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Thursday, 26 November 2015

Jedi Writing - Inspiring Writing through Star Wars!

There is a lot of excitement and anticipation about the upcoming Star Wars film. I am sure plenty of your pupils will be desperate to see the latest installment. Knowing I have children hooked on Star Wars, I have used it as a stimulus in class.  I have previously blogged about discussing authorial intent with the teaser trailer.  You can read that blog post here.  I have also blogged about using the BB-8 droid to inspire writing, read that blog post here. 

Today I discovered another little gem that could inspire some fantastic writing linked to Star Wars. Recently, Facebook released different 360 degree videos. Users can explore the videos by dragging their cursors within videos on the desktop or by physically tilting their phones while watching on mobile. Each video is a few minutes long and gives users a completely spherical—that is, 360-degree—way to explore sand dunes, the ocean, or, say, a galaxy far, far away.

I have previously blogged about 360 videos and you can read about them here. 

Here is the Facebook Star Wars post -

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Immersive 360 Experience
Speed across the Jakku desert from Star Wars: The Force Awakens with this immersive 360 experience created exclusively for Facebook.
Posted by Star Wars on Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The problem for most teachers will be having access to this to use in classroom, therefore I have added a YouTube clip below-

How to use the video -

  • Using Airserver, record a video of the children exploring the video - 

  • Ask the children to explore the video a couple of times and write down what they can see/hear, once they have listed different nouns in one colour, ask them to generate some adjectives and verbs and link these with different colours. Do the same with adverbs to create a spider diagram full of vocabulary linked to what they observed in the video -
  • Encourage the children to start constructing sentences from the vocab spider. This gives you a perfect opportunity to introduce or deepen children's understanding of some Exciting Sentences.
  • Build these sentences into a short narrative. 
  • Put a copy of the video into iMovie and allow the children to record themselves performing their writing over the video. 
  • Use this as a useful editing tool and encourage them to try and make their writing match the video. This keeps the flow to the narrative and can really help children avoid over flowery writing. 
  • Give children plenty of time to record so it is more fluent and expressive. 
  • Add in sound effects or even a soundtrack.
  • Export the video and share on your school blog for the world to see!
Here is Joe's example - 

Here was the text -

Here is another Star Wars related 360 video on YouTube, this time from the point of a droid -

If you are interested in other ways in which technology can inspire and transform writing, please visit this link to see what Mr P can offer your school. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Paper based apps in KS1

Sometimes the most simple apps can be the most effective! On a recent training day as part of my Year Group Cluster Training Package, I was shown the app 'Marvel,' by teachers at Elworth Primary.
This app is a prototyping app for mobile and web. The app involves creating a series of pages, these can be taken using the camera, loaded from the camera roll or dropbox. The app allows you to then create link boxes to other pages. When completed, the app turns into a mobile app that allows you to tap the screen and be taken to the desired page.

I have previously blogged about a similar app, Pop, which you can read here. Today, I decided to give Marvel a go with Year 1 linked with their latest English topic, based on the book 'Dark by Lemony Snicket'

The book is about a boy, Laszio, and his fear of the dark. We started discussing what fears the children have and why it makes them afraid.

We listed some and then moved onto discussing how we show our fear. We started at the top and worked down the body and listed where on our face do we show it? Where on our bodies do we show fear? 

The children the snapped a selfie of themselves showing fear. They then created pictures of everything they were afraid of onto a piece of paper and photographed it. Using the app Marvel they could link their selfie with their drawings. Have a look yourself, (click the name to go back to the main screen. )

There is so much potential with this app! I would love to know how other teachers use it so please do tweet or message me on facebook.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

String is BACK!

I love Augmented Reality, if you didn't know this have a read of some of these previous blogs -

Augmented Reality in the classroom
Using Augmented Reality to inspire Augmented Reality
Can Augmented Reality improve Writing?
Mr P is abducted by Aliens!
Interactive Reading Display
Multimedia Digital Stories
Giving Children Super Powers
Reading with Augmented Reality 
Decorating my house with Augmented Reality
SPaG songs using Augmented Reality

One of my favourite apps to inspire writing through Augmented Reality is String! For a while, it had been taken away from the app store however, I am very pleased to see it is back available for schools to use!

