## 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!

## Phases of the Moon (with an infrared twist)

Posted: May 24, 2014 in Institute of Physics, Thoughts and ideas
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I recently was asked about the phases of the Moon and why the Moon appears to change in shape in its orbit around the earth. So I thought a good point to start from was to establish what misconceptions people have on this topic and I found this great video by Veritasium (but I would stop it at the end of the interview without revealing the explanation initially).

The most common misconception in the video seems to be that the earth blocks the sunlight reaching the Moon, hence, we see the phases of the Moon when it is behind the earth with respect to the sun. At this point I would slide two circles of card, a white and a black one (with the black one bigger than the white one) past each other (black on top). If the black card is the shadow cast on the Moon by the earth (essentially what happens in a lunar eclipse), the shapes of the Moon due to the light reflected back to earth are considerably different than the shapes we observe from the phases of the Moon. So, we have establish that this model is a misconception.

Now we can introduce a better model and I use the pingpong ball in the image below with the students in the centre of the room. They are the observers on the earth and the light from the sun is coming from the left hand side in the photo.

If you go around the learner in the middle of the class making sure the “lit” face of the pingpong moon is always facing the wall on the left in this case, your students will see the same shapes we observe during the phases of the moon.

To reinforce this demonstration you could show the students this great animation by Keith Gibbs (also available in HTML5 if using an iPad).

Ok, now for the icing on the cake that you’ve all been waiting for! Check out the video below that shows a cresent moon through an infrared camera. You can see the crescent really bright, but you also see the other parts of the side of the moon facing the earth. I believe that is what is emitted by the moon in the infrared spectrum and that gets picked up by the IR camera. It is really awesome.

Anyone who insists technology is disempowering has probably not come across really young learners interacting with it. Today I was reminded about how intuitive, engaging and formative technologies like the iPad really are.

I want to call Nonna!

My 2 year old boy, Martino, felt like talking to Nonna (grandma in Italian). I say talking, but, although he can say quite a few words, he hasn’t learnt to say many sentences yet. What he has learnt to do, and very quickly, is to use an iPad. In fact, he’s so good at it that today he ran in the kitchen, took the iPad Mini and came back to the sofa looking pleased with himself. Then, he turned it on, swiped to access the apps, found FaceTime inside a folder and called my mum from the recent calls. When Matteo (my eldest) heard the ringing sound of FaceTime he asked Martino, if he was calling Nonna. “Sí, Sí!” answered Martino.

Needless to say that this unexpected call made my mum’s day, but what I’ve witnessed today, and many other times since Martino was one and a half, is something that made me think deeply about the power of technology.

Our learners are deeply engaged with technology, they grow surrounded by it and naturally embrace it as part of their learning. I believe it is essential we engage our students with technology to harness this enthusiasm our young people show for it. I heard of many primary and secondary schools that began to use iPads when they noticed their youngest learners kept touching the screen of PCs and laptops the first time they used them. iPads, smartphones and tablets are engaging and an integral part of many learners’ every day routines. They are drawn to them and naturally interact with such devices with great interest and proficiency, so using them in the classroom seems to me to be a logical way to engage children in their learning. This will make schooling more fun, but that should never be the driver for integrating technology in the classroom! iPads and other technologies open ways to redefine pedagogy and learning experiences. They empower learners and teachers, so that students become more independent and creators of knowledge, rather than simply consumers of knowledge. Let’s embrace technology for the right reasons and not thinking that the kit will solve all the teaching and learning challenges in our schools.

There are many ways to use technology creatively and innovatively to enrich our learning environments and much can be learnt from educational blogs such the CollaboratEd.org.uk Blog (@Collaborat_Ed), Neil Atkin’s Blog (@natkin), maybe this Blog you are reading and, one of my favourite, Gavin Smart’s Blog (@GavinSmart).

