Hopscotch – for the next generation

Hopscotch in the classroom

Today I was very excited to going to the classroom as I had refreshed my skills over the weekend on hopscotch. For those of you unfamiliar with Hopscotch it is a creative coding app to help students  build and create their own games. It uses coding blocks and allows the children to manipulate a game and quickly produce a very realistic and sophisticated end product.

So having practised and made my own game at the weekend (whilst watching England play Wales in the rugby World Cup…the best way to learn!) I was raring to try out all that I had mastered with the class. I did however find myself writing down every step so that my visual brain connected to my memory.  This would prove to be invaluable…
What I have used in the classroom today? 
The mere mention of the word Hopscotch sent the children into a excited and focused mind set.
The task was simple follow a tutorial and to build a treasure dive game. The pupils were told that their ultimate aim was to make a game based around the Shang Dynasty, so it links with their current topic as well as giving them a reason to perfect and practice their skills.
Hopscotch provides very clear and precise instructions on how to make individual types of games on a screencast which allows free and independent learning. Continuing the rugby theme I like and the practising of individual elements like lineouts and scrims  to encourage the pupils to take the time to focus and refine their building capabilities. It was inevitable that some of the pupils in the class felt that this was way below their capacity. In dealing with the wide range of abilities, Hopscotch easily allows you to layer the difficulty and the precision required of the coding blocks.
Hopscotch — Make your own games. Coding made waaaaay easier. by Hopscotch Technologies
Note to self – ensure a backup of notes and simple instructions in case the Wi-Fi is unable to support 32 individual children working on iPads and wanting to stream from the app! 
Even with this unfortunate setback and being blessed with patient and freethinking children, the class were able to support each other by collaborating and sharing their skill set. This meant that at the end  of the session The majority of the students had made a prototype game. Publishing soon!

Why bother?

Why bother?

Whilst setting up the new protocols for management of the school iPads I found myself asking why? A forward thinking Head who is aware of pressures on his staff but is tied to convention. Why should time be invested in mobile technology?

Why does the inclusion of mobile make a difference? 

It was only when the iPad was introduced into the classroom that it was possible to move away from the traditional instructional mode of teaching to a model that allows the student to take charge of the way they learn. True independence in delivery, discussion and presentation of a subject. Flexible but responsible learners now routinely approach their studies making informed decisions about how best to solve problems and find solutions.  Old programmes of study have been replaced and evolved into more than a gathering of facts. Transformed into demanding that students think for themselves, make connections and discover truths for themselves,   emphasising a challenge based and creative process. This is only possible because iPad enables the learner to utilise the intuitive workflow, collaborate easily with others and supports a final product that is both diverse and produced to an exceptional quality. Their work is truly independently produced as students are at the heart of the learning process, motivated to learn beyond the classroom timetable and challenged to be curious. Students who question learn. iPad has given learners the tools to be free thinkers again. 

That’s why, I believe in the opportunities that these devices can offer. They remain a powerful tool for learning and can transform the landscape for all pupils.

Inspire me…catch me later

Inspire me…catch me later!

School is a very busy place students come first and staff work tirelessly to ensure that the children’s welfare is paramount and uppermost in their mind when planning activities. So how do you reach staff and give them the support and knowledge that you were employed to deliver, without adding extra burden to their day? Twilight sessions, 1:2:1 training, a coffee and catchup chat or I’ll put it in the diary for a few weeks have all been tried. I want there to be a symbiosis between me, the staff and the students. Their expertise is key as they are the ones who have my undivided attention for the majority of the day that I’m in school. Student led learning. These ‘student ambassadors’ ‘ digital genius’s’ & ‘tech team” can fill the knowledge gap through interactive bulletin boards, iTunes U courses and school blogs… I can feel an after school activity coming on! Inspiring through modelling best practice can be emulated by students on their peers and for their tutors. Or even as part of a display to inspire writing.

