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Nessy Apps

I’ve had a good play with all the Nessy Apps on my android Smart Ultra 6 phone and they all run pretty smoothly. The Hairy Words apps are particularly good for High Frequency Words. Check out more information on Nessy products.

 

If you use the code ‘red dragon’ at the cart, you’ll get 10% off.

#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.

#TMCymru & NGFL-Cymru Innovative Education Awards 2011 #ngflief

Last Monday I spoke at the South Wales chunk of #tmcymru in the WJEC building about how I have used some tech (Nintendo DS, MSPaint on a stylus-equipped Elitebook as a mini writing tool, MS Flashcards and NGFL-Alphabet) and non-tech (plasticine) to make letter shapes in the work I’ve done with a severely literacy-delayed pupil, and a bit about how Kodu has been a springboard for pupils’ writing. Thanks to @asober for all the efforts in trying to stream up to North Wales, but as @innovativeteach pointed out, we were disadvantaged by streaming uphill.

Thursday I went to Cardiff again for the NGFL-Cymru/Partners In Learning Awards as I had been forced, badgered,harangued, hassled, persuaded by Alessio to submit a project. I met/didn’t meet some twitter people for the first time;- @ngflblount, @ikeontoast, @owaingethin, and Ian Morgan, Dafydd Watcyn Williams from NGFL-Cymru, Carys from Llanedeyrn, @ritzertech and @davestacey. As I had won an award in 2009 I was just wondering which of the others would get to go to the IEF in Reading at MS Headquarters in November. I was utterly shocked and delighted I was one of the two projects selected! Congratulations to Owain Gethin Davies for winning the other place and well done to all the other projects, there were great ideas on display. I am really looking forward to going to Reading as the events in Birmingham 2009 and Manchester 2010 were fabulous networking occasions.

DSi and Games Based Learning – some more

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;-

H1 (Medium)

As well as the dialogue on the DS she appeared hugely more animated than usual, and as we started checking her  ‘or’ spellings  this then appeared.

H2 (Medium)

And smiled, this sense of humour had never revealed itself before, the spelling dialogue continued. Here are some more images of the screen towards the end of the lesson.

H3 (Medium)

I used the opportunity to correct some High Frequency spellings which she then altered, each time noticing what the mistake was.

H4 (Medium)

This final screen I think illustrates the power that this little box could have on her learning.

H5 (Medium)

I couldn’t help being genuinely flabbergasted by the amount of interaction, intensity and motivated engagement she showed in the activity. This was the first time I had used the DS with this pupil. The multi-modality of the communication, both her increased speaking, and the dialogue via the DS was quite extraordinary in comparison with previous lessons.

To witness a pupil using the entertainment technology they use everyday to enhance their learning, was possibly never more powerfully apparent to me than today.

games based learning for spld and dyslexics- post ukief10

I’ve written nothing since my new job as a teacher of SpLD, dyslexic pupils and pupils with literacy difficulties, but here’s an update on some ideas that I’ve posted before on but with a fresher slant, and especially after #itmeet and #ukief10. Some fabulous mini-presentations from @janwebb21, @dawnhallybone, @deputymitchell, @mrstucke, @jdeyenberg et al at the #itmeet evening session and it was great to put faces and bodies to lots of tweeps. I’ll reflect on the Tuesday a bit later.

I try and turn everything into a game where I can and have found the following have engaged the pupils in their learning-

  • Phonics- letters recognition for the very young, feely bag, a few letters in the bag ( the ones they don’t know only), score points for correct sound and name
  • Spelling solutions- after dictating a test passage pupils score each others dictations proof reading from the original text, helps scanning, reading carefully and throws up the specific spelling anomalies for each pupil
  • Mnemonics- they do work-get kids to make funny ones and score on laughter rating.
  • As I have Android I use Talking Tom Cat (like Talking Carl) to speak back, kids love it on early trials and the fact you can record video is a bonus (I wish Talking Carl would work on an htc wildfire  devs ;-)).
  • Wordshark– still so excellent for quick find spelling pattern reinforcement.
  • Nessy– shedfuls of rich content-serve it digital or print but save ink and use it on whiteboard- great.
  • The ipod Pocket Phonics leads the pack for me in apps because of the British accent (come on you app developers, get a UK British accent on your literacy games, you’d sell tons more!!!)
  • I’ve yet to try the Pictochat thing on the Nintendo DS in the current job (but did before) however I think the pupils will enjoy spelling and story telling using that feature (rather than paper, just because they like it!)
  • Swap cards-reading, speaking and listening card games- very useful and the pupils love them
  • Story telling with USB Smartmic to record.
  • Xtranormal- have used this today to create a spelling dialogue here, very first trial, huge potential for engagement and scriptwriting, and both a year 7 and a year 9 said it was ‘very cool’.
  • Thanks to @chickensaltash for the heads up on these next tools…
  • Blabberize– great fun for speaking and listening activities.
  • Fuzzwich– an animation tool for dialogue added to pictures.
  • Dvolver– direct your own movies.

but also general things you can do in mainstream classrooms to aid the SpLD/Dyslexic pupil

  • Change background clour on whiteboard-
  • Word 2007/10 (-> Page Layout>Page Colour> select colour)
  • PDF doc (-> Adobe Reader>Edit>Preferences>Accessibility>Check Replace Document Colours box>Choose Page Background) to pale yellow, blue, whatever colour suits (even if there is no discernible difference, why not have a pastel background.
  • Photocopy texts onto pastel coloured paper.
  • Word banks- can be on wallcharts, put in a file, on a Wallwisher, Dabbleboard, etc.
  • Spelling journal, carry it around with them.
  • Coloured overlays, you can buy a set of 10 A4 sheets from Crossbow and cut them up into 5cm by 2/3cm rulers. Get a mini-set of all colours, lay them out over a page and ask the pupils if any colour make a difference reading-wise, the extensive research in this area doesn’t matter one way or the other in my opinion, if a pupil feels one is good/better than reading black off white then give them their own mini reading ruler.

Just a few things I have found useful which I hope some of you find useful, and to quote  a widely read book , ‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing and the main thing is learning.’ Steven Covey- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (thanks Dan again). And keep learning dangerous and naughty- thanks @daviderogers.

And its all horses for courses, what works for one might or might not work for another, let the pupil lead the learning, light the fire rather than fill the vessel.

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