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Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Vagabond - A beautiful animation to use in class!

I stumbled across this fantastic video and straight away saw the potential for it in the classroom. Here is the short animation -

Some ideas for use in the classroom -

  • Play the first 12 seconds, ask the children to listen to the sounds, what can they hear? Where is the story set? 
  • Pause at 25 seconds, what do we notice about the setting? Where might it be? What words describe the people in the video?
  • Pause at 54 seconds, who do we think this man is? How old do you think he is? What might his job be?
  • Pause at 1:15 - What is the relationship between the man and his dog? How does the man feel when he sees the dog? How does he show this? Does the dog feel the same way? What might the alarm signal? Something good or bad? Why?
  • Pause 1:30 - Do we think the man is rich or poor? Why are they wearing masks? What might happen?
  • Pause at 1:53 - When is this story set - past, present or future? What time of day is it now? How do we know? 
  • At 2:03 - What do we think is going to happen?
  • At 2:40 can you think of words to describe how the man is feeling? How does he show this?
  • At 2:42 - What part of the city is he in? Who created the statue? Who is it? What are these metal boxes? What are they doing? Where are they going?
  • 2:58 - The man ends up on the floor? What does that show us about his status within the city?
  • At 3:15 - What are the youths doing? Why is it different to graffiti we usually see? Do they know it is wrong? How do you know?
  • At 3:32 - Why don't they want to help initially, why do they help him? 
  • At 3:46 - What is the weather like? How do we know?
  • At 4:38 - Where is he now? In what ways have the creators tried to personify the factory?
  • At 5:00 - Ask, how is he feeling? What does he need to do? How may he do it?
  • At 5:40 - What motivates the man? What stops? Do we have a better understanding of the setting? Is the dog saved?
  • At 6:00 - What has changed? Has it changed in a positive or negative way? 
  • At 6:45 - How does the man feel about the new world they have seen? How does the dog show his appreciation? What does the train metaphor represent? Is it a surprise? Does it all make sense now but would it have been as effective if we knew that at the start?


  • Write a diary as the man 
  • Write a diary as the dog.
  • Write a first person recount as the man.
  • Use scenes to build tension
  • Use scenes to develop show not tell writing
  • Use different scenes to work on figurative language - similes, metaphors, alliteration and personification.
  • Create direct speech conversations between the characters.
  • Write a report about the 'train city.'
  • Write a persuasive review of the film.
  • Create a descriptive comparison of the scene at the start of the film with the image at the end.
By all means, please share any other ideas for using the fantastic short film. 

SPAG Music Videos

I am not a fan of the SPAG test. I think it is an awful way to assess children's understanding, however, I know plenty of teachers are having to teach for the test and struggling to make it accessible and interesting to their pupils.

I have previously blogged a few ideas for how you can use the iPad to make SPAG a little more exciting here.

As a school, we have been using Dave Godfrey's Number Fun songs for the past few years to help children remember number facts. This was after receiving some amazing numeracy training from Anthony Reddy. It has worked brilliantly to help children recall different facts. It has made me consider using the same approach to help children understand different grammar terms. So here are a few examples that you may find useful in the classroom - 

I am a massive fan of Flocabulary, teaching different topics through hip hop. Here is one of their videos all about prefixes -

See more videos from Flocabulary here.

Similes and Metaphors by The Bazillions -

See more videos from The Bazillions here.

Noun Town -

Grammaropolis have lots of similar videos that can be played here.

Contractions -

You can see more Grammar songs from Melissa here.

Pronouns -

Verb Rap -

I hope you find them useful, I know my students are!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Alan Peat presents....Using Technology to Enhance the New Curriculum - 27th February 2015 Flintshire

Thanks to all that came to the conference on Friday in Flintshire. I had a great day sharing ideas and strategies to enhance the new curriculum using technology. Thank you all for the fantastic feedback!

