Blog 3: Class Dojo (My Classroom Buddy)

I recently came across www.classdojo.com

For those who may not be familiar, it is an electronic behaviour/ classroom management/ reward system.  Once set up each child in your class with have their very own avatar, and the aim is to gain as many points as possible.  Think sticker/ star chart, but electronic with sound effects.

I have a somewhat lively class, but as soon as they hear someone getting a reward they all want one, trying their best to get one.  I love it.  Simple as that.

Another good feature is that it gives you a details weekly/ monthly/ yearly breakdown of behaviour.  It gives you a percentage based on total rewards/ sanctions.   If my class have a week above 95% then they earn a class star.  If they earn 30 class stars, they earn a pyjama party, a goal they are very keen to reach.  We also do a lucky dip- where the pupil with the most points that week wins a small prize.

Oh yes... it's FREE!  Check it out.


Blog 2: iThink Therefore iPad? 2012

At half 8 this morning I was hoping to leave the annual 'iThink Therefore iPad?' seminars with an extensive list of useful applications that we could install on our iPads in school, thinking that the children will use them here and there.  At half 4 this afternoon I left the annual   'iThink Therefore iPad?' seminars enthused, completely blown away by the innovation in place at some schools and impressed by the obvious benefits these innovations have on the learners.

The use of iPod Touches in upper KS2 was particularly impressive.  In these schools all children in upper KS2 are bought iPod touches, which are then leased to the children, with families contributing towards them on a monthly basis (once an acceptable usage policy has been agreed and signed).  It would be easy to ignorantly write this off as a gimmick, wasting money that could be more efficiently spent elsewhere, however the pros FAR outweigh the cons.

After the 1/ 2 year period of leasing, the iPods become the property of the children, meaning that the money received from leasing can be reinvested in new iPods, allowing the cycle to continue.  If you wanted to sell a 2 year old iPod that had been intensely used, how much would you get?  £80?  At the end of the 2 year period the children are effectively getting 'old technology' for market price.  If the cycle can be established it strikes me as a no-brainer.

Having an iPod readily accessible means children have instant access to dozens of valuable key resources:
  • Camera
  • Video recorder
  • Dictophone
  • Dictionary
  • Calculators
  • Mapping
  • Video editors
  • Atlases
  • eBooks
  • and most importantly, a browser.
The ability for a teacher to instantly beam data to the children, and have them beam it back (free app: Socrative) was impressive, providing interactivity in a more efficient way than hand held feedback devices.  The use of Apple TVs to beam the work instantly to the main board provides learners a new way of interacting within a lesson.

I can instantly see the obvious benefits of using iPads as a teaching tool, and also as an assessment tool.  Collecting APP evidence can be an effort in itself. Not with the iPad.  You now have a notebook that will video the children, record their conversations and take snapshots of their work.  Children can also do this themselves, emailing it directly to the teacher who can verbally annotate the work and email it back to the child.  All beneficial, all easy to do.
There are, however, many potential barriers.  From technical issues such as wireless connectivity, charging, syncing etc.,  to financial barriers.  The main barrier I can personally foresee is convincing the powers that be to take the risk, but now using the ammunition I have seen today I am confident my enthusiasm will enthuse my colleagues.

I could go on and on as I really have not even scratched the surface of how iPads/iPods are being utilised effectively, but I won't.  If you are sceptical I strongly urge you to check out the fantastic work being done by Fairfield Road Primary School,Waltham Leas Primary Acadamy and ESSA.  If you cannot do this, look out for next year's iThink Therefore iPad seminars.  They might just change the way you teach.

Check out www.heppell.net ,  

Blog 1: Vector Magic

Blog 1: Testing VectorMagic

Featuring Alice

This is a test blog for my new blog page.

This image was 'vectorised' from a scanned image that was the size of a stamp, printed in low quality and with a coffee spill on.  

I used vectormagic.com for this.  This package smooths out and fills in gaps in low resolution images.