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A tune for 2014

Here's a simple idea for 2014. If you're an educator that also plays an instrument or sings then how about help creating a tune (or tunes) for 2014? Sign up below to let me know if you're interested and I'll start sorting it out. It's a bit like +David Mitchell's (@deputymitchell) #quadblogging although this will be with educators who happen to play instruments/sing/are into music.

Get out clause - if you wish to remain anonymous you can remain anonymous please feel free to do so. If you need a great anonymous service to capture your musical inspiration I suggest vocaroo
Record your track and share the link here or on Twitter using #2014tune

General idea for #2014tune

Get involved by completing the form below
Discover your group
Share your original track with your group - this could be as simple as a tune hummed, recorded and shared to a full blown, studio produced track
Decide which track works best
Develop your tune by adding tracks using whatever means you t…

Thoughts after a first term teaching in Early Years

"Mr McLaughlin, when I came into your class I couldn't read really good but now I can read really good" A child in my class told me this during the last week of my first term in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). I started teaching EYFS in September having only ventured into the age group previously as either a visitor or observer. When I was offered the opportunity to teach in EYFS back in May I jumped at it as I had always wanted to teach in this age group. My expectations have been surpassed as I have found teaching in EYFS to be the best learning experience I have had as a teacher.

Children enter EYFS at 4 years old, some have just turned 4 whilst others are just turning 5. The age difference may seem minimal but in terms of life and learning experiences it is vast, much more apparent than in other age groups I have taught. From holding a pencil using the preferred tripod grip to writing their name, sounding out a letter to reading a simple sentence, recognisi…

Ofsted before Christmas

Image from Wikimedia
Ofsted before Christmas based on "A Visit from St Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore
Twas the night before Christmas, when all round the land Teachers were livid no time in their hands Their assessments were due, SMT wouldn’t wait And they’d better be good or they’d meet their fate
Their students were hoping for Christmas instead Michael Gove ended that, “Rigour” he said “and facts and more facts” were the only things true thatteachers should teach so start learning them through
When outside the school there arose such a clatter Yet no one looked round to see what’s the matter Due to LO’s and feedback and keeping the pace of the learning that Ofsted wanted in place
The Head sauntered out to find out the fuss

Apps for younger children - lestroiselles has got you covered

It can be quite difficult to find apps that meet the needs of a teacher and younger child - the teacher wants an app that ensures the child is learning something from using it, the child wants an app that's fun to use. So teachers have to scour the app store for suitable apps, they visit educational app related websites or they go on recommendations from colleagues, friends and social networking. Hence my Early Years apps recommendations for this month.

The following apps are all from the same developer, Les Trois Elles. I had been searching for suitable age related apps for the Early Years classroom and I came across more misses than hits, that is until I came across Lestroiselles and their Montessori based apps. There are 7 apps, most of which meet the needs of an Early Years child - writing, reading, identifying numbers, calculations, shapes and even animation are some of the areas these apps cover.

Letter sounds, Letter sounds (French), Numberland, 1st Operations, Montessori M…

How to use proxy setting with Linux Mint

The dreaded proxy server has reared its head again. If you read my post about Linux OS for old tech you would have found me advocating Ubuntu, Elementary and Linux Mint. Unfortunately, I have found Linux Mint to be problematic if your school server uses proxy settings to get online. Ubuntu and Elementary also require changes to the network settings if you use a proxy, but this only involves a simple change in the Network Settings panel. This doesn't work in Linux Mint, the settings can be entered but will not remain saved.

So, here's the 'how to' courtesy of the askUbuntu Q&A section - if you're not keen on using terminal commands I suggest you either don't bother using Linux Mint and stick to Ubuntu or Elementary (or any other Linux distro) or swallow your fears and give this a go.

Use terminal to open /etc/environment using a text edit app as superuser - e.g. interminal type sudo gedit /etc/environment     (enter password when asked)Add the following line…

Coding in EYFS

Now let's begin by saying straight off that the iOS app Kodable will not teach a young child (or a child of any age) how to code. What it does do, and does very well, is to introduce a child to code through symbols and logical thinking.

EYFS (Kindergarten) may not be the first age group for many educators to introduce aspects of coding but I've found that it's a perfect age group due to the very inquisitive nature of young learners. The children in my class are 4 years old and using an app like Kodable to start them on their coding journey has been very straightforward. The app begins with a quick demonstration of what to do then leaves the user to it. Perfect for a 4 year old who wants to explore and discover. Through using logical thinking, the children in my class worked their way through each of the presented levels using their fingers to trace out the route and talking it through with each other. As an EYFS teacher this was the perfect opportunity for me to record p…

Bringing old computing kit back to life with Linux

Come on then, own up. How many of you have a pile of slow laptops gathering dust in a cupboard or a line of old pcs that no one will touch because they take over two minutes to start up? Well, before you remove their hard drives and consign them to the junk pile you should really take a look at Linux.

Linux is an operating system, just like Windows is an OS that the majority of schools use on their computers. Chances are, the old computers in your school run Windows XP and run it very, very slowly. Linux can help to speed those pcs up and make them almost as good as new (apart from the obvious signs of wear and tear, no OS can remove that).

