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Messages - Blue Square Thing

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General Discussion / Re: Advice
« on: August 16, 2013, 04:39:07 PM »
Personally I've never used either - I worry slightly that forcing one method of answering on kids leads to an inability to adapt to answering whatever question's been set and/or the different demands of different subject areas - what's appropriate in an English answer really isn't always important in a Geography one and what's important in one geography answer may be less important in another one.

I'd rather focus on teaching people how to read questions and break them down and what a generic markscheme might look like for different sorts of questions - and how it might get adapted depending on how the question's been worded. Not answering the question set - or now knowing how to answer the question set at the higher levels - is the most frequent issue in terms of mark loss. I've read many, many answers where I can tell the candidate knows what the answer is but they haven't gone far enough or otherwise done what I need them to do. That might well include not using the right sorts of case study or demonstrating case study understanding at a suitable level, *if* the question's asked for it.

General Discussion / Re: GIS help
« on: July 25, 2013, 05:23:31 PM »
Please feel free to keep commenting and BST I cant wait for the notes.

Notes are above - there's a url - you should find 2 pdf documents.

Let me know if things don't work or where they need to be clearer - these haven't been beta tested at all!

General Discussion / Re: GIS help
« on: July 25, 2013, 12:01:57 AM »
For Google Maps here's a couple of guides to the stuff I discovered today - should be usable by older kiddies I imagine as well:

The Maps Engine Lite tool - which is still in Beta fwiw - looks particularly interesting, is really easy to use and seems very easy to share with others (it will be for me anyway as we use Google Apps as our vle substitute now so all the kids have a gmail address as standard). You can't do things with images in it, but it strikes me as being well worth a look as an easy to use tool - the classic Montserrat stuff would probably work excellently in it.

There's also a little guide for Google Maps which does allow you to get images on screen - and if your chart is saved as an image then it'll let you get that on screen as well. Not perfect but, again, as a way of putting stuff on maps fairly quickly it's absolutely solid - and means you don't need GE which has some network issues in my experience. You seem to be able to do some sort of KML export with it as well but, frankly, life's too short for that!

I come at the whole "is this a GIS" debate from a different slant. I think we probably have three different specialist GIS products on our network. They're probably the least used products on it. They just seem to gather dust - when we redo our network from scratch next year I don't imagine we'll put any GIS products on it.

Google earth is there as well but is a bit of a pain to do stuff with on a network and is a bit clunky and complex at times. It has some advantages for particularly jobs but, frankly, I'll be using the Lite maps engine in September for most things.

General Discussion / Re: GIS help
« on: July 24, 2013, 08:01:10 PM »
OP suggested google maps rather than google earth - earth has some things that seem easier to do but requires GE access of course.

Depends on what's needed - I'll see what I can write up anyway, partly because if I don't then I'll forget everything I've just done :-)

General Discussion / Re: GIS help
« on: July 24, 2013, 07:09:03 PM »
Firstly: thanks. I've spent a while today playing around with all sorts of google maps and charts toys and it's been fascinating and useful. This is a Good Thing and I wouldn't have done it without this question.

I think I can do it but, I think, only if the chart is a picture which has been uploaded somewhere on the internets. If you have that then it's not too complex to do. I appreciate that that may not be the best way of doing it and someone else may have worked out a way of getting from google charts into maps properly. I haven't - although I think it must be possible; I'm probably just calling the wrong code in.

But, anyway, I think we can do it via getting the chart as an image.

Is that the sort of thing that you want?

I'll try and find time later today to write up my method of how to do this as well as a few other things I've learned along the way.

General Discussion / Re: Million Pound Drop
« on: July 20, 2013, 10:18:08 PM »
I have one at which might do the job. Sound should be embedded.

Iirc it's not fully interactive but I think it probably does the job.

You might want to take a look at the Missing Vowels round as well - probably quite good for the job you have in mind -

I should really get both of those on the same page at some point...

General Discussion / Re: ocr b sdme jun 2014
« on: July 17, 2013, 10:07:28 PM »
Yes, their website is bit odd isn't it? I hadn't really had to use it until the other day and it was all a bit bizarre. I can't work out the point of the horizontal scroll stuff at all - be fine on a band website or a funky magazine, but not really when I want to find information quickly. Doesn't even work on an iPad.

They do, however, have a quie helpful entry level computing course which makes a good way of implementing ks3 computing. Not that I think we'll ever enter children for it...

