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Thursday, 8 October 2015

DREAM TEAM 2016 - Guest blog post from the Royal Shakespeare Company!

As technology permeates more and more areas of all our lives, growing numbers of children and young people are getting their ‘first encounter’ of the arts and live theatre through ICT and online platforms.  Whilst these changes to how we consume culture present significant challenges to the cultural sector (rights being just one example) the opportunities are so great, we need to adapt quickly in order to reap the rewards writes Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of Education at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The way we communicate, socialise and live our lives has altered dramatically over the past decade. Theatre and the arts are no exception and using an interface that young people are familiar with and feel comfortable using has helped us reach new audiences on a scale that was previously unimaginable. Digital platforms mean that we can now reach all sorts of people that we wouldn’t have been able to connect with through more traditional channels –whether because of financial or geographical limitations or because they’d decided that it just wasn’t for them.

At the RSC we’ve been exploring how we can use new technologies to extend our reach, particularly in terms of new audiences. . For example in March last year, we became the first UK theatre to co-host a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) giving students around the world the chance to learn from some of the world’s leading Shakespeare experts. Run by the University of Birmingham in collaboration with RSC Education and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Much Ado About Nothing: in Performance was completely free to access from anywhere in the world (with internet access) and looked at how the play would have been staged in Shakespeare’s time, how it’s been interpreted in the past and how it can be brought to life for modern audiences. Students had immediate access to specially created video and audio content as well as seminars from leading Shakespeare scholars, actors, directors and creatives.

We are also the only UK theatre to stream our current productions directly into classrooms up and down the country each term for free. Our Schools’ Broadcasts programme, streaming its 6th screening next month, has meant that thousands of students, who wouldn’t or couldn’t ordinarily access our work, have now seen a world-class theatre production from the comfort of their own classroom. Around half of the audiences for these broadcasts have been completely new to Shakespeare, and over 80% have been new to the RSC’s work. A high percentage of teachers surveyed about the broadcast experience now says they are planning to attend a live theatre performance in the future as a direct result.

Likewise a new suite of free interactive whiteboard resources is helping to transform the way that Shakespeare is experienced in the classroom. This  suite of resources provides a ‘one-stop shop’ for each of Shakespeare’s plays housing everything a teacher needs to successfully introduce their students to  a particular play in performance.  Configured to sit on classroom whiteboards, the resources: introduce the plays through interactive pages; offer instant access to hundreds of images from the RSC archive, as well as videos of actors and directors talking about the plays, characters and their interpretive choices, links to teacher’s packs with discussion topics, lesson ideas and suggestions on how to approach teaching a play in class, stimulate discussion and support learning. We already have resources for Henry IV Parts I and II, the Two Gentlemen of Verona and Love’s Labour’s Lost. Much Ado about Nothing, the Merchant of Venice and Othello are due in the next academic year.

We’re also harnessing the power of the internet to engage a critical mass of schools all over the country in marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death next year. Dream Team 2016 is based around A Midsummer Night's Dream (watch the trailer here ) and we’re asking schools to sign up online now to get involved in as big or as little way as they like - from making a pair of donkey ears/fairy wings to wear to school on Midsummer's Day in 2016, to creating a fairy kingdom or Athenian wood in the classroom to downloading our free playmaking pack and staging their own productions. Off-line we're hosting a mini Playmaking festival in Stratford during the summer term where schools can perform and/or take part in workshops but essentially the scale of the ambition is only possible because of technology that allows us to make our resources available to everyone regardless of where in the country they live – for free.

It’s clear that using platforms and interfaces that young people are familiar with and confident in using is helping democratise our work on a scale like never before. This is great news in terms of giving more teachers and students better and easier access to our work but the longer-term impact can be much more profound. Students and schools are able to ‘dip their toes’ informally into our work and often the result is that preconceived ideas they had about Shakespeare being ‘too complex’ or ‘not for us’ are challenged. When students then have a good experience of Shakespeare in the classroom, their understanding of what they are capable of and their confidence are boosted and the chances are that they will adopt a ‘can do’ attitude to complex work in the future rather than feel intimidated and retreat. So whilst our theatres and the experience of live performance will always remain at the core of everything we do, technology is an increasingly critical part of the jigsaw – particularly in our engagement with young people. As well as allowing us to take our work out far and wide, it provides an important gateway to building an understanding and appreciation of the arts and Shakespeare’s work that can stay with and enrich young people for the rest of their lives.

Information about the RSC’s Schools’ Broadcast Programme can be found at:
For more information about the free interactive whiteboard resources visit:
More information about Dream Team 2016 can be found here: 

I just want to say a massive Thank You to Jacqui and Jo for this! The Dream Team project looks fantastic and is something we will certainly be signing up for at our school.  

Having used Shakespeare in the Primary classroom, the response from the children is always positive. The ability to integrate technology to help children immerse and retell the plays is a very powerful tool! 

Have a read of some previous blog posts about what we have done- 

Retelling Shakespeare with the iPad 
Having Fun with Shakespeare!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Arloon Augmented Reality Apps!

Anyone who has been on my training or visited my blog knows I am a massive fan of using Augmented Reality to transform learning in the classroom. Some previous blog posts that you may be interested in reading can be found here -

Augmented Reality in the classroom

Using Augmented Reality to inspire Augmented Reality

Can Augmented Reality improve Writing?

Mr P is abducted by Aliens!

Interactive Reading Display

Multimedia Digital Stories

Giving Children Super Powers

Reading with Augmented Reality 

Decorating my house with Augmented Reality

SPaG songs using Augmented Reality

The latest collection of Augmented Reality apps I have been using in class are the brilliant Arloon Apps! These are a collection of apps that link well with a range of different curriculum areas. (Click the picture to see the bundle in the app store!)

 Each app is broken down into two areas, learn and exercises. The app is full of different ways to help deepen student's understanding either within activities on the app or using the Augmented Reality aspect. Each app is interactive and helps bring learning to life! A great way to use technology to inspire learning in a range of subjects!

The following trigger image is linked with each app -

The chemistry app would definitely be aimed at KS3 and above with the Geometry upper KS2+. The rest can easily be used in KS2 classrooms! The children absolutely love seeing shapes, planets or a skeleton come to life and certainly engages them into their topic! The following link will take you to a playlist that demonstrates every app - ARLOON YOUTUBE PLAYLIST

I am very pleased to say that I have a FREE copy of the Arloon Bundle above for one lucky winner! Make sure you like and share the following post - 

I am so excited to be able to award one lucky follower the Arloon Education Bundle (Worth £10!) These fantastic...
Posted by ICT with Mr P on Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Improving Reading and Writing through the use of popular Children's Movies and Media - 6th October 2016, Thornton Hall Hotel

Thanks to everyone who came to the conference yesterday. John and I, had a great day sharing ideas and techniques to Improve Reading and Writing through the use of popular children's movies and media.

31 Evaluations

28 rated the content of the speakers as excellent
3 rated the content of the speakers as good
28 rated the delivery of the speakers as excellent
3 rated the delivery of the speakers as good


"Very professional delivery. Easy to use ideas for immediate integration in the classroom. Thanks for a brilliant day. Cant wait for Inside Out tonight!"
"Absolutely amazing, so motivated to go back and try some new ideas. What an amazing day, thank you! "
"Fantastic delivery. Inspiring session with lots of ideas to take back to school. Great day :)"
"Great day - motivational. Lots of ideas to take back to school and share with class. Really enjoyed it! :)"
"Loads of ideas, fantastic day thank you!"
"Excellent engaging training, really enjoyed it. Gained a full list of ideas to use back at school."
"Loads of useful ideas that i will be implementing in the classroom!"
"A wealth of super ideas linked to writing. I especially loved the links to green screen. I can see so many writing opportunities. Thank you for a wonderful day!"
"Well delivered as well as interactive through ideas and things."
"So many ideas that i can use! Very inspiring and engaging."
"Fantastic, excellent delivery. Feeling inspired!"
"Lots of ideas to be used in class!"
"Excellent ideas for teaching Literacy, making it more engaging and creative. Keep up the good work! Fantastic training!"
"Lots of ideas to try in class and share with other members of staff."
"Great day - Thanks!"
"Lots of great ideas to go away with and reflect on how to improve my practice! An inspiring day! Thanks!"
"Exciting ideas for teaching reading and writing. Look forward to using some of the ideas and watching the impact. Great course thank you!"
"Enjoyed the day! I have got lots of ideas to feedback to school. A great day, well paced!"
"Very informative day once again, lots of ideas to go and use in the classroom. I just need more time now to find other videos. Great day! Love the idea of using music and creating own video. Thanks!"
"Great ideas shared. Full of ideas to take back to class."
"So many useful ideas to use in class. The children will LOVE it (and me)! Brilliant day all round."
"A wealth of ideas! Very motivated to get started. Lived up to high expectations :)"
"Very inspiring!"
 "Fantastic apps and ideas."
"Enjoyable, engaging. Lots of great ideas. Inspirational and easy totake back to the classroom. Love the dual narrative and developed more understanding of emotional dexterity."
"Very informative, well presented and thought priviking. Presenters very knowledgable. Gave me lots to think about  - am sure i will be analysing all disney films in the future!"
"Very approachable and engaging speakers that had fantastic knowledge."
"Loved the content and the exciting themes, e.g: Disney."
"Very good content - helpful suggestions for iPad apps/ideas cross curricular links. "

We are looking at repeating the conference at other venues before the end of the academic year! Watch this space for more information!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Inspiring writing with the BB-8 Droid!

Image from Woodvile
Finally, I managed to get my hands on the next piece of kit from Sphero, the BB-8 droid. I have had a sphero for a while and is a great tool for inspiring children with computing and coding. BB-8 takes it to a whole new level. Imagine a beebot on steroids!

Before I talk about how we have been using this in class, Steve over at iPadEducators has also blogged some quality ideas for using this. You can read them here. 

Although the BB-8 is not cheap, it can inspire learning in so many ways. Straight away I thought about the links with writing that could be made. But using apps like Tickle, children can write code that the droid will then follow. Another useful blog post to read is from Mark aka ICT Evangelist who has also used the BB-8 in class. Read what he did here.  He talks about how this sort of technology can create moments of awe and wonder in the classroom and BB-8 certainly does that.

The BB-8 is controlled by an app on your iPhone. In school, I am currently working with Year 3 and Year 1 so decided to use BB-8 to inspire some writing with year 3 and work on some speaking and listening with Year 1.

With Year 3, we sat in a circle in the hall and allowed BB-8 to roll around stopping at certain children who would then ask a question. You can control him to answer yes or no. This was a great way of getting children to think about the types of questions they were asking to try and find out as much information as possible.

We wanted to find out what it was, where it had come from and what it can do. We eventually found the augmented reality hologram tool and this deepened our understanding about his job in outer space.

When we got back to class we looked at developing some sentences to explain what we had found out about BB-8. We used some of the exciting sentences from Alan Peat and Mat Sullivan to do this -

We then used our sentences to create interactive guides using the app Thinglink. This gave use the perfect opportunity to check our writing by recording ourselves reading our ideas and instantly watching them back and thinking carefully about how they sound and whether they flow and make sense. Here are some of the children's examples -

More recently, we have looked at using BB-8 as a character in a story we have written. We have linked it to a piece of music to help us structure the narrative (listen to the song here.) We used emojis to help map our story -

We then did some guided writing to develop our ideas, here is an example of some of the writing -

The next step is to then perform our writing over the music, using our voice for effect and trying to make it match to the music. Try it! Read the above writing with the music playing in the background! Incredibly powerful. This will be linked with the following objectives from the new curriculum -
Comprehension - preparing poems and play scripts to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone, volume and action

Composition - En3/3.3e    read their own writing aloud, to a group or the whole class, using appropriate intonation and controlling the tone and volume so that the meaning is clear.

Watch this space for some of the children's examples when I am next working with that class!

Now with Year 1 I wanted to develop their oral speaking skills by getting them talking about the droid. We started by asking questions to find out more about BB-8. I was in stitches with their first question - Do you like chicken nuggets?

Here is a short video made using Flipagram -

Using the app Tellagami Edu, the children had to record a short video discussing everything they had discovered about BB-8. Here are some examples -

To echo what Mark (ICTEvangelist) said in his blog post, that technology can add awe and wonder but isn't just for novelty. The other activities and tasks we set the children using tech are further examples of how it can enhance learning in so many ways!

For more information or to find out how Mr P can help your teachers utilise techology to raise standards, follow this link - Mr P - Tech to Raise Standards.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

More ideas for Music in the Classroom!

Just start by saying a massive thank you for the support with my first live stream sharing the SPaG songs through Augmented Reality idea. The feedback was really positive and so I have streamed another session tonight with more ideas linked to using Music in the classroom. It discusses the app Literacy Jukebox from @MrACDPresent as well as some other ideas. Here is the vlog -

Here is a link to the old blog post about using Music to remember Math Facts!

Here is a link to the nine times tables rap.

And here is the music video for the doubling machine song -

and follow this link for more information about the courses mentioned - Upcoming Courses.

Make sure you are around on Wednesday night for another live stream!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Spag Songs with Augmented Reality!

I am very excited to share my latest project with you guys and so decided to present it a little differently.

With the latest update to Airserver, you can create a live stream to YouTube. I decided to give it a go, had a few hiccups, but got there eventually. Once I finished the live stream it was then processed as a video on YouTube so you can watch it all here - 

As promised here are copies of the Trigger Word Mat sheets I created -

UPDATE - 27th September

There has been an amazing response to the video and I want to thank everyone for their kind comments! It is amazing to see how many people have already started their designs and ideas! Really appreciate the tweets and facebook messages!

Theses were shared by @eLearning_Laura, follow here channel on Aurasma - elearningld and scan these brilliant designs!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Kids: Take Your Daily Maths Vidamins! Guest Blog by @ghammondmaths

Here is another fantastic idea from @ghammondmaths, if you haven't already seen his previous work linked to Maths SATs revision guides please follow this link.

Kids: Take Your Daily Maths Vidamins!

Whether you are a teacher or a parent, you will always be concerned about your childrens’ maths “health”. Do they have a healthy appetite for maths? Are they improving, growing and exercising their mathematical brains regularly? Along with their 5-a-day fruit + vegetables, why not provide them with their 1-a-day maths Vidamin? These Vidamins (mini-videos) aim to build strength and fluency across different topics by providing a daily, short (5 minute) maths exercise and video solution. 

This is a colourful and child-friendly PDF file containing hundreds of hyperlinks to Youtube videos on @ghammondmaths’ Youtube Channel. In fact, there is one different Vidamin for every day of the year! The links could be used by teachers as daily starters in maths lessons or the file could be placed on a school website, so children can access the videos easily every night as a mini-maths homework. Parents should support their child watching the videos as part of a daily routine. 

The videos are suitable for 9-11 year-olds i.e. Year 5 and Year 6 in preparation for their SATs exams or suitable for Year 7 to support/ reinforce prior learning or weaknesses. There are also links to “Thinking Outside the Box” puzzles and videos which children love and links to extension problems for the more able students.

You can also download a record sheet for each month so watching of each daily video could be ticked off by a parent/teacher if desired. Enjoy! 

Download the file shown in the picture HERE and get it on your school website! The links work on ipads/iphones/tablets and PCs.

You can also download @ghammondmaths  SATS topic PDFs with Youtube links and past SATS papers with Youtube links from HERE
Please follow @ghammondmaths on Twitter for further updates!

I just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Gareth for all his hard work in creating this amazing resources and sharing it with us! Please tweet him and let him know what you think and how you use it in class!