Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Alternative to

Someone showed me an alternative to - this allows you to see very detailed aerial maps and of course is linked to Google earth. - a Microsoft run version of Google maps. Very similar, but with one major difference that you can see views of certain areas from different angles. (North, South, East or West) This is all achieved from with the Internet browser.

Check it out - (Anthony this one is for you)


Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Amimation Day 2007

Today I attended yet another useful ICT course. I was an animation Day and basically allowed us to explore and use some of the different pieces of kit and hardware out there. This was tied in with where could this be used in class.

First the curriculum side - The basic message is that animation can be used in lots of subjects, it is not an ICT only activity. (Though in an ICT session you could teach the skills needed.)

The limit is only how imaginative you want to be. Animation lends it self well to telling stories or explaining things. In science you could make a water cycle animation, in geography an animation to show cliff erosion, in history you could show what the ancient Greek Olympics where. The list is endless.

Literacy is where a lot of focus can be placed in the form of using animation to support story telling. Animation is a great example of a multimodal text, which is a flash way of saying a story with moving pictures and sound.

It is important to note at this point that children need a clear plan on their heads of what they are doing when animating, so using a storyboard is essential. This process requires children to think about what they want to do and then go back and edit it if needed.

Why use animation? The most obvious reason is motivation, animation is cool and exciting. But motivation links back to my post about Alan November, it has the scope to give children a much greater audience, by sharing their videos with other children and classes in school and with a wider audience by sharing their video's online, again only increases motivation. Animation also encourages collaboration as animation is not a solitary activity, it requires many people to get involved to get it just right. Children need to plan and then assign roles as to who is animating and who is recording, you might even have lighting and prop making.

On to the hardware and software - Over the course of the day we used. 2animate, Digiblue movie creator and Stop Motion Pro. We used Digiblue and Logitech cameras.

2Animate is a nice animation package that allows you to easily create, stop motion drawn animations. (Though I think you can use a webcam as well.) The animations save as an animated gif.

Despite past reservations of the Digiblue (I have experienced some annoying technical problems) they performed well on the day. The message I got is to keep them plugged in. Below is what me and Jack from Mossford Green created. We where very pleased with the end result.

We continued exploring stop motion, but moved on to use Stop Motion Pro and played around with choma key, which is basically green or blue screen. It took a while to set up but the results where exciting. Below is the video. (I will be updating it with sound later.) Just so you know the image of the town hall is what as added using the chroma key. The background was green really.

Stop motion animation was great fun, but very time consuming so keep that in mind when planning to use it, it might be a few weeks work.

Overall the day was great fun and really allowed us all to explore the software and hardware, so now we are all much more confident using it in school.

Prometeus, the future of the web?

I'm on creative ICT's mailing list and the newest one had this video.

The future of web?

Credit to

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Nightingale Mac Project - in review.

Recently Redbridge bought a bank of Apple Mac Laptops. I was lucky enough to be the first person in the borough to get them in my school. (Thanks David)

Now this was the first time my school had, had any contact with Apple Mac's as well as laptops in the classroom.

This was a bit of a learning curve, but one which I relished. I took a Apple Mac home, played with it and after a while, was happy with the interface. (Its not that hard once you work out that everything just has different names, they work in a similar way to a PC.)

The kids, took to the Apple Macs instantly, I just needed to compare some things to windows and they where away.

I had many plans for these laptops, over the term that we had them. Some worked out, others unfortunately fell to the side.

The most successful use, was when I used them with my year 5 Literacy Set. We were working on writing reports, so I planned to use the laptops to turn the children into newreporters. The children in my class where to become roving reporters, and then present their newsreports. We all worked on the same report, finding out "What kids are into?"

We used a program called iMovie, a really nice easy to use video editing tool. (Similar to windows movie maker) Since the purpose of the lessons, would be to create a newsreport, before those lessons came around I taught the children to use iMovie. This I felt was very important step as I didn't want to get bogged down in teaching the children how to create a newsreport, instead of them creating their newsreport.

So we did our interviews and then spent two lessons, working on our newsreports. The results where amazing. I should mention that my class is the lower ability set, but you wouldn't guess that from the results. The children where motivated and wanted to make there newsreport as good as they could. Some children even taught me a few things about what iMovie can do. You can view some of the results here, on our school site.

The Appple Mac's where also used a lot in year 6, for work in the foundation subjects. They where used for research and presenting of work. The teachers using them commented on how motivated the children where in their work and how useful it was to have the opportunity to use the Internet with the whole class without having to use the ICT suite.

Year 5 also worked on the Apple Mac's to plan and present a geography field trip on the local high street. The children used the laptops to create their questionnaires and then collate and present their findings.

One project I wanted to do was an animation one. But while the iSight cameras built into the laptops are of great quality they are in completely the wrong place to allow for animation work. Next time though.

Overall the Apple Mac's where a excellent resource. They allow a flexibility that you can't get with just having an ICT suite. Apple Mac's themselves have brilliant tools, for video, music and photo editing.

We'll miss them at Nightingale.... but lets hope we can get them back in the future.

Thanks again to David O'Neill for getting them in the borough and letting us have them first.

Redbridge ICT Conference 2007 Part 2 David Ware

The second speaker of the day was David Ware from Little Heath School, he is an AST and ICT Co-ordinator. Little Heath is a school for children with Special Educational Needs.

David talked about how ICT provided children with unique learning opportunities.

He said that there are no limits to children's achievement when given the correct opportunities and experiences. Children want to learn, but for some children learning equals failure.

Why can't learning be fun?

He showed a great video with children and staff reactions to ICT and one girl was talking about using educationcity. She liked it because it was fun, but didn't seem to consider it learning as that had to be boring. David said that we are at a crossroads where personal learning styles are becoming ever more important, and ICT is one why in which they can be tackled.

The videos he showed had been created showing the impact of ICT in the school. The school has a comprehensive intranet, which does many things that an MLE should do, keeping records and tracking progress.

The school also uses there intranet, to store and record all the events round the school. Cameras are in use all the time, he carries one with him at all times. They are using to document events and learning, its nice to catch children being good.

ICT had been used to create a community. The photos allow learning to be revisited and retold and presented. He showed a few videos which did this very effectively. The children are also involved in a school radio station that is hosted by pupils.

ICT helps to remove barriers.

Children are informing teaching.

David showed a wonderful snapshot, of how ICT can be used to support and aid children in their learning.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Web 2.0 - The Machine is Us

David O'Neill Showed this youtube video to start off and its equally inspirational. Its showing alot of what Alan November was discussing. After his talk I forgot all about it. Check it out while you wait for part 2 of Redbridge ICT conference.

Redbridge ICT Conference 2007 Part 1 Alan November

What can I say Wow. This was a great success and before I go into details about the speakers. I just like to give a big thanks to all those involved in organizing this day.

First up
Alan November - I'll be honest before today, other than Anthony Evans telling me about his book, I'd heard very little about this guy.

To put it simply his 2 part talk was amazing. He talked in depth about Web Literacy and made me rethink what I knew about the Internet and how it should and could be used.

He started simply by saying, how would you go and find information about him. the response was or course Google you. So he did it and he appear in the top 5 or 6 hits. Try it.
Then he asked us do you know who wrote those pages, what do you believe? Of course they are all his site written by him so he can say what he wants people to believe.

He showed a site called which is a tool to search blogs, photos and videos. The hits on the name Alan November where all people commenting on him, he has no say in the content. Try it. (Sandra when I tried this your brand new blog was right at the top.)

What he was trying to get at is that we as teachers need rethink what tools we are teaching children to use. We need to teach the correct tools to search for the right information.

Different sites give different hits. His message is that we need the right tools, most people only use one search engine, only look at the first page of results and don't really understand how the order of the hits work. This gives those pages that appear first a lot of power over the casual reader. He compared it to only looking at the top shelf of a book shelf in a library.

He went on to ask do you know how Google sorts its hits. Because his site is second out of 81,700 sites on the web. This was eye opening as I realised that I didn't have a clue how Google searches worked, yet use them all the time. The short answer was that it is based on how popular a site is, as in how many links lead to it, his site is high because he has alot of incoming links from big company's and universities. To a lesser extent it also has to do with his url and the name of his page being in the search string.