General Discussion / Re: Quick query - Definition of a map
« on: July 17, 2013, 10:41:33 AM »
There's some interesting things you can do with the idea of representation (through symbols primarily) with maps as well fwiw. Links to all sorts of design and computing ideas.

General Discussion / Re: End of Year Quiz
« on: July 14, 2013, 09:44:10 AM »
I've done a Missing Vowels round as it's an idea I've been meaning to work with for a while anyway.

Find it at

It's only for countries, but it's so easy to adapt to whatever context you want (and, hey, it's, like, countries...). I tried to make them fairly easy in the 10 per page one. You could, of course, make them much more complex if you were evil.

General Discussion / Re: Weather Homework Project
« on: July 12, 2013, 01:50:40 PM »
Podcasts are fairly easy to make and can be creative and make an excellent ICT based task - depending on exactly what your ICT Computing department does in terms of audio editing. Be a good idea to liaise with them to see when they do that sort of thing - for me it's Year 7 but I can imagine it being much later in other schools.

General Discussion / Re: New Department - advice please
« on: July 12, 2013, 11:58:48 AM »
How about making sure resources get shared at every departmental meeting - you'll probably start by sharing with your colleague and then try and encourage her to share with you.

Nothing wrong with textbooks per se btw - it's how you use them and how you dip in and out. I never gave books to kids to take home below A Level mind you - and, imo, the exam board approved textbook is a thing of utter evilness which is worth consigning to the dustbin. Lots of small sets of different ones is fine though - they just act like resource sheets that are dipped into.

The problem with lessons you describe is, I'm afraid, a problem endemic with the system just now. It can't be solved and people will continue to play the system, especially as it becomes higher stakes not to.

General Discussion / Re: Free app
« on: July 11, 2013, 09:39:26 PM »
Some good stuff in that offer.

And Angry Birds Star Wars is th free app of the week!

General Discussion / Re: New Department - advice please
« on: July 11, 2013, 04:25:44 PM »
In terms of resources, I think it depends on what you have where your priorities should lie. If, for example, all the text books are really old and full of grafitti etc... then they'd need more money spent on them. If all the maps of the world are looking rubbish then some new ones of them are a good thing. Are there enough consumables - glue, pencils etc... And is all this stuff looked after properly? That sort of boring stuff sets the tone.

Then you get the teaching right. I always wanted people to go into other people's classrooms (one way to do this is to create central stocks of resources in specific rooms so if you quickly need an atlas then you *have* to go into *that* teacher's room. It's a way of checking what's going on and feeding off each other - the "oh, that's an interesting thing you have going on on that board" moment.

You ideally want all the teaching in one area as well - that can be a major problem at times and one that, if the department has underperformed, is relatively easy to get right and is easy to justify when you go to SLT and say "I want that room and that room because I want to be able to monitor the teaching really easily because if we don't get the teaching right we'll never improve". You can work on things like room layout as well at the same time - if the desks are all in rows then that might tell you something about the types of lesson going on.

Central stocks of worksheets and so on all organised in filing cabinets are a good idea as well - a way of sharing resources, especially ones which are good. You really need to do this - I think it took about a fortnight of the first summer holiday for me to do this properly when I became a Lead Teacher years ago. And I threw out about a skip's worth of stuff that was old, tatty or just crap. Then develop loads of great new ones (and nowadays this also involves going through shared document areas and vles and getting rid of all the out of date stuff).

I'm sure that trips and stuff work as well (although tbh I could never justify anything more expensive than 50 quid myself - although 50 quid went a bit further in 1992...) but, tbh, it's the expectation of what goes on in the classroom that I think's the absolute key.

General Discussion / Re: iPads or Laptops
« on: July 10, 2013, 04:27:11 PM »
We were looking at airserver t'other day and it does seem to work - certainly with an iPhone although we've not tried it with an iPad yet - there seems no reason why it might not work. There's a trial version you can check if it works with - we need to check it works on different machines without there being any interference for example.

I find that being able to dem something really quickly to a kid using an iPad is very useful - I was showing Ivor the Engine to some the other day at the back of the room without having to change what was on my screen.

General Discussion / Re: NEW Geography GCSE Consultation
« on: July 08, 2013, 08:15:06 PM »
Having just read through the NC consultation document (the one where in general between 15 and 25% of people agree with Gove and the rest generally don't) I'm afraid I've lost all faith in the point of any government consultation document.

25% of people agreed that the NC should be disapplied from September. So they're disapplying it.

I'll leave it there. I'm so very angry tonight I'll only say something I might regret.

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