Sunday, 23 March 2014 An easy way to learn coding !!!

With the new computing curriculum focusing on coding in general. This website maybe the golden key to the treasure chest! is an exciting new way for pupils to learn code.

No matter what you ability is (beginner or not) has got it covered!

Oh and did i mention its free? Yep is a non-profit, dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools.

So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

South West Learning Technologies Conference 6Th Feb 2014

Below is a copy of the Prezi that I used during the workshops.

This is the game I used for one for the DS demo. Thinking of a Number

When we first looked at Wii games we create mind maps of all the possibilities that they had. Below is a link to all of those ideas Free free to use these ideas and adapt them. - Click to download them.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Using 2 Do It Yourself to promote writing - year 5

Back in the spring term, we decided to run a parallel project in years 1 and 5 at Becontree Primary School. We wanted to use 2Do It Yourself, from 2Simple, to promote writing.

In Year 5 we started by discussing what made games appealing to them. We looked at various online games and children came up with a list of a 'top 3' features they wanted to see on games.

There was great excitement when I told the class that they were going to be game developers for the Year 1 children to play. Having never used the 2DIY software before, the class and me, found it very interesting.

After a little exploration, the children started to design and create their own games. It certainly got the children engaged and many were taking their work home and working on it at play times. This led to some very good teamwork as well as some intriguing discussions between the children.

Most of the pairs completed their games and again, there was plenty of discussion about ways to improve their end products. Unfortunately we were unable to share our games with the Year 1 class. The class were disappointed about this after the effort that they had made.

With regards to improving writing, some of the boys were more involved in writing plans/instructions for the games. However I'm not sure if it had a huge impact on everyone. However it was a very worthwhile experience, both for the pupils and myself.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Using 2 Do It Yourself to promote writing - year 1

Back in the spring term, we decided to run a parallel project in years 1 and 5 at Becontree Primary School. We wanted to use 2Do It Yourself, from 2Simple, to promote writing.

In year 1, we told the children that for the duration of the project, they were going to be game developers. At the end of the project they would have the chance to share their games with the year 5 children and also to try out the games from year 5.

The children started the project by evaluating different video games using the Cbeebies website. They were able to vocalise their thoughts quite clearly and it was easy to see that they were expanding their thinking. They then moved onto investigating 2DIY software, planning their own game, creating it and testing.  For the duration of the project they kept diaries of their findings, plans and evaluations. These were linked to literacy lessons for a period of two weeks and the children were given plenty of time to complete them.

In the six weeks, not many of the pairs of children managed to finish their games, but there were some interesting ideas and themes developing. There was also some great teamwork developing. Unfortunately we ran out of time to share the games with year 5, and this was disappointing but there was no possibility of extending the project.

As for whether it helped to promote writing, there was no discernible surge in interest in writing, but the project did lead to some very insightful comments from the children during class discussions, and it definitely made the children look more critically at games for which they are the audience. The vocabulary that the children started to use when evaluating games was varied, and for those reasons, the project was very worthwhile for the year 1 children.

Monday, 15 July 2013

DfE supporting 'Tablets for Schools' research findings

Interesting article that is worth a read.  Not heard of the Tablets for Schools campaign before.

What with the recent Surface Offer from Microsoft and companies like Jigsaw24 offering free iPad trials its seems that the market is getting very competitive for schools interest.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Games Based Learning - is back! Did it ever go away?

This is a phrase that we have talked about a lot on this site and at conferences. I have felt in recent times the phrase has been lost, but linked below is a presentation made by Jen Deyenberg who shows it is alive and well. She runs a teaching with Technology blog called Trails Optional   I didn't see the live presentation but get email updates from her blog. Have a click though.

What struck me is that along with some interesting new games and ideas, the older ideas that we have talked about on this very site are still being used today.

I spent the afternoon with my 12 year old friend teaching me all about Minecraft - its definitely something that  I need to get into and this presentation just confirmed it again for me.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Dead Pixels

deadpixel cover idea 2 copy.jpg

Dead Pixels

I'm pleased to showcase a new site started up by a friend of mine who used to be a member of the Games Network back when he was working in this country. Check his site out for lesson ideas and resources.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Nintendogs - Oakdale Infants Project Overview

Nintendogs is a two week project that is totally cross curricular and happens in the summer term in Year 1. The children are put into groups of 5/6 and given 1 DS and 1 game. Initially the project was put together to encourage sharing and teamwork in a rather difficult Year 1 class but we soon realised there were many other positives to this project. The major thing that came out of the project was the fact that my reluctant boy writers were writing independently and through their own choice. The children are given the task of caring for a group dog. They have to choose it together, name it, feed it, walk it and clean it together. They are given 15/20 minutes twice a day to look after their dog and every time they are given their DS’s they have to fill in their Nintendog diaries describing what they have been doing for their dog. The children began to write Nintendog adventure stories and creating comic strips and pictures during free choosing and at home and bringing them in.  The children completed maths activities that link in as well as Design and Technology, Art, Science, RE and PE activities. The children particularly enjoyed the Crufts for kids activities (sports day practise)  and our Guide Dog day where we had a real guide dog brought into school to meet with the children. The children then spent the rest of the day completing different activities e.g. wearing a blindfold and trying to eat beans, get dressed, spread butter etc. or writing their name in brail after drawing a self-portrait.  We have now run the project for 3 years this year and the children who are in Reception all look forward to being able to use the DS’s and taking part in the project. Many parents have been very impressed with the level of their children’s level of enjoyment and engagement with the project and one parent last year said ‘ it’s the first time in his school life that he is coming home eager to talk about what he did at school today.’

