Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Reverse Key

Tony Ryan's 'Reverse Key' uses words such as cannot, never and would not e.g. list things you would never/cannot,would not see.
When you are planning a unit, include a Reverse key

  • Healthy food Unit: Name 10 things you would not put on a sandwich?
  • Earthquake: What are some of the things you cannot do in an earthquake?
  • Zoo: Name 10 zoo animals that cannot live in your house
  • Weather: what are 6 things you would not do in a storm
Or use this key as a reading activity
  • Charlotte's Web: List 10 things Charlotte would never do?
  • Where the Wild Things are: List 6 things that the Wild Things would not do?
  • Fairytales: What 5 things could Snow White/Cinderella/ Rapunzel never do?
These answers could be completed as a collaborative group activity, adding ideas to a mindmapping diagram (such as as Kidspiration or Inspiration, or online mindmapping software such as .

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Computer labs and Management

After observing countless lab lessons and taking a few myself, there are a few strategies I would suggest teachers put in place

  1. Control signals to get attention
  2. Repetition
  3. Organisation of sites and links

1. It is important that all students will stop when you make a certain signal. You would use this when you want to demonstrate the same thing to everybody. The signals could be a clapping pattern or a voice pattern such as "hands off...look at me'. For older students I tend to use "thank you...looking at me". Then you should stop and wait until all students are looking at you, if they don't I would say "Oh dear, not everybody is looking at me, let's try again..." The common mistake I see teachers make is that they continue to shout instructions to the class while they are all still talking. Once you gain a few students attention, make the comment "Well done Johnny, your eyes are on me..." etc and soon all the students will be looking your way. If it has taken a long time to get their attention, then I would say once they are all looking at me "That was a bit slow, let's try that again, turn back to your computers...hands off, looking at me". Believe it or not, this works! Kids will respond to what you want them to do if you have set the rules and if you keep the same rules and routines constant.

2. As stated before, repetition works. If you keep to the same constant routines of behaviour in the computer lab, all your lessons will go smoothly. SO, make sure the students know what the attention signals are. For more tips on successful computer lessons click on this link 'Going to the computer lab'

3. For younger children particularly, I like to have the links organised through a hyperlinked PowerPoint or Keynote. These links will lead to the Website, game or file I have saved on the network. Students will need to know where to find the file, so make that clear at the start of the lesson, and how to put PowerPoint into Slideshow so that the links work. For older children you could have Class Delicious site organised with all the links to the websites they need to visit, categorised under curriculum areas, topics, or even Group names.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Keyboarding, projectors and PowerPoint

This is a PowerPoint slideshow that has different keyboard letters on each page. The first day you introduce this you would look at the home keys. Students will need to practice those for a couple of weeks. Once they have mastered the home keys then I would start introducing one letter at a time. Depending on how well the children have mastered the letter will decide when the next letter will be taught. These are drills that can be practiced when students come to the computer lab.

Oral Language and PowerPoint

A great activity for starting off the day is to timetable 3 children every morning to open up a PowerPoint that has links to

Those three children find something on those sites to report back to the rest of the class.

The next day three other children have a turn. I like the students to do this before school starts.

Handwriting, projectors and PowerPoint

I have prepared Handwriting examples for a class using the font Jarman. If you prepare all your handwriting lessons like this then you will always have them available. I have created them in PowerPoint. They can then be projected onto the screen for the children to copy out. Modelling how the letters are written can be done over the projection or on another whiteboard. I also like to have an individualised handwriting programme for my students so the separate PowerPoint slides can be printed out and laminated so you have class sets of the cards.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Spelling, PowerPoint and hyperlinking

Create your week of spelling activities in PowerPoint. I like to use PowerPoint because I can hyperlink to websites and files on my computer. In this example I have listed the topic words for the week. Students who have access to the computers can type out this list 3 times and it is projected on the screen for the rest of the class to copy into their books. There is a hyperlink below that to a website called Look, Cover, Write and Check. You can type in your word list and be tested online. This is a great activity for fast finishers and for children who need some incentive to learn their words.
This next activity has been created in Jigzone. Upload a photo to Jigzone, set the number of pieces and save it. I created these images in PowerPoint by typing in all the words, rearranging them, inserting a shape behind them, grouping all the images and then right clicking to use the option 'Save as Picture'. Then I uploaded the image to Jigzone. I could then hyperlink the image I had made from PowerPoint to the jigsaw I had made.

This activity has been created in Inspiration and has been saved as a file to my computer. So all I had to do was hyperlink to the file from PowerPoint.