Remembrance Day 2011

November 12, 2011

This past week we have been learning about Remembrance Day in Britain and why the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is so important.

The children found out why we wear a red poppy and when the first two minute silence happened in London? The First Two Minute Silence in London (11th November 1919)

We used the Woodlands Junior School site to find much of the information.

We talked about the feelings that someone going to war might have and wrote emotion colour poems.

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We also read the poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae and thought about the meaning behind the words he wrote. We made a short movie for the school to use during our Remembrance Assembly on Friday and used this poem to start the assembly off. Many thanks to Simon Widdowson from Porchester Junior School (@xannov on Twitter) for sharing the Animoto video his school made last year. It really inspired my boys!


My Class Are Blogging!

September 21, 2011

The new academic year has got off to a great start! though if you have ever worked with EBD children you know you should NEVER, EVER say things are going good as this guarantees things to change quickly…so sssshhhhhhh don’t tell anyone I’ve said this! 😉

Last year I watched on Twitter how the hashtag #100WC kept popping up. What it refers to is the brilliant 100 Word Challenge which is a weekly writing prompt supplied by Julia Skinner (an ex headteacher) who is a great advocate of blogging and, even more importantly, of comments left on blogs.

Every week a few words or maybe even a picture (like it is this week) is posted on her blog and children, 16years and under are invited to write 100 more words on their school blog based on this prompt and it is then linked back to The Head’s Office. This way children’s writing is shared with even more people. The one strict rule is that you must visit other entries and leave comments to help other children improve their writing.

After watching from afar I decided to jump in and have my class start a blog and become contributors to the 100 Word Challenge.

 We have called our blog Adventures in Oak Class and are using it and the new #100WC11 every week in class as an opportunity for writing and it is truly writing for a REAL purpose and a REAL audience. The boys are already showing greater confidence in their writing and this is after only two weeks!!

What is really awesome is that every week Julia Skinner chooses three posts to showcase as examples of writing and….WOO!HOO! one of my boys has had his post highlighted! They will all be so pleased.

I really encourage people to visit the 100 Word Challenge and to leave comments for all these fabulous young authors from around the country.

Have you left a comment yet? 100 Word Challenge

Pivot Stick Men

June 4, 2011

If you haven’t seen Pivot, a Stickfigure Animator, I highly recommend that you take a look at it. 

Pivot is a FREE piece of software (ad supported) which makes it easy to create stick-fiqure animations and add your own backgrounds. The animations can then be saved as animated gifs and added to your school’s MLE.

As it says on the Pivot website “Pivot Stickfigure Animator is a unique software, that allows you to create stick figure animations easily and without any artistic skills. You can move the sections of the sick figure and easily create a chain of animation frames that can be previewed as you go.”

It is a very popular piece of software with the children at my school.

Here are two examples made by two 9 year old boys from my school. The project took about 4-5 weeks to complete during their weekly ICT lessons.

I hope you enjoy the work created by Kei and Ben (and brilliantly taught by Bern!)

Here’s a video of Kei’s work

and the video of Ben’s work

Please leave a comment for Ben and Kei if you have a minute as I’m trying to get other children in the school see the power of blogging!
Thanks in advance 🙂

*the latest version of Pivot installs the Bing toolbar unless you choose opt-out


May 3, 2011

A very quick post to say a HUGE thank you to those who voted for my blog to be nominated in the 2011 Education Blog Awards…. WOO HOO…it has made it to the shortlist!!

I started this blog in December 2009 after being encouraged by a number of fabulous people from Twitter and PTRC and I am incredibly pleased that people are interested and take the time to read about some of the learning adventures my class and I go on.

I have learned so much by writing  it and am so happy to have met both virtually and in real life such wonderful people.

To be nominated with such a group of fabulous professionals is truly an honour! Thank you!!! and good luck to everyone on the list.

More than Myst!

April 25, 2011

Thinking of Tim Rylands as ‘just the Myst Man’ is a bit like thinking of Heinz as just ketchup!

For those who don’t know him, Tim Rylands has been described as “an extremely gifted and inspirational teacher, with a love of the creative potential of technology and an excellent rapport with his pupils”.  Tim has received a vast amount of press coverage around the world for his innovative use of ICT. Observers have commented on his imaginative and encouraging style of teaching, which allows children to express their creativity and make significant gains in attainment.

He is now much in demand for seminars and conferences around the country, and world!!!! presenting the results of his work in an inspiring, practical and often humorous way.

