Night Zookeeper Classroom – Storytelling and Writing Lesson Resources
Mar28

Night Zookeeper Classroom – Storytelling and Writing Lesson Resources

Night Zookeeper Classroom is a new website designed for teachers that are looking to inspire and motivate their students using storytelling and technology in an incredibly straight-forward manner. Night Zookeeper resources have been used by teachers to inspire children to produce their best writing. They have been shown to raise the level of engagement in even the most reluctant of writers. In the Night Zookeeper Classroom, the magic of the Night Zookeeper story has been taken and a series of lessons to run alongside it have been designed. There are 50 lessons right now, with a further 50 promised very soon. Each lesson includes: – An extract from the Night Zookeeper story – Reading comprehension questions – Digital drawing missions – Writing activity linked to the New National Curriculum There are some really fun and creative ideas in here – each lesson plan has talk and writing activities as well as suggested follow up work and wider curriculum links. The digital drawing missions will run on any device and so are suitable for use on class laptops. The site is a subscription service, and membership will give a site licence for the whole school. This includes 100 lesson plans and more than 100 different creative problem solving activities. An annual subscription costs £300 / $500 You can access the Night Zookeeper Classroom, and see a couple of free example activities at : classroom.nightzookeeper.com. And do also check out the Night Zookeeper Story Pairs app, which I have written about previously....

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Photo Manipulation with Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad/iPhone
Apr26

Photo Manipulation with Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad/iPhone

Adobe Photoshop Touch lets you modify your photographs on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch. I’ve written about it in the past, but this version has been tweaked and updated since then. You can work on photographs taken directly with the iPad camera, or load images from your Camera Roll. You can also carry out a Google Image search or pull an image in from Facebook from within the app. You get a range of effects and filters to apply to your photos from the basics like blurs, glows, and drop shadows to stylized looks like Old Photocopy and Glass. If you use regular Photoshop a lot of these will look similar. Applying adjustments to any photo is easy – you can just select the effect from a series of thumbnails and then drag your finger horizontally on the slider to increase or decrease the strength of the effect. You can also add text to your images quite easily. You can also save your images to the cloud with a free Adobe Creative Cloud account. This will let you sync your files or wirelessly transfer your work to other devices and to Photoshop CS5 or later on a Mac or Windows PC with your layers and resolution preserved to take your ideas even further. Processed images can also be saved back to your Camera Roll or shared via Facebook, email or sent to a printer. Teachers who are using iPads in their classroom should take  alook at Photoshop touch if you want something to allow your students to work with photographs, but at £6.99 for the iPad version it might not be something you’d buy for the whole class, rather for specific needs. The iPod Touch/Android versions are cheaper though, at £2.99 so might be more within your budget. It needs to be mentioned that Photoshop Touch requires at least an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S and iOS 6. It won’t work on the iPad 1 or earlier iPhones. Let me know what you think in the comments....

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September 11th – Education Programme and Schools Competition
Apr03

September 11th – Education Programme and Schools Competition

The 9 11 London Project is a new UK educational charity that has been set up to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and to ensure that the legacy of those events is one that builds hope from tragedy. Its purpose is to ensure that this and future generations have the opportunity to be taught about the events and to understand the causes and consequences of 9/11, in the US, UK and across the world. The website contains educational resources for History, PSHE/Citizenship, RE, English/Drama and Art/Design. There’s also an image and film bank and interactive timeline of the events of the 20th century leading up to 9/11. A section of the site offers guidance on teaching controversial issues such as this. Check out the resources at : http://www.911educationprogramme.co.uk Competition In addition, the 9/11 London Project website is currently running a competition offering students the chance to win a trip to New York this September (8-12th), which will include a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. The winner in each category and the two runners-up will all win a trip to New York for the 11th anniversary. In addition each of the two category winners will receive £1000, plus an additional £1000 for the two winners’ schools. All students have to do is say how they think 9/11 changed the world. The website wants them to use their imagination and send in an original, creative and thoughtful piece of work as either a 5 minute film or  a 1200 word essay. You can get more information here....

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Beautiful Curves – fun drawing tool
Dec21

Beautiful Curves – fun drawing tool

Beautiful Curves is a cute little drawing application, creating almost organic-looking artwork. According to its creator “Beautiful curves simulates that little bit of randomness in life, where you never know whats going to happen next.” It’s a fun application, which would work on your interactive whiteboard. Check it out here....

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Bembo’s Zoo – fun with fonts
Nov06

Bembo’s Zoo – fun with fonts

Just a quick link to a website that might be of interest to primary/elementary teachers. Bembo’s Zoo is based on the book by Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich. The idea behind the site is to use a font called Bembo to create 26 different animals, one for each letter of the alphabet. So for the letter “A,” the letters that make up the word “antelope” are manipulated to form the creature’s outline. Similar things are done for “bison” and “crab,” and so on all the way through to “yak” and “zebra.” On the IWB you could use with the screen capture tool and  see if the students can work out the word from the animal. Or use it to inspire their own creations. Check it out at : http://www.bemboszoo.com/...