What have I used in the classroom today? 
Inventioneers this app I use to demonstrate to the students that gaming can be challenging. This fun innocuous looking gaming platform allows the children to use the character of windy to gather three stars and complete a puzzle on each level. Children like to play games but actually they don’t want to be faced with a task that is too hard, As I give up too easily. But ask three before me rule doesn’t apply here! I found this app to be a great way to let the children struggle a little, come up against issues and the need to change their ideas, finesse what they’re doing and be resilient. When debugging any string of code they will need to be able to continue to complete a task and solve a problem. This app allows you to do that in a fun motivating get challenging way.
Inventioneers by Filimundus AB
https://appsto.re/gb/fJln3. :his app allows the children to enter a world of gaming without

Global Digital Citizens

Informed, responsible and discerning digital citizens.

What have I used today in the classroom? 
Online safety is embedded now as part of the competing curriculum. However any school work that sort that is considering including mobile technology in their school will have a integrated plan to discuss online safety with the students. This conversation should be had with all stakeholders so that your community becomes connected but also informed and responsible for their actions online. A well written safe user policy is only one aspect of this, giving the children regular opportunities to discuss openly and honestly the issues facing them will equip them with the tools to effectively deal with life online away from the classroom. The excellent multi agency led CEOP website www.thinkuknow.co.uk is rich resource that needs to be incorporated into any coherent scheme where online safety is prioritised although a lot of the resources can only be used by specifically trained CEOP ambassadors, there is also a wealth of cartoons and excellent resources that will support and honestly deal with the hardest heating issues facing the students.
To stimulate creative writing www.literacyshed.co.uk is a rich resource of animations and trailers for books. Used in conjunction with the paid app Type Drawing the creativity can be endless!
TypeDrawing for iPad by Hansol Huh

Connected to Collaborate

Connected to collaborate

Working in a new school highlights the ease at which a new teacher can integrate into the team. If systems are in place to enable multi users to access a single hub of information, communication becomes effortless. The benefits of doing this are simple everyone knows what they’re doing, time is not wasted by inconveniencing others for information and you feel and autonomy with the work that you’re doing. In short you take ownership.  Mobile technology allows the students to emulate  this model of working. So how is it achieved?

What apps have I used today to enhance teaching and learning?
Showbie continues to be an excellent format for sharing and collaborating within a classroom. Students who have only been using this file sharing solution for two days are now able to comment on their work and see that the teacher has taken the time to evaluate their work as an individual.
I would like this to be mirrored in the way that I deal with the numerous teachers and in order to communicate about the specific targeted needs of one or two individual students. In conjunction with Book Creator I have managed to involve the teachers in that learning process by keeping informed and connected. They have a window on the work that I do, although it is done separately to them. They gain a complete picture and understanding of that individuals progress.

Paperless Classroom

Paperless Classroom?

 Having looked at the whole spectrum of learners from those just starting school to those leaving school. Those with special needs whether they need to be supported or stretched, trying to facilitate and accommodate individual needs within the school is the most important but difficult task.
Mobile technology, I believe could really help to make this differentiation a reality. Access to the curriculum in terms of opportunity but also in terms of understanding the task and what is to be done can be made much simpler using mobile devices. I am trying to use the mobile device as a way of sharing my teaching resources to my learners and as far as is possible have a paperless classroom.
What apps have I used today to fulfil the needs of my students?
Different learning styles shouldn’t be overlooked. A little boy today told me that ‘a boring lesson was one where he just had to listen’. In these times with the availability of mobile technology, it is unforgivable to provide chalk and talk lessons in schools. With CBL the use of iTunes U and such file sharing apps as Showbie we can as a body of professionals provide resources that match both learning style, interest level and extend horizons of all students in our class.  Showbie allows us to link resources directly, attach videos, sound files and written documentation. Having showed a TA these features her initial reaction was of wonderment followed by a comment of “why haven’t I known about this before?” And then I can’t wait to use these tools with learners. 10 minutes of training enabled this particular TA to understand the basics of Book Creator and Showbie and she saw how easy it is (once the students have signed up) for a class of Year 1 and Year 2 to accurately navigate and create a workflow. The children felt empowered, but the TA felt satisfied that she was able to provide a differentiated curriculum where progress was evident and accelerated. Padlet  provides the opportunity for group of students to share their ideas and post ideas, taking risks with their learning whilst learning the conventions of social media & appropriateness of their posts.
Another converted TA.

