Monday, 31 December 2012

Loop Cards Become Treasure Hunts

Do you have loop (follow me) cards in your classroom? Do you use them? Do the children sit and respond when they think they have the right answer? What do they do once they have answered?

Hows about all the children taking part all at once?

Make them into a treasure hunt! Print them on large paper and put them up around your classroom, playground or whole school. Give each child or group of children a different starting point and set them off. When they get back to where they started they've finished. 
Got the facility to read QR Codes? You can use them too!

As you can see we've mainly used these in maths. They can be used in many other subjects too. This has been good for identifying misconceptions, group work skills, perseverance levels and checking of incorrect answers. A map of where the questions are is helpful. They can also be differentiated; two different hunts on different coloured paper or a 'longer route' and 'shorter route'.

An example treasure hunt can be found here.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Kung Fu Literacy (Grammar)

Our previous post was titled Kung Fu Literacy (Word Types). This post follows on from that.The idea again is to use Kung Fu style moves to remind children of rules when writing.

Display a sentence. The everyone reads the sentence aloud. When the following appear in the sentence the following actions are used by all:

Capital Letter - Hands together and bow.

Full Stop - One punch forwards.

Comma - One hand moving in a downwards diagonal direction.

Speech Marks - Both hands held above the head and fingers used in a speech mark style.

Exclamation Mark / Question Mark - One hand make the shape of the upper part and then a punch below.

These are moves we have used. More can be added. Children should be encouraged to think about the moves as they write to remind them of what's required and where.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Kung Fu Literacy (Word Types)

In the past, we've blogged about using kung fu moves in maths. We've also used similar in literacy. We have used it in a couple of different ways. One is to reinforce word types. The idea is to give the children a way of remembering what nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs are. Each word has its own move to remind children of its meaning:

noun - Place two finger on the forehead and then move them away in a an almost saluting way. This is British Sign Language for name.

adjective - Place thumb and forefinger above and below eyes and open eyes wide. Adjectives describe what things are like.

verb - Jogging or walking on the spot. Verbs describe how things move. Do also remind children of the verb to be.

adverb - Arms by your side and then swishing to the left quickly. Adverbs give more description about verbs.

We have used these for:

- a list of words and children show an action when a word is pointed to;

- reading a sentence and children show an action when they say words;

- children have also been see acting out the move to themselves as they work.

If you have any ideas for new moves, changes to moves or activities to use them with please add them to the comments below.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Ringtones Real Life Link

As part of our ICT curriculum, we use GarageBand to create music. Using the application children can import pre-recorded music loops or record their own voice or sound effects. After familiarising themselves with the software, their end of unit outcome is to produce a mobile phone ringtone. Audacity can also be used for the same purpose. GarageBand comes 'free' with a Mac computer and Audacity can be downloaded free for a Windows computer.

What to do:
- The children create a piece of music less than 40 seconds long.
- They export it to the computer as a .mp3 file.
- Finally, using Bluetooth they send it to a mobile phone to be used as a ringtone.

The children bring in a mobile phone, often a parent or sibling's old one to send their ringtone to during their lesson. Then we also hold an after school event when children invite their parents in to do the same, but with the child teaching them. 

Some example of our children's work can be found here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Google Docs - Forms

Google Docs is something we are still experimenting with in our classrooms. However, we have both made a start on using their exceedingly simple 'forms' document to gather data in the classroom. It is useful both for larger data gathering projects and for shorter ones.
In Year Five, the maths class have been given the problem of finding the most common names. This is a great problem as there is a lot of historical data to look back at as well as making use of easily accessible current data by looking at class lists. In order to extend this, we created a simple form on the Google Docs. This asked the year someone was born and what their name is. The link was sent out through our VLE and Twitter accounts to ask people to respond. You will be amazed at how quickly real information comes in. Google Docs then converts that into a handy spreadsheet for you which can be downloaded as an excel document or used collaboratively. Not only is data handling being covered but there is also a real life context to the use of spreadsheets for ICT.
In Year Six, we used the same form creation tool in an OMS. The class were asked what question they would like to ask. We then looked at what information we needed to gather to actually answer that question. The class decided that they wanted to know about favourite supermarkets so we decided we wanted to know about age, whether or not you are in charge of buying the shopping and which was the most common supermarket you used. This led to an excellent discussion about the use of open and closed questions to get responses and how we might find out why someone chose a particular shop. In the lesson, as a class, the form was completed and submitted. By the end of the lesson there were already some responses so the class could see the survey in action.

