Tag Archive for 'SMART Board'

Interactive Teaching Tools for Numeracy and Mathematics

Interactive Teaching Programs for Mathematics and Numeracy were produced by the Department for Education as part of a National Numeracy Strategy. These were designed to be used by primary teachers in helping support the teaching of a whole range of mathematical and numeracy concepts .

Teaching and Learning

They were not designed for use as standalone tools with any pupil working on their own, but were designed to be as adaptable to the needs of the teacher and pupils together in explaining concepts in mathematics and numeracy.


Each tool has a similar interface for ease of use by the teacher. This includes an on-screen help guide – so as a teacher hovers over any item it is explained. There is the option to display or hide elements, meaning only the element required for the teaching point is necessary to display (or to reveal as it becomes relevant to the teaching and learning process). The control panel can be shifted from left-hand to right-hand side, with use with an interactive whiteboard or other display device having been inherent in design of the tools. Feedback (such as numerical data) can be kept hidden or revealed so that in the process of teaching the teacher can guide the pupil to work out an expected answer, which the pupil can reveal to provide confirming feedback.

Help Guides

For each tool there is an extensive helpguide available as a pdf for viewing either on-screen or printing out. These tools are designed to support the teaching and learning process with a teacher guiding a pupil, group or class of pupils, through their learning, and a pace appropriate to them. They are incredibly flexible tools so can be used at many stages in primary school.

Numeracy and Mathematical Topics

The range of topics for which interactive teaching tools are available include: Area, Calculating angles, Coordinates, Counting on and back, Data handling, Decimal number line, Difference, Division Grid, Fixing points, Fractions, Grouping, Isometric grid, Line graph, Measuring cylinder, Measuring scales, Moving digits, Multiplication facts, Multiplication grid, Number dials, Number facts, Number facts, Number grid, Number line, Number spinners, Ordering numbers, Place value, Polygon, Remainders after division, Ruler, Symmetry, Tell the time, Thermometer, and Twenty cards.

Where can you access these resources?

These resources are no longer available from the Department for Education’s own website but are available from the following links:

Primary National Numeracy Strategy Interactive Teaching Programs – this site take you straight to the list of programs, click on chosen program which will take you to a Guide for that specific tool which will start in the browser on clicking “Run..” in the top right corner of each page. The guide for the complete range of tools can be accessed as a PDF from the “ITP Guide”  link on the main page. If you wish to download the programs for use offline (perhaps to embed in the likes of SMART Notebook software to be included in a sequence of support materials for a lesson), then instead of clicking on the program to run any tool, simply right-click on one, and choose “save target as” to save the file to your computer (as a flash swf file) which can then be dragged into SMART Notebook to run from there without the need to be online.

55 Interactive Teaching tools for Mathematics on RuperCollins.com – this includes other resources which can also be either downloaded or used online.

National STEM Centre Interactive Teaching Programs for Mathematics – this site provides further descriptions of each tool and requires signing up to the STEM website to access the resources.

SMART Exchange – SMART Board Resources for the Classroom Teacher

If your classroom has a SMART Board in it then a huge wealth of resources is available free to you online, making use of the SMART Board’s own interactive software, SMART Notebook, at SMART Exchange. This lets you browse through thousands of resources created by teachers worldwide, or you can filter your search to resources suitable for a specific yeargroup or teaching stage, or classroom activities, a curricular area, or by your own country’s curriculum – so, for example, Scottish Teachers can find resources to support experiences and outcomes within the Curriculum for Excellence.

SMART Notebook software combines a straightforward presentation tool with a host of interactive elements to help support the engagement of pupils with the topic being taught. And SMART Notebook software resources can be adapted by teachers to the needs of their own learners. SMART Exchange, in addition to the wealth of teaching resources just waiting to be donwloaded and used in the classroom,  also provides links to how-to guides to using a SMART Board more effectively, and a forum for teachers to share tips and ideas.