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Serif DrawPlus X5 Review
Oct03

Serif DrawPlus X5 Review

I’ve always been a big fan of Serif products* – they provide a much more affordable alternative to the likes of Photoshop or CorelDraw. Just out is version X5 of their popular DrawPlus vector drawing package. As well as creating standard vector drawings – SerifDrawPlus X5 also lets you generate both Keyframe and StopFrame animations which you can export as either animated .gif files, or as Flash .swf files. DrawPlus X5 contains all the drawing tools you’d expect. There are lots of pre-set document types including posters, greetings cards and banners, to kick start your designs. New in X5 is The Shape Builder Tool which can be used to combine simple shapes, including the built-in palette of QuickShapes, into more complex shapes. Dragging between the shapes combines them, and clicking on shapes that overlap will split and create new objects. It’s quick and easy to use. An instant 3D conversion tool lets you convert simple objects into 3 dimensional shapes. There is also new Styles tab that lets you quickly apply various preset shadows, glows, bevels, feather edges, textures, text effects and more. The user interface has been improved, including the option to display larger tool icons if you wish. Serif DrawPlus X5 is an excellent product when compared to similar products produced by Corel and Adobe. It can’t do everything these can, but it does enough, and the price should make it very attractive for schools. A single licence for DrawPlus X5 is about £80. It’s also worth looking at the Serif Design Suite which packages up DrawPlus along with MoviePlus, PhotoPlus and WebPlus. A 100 user licence costs around £2600 plus student licences are also available. More info here. ICT Teachers should definitely take a look at the free teacher resources for using Serif products to support/teach the  OCR Nationals, 14/19 Diploma, DiDa etc. These include ideas for projects, step by step guides, pupil worksheets and course materials. It’s an excellent set of resources, and much of it is free if you contact Serif. You can also download some free samples immediately. Take a look here : http://www.serif.com/Education/CurriculumCourses/ As an aside – you can also download and try out free versions of older Serif Software here. *Disclosure – Over the past few years I have written some of the Serif training materials for the OCR Nationals and 14/19 Diploma, namely the Multimedia, Computer Graphics and Web Design modules. I was sent a free copy of Drawplus X5 to look at, but I have not been paid for this review....

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10 Great Art resources for your Interactive Whiteboard
Sep08

10 Great Art resources for your Interactive Whiteboard

With the right software an interactive whiteboard can become a massive graphics tablet – it is a very different drawing experience to using a mouse. Here are 10 great websites that all Art teachers should have bookmarked. Most are free online drawing packages, but one or two a slightly different, but still worth exploring. Enjoy! 1. Aviary : http://www.aviary.com/ and also http://www.aviaryeducation.com/ An excellent free suite of tools for image editing – painting, vector and more. Also includes a sound editor thats worth investigating. There’s a regular version of Aviary, but now an educational version too. 2. Odosketch : http://sketch.odopod.com/ A very simple sketch package. Quite neat effect, a bit like using watercolours in a sketch book. 3. Sketchpad : http://mugtug.com/sketchpad/ Sketchpad is quite a fun paint package that works in your browser. All the basic tools you’d expect are here. 4. Google Art Project : http://www.googleartproject.com/ The Google Art Project is basically applying the Google Street View idea to the world’s art galleries. Visit some of the greatest galleries in the world and explore their paintings without leaving your classroom. Well worth a look. 5. Jackson Pollock An oldie but a goodie. Paint in the style of Jackson Pollock, but without the mess. Works great on an interactive whiteboard. Click to change colour. 6. Bomomo : http://bomomo.com/ Bomomo is still a favourite of mine. Each “brush” creates some very abstract effects as you move your mouse across the page. 7. Crayola : One for the younger students – choose from a variety of crayons and felt-tip pens. 8. SumoPaint : http://www.sumopaint.com/ A very impressive, full-featured paint package. Lots of great features and it’s free. A paid version with extra features also available. 9. Moodstream : http://moodstream.gettyimages.com/ This is not a drawing program, Moodstream mixes images, movies and sounds to help the creative juices flow. Is hard to describe, but worth a look. Play with the sliders to suit your mood and see what turns up. Make sure your sound is on. 10. Graffiti Creator : http://graffiticreator.net/ This is a free, online flash application which allow you to design your own name or logotype in graffiti-style. TGC comes with several fonts from throwups to bubble letters to wildstyles. The program also have an array of different tools that will help you further enhance your design. Great for designing fun titles for presentations too. What do think of these resources? Got another one you want to share? Let me know in the comments!  ...

