Tag Archives: literacy

Makerspace at Tech4Change: Young digital makers and teachers collaborate

Teachers asked us to include another project space at this year’s conference, so we expanded the range of activities and age range of children joining us.

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A group of Learning Innovators from Spring Cottage Primary and Malet Lambert schools came along with their experiences of mixed aged collaborations this year, through wearable technology challenges, alongside their own school based activities.

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Challenges to inspire this next generation of Y5, 7 & 8 innovators included using the Faraday Project resources from the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology). Children worked in pairs and teams to plan their own projects and determine levels of complexity.

None of the students had seen a BBC micro:bit before, let alone coded one. They quickly transferred what they’d learnt from previous projects to tackle ambitious group challenges under guidance from Dave Ames.

Using the micro:bit with these resources was a perfect match to engage and excite the group on National Women in Engineering Day  (#NWED2016).

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The theme for activities in the makerspace centred around a book by Julia Jarman.  The Time Travelling Cat and The Egyptian Goddess became a catalyst for creativity and to extend programming, digital fabrication and writing opportunities.


Linking digital storytelling and literacy resources, the team from now>press>play took the children back to Ancient Eqypt to explore creativity through sound, story and movement.

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That led to animations and game-making with Scratch, either using resources from Code Club or remixing shared code.

Some children got hands-on, learning by doing, with digital fabrication tools.

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Working with Paul, and using Egyptian themed artefacts with the Sprout, they developed 3D creative imagination to explore the design-thinking process.

They started to show the connection between planning and 3d modelling with a computer to reach a prototype stage, and then make further iterations. And said they enjoyed working on those design changes 🙂

Embedding a culture of literacy across the curriculum


It was more than an educational visit to Bletchley Park that came out of last year’s Tech 4 Change conference.

The event sparked numerous projects and collaborations including a reading intervention programme supporting over 200 learners across 8 centres in Hull.

Once discussions around the positive use of ebooks to support literacy programmes in schools developed, it became apparent that a project in the city could be launched to extend current interventions.  The National Literacy Trust project was a catalyst to design a programme to extend readers in Hull.


Project overview

Through the Primary Headteachers’ forum, a project focused on progression of reading with children in Year 5 has emerged.

Each school has populated their own online library of ebooks with free titles alongside the ability to populate with a range of books appropriate to their children’s ability, interests and current reading schemes.  For some that has seen an extended range of Accelerated Reader titles added to their online library and for others, using pupil voice throughout decision making, a common theme has been more Diary of a Wimpy Kid or titles from David Walliams.

We’re also thrilled to see the head and teachers from The Boulevard Centre collaborating through the programme with their own project, supporting readers whose ages are lower and higher than Y5, and individual needs and interventions.

Measuring impact

Whilst the focus of the project is to report back on the impact with Year 5 children, schools have been encouraged and supported to utilise the books and resources with other classes and groups.  They’ll be able to continue to use their library of books after this first evaluation study is over.

Data collection such as attitudinal surveys and reading ages, taken at project launch and finish, will be collated as evaluation tools alongside anecdotal comments from teachers and readers.

We’ll share initial findings at this year’s Tech 4 Change conference in Hull on 23 June.


book devices

Implementation of an online library resource

Most schools are utilising tablet devices for children to access their ebooks, alongside laptop and desktop computers.  The latter have been used in a couple of schools when children have requested reading time once their computing activity has been finished!

There’s a definite mix of teachers who have previously used ebooks as part of their guided reading programme and those who are evaluating for the first time.  From the beginning of the project has always been the intention to explore progression of reading through ebooks and also to maintain a healthy balance with physical books.

Most projects have also added opportunities for pupil voice in their library decision making process. Teachers have chosen to include the ‘recommend’ option for children to suggest reading books to be added to their school library and individual collection.


Reading intervention time with ebooks differs for each group, let alone each school.  Some examples:

  1. A dedicated one hour each week for all Year 5 children
  2. Weekly guided reading session using ebooks (other times continue with physical books)
  3. Lunchtime reading clubs
  4. Daily intervention groups
  5. Supporting out of school access
  6. Reading opportunities within other learning times

Tools and reporting

Tools within the library have supported teachers to create a bespoke range of books suitable for their learners’ needs.

reading and interest age

Filtering by genre, interest level and reading age has been beneficial for one school who have been extending reading opportunities for above average girls in their project.  In another school, the tools have enabled bespoke packs to be created for children with EAL with other examples to share at a later date.