You will need to print off the following trigger images - 

I have used this app in so many ways in the classroom, from creating comics -

and short movies in KS2 - 

To a whole project to create our own Augmented Reality in KS1 - 

See the app in action from this post on my facebook page - 

String App To Inspire Writing
IT IS FINALLY BACK! One of my favourite apps to inspire writing is back on the app store, read more about it and how it can be used on my blog here -
Posted by ICT with Mr P - Tech to Raise Standards on Thursday, November 19, 2015

Please click the following link to find out how Mr P can help your staff utilise technology to raise standards in the classroom - Mr P - Tech to Raise Standards.

Learning all about 2D Shapes!

With the Year 3 class I have been working with over the last couple of weeks we have been creating some information eBooks all about 2D shapes.

It has been a great way to encourage children to share what they know about different shapes. It has also given them a purpose to learn the properties of 2D shapes they didn't previously know.

We first started by using the app Shape Lab for the children to create different shapes. I have previously blogged about this app here. 

The children were challenged to  create as many different triangles, quadrilaterals, pentagons etc and then take a screenshot of each page -

Using the app Book Creator, they then used all of their screenshots to create an eBook. On each page, they used the wide range of tools available including the text, drawing and audio tool. They had to label each shape and record a short audio clip explaining the properties of each shape. Here is one of their efforts as a video - 


Book Creator is easily one of the most versatile and powerful apps available. I have used it in class in so many different ways before and here is another example of how it can be used in any curriculum area to enhance learning. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Dr Chips' Whole School Computing Scheme of Work!

"So many ideas I want to get started straight away!"
"So much to take back to class, thanks so much."
"Fantastic, thank you for all the great fun ideas."
"Fantastic inspirational glimpse into how to engage pupils with digital literacy."
"Fabulous and intriguing!"
"You made something scary feel very doable."

I have some very exciting news, make sure you read to the end!

Today I led a course alongside Jon Chippendall aka DrChips_focusing on the computing curriculum and how to effectively deliver it in the classroom. The course is perfect for computing leaders, class teachers and SLT looking for innovative ways to teach computing. I focus on ICT and Digital Literacy while Jon looks at the computer science aspect of the curriculum. What I love about the day is that both myself and Jon are still working in our schools so using these ideas day in day out. I am always asked about which scheme of work I would recommend for computing. I also send them to Jon's site as the scheme he has developed is brilliant as it has been written by a teacher!

I asked Jon to share with me some more information about the scheme and how he developed it, here is his response -

Where are you based across the week? 
I’m based 3 days a week in a primary school in north Manchester where I teach science and computing to year 6 and co-teach computing with staff from all different year groups in the afternoon (including EYFS!). It’s great to have the opportunity to see the progression in computing skills throughout the year groups and see how pupils build upon their learning. I’m then based at The University of Manchester one day per week where I’m the ‘Engineering Champion’, which involves coordinating innovative projects promoting engineering in primary schools. We do lots of fun creative stuff around robotics (drones are a favorite at the moment!) That leaves one day a week to work with various schools and write new resources. I’m currently writing a book about the role of curiosity in computing due out next year – if it hadn’t of been for Sir Tim Berners-Lee being curious about exchanging data at CERN we wouldn’t have the World Wide Web!

When and why did you write the scheme?
Before I became a primary school teacher I was in the world of aerospace engineering developing thrust-vectoring nozzles to make drones highly maneuverable! Quite a bit of my work involved programming or a general understanding of computer science, so when I saw the proposed changes happening in technology education in primary schools I was really excited. I think it’s really important pupils get to develop their computer science skills from a young age so I got hold of a draft copy of the new computing curriculum and started writing lessons plans and guides on how it could be taught. At first this was using a variety of iOS apps as my school has iPads in each class. I set up as a place to share the resources which grew and grew until I’d written the scheme. I packaged these up for schools including teacher notes and programming templates and started selling it as a scheme of work. Since then it’s be great to hear of schools all across the country using the scheme, and adapting it to match the interests of pupils in their schools and the topics they are covering. 

What does your Primary Computing scheme cover?
The scheme covers the ‘new stuff’ of computing i.e. the computer science (not strictly all ‘new’ as we did have data and control in ICT!). Schools have been combining my scheme with their existing IT and digital literacy curriculum to ensure coverage of computing. Throughout the scheme pupils develop their computational thinking skills, such as algorithm thinking and decomposition, and gain experience writing programs. It uses entirely free software, such as Scratch and Kodu, and includes both notes on computing terminology for teachers as well as assessment grids linked to the lessons. Also covered is the learning around computer networks at key stage 2, such as how the Internet and World Wide Web are different things and how search engines rank web pages. 

The complete scheme for years 1-6 costs £140 (made up of £95 for the programming scheme and £45 for the computer networks scheme – they can be purchased separately)

To download a free sample or purchase the scheme click here:

Here is a Year 5 sample lesson from the scheme -

We are bringing our Computing Course to Dudley in January! You can find out more information about the course by following this link. 


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Honey, I shrunk the class!

I love using technology to create WOW moments to inspire writing. When children can create content that inspires their imaginations they are completely engaged with their writing. One tool that continues to inspire writing is Greenscreen! I have previously used Greenscreen in lots of different ways such as -
Exploring our own Jurassic World
Jurassic School
Mr P is abducted by Aliens
Multimedia Digital Stories 
Making new knowledge stick!

Today Greenscreen was used to inspire stories where the children were shrunk to a fraction of their size. Using the app Doink Greenscreen, we created videos giving the illusion that the children were tiny in size, exploring the classroom where everything was massive. These videos were then shared with the class and the visuals provided the children with the perfect stimulus to write a story to accompany the videos. They then performed their writing over the videos to create some amazing digital stories! Within the recording process, children would naturally check, change and improve their writing once they had listened back to themselves.

Here is one of their efforts -

As the children are going to the cinema tomorrow we decided to celebrate our Children in Need Superhero day today. All the children came to school wearing superhero costumes! In Year one, we used Greenscreen to fly like superheroes and discussed all the qualities a superhero needs and what we can do to be superheroes in the class. This is what they created -

Greenscreen is just one of many tools Mr P uses to bring the curriculum to life. Follow this link to read more about how Mr P can help you use technology to raise standards in the classroom. 

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Enhancing a Barnaby Bear book with Technology

I know plenty of EYFS and KS1 classrooms have a Barnaby Bear. A teddy bear that spends every weekend with a child from the class. Usually, a book goes with the bear and parents are encouraged to document what happens over the weekend and this is then shared back in class.

Last weekend, my son Harry came home with his class teddy! We had a great weekend which we documented in the book by printing some photos, but as you would probably guess I couldn't just leave it at text and images. I wanted to use technology to enhance what can be done with the book.

Firstly, I wanted to document Harry's recount of the weekend. As he isn't able to write yet, I used the app Audioboom to record some audio of him talking through his weekend. This was uploaded online and turned into a QR code which was printed and stuck in the book.

For me, this is a simple but effective way in which younger children can contribute more to the book. It has so many other uses in the classroom.

On the Saturday afternoon as the rain poured outside, we decided to take Barnaby on some adventures using Greenscreen. It was great fun! Using the app Doink Greenscreen, the children recorded themselves swimming in the ocean, exploring space, on the beach and surrounded by snow. We took some pictures and printed these in the book. We then used Aurasma to link the greenscreen video to the image in the book. When scanned the following video is played -

I also uploaded the video to YouTube and created a QR code in case the teachers or other parents didn't have Aurasma. The finished pages in the book looked like this - 

Using a QR code reader app and Aurasma, the book can be brought to life! This is what it looks like -

Along with QR codes and Aurasma, teachers could also use Padlet to create a Padlet wall that parents could upload photos or videos and add text sharing what they do with Barnaby. With a Padlet wall, it automatically creates a QR code which can be printed and stuck into the front of the book. 

Padlet walls can be kept private and teachers can then share them on their whiteboards with the rest of the class. You can also use Padlet to create a 'Show and Tell' wall that children can contribute pictures and ideas to which again can be shared with the class.

Flipagram is another app that can be used to document adventures and again linked through QR codes. I have previously blogged about ideas for using Flipagram in the classroom. You can read it here -

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Trust me... You're Doing Great!

A recent advert has inspired this blog post -

I watched this and thought the same sort of message could be applied to teaching (take away the sitting an exam and CV.) It got me thinking, how often are you told you're doing great?

