Google Voice Typing in School

A lot of pupils are great at telling stories orally but when it comes to writing their ideas down, they really struggle. If you're using Google Docs within your school then your pupils can make use of the Google voice typing function, which allows them to dictate their work directly into a document. We tested it out recently and it recognised all the common words that we spoke as well as more obscure ones such as ‘coelacanth’, ‘octogenarian’ and ‘disestablishmentarianism'. It even added asterisks to swear words too which could be useful if you have some 'live wires' in your class.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Google Classroom: Introduction

Google Classroom is a free web-based platform that helps to manage planning, resources, assignments and communication between yourself and your class. If your school, doesn't have one already, you'll need to sign up for a Google Apps for Education account to use Google Classroom which will give you all the Google Apps services including Drive, Docs, Sheets, Gmail and Calendar. Google Classroom is available on tablets, phones and desktops, making it mobile for both teachers and students.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Interactive stories with Google Apps for Education

Creating interactive stories teaches children creativity, language, computer skills and logical thinking - all at the same time! I first got excited about the idea after an inspiring workshop at a local secondary school a year or so ago, which showed pupils how to create interactive stories and so we started writing our own at school using twine which was really successful. I've recently been looking at other ways to write interactive stories using Google Apps for Education including YouTube, Google Forms, Slides and Docs.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Assessment Without Levels at Primary School

At my local primary school, we've been using a new primary assessment tool to assess children's work. The system, called TAP Assess, has given the children more ownership over their learning in the time that its been in place. Not only does it allow teachers to assess children's achievement and progress, but it also allows children to assess too, against the 2014 primary curriculum. Furthermore, the children can also set their own targets for literacy and maths, and receive certificate rewards when they hit certain milestones.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Google Sheets for Primary School Maths

Since the last time I wrote about using Google Drive in the primary (elementary) classroom, things have moved on - as they always do in education ;) We've made improvements to the login system that the children use, have done lots of collaborative writing in literacy using Google Docs, have set avatars up for the children, made presentations with Google Slides and have started to use Google Sheets for practising basic operations in maths.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Northern India Travel Tips

After travelling around Northern India for 21 days, we've learned a little about what makes a happy trip so I've gathered together a list of tips to help with both the preparation and planning for the perfect trip. From visas to health considerations, these tips will help you to become ready for the cultural differences between the UK and Northern India and will also help you decide what to pack and what not to pack. We could have carried far less if only we'd known....

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Northern India Trip

Northern India Holy cows, nights in the desert under the stars, the Taj Mahal, Hindu Gods, the holy River Ganges, Bollywood movies and utter chaos all around; this could only be India! Our backpacking trip around Northern India took in Delhi, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Pushkar, Jaipur, Bharatpur Agra and Varanasi. It took 21 days and during that time we experienced many highs and lows including beautiful views, exquisite monuments, friendly and curious people, extremes of poverty and wealth and traffic like we've never seen before.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Updating the system time on the Raspberry Pi

Keeping the time on the Raspnerry Pi up to dateThe Raspberry Pi doesn't have a real time clock (RTC) so when your Raspberry Pi loses power, the time isn't kept accurate. You can buy a real time clock for the Pi ot you can run a time server on the Pi to keep the time on the Raspberry Pi accurate. Luckily, this only takes a few minutes to set up and you'll be keeping your fabulous Raspberry Pi computer in 'pifect' time!

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Experiences of Google Drive at Primary School

We're in the process of moving the children at school onto Google Drive instead of storing all of their work on the local network. The benefits are that the children can collaborate together on projects, they can store work created on ipads on their drive and I can mark their work from anywhere at any time :) They can create a digital portfolio of their work which they can share with their parents/carers.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Texts for Guided Reading

Reading Comprehension ResourcesIf you've ever struggled finding guided reading resources for use in your classroom (I know I have!) then you may find this site useful. It has hundreds of reading texts on it, ordered by US Grade, Lexile level, text type and skill/strategy. Each resource has a reading text, along with comprehension questions (which can be used to differentiate) and the all important answers.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

How to install ITV Player on Amazon Fire TV

ITV Player Amazon Fire TVAmazon Fire TV is a streaming media player that works out of the box for BBC iplayer, Netflix and Demand 5 but unfortunately has no direct support for ITV player. There is however a way to get ITV player working on the Amazon Fire TV by installing it as a plugin for Kodi and then side loading Kodi onto the Amazon Fire Tv. You don't need to root your Amazon Fire TV box to do this either.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

50+ ideas for using QR codes at school

QR codes at schoolQR codes are everywhere nowadays: on cereal packets, posters, adverts, TV, websites, etc, etc. More and more schools are using these little codes to enrich the learning experience of their pupils. They are free to create and the software to read them is also free. They can be read using tablets, phones and laptops and can contain text or link to any online resource. Here are 50 (and counting...) ideas for how to use them in your school.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Scratch Jr programming with KS1

