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Friday, 31 May 2013

BBC 500 Word Stories

I just came across this on the BBC Two website and had to share with you all:

We've once again teamed up with the Oxford University Press to analyse the 40 MILLION words children used in this year's 500 WORDS competition.

The analysis of 90,000 stories has revealed a wealth of fascinating insights into the lives of British children and the remarkable ways they use English. You can see some headline findings on this page-

500 WordsOur Word Cloud shows some of the most used words - Mum is THE word of 500 WORDS 2013, with over 115,000 occurrences and regional variations, including mom and mam.

500 WordsPoor dad only just scrapes into the Top 15, although he does star as an action man in several of the Top 50 stories - fighting aliens, exploding, and building a time machine!

500 WordsChildren are fanatical about fairy tales and mad for magic, with dragons, monsters, giants, fairies and wizards dominating.

500 WordsOnly man's best friend can rival dragons and monsters in the numbers stakes with dog appearing over 25,000 times.

500 WordsJames Bond is by far the most popular fictional character. He is name-checked nearly 1,000 times, while spy is even more popular.

500 WordsOne Direction are the most popular music act (and yes, Harry Styles is the most popular band member).

500 WordsTop Gear is the favourite TV show, followed by Tracy Beaker, Doctor Who, EastEnders and Britain's Got Talent.

500 WordsChris Evans retains his crown as most popular individual celebrity.

500 WordsThe majority of references to the London Olympics came from stories penned well away from London, in places such as Wales, the Scottish Highlands & Islands and Devon.

500 WordsUsain Bolt sprints ahead in the poll of most popular sports person, tying for Gold with last year's winner Wayne Rooney.

500 WordsThe word car appears over 26,000 times, with a substantial number featured in the girls' stories.

500 WordsThe most popular new word this year is gangnam (while Psy himself makes his 500 WORDS' celebrity chart debut at number 22).

Original article:

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Brilliant Staff C.P.D

I was delighted to attend a recent IPACA staff C.P.D session on AfL (Assessment for Learning) and see a range of Digital Learning aids being used to support the session. I arrived slightly late for the event and was welcomed by a classroom full of eager Primary colleagues exchanging views on AfL via Wordle.

The use of this resource beat normal paired discussion or group mind mapping and enabled everyone an opportunity to contribute. See below for Wordle results:

Following Wordle we had further examples of Digital Learning aids with a video shot on an iPad modelling AfL practice from the Early Years classroom. The ease which the video was created and the instance ability to share on the IWB (with the right cable) proved an excellent learning aid.

Finally, we were modeled how to use the iPad App 'Screen-Chomp' as a tool to aid AfL and differentiation.

All in all it was a fantastic evening of C.P.D led by teachers for teacher - which in my personal opinion is always the most powerful form of C.P.D. A Wordle featuring feedback from the session is included below:

Solar-Powered PCs - Interesting!

I don't normally comment on the endless marketing emails I get from suppliers, however, recently I had an interesting marketing email come to be via a colleague. The email was from UCC Suppliers Limited, please see below for its contents:

Please find attached information about the Solar Power PC’s and a link to YouTube so you can have a look for yourself how it looks in other schools:

I just wanted to let you know of this latest technology schools and colleges are purchasing, I am not sure if you are looking at purchasing any new PC’s at the moment or it could be something you can start planning for now.

Below is a quick overview:

How does it work? 
Instead of a classroom with lots of individual computers for each user, small terminal
connections attach to a high-powered server that runs software to manage them. The
server takes power from a ‘power bank’ battery storing 12v DC energy generated from
solar power.

Each terminal acts and appears to the end user to do the same thing as a normal PC,
however each uses drastically less power, take less space and cost much less to install.
Servers can run up to 20 user terminals consisting of LCD display, mouse and keyboard.

What are the benefits?

Cut energy usage: the server and terminals run at only 25 to 40 watts per day,
reducing the unit consumption per user to as little as half a watt per hour. This
is around 200 to 300 times less than a desktop PC.

Renewable source: 12v compatibility allows the system to run almost directly
from a rooftop solar PV panels via a ‘power bank’ battery set up that can be charged
from the panel or mains electricity.

No heat, no noise: 12v powered systems run cooler than conventional PCs,
resulting in a better working environment and no need for air conditioning units.
No bills: Energy bills cut by up to 90%. The BeCarbon Neutral ICT solution will pay
for itself within two to three years of these energy savings.

Up-to-date technology: easy to use, powerful enough to run Autodesk®
hi tech visualisation software and is a great system fit for Design, Engineering
and Construction courses. Uses the latest Microsoft Multipoint Server Software
and has a Windows 7 look and feel.

Environmentally friendly: 90% landfill reduction

Control: teachers can monitor and control pupils’ learning experience from
their own terminal.

We can come to you with a demo to show you how it would work for you and explain more of the savings you would make. Not sure if you have carbon footprint targets to work with as this would help towards if not beat it!

If you would like more information or to set up a date for a demo please let me know.


Scratch - Example pupil work...

