Sharing ideas and all things ICT… I am a Y2 teacher, AHT, ICT subject leader and mum

Posts tagged ‘twitter’

Loving Pinterest!

Keep seeing lots of lovely ideas on the web, or images that you want to reference later, but forget where you saw it?  Well if you are not already hooked on Pinterest – you soon will be!  It’s a very clever little content  sharing service that allows members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their own pinboards. You can name your boards (a sort of mini filing system really) and you can also share your great ‘pins’ via the usual social networking features in Twitter and Facebook.  You can create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies or you can. browse other pinboards for images, ‘re-pin’ images to your own pinboards.  I love the simplicity of it and find it an invaluable resource of just about anything and everything.  Click the ‘My Pinterest’ button on the top right of my blog to see my boards or click http://pinterest.com/nickynewbury/Pinterest

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Twitter – a year on…

I was fortunate to be asked to present at SWGfL ICT conference for a second time last week following on from a very successful GBL project Playing the Writing Game (PTWG) in Wiltshire.  I wanted to write a post about it because embarking on this particular project has sent me in an altogether different direction to that I was travelling before it began.  The project as you will probably know if you have been following previous posts was to use games in the classroom to inspire and motivate underachieving and disengaged boys.  More specifically, it was to improve their use of vocabulary (AF7).  I have documented the progress of the project both here and via my class’ blog so there is no need to revisit,  But what I wanted to write about was what happened as a result of the project.  At the beginning of the project, Tim Rylands was brought in to kickstart our journey, he gave us the benefit of his extended knowledge on Web 2.0 tools, links, devices, strategies etc all of which were invaluable.  But the advice to join Twitter was the first step to change.  Of course I had heard of Twitter before and had a quick look, noticed what some had had for breakfast, saw when someone was travelling by train and giving a blow by blow account of the journey, and others that were commenting on the daily news.  I couldn’t see the attraction if I was perfectly honest!  However, if Mr R. thought it worthy of a mention then it must be better than I had thought!  I signed up and started to follow all the people that Tim and Simon (our ICT advisor) followed.  I soon realised that WHO you followed was crucial, they then in time followed back and my following and follower tallies were creeping upwards.  A couple of weeks in and I was recognising a lot of names that I had heard of via the teaching community.  It seemed incredible that one minute I was beginning a GBL project and the next I was tweeting, collaborating and sharing with luminaries in this field – amazing!  Doors that I believe would be firmly shut by other routes were now being flung open and a warm welcome was being given.

That was nearly a year ago and I can honestly say I have never looked back.  I have met (virtually and otherwise) a host of lovely people who although not friends in the normal sense of the word, are giving and helpful.  I have presented at a Teachmeet in Bath (my first and definitely not my last).  I have built a substantial Personal Learning Network (PLN) of contacts, experts, colleagues and gurus who I feel happy to contact my fellow tweeps about a variety of topics and questions.  I can post a request and within 10 minutes receive upwards of 15 responses – fantastic!  The project’s success also enabled me to have plenty to say about my experiences of GBL and to share ideas.  I have liaised with Wiltshire and Swindon Learning Resources about content in their excellent multimedia boxes.  Simon and I have created a blog called the South West Games Based Learning network which harnesses  superb ideas and planning to enable others to ‘have a go’ and to read about others who have! This we hope will enable other contributors  share their experiences too and be a truly collaborative project.

This blog and my class blog were also created to reflect and publish our efforts and thinking as the year progressed (and as a direct nudge from the tweeting community, @deputymitchell and others) and my children have absolutely loved posting and even creating their own personal blogs, discussing their daily learning which I was personally thrilled about.

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at the conference and to have Tim sitting at the back and tweeting about me made me feel very honoured and proud.  Several people have since contacted me as a direct result of the seminar who I am more than happy to help begin their GBL journey.  A few posts ago I wanted time to reflect and assimilate all that I had heard and learnt from the conference.  I’m still thinking how to implement a lot of what was said, especially from Ewan McIntosh’s keynote (he’s due to blog about it soon) – if you were there you’ll understand that I shall now be ‘conducting with my eyebrows’ to make learning a risk, challenging and meaningful.  If you weren’t there then go to his blog and find out more, you won’t regret it!

