Tag Archives: Classroom

Bye Bye iPod⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

The music lives on – Apple

iPod touch will be available while supplies last

I feel quite sad about this. I don’t think the iPod every got the traction it deserved in the classroom.

Back in the late 2000s I had a click wheel iPod in my class. It was a great device for recording audio on the move. Despite the low quality of recording by class found it really easy to use compared with other recorders at the time.

In 2010 I was involved in supporting a class using 1–2–1 iPod touches, and blogged a fair bit about it I though. They had a great deal of potential for the primary classroom. The introduction of the iPad put paid to that. I still think that a pocketable device might have been useful in school. Reviewing these old posts I found quite a few records of efforts to develop ideas for using webpages for teaching and learning with iPods. I had a bit of fun with that.

In my fantasy classroom pupils would be equipped with iPod touches and MacBooks, maybe the lovely 11 inch Air.

micro:bit bits⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Over the last few years I’ve had quite a bit of fun with micro:bits. Given I’ve been using the same ones all that time they were pretty good value. It is great to see them getting a bit more traction in Scottish schools.

We are to get some more free ones: Scottish schools to receive 20 micro:bits. This will be great. I’ve got access to plenty but the new ones have some nice new features. Built-in microphone, speaker, capacitive touch sensor, and power save button. The speaker will be particularly welcome, avoiding a bit of footering . The power button too as I’ve found that detaching the battery is quite tricky for small fingers. I hope they arrive soon.

There are also a lot more support events & materials for classes appearing.

19 May 11 – 11:45 Code Along with micro:bit – Relaxation & Mindful Breathing looks fun, but clashes with our sports day. My class did participate in a couple of similar scratch events via Teams. Although these were not anything I could not have covered myself. I did find the pupils were extra engaged with a virtual teacher and peers.

You don’t even need micro:bits to take part,

Micro:bit not required as you can still take part using the MakeCode simulator.

Which until this week I would have though was missing the point. The other day I was re-introducing some of my class to micro:bits. They had made simple rock, paper, scissors shakers. We were discussing the problem of knowing, for sure, if the shake had worked. Two similar results could be due to random selection or by nothing happening. While the pupils were playing with solutions to this one explained he was not going to flash the micro:bit every time. He preferred the simulator! This surprised me, as I think the device is a big draw for most pupils.

The other week New support for teachers launched today | micro:bit. I’ve already found the examples and projects on makecode.microbit.org very useful. I am looking forward to getting to try the ones for the new micro:bits.

In class we have been using the iOS micro:bit app rather than the web. This solves the issue of flashing the micro:bits via usb by using Bluetooth and works really well. We did a bit of work on our arcade devices this session. That meant pupils using the web downloading hex files on their iPads, air dropping to a MacBook and then transferring to the devices. Bluetooth avoids the “one MacBook” bottleneck.

The other bit of micro:bit information I have is that Glow Blogs now supports the embedding of the micro:bit simulator. This enables pupils to share their creations and keep a record of their achievements. I’ve just updated the microbit instructions for Glow Blogs. I hope to see some examples in the wild soon.

Read: Searching for Kid-Friendly Searching | flower.codes⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Read Searching for Kid-Friendly Searching | flower.codes
I set about trying to find a kid-friendly search engine that enabled exploration, while still protecting her from the toxicity of the greater modern web. And, guess what? I failed.

And,

If my kids want to search for dinosaurs, they should be presented with educational and otherwise appropriate websites to help them learn about dinosaurs; not a full page of ads for dinosaurs before they see the actual search results

I do not see much discussion of this from within education, I wonder why not?

More Classroom Podcasting⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

From 2005 to 2008 I used podcasting as an activity in the classroom1. I found it a powerful tool for writing, talking and listening, collaboration and more. Back then podcasting was not the well known entity that is is now.

Back the I managed the podcast as a lunchtime club, volunteers form my class contributing. We did occasional whole class shows and even whole school projects.

While I was out the classroom I ran few courses on podcasting. I don’t think I managed to encourage much uptake. We did run a podcast server in North Lanarkshire for a while but it was used more for video than audio.

Last session I finally got around to podcasting with pupils again. This time I tried to exploit it a bit more and involve the whole class. The pupils wrote to local businesses and got sponsorship for the first 3 episodes. We organised it as an enterprise with different children taking on different roles including site & logo design.