## NSP Toolkit – Self-review, Development and Planning

Posted: October 30, 2013 in Free Resources, Literacy and Numeracy, Mind Mapping
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Yet another mind map to help you making sense of the Guide for Schools: Part 2 of the NSP (Phase 2). This map deals with the content of the NSP Toolkit aimed at supporting school in the implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) 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.

## NSP – Stages of Phase 2 in the LNF implementation

Posted: October 30, 2013 in Free Resources, Literacy and Numeracy, Mind Mapping
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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.

Posted: July 12, 2011 in new technologies, Thoughts and ideas
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So, it is finally here and I finally got an invite! I had a few days to begin to get my head around Google+, but nowhere near enough as much time as I would have liked to dedicate to check out this new “Buzz”. I have always been disappointed to hear about the fall of Google Wave, which I thought was a fantastic tool that would bring collaboration to a whole new level. But, unfortunately, it never kicked off properly, maybe because of the many bugs, or simply because the world wasn’t ready for it. Whatever, it was, my first impression about G+ is that it is a lot less pretentious and a lot less fuss has been made about it. So, there is a better chance that the users will drive how it develops, rather than having the presumption of telling the users this is their answer to everything they have ever wanted.

So, here are my first impressions about it. I like the idea of circles as it gives a good balance between a Facebook like experience and Twitter lists. Posting to a Circle to me sounds a bit like sending a Direct Message to a whole list on Twitter, which is quite neat. I also like the idea that now you can separate your professional updates from your personal ones. Other than that I have not done that much digging into G+, or rather I haven’t found the time yet, but there are a couple of ideas I’d like to share about how Google+ could potentially be used in the classroom.

# Simulating Historical Characters

In G+ you could create an account to simulate a historical character and assign different other characters to his/her Circles, so you could have a circle of people in his family, his colleagues, enemies, etc… Each person within these circles can interact with our famous character according to their relationship with him, so, for example, how did Darwin’s father influence his life choices? Or how did his contemporary Lamark dispute his theory, etc… There could be a moderator group who could could act as the Historian and challenge the conversations within the circles with probing questions and by presenting key facts in the life of this character. Speculations on how History could have changed, if different choices had been made by the people in our character’s circles, could be explored in conversations and questions created by the learners in this role play. Giving a profile picture that match the different characters would help learners to engage even more deeply in the game and it could really spark interest in the lives of these historical characters, as they would have the opportunity to impersonate some key people in History and the whole topic could become very personal for these learners. An interesting feature of this game is that apart from the Historian and the actual main  character other characters would not see the conversations between the main person and his/her circles.

# Breaking down complex systems in Science

Often you can break down complex systems and processes like the human body into smaller chunks that are easier to explain, but that contribute to the functioning of the whole system. So, for example, you could create an account for the “Human Body” and break it down into Circles in Google+ like the Circulatory System, the Reproductive System, etc… In each circle you could have the organs that make up that particular system, like the heart and blood vessels in the Circulatory System. The body has needs that involve different systems depending on the situations in which it finds itself in. So, for example, when the body is exercising the heart will pump more blood around to supply the additional Oxygen needed to the muscles. The body could be played by the Teacher, or even better a group of learners, who will have to send messages to specific Circles explaining the activity, or need, it is doing and the circles will have to respond appropriately explaining the changes they are going through to supply that need. This role play could become quite interesting when a process that involves multiple systems is started by the body. You could also simulate a medical tracer, like radioactive Iodine, that could be added to all the “circles” in the body and find a malfunction according to the conversations that are going on in each Circle/Organ.

These are just a couple of ideas and I have had the chance to try them out in the classroom yet, but I would be very interested to know how the learners respond to them,  if anyone out there is having a go at trying them out. So, please share your experiences and ideas by leaving a comment!

## Guardian Classroom Innovation Competition

Posted: December 17, 2010 in Institute of Physics, new technologies, Thoughts and ideas
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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.

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!

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

## The Ultimate Online Circuit Builder!

Posted: October 30, 2010 in new technologies, NGfL Cymru
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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!