I am loving hearing about how Scratch (MIT visual programming language) is being embraced by so many people throughout the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy. A couple of weeks ago we had a brilliant training session on the language by Helen Collings (Southwell Campus) and I hope to post a video of this session soon (keep an eye out at:

In the meantime, check out the below that was created using Scratch by some Year 5 IPACA pupils to celebrate Mary Anning's Birthday:

More information about Scratch:

Scratch is designed with learning and education in mind. A wide variety of educators have been supporting Scratch creators since 2007, in both formal and informal learning environments – K-12 classroom teachers, educational and computer science researchers, librarians, museum educators, and parents.

Want to learn more about learning with Scratch?

Check out the ScratchEd online community.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Have you tried Pixlr?

Pixlr is a cloud-based set of image tools and utilities, including a number of photo editors, a screen grabber browser extension and a photo sharing service. 

The suite of apps range from simple and playful to advanced photo editing.

Check it out now at:


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Engaged learning with Google Drive

Had a great email from a colleague sharing how Year 10 are using Google Drive at IPACA to engage discussion, please see below:
I just thought I'd show you a use my Year 10 tutor team are making of the Google Docs Drive software.

Once a week, during a twenty minute tutor period, the groups are simultaneously discussing a 'Big Question', and then posting their agreed answers on the live document. I know it's no great shakes, but it's provided lots of fun, team work and challenge already.
 See below example:

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

@martindalepaul at #IPACA

Last Thursday (9th May, 2013) we were very luck to be joined at IPACA by Paul Martindale (@martindalepaul), Deputy Headteacher from the magical Jesmond Gardens. Paul shared with IPACA colleagues how pedagogy, learning spaces and technology to create an amazing learning experience at Jesmond Gardens Primary School.

More information on Jesmond Gardens Primary School - The school is a new 315 place school (with 26 full time nursery places) designed to replace, as part of Hartlepool’s Primary Capital Programme, an existing Victorian school built on a nearby site. The 2,055 sqm school is designed around principles of transformational learning, which encourages the use of personalised, independent learning approaches that reflect a child’s stage, rather than age. 

Jesmond Gardens has a central ‘heart’ area that was designed to enable expansion of the teaching areas and main hall.  The two can be linked together, or separated, providing agile options for assembly, lunch times, and to house the thriving parent community. Similarly, the circulation spaces can be used as ICT-enabled extensions to the learning spaces.

Internal and external space works to provide an integrated environment.  In addition to a trim trail, MUGA and sports pitch, the design also incorporates allotments and a wildlife area that provides a habitat zone.

A copy of the brilliant material shared by Paul Martindale is included below:

Saturday, 11 May 2013

This is awesome!

The below is a fantastic tutorial from Jennifer Roberts on how to add voice comments in Google Docs, and I for one was blown away by it! I love this simple, easy way to leave feedback on students work. Plus, if you have students who function better with communication that is auditory, this can be a nice way to differentiate feedback.

Would love to know what you think of this through the comments section.

Big Grips Tweener

I am loving using my Big Grips Tweener (image above) for my iPad mini. The case which is the mini version of the 'Big Grips Frame' is perfect for the iPad mini with maximum protection, easy access to ports and very functional (and durable) stand.

Received the below email this morning from the big grips team and it is good to see their product range continues to grow:

Hello Friends!

A quick announcement to let everyone know that a fresh shipment of Big Grips has arrived! Available now at

This shipment includes:

- Big Grips Frame and Stand for iPad 2/3/4 in blue, green, black, gray, purple, and pink (coming soon in red and orange)
- Big Grips Frame and Stand for iPad original in blue and green
- Big Grips Tweener and Wedge for iPad mini in black (already available in blue, green, red, and orange)

Be sure to also check out Big Grips Hipster (, the versatile travel/carry bag for Big Grips Frame and Big Grips Buddy for iPod touch (!

All Big Grips products are also available to educators through our Educator Discount program. Visit to request a quote today!

Thank you for your support!


-The Big Grips Team

KEM Ventures, Inc.
Makers of Big Grips Frame™ for iPad
Toll Free (888) 456-7047
Fax: (916) 475-1241 :-)

Friday, 10 May 2013 - Worth checking out?

Was recommended to check out the other day by a colleague and thought it worthy of a mention on this blog.

What is Quibly?
Quibly is a members-only community that aims to help parents give their kids a head start in this connected world. But the story behind that is that we parents are raising kids in a world that is changing all the time..

While the age-old stuff still applies (we want them to be happy, warm, safe, healthy, well-fed, inquisitive and so on), we also want our kids to stand proud and equipped when they take their first step on the career ladder. We want them to enjoy creative pursuits of which we could only dream. We want to keep them safe from risks that, as adults, we don’t always see or understand. And we want them to be surprised and impressed that we, their boring old parents, actually know about some very cool stuff.

“65% of today’s grade school kids will end up at jobs that haven’t been invented yet” (US Dept of Labor) – that’s the future for which we’re trying to prepare our kids. Our school days two or three decades ago were vastly different to those of a child today. They submit maths homework online and the results are waiting at school the next day. We did ours in a rush on the bus. 3D printers can produce chocolate bars at home, we aspired to a daisy wheel printer.

We want to understand the amazing lives our kids have in front of them and help support their interests and their education. We want to know about the incredible new technology and opportunities out there for them. We know we’re not alone.

I would definitely suggest is worth a browse -->