Reporting capabilities have also highlighted progress and time spent reading including number of books, page turns, interactions etc.  Of course this has flagged up continued reading for some children at home during evenings, weekends and holidays and perhaps the most requested and popular titles in the library.  For individuals, their progress is available for teachers to share and trends have been highlighted.

Individual learner needs and feedback

We’re starting to hear about comments and experience from children’s reading sessions and of course building up a bank of evidence and quotes through the surveys.

Requests from children for a particular genre of book or author are highlighted to teachers through the reporting tools and their comments about using ebooks for one of their guided reading sessions have been positive.

At one school there’s been an excitement at using mobile devices to access their books as they’ve taken pleasure in answering questions related to their assessment focus.  Guided reading sessions have given opportunities for challenges to further interact with the text, which the children have particularly enjoyed.

For a couple of readers at one school their enjoyment of reading, time spent reading and confidence have all increased as they’re making progress.  This has led to requests for ‘more challenging books, please’ which was quickly acknowledge and actioned by their reading intervention teacher!

For one child with general learning difficulties, previous use of an iPad for learning activities has proved difficult.  During this ebook project he’s gaining positive experiences through reading with a peer.

Early lessons learnt?

Further interventions have been needed for some children in the project, either supporting their learning, reading behaviours or access to the online libraries.

Reports have flagged up the small number of children who ‘test out’ the monitoring system with apparent mammoth reading activity only to find that they’ve become ‘page flickers’.  Soon resolved!

For one child with autism, he’s found connecting an iPad to his medium for reading exceptionally difficult. Comfortable using a tablet for learning activities, sees the iPad as a device for quizzes, games, research and projects.

What next?

The project will continue over the Summer term, with schools able to extend their library to more children, and particularly as the new academic year starts in September.  There’s no switch off date.

Some of the teachers involved in the project will be sharing their experiences and reporting on reading progress of their children at the Tech 4 Change conference on 23 June.

If you’d like to learn more about using ebooks to embed a culture of literacy across the curriculum, join us on the day by registering for a free of charge place on the link below.

Tech 4 Change


Encouraging Computing opportunities for all at Kelvin Hall School

The objectives for today’s event included raising aspirations in STEM subjects and creating opportunities and challenges to encourage and inspire tomorrow’s digital creators.

60 girls from Years 7 and 8 were invited to work collaboratively through a range of projects and all said in their evaluation comments that they’d recommend the event to their peers.  Here’s a selection and summary, with comments, about some of those projects and challenges:

Identifying cyberbullying

(Group activities to spot early signs, prevention and actions to take)


Hack the web

(Hacking web pages session with a twist using Mozilla Hackasaurus)

 Top Tips to share with others to protect against cyber security attacks

Top Tips to share with others to protect against cyber security attacks

Slices of Pi

(Challenges to inspire tomorrow’s digital creators)

 The most challenging & rewarding part of the day? #h2df Kelvin Hall, Hull pic.twitter.com/eqRvTNwYpe

Interactive Fiction Factory

(Creating and sharing resources with peers to raise awareness and develop strategies about cyber bullying)





Only one person had used a Raspberry Pi computer at home and that was “to program things and play games on it” when it was attached to a TV.


What did the students  enjoy the most?


  • I enjoyed learning about women in Computing and learning to hack
  • I liked all of it because the activities were amazing!
  • In my opinion the best bit was learning through playing and with free things that we can try at home
  • I enjoyed working all together as one big group and next splitting up to create stories
  • The interactive fiction story because it was fun and the sort of thing I like.  I enjoyed all of it though as it was different all day.
  • I enjoyed using Twine for story making because we used our imagination
  • Connecting all the wires to the Raspberry Pi computer and playing Minecraft
  • The choice game and putting the Raspberry Pi computer together
  • I enjoyed learning how to set up and use a Raspberry Pi
  • I really enjoyed hacking the BBC news and making a Father’s Day message
  • I liked the Minecraft because I’ve never done it before and it was really fun
  • The bit I most enjoyed was with the Raspberry Pi.  I didn’t know what one was and how easy it was to hack the web
  • Learning how to hack websites for good reasons in a good way
  • Hacking websites 🙂  It was fun to be able to do it although it’s worrying that others can do this
  • Hacking into the One Direction websiteIMG_1045

Have anybody been inspired to check out ideas after today?

  • Yeah!  Raspberry Pi!
  • I’m going to make my computer safer
  • I will try and hack and create an interactive story
  • I am going to buy a Raspberry Pi plus I am going to hack the internet for Father’s Day for my dad.  I might also make my own website plus my own story
  • I may try the hacking again and to send my dad a Father’s Day message
  • I would buy a Raspberry Pi and try out different things on Minecraft like the teleporting
  • I may have another go at hacking sometime but I will not publish it
  • I would like to try more Minecraft
  • I will probably hack and use Twine
  • Not sure.  If anything it will be hacking
  • MINECRAFT.  It’s amazing and I’ll download it.
  • I will try writing with Twine as I found it fun deciding on the ending
  • I will probably try almost everything from today

Why would they recommend the event to others?

  • Because it was really fun and it got everybody involved
  • It was awesome, fun, plus you learn a lot without realising it
  • It is a different approach to learning
  • Because you learn a lot and I wasn’t aware of hacking but now I am.IMG_1053
  • Because it was fun and showed danger and greatness about the internet
  • Because it helps you learn more and you can have a different experience
  • Because most people would like to play Minecraft and hack
  • Because it’s very useful and it’s cool to know it for everything you need.
  • It was plenty of fun and it really got me thinking
  • Its super fun
  • It was fun and makes you awar of the dangers of the internet
  • Because it tells people about internet safety
  • We learnt a lot.  It was worth getting out of class
  • Because it was really fun and interesting.  Also very different.
  • Because it shows you e-safety
  • Because it is a fun way of learning
  • It was a great experience to have.  I’m lucky I got picked!
  • Because it’s a fun way to learn things including e-safety
  • Educational, informative and a good laugh
  • Because it was awesome


Suggestions to improve future events.  How can we make the next one better?

  • I would like to learn more about Raspberry Pi
  • Who invented the computer?
  • Nope, it was fine just the way it was
  • You could extend the activities a little.  It got us really interested!
  • More time on Raspberry Pi, the interactive fiction and hacking parts of the day
  • Longer on Minecraft!
  • The consequences of hacking and teaching us how to hack different games as well as Minecraft.
  • Do different things on Raspberry Pi
  • Nothing needs improving.  I think the sessions should be longer!
  • Have longer for all of it, like two days.
  • More stuff with the computers.
  • I don’t think you could have made it better.
  • Not raise our hopes about being off school for an extra week!
  • I don’t know. It was all good!
  • More time to play on Minecraft!
  • More Raspberry Pi activities


iPad Academy: Using blogging to positively impact on writing


At the first iPad Academy event, Neil introduced the concept of educational blogging for teachers and learners.  His focus was to introduce tools to support the priorities highlighted by the teachers at the session, and to explore how blogging can impact on schools’ literacy developments:

  1. To consolidate learning
  2. To improve the quality of T&L
  3. To engage students with literacy
  4. To use creativity to engage students and further involve them with their own learning
  5. To explore collaboration for deeper learning
  6. To increase opportunities for peer review and parental engagement

One example given of a proven blogging project was taken from David Mitchell’s ‘Quadblogging concept and Neil was able to share individual examples of student progress and impact statements from their teachers.

Since 2011, over 500,000 students from over 50 countries have taken part in the scheme which matches up four schools for a particular time period with a genuine global audience.

Some of you might know David from his ‘Deputy Mitchell‘ Twitter feed.  Click on the image below to launch further information about quadblogging projects from schools around the world.

Quadblogging Scoopit

“In terms of young children developing as writers this is the most interesting development in the last 20 years.” Pie Corbett, poet & storyteller.

Interested in joining this collaboration project to provide a purpose for writing and an audience for your students?  Follow the Quadblogging links throughout the post to register your interest.

Interested in exploring in greater detail how blogging and other tools could support your school to impact on literacy across the curriculum?  We can include this focus as a project through your CPD planning and create a bespoke session in school for you.

iPad Academy Part One. What happens next?

Wow!  Today we launched iPad Academy in Hull, with teachers from schools across the city collaborating to focus on changing pedagogy when implementing iPad in school.

The fundamental aim was to create a teaching network to facilitate innovation and creativity with iPad, with a priority to improve the quality of teaching & learning.  

Everybody that attended said that they’d recommend the session to colleagues, so we’ll continue with this format with plenty of time to share ideas and plan collectively, and also with the opportunity for practical activities.

What did teachers like and what will continue?

  1. “Quality of content and well thought out material designed to enhance T&L”
  2. “Being able to discuss with other staff what they do with iPad”
  3. “Interactivity of the session”
  4. “Ideas to try!”
  5. “Talking to other schools and hearing (and seeing) what they do with Ebooks”

The first change for some of us was to learn that Apple’s collective term (plural) for a set of these devices should be iPad and not iPads.  Just needed to flag that up as we’re focussing on literacy!

What do our teachers hope to achieve and learn from an iPad Academy for the city?

We’ve started to use ‘Padlet’ as a tool to share online at Padlet for iPad Academy in Hull. Here’s a taster of expectations from some teachers below:

  1. “I want to consolidate learning.”
  2. “I want to use iPad more effectively to improve the quality of T&L.”
  3. “I want to engage our students with literacy. Those students who say they don’t like reading or writing but do LOVE iPad!”
  4. “I want to embed iPad rather than substitute a laptop for them.”

Resources for iPad Academy in Hull

Teachers appreciated the online shared materials that will be expanded as the project moves through the year.  We’re also going to look at a request for a ‘Teacher Toolkit’ to support staff with planning and implementing iPad and looking to use particular tools, apps or approaches for the first time.

Here are a selection of comments and questions about ongoing support and CPD opportunities:

  1. How can we support a teacher looking to use the Flipped Learning approach with a group of Y7 students and evaluate it’s impact on their learning?
  2. What can be shared from colleagues who have already used Flipped Learning?
  3. What’s the process for a teacher using a class set of online textbooks through RM Books?
  4. How about a project to create and publish an eBook for a particular audience?
  5. Can we look at transition activities and parental engagement?

These are a couple of examples of what can be included in CPD plans during this next half term, alongside supporting a school’s strategy to deliver their vision for learning.  In the meantime, please click on the images below to view or download the resources shared during today’s session.

Here’s Neil’s presentation on Slideshare:

Slideshare Image

Visit the Academy’s resources with Pearltrees here:


Look out for future Tweets here:


What next?

Here are a selection of comments, but we’ll review all of the suggestions, particularly from those teachers who couldn’t attend, and publish the next agenda shortly.  Any more ideas?!

  1. “More 1:1 practice”
  2. “Maths stuff!”
  3. “Longer time for workshop sessions”
  4. “Focus on sharing work and printing”
  5. “Shared planning to encourage independent learning”
  6. “More practical ideas with Apple TV”

Thanks again to the teachers from Kingswood Academy who kindly agreed to host the session and made us feel so welcome 🙂

Neil iPad Academy

See you on 1st April at Winifred Holtby.  Agenda to follow!

iPad as a creativity tool to support Literacy across the Curriculum

Here’s the finalised agenda for our first iPad Academy afternoon in Hull on Tuesday 28th January (1pm – 3.30pm).

The twilight session between 3.45 – 4.45pm continues to be ‘iPad to support dynamic teaching opportunities and collaborative learning communities’. 

The host school is Kingswood Academy (Wawne Road, Bransholme HU7 4WR) for this first event.

Neil will lead and explain, using examples from schools he’s supported as an Apple APD, how project-based learning approaches have inspired students to become authors and publishers using apps and resources such as iBook Author, Book Creator and blogging tools.

For those of you bringing along your own iPad for the workshop elements, these are the apps that Neil will be using: