Archive for the Category ◊ ICT Planning ◊

A lesson on Twitter
Thursday, September 08th, 2011 | Author:

One thing that sometimes happens as PPA teacher is that I have to teach the same lesson twice to two different classes. This isn’t a bad thing as it means I can try different things and achieve different outcomes because the children are different. For today’s lesson I thought I’d use Twitter to make it a bit more exciting…but it turned out to make it random and a lot of fun too!

The lesson was part of the ancient Greek topic and being the first lesson, we needed to look at Modern-day Greece. What is it like? Where is it? What key information can we find out about it?

After the initial ‘Who has been to Greece?’ conversations, we found it on a Google map and began exploring. Now, the usual stuff can all be found on Wikipedia e.g. currency, time zone, capital, flag and so on but I wanted to challenge the children further. So I asked the lovely/bonkers people on Twitter.

My question was simple. What would you like my class to find out about Greece? I asked people to include the #greecequest hashtag meaning that I could show on the whiteboard and they could see answers that came in. We didn’t get hundreds, but we did get some great ones!

(Potentially this could pose a risk as I don’t check the tweets before they appear on te whiteboard, but I am happy to manage this risk)

Questions included:

  • Who is number 1 in the Greek charts?
  • Why is the flag blue and white?
  • Where has all the money gone?
  • Can you buy a Subway sandwich?
  • How far is it from Marathon to Athens?
  • Have they ever done well in Eurovision?
  • Who won the Greek football league last year?

So, as you can see it was a bit random. It led to some amazing questions from the children. When looking at which football team won last year, we noticed the Greek league didn’t play from 1940-1945 so we discussed why. We also wondered where the Greek people were going as there were a million less of them in 2011 compared to 2009. We found out that the stripes on their flag are there to represent each syllable in the Greek motto! We also found out that their current debt works out at around 300,000 euros for every man, woman and child! Where possible we sent the answers back to the people who had asked them too.

The children were enthused and eager to find out the answers for the people of Twitter. As the questions popped up, they asked who the people were. I could only reply “he’s a deputy headteacher, he works for 2simple, not sure about that one”, but they didn’t mind. It gave them excitement and a purpose to their research.

One drawback was that the lesson ended at 10am and we had to move on to other things but tweets kept coming in! So I used these in the afternoon with the other class.

It seemed to work very well and I look forward to seeing the factfile that the children build up about Greece. I also want to say a massive thank-you to everyone who helped!


Category: blogposts, ICT Planning  | Tags: ,  | 4 Comments
The ICT Planning Menu
Friday, September 02nd, 2011 | Author:

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for weeks but part of me is petrified of what people will think. I feel like I need to justify some of it, so here goes…

In my school, ICT has been a stand-alone subject and I want to integrate it more into the curriculum. Currently I plan most of the ICT-based lessons and last year I taught some too. This year, I will be teaching very few of them as staff will be taking over the reins. So I needed a way of planning that was easy enough for people to pick up but would also give ideas too.

As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, I have also had a few people from other schools that have wanted to see what we’re doing with our ICT lessons so I wanted to make sure whatever we did was online and accessible to all.

I started thinking that Google Docs was the way forward but then I wondered about grouping the documents and sharing with the masses so I decided on a website instead. This is a Google site meaning I can allow others to have a look at it too if they like and some people can also edit and add to it in the future. So…an ICT planning website was planned.

How should it look? If you were designing an ICT curriculum now, what would be in it? What wouldn’t? What can be covered briefly? What needs time and depth?

I sat with a list of things that I wanted to do. I grouped them. I moved the groups around. I used paper. And post-its. Lots of post-its. It was only a few days ago that I finally settled on my 12 areas of learning (although if I’m honest, it’s 11 + ICT in early years – but it’s my site so sshhh)

I have based everything around a list of expectations for my children. This was an idea I had about 5 years ago at my old school. What would an ICT competent child look like when they leave Year 6? What skills would they have? What qualities? How do I get them to that point? Also, to keep on track, what would a Y2 or Y4 child look like?

