils’ Voice

I wanted to ensure the learners’ views, expectations and interests would shape the work we set out to complete. So, after watching the video, I demonstrated some new technologies that can be used in the classroom. Software like Photo Story 3, Deep Zoom, Photosynth and OneNote (which would become a great asset for two of our projects). Then, each teacher worked with the pupils they brought along to plan and implement a series of lessons that would exploit the potentials of such technologies in education. As teachers, we all agreed that the input of our pupils exceeded our expectations and that many great ideas they came up with we would have not thought about ourselves.

Software Experts

As I mentioned above, the pupils that helped us planning our series of lessons also delivered the lessons and became our Software Experts. The idea was that these pupils would have been able to assist their peers during the series of lessons and potentially other less ICT literate teachers who wanted to use the same software we explored. And it worked very well, because it was a great opportunity for our pupils to develop their ICT skills, their confidence and interdependence. They also had great fun in developing and delivering their work!

Our Virtual Classroom Tours

All the projects run with the help of our pupils where developed into VCTs and submitted to the U.K. Innovative Teachers Forum 2009. We were hoping to get at least one in the top ten, but we were thrilled to hear we had two. James Allan from West Monmouth School (Pontypool) submitted a great VCT on the “House of the Future” where his pupils created cardboard houses to describe the energy saving features of the house of the future. Then, they used Photo Story and Photosynth to present their work to their peers.

Photosynth and the House of the Future

Photosynth and the House of the Future

Another excellent project was submitted by James Kent, Croesyceiliog School (Cwmbran). His pupils used OneNote 2007 to create a revision booklet on the effects of the Asian Tsunami. The innovation in this project was the collaborative nature of the booklet. In fact, the class was divided into different groups that would focus on different aspects of the Tsunami. As they all worked on the same OneNote notebook, the final product was a revision guide made with the contribution of the whole class.Asian Tsunami

Projects like this really maximise the power of amazing software like OneNote 2007 and provide a great example of how such tools can be used to enhance the Teaching and Learning experience of our learners and educators! I was not surprised when I heard James was also invited to the European Innovative Teachers Forum 2009 in Vienna.Unfortunately, his journey ended there (but very close to the finalists, I’m sure), but the Judges complimented Torfaen on our Pupils’ Voice approach and the idea of using Software Experts to team plan and deliver lessons in the classroom.Our ImpactAfter the ITFs, we showed our work and the potential of our approach to our colleagues. Quite a few began to use similar approaches in their lessons and that encouraged us to continue to promote the Torfaen Innovative Teachers Community. With the new academic year beginning this Thursday, we are excited and motivated to begin a new round of VCTs for this year’s ITF and we are even more thrilled as I will begin a Peer Coaching Programme that will hopefully encourage more teachers in Torfaen to join the community, try new and innovative approaches and reap the benefits of their efforts.Alessio.