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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!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Poetry In The New Curriculum- Guest Blog by Ian Bland, Children’s Poet and Performer

Before the new curriculum, poetry it seems had played a bit part in primary literacy lessons. Perceived as the poor relation, poetry was that genre of writing that always seemed to be reluctantly taught for a couple of weeks of the year and then quietly ushered away as if it wasn’t quite important enough. Old guidelines required teachers to teach very specific aspects of it in definitive year groups leaving them without much freedom to cater for the children in their classes. In the new curriculum however, all of this has now changed and changed for the better!

”Memorising and reciting are prevalent in all parts of the new National Curriculum, with poetry taking centre stage in English. From year one onwards children will have to learn and recite poems by heart while recognising and discussing different poetic forms.”
Curriculum Vital

Poetry is now an important and central pillar of the new literacy curriculum in England and Wales. Teachers have been given the freedom to explore lots of different types of poetry and revisit it regularly through the school year. It is now an expectation that children are exposed to a wide range of good quality poems so that they can read, recite, share and enjoy it. The new emphasis is on fun and passion and the new curriculum is certainly the richer for it.

So, what are we going to do with this new found freedom? On my many visits to schools across the UK and Europe as a visiting children’s poet I am often asked for advice as to how we can inspire children to love and explore poetry. The most obvious is to make sure your classroom has a solid supply of up to date and engaging poetry books; I’m sometimes a little shocked at the lack of this in some classes that I visit. The next tip I would give would be to not make poetry too formal in your general teaching. Let your children find what they like, give them lots of opportunities to just share and enjoy it for its own sake. Let children PERFORM! Once they become comfortable with it, children can become very adept at performing poetry for others this bringing with it other fringe benefits of increased confidence and all round improved oracy skills.

Michael Rosen makes some excellent suggestions in his video blog Creating A Poetry Friendly Classroom which can be found here:

Some of the poetry activities he suggests for children are as follows:

Read poems at the end of the day/ just before playtime or lunch time- This gives the children the freedom to just enjoy poetry without some activity being attached to it, allowing the ideas and imagery to be absorbed.
Stage a poetry swap- Where children are encouraged to source and bring in to school their favourite poem so that they can read it to others and explain why they like it so much.
Create a poetry show- Having an audience to perform your work to can be a great way of inspiring your children to produce their best work. An audience could be the rest of the class, another year group or if you are really ambitious- some parents in an assembly.
Make poem posters- Children love doing this and sometimes what they produce shows they have a deep understanding of some of the underlying themes and ideas in a poem.
Use poems as a creative platform- This means that the children could use a poem to create a piece of pottery, tapestry or sculpture.
Create a poetry notebook- This is something I often do when I visit a school. Ideas for poems or stories can occur to us at any time and if we don’t write them down they can disappear. I encourage everybody to carry around their little notebooks so that they are handy in a poetry emergency!
Turn a poem into a play- Who can forget the look on children’s faces when they first encounter The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. This poem has got everything; a swashbuckling hero, a damsel in distress, treacherous villains- perfect for turning into a play. Lots of other great narrative poems lend themselves to this activity.
Put on a poetry cabaret in the evening- I have done this on many occasions in primary schools. I ask schools to invite parents and their children in for an after school poetry workshop. Teachers or a guest poet could perform some poetry and then lead everyone through the process of writing their own fun poem (while of course munching on some soft drinks and tasty snacks) Working together as a family to produce and perform a poem is a very powerful way of convincing children that writing is fun, worthwhile and inclusive.

Some professionals I have talked to about the new drive for children to learn and recite poetry have seen it as a backwards step, that it is somehow old fashioned and not so worthwhile. I, however, see it as a very progressive move that taps into our wonderfully diverse and wide-ranging literary heritage.
Poetry doesn’t have to be a genre of writing confined to literacy lessons, it can be used as a powerful tool for learning across the curriculum. There is a rich tradition of poetry here in the British Isles so as teachers let’s go out there with our children and discover it. Let us seek out and discover the wonder and joy of poems steeped in the oral tradition, poems that children can learn off by heart and take forward and use further in their learning.