Now I must point out, I am not really basing this on the National Curriculum. There I said it. There are a few reasons behind this.

  1. It’s old. Very old. Although some parts are still relevant, there’s stuff missing.
  2. It’ll change soon. Well maybe, depends on what the government do. If anything, they’ll want cross-curricular ICT I’m sure. No ICT as a subject means no money spent on it right?
  3. I can cover the ICT curriculum for KS2 in a few lessons so once that is out of the way, we have time to do what primary school teachers do best. Have lots of fun and be creative!

I still need objectives to hang it all on and until I write an assessment strategy for my school (after Oct half-term) I needed something else. We don’t really have one for ICT so I took the statements from an Inset day we had with Chris Quigley. I will be amending these statements to fit our school and my plans a bit as we move forward, but for the next few weeks, they’ll do just fine.

I have grouped the statements into three areas. Level 1-2, Level 3-4 and Level 5. The reason for this is that Early Years is separate and we teach Year 1-2, Year 3-4, Year 5-6. So the levels ‘sort of’ relate to the year groups. Yes, I know, Year 5-6 will be working at level 4-5 probably, but still. When you see the site, it should make sense. Having Level 4-5 statements would have meant that the Level 4 statements were on there twice.

I have also given a few sentences as an overview for each element too. This sort of introduces it and again, justifies why it is there and why I see that as an important area.

So I had my objectives and I also looked at some key skills that the children should cover to meet the expectations above. Now, how to reach those objectives?

For each area/element I looked at which software we had in school to help achieve it. I also included free website tools too. For example, in the area of Art and Image Editing I have included painting tools such as 2Paint, Sumo Paint and Tux paint as well as photo editing tools like MS Picture Manager and online slideshows like Animoto and Photopeach. Now, we won’t be using all of those all of the time, but the teachers can pick and choose the activities that suit them depending on the objectives they are trying to achieve.

So we have a tool e.g. photopeach, but now what? Along with a brief description of the tool, I have included video help files where possible (more are due soon), blog posts about the tool, examples of previous work, links to ‘interesting ways’ and lesson plans. Some plans are ‘an intro to…’ and others are ones I have actually used e.g. using Google maps to plot where food comes from.

One thing I wanted to move away from was the ‘everything is taught in 6 weeks’ mentality. Some things will be done in one lesson, some might go on for weeks. It is up to the teachers to decide. I have started including lesson plans from last year on to the site and from now, any ICT plans I write will go on there straight away.

Ironically, the thing most lacking from the site at the moment is the ICT planning! I will be adding planning ion the coming weeks but I wanted to get the main layout and feel right first and to be honest, it took me longer than I expected. Mainly due to time, Fifa 11, holidays, sunshine, me getting distracted…

So there we go. Did I need to justify the layout and my ideas? Who knows. Maybe it won’t work and it’ll have been a waste of time! I know some people will like it and some won’t! I find that planning is quite personal and can be difficult to share sometimes. But hopefully the site will be useful to someone else out there.

Questions I’ve had from people who have seen the site

What about cross-curricular links? I will be adding an idea bit too, but that will come a little later.

How will we ensure coverage? As I said, the National Curriculum is easy to cover. Most ICT coordinators should be able to prove they have covered it if anyone comes knocking. I want to extend my children beyond the NC and I’m not that worried if some things are repeated. Providing the children have been assessed and the work is differentiated, it won’t matter if they use a tool twice in two years. The outcomes and expectations will be different.

How could you forget about that tool? There are a lot of tools out there, particularly for digital literacy and art. I haven’t included everything, but I will add others later. I have tried to stick to things we have in school or that I have used.

Your early years section is a bit rubbish isn’t it? Yes…give me a week and I’ll make it better. I needed to get KS1/2 ICT sorted as they needed their planning first. Early Years is on the to do list. Honest! E-Safety is also due before the end of September.

