DISPLAYING ITEMS BY TAG: STEM

“If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's, we rob them of tomorrow” - John Dewey.

I was first introduced to this quote by Lee Parkinson, and I think it illustrates perfectly how we should think of edtech. When it comes to technology in the classroom, we tend to follow the most up-to-date trends; this has been how I have used technology such as Minecraft and online memes (ideal for grammar). Plus, there really is an app for absolutely everything. However, to bring real benefit to edtech usage, I’m now changing my thinking.

I had always believed that, in a fast-paced world, we need to find the latest app of the week and involve it in the class to best stay at the cutting edge. However, more recently I have backed off a little. I came to the realise that learners don’t need our help on discovering apps, or figuring out how to access them. They need help with using these resources creatively and effectively. So, at Old Hall Primary our approach has changed from having the latest app on the iPad, or the newest piece of software on the computers - we have slightly gone back to basics.

Apple apps - Back-to-basics

For me, Keynote, Pages and iMovie are a necessity on any school iPad. Admittedly, I was guilty of not using these enough, but since taking the time to really understand them - as well as going through the free Apple Teacher programme - I have done a u-turn. This could be due to the ease of many other apps, or possibly user interface on third-party apps that we use more regularly, but investing the time can really pay off. I think this could also be the case for Google and Microsoft products too, both of which offer self-taught programmes similar to Apple Teacher. I thought I would share one ‘hack’ / feature for a few resources...

Keynote... and Magic Move!

Keynote can used to create presentations. It’s similar to Powerpoint, but with a cleaner, less complicated look, which does help the user interface. A fantastic feature that I wasn’t aware of is Magic Move, a transition tool you can apply between two slides. If the next slide shares any objects such as images, text or text boxes with the previous slide, those objects will be magically moved from one position to the next, and this can then be saved as a video! Therefore, you could turn a presentation into an informative animation, which would be very helpful to explain relationships and cause & effect, such as:

  • Movement of tectonic plates.
  • Circuits.
  • Solar System and the movement of objects.
  • Explaining computing concepts.

Pages… and Instant Alpha!

Pages is Apple’s word processing software, best described as a mixture of Word and Publisher which has the simple, intuitive look of most Apple products. The main feature that I got excited about was Instant Alpha, which allows you to delete the background or a selected space of an image. This offers a couple of benefits: it makes the image look more part of the text, rather than the old copy and pasted image with a box around it, and it also allows for a basic ‘Photoshopping’ effect of a couple images becoming one.

 

iMovie… and CCTV footage!

This is probably the Apple software that people are the most familiar with, iMovie is a very effective video editor where you can add pictures, videos, audio or a combination of all three. The effect I like to do was shown to me by Amy Kingsley, an Apple ADE based in Manchester. Amy uses Apple products in an inspirational way in KS1, creating a CCTV effect video!

In truth, the effect is actually using two features. The colour filter is enabled done by tapping a clip, selecting the Filter button, and selecting a filter (I like to go for a black and white one for this end product). If you only want a portion of a clip to have a colour filter, just split the clip and add the filter to the segment you want. The second part of this is to add a title. This is done by selecting a section of the video, tapping the Title button, and choosing the style of font and its position (for this I prefer lower). The end product is very effective, especially for creating exciting videos such as dinosaurs or aliens invading the school, or even staging a break in to help inspire a newspaper report.

Seesaw… and changing your Classwork Mindset!

Seesaw is an online portfolio system that can be used to collect and comment on work. More importantly, children’s parents, guardians and carers can comment on the work too! To get started, teachers will need to upload pupils’ names separately (or, for speed, they can enter a full class list). Seesaw then does the rest. Honestly, this is enough to give each child a login and account for Seesaw. Not only that, but Seesaw does all the hard work to give the child’s parents a log in, too. Plus, it’s free!

Seesaw provides the perfect way to keep a constant record of a child’s progress. It links brilliantly with other apps, so it is a fantastic way to collect and share work with pupils on their iPads. As Seesaw links well with other apps, information can be uploaded in a variety of ways:

  • Photo – I have done this with artwork, homework projects, work from class, and even Science experiments, as well as work from Computing.
  • Video – I have used this for Science experiment videos, PE work in dance and gymnastics, Computing for explanation videos. Any videos from the camera roll can be uploaded.
  • Drawings – I have done this with explanations to gauge children’s understanding; similar to how I use Explain Everything.
  • Note – Not the most amazing feature in comparison to the rest but still valuable for research purposes.
  • Link and File – These are great for sharing work from the teacher and doing some project-based learning.