So, in summary I have taken a different route that has given me so many cpd opportunities to improve my teaching practice.  I have learnt more this year by joinging Twitter than probably in the last 3 by conventional means.  I forget who said it (apologies) but Twitter is like a river that constantly flows, you don’t have to row back to the beginning in case you miss something. You simply join in when you need to and glean what you feel is appropriate for your situation.  If the next year is as beneficial as this year has been, then I will have a lot to be thankful for by joining this particular social network.

QR codes in the classroom

After several weeks of planning to use QR codes in my classroom, I have finally managed to incorporate them into the children’s books as a way of recognising their brilliant work on the blog.  My initial difficulty was the fact that a) my ipod doesn’t have the camera feature and b) I didn’t have a smart phone.  We have webcams at school and I know that with specific software, they can do a fine job of reading the QR codes BUT I wanted it to be much more portable and interactive.  So my first step was to get a smart phone (I’d been hankering after one for a while and this gave me the necessary impetus to get one asap!)  Once my lovely HTC Wildfire had been delivered, I could then embark upon my new quest!

The next steps were to have a look at how others had used or are using them.  My Twitter friends @Dughall, @ideas_factory, @jamesmichie, @primary_pete, @chris_1974 and @tombarratt had been tweeting the virtues of using them in a variety of ways plus had written excellent blog posts – so it should be easy then?

For the uninitiated, a QR (Quick Response) code  is a specific two dimensional matrix barcode that can be read by camera phones and special barcode readers.   The code is  made up of black pixels arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded which the barcode can be text, a URL address or other data.  The information that is stored on the barcode, the bigger it becomes.  The one below is a unique barcode which when scanned will take you to my class blog.  To make these QR codes, I used www.qrcodemaker.co.uk, which was simple to use but there are many others just as good.

So, now all I have to do is type in the URL address of the  page on the blog which I want to store in the code and a new and unique barcode is created for me to import as a .png file which I then print out and give to the children to stick in their books.  To say that they were amazed at what happened when I clicked the code, would be an understatement!!  One of my boys said it was like’James Bond’…..  but joking aside, I now have a record of what they have written on their blog in their books which was my intention at the very beginning.  At parents evening last week, several parents were instructed how to use the codes by their children.  The children explained what they were and apparently whilst waiting to see me, found it amusing to use their phones to access further work completed by their child!

Of course, a record of their work is only the start of things…I now want to begin using them in other ways such as suggested by my fellow tweepers and on Tom Barratt’s excellent ‘Interesting ways to...’ series.  I feel another post coming soon…

 

Quad blogging

I am continued to be blown away by the continued enthusiasm of the children wanting to write and comment on their class blog.  I recently took part in an online discussion about the value of blogging in school.  Many like minded teachers were involved and together the discussion proved a boost to improve mine and the children’s blog.  Much excellent advice was given by  (Microsoft Innovative Teacher National Winner 2010 )David Mitchell also known as @DeputyMitchell, as to what to include on your blog as well as how to get more visitors.  One point I raised was that although we have a lot of visitors to the blog, not many actually leave comments, which is a shame as the children love to read them.    Well, a few weeks passed and with much excitement on Twitter, David has begun to organise a project called Quad blogging.  This seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so I contacted David and put my class forward.  The way that Quad blogging works is that there are sets of four schools around the country (and the world it now seems).  On a four week cycle, each school is the ‘focus school’ whereby the other three schools comment and respond to the work on the focus school’s blog.  This not only gives an audience to the focus school but enables the children to blog, evaluate and comment on other children’s work and ideas, which impacts on the learning.  I am very excited by the prospect as are the children.

This coming week the ‘idea now becomes the reality’ to quote David and Bowood Class (http://bowoodclass.wordpress.com) are the focus for our little happy band of Quad bloggers.  The other three schools are: Abbotswood Junior School (http://3b3b3b.blogspot.com/) with Phil Bagge (@baggiepr), Blackfield Primary School (blackfield6ao@wordpress.com) with Anna O’Sullivan (missosullivan) and Halam CE Primary School (http://mp1.halamschool.org) with Graham Cullen (@grahamcullen).

From recent tweets, we are all up for the challenge and no doubt this collaborative approach to learning and providing opportunities for dialogue between schools will be a rewarding experience for all concerned!