Ian is working with John Murray and leading joint conferences in Leeds and Dudley this term. I highly recommend this conference which is both practical and informative and provides teachers with a wealth of ideas to utilise poetry as a tool to improve reading and writing. Click the pictures for more information -

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

50+ iPad lessons for Non-Fiction

I am delighted that the next book in the '50+ iPad lessons' series is almost ready for release. Following the huge success of the first book - 50+ iPad lessons for Exciting Sentences - comes the next book focusing on enhancing non-fiction writing using the iPad.

The book aims to help teachers utilise technology to inspire and engage children with their writing. In all my training, I discuss how using the iPad can motivate children to write if they know their writing isn't going to be left lifeless in their books but brought to life and transformed into a digital story.

The new book aims to do that for a range of different non-fiction text types including- instructions, persuasion, non-chronological reports, recount, explanation, newspaper report, biography and discussion.

The book also promotes the use of camouflage learning with each unit focusing on an interesting and engaging stimulus. Each unit consists of lessons that help students use the iPad to firstly discuss and identify features for each text type and then transform children's writing into a range of different digital stories including TV adverts, stop motion animation films, eBooks, podcasts, radio show and even an app!

Each lesson has a step by step guide to using each app and is linked clearly to the new primary curriculum.

You can click the picture to pre-order a copy of the book or follow this link - PRE-ORDER HERE

To get the most from this new book, I would highly recommend also buying Mat Sullivan and Alan Peat's 'Ultimate Guide to Non-Fiction' book -

With both books, I am sure teachers will have a wealth of ideas to improve children's writing and transform learning with modern technology.

If you do get a copy of the book, I would love to hear any feedback and would love to see any examples of work created using ideas from the book. You can tweet me or message my facebook page.

Keep an eye out for the next book - 50+ iPad ideas for fiction writing!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Empathising with refugees through the Save the Children Advert

This is a guest blog post written by John Murray, a reading and spelling trainer who I will be working with on 6th October in Wirral for our joint conference, read more about it here.

Please also take a look at John's website for more ideas and training opportunities -

With scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of WWII, with refugees desperately fleeing to safer lives in foreign lands, it is hardly surprising that the news in recent weeks and months has featured the plight of those caught up in the Syrian conflict.

This poignant advert, produced by Save the Children, delivers an uncompromising (and perhaps uncomfortable) message, one best suited for KS3 or a mature Upper KS2 class. Its narrative is more complex than first appears, forcing the viewer to reflect upon (and empathise with) those caught up in a situation through no fault of their own. It is a powerful piece that will allow you to discuss events in a sensitive and meaningful way.

The video is filmed in the same format as the one second a day project that Lee has previously blogged about here.

Here is the video -

Here are some questions you may like to consider -

[Opening Scene first 5 seconds]

1. How old is the main character in the opening scene?
2. Who is with her? How do they all feel? Why?
3. What does mum say as the girl blows out the candles?
4. What do you think her wish would be for?

[Family life up to 27 seconds]

5. The following scenes feature snapshots of ordinary family life. Make a list of what is happening in each ‘tableaux’. What picture does it paint of this girl’s family life? Why?

[The disruption begins up to 34 seconds]

6. Hidden amongst these clips are two news reports (TV and radio). What does each report?
“…violent clashes with protest…”
“…live ammunition against…”
Why do you think both are cut off and we don’t hear either fully?
What does dad say to his neighbour in response to watching and hearing these reports? How does he say it? How is he feeling?
What do you think his neighbour has said to provoke this reaction?
Why do you think the girl looks down while this is happening?
7. At the end of this scene dad is reading a newspaper. What is its headline?
“Government Declares Martial Law”
What does this mean?
Why do you think we have been given three different types of news reporting?

[The fighting gets closer up to 35 seconds] 

8. What two sounds does the girl hear as she goes to school?
9. What does this tell you about how close the fighting is getting?
10. What do you notice her neighbours doing? Why do you think they are doing this?
11. What is dad unpacking in the kitchen? Why is it tinned and not fresh?
12. We hear another news report. What is being reported?
“…air strikes on rebel positions…”
13. How is this contrasted with the picture the girl holds up to show her dad?
14. What is it a picture of? Is this symbolic in any way? What does it tell us about the girl?
15. Why do you think dad pulls it down rather than look at it?
16. Mum and dad are having a conversation in the background. What does dad say?
“We are going to stay.”
17. What do you think mum has said beforehand? Why would she have said this? Why would dad want to stay in such a situation? What would you do at this point?