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Eyepet - Oakdale Infants Project Overview

Eyepet is a two week literacy plan to help cover fantasy settings in Year 1. It is usually completed in the autumn term and is planned to be very creative and to develop and extend the children’s imagination and use of descriptive language. There are strong cross curricular links to Art but there are also links to Design and technology and science. The children us the PS3 for about 20 Minutes if that throughout the whole project! The first thing we did was sit the whole year group down to watch the beginning sequence of the game. We asked them lots of questions around where were they?  Who was the man in the white coat? etc pausing the game each time to get the children’s responses. We let them watch up to the point where an egg is delivered and then turned the ps3 off. We went back to our classes and did a lot of work around the egg where is it from? What is inside it? How did it get here? We really focused on our question words and asked the children to write their questions on post it notes and place on large egg shaped paper. By the end of the 2 weeks the children had designed their own planets and eyepets, they had written stories and descriptions about the eyepet and its home planet and also created a detailed care plan for their eyepet including likes and dislikes and the best way to look after their eyepet.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Exploring the world of Minecraft

Around 2 and half years ago I started to hear news surrounding a small indie game development team called Mojang from Sweden. The concept of the game sprung out at me, imagine Lego + sandbox video game. This game was going to allow me to build structures just like Lego did and also let me create and tell my own story. Already Minecraft was starting to sink its teeth into me and had no intention of letting go.

Minecraft is a sandbox game, when you are first dropped into its “blocky” world your first task is to find/build shelter. With no materials to hand you have to gather wood by running up to trees and punching them until its drops a block. This block can be picked up by the player and then crafted into tools, say an axe. Use the axe to then gather more wood quickly and then you can create more tools such as a spade, pickaxe or a sword. This all sounds quite surreal, so just below is a video of me playing the first 20 minutes.

(Sorry about the quality and fps. The quality of the videos will improve soon)

Minecraft has come a long way since I first started playing its early Alpha/Beta stages. Hundreds of new features have been added over the years to keep the game fresh and appealing. This is why I have a love for Minecraft and its eager and committed community. Updates for the game arrive every month which include new features and bug fixing. The community is always growing and with over 9 million copies of the game sold to date and it looks like it’s not stopping anytime soon. As Minecraft got bigger and bigger more people started to look at what it had to offer. As part of the Redbridge Games Network, I was interested to see how Minecraft could play a part in the classroom. Just over a year ago I stumbled across Joel Levin better known as MinecraftTeacher on Twitter and Tumblr. He began his own Minecraft club at his school in New York. I started looking at the work he and his pupils were creating and instantly I wanted to follow in his footsteps. His idea was to create a self-built community by the children whilst looking at different aspects of learning. They were covering Literacy, Numeracy, PSHCE (Citizenship) and even Design and Technology.

In September 2011 I started my first Minecraft club; it was aimed at low achieving boys in year 4. It was going to be a creative writing club. I had 8 boys in the club and we started to play Minecraft together. I had bought 4 Minecraft accounts so we could all play on the same server (one account per pair) and play together in the same world. I had already edited this world so when the game started we all began on a beach with a sunken ship just off the coast. I told them they were all miners travelling to South America by boat when they had been hit by a storm and woken up on this island. What should we do? Where should we go? What are our priorities?
Over the course of the 6 week unit we created Wordles, diary accounts and audio logs of our time on the island. They had all really enjoyed the experience and word spread around the school that I was using Minecraft in lessons. Some excellent work was produced and I have posted some of this in the post. As word spread of Minecraft club more and more pupils wanted to join. I decided to change the clubs name to Creative Worlds in January 2012 and took the club in a different direction. My aim was to take children from years 4, 5 and 6 who didn’t really know each other and create a community around Minecraft. The club was more about working together and building cohesion between the pupils who had never really spoken to each other before in school.
I was going to be blogging about this club but I just never got around to recording all the wonderful things the pupils had created. I have a few of the worlds saved and it was amazing to watch their world come to life with more buildings, shops, swimming pools and rocket ships. 

Starting this week I have new club of 16 children and together we are going to write about our experiences once a week. The children will be contributing to the posts and explain what they are getting from using Minecraft in the classroom. In these blog posts I will be going into more detail about how to set-up servers and creating multiplayer games. I will also talk about how to use the excellent tool from Minecraftedu which allows the teacher full control of the world and the players to give the lesson more focus when needed. I’m very excited to start a new journey in Minecraft, it is a brilliant multi-purpose learning tool and I hope to show what it has to offer over the coming weeks.