For a number of years I have watched clips of Tim’s presentations online and followed his blog and early last month I was finally lucky enough to have a chance to see Tim doing his thing live! and it lived up to my expectations!

Tim and Sarah came to my school early on a Tuesday morning last month and by the time they left they had done two brilliant workshops with the children, another workshop in the afternoon to a small group of teachers and a wondrous INSET at the end of the day for all the staff!
You can read his blog post about it here and take a look at the smiles on everyone’s faces!

It was great watching the 1st group asking fabulous questions and  becoming totally immersed in the role play…not something that they are always comfortable doing but Tim was able to guide them at the beginning and they then shone.

The second group were Tim’s from the word go! They are still talking about his famous walking stick and coming up with ideas! The work this group produced was awesome!

At the end of the school day it was the adults turn and it was great watching ALL the adults getting involved…Tim has a gift of not just being able to draw children into his fabulous world but adults as well.

He and Sarah left us all inspired and bursting full of great ideas.

Thank you both for a wonderful day!!

If you are not already following Tim’s blog I highly recommend doing do. I subscribe by email so that I don’t miss any!

An Amazing Start to the Year!

March 6, 2011

What a busy six weeks it has been since the beginning of 2011… and what an incredible number of learning adventures I have experienced!

SUNDAY 9th January
The Sunday Service @ Learning without Frontiers was the first amazing event I attended. It was part of the LWF festival and was free to attend. It was even better this year as many people brought their children with them and there was a real buzz in the air!

I started the day watching a presentation by Dr Jo Armitage, Adviser for E-Learning in Hounslow and Sarah Hoyle – Creative Director of Together We Create talking about the Hounslow ‘Hold on to Sports’ Wii project which my class took part in last year and are again this year.

I then had the pleasure to meet and listen to a real hero of mine in the world of iPods, Jenny Ashby @jjash from Victoria, Australia. If you’re interested in using iPod Touches and/or iPads in the classroom then I highly recommend you read her blog.

Next on my list of must sees was Tony Vincent, another guru in the world of iPods, leading There’s an App for That. Anybody can present their favorite App but they have just twenty slides displayed for 20 seconds each for a total time of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. That’s the formula for Pecha Kucha! Fast and Furious app sharing! It was truly an amazing two and a half hours!

It was then time for TeachMeet LWF2011 where it was brilliant to listen to truly inspirational teachers such as @DeputyMitchell, @oliverquinlan, @grumbledook and @dawnhallybone (with a virtual presentation from @bevevans22) talking about what they are doing in their classrooms. I was lucky to be able to do a presentation about how we used iPod touches to write Lune poems. (see previous post).

The day (or night!) had not ended yet… it was now time for the Sunday Social and the opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of many of my Twitter buddies as well as wishing Graham Brown-Martin (founder of Learning Without Frontiers) a Happy Birthday! It was great having the chance to sit and chat and have conversations of more than 140 characters! One of the best chats I had was with fabulous Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild but more of that in another post!
Finally it was time for home, bed and a day at work!

MONDAY 10th January
Monday night brought another trip to London to attend The LWF Awards for Hero Innovators & Innovations for Learning. I was incredibly honoured (and shocked!!) to have been shortlisted in the Inclusion category. A huge, huge thank you to everyone who took the time to cast a vote for me! Here is the shortlist of finalists and the a list of the winners. Though I did not win on the night I agree 100% with @tonyparkin…’Getting shortlisted IS success – it’s like the Oscars!’

It really was like an Oscars ceremony… Maggie Phibin, of Tomorrow’s World fame, was the presenter for the evening and entertained us with questions and clips from the show. (How great if it could be brought back – repeats would be great!) One of my dearest friends-Valerie, my headteacher and Jo Armitage came to celebrate with me and made it an evening that I’ll always remember.

THURSDAY 13th January
Thursday night brought my first visit to BETT2011 to attend Collabor8 4Change the brainchild of Dave Smith and Terry Freedman. It was 20 minute table sessions which showed examples of how ICT is used to develop classroom practice. I was thrilled to be invited by @andreacarr1, head of Rising Stars, to talk about how I am using eBooks in my class and the positive impact they are having on the children’s attitude towards reading.