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The BBC ‘Your Paintings’ Art Project
Jun23

The BBC ‘Your Paintings’ Art Project

Here’s a very interesting website for Art teachers or anyone interested in art. The BBC has announced the public beta launch of a new initiative to bring the UK’s entire collection of oil paintings to the Internet for the first time. It’s called Your Paintings. Even if you’re an art-lover and have trawled the length and breadth of the country’s galleries and museums, there’s still a good chance that thousands of paintings have escaped your eyes. The project has already collected 63,000 paintings and they are aiming to get all 200,000 in the UK. The BBC has now partnered with the Public Catalogue Foundation and hundreds of galleries and collections across the country. The collection will be presented in Your Paintings,  a dedicated section on the BBC’s website, and they will be made available to view by anyone, anytime, for free. The BBC is enlisting the help of the public to crowdsource the mapping of the content of the paintings, with a Your Paintings Tagger. Find out more at : http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings Art teachers – this site will let you search by artist, by theme or by collection. It’s an excellent resource already, and will obviously grow over time. Well worth bookmarking. Related site : Don’t forget the excellent Google Art Project too....

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Psykopaint
Mar23

Psykopaint

Here’s another site to add to my list of excellent online paint packages. Psykopaint has been created “as a new tool to enable users to express their creativity with a mimimum of knowledge and skills”. It lets you paint over the top of an existing image using a variety of different tools. A slider will let you reveal the image underneath. Or you can just start with a blank canvas. It’s great fun and well worth taking a look. http://www.psykopaint.com Thanks to Tim Rylands for making me aware of this site via his blog.  ...

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5 more avatar generators for profile pictures
Feb08

5 more avatar generators for profile pictures

Here’s a follow up piece to my blog post from last January about 10 Avatar Generators for Profile Pictures, which proved to be very popular. There’s obviously a lot of interest in these kind of websites! Here are 5 more sites which let you create cartoon versions of yourself which your students (or you!)  can use as an avatar in place of their own photograph. 1. Clay Yourself Clay Yourself lets you create a version of yourself in modelling clay. Lots of choice. (Thanks Lara for the link!) 2. ArtisanCam A quick way of producing a sketch version of yourself. Limited choice of options. 3. Become an M and M This lets you recreate yourself as an M and M sweet from the adverts. Probably going against the school’s healthy eating agenda… (Technically it’s “Become an M”) 4. Lloyds TSB Me This lets you recreate yourself in the style of the characters from the Lloyds TSB banking adverts. 5. Grabba Beast Grabba Beast lets you build your own monster from a large library of body parts, some scary, some cute. Plenty of weird and strange designs. This would also be great for creating characters for digital storytelling. If you haven’t already checked out the other 10 great sites, then go and take a look at the blog post from last year. If you want more of these sites, the full list can be found on my Delicious list here: http://delicious.com/dannynic/avatar...

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Draw with ScribblerToo
Feb04

Draw with ScribblerToo

A very quick post for a Friday to link to another online drawing application – ScribblerToo. I like the slightly abstract way it joins up lines if you get them close to another one. This would be really fun on an interactive whiteboard. Check out some of the other sites listed down the left hand side of the page. There are some other interesting ones there, such as this Snowflake Maker and string spinner. For other drawing packages, check out: 12 Art Resources for your IWB...

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The Amazing Google Art Project
Feb01

The Amazing Google Art Project

Today Google unveiled the Art Project, a unique collaboration with some of the world’s most acclaimed art museums to enable people to discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail. Basically its Google Street view inside various art museums. You can move around the halls and explore all the artwork in detail. Over the last 18 months Google has worked with 17 art museums including, Altes Nationalgalerie, The Freer Gallery of Art Smithsonian, National Gallery (London), The Frick Collection, Gemäldegalerie, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Museo Reina Sofia, Museo Thyseen – Bornemisza, Museum Kampa, Palace of Versailles, Rijksmuseum, The State Hermitage Museum, State Tretyakov Gallery, Tate, Uffizi and Van Gogh Museum. The results of this partnership, which can be explored at www.googleartproject.com involved taking a selection of super high resolution images of famous artworks, as well as collating more than a thousand other images into one place. It also included building 360 degree tours of individual galleries using Street View ‘indoor’ technology. With this unique project, anyone anywhere in the world will be able to learn about the history and artists behind a huge number of works, at the click of a mouse. Each of the museums has worked in extensive collaboration with Google, providing expertise and guidance on every step of the project, from choosing which collections to feature; to advising on the best angle to capture photos; to what kind of information should accompany the artwork. Works of art included in the project range from Botticelli’s ‘Birth of Venus’ to Chris Ofili’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’, Cezanne’s post impressionist works to Byzantine iconography. From the ceilings of Versailles to ancient Egyptian temples, a collection of Whistlers to Rembrandts all over the globe. In total, 486 artists from around the world have been included. Here’s a video that explains more: This is a fantastic resource for Art teachers. You could explore museums before going on school trips there. Plus explore ones you could never hope to take a trip to! A fantastic resource for any interactive whiteboard! Visit it now at : http://www.googleartproject.com/...

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