Thursday, 4 February 2016

Breakfast Seminar in March

Cath Marsh from Clicker is hosting a FREE breakfast seminar in our region on March 15th. The focus will be improving reading and writing with Clicker 7, the award-winning literacy support tool. We really hope that you will be able to attend.

From planning, to writing, to proofing - Clicker includes all the tools your pupils need to succeed. New for 2016, Clicker 7 builds on previous versions of this much-loved software to provide the ultimate cross-curricular literacy toolkit. iPad apps also available.

The seminar is from 8:15am to 10:00am and the details are below:
Nottingham Breakfast Seminar
15th March 2016
Nottingham Village Urban Resort, Brailsford Way, Chilwell, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 6DL

For more information please click here

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


I was fortunate to be allowed to attend BETT in London last week. The exhibition provides an opportunity for companies to showcase the products that they have created to support schools using technology. It’s a huge affair and increasingly attracts companies and delegates from Europe and beyond. In addition, there are seminar areas offering a rolling program of drop in talks. In my experience the most useful of these are given by teachers showcasing what they are doing in the classroom.

I attended a talk on using Minecraft in the classroom. It alleviated any concerns I had and enthused me to give it a go. I just need some money to buy the edu version and a school to work with! Rising stars are bringing out some materials later this year and there is a free sample to download from their website. This explains really well how to manage Minecraft so that it provides a safe environment for children in school.

I also attended a talk on Power Bi in the Microsoft area. This is a free downloadable tool or part of Office 365.  I’ve looked at this before as its tagline is” bringing data to life” which definitely appeals to me. The talk wasn’t useful to me as it was geared towards academy trust management but I still think it’s a useful area to explore.

Some products really excited me. Codebug is a cheap (Surprisingly it’s cheaper to buy this from Rapid Electronics than directly from Codebug) programmable device with a 5x5 LED display. The programming is done using a web tool and it’s powered by a watch battery. At £12.50 each I’ve already ordered some for my digital leaders to have a go with. I recently used some crumble boards at Carrington School and was amazed by how easily they applied their programming experience gained in Scratch to another drag and drop programming language. One of the most impressive things I’ve seen this year. I have high hopes for the Codebugs.  

If you are an iPad school you probably use the Explain Everything App. They now have a resource (annual subscription) which allows simultaneous editing by pupils of a file. A bit like a wiki but using all the wonderful features of Explain Everything. This really impressed me.

Sometimes you see something at BETT that isn't relevant to your role but you can see it's usefulness nevertheless. This was the case when I visited the VEO stand. They have a tool that can be used in lesson observations. Observations are videoed using a tablet and key moments are tagged using a variety of fields (eg, type of questioning, type of activity)f or later reflection. Targets can be negotiated on the basis of the data gathered and teachers can be paired with colleagues who can support them. I have passed the information onto a colleague but if you are looking for a tool to help with observations this might work for you.

Another useful thing about BETT is that you can look at things and decide that they would not meet your needs, thus saving your school money. It would not be appropriate for me to mention those here! If you get the opportunity to go next year I would recommend it. Careful choice of seminars would be great CPD.

Monday, 25 January 2016


Last week I had a wonderful time working with the year 6 class at Carrington Primary School in Nottingham. Having recently purchased some Crumble Controller Sets from Redfern Electronics we tried out all sorts of programming and electronics activities. The lesson notes can be found by clicking here 

Wall display created after the session.
We started by connecting some LEDs to the boards and then programming them to switch on and off in different ways. Previous  experience with Scratch meant that the drag and drop interface in the Crumble programming tool was readily understood by the class. It was impressive how easily they applied their knowledge to the new interface.

We progressed to using the sparkle lights; pupils cooperated by connecting them in long chains and also programming them in different sequences. We then added a push button switch.

We finished by experimenting with the traffic light module. First programming an individual one and then combining laptops to control both directions of traffic and finally all 4 points of a crossroads. Our intention is to have a follow-up session attaching the crumble controllers to some crumble bots and programming them.

Evaluating the session we agreed that the learning objectives had been exceeded in all areas. I was impressed at how reliable the equipment was and how well it performed. The class really enjoyed the session as it reinforced and extended their programming and knowledge of electric circuits. They were extremely creative in solving problems and celebrated their successes.