FRIDAY 14th January
Friday started with a BETTMeetBreakfast where a group of us met up for breakfast before heading back to Olympia for another full on day. If you’ve never been…BETT is HUGE and, at least for me, impossible to ever find where you want to be. After spending far too long looking for a seminar about using iPads to create ebooks and missing it :o( I did manage to get to @DeputyMitchell seminar where he talked about how blogging transformed writing at his school. As brilliant as it was to hear him the best part for me was listening to the pupils talking about their experiences. Even more exciting and fascinating was watching one particular boy prior to speaking looking nervous and then confidently standing up in front of a crowed room of adults and in an extremely articulate manner explaining why all children should have the chance to blog. Seriously brilliant!

The rest of the day was spent having a good look round BETT and even more useful was catching up with and having great talks with people from Twitter and PTRC.

The evening ended with TMBETT2011 and a yummy dinner at Pizza Express. An incredible busy but fabulous day!

Sathurday 15th January
Back up to BETT again for a last look around and more people to catch up with and another Pizza Express visit for lunch.

The rest of January reverted back to normal….phew needed the rest :o)

mentioned my name to Computers in Education Society of Ireland CESI and I was invited to Ireland to present at their Irish TeachMeet…what a great honour and experience. THANK YOU!!!!
On the 1st Friday in February I flew to Dublin to attend the CESI Meet 2011 in Portlaoise (the Irish version of TeachMeet) and to then go to the CESI conference on the Saturday where Tom Barrett @tombarrett made the opening keynote presentation – you can read about it here on his blog. What an unbelievable weekend!!

I talked about some of the ways my class have been using iPod Touches and what an incredible motivator they are and how they are impacting on the children’s learning.

What a brilliant opportunity to meet with Irish educators and share and exchange ideas. If you have a chance to attend this engaging conference I highly recommend it! I hope to blog about some of the ideas I heard about in the near future. (My Evernote notes from the weekend seem to have been deleted so I am searching to find the names and links I collected over the weekend)

and just to draw this most incredible time to a close I spent last Monday in Cardiff at the 1st ever BESD2BEST conference which brought together 7 EBD schools from Cardiff and South Wales. What a brilliant day!!! and how fabulous to spend time with other people working in similar settings as mine. I don’t get this opportunity very often.

The conference was the brain child of Peter Owen from The Court School and I was introduced to him by @karencymru. It was great having the chance to run a workshop and share some of the ways I have found iPod touches have impacted on my class’s engagement and outcomes particularly in Literacy. I look forward to returning for the 2012 event.

What a truly brilliant start to 2011!!!!

Puppet Pals app

February 9, 2011

Last week I showed my class possibly the best app I’ve used in ages: Puppet Pals. It is available for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. The free version comes with Wild West backgrounds and actors and with the paid version you get many other scenarios such as pirates, fairies, monsters, farm setting and fairies. You can buy each extra set of actors for 59p each or else buy the Director’s Pass which gives you all the extra actors and scenes. You can even make your own!

It is fabulous for storyboarding, character writing, speaking and listening as well as for just brilliant good ole fun!

Here’s a video one of the boys made independently after just a fairly basic introduction on how to use it.

What do you think of his work?

The film was made in three separate sections and I used iMovie to combine them into one video.

Here are some by the other boys:

QR code for app (iOS)

Visit to RM REAL Center

December 3, 2010

Last month I took my class to the RM REAL Centre in Oxfordshire
to experience the ‘Classroom of the Future’ today.

The children were excited to go as they knew that it was Steve Forbes, from RM, who had given us the iPod Touches and that they would be meeting him.

When we arrived the class thought they had arrived in the land of their dreams! Every time they turned around they saw yet another awesome piece of technology more exciting than the last.

The RM Centre isn’t just about technology though, it also has the latest innovations in furniture and learning spaces.

The boys particularly loved the chairs shaped like puppies and also thought the ‘non-tip’ chairs’ were a great idea as they are often being told to stop leaning back in theirs and thought this would be the solution to that problem!

The children broke off into groups trying the different areas and things within them. One group worked on making a Stop Motion video (link to be added soon). Another group acted like Roving Reporters and used a special sound proof Pod to do podcasting. I wish I’d had a chance to use it as it reminded me of the Cone of Silence from the original Get Smart series.
The third group used the iMacs and were incredibly impressed with how easy they were to use.

It was very interesting to see how quickly the children worked out how to use various technology and how they were able to give ideas about how many of the things they saw and tried could be used back in the classroom.

Thank you very much RM for the opportunity to visit your Research Centre and I would recommend it to others as an interesting and informative day out.

Click HERE for thank you letters to RM.

More Martian Stories

December 2, 2010

Here are some of the Martian stories other children in the class wrote last month using their iPod Touches, the app Make A Martian and the built in Notes app. When the children finish their writing, they email their work to me so that it can be printed off, edited and marked and then glued in their books.

