CommunICTy eNewsletter 3

Just in case you didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas, here is the next edition of my ICT enewsletter. It was great to meet lots of you at ICTnet East and at BETT. To view this newsletter as a blog post click here.

Flashmeeting Video Conference 31/1
As a follow up from ICTnet East, I promised to organise a flashmeeting to demonstrate how it works and give ICT practitioners a chance to share some ideas. It will take place on Thursday 31st Jan from 20:00 – 21:00. Anyone is welcome to participate, but places are limited to 25. For more info click here.
Resources Update
7.1 MyTree – This SEAL project on creating a powerpoint presentation about describing your personality has proved really popular. We’ve now made a short video to explain the project in more detail.

8.3 Searching the Web – This project uses the contrasting themes of life and safaris in Malawi as its focus. There is an assessment task at the end in which students review two contrasting websites. I’ve also added some short films about Malawi.

9.4 Digital News – This project enables students to plan a storyboard in powerpoint and then save the slides as .jpgs and import them into movie maker. I’ve added some examples videos. I’ve also made simple life cycle and gantt diagram for them to do plan the whole project.

To visit our entire KS3 ICT SoW, some KS4 resources and lots more, visit

Useful Sites
Online stopwatch – a flash based countdown timer that can be used online or downloaded. – a visual search engine that shows thumbnails of websites as search results.
Etwinning – Help on how to set up a virtual link with another school, or contact the eTwinning Ambassadors for some free advice
Exploratree – Futurelab’s new thinking guides website.
Bridgebuilder 2000 – Free download simulation software. An excellent cover lesson.
QCA, new KS3 ICT PoS – Explains the revised curriculum in terms of concepts, processes, content and attainment targets. Useful definitions of terms.
Digital Video CPD
The Machine is Us/ing Us – This video explains web2.0 is revolutionising the Internet
Shift Happens – How the evolution of computing is influencing our own evolution (or right click here to save).
Do schools kill creativity – Sir Ken Robinson makes a profound and entertaining case for an education system that promotes creativity.

In the Pipe Line
Assessment for Learning resources for KS3 ICT including pupil tracking using Excel markbooks.
Digital Film Review unitRevising unit to enable students to create and analyse film review data in database, then create audio film reviews using audacity.
Internet Safety resources being developed by Pip Cartwright to teach the issues including digital videos

Just for Fun
Zombies in Plain English
– Watch your back, Zombies can appear where you least expect them!

Teacher Networks – Networking Teachers

The Typical Teacher Network and The Networked Teacher are two diagrams created by Alec Couros from the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina as part of his doctoral thesis to signify the different ways in which teachers network in the 21st century.

The challenge is to train teachers to become active contributors to these new networks instead of simply passive observers!

PowerPoint Slides to .jpgs

Download Video: Posted by dgrice at

This is one of the most useful tricks I know.  You can create a slide with images text etc and then save it as a .jpg file.  This has the added advantage of creating a smaller file size.  This can be a quick way to reduce huge images to something more manageable.

I also use this technique to create video storyboards.  We then import the images into Movie Maker, add a narration and hey presto a quick and easy way to create digital videos.  To see a set off lesson plans on this click here.

School Life Blogs

I’m always on the look out for ways to bring more relevant themes into ICT. I’m also keen to bridge the gap between the ways students use computers in school and at home.

A project that my school is doing on SEAL (social, emotional aspects of learning) provided the ideal opportunity to update our first unit in Year 7. They used to create presentations about their family and hobbies, but this was rather dull and the content of what the students produced did not teach them anything new. Instead we used an emotions tree diagram with people showing a variety of different emotions and asked the students to create presentations showing which five characters best summed up their own personality.

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I needed to find a way to enable my pupils to share their ideas and use the best language to describe their emotions. The solution came in the form of This free, educational blog site allowed me to quickly put up an idea on the web and then invite my students to contribute comments (see examples). This is a safe and easy way to use web2.0 as there is no need to generate accounts and the comments are moderated by the teacher before they go live on the Internet.

To add a global dimension to our research, I created a project page on This DfES funded website enables teachers around the world to link up and collaborate ideas and resources. I soon had a response from Apeejay School in New Delhi. You can imagine the cries of excitement when my students were reading their comments and found phrases written by Nikita, Dhruv, Eashan and their classmates in India! They were also surprised to find out how similar they felt about school life in both countries.

