I have just completed the second edition of the SHS E-Learning Newsletter. This issue’s focus was:
- Google Forms
- Youtube XL
- Flickr CC Search
- Internal Training
Check it out here, or sign up for the next edition over on the right in the sidebar
I am excited to have been invited by Kristian Still to be involved with developing the idea of ‘Digital Leaders’ in school. Digital Leaders is an initiative started by Kristian Still at Hamble College in Southampton.
To quote Kristian: “The Digital Leaders are a group of students from Hamble Community Sports College that lead innovative ICT practice and regularly meet as part of the Digital Media and Gaming Club. They contribute to ICT innovation and curriculum development and contribute to school ICT policy.”
Gordon Brown finally announced the Home Access programme last week. Organised by Becta this scheme will provide 270,000 households with a voucher that is redeemable for a computer along with 1 year’s Internet access, a suite of software and also support.
Families will be eligible if they have a child in Years 3-7, they have not been beneficiaries of a similar scheme in the past and they are entitled to Free School Meals or a range of other Income based benefits.
The scheme is independent of schools, although they can organise to bulk apply for the packages (I have heard this results in delays). Parents need to call the Home Access Grant Helpline on 0333 200 1004 for an application form, they will be told over the phone if they are eligible.
All of the packages on offer include ‘Assistive Technologies’. I saw a presentation on these at BETT last week and they do look impressive. The base package consists of a piece of Mind Mapping software, Mind View3; Text Help Read & Write software that includes spell checking, grammar suggestion and text to speak capabilities and finally issist iZoom screen magnification software.
The second package includes specific hardware solutions such as trackballs, high contrast keyboard stickers, larger keyboards, trackpads etc.. The third package which is not ready to go yet, is for those with more specific physical needs and will include home visits and assessments if necessary.
Although not run through our school I am keen to ensure that every child that is eligible for this benefits from it, so we will be sending a letter home to all of our Year 7-9 pupils encouraging them to apply. I will then run some form-filling drop-in evenings at school. Over half of our pupils have English as a second language so I’m sure some of the parents will appreciate the help in completing the forms. I’ll also be liaising closely with my SEN department to ensure that those with additional needs benefit from the assistive technology packages.
I spoke with a representative from Becta about this package. Many of our pupils benefited for the laptops for pupils scheme a year ago, so won’t be eligible for the new schme, but would certainly benefit from the software package. He confirmed that the package will be available in all of the approved retailers and should be under £50 which represents a considerable saving. They are also looking into making it available to schools for their own systems.
Further details and promotional materials for schools are available from the Home Access website if you register as a school, however feel free to borrow my letter.
Well you can’t have missed the fact that Google has finally unleashed Google Wave to 100,000 lucky testers, and with it a tsunami of hype. I was lucky enough to be one of the 100,000 first wave. Enough of the puns, if you want a bytesize explanation of what Wave is then this video is the best start:
So today Google announced that they will be introducing their very own Google Chrome OS.
This follows in the wake of excellent the Google Chrome web browser which was released last year. Designed initially for netbooks, it appears that the OS will effectively be little more than a web browser. The beauty of this is that it will be incredibly quick and run on relatively underpowered/old hardware.
Google announced a new product to the World at it’s Google I/O conference yesterday, Google Wave.
There has been much written about it around the Web, by folks more intelligent than I, so if you want to catch up on the intricacies then read some of these sites:
You can sign up to be informed about Wave, and hopefully get involved with the beta at the Google Wave website: http://wave.google.com. If you’re lucky the video might be working on that site too, it was temperamental at the time of writing.
This looks very exciting for school use. Many seem to have dubbed it the ‘new email’ already. The collaboration possibilities in and between classrooms look fantastic. I’ve been a big fan of using wikis as collaborative documents and this looks like it will take the concept of a wiki to a new level. The ability to drag and drop files into a collaborative document in a browser for instance lowers the technical skills required for working with these kinds of technologies considerably.
It is widely reported that Zinedine Zidane cost around £46 million pounds when he moved from Juventus to Real Madrid in 2001.
In 2001 the Euro : Sterling exchange rate was around 0.6:1
£46m / 0.6 = €77m
Now, that was over 7 years ago. That’s quite a while in the economic world of inflation.
