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#Naace Award and Las Vegas

On March 7th this year, I went up to Leicester to the Naace conference as I’d been nominated and shortlisted for the Inclusion Impact Award by Drew Buddie, whom I’d met briefly at the Teachmeet at BETT last year. I didn’t think I stood a chance, but went up as I wanted to congratulate the winner and also out of courtesy to Drew. I was truly and utterly gobsmacked, as anyone who was there would have seen, when I was announced as the winner, I am still so mightily proud today. There were so many other fabulous people nominated and they are all winners in my eyes and I’m truly humbled that the panel recognised something in my work. Many thanks to Cricksoft for their sponsorship of the award.

Here is the Prezi of what I submitted after being shortlisted – Finding The Key.

In the Prezi I refer to some work I do with the Kinect device, and here is>>>> some video <<< from a Teachmeet explaining the basics of the work.

I am presenting a paper based on this work at The 15th Annual Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, in Las Vegas in July.

My great friend Tony Brooks initially invited me to submit as he thought it would be good to show my work in the States. I’m very chuffed to be attending however I need to find some funding from somewhere.

There are some top people doing similar work here in the UK e.g. Anthony Rhys, James Winchester, LittleAngelsSch and Andrew Walker, and it would be great to be able to give their work a plug too.

I’m delighted, deeply grateful and thrilled to announce that the TES have very kindly offered to sponsor my trip to the States. Huge, huge thanks to Ann Mroz and Magda Wood and all at TES.


DSi and Games Based Learning – More developments

Last week I asked my pupils  to bring in their Nintendo DS games consoles in to lessons and some of them did this week. On Tuesday, my small (3) group of pupils (all identified as having SpLD) used them to play a spelling game using the Pictochat feature. I gave 1 pupil a word to give another (ck endings in this case), the pupil wrote it down and zapped it into the Pictochat screen. The asker then copied the word and also zapped it into the screen. All the pupils could then see if the spelling was correct. The next pupil took his turn and so it went on. The pupils reviewed and acknowledged success and helped correct inaccuracies with not so much a sense of ‘that’s wrong’, more of a ‘it’s right this time’ positivity. I felt a great satisfaction from removing myself from the scene once they were up and running, the pupils’ motivation and engagement in the task was, to say the least, intense.

Obviously the same task could be done with pencil and paper, but I firmly believe the fact they were holding these little boxes increased their participation and sense of  ‘flow’ in an activity that I had previously not witnessed. As only one pupil had brought his in, the other two said they had lost theirs ‘in the house somewhere’. It will be fantastic if they find them for next week!

There was a similar pattern to lessons on Wednesday, but today was probably the most exciting development.

H, (am keeping her anonymity for the time being, hopefully the PTB will assent that I can start these pupils blogging asap but there appears to be some red-tape to pass through first….) is a year seven pupil I have taught since September. She is very timid, almost an elective mute, rarely speaking but reads quite well albeit barely audibly.

The week before last she asked were we bringing our DS’s in? I said yes but last week the whole school was on ‘theme day’ so I didn’t have any pupils. This week, the other pupil who attends with her was absent. She  had been learning spellings with the ‘or’ letter pattern and sat down and immediately got her DS out and fired it up. I noticed a picture of a hamster on her start-up screen. She wrote this with no prompting;-

Primary Wall 2.0

The new Primary Wall 2.0 is out with some great new features http://primarywall.com/.

You can now change the backgrounds and range from plain colours to a variety of different scenes, these could be used as a writing prompt for example.

Some of the backgrounds; there are over 50 to choose from.


You can also choose from a variety of funky fonts to perk up your pages.

There are 4 colours of notes you can choose from, great for sorting/classifying activities.

It’s an excellent collaborative sticky-note board that can be shared with anyone you invite, share notes, links, photos etc.

Password protection is available so only invited contributors can post, walls can be read-only so they can be used as message boards for homework activities, word lists etc.

Give it a try!

Kinect, Processing and OpenNI interactive resources- Part 2

Following on from the last post some of you may want to try the apps done by Jan Ciger for the Kinect using Processing and the OpenNI libraries. SEE HERE for links to Java development Kit, Processing and Proclipsing, install all of those.

As in the previous post use this guide to get started with Proclipsing, don’t worry so much about creating a new project (towards the bottom of the guide), but find your Processing Sketch folder and create a ‘libraries’ folder in there.

Launch Processing and have a look in the examples folder of what is possible, that should keep you busy for an evening.

How to install OpenNI, PrimeSense and SensorKinect to use Processing Hand Tracking ‘Apps’. Part 1.

I demoed some stuff that the fabulous Jan Ciger has put together for me with the OpenNI Open Source libraries for Kinect and some great sketches from Processing at #TMSEN12 SEN teachmeet on Sat 28th Jan.

As Processing is written in Java, then the OpenNI libraries have been used to avoid driver conflicts and also they are cross-platform. As Jan compiles uses Linux, it makes sense for me to use the format and libraries he uses.