The surveys are still live so please feel free to join in (Year Five here and Year Six here). Later on in the week we will post about how the data gathering went and what we used it for.

Image credit: Screenshots from

Friday, 19 October 2012

TeachMeet Cambs

On Monday 15th October 2012, we presented at TeachMeet Cambs (

We presented about:

'Using your smart phone in your classroom' 

'Ten web tools for the classroom':

Monday, 15 October 2012

Registration Ideas Part II

In our packed timetables it is important to make use of every minute that is available to us. Below are some more ideas that we use to start the day:

Mobile gaming: In our school we have a suite of 15 PSPs with copies of a brain training game. Over the week every child has a go on one of the brain training mini-games. Scores are correlated and over time we can create class scores, compare and, for the really competitive people amongst you, have leagues. Even if you do not have access to this sort of thing through mobile technology, you can make use of online games to achieve the same thing. The important thing is the competition is motivating and children are able to get their brains going before the day.

Sharing poetry: In our class we have a Poem of the Week. At the beginning of the week the poem is introduced and then a range of activities can follow. Pick words from the poem and find synonyms, create similar descriptive passagea, find rhymes and look at the cultural background to the poem. This allows you to share famous, or not so famous poetry that does not necessarily come up in literacy lessons. So far this year we have had poems from Tolkien right through to Maya Angelou.

Art activities: When I have visited museums recently, we have been able to buy black and white versions of famous pictures to be coloured in. We have shared the original art on the board and then invited children to make their own versions. For the more able artist they are able to create their own interpretation, whilst the less able can use the templates purchased at the museum.

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Speeches: A really simple one. Play famous speeches on mp3 in the class then discuss the historical significance of them. For more detail, try analysing the word choices made.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Three Worders

After previously using this idea at the end of a lesson I have now started using it at the end of each day.

On Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio2 Drivetime show he asks listeners to sum up their day in three words and send them in for him to read out. I decided this would be a good way to sum up each day in our classroom. So, I purchased an academic diary and each day I pick a child to sum up their day in three words. The three word recounts can also be found here.
If Twitter is micro blogging I’m not sure what this is! The children enjoy it. It’s another way of making them think about their writing and at the end of the year it’ll be nice to look back over as a record of our year.
So go on, get your class into ‘Three Worders’. Text or Tweet them to Simon and he might even read one out!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Apps for Your Primary Classroom

The below list of iOS Apps was originally stored at These apps have all been used by us in our Key Stage Two classroom. Although this list links to the iTunes Store many of these apps are also available on other operating systems too:
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Basic Math








We'd welcome your additions. Add them as comments below and to our previous post about apps. Since this post, we've blogged about more apps here.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Angles Roller Coaster

We believe that to give learning purpose and ignite interest it's important to link learning to real life situations. We have demonstrated this in some of our previous blog posts.

For this post we are looking at a real life situation for measuring and drawing angles in maths. We decided upon roller coasters as a good subject to base our lesson on. Roller coasters, after all, are all about angles!

Firstly, reading the angle of rises and falls on roller coasters involved looking at pictures of roller coasters. Then, drawing on lines to show the angle to be measured and then measuring this angle. We discussed what angles made the best roller coasters and why different angles were used. Below is an example of this:

Next, came drawing angles. Using the knowledge gathered from the 'reading angles' lesson the children had a go at drawing their own roller coasters. They then peer assessed which roller coasters they liked the look of, which they did not and why:

Give it a go. See what stomach churning rides your class can come up with...

Thursday, 5 July 2012

School Twitter Account (Part 3)

For this third post we want to look at some examples:

Did you read
Part 1 and Part 2

 Image credit:

Below are some examples of school's Twitter feeds. Have a look at what they're Tweeting about:

If you have or know of a school Twitter account that would be good to look at please add it to the comments below. 