ScratchJr Ks1This week, we started introducing KS1 children to Scratch Jr, a new simplified version of Scratch designed for younger children from age 5 through to 7. Scratch Jr is an ipad coding app in which children snap together graphical blocks of instructions to make characters move, interact, speak and transform on the screen. However, its not just a coding app - it lets children run wild with creativity as we found out :)

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Primary Maths Resources

Primary Maths ResourcesThese Primary Maths Resources, which are based on the current UK National Curriculum Year Group objectves, are fully searchable and sorted into different categories, including number and place value, the four operations, fractions, measurements, properties of shapes, position and direction, statistics, ratio and proportion, and algebra. It is a useful companion to my other APP maths objective planning tool.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Using Google Maps to teach Maths

Google Maps is a great tool for children to explore their local area. Here is a maths map of Hull where the children can navigate to local landmarks and then answers maths questions based on what they can see. For example, how many lines of symmetry can you see in the garden at East Park or draw a pictogram of the different coloured cars parked around the stadium.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Game based assessment

Game Based AssessmentWith Kahoot, primary school teachers can create quizzes for children to play on in a social environment, using any device with a web browser… including a laptop, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android, Chromebook or PC. The children can can take part in fast paced quizzes against each other, giving instant feedback and both formative and summative assessment. The multiple choice quizzes are simple to set up and simple to play and the results are available to analyse in Excel or Google Sheets.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Self marking assessment using Google Forms

Self Marking Assessment Using Google FormsWhen you've finished testing, does it take you ages to collect the data, input it into a spreadsheet and then analyse it to work out where each student is with their learning? I've just started using a really productive system that takes a lot of the hard work out of the post-test analysis using Google Forms, Google Sheets and an add-on called Flubaroo.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Oslo Trip

This weekend my daughter and I travelled to Oslo to see the sights of this wonderful city - deemed to be the most expensive city in the World. We visited Vigeland Park (the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist), the Nobel peace centre and the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. We were only there for the weekend and tried to make the most of this intriguing green and white city.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Which Shell Am I Using?

Which shell am I using?You can typically tell which family your shell belongs to by a character in the prompt that it displays. Bourne-type shells, such as bash , usually have $ in the prompt. The C shell uses % (but tcsh users often use >). If the shell that you use has superuser privileges, then the prompt usually ends with a hash, #.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

A 5 year old writes

a five year old writesThis handwriting was given to me by one of my old headmasters years ago and I couldn't find it on the internet so wanted to share it. It shows a 5 year old child's handwriting from 1909. The child was educated by italian educator, Maria Montessori, whose focus was on not being taught writing, but discovering writing by being exposed to certain conditions and experiences, and then developing the fine motor skills needed to write.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Creating interactive Greek Myths using Twine

Using Twine with KS2"Choose your own adventure" books were really popular for children in the 1980's. These interactive books allowed the reader to make decisions of where they wanted the story to go and, depending on their choices, this would shape the outcome of the book. Budding authors can now write their own interative story books and publish them online using a fabulous website called "Twine". My year 5 (aged 10 - 11 years old) literacy class have just created some wonderful Greek myths using this method.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Mirroring ipads in the classroom

Imagine teaching a maths lesson where the children are using their ipads as interactive whiteboards, working through a problem that you've set them. When asked for their answers, the children simply press a button on their ipads and their work is shown on the interactive whiteboard for the whole class to review. This is all possible now using the AirPlay feature on your ipad, along with some inexpensive software for the PC.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Scratch Projects for KS2

Scratch Projects for KS2These scratch projects from Code Club are fabulous for giving the children step by step instructions for how to code their scratch programs. They also include online instructions that the children can open in another browser tab to follow and cross off while they are coding.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Maths games without computers

If you do an internet search for Maths Games you will find lots of maths games that can be played on a computer. But what if you don't have a computer or if the children in your class are all "computered out"? Here is a collection of maths games that can be played using either no resources, or simple resources that are around the classroom.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Inspiring Children to Program Computers

Inspiring ProgrammingHere are some great inspirational videos to inspire children to get involved with programming computers. There are clips here featuring Mark Zuckerman, Barack Obama, Bill Gates and will.i.am, carrying powerful messages as to why children should learn to program computers.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Progression in Programming at School

Progression in programming at schoolTeaching programming to children - where do you start? How can you make it fun and interesting, but at the same time develop the correct skill-set? This video shows the progression of visual programming from Primary school through to Secondary school, using both iPads and desktop computers.

