Month: April 2012

Blux Movie – Great new iPad/iPhone HD Video App (Video Clip Included)

Blux Movie

I have just stumbled across a great new video App that really takes advantage of the camera on the new iPad/4s. Its called Blux Movie and allows you to capture HD video and add effects to it in real time.

The effects are pretty sweet and I can imagine there will be more coming.

Once you have captured your movie you can save it to your camera roll. This is awesome as you can go ahead and edit it in iMovie. I can imagine you can create something that looks fairly profession.

As well as saving to the camera roll you can upload to YouTube or Facebook. You can also transfer your video over WiFi.

It is free for a short period of time. If I was you I would download it now!

Have a look at the very quick video I captured using it.

Let’s bring hip hop into the classroom Part 1

Solitary Confinement

Hip hop gets a bad rep, its seems to get blamed for everything from young people swearing to knife and gun crime. I have been listening to hip hop for over 20 years and I have not been mentally scared or turned into some sort of knife wielding, gun totting criminal.

In fact, hip hop has helped mould me into the person I am today. I have learnt about politics, different cultures and religions, crime, love, death, war and much more.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes hip hop can be very hard to defend and I will admit nowadays there is a lot of rubbish around. Perhaps thats just me being a hip hop snob?

The fact I listen to hip hop often comes as a shock to both students and other teachers. When I am asked by students what music I like, I usually get this response:

“Hip hop? But you’re a teacher!”

Yes indeed I am! Which is precisely the reason I feel that hip hop can be used in the classroom to help teach anything from English to Politics or citizenship.

This is not a new idea. In fact a teacher I follow on Twitter who has the handle @infernaldepart (well worth following) used the song Ill Manors, by Plan B in one of his lessons recently.

I asked him why he used the song, this is what he said:

For those who have not heard the song. Have a listen. Its a cracking tune and has some very important things to say. Although, no doubt the message will be misinterpreted by many.

My intention for the second part of this post is not to provide teaching resources, lessons plans or schemes of work. Instead it is to simply draw your attention to a musical art form that can be used to educate our young people.

I am going to choose one song to write about. Its written and performed by perhaps the best group in the UK at the moment Rhyme Asylum. The track is called Holding On from their 1st album State of Lunacy. I will break down the song and highlight some lyrics that can be used to stimulate discussion in the classroom.

Have a listen before I publish the second part of this post, which should be in about a week.

Enjoy and make sure you listen to the lyrics.

Be sure to look out for the second part of this post.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 4 (how will I teach it?)


Ok folks…almost finished now.

Before we get into how I plan to deliver the lessons, I always like to think what independent learning skills my students will need to use and develop.

At the beginning of project, I then make it clear to the students that they will need to be independent and tell the the skills they will require. Some of the skills are:

  • Resilience
  • Reflection
  • Questioning
  • Noticing
  • Using your imagination
  • Empathy and listening
  • Imitation
  • Logical thinking

Many students have some of these skills already, but often struggle to identify when they are using them. These are also skills that can be developed throughout this project.

So, how will I teach it? Well, for the majority of time the students will be teaching themselves.

I will do the following:

  • Show them the MS promotional video
  • Show students Kodu in action using a game I have created.
  • Explain the learning objectives and learning outcomes. These will be available to students on Edmodo, so they can be viewed at anytime.
  • Make it clear to students why we are using Kodu.
  • Make exemplar documentation available on Edmodo so that students know what sort of thing I expect.
  • Ensure students understand the assessment criteria.
  • Deliver basic programming skills (students can also use the in-game tutorials.
  • Explain how basic changes can be made in settings.
  • Make tutorial videos available. There are great videos on the Kodu website.
  • Make learning resources available. (PDF, PowerPoint, video, images)
  • Inspire students
  • Help develop ideas where necessary.
  • Supply self and peer evaluation templates.
  • Assess student work using Edmodo.

As mentioned in the previous post, the idea is for students to be taught basic skills. It is then up to them to learn the more advanced skills. They will be given the resources to do this, and it will require some trial and error as well as logical thinking and patience.

Now, I know a lot of teachers who specify what needs to be done in each lesson. This of course is fine, but, I struggle to do this. I much prefer having more freedom and I don’t specify what must be taught in each lesson. Just as long as the whole project is covered. This may mean more weekly planning, but it works better for me.

Over the next few days I shall produce some resources and share these in my final Kodu post.

Easter Planning – Kodu Part 3 (possible learning outcomes)


So, I have the learning objectives sorted, but what do I want my students to actually produce?

“Students should be working independently towards a single aim.”

The statement above is true, however, I still want to ensure there is a minmum requirement students will have to meet. If I had more time one of the things I would like my students to create would be a plan for their game. What is the story? What would you like the world to look like? What would the rules be? How would you win the game. However, for the time being at least, this will be put on the back burner.

So what will the outcomes be?

  • Students will be able to explain what programming means.
  • Students will create a world that includes (minimum):
    • Basic terrain
    • Mountains
    • Waters
    • Trees
  • Students will create a game that (minimum):
    • Allows user to control a character
    • Create characters that move on a path
    • Create a game that allows the user to score points
    • Allow the user to collect items.
  • Students will produce documentation that includes:
    • Well presented evidence of their game
    • Annotated screen shots explaining their ‘code’
    • An evaluation of their game
    • Feedback from at least 2 of their class mates.
Phew! There is plenty more for students to do, but this is what I would like them to produce as a minimum. This will then give my students the opportunity to produce a really good, unique game rather than a game I have designed and expect them to copy.
Next: What independent learning skills will students need and how will I deliver this scheme of work in lessons.

(Updated) Online / technology safety for parents (Presentation/Video included)


UPDATED – New presentation included

Last academic year we had several requests from parents for some information about online and technology safety.

Many parents felt like they were out of touch with technology and what it can do, as well as what was available on the internet.

In order to remedy this, myself and another member of staff set up a parent association evening. I have included some of what we have covered. Several of the slides have been removed as they link directly to files on the school server and would be inaccessibile.


Easter Planning – Kodu Part 2 (possible learning objectives)


At the end of my 1st year lessons before Easter I gave them a quick glimpse of Kodu. My students instantly got very excited, it was very clear that they could not wait to start this project (a project that was yet to be written).

During one of these lessons, a student turned around to me and said this:

“Whats the point sir? I thought we were not allowed to play games at school?”

This is going to be my biggest hurdle. Students MUST understand why they are using Kodu and what they are learning. It isn’t simply about playing games or in fact making games.

Today my plan is simply to decide what the project learning objectives should be. So far I have the following:

  • To understand what visual programming is.
  • To understand why we are using Kodu
  • To learn how to use the Kodu programming environment
  • To develop problem solving skills.
  • To develop self-evaluation
  • To develop peer-evaluation

These learning objectives will be broken down further during individual lessons. Due to only having 6 or 7 lessons to deliver this I am a bit limited to how much depth I can go into. However, many students will develop skills independently during enrichment time and at home. Essentially, this is what I would like to happen.

Students should be working independently towards a single aim.

Assembly – Three useful web services for students (Assembly presentation included)

Smartphones and tablets

Several weeks ago I held an assembly for the schools seniors and decided to present three web services I thought would be useful to them. I knew I only had about seven or eight minutes as the head had some prizes to give out.  This is not a long time!

There are a lot of websites I could have chosen, so which did I choose?

I am well aware that many of you would disagree with these but, here we go:

  • Dropbox
  • Google Docs
  • Twitter

As well as these services I wanted to mention mobile devices. All these services are available on smartphones and tablets, and I wanted the students to use these devices for more than playing Smurf Village.

I have included my presentation in this post for you to look at. You may even choose to use it in an assembly you are planning.

This presentation was originally a PowerPoint but I have uploaded it to Google Docs so it has lost some of the formatting.