My contribution to #Nurture1415

Having moved schools part way through the school year, I updated my Nurture13/14 at the end of the school year rather than the calendar year. My teacher brain just doesn’t work in calendar years anymore! However, in the interests of joining in the nurture project again, which I think is such a great idea, I’m here again to start a new post.

My 5 proudest achievements this year:

1. Moving schools at Easter, becoming lead for computing and being promoted to SLT after my first term in post.

2. Seeing staff using their new iPads in lots of new and exciting ways, especially when they thought I wasn’t looking!

3. Finding a new life/ work balance and beginning to develop a sense of proportion to my work. Actually starting running and being able to admit to it publicly… (see wishes!).

4. Proudly watching my twin daughters launch themselves into secondary school with such maturity, excitement and genuine enjoyment.

5. Being part of both #camped14 and #campedsouth. I’m continually grateful for the astonishing support I receive on twitter and it was wonderful to renew and strengthen online friendships in person this year. Both events have been hugely influential on my thinking and development as a teacher. Massive thanks to Alex, Dougall and Bill for their superb organisation and energy to make these events happen.

My 5 wishes for 2015:

1. Start class blogging in my new school. I can’t believe how much I have missed having an online space for my class to share their work!

2. Continue to develop our CAS regional hub. We had a super launch, but the challenge this year is to embed the network and deepen the connections we started.

3. Begin my journey to becoming a Master Teacher of Computing through CAS.

4. Finish the couch to 5K programme for running and try to join at least one Park Run. Make running part of my week and keep it as a permanent form of exercise.

5. Continue to strive for some semblance of work/life balance. I’m much better than I was, but there is always room for improvement!


Following on from the success of CampED14, Alex Bellars organised CampEDsouth for 24-27 October, 2014 in the New Forest. CampEd is like a weekend long teachmeet with lots of outdoor and practical learning and lots of space and time to talk with other teachers, and, importantly, meet and
play with their families too.

Having only just discovered how beautiful the new Forest was this summer on our way to the Isle of Wight, we definitely wanted to go back. We were a small but very lovely group this time but we had just as much fun and more cake than was probably healthy!

The usual wide ranging sessions were all inspiring :
Orienteering (great activity from Alex)
Lego (classic technique Lego from Penny)
Kano (raspberry Pi with an easy set up interface)
One in a million (science/genetics – finding how unique you are in a population)
Zondle (Jo Hughes showed us Zondle – online game system that lets chn play loads of games with same testing content – eg: spelling or maths)
Pond dipping

In between I discovered how Jo is teaching through a fascinating enquiry based method across her KS2 class (29 chn from yrs3-6!). She is passionate about the approach and I could see how it would work to support the wide range of needs in such a small school. Entirely child led, with individual learning targets every 3 weeks I could see how individualised the learning would be.

A massive thanks to Alex for organising the weekend and for his school, Ballard School, for hosting us.










#camped14 activities and notes to remember

Camped14 was brilliant this weekend (23- 26 May 2014 at Cliffe House near Huddersfield). Before I forget, here are the events I took part in:


  • Go Bananas! Run by my husband, Richard Badge, this was a hands on workshop to extract DNA from bananas. Full instructions on how to do this at school (or at home!) are available on the GENIE website (GENIE is part of the University of Leicester and is based in the genetics dept where Richard works). We had a raft of very successful scientists take part and they made some excellent DNA – some of the best we’ve seen when doing this workshop. We decided that working in the Cliffe House classroom with the door open and a view of the pouring rain must definitely be the right sort of conditions for DNA precipitation!


  • Animation workshop – run by animate to educate (

    ). A chance to play and make a a stop motion film using Zu3D Ellie really enjoyed this one, and so did I. The software was easy to use. The ideas for making simple stages to film on, great use of props (MacDonald’s toys, plasticine, sparkly rocks) and the ability to add text and speech bubbles meant that you could achieve a great movie really quickly. Definitely one to look at when I get back to school.

  • Photo orienteering run by Katherine who works at Cliffe House (lucky lady, it was such a beautiful and inspiring place! Her classroom was perfect – lab benches combined with stunning sculptures and Harry Potter wands). In pairs and threes, we took laminated photos of places around the grounds and looked for a symbol painted on the objects or nearby, noted it down and went back for another photo. Simple to set up, great for finding our way around the place and we all felt we knew the grounds really well once we’d finished!


