Tag-Archive for ◊ 2Simple ◊

Certified (part 2)
Friday, December 09th, 2011 | Author:

Over the past couple of months I was contacted with the opportunity to be a 2Simple trainer and because I love their products, I jumped at the chance. Today I have been given the official go-ahead to use the logo and tell other people. So that’s what I’m doing.

The training that I will provide will not really focus on how the software works but why you should use it in your classroom. Figuring out how it all works is straightforward enough, but the really important bit is seeing how it makes a difference to children’s learning and how it can be embedded across the curriculum.

To find out more about their amazing software, take a look at their blog: http://www.2simpletalk.com/

So if you’re in the south of England, feel free to get in touch and I’ll help where I can.

Alternatively, feel free to search for a trainer in your area by visiting this site.

Mash + 2DIY= 3D Gaming
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 | Author:

Just a quick post about a new feature in Purple Mash. 2Simple have added a 3D game design tool which is similar to the games made using 2DIY. You simply draw a maze, add some things to collect (the default is apples) and then add some monsters too. You can animate these objects and play it. The best bit? It embeds into a blog or website…see below.

So what could we use this for? It could be a lot of fun!

 

BBC Click (after)
Saturday, June 04th, 2011 | Author:

I wrote the previous blog post before I’d seen BBC Click so I thought it I’d blog after I’ve seen it too. I think that Peter Price (@peprice) has done an amazing job and I am very pleased with how it has come out.

The whole story is about the problem facing the gaming and programming industry. Years ago, children could learn how to program a machine like the BBC micro or their spectrum at home or in school but now computers are much more complex and coding isn’t taught in the classroom anymore. Industry legends David Braben (the man behind Elite) and Ian Livingstone (maker of Tomb Raider) give their opinions. Then it shows us.

The video talks about us ‘ripping up the curriculum’ and ‘leading a revolution’, now I know many other schools are doing similar things to us, but it’s great to hear this. I think game design is very important in the classroom. It develops thinking skills, creativity and problem solving. I want my children to pick up some software like 2Do It Yourself, try things out and be able to succeed in seconds but then when they want to make it REALLY cool, they need to learn a bit more. And then this might go horribly wrong and they break it. But then they have to learn how to fix it too. Coding is very hard to teach in the primary school. I believe that children (and teachers) want things instantly and if it is too hard they’ll give up. 2DIY offers a simple introduction to coding e.g. change this number and he jumps higher. What happens if you make it a really big number? Then when you want more, you can go to the 2diyarchive and find some great coding examples on there to copy/paste into your game.

There is also a bit on the video about Kodu and how we have started to use that as well. Now, our use of Kodu has been very limited. The way I started it was to show 2 children at a lunchbreak and ask them to play with it and see what they think. Within 3 days I have 10 children ask if they could also stay in and play and at least 5 more tell me they’d downloaded it at home. They now know much more about it than I do, but who cares? Why not let them lead the learning?

I love it when my children are shown swapping netbooks to play each others games, this happens all of the time and totally justifies the purchase of netbooks in our school.

Overall I am very pleased with the video and I think our children look fantastic on it. If you need any help or advice on gaming in the classroom, I am not an expert but I can certainly point you towards some people that might be.

The video is available here and the news story (which adds Peter Molyneux’s opinion) is here

BBC Click (before)
Friday, May 27th, 2011 | Author:

About 2 weeks ago I got a message from Mr Thorne (off of the brilliant Mr Thorne Does Phonics) asking if I would be able to speak to a journalist about programming in the classroom. Of course I would! So I had a great chat with Peter Price (@peprice) from BBC Click and it turned out, he wanted to come and film in school. Last Friday he came in and watched as some children played with Kodu in their lunchbreak and then he watched a lesson with 2Do It Yourself in Year 5-6.

Now, it could have been better. If we had been able to be in Year 3-4 we’d have probably seen game design experts, but timetables dictated we would be working with 5-6. They did well and made some suitable games and I showed them a few ways to change the code as we went along to make the character jump higher or faster. I also got a couple to play with the teleport feature too. Simon (@xannov) helped with a few ideas and I owe him a lot. To be honest, he should have had the cameras in, he does amazing things with 2DIY, so I am eternally thankful for his support. He gave me a new login to blog the finished games and I didn’t get chance, but I will add to it in future.

I was also interviewed about my thoughts on ICT and programming. I am now wondering if what I said was good enough or if it was controversial etc. I spoke about the need for us to give children exciting ICT and to make it relevant and fresh. I also spoke about the fact that often training teachers is difficult because children are coming in knowing more and more each year. It’s exciting, but it can be a challenge.

I was also asked why we teach game design and I spoke about the fact when we were younger, anyone could make a game on their spectrum or atari. Those days are gone, but using tools like Scratch, Kodu or 2DIY we can make games to share with others. Ok, so we didn’t code it all from scratch, but hey…it’s a start.

So how much will be on the show? Who knows! It goes out on Saturday at 11:30am on BBC News 24. I’ll blog about it after and will include the iplayer link too.

So a huge thank you to Mr Thorne (he doesn’t have a first name) and to Simon for their help and support. I owe you both a drink or two.

You can also find some more great Primary School Games

2Simple Roadshow
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 | Author:

Are you in Hampshire and want to come and get some hands-on experience with 2Simple products? We’re hosting a roadshow at my school. Further details are below…

Come and join 2Simple at our Autumn Roadshow to view our latest products and to see how they have been put to use within a local primary school. You will have the chance to have a hands-on experience with the software and to see some examples of stories and games created by children. All attendees will also receive a discount for purchases of 2DIY or Purple Mash.

Thursday 18th November, 4:00pm arrival for tea/coffee and Finish around 5:15

Hosted by Katherine Hopkins and Ian Addison

St John the Baptist Primary School, Solomons Lane, Waltham Chase, Hampshire, SO32 2LY

www.stjohnthebaptistprimary.co.uk

To book your free places or if you have any questions, please email: Katherine@2simple.com or mail@ianaddison.net

Category: blogposts, General Thoughts  | Tags:  | One Comment
So So 2Simple
Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 | Author:

I feel compelled to write this blog post as I have been blown away (again) by 2Simple and their amazing customer support and products.

My school have signed up for Purple Mash whcih I love and I have been eager to try and use for a while but the logins put me off. The childs login would be something like sam@c48382 with a password as well. This was horrendous! Credit where it’s due though, @2simpleant had mentioned they were looking at making it easier. I thought about making it firstname.lastname but I still had this horrible school bit of @c38575 or whatever.

Then someone mentioned a Purple Mash Portal. This takes out the need for the school bit as it already knows which school you are. Much, much better! So now I just need to create users and passwords and we’re set.

2Simple have a fab tool called 2Lasso that takes a list of children from Excel/CSv and uploads it to create users. My usernames are now the child’s firstname (with first letter of surname if more than one Alex for example) and their password is their class number.

We have linked the portal on our school website so they can access this at home and very easily with 2 clicks in school too. I know this is something they are looking to share with more schools soon, let’s hope it works 🙂

After showing Purple Mash to around 100 schools, I can finally get started with my own children. Tomorrow? We’re going to log on with Year 1-2 and have a go at using 2Go to drive our car around the town!

Holidays are coming…
Friday, July 23rd, 2010 | Author:

So, the holidays are here, time for us teachers to sit around on our backsides for 6 weeks. Fantastic. Or maybe not, do you know any teachers that relax for the whole 6 weeks? Me neither!

This holiday will be a strange one and busy one. I’m moving back into school, into a role that is still being defined and it’s also the first summer holiday as a home owner so there’s bound to be house-y things to do as well. Add in seeing friends, going on holiday and the small matter of GTAUK next week and it will fill up quite quickly! But what else will I be up to?

*School Website. This is one of my first priorities. My new school has a website, it’s ok, but it seems quite complicated to add things to it and usually this is just in the form of newsletters. I will be moving to a much simpler system which means that we can get a few people, and some children, adding content to the site.I also want to make it sustainable so will be making videos of how to use the website so staff can keep it up.

*Setting up blogs for every class. I think this will be done using WordPress MU. I’m tempted to setup a new domain and then create class blogs from there so everyone follows the same naming convention. Going to a school with a name as popular as St Johns means a lot of domain names are already taken! I’m not sure yet how I will start using the blogs and how I will convince staff they are useful, but we shall see. I am working in 7 out of 11 classes so I think I’ll start it when I’m in their class. Once it is popular with children, I’ll bring staff onboard.

*Policies and stuff. As mentioned before I will be writing policies and AUPs and action plans this holiday too. I know I should probably wait until September, but I want to get the majority of it ready while I have time.

*VLE. We will be launching our VLE slowly next term, again with the classes I teach and then gradually throughout the school, hoping to have it in place by Spring. I want to make sure I get this right after spending two years telling teachers how to do it! Every school is different though so I need to think about my staff and make sure that I do things in a way that makes sense.

