Category Archives: Blog

Turn Reading into Writing – Four Video Lessons

Here are four video lessons on turning Reading into Writing, which I have created for the children in my school as part of my CLoL project as well as to give colleagues a lesson for which they do not have to plan/prepare and record.  Feel free to use them with your learners or take ideas from them if you like.  Each is designed to be a stand alone lesson that can be adapted across different stages, differentiating by outcome/expectation and all are linked to CfE E&O’s with SC being drawn from benchmarks.

Whilst the videos vary in length, I would expect each lesson to take between 60-90 minutes for children to complete as they are asked to pause whilst doing different tasks.

 

CfE Early Level: Writing Stories with a Story Map

This is an Early Level – pre/new writer – lesson – which uses a ‘Story Map’ or ‘Text Map’ to explore reading and learning texts (see Pie Corbett’s Talk for Writing for more on this methodology).  In this lesson we take a simple story; learn it and then continue it.  Most suitable for advanced Early Years settings, P1 classes, and pre-writers in P2.  I wouldn’t recommend for older children regardless of ability as the content will feel very childish for them.

 

CfE First Level: Stories to Scripts

This is a First Level lesson which uses the same model text as in the previous lesson, however this time learns to up-level it, extend it and then convert it into a script which allows for much greater application of skills.  I would consider this mainly for on track/higher achieving P2 / lower ability P3.  I wouldn’t recommend for many in P4 as the following lesson, whilst much more advance, should still be accessible as all text is read.

 

CfE First Level: Script Writing

This is also a First Level lesson, although all of the skills and SC are transferrable to the similarly worded Second Level Outcomes, so would be suitable also for children just starting Second Level that may struggle with some aspects of the following lesson.  Aimed broadly at high achieving P3s, on-track/high achieving P4s and P5s who are not yet on track, with consideration for some just on track.  The content is not however too childish for P6 & P7 who require additional support, as, whilst the text is a traditional fairy tale, it is in such a way that children turn it into their own story and choose their own ending.

 

CfE Second Level: Script Writing

This is a second level lesson which is really applicable to all children working across the level as it can be easily differentiated by outcome.  It takes two texts and develops them as both stories and scripts with HOTS playing a key role.

 

Snow Day STEM

It’s snowing!  Love it or hate it, snow is an amazing tool for developing STEM skills, unlocking imagination and practising creativity.

My 13 Snow Day STEM Challenge cards are available as a single PDF download at TPT, or for free as JPG image files below.  Check out the very short video of these cards as well:

 

SNOW DAY STEM CARDS

 

The BEST way to share video content with your learners

Sharing video content with learners can be tricky for a number of reasons – first, the files are often so big that they take up a lot of storage on your online learning platform (website/app/teams etc).  Moreover, if you are staring a recording of you reading a story, there are copyright issues that may affect it.  Also, you just might not want your video visible to the whole world.

The below video tutorial looks at the best way of hosting your videos privately and posing them to a specified group of people (e.g. your class)

I really hope it’s helpful.

I am starting to build and grow my YouTube channel with more regular content and would really appreciate a subscribe on the channel.  If you could ‘like’ any videos that you find helpful, it will help me tailor my videos to things that will help you.

Have a lovely long weekend,

Donald

Enhance Remote Learning with Kahoot

The media really is giving teachers a bashing just now during the COVID-19 lockdown, with many outlets saying that we are not doing anything.  I know that’s not true.  The amount of incredible online content and learning experiences that are being produced on a daily basis is incredible, and teachers have really risen to the challenge of keeping learners engaged online.

One way that can make this more simple and engaging for children is to use the free quiz app, Kahoot, to play quiizes and assign challenges for your learners – and the best thing is, you can share these quizzes on ANY platform that you are using to share learning – be it a school website, app, Microsoft Teams, Google Classrooms, Zoom etc.  However you are engaging your learners, Kahoot is free and readily available.

Here is a short video tutorial about how to get the most out of Kahoot and really engage your learners.

Take care and stay safe

Please do get in touch via Twitter if there are any tutorials that you’d like me to create or questions that I may be able to answer.

Donald

Using Glow and Teams for Remote Learning

Glow is a really powerful platform for connected learning, however we still often don’t engage as well as we could – I myself am guilty of that.

With COVID-19, suddenly we have been forced to reconsider everything we know about delivering learning experiences and are turning to online platforms.

Many schools are considering using Teams (who aren’t already) after the holidays, but not all staff and pupils feel confident in using it.  I have, therefore, created tutorial videos for teachers and pupils on Twitter, and will share below so that they are all in one place.

Please take care and stay safe.

Donald

 

For Teachers

Setting up Teams for your class on Glow

You will need a glow account in order to do this.

