Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hakitzu - JavaScript coding on an ipad!

I am going to start this post with an admission. I'm not really a gamer and my coding skills are poor. Yes I can keep up with KS2 children; I have learned how to use basic HTML code for blogging, can use Hackasaurus and Thimble and love gaming Kodu and Scratch, but that's about my limit.

We have children at Roydon who love minecraft. We use it as an incentive and as a reward for good behaviour with certain children. When I first heard about Kuato Hakitzu, via twitter of course and Kuato's chief education architect David Miller, I thought it would present great challenges for our digital leaders, but also for a talented child in my class who has behaviour that challenges (some people) and an obsession with gaming derived from being allowed to access 18+ games at the age of about 3. Incidently, this child also enjoys playing 'Teach your monster to read'. Very twee in comparison. He also loves A.L.E.X on the ipads - a game similar in nature to beebot, which I have blogged about elsewhere. I hope that Hakitzu will help channel some of his talents with a more appropriate platform, whilst helping him develop coding skills. 

So as with everything, I have had a play before introducing it at school. Unfortunately most of my digital leaders are girls and I'm not sure how much it will appeal to them, but hopefully they will learn to use it so that they can teach others. I think it is great and I know how children can be influenced by a teacher's enthusiasm!

So, my first experience with this game. I started by kitting out 2 of my robots. At this point I realised that I was more worried about the colour and aesthetic qualities rather than anything else. It's a female thing. I've always been Tom-boyish, but maybe not when it comes to shiny things. They have to look good! So my robots probably aren't the best designs for battle. I'm sure that children will spend more time experimenting than I have. After kitting out your robots, you then choose where you want to battle. There are three arenas: Hardplace rock, Rumble rig and Destropolis.

Once there, you are given tips on how to code, then off you go! You cannot make an error as it highlights it in red if you do. You only have 120 action points to start, so you have to be wise about your moves. I wasn't, then realised I had totally overspent when it came to executing the moves. I had to reduce one of the codes that had taken me ages to write! (A youngster would have probably done it in seconds!) You can also only do 9 'moves' in one go, so you might not be able to reach your desired goal in one execution. This makes it feel a bit like a game of chess. I am trying to imagine what my opponent will do, so that I can defend whilst attacking. Great for promoting strategic thinking in our children!

Even more embarrassingly than not paying attention to my credits, I managed to 'move' one of my robots to exactly the same position! He is now a sentry in the wrong place (see picture!) Gah! I have always been rubbish with my left and right, but I thought I had been careful with this. Clearly not!

My robot did some nifty footwork, but stayed in the same place!
I am blogging quickly whilst awaiting my opponent's move. I fear I will not live long...we shall see. I am loving this already, even though I am sure that I will never be an expert at it. It has huge potential for our proposed computing curriculum and to bring a bit of that awe, wonder and excitement to education. A great companion (next step) for my other favourite- Kodu and perfect because it allows our children to develop coding skills on the ipads. It is always great when we can show  I would love to know your thoughts too!

Three arenas for your battles

For further reading, take a look at the press release or maybe you would prefer to browse their youtube channel. David has also pointed me in the direction of a facebook page which may interest you.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A day in the life of a teacher/ ICT consultant

Today has been a typical outreach day - model lessons and a staff meeting - but I thought it was worth blogging about because the lessons were with my class and the staff meeting was a mini cluster teachmeet.

The first 'lesson' of the day was a model control technology session for a visiting student and NQT. I have asked the question 'What do we control?' at the start of a few similar sessions, but was not expecting the response I got from my children. They seemed to have a clearer idea than much older children as 90% of my class had their hands up straight away. That was a 'wow' moment for me.

During this session I had put out a range of software and hardware for the children to use. I have written about it here so won't repeat myself. I would like to say here though that my recent de-cluttering of one (just one) of my display boards is great for showing off WOW work. I was able to showcase one child's accurate Gruffalo journey (using textease turtle) for immediate impact.

This is maths work - Gruffalo photo coming soon

After play we started to create our puppet pal movies. The children had written stories about Mr BB being scared by a monster in the woods. To be honest, the children had taken me in a totally different direction with this mini mantle/enquiry, but the outcomes were the same. They had created monsters, described them in detail and written detailed stories using a story path plan. They seemed very motivated by the subject matter - both by the monsters and Mr BB! You can see one of the films below and catch the others on our class blog. (Photos of Mr BB were available, but Jasmine preferred to improvise!)

My afternoon was spent writing a letter to the local press about our digital leaders, reading through a couple of Rising Stars great ICT units and preparing for our cluster schools teachmeet.

