Classpress.net – Daily news feeds for Curriculum Subjects

ClassPress.net

A great new free tool called classpress.net has been launched courtesy of Russel Tarr of Class Tools.net and ActiveHistory. It involves a generator which does an hourly run through web services looking for topic keywords associated with different subject areas. This creates an uptodate summary of key news articles for different subject areas and is worth a look. You can even sign up for an email newsletter version if you want! Worth a look!

Enhancing teaching and learning with ICT

This morning I was at Homerton in Cambridge working with the Faculty of Education PGCE Geography students, looking at the way ICT can be used to enhance the teaching and learning of geography. We talked about department websites, VLEs, blogs, wikis, podcasts and the Interactive Whiteboard. Obviously many ideas are generic and can easily be applied to other subject areas. So in case anyone would like to find out more, the presentation I gave is below and the follow up materials and links are available here. Give me a shout if you have any questions.

Professional Development Archive (Using Delicious)

deliciousOne of the things I will be introducing in this evening’s meeting is the new Professional Development Links archive which I have set up to hopefully benefit all staff using the Delicious online bookmarking tool.

Delicious is simply a social book marking system which stores bookmarks online, allowing users to create an online list of sites they find most useful. Tags are added to each bookmark to help produce a searchable archive. The new archive for St Ivo already has over 200 bookmarks, including many of my own favourites as well as those of you who sent me some of the links you find most useful for your subject area. The database is easily searchable by key term and can be refined by combining search terms – e.g. French and ICT etc. I will continue to add to the archive and a permanent link to this will remain on the right of the Blog homepage. Please do let me know of any other sites you think should be added and have a search through what is already there!

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The delicious system can also be useful to you as an individual as it enables you to create your own bookmarks which you can access from ANY computer at ANY time (unlike the bookmark function on your browser!) It is incredibly simple and easy to use and once registered you simply install the del.icio.us buttons to your browser toolbar. Once these are installed, each time you find a site you want to save you simply hit the tag button, type in keywords which describe the site / content and your site is stored. By using key words (tags) to bookmark you end up with a user friendly list of keywords handily categorising your links!

Your favourite lists and those of all other members of the site are accessible publicly and therefore you and others can benefit greatly from the sharing of bookmarks. You have the option to see how many and who has bookmarked the same sites that you have tagged; you can then visit their del.icio.us list to find other sites of relevance to your topic of interest.

Using Games in the Classroom

The primary aim of Tuesday’s teaching and learning meeting is to explore how new technologies can be used to facilitate the use of games in the classroom and to provide some training in how to create simple yet effective games and quizzes that can be used both in the classroom on the IWB and published online for revision and follow up by students.

Reasons for using games in the classroom include:

* Motivation - games can engage and motivate students and in doing so they are more likely to interact in topics covered
* Games can provide feedback to both the learner and the teacher – outcomes help students to identify their current levels of acheivement and staff can intervene, scaffold and adjust learning opportunities as neccesary in relation to the outcomes.
* For many students the nature of a game or quiz is less threatening than some other learning opportunities
* Can be used to review learning in the classroom through starters and plenaries
* Can be used as useful revision aids and through online sources can be used to support independent revision by students.

See this article by Vondracek and Pittman for more details on some of the points made above.

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CONTENT GENERATOR GAMES

contentgenerator1

Andrew Field (Head of ICT at  Neale-Wade) has produced an excellent set of easy to use interactive game generators www.contentgenerator.net which students love. The content generator software can be purchased as a personal or school licence and once purchased allows you to produce unlimited games for your website, classroom etc. We already have a school licence for the Suite 1 applications, and the generators can be found in the Staff area of Projects. The generators are very easy to use and you don’t have to have any knowledge of computer programming – all you have to do is simply enter the questions and answers and the games are automatically generated for you!

contgennew1There are a number of games as well as some great revision tools – here are some examples:

Games in Suite 1 which you can make your own games for include:

At the moment we don’t have a school license for Suite 2 – however it there is enough demand this is a possibility – so please let me know how you get on with the games!. I have a personal license for most of the Suite 2 applications which include HoopShoot, Fling the Teacher, En Guard, Practice Paper (see below) and Grade or No Grade

Free Resource:

Half a min is a great little generator for creating simple starters and plenaries, it is brilliant for developing vocabulary and literacy! It is a free download for anyone and is part of what is called the mini-suite – you simply need to register on the excellent support forum which can be found here.

Revision Tools:

Suite 2 also contains the Practice Paper generator which I believe has massive potential as an interactive revision tool to support students in independent revision and exam practice. Students can take their pick from a selection of exam questions, type in their answer and then ‘submit’ it which results in a mark scheme or model answer being displayed – students can then print both to compare the answers. It is possible to use colours and other formatting to bring out key terms, examples etc.. used in the model answers to help students develop their exam technique. See the example below by clicking on the screenshot.

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Another great tool for revision, which both students and staff at St Ivo do have access to is the Interactive diagram tool which enables the creation of mind-map as revision tools  – for a description see here

As we have a school licence it is also possible for students  to create their own games which in itself is a useful revision exercise and of course these games can then be shared via department websites/extranet pages or on staff blogs.

There is already a growing collection of these games available on the internet for many different subjects – see some of the following links for further ideas and to see the potential for using these in your own areas – have a go at making them – they are VERY easy!

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Hot Potatoes

hotpot5This is a popular set of educational software tools which have been developed by the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre.

The software tools are free to use by non-profit education institutes on the condition that the games that are created are made freely available to anyone on the internet.

hotpotcrossThere are a series of 6 generators which enable staff to create online tests, quizzes, interactive starter/plenary activities which can be made use of on the IWB in the classroom and used by students independently by uploading to staff blogs or department pages on the school extranet.

No expert knowledge is required to produce the activities and each quiz has a simple generator – you simply have to enter the questions, answers and responses and press a button to generate the pages – it is as simple as that! You can also add audio, text and other media to your quizzes – making it ideal for a range of subject areas.

There are 6 generator options:

1. JCloze – simple clozed exercises involving gap-filling can be created, students can also be given clues to the missing words.

2. JQuiz – includes multiple choice and short-answer quizzes, feedback can be given

3. JMix – creates jumbled sentence activities

4. JMatch – creates matching/ ordering activities

5. JCross – creates interactive crosswords (a hint button can be used to give ‘free’ letters)

6. Masher – can be used to create complete units of different activities in one go.

The generators themselves are very user-friendly, however there is a free Hot Potatoes guide that can be downloaded from the Hotpotatoes Website.

Saving your Hot Potatoes quizzes:

1. Create a dedicated folder in your area where you are going to store your quizzes

2. The saving process requires 2 stages – firstly you need to save the information file with your quiz data in – this will enable you to open your quiz file up again at a later date and make changes to your quiz. To do this – simply go to File_SaveDataFileAs.. and give your quiz an appropriate name.

3. When you are happy with your quiz you will need to export it to create a web page which can be viewed in a web browser for us on your IWB and for uploading to the internet for revision etc. To do this, select File_Export – and then choose the appropriate option for what you want to do.

The Hot Potatoes generators can be downloaded here for use at home and in school, the generator tools can be found in the projects area of the network (please see me if you have any problems locating this).

Examples of Hot Potatoes Quizzes:

Some examples of Hot Potato Generated quizzes can be found here:

Ideas for Using Hot Potatoes in the Classroom:

  1. Starter and Plenary activities can be created for use on the IWB
  2. Quizzes and activities can be created for use by students independently for use both in the classroom and for homework
  3. Online Revision materials on staff blogs or subject extranet pages can be created for students, enabling immediate self check / feedback to be given
  4. Students can be encouraged to create their own quizzes to share with each other.
  5. Within a department staff could divide up a topic area and create and share resources

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Classtools.net http://classtools.net/

This excellent site enables you to create your own free quizzes, activities, games and diagrams which can be hosted on your blog on website. The site is run by Russell Tarr, Head of History at the International School of Toulouse. Includes resources such as: flash card generator, diamond 9 generator; Venn diagram; timeline; living graph; priority diagram and many other excellent educational tools for use in the classroom on the IWB and on staff blogs and department websites.

timerIt also includes an excellent class timer – for more examples of classroom timers – see this earlier post on “Using Timers in the Classroom”.

 

 

 

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Sandfields Comprehensive School – Free Flash Resources

An excellent site from Sandfields Comprehensive School in Port Talbot providing free flash resources which can easily be personalised – including such games as Lingo Bingo; Flip Flap; Dictionary Duel, and Random Choice amongst others. A fantastic classroom timer (to which you can add your own audio tracks!) can also be found here.

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Other Ideas:

If you have a staff blog – myStudiyo – enables you to create multimedia rich quizzes for directly embedding into your blog – you can include videos from sites such as You Tube and images.

Qedoc – is a new find for me and one I hope to explore and write more about on here in the near future – a site which provides interactive learning resources and a free authoring tool (free for those who share / contribute). If anyone already has experience of this I would love to hear more about it.

Other good online tools for creating quiz style activities:

Sliding Puzzle Tool

Puzzlemaker (Discovery)

Online Crossword Puzzle Maker

Online Wordsearch Maker

Puzzles and Games Downloads – include Who Wants to be a Millionaire Template

SuperTeacherTools (includes seating generator, random name generator, group generator and templates for games such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Jeopardy)

Online Revision – Mind mapping tools – Mindomo

I am starting to look at how new technologies can be used to support revision and I am hoping to run an extra session on my findings in April for those who are interested. As I research I am going to try and blog about as many potential tools as possible to. Mind mapping can be a great study aid for students,  mapping out key concepts of a particular topic and exploring their understanding of key issues. Although there are various options, Mindomo is a particularly good online mind-mapping tool.

Although, there are pay for versions, Mindomo has a free basic version which students and staff can use online. This is a simple online programme and what sets it apart from some other options is that multimedia can be added to the mind maps, including photographs, attachments, video and audio. This holds great potential for both staff and students and mind maps can be shared with others online. Topic areas could be mind-mapped with relevant documents attached, podcasts linked to sub-topics and relevant video clips to help bring revision alive for students and to make it more interactive.

Mindomo Screenshot

Mindomo Screenshot

Other online mind-mapping tools to explore include:

Mindmeister

Bubbl.us

Gliffy

Mind42.com

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