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Statistics and the connected classroom

Every primary classroom studies statistics several times a year and when it comes to graphs you go through the process:  surveys, tally charts, pictograms, bar graphs,

This Pie Chart was a truly enjoyable lesson, as the students used protractors and their knowledge of degrees to draw the graph.

This Pie Chart was a truly enjoyable lesson, as the students used protractors and their knowledge of degrees to draw the graph.

column graphs, line graphs, stem & blah, blah…

I am one of those who gets their students to make pretty graphs based on a a survey (favourite pet or book or blah..) and I have known for years that it is just going through the motions. The students learn skills (using a ruler, counting hands up in the classroom and colouring in a chart), but do they make any understandings? Maybe you integrate ICT and have a play with Excel, but do they make any connection to the real world or see statistics outside their classroom?

NOTE: Every class I have ever taught has loved making graphs – ruling them, colouring them and presenting them with a couple of comments on what they think the graph is telling them – and I love the lesson as well.  I am just being a bit of a devils advocate with the previous paragraphs, not slandering every amazing teacher who gets their class to make a graph.

So, how do we take a classes questions and ask them to the world? How to we make a survey or questionnaire that has a sample size more than the number of students in your class? The answer is a Google form with some assistance from Twitter, Facebook, Email and a few forceful requests for friends to share the form and off you go.

We created the form from a whole lot of ‘random questions’ (this is how they have been described by many of those who have answered the form) and when the students went to get on the bus at the end of the day I began the sharing process. It did take begging in some cases, but only a few times and by the morning we had almost 200 responses and by our Numeracy lesson we had 250 responses.

The first 30-40 minutes of the Numeracy lesson began an animated discussion full of predictions on what we thought each questions results would be and then pondering why we were so wrong on almost every question. Additionally, as we reviewed the results 10 more people somewhere in the world answered the survey.

They said things like…

Why are the amount of Arabic speakers the same as the amount of Maori Speakers?
-I think Facebook might be banned in a lot of Arabic speaking countries.
-There are Maori speakers because Mr Dyer is from New Zealand.
-I just think that not many people who speak Arabic have seen the survey…
…and maybe if they did the could not read it because it was in English?

Why do over 60% the people answering our survey wear glasses or contacts when less than 10% of our class do?

Why are most of the people who answered Women? Is it because they use more social media or because they take more time to help people?

Why do only a few people like Orange… it’s my favourite colour?

66% of people take a car to work or school – that is two out of three people… That is bad for the environment.

Wow, a lot of people believe in Aliens!


Yellow indicates the spread of our survey within the first 24 hours. I wonder how much yellow there will be after a week?

We then looked at different types of questions and discussed how we normally write closed questions, but by giving an open question like “What is your favourite food?” we get to see how truly different everyones choices are, but when we asked closed questions with a yes or no answer or only a few options it does not always give the person taking the survey the option of answering as they would like.

At the end of the first 24 hours my tech savvy and like minded teaching assistant took the data and turned it into a visual world map. Places in yellow are where we have reached already.

So now, after 3 days of the form being online we have reached just over 500 participants and we see the statistics beginning to even out to what we originally predicted. Hopefully over the weekend we will get more participants and as it spreads we may reach across to more parts of Africa or South America. So, next time you are studying statistics and want your class to get a better understanding of analyzing data give a Google Form a try and use all those social media contacts you have to see how far  you can spread your questions.

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PLN and Connectivness is Awesome! #EduFriends

Again, Twitter and my PLN has blown me away with its awesomness!

As ICT Lead Teacher I had to lead an assembly and chose the Internet as my umbrella topic. My goal was to express both the ability to connect through the internet as well as make sure that students were aware of how to use the Internet safely and sensibly.

Part 1 – Teacher Quiz
10 simple questions. Two teachers. One teacher has a stack of reference books where all the questions came from. Other teacher has no books, looks sad so is allowed to use Google on their phone.
Result – A few good laughs and students get to see the power of a directed internet search in action.

Part 2 – The connection (This is what it is all about!)
How do you show kids about the true connectiveness of the internet? Sure they have all Skyped a family member overseas, but how could I show them in 1 or 2 minutes?

