Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Day after day whilst working with schools I find that teachers very often do not have photo editing software on their computers. Photographs from class digital cameras are usually huge and the uploader for the learning platform can't deal with them.There is a vast range of very useful art software on the web, much of it can be used freely on-line but also software to do most tasks can be downloaded and installed so that one has access anytime and anywhere, with no need of an internet connection.

I decided to list a few sample sites, this is by no means a full list of those available, just a few of my favourites. These could be useful to most teachers.

  1. Sumo Paint – http://www.sumopaint.com/app/    A full on-line graphics package offering a wide range of tools and effects.
  2. Sketchpad - http://mugtug.com/sketchpad/ A full graphics package offering a wide range of tools and effects
  3. Art Pad - http://www.art.com/asp/artpad/default.asp Pick up a paintbrush and choose a colour! This painting site records a picture while it is being created and plays it back as time lapse movie.
  4. Slimber - http://slimber.com/ An online drawing application allowing users to draw online, replay and save their drawings. Users can rate, comment and share drawings.
  5. Live Brush - http://livebrush.com/ Livebrush is a drawing application. It employs an easy-to-use brush tool that reacts to your gesture. By combining simple motion controls with brush styles, Livebrush offers a fun and unique way to create graphics.
  6. Odosketch - http://sketch.odopod.com/  Choose soft water-colour type of pens to sketch and create pictures.
  1. Picnik -  http://www.picnik.com/  Picnik offers easy to use yet powerful photo editing tools .
  2. Pizap - http://www.pizap.com/ Says it is the world’s easiest editing program – well maybe .
  3. Lunapic - http://www.lunapic.com/editor/  Lunapic gives photo editing and animation tools.
  4. Photofunia - http://www.photofunia.com/ A fun application, choose classic image to add your face to e,g, the Statue of Liberty or the Mona Lisa.
  5. Be Funky - http://www.befunky.com/ Make photos works of art by applying a range of drawing / painting styles to your photograph.
  1. The Artist’s Toolkit - http://www.artsconnected.org/toolkit/index.html Explore the tools that artists use – like line, colour and balance – to build works of art.
  2. Leonardo’s Workshop - http://www.alifetimeofcolor.com/play/leonardo/index.html  
  3. Carmine’s Line and Shape - http://www.alifetimeofcolor.com/play/lineshape/flash3page.html Learn about lines - So many to see. Then discover shapes - A better artist you'll be!

  1. Pbskids - http://pbskids.org/curiousgeorge/games/mix_and_paint/mix_and_paint.html  
  2. Mix and Paint, a fun colour mixing simulationCrayola colouring pages - http://www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages/ 
  3. Crayola drawing and painting  - children can choose a tool and mix the paint on screen http://www.crayola.com/coloring_application/index.cfm 
  4. Billy Bear – Learn to draw http://www.billybear4kids.com/Learn2Draw/Learn2Draw.html a project for kids
  5. Learn to Draw - http://ababasoft.com/how_to_draw/paint_brush_mi.html Make cards and e-mail

  1. Artisancam - http://www.artisancam.org.uk/ lots of exciting projects to try out
  2. Bonomo -  http://bomomo.com/  Great fun, use the tools to create unique images 
  3. Doink - http://www.doink.com/ - a fun animation site, create vectors and animate them

  1. Gimp -  http://www.gimp.org/  - GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It works on many operating systems, in many languages. 
  2. Tux Paint - http://www.tuxpaint.org/ A painting program suitable for children
  3. PhotoPerfect Express -  http://www.arcadiasoftware.com/photoperfect-express.html A Windows only photo editing program.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Talking to children about using iPod Touches in their classroom

For weeks now two of us have been monitoring a class that are using a set of iPod touches in their classroom. They started off playing lots of games, saying it was hard to type and obviously not having much idea of how the apps worked. After about two weeks – where we sorted out some problems where some of them lost various setting so they would not access the web etc., the pupils used them lots and thought it was easy to type. They were still enjoying the games. After eight weeks the children do not know how they are going to manage without them next term.

As the project is coming towards an end I was given more or less free rein to talk to the children about anything to do with them yesterday. I interviewed each table in turn, just for a few seconds and asked them to tell me how using the iPod touches had helped with their learning.

All said how much they helped in day to day class work, all said that the dictionary and thesaurus was used all of the time and their writing had got better! They mentioned how internet research was so much easier – one reckoned it took 15 minutes to go to the laptop trolley. Get a laptop, bring it back to class, log on to the network then the internet to get some information. With the iPod on the table, or in the case, the longest it may be is to cross the room, pick up their Touch and bring it to their table with instant internet access.
One boy said how he like the maths games it did not seem like learning maths! One said that Word Web had a whole collection of level 5 adjectives and adverbs that helped his writing. They all enjoyed sharing “The Dragon Book” as a class text.

One girl said how the games had challenged them to think more about what they already knew, and that they had become better researchers. Watching an activity later seemed to prove that. The year 5 and 6 classes had split into 9 groups to do a carousel of activities for “Circus” week. I stayed in the class where the iPod touches were and they were studying Seurat in preparation for doing a painting about the circus in his style. The children who were in their own class, with their own iPods were so much quicker at finding the information they needed. Hands went up almost instantly and the quality of information was much better. The teacher waited until many children had found their few important facts then allowed pupils from other classes to say first what they had found, most came up with where and when he was born and when he died, those sorts of simple facts that would start any page of information on his life. The children from the host class came up with information of his style of painting and how he was shunned as an artist in his own lifetime etc.
It was interesting to watch one of the visiting class pupils, instead of writing George Seurat in the search engine, she laughed and changed it to George Clooney, making her friends giggle, I guess that is part of the playing to get to know them issue which the other class had long since got over.

Watching children navigating Google maps and showing me key features of their locality was interesting – can’t imagine children actually taking me to a map to share that information but it was what they chose to show me as I passed.

Others showed me a program called Gears – a logic game that one of a pair was very good at and one could not instantly see. The conversation between the two as the logical one explained to the non-logical pupil how to do something and why was really good! I was left in no doubt about the reasoning skills of the one who saw it – an assessment opportunity!

There was so much going on and so much interest in the iPods, children could not really imagine how they were going to work next term, they have become a part of the repertoire of tools available in the classroom the pupils take them for granted. It was wonderful to see!

A real disappointment was not being able to use Wallwisher! We had made a wall, put it up on the IWB and asked all chidlren to think of a comment to add. Sadly they were unable to post :-(. I asked the Twitter community to test it today but no-one can post to wallwisher with an iPhone or iPod Touch, what a pity, it would have been wonderful!

I have taken miles of video footage, but not sure yet where the final reports, videos etc will go, that is not for me to decide, this post is just anecdotal snippets.

For me the biggest lesson was to take baby wipes to clean the iPods if I have to touch them – once they have been in use in class for a day they are unbelievable sticky and revolting :-)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Christian Aid website and games to help with Citizenship

I have not studied the Christian Aid site for a while but have been missing a treat for the primary citizenship curriculum! There is a newish section with games suitable for pupils to play as part of the PHSE/ citizenship curriculum. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/games/.

There are assemblies to introduce children to problems that other children around the globe have to cope with - see
•    Assembly of the month: World Cup fever - A primary assembly about the World Cup and recycling
•    Dying for the loo - A primary assembly on Kenya for Christian Aid Week
•    Watch out! Scary creatures about! - A Christian Aid primary assembly on malaria

The primary teaching resources include:
•    Ready-to-use assemblies bringing global issues of poverty and injustice to life.
•    Curriculum-linked activities to help pupils learn about life around the world.
•    Popular simulation games to challenge and inspire action on global issues
•    Interactive whiteboard resources to help schools explore global issues with primary pupils.

The site has children's stories from around the world that show how children are helping to end poverty in their communities and  Global Gang games such as Help villagers in Nicaragua survive floods or get on board the Citizen Ship.

The games are available http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/games/play.aspx
1.    Disaster Watch - Help villagers in Nicaragua survive floods, earthquakes and food shortages! Kyle Mawer has looked at how to use the game Disaster Watch in the classroom http://digitalplay.info/blog/2010/05/an-educational-game-disaster-watch/ 

2.    Citizen Ship - Get on board the Citizen Ship and save the Global Gang from stormy seas, hunger, thirst and lots more... http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/games/citizenship/game.htm This is a set of challenges, probably suitable for years 4 or 5.

