Category Archives: Resources

A Simple, High Impact Learning Activity

I know I am not alone in finding lockdown challenging.  We are teachers, and as such having quiet schools with only a handful of children just does not feel normal.  We, along with our children, are learning to adapt every day and the stark difference in the quality of learning many children are experiencing in this lockdown is incredible – a true testament to how well colleagues have reflected and adapted to rise up to the challenge.

That being said, it is hard and online learning is still never going to be any substitute for face to face teaching.

Reflections on this, and how best to meet the needs of learners in my target groups; providing them with fun and engaging activities that they can engage in at home has led me back to an activity that I used in my second year of teaching, when I reached out to GDSS for advice on how to support one particular learner; I have linked to their website below as it is a superb resource. They showed me how to use the game ‘Snakes and Ladders’ to support literacy development.  Now, there are many ways to do this, and after hunting for the resource that was shared with me I could not find it so I have put together a resource (below) which works really well for me with learners who require support with reading and spelling.

Link to PDF resource:  Snakes and ladders game

For this game you need word cards, but children can easily make these at home by copying down their spelling words/common words.  There are fantastic word card packs out there, which I will also link to below.  Anything can be used as a counter, and this can easily be played as a family game.

I have used it with a variety of learners from P3-7, and have found that they really enjoy it, and, as children can use their own word cards it is automatically differentiated as children can play at their own pace.  Indeed, when I have children who are using more advanced words, they will often use the rules for game one while children with cvc words would use the game 1 rules.

However you play it, do, as it is truly a fantastic game.  Again, I take no credit for the idea but just put together a quick resource to save you making one!

Have a good week,

Donald

Word cards website that I love to use: ESLFlashcards.com
GDSS website: gdss.glasgow.sch.uk

 

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

 

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

Visualisers – or is there a better way?

Over the last few weeks, in the twittersphere, I have come across three posts all about visualisers and asking whether there are good ones out there that won’t break the bank.  Sure there are great visualisers out there, but there is a far cheaper and better way to get the same effect: use a phone or tablet.

I will be recommending a lot of things in this post, but I will point out that I am not amazon affiliated or in any way getting profits from any of the products that I note below – they are for reference only, and may not be the best ones available.

The three posts…

https://twitter.com/education_MrP/status/1095398290970079238

What is a visualiser?

Working in much the same way as an Over-Head Projector used to, a visualiser projects an image of what you are displaying onto a board.  For example, if you place an example of a child’s jotter work under the visualiser, it will display it on the smart board for the class to see and as reference.

They truly are fantastic for plenaries, feedback and for showing examples of good work – even just for talking through a worksheet or drawing attention to a passage of text.

Why don’t I use visualisers?

Visualisers are clunky pieces of kit and really serve only one purpose.  They are also expensive.  The cheapest I found was £40, but you’d most likely want a good one which can be closer to £100.  There are better ways out there to achieve the same aims – at often better quality – with devices that you already have in your class and less expensive resources.

So what’s the alternative?

As I have noted in response to each tweet that I’ve seen this week regarding visualisers; my favourite solution is using your trusty mobile phone or tablet.  In past posts, I have recommended getting a VGA adapter for your device that will connect it to the SMART board.  In my case, I use iPhone; so a search for VGA to iPhone X (or VGA to lightning, as the port is named) gets me the results I’m looking for.  Most modern androids use a type C port, but typing in VGA to *phone make and model* will give you the results that you’re after.

Whilst these can be fairly expensive (around £20), they are very versatile.  I love using them to also read kindle books with the children – they can read along on the board without having to purchase multiple copies of a book.

For visualising though, simply use your phone/tablet’s camera when it is connected to the board, and your children will see what your device can see – an instant visualiser!

Go hands free…

Visualisers are good, as they hold a fixed position and you don’t need to hold a camera pointing at the work to show it.  Therefore, there is no camera shake and you get a very clear picture.  This can be achieved easily for a phone or tablet by purchasing a desk clamp stand for your device.  You can get a good one for less than £10 such as this one.