Ty’s story

1st episode of Martians.
1000 Years ago there was a mysterious alien called a martian. His name was called Sloppy poe. He always slopped his saliva everywhere he goes. Finally he came to earth in his UFO. He was humongous to the Earth and the cities. There was a little girl called Mary F. She was the only person on the earth that calmed the beast down but she didn’t know at first.

2nd episode of Martians.

Soo then Mary F watched the news on television she saw the ugly beast. It was uglier than a witch. So her and her family went to the Market in the USA shopping centre and guess what Mary F saw? She saw the beast. She screamed to her mum and dad. She was screaming MONSTER. Her parents turned around and saw the beast. They was all scared!

What will happen to Mary F? They went somewhere that was safe. So then Mary’s parents was thinking to move to another city. Mary screamed NOO! So she ran up stairs and cried in her room saying I have to help stop the beast… Dum… Dum … Dum… This episode continues.

3rd episode of Martians

Mary F went behind a dumpster. She was whispering “I’m not gonna die.” Instantly so she began to be brave and went to help the USA army defeat the beast. She went to the big enormous beast. The beast raged and grabbed Mary F very angrily.

Mary started to scream. The USA army heard her,they shouted “WHO’S DAUGHTER IS THIS? WE HAVe TO SAVE HER!” “The soldiers shouted YES SIR!” They got there guns and blasters out of there secret dangerous brief case. They fired then Mary F said “stop” she said “let me calm him down.” That’s how she knew she calmed the beast down and then all of the people in USA were happy every after especially Mary F she had a pet- her pet was….
Dum …  Dum …. Dum…

Comments and guess who Mary F’s pet is. Thank you from Ty

(and yes the Mary F is me…. star and heroine!!!)

Farren’s story
One day there was a ugly and angry monster walking around the street. Then he went round scaring people. Then the next day he went back to space.

He went to visit his family but they had forgotten him. “It’s me, Freddy.” They all said “Oh Freddy!
The end

Joseph’s story

I am goo and I like chewing gum. I am not like other aliens. I don’t like pie and six packs of pepsi max. I only like tomatoes and chewing gum. Every time I walk past another Alien they die but I think they are uglier than a gorilla. I think that they are smellier than me but I don’t die when I walked past them . They laugh at me because I have chewing gum all over me. But I run into them with my little horn and spike them and they run home crying to there mum. My house is pretty smelly but I don’t care. I feel bad when the other aliens die when they walk past me.
(scribed by an adult but all his own ideas and choice of words)

My Alien by JJ

He lived on  the moon.
He was scared of people
The other aliens ignore  him.
He hates aliens.
He was very scared of people.
He likes flying.
He likes his food.
He is very rude.
He hates going to bed.
He is very nervous.
He hates going to school.
He hates detention.

Ro-Sean’s story

Years ago there was an alien which was taking over space but Ro-Sean stopped the bad alien.

They all liked the brilliant Ro-Sean. He was the best at beating the bad aliens by running at them and attacking them. All the other alien were good and went with Ro-Sean to fight the bad aliens  The end

and Chapter 3 of Alfie’s story (click here for the previous chapters)

Chapter3 the people got off their phone.
I’m so sorry about that those people are rude let’s get back to the story Dave’s message is that if the people don’t hand over there pizza supplies he would do something beyond horrible to the president. It was to dip the president  in a pot of meat feast pizza. If you ask me it is just plain stupid; I mean a small alien comes down from a planet called Urine and kidnaps the president and demands pizza. The sacrifice was about to begin. They covered the president in apple pie and pepsi. Dave was exited about the sacrifice. So happy that he called all of his home planet and the sacrifice began but no one really cared about the president because he robs everyones money by doing get rich quick schemes like turkey farming and hotel investment and now owns a little hotel so small that a fly would think it’s small. Any way Dave and the people of Urine watched nervously and Dave lowered  the rope. The president said how about a double bubble chewing gum and five dollars and Dave said okay or did he……

The Martian Story continues…

November 2, 2010

In a previous post called What Comments Would You Say?, I shared a story that a boy in my class had written. After posting it here a number of fabulous people (thank you!) left comments. I shared these comments with my young and now ‘famous’ author (well at least in the eyes of our school) and he was truly impressed as were his classmates.

Click on the Martian for the next installment of The Martian Story by Alfie… he hopes you enjoy it ……as do I!!

Martian Story updated

(image from the iTunes Store)

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