Beverley, East Yorkshire

Beverley, East Riding of YorkshireI live in Beverley, a market town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The town is probably best known for its Minster (which is used quite frequently as a TV setting), the Westwood (a fabulous expanse of land to the west of the town, North Bar (a 15th-century gate) and the Racecourse. You may not know that it inspired the naming of Beverly Hills in California. Well now you do!

Read MoreAuthor: Gary Hall

Studio Ghibli movie trailers collection

To celebrate 30 years of animation magic, here are the trailers for all 20 Studio Ghibli films from 1986 through to their last movie in 2014, listed in chronological order. The studio's name came from the italian noun "ghibli" meaning sirocco, or Mediterranean wind, the idea being the studio would "blow a new wind through the anime industry. They certainly did that as you can see from these wonderful trailers.

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Free BSD on Raspberry Pi

Free BSD on Raspberry Pi Most Raspberry Pi's run some form of Linux (Raspbian, Ubuntu, etc) but you can also run other Unix variants on the Raspberry Pi. Before I started using Linux in the mid 90's I used FreeBSD - an extremely robust operating system. The good news is that Free BSD for Raspberry Pi is now available and I'll talk you through how to install it.

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Lexile levels for UK book bands

Book Band Lexile LevelsSometimes school reading schemes are a little restrictive and you'd like to put well known books in there too. To help with this is a table that I've put together that correlates between age, national curriculum level, Oxford reading tree book band and lexile level. It can be used in conjunction with the search tool at Lexile.com to fit any non-reading scheme book into your reading scheme.

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Raspberry Pi phone calls

Raspberry Pi Phone Calls I've written before about getting the Raspberry Pi to speak the weather forecast, but did you know that you can also get the Raspberry Pi to make automated phone calls? Imagine triggering a phone call based on any event such as an appointment reminder or an update on football results. Perfect for those of us who don't have smart phones but want to remain in the know.

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Create an ebook from the Linux command line

Two years ago, I wrote an article about how to create an ebook in Open Office. Since then, I've moved to creating ebooks using the linux command line because I found it quicker and a lot simpler: from a finished text, a Kindle ebook can be created in less than a minute - and its all completely free. The tools I use to create epub and Kindle ready books using the command line interface (CLI) are any text editor (emacs, nano, vi, etc), pandoc and KindleGen.

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Maths races

Maths racesHere's a variety of numeracy and PE games to make maths more active and to help those kinaesthetic learners do what they do best - learn by doing. In these games, the class is split up into two teams and they run races against each other based on the maths questions that you call out. The games can be adapted many different ways and differentiated as you see fit by pairing children of similar ability against each other.

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Scratch Jr tutorials for English and Maths

ScratchJr is a graphical language for young children (KS1/Elementary) to create their own interactive stories and games. We've been using it with our Year 1 and Year 2 children and have recently tried to incorporate other elements of the UK National Curriculum into our programming, such as creating letters and counting.

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How to publish your own ebook

The publishing world has been changed so much by technology; publishers and traditional bookshops have been pushed to the side and online retailers, such as Amazon and Google, have become the new distribution channels. For budding new authors, the phenomenal rise of ebooks is a great way to get your work published without any help from a publisher. But how do you do this?

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What happens in an internet minute?

Here's a great poster/infographic to display in your classroom about what happens in an internet minute. It provides many astounding facts such as in 2017, it is expected that the number of connected devices will reach three times the number of people on earth. That's really provoking and should get your students thinking too.

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Small Basic tutorials for KS2

Small Basic is a programming language, designed by Microsoft, to make programming extremely easy, approachable and fun for beginners. Small Basic’s intention is to bring down the barrier and serve as a stepping stone to the amazing world of computer programming. Its a lot more advanced than Scratch but certainly something to challenge the more able KS2 programmers.

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Greatest album covers of all time in ASCII art

ascii album artHere are the top 20 iconic album covers of all time lovingly converted to ASCII for your viewing pleasure. The original art on these wonderful record sleeves was sometimes as important as the music itself and is representative of modern culture in the 20th century. Unfortunately, the rise of digital music production and distribution threatens this great medium so it is represented here in ASCII art for posterities sake.

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Raspberry Pi Virus Protection

Raspberry Pi virus protectionAlthough viruses are quite common on Windows machines, Linux based computers such as the Raspberry Pi don't really suffer from virus attacks. There have been some proof of concept virus attacks on Raspberry Pi's but they are aimed at "seeing if it can be done" rather than aiming to cause any actual damage. However, it is always best to be one step ahead so here are some tips on the best way to prevent your Raspberry Pi from viruses.

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Virtual Reality in Education

Virtual Reality in EducationAccording to educational psychologists, we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear and 90% of what we do. So learning in an immersive virtual environment which has been created to meet the exact needs of the learner could be very succesful. Learning would be a lot easier for students of all ages and there would be potential for our brains to remember it for a long time. But how close are we to virtual reality really making an impact in education today?

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Google Classroom: Announcements

In Google Classroom, announcements can be made to your class to remind them of an upcoming event or as a general notice for the class. They appear in the class stream and can be commented on and made sticky (i.e. They stay at the top of the class stream). Anyone can add comments to announcements, which are visible under the announcement.

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Google Classroom: Grade questions

In Google Classroom, you can ask quick questions to your students and these questions can also be graded and the grades returned to the student. The questions can be seen in the class stream and the answers can be viewed on the Student Answers page. Also on the Student Answers page you can see a quick overview of pupils who have or haven’t answered the question.

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Google Classroom: Grade and return assignments

As students begin working on assignments in Google Classroom, you can view their progress and add comments or make edits. When they have submitted the assignment, you can grade and return it to the student. After the08PaigePickering assignment has been returned, students will be notified by email (if your school has email setup for students) or will receive a message the next time that they login to Google Classroom.

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Google Classroom: View work

When you've created assignments and questions in Google Classroom and the students have submitted their responses, you can view their work in the Work page. Here you can review student work/assignents and questions as well as any grades that you have allocated and comments that you have made. Student's work can be organised by class or you can view all work across all of your classes.

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Google Classroom: Ask a question

The 'ask a question' feature in Google Classroom is a great way to get feedback from your class on a particular issue. It can be used for a quick straw poll on a current issue in the class or as formative assessment on a topic that you're studying. Asking a question is done in your class stream and can be done at any time. When you've asked the question, you can see how many students have and haven't answered. You can decide whether you want students to be able to edit their answers and/or reply to other student's answers.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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....

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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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How to change my shell?

How to change my shellIf you want to change your shell then you can use the chsh command which will change your user login shell. If you are the root user you can change the login shell for any user however if you are a standard user then you can only change your own shell. Note that changes do not take effect until the next time you log in.

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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!

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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.

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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