Saturday, 28 June 2014

Visible Learning by John Hattie

In Short, John Hattie has gone through an awful lot of educational research and found out what is most effective. There's a lot of debate as to how good the original studies are, but he has tried hard to iron out most of the bugs and is the most comprehensive study we have to date. It's a big book and most of us are busy, but if you've got time, it's worth the read: Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning

For those of us who have been teaching a while, most of the results are no surprise. So here are the top 10, complete with links to entertaining descriptions. (Animated GIFs, Garish colours and colourful metaphors guaranteed.)

1. Self Assessment - The ability of children to assess themselves
2. Piagetian Programs - Teaching children according to their mental stage of growth
3. Response to Intervention - A specific type of intervention with feedback
4. Formative Assessment - Giving students feedback they can use to improve
5. Teacher Credibility - If the children believe you know what you are talking about
6. Micro Teaching - E.g. Workshops
7. Class Talks - The children talking to each other
8. Intervention - Special lessons for students who need them
9. Teacher Clarity - Be Clear... Keep It Simple
10. Feedback - Provide high quality feedback

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hierarchy of Visual Programming

Many people enjoy the creativity of making games, the graphics and the coding but how do you as a teacher know where to start? And where to go to bring your children up to a professional level! The answers are all in this video that I made. I hope you enjoy it! 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Teaching Networks to Primary

There are a lot of great resources out there to help students understand how the Internet physically works. For those who have never studied computing at university this can be a very daunting prospect especially with all the jargon.  However here are some resources to make teaching networks fun and enjoyable for teachers and students alike!  No expense spared in this blog article, I even include a glossary...

One of my favourites is, Story of Send.

It is a great way to show students how the Internet works, but for students to really understand what goes on to make the Internet work. Show students how Undersea cables are laid out:

And to get an idea of what a server room really looks like, they can take a tour of Google's server rooms.

This is a little bit dated, but really explains how the net works. I don't think you will find a clearer explanation, although the ping of death looks rather puny these days.

To explain how routers and switches work, you can also play the interactive games at CISCO's Packetville. Although you should note some very strong commercial bias. 


  • Cabinet - The name given to the cabinet where network devices are stored.
  • Fibre Optic - A type of wire that is much faster than the older Copper wires used in many places.
  • ISP - Internet Service provider, your connection to the wider Internet. Some ISPs provide extra services like Email and host Webpages. 
  • Packet - Data is split up into packets to move it easily around the Internet
  • Router - Moves data between networks. Most common example is the router you use to connect to your ISP.
  • Server - Where data and information is stored and processed on the Internet
  • Switch - Moves data within a network, for example within a larger school there is likely to be a switch in the computer lab. It is in effect switching very fast to move data from one cable to another.
  • WIFI point - A connection point that lets you connect into the network wirelessly.
  • Wireless router - In most homes this is everything you need to get on the Internet. It include a WIFI point, router and in some cases has switching functionality.

Please feel free to ask for more definitions in the comments! 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Followers for newbies

It must be tempting when you see the option to buy followers, but what the numbers don't measure is the quality of people in your Personal Network. I joined Twitter quite a while back and started using it because I wanted to be able to navigate my way around the BETT conference. It was a smart move, because I was able to really navigate my way around the conference and I have slowly gained followers and now have what looks like a lot, but I can assure behind the stat is a really great educator or somebody interested in technology.   That's what you want for a PLN people who can help you and you can help.  We're all growing together, you find great things to retweet and you share really good ideas.

So, please don't worry about the numbers, worry about the quality of your PLN! A few great followers and people to follow are worth more than the millions of drones that Kim Kardashian bought.

My policies are pretty simple, I will follow back anybody who:

  1. Tweets in English
  2. Has a profile that indicates they are an educator or technology hobbyist
  3. Does not appear to be just selling something and will contribute to the conversation
  4. Has an unprotected account. (A protected account on Twitter means that you wish to select who follows you and I respect that.) 
  5. Does not post using offensive language, is sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic or geekphobic
I do unfollow people once in a while, who don't follow me, because I want to be part of a two way conversation. 

