Primary computing questioning

Primary programming questioningHere is a list of questioning prompts, based on Blooms taxonomy, for teachers to ask pupils in programming sessions. The questions can be used by teachers and support staff to deepen children's understanding through questioning. They are categorised into knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation and there are around 5 or 6 questions for each category.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Google Classroom: Create and modify assignments

Now you have your class set up, you're ready to start giving work to your students. In Google Drive this is done by creating assignments. Assignments are created in your class stream. You can attach documents in the form of templates, worksheets and so on to the assignment and when your students turn their assignments in, you can grade them and return them to your students. This is all managed for you by Google Classroom.

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Google Drive: Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are combinations of two or more keys that you can use to perform a task that would typically require a mouse or other pointing device. An example of a keyboard shortcut is pressing ctrl and S together on a Microsoft Word document to save your work. For those Google Drive power users out there, here is a list of keyboard shortcuts for Google Drive on the web. Note that these do not apply for Google Drive on tablets or phones.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Google Classroom: Multiple teachers in a class

Just like your local school classroom, in Google Classroom you can have more than one teacher in the class to help coordinate class activities. There are just a few things to bear in mind before adding extra teachers to a Google Classroom. Firstly, the primary teacher will own all class materials and the primary teacher's class and assignment folders will be shared with the additional teachers in Google Drive (which underlies all Google Classroom file sharing).

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Google Classroom: Class resources

In your Google classroom, its handy to have resources available for your students to use, just as they would in a traditional classroom. Here you can post any materials or instructions for the class, such as a classroom rules or links to often used websites. These and more resources can be all be added in the class resource page and accessed by all students and related teachers.

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Annotate images on Linux

Annotate screenshot LinuxAnnotating images in Windows is relatively straightforward. There are many tools available to do it, but on Linux there are not so many options. For my Google Classroom tutorials, I have been using some screen annotation software on Linux called Shutter which works really well and is as fast, if not faster, than some of the Windows variations.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall


Google Classroom: Setting up your first class

Once you have your Google Classroom account (a Google account on a Google for Education domain) then you can log into Google Classroom and set up your first class. You can set up as many classes as you want but before you do, take a minute to work out how you're going to name them. I've settled on using the Year and Class as the class name (e.g. 2015/16 Year 5) and then I use the subject as the section. So I have 2015/16 Year 5 Maths, 2015/16 Year 5 English etc.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Troubleshooting cron on the Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi cron troubleshooting Cron is the name of program that enables Raspberry Pi users to execute commands or scripts (groups of commands) automatically at a specified time/date. Although its reasonably straightforward to set up, if it doesn't work then it can be tricky to work out where the underlying problem is. This troubleshooting guide to cron on the Raspberry Pi should help with the debugging process.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

How to set up a school radio station on the cheap

We've just gone live with our school radio station this week. The children (and staff!) have worked really hard to get it up and running and we're all really pleased with it. It broadcasts over the internet so children and parents can listen to it on their computers, mobile devices, TVs, etc and we've managed to do it on a very tight budget. This article documents how to set up your own school radio station cheaply.

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

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.

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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.

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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 free 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.

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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.

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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.

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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, #.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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