I could do the inflation calculations myself, but it would be time consuming and dull, a quick Google search finds lots of sites such as http://www.moneysorter.co.uk/calculator_inflation.html. (I should really have done this in Euros, but couldn’t find a converter, so used GBP inflation.)
As you can see, this gives us a value of €89 million.
Using today’s exchange rate of €:£ = 0.93:1 this gives us €89m * 0.93 = £82.7m. Not so far away from the £100 million figure quoted so much in the press over recent weeks!
Bearing in mind Kaka is 26 and Zidane was 30 this seems a fair offer in comparison.
So there you go, seemed absurd, but not so different from the past after all. Maths makes sense of the headlines!
(I’m still glad it didn’t happen though!)
Ed Balls has, well, sorry, had the balls to ditch SATs for 14 year olds in England.
I can’t quite describe how elated I am! Ignoring last years fiasco, these tests have narrowed the curriculum, the teaching opportunities and pupils enthusiasm for the subject for years. The league tables that accompanied them often narrowed a school’s focus onto just the key Level 5 boundary pupils.
Can all of that really be gone? Fingers crossed!
The focus appears to be ‘teaching to the test’, now who’d of thought schools might reort to such a thing when the other option is to be labled as failing?
I hope that this is a shot across the Government’s bow about the high stakes testing / league table problem that blights our schools, but unfortunately the reporting in the press lays much of the blame at the teacher’s door. I have seen no mention in the press of the shortage of specialist Maths teachers in relation to this figure of ‘half’.
We are working hard with out pupils to increase the understanding of Mathematics, in particular with our new Y7s and the focus on their Personal Learning & Thinking Skills and developing an understanding of cross-curricular links. This is incredibly difficult to achieve in the time frames we have and the pressures of resluts and league tables.
Balls apparently wants to win the ‘hearts and minds of teachers’ today by enshrining in law the 10% non-contact time. In my experience, schools have been good at granting this time for some years now and the strength of teaching unions ensure it happens. Good headline-making it may be but this will have little impact on the real pressures that we face in the job. I voluntarily give up some of my 10% time to mentor small groups of key pupils to ensure they get their grade Cs, and all because of the legacy of league tables.
As our city is besieged by MPs this week it remains to be seen if any real change will be promised to the profession.Disclaimer: as with everything on this blog, these are solely my views and do not represent those of my school or my LEA.
The new KS3 Framework has a renewed focus on using and applying Maths along with developing the Personal, learning and thinking skills and the Cross-curricular dimensions introduced with the new National Curriculum.
On reflection the content which we need to deliver has changed little and so with some tweaking our previous scheme of work will suffice in structure. This statutory change in the manner in which we deliver the content and offer opportunities to put the Maths in context, develop pupils personal skills and link in with other subjects can only be a good thing in my opinion.
There are a number of fantastic resource banks out there full of ‘rich’ mathematical tasks which we could use:
nRich: Hundreds of puzzles and investigations, updated monthly.
Kangaroo Maths: Particularly Using & Applying and Enrichment sections.
Bowland Maths: New resources designed specifically with the new curriculum in mind.
Defence Dynamics: Interactive resources / lesson plans based on real world scenarios from the MoD.
Of particular interest are the Bowland Maths resources, these have been produced by the Bowland Charitable Trust in conjunction with the NCETM. To quote their site:
‘Bowland Maths makes maths fun for pupils aged 11-14. The aim is to help change pupils’ views of maths by increasing their motivation and enjoyment, which should help increase their confidence and their competence. A second aim is to help teach maths in a different way.
The Bowland Maths materials look very different from most maths teaching materials. They consist of innovative case study problems, each taking 3-5 lessons, designed to develop thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills – as in the revised Key Stage 3 curriculum. Each case study is different, but all provide pupils and teachers with problems that are fun and engaging, while also being a rich maths experience. The case studies are not remotely like answering questions from a book. For Portraits of the case studies, click here.’
As a department we will be reviewing a number of these resources and planning their integration into our teaching over the coming weeks. I will add more in the future about any particular highlights.
Have you any other links to quality resources to enrich Maths teaching? How is your department tackling these changes?