 

It is worth noting that all of the above features can also be improved further with a brilliant feature with is adding a sound file, or annotation. This can be the child explaining what they have done or the teacher giving feedback to a piece of work. In addition, there is the facility for parents to add feedback too, which is very powerful!

Skype... and Book Creator

I enjoy using Skype, as there is so much power in having an expert stranger - I was lucky enough to get Jillian Morris-Brake. Jillian runs Bimini Shark Lab in the Bahamas, and has years of experience where she has traveled, filmed and photographed extensively across the globe. I was excited for my class to get the opportunity to speak to Jillian, as she could provide not only the content for our persuasive text, but also the purpose, which was going to be to shared on her website sharks4kids.com.

Launching Skype in your classroom is a fairly simple process. All it requires is a new account, some video and audio equipment, and a device to broadcast from. Skype used to only be available through the computer, but you can now use it on many different devices.

Following a Skype interview with Jillian, I asked the children to discuss the notes that they had made; they even swapped notes that they had made from Jillian’s lesson. We followed this with some research in class using iPads, laptops and, of course, books.

The next day I set the class up on Book Creator Chrome, which I had used with small groups, but I had wanted to try in a class situation. Dear me, what a game-changer! Book Creator itself is an app that has been used in schools for a number of years. Recently however, a Chrome site was launched. This has many of the same features, with one major addition: collaboration. Now, I have had some good moments with edtech, but 24 laptops accessing and working on the same book at the same time - wow! In short, we wrote an informative eBook about sharks and the threats to them, and managed to complete it in four hours: two hours were spent writing it, and then two the next day to edit.

In summary, I am not necessarily suggesting that you go out and use these specific edtech resources. This year, choose any piece of edtech that you are unfamiliar with, or haven’t used in a while, then spend some time learning its features. Brainstorm how to use it, share it with a colleague, give it a month or so of using it now and again in class, and see where it goes.

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Andrew Duffey, Head of Design Technology & Engineering and Computing at The Henrietta Barnett School for girls, talks about how VEX Robotics is preparing students for their future careers and the extraordinary demand for students to join the school robotics club.

Andrew has incorporated VEX IQ into the classroom using the free online curriculum, developed to meet national academic standards, to teach Year 8 pupils the key elements of STEM through robotics. He credits the practical and theoretical aspects of VEX as pivotal factors to ensuring students are engaged, as well as thinking creatively and critically throughout lessons.

“Whether it’s building or designing a robot or using the free programming software exploring coding languages where the transition to C++ is seamless, the girls’ knowledge of STEM is increasing every day," said Andrew. "I had a colleague at the school approach me about the benefits it has had on the pupils in his science class. As VEX teaches pupils about gears, linkages and ratios, they’re already familiar with lots of the theories introduced in Physics which their classmates are learning for the first time.”

Andrew’s implementation of VEX goes beyond the classroom. His school's teams engineer robots to take part in VEX competitions, which take place on a regional, national and international scale.

During the most recent VEX UK National Championships, which take place annually at Telford’s International Centre, The Henrietta Barnett School teams in attendance featured prominently during the awards ceremony, where accolades for the teams ranged from the Judges Award, to the Excellence Award, the top overall honour in the VEX competition. Andrew supports VEX events throughout the year and offers his support to local schools beginning their own journey with VEX was unanimously voted ‘Volunteer of the Year’ during the ceremony.

The measure of VEX Robotics’ success at HBS is evidenced by the sheer number of students attending the robotics club lead by Andrew and his colleague Sean Kelly, as well the rising number of students eager to get involved.

“We could easily treble the number of girls attending robotics club. If anything, that’s underestimating how many girls are keen to join, but unfortunately, we just don’t have the space for it. They have students queuing up at the door, sitting on the floor and even watching through the windows in awe of the robots being created by the teams. It’s just so wonderful to see them so excited by robotics!”  

Not only is Andrew helping to capture the interest and imagination of girls through robotics, but he is helping to create an environment with phenomenal potential for moving into STEM careers. Since using VEX Robotics as a teaching tool four years ago, several girls from the school have gone on to study engineering courses that combine elements of robotics at university, including one at Oxford.

Visit the VEX website to learn more.