Linux is freely available and as its an open source operating system it is continually being developed, improved and upgraded to make it even better. But Linux comes in many different distributions (distros) - my favourite is Ubuntu but you can also have Edubuntu, Xbuntu, Fuduntu, Mint, Debian, Fedora...the list goes on but two for beginners are Ubun…

Do schools unwittingly stifle imagination and creativity?

My first week in Foundation Stage has been a great beginning in my Early Years journey. I have been amazed at the creative imaginations that young children have compared to their elder peers further up in the primary stage, so much so it's made me think just what is it that stifles those incredible, imaginative and creative minds.

I observed children creating worlds from a corner of an empty room, attacking a blank page with no hesitation or fear and filling it with beautiful imagery, talking out loud and singing in front of their class, asking pertinent questions and giving wonderful answers, telling stories, giving explanations, using reasoning, trying without fear of making a mistake.

These observations are just a few of the many eye openers I've seen; I will no doubt witness more and continue to contemplate why children and their imaginations are being stifled in Primary school.

Creativity is like finding a corner in a round room, it's there if you use your imaginatio…

Stepping into the early years

Tomorrow I start a new journey in my teaching and learning career - I begin at the start, in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), aka Kindergarten. My experience of teaching in this age group is limited yet I have always been interested in the teaching and learning that happens in this age group, so much so that I used ideas for my own personalised learning approaches.

I start this new chapter filled with excitement for the year ahead. I have already started to follow many excellent EYFS teachers on Twitter and Pinterest so that I can 'get my head round' early years teaching and learning. My blog will no doubt see a change as posts relate more to what I discover during the months ahead.


Flash is dead

Flash is a dead technology in schools. It's a complete waste of time. 
Teaching kids to program in flash is the new Latin. 
School technology leaders may throw up their arms aghast and shout, 'but we need it, we rely on it, our kids use it every day' but seriously, flash is dead. 
It's a hacker's delight.
Use it like any other old bit of kit, talk about it in the past tense. Kids will 'ooh' and 'ahh' when they see those little blocks on the screen move around with various keyboard presses or mouse moves. But face it, Flash is dead. 
Move on.

Piaget..wasn't he a woman?

I've been a teacher for 17 years. I was unleashed onto the teaching world back in 1996 after a 4 year Primary Education course at university. The course was mainly theory with smatterings of classroom based teaching thrown in. My only recollection of the theory side was someone called Piaget. I usually got through one lecturer's sessions with headphones on as the theory was so dull.

Judging by this you would be safe if you came to the conclusion that I never listened at university, and to be honest I never usually did. Yet I'm a damn good teacher for the very opposite reason - I do listen.

I listen to those that are the most important to my teaching.

I listen to my class.






Can Mozilla Webmaker tools meet new Computing curriculum requirements?

Can it meet new Computing requirements?
Today I finally completed my first html web 'quarter-page' using the brilliant Thimble tool of the Mozilla Webmaker site after signing up for an account over 1 month ago. It wasn't difficult to create the basics of the page as there is a wealth of information on the Webmaker site; if you wish you can be lead through the more intricate webpage building using CSS, I'll leave that for the summer holiday. The Webmaker site also includes Popcorn Maker which I haven't used yet but gives users the power to remix audio, video and image content found on the web.

How to embed Google Docs into Blogger

Testing Save to Drive

Save to Drive is a new script from the Google Developer team which adds a save to Google Drive functionality to your site. I've been trying to find a way to add this to this site so that it's added into every blog post as standard. Well, I'm not having much luck. The only way I've been able to do it is to write a new post, change to HTML view then add the script into the post. Once posted the Save to Drive button appears in the post.

If you know how to add the following script into a Blogger blog could you please post a link to the how to or even add the steps in the comments.

<script src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <div class="g-savetodrive" data-filename="My Statement.pdf" data-sitename="My Company Name" data-src="/path/to/myfile.pdf"> </div>

Google Glass in the classroom

Google Glass (Image from Google Glass site)

Google Glass appears in some eyes to be yet another 'shiny device' that schools and education consultants/sellers will jump on and proclaim as the next great device for education. I haven't seen Google Glass apart from the media presented online but I think the naysayers will get this one wrong. 
Education is littered with revolutionary and/or evolutionary technological devices:

A decade of iTunes in a timeline

Image from 9to5Mac
There are plenty of great timelines and timeline creation tools available on the internet. Schools use them, kids love them and we all learn from them. History is given a fantastic visual platform to work its magic. So when I saw this timeline from iTunes today I immediately added to my Springpad and have shared it with a few teachers already.
iTunes changed the face of music, there's no argument there whether you like the app or not. Apple have created a fantastic timeline of the iTunes platfromfrom its official launch back in 2003 up to the present day. It includes notable dates in each year and, of course, links to the top 10 selling songs of every year since its launch. 
The information provided is easy to use in a classroom and would give children a great starting point to create timelines that are not just based on wars, kings and queens.
Check out the timeline by visiting this link which will open in iTunes itself.

Google + integrates with Blogger

Earlier today Blogger brought a much anticipated feature to its blogging platform with the integration of Google+ with the comments section of every blogger site. 
It's simply stunning. However. There is only one slight issue regarding this integration. Comments are only allowed from those that either have a Google+ profile or Google+ page. Whilst this may prove unpopular with some readers who will no doubt refrain from commenting due to having neither it should also mean less spam.
Find out more on the Blogger Buzz page.