  • Walking – several of us went for a lovely walk around the edge of the village. It was good to blow the cobwebs away and one of those important spaces to talk and think.
  • Choral singing – something I never thought I’d do, but under the brilliant instruction of Ceri Williams, we had a go at becoming a crowd-sourced instrument using the pentatonic scale (Bobbie McFerrin style) . Huge fun (even if it wasn’t that tuneful!).
  • Catherine Elliott at short notice (read – Catherine had planned to show us how to play ultimate frisbee but the Yorkshire weather put paid to that) gave a great workshop with some ideas on teaching Computational Thinking. We looked at sorting algorithms using coloured blocks to introduce language such as IF and ELSE, and a bubble sort using children and adults on a bench getting in to height order. We did a quick sort using animals and who would win in a fight (if you are interested, a gorilla beats a donkey in a fight but not a lion). We also looked at writing algorithms for drawing a spiral (something I’d just touched on with my class last week using logo!).
  • Cat on yer head – a fabulous game to teach children about game design hosted by Dawn Hallybone and Tony Parkin. Tricky to describe, hopefully, Tony will write it up and I think Alex videoed us (should be very funny to watch!). Another one I’ll definitely be trying at school.


Beebot Olympics and Maths project: Design an Olympic stadium #ukedchat

olympic torch

I managed to join in #ukedchat last night which was about cross-curricula planning for the Olympics. I tweet two ideas (neither of them mine!), and a few people were interested in more details, so here they are with the proper credits too!

1. Beebot Olympics (via Doug Dickinson @orunner)

This is a great idea from Doug that he suggested in our last ICT session with him. Steal the BeeBots from reception and get KS2 children working with them. The idea is to have the children to create challenges for one another (Olympic events) and then run a competition to see who can score the most points and win the gold. Suggested activities here, but I’m sure that children could come up with some of their own! Perhaps a long jump? Can you get your Beetbot to go the furthest within a set area, not going over the end line from a standing start?

Using a 6 Bot set. Divide class into 6 groups

Can be made to score points … better as a set of experiences

Activity 1                        Bulls eye target

  • Put a ‘bulls eye’ target out and a big stating circle
  • Bot starts outside the big circle and tries to score as many points as possible in 3 mins
  • It must come back the way it went and pause for 5 seconds inside the target

 Activity 2                        There and back

  • Start line and 3 lines various distances away
  • Bot programmed to get over first line
  • And back over start
  • Then programmed to go over second and back over start
  • Then over third and back over start

 Activity 3                        Point and go

  • A set of circles spaced around a central circle
  • Team must aim Bot to PAUSE inside each circle
  • Programmed one at a time

 Activity 4                        Maze

  • Use skipping ropes to design a simple maze
  • Pilot Bot through by direct programming one section at a time

Activity 5                        Dice Bot

  • A 20 number line
  • Bot starts on arrow
  • Throw die and program Bot to move to that square
  • Throw die again and reprogram
  • CLEAR each time
  • Repeat until Bot passes 20

 Activity 6            Bot Zig

  • Starting circle
  • 4 cones
  • Bot to be programmed to zig zag around cones and run straight back


2. Maths project to design an Olympic Stadium (via @keilystrett)

This sprang from an idea that Keily has used with her year 6 class for some time to consolidate and apply maths skills. I’m teaching a mixed year 5/6 class on my final placement and just finishing off National Numeracy Strategy block D unit 3. She suggested doing some project work in the last week of my placement so I could work with some guided groups on areas that children had difficulty with earlier in the block while providing some challenge and independent work for the everyone. She asks children to design their ideal bedroom, starting with a set area for the floor space, then introducing a budget to fill the room with furniture. Over a few days, she varies the tasks by introducing sales or budget cuts (using percentages), restricts the value of some items to a maximum, asks them to decorate and work out the amount of paint or wall paper needed (using area). I thought this was a great idea and as our theme at school was the Olympics this term, I thought I could do something similar with an Olympic stadium. Here are my ideas so far for the week:

Day 1: Start the investigation: set the challenge of designing a new Olympic stadium. Limit the stadium to a particular  area and/or perimeter (the size of their building plot) . Children to research what shape different stadia are and how they would work out their areas.

Day 2: Budgeting – buying equipment to go in the stadium – use calculators (Keily usually uses a few Argos or other catalogues for this, but I think I’ll need the children to look online for sports equipment specialists!)

Day 3: Budgeting – work out discounts and restrictions on various items (no single item over £x)

Day 4: Measurement/ conversions: Running track to be changed from m to km, mm, cm.

Day 5: Design a scale to measure the long jump or pole vault.

Another idea from last night was to work on angles – this could include angles for throwing games like shot put, javelin.

Any other suggestions or ideas would be most welcome! I’d like to leave it fairly open for the children to take in a direction that inspires them, so they may design football pitches, beach volley ball pitches or maybe even white water rapid courses! Who knows?

(note: Image found and created using which automatically adds a stamp with the attribution to any image you find)

Great fun with the Night Zoo Keeper #NZKProject

Night Zoo Keeper Logo by kind permission of the NZK project

This week, most of the class I’m teaching on my final placement went off on a residential trip. So those left behind joined with what was left of the year 4/5 class and with 33 children between two teachers, we had a chance to try a few fun things out.

I’ve wanted to use the Night Zoo Keeper project out with kids since I first heard Oliver Quinlan discussing it on twitter via his live blog of his time at Start up Weekend, London Edu, which the Night Zoo Keeper project won.

The idea is that the Night Zoo Keeper is party to all kinds of things the animals in his zoo get up to at night. They become mysterious, creative creatures. The Night Zoo Keeper says:

“Hello and welcome to my zoo. This zoo is unlike any other in the world. Here you can awaken your imagination and play under the light of stars. Together, we will answer the question: what do animals dream about? So if you want to play loads of creative games, read about amazing animals and create your very own, become a Night Zookeeper.”

I adapted the one day curriculum plans to fit into three literacy lessons over three consecutive days. The plans were really clear, easy to use and adapt to suit our children (a mixed group of year 4 to 6 children). We decided to make fill our Night Zoo with Australian animals, as this was our theme over the three days for all our work. I signed up, registered our class and got started! I’ve been following Paul from the project on twitter for a while, so it was reassuring to chat to him online and I was delighted when he even emailed me some extra resources and took the time to encourage our ideas about Australian animals. That personal touch really added something special to the project for me as a teacher, and gave me the security of knowing he was only a tweet away if I got stuck.

The children listened to the first three chapters of the story on the site, then started to brain storm their own animals using the scaffold provided by the project. The next day, they split into two groups and worked in rotation to complete a few missions on the website and to paint pictures of their animals. I took photos of them and resized them to cope with the school’s somewhat slow network, ready for uploading on the final day. The children worked in pairs to create accounts within our class area (using the group registration code I had set up) and followed the prompts to add their animal profile and mission. Some went on to write stories about their animals and upload those too from home!

I will definitely do the project again, I am teaching year 4 next year and am sure I can fit it in somewhere. It really got the children’s imaginations going, and they particularly loved the missions, as demonstrated by how well they linked their animals to the missions they created – see Jessie the snake below, who challenged everyone to a hissing competition!

Jessie .S. | The Night Zookeeper

University of Leicester Primary PGCE ICT specialist day #lupgceict

On 16th April I will be in Bratislava, but that won’t stop me presenting to our ICT Specialist day on our PGCE course.

I’ve made a short video with some of the things I learned at Google Teacher Academy last week.

The sites demonstrated in the video are:

  1. Safe Mode in Youtube (removes comments from all videos)
  2. Google Art Project  (now with collections from 150 museums, stunning quality down to the brush strokes!)
  3. Google search by reading age (filter your search results by basic/intermediate/ advanced reading age)
  4. Much more on Google Search from Catlin Tucker (fellow GTAUK attendee)
  5. Creating a google form for an online survey (The Big Breakfast survey: ). See how the spreadsheet updated .  Some suggestions of how to use them in the classroom.

Other stuff that might be useful….

Great YouTube playlists:

video credits

Video was made using Screenr (free screencasting direct from your web browser) and iMovie.

Audio: Tryad ‘all the same’ CC BY-SA 3.0

Plus my Google Teacher Academy Application video

Digital Technology Specialism presentation 29 March 2012

As part of our PGCE course, we choose a specialism to devote some time to an action research project, or extra study during our second teaching placements. I choose ICT and managed to fail at the first hurdle. Those of you who knew me in the days before teaching will be most amused to learn that I forgot the first rule of elearning technology – check everything in situ.

I had tested the links I had prepared on the class laptop to ensure that they worked under the filtering set up on the school network. However, when we got to the ICT suite, the PCs there were set up differently and the links did not work. Looking back I realized that I should have tested the links on the exact PCs I was using in the lesson and using a class not staff log-in. This was something I would have done without thinking in my former role as an elearning technologist, and I was rather annoyed with myself that I had not foreseen the problem. This was partly down to the shift in role (I was not thinking like an elearning technologist training staff with little patience! I was in ‘teaching’ mode) and partly down to teaching placement fatigue.

The project was to look at the differences between links on a curated site (such as Scoopit!) and the same links just as a list of hypertext and how the children interacted with both. I managed to repeat the activity and got some useful information from the children in discussion with them using the sites as presented.

tudor homes scoopit!

I had to prepare an 8 minute presentation to give to my peers on Thursday 29 March, 2012:

Google Doc

I learned two things from the project –

  1. Children’s enthusiasm for ICT will get you through many technical difficulties 🙂
  2. I need to teach children digital literacy skills (I knew this but it was interesting to see it in action – more details in the presentation)