3.    Go Goat Go! - Get a goat to help you grow more food! They eat weeds, their milk is magic and plants love their poo... http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/games/gogoatgo/launch5.htm Pupils need to copy rhythms and use arrow keys to move around the screen. This is suitable for younger pupils – about year 3, maybe 4.

4.    Sneaky Snakes - Help sort out things that just aren't fair. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/games/sneakysnakes/snakes.htm Sneaky Snakes is snakes and ladders with a difference – answer questions to get your counter past the snakes and for the snake to catch your opponent!

5.    Carpet game - Help rescue kids from carpet sheds in India. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/games/carpetgame/index.htm Sadly this one will not play for me but if it plays in schools it has a very good theme.

Young people tell their story

Stories from young people about how they people fight poverty in their communities around the world.

  • Escape from soldiers - Florinda and her family fled from Angola to Zambia.
  • Real life disaster! Gile 'Some of our neighbours got swept away' says Gile from Bangladesh.
  • Better days- Find out how Sara's family stood up for their rights, thanks to Christian Aid.
  • What? Tortillas, again?- Imagine if every meal was the same. And it wasn't even chocolate!
  • Trapped! - Find out why it takes Sunduz over an hour to get to her school 2km away.
  • Goals for peace - How is sport helping to stop the fighting in Sudan? Daniel tells us more...
  • Bernard's story - Africa is home to more than 12 million orphans whose parents have died from AIDS.
This site would be good to use in most KS2 classrooms.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Why I'm Still Married ;-)

Household conversation on actually meeting up for the first time in days (odd shift system at husband’s place of work)

Husband: What went wrong with your computer, I saw it all unplugged and on the floor.

Me: Nothing, I just did not want to switch it on again until I had stripped it down and blown the dust out of it. I haven’t done it for ages and kept forgetting until it was too late!

Husband: Did you do it?

Me – puzzled: Yes.

Him: What with?

Me – even more puzzled: The compressor.

Him: How did you get it started? It hasn’t worked for weeks, the switch is broken. I have a new one, just not fitted it yet.

Me: Flicked the switch and away she went…

See,  even his broken compressor is not going to argue with me ;-))

Friday, 18 June 2010


Last night was our third teachmeet fishbowl event. It was quite different, each one has been, but still very exciting.

The first fifteen minutes was a whole room event, three experience fishbowlers were in the bowl, I think there is a video recording of it somewhere - just need to find it!

Next we broke out into smaller fishbowls, I was in the bowl to start session 2. We were given an old QCA based history unit based on The Tudors and were expected to update it with exciting activities. We promptly decided that out two big skills were research and presentation.  I spent so much time scribbling everyone’s ideas down that I can’t remember them :-) They will be shared very soon though. The main idea was to create a book, so do lots of research,  podcasts, interviews with the queens, Twitter as one of the queens trying to feel some of the pain, worry etc that they may have experienced. Discussion came up about findin data, verifying data etc - all very necessary skills for year 6, contributing towards a whole digital literacy.

After a short break where we sat sipping cold drinks with supper in the Italian garden we went back into a second small bowl session.

Around our table, and I was facilitator this time, the bowl structure broke down and it simple became a round table - that did not detract from the session, just took away the formality.

Our theme was rockets and so many ideas cropped up it was wonderful, I sat scribbling ideas for about 20 minutes – again they will be shared soon, but the group I was with thought it may be good to have a rocket making its journey from class to class all up the school. In Foundation Stage it may be a model rocket, but we decided they would need a passport to their new class, so taking digital photos to make ID cards was one lovely idea that was shared. Also recording their thoughts, fears, information about their families and pets on a easy speak mic which recording could be put with the photos and sent to the next class as introductions were among the ideas I recorded. As we moved to KS1 we got lots of 2Simple 2 Publish ideas, comic strip type of booklets to pass between classes. Bee-bot journeys, moon landings, a voice thread with the moon landing video clip in the middle and pupils adding their thoughts around it were all ideas for KS1.
As we moved up into Key Stage 2 Wallace and Gromit inspired use of stop motion animation to tell children's stories and to inspire writing encouraging creativity. The Earth in Space would be the main theme at that stage so therefore lots of science probably a lot of data handling comparing size distance away from the sun, moons and satellites ect.

One teacher spoke about the transition project that her year 6 to 7 child was doing. They were making moon buggies and testing them, so they were designing, making, testing possibly programming them on the computer but I am not sure about that.  They were going to take the buggies up into year seven and revisit the project at the end of the year after they had them all in a science work and D&T programme to try to improve them.

 Another teacher spoke about transition where they had a similar sort of project that the children did it all in secondary school so for six weeks they would go to the secondary school one morning a week and create their moon buggies while there, and then bring them back to primary school to talk about what they had done so that the children in year four and five that were still facing the transition would start to get a feel for how it was going to go and start to understand the process that they were going to go through as they went into the transition class.  Certainly the rocket theme did make that sort of project possible. Once again to change schools a passport idea would be good, also a video telling the history from one place moving onto the next place would be interesting. Lots of ideas came and I cannot remember most of them I am looking forward to them being written up and shared.

We did have an idea last night that the team may build a whole creative curriculum project around the theme.

There is nothing magical and new about the fishbowl idea it simply groups of teachers coming together and all pooling their ideas, as one says something that sparks an idea from another teacher and that sparks idea from the next and so the discussion at the table gets quite interesting and very lively.

We also discussed the very necessary aspects of assessment, peer assessment, self-assessment, mind maps before and after were all suggested ways of the teacher keeping check on what was going on.

Finally the discussion on most tables seemed to be around the barriers to success when thinking about these exciting projects.  To some people that was having not yet adopted a creative curriculum, they were still stuck with the old QCA units, for others it was teachers who were not ready to embrace the technology.

It was a wonderful night and lots of food for thought with lots of inspiring ideas many of which we need to share with as many teachers as possible.

PS 1 - Leon's photos :-) http://www.flickr.com/photos/learn4life/tags/tmfishbowl/ 
PS 2 - have found the video stream - lots of video to come later though I think.

10 Blogs to Watch

I was extremely flattered to have been named in http://ozgekaraoglu.edublogs.org/ Ozge Karaoglu’s blog, 10 X 10 blogs to watch. I am very late in responding – sorry Ozge, just been a bit busy :-)

Actually compiling as list takes very little time, I have hundreds listed in my RSS reader,  but I have had a real struggle to decide where my focus should be, it has changed several times over the last couple of weeks and until I sat and really thought about it I knew that I would have just put down my favourites, which would be okay I guess, but one may have struggled to see a theme running through them.

So here goes, my 10 blogs to watch, chosen for various reasons but mostly because they feed directly into my work. There are many others that I read linked with personal interests, people I like and others for reasons that elude me totally… but this is my choice – today – in no particular order!

Firstly – and not one of my ten – cheating a little – is Ozge’s own blog, as a big part of my job is working with teachers of small children her’s is an inspiration itself, with loads of lovely ICT ideas and resources http://ozgekaraoglu.edublogs.org/

1.    http://primarypete.net/ - lots about using ICT to enhance learning, games based learning etc.
2.    Tom Barrett – so many productive links are Tom’s where should I start? http://edte.ch/ Tom inspires people to work together to create really useful sets of ideas – a skill I really wish that I had!
3.    http://www.timrylands.com/blog/ Tim has inspired me - and a lot of other Oxfordshire teachers - for years :-) Thank Tim!
4.    http://ltsblogs.org.uk/consolarium/ - I am just so envious of where they are… wish we were half way there ...
5.    Dawn – to listen to Dawn talking about ICT in the classroom is a delight http://hallyd.edublogs.org/
6.    I am really interested in how Redbridge are developing games based learning, another inspirational group of people http://redbridgegamesnetwork.blogspot.com/
7.    http://forcuriousteachers.blogspot.com/ Qrious – I keep an eye on this one to spot any new ideas or tools that I can investigate
8.    http://www.blogcatalog.com/blog/john-mclear-primary-school-ict/  I do not give this one nearly enough time thinking I will go back and read it properly when I have time… hmmm – must do that, I have lots to learn from this blog!
9.    http://chickensaltash.edublogs.org/ Inspiring projects,  food for thought… all here
10.  http://olliebray.typepad.com/ Ollie shares lots and lots of exciting ideas :-)

A very satisfactory list where I can learn from some of the best of the ICT practitioners in the UK! Thanks folks:-) Now everyone who knows me is suitable surprised that I did not do the techie list... or the Secodn Life list...