Every news article I seem to read at the minute about education seems to always have a negative tone. Just to quote one I read today -
"There is nothing anecdotal about this. A recent YouGov poll commissioned by the NUT teaching union suggests 53 per cent of teachers are thinking of quitting in the next couple of years. News reports earlier this year revealed that four out of 10 teachers quit within a year of qualifying. And 11,000 young teachers leave the profession before they have even completed their development as educators. The exodus has almost tripled in six years and there is much talk of a teacher recruitment crisis.
This waste of talent, enthusiasm and youthful idealism is shocking. It is also staggeringly expensive. There is a similar crisis at the other end of the profession, with more experienced teachers shaking their heads as their accumulated knowledge is dismissed as worthless after a lifetime in the job."

Now I am not going to go into the reasons why I think there is a worrying trend in teachers leaving the profession, you only have to read certain tweets or discussion threads. I usually ask teachers on my training what are the two jobs that take most of your time? The response is the same - marking and planning. I then go on to show how technology can be used to save time with these tasks and have more of an impact with children.

I gave the new twitter poll feature a go last weekend asking the question -

@MichaelT1979 has recently written a couple of recent blog posts that discuss the issues on planning and marking which you can read here -

I agree with the points Michael is making here and see that many teachers can get wrapped up in the cycle of paperwork and ultimately can end up with a teacher going through the motions. It is easy to do, I have been there and it can easily zap your enthusiasm and passion from the career you have chosen. To quote Alan Peat - We need to be working smarter, not harder! Technology can really help in this way, but that isn't the focus of this blog post, it is to try and remind teachers to see the bigger picture and remember to cherish those wonderful moments we experience as teachers.

 I recently blogged about my Golden Rule Of Teaching, (click the picture to read it) with the hope that some teachers would be inspired be consider being driven to use their own passions and also allow children to lead the learning in class.

In this blog post, I want to try and remind teachers why they initially chose teaching. No teacher chose teaching to assess or to plan but rather to inspire, to engage and to make a difference. A few years ago, I did some market research looking at the best way to try and engage people to go into teaching. One of the questions was 'What made you choose teaching?' It was a question I stewed on for a while but answered with something along the lines of - I wanted to create memories. I wanted to make memories that would stay with children throughout their whole lives, memories that would influence their choice in career, memories that would show them that anything is possible and memories that would mould them into knowledgeable, positive, considerate people. I recently asked teachers everywhere to share why they chose teaching. They answered on the following padlet wall - 

How often do you reflect on the initial reason why you chose teaching? In the midst of paperwork and pressure, we sometimes need a reminder of the wonderful job we do. I had a reminder just the other week. As I no longer have a classroom and therefore, no stock room, a lot of my things have been stored here and there. Our new caretaker was ready to throw a load of stuff out, luckily he checked with me first. In there was my scrapbook. A scrapbook I had started at the end of my NQT year after receiving this letter from a parent -
This was my go to letter whenever I had a bad day, staff meeting, felt like I wasn't good enough or felt I'd had enough. It has always been a reminder that as long as I try my best, I am making a difference in young people's lives. Since then, the scrapbook has grown with newspaper clippings, letters and cards from children and parents and reminders of memories I have created with children in my class. I sat the other day and looked through everything with the realisation that I have created some amazing memories. It reminded me of all the wonderful children I have had the pleasure of teaching over the years. I couldn't tell you what their levels were and what the value added progress was, they had all made progress, it was the characters, their personality and their smiles that I remember. If learning in the classroom can do this, if it can give children experiences that stay with them, I believe you are doing great! 

