Sunday, 29 January 2012

Start Your Literacy Lesson With a Word Cloud

Firstly, if you’ve not yet heard of or made word clouds before visit one of the websites below to start making them:
We have recently been looking for ways to engage our Key Stage Two learners in improving their understanding of different word types. One way we’ve found to do this has been through the use of word clouds. At the beginning of some literacy lessons we have displayed a word cloud and then set the children the task of listing different types of words that they can find in the word cloud.
The example below contains nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. The children listed words they thought were examples of each. This lead to a discussion about why words were or were not a certain word type and also lead to discussing words like ‘sprout’, ‘stamp’ and ‘smoking’ that can at different times be classified as more than one of these.
This could also be carried out using time connectives, conjunctions, alternatives for said or contractions missing apostrophes that need adding and so on…
The word clouds are easily created by coping a list of words into the website. Below are examples of the four ideas listed previously:

Again, please feel free to add to this post by commenting below.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

"3x3Links is a minimalist, shareable internet start page"

Image credit:

3x3links enables teachers to provide their children with a page that links to a number of webpages for either general use or as part of a particular topic.

Firstly, we have created our own 3x3links page to share the locations 'Primary Ideas' exists online:  

A 3x3links page could be set up to allow children quick and easy access to sites used throughout a school. For example:  

The final use we've found for 3x3links is to group useful sites when studying a particular topic:  

In addition to these, a personal 3x3links page could be set up as your homepage to allow you quick access to your most used websites. For example:

These links can be used as a URL or even as a QR Code. They could be provided on school or year group websites as links for the children to follow, could be put on displays in the classroom or can be handed out on paper or displayed on a projection during a lesson.

These are just some uses we've come across and made use of. We'd love to hear from you if you have other uses we don't yet know about.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

QR Codes and TinyURL in Education

We started using QR Codes in our classrooms in the summer of 2011. We began investigating how we could make use of them and found a large amount of information online about the potential for QR Codes being used in the education environment. Some of these can be found here:

In addition to these websites there is also much more that can be found on YouTube, in blogs and by searching for 'QR Codes Classroom'.

Initially, we only made use of QR Codes and made them using Kaywa. This was good as it allowed easier access to a URL through either an application on a mobile device or a desktop QR Code reader. This worked in most cases, but we found that sometimes children struggled to manipulate the QR Code for the reader to pick it up easily and that children and parents didn’t always have access to a QR Code reader at home. 

We then, after seeing them used on Twitter, started to look at the use of URL shortening services. We have found to be the most child friendly. Some others ( and for example) are case sensitive, where as TinyURL is not case sensitive. So, we now provide links to websites as both QR Codes and as TinyURLs.
As a result of using TinyURL we also discovered that if the TinyURL is used to create the QR Code rather than the original URL it makes the QR Code much simpler and therefore easier to read. The two QR Codes below link to the same webpage, but one is much simpler than the other:

So, when creating your QR Codes to link to a URL pop the URL into a shortening service and use that URL to create your QR Code.

Finally, we initially used Kaywa to create our QR Codes in black and white, but have recently discovered which allows you to do this:

We hope that adds a little more to the QR Code discussion and is of use to you.