Sign into Glow at glow.rmunify.com and follow the below tutorial to add ‘Microsoft Teams’ to your launchpad, find your class’ login details (you will need to find a way to send these out to pupils) and set up your team.

The video also shows some of the features of Teams that you will be able to use to support children with their learning.

When changing passwords for the children, I would recommend using one password for everyone and ticking the box which allows them to change their password.  This is an excellent way to start a conversation about the importance of keeping passwords safe and secure.

If you forget to tick the box allowing pupils to change their password, don’t worry as I will cover how pupils can change their own password in my tutorial for them.

The official Glow quick-start guide can be found here

If any of your pupils do not have a Glow account, this needs to be set up on SEEMIS Click and Go.  Your school admin or SLT should be able to do this.

Here is an easy template to share pupil details via email/post to your class.  It also includes links to the pupil help videos featured below.  Click here for the Microsoft Word document containing information for pupils.

A full guide to using Teams

This video is an in-depth look into using Teams.  I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, so for more advanced features please check out some other readily available tutorials on Teams.  This looks at an overview of what the Teams experience will be like for you and your class, with a demonstration video meeting as well.

Use the timecodes below to skip to the relevant sections.

Video Timecodes.
1. Join or Create a Team (1min 18s) – find out how to create your own class team or join a team.
2. Activity and Chat (3 mins 02s) – Take a look at the ‘Activity’ and ‘Chat’ options in the left-hand menu.
3. Assignments and Quizzes (3 mins 55s) – Learn how to set assignments and create quizzes for your class team all within the application in the left- hand menu.
4. Calendar and Meetings (4 mins 43s) – Learn how to create meetings for your class (video lessons) using the calendar option on the left-hand menu.
5. Calls, Files, and Other Options (6 mins 31s) – Find out about the final left-hand menu options.
6. Inside Your Team (7 mins 15s) – Learn about all of the options you have inside your team page, such as hosting quick video meetings, text conversation, team files, applications, and giving out reward points.
7. Channels (11 mins 44s) – Learn about channels and how they are used.
8. Hosting a Meeting (12 mins 27s) – Take a look at what it is like to host a meeting with an on-screen mock meeting, and see the options that you have including sharing your desktop for the class to see PowerPoints etc while you’re talking.
9. How to Mute and Use Chat (16 mins 50s) – This is really underrated but so important in teams meetings in order to prevent glitching audio and nonsensical dialogue.
10. Pupils Sharing (18 mins 21s) – See how pupils are able to share their screen and examples of their work during a meeting (they can also upload to the files/conversation)

Using the Teams App – common troubleshooting

A common troubleshooting issue when signing in to the mobile & desktop app is using the full glow email extension.  This quick video will talk you through using the Microsoft Teams app on any device.

Ideas for using Teams

For ideas about ways to get started using Teams, check out Malcolm Wilson’s blog post here and follow him on Twitter @claganach.

For Children

Please feel free to send the video links via your communication platforms to children that you want to support in accessing Glow and Teams.

Video 1 – How To Set Up Your Glow Account

URL to share with pupils: https://youtu.be/FCnTV0sBtn8

Video 2 – How To Set Up and Use Teams

(Make sure to set up your Glow account before watching this video; video 1 will help you with that)

URL to share with pupils: https://youtu.be/EoRLC6xjyeQ

 

 

HOTS Reading Cards – Part 1

Free resource at the bottom of the blog post (but lots of info about it in the post, so still worth a read!) I had hoped to complete all 50 cards before publishing, but with lots on at school and in my ‘other’ life, I’ve taken a slight pause on making the next 26!

 

Rationale

I set out to make reading cards, as I am always disappointed by the range of ‘non-babyish’ materials that are available to children who struggle with reading, or with engaging in reading.  However, I also feel passionately that continually having ‘different’ resources to work on in the class from peers can have an equal off-putting effect.  I’ve been reading a lot recently on effective differentiation, and so wanted to think about how a resource would be accessible enough to engage readers who struggle for all sorts of reasons, but provide enough challenge to push higher achieving children.  Effective questioning seemed to always be the solution.  Each resource uses HOTS questions to provide challenge accessible to all.  Having tested these resources in class with a range of learners, and from tester feedback, it has been interesting to note that there was a real equity amongst the majority of learners.  Children who often struggle with reading were able to attempt (and sometimes even overtook) other learners in the class.  I did support in reading through the text with some children, but then let them attempt the questions independently. I would especially like feedback on how effective this is in your class – do the texts work for the whole class?  What can I improve on and do better in the next 25?

For all of the cards, I have used the font Open Dyslexic, as, whilst it doesn’t help with comprehension, it does support learners (like me) for whom letters do sometimes enjoy mixing themselves up on the page – it won’t make a huge difference, but even the slightest change is a positive in my mind.  You can download the font for free here.