Have fun and look forward to quality conversations on Twitter!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The New UKED Magazine

The New UKED Magazine features a great range of articles, including a great section on Computing with ideas and Websites.  The Magazine is free and can be seen at:

Monday, 9 June 2014

MindMapping the Curriculum!

There are many ways to learn coding. If you would like a complete a Mindmap, I've made one that you will enjoy, you can download the editable map at 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Light Bot 2.0 Great for developing logical thinking

It is great when something is fun, free and really educational. Light Bot 2.0 is all of those things and really gets you thinking about the best way to solve some quite fiendish problems. You can play the game at:  Please note the site is supported by advertising, some of which may not be suitable for younger children.

There is also an hour of code edition, which is advert free, here:

There are also apps to buy too:

Great job at teaching children Computational Thinking!

So what are real programmers using?

As teachers it is important to know that what you teach them might have relevance after they have left school.

It is interesting to see that C is still the most popular language for programming and this is closely followed by JAVA. Both languages require a sophisticated skill set to learn, but there are concepts we can teach in primary such as sorting, repetition and sequencing. Also for Java, we can teach object orientation through Scratch and other object oriented graphical languages.

Further down the list are the programming skills required for the web, which is great if we start with html and then children can move up from there to the likes of Javascript, PHP and Ruby.

There are also flavours of basic, which bodes well for the likes of Small Basic and Python is now also in the top 10 itself. Which is great for those picking up the language directly.

May 2014
Programming Language
(Visual) Basic
Visual Basic .NET
Delphi/Object Pascal

You can find all the details at:

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Coding with an iPad

A large number of iPads are being deployed in schools and they should not be discounted from the possibility of helping children learn sequencing and ultimately coding.

Here are my 9 favourite apps for coding.

1. Daisy The Dinosaur - Great app for introducing simple programming blocks to young children.

2. Bee-bot - Works in a similar way to the physical robot, great for developing logical thinking

3. Kodable - Really takes coding to the next level and with the Sync option, lesson plans and a full set of resources, consider investing in the premium option. (Kodable Sync)

4. A.L.E.X. Nice set of levels with a more exciting interface than some of the cute graphics available in other apps. (Only provides in-app upgrade, but 25 levels for free)

5. Cargobot - Great set of levels introduces repetition as well. Completely free and challenging even for adults at the higher levels.

6. Hopscotch - This has gotten very close to being Scratch for iPad with a community and a proper sandbox mode for children to explore. Make sure you check out the new version, which has come along in leaps and bounds.

7. Tynker - I love the narrative approach taken with this and lots of potential. A great way to build up to Scratch on PCs. (Tynker Premium is also available with all content unlocked)

8. Dynamic Art - Wonderful in its own right, but if you do not have PCs then a possible alternative to Scratch. (Full version: Dynamic Art)

9. Codea - I'd prefer children to be on some sort of PCs for text-based coding, but this is the closest the iPad has to a proper coding platform.  (No free version available)

Free Software For Windows

I know we all love lists of Free stuff, but this is genuinely free software for educational use on Windows PCs. Some of it is a little old, but all of it has great functionality.  These packages are in alphabetical order: 

Sound Recoding software

Blue Griffon -
html editing package

Great for making simple cartoon strips for on-screen display

Nice little drawing package

Open Source Mind Map maker.

Hot Potatoes -
Great for making quizzes of all sorts, interfaces is a little dated but great nonetheless. 

It's 3D programming. Great job MS! 

Certainly as good as Microsoft Office 2007 and better than many older editions!

Free for education, great for more advanced mathematics

MonkeyJam -
Helps you to make stopmotion animations on your PCs & drawings.

Free video editing on PCs, great for those simple projects. They don't call them Microsoft Essentials for nothing!

MuseScore –
Notation software, but if nothing else enables you to play those classic songs. (Including Frozen) 

The free alternative to Photoshop, great for children with a simpler interface. 

The classic app, still useful today!

Scratch Offline Editor -
The bedrock of the new Computing Curriculum.

Make the world in 3D. Fantastic package.

Small Basic -
Start making games!