You need to download and install several bits of software.

You will need to download :-

From this site:-


Follow the instructions under installation.

Plug in your freestanding Kinect into a USB port (you’ll need an adapter if you haven’t got one e.g. ONE OF THESE ) and power socket.

In you start menu, you should have OpenNI and Primesense , under Primesense you should have Nite and Sensorkinect, click on Nite and you should have an uninstall, a Documentation and a Samples folder, click the samples folder, click on Sample-Point Viewer, it should open, stand in front of the Kinect and after a little while you should see your hand drawing a line or Sample-Stick Figure, you should see a little yellow you with  a skeleton inside it.

Also, in the yellow samples folder double click that, in the Bin folder, click the Release folder, and there are a few more samples in there, some work better than others, but you should get the idea.

let me know if any problems @cerirwilliams on Twitter.

Stop here for now and check all that lot works.

Next you’ll need these.

Java Development Kit version 6 is stable

Processing- http://processing.org/download/

Eclipse (it has a better editor/debugger than Processing), scroll down and get the UK Mirror. Get this one.

I’ll do a how-to on ‘Proclipsing’ next, but have a look here if you want, it’s  MAC version but it does work, but might need a couple of tweaks for Windows in the terminology.

Hope it works for you.

Kinect, Processing and other ramblings

I don’t blog enough, and I read a great article about blogging in10 mins, I’ll try………..

As a starter, I still am so fuelled by twitter and the fabulous resources that people find and link to, so if you’re a teacher and not on Twitter and fancy some red hot resources to use, join….as far as 10 mins goes, I’ve failed already…

I’ve taken an approach with some of my pupils that their literacy difficulties, and not necessarily dyslexia, are an attitudinal difficulty to engagement with reading and writing rather than a wholesale difficulty in being able to read and write, so I’ve tried to engage them in activities that might inspire to them to write. After all, my primary focus is to get them to be better readers and writers, and fundamentally, that requires practice.

Their microblogs are HERE

One of the things I use is Google Sketchup, the tutorial videos are great, here’s the house Jordan drew after watching the first new tutorial HERE.

Here’s his blog, check out his other writing, I think that’s pretty impressive recall and skill from one viewing of a video.

I’ve also been using Kodu, here’s video of Ieuan’s latest blog Ieuan’s Kodu Update

Here’s his blog

I’m finding that segmenting and blending is often hugely at root of the difficulties in reading and consequently I do loads of speaking and listening with a heavy emphasis on breaking down the words into their phonic components. With this comes approximate phonetic spelling and at least indicates an understanding of the building blocks of reading and writing.

Callum in Year 2 hates writing with a vengeance so for him to write two words was a huge achievement.

Callum’s first ever micro mini nano blog IS HERE

I’ve been using the Kinect  and Processing recently thanks to the genius of my mate Jan Ciger, who has developed some Processing hacks that I thought would work with Kinect, essentially the hands and sometimes head are tracked, I’ll write a bit more about this again but this is a screenshot of an image created by Callum when he was ‘Star Wars Luke Skywalker’.

One last thing before I go. and I will blog more about the Kinect stuff tomorrow, I disagree with the proponents of the school of thought that textspeak is detrimental to language development, because without an idea of the constructs of written language, textspeak wouldn’t exist, so although it might appear as a new ‘wrong’ language to some, it is only a hybrid of languages that already exist.

Social Media- Peers Help Spelling?

This morning I taught 2 year 7 pupils, one was late into school so I had some time 1-1 with Hanalise. I’ve just set up zondle logins for all my students so went through that first as an icebreaker. Every  now and then I check up how their High Frequency Words are coming on and they devise mnemonics or other ways of remembering tricky words. Just out of the blue I went over Hanalise’s check list and asked her to spell orally some she got wrong at the end of January/beginning of Feb, she scored 60/100 then. She spelled several correctly so I continued, at the end of the process I counted up how many she had correct of the ones that were incorrect lat time, she scored 94/100. I was intrigued but thought there has to be some reason that such a jump has been achieved.

I recorded this audioboo after listening to her explanation of why there was such a big jump in her score.

I was a bit under in my estimate of how many more she got right! I am always a bit skeptical about ‘test’ scores but her improved oracy and confidence (she was an elective mute in the past) and and inclination to participate has been quite something to behold. Obviously this is a snapshot incident, but it was exciting to witness her undoubted self-confidence in her newfound skills and also watching her imaginary ‘air- typing’ as she went through the process of remembering how to spell certain words.

Later in the day also, a year 9 became animated at the prospect that he could now blog from home as I set him up as a contributor to my Pupils’ Blogs. His comment? ‘oh,rather than writing on paper i’ts easier to write on keyboard’ < paraphrased, I did record his soundbite but mustn’t have saved it properly, doh!

An interesting day!

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