And if you don’t have SMART Notebook software on your computer where you are viewing the resources you can still make use of them by using SMART Notebook Express all online.

Video Tutorials to help get smarter at using your SMART Board interactive whiteboard in the classroom


In order for an interactive whiteboard to become more than simply a projection board, a teacher with a SMART Board interactive whiteboard needs to know how to make use of the interactive features of a SMART Board. And in order to become comfortable in using these tools this site http://www.fuuni.com/smart/smart provides for teachers an easily accessible series of bite-sized videos on specific tasks. So when you need to know how to do a specific task you can quickly find the appropriate video and watch just that video. Each video is only a few minutes in length so is straightforward to get going with just what is needed. Beside the title of each video the length of the video is indicated.

When that skill is embedded there are ideas for moving on to make greater use of the interactive features of the SMART Board. It’s when the interactive features of a SMART Board are used in the classroom that many teachers find the biggest benefits to learning and teaching in their classrooms.

Short task-specific video tutorials are provided for using your SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

These are grouped under categories and then listed as tasks you might wish to need to do.  Each tutorial title indicates the length of each tutorial.  These cover the following:

The Getting Started category includes Get to know your board, How to Check if the Notebook software is installed, Where to Download Notebook from the SMART website, how to Install Notebook on your computer, and how to Find the serial number on your board to activate the full version of the software. It’s worth noting here that SMART Notebook software is free to download to anyone, and the full version is downloadable. However until a user puts in a serial number the software is a time-limited trial version only. This means teachers with a SMART Board in their school can download the software for home use – they just need to have the serial number from their SMART Board.

The Getting Connected category includes videos on how to Connect the cables, and what the status lights mean.

The section on Using Your Computer In A Whole New Way includes orienting the board, Using the onscreen keyboard, right-clicking, and using Ink Aware in Word and PowerPoint. Ink Aware is a neat feature for using Word documents or Powerpoint presentations where the teacher can use the pen tool to write on a Word/Powerpoint document on the SMART Board and then, using Ink Aware, instantly convert it to text within the Word document. This applies to images drawn onto the board too where Ink Aware lets you add them as embedded images in Word/Powerpoint.

A Whiteboard But Smarter – in this category there are videos showing how to Open the Notebook software, Get to know the interface and wide range of tools, Write on the whiteboard, Move and resize your writing, Convert your writing to text, Type text into Notebook, Draw simple shapes using the shape recognition pen, Draw complex shapes using the shapes tool, Fill shapes with colour, and how to Share your created files with pupils and colleagues.

In the final category of video tutorials you will find videos on Creating Engaging Lesson Activities, how to Check if gallery essentials is installed, how to Download and install gallery essentials, an Introduction to the gallery, how to Search for gallery content, how to Browse for gallery content, and where to Find content on the SMART Exchange, Insert content into your lesson, and add your own files to your own My content area.

http://www.fuuni.com/smart/smart is one of many other sites which provide video tutorials on using a SMART Board in an interactive way to support learning and teaching in classrooms.

Fun or fear? Spreadsheets for Problem Solving in the Primary Classroom – fun over fear!

Spreadsheets - fun or fear?Mention spreadsheets to some primary teachers and there may be a visible shudder!  For those unfamiliar with the use of spreadsheets in a primary classroom they don’t tend to conjure up ideas of a fun activity for pupils.  Part of the reason for that is that for those who have used spreadsheets in their adult life, or are aware of their uses,  it has often been the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel used for business applications that has been their experience.  Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful and versatile tool for those who know how to use it.  For those just starting out it looks somewhat daunting to use.  Part of the reason for that is that it opens as a blank page with an array of toolbars and menus.