The final one was made during lockdown. The children sending in recordings which were edited by a key workers child in school.

This year my class were keen to start again. My plan to begin at the start of term two got spoiled by covid and other unexpected events. Finally we got round to it in November. Given time constraints I decided to skip the sponsorship and deal with some of the scheduling myself. I gave the class a bit of time to write, a fairly free choice of what to write about and who to write with.
I helped with the occasional phrase but pretty much let it to them. We did work in parallel thinking and marking up text we were reading aloud.

They then recorded themselves over the next couple of weeks. A p7 pupil who had edited last session did so again this time with a p6 apprentice. Pupils created wee bits of music to link items. Another pupil posted Episode 5.

I feel it was a pretty successful exercise. The class were very engaged. I could see and hear the effort they put into writing and recording. I also heard an improvement in some children’s reading aloud.

I believe we covered a wide range of the experiences and outcomes, listed below4.

Workflow

  1. General discussion of content, pupils organise them selves into groups and groups divided into pairs & individuals
  2. Script written in notes on iPads
  3. Children recorded each other using the Voice Memos app, either from prints of the notes or using split screen.
  4. Audio AirDropped to the editor’s iPad
  5. Musical snippets recorded in GarageBand & AirDropped
  6. Edited in GarageBand

The only involvement I had in the editing was to level the voice track using The Levelator2 on a desktop and exporting the m4a to mp3 again on desktop. I am pretty sure m4a is a fine format for podcasts but I am a bit old fashioned.

we used an iRig mic this time

Last session on some episodes we split the editing into groups, with each section of the podcast editing their bit and the main editor putting these together. I plan to do that next term to increase the number of pupils with editing skills. We will probably formalise some more roles in groups too.

Benifits

Apart from the obvious: responsibility co-operation, working together, leadership, practical skills and problem solving involved I took a quick trawl through the CFE experiences and outcomes alongside the benchmarks. I’ve added a partial list below4.

Changes

It is a lot easier technically to make a podcast now than when I started. Glow Blogs are a good free podcast hosting solution for schools3. The idea of podcasting is mainstream now. It does seem a bit harder to get audience feed back than it is 15 or so years ago. As with class blogs, commenting from afar seems to have declined or moved to likes on Twitter. Back in Sandaig we had comments from around the world and made some connections that went far. This is, again in my opinion, a pity.

We are intending to try more podcasting next term, I appreciate that is a bit harder to fit in now with all the demands of the curriculum but I do think it is really worth the effort.

1. Radio Sandaig Archive.org link. I also produced hundreds of podcasts with David Noble over at Radio Edutalk for 10 years starting in 2009.

2.
The Levelator is one of my favourite pieces of software. Mac App Store, Wikipedia.

3. GlowCast has some information.

4. E&Os Benchmarks in italic from Curriculum for Excellence Benchmarks

I can use my voice, musical instruments and music technology to experiment with sounds, pitch, melody, rhythm, timbre and dynamics.
EXA 2-17a Uses voice, instruments and technology to create music

I am investigating different careers/occupations, ways of working, and learning and training paths. I am gaining experience that helps me recognise the relevance of my learning, skills and interests to my future life.
HWB 2-20a Identifies connections between skills and the world of work

I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to create texts of my choice.
LIT 1-01a / LIT 2-01a

I can recognise how the features of spoken language can help in communication, and I can use what I learn.
I can recognise different features of my own and others’ spoken language.
ENG 2-03a Recognises some techniques used to engage or influence the listener, for example, vocabulary, emphasis, tone and/or rhetorical questions.

When listening and talking with others for different purposes, I can:
share information, experiences and opinions; explain processes and ideas; identify issues raised and summarise main points or findings and clarify points by asking questions or by asking others to say more. LIT 2-09a
I am developing confidence when engaging with others within and beyond my place of learning. I can communicate in a clear, expressive way and I am learning to select and organise resources independently.
LIT 2-10a / LIT 3-10a Communicates clearly, audibly and with expression in different contexts. Plans and delivers an organised presentation/talk with relevant content and appropriate structure. Uses suitable vocabulary for purpose and audience. Selects and uses resources to support communication.

I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate. LIT 2-15a Makes and organises notes using own words, for the most part. Uses notes to create new texts that show understanding of the topic or issue.