I wanted to do a teachmeet on digital literacy because raising standards in writing is an aim in the cluster and I was sure that lots of us would have examples of good practice and resources to share. The point of doing a small cluster one was to raise awareness of the power of teachmeets for cpd. Teachers shared the following gems:

Games for writing
Teacher in role
Drama for writing - dinosaurs

Puppet pals animations
Using film for story writing
Stories to teach e-safety -  EYFS / KS1
SEN word books
Show me / explain everything apps
Hot-seating and use of easi-speak resources

The great thing was that everyone came away having learned something new - as well as having the chance to share and celebrate their practice. One of the comments afterwards, from a teacher who was unsure about the teachmeet encapsulated the feelings of many. She said how it was very relaxed, not at all as she had imagined and that she could find ways of using the ideas from other key stages that were talked about. Perfect! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Programming morning with year 2/1s

This morning we had a session in class dedicated to the control and modelling strand of ICT (I call it programming with the children, but will endeavour to use the word 'algorithms' in future in light of the draft computing curriculum.) Children had the choice of what they did and could move freely between the activities. Phoebe blogged about the morning on our classblog, showing she had a clear idea of our learning intentions, even though they weren't made specific (no WALTs or WILFs in our class). My mini digital leaders also took time to talk to a student and an NQT during assembly about how they used the ipads for learning. The adults were very impressed with the children's skills, knowledge and understanding and I felt very proud of them!

For this session I included controllable toys, iPad and computer games and activities. These included:
Charlie Chimp - on ipad and PC

Xanthe (year1) loved Daisy Dino
Textease turtle (with a Gruffalo)
Getting the Gruffalo turtle to his destination!
Beebot app
Cato's hike
Flobot by Sherston
Probots - a step up from beebots (we had beebots out too)
Charlie Chimp
ALEX proved a very popular app as it does a similar job to the beebot app, but with a robot. This appeals to the children in class who find the beebot character a bit twee. Daisy dino was another hit, though I encouraged them to try Cato's hike and cargobot too. I will save Move the Turtle, Pettson's inventions and creatorverse for another day.

You can find some more of our favourite programming apps on my ipad site.

On the PCs we had Sherston Flobot and Charlie Chimp's modelling party, which the children really enjoy playing. I had also created a textease turtle resource that required children to move the Gruffalo towards the cave, following a specific route.

What did the children think? They loved the session! This was partly because although they knew they were learning, it didn't 'feel like learning'. I will repeat this session so that they can try more things, as some of them were having such fun with certain activities that they didn't want to move around. I also want to gain more of their views about the tools that they were using. The next session will be called 'try something new and CARRY ON LEARNING!'  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Morfo booth and crazy talk

This week my year 2/1s will be using morfo booth for more than just creative free play. They will be using it to scare Mr BB with their very own monster creations (I will share these soon). I have been thinking how lovely it is that my children can do this, as my previous method of animating people was through crazytalk, which I believe would be too hard for my infants to do.

I have used crazy talk a lot to start an enquiry or bring a celebritiy into the classroom. Amongst other things it enabled me to get a gnome to request a St Lucia holiday brochure, Richard Branson to offer support to a charity and Dr Who to send us on missions. The great thing about crazy talk is that you can manipulate faces carefully, upload sound files, such as those created in audacity, change backgrounds and give your animations great voices. Watch the video below then check out some more examples here to see what crazy talk can do.

The main problem of crazytalk is that can be time consuming - and I am always looking for easier options. I was more than happy when I realised that morfo booth on the ipads can do the same job, in minutes. I have only got the free version, but it is fine for what I want. Take a look at the examples below. They are more than adequate for my needs - and the children love having 'celebrities' in the classroom.

Gruffalo work will be shared soon

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The digital leader network: At the Norfolk ICT conference

Good morning conference attendees! I hope that you will find some useful posts on this blog, but in the meantime get involved! 
Get involved 1: Why not place a digital leader pledge to the linoit below! You can see examples of what other teachers have pledged here at the Naace hothouse last year

Get involved 2:
Add your answers to the answergarden.

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Get involved 3:
Check out my name-dropping list too for links to marvellous digital leader/ICT work going on in the UK. 

Get involved 4: Impact of digital leaders
Read about the impact of digital leaders, according to the schools that employ them, here. Find out why Tom likes being a digital leader too.

Get involved 5: Badges If you are looking for some of the digital leader badges, you will find them hereIf you would like to see some of the slides from my presentation again, you can view them here

If you start nodding half way through the keynote, try doing something from this blog postAppshed is a fab challenge!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Free screen capture tool

ScreenR is a free screencasting tool for PCs. To show what it does I have made one of my digital literacy project. I usually use explain everything on the ipads, but had trouble showing prezi through that. Excuse the audio - it was done of the cuff and I hadn't realised how noisy my right click was! It does show the possibilities for digital leaders to use this as a method of tutorial creation though.