But the “what if” question in a mathematics or numeracy lesson in a primary clasroom is exactly where a spreadsheet comes into its own.  Having a bank of pre-made classroom-related real-life examples of number problems presented in a visually engaging way, and in a spreadsheet tool which makes the toolbars more child-friendly, seems to do the trick.  So if a pupil can change a number in a list and see, as if by magic, how that changes the total, it gives more time in the classroom for the important “what would happen if I changed this number” question – rather than the mechanics of addition.  Of course a skilled teacher will incorporate mental maths and thinking time for a class to try to predict an answer before getting the spreadsheet to do the chore.  And that adds to the fun.  It also reinforces the need for mental maths – checking even, by estimation for larger claculations, that a predicted answer is matched by the output of a spreadsheet calculation – it being an important lesson that “garbage in, garbage out” applies, so when setting up a spreadsheet a test with some data gives the answer predicted so that users can rely on the information later given.

In a primary school there is a need for a clear progression of data handling activities involving graph-making tools and spreadsheets. The emphasis is on finding child-centred contexts which quickly grasp the imagination of the pupil to provide engaging activities, where the children can have fun while learning through the use of number-modelling software. The following links are to resources which try to emphasise that, far from being what some adults may consider dry number-crunching tools, if presented in imaginative ways and at an appropriate level for the pupils, spreadsheet tools can provide an outlet for creativity with numbers.

Spreadsheet software which is available to all Falkirk primary schools includes RM Magic, RM Starting Graph, 2Simple Infant Video Toolkit and Microsoft Excel.  The addition of speech, as well as child-friendly visually appealing and child-centred classroom-related activities distiguishes RM number Magic, 2Simple Infant Video Toolkit and RM Starting Graph from Microsoft Excel.  Excel still has its place and links to resources aimed at primary schools using Excel are also given below.

Infant Video Toolkit from 2Simple is nothing to do with video (other than having a bank of excellent tutorial/class leson videos for using with the program with a class). Click here for more about 2 Simple Infant Video Toolkit.  This comprises six programs for early years introducing basic skills, and supported by excellent video lessons aimed at teachers using them with the pupils (that’s where the “video” fits in the title!).   The spreadsheet elements are 2Count (exploring counting with pictograms) and 2Graph (making graphs, bar charts & pie charts in seconds).  This program is designed for the youngest pupils in primary school.  The software is very visual with the activity clearly displayed and the associated videos created as lessons for the primary classroom, designed for use with an interactive whiteboard if available.  There are several classroom related real life curricular topic uses for the spreadsheet element of the program – and while they really are spreadsheets the entry to their use does not immediately look like what a spreadsheet would look like.  The Infant Video Toolkit does not attempt to be everythign to everyone – it has a specific target user age group in mind and presents the tools at exactly the right level for them.  The combination of the video lessons (designed to be very effective if used at the interactive whiteboard with pupils) with the ease of use of the program make this ideal for introducing the idea of entering information on a spreadsheet and displaying it in graphical form for ease of then interpreting the information presented at a level appropriate to the early stages of the primary school. Infant video tool kit also makes up part of Purple Mash online subscription service, giving home access too for subscribers.

RM Starting Graph does what it says on the label! It is a spreadsheet program which comes bundled with pre-made example files for use in the classroom.  And it is aimed at being able to be used at early stages of the primary school.  In addition it is set by default to be in “touch” mode which means by clicking on the object (such as chosen eye colour) the spreadsheet increases the number and the graph automatically increases.  It re-scales graphs automatically. The in-built pre-loaded files also have images already included so younger pupils simply click on their selected picture to be able to see the resultant graph.

The in-built examples all include an on-screen question or task sheet with the opportunity for pupils to enter their responses and print if required.  These are also useful for teachers as starters for ten in thinking about questions to ask pupils in order to raise the use of the program from merely recording information to being able to ask questions at various levels to support interpretation of the information (at a level appropriate to the understanding of pupils).

