Sunday, 26 April 2015

'We Make Use of...' Spellodrome

This is the first post of a series that we're goign to tag with 'We Make Use of...'

We've been making use of Spellodrome for about five years. Initially a little sceptical of how Mathletics (covering all of maths) could  have a similar site focusing on only spelling would work, we began to use it.
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In the site, there are word lists set up that can be used. These link to curriculum expectations. There is also the ability to set up custom word lists. To learn the spellings there are a large variety of enjoyable games for the children to complete. These games include: putting parts of words back together, a similar game to hangman, writing word in sentences, word searches and more. The games enable the children to learn the words, their meaning and the sounds that make them up in a variety of contexts.

Both teachers, pupils and parents are able to track pupils' progress

Within Spellodrome, there are certificates that an be earned by children for their independent work. We hand these out in class and in assemblies within school. The children are engaged and motivated by them and, seeing them being handed out, also motivates others to use Spellodrome too.

We have used this to accompany weekly set spelling lists, as part of spelling lessons, to support prevention and intervention groups, for independent work and more.

That's just a small insight into what we've found Spellodrome useful for. If you want to know more, please get in contact with us or 3P Learning.

Note: We have written this post as a result of using this website in our classrooms. We have not been asked or paid to write. We are often approached to write posts, but have and will continue to only write about what we have done in our classrooms. We're two full-time class teachers choosing to blog about our experiences.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

World War II Letters

Our next topic is to focus on a period of historical significance and we are looking at the events in and around Dunkirk during World War II. As well as being inspiring and well resourced, one of the reasons it is so interesting is that it is easier for the children to relate to the people who lived through this period of such importance. Our last history topic was the Mayas and, whilst fascinating because it was something the children knew nothing about, it was hard for children to relate to a life experience that was so far removed from their own.

In order to help our children understand the significance and participation of real people in World War II we have made use of actual letters from participants in in the war. This Canadian letters and images website ( is an excellent and moving source of information including letters, photos and other documents about real people who took part in the war and is the source of all the resources we have used in our display.

Initially we chose two main people to base our work and display on. Daniel Serrick and Ernest Underwood. Both of these people were Canadians who fought in the war and the letters they wrote or are about them reflect two horrible experiences including Daniel who, unfortunately, did not survive
The display we designed was inspired by a recent visit to the stunning Imperial War Museum North, whose exhibits are all built around the personal experiences of people from conflicts throughout the recent past. Every half an hour or so they also project onto their enormous backdrops a multi-media presentation using memories and pictures. We strongly recommend that if you are in Manchester you pay a visit to this engaging museum.

Our display, to begin with, is based on sharing personal stories of people from the war. We chose a couple of letters from the individuals we had picked to reflect some of the life experiences they were having during the war or from people around them as they process what had happened to them. This allows the children to understand the impact on friends and families as well as the individuals involved. Linked to this, we also chose a photo of them so that children could see that these were real people.

The children were interested to read about them and, even though it is still challenging, were better able to understand some aspects of their lives especially when they talk about the day-to-day aspects of their lives.

A Powerpoint containing the resources for the display can be found in our Dropbox folder here

The next step, again inspired by the visit to the museum, is to add an audio-visual element to the display perhaps using some the augmented reality tools that are available.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Apps for Your Primary Classroom XII

Our 12th post about apps we've made use of, that others may like to try too. The other posts can be found here.
TypeDrawing  *  
Math Shake

ID Weeds

* These apps are included here after reading about suggestions for their use in '50+ iPad Lessons for Exciting Sentences' by Alan Peat and Lee Parkinson. Having used this book in our school, we happily recommend it. In the book, it gives detailed, interesting and innovative ideas for using the apps above and more in the classroom. Our classes have enjoyed these activities and improved their writing attainment as a result of its purchase.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

First Lesson with #GAfE

Our school had looked a making use of Google Apps for Education for a number of years. This current academic year, we were in a position to start making use of it. Starting in July 2014, we set in motion the wheels of getting started. By October 2014, we were ready to go. But, it wasn't until we met up with Peter at Bett 2015 and he basically told us to stop faffing around, it's not that hard to get going and to and, well, just get on with it, that we began using it. 

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As we've blogged about in the past, we are very familiar with Google and the online tools offered by them, we were a bit unsure about how the 'child version' would differ. So Liam posted the following Tweet to get us started:
We were keen to get off to a good start and ensure the children were engaged. This lesson (entirely based upon the responses to that Tweet) ensured the children were engaged from the very start! Here's what we did:

- gave children a document to write a sentence about their week on to;

- asked for impressive words to be placed in a spreadsheet (this was then turned into a word cloud);

- filling in a form and seeing the responses arrive in a spreadsheet real-time;

- ALL drew on and edited the same drawing (30 children, together);

- we moved items into folders (tidy Drive);

- made a drawing and shared it with a friend for them to edit.

All while having the relevant documents displayed for the class to see on the classroom projection. This gave the class an insight into what Google could offer them
Since then, we've used Google tools on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. It's aided children's learning and working both in school at home. We'll blog again in the future about what else we've done with it.

Here's how we introduced it to the rest of the staff: