Category Archives: ICT Education

Positive impact of game making part II – trip to Sweden

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On 24th April 2017, I was privileged to visit Gothenburg, Sweden as part of the game project. I have blogged about the project previously – link to my previous blog post.

The Games Project is an action research, collaborative project between Sweden and the UK, funded by the Erasmus+ programme – more information is available from the website:  http://www.gamesforlearning.se

Whilst at a first look it may seem that developing computer programming skills is at the heart of the project, this is far from the sentiments portrayed by everyone involved; first and foremost is the desire for students to develop social skills, including teamwork and respect.  The game making process also gives students opportunities to take a real pride in their achievements and, perhaps most importantly, develop their own self esteem, via making games or supporting peers in developing skills.  Championing the project is teacher Tom Boardman.  Tom has a really useful and interesting blog, which can be read at: https://mrbgamesproject.wordpress.com

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Word Aware – Electronic resources

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Spin Game

www.thinkingtalking.co.uk

Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/wordaware/   Twitter:  @wordaware

Written by Anna Branagan and Stephen Parsons, Word Aware is an evidence-based approach to Teaching Vocabulary.  It is a ‘Universal’ intervention, designed for all pupils.  It is intended to be part of the life of the school, embedded rather than arbitrary.  Related text books include the  Language for Thinking series, which help teach increasingly complex questions.

During our school based training, Anna described how words are used for speaking, reading and understanding. Children have to be interested and engaged in word learning.  The spiral of being interested and enjoying reading is linked to the development of a wider vocabulary.  Enjoyment can be via a range of activities including crosswords, wordplay and other games. Our students are beginning an independent journey to developing language, based on engagement and enjoyment.

The approach for Word Aware is for the learning to be embedded in the school day, taking place regularly.  A STAR approach is used – Select, Teach, Activate and Review:

  • Select involves identifying appropriate vocabulary, considering whether the words are ‘anchor’ – thoroughly understood, ‘Goldilocks’ – desirable for students to use, or ‘Step-on’ – topic specific, not usually needed for writing.
  • Teach involves a range of elements to teach the vocabulary, including using the ‘Word Wizard’ (available from the book or CD-Rom).
  • Activate involves adding more meaning and making sense from the student’s own perspective, with lots of opportunities to hear and see the word.
  • Review is intended to help fix the word in long term memory.

Electronic resources

I’ve put together a few resources linked to some of the games and activities that I hope may be useful if you are using Word Aware. Continue reading

The positive impact of creating digital games

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Today, I was privileged to attended a workshop organised by Stony Dean School, entitled:

Understanding and developing the use of digital games as a pedagogical tool in the classroom

The workshop featured presenters taking part in ‘The Games Project’.  The Games Project is an action research, collaborative project between Sweden and the UK, funded by the Erasmus+ programme – more information is available from the website:  http://www.gamesforlearning.se

The ethos of the project is centred around ‘Maker Culture’ (Maker Education Initiative – Every child a maker – http://makered.org), following the assertion that if pupils are makers they are more actively engaged.  In this project, such making is facilitated by computer programming to create and play digital games (artefacts). Continue reading

The amazing Class Dojo

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Class DojoI’ve just received our ‘School Report’ for the year from Class Dojo.  The highlights include:

  • 17 teachers in our school used ClassDojo
  • 7 parents connected to our school
  • 25 Story posts
  • 1,628 moments celebrated
  • On Task was the most awarded skill

If you’ve never heard of Class Dojo before, it is an online tool for celebrating the success of your pupils.  Incredibly for such a feature rich tool, it is completely free, and can be accessed from a PC or using the Class Dojo app on tablets. Continue reading

Book Creator – from indifference to magnificence!

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When I was first introduced to Book Creator several years back, I have to say I was a little indifferent.  I couldn’t really see back then how it did anything different to other apps such as Keynote or Google Slides.  How very wrong I was!  Book Creator is now our most widely used app, and when used in conjunction with the accessibility features of the iPad (0r Android/Windows 10), it has allowed our pupils to communicate their thoughts in whole new ways.  It is intuitive, and really does make the best of facilities such as the camera and microphone which are built in to the iPad.

