Posts Tagged ‘skills’

You might have noticed from the changes in my profiles across the social media world that my role is changing and that I have been appointed as a National Support Programme Partner in Wales by CfBT. I will work with them four days a week and developing as an independent consultant for one day a week, so if you are looking for CPD training in your school give me a shout 😉

But back to the focus of this post. When I was preparing for my interview I was trying to get a clear picture in my mind of what the National Support Programme offers and what the role of the NSP Partners involve. If you have come across me before, you probably know that the process of getting a clear mental picture of things to me means only one thing – Mind Mapping :-). So, I made two Mind Maps that really helped me organise my thoughts around these issues. I have added the images of these two Mind Maps below, but if you are an iMindMap user, click on each image and you will be taken to the Biggerplate page where the maps are stored and where you’ll be able to download them and use with iMindMap.

The National Support Programme

National Support Programme

The role of the NSP Partner

NSP Partner Role

I hope you will find these tools useful. Please leave a comment below as feedback.

Advertisements

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.

IMG_1623

IMG_1628

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.

IMG_1620

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!

In my previous post I showed the first part of my boys’
story mind map, i.e. the mind map we designed together to tell the story they
were creating. We used iMindMap 5 because we wanted eventually to narrate their
story by recording audio comments on branches. That turned out to be a really
effective and creative process. Having the mind map as their main structure for
the story allowed the boys (4 and 6) to not only see the whole picture, but
also to break down the story in little chunks that they could narrate very
easily. In fact, on each branch they could record their voices narrating what
the branches represented. This was telling the story itself and by playing back
each branch’s audio comment they could listen to their story and show Mamma
(Italian for Mum) their creation and impress her!

We couldn’t upload the new version of their mind map (with
audio comments) on Biggerplate, because it is too big, but you can watch a video of their narrated story below.

I believe that this process could be extremely useful in
story writing, as it helps learners to design a coherent story and see how the
whole story unfolds in their mind map, as well as splitting the story into
branches that the learners can narrate. It will then become very easy to
transfer their story from their iMindMap 5 audio maps into paper, or a blog!

Please, leave a comment to my boys mind map, as they will be
very pleased to see others appreciate their work!

Thanks!!!

There are a number of really useful and FREE Pre-school and early years Android Apps that really come to life on an ASUS Transformer for various reasons and most importantly because of its size! In fact, the very first advantage of an eee pad Transformer is to have dimensions that are similar to a book, which kids are used to handle, as opposed to a phone (that most parents are reluctant to let a child use, as they “could break it”). My boys can easily hold the ASUS Transformer with both hands, or simply rest it on their laps as they sit on the sofa! But as well as ease of use, my kids appreciate the larger screen, which really helps them to engage with the eee pad Transformer at a completely different level. In fact, anyone would tend to give a child a piece of A4 paper to write/draw on rather that a small notepad! And this is the same for the ASUS Transformer. The size of the usable screen gives them more freedom to express their creativity and they learn more effectively. The responsiveness of the touchscreen make things very easy too and being able to use their fingers to write, draw, or simply drag and drop takes away many of the hurdles that a pre-school child usually experiences as they try to do creative tasks like drawing. In fact, what is easier (if you haven’t mastered the use of your hands very well yet) drawing a circle with a pen, or with your fingers? Which one are children more likely to feel as they draw? And what about the shape of a letter, or a number? Using our eee pad Transformer my pre-school children can do tasks like tracing patterns and letters much more easily that when they try to do it using a pen.

Some Pre-School Apps

So, here are some great apps for Pre-school!

The Intellijoy Series

Intellijoy has created a great series of fantastic apps that really engage young children in key skills like reading, writing and counting.

One of my favourite is Kids Learn to Read which has Tommy the turtle who helps you spell phonetically simple words, like man. You can tap on individual letters to hear the sounds, and also on the walking stick and Tommy starts moving along the bridge that is made by the letter blocks. As he walks past a letter lights up and its sound is spoken out by a female voice (the only problem is that the pronounciation is very American). As the child becomes more confident, he can send Tommy along the bridge with trainers and because he now walks faster, the word will be spelled out faster too! And eventually Tommy can cross the bridge on a skateboard and the word is read at normal speed. This is a lovely progression that teaches young learners how to spell and break down simple words into small bits (in this case single letters) in order to gain confidence in their reading skills!

