Tools, Sites, Apps and Stuff you have to read w/c 14th April 2013

Ok  we had a week off due to it being UK  Easter Holidays.

Each week my Flipboard app, Twitter responses, my kids, my Kindle Fire and my Google reader deliver a collection of new web tools, apps, books, crazy experiences and must read articles.

Here is this weeks Stuff I have seen:

Why the Ipad Can not do it All Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 21.32.07

Many of us have seen this iPad versus Paper funny on Facebook or Twitter. It has inspired Liz Griffiths to write a piece on when it is appropriate to use a tablet and when paper is best. Take a look at the full article on Edudemic, it is a good discussion starter, particularly if your school is in any stage of an iPad integration journey.

Computer Science for All


The CAS Include group is part of Computing at School and looks at inclusion in the area of Computing Education. The group is looking at getting more girls into computing and IT, though their aim of increasing the diversity of students in the subject shows they have a wide remit. Their newsletter is very informative and has stories of projects and events across the country, along with details of computing posters and great lesson ideas.

Essential CPD from Rising Stars and the Guardian

On the whole my experiences of  courses and training sessions have been quite positive. When it works you listen to an expert for a time, get  asked some challenging questions, undertake tasks that support or extend your learning and then you come away ready to put it all to work back at school. However, I have always been a bit suspicious of online courses and web-based CPD.


I have tried online CPD from another well-known organisation a few months ago, it was disappointing and  the experience was little more than cold box ticking and passage reading. But, this week I have embarked on a challenging online CPD Maths programme that I have found to be more than just a series of well presented multi choice forms. The NACE endorsed course I have signed up for is on Supporting the More Able in Maths at Key Stage 2.

I am finishing session 1 and I am really being stretched , following an introduction and theoretical background as to why children may not make the progress they could it all gets a bit practical. The remainder of this session contextualizes the guidance and advice by looking at your own school data and applying it to real pupils.

I’ll give a full review when I have finished, but suffice to say I have so far been surprised as to how much I am getting out of the course. It is not just practical and relevant either, the flexibility of online means you can pause and reflect or replay parts if you need to clarify something.  There are a range of courses available including  a free one on using iPads in the class. The Maths course I am doing would be great for a senior leader, an assessment leader, Maths Coordinator and or a Key Stage 2 Teacher.

The Objectives for the course are as follows:

  • identify and consider the needs of your more able learners
  • recognise how you can provide challenge by developing using and applying opportunities
  • deepen your own understanding of the mathematics in Key Stage 2 in order to plan effectively
  • develop pupil’s communicating and reasoning skills so they can talk confidently about the mathematics they know and are using.

Hopscotch – Coding on an iPad that goes beyond the Beebot.

hopscotch gif

I have shown this app before and it keeps getting better as more updates are made. Today the beta version, which will soon see approval on the app store allows:

  • A range of commands and controls that remind one of Scratch and/or Logo but more immediate and accessible
  • The ability to run over 5 different programs simultaneously
  • Saving and opening of sequences by name on the devices thus overcoming the sharing of iPad issues which is prevalent in most schools, where one to one iPads is but a dream
  • You can share your work via email

This seems to me the most exciting app on the iPad for teaching Coding in primary schools. I am not sure anything else comes close just yet. Let’s have more apps like this which increase the versatility of the iPad and shake us from our Scratch obsessed minds. The coders behind this coding environment have previously built  Daisy the Dinosaur, which for a while was the only remotely coding app for primary children. They are keen that more children get into coding and they have thought very carefully about the design and GUI. It is interesting to read through the very long essay by Brett Victor, which the team mentioned on a tweet recently, it clearly  influenced their thinking and is definitely worth ploughing through if you are interested in Computer Science for kids.  The development team were also inspired by this piece from the New York times, which reminds us that coding should not just be for boys. One only had to drop into my coding club last term to see that ring a few bells with my year 5 and 6 girl coders!  Did I mention it gets a bit addictive? So much so that I recently created a short program to build a city, as you can see in the video below. If you are using Switched on ICT , then this would link very nicely with unit 4.5 – We are Artists or unit 3.3 We are Animators.

And here is a video I made of my playing

Using the Emoji Keyboard in Class

I find a lot of inspiration and new ideas coming from Mr Parkinson’s Blog and his latest post does not disappoint.

Click on the image to read this post


And finally what keeps us working as teachers, ICT Coordinators, senior leaders etc.
Perhaps this TED Talk sheds some light on it all


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