For any NQT or student teacher - make a scrapbook to fill with these positive experiences, they will help you stay focused when we have those bad days. Sometimes we need reminded how much of an influence we have. Let's say you start teaching at the age of 25 and retire at 65, with a class of 30 each year, you will teach approximately 1,200 children. You have the opportunity to heavily influence all those children and give them wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. This is the latest addition I need to add, from a girl in my first ever class, that was posted on my facebook page, not so long ago - 

I love John Murray's line when it comes to teaching - "Don't just teach the curriculum, teach the whole child!" Successes in learning come in all shapes and sizes in the classroom, embrace each one, document it and reflect on it whenever you need to. Make sure there is always a point of the day where you smile! Don't forget to smile! That is why I try my best on my facebook page to share funny pictures and short videos to hopefully give teachers that moment to chuckle and laugh. 
If you need a moment of inspiration, here are a couple of videos that I regularly watch and recommend - 

Reading back the letter from the NQT year reminded me of the poem I read at the leaver's assembly that year, also worth sharing, written by Patricia Clafford

I didn't know that years of school and a college degree would be of little
consolation when facing a room full of bright little eyes on the
first day of school. I thought I was ready...
I didn't know that five minutes can seem like five hours when there is
idle time and an eight hour school day far too short for a
well-planned day of teaching.
I didn't know that teaching children was only a fraction of my job.
No one tells you about the conferences and phone calls, faculty meetings, committees, paperwork and paperwork...
I didn't know that it took so long to cut out letters, draw and color pictures,
laminate-all for those bulletin boards that were always "just there"...
I didn't know that I would become such a scavenger, and that teaching
materials would feel like pure gold in my hands...
I didn't know that an administration and co-workers that support
and help you could make such a difference...
I didn't know that there would be children that I loved and cared for
and stayed up late worrying about, who, one day,
would simply not show up.
And that I would never see them again...
I didn't know that I can't always dry little tears and mend broken hearts.
I thought I could always make a difference...
I didn't know that the sound of children's laughter could drown
out the sound of all the world's sadness...
I didn't know that children could feel so profoundly.
A broken heart knows no age.
I didn't know that a single "yes ma'am" from a disrespectful child
or a note in my desk that says "You're the best!" could make me feel like
I'm on top of a mountain and forget the valleys I forged to get there...
I never knew that after one year of teaching I would feel so much
wiser, more tired, sadder and happier, all at once.
And that I would no longer call teaching my job,
but my privilege.

The work can wait while you show the child the rainbow,
but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work. 

I never question the dedication of teachers, we work incredibly hard! If there are ways in which technology can help use work smarter than harder, embrace it! Most teachers are doing their absolute best and so you're doing great! Keep going! You may well have recently seen the incredible gesture from the New Zealand Rugby Player - Sonny Bill Williams (you can read about it here.) This quote from him sums up the message I am trying to get across in this blog post -

Work to the best of your ability, don't compare yourself to others. As long as you can leave school each day knowing you have done your absolute best, trust me.... you're doing great!

Thanks for reading!

If you would like to know more about how Mr P can use technology to work smarter not harder, visit this link.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Inspiring Reading and Writing through John Lewis' Christmas Advert 2015

The latest John Lewis Christmas advert was revealed today and again they have delivered with their 'Man on the Moon' film. On the 'Improving Reading and Writing through Popular Children's Movies and Media' Conference with John Murray we discuss how powerful storytelling is and this shouldn't be neglected by focusing purely on the technical aspect of writing. I believe the John Lewis adverts are so popular because each one tells a story. You can read my ideas for the advert in 2014 here, also look at some more ideas on the Christmas Shed. Here is the advert -

What I love about this year's effort, is how powerful the music and the lyrics are. John Murray has kindly put together some questions based on the song and the lyrics, which were originally performed by Oasis. Here is a link to the lyric video -

Questions to consider, this can be used as a pre-reading task, aimed at Upper KS2 -
  • Why do you think the singer wants to leave ‘this city’?
  • Why do you think ‘this old town don’t smell too pretty’?
  • There is a grammatical error here. Can you spot it? 
  • Why do you think this error has been included? 
  • What effect does it have on how the listener feels towards the singer?
  • How do you think ‘this old town’ smells? Draw a picture of the things that might make it smell this way.
  • When somebody is alone and feeling lonely, why might they describe themselves as being on an ‘island’? 
  • How can people feel they are living on an isolated ‘island’ in a city when surrounded by lots of people? Do you sometimes feel this way?
  • Why might you want to leave this situation? What would you want to find/move to instead?
  • Why might this be described as a ‘soul asylum’?
  • Do you think the old man in the video once felt this way? Why do you think he left for the moon? Do you think he found the happiness and friendship he was looking for?
  • What dreams do you think he is still looking for?
  • Why do you think the line ‘half the world away’ is repeated so often.
  • Do you believe him when he says ‘I don’t feel down’? Why? Why not?

Here are some questions to consider for the video - 

  • In the first 5 seconds, how does the girl feel? How do you know? How old is she?
  • In the opening scene, what tells us that one of the characters might have an interest in space?
  • Who do you think owns the telescope?
  • Do you think the girl’s brother will have the same interest? Why not? What computer game might he be playing...Space Invaders?
  • Has she used the telescope before? How do you know?
  • How does she feel when she sees the man on the moon? Why does she wave? 
  • Who do you think the old man is? Why?
  • How old might he be?
  • At 43 seconds, how do we know she is desperate to get home to the telescope? 
  • Do you think the man is lonely? What makes you think this? Has he always been alone?
  • At 56 seconds, what is symbolic of this image and what does it make the girl think to do?
  • Why do you think the girl writes to the old man rather than Santa (which all the other children will be doing at this time of year)? What does this tell us about the girl’s character?
  • What do you think is in the letter? How might it be different to a typical ‘Dear Santa’ letter?
  • Can you think of a way in which she can get the letter to the moon? Predict whether these will work.
  • From which room in the house does she try and send the letter? Why?
  • How does she try and send it? She fails. How do both the girl and the old man feel? How do they show their feelings? Would you feel the same way?
  • What type of Christmas does the girl have? How is it different to the old man? Is this similar to your Christmas? What does Christmas mean to you?
  • What do mum and dad buy the girl for Christmas? 
  • Does the girl like her present? How does she show this?
  • If the girl likes her present so much, why does she give it away? What does this tell us about the girl’s character? Do you think this is a good way to be? Why? Why not?
  • What do you notice about the colour of the moon and the man? How are they linked and what effect does this have? How does this add to our understanding of the character? 
  • How does that change when the present appears? What do you think the present is? 
  • How does the old man feel? Why does he cry? Is crying always a sad thing? 
  • After Christmas is over, do you think the old man and the girl will keep in touch and continue their friendship? 
You could then look at links with other books, either focusing on the man on the moon by using - 

Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob) by Simon Bartram. 

Or focus on the relationship between a lonely outsider and a young girl and use something like Mr Stink by David Walliams.

As far as writing opportunities linked with this video there are so many possibilities. Here are a few that have come to mind so far -

  • Write a diary of the Man on the Moon, what does he do each day? How did he get to the moon? Why is he there?
  • What if the man is also the singer of 'Wasn't Expecting that?' plenty of links can be made there. 
  • Write the letter from the girl to the old man.
  • Write the reply from the old man to the girl.
  • Imagine the girl or old man found a rocket ship. Write the story of them visiting each other. 
  • Write a set of instructions for how to survive on the moon. 
  • Look into what it would take to really survive on the moon, create an explanation for why the video is fiction and couldn't happen in real life. 
  • After discussing it with John, he felt the ending could have been different and possibly better. Could the children write an alternative ending?
I think the most important message from the video is to think about people who may not have anyone to celebrate Christmas with. John Lewis have teamed up with Age UK to make this advert. t is important children realise that loneliness effects everyone, including old people. The interview on the Age UK website will help children develop their understanding and empathy with elderly people and consider how they should be treated (not just at Christmas) but throughout the year.

Get the children involved by asking them to write letters that you can take to a local shelter or even arrange a visit to sing Christmas carols or have children spend some time teaching older friends of the school how to use iPads and technology. You may also want to look at the official John Lewis resources here.

You may also be interested in taking part in our Christmas Around the World Project.

I would love to hear how teachers use some of these ideas, so please do share through or twitter @ICT_MrP. Another massive thank you to John for contributing some wonderful ideas. Make sure you check out his website for the CPD he offers. Make sure you join us in January in Newcastle for our next joint conference. If not, we are coming to Peterborough and Cardiff in June. 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Using Snapchat to turn children into Superheroes!

Snapchat is one of the most popular social media messaging apps. The app has recently had some impressive updates including adding a animated filter over your face and the recent addition of rewind, slow motion and fast forward. These can create some very simple but effective special effects to trick an audience into believing children may have super powers!

Now Snapchat may not be an app teachers would feel comfortable using in class, therefore, an alternative app is Videoshop. This app popped up on Apps Gone Free a while back, the app has a wealth of different features -

1. Trim: Cut out any unwanted moments.
2. Music: Add from your iPod library to your videos.
3. Sound effects: Choose from animals noises, farts, explosions, laughter, and more.
4. Slow motion (or fast motion): Adjust video speed to slow or fast.
5. Adjust Display: Change Brightness, Contrast, Saturation, etc.
6. Combiner: Merge multiple clips into one.
7. Text: Type your own text with color or various fonts.
8. Voice overs: Record your own voice over the video.
9. Animated titles: Introduce your videos with animated titles.
10. Filters: Select from several Instagram-inspired filters to enhance your videos.
11. Transitions: Choose from 10 transitions to animate between video clips.
12. Photos: Create slideshows easily.
13. Stop Motion: Create Vine videos with stop motion recording.
14. Crop: Rescale your video within the video frame.
15. Reverse: Playback videos in reverse.
16. Copy: Create duplicate video clips.
17. High resolution videos: Supports up to 720p.
18. Share on Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, or by E-mail.

I love the filters you can add on to the clip like the surveillance camera that gives a really authentic look to the effects. Here is a quick video we made to make it look like Callum has powers -

With these nice little camera tricks, there are endless possibilities for inspiring writing or creating a Superhero trailer using iMovie trailers, see some examples here

You could also link it with the David Guetta 'Titanium' Music Video, like we did here

I would love to know how others use these ideas, so please share any examples of work with me on twitter - @ICT_MrP or facebook -

Bonfire Art on the iPad

Tonight is Bonfire night, so in school we have been looking at using the iPad to create some Bonfire artwork!

A couple of years ago, I used brushes after being inspired by a lesson from @SimonHaughton. These were some of our efforts -

This year we decided to use a different app - MyBrushes Pro, the range of different tools and brush types to use is fantastic. Here are a couple of our efforts from Year 1 - 

I have previously used this app with Year 1 to create some lovely Christmas tree designs, you can read more about them here.

In KS2 we linked our pictures more with Literacy and first generated as much vocabulary to describe fireworks. We used Socrative to collect all the children's ideas and put all the vocabulary into Tagxedo

The children then had to create their own firework display picture using the fantastic TypeDrawing app. Asking the children to try and include as much vocabulary in their picture. Here are some of their efforts - 

Monday, 2 November 2015

Christmas Around the World Project 2015

As a follow-up to the successful project last year (see here), we will once again be looking to connect classrooms across the world. In the lead up to Christmas, you can deepen your understanding of different Christmas traditions by asking other children from around the world about how they celebrate Christmas in their community.

The project is simple, sign up using the form below, pick a school from the number of willing participants in the spreadsheet and arrange a time to connect using a variety of ways such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Ustream/periscope. Please be aware of time zone differences and this website may help - Click Here.

You may also wish to live stream an assembly or Christmas show to share with the world to Youtube or use Periscope, or if you have been busy blogging and creating work related to Christmas, you can share it on the global Padlet below.

What you may need to take part in this project:
All you need to do is fill out this form and add your class to the database. The best thing about the project is that it is completely FREE! See the bottom of the page for responses:

Ways in which to use this project:

Obviously the main aim is to connect live with another class from around the world, the easiest way to do this would be to use Skype.

The free account with Skype will let you connect with one school from around the world. However as an alternative Google Hangouts on Air allows you to connect with up to 10 people. This means more than one class from a school can connect with other schools or one class can connect with a range of different classes. Google Hangouts also allows you to live stream the video chat to YouTube and will save this as a video afterwards, meaning children can watch the conversation again and again. This also gives you the ability to broadcast an assembly or school performance for Parents who may not be able to attend or one of the classes you are connecting with. Another option as far as live streaming is to use UStream which allows you to broadcast live an assembly for anyone to watch live. Quality of video will depend on the strength of your Wifi and the quality of webcam.

Note - if you are considering streaming a performance, check about permission for children to appear online. You may want to check with Parents first before going ahead. For more information on live streaming - click here and here.

