Sunday, 14 March 2010

I'm Moving...

I know this blog is fairly new and only been here for a few months, but it is moving. Why move? Well a number of reasons really. My Hampshire contract is due to run out in July and with it will go my county email address. This has been the email I have used for everything work/school related for nearly two years. In September, I assume I will get yet another new email for whichever school I end up in. 
Therefore I wanted an email I could use regardless of my role or where I am. I tried Google and all variants of my name were taken, probably serves me right for being the last person alive to sign up to Googlemail! So I decided to buy the domain and use the email address that came with it. Once I had the domain, it just seemed to make sense to move my blog across as well. I've spent a bit of time over the past couple of weeks finding a decent theme, but I think I'm now happy! 
So, thanks for reading this and I look forward to seeing you on my new blog instead.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Stop, Collaborate and Listen...

Collaboration is a funny thing. As you may know, I train teachers at the moment and I would say currently, 90% of my days are used training on using the VLE. We talk about sharing and collaborating all of the time. Teachers think it sounds like a great idea, but who's going to start it? 

We are a large authority, I believe 2nd behind Kent, but collaboration across our schools isn't great at the moment. Is it because teachers don't want to? Is it because they don't know how? Not sure. I tend to work with ICT teachers and people that have already been 'won over' by technology, so maybe my audience is a little biased, but even so, they still worry about sharing being time consuming. 

Within our VLE, we do have a shared area that can house content created by teachers, but it is still very limited. If/when this takes off, it will be great, but is there a quick win I can achieve? I believe so. 

Through my job, and more importantly, through Twitter, I am finding tonnes of useful websites and resources that need to be shared. Have I used all of them? Of course not, but I now know about them. Most are stored on my Delicious account for sorting later, but at least they are there. So if I find storing websites useful, maybe others will too? Imagine the power if all 440 of our primary schools shared websites amongst each other? To be honest, if 10 of them shared, it will be a good start!

So that's where Hampshire Delicious comes in. I've started the account and it's currently going through the management team to check they are on board, but if they're not? I'll push it anyway. It'll be harder, but it will work for those that want it to. 

The key I believe is not just in standardised tagging (KS2? Key Stage 2? KS 2?) but with the notes element. This will be extremely useful for teachers to see what the site is about rather than them having to wade through it to explore. 

At the time of writing, it has 12 websites on it. 2 of those being guidance notes or a video of how to save bookmarks. By the end of the week I want 50. By then I should be ready to start launching it. Will it work? Will it change the way teachers find websites and resources? Will they see it as another thing to do? Who knows. But if I don't try it, we'll never know. 

So...what do you think my problems will be? What will be the main benefits? Would it be something you would want to use/add to? I'll hopefully be writing the communication to schools about it before Easter. 

Just because it is a Hampshire Delicious account doesn't mean it can't be shared wider. The username and password is there for all to see on the guidance, so feel free to add a site or two (maybe your blog?) to it. I trust my network to use it wisely.

Why not check it out so far...

If you want to see a huge Delicious resource, check out @simonhaughton's account: I want to emulate this, but with notes about each site to help teachers a bit further.

ps. I sort of apologise for the Vanilla Ice-inspired title to this post, but made me smile.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Home Access

I spend all day training schools to use the internet, the VLE and other web-based tools. Often we get the negative comments regarding children's computer access at home. Schools sometimes have no idea how many children do not have access, so we often suggest running a survey or hands-up in class. We also suggest that they open up their suite at lunch, break of after school. But then you need to think about supervision. Why not get a year 6 child to run it?
This works well in junior schools or if your suite is in an area with high traffic, but not so good for an infant school!

So what is being done about the lack of internet or computer use at home? Home Access. That's what. 