Read 'Part 4'.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Revelling in Probability

When learning about probability we use Revels. Yes, the chocolates. The whole brand of Revels is about which flavour you will eat, the likelihood of getting one you don't like and hoping for your favourite. That's probability in the 'real world' of a Key Stage Two child!

Step one is to introduce the children to the language of probability and particularly why it's important to be careful when using 'certain', 'impossible' or 'even chance'. Do 'Play Your Cards Right', coin toss and other examples if needed. Then go back to discuss the likelihood of getting a certain flavour when selecting a Revel. We found the children expected there would be equal chances of picking out each flavour. We have used some of the Revels TV commercials to further explain the marketing behind this product:

We placed a packed of revels on each table to be shared between 6 to 8 children. Now, in order to be able to state the probability of getting a certain flavour we need to find out if the Revel flavours are evenly distributed. Well, there's only one way to find out! Next, comes eating and tallying. The children eat the revels and tally the total amount of each flavour eaten.

Gather the information from each table about how many of each flavour were in their packs. This now offers the opportunity to calculate some averages. For example, Toffee: 7, 8, 9, 9, 14. From this data the mean, median, mode and range for each flavour per packet can be calculated, then maybe even converted into percentages. 
It now becomes apparent that the spread of flavours is NOT equal and in fact quite consistently biased towards one flavour! In addition to this the range can be quite broad from one packed to another. After looking at the data and discussing what it shows we wrote letters to Mars (address is on the packet) and hope to get a response from them. The letters offered a link to our persuasive writing topic and involved the children needing to include data to back up their arguments.

A fun filled lesson or two. The children learned a lot about probability and also had the opportunity to write to a real company about their findings.

Image credits:

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Google Earth in Maths (again)

Firstly, we were really pleased we were able to help out Joe with his lesson and to find out about what he had done with his class. Joe replied that he'd taken our idea and added to it: "Used it for calculating circumference/area of roundabouts, centre circle at Anfield etc y6 transition".

So, our original post suggests using the ruler tool to calculate area and perimeter of squares, rectangles and even The Pentagon. We agree that a good extension in the primary setting would be for Year Fives and Year Sixes to be extended by calculating circumferences and areas of circles, again in a real life context.

Thank you for the suggestion Joe, we're certainly going to use it with our classes and once again well done with your outstanding lesson!

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Stock Market Maths

We've found what we think is a good way of covering work with the four operations in a real life situation.

We have used the real life situation of buying and selling shares in order to try to make a profit.

We use three days to cover all of what is listed below:

Firstly, on day one the children need to be introduced to the stock market, to shares, how people make or loose money and why people might invest in shares. Look at the stock market online to see some current prices or recent changes. There's often a recent news story that can be used.
Next, the children have £1000 to invest. They are given a set of companies and their share prices. The children try to invest as much of their £1000 as possible. With Year Five we have used decimal share prices in p (eg 114.6p), but this can be differentiated to 115p or £1.15 as required. We encourage the children to buy in multiples of 10 to aid their calculations and reinforce what happens when multiplying by 10s. By the end of day one the children should have £1000 invested in companies of their choice.
On day two, the children are shown the overnight share changes (both up and down). This is usually where then frenzy of interest builds as the children see their gains or losses. The next step is for the children to sell back all their shares at their new prices. Then, calculate how much money they now have and reinvesting their money at the new prices, thinking carefully about which shares gained and lost money the previous day.
This then happens again on the third day, but by this time an assessment can be made of how children's development of their four written methods has progressed across the three days.

Finally, the children can compare how they have made use of their £1000.

We have always used pre-written share prices (taken from the actual prices a few weeks prior), but we also have an ambition to work out a way of doing this with live share prices using a website or app.

Incidentally, when we taught this with our classes this year, we had OfSted inspecting our school and they quite liked the lessons they saw: "...pupils put together a share portfolio based on live Stock Exchange prices, and then measure how much they had gained or lost as the prices changed over time. Pupils were very excited to find out what had happened to their shares, and the impact of their choices on their overall investments" (OfSted 2012).

