“That was you wasn’t it Mr Stogdale?”

It seems my almost magical ability to conjure up a pirate to give us clues about his buried treasure only held the Year 6s attention while I went through the process. As soon as we had found the gold the questions started:

“Was that Morfo?”

“Which app did you use?”

“Can we make some?”

Yes it was, yes you can make some and we are using

I had created a set of four Auras that led the viewer to draw a cross on a map to show where the treasure  lay. It was a simple task but I wanted to show them the basics of what was possible. If you would like to follow the directions simply draw a rough map on a large piece of paper and put the trigger pictures in the positions you can see. (downloadable to print out and cut out below). Find my public channels (username is spiketown) from within the app and then choose the Pirate one. It will load my auras for you and away you go.

I actually worked with two classes today as part of the support that they buy me in for, helping the teachers and children to develop their use of the iPad minis (they have one each) to improve their learning.

The first class already had a maths task in hand when I came in, identifying properties of shapes around the school by photographing them. We augmented this task by turning their photos into Morfos which explained why a right angle was a right angle. The final step was to create a set of playing cards for each child. On these they drew unusual symbols that triggered each of the auras. It was a bit of a mashup of ideas but I wanted to try and use what they were already doing to give the task context.

The upper KS2 class were open to whatever I wanted to do so once I had finished the demo they made a simple aura for themselves based on a pirate Morfo (school topic is Pirates if you hadn’t guessed!). Once they had been through the process they began to plan a treasure hunt using triggers around school for a ‘real life’ treasure hunt. They are planning to use the Year 2s as guinea pigs to test them on.

I discussed with the teacher how the auras could be used to add detail to a display, allowing the artist to describe how they made a particular piece of work – this promotes reflective thinking in the children and this in turn supports their deeper understanding.

Pictures are below for your own attempt!


Xmas fun and frolics

photo-25We’ve had nearly 300 children through the doors over the last few days, mainly 5 year olds but a cohort of Y5 and Y6 did a one off day today around science.

It has been interesting to watch the children get to grips with iOS devices so quickly. Sessions for the very young were barely 20 minutes and today each group had little over half an hour on each activity. The pads were used with the young children to scan QR codes on reindeer stables (which appeared on the walls around the cafe area). Each scan produced an audio track describing a letter that the young children had to recognise and write down. After scanning four stables they had the letters to a Christmas word that would help solve a magic spell to retrieve Santa’s sack. The teacher running that session showed the children how to use the QR scanner app and then click on the audio file. The IT element of this melted away after the first scan as they raced to the next clue to be found and repeated the procedure. The focus was very much on the objective.

Today’s group were exploring the senses and Mrs J led groups to develop short animations (that’s right, understand the concept, learn the software and then make something in less than half an hour – no problem). We used Animation Desk as the app of choice and the results can be sen below. It costs a couple of quid but if you want to do animation simply and in a range of ways then we found it very easy to use and very versatile.

Recording history

What a fab day with Zetland Primary school.


The Year 6 class have been doing lots of work with the regeneration team here in Redcar and Cleveland and today they were given the opportunity to bury a Time Capsule beneath one of the iconic buildings that the council has been building.
The Hub is a striking new addition to the Redcar seafront and aims to house digital, innovative businesses when it opens next year. The children have been working for several weeks to decide what they will put in the capsule and today was the big day. Alongside dignitaries from the council and the contractors who worked to get the building from concept to reality, the children were very much part of the ceremony. You can hear what they buried and why by using this QR code:

We aimed to use the iPods to record the day. One thing that often happens when children go on school trips is that they use digital cameras to record everything. From experience I find that you end up with sd cards full of photos. What I wanted the children to do today was focus their capturing (or data hoovering as previous readers of this blog will recognise), capturing with purpose if you like. So I briefed the children before we went, they were asked to create a four cell strip design that would give them four photos to take at significant moments. Furthermore they were expected to put a text box on each picture at the time of taking it, something that they could edit when they got back to school. In practice this worked really well and the children actually spent the time when they were waiting to go to the regeneration centre to start adding more detail to their annotation.
So, asking them to focus on the key moments of what they were part of really focussed the work that they produced and gave them an excellent starting point to develop their writing about the event. In a wider sense it is like asking the children to read a text with a particular focus in mind, they were simply reading the situation with a focus in mind. They will be adding their work to their own blog in the next few days and I will link to it then.
Much of their work is also going to be accessed via QR codes that will be dotted around the outside of the building area for the foreseeable future.

Being part of the future today

Just a quick link here to some work that we have been doing at Zetland Primary. They have been using their ipods in Y5&6 to develop work about the regeneration of the seafront which includes the Hub, the Pier and the new leisure facilities. Working with Anne Simpson who co-ordinates the Redcar Regeneration education and engagement programme, pupils have been on site visits, developed their own flyers and worked on ideas for a Time Capsule. The fact that they have been out and about plenty has meant that the ipod touches are a god send as they can hoover up any information or create work while outside the traditional classroom. Their blog is here:

Although broken up for the Summer holiday I know they have big plans for more work including a QR trail along the seafront, all ready for production September.

Check out the WHY? section of the blog to see the videos of how Redcar is transforming.

