A Series of Unfortunate Events

I bought a house just over 2 years ago.  I really love it, its pretty much perfect for me, but it seems to be one calamity after another.  Over the last three years, on top getting the house settled into and a run of smaller disasters, I’ve had a series of unfortunate events.

I have had to replace the roof on the extension where the kitchen is, sort out a broken down boiler and then on Boxing Day I came downstairs to a drip in the living room coming from the ceiling above.  It turns out that I had a waterfall coming from my hot water tank.  After an emergency call out from a heating and plumbing and engineer to stop the leaking (and dripping) I’m without heating and hot water for a week while I wait for the holidays to be over.  Its not too bad though because my mum and dad live just a mile away and I have some little electric heaters too.

Sometimes I really hate being a grown up and having to sort out things.  I would rather not phone insurance companies, get quotes from builders, research what exactly is going on with my house and try to understand things like plumbing and building.  I’d also really like someone else to be the one responsible for paying the bills.  But I am a grown up.  This is my responsibility.  I’ve caught myself a few times lately saying “its a good thing I’m resilient.”

It’s true.  It is a good thing that I am resilient. If I wasn’t my house could well have fallen down round me by now.  In my series of unfortunate events I have had to pick myself up every time, work out what my plan of action is and just keep going.  My faith is one of the things that gives me strength in times like this, I know its all going to be ok and that I don’t need to panic.  Even though that’s particularly hard because I’m a real panicker.

Its got me thinking about my class though.  They need to be resilient.  When things go wrong in my life I usually, google the problem, read up on it, phone experts, get advice, get it sorted.  I didn’t know anything about roofing before I had a major leak in my roof.  I didn’t know anything about heating systems and boilers until my boiler broke down and it had to be sorted.  I did have the skills needed to find out more though and the strength and resilience to not fall apart at the seams, even it seemed that my house was.

No one teaches you how to be a grown up.  When I’ve been thinking about what we teach in schools and how that prepares children for adult life. I have decided that there are two vital skills that we can’t afford our children to miss out on.

The skill of finding out what we need to know. There is no way we can teach them all the knowledge they will need but we can teach them how to find out what they need to know, and how to be discerning in choosing what to believe in a sea of facts and opinions.

Resilience.  No one is going to sort out my problems for me. Yes I have a great family and friends supporting me and journeying with me but they aren’t going to do everything for me.  I need to have the strength to battle through the tough times.  I can’t just give up.  Neither can the children I teach.

No one teaches you how to be an adult but if you have the skills to find out what you need to know and that strength and resilience to see things through then you’ll be ok.




Augmented reality in Foundation Stage -Quiver

Last week was the end of Term One. A busy term, with lots going on. The last week of term was no different, whole school trip to the cinema, school Christmas concerts and visit from Santa to name a few things! 
It’s a time to do nice things with the class, things that are a bit different and a bit fun as a little bit of the pressure is off and the children respond really well to special activities. It’s not throwing out the learning it’s about putting the learning into something different to make Christmas in school a bit special for the pupils. 

My last post was about using AR to make and elf hunt around the school. Another thing that I used was the app Quiver. I printed off some of the Christmas themed colouring pages and used them as one of the play activities this week. The pupils loved it, I ended up having to send blank pages home with a note for parents about how to get and use the app because the pupils wanted to show their parents. 

We all had a bit of fun with Quiver. The pupils really loved it and we’re so engaged. I’m looking forward to see how else I can use AR in the classroom after Christmas, but quiver was an excellent introduction to it for my pupils! 


A little Christmas Magic

I love the possibilities for creating magic for children using technology. A little bit of wonder and excitement in a busy and sometimes stressful time of year in school goes a long way! 

I used Doink greenscreen along with iMovie to create a video for my class, showing that Santa came to our school over the weekend. The elves were bustling about in the corridors, Santa was in the playroom and the reindeer were dancing on the table!  I’ve never seen children so excited. Even my very shy, withdrawn child was shouting and laughing at what was air playing to the whiteboard from my iPad. In my class we used that 2 minute video as a stimulus for writing our letters to Santa. 

Then the other classes in Foundation Stage heard about it and asked for help making their own similar videos… Reindeer have been dancing all over school now!

That was fun for the pupils, but was made for them so my next bit of Christmas magic will be much more interactive. I’m taking a step up from green screening into Augmented Reality. Now I’m very new to this, but I think it should work. 

I’m using the app Aurasma to create auras around my school. Basically spots of magic. You take a photo in the app and that becomes the trigger. Then you choose an overlay, the magic that will appear. So my first one is an elf throwing and catching presents. 

When you scan the trigger image with the camera in the aurasma app, the overlay magically appears. You save your auras into channels, public so the children have access to them. 

This little bit of magic made up of a trigger image and overlay is called an aura. You can even get into the shot too and take a picture. 

I’m going to put ten auras around the school on the ground floor. Things like snow falling, reindeer, elves and penguins. I’m going to mark the area with a small laminated picture of an elf. That’s the Elf Hunt set up. 
For class I have made an iBook with Book Creator called “we’re going on an Elf Hunt!” Loosely it follows the same pattern as “we’re going on a bear hunt.” Which is a familiar story for them. I used graphics from pixabay so they are all copyright free images. If you’d like to use the book you can get a copy here as an ePub file. If you download it on an iPhone or iPad and can’t open it,  email it to yourself as an attachment then you can open it in iBooks easily.

After reading this the children will go round the school in small groups with an iPad each looking for the small elf markers. Once the pupils see an elf they will scan around the area with the iPads open in aurasma to find the magic. 

Then when everyone has had a chance to do that they we can collectively add some more pages to the iBook using Book Creator. Or create a new book on our elf hunt. 

A bit magical, very purposeful and a whole lot of fun!