Here are some examples of what the students wrote to describe the person who is scared to climb higher up the tree:
I feel like this person when I am in a class that I am not so good at, so I must cling on to hope that I will still get a good result! Krissi, UK
I feel like this image when I am feeling low, because then I feel helpless and alone in this world. Kavisha, India

Here are some examples of what the students wrote to describe the person at the top of the tree:
I feel like this person when I do well at lessons and get it right because I have tried really hard. Zak, UK
I feel like this person when I’ve overcome all the obstacles in my work and I feel on the top of the world. Ujval, India

There has been a marked difference in the engagement of my students in creating presentations about their emotions towards school life rather than their families and hobbies. I have also been surprised at how personalised their phrases are. I have realised that SEAL is an interesting theme to explore with my students. It also teaches them valuable lessons about positive attitudes towards learning and the need to understand themselves better.

Often in ICT, we concentrate more on how to create a product rather than the message that it is trying to communicate. However, I am convinced that allowing students appropriate time to generate quality content on a theme that is relevant to their own lives leads them into producing a better end product and consequently better progress.

Click here to view the lesson plans.

communICTy eNewsletter 2

Resources Update
MyTree – I’ve made this unit to replace the About Me powerpoint project. The students are given a diagram of different emotions and they write phrases to descrbe how they feel in different school situations. They then share their ideas by contributing comments to a series of blog posts. Finally they create a powerpoint presentation about the different aspects of their personality (example).

9.2 Online Survey – This unit enables students to compare the lives of young people in the UK and USA. We are hoping to involve students in other countries too this year for a global survey. Students then analyse the data using pivot charts and write a report to explain what the data proves.

MyMoney – This unit enables students to research real current accounts for teenagers and do some market research into how they save and what they spend their money on. They create a series of products including a billboard advert, leaflet and an audio advert. This unit is currently under construction.

To visit our entire KS3 ICT SoW, some KS4 resources and lots more, visit

Training Videos
I’ve collected a number of useful videos from the CommonCraft Show on themes such as:
Social Bookmarking, What’s a wiki and RSS. I’ve also started creating my own short videos on various aspects of how to teach ICT. To view my first attempt go to starting an ICT lesson.

I’m organising a SSAT Seminar with Ian Noble on practical uses of teaching ICT with new technologies including web2.0 and VLEs. The event is at the Eastern Leadership Centre in Cambridge on 15th November. For more info and how to book click here.

Websites to check out
MindMaps, FreeMind and are three excellent examples of online planning and brainstorming tools. I have seen several schools using them very effectively to plan DiDA projects.

Shift Happens Video

There are a number of versions of this video, but they all have the same message. Not only is the world’s population growing, so is the amount of information that we are producing. Therefore our ability to access this ever growing mountain of data and make sense of it will also have to grow.
However, what it does not mention is that the abilities that we continue to value are still interpersonal skills required to be creative with these new ideas and to collaborate with other people around the world.

Download Video: Posted by alexsavage at

How to teach ICT 1, Classroom Routines

This week I am giving a training day to a group of ICT GTPs. We are going to look at a wide variety of classroom routines to give lessons a similar structure. This is will include:
How to set up a lesson before the students come in
Arranging a seating plan
Delivering a starter activity
Lesson aims and objectives
Giving instructions
Creating a lesson plan

The following video demonstrated I start every ICT lesson. I do not allow the students into my room until I am 100% ready. I stand at the door to welcome them in. They check the seating plan and log on. There is then an activity that they are able to do independently whilst I take the register and ensure that everyone is ready to work.

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All of my lessons use the same online lesson plan template that both the teacher and the students follow. To view an example go to MyTree. You can also view my complete online KS3 ICT SoW.

Video Interview about web2.0

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Whilst in London for a SSAT conference with Joe Dale in June, we met Leon Cych at our hotel. He heard that we were in town and asked us to do an interview for his blog, Learn for Life. We managed to smuggle Leon’s camera lights and video equipment into Joe’s room (despite a lot of giggling and what must have looked like quite a dodgy sight!).

We chatted about how we use web2.0 in education. Including:

Joe and Me in a hotel room!Spellmaster
Hot Potatoes
Making PowerPoint interactive
Ewan McIntosh
The Language Show
Linguanet forum
Notre Dame High School blog
MFL blogs
Pretty May
YouTube goes international
Moderating comments
Nodehill Bloggers
Breaking down the classroom walls with technology
How local blogs can create communities
Google Reader
eTwinning Ambassadors