Wednesday, 27 May 2015

One App - Whole Class

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted to do an activity with my class at the end of an English lesson about word classes. I knew I had Shake-A-Phrase installed on my iPad device, but, at the time, it wasn't installed on the school's iPad devices. I decided to give something a go...
I opened the app up on my device and used AirServer to allow the whole class to see what was on the iPad's screen. I then started the Quiz element of Shake-A-Phrase and when each sentence came up the class called out what they thought the answer was and I clicked what they suggested. As a class, we discussed, enjoyed and learned. 

I've since given this a go with other apps too and in different ways:

Math Duel: Split the class in half. Each team had a person sat at the iPad device and the team called out answers for the person at the iPad to enter.

SpellFix and Word-Juice by Alan Peat Ltd.: Projected the puzzle for all to see and passed around the device with suggestions coming from the class.
At the time of writing, I tried to get Sentopiary to work, but it will not project through AirServer. UPDATE: 03/06/15 For Sentopiary to work through AirServer, the iPad needs to be projected using AirServer and then the Sentopiary app opened. Opening the app and then projecting with AirServer will not work.

Quento: While the class were using the same app, we projected one for the class to do together. 

Also, display two screens side by side - competition...

Even tough we have class sets of iPad devices, this gives a different slant on the activities. If you try it, let us know. We'd love to know any other apps that work well.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Live Blog with Padlet

As part of our computing lessons this year, we wanted to be able to live blog some events in our classrooms. We currently do not have class blogs and were wondering how our goal of Live Blogging could be met. 

We decided Padlet would be a good platform, that the children are familiar with, to give Live Blogging a go. 

So, we set up a Padlet page. We stuck a large QR Code linking to the page on the wall of the classroom. First thing in the morning, we handed the first child in the register an iPad device and gave them an instruction of, "Scan that code and in the next twenty minutes, write about what you do. After that, pass on the iPad device to the next person in the register."

It worked very well. Using one Padlet wall allowed the day's event to all be in one place. The children's familiarity with QR Codes, iPad devices and Padlet allowed them to blog unaided. The results were good and we even got some comments from those who came across our Live Blog. The posts to the page were moderated by the class teacher.

Here's Year Five's day from 18/05/15:

One class, who came across our Live Blog, also chose to carry out their own a few days later and that can be seen here

If you give it a go, we'd love to see the outcome. 

Sunday, 17 May 2015

'We Make Use of...' Mathletics

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We've been using Mathletics for about six years now. Initially, it provided a quick and easy way to direct children towards online activities.

However, it's much more powerful than that and is being improved all the time. There are no doubt parts of the site we are yet to find or utilise fully. The 'Live Maths', which is no doubt the area that children are drawn to initially, is ideal to get children to practise mental arithmetic as it involves competing against anonymous peers - sometimes in class, but often outside of the classroom. Children are engaged by this and enjoy competing against other children from around the world. A lesser known aspect of this, is the ability to change the level at which children are working to make the mental questions harder.

For home learning, we're able to set tasks that link to what has been taught in class and that children must complete before they can take part in any other part of Mathletics. Afterwards, the score the child achieved is logged and can be viewed by the teacher. Some teaching can then take place and the children can even retake the activity to see if their understanding of it has improved. There is a wide range of topic areas and children have the ability to self-differentiate by choosing or harder tasks from within the topic area.

We are increasingly making use of this website to provide personalised learning tasks in the home. As we adapt to assessment without levels and integrate the mastery curriculum, many schools are assessing children based on statements of mathematical skill. Mathletics provides an excellent tool for developing curricula based on these statements through the setting up of personalised programmes. Teachers can create a programme made up of the different statements and drag relevant activities into it making a personalised programme, which children can work on independently at home. The great thing is that  many, if not all, of the activities come with tutorial videos to help parents and children. We had two set programmes used in Year Six at a working towards Level 4 and working towards Level 5 and, by assessing which areas children needed most practise, we were able to target home learning at areas that the children needed most. The setting up of the programmes take time, but if several people are working on them this is not only simple, it is also a tool which can be used across the school and for some time to come.

Times Tables Toons are a range of music videos which encourage children to chant their multiplication facts. They are a little cheesy, but certainly catchy enough even if they are discrete from associated division facts. 

There are various different certificates that can be achieved by children working with Mathletics. We hand these out in class (Bronze), in year group assemblies (Silver) and whole school assemblies (Gold). This recognises the achievements of those receiving the award and encourages others to also work towards the certificates.

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.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Our Own Maths Clock

During a visit to the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, we noticed a lovely clock where the digits had been replaced with mathematical formula. A great idea for getting children to think about numbers.

However, it is too small to be of use in classroom for us and, frankly, was probably too hard for the children so we decided to make our own. We used Powerpoint to create the different representations for each digit and created a different set for each term ranging from straight forward calculations to the names of 2D shapes. To make it a clock we bought a clock mechanism for a ridiculously cheap price from the internet (like this one). Hey presto - one mathematical clock for the classroom. If you want to use it, please feel free to use the PDF from our Dropbox.

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Thursday, 7 May 2015

'We Make Use of...' Alan Peat

Our next post in our 'We Make Use of...' series...

A number of colleagues have been lucky enough to attend training run by Alan Peat. Below are the books* I currently have at my disposal in my classroom. These books, the information brought back from the training and our adoption of a whole-school approach to English coverage has transformed my teaching of English and in turn the children's attainment an application (across the curriculum) of rules of written English.
In addition to those books, at the time of writing, I have the following apps* installed (indicated by 'Downloaded') on my iPad device:
Whole school - The first message that came back from the training was for us to use a whole school approach: share vocabulary, tools, displays, diagrams and so on. These were mostly from Alan's training, but in staff meetings, we also generated vocabulary and resources we wanted to us.

Punctuation - Alan's book was purchased for each class. As a result, every teacher had at their disposal a book that gave informative and useful information about each punctuations type and how children could be taught how to use them.

Sentence Types - As with the punctuation book, 'Writing Exciting Sentences: Age 7 Plus' was also purchased for each class. Again, teachers now had a method of helping children to improve the variety of sentence structures used in their writing. We looked at which sentences could be introduced in each year group and the accompanying app helped us know with which text types to use the sentences.

Language - Throughout the training, books and apps (as mentioned before), the main factor in helping children to improve their writing ability has been through shared and consistent vocabulary that children can hear again and again and become increasingly familiar with.

Apps / books at home - We've shared the apps and books with parents to allow them to reinforce this learning outside of the classroom. 

These are just our experiences and it's been very positive. There's much more Alan offers on his site and through his training. See for more details.

*Some of these books / apps were purchased by the school we work at, others by us personally and some provided free of charge by Alan Peat Ltd. None of those were for the purpose or expectation of this blog post being written. This is, as always, the view and opinion of two full-time class teachers about something we use in the classroom. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Literacy and Topic in Context - UKEd Magazine May 2015

In May 2015, Liam wrote an article for the UKEd Magazine. The article is about a method of teaching English that we have called 'LaTiC' (Literacy and Topic in Context).

UKEd Magazine are always on the look out for contributors. Contact the magazine here.