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A simple tweet, and maybe a few directed spam tweets, and the ball was set in motion. I was humbled by the replies and the time and effort that was put into the project. Instantly there were promises of a video or a quick video taken in the playground. I had replies from people I was not even following and so new connections were made.

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Below is the compilation video. I am sorry that not all clips are included, but my computer was fighting with me and not all of the clips wanted to go into iMovie for some reason. But thank you to @NZWaikato @mrs_hyde @mrkempnz @KleinErin @BowlerSarah @jedipadmaster @SamAllison06 @21stCTeaching @MsBeenz @PalmyTeacher @room_ten @tewakatroy @chiaoyinanita @ChezVivian @tsbray @lesal38 @mjbuckland and of course the star of the show… @GrogtheZombie.
(If I have missed you off this list then I am sorry – DM me and I will correct instantly as you are awesome and I am sorry for missing you out, but thankful for your existence!)

Part 3 – Cyber Safety
As most of the students play online games with back channel chat options I chose to show the video I have embedded below. I must say that I removed about 6 seconds of the clip towards the end as I think that I would have had the year 1 classes in tears.
Result – Enjoyable to watch, appropriate to the audience, students become more aware of cyber safety.


KS2 Robotics Club – Surprisingly Successful

It is funny what a bit of success, a few years practice and some more resources can do to the way an after school club is run. I have talked about this previously, but this year is different as my robotics group is much younger (KS3 – Year 3,4&5 or Grade 2,3&4). The groups is right on the cusp of being too big for one teacher at 16 students, but I think that I have carefully managed and planned the sessions so that it will run a lot smoother than when I had teenagers last term.

The big difference is that I have carefully purchased resources from my budgets to build upon what we have and to provide different levels of differentiation and challenge for each student.
Very Beginner – Bee Bots
These are a great resource to introduce programming, quite cheap and can still be used with older kids to get the idea of simple programs.
Novice – Lego Simple Machines Kits So simple, but the best way to show kids how gears work together to make movement happen and gets them following a set of what can be difficult instructions.
Intermediate – WeDoBuild it and then program it. It comes with a motor, movement/light sensor and a tilf sensor and simple Scratch like software to program your creation.
Advanced – Mindstorms You only need to look at various youtube videos to see what can be done with a Mindstorms kit and if you throw a few kits together you have amazing possibilities.

Next problem comes when every group has a project completed and wants a computer to use to program the robot… solution? I have no idea just yet!

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Student Created Tutorials in Numeracy

Holiday is over and back in class and this is my first post of the school year. I think it is a nice cross of Numeracy and ICT skills.

Each group has been working on mastering a different strategy in Maths and then developing the ability to explain what they are doing verbally. What is an easy way for the teacher to assess and for the students to show mastery… in pairs create a Kahn Academy style tutorial.

One student records the other working through a problem (this reduces the camera shakiness) then they swap over so each has a problem recorded. Import the clip to iMovie, turn off the videos sound to remove the white noise from the classroom then find a quiet space and record a voice over and publish the movie. The first time that I did it they recorded audio as they worked through the problem, but this distracted them from the equation and made them a bit nervous, but by separating the explanation and the problem it allowed students to focus on the task.

The video below if from a student who is not too confident in Maths, and did record the voice over three times, but by the finished product he was able to clearly explain what he was doing, why he was doing it and had a huge smile on his face – success!

My only wish now is that I was not in China and my students had access to a blog to publish their work on.


A pretty amazing year…

With only a day and a half left I have been reflecting quite a bit lately and have to admit that this year was probably one of my most enjoyable in the past 16 years in the Education Game. My class was small with on 15. Although only one was a native English speaker there was no language barrier and every one of the class (they are 10 year olds) spoke at least 2 languages fluently and I had one wee lass who spoke French, German, Polish and her English and Chinese are getting pretty good too!

So how has the year been? Highlights? Successes? Achievements?

Code Club got started up and I have got many students from Year 1 – 11 interested in Coding. I am in no way an expert, more someone who has an interest, but maybe one of these students will get hooked and be a coder of the future.

For the first time in my career I was a tutor teacher and my teaching assistant completed her teacher training and has been an amazing asset and friend as well as making me think reflectively constantly.

I got my first Makey Makey – SO MUCH FUN!Makey Makey

I got to play with Lego NXT robots and ran several 10 week sessions with high school students. As each lesson progressed my knowledge grew and so did the passion and enjoyment of each student.

I tried out for the ADE 2015 intake and although I missed out it was the most reflective thing I have ever undertaken.

With a colleague we started an after school Touch Rugby team and entered many under 13 tournaments. We lost, then lost again and lost many more times, until our final tournament in Suzhou where we left with the winners trophy.

Awesome School Trip to Anhui where we stayed at a monastery and picked tea and grew as a class.

For a bit of fun I took a Year 1 robotics class for a few weeks using Bee Bots – So much Bee Botsfun and a lot of opportunities to develop students understanding of beginner robotics.

Taking part in Beverly Ladd’s 24 Hour Skype-a-thon was pretty epic.

I rekindled my love of blogging after a years absence and I hope to keep it up for the rest of my teaching career.

Although there have been many more it was yesterday, in the second to last day of term when I knew that the year had been a success. I showed the class a quick slide show of the year, the events, the students who have left, what we have done and what we achieved and then said “You now get the opportunity to share your highlights of the year. I do not mind how you share and you have until you think you are ready”.

Organised Chaos of Creation

Organised Chaos of Creation

Students scrambled off to create posters and slideshows and speeches and movies and booklets and animations. They worked individually, in pairs and in threes. They were focused and determined and collaborative and creative. They worked collaboratively and independently. The class was a mess of play dough, coloured card, kids on bean bags, crayons and felts, lego mini-figures and focused kids. In short it showed me that I had helped instill in my students the skills that I think they need to have, the mindsets that are essential for their learning development and as a bonus – They were all smiling!

So here is one of the animations. Some of it may not make sense, but the creativity of these two girls from two very different cultures and backgrounds just makes me feel proud to have been their teacher.

Class Panorama

When you have everything just fall into place

I have taught a Lego Robotics Club for the past year as an after school activity and there have been good times and bad. There have been the great successes and aha moments, but they have been overpowered with lack of space and resources or havingMondstorms - Smiles kids who do not really want to be there.

Today was the beginning of a new session of ASAs and I had a senior student group of 17 kids. I was a bit worried, but I was prepared. I booked my classroom as the venue and made sure that there was enough resources to cover the group -living in China has it’s benefits and Taobao is one of them as I was able to pick up two new NXT Mindstorms sets quickly at a really cheap cost and no importing hassles. I collected a series of inspirational clips from YouTube showing what can be done with Mindstorms and WeDo and off we went.

I must say that it was a huge success and even though I could have used another kit or Makey Makey Pacmantwo it was clear through the engagement of the students that all is good. They were enthusiastic, questioned, worked together and built. When the groups of 3-4 began to look like they were too big I pulled out the Makey Makey kit for its first exposure to the students and they were wowed. Tea light candles became the buttons for Pacman and there was laughter and a whole new round of wows and aha moments. The board in the back ground continuously screened mammoth lego machines in action and there were sighs and cries of ‘Nooo…’ when I informed them it was time to pack up.

Additionally, this was the first time that I had had girls sign up for the club and they Mindstorms - Girls at workwere into it and more focused.

Next week – complete building and begin learning about programming. My main goal is to keep them focused and enthusiastic, but I feel that a few Makey Makey challenges will suit the purpose and do the job.

End result – 17 students developing an interest in Robotics and computer science and one teacher feeling very pleased about how his club went.

Here is their favourite of the motivational clips…

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A quick lego hack to save a few dollars

I always like the idea of taking something and hacking it into another and as you may know I am a Lego geek. After playing with lego gears and motors from the WeDo set I cam across the video below and it looked like a pretty fun way to try and create something new for a virtually no price.

Small gearTake a 50cent motor from your electronics resources, a peg to star technic connector, a small gear and a hot glue gun and a AA power source. Glue the peg to the drive shaft of the motor and make sure that it sets straight. Wait five minutes and you have a mIMG_0218otor. Now the motor is very simple and a bit too powerful, but I am sure that with a bit of gearing down you can make it work quite nicely.

It is as good as a store bought motor? No, but it is always a lot more fun and rewarding when you make it yourself.

Watch the video below and give it a go or show your class and let them have a go :)