Explore World War 1 and 2 Images with History Pin
Jun04

Explore World War 1 and 2 Images with History Pin

Seventy years ago this week, Allied forces were preparing for the D-Day Landings in Normandy that would eventually turn the tide of World War 2 . This year we are also commemorating the start of the First World War in 1914. Many schools are covering one or both of these events in their lessons and there are some good online resources to help teach them. One site I’ve written about before is called HistoryPin and it’s well worth a look. HistoryPin is a global community collaborating around history. It’s main focus is to superimpose historical pictures over a Google Map so you can compare the image to how things look today. There are a few World War collections that are worth exploring with a class. There’s a First World War Collection, a   VE Day Collection or you can just browse the map of Normandy. Another very useful resource is the Photography Then and Now photo gallery from the Guardian newspaper. There’s some great photographs here. (Thanks to my good friend Laura O’Halloran for the tip!) You could also take a look at some of the excellent Normandy Landing resources on the Google Cultural Institute. If you have other great World War 1 and 2 resources, please share them in the comments below!...

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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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A Playable Digital Theremin Simulator for your Whiteboard.
Feb20

A Playable Digital Theremin Simulator for your Whiteboard.

A quick post for half term.  This Theremin simulator provides an on-screen version of the staple musical instrument of 50s sci fi movies. A theremin, for those who don’t know, is an early type of electronic instrument. It’s played by waving your hands around a pair of antennae, and is the only instrument that can be played from a distance without touching it. Using it you can create noises that sound like they came from early episodes of Doctor Who. This site provides a simple on-screen theremin which lets you control the volume and pitch by clicking and dragging around the screen. This would work just as well on an interactive whiteboard as it would with a mouse. It would be good in science lessons to look at different pitches and volumes and would also be of interest to music teachers. You can have a play for yourself at www.femurdesign.com/theremin/...

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Safer Internet Day 2014 : Esafety Resources for Teachers
Feb07

Safer Internet Day 2014 : Esafety Resources for Teachers

Safer Internet Day (SID) aims to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially amongst children and young people across the world. Safer Internet Day 2014 will take place on Tuesday 11th February 2014, centred on the theme “Let’s create a better internet together!” The day offers the opportunity to focus on both the creative things that children and young people are doing online, as well as the role and responsibility that all stakeholders have in helping to create a better internet. Safer Internet Day is organised in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre in February of each year to promote the safe and responsible use of online technology and mobile phones for children and young people. The Safer Internet Day website contains teaching ideas, posters and lesson resources for teachers who want to cover internet safety with their classes, for both primary and secondary schools. An essential list of e-safety links for primary schools can be found here. There’s some good resources on the Education City website this year. There’s also some excellent advice and resources on Northern Grid’s Digitally Confident website. Teachers can find some very useful resources to help teach SID on Promethean Planet website: These include some exclusive e-safety quizzes from Millionaire for Schools, fun flipcharts for use with 2–9 year olds from Hector’s World, and advice for educators from the Teachers TV archives. You’ll need to sign up with Promethean Planet to access them, but it’s free to do so. For more information about Safer Internet Day, visit the SID website : http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/2014  and also the Insafe website: http://www.saferinternet.eu Also check out this post with some very good esafety videos and this post about internet safety and social networking for trainee teachers. You can also find some great resources, and links, on the TES Safer Internet Day page. If you have any more great links – post them in the comments below!  ...

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British Library Releases 1million Images Into The Public Domain
Dec15

British Library Releases 1million Images Into The Public Domain

The British Library have this week released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books in their collection, digitised and then released into the Public Domain via the Flickr Commons site. The images themselves cover a wide range of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more. In fact there are so many images, and such a varied range of sources, that the Library is not completely sure about all the images and they’re going to be using crowdsourcing to find out more. They plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Their intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content.   The images are all on Flickr and although a little overwhelming, it is possible to use the Flickr search to narrow down the field.The images themselves have been tagged to aid browsing and to provide new views on the works themselves. They are tagged by publication year, by book, and by author – and hopefully once the crowdsourcing project takes off there’ll be other useful tags to help find photos quickly. The full gallery of scanned images can be found here. There’s also a set of highlights from the collection here. Teachers of History and Geography will find lots here of interest, but other subjects too. You can find out more about their plans at the British Library website.    ...

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Become a Deep Sea Diver and Explore the Wreck of La Lune
Nov10

Become a Deep Sea Diver and Explore the Wreck of La Lune

Ever wanted to be a deep sea diver? Well now you can! Take your class on an underwater field trip and visit this 3D recreation of the wreck of La Lune,  the former flagship of King Louis the 14th, without getting your feet wet. The wreck has recently been discovered off the coast of Toulon with a treasure trove of over 60,000 different objects. You can visit it here and explore the objects that are strewn across the sea bed when it sank in 1664. You can navigate yourself around freely, or take a guided tour. Created by Dassault Systemes, using a prototype underwater camera aboard a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) the 420 square meter La Lune wreck site is being captured with absolute accuracy in realistic 3D. The resulting 3D model is being used by the archaeological team for training divers and testing new techniques for exploring the site before heading down there for real. The simulation would be of interest to History teachers, but it could also provide an interesting story starter for creative writing. Computing teachers could also use it as a interesting example of how simulation technology has real-world applications. You will need a 3D plugin installed, but it’s free and quick to download. You may need to check with your ICT technician though. Take a look for yourself at the Operation Lune website.    ...

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3D Machinery Simulations from Explain3D
Nov04

3D Machinery Simulations from Explain3D

Explain3D is free website containing a set of interactive 3D simulations helping you to demonstrate how different machines work. Once loaded, the simulation can be rotated and zoomed to see areas in more detail. You can also click on different parts of the object to get more information. Simulations include: 4 Stroke engines Jet engines Lock and Key Nuclear Power Plant Hydroelectric Dam and more… This would be of interest to Design and Technology as well as Science teachers for some of the animations. You need to register to view the animations but it is free to do so. You also need to install the Unity Web Player to get them to run, which may cause a problem in some schools with older browsers or locked down systems. Take a look at explain3d.com/...

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Introduce Coding using a MaKey MaKey and Scratch
Oct09

Introduce Coding using a MaKey MaKey and Scratch

A Makey Makey is a very simple to use piece of kit which can be used to add a little bit more fun to a class coding project. The MaKey Makey is a bare bones circuit board that connects to your computer via USB. There are7 terminals for attaching electrical wires to it. These are arranged like an old games controller – with up/down/left/right arrows and also spacebar and left click. A strip along the bottom allows for another wire to connect it to Earth. Like this: What is fun is that you can then connect anything to the other ends of the wires and use them to control any application that uses the arrow keys and spacebar. In the example here, I’m going to connect it to some coins, but you could use anything that’s slightly conductive such as fruit! With the controls in place now I needed something to control. This is where you can be quite creative and involve the children in a little coding using platforms such as Scratch. For the demo I created a very simple program in Scratch that played different sounds when each of the arrow buttons and the spacebar were pressed. The sound effects were downloaded and then added to the Scratch project. Like this: You can see the completed Scratch program here. I’ll also embed it below. Hit the arrow keys on your keyboard to make it play. It’s not brilliant, but it’ll do for the purposes of this demo. With the MaKey MaKey connected you should then be able to control the drums by touching each of the coins, or whatever else you’ve decided to connect. I’ve made a short video which demonstrates this: You could even combine this with Conductive Paint to create some very fun effects. While you could control your program with the arrow keys, the use of the MaKey Makey adds an additional tactile component. There are other cross-curricular ways you could use this. For example, go take a look at the BrainPOP UK blog for another idea on how to use a Makey Makey as part of a science lesson looking at conduction. You can find out more about MaKey MaKey’s via their website here: http://www.makeymakey.com or buy one via Amazon If you’ve used the MaKey Makey, let me know what you think in the comments below. And for staff training CPD on Coding with Scratch, or other software platforms, please get in touch. Update Feb 2014: Here’s the drumkit with bananas, as modelled with one of my PGCE groups today...

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Espresso Coding – a Simple-to-use Primary School Coding Platform
Oct08

Espresso Coding – a Simple-to-use Primary School Coding Platform

Espresso Coding is the new site from digital content providers Espresso Education that teaches pupils to code and make their own apps to share with their friends and parents. With an inclusive wide-ranging Scheme of Work, the Espresso Coding platform provides teachers with coverage of the new coding aspects of the updated Computing curriculum for Year 1 to Year 6. The platform will teach pupils how to create and publish their own apps and games using simple drag and drop components, in a manner very similar to other tools pupils will be familiar with, such as Scratch. It will stretch upper primary children by offering the option to code using elements of JavaScript. Espresso coding works through the browser, so can be accessed at home as well as school. It works with Internet Explorer 8+, Chrome and Safari but will not work in Firefox. It is iPad-friendly, and can even be set up to detect tilts to allow pupils to create games that can be interacted with by moving the iPad. Published apps can be shared through a section of a bespoke website dedicated to your school. A sharing URL can be used to share the finished program with friends and parents. I really like the look of the site, and the way it is structured to walk pupils (and teachers!) through from very simple activities in Year 1 up to the far more advanced games in Year 6. I understand an open-sandbox mode will also be introduced when it is launched to allow for the pupils to create whatever they like. Espresso Coding will eventually be a subscription resource, but it is FREE for an extended period until October 31st 2014. You can access the trial site at www.espressocoding.co.uk, take a look and see what you think.    ...

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Test your Reactions with these Scientists in Sport Resources
Jul18

Test your Reactions with these Scientists in Sport Resources

Most sports need fast reactions. It might be a sprinter going on the “b” of the “bang”, or an F1 driver seeing a gap and steering into it. So what affects your reaction speed, and can you improve it?  This reaction test tool, from Glaxo SmithKline’s Scientists in Sport website, can help you test your own reflexes. This could form part of a class investigation into some of the factors which affect reaction times. It’s a different approach from trying to catch a falling metre stick. Scientists in Sport is an informal education programme developed by Glaxo SmithKline. It began in 2012 with a programme inspired by their partnership with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. GSK provided the laboratory, facilities and equipment that enabled expert analysts from King’s College London to run all the anti-doping testing, helping to ensure London 2012 was the cleanest Games possible. The Scientists in Sport website also has other teaching resources for linking Science to PE including practical ideas, teachers note and curriculum links. Current units are entitled Analysing Performance and Champions of Technology, with more resources on their way later in the year. Even better, the whole site is free to use. You can try out the reaction test tool here.  ...

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8 iPad apps to Teach Coding and Programming
Jul08

8 iPad apps to Teach Coding and Programming

With the changes in the National Curriculum for ICT in 2014 introducing a greater emphasis on coding and programming, there is a greater demand for easy to use programming tools for children. One of the best ones, Scratch, sadly doesn’t work on an iPad at the moment. Here are some alternatives that do. 1. Daisy the Dinosaur (Free) This free, fun app helps teach the basics of simple programming. It has an easy drag and drop interface to animate Daisy to dance across the screen. Children will intuitively grasp the basics of objects, sequencing, loops and events by solving this app’s challenges. It’s a simple, easy to use app which gives children an easy introduction into simple programming. And even better, it’s free! 2. Hopscotch (Free) Developed by the same team behind Daisy the Dinosaur, Hopscotch is a free app which allows children to create their own games and animations with a simple programming language. Inspired by MIT’s Scratch, Hopscotch works by dragging and dropping method blocks into scripts. When you’re finished with a script, press play to see the code in action. More advanced users can add additional objects and use custom events, such as shaking and tilting the iPad, to run different parts of the code.   3. BeeBot (Free) The Bee Bot app from TTS has been developed to mimic the familiar Bee-Bot floor robot. The app makes use of Bee-Bot’s keypad functionality and enables children to improve their skills in directional language and programming through sequences of forwards, backwards, left and right 90 degree turns. The app has been developed with 12 levels encouraging progression. Each level is timed and the faster it is completed the more stars you get! The levels are set in a cute little garden scenario and will appeal from age 4 upwards. It’s an excellent free app, and I highly recommend it! Download it from iTunes here. 4. Cargo Bot (Free) Cargo-Bot is a puzzle game where you teach a robot how to move crates. It sounds simple, but it gets quite challenging! Good for developing logical thinking. 5. Kodable (Free) Kodable offers a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. Beautifully designed with little ones in mind, Kodable comes free with 30 levels of programmable fun! You can unlock additional worlds with in-app purchases, or get them all by downloading Kodable Pro (£1.99). 6. Move the Turtle (£1.99) Move The Turtle is an educational application for iPhone and iPad that teaches children the basics of creating computer programs, using intuitive graphic commands. It’s very similar to the BeeBot app mentioned above. 7. Cato’s Hike (£2.99) The younger ones...

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Browser-based coding on any device with SNAP!
Jun26

Browser-based coding on any device with SNAP!

SNAP! (formerly known as BYOB) is another visual, drag-and-drop programming language in the style of Scratch. It is free to use, runs in your browser, and will even work on iPads! The coding platform allows you to “Build Your Own Blocks” of code. It works by dragging and dropping method blocks into scripts. When you’re finished with a script, press play to see the code in action. It also features first class lists, first class procedures, and continuations. These added capabilities make it suitable for a serious introduction to computer science for high school or college students. It is implemented using Javascript, which is designed to limit the ability of browser-based software to affect your computer, so it’s safe to run other people’s projects. Easy-to-use programming tools for children such as this are becoming especially important in UK schools, where programming is becoming a lot more important with the changes to the ICT/Computing curriculum from 2014. Alternatives include the original Scratch, which now runs in a browser, but not on iPads and Hopscotch which is an iPad app only. You can access SNAP here : http://byob.berkeley.edu/  ...

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