Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Google Earth and Google Forms

This week I was inspired by Tom Barrett's Blog and his own post on using Google Earth and Smart Notebook for understanding 3D shape. I decided to attempt this myself.

I started the lesson by using Google Earth to explore a 3D shape. The children using their whiteboards discussed the features and then I annotated the board. The kids where amazed as we zoomed into the location, which had been previously bookmarked. I challenged the children to find some more places we could investigate - so hopefully some more next week.

Once this was done we moved on to investigating the different ways you can make the nets of the cube. I asked the children to mark the top and bottom face. I kept this activity open ended and challenged them to find as many different nets as possible. I borrowed from Tom again and used Smart Notebook to allow quick recording of the nets using infinite cloner.

It was a successful session and the children where working seamlessly with the computers to support the learning.

Google Docs
I stayed with Google this week after being inspired and decided to use Google Docs and the form creator to aid with our formal writing. We had previously written forms about how to join a Library or a swimming club.

I created a simple login for the whole class to use and they had simple instructions to follow to start a from. The children's task was to use the form creator to help them create a form for applying to be a secret agent or a sports player.

Unfortunately the idea while sound didn't mesh with the ability of my class. I have the lower ability group and while they understood the idea of what they had to do, they spent a long time on the ICT and not the literacy.

I've had this discussion before how are children supposed to use the ICT tools the new frameworks calls for without learning the skills. I don't want an Literacy lesson becoming a ICT teaching lesson. Some of the higher ability worked well and did achieve a lot. Something to try again but with a different ability range.

This is one of the form that where created.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Bett 2009 Round up and Teachmeet 09

The day after Bett and its time to collect some thoughts and point you in the direction of what was cool and inspiring.

First up the Smart Table - this seemed like a really cool bit of technology. It was multi touch and the activity bank included works on the idea of collaboration and cooperation. It is also possible to make your own activities using templates. I think we'll be seeing more on this over the coming year, but at the moment I don't see many schools shelling out around £5000 for this to go into KS1 classrooms.

From Bett09

Microsoft Surface is the direct competition to the Smart Table and RM had one on display. The basic idea is the same a multi touch desk surface, the touch sensitivity was basically the same. The difference is with the OS, it has some cool applications like mapping, and there are some educational application being developed now with RM. It can recognise cards and from a dot 'fingerprint' it tells the table what to do. We where making a pizza and if we put the cheese card down cheese appeared to place, and if we put the peppers card down peppers appeared. It was nice and smooth, but the educational push just wasn't there for me compared to the Smart Table, again we'll see more of this over the coming year, but at around £7000-8000 its the most expensive. Have a look at this video of the 'ideal' possibilities.

Next Robots - one of my guilty pleasures and the only wow moment I had this Bett.

RM had on there Stand the Mech RC which is a programmable robot. Now I've been doing a lot of work with Robots in school and this one blew me away. Firstly it was a great range of movement that allows for great animation and agility. Secondly the software to program it is so easy to use, its almost more like animation that programing. I ordered one I was so impressed - £380.

From Bett09

From Bett09

Check out these links for a bit more info.

I went along to Q4Technologies to check out there new ranges. This year they have added Femispaien - a female robot, and Wrex the Dawg - a dog. Both come with software. They look and feel has changed so the software is much more appealing. Go-Robo Stuido which controls all the WowWee robots has also undergone a face lift. Check out this video for some of the work that has been done with the Femisapiens.

From Bett09

Finally I was also checking out some of the newer netbooks trying to explore the best for children and for teachers.

3 stood out, the Samsung NC10, the Toshiba NB100 and the Fizzbook Spin. The first two for teachers and the Fizzbook for pupils. Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be able to tell you more.

From Bett09

From Bett09

Overall a Bett was good show, but not as many wow moments as I had last year.


As always a great social and networking event - many people spoke.
The high points for me where:
Tom Barret - Who used Twitter and Google Earth in a lesson He asked his Twitter group to give his class clues so that they could find them in the world. The children became explorers and had to give proof back to the Twitters that they had found them in Google Earth.

Someone showed Photoshop Tennis. The teacher posts a picture in a forum on a topic - his example was lust, the children had to photoshop the picture and take it in different but linked directions. The images took on a unique story and narrative of it own. This was a secondary example, but is this possible in primary?

There where a a number of good links given as well so check the below out.

Glogster.com - An Interactive poster maker.
Mathtrain.com - children being teachers using screencast telling us about maths concepts.
Zoomit - a useful screen zooming tool.
Comicbrush.com - create and change comics
Flickr Related Tags Browser

Finally of course Teachmeet East London 2 was also launched. Keep your eyes on the Teachmeet site for details.

Three wise men!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Asus Minibooks at the British Museum

Yesterday I worked with a Year 5 class on a Trip to the British Museum. The difference with this to normal trips was that we didn't take clipboards and worksheets, we took 10 Asus Minibooks.

This was a first for me and the school I was working with. Within Redbridge a few other schools has taken these laptops on trips so I was keen to see the advantages that they offered.

Their task was to throughout the Greek galleries they where asked to choose artifacts and then record information about it. The children used the web cam on the laptop to take pictures, then inserted the picture into a prepared Openoffice presentation file and added text.

The children had used these laptops before the trip and had recapped the main skills a few days before the trip.

There where 2/3 children working with each laptop, it was interesting to see the children at work. It was obvious that the fact they where using laptops excited the children, but they where all working on the tasks. They had to look carefully at the objects they where taking photos of and then had to find, read and take notes about the artifact.

These mini laptops were well used and provided children an alternative focus to the traditional worksheet. I would definitely think about using them again, you just need to make sure you have an appropriate task in mind to use the laptops. One of the other ideas we had was to use googleforms to do a survey or questionnaire, unfortunately the British Museum doesn't have wireless but I could be an idea in other places.

The children are now going to review there work and prepare to show their presentations to other classes their school. When they are finished I will update with their presentations.

Has anyone else used these laptops on trips? Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

2diy Take 2

I couldn't resist myself - this is my effort using 2diy.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

2diy - Hands on testing

This week I managed to use 2simples newest program 2diy with my class. It didn't disapoint. I saw this programmed at a consultants day at 2simple HQ a few weeks ago and was blown away by the simple and rapid results.

I simpley showed my class the basic functions and then allowed them time to create a game. This was bit of an experiment to see the potential of the software. Below are just two examples of games my class made over the course of about an hour. Most of this was done with very little teacher input - this was a piece of software where the children led the way. I offered evauation when I had a go of the game and said that it was too easy or too hard, the children did this to each other.

There is a vast amount of potential for this piece of software as a teacher tool - creating games for the IWB and as a creative tool for children. To make an effective game children need to be taught and to think about the 'story' of the game, and to consider audience in terms of difficulty.

Click on this link to check out more of the games my class made.

Check it out and Bett this week.