This is a Government funded scheme aimed at children from low-income familes to help them get connected and get online. Familes with children in year 3 to year 9 that have registered for free school meals will be entitled to a free laptop or PC. If you want to be picky, there are flaws. I hear these everyday when I mention it to teachers.
  • Why is it the people on benefits getting more handouts?
  • What about the people who work, but are just above this cut-off point?
  • Surely they'll just sell it/swap it for drugs (I swear, some schools said this)
For those that know me, I am a fairly positive person. So I take this scheme for the positive areas. Yes, it is this cohort that again get another benefit, but potentially, 270,000 families will be online because of this scheme. As a teacher, that is a huge bonus for what I would want to achieve in my classroom, whether it is blogging, VLEs, Voicethread etc. The power of the computer can not be underestimated.

So how do parents go about applying? By going to the website (ironic, I know) or calling a number, they will get an application form. Filling this in is very straightforward. They then send it back and get a voucher for their free computer.

Although currently seconded to the LA, I ran some parents evenings recently to showcase the benefits of having a computer at home and keeping safe. I mentioned sites that could help the children's learning, such as iboard, tutpup, education city or primarygames but I tried to focus on supporting the parent as well.
I gave examples of how I had used the internet since moving house recently. I had used sites such as Confused or Money Saving Expert to save £100s on gas, electricity or even foreign currency for my half-term holiday. We also looked at sites such as Jobsite, Monster and Learn Direct.
One parent was particularly keen to see Picasa and how photo sharing could help her send photos of her grandson to family in Scotland. ( I would've shown Facebook, but due to LA-blocking, I was limited to screenshots).

We briefly covered e-safety as I didn't want the meeting to be too negative, but we did discuss keeping safe on Facebook, phishing and antivirus software. Parents seemed positive, even if the turnout was disappointingly low!

If you want to use the resources, feel free. They are below. If you want to adapt them, go ahead. the main thing is that the children and families we work with are given every possible opportunity to succeed and that maybe, you need to spend an hour of your time helping those parents complete a form or become more aware of internet safety.It is always hard to share a presentation, but hopefully someone will find it a useful starting point.

I'd be very keen to hear how your sessions go!

Home Access PowerPoint
Sample Application Form 

Friday, 5 February 2010

ICT Cluster Spring 1 - Roundup Pt2

Part 1 of the Roundup can be found here

WallWisher -
What does it do?
Wallwisher allows you to create an empty space or wall and collate children's comments. You can create any name for your wall so you can make it easier for your children to remember e.g.
This can then be embedded into a VLE to show the children's learning or their ideas.
Possible Uses
Starting a topic: What do you already know about_____? What would you like to find out about___? Or later on, what have you learnt about ____ ?
Top Tip
This doesn't work with Internet Explorer 6, so if you still have that, you'll have to wait until you get an upgrade. For EdICT schools, this should be happening in the next few months.

MyEBook -
Examples - from @colport
What does it do?
MyEBook allows you to create an online book to showcase children's work. There is an over-13 limit on it, and some books are not suitable for primary, but if created by the teacher, they could be used within a VLE or website. You create a book, choose a template or blank book and start dragging photos, sound or text onto the pages. You can add and remove pages at will. Why not get the children reading the text in a story or their work and upload that too? For an exmample of this, look at the Wallace and Gromit book from the link above.
Possible Uses
You could have a book for 1 child over a year, showcasing their work and creating a portfolio of their learning or create a class book to showcase all learning from a particular topic.
Top Tip
MyEBook links to online photo sites such as Flickr, Picasa or Facebook, so if you have pictures online already, you can link to them to save you uploading.

Animoto - (Free 30second long videos) (Free, longer videos)
What does it do?
Animoto allows you to upload pictures and create an online presentation. Create a free account, choose some pictures and then upload them. These can then be manipulated and re-ordered if necessary. You then choose a soundtrack from the library or upload your own and then finish. Within 10minutes or so, you'll have a presentation video that can be linked to or embedded within a VLR or website.
Possible Uses
Uploading pictures of a DT project so that the photos show the making process from start to end. Picture 1 being the materials and picture 8 being the final car/sandwich/model.
Top Tip
Why not get the children to record some audio to upload onto their presentation?

The next session will be on March 18th at Hulbert Junior School and we will make it a 4:15pm start this time as that seems to be when I start anyway! If you can get there for 4, you'll be treated to tea/coffee and some biscuits too.
The next session will be looking at blogging. This will be a mixture of getting the children involved with blogging, getting YOU to start a blog and sharing examples from other teachers too. Don't be scared about it, I only started in December, so we can all be new at it together! Brilliant for reflection and I will show how it can be brilliant for CPD too. I might also try and fit in a brief bit about convincing you all to join Twitter too...but we'll see if time allows.

I am running a Home Access meeting for parents at Hulbert next week, (8th February) so will post resources after that.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

ICT Cluster Spring 1 - Roundup Pt1

So, another ICT cluster has finished and this one seemed to fly by like a whirlwind! I think I probably tried fitting too much into a short space of time. I promise next session I will slow down and give more playing time! (and find a room with a decent projector)
So here is a round-up of some of the things we did, and didn't, cover. I will also send this out on twitter and hopefully people will add examples below too.

The purpose of this session was to show you some of the exciting websites that I have found recently, the majority through Twitter. These range from time-saving to collaboration-based tools. After meeting with some teachers before Christmas and one of them stating that there seemed to be a lack of innovation from Lead Teachers and above, I thought I'd try my best to lead by example. Who knows if it worked or not!

So, what did we look at? (BTW, all of these are free.)

Delicious -
Examples: or
What does it do?
It allows you to store websites and favourites online so that they can be accessed from anywhere. Now this might sound like a small thing for some people, but if you think a bit bigger, such as creating a school account like @simonhaughton has done, then collaboration becomes much easier. I showed this at an inset day at the start of term and the teachers added their favourite sites, within an hour we had 50 websites for them to share. even amongst this small number of teachers, they were all adding websites that others hadn't heard of. This means that next time they want to find a site for poetry, it might have been found by someone already. Very useful indeed. Next step? What about a Hampshire-wide account? hhmmm..might need some thought!
Top Tip
If you create a school account, make sure you decide on the tags beforehand. Otherwise, you'll end up with KS2, KS 2 and Key Stage 2.

PrimaryPad -
What does it do?
Primary Pad is a tool that allows you to upload a word document or start from scratch and then have multiple users adding to and editing the document at the same time. Sounds chaotic? It can be. But now that @johnmclear has limited it to 6 people per pad, it works brilliantly for small groups of children. We have used in Hants to plan testing for Wizkid, we were all online plotting our next steps in real-time. It's quite a lot of fun too!
Possible Uses
Why not get the children to collaborate on a story or piece of writing? Poetry? Playscript?
What about teachers editing a policy?
Top Tip
Go to and providing someone hasn't put that word on there before, you can make a new pad. This means that you can have a pad tailored for your class or group, much easier to remember than using the random letters at the end!
Also, let the children try it first, then decide on rules. They can edit and delete each others work, so session 2 may need some rules!

Wordle -
What does it do?
Wordle takes a selction of words you have typed or pasted and create a collage of them with the more frequent words appearing larger than the others. The best way to see this is to copy and paste a news article from a site such as and then try to see the key words of the article. I showed this using Andy Murray's match report and the key words were 'Murray', 'Tennis' and 'Open'. Useful to see if a child has written one word more than the others.
Possible Uses
Why not ask the children to list different words for 'said' or 'walked'? Write the main word e.g. 'said' 3/4 times, then the others will appear smaller. Great for a vocabulary display or a way of creating a wordbank before starting a poem.
Top Tip
When typing words, put ~ between them. This way, the words stay together e.g. once~upon~a~time would stay together as a phrase. Perfect for story starters! More tips can be found at

Part 2 will follow with Wallwisher, MyEBook and Animoto as well as details of Home Access

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

My favourite finds at BETT

I know that BETT finished ages ago (well it seems like it anyway) but it has been a busy few days packing boxes and such like so I haven't had chance to post about my BETT finds. Some of these are obvious and some less so. What I have tried to do is also contact the company to find out more information to help you out. There is nothing in it for me, I just liked what I say and thought some of you might like them too.I must say that this post is aimed at my ICT cluster, but obviously, if you find it useful, that's great!

So in no particular order...

Brainpop -
(30 day free trial)
Brainpop seemed like a great resource for explaining difficult subjects and ideas. These also include quizzes to test the children's knowledge. The videos inject humour into the range of topics and would be useful for teaching children about a range of different topics.

Class Pet -
(3 month free trial)
I was initially attracted to the Scholastic stand because they were playing a huge part in TeachMeet Takeover (as were BrainPop). I was around presenting and attracting teachers to the stand to listen to the ideas that were being shared by other teachers. After a while, I had a look at their demo of Class Pet and liked what I saw. You can easily assess the children using a number of objectives and activities. Activities can be assigned to specific pupils so that they can assess themselves at their own pace. This looks like a good way of using ICT to assess maths and literacy. 

Anithings -
(15% discount for Hampshire schools - email me)
Anithings was one of the products and companies being showcased on TeachersTV in the run up to BETT. I was immediately drawn to the characters that could be used within the animations. Younger children will love the cartoony creatures, but you can add and adapt the characters too. It is easy to move them around the screen and then the final animation can be embedded as a flash file. Maybe it's just the googly eyes, but it is good fun!

2Simple - 2Create a Super Story -
(30 day free trial)

As always, 2Simple have delivered. There are many blogs already about their incredible new product so I will let you read those below. It easily lets you create stories, information texts and anything you like really. Characters are dragged on to the screen and then manipulated in a number of ways to animate them and move them around the screen. Sound can also be put in very quickly and easily. The finished article can then be saved as a flash file and put into a VLE, blog or website. Great for sharing with parents or for extending learning after the lesson.
Read more from some of the experts:
2Simple Blog
Bev Evans - @bevevans22
Simon Widdowsden - @xannov
Simon Haughton - @simonhaughton
Mark Warner - @markw29

Not really new but...
Espresso -
(Reduced rate until Feb half-term 2010 for Hampshire Schools)
Espresso is a fantastic resource when it is used well. I used to use it all of the time at school, it made searching for content a nice, simple task. I would often use the resources for assemblies or as part of my input. Espresso have made two major changes recently. Every video can now be embedded into a VLE, making it very simple to share the videos as part of a discussion or a test or maybe even a blog. They have also just launched a home access module allowing the pupils the opportunity to explore the resources themselves at home.

i-board -
i-board was my favourite find of Bett 2009. A whole host of inexpensive, fun activities for Key Stage 1 children. This year I was given the fantastic news that these are now completely free. Fantastic news for anyone with KS1 children. They are so good that many Year 3/4 teachers have used them too.

What did you see at BETT? Have I missed something?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

My feelings after BETT

I have finally returned home after a long, but exciting few days at BETT.I went for 2 days last year, but managed to stay for 3 this time around. Posting this on the Sunday means that everyone has already made it home and blogged already!
The most exciting thing for me was the TeachMeet Takeover and the Teachmeet event on the Friday night. I want to say thank you to everyone for organising the events and the effort that was put in. It was scary enough volunteering to present at TeachMeet, let alone being the first one chosen to present! Luckily @lisibo followed me and I think our talks complemented each other quite nicely as I explained how to make a Voki and then Lisa showed them in use!

Here's a pictureof me in front of 250+ people, thanks to @iusher for the picture.

I will post later about the exciting products I saw at BETT, but this post is more about Teachmeet and the wonderful people that I met. I was lucky enough to meet some fantastic people and to list them all would take ages and I am sure to miss someone! But thank you to everyone for all of their help and support before and during BETT.

The supportive tweets after my presentation also took my breath away and I thank everyone that made a comment! I know at least 2 people have made a VOKI since and one that is using it with her class on Monday. I have never thought of myself as innovative before, but I love that I can share ideas with others.

To quote Lisa, 'What seems like old hat for you is a lightbulb moment for someone else'

The biggest inspiration from anyone though came from the guy that talked about the TeachMeet in Holland. I immediately turned to Phil (@baggiepr) and began planning how we would go about organising a TeachMeet Hampshire at our annual ICT Conference. I have drafted an email already and who knows Maybe we can make it happen.

Thanks again to everyone for inspiring me and making BETT very enjoyable this year!