Old Friends

Old friends

A new environment gives you a new perspective. However it’s then when you realise that your old friends are wise and that you’ve taken them for granted. Filesharing and ease of workflow in the classroom is one of the most important things to get right. It’s important that both teachers and pupils have ability to communicate with ease.

What have I been using in the classroom today?
Showbie is undoubtedly an excellent platform for file sharing. The ease at which allows you to sign up the children and immediately get them into good habits of working within the app and sharing to other features makes it a joy to use. Although it would be good that primary schools with limited budget had access to Showbie pro additional features supporting larger video files, this does not stop those schools having the tools to work effectively with their children.
I also like the idea that when your file sharing it encourages in fact demands of the children that their file sharing capacities and management is honed so that blank 17 isn’t shared 19 times back to the teacher! If we are to truly develop and encourage independent any time learning then the use of Showbie also requires the teacher to model the same ideals. Marking on the move and in different formats make sure you be an ideal companion in any classroom.

Evidence of Progress

Evidence of progress – easy as ABC

Pupils progress is at the heart of why teachers teach. Small incremental steps are celebrated as much as prolonged and steady improvement. Rarely does a class teacher have the luxury of spending twenty minutes, uninterrupted time with a single pupil. Today, my timetable was a stream of such luxuries. I was assigned to teach the children identified with targeted needs which when achieved would bring them in line with expected levels of attainment.

I found myself eager to set a baseline, not only to prove pupil progress but to satisfy myself that I could identify the progress as a professional. Faced with no formalised documentation, I embarked on a voyage of discovery to lay down a baseline teacher assessment. Devoid of levels or sub levels.
I found the latter easy, like riding s bike, levelling a child’s ability and potential  came easily with basic maths and reading tasks. The students ranged from Reception to year 6. Proving it was the key. I wanted evidence that the previous time I had spent with them was well invested. So I turned to technology.
What did I use today to enhance learning and inform my teaching?
1. Book Creator – I made a digital profile for each child using the landscape template accessed photo using the in app camera and individualised the book aided by each pupil.
2. I recorded using the sound feature our conversations and accompanied this with photos and screen shots. Easy and a basic skill. However, the power of this simple task reinforced to me the benefits to assessment gathering and digital profiling.
A) Many schools buy in packages to formally capture progress especially in EYFS. Book Creator and its features fulfilled this brief. In 10 minutes I was able to record one child’s inability to decode the words of their favourite Fairy Story but also record their enthusiastic and accurate recount of the same story using the pictures as their prompt. Added into their book as evidence of progress.
B) Using the video function,  a child was captured counting to 20 accurately and mistakenly recording 15 as 12. After Intervention, the second attempt at videoing the same pupil using numicon revealed her ability to accurately record 18. This small but crucial window on the learner was then shared with her class teacher and SenCo whose understanding of that child became further informed
C) replaying the voice recording enabled the pupil to self identify clearly where they could improve – like a coaching tool. 
The iPad and Book Creator could easily become the answer to supporting students to reach their individual targets. 

Reality Strikes

Reality strikes!

Faced with a class of 32 mixed aged Y3 & Y4 group children is enough to snap anyone back into the real world! Today’s task was to set boundaries in order to establish routines to support my ongoing classroom management skill. First hurdle, names. I am reasonably proficient at recalling names but I’m a visual learner and rely heavily on context. The place the child sits in a room or whether they wear glasses for instance. It also is more effective to stop a child in its tracks by calling them by their correct name rather than relying on the perfected teacher stare…

What have the pupils and I used today?
1. Teacher Kit – among the many features the app allows you to enter students in classes and take a photo so you can literally put a face to a name. Very useful!
2. Snowflake – a bank of pre loaded  lessons to be used in conjunction with the Clevertouch interactive board. A whizz feature is being able to split the board into multiple sections without losing the interactivity. Today I had two children competing on a mental maths game simultaneously. It adds to the competitive atmosphere and allows more children to experience the activity.
3. Inventioneers – year 2 were instantly hooked on by the appealing graphics and characters in the problem solving section of the app. Making decisions and improving their attempts to achieve three stars! Manipulating the variables will set them up well for the computing curriculum.
4. Explain Everything was used to set the maths investigation task in conjunction with AirPlay onto the Clever Touch board. With the ability to replay for those who had ‘accidentally’ forgotten the task.  It also served as a model for the pupils as they will be asked to submit their work using this app soon.
5. Pic collage – I had reservations about this app due to age restrictions and inappropriate adverts but with specific safe searching options in Safari and success criteria being modelled first, the school fete’s programme was created! Using the timer to limit search time and encouraging partners to critique the design layout, check spellings and feedback on the inclusion of the limited criteria. The intuitive nature of the app meant that everyone was able to produce a quality piece of work.
A class full of proud digital citizens!

First Steps into the Unknown

Today, I took my first steps into the unknown. A brand new school where two schools previously separated were united on one site, a purpose built and containing veins of technology which have the potential to stir into becoming the life blood of the school. Expectant children wearing a new coloured uniform with a new logo. The single leaf symbolic of the potential of growth. My new colleagues suspicious of my presence but accepting of my new role, Digital Integrationalist. A new opportunity for me to work towards supporting them to realise their vision of a connected and inclusive learning environment. A new chapter opens.

So on this blank page what shall I write?

I am an experienced teacher, I like to think that my previous twenty five years would equip me for the days and months ahead. I truly felt as I had on my very first day as a NQT teacher all those years ago.  Nervous, anxious to fit in, running on adrenaline with thirty eager faces staring at me, waiting for something remarkable to happen…

What was remarkable was the accepting attitude of the children in the school. I was presented to them as their teacher and they gave their very best. Eager to learn and to please. Listening intently and contributing positively in the lessons.

So why was today remarkable for me? The 30 students all had iPads, but the device was to all intent and purpose invisible. No one fiddled, had a sneaky look to check messages or tapped the keyboard to just get to the next level on a game. The device was part of the classroom, part of the toolkit that equipped the Year 5/6 class to learn. The iPad sat discreetly no more or less distracting than a newly sharpened pencil. The children were unphased by its presence on their desk. It was accepted; almost as natural as breathing.

I have endeavoured to include mobile technology in classrooms for five years now as I thought that mobile technology could be the catalyst that changes the landscape of education. Today, was the first time that this was confirmed to me…I believe!

So what did we use today in class? How did the iPad support learning ?

  1. I was able to Airdrop a class template in Book Creator , the skeleton of a digital maths book where the children could not only record their answer but the process and journey of how they came to reach their conclusions.
  2. By using the video capture feature in Explain Everything to document the stages of their discovery path both successes and dead ends.
  3. Adding their video voice overs to Book Creator.
  4. The class were able to collaborate and contribute the the poetry slam by utilising Displaynote in conjunction with the Clevertouch board to annotate my notes in real time and add them to the class discussion.
  5. I used the camera as a visualiser to encourage good work and give feedback and constructive help to scaffold tasks.
  6. Modelled how to set restrictions and organise files via AirPlay during our discussions on the essential responsibility of online safety.
As a teacher I used the iPad to;
  1. I put names to faces in Teacher Kit to begin the recording assessments and evaluative notes. Allowing me to begin to get to know my new classes more effectively and efficiently.
  2. Prepared a lesson on 100 square by filming a tutorial to encourage independent learning and aide classroom management.
  3. Added a series of images to a album in photos ready to play as a slideshow to scaffold ideas To be played during the design process of a school fete flyer.
  4. Quickly answered emails, added tweet to my feed and designed a blog…
I can’t wait for tomorrow