[The basement up to 42 seconds]

18. When the lights flicker, what do you think happens next?
19. Where does the family run to? Why would they go here and not flee the house?
20. Why do you think the girl says “What’s happening?” What does this tell us about her understanding of the situation?
21. Why is this scene so dark? Why are candles being used?
22. Why do you think the girl drinks bottled water rather than from the tap? What happens when mum tries to refill the water bottle from the sink? What does this tell us?
23. Is it significant that the medicine bottle empties during this scene? Why?

[The family flees up to 1:05]

24. What clothes is the girl wearing throughout this part of her journey? Why do you think she does not change them?
25. What do you notice about the girl’s hair? Is this significant?
26. Why do you think she says “where are we?”
27. Where are they fleeing from? How do you know?
28. Where does she get the apple from? Why does she screw up her face when eating it? How might it taste? What is mum doing in the background? Why?
29. What other senses are alluded to in this part of her journey: sight, sound, smells etc? What effect would this have on her? What effect would it have on you?
30. At what point does dad leave the family? Do you think he does this willingly? What does he shout to his daughter?
31. Who is the only person to cross the checkpoint with her?
32. Why does the girl cry at this point?

[The refugee camp up to 1:17]
33. How long do you think has passed to get to this camp?
34. Do you think she will be safe here? Why?
35. How does the soldier try to reassure her?
36. What does the medic do to help?
37. Why is she wearing the same garment as her mum?

[The cake – Make a sharp comparison with the opening scene and compare the two]

38. What does mum do to try and help reassure her child?
39. What does this tell us about the passage of time the girl’s journey has taken?
40. Why is only a single candle being used? Why is it so small?
41. What do you notice about the cake itself and how it is represented?
42. What do you notice about her surroundings, what she is wearing, who is with her, the expression on her face etc
43. What does mum say to her daughter?
“Make a wish, darling.”
44. When have we heard this before? How is it the same? How is this second time more poignant?
45. The little girl doesn’t blow out the candle? Why?
46. It is at this point that she looks directly into the camera. Why?
47. What do you think her wish would be? Would it be the same as her previous wish?

[Pausing for thought up to 1:25]
48. Read the final statement:
Why do you think it has been written on a plain white background?
Why does no sound accompany this text?
 Is it written formally or informally? Why have they chosen to do this?

49. What do you think the overall message of this advert is?
50. Why do you think the Save the Children charity has made it?
51. Do you think its message was successful? Why? Why not?
52. Has it changed how you view refugees fleeing from conflict? How so?
53. Do you think it is important to help families from war torn countries secure a safer life?
54. Why might some people disagree with you?

Massive thanks to John for these wonderful questions! After children have reflected on these questions it could lead into some purposeful writing activities including writing letters/diaries as refugees, discussion texts, persuasion or even creating your own campaign video.

If you found this blog post useful, make sure you book yourself on our joint conference - Improving Reading and Writing through Popular Children's Movies and Media.

Here is some information about the day -

To book a place please email or fill out this form.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

E-Safety Self Portraits

If you are looking at rolling out a class blog this year, I would advise starting by discussing the e-safety aspects of blogging. In particular, what information students should share and what they shouldn't.

A great lesson I have done to demonstrate this was to create typography self-portraits of children using information about themselves that they would be willing to share online.

Firstly, have the discussion with children why it is important to keep personal information safe and not share it online. List examples of personal information children shouldn't share - full names, names of parents and siblings, address etc.

Ask the children to think about what information they can share - hobbies, football teams, pet names etc.

The app we used to create our self-portraits was the fantastic Type Drawing, which I have used is so many other ways!

Children used all the information they would be willing to share online as the text in their self portraits. Here is an example of what the children created -

Here are some more examples -

For more ways on using TypeDrawing in class, check out my book - 50+ iPad lessons for Exciting Sentences.