 

How the cards work

Truthfully, this is up to you.  I have not provided an answer sheet as many of the questions require a personal or creative response – but also, I think the power and challenge of the cards are the discussions that you and your learners can have.  Additionally, context and additional information are sometimes available in the questions rather than just the text (sometimes I have omitted any reference to child gender in the text, but have noted it in the cards).  This should provide opportunities for developed questions such as ‘ is this child a boy/girl’, can you find evidence in the text to support this (and hopefully, this can bring up discussions about gender bias also).  I also would hope that children can use them to make their own HOTS questions.

There is an info card about HOTS questions in case you are not familiar with them.  Interesting to note, some of my children questioned why the ‘what is ‘it” question in card 2 is a remembering – I had it as such because I felt the picture was part of the text – but one child said they thought it should be applying as they had to apply all of the context clues to visualise the monster (I’ve paraphrased here, clearly, as I can’t remember her exact words; but I was very impressed by the challenge of her thought) – hopefully this can be something that learners will start to develop and challenge ‘why’ questions are categorised as a way of developing their own thinking.

 

Thanks

There are many people to thank for their support in making these.  Firstly, to @STPBooks for providing two of the texts and images used in the cards.  Secondly, I am poor at proof-reading my own work (as you may be able to tell from my blog post…) so, I am very grateful to @KarenDScotland@vasilionka_lisa, @lovepookiecat@ScullionGreg@mamamialia and @LynnRichmond20, for proof-reading for me and for your incredibly detailed feedback: some were pages long and I so appreciate the time that you spent reading through them to help me.

 

Resources

Due to the size of the PDF, I have had to split these into separate cards – sorry, I know it’s a pain!

Info Cards

Cards 1-2

Cards 3-4

Cards 5-6

Cards 7-8

Cards 9-10

Cards 11-12

Cards 13-14

Cards 15-16

Cards 17-18

Cards 19-20

Cards 21-22

Cards 23-24

Reading Strategies

New resource!

It’s been quite some time since my last post – my BIG STEAM Escape Room which has had an amazing response; thank you.

I have been continuing to develop resources, but with a much greater focus on reading.  If you follow me on Twitter you will know that I am currently making a reading resource for struggling readers.  You can find out more about it here.

Today though, I have created a before, during and after visual aid for classrooms as I find the ones that are currently online lack clarity for children and often don’t have question prompts to help them use the strategy.  I have made these for my own classroom, but there’s no point in me keeping it to myself.

They have not been proof-read by anyone, so if you do spot any errors, please feel free to give me a heads up – you can DM me on Twitter – and I will update the resource.  Similarly, if you think I missed out something or could have done one of the posters better, again please let me know via DM.

Hope it’s helpful.  You can download the PDF of each poster below.

Have a good week,

Donald

 

Visualising

Summarising

Skimming

Scanning

Predicting

Inferring

Comparing

 

The BIG STEAM Escape Room

I have taken quite a break from blogging, and probably won’t go back to doing it weekly, but I look forward to sharing as often as I can.

Today, I have completed a resource that I have been working on for quite some time – The BIG STEAM Escape room.  It is 30 pages of active STEAM fun that should engage and challenge your learners, and can be reused up to 6 times with the same class.  I will be publishing it to TPT next week as it has taken a lot of time to produce, but am also posting it here for free, and it will remain free on here even after I have published it to TPT.  I would really welcome feedback as it has not been proof-read by anyone other than myself, so if you have a few minutes, I would be really grateful!

I will be using it with my P5/4 class this year, and have purchased combination padlocks (however, it works as a resource without buying anything – you can use the answer cards or even an iPad to the same effect – I just like the idea of the children physically cracking a code!)

The resource should be self-explanatory, so I won’t go into detail here – though, it is too big to put into one file, so it is saved below in sections.

I hope you have an excellent start to your term.  If you do use it, I’d love to hear how your class gets on – please tweet me @mrfeistsclass  with photos, comments or stories from the session.

The BIG STEAM Escape Room Resources:

Teacher page

Answer cards

Rhythm maths

Animal Venn Diagrams

Sudoku

Binary Code Challenge

 

Spheros

I love Spheros.  They have so much potential to really enhance learning and teaching, and really provide you with opportunities to allow learners to apply their learning in different contexts.  They are not cheap though, but they are so versatile that they are a really good investment.

Many schools and councils are purchasing Spheros, so hopefully this blog will be beneficial if you have/are getting Spheros and would like to know what you can do with them.  Even if you aren’t planning on getting them, hopefully this blog will allow you to understand more about them, what they do and how they can enhance the learning of your children.

What are Spheros?