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Underlining Self Assessment

I've been doing this for about a year now and it's been working quite well.

When the children put their date and title on their work they underline the title with either green, orange or red pencil. This is to show how confident they are feeling at the start of the lesson:
- Green, I'm confident and could help others,
- Orange, I'm not quite sure, but I think I understand some of this,
- Red, Stop, I need help.
The children then underline in a colour at the end of the lesson so that there is a record of their feeling from the start and then end. Sometimes children go from red or orange to green, sometimes the other way around and then there are the times when both underlines are in the same colour...

The idea came from @rm8236.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Who Dares Wins

On Thursday, I was thinking of something new to do with my literacy class. Then, all those hours of watching Saturday night television came in useful!

I decided I'd add a game of 'Who Dares Wins' into my lesson.

We had been studying dramatic conventions. So, I based my game of Who Dares Wins on 'How many features of a playscript can you name?'

It could be done with prime numbers, factors of XX, European countries, verbs, parts of a plant, Kings & Queens and so on...

Oh, now if you don't sit in on a Saturday evening watching The National Lottery, here's how it works:

You introduce a topic, in the case of my idea it was 'How many features of a playscript can you name?' Then the children work in pairs or two teams to decided how many they can name. One person or team would say how many they can name. Then, the other person or team will say how many they can name. This carries on backwards and forwards (A: 'We can name 2', B: 'We can name 4', A: 'We can name 7') until one person or team can not beat the amount the other say they can name. They then ask the other person or team to name the amount they said they could name. If they name the amount they said they could then they win. If they can't then the others win.

It worked really well in my literacy class and I'm now looking forward to using it in other curriculum areas. It showed easily who had a better grasp of the features and who required some more support.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

School Twitter Account (Part 2)

For this second post we want to look at the 'how to do it' part of tweeting from your school.

Did you ready Part 1?
Image credit:

Once you've got your school Twitter account set up you'll be ready to start.

You may like to start with some Tweets about every day goings on in your school. Maybe something a child has said, or an award that's been given out, comment on some good learning that's taken place and send out reminders about letters, upcoming trips and events. The main thing initially is to show your parents and local community that the feed is going to be useful and informative for them to follow.

These Tweets can be sent from the web, or you may like to set certain teacher or the school office up with an application like TweetDeck for them to send Tweets from. 

Next, you may like to go on to tweeting while on school visits or residential visits. This is something we've recently started and something that parents have really enjoyed following. While 'out and about' we've found it useful to send tweets by text messgae. We picked up an old phone easily and got a free SIM card to use from o2. So, this was free to initially set up and will just require the phone being topped up in the future. The advantage of tweeting by text messgae is that the phone can be passed from adult to adult, it does not require logging into apps, no one is having to use their personal phone or mobile device and the cost is being covered by the school. [UPDATE MARCH 2015 - This is unfortunately no longer an option.]

Finally for this post, start developing your own hasgtags. For example #STMWales, #CJSQuestions or #SWCCFayre. Our idea is school initials and then event name. This will allow your followers to follow and even respond to a certain event. You could also use hashtags for your local town or county to advertise your school or event.

So, there's two posts and we'll add more shortly...

Part three now available.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

School Twitter Account (Part 1)

Does your school have its own Twitter account? If yes this series of coming blog posts may give you some extra ideas for making use of it. If no we hope these posts will convince you of how you could make use of one.

Image credit:

This is part one and there will be more to come...

Firstly, as you're reading this I guess you have your own personal Twitter account. Have you suggested to your school that you could make use of one? Here are some reasons for getting one:

- Giving your school an official voice on the social network.

- Sending news about the school straight into parents, grandparents, local companies and the local communities Twitter streams. If they're using Twitter they will find it hard to avoid your information!

- Using hashtags (city or town, county etc.) to advertise summer fayers, charity events and other goings on.

- Update families about school trips.

- Receive feedback from followers.

- Sharing children's quotes.

- Asking question that arise during lessons.

- Share children's successes, blog posts, photos etc.

- Create a timeline of the school's ongoing activities.

So, there's part one. More to come shortly on how the above can be achieved easily...