If you have any comments about the site, feel free to email me, tweet me or reply on this post. Please remember that this is a site for my school and our needs first, if it doesn’t match yours then I’m sorry. If it does, then feel free to use it as much as you like! (If you do use it, a little thank you or hello will go a long way!)

Oh and the website? 

To finish, I must say a huge thank you to everyone who has seen the site and given feedback so far and a big thanks to Bev Evans for making the wonderful logos on the homepage!

ICT plans
Wednesday, June 01st, 2011 | Author:

I have written a couple of time (here for example) about the ICT curriculum. It is a difficult subject and the more I speak to teachers the more I am thinking about what I want to do and what needs to be done. In my school I want a cutting-edge curriculum with website design, game design, green screening and other such stuff. But I am there to lead it, I frequently get new ideas from Twitter and I want to try things out. Lots of schools aren’t like that so what do they do? Where do they begin? This post is aimed at the schools that want to revamp their curriculum but need a helping hand.

Some authorities have produced schemes of work and these are quite useful but again, if yours doesn’t, where do you begin? What if your target is to move people away from ‘ICT is Powerpoint and research’ type lessons into a more exciting curriculum?

I have been lucky enough to have a look through the Switched on ICT scheme from Rising Stars. This is a set of ICT plans that cover Years 1-6 and I am very impressed. Now, I know these will not be for everyone but they will be useful to schools that want to try some new things but maybe lack the expertise to try them out. Now, I have been asked to review this but I am not getting paid in any way. By now you should know, I only write about things I like. SO where do we start?

Well, in Year 3 the children look at researching, making a comic strip, animation, surveys and video presentations. Do your year 3s manage all of that? Year 4s look at databases, geometry in art and making their own weather reports.

In each module there are links to free resources e.g. and freemind are mentioned in the research topic. There are also e-safety points, things to think about and statements to help you decide which level your child should be working towards. Now for the experts out there, this might be old-hat, but on looking through it, I have got some great ideas of things I can do with my children too. You get books and help-cards with each pack but it’s also available on the CD too.

I’ve been trying to pick some holes and I’m struggling. It seems like a lot of things have been thought of and covered.

The scheme has been written in collaboration with some amazing people like Terry Freedman, Miles Berry and Tom Barrett. These guys are amazing to speak to and listen to and the thought of them putting ideas down for others to use should be enough to make you want to have a look at this.

So, I like it. A lot. But please PLEASE, don’t just pick this up and use it in order. The whole point of ANY scheme of work is that you pick and choose and use it in a way that suits your school. It might be that you make comic strips in Year 4 instead of 3. Who cares? As long as you challenge your children then you can move things around. Do take a look at this framework though, you will find it very useful as a starting point indeed.

Greenscreening – The conclusion
Saturday, February 19th, 2011 | Author:

Greenscreening…that’s a fun idea isn’t it? I thought so…but let me tell you, it can be a massive headache. Here is a review of my 6 week greenscreen experience/hell/journey.Previous posts are here and here. I will repeat bits of it, but this post will be more of an overall experience so I hope you don’t mind.

Firstly some context. I am a PPA teacher, this means I teach in a class for a morning or an afternoon a week and I do some ICT across the school, usually in 1 hour slots. So this is my experience of getting it done in an hour a week. I know others have their own class, so that helps (A LOT) logistically.

So…the idea was to try this with year 5 and 6, there are 3 mixed classes. Two I would be teaching and 1 that would have their own teacher doing it. First I needed some green screen. Turns out blue works just as well. I got that from ebay for £3 a square metre. I had no idea how much I’d need so bought 9m for about £30. The cameras we were going to be using would be Flip Ultra and the software was Wax 2.0. This is free and available here.