We use Book Creator for:

  • e-portfolios of computing work
  • as a teacher tool for recording evidence in, for example, Forest Schools
  • maths lessons, for pupils to take evidence of achievements that are ordinarily tricky to record, such as creating 3d shapes
  • science lessons for taking photographs and describing
  • creating comic books
  • mindmaps

…and of course….making books.   I put together an ‘Apps in a Flash’ video to showcase what can be done with Book Creator.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Link to Book Creator in the iTunes store

Iris Connect – getting going

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After several months now of exploring using Iris Connect, this post is to share my thoughts so far.   Iris Connect is a platform for filming, and subsequently reviewing, teaching and learning in the classroom.  The hardware element consists of either one or two iPads, and either one or two iPod Touches.  The iPad (or iPads) record video; if two iPads are used then the video is synchronised, giving the viewer multiple views of the classroom.  The iPod Touches are used to record audio, the audio being synchronised with the video.  One iPod touch can be used for recording sound from the presenter, the other can be placed on a table to record pupil voices.  The iPads come with tripods to allow flexible positioning.  Also available is a ‘live view’ 360 degree hardware device that I haven’t tried just yet. Continue reading

Teaching Creative iMedia – a reflection after the first year

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I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to teach Creative iMedia this  year for the first time.  This post describes some of the software applications and hardware that we have used in meeting the requirements of the three units taught this year.  For more details of the course, including all of the units, visit the OCR website:

http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/vocational-qualifications-qcf-creative-imedia-level-1-certificate-04305/

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Essential iPad apps for supporting SEN

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App review sites and sites describing apps are found quite widely when browsing the Internet with just a quick search.  Also, to make life easier for educators, many kind people have created ‘app wheels’; app wheels are another great way in which a range of apps can be explored, linked to areas of learning.  Here is a link to an example app wheel for pupils with ASD Continue reading

My first iPad app – Labels: Materials

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Labels: MaterialsLabels: Materials

By Paul Adams

 

App Store

After many months of squeezing in an hour or so here and there, I took the decision to dedicate five full days over the course of a month to creating my first iPad app. Working at a special school, I had a vision, long ago, of an an app that allowed pupils to label things around the room, in a sort of pseudo augmented reality fashion. The app would speak to pupils, linking to the word on the label; my idea was that vocabulary could be learnt in a real-time learning environment. The app would be accessible for all pupils, and would help learn key vocabulary.Playroom

After following numerous tutorials on learning Swift 2 and SpriteKit, and jumping through all of the hoops to publish on the App Store, I have now released version 1 of my app. I decided to call it Labels: Materials, with a view to later releasing more apps under the ‘Labels’ banner. It is still a way off my original vision, but the app allows pupils to label items in a picture by dragging the labels from a selection. If the label is pressed for more than a second, the label speaks its name. The app contains six different backgrounds to label, including a kitchen, a playground, a park, the beach, a street and a playroom. Photographs from the camera roll or the camera can also be used for labelling, allowing pupils to take a picture of, for example, their classroom, and label items around the room.

For my next steps, I’m intending to upgrade Labels: Materials to include a title and the ability to save an image to the camera roll. Any suggestions for future improvements are warmly welcomed from any readers or users. I’m also hoping to make the following apps using a similar template:

  • Labels: school
  • Labels: living things
  • Labels: the home

I have enjoyed writing the app. I have to admit to having long periods of frustration when familiarising myself with XCode and Swift 2. As Swift 2 is a relatively new programming language, much of the support available online is for earlier versions of Swift or for Objective C. Most importantly, though, I am looking forward to using it in school, and hopefully enjoyed the rewards of seeing pupils benefit from its use.

Kodu – visual programming

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Kodu

Describing Kodu as a game making tool is perhaps a little understated.  Kodu allows the creation of 3D worlds, complete with clouds, wind, water and waves, and the 3D world can then be populated with a range of ready made sprites including objects such as trees and castles, and more mobile sprites such as Kodu itself (an alien creature, I believe) and various vehicles.

Kodu

Kodu Menu

The new National Curriculum for Computing describes how pupils in KS2 should ‘design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems’; whilst many programming tools such as Scratch, Hopscotch, Logo or the Just2Easy resources can facilitate achievement of the first part of this goal, Kodu lends itself very well to achievement of the latter part – controlling or simulating physical systems.  As mentioned previously, Kodu allows the creation of entire 3D worlds, with so many of the attributes of the world, including the sounds and sights experienced by the person playing the game, to be controlled by the user.   The sprites that are added to the world can then be programmed using a visual programming language to interact with the user via the keyboard, mouse or even an XBox 360 controller.  Sprites can also be programmed to interact with each other, and variables such as the score in a game can be adjusted based on such interactions.

The camera angle can be controlled by the games designer, meaning that Kodu can be used to create first person and third person games, ranging from collecting games in the style of PacMan through to more complex games in the style of Zelda!  Race games can also be created, although two player games are a bit trickier as there is no facility for split screen.

Kodu is produced by Microsoft and is available for no cost from:  http://www.kodugamelab.com/

I have written a scheme of work for Kodu, including lesson plans and video clips, designed for upper key stage 2.

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