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National Curriculum Android App

National Curriculum Android AppDo you ever feel the need to read the English National Curriculum whilst on the move? Well now you can with my new and exciting Android App which brings the National Curriculum to your tablet or mobile device! With an easy to navigate interface and extra resources such as spelling, grammar and a glossary, you will never be bored again :) Ok... its not that exciting, but it does include all the curriculum for all the statutory subjects from KS1 through to KS4.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Kodu Programming Resources

Kodu Programming ResourcesKodu is a visual programming language made specifically for creating games. It is designed to be accessible for children and enjoyable for anyone. I've been working with a group of KS2 children for the last few weeks developing games so I've put together a list of resources which I've found useful.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Music Video Jukebox

Music Video JukeboxMy kids spend a lot of time watching music TV but they have no control over the videos that they watch. I've often thought it would be a good idea to have your own music video jukebox where you can select the music videos that you want to watch, not just those that someone else wants you to watch. I felt so strongly about this that I wrote my own Music Video Jukebox addon for XBMC which does just this.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Estonia, Finland and Latvia trip

Baltic trip I've just returned back from a six day trip to Estonia, Finland and Latvia, with my daughter, Laura. We travelled by ferry, bus, tram and plane and managed to fit so many things in in such a short space of time including visiting the capitals of all the three countries along with seeing their major tourist attractions.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Gordons Numeracy Teaching Resources

Gordons numeracy ITPsHere are over 100 simple Flash resources to support the teaching and learning of Maths. These are produced by the Coventry Primary Numeracy Team for use by teachers and pupils and are known as Gordons (due to the little superhero character included within them). They are ideal for class or small group teaching and cover the majority of areas of the primary maths curriculum.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Installing Pygame on Ubuntu 12.04

Python, Pygame and Ubuntu 12.04 I've had a lot of trouble trying to get Python working with Pygame on Ubuntu 12.04 recently so I've documented the process which finally got it up and running. Hopefully this will save someone else lots of work trying to get Python3, Pygame and Ubuntu 12.04 running together.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Tunisia trip

Tunisia trip One of the countries on my list of places to go was Tunisia, so when we found a reasonable deal on a trip there we decided it was time to pack our suitcases and go. Our base in Tunisia was Port El Kantauoi, a purpose built leisure port close to the city of Sousse, on the north west coast of the country.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Missing money grid

Missing Money GridA printable worksheet which helps to develop KS2 children's monetary skills. The children have to work out what the missing coins are which add up to the totals of all the columns and rows. Teachers can click on the coins themselves to remove them and generate their own worksheets using random coins. This can be left on the whiteboard screen whilst the children have printable copies themselves to work through. When the children are finished, they can mark their own work by revealing the missing coins on the Interactive Whiteboard.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Teaching KS2 children how to write scripts on the Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi Scripts Last week I worked with a group of 10/11 year olds at the Raspberry Pi command line, using my speaking weather script to show them what can be done with the Raspberry Pi at the command line. This week I went a step further and got them to write a script to create a menu which incorporated the speaking weather forecast and also showed them some other cool things that the Raspberry Pi can do at the terminal.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Creating epub ebooks without Calibre

Creating an epub ebook without Calibre This guide demonstrates how to create your own epub files using Libre Office (or Open Office) on Linux, Windows or a Mac. This is handy if you have some text that you'd like to read on your book reader but your book reader doesn't support the format that you have it in. Or if you have written some text yourself which you'd like to publish. EPUB stands for 'electronic publication' and is the open standard for digital ebooks.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

ipad apps for teaching programming at primary schools

ipad apps I went to an IT conference for Primary Schools today organised by the hard working team at Wawne Primary School and discovered a lot of information about using ipads to teach children programming concepts, from early years through to upper KS2. When you're looking for apps it can be really time consuming so I thought I'd put them all in one place for an easy reference to save people time and effort.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Warsaw and Krakow Trip

Poland trip Here is a trip report of our recent trip to Warsaw and Krakow - two very different cities in Poland. I travelled with Steve, an old friend of mine, and we went for four days at the end of March 2014. We managed to cram a lot in during this time with the highlight of the trip being a Segway tour around Krakow. Why can't we have these machines to ride on the roads (or even pavements) in England?

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Using PHP with Pelican

PHP and Pelican I've been using PHP to develop websites since the mid 90's and, even though I'm really happy with my Raspberry Pi and Pelican setup, I really wanted to add some php code into some of my scripts. After spending a while testing a few approaches out, I finally found one that worked and seamlessly integrated into the Pelican framework.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

KS1 and KS2 Computing keywords display

Computing curriculum display images I've just come across this website which has a set of downloadable posters containing key words from the 2014 computing curriculum for KS1 and KS2. The posters are in "pupil speak" and contain computing keywords such as algorithms, debug, process and program. Very useful for the computing area in your primary school.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall