Monthly Archives: February 2011

2011
02/24

Category:
Teaching

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Half-time… erm… term

So, it's half-term and although I'm trying to relax, I'm finding my evenings taken up with thoughts about teaching (no change there, then). Time to put some ideas down before I lose track of everything…

  • Twitter – having finally started getting to grips with lists, I am once again finding this a useful rather than overwhelming resource. On my phone (Android, I use TweetDeck) I can just follow the lists I need to keep an eye on and then scan through the "of interest, but not essential" ones at home (where I'm using Seesmic Desktop 2)
  • Pulling some of my units together into some semblance of "SoW"-like documents/collections (including the ideas I've had regarding using APP)
  • Keeping up with new tools, ideas, etc
  • Aviary's audio editor is definitely one to look into… ta @kvnmcl
  • SlideRocket will be interesting to play with as an alternative to PowerPoint (even tho I've already "done" presentations this year, using Prezi as well as PowerPoint)… ta @ICTEvangelist
  • SketchUp and the AR-media plugin from Inglobe Technologies will also be a "for sure" exploration for a unit later this year… ta @iteachyear4
  • Not quite sure yet how/whether this could be used in school, but Hit'n'Mix looks fascinating… ta, Dad
  • Following #ictcurric with a view to making-use-of and contributing-to the repository of knowledge (and the nice people, naturally)
  • Along with preparing for assessment data being due next week, that should keep me going 🙂

    2011
    02/20

    Category:
    Teaching

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    …one giant leap for me!

    So, today I attended TMM11 – TeachMeet Midlands 2011 – which was, as ever, inspiring. We enjoyed any number of cracking talks: a couple about game-based learning (one using Xbox Kinect, the other on Mario Kart), a fabulous insight into using Aviary in both primary and secondary settings (the latter by Helen Morgan / @nellmog) in a fabulous insight into how to get my own pupils enhancing their animations 🙂 and a wry look at learning the lessons of practical fault finding.

    For me, though, the highlight (lowlight? most terrifying part, certainly) was finally putting my mouth where my money is, so to speak, and delivering a short, unrehearsed, talk on the unit I delivered initially to Y9 (and now to Y8) using Scratch to produce an animated short story. My thoughts, such as they were can be summarised as

    • use simple tutorials to get the children engaged in using Scratch (which isn’t usually too hard, as it’s sooooo engaging)
    • get them to plan a story on paper (which can help with APP AF2c – “can we give your storyboard to someone else to animate?”)
    • extend their use of searching (which can help with AF3a, and have found the Common Craft video very amusing, here)
    • possibly use some image manipulation software to trim borders from sprites to leave them on transparent backgrounds – we used Paint.NET (which can arguably help with AF1a)
    • (the one I forgot) you can demonstrate the use of sub-routines (kind of) by using Scratch “messages”, which then opens the pupil up to level 6 on AF2b

    Apart from the usual adrenaline rush I always get from new endeavours, all was good. The only mild frustration was in not talking about the use of “sub-routines” in Scratch – another notch on the APP tick-chart – but was flattered by the positive comments I received. Thanks, all – I think it helped being sat where I was, and being encouraged by the redoutable Zoe Ross / @zoeross19 and friends.

    So, in short, that was one small leap for teacher-kind, but… 🙂

    2011
    02/08

    Category:
    Teaching

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    The dust is settling

    So, after a full day of playing around in Inform 7 with a bunch of middle-set pupils, what have we learned?

    1. we can have fun and achieve things in a day – which is really nice to know
    2. spend more time demonstrating how to best describe locations (including obvious exits)
    3. I need to make further explorations into the system to better keep up with the rate of ideas/enquiries on how to make 
    4. when it comes to estimating how quickly children will pick up game-related technology… I need to aim higher 🙂

    A great day was had by (pretty much) all, I think – certainly if the groans and complaints that emerged when we pointed out it was getting towards home time so we would have to stop are anything to go by!

    Edit: Ah yes, meant to put one of the produced games up, just to show how they did. This is one produced by a few year 9s, with only minimal assistance in terms of the grammar of Inform. The ideas were all their own.

    2011
    02/07

    Category:
    Computing
    Teaching

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    ILID fun and games

    So our school has a number of days (ILID – integrate learning in-depth) where in the past there have been themes, usually per-year, that run through the day. But this time, the SLT opened it up to teachers to see if there was an idea that they would like to run that wouldn’t normally work within the confines of an hour (or a series of hour) lessons.

    I’ve tried, in the past, to run after school clubs building interactive fiction games (using Inform 7, for its natural language approach) having long enjoyed playing such games and seeing the myriad learning topics available in such ventures (ie problem solving, creative writing, logic, organisation and planning). But tomorrow, I’ve been let loose with 30 hand-picked children and a colleague (an English teacher) to try and introduce/teach the beginnings of building interactive fiction under the guise of “creative writing”!

    Let the good times roll 🙂

    2011
    02/07

    Category:
    Teaching

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    Safer Internet Assembly

    So, I was asked to work with a colleague to prepare (and consider delivering) the Monday whole-school assembly on internet safety. Not wanting to just regurgitate the standard opions, videos and what-not, I put in a little time to take the default secondary assembly from the site, put a little personal spin on it and re-jig it as a Prezi (which I’ve been teaching at both Y8 and Y9 at various points this year) for that extra “fun” factor.

    I was rather pleased with it – it’s here, if it’s of any use to anyone else – and was delighted that a number of colleagues and even a few children commented on it. So, as “firsts” go, this one was distinctly… okay. 

    Thanks to the SLT for the edible thank you/reward – who says only children are motivated by chocolate? 🙂