Part 2 now available.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Use YouTube with Confidence

So, there's a video on YouTube you want to show your class. But, you're worried about the comments below it, or the users' other videos that show up alongside or the videos that show up at the end. Or, may be you can't rely on your internet connection. And, if you put the video into your planning will it still be there in future years

Here are two pieces of software we use to help with all of the above:

Firstly, is an excellent way of de-cluttering YouTube. It removes everything except the video, thus solving some of the above issues. They say: 
"That's it. We remove clutter."
Also find them online @cleanerinternet and

Image credit:

Secondly, we use RealPlayer Downloader. It's available from and works on both Windows and Mac. What Real Player Downloader does is it allows you to download any video from YouTube (and many other websites) as a .flv file. If you are a SMART Notebook user this .flv file can be dropped into a Notebook page. From the Real website you'll also get RealPlayer Converter which will allow you to convert the file to a .m4v to place in a Keynote or on an iOS device, or convert to .wmv to place in PowerPoint. In addition to now being able to place the video directly into a presentation you'll also be avoiding all those comments and adverts, but best of all you now have a copy of the video (hopefully it has CC sharing rights) for future use.

We hope you'll be able to make use of these.

Thursday, 26 April 2012


We've realised we have hundreds of brilliant websites stored on our computers as bookmarks or favourites. They're great on our computer for us to use, but no one else can see them!

So, we've decided to use #edubookmarks hashtag on Twitter to start sharing them. We hope some other educators might start posting to it too.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Personalise Your URLs

This post is a quick follow up to "QR Codes and TinyURL in Education".

When directing children to a web address (URL) it can be useful to provide them with a TinyURL or QR Code as outlined in the previous post.

When using TinyURL an address like this is created Thus sending the user here without having to type in the whole URL.

We have recently realised that on there is a 'custom alias' option to create personal (possibly more memorable) TinyURLs.
Image credit:

URLs like these can be used:

Or, you can set up a system for your URLs: - [School initials | Year Group | Subject | Half term number]

So, srink those URLs and make them a little more personal!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Fed up with Spelling Tests?

We need to learn how to spell. It's essential if we're to communicate using written text. 

To find out if someone can spell a word a spelling test can be used. However, this does not need to be always done through the means of 'adult reads word, child writes word and then a score out of ten is produced'.

Yes, still use the 'traditional' spelling test sometimes, but how's about trying some of these too:

Anagrams: Provide the children anagrams of the words for them to then unscramble.

Crosswords: Give the children clues to a word's meaning or sentences with gaps.

Sentences: Write out some sentences. Some using the word correctly, others where the word's used incorrectly. Good for homophones and apostrophes.

Text: Provide a text with the words spelled incorrectly within in. Children correct the words.

Wordsearches: Put the words into a wordsearch for the children to find.

These often provide support, interest and engagement in the learning of spelling rules, patterns or key words for a particular topic. Using these also provides the opportunity to assess the children's understanding of a word's meaning.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Use Your Equipment Out of Hours!

Schools are full of equipment and resources for all lessons across the curriculum. Lots of ICT kit and of course the P.E. equipment. Schools are not occupied all day every day, meaning this equipment is not being used all of the time.

We've been looking at ways to make use of the equipment outside of school hours to make the most of the resources our school has. 

With the ICT equipment we have run events after school or on Saturday mornings for children and their families to attend to use digital cameras, laptops, iPods, Flip cameras and so on. This allows some families the opportunity use equipment they may not have at home, gives families some time together and allows children to teach their parents, grandparents, aunties how to use the various hardware and software. But most of all, gets people using equipment that the school has invested in that otherwise would have laid dormant.These events sometimes have a focus, for example music creation or photography, but have also been 'come and play' sessions where children and their families can use what they want, how they want.

So, that's got the children and their families using some equipment. Now for the staff. We have a games shed full of footballs, rounders kit, netballs and so on. Each half term we've recently started having a staff game after school one day. It again gets the equipment used, gets the staff together and it fun!

So, look at all that equipment in your school and ask yourself. Are you making the most of it after 3:30 and at weekend?