Studyzone.tv Blog

Welcome to the blog of Studyzone.tv. This blog will include posts on the use of technology in the classroom, teaching in general and tutorials on how to make the most of www.studyzone.tv.

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If only they knew their times tables...

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I'm sure we've all said this before, perhaps at the end of a lesson on fractions, or percentages, or ratio, or algebra, or word problems, or arithmetic, or...the list goes on. It's clear to anyone who has been teaching for anything more than a week or so that a secure knowledge of times tables facts is one of the most important things a child can have to support them in their mathematical understanding. Yet how much time do we actually spend teaching times tables facts, especially as children get older? Of course, times tables knowledge begins with the concept of repeated addi... (Read More)

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Grammar Within the Interim Teacher Assessment Framework

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Whatever internal system you use for assessing writing, come May year 6 teachers will be using the Interim Teacher Assessment Framework to decide whether a child is 'Working towards', 'Working at', or 'Working at a greater depth'. Many teachers, like myself, may already be using this to assess writing, building up an evidence base of what each child can do to support end of year assessments. However, finding out what a child can't yet do is so much more useful. A great number of the statements focus on spelling and grammar. Whilst some may argue that this is... (Read More)

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Teaching Grammar

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How do you teach grammar? Do you teach grammar? When I went to school, sure we were taught about capital letters and full stops and I guess someone must have spoken to me about verb tense agreement, or at least I thinked they didded! What I do know though is that I was never taught it in a formal way as is required now and I certainly never had to sit a grammar test. Schools are only a few years into the new grammar, punctuation and spelling (GPS) test so it's fair to assume that schools are still exploring the best ways of teaching these skills. Of course, close integration with readi... (Read More)

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How to code with external sensors

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If you went to school around the same time as me, you may have been lucky enough to play, I mean learn, with the amazing bigtrak robot. I can clearly remember this trundling across the carpet as we used its control panel to issue instructions. Happy days. It’s fantastic that students nowadays are doing so much coding. Free programs like Scratch make it so easy for children to learn core concepts, such as selection, repetition and the use of variables, but if we don’t also provide opportunities for students to work with external hardware, they’re missing out. Whilst BeeB... (Read More)

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How to develop user interface design with children

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Last term I was teaching my class to use some of the drawing features of Scratch so they could design, build and test their own drawing application. This was a really interesting unit to work on, as it was one of the first that didn't have a game as an outcome, but an application. We chose to have a clear audience for our work, building our programs with year 3 children in mind. Having taught the key skills of using pens and integrating buttons in Scratch, we moved away from the computer suite and turned our attention to usability; the measure of how easy an application is to u... (Read More)

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Improving mental maths skills with Studyzone

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Is there a link between questions answered on Studyzone and mental maths scores? I love statistics. I'm always poring over gap analysis spreadsheets, average marks and percentage increases. Recently I was struck by the massive improvement that a boy in year 6 had made in his mental maths scores; a key area in the forthcoming Key Stage 2 SATs tests. I decided to dig a little deeper to see what I could find. It was immediately apparent that he had really got stuck in to Studyzone games. He'd gone from answering a handful of questions each week, to hundreds. Could this have played a p... (Read More)

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How to create and use QR Codes in the classroom

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Great pace in lessons: a phrase I have heard many times before in relation to good or outstanding teaching, both from senior leaders and Ofsted alike. So how is this pace achieved without rushing? How do you move your pupils onto a task quickly without their interest dwindling? How can you simplify transitions so they run more smoothly? The use of tablet computers could well hold part of the answer. When I first broached the idea of introducing Apple iPads into my school, there were one or two colleagues who were understandably cautious. We already had an excellent computer suite with one mac... (Read More)

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Computer Coding at a Primary Level

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As a year 6 teacher and ICT Subject Leader, I am all too aware of how the term 'ICT' has become muddled over the years. Some use it to refer to an extension of a lesson: 'Let's type our stories up in ICT'. Others use it to refer to equipment: 'How are you using ICT in your lesson?'. Some use it to refer to an explicit subject: 'This afternoon we're doing ICT'. However, even as an isolated subject, the muddying of the term has resulted in less and less explicit teaching of computing skills. By replacing ICT with Computing, a clear message is be... (Read More)

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Running an After School Mental Maths Club

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Every year I run an after school mental maths club for children in year 6. It started off as part of our intervention in the lead up to SATs and proved to be really successful. As a result, we've done it every year since. Although this year we've got a smaller group than usual, in the past we've had between 20 and 30 children staying behind after school for an hour to practice mental maths. So how have we managed to keep them there? I'd say there are three main reasons: make it fun, keep it fast paced and of course, include sweets! Here are some top tips if you're thin... (Read More)

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What can your children achieve in 5 minutes?

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I try and use every single minute of every single day. Recently I have been having a real push on times tables, but it can be difficult to justify giving time to this in maths lessons, especially when different children are learning very different times tables. I have found a slot that works well though; the time it takes me to take the register in the morning. This allows plenty of time for children to consolidate their understanding and revise new tables. With just 5 weeks to go before Christmas, I have decided to launch a 5 minute challenge to my children:   How many times ta... (Read More)

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Programming Flappy Bird in Scratch - A Guide

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This week I've been working on resources for www.studyzone.tv for the programming aspect of the new computing curriculum. It's been great fun and has really taken me back to my degree in computing. I've found it especially interesting to see that many of the terms and concepts I will be teaching my class in September are the same terms and concepts I was being taught at university. As part of my work this week, I couldn't resist building a version of Flappy Bird in the excellent Scratch software that many schools up and down the country will be using. The game is fully comm... (Read More)

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Rolling Out Mobile Devices So They Actually Get Used

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All too often, expensive IT equipment is left in cupboards gathering dust. In the past it may have been Digital Blue cameras and microscopes, or more recently, webcams and Lego robots. But most recently I’m sorry to say it can be iPads or other expensive tablet computers. I have been reminded of this fact yet again recently as I spoke to two teachers from different schools regarding their rather large stock of tablet computers. There’s no denying their eagerness for the technology or their enthusiasm to share ideas with their team, but despite this the devices are getting very lit... (Read More)

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