This very literally turns your device into a visualiser.

Go wireless…

I do actually love using an adapter as I don’t have to rely on a good connection or network.  You can, however, go wireless.  Many schools are getting Wi-Fi and even Apple TV.  There are also many good screen mirroring apps out there such as AirServer, as recommended by the below twitter user, and Reflector.  If you fancy going wireless then these are great things to look into.  Benefits of this include being more portable and being able to cast work from anywhere in the room to your board.

Again though, I do prefer a wired connection with a desk clamp stand when I am casting work, and would recommend this above getting a visualiser every single time!

I do hope that you all have a great week and hopefully this has given you some ideas about how to use your devices and/or real visualisers in your own practice.

Donald

Creating Digital Art

Truthfully, I didn’t know what I was going to post about until Friday, during GoldenTime, when one of our P7 Marvels (below) wanted to show the fantastic art work that he created on the iPads, and imported it into Photoshop Mix to blend it over a stock image as an overlay (we have been learning to blend overlays in Camera Club).  I want to show you how to do this so that you can teach your learners!

He was so proud of his work – and, so he should have been.  It was super.

The truth is that using technology, creativity can be tapped into and explored to a much greater degree than without.  I don’t think there’s really any debate about that.  Of course, more tactile arts and many different art forms will always require us not to use technology, the power that technology gives our young learners to explore and create is unparalleled – and what’s better is that it doesn’t have the cost of purchasing all of the resources for each individual project.

Once again, I will be focussing on using iPads, as this is the main teaching tool that I use for creativity in technology; however, most of the below applications are available on all devices – I will note which of these do.

Tayasui Sketches School

The first app that our Marvel used for his work was Tayasui Sketches School.

Once again, I would like to refer you to the Apple Books entitled “Everyone Can Create“.  The book that I’m now on to, following on from “Music” and “Photography” is their guide on using the iPad for drawing.  Most interestingly though, they highlight a non-apple app as the best drawing app available, although also show you how to use Keynote, Pages, Camera and Photos for drawing too.  It should also be noted that ‘notes’ is a very good application for younger learners to create simple drawings.

The application that apple refers you to is the one that we are looking at today: “Tayasui Sketches School”.  It is pressure sensitive and has a huge array of tools, allowing you to create really detailed, intricate work.  Whilst it works best with an apple pencil, a cheap stylus or even finger will do the job!  Even better; it’s free (although a paid, pro version is available)!  Heres a link for iOS devices and a link for android (it should be noted, I have never used it on android, so don’t know if it is free or has the same features as on iOS).

Here’s a tutorial on using Sketches by Sylvia Duckworth, available on YouTube.

The thing that sells drawing on iPads for me, more than anything, is the amount of paper that you will save.  Children love to draw and create – fact – but a LOT of paper gets used up in their quest to develop their skills.  Yes, a device has an initial price tag, but it really does save money in the long run!

 

Photoshop Mix

The second app that our Marvel used was Photoshop Mix.  Photoshop comes in many forms – most notably as a paid professional product that photographers use on an daily basis.  It has also released some free apps (including Fix and Mix) which are all fab.  Photoshop Mix allows you to create some really impressive composite drawings – or, in this case, blend overlays to create dramatic and creative pieces of work.

A link for Photoshop Mix for iOS is here and for android is here – note, to use it, you have to have an adobe ID.  This is free and can be created the first time that you log in.

Here is a tutorial for using Adobe Photoshop Mix by Adobe Creative Cloud, however, I should note that the video is 2 years old at the time of writing this blog, and some of the features have changed quite a bit since then.  This being said, it is still very relevant and will give you a flavour of how to use the application.

 

The Project

With the overview of both apps covered, I’m going to demonstrate how this pupil managed to create such a beautiful piece of art work using the above apps.  I won’t use the same images, however, you should get a very good idea of how it works from the below.

I hope the video helps, and would be great to see some of the digital art work that your learners are doing, so make sure to tag me in tweets @mrfeistsclass as I love to share great work from across the country!

Have a great week!

Donald