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Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a way to accelerate student progress in Maths, while also ensuring that they have fun along the way? Well, with Maths-Whizz, the multi-award winning online Maths tutor from Whizz Education, both of these seemingly contradictory objectives are entirely possible.

Not only has the Maths-Whizz Tutor been proven to accelerate student attainment in Maths*, but the verdict from students is that it also makes the subject fun. But how does Maths-Whizz achieve this? The process can be broken down into four easy steps.

1. Assessment

As soon as your students log into Maths-Whizz, they will take a pressure-free assessment which pinpoints their individual strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum. The tutor will then automatically set each student engaging tailor-made lessons and fun games, which aim to close the specific gaps in their core knowledge that have been identified in the assessment.

2. Adaption

As your students learn, the Tutor adapts its lessons and games, ensuring that they receive appropriate content at the exact moment it's needed. Factors used to determine the appropriateness of the content provided include: the student's answers to previous questions, the time taken to answer questions, and the level of encouragement provided by the Tutor before an answer is submitted.

3. Support

Just like a human tutor, the Maths-Whizz Tutor supports your students’ learning by providing confidence-boosting prompts and scaffolded support. Additionally, if the Tutor feels a student is struggling, it will take them back to foundational material.

4. Reinforcement

To ensure a student has mastered a topic, they must pass a short interactive test. Once they have passed this test, Maths-Whizz will move them on to more challenging content. If a student does not pass the test, the Tutor will continue to build on their foundations until they are ready to progress.

What’s more, we’re so confident that the Maths-Whizz Tutor will accelerate your students’ learning that we back it up with a Money Back Guarantee. T&Cs apply.

To find out more about how the Maths-Whizz Tutor can help accelerate student attainment at your school, visit www.whizz.com and book a free consultation, or call us on +44 (0)203 328 6564.

*Research by Whizz Education - conducted with over 12,000 students and verified by independent experts - found that students who used Maths-Whizz for 45-60 minutes a week increase their Maths Age, on average, by 18 months in the first year of use.

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For schools, the question of which programming languages and tactics to focus is always difficult. To tackle this issue, VEX Robotics - the global leader in classroom and competition robotics - is kicking off the academic year with the introduction of two major edu-innovations. 2018/19 will be the year of VEX Coding Studio and STEM Labs. As well as getting students up to scratch in coding and computer science, both releases develop 21st-century skills like problem-solving, creativity and computational thinking. You’ll want to know about these resources - especially as they’re… free-of-charge - so let’s get acquainted.

VEX Coding Studio (VCS) is a one-stop software solution for the VEX IQ (Key Stage 2 and 3) and VEX EDR V5 (Key Stages 3, 4 and 5) robots. It seamlessly takes students from block-based to textual programming, walking learners through this notoriously difficult transition in a logical process. The software even opens up routes to advanced object-oriented concepts to stretch keen students.

Teachers can struggle with choosing which type of code to teach, but VCS covers three of the four most popular programming languages currently in use: Python, JavaScript and C++. These account for almost 40% of the programming languages used worldwide, giving students industry-relevant knowledge and giving teachers the flexibility to decide which code to teach which class.

VEX robots bring code to life and allow students to see the direct impact of programming on the real world. Getting hands-on with the EDR V5 and IQ robots actively involves students in the learning process and allows them to take ownership of their STEM learning; they’ll learn how individual maths and engineering elements come together to form solutions to practical problems.

The free VCS software is available on Windows and Mac, with Android, iOS and Chromebook support coming soon.

STEM Labs are a series of scaffolded, hands-on activities aligned with education standards that show real-world applications of concepts using the VEX EDR. Activities include diverse builds, games and competitions, all designed by a team of classroom teachers and cognitive scientists working closely with the world-renowned Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy.

STEM Labs offer hundreds of hours of free curriculum content across the STEM subjects and beyond. They implement concepts into Maths, Design & Technology, Engineering and Computer Science subjects, with minimal preparation time for teachers. Each STEM Lab can be used on multiple platforms and includes easy to follow build instructions. The activities give students multiple approaches to solving a problem, allowing them to communicate and collaborate with their classmates, experiment, and design creative solutions.

With these amazing free resources, VEX Robotics continues to lead the way in classroom robotics. Through the VEX IQ and VEX EDR robotic platforms, as well as the fastest growing robotics competitions in the UK, the VEX IQ Challenge and VEX Robotics Competition, the company aims to inspire the world’s next generation of innovators, thinkers and problem solvers.

Check out https://www.vexrobotics.com/programming for information on VEX Coding Studio, and https://education.vex.com/ for access to STEM Labs.

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Excess workload: it’s the recurring issue that’s driving teachers away from the profession in droves. Between planning and marking lessons, collating results and ensuring that every child is catered for, it’s surprising that educators have any time to think let alone teach a class.

In fact, a DfE survey has revealed that teachers currently work over 50 hours per week on average - that’s more than both police officers and nurses! Don’t worry though, because Whizz Education is here to help. At Whizz, we understand the issues you face, which is why all four components of our multi-award-winning Maths-Whizz Schools Suite are specifically designed to help ease your workload.

1. The Maths-Whizz Tutor

The Maths-Whizz Tutor is an adaptive, online teaching solution which cuts down lesson planning time by assessing each student, and then providing them with fully-individualised lessons that aim to close specific gaps in their core Maths knowledge. In other words, the Tutor can simultaneously provide 30 different lessons to 30 different students, at the exact time they require it. Once a student masters a topic, the Tutor will progress to more challenging material, and if they struggle, it will provide confidence-boosting prompts until they are ready to move on. Additionally, the Tutor also marks lessons and collates the results, all in real time and all without teacher input!

2. Assessment & Reporting

As each Maths-Whizz lesson is marked, the results are converted into easy-to-understand reports, which instantly show your students’ strengths and weaknesses in each topic across the curriculum. Not only are these reports effective for identifying students’ needs, but they are also easily shareable, making them extremely useful for school performance reviews and parent-teacher meetings.

3. Teachers’ Resource

It’s no secret that planning your front-of-class Maths lessons can be an extremely time-consuming process, but this certainly isn’t the case when you have Maths-Whizz! With over 1,200 engaging exercises and worksheets, and a series of ready-made assessments available in one convenient online location, our Teachers’ Resource saves you the time usually spent scouring the internet for lesson content. To plan your perfect Maths lesson, all you need to do is select your students’ ability level and choose your topic.

4. Customer Success

If not done properly, the implementation of edtech can be an additional burden on teacher workload. However, when you subscribe to Maths-Whizz, you’re allocated a customer success manager who will come to your school to assist with the implementation of Maths-Whizz. Not only that, they will be on-hand throughout your subscription to ensure that you are achieving your unique educational goals through the provision of rigorous impact reports, bespoke CPD-certified training courses and special celebration assemblies that recognise student success. Our entire team has teaching experience, so they understand the practical issues you face each day.

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to take back your life this year, call us on +44 (0)203 328 6564 to book a free consultation or arrange a free trial.

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During the course of the last few years, STEM fields have slowly moved towards the apex of academic desirability. Even employers not working directly within these areas highly value the skills associated with STEM, with 62% prizing programming skills and 71% valuing problem solving. This means that, for both today’s students and their teachers, there is a real onus when it comes to the acquisition of STEM. But how do you make these traditionally thorny subjects accessible to all pupils? How do you entice the reluctant scholar into the educational territory that they may once have been able to avoid?

The popularity and push for STEM learning is gathering STEAM, as educators increasingly recognise the power of integrating Art with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths curricula. This approach recognises Art as core to the development of creativity and thinking skills critical to problem-solving. The art programme here at High Meadows School - a progressive, independent, international Baccalaureate (IB) school - supports inquiry-based learning that departs from a siloed approach.

For the 2018/19 school year, UK pupils will be asked: what would you reimagine? The BP Ultimate STEM Challenge is back, and even better than before! For the first time, BP Educational Service - in partnership with STEM Learning - is inviting UK students aged 11 to 14 to use their STEM skills to tackle one simple challenge: reimagine a solution to a real-life problem. The competition is set to dominate the first several months of the school year, with the deadline for submissions being Friday 15th February 2019.

Over the first half of 2018, 21st century skills have come to the fore of the education sector debates. Identified as a series of learning dispositions that are crucial to the future success of our children, these skills include communication, collaboration, problem-solving, critical thinking, but also digital literacy and adaptability and flexibility.

LEGO Education is the latest company to announce its support for the Year of Engineering, joining the likes of Apple and the BBC along with more than 1,400 other businesses, charities, schools and colleges. The Year of Engineering, which was announced in November 2017, is a year-long government campaign which celebrates the world of engineering. The initiative aims to highlight how engineering affects every aspect of our lives; from spaceships and ice skates to the bubbles in chocolate and the design of cars, it’s everywhere!

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