Friday, 29 November 2013

Augmented Reality with Aurasma Part One

We are always looking at making use of different technologies to improve the experiences of our children and the online presence of the school.
A friend of ours, who works in private industry, recommended Aurasma some time ago after using it when setting up exhibitions. After registering with the company, the account lay dormant for some time, in part because we were intimidated by our expectations of how complicated it would be to create what is known as an aura.
Aurasma, through their apps (which are available on both iOS and Android devices), allows users to add a layer of a photo or video over an image. Then, when the image is scanned, the app superimposes the video or photo over it allowing you to insert information into the original image. As part of registering as a developer, you are provided with access to their online studio with all the tools necessary for developing your own augmented reality including a detailed, but simple tutorial.
It was with a high-level of sheepishness that our first aura was completed. The tutorial is excellent and quickly and simply takes you through all the steps needed to create an aura. By following these instructions we were able to make our first aura in a matter of minutes.
The first aura we created linked a trailer for a Shakespeare film we made with the children to an image that went on the back of the DVD covers that the children made. Now, when you scan the image with the app, the trailer for the film appears. Subsequent auras include linking photos of the school to the school logo and an image linking some class artwork to a welcome sign.
It is remarkably easy to create the auras. They can be made public or private depending on need and allows the school to provide more information to Aurasma users about the school. 

Download the app, follow this link and scan the image below in order to see a simple example of what it can do.

The next step is to use Aurasma to provide a more information rich environment for children especially during project-based learning. We have used an image of a Henry VIII to link to a film about him and an image on a display to link to a film on how to do an addition calculation.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Caring Explicitly

Last week, I made a passing comment to a colleague, 

"This would be a lot easier if I didn't care!"

Then, I went away and I thought about what I'd said. I want the children in my care to succeed, progress, do well, be proud of themselves. I don't work more and harder to achieve an end of year bonus or to win a victory over a competitor. I provide a service to young people. Young people and their families. So that they may succeed, have a bright future and be the best that they can be.

Next, my mind turned to Channel 4 and their Educating Essex and Educating Yorkshire series. In both, I watch intently. Each week enjoying looking inside another school and seeing other like minded professionals doing what I do and yes, showing a whole bucket load of care. After the first series, I went to meet 'Mr. Drew'. He'd become something of a celebrity. During Educating Yorkshire, both Mr Steer and Mr Burton displayed how much they care about their classes, individuals and the school as a whole. On Twitter, I read Tweet after Tweet that read, "I wish my teacher cared like Mr Steer does" and, "I wish Mr Burton had taught me". I replied to a couple: "Your teacher probably is Mr Steer, just with a different name" and, "You will have been taught by a Mr Burton".

Image credit:

So I returned to my class, a Thursday morning, lesson 2, rain outside and we're writing instructions. I'm repeating myself, I'm talking to children who are not acting upon the feedback I'm providing, going around in circles. So, I stopped the class and I began, "Look! I care, I really really care. About you (pointing) and you (pointing again). I want you to do well. I want to help you. I do this job because I care..."

The children listened to me. I wanted to get my point across. I'm working hard becasue I care and I informed those who I care about, those I'm trying to help. I told them. I made it explicit. Who knows, maybe later on that day, "Mum, my teacher cares about me".


"This would be a lot easier if I didn't care!"

But unfortunately,

"I do care, A LOT!"

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Primary Ideas Dropbox

We've added to our arsenal...

Click on the picture below to find our resources on Dropbox. We'll add more as time passes. Get in contact via email, Twitter, Facebook and any other means of communication if you'd like to have the Dropbox folder shared with you.
Image credit:

Not got a Dropbox account? Get one here. If you already have a Dropbox account, we'd recommend setting up a 'professional account' using your school email address.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Puzzle Games in Maths

As part of a recent problem solving week, we decided to use a puzzle video game as an introductory element to our maths lessons.
The Professor Layton games are available on Nintendo DS and 3DS and each game consists of an extensive range of puzzles within a mystery story to be solved by the character of Professor Layton. This, coupled with the fact that there are six games within the franchise, means that there are a vast amount of puzzles to choose from. The fact that these are available on the Nintendo DS means that you can make use of a visualiser to project the game onto the big screen. Alternatively, there are many websites on the web which have images of the puzzles which can be used to create paper copies of the puzzles.
The puzzles themselves are incredibly diverse, both in terms of the skills needed to solve them and in the level of difficulty. Over a series of lessons, you can cover a wide range of problem solving skills and target all levels within your classroom. In case you do not want to go to the trouble of solving the puzzles, there are many websites with solutions.
The children were motivated by the puzzles within the class in part because of the high quality delivery of the game, the fact that solving them moves you along in the game with a reward and because the puzzles are designed to be accessible to a range of people. There were several times when children announced that the puzzle was 'impossible'. It was an excellent opportunity to take children through problem solving strategies as you work together towards a solution. Many children asked if there was a way of taking the puzzle home to show parents and others.
There are, of course, many different puzzle games available across all sorts of formats, but these are favourites of ours. We will certainly be continuing to use these puzzles to inspire problem solving in the classroom.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Why Bother?

Why bother? Why bother to blog, to Tweet, to Pin?

We are teachers, we enjoy seeing others learn, daily. It's what we do, it's what we enjoy. So, helping others to learn, people doing the same job, is just as rewarding. Hearing back from others about the ideas we've shared here and how they've been used is rewarding. It reaffirms the belief that we're doing the right thing. We share a Google Doc and visitors come - awesome. We post a Tweet and one person, just one, ReTweets it - excellent. Someone comments on a blog post, "Really like this" - fantastic.

We're busy; books to mark, lessons to plan, clubs to run, meetings to attend, whilst also seeing family, friends and generally living.

We don't earn money from this.

We share ideas here. We read blog posts elsewhere. We're allowing others to learn from us, just like we're befitting from the blogs written by others. If we do something outstanding* in our classroom and tell no one, 30 children benefit. If we write about it here, there's the possibility that the whole world could benefit. That's an amazing thought.

At the time of writing, just under 100,000 visits to this blog have been registered in its first 26 months of existence. We have hundreds of Pins on Pinterest, Likes on Facebook and Circles on Google+. Videos on YouTube.

So, should you join Twitter? Yes. Use Facebook professionally? If you want. Look at Pinterest? At least take a look. Start a blog? It's daunting, read some others, give it a go.

As already said:

We are teachers, we enjoy seeing others learn, daily. It's what we do, it's what we enjoy. So, helping others to learn, people doing the same job, is just as rewarding.

*Technical vocabulary for 'good' or 'engaging'.