Kids Shape Puzzle is another favourite of my boys as they love putting jigsaw puzzles together. In particular, my youngest (2) always wants to play with this great app. The different colours of the pieces makes it very interesting for him to drag and drop the pieces in the correct place on the silouette of the image and when the completed image appears he gets so excited and shouts “I did it! I did it!”

 

Then, there is Kids ABC Letters, which is a great game to learn how to recognize letters. In fact, there is again a jigsaw task where kids need to piece the parts of a letter (both capital and small) together and a lovely fishing game, where the learner helps a cat to catch fish labelled with the letters of the alphabet. The game tells you which letter the cat needs to catch and you need to press on the cat when the fish with the corresponding letter is passing by. At that point the cat lifts up the fishing rod and the hook grabs the fish, so you score points. If you choose the wrong letter, the fish goes free! All these simple tasks are very engaging because they give an immediate sense of reward and encourage the learners to want to learn more! And the great thing is that as they are playing they are learning an aweful lot 🙂

There is also Kids Numbers and Math which lets you complete some fun tasks to improve your Numeracy skills. You can start from very simple tasks, like counting up, or down, and number recognition, to more complex tasks like finding the greatest number from a pair, etc… Again, this is a very engaging App that enables very young learners to become excited about Maths and learning numbers!

Sriram Satyavolu

Here are a couple of very simple, yet very effective, Apps by Sriram Satyavolu! The first is LearnABC which is a simple alphabet which allows you to pick a letter and draw its shape over it with your finger. And here is when using an eee pad Transformer makes a big difference compared to an ordinary smart phone, because size matters after all! In fact, my boys can draw over the letters very well because they are showing nice and big on the ASUS Transformer, and as they draw the start recognising the patterns ready for when they will be in school and do it on paper.

The second app is WordBuilder which gives you the image of an object and the first letter. Then, from the alphabet you need to choose the letters that make up the word and drag them in the correct place. It is a really good way to learn how to spell. When you place a letter in the wrong space it gets crossed and you have a chance to try again until you get the correct order.

 

Google Sky Map

Perhaps this one is more suitable for older learners, but Google Sky Map is a really nice app that give you a lovely experience of the sky as it is seen at night! By simply holding your ASUS Transformer, you can move the tablet to see different parts of the sky, including stars and planets. The nice thing is that the planets are nice and big, so, although you loose the sense of proportion, you have a way to show young children where the planets are in our solar system and that they are not luminous objects like the stars. You could also use this app to get learners to tell stories about space missions, or star wars like adventures, by jumping from one planet to the next children can tell their story to their peers.

There are many more great apps for young learners and I discover new ones every day that engage my boys. Which apps have you used? Why were they effective? Please leave a comment on the post.

This sound like a really interesting competition. Get your kids to Rap about Science! Writing poem, rhymes and songs is a really engaging way for students to remember and understand Science concepts more deeply. In fact, writing a song which has certain parameters and with rhymes is a fantastic tool that helps learners to develop not only Literacy skills, but also thinking. A Rapper often uses his/her wit and humour to get their message across with the interesting way they have to play on words. Transferring this skill to Science is really useful, because it can help learners to represent difficult scientific concepts in a more memorable way and think deeply about the meaning of physical, chemical and biological processes as well as building their own models to consolidate understanding.

A good example is the first verse of this poem written by one of my yr 12 pupils last year:

The photoelectric effect is easy

UV light hits the metal causing it to become a little queasy

The metal releases a photoelectron without a fight

More electrons are released when the intensity is increased of the light

You can download the full leaflet about this competition launched by Hands on Science here HOS Rap competition A4

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 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)

Today was the first day of NGfL Cymru‘s presence at the Skills Cymru (Cardiff Millenium Stadium) and we were showing ourFree Vocational resources and our links with National Learning Network (NLN) to teachers and students. We were also engaging the children who stopped at our stand with some fun activities, like building walls with Lego bricks, folding napkins (we have learnt many fancy folds today) and building loudspeakers out of plastic and paper cups which were kindly donated to us by Starbucks and Burger King. Unfortunately, McDonalds decided not to be quite so generous and gave us no cups (I was very surprised about that, but maybe they too feel the effects of the Recession). Check out the instructional video on how to make the speakers below.

I have adapted this activity from one of the workshop the Institute of Physics does, i.e. Son of New Ideas. The link takes you to the group about this workshop on TalkPhysics. The IoP version of this loudspeaker is made with cup cake paper stuck at the back of children exercise books and it is a really nice activity, but because there is a lot of noise at the Skills Cymru event we went for a more powerful version and a bit quicker to build!

This activity is really good to get students engaged with Electromagnetic Induction, because they all have speakers and getting to know how they work and make one in few very simple steps brings the Physics to life immediately. They actually were amazed to find out that there really isn’t much more in a commercial speaker than the version they made (well there is a bit more, but the basic principle is the same). They are also finding very interesting to discover that their friends’ speaker is louder than theirs, for example, and they ask a lot of questions about why this might be! This is a good opportunity to use this activity in the classroom, as you could investigate whether the volume of the cup makes a difference in the intensity of the sound emitted, or the number of coils, the material of the cup, etc. And it is a nice opportunity to dig out your data loggers to measure the sound intensity and develop some interesting aspects of How Science Works. I hope you will have as much fun as we at NGfL Cymru are having with this nice idea.

Thanks to IoP for their ever amazing bank of resources and winning ideas!

I have always been excited by the amazing potential of Deep Zoom in Education ever since I was given a demonstration by Stuart Ball (Microsoft Innovative Teachers Network, @innovativeteach on Twitter), when he showed me what the Hard Rock Cafe’ did for it’s Memorabilia. I tried to use the Deep Zoom Composer across the network in my School, but it did not work (apparently it conflicts with our RM network, any suggestions?). So, I was apparently stuck, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet and coming to a unit on Reproduction with my Yr 7 class I came up with a simple solution, which proved the inability to use the composer on individual PCs to be a blessing rather than a curse.

The objectives of the project:

–  To develop interdependence through a collaborative project in which all learners had to take into account the needs and objectives of other groups

–  To encourage collaboration between different groups by getting my pupils to develop and peer teach different aspects of Reproduction

–  To enhance Communication Skills through the creative and collaborative use of Deep Zoom, Community Clips and Movie Maker

–  To develop Thinking Skills by developing the project using the TASC Framework

The management of the project:

In the first lesson the groups were introduced to the project and were given an area of Reproduction to develop. All the work undertaken by the groups was their independent work and research and was carried out using the TASC Framework (see the TASC section below). In the second lesson one member of each group could use a PC to research appropriate images and diagrams to use in the whole class Deep Zoom composition, while the other members of the group continued the preparation of their displays and presentations. In the third lesson each group took it in turn to add their pictures to the Deep Zoom composition while the other groups worked on the scripts for their presentations. This was a very important part of the project, because, in composing a whole class Deep Zoom, each group had to take into account the contributions of other groups and make sure that their interventions would not affect negatively the work of others. This approach developed interdependence, creativity, flexibility and adaptability skills, and of course ICT skills, as every learner could use Deep Zoom Composer. In the last lesson each group used the Deep Zoom Composition made by the efforts of the entire class and zoomed in and out the relevant parts while they were explaining their topic to the class. They also recorded their presentations using Community Clips, but at this stage we became aware of a challenge. When they zoomed in or out Community Clips would skip a short bit of the narration, so when we played back the first clip, we realized we needed to pause between each zooming action. That has slowed down the narration a bit and it doesn’t sound as fluent as it could have been, but the results were still very good. The groups’ presentations could then be edited in Movie Maker to minimize the pauses introduced because of the above problem.

The impact on my students:

During the project I could witness a maturity I had not noticed before in my pupils. The class I run the project with behaved in a more responsible way than they had previously done in other projects not involving Reproduction and they were genuinely interested in discovering how their body works. I also noticed much improved behavior compared to the classes I taught Reproduction to in the past and I believe this is due to the collaborative nature of the project and the ownership the learners had not only on the format (as they could choose and collate their own photos in Deep Zoom), but also on the content, as they conducted all the research and produced all the resources they needed themselves (all I gave each group was a topic to develop). This proved to be successful, because many groups found interesting information that the usual text books did not have and that was a curiosity or a concern for some members of the group. In that my pupils were not only consuming knowledge, but became creators of a knowledge that better suited their needs and those of their peers. In addition, retention of these concepts was much higher than in the past and pupils from different groups could recall many aspects of the topics not developed by themselves, or their group.

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