35 Evaluations

34 rated the content of the speaker as excellent
1 rated the content of the speaker as good
34 rated the delivery of the speaker as excellent
1 rated the delivery of the speaker as good


"Relevant, Real, Inspiring!"
"Honestly one of the best courses i've ever been on. Only wish i had a class, so i could put all this into practice on Monday! (Might borrow one!)Inspiring and entertaining. Children in your class are very lucky!"
"Excellent delivery - fun, lively, engaging and someone who is passionate and can make learning fun. Excellent course. Very useful!"
"Loved it, really enjoyable. Thank you!"
"Super entertaining course with very useful content!"
"Brilliant course, full of excellent ideas, escecially as i dont have iPads but was still relevant. Thank you!"
"Superb information- apps, ideas for learning, teaching assessment, feedback, literacy, numeracy - all through the enhancement of ICT that will inspire pupils and especially boys."
"This training needs to be cascaded throughout North Wales eg: Cluster Inset days, more training days in North Wales venues. All schools in North Wales and everywhere else need to recieve this training." 
 "Very practical, real examples to use and to inspire learning. Great Course :)" 
"Not contrived - technology truely enhancing learning and not just ticking a box. All teachers should have this perspective of using IT. Its not about not having time to embed 'yet another initiative', its about streamlining what you teach, getting rid of what doesnt work and focus on what will inspire and motivate your children.Excellent. I'll keep an eye out for the next course!" 
"Excellent ideas to use straight away" 
"Fantastic course with lots of ideas to share with the staff at school. Will hopefully find that the staff are enthused when i lead a staff meeting to feedback. Love the idea of using Angry Birds as a stimulus." 
"Very light hearted approach to the topic and delivered in a fun way. Really enjoyed it and found very useful. Thank you for a really good day. I will try some of the apps i have not yet used.Entertaining and inspiring, fast paced." 
"Tremendous course. Confirmed that i'm in the right trade. I just need to get time to do it all. Thank you!" 
"Very informative, lots of ideas explained visually and enthusiastically. Inspirational and incredible!" 
"Excellent course. Fast paced but lots of ideas. Feeling inspired to have a go." 
"Inspirational ideas! I'll use some of the ideas to start me off and then progress from there!" 
"Very inspiring, loads of useful ideas. Thoroughly enjoyed the course!" 
"Fantastic ideas to take back to my school. Many Thanks.I have been truly inspired! Already set up a twitter account! Thank you!" 
"Fabulous course, Thank you." 
"Excellent ideas which we can try out at school." 
 "Really good inspiring ideas. Children will love the ideas in class." 
"Full of practical ideas that are applicable for school. Thank you very much :)" 
"Lots of fab ideas. Great practical things that can be used. Really inspired to do stuff in class." 
"Excellent ideas using a variety of apps ro enhance learning. Some brilliant ideas utilising ipad apps for assessment in the classroom." 
"Fantastic ideas to motivate/engage pupils in the classroom.Very inspirational, loads of ideas to implement within school." 
"A fantastic course. Things that i can do with my class and colleagues instantly, that will make a huge difference." 
"Friday Night = iPad night!!! Such a lot to look at and test with my own kids! Thanks!" 
"Fantastic day with lots of new ideas. Inspirational day, cant wait to try out all the new ideas in the classroom. I know this will bring my planning to life. Thank you!" 
"An inspiration! I have followed your blog for a long time. Great to see it all come to life! Fantastic ideas i cant wait to get back to school. Thank you!" 
"Very knowledgable and enthusiastic speaker. Ideas which can be used in school." 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Decorating my house with Augmented Reality

To say I am a fan of Augmented Reality is an understatement! I feel it is a very powerful tool to enhance and transform learning in many ways, from inspiring writing to sharing and displaying children's work.

You can read some of my previous posts on Augmented Reality 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

After months of worrying and stress, we have finally bought our first family home. This half term we have taken baby steps in decorating our house and decorated one wall as a way to keep memories of all our precious holidays abroad -

We bought a world map wall sticker and framed a picture from every holiday we have been on since we met. Obviously it is a work in process and hopefully we will be able to add more to it over the years. 

I felt that one picture wasn't enough and wanted to link more pictures of each holiday to this and so used Augmented Reality through the app Aurasma. I created a private channel and linked Flipagram videos of each holiday with some music to each framed picture that is now the trigger image. 

I can share my private channel with family and will be able to continue to add a video to each picture we put on the wall in the future. 

Using my mobile or any mobile that has Aurasma and a link to the channel is able to scan the trigger image and watch the video of other pictures from the holiday with a song that takes us back to that time. 

So if I am ever having a bad day, I can just scan one of the pictures and reminisce about wonderful places and amazing memories we have created.

Here is what it all looks like -  

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

More Disney in the Classroom!

This lesson was inspired by a recent trip the see the incredible theatre production of Lion King in Manchester. After chatting to John Murray, he told me about a lesson he has done based on the Lion King.

I have previously blogged about using Disney in the classroom, you can read it here.

The following is what we did with his lesson. John Murray visited our school last year and delivered some reading training. I was extremely impressed and immediately brought him on board with the Literacy Shed. I would not advise schools to invest in training with someone I didn't highly recommend myself. John is the author of the fantastic "Reading Explorers" book series, which is having a BIG impact in our school. His training is practical, accessible, engaging and his ideas work in the classroom. As you will see from the following lesson we did today!

Show this picture of Mufassa and Scar.

 Who do they think the King is and who is the villain? Why do they think this? What attributes might each character have? Tell them one lion is called ‘Scar’ and one ‘Mufassa’. How do you think they got their names? Why does Mufassa not have a name we recognise? (An African name for an African lion)
Introduce the picture of Simba -

Who do they think he is? What is his place in terms of royal lineage? What would need to happen for Scar to become King? What do you think Scar will do to become King? Why would he need to make this look like an accident?

Share this clip -

 Use this as a stimulus to develop Emotional Literacy. How does each character feel at certain points in this scene? How do their actions show this? Would we feel and act in the same way? Why? Why not?

Share the speech Scar makes to the rest of the pride - 

Mufasa's death was a terrible tragedy; but to lose Simba, who had barely begun to live... For me it is a deep personal loss. So it is with a heavy heart that I assume the throne. Yet, out of the ashes of this tragedy, we shall rise to greet the dawning of a new era... in which lion and hyena come together, in a great and glorious future! 

Use the questions to explore the speech -

1. Highlight the word ‘tragedy’. What do you think this word means? On a scale of 1-5, how strong do you think this word is? Why?

2. Can you think of a real life tragedy in the news recently? What was it? Why was this event tragic?

3. Why do you think Scar uses this word twice?

4. Scar uses alliteration several times in this speech. Can you remember what ‘alliteration’ is? There are four examples of alliteration in this speech. Can you spot them?

5. What do you think the phrase ‘heavy heart’ means? Is it positive or negative? Why do you think this?

6. This speech can be split into two parts. The first part is sad and sombre, the other is more optimistic. Where are the two different parts of this speech? Colour them in two different colours.

7. How would you speak the first part? Think about how fast you speak: does your voice rise or fall? How might you act out your sadness when speaking these words?

8. Why do you think the writer has included an ellipses in this section? What might Scar do when he gets to this part? Why?

9. What word begins the second half of this speech?

10. How might your voice change when reading this part? Why?

11. Scar uses a very strong image of the breaking of a dawn to show the start of ‘a new era’. What do you the word ‘era’ means? Is it a short or long time period?

12. Why do you think he describes this new era as coming ‘out of the ashes’? What do you think this phrase means?

13. Why do you think Scar uses an ellipses in this part of his speech? Is it for the same or a different reason than previously? Why do you think this?

14. Throughout the speech there are several words that need to be stressed so that they help deliver a punch to the listener and will be remembered. Circle some words and phrases that you think you will need to stress when you deliver this speech. Compare your ideas with a partner. Did they choose the same words as you? Why might this be?

15. Why do you think Scar ends his speech with an exclamation mark?

Why is Scar’s first speech to the pride so important? Why must he lie about how he feels?

Read the speech out to the class in a monotone, without any tone or stressing any words or pausing for emphasis.  Ask them if this was well read. Why not?

How could we improve it? Look at commas and underline particular words and phrases you’d like to stress and emphasise. Let them take ownership of which words and phrases these are. Talk about: pitch, power, pace and volume.

Tell the children they are going to be Scar and take them into the Hall to practice in pairs and small groups reading out loud to each other. Put a ‘scar’ on them like Scar to help get in character. How can we use our voice, body actions and eye contact to bring this speech alive?

How might we learn this speech so that we don’t have to hold our speech? Should we write notes on our speech to help us when we are reading out loud? Why is this a good idea?

Once the drama session is over, show them Scar’s speech clip. Compare their speech with that of Jeremy Irons (which is a little rushed). Use this as a stimulus to write own speech.

I used these ideas with the two classes I worked with today. Year 5 looked at all the Authorial Intent Questions using Explain Everything. I created a presentation with the speech and all the questions and asked children to orally record themselves discussing the text using the prompts. Here are some of their efforts - 

With the Year 4 class we looked at improving the speech. The children edited and wrote their own versions - 

They then practised performing their speeches and bring it to life using their voices and adding actions. They were encouraged to really think about how to gain the trust of the rest of the pride and win them round. Here are some of their efforts recorded on iMovie, played alongside the original clip -

The lessons were fantastic and the children were so engaged using a stimulus they were familiar and confident with. The range of literacy skills developed during the sessions were amazing and tick so many boxes! And this is just one lesson idea from the fantastic John Murray, so please look at his website and consider getting some top drawer reading and spelling training from him!

We also discussed how the Lion King is very similar to Hamlet. Again this can be explored further -

Hamlion - Common Narratives in Hamlet and the Lion King
by Wildyles.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Using Virtual Reality in the Classroom!

I recently purchased a Google Cardboard Virtual Reality headset. Placing your smartphone into the headset and loading a compatible app, the lenses create an impressive and rich 3D environment.

Most compatible apps are available on Android, as the concept for this headset was created by Google. There are however a few iPhone apps and YouTube videos you can use on your iPhone. Possibly the best app for the headset on iPhone is - Dive City Coaster.

And this is what we used in class today to inspire some writing. Today I was working with a Year 2 class and I asked them if they had every been to a theme park before? We then discussed what we find at a theme park. Once we identified Rollercoasters as a feature, I asked how many have been on. Of course no-one had, as they are too young. However I told them today they are virtually going to ride a rollercoaster.

Before children immersed themselves in the rollercoasters, we discussed why people ride them and why they are popular. We listed words to describe how we may feel before riding:

  • Scared
  • Terrified
  • Nervous
  • Anxious
  • Petrified
I then pushed this further to see how the children would show they were feeling this way. How would you show you were nervous? They replied with ideas such as -
  • Red face
  • Trembling lips
  • Biting their lips
  • Butterflies in their stomachs
  • Sweaty, clammy hands
  • Dry mouth
  • Lump in their throat.
I then allowed them to ride the virtual rollercoaster - 

We then used a combination of some shared writing, linked with Slow Writing and Alan Peat and Mat Sullivan's exciting sentences to write a paragraph of tension as we ventured on our rollercoasters!

Here is some of their writing -

As we only had one headset, I needed to find an alternative that would help children immerse themselves in the environment as much as possible. This is where I can across 360 Videos. These apps showcase impressive video clips recorded by special cameras that are able to capture a full 360 degree angle. The apps allow the user to move around by moving their device. To give you a taste of what it would look like here is an example from the im360 app (just press your mouse and scroll to see a full 360 of the film) -

Using the app 360 Video, children were able to ride the Saw from Thorpe Park - see a similar version here.

Other apps similar to this are - Spherevision, The Chase, Avet 3D virtual tour and Kolor Eyes. All of them provide some incredible 360 videos for children to explore. They can visit different locations around the world, fly a plane, ski, the possibilities are endless! And as you have seen can inspire some incredible writing or topic work.

A couple of my favourites as alternatives to the rollercoasters have to be these from the Kolor Eyes app (again, move your mouse to rotate the video.) So many possibilities for writing, including first person recounts, locational descriptions, so many possibilities -

The rollercoaster VR could easily link in with this project from another blog post. 

Please email, tweet or comment if you use any of these ideas, would love to see how other teachers use them, just as always, remember to give a little shout out to where the initial inspiration came from. If this idea is something you think would benefit your students, Mr P can provide training for staff looking at ways to use technology to inspire, engage and enhance learning. See more details here -

Monday, 9 February 2015

Dino Tales! Immerse children in a Dinosaur filled world!

From the creators of the great app, Hakitzu, comes this new and impressive app - Dino Tales. This fantastic prehistoric environment will have children hooked as they navigate and explore this dino invested landscape. Filled with different challenges, children will love using this app as a stimulus for topic and literacy work and is sure to get them engaged and inspired with their learning! Watch the video below to see the app in action!

I know many classes use Dinosaurs as a topic and this app would fit nicely as children will learn all about different dinosaurs while playing this impressive 3D game.

What I love about this app is the clear links with literacy. Children building up questions to ask to find out more about Dinosaurs to then writing their own storybook, recounting the gameplay. The parent tools allow you to control how long the gameplay is meaning you can keep it to a short snappy task before using it as a stimulus for more writing.

You can download a copy of the app - HERE

Or we have some FREE Promo Codes up for grabs on my Facebook Page -