Tag Archives: revision

Exhibitor sneak peeks

With BETT just a few weeks away, you might be wondering what you can see, touch or try? With more than 650 exhibitors, whatever your interests, there will be exhibitors that will enthuse and inspire you. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing with you what a selection of these exhibitors have in store.

With the buzz around social media in society and education today, SmileyTalk on stand SW47 is a new, safe social networking website designed specifically for use in the classroom. SmileyTalk aims to encourage cultural awareness and an interest in languages among primary school pupils through a stock of pre-translated phrases in 13 languages which allow them to communicate with their peers worldwide. The ‘walled garden’ website does not allow any free typing, eliminating the risks of cyber bullying and grooming that are associated with open networking site. Instead, children pick questions and answers from a range of different topics which can be added to by their teacher as more subjects are covered in the classroom.

Looking for a way to engage students in mathematics? Easimaths from RM on stand D60 is a new interactive online software package that is designed to encourage pupils to grasp key mathematical concepts without realising that they are doing it. Colourful characters, games and puzzles guide pupils through the maths National Curriculum from Levels 1 to 5 in a range of carefully structured, easy to use activities that enable students to progress at their own pace. Accessible via the internet, Easimaths allows pupils to try harder activities in the privacy of their own home, something they might not feel confident to do at school, with support materials on hand for when things get tricky.

Revision outside of the classroom has always been hard to crack as a universal process. On stand U29, visitors can find GCSEPod, an accessible learning and revision product for mobile technologies. Written by teachers and relevant to all six main UK examination boards, the audio visual material has been designed to support Year 10 and 11 students’ learning outside of the classroom, making revision more appealing and accessible to accelerate the revision process and boost exam success rates. Available via school subscriptions or to students directly, GCSEPod offers a cost effective learning resource that requires no additional hardware investment; schools stream material onto school computers, which students can then download on to their personal handheld devices or access via the school system if preferred.

On stand S57, from Serious Games interactive comes the online, interactive 3D adventure game series ‘Playing History’. Offering a new way to access history, it utilises the game media to teach pupils about important events and periods in world history. The idea behind the series is to focus on the little story that is part of the big one: to experience the role of the individual and its challenges in world history and the living conditions in different historical periods. The game series combines a colourful and humorous visual style with an engaging narrative to motivate players to keep playing and complete mini-games during the course of the game, whether learning about the Plague in 14th century Florence, or experiencing life as a slave in the 18th century.

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Facebook is good, Facebook is bad – should Facebook be banned in schools?

Dan Roberts, Deputy Headteacher at Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall, provides an insight into the use of social media in schools.

Sir Ken Robinson said recently ‘that the advances in technology are opening up a complete new set of possibilities for education.’ I completely agree with this statement. One of these new possibilities is the use of social networking in schools. Some schools are actively embracing this technology while others are banning and blocking it – it is very much a current debate facing education around the world. I attempt to unpack some of this in this blog post.

First of all here is a satirical look on the hot debate, I apologise now for the quality of the rap:

The latest negative media release about Facebook appeared in newspapers last month claiming one in three teachers within the UK have been victim to online bullying through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. You can read the full article here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2026450/One-teachers-bullied-online-parents-pupils.html 

This is obviously a serious potential issue but perhaps if we educate our children and their parents in the acceptable use of this media it would minimize this type of misuse.

We have used Facebook in our school for some time now; we are experiencing more of a positive impact than a negative one. This is what our students say about using social networking in school:

“Enhances our learning”

“Makes learning more interesting and fun”

“Learning skills to prepare for our future”

“Free, quick and simple to use”

“Accessible in school, at home, anytime & anywhere”

“They can be used in any subject”

“Help connect school to home – our parents and teachers can talk”

In the last year I have seen Facebook used effectively in school in the following ways: as part of the main learning activity of the lesson, for groups of students to collaborate on learning projects across different subjects, to raise money for charity, for teachers to share good practice and plan together, to connect and communicate to parents and the community and even live streaming revision lessons when the students were on study leave.

As a school we have openly been using social networking as a way of making a marked contribution to the quality of the learning that takes place inside and outside the classroom. To do this though schools must invest time and support in educating children, teachers and parents how to use these tools responsibly and safely then trust them to do so. This article featuring Professor Stephen Heppell and myself highlights this argument:

http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6068079 

If you are looking for more classroom based research in to how to help implement social networking within your school then check out this free publication titled ‘Facebook as a Tool for Improving Student Outcomes’. It has been produced by Cornwall College and Cornwall Learning on behalf of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) for the Improving Teaching and Learning through Technology Project, my school features as the fourth case study; it can be viewed and downloaded here:

http://www.slideshare.net/rscsw/facing-up-to-facebook-issues-for-the-uses-of-facebook-with-1619-year-old-learnersa-research-based-exploration

A new website that will be going live from the 17th September 2011 aimed at young people, teachers, Headteachers and Governors into helping them open up, unblock, and unfilter in their schools will aim to provide free support and guidance in doing this. You can visit and register for free at http://www.unblockedu.com.

The education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap with the use of social networking.  Students are more aware of the world and eager to embrace new ideas and try new technologies and it is our obligation to the generation of children in education and those about to enter it to ensure they have the opportunities to learn in this type of way.

Dan Roberts is Deputy Headteacher at Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall, and a regular attendee of BETT. You can follow him on Twitter @chickensaltash or check out his blog: http://chickensaltash.edublogs.org.

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