4 great (and FREE) resources for your school

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Image credit: www.prodigygame.com. Images below via suppliers. Image credit: www.prodigygame.com. Images below via suppliers.

One of the UK’s leading edu-experts went undercover at this year’s Education Show in Birmingham. Here, they weigh in on a few of their free favourites from the event...

In the current climate, cash-strapped schools are still looking closely after their expenses, and may be tempted to look at free resources. As I was strolling around the Education Show earlier this month, a few free apps jumped at me for their brilliance.

1. The Wonder Why Society

This platform is an interactive, collaborative online learning community for Primary school children - and is soon to be developed for Secondary school students, too. It aims to inspire children to create, debate and innovate.

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A perfect way to introduce new topics, the Wonder Why Society triggers children’s interest and fosters their capacity to wonder about the world around them. Moreover, the platform engages children to connect with their peers and parents to discuss what they have discovered.

2. Mammoth Memory

This fantastic app uses visual aids to help children remember the keywords, phrases, and ideas they need to succeed in the exams. The images are funny and engaging, ensuring that the pupils will not get bored while revising.

Its representative at the Education Show told me that mnemonic techniques can be particularly useful in increasing children’s grades - as high as a 70% success in retention of the key concepts. Avoiding rote learning, Mammoth Memory uses pictures and commonly used phrases to trigger associations with specific elements of the curriculum, in a way that will resonate with most children - whatever their dominant learning style.

For example, the striking image of a snail coming out of a tin box is used to show the chemical element of tin (which is Sn, like the beginning of the word “snail”). This creates a rather memorable image – so odd and out of the ordinary – and the teacher can use many more like this to teach the metals on the periodic table!

3. betty for schools

In a completely different category, betty for schools works to create a generation of girls and boys who are at ease talking about periods. It has developed curriculum-linked lessons for eight-to-12 year olds to break taboos and encourage open, respectful and honest conversations about periods.

Making the betty for schools resources free-of-charge was a question of ensuring everyone could have access to it, meaning that schools would not have to weigh them against the need for other resources, like Maths or English textbooks.

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Thanks to this, the betty bus has already visited 210 schools around the UK, and betty for schools’ online resources have been downloaded over 60,000 times, shared with half a million pupils. Research commissioned by the organisation found that after a betty workshop, 69% of girls said they felt less scared or worried about starting their period, and 81% of boys stated that they felt they know how to support someone if they were feeling unwell of emotional due to their period.

The education manager told me that it was important for the programme to work with boys as well as girls. She said: “We have a session for boys, which focuses on empathy with their female peers and understanding what exactly is happening with their female bodies. And with girls, some of the sessions are also around female peers supporting their female peers, kind of like girl power.”

The resources, which are accredited by the PSHE Association, are film-led with a mix of animations, quizzes and interactive activities for everyone: teachers, parents and students, “to give the tools to everyone to feel empowered and start that conversation,” the education manager said.

4. Prodigy

The last company that I talked to comes from Ontario. Dedicated to levelling the playing field between students from different socio-economic backgrounds, the Prodigy founders decided to help increase the students’ Maths scores with a free interactive platform. As this resource brings excitement to mathematics, teachers report fantastic results with the students, at low cost to the schools.

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Plus: Crowdfunding to the rescue

It is important to realise that, while we all share a passion for education and want to see the best for our children, educational resources rely on expertise and an excellent skill set, which can’t always be free-of-charge.

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One solution to this is crowdfunding. The Rocket Fund, developed by Nesta, works to empower teachers to buy the latest technology by raising money from businesses and their community. It supports schools throughout the whole process, including collecting the money they raise and purchasing the products they request from trusted suppliers. This raises hopes for all students to access the latest technology and get the high-quality education they deserve.

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