It turns out you can do greenscreening with Movie Maker, which would’ve been easier, but it prefers blue and the Windows 7 version of movie maker is different, so we stuck with Wax.I had spent HOURS looking online for free software that would do this for us and even Twitter let me down when the best anyone could come up with was…buy a mac. Not helpful.

The plan was to spend about 6 sesssions working on this. The first two would involve finding random backgrounds and having a photo of the child in front of a photo background. I messed around with this the children had great fun putting themselves in Harry Potter or at the North Pole. These can be seen here and here. Then the children were going to have a movie of themselves in front of a picture background. The movie would be in a documentary or news-style report where they would talk about climate change, deforestation or the like to go along with the topic.I had planned on using some other video editing tools to produce credits and title sequences but time didn’t allow in the end.

So, we set up two greenscreens in the end. One in the corridor under some small spotlights and the other on a board that we could move to wherever we had space. This was the corridor, music room, hall, anywhere! Logisitics again dictated that the music room was busy when I was doing ICT or whatever. Also, there is the issue of man-power (that should be LSA-power) as I can’t really just let 5 children go into the music room unattended to take some pics. I could, but it meant me manning the classroom, corridor (green screen 1) and music room (green screen 2). The children were great with the pictures, they had fun and we made some good photos. The key thing that let us down? Lighting. The software removes one shade of green, the lighting meant we had millions of shades and shadows and it wasn’t very good. If the children moved the tolerance bar a bit too far, they disappeared or became a floating head. Bit tricky.

It was great to see the children working together though, only a few could take pictures at once so the rest had to spend their time writing a script for their video, researching or finding pictures. Most did this well, thankfully!

Another problem with Wax was that it couldn’t save the picture. So we used the snipping tool in Windows 7 to snip the picture out, and save that as a picture. We could have printscreened too of course.

Then on to the videos…

The two classes I worked with were making videos as a group. This again was due to time as I thought it might be easier to get through ten groups rather than 30 children. I guess with hindsight, it’s about the same as the children had more chance of fluffing their lines if they have their friends with them too!

I used the amazing Cue Prompter to show their script, this meant they could start and stop it at will. They did put it up to (warp) speed 9 at times, but when recording, it was set on a manageable 2/3. They all recorded their videos and we were done. Luckily I had some amazing help from the teachers who managed to squeeze in extra recordings in quiet times to make sure all videos were ready in time for the final session.

A week or so before the final session, I thought I should be good and test the software. Wax doesn’t like the video format that the Flips records in. That would mean converting them. Around 90 videos needed doing. Oh dear. I would usually use something like Zamzar or Camtasia but this is one at a time. I Tweeted and got lots of ideas including Format Factory but when putting this into Wax, it ruined the audio. Grr. I went through the (quite good) Wax forums to ask for support and through there found Super Video Convertor. The settings on here allowed the Flip videos to be converted to the exact format that Wax wanted. Fiddly and took about 8 hours of converting for all of the videos, but I did it. Result 🙂

I produced guides for the children and they worked through these to get their videos rendered. We managed to render on the netbooks, but the computers in the suite were much faster so I’d use those in future.

Then in the past few days we imported the videos, combined them with the background and completed the task. It was hard work, but well worth it. So would I do it again? Yes. It was a LOT of work, but they loved it. I was honest with the children and told them I’d never done it, it could go wrong and we’d all learn from it, this seemed to make them even more determined to make the pictures and videos work! The other teachers have been proud of the results even if I am only 75% happy with them.Maybe it’s because I’m a perfectionist and I want them to be better, but I have achieved a lot with the children so I should be happy. Please don’t let this experience put anyone off, just test it first. You could get £10 worth of green fabric, just try it with the video cameras you have and see if it works. I would definitely do it with photos in future as this would be very easy to do.

Next time though:

  • Invest in some better lighting – it is crucial – Maybe a few small desk lamps would be enough. Most of ours was filmed in the corrider with all sorts of windows and things providing different levels of light
  • Book a room or get the teachers/LSAs to record throughout the week rather than rushing it through in a day
  • Get the children to remove their GREEN jumpers! Most did, but some didnt.
  • Test it thoroughly before launching it with the children
  • Get them to make up a name – we can’t blog their videos as they all say their name to introduce themselves!

Greenscreening is a fantastic tool for inspiring children to think and work creatively and definitely something you should look into. I spoke to a tech from the secondary school and she looked worried that we were greenscreening in primary. We also have a trainee teacher who said “I can’t believe they are greenscreening at age 10, I was 19 before I first greenscreened”. Ridiculous. I was 28 and it was about 6 weeks ago!! We’re moving quickly and it’s very exciting indeed!

My Wax Guides can be found on my school page here. Also on this page is a guide from Ian Tobin on using and his blog post is here.

KS1 Planning – The Local Area
Saturday, January 01st, 2011 | Author:

I’ve been planning some KS1 ICT today. I’m not a KS1 expert at all, I teach 1 morning a week of KS1, but a few things have made my life a lot easier and I thought I’d share them with you to see if it might help when you plan next time. There are others out there that are much more advanced and experienced than I am, but hey. Here’s what I’ve started doing.

Firstly, the topic. The children will be looking at their local area and comparing it to Katie Morag’s Island of Coll. They will be visiting the local village and conducting a traffic survey and will hopefully then look at ways in which to calm the traffic through the village. So that’s my brief. Where can ICT fit in?

At the moment, each class has 1 ICT lesson a week and this can be in the suite or with netbooks in the class. I want to try and integrate ICT across the whole curriculum to give children a varied ICT experience.

I am also the PPA teacher, I provide ICT plans for the 3 KS1 classes but I only teach ICT in one of them. We have discussed it and I think the best thing to do is to provide the teachers with a variety of objectives and activities, they can then pick and choose which they do.

So the objectives include:

  • To use text and images to develop their ideas
  • To share and present information in a variety of forms
  • To present their completed work effectively

I then sat with the plan from two-years ago (it’s a 2yr cycle) and looked at each subject area to see the general gist of where the topic was going. I then loaded some of my favourite tools and here we go…

The children will be conducting a traffic survey so they will need to know about data handling and the furbles would be a great place to start.From there, we can then move on to 2Count and 2Graph so that we can begin making our own graphs. These are both part of Purple Mash.Hopefully the children will realise that the traffic goes through the village too quickly so they will discuss how to slow it down, using activities like Zigzag or Traffic Issues on Mash to help them.There are some more great data handling tools on the free iboard site too.

As we are looking at cars in the village, why not use 2Design and Make to make our own one? We could then graph those too?

When it comes to researching our local town and a Scottish island, then I turn to Simon’s excellent Infant Encyclopedia to help the children with their research. This has a range of short activities, videos and games for the children.

They will also need to look at their village and a Scottish one so why not use Google Maps and Streetview? That will make a great comparison tool. It would be even better if we could link to a school on an island too and I have already put those plans in place as well.There is a bear that travels a lot too, so we will have a quick look at Barnaby and his travels from the BBC.

So with that range of activities, the children will be learning to find information and to research using the internet, to present and analyse graphs and also to combine text and graphics using a simple tool such as Purple Mash. They of course will be reinforcing the skills of loading websites, logging on and using the netbooks safely and saving work too.

How do I present this to our children? These links will all be put on our school website (like I talked about here) so that the children can click and load the site or at most, login to Mash and then complete the activity.

I’m not sure if this is the best way of planning, but it seems to work and means there is variety. Will all three classes do the same activities? Probably not, but it doesn’t matter. I want them to be able to transfer skills from one tool to the other and this should give them the chance to do that. With the exception of the paid-for elements of Mash, this is all free too. I just wonder if it would work with KS2 or do they need longer project-type ICT sessions?

With thanks to Simon Haughton for these data handling ideas.