Where's Gromit (Geotagging a trail and playing with Google Maps)?

As part of the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal for Bristol Children's Hospital, Gromit has been Unleashed upon the City and surrounding area in various guises.  Our mission should we choose to accept.... to track him down and.... well.... admire him.....

On the trail we have met scores of people young and old, using without thought a host of mobile technologies and tools, iPads, Tablets, digital cameras.  Personally I have been using a Smart phone, snapping a couple of images and then adding these to a simple photo blog as well as sharing these with Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers .

A while back I began using Quikmaps to geotag images to their locations, Not all of the characters on this trail are as easy to find as they appear on the official trail map,  so in addition to the official map and app here is a link to my "Google Map," where I have begun to add place holders showing the location of and one image for each Gromit Sculpture I have found.  This has promoted a great deal of discussion at home as Google's satellite imagery has not been updated for the area for quite some time, new buildings have gone up and in some parts of the city the landscape has changed beyond recognition.  It has been a challenge identifying some locations but I have really enjoyed the process as well as reminding myself of some of the fun that can be had revisiting and reusing a familiar tool.   


Can I be your friend? ENO Video Trailer

Recently we ran some e safety workshops for students in Key Stages 1 and 2.  This was followed by a MAL for colleagues raising awareness about the wider issues surrounding online lifestyles and Social networking,

One very telling thing was how many of us may think we are immune to the apparent naivety and youthful playfulness if our cares...  The following video a trailer for "Two Boys" by the English National Opera, entitled "Will you be my friend?" raised a few eyebrows when shown.  It is incredibly thought provoking, especially in terms of the normalisation of how we  behave online, the language of social networking and how this is translated if transferred to the real world.  Just pondering how this might translate into a series of activities to use in school, with our older students.

I have no doubt the actions of the character would be greeted as beyond weird and creepy by many of them, though as an exercise in facing the reality of online behaviours it would be interesting to see reactions if the abstracted and remote world of networking socially could be allowed to seep into the real world for a short burst of time.

A creative and cringeworthy moment of ICT Inspiration and 3 minutes well spent...      


Educaplay: Flash and HTML 5 Interactivity creation.

Have you tried Educaplay?  This is a fantastic site where you can create interactive content for use on  your VLE.Blogs and Web Sites for free, simply register, create and share..

Below is an example of what they call an interactive map.  I will be beginning work with Scratch this term with my phase three students  I want them to become familiar with the Interface and where to find unfamiliar items.  This map based quiz will hopefully help consilidate their understanding of where to find things in the program.

We will also need to become familiar with keywords and vocabulary.  So how about a Wordsearch as a starter, before moving on to define and use these terms in learning diaries and such.

Other great tasks available include "word jumbles," "sentence jumbles," "matching" and "crossword" interactivities.

These can be saved in your account space and then embed codes generated for the tasks copied and pasted into html view in you pages or tasks that can be shared with students either in the VLE or through provision of shared shortcuts to specific pages online you have created.

Oh and did I mention that the site is free!

Enjoy..... :o)


PLTS Slideshows

Since September I have been using a set of PowerPoint Templates to help organise, standardise and simplify my lesson planning and organisation.

The templates carry a standard style
  • Unit/Lesson/Challenge Title
  • WALT (We Are Learning To) Overall Lesson Objective 
  • Differentiated WILFs (What I Am Looking Fors), these are leveled and coloured Red, Amber, Green in rubric format to enable a view of progression in learning.
The Slides themselves are laid out differently according to purpose within the lessons, and may change according to subject, but the Title or WALTs are duplicated in order to be visible throughout the lesson.

My title slides include the session WALT and an image from the PLTS posters I created.  The PLTS poster image displayed will be identified according to unit skills focus, and the particular skill focus for a session is highlighted on the image through the addition of an autoshape around it.

Slides to support progression within the lesson and outline tasks are inserted as duplicates where required in the lesson structure, and in some cases printed out for use on the desktops of students as “Success Criteria."

Within each Template show I have also inserted PLTS related slides, that contain the progressions we used to support learning during Integrated curriculum sessions.  These have been placed to support rubric development by deletion.  It is easier to start with all content included initially and delete those elements not required.

Here is an examples shared in Google Docs format to show what I mean.  Any thoughts would be useful and helpful.


Pen's Video Revision

For a while now one of my colleagues has been producing video files to support student revision and publishing these to his own You Tube Channel.

The videos feature modeled examples of working past GCSE papers and questions.  This post is an opportunity to celebrate his work and to encourage visitors to check out the materials he has developed.  Rob's Videos can be found by following this link.  I hope you find them useful.


Great Videos from the BBC to Support E Safety Discussion

BBC Horrible Histories: Guy Fawkes shares the Plot?

Welcome To WonderWeb World.  A Newsround special about a fantastical place, not so far away where Lost Princess meets her White Knight.  Narrated By David Tennant, my phase three students gained a great deal from the conversations and discussions the "Fairy Tale" style of this story evoked.

Horrible Histories
Naivety causes all sorts of problems for Online Users in a number of guises, these can be a source of embarassment and anxiety, however watching people out of time and place make the same mistakes we do when left to our own devices becomes a source for discussion..... So

  1. Check out what happens when Lady Jane Grey responds to pop ups, and her digital footprint is intercepted by Bloody Mary's Spymasters.
  2. We may try to make our Facebook profile's secure, but what could happen two or three friends down the line when someone in the chain is not quite so concerned, and we decide to share ideas within what we consider a closed group of friends.  Poor Old Guy Fawkes finds out.
  3. A reminder of the potential hazards and difficulties of publishing images and video on line.  The concept of digital footprints, and how they might come back to haunt us presented through the eyes of an ambitious Anglo Saxon Monk.


Hmming and Hahing round a Spreadsheet Modelling Project for Phase Three.

I have been a largely passive participant, observing the adoption process and use of Google Docs in the classroom.  Several colleagues have written at length about how they are introducing and using Google Docs in sessions with students, and it has been interesting recently to see how the tools presented within the Google for Educators bundle are being adapted by some to support development of school learning platforms.

I have been desperate to have a go myself but did not want to use the tool just because it was there.  Recently I worked with a number of phase three groups to develop tasks around modeling with spreadsheets.  We have introduced the tool's basics and explored the insertion of formula building simple models from the ground up, now we are approaching that point where we need to use and apply the skills we have been working on to begin developing a model of our own.

So her goes with the hmming and hahing... I have been thinking about the idea of collaboratively planning a party.  Quite a common project you might say, but have wondered about taking the tack because of the student's ages of planning an evening out, perhaps beginning at the cinema, going bowling, skating as examples and following this with a visit to for example McDonalds.

In pondering this project I have several assumption
  • We will be including everyone in the group,
  • We will have to prebook and order because of numbers
  • We will need to make sure that the event is affordable.

Surveying and collecting ideas for the pre-meal event seems a little easier to manage with a simple vote being possible, while choosing food from the menu presents more of a challenge with so many potential variables to consider.  In my mind I have images of the chaos that could ensue from students collecting and collating a common data set, so my big question here is how to engage everyone in the process while quickly putting all the information in one place for everyone to access quickly.  Here is where my first real collaborative adventure with Google Docs would come into play, using Google Forms to collect the initial data we would need to begin the project.

Step one suggesting and voting on a pre meal event

Setting the scene with a brief to provide the big picture would be my starting point.

We have been asked to plan and prepare an after school activity to celebrate...............?  The activity will involve us all meeting up to do something for example watching a film, going bowling etc that will be followed by something to eat before we all return to school and go our separate ways.

a However we must agree as a group on the something that I was thinking that we could create a class Google form based simply on suggested venues from the students accepting and adding all suggestions.  Having saved this we might distribute the link to the whole class by email or through the VLE with their votes being added to the associated spreadsheet.  With all votes in the top three venues could be highlighted, and web based research carried out to identify the possible costs of a visit to each venue.

Step Two choosing our menu

Choosing MacDonalds as an after event venue, we could use a second prepared form, again accessed through a link from the VLE, where students could select first and second choices of Sandwich, sides, drink and dessert for their meal orders.  Completion and submission of this form would provide additional  data  we could use as the basis for modelling cost options for our visit/party. This second spreadsheet, once all "orders" were in could be downloaded to the student shared space, or added for download from the VLE.

Step three Collating information

Using data collected the students could begin to use it compile frequency tables tallying and recording first and second choice meals, that they would then be used to populate a prepared template that would form the basis for the final spreadsheet model.

Step four:  Inserting variables to the spreadsheet model

The Excel template provided for this activity would include prepared worksheets
a menu showing current McDonalds' prices
an order form
  • a cost calculator for each set of choices
  • A comparison book that we could use to compare each meal option cost with the inclusion of the pre meal event included
  • A final cost calculator that would help us to decide how we want to divi up the cost of the event and that I hope would allow the students to see the value of using a tool like this when considering and planning events such as this.

The students would be encouraged initialy to enter the variables, the data we had collected together into the relevant worksheets eg
  • food items
  • cost of one unit
  • number of orders

This would be repeated for first and second choice meals

Step Four:  Modeling the creation of rules

The application of formulae to the table for meal choice one would be modelled and then carried out as a class.  Asking the children to describe firstly to each other and then to the class the calculation we would need to use to if we wanted to work out the cost of say 15 cheeseburgers at a cost of £0.99 each

The calculatiuon would look something like this
15 x £0.99 =

To allow the spreadsheet to do this calculation we would expect to...
input =15*0.99

However we want to be able to change our variables and allow the spreadsheet to be able to update automatically, or without us having to input each change individually so.. how have we done this previously?  By using cell references to help

This process was remodeled eg =cref1*cref2 and students asked to complete the task for the remainder of the total cost cells, reminding after three or four cells that we could auto-complete using drag and fill.

Finally a rule would be added to find the total cost of the meal using autosum.

With this aspect of the model complete the students would then repeat the process independently with the second choice meal.

Stage 5: Comparing costs.

Using copy and paste the contents of the two options sheets can be moved to the comparison sheet, and a new set of cells added to calculate the meals combined with the pre meal event.  Suggestions could be sought as to the calculation and formulae we would need to use in order to find the total cost of our meal and the cost of our visit.

the cost of the meal + the cost of the event = total

Using cell references a formula would be added to support rules allow each  table to factor in and compare possibilities that included the new variable, the cost of the pre meal activity.


With this complete we could begin identifying not only the cheapest meal option but also begin thinking about the effect that choices of venue for the pre meal event would have.

Stage 6:  Using the Model to Support Making Choices

Just how good a model is this?
How robust, fair and useful is it in helping us to plan and make decisions?
Are there any changes we need to make to the model's design and what might these be if we are to make the cost of the event fair to all of the participants?

In making choices about the event as a whole I have made a number of assumptions that we need to consider as a group that should ultimately lead us back to thinking about the design of the model itself and how it works and how effective it has been in supporting our decision making process.

The most contentious I hope is that everyone should pay the same amount on the night regardless of choices they made in the vote in order that the collection of monies be made easier.  It will be interesting to see what the students have to say about this in terms of fairness, however as a starting point it opens a number of interesting discussion points around the validity of the model in relation to an outcome and purpose not shared at the beginning and how this might impact on our starting point.  The concept of fairness, also gives a personalised in for students to to begin thinking about and suggesting how the essentially sound principles of the model itself might be adapted inorder to make cost distribution fairer. Eg should we have surveyed at the beginning the most popular meal choices, and then limited the order around these to balance the costs.This has been an interesting thought experiment...  Any thoughts?