If you are unable to use Skype or Google but you still want to share some of the exciting activities your class have been doing leading up to Christmas, add it to our Padlet below. Just simple click on a space add your name and location and link either a blog post or YouTube video or even upload a picture for all to see: HERE IS A LINK TO THIS PADLET TO APPEAR BIGGER AND SEE ALL THE ENTRIES

Find someone on the map and contact them to arrange to share -

And here is a list of other classes who have signed up for the project:

Please do send any comments, examples of work or photos to, I would love to see how this project has worked for different schools!

Can you beat Siri???

Now this idea is nothing new, think of it more as a new take on a tried and tested activity.

When I was in Year 4 at school, we had a teacher who every day would play the 'Beat the Calculator' game. He would ask us a times table question and we had to answer it before he could type it into a calculator. I was hooked! It was this one game that made me endlessly practice and perfect my knowledge of times tables. It is still a challenge today to get children to instantly recall different number facts.

Today with children being exposed to so much more technology, calculators may not bring the WOW factor that it once did. One thing that does captivate children is the ever impressive 'Siri.'

Siri is a "computer program that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator. The feature uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Web services."

In essence, by holding the home button for a couple of seconds you can orally ask a question and Siri will try and answer it... it has been around for a few years now but is still very cool!

I read this lovely story about how Siri helped a boy with autism and it got me thinking about other ways in which to use Siri in the classroom.

Students tend to be very impressed by how fast and accurate Siri usually is. Just explain that Siri is a system Apple have spent years developing and consider it to be one of the most advanced and intelligent programs in the world. Wouldn't it be great if children could beat it and be faster?

So the game is simple, you may want to mirror your iPad screen onto your whiteboard using Airserver so the children can see it. Then get the children ready with a whiteboard. You don't have to mirror your iPad, if you just have the iPad you can then give children an extra second if they need it.

Ask the children or child to try and answer the questions quicker than Siri can display it on the screen.

Talk the question into Siri and see if children can either write it on their whiteboards or orally answer before Siri displays the correct answer.

This creates a brilliant mental/oral starter for Maths lessons ask any calculation can be spoken into Siri - addition, subtraction, multiplication or division.

There are plenty of other ways in which this idea can be used and I would love to hear if anyone does anything different with Siri. Please do tweet or post it to my facebook wall.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Melvin McGee - Zombie Hunter!

I couldn't be happier to see that Mat Sullivan's (InspiredMind5) first novel has been released!

I have worked along Mat for a few years as part of the #Go2 team. I was leading some training at Mat's school when he talked to me about his idea for his first book. I was straight away hooked, the idea of a child-friendly zombie book sounded like a winner!

When I got an early draft of the book, I immediately read some to a couple of classes and they loved it! That's when I knew it was going to be popular with children!

The book tells the story of Melvin, who has just turned 10 and quickly discovers his town is infested with crazed, brain-gobbling zombies. Here is the trailer -

The book is fantastic and one children (especially boys) will love! The artwork by the very talented Marek Jagucki matches the fantastic storytelling and creates a wonderful book that I am sure children will treasure!

The reason I feel this book will be a great tool for teachers as a class read is that the author, Mat, is also the author of 'A Second Book of Exciting Sentences' co-written with Alan Peat.

He has also written 'Developing Writing through Comics' and The Ultimate Guide to Non-Fiction Writing. Both of these books are amazing resources for the English classroom. The book includes plenty of examples of exciting sentences within the context of the story. Therefore, teachers can use this as a way of discussing with the children the effect certain sentences have on the reader and why the author used has used a particular sentence in that part of the story?

When it comes to the exciting sentence approach, the challenge for a lot of teachers isn't getting their class using the sentences but using them well for effect. Being able to discuss this within the context of a fun and engaging story can be another useful resource and help children deepen their understanding of writing effective stories.

I am currently working with Mat to create a teacher's eBook with lots of activities and lessons linked to the novel. Watch this space!

I am also very excited to announce that I have 5 FREE copies of the book up for grabs on my facebook page, the winner will be announced very soon so share and like this post to be in with a chance of winning!

IT'S HALLOWEEN COMPETITION TIME! We have five copies of Mathew Sullivan's (Inspired Minds) new novel, 'Melvin McGee:...
Posted by ICT with Mr P - Tech to Raise Standards on Saturday, October 31, 2015