Friday, 24 July 2015

School Facebook Account

In the past, we've written lots about our use of Twitter. These four posts about school Twitter accounts are some of our most viewed: 1, 2, 3 and 4. As a result of these posts, we've often been asked for advice about Facebook accounts for schools. Until now, we've not written about school Facebook accounts as we had no experience of them. However, now that we do, we can let you know what we've been up to...

Image credit:

First of all, we'd highly recommend contacting Chris Talbot,as what he doesn't know about running a school Facebook account isn't worth knowing. 

In the past, both our school and members of staff have had negative experiences of Facebook, so it took some persuading and careful thinking to get the page set up. First choice was whether to use a private Group or a public Page. We went for the page, for the same reason our Twitter account isn't locked: it's a public page for us to share news about our school. The vast majority of what's written in those four posts about Twitter accounts is also applicable to Facebook. Write about upcoming events, share news and engage with the local community. Remember, if someone's 'Liked' the page, anything shared through the page gets sent right into their timeline for them to read. 

In school, some members of staff and the office team have permission to posts to our social media pages from computers they have access to. Some understand Twitter better; others prefer Facebook. So, we set up the account so that something posted to either network will be automatically duplicated on the other. Whilst out of school, we make use of a school phone. From a local supermarket, we purchased a smart phone on pay-as-you-go for about £30 that we can Tweet and Facebook from whilst off-site. As outlined in previous posts, this avoids staff using up their own data allowance, but more importantly means staff can't accidentally post to the wrong social media account (i.e. posting something intended for their own on the school one). 

One main concern was monitoring the page and in particular 'comments'. Within the Page settings there's the option to 'block' comments containing certain words. We've blocked the 100 most common English words and names of teachers, local area and other key words. These comments still exist, so we can see them, but they're not public. In the future, this may change, but at the moment it's our way of monitoring what's on the page. 

Worried about what people may say about the school on Facebook? They'll say it anyway! Given them an official page to do it on and at least you'll see it and have the ability to reply. In addition, every now and again (if you have a unique school name) get the office staff to search Twitter and Facebook for your school's name - you'll be amazed (good and not-so-good!) 

Update (March 2016): See 'Facebook for School communication' too. 

So there you go, if you've not got one, go get one. If you're using one form of social media, you may as well use them all!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Re-Blog: "All in a Year's Work"

On Staffrm, Liam has reflected on what he's been up to over the past year...

"First of all, I'm a class teacher, computing subject leader and a year group leader who is part of SLT. That gives this post a setting. So, here are the roles that stand out from year nine of 'being a teacher':" Click here to read the full post.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Road Sign Angles

In the past we've used roller coasters as a real-life link and vehicle for studying angles in maths. When driving to work last week, I started to wonder about angles I could see on road signs...

It started with the 300, 200, 100 yard marker boards: "What angle are they at?"

Next, on the the directional signs, "Are the two obtuse angles on the end of the smaller are larger signs the same measure?"

Are there similar or same angles in lots of road signs? 

As of September 2007, 'Traffic Signs'.

Due to the responsible nature of my driving, I chose not to take photographs of the road signs whilst driving. These images came from a Creative Commons image search. However, next time I'm a passenger, I may snap some of my own. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

Minecraft and editing

This is something we tried recently in our Year Six classroom and came away with a qualified success.
The aim was to get the children to work on their editing skills and, in order to engage them, we decided to play the first day of a survival game of Minecraft. For those of you who do not know, survival Minecraft is the version of the game where the character starts with nothing at all, has to make all equipment and get some food and shelter before night falls and zombies, skeletons and other things which go bump arrive to munch on your character.

We took in our Xbox 360 with the game, hooked it up to the IWB and chose a child to be a player. We were very clear that only one person would get to play the game during the lesson in order to avoid complaints (only partially successful) and randomly chose someone from the class to take control.
Whilst the child played the game, the rest of the children were writing the story of what was happening on the screen. We paused the game at regular intervals in order to discuss description, thoughts and feelings and what might happen next.
The game carried on until, luckily, the player discovered a village. We were then able to hide in the village whilst surrounded by a 'horde' of moaning, ravenous (the class came up with that) zombies. As dawn broke, I ended the game and we looked at the writing.
What the children had for the most part was a very clear first draft. As the writing had taken place at pace, there were lots of errors and, even when there was description, chunks of text that clearly could be improved.
The children then restarted the writing from the beginning on a new page, improving it as they wrote and adding much more depth and detail.
What we ended up with was two interesting pieces of writing. The first having a definite plot, characters and even the build up of tension. The second, which had been redrafted, was clearly improved with a much wider range of vocabulary.
However, the lesson could be improved in a number of ways. Firstly, in both pieces of writing there was a tendency towards shorter sentences. Secondly, there was no dialogue, so in future, when stopping the game, we would talk about what might be said. Finally, we would try to find someone who was not so good at playing the game so that there was a bit more suspense during the 'day'.