*Reading Blogs. I am awful at reading other people’s blogs. I read posts when they appear on Twitter if the title catches my eye, but generally, I’m awful at it. I have setup Google Reader, but never really used it properly. I have 500+ posts to read and it’s just silly. So one job this Summer is to find a way of keeping up with it and managaing the information that comes through. It might be Google Reader, in which case, I’ll make sure I;m better at reading them each week!

*Twitter Favourites/Delicious. I use Twitter a lot (you may have noticed). Often I use it on my phone and some links don’t work properly or I haven’t got time to read something so I favourite the tweet instead or send the link to my Delicious account. This means I have 100’s of tweets that I need to work through and I probably should tidy up my delicious account a bit too. I want to start September productively and continue it on too.

*Hampshire Delicious. We set up a county-wide Delicious a little while ago and I have added some links to it, but it stands at around 240. I want to make this much bigger and maybe look at linking with people who already have decent accounts set up to see if I can improve ours. I also need to begin publicising it to schools.

*VLE Shared area. I talked about this just 2/3 weeks ago, but now I have shown it to around 70 teachers. They love it. I have been overwhelmed with the response to it so far and I am very pleased. Currently we have around 30 areas/topics that people have been busy adding content to. I have setup RSS feeds from Delicious and I have also been linking activities from Brain Pop and Purple Mash. I need to finish this off and then start adding from other sites such as iboard and BBC Class Clips. Two other things I want to do are adding games and CPD. The games folder will be a collection of online games that students (and teachers) can play that encourage thinking activities. I will share some of these later, but Physics Games is a good place to start. I also want to put a staff development area as well which will contain RSS feeds/embedded pages of blogs from a wide-range of subjects relevant to the primary phase as well as videos from TED Talks and others that might be useful. Our VLE would be a great place for CPD and I want to push this side of it a bit more.

*Articles for Naace. I was discussing Naace with a few people, including the always excellent Miles Berry, and I was suggesting that there seemed to be a distinct lack of content and voice from the primry teachers. There are lots of secondary and consultants that are willing to share and be heard, but where are the primaries. Following some interesting discussions with Miles and others, I am now writing two articles for Naace. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learnt in there somewhere??

*Clearing out my old email. As I leave the consultancy role, I need to make sure I have saved everything useful, cleared it all out and moved properly to my new email instead.

*Top Secret Project. This is really exciting, but I can’t share anything until next week. Sorry!!

It sounds like a lot, but some of those jobs will take half a day, so it isn’t that bad really. I think sharing my to-do list will be useful because I can reflect on this when I return in September and see how much of this I achieved and how many other things got added to the list throughout the holidays!

Enjoy your break everyone, you’ve worked hard and you deserve it.

My First Story with 2CASS
Saturday, January 09th, 2010 | Author:
I have been lucky enough to have a play with an early version of 2Create a Super Story. One of the schools here in Hampshire will be using it with their children in the next few weeks too – snow permitting!

What does 2CASS do? Er…a bit of everything really. There are a number of different writing templates. Actually writing is wrong. Story/book templates is better. There is a flip book, a scroll and other ways to display your writing learning.

To start, you choose an object and drag it into the main screen. I started with faces and a few other things and then I found the dinosaur. The 10year old boy in me took over and my ‘story’ became about a dinosaur. Obviously called Rex…I should probably point out I did this late in the evening and it is probably not my best work, yet.

So, I had my main character. But what was he going to do? If I was planning this properly, I would have discussed it with my peers or my class, but I made it up as I went along letting 2CASS dictate the story for me.

There is the option to make your characters/objects move along the screen. Perfect. Rex would go for a walk. In the rain. I dragged the rain object on, coloured it blue and voila, rain fell. To add the rain effect took about 30 seconds. 20 of these deciding which shade of blue to use!

I saw an interesting object that to me looked like a worm, so on my cover, you will see a worm wiggling across the screen. Is it important to the story? No, but who cares!

Finding a house object, I set about designing my house and background. I thought it would be good for Rex to roar as he reached the house. Now, I searched through the sound effects available and realised that the sheep noise wouldn’t make Rex very scary so I went with the lion. (My house was far too quiet for me to record myself roaring)

After about an hour of fiddling with helicopters and deleting pages and editing, I found the ‘whole page’ option. This enabled me to make the whole page shake! It could shake as Rex stomped around. Fantastic!

I had a great hour and a half playing with 2CASS. I laughed a couple of times and smiled almost constantly. It was a real pleasure to explore and set my mind off on a million things. If I showed a class my story without words, they could write the text, why is Rex unhappy? What sort of character is he? Why are people scared of him?Are people scared or is he misunderstood?

What happens in the end? Click on the link and find out yourself!

The only problem I have is that now I have to find time in my schedule to play with 2DIY and 2CASS!