I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience. LIT 1-20a / LIT 2-20a Creates texts regularly for a range of purposes and audiences selecting appropriate genre, form, structure and style.

most of the Tools for Writing E&Os can be touch on

Throughout the writing process, I can check that my writing makes sense and meets its purpose. LIT 2-23a Writes most sentences in a grammatically accurate way.; Uses sentences of different lengths and types and varies sentence openings. Uses paragraphs to separate thoughts and ideas.; Writes in a fluent and legible way. Reviews and corrects writing to ensure it makes sense, is technically accurate and meets its purpose.

And lots of writing ones:

By considering the type of text I am creating, I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in an appropriate way for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience. LIT 2-26a Organises information in a logical way. Selects relevant ideas and information. Uses appropriate vocabulary, including subject-specific vocabulary, to suit purpose and audience.

AgentScratch⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Screenshot of AgentScratch

AgentScratch | Anaylse Your Scratch Project

Agent Scratch is designed to assess children’s learning of CT skills from the Computational concepts perspective, which can also be defined as the programming constructs. This includes; sequences, loops, events, parallelism, conditionals, operators, variables and abstraction.

This looks really interesting. Pupils can upload a scratch files to do some assessment and analyse what concepts they have used. I’ll be interested to try this out.

I did notice that testing it with the recent COP 26 code along project (from @digilearnscot and @CodeClubScot) that most of the boxes were ticked. Although my class all used the techniques, I don’t think they have got them all yet. I’ll be interested to see how it goes. You can Select the specific programming constructs you would like to include in your analysis I suspect it might be best to dip our toes in one concept at a time.

I did my testing from an iPad, downloading the .sb3 files and then uploading to be analysed worked very well.

There are some Badges, not digital ones, that would be useful for e-Portfolios, or printing and making badges with.

Quick iOS Video Apps for the Classroom⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Over the years I’ve often though that video is most useful as a tool for pupils to report on their learning and learn a little about making media. I have not changed my mind but recently I’ve found myself using it to share learning quickly myself quite often.

There are a couple of useful Apps I’ve been using to do this, both have, in my opinion advantages over iMovie and clips.

HyperLapse is one I’ve used for years now. It seems to be called ‘Hyperlapse from Instagram’ now. It is however free and can be used without having an instagram account. Its main purpose is to record speeded up videos. But the main feature I use it for is it smooths out hand held video with automatic stabilisation. This means you quickly move through the classroom videoing activity and get a fairly good result without editing.

Here is an example I posted to twitter today:

‎Snapthread is another handy choice. It quickly pulls together videos from ‘live photos’ on iOS. You can add music, titles and the like quickly. I’ve found it especially handy in impressing visitors who ask me to tweet photos of their work with my class. I can usually get a video up in just a few minutes. You just need to try and hold the camera still for a moment or two before of after clicking the button. 30 second videos free, but I was delighted to be able to pay for longer ones to support an independent developer.

Here is a Snapthread example:

I’d not claim any artistry or skill in making these videos but they only took a couple of minutes to create. The longest part was probably the upload to twitter.

I also upload these to our class blog. I’d much rather just use the blog but twitter is ubiquitous in Scottish education now:(

Read: Why coding should at the centre of the curriculum⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Read Why coding should at the centre of the curriculum
Coding develops cognitive skills, problem solving and analytical thinking ("computational thinking"). By introducing and developing these abilities from primary school onwards, we create the building blocks and thought processes necessary for robotics and AI. This is not about displacing traditional subjects but, rather, changing the emphasis. Coding can comfortably sit alongside other subjects, especially those with a creative slant, reinforcing the development of key skills through multiple channels.

Coding develops cognitive skills, problem solving and analytical thinking (“computational thinking”). By introducing and developing these abilities from primary school onwards, we create the building blocks and thought processes necessary for robotics and AI. This is not about displacing traditional subjects but, rather, changing the emphasis. Coding can comfortably sit alongside other subjects, especially those with a creative slant, reinforcing the development of key skills through multiple channels.

Digital skills: Why coding should at the centre of the school curriculum | Tes

Coding certainly can develop cognitive skills, problem solving and analytical thinking. A lot of other things can too. I think it is difficult.

Any class will present a wide range of learners. Designing or adapting lessons to try and get as many of them in the right zone to develop these skills is tricky. If you don’t get this right coding is neither productive or fun.