Image from source

I think the New Yorker sums it up the best in their post: “Spheros aren’t just fun; they are also an excellent teaching tool. Students have begun using them to learn everything from geometry to genetics. They can code them, too, to take a first step into computer programming.”

Spheros are programmable toys, similar to Beebots but with far more capability and potential.  In a computer programming context, children can apply their learning of code to make the Sphero perform a variety of actions, such as: drawing shapes, completing mazes, and even to interact with their surroundings.  Movement with spheros isn’t as simple as ‘move forward’ for a set number of steps.  Children have to apply an understanding of angles, speed and time in order for the sphero to move.  They can develop an understanding of the link between speed, distance and time to accurately program their device to move as intended.

Spheros aren’t just for older learners though – there is so much potential for younger learners to use the ‘draw’ feature to manipulate the device.  D&T activities are also notable, as children can design devices that are powered by the Spero – such as a racing car that is driven by the sphero, or even a helicopter whose rotary blade spins as the sphero spins.

There are a variety of different Spheros available – most schools use SPRK+, however all are fantastic.  You can see the full range here.

Below is a fantastic intro video that shows what Sphero Edu is all about:

 

Activities and Resources

Fortunately, getting started with Spheros need not be daunting or tricky; there are a whole host of free resources to use with Spheros.  A Sphero resource guide is available here although is based on the American K-12 system.

The best place to start is the Sphero Education Website.  The activities tab allows you to find fully comprehensive lessons sorted by stage / subject.  It should be noted that Spheros shouldn’t only be used for teaching computer science – there are so many applications across the curriculum that it really is worth browsing the activities site to see what you can do.

Another great resource is your local Apple store.  Did you know that you can take groups of children there for FREE to learn how to use Spheros (you don’t even need your own devices as the store provides them!) . Go to the Apple Field Trip website for more info and to book.

Of course, the other place that I love to go for my ideas is Twitter.  Loads of schools use Spheros really effectively.  Just search for ‘sphero’ in your Twitter search bar, and you will find loads of schools using them and be instantly inspired!

Here are some of my favourite recent examples:

How have I used them?

We’ve actually only just purchased our Spheros in Mosspark, so I have only used them twice with learners.

In the first lesson/few lessons with spheros, I like to let the children get used to syncing, controlling and putting to sleep the Sphero.  I often play ‘Sphero tig’ and other simple improvised games.  Sphero tig is easy – one Sphero is it and sets their colour to green.  The other Spheros are blue.  If the tigger catches a Sphero, it turns red and waits until a blue Sphero frees them by touching them and flashing their light on/off 5 times.  The children really enjoy this and it engages them instantly and allows them to quickly learn to control the Spheros through the ‘drive’ function.

You can follow our journey with Spheros by following @MossparkPS on Twitter.  Here are some of our recent Sphero tweets including our instant hit, ‘Sphero Tig’:

 

I hope that the post this evening has been helpful and has given you ideas about how to get started with Spheros in your own classrooms.

As always, please connect with me on twitter: @mrfeistsclass.  I love getting inspired by everything that you all do.  Feel free to send me suggestions for future blog posts and tag me in Tweets showing how you are using Spheros or any digi tech to enhance learning!

Have a great week

Donald

 

 

 

Mini Game Jam

A short post today (as I have been away all weekend on a STEM residential week, and am about to head out again) but an important one.

This year, I have teamed up with Dr Amanda Ford (Twitter: @aford78) to develop resources for the ever-growing and popular Mini Game Jam.

The Game Jam is a transition cluster event, where P7 classes join with other cluster schools’ P7 classes at their local high school and compete to code the best scratch game on a given theme.  I have joined in this year, as I see it not only as a great opportunity for our children, but also as a CLPL opportunity for staff.  Prior to competing, the children are to be taught four progressive lessons in coding with Scratch that develop creativity as well as digital literacy.  Some very tricky concepts are taught to the children during the sessions, however, it is done in a fun manner with the children creating games.  The idea is that at the end of the project, in the cluster event, the children will be able to utilise these skills in a team with children from one of their local cluster schools that they potentially haven’t met before to design and create their own game on a given theme.

For the teacher, resources (including worksheets, power-points and video walkthroughs) will be provided, and they will be able to learn to code with the children.  Scratch 3.0 CPD sessions have already been held for staff on the first lesson of this project – the maze game – however, more online training will be available shortly from Dr Ford and I would greatly recommend looking into it.

You can find out more about the Mini Game Jam and get in touch with the organiser, Dr Amanda Ford, via the Mini Game Jam website: https://minigamejam.com/ if you would like to get involved.

Exciting posts coming over the next few weeks with more Technology across the curriculum and STEM focussed posts, so do stay tuned!

See you next week,

Donald