The in-built examples include the following: Parking Survey; Car Ramps; Car Colour; Eye Colour; Favourite Fruit; Hair Colour; Party Planning; Pet Shop; and Travel Survey.This tool has been used effectively by teachers at the older stages of primary school since the speed of entry of information, and immediate graphing, makes it very accessible.  Pupils can select from a range of graph types.  And for older pupils wishing to type in numbers (particularly where larger numbers are involved) it’s a quick click of the “Yellow” touch mode icon to take the program into “editing” green level which lets users then input larger numbers by typing rather than by clicking.  Often the difference between  early uses of spreadsheets and graphing and use with older primary pupils is both in the display options (which the green editing level of RM Starting graph provides) and in the interpretation – the questiosn asked of the pupils or by the pupils using the information.  So a move from “which fruit is most popular?” to predicting in a science experiment with a model car and a ramp how high you would need to make the ramp in order for the model car to travel a specified distance.

RM Number Magic – click here for An Introduction to Spreadsheets using RM Number Magic. This has a bank of built-in pupil activities manipulating numbers such as Flowers, Bus Fares, Christmas Party.

To access these activities:

1. open the program in Yellow, Green or Blue Level
2. File
3. Open File
4. Exercises

5. Choose “Flowers”On each example there is a tab along the bottom of the worksheet called “Report Sheet” which gives instructions and in some cases a “fill in the blanks” on-screen sheet for the pupils to complete as they work through the tasks.

Click here for a video explaining about a possible classroom use of the Flowers file for early level in the primary school

The in-built activity files are: Force Measurer; Bus Fares; Car Hire Firm; Christmas Party (click here for a video explaining how this Costing the Christmas Party spreadsheet might be used for an enterprise project in second level in the primary school); Cola Price Survey; Electricity Bill; Elephants; Eleven Times Table; Fabulous Fruit; Farm Visit; Fencing Fileds; Flowers; Function Machine; Hackney Carriage; Hit the Target; House Valuation; My Age; Newspaper Survey; Number Patterns; Pentathlon; Plants; Pocket Money; Postage Stamps; Reaction Times; Steelworks; Sweets; Taxi Fares; The Milk Round; The Tube; Think of a Number; Traffic Survey; Video Recording; Weather.

Number Magic also has a number pattern creator built-in – useful to show patterns of times-tables.  Click Activities , Number Patterns , Create Grid, Show Pattern of 2 with pattern of 3 (or whatever tables you wish to show).

For a classroom poster showing how to use RM Number Magic click here http://www.rm.com/_RMVirtual/Media/Downloads/NM_Chart_Final2.pdf and a brief descriptive poster click here: http://www.rm.com/_RMVirtual/Media/Downloads/NumberMagic_outer_Final.pdf

For spreadsheet activities in primary school contexts using RM Number Magic software go to http://www.learningalive.co.uk/t_resources.aspx

RM Number Magic has four levels – youngest pupils would use yellow level – this presents them with few menus and larger icons.  As users progress through the levels Green then blue and finally Red they are presented with more and more icons and menus.  Red Level behaves in a very simar way to Microsoft Excel – but retains the speaking toolbars and access to a school-friendly picture bank.

Microsoft Excel – there is a wide range of resources online using Microsoft Excel as the tool to put spreadsheets in a context suitable for use by pupils in a primary classroom.  Some links have been provided below.  Some of these provide tutorials in the use of Excel while others provide the ready-made files along with classroom teaching notes.

For early stages in the primary school there is an online pictogram graphing tool which serves as an early introduction to spreadsheets here http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/pictogram/index.htm

Click http://www.amphi.com/~psteffen/excel.html for a wide range of resources for using Microsoft Excel in the classroom at all levels, providing real-life contexts where the spreadsheet has a purpose.

http://its.leesummit.k12.mo.us/excel.htm provides links to resources for using spreadsheets for contexts in the classroom as well as online tutorials.

Simon Haughton has a series of lessons on introducing spreadsheets to primary 5 class http://simonhaughton.typepad.com/ict/introducing-spreadsheets/

And Simon Haughton has also produced a series of spreadsheet activities based on a theme park context http://simonhaughton.typepad.com/ict/theme-park-spreadsheets/
Online animated interactive simulations using spreadsheets for primary school classroom use from NGfL Cymru can be found at:
Because these are animated simulations (with which users can also interact) there are ideal for use with an interactive whiteboard as a class activity or for pupil self-study.

Free spreadsheet tools: Where pupils or staff wish to work on spreadsheets outwith school, and where they don’t have access to the above programs there are free alternatives available which can open Microsoft Excel files.  One such program is part of the free Open Office software download from http://www.openoffice.org/ while another is the free online Google Docs at http://docs.google.com


http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/ is a versatile and easy to use free online tool aimed at use by children where they can enter the information on an online spreadsheet by making choices and entering the information.  Then the user can choose the form they wish to save the information, either online or downloaded or sent by e-mail in a variety of formats including picture or pdf. Click below for a video introduction to Create-a-graph:
What-2-Learn site provides a snakes and ladders style game for use in teaching about spreadsheets. This game can be played in one of two ways. It can be played as a whole-class activity on an interactive whiteboard by dividing the class into two teams. Alternatively, if you are in a computer suite the class can play against one another in pairs. This game covers the features of a worksheet (columns, rows, etc), using functions and formulae, organising data and presenting it accurately. It can be played online or downloaded and adapted to your own questions.
Primary Technology has a free online Pictogram Creator on their site. This lets you choose from pre-created templates, such as favourite sport, fruit or colour. Or you can create your own. You can also add new columns with ease. And when you type a column name the Pictogram Creator automatically presents you with an image (though you can also easily browse to other presneted image choices). Then to use you simply click on the column to increase or decrease the number of items – so will work well either with a PC or interactive whiteboard. A nice feature is that you can also embed the tool onto another site. A nice visual introduction to data handling.
Maths is Fun Online Graph Creation tool lets you choose the type of graph, add the data and then display the chart online. You can edit the columns and title, as well as choose to display the data on the chart, or to show the information as a table. Anything created can be printed from the online tool. The speed with which these charts can be created and the way in which it can all be done by clicking onto the graph makes it ideal for use with an interactive whiteboard.
Chartle.Net – a free online tool which lets you create, without registering, a whole series of different forms of graph, chart or map. These created charts can be embedded elsewhere (and will be interactive) or can be downloaded and shared as images. Here’s a video tutorial about using Chartle.net http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlGKssKbbWA

Want to know more about using Excel?

SpreadsheetoSpreadsheeto – if you are looking to find out more about using Excel spreadsheets then look no further than this free online resource with video tutorials and a range of posts about specific tools within Excel which explain as a step-by-step guide how to undertake a variety of tasks forwhich Excel spreadsheets can be used.


Lingro – add to any website for interactive dictionary and word games

Lingro – http://lingro.com/ – if you want to use a website with pupils but think that pupils would be helped by having an on-hand interactive dictionary then consider using Lingro.  Just copy the website address of the website you wish to suggest to your pupils (e.g. www.bbc.co.uk) and paste into the textbox on the Lingro site.  Now when you share with your pupils the resulting website address (the BBC website now becomes http://lingro.com/translate/english-english/www.bbc.co.uk)  it automatically includes the Lingro toolbar along the top and bottom.  So now when your pupils go the website it now becomes more interactive with vocabulary support.  A pupil just needs to click on any word they may not fully understand and it highlights that word and a small window appears with definitions of the word, as well as a speaker icon which, when clicked, will provide a real voice recording speaking the word. 

That’s quite a useful tool even if that’s all Lingro did.  But there is much more.  Every word the pupil clicks on remains highlighted and the pupil can then take part in activities with these words to reinforce their use of the vocabulary.  They can choose to use the flashcards game – this displays their highlighted words in random order (either showing the words or definitions – and the pupil can try to recall the matching word or definition before flipping the flashcard for each word in turn. 

And if that’s not impressive enough Lingro can also be used for a multitude of languages – translating words and providing definitions and voice recordings.