The article notes:

. Coding can comfortably sit alongside other subjects, especially those with a creative slant, reinforcing the development of key skills through multiple channels.

I’ve certainly found that putting coding into a context can lead to more fun and success. By adding elements art or making to a coding project more pupils are involved in problem solving, collaboration and creativity.

A difficulty in managing this might be the perceive need to be an expert in several different areas. I’ve certainly found myself in situations where I’ve not be completely confident around some of these areas.

The article acknowledges that covid has had an effect:

It is a reasonable assumption that this immersion in IT and technology is preparing young people for a digital future and teaching them the skills they will need.

But we need pupils to be creators as well as users:

there is a largely unrecognised digital difference between the users of technology and the creators

I think there is also a gap around literacy and the problems that the mixing of commercial and educational interests in technology. A lot of the uptake in digital solutions lacks any questioning of the provides of these solutions.

This is something I am not very sure I’d know where to start with? Perhaps Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex:

In just a few years, understanding programming will be an indispensable part of active citizenship. The idea that coding offers an unproblematic path to social progress and personal enhancement works to the advantage of the growing techno-plutocracy that’s insulating itself behind its own technology.

Read: Outdoor learning has improved our pupils’ attainment⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Read Outdoor learning has improved our pupils' attainment by Jay Helbert
Children here at early level experience 50 per cent of learning and play outdoors, those at first level have 33 per cent and second level children have a quarter of their school time outdoors. This has enabled the school to use a mixture of formal and informal learning outdoors to build in play-based and pupil-led learning, which, in turn, has helped to reduce anxiety and build resilience.

Really positive article in TES by Jay Helbert💙 (@learningjay) .

Our Forest School (in the grounds of Argyll Estate) and Beach School (on the shore of Loch Fyne) provide opportunities for a blended experience. These lessons take place weekly over the course of a school term and are child-centred experiences where teachers set up learning “provocations” and options for activities ranging from den-building and mapping to creating artwork and storytelling.

I’ve done a bit of outdoor learning in school but nowhere near the 25% the second level classes are managing here. I was interested to see this maths idea:

where children survey plant and animal species to gather data

I sometimes struggle to think up second level ideas for literacy & numeracy. I’ve mostly found early and first level ideas online.

The outdoors a great stimulus for writing, reports, narrative and poetry. Talking and listening seem built in. In maths we have done a fair bit of shape & measure and I can see the potential for data and related activities. It would be good to see a bank of ideas. 25% is more than once a week.

Bonus thought, has TES Scotland become a sort of medium for educational blogging. I am reading a lot of good stuff on TES.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library & Bird Bingo⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Somewhere or other1 I Saw a link to v.2 (1799) – The Naturalist’s Pocket Magazine or compleat cabinet of the curiosities and beauties of nature. Intriguing enough which lead me to discover the Biodiversity Heritage Library:

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is the world’s largest open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives. BHL is revolutionizing global research by providing free, worldwide access to knowledge about life on Earth.

About BHL – Information about the Biodiversity Heritage Library

There seems to be a vast collection of biological books that are free to read and download. There is also a twitter account, @BioDivLibrar and an amazing Flickr account: Biodiversity Heritage Library where there are over a quarter of a million images, many public domain. They have also contributed

over 2 million BHL images have been uploaded to the IA Book Images Flickr stream as part of the Art of Life project. These images are identified and uploaded in bulk using an algorithm. They offer a great opportunity for serendipitous discovery via browsing.

from: About Biodiversity Heritage Library | Flickr.

The Library are asking for people to help tag their flickr images and this might be a good activity for secondary pupils?

Bird Bingo


As a primary teacher, once I’d stopped just raking through some beautiful images I knocked up a quick Bird Bingo game for my class to help with bird identification. It has random cards and a caller.

There is page after page of beautiful pictures in the photo stream I defy anyone to leave it quickly. Example page 2094!

Featured Image: n456_w1150 | Natural history of the animal kingdom for the u… | Flickr public domain.

1. I don’t like not being able to attribute where I found this amazing resource.

Bookmarked: Museo⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Bookmarked Museo (museo.app)

Museo is a visual search engine that connects you with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rijksmuseum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the New York Public Library Digital Collection Every image you find here is in the public domain and completely free to use, although crediting the source institution is recommended!

from: Museo

This looks like another pupil friendly source of images. I’ve added this to the short set on my classes’ links page.