Thank-you Carrington for inviting me to join you.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Stop-Frame Animation at Cantrell Primary School

I recently spent a wonderful time at Cantrell Primary School in Nottingham. In year 4 our focus was to explore stopframe animation on the theme of A Roman adventure. We used iPads and the Zu3D app. Children worked in pairs having already made their plasticine models.

Setting up the stage and workspace is key to success in stop-frame animations. Our stages were a collection of old computer boxes with an A3 image blutacked to them. To raise the characters we used a pile of books covered in sugar paper and the ipads were supported vertically using a stand fashioned from a copier paper box lid. A bit Heath Robinson but it works and is cheap!

If you are unfamiliar with the Zu3D app it will be helpful to know that it has a really easy to use interface and in addition to capturing and editing frames it is possible to add music and sound effects, record voice overs, add and edit titles and subtitles and add speech bubbles. We didn’t explore the ability to group frames and the copy, paste and reverse them. The class were completely engaged by the task, collaborated well with their partners and met a really tight deadline to complete their animations. The results were fantastic!
Thanks-you for inviting me to your school to lead this project. You can see some pictures of the day by clicking here

Monday, 14 December 2015

Computing Twilight Sessions in your School

Increasingly schools prefer to have computing training sessions in their schools rather than sending teachers on courses. the advantage is that all staff are knowledgeable and informed and the school is able to implement the new ideas.

We offer customised sessions for your staff (teachers and/or TAs) at reasonable rates. Here are some of the sessions that we have run recently for schools but they are a small snapshot of what we offer. For further details contact Janet Simner on 07957206921 or

TAs: Getting to grips with the new computing curriculum
This session is led by Janet Simner. It is aimed at TAs.
ICT has changed! Now called Computing, it uses different vocabulary and has an increased emphasis on programming. If you are supporting children in the classroom this course will make you aware of the changes and why they have been introduced. We shall start by introducing and explaining the vocabulary. We shall also use the videos and text based resources on the Barefoot website. These will be available after the course for additional study. It would be beneficial to have a second session to look at Scratch skills and ideas on how to use it in the classroom.
E safety hands on session
This session is led by Jan Gray. It is aimed at all staff.
During this session you will be introduced to different online resources that are available to use with children to make them more aware of the dangers and implications of sharing data online. There will be an opportunity to try the resources, discuss their usefulness and share experiences.
TAs: Beebots, Bluebots, Probots and their place in the EYFS and KS1 Computing Curriculum
This session is led by Jan Gray. It is aimed at teachers and TAs who work with EYFS and/or KS1 children.
It will look at ideas for introducing the Beebot as a programming tool and then developing progression activities to extend children’s ability to program the Beebot in more complex sequences and develop their awareness of what we mean by programming. The session will include time for all staff to have ‘hands on’ to try out some of the activities as well as looking at other activities and equipment that can develop programming skills. A CD of materials will be provided.
Using Kodu in the classroom
This session is led by Janet Simner. It is aimed at teachers and TAs in KS2.
Kodu is a visual programming language made by Microsoft specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. In this session we shall explore Kodu and discuss how it can be used in KS2. It will be a practical session aimed at Kodu beginners.
Scratch from Scratch
This session is led by Janet Simner It is aimed at KS2 teachers/TAs.
Scratch is an essential tool to deliver the programming elements of the computing curriculum. If your school are new to Scratch or think you could be doing more then this is the session for you.
Scratch: The next steps
This session is led by Janet Simner It is aimed at KS2 teachers/TAs.
This will be a practical session using Scratch2 on laptops. We shall explore different project ideas that could be used in the classroom eg a stop watch and a calculator. There will be lots of resources to try. You will also learn some new Scratch skills.
Theory Topics in the computing curriculum
This session is led by Janet Simner It is aimed at all teachers.
Are you confused about what should be taught? Do you know what packet switching is? The difference between the internet and the WWW? How data is represented inside a computer? This session will be ideal for all staff. An outline scheme of work is available to support you as you move forward.
Doing more with your ipads
This session is led by Janet Simner It is aimed at all teachers/TAs.
This will look at free apps, or chargeable ones that are so good that you won’t mind paying for them. It will help avoid your ipads becoming internet surfing devices. An outline document is available.

Nottingham e-Learning Community is part of Nottingham City Council, Children and Adults