He talked about a guy called Marshall McLuhan who in 1964 coined two prases that you may have heard of, 'Global Village' and "medium is the message." Basically this guy talked about the multimedia revoution we are currently going though back in the 60's. He was saying that if you change the medium in which information is presented, from paper to on screen, all those critical skills that we use to look at paper based text are lost when we look on screen.

When we get a book we ask, who wrote it? Why don't we do that with webpages? Good question and one that is important to do, as there are some sites out there that questionable authors. This site seems to be about Martin Luther Kings but if you look into who owns the site it is by Stormfront, which is a group of white supremacist's. Quite shocking. is a site that tells you who owns websites. Check it out. Why don't we apply the skills we use with books onto the web.

We need to be teaching Web Literacy Skills. The real revolution is INFORMATION not technology. We need to be thinking about how to critically look at and use information.

His site has a whole section on how the web works and grammar of the Internet and how to search effectively. He told us all that you need to get hands on to truly understand all these concepts, "you need to own it." So click here to try them out, he had activities that demonstrated all the ideas he discussed. - It would take too long to explain, but I was very eye opening, definatelty something that needs to be consistered in year 5 and 6 to searching the web effectively for information.

He has an interesting comment on filtering in schools, as that changes search engines behave in school. So searching at home will give different results to searching at school. He also demonstrated how easy it is to get round filtering if you know how. (Lots of kids do, I've seen it happen.)

He said that there are 3 things to remember about learning on the web.
1. The Grammar and Syntax of the Internet needs to be taught.
2. The structure of information need to be taught.
3. Children need to have the capability to think critically.

Using the tools about the grammar of the Internet. He conducted searches to find opposing points of view on various topics. Like the differences between the English and American takes on The War of Independence. It has a way of motivating children, because it challenges what they know or think they know. How about getting information about Hiroshima from website in Japan? How would the bias be different? Using these searches it is fairly easy to discuss and find sources from around the world.

The role of the teacher is changing, and the classroom is becoming a global communication centre where critical thinking is essential.

Alan took a break here, but I'll continue with part 2.

Back to communication, he showed a great tool, which allows you to look at a website in the past. This allow you to role back the click and see what a website looed like years ago. So there is no such think as a deadlink anymore, with this tool it can be retrvied. Making children aware of this could make them much more aware of what they publish, as it could come back to haunt you in 10 years.

Blog's then took centre stage, I'm blogging right now, so I'm one who understands some of there power, but Alan when on to explain the motivational drive they have for children.

Some kids are unwilling to accept criticism fro teacher and pupils in the classroom, but he finds that comments from blogs children are happy to listen to and accept. Your role as teacher changes as you are now helping the student to make sense of the criticism. Its is anonymity used for good.

Children making podcast knowing that others will hear it, dramatically changes there motivation in the work. But its not about the technology it's about the audience.

Before you think blog are bad and can expose children who aren't that confident with their work to start with to negative commnets. Ask the children do you want you work on the internet where people can see and comment on it?

It does call for a shift of control in the classroom, because instead of my class, my lesson. The classroom opens up to a much wider commiunity where children (and adults) reflect and interact in new and exciting ways. was another site, which I already use, where you can set up social bookmarking, where groups of people can all contribue to a shared collective of resourses. Pupils can contribute to the resourses that teh teachers use in lessons (more secondary and university i'd assume)

Now that about wraps up the main points, but i coould go on.

To summarise
1. Web literacy is key, and we need to apply our paper skills to the web.
2. The classroom now is becomming the centre of a global communications network.
3. Children's audience is becoming alot wider than the class they are in.
4. The rules are changing

When should all of this happen? Not overnight. We as teachers need to retool ourselves but over the next 10 years. The new Liteacy Framework, with all its talk of podcasting and blogs allows for scope for some of this in our classrooms. Me, I came away very excited by this and its inspired me to get a class blog going.

Tune in next time for part two - David Ware from Little Heath School

PS Buy his book, I just have.