Bringing History to Life

Dormanstown Primary have a wonderful new building to work in following its official opening a few weeks ago. ICT has been a constant focus in the school and the staff are continually trying to use new and engaging technology to support the children’s learning. The pictures below are taken from a flyer that Year 4 produced based on the history of Dormanstown. They used the iPods that were loaned from our Centre and the expertise that the children gained from our little QR code project (see below) to achieve some really interesting results. I’ve taken some screen shots from the flyer they produced.

QR trails

Having had a week away from the school I was eager to try and follow up on the story trails that they had begun to write a fortnight ago. The teacher had certainly kept is eye on the ball and the children had made decent pictures to “Morfo-ise”. One lad had even made an avatar in WeeMee and then drawn it on paper. Today’s main task was therefore to get the Morfo story snippets uploaded and connected to QR codes.

The process that we have employed is to use the free web space associated with the Microsoft 365 mail service that teachers and, where requested, students in our LA have got. It allows 7Gb of storage which can be private, accessed by named individuals or even made public. By uploading our Morfos to hat space, we can make them public and then create a QR code. It isn’t as straightforward as that though. The Skydrive app (Skydrive is the name for this storage area on the account) has never managed to upload a file for me from an iOS device. So to circumnavigate this issue the children emailed their Morfos to themselves (the generic accounts they’re using for this project that are set up as the mail app on he devices). Once emailed they then open the mail account on a computer, download the pics to the hard drive then upload hem to the skydrive. It is a bit of a long winded workaround but it is the solution that works. Many of the children found the process complicated and got “lost” half way through even with very clear steps written on the board to refer to. However, with some support (both from teachers and one or two of the lads who really got the process clear in their heads), all the children managed to get their Morfos uploaded and linked to a QR code. I can only suggest that with a couple of repetitions of the process through further tasks the children will feel comfortable with the steps that they must go through…we shall see. I have include below a complete set of codes from one child. I must admit I haven’t actually scanned each one myself before posting hem but this blog seeks to be open and honest about what works and what doesn’t so have a look and see how he did as his first attempt.

Right, I’ve now had a look at the codes posted and made sure they were the right ones from a complete set. As a story they work, they are continuous, however as a successful outcome of the task they need work.

The children either made avatars in WeeMee or drew, then photographed them. This is fine and in this case the character fits, however in most of the examples they created the character was in no way connected to the story, which I think would need addressing in future work. It adds a whole level of character focus that a traditional story doesn’t get to do, focussing on the narrator themselves.

Also, out of the nine stories that we created only one adds a line at the end of each video as to the location of the next code. I think when planning this work in future we will start with a map of the school or a planning sheet that identifies the last line of each part of the story (which says where to go next) before writing each part. If we don’t make that a focus, what is the point of doing it as a trail? Obviously, the children have not had chance to review these trails themselves and hopefully they will identify some of the problems as well. I think it is also important to make sure that telling the story is the important bit, not the adding of funny voices which make it impossible to hear what is going on.

This was their first real attempt though so I am not at all unhappy with the outcome, a major part of learning is to review what has been done and improve it with the guidance of the teacher and this really focusses the writer on how the audience will react to their writing.

Story Trails

The QR work with gifted and talented lads from one of our primaries has had a few interruptions but has continued well. The lads are fully able to use the qr generator and understand the idea of hosting the media that the codes point to in the cloud. So we can now use this knowledge to create some interesting tasks. The picture above shows good old pencil and paper. These are the story notes and plans for a four part story (based on a traditional tale or completely imaginary) that the children will read out via a character created on Morfo. A qr code will be generated to point to each Morfo (hosted on the children’s Skydrive) which will form a four part set. The children have planned where the codes will be laid around school so that somebody can follow them to follow the story. To make this possible they have included a direction at the end of each part of the story. So, for example, at the end of the first Morfo the character may say, “Now go to the bench on the quiet area for the next part of the story.”

Once the stories are complete the children will be asked to accompany some Year 1 children around the “story course” to evaluate how well the story worked (too long, too short, not descriptive enough?). This will inform the next task that they will be asked to do which will be based around a multiple choice story. School has a PD day next week so we won’t find out the results of this task until then.

Making the Links

Had a great day working with some children from a primary. I will be with them each Friday for the whole of this half term to experiment with using QR codes to stimulate writing. Our little of group of 9 boys, from Y3-5 are using ipods and laptops to create qr codes that can be used for stories or information. Last Friday was the second week and was the first opportunity for the children to make their own based on an object that they had created. They were shown how to use Morfo and made some very quick video clips. We talked around why videoing ourselves might not be appropriate and I was very impressed with their understanding of what the implications are of posting images of yourself to the web. Soooo, they made the video clips, uploaded them to their skydrives and then used to create the qrs. Despite a few issues over access to the skydrive, most of the children achieved the task.

Seems a bit pointless (if you scan the example – what use is that!!!?). But it shows how easily we can make objects, creatures, famous people come to life and “play” with the children. The best example I have done so far is with another school where the children used qr codes to navigate around the National Railway Museum in York (free WiFi – hooray!):

The virtual guide kept the children on task for hours. We are aiming to move this on at the school in the coming weeks with a story written in several parts, each part revealing where the next code will be in the school grounds. They have outside wifi which is a massive bonus. Will post as we make further progress.