These facilities can all be used without registration or logging in – but by creating an account a pupil can build up a history of wordlists.  Teachers can also use this tool with an interactive whiteboard as a whole-class activity and at the end of a session looking at a piece of text on a chosen website can then use the Lingro games and wordlists at the end of a lesson or session.

SMART Notebook Express – SMART Notebook Online

http://express.smarttech.com/ SMART Notebook Express is an online version of the interactive whiteboard software for SMART Boards.  That means that where your computer does not have SMART Notebook installed, but you are connected to the Internet, you can still work with your existing SMART Notebook files (where you can access it on a PC, memory stick or online storage area) or to create a new SMART Notebook file.

SMART Notebook Express allows for the use of most of the standard tools available in SMART Notebook 10 (pens, curtain, highlighter pens, text).  You can open existing files or create new SMART Notebook files and save them back to the computer.

More information about SMART Notebook Express can be found by clicking the link below:


Click on the video below for a description from Coppell Middle School East of how SMART Notebook Express can be used by pupils at home or on portable devices.


Click on the video below for SMART Classroom’s  promotional video explaining the features of SMART Notebook Express.


https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_106c9fm8j interesting ways to use an interactive whiteboard in the classroom collated from many contributors by Tom Barrett

I can’t see back here! Using a visualiser or document camera in the classroom

A visualiser (sometimes called a document camera) lets a teacher display something small to a whole class via a PC and projector.  This means that a teacher can demonstrate to a whole class something which would be difficult to show to a whole class without the whole class gathered round a table vying for space to see the demonstration.  A visualiser provides a means to take a piece of work from a pupil and immediately show it to a whole class, perhaps highlighting particular features or small details of the work.

In addition to simply creating an enlarged view of any object, visualiser software also enables a teacher to take snapshot pictures of whatever features may wish to be highlighted for later viewing or sharing elsewhere.  Video recordings of the activity or process involved in creating or changing a piece of work can also be made for replaying as required.  These videos can be replayed via the PC or on interactive whiteboard or embedded on a website or blog.

Photo Oct 19, 13 24 10

The TTS Easi-View visualiser combines an ease of use with a price within reach of primary schools (around £88 at time of posting).  It can be used with an interactive whiteboard, you can view documents (pupil work or books), share work with the rest of the class, and pupils can use it to let the whole class see small objects brought in for show-and-tell activities.  When combined with a laptop and projector at whole-school assemblies it can be used to ensure everyone can see details of small objects.  The picture snapshot or video recording tool provides a means to create portfolios for evidence of learning.  When combined with stop-motion animation software (such as SAM Animation software) it can be used to create stopframe animations. Note that less expensive visualisers like this have poorer resolution and refresh rate than more expensive models, menaing that images will be less crisp, and movement of objects will be slightly blurred in comparison to more expensive visualisers. It would always be wise to think about the purpose to which the tool will be put and comparison made to ensure the chosen device will meet the need.

The video below is a demonstration of the TTS Easi-View visualiser:

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Bendy gooseneck, 5 x optical zoom, 1.3MP digital images/snapshot, Video capture, Built-in light/brightness control, USB direct plug (to PC then view on whiteboard).  It also has an audio connection via standard 3.5mm headphone connection so recordings can include sound.

For a visualiser  producing a higher quality image, which would work well in a classroom situation, you may also wish to consider the Elmo MO-1 . The video below gives a demonstration of this visualiser.


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Features of the Elmo – MO-1 include:
Ability to record full motion video in 30fps with audio
Portable –Weighs only 550g and Folds flat
Output resolutions –1080i, WXGA, 720p and analogue RGB output
Flexible viewing options – Can rotate each image in 90 degree increments
Built in microphone
8 x digital zoom

The video below shows how a visualiser can be used to aid Formative Assessment in the classroom (the principles apply to the use of any visualiser but shows the use of an AVerVision visualiser):

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Click on the link below for a video from Teachers.TV about the benefits of using a visualiser with primary pupils, along with useful tips and resources:


Click on the link below for one teacher’s view of the use of a visualiser in a classroom (this mentions both SMART and Avermedia visualisers but the views are applicable to other visualisers):


Click on the link below to read an account by Dughall McCormick about using a Visualiser in the Primary Classroom:

Click on the link below for information from Hertfordshire Grid for Learning on the use of visualisers in the classroom:


Click on the link below for over 100 ideas collected from many teachers of ways to use a visualiser or document camera in the classroom:

Click on the link below for some stage-specific ideas for using visualisers in the classroom:
100 ways to use a visualiser in the classroomhttp://www.edtechnetwork.com/document_cameras.html

Click on the link below for the Wikipedia entry on visualisers which contains links to various uses to consider for the classroom as well as other useful resources:


http://cybraryman.com/documentcameras.html – Jerry Blumengarten’s Cybraryman links to a wide range of resources to support the use of visualisers/document cameras in the classroom.

https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dhn2vcv5_357zsk34mc6 Interesting Ways to use a visualiser – ideas collated by Tom Barrett

Elmo Classroom Solutions provide details of their range of visulaisers as well as lesson ideas and case studies of the use of visualisers in classrooms.

@eherreid #LiveBinder on Document Cameras filled with lots of resources – http://bit.ly/hadYX0

http://www.visualiserforum.co.uk/ The visualiser forum provides links to resources including lesson plans for using a visualiser across the curriculum.

The Educational Technology Network has a post on Document Cameras which lists various ways a visualiser (document camera) can be used across the curriculum, grouped in different ages and stages.

The visualiser also serves as a webcam which can be used for video-conferencing.  Click here for Interesting Ways, and Tips, to use Web Conferencing

There is a wide range of suppliers of visualisers/document cameras and a range of models from each. Generally the less expensive models will have poorer resolution so that detail will be less crisp, and the refresh rate will be such that movement of objects will be more blurred. As models get more expensive so they add crispness and clarity to images for zooming in or recording video. Each model add further features, with additional cost. Some models will plug and play without additional software needing to be installed while others will require the dedicated software on the PC. So the choice is for the school.

Countdown Timers and Random Name Selectors for Class Activities

Sometimes in a classroom situation it’s useful to have a countdown timer.  Whether it is for a bit of fun to focus the pupils on the time available while waiting for pupils to finish a task within a deadline, or to use within a class quiz.

There is a free online countdown timer from http://classtools.net/education-games-php/timer/ which can be displayed on a computer (or whiteboard) and which also lets you choose a piece of music from a selection.  These include television and film theme music (like Dr Who or Pink Panther) as well as a classical selection (such as Pachelbel’s Canon).  And in addition you can upload your own mp3 track (obviously ensuring copyright and royalty compliance).

When you click “Countdown” the timer plays for the length of time specified by the length of the music track (there are tracks from which to choose from 30 seconds to over 7 minutes and many choices in between).  The music plays, and the screen colour changes showing the proportion of time still left to go, with colour variations the closer you get to the end of the time.

Classtools mobile-ready timer lets you add music or YouTube video and have multiple timesr which you can save according to your preferences for classroom use.

http://www.classtools.net/education-games-php/fruit_machine can be used by a teacher to randomly select pupil names from a class list.  This can be used perhaps where a pupil is to be selected to report on a lesson or task, or to give a demonstration to the class.

http://primaryschoolict.com/random-name-selector/# is an alternative countdown timer tool created by John McLear of Primary Technology which would work well in the classroom.  This is a random name selector. So it is designed specifically to provide the teacher with a tool for choosing a pupil’s name from a class, and then setting a timed task for that pupil before repeating with another randomly selected name.

A teacher simply enters the names of the pupils in a class (by clicking “Change Names”). Then to save this as a unique class list simply click on “Save and Share” and copy the generated website address.  This can then be saved as a link in a document, email or website or blog.  There is also the option to copy the embed code to embed the random name selector into the website or blog. Having done that simply click “Go” and the random name generator scrolls through the names, accompanied by a soundtrack. When the scrolling stops a name will be highlighted.  The teacher chooses the length of time the pupil has to now complete their task (perhaps a plenary report on a lesson) from 1 to 7 minutes. On selecting the stopwatch time a visual countdown timer appears on screen showing the time counting down. As it finishes the timer changes colour to red. The teacher can then choose to keep that pupil on the list or remove the pupil’s name before repeating the random name generator as often as required. This tool would be useful where the teacher wishes to randomly select pupils to present a report, give a demonstration, or undertake tasks, all within a pre-selected time. 

Random Name Picker wheel –  ClassTools provides this free online tool where you can add your class list then click on the wheel to randomly select a name. You can choose to remove names which appear so that they don’t appear again, or leave if you wish them all to remain in the choices.

Triptico is free downloadable software which is a suite of classroom tools designed to work with any interactive whiteboard as a classroom tool which can be adapted for use in many classroom situations. Click here for a detailed description of all of the tools by  Jose Picardo.  This software includes random name selector and countdown timer as part of the suite of tools available. The tools also provide for options to randomly group your pupils, or to have team scoring. There are gaming applications and task-specific applications which would be useful in many classroom situations.

Online Stopwatch is a site with a whole range of timing tools which can be used for a variety of classroom applications, whether timing activities or providing a countdown to signal the end of an activity. In addition to a very large countdown timer stopwatch there is also the option to present different screens displaying the timer such as egg-timer, chess-timer (two player timers), alarm clock, fused explosion, cash clock metronome and others. Each of these tools can be individually embedded onto a webpage or blog, making ease of access for a regularly-used tool possible for a teacher.

In addition to being able to be used online the tool can be download to your PC as flash files (which will work in recent versions of Powerpoint, Smart Notebook or via internet browsers) which will work without the need to then be connected to the Internet.

TimeMe is a free online timer tool which lets teachers customise how the timer appears on screen, so you can change the colour of the numbers or background, you can choose from a range of audio messages which will be heard at the end of a countdown or choose a pop-up on-screen message.

An idea which can be adapted from end-of-task selector to random pupil selector (or indeed combined to randomly select a pupil name combined to a random task) is Max Rayner’s Plenary Tool which is a Powerpoint template which can be downloaded. When displayed the Powerpoint has links from the coloured numbered squares – clicking on a square reveals an end-of-task activity (designed as a fun way of presenting different ways of pupils summarising the learning which has taken place at the end of a lesson or activity). Since it is downloadable as a Powerpoint presentation it can be edited by the teacher to have the number choices linked to a pupil name (perhaps also with an activity).

A6 Training has made available for use by teachers Powerpoint timer templates by David Foord. This is a single Powerpoint presentation which can be downloaded for free. Instructions at he start of the Powerpoint presentation explain how to use and how each timer can be adapted. So you can open and use a selected timer without need to change, or if you wish you can copy a chosen timer slides from this presentation into another presentation (each slide provides the link to provide attribution credit to the original site).

Where there is a wish to have a random selector based on numbers in a group Simon Haughton has created a Powerpoint student selector which has concentric circles and a simple start/stop pointer. So start it, then click stop and the pointer will slow to a stop on a number. If your group is made up of only two pupils then you look at the number the pointer stops at within the innermost circle. If groups of three then you look at the next circle outwards. If 4, 5 or 6 then choose the appropriate circle and the random pointer tells you the number of the pupil selected for the given task or activity.

Powerpoint Timers created by Jeff Ertzberger comprise free to download Powerpoint templates. Each can be adapted to use with your own class, changing text and images as required. The site provides instructions to adapting the Powerpoints to your own needs.

Smartboard and Powerpoint Timers –  these are free to download timers in different styles (eclipse or egg-timers in different time durations)  which can be used offline as part of a Powerpoint presentation or Smart Notebook presentation.

Online Music Resources for Primary School

Click here for a presentation about free online resources to support music teaching in the primary school.

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