Spiral is a clever suite of free collaborative web apps for everyday learning activities across all subjects and age ranges. The apps work on any internet enabled device and no app download is required. They are especially useful if your students have a device each. There are four different apps: Quickfire, Team Up, Discuss and Clip.
Quickfire is designed for question and answer activities enabling you to get real-time responses from every pupil. We were impressed by how easy it is for students to access questions and answer them by just visiting the spiral.ac website and entering their name and a simple short code. There was no need for pupils to register on the site which is refreshing in its simplicity. Teachers can show anonymised answers on the whiteboard so that answers can be shared and compared. Teachers can quickly and very easily indicate to pupils whether their answer is satisfactory or whether they need to improve it. We haven’t used Spiral in a class situation but we can see that it is likely to make lessons engaging and collaborative.
Discuss is a powerful tool for encouraging students to share ideas with each other. Presentations can be created either from scratch or by uploading from PowerPoint. Questions and tasks for students can be added to key slides. This tool promises to engage all pupils, even those who are reluctant to contribute to class discussion. Students can be asked to contribute from their personal devices at any stage during the presentation.
Team Up is designed for students to work together in teams during one or more lessons – contributing ideas and building shared presentations in the form of slide shows or posters. It lends itself to work from individual or shared devices to create high quality outcomes.
Last but not least, Clip gets students to focus and concentrate on class videos. Simply find and play any video from Youtube and students can add comments from their devices in a live feed.
The White Rose Maths Hub could save you hours in planning your maths lessons. Designed to support the National Curriculum requirements in England, experts have put together term by term maths planning from Reception to Year 9. The great thing about it too is that the freely downloadable resources include suggested activities that meet curriculum objectives.
The Maths Hubs programme brings together mathematics education professionals in a collaborative national network of 35 hubs so there may well be other fantastic resources in your area but we think the White Rose Hub is particularly supportive.
‘Grow Your Own‘ is a new free cross-curricular education programme from the National Schools Partnership in collaboration with Heinz Tomato Ketchup. It has curriculum links to science and helps teach pupils ages 5-7 about the lifecycle of plants through having the opportunity to grow their own tomatoes. The full resource includes teacher lesson materials (including an e-story book), pupil sheets and parent information leaflets. The first 2000 schools to register will receive 124 free tomato seed packets and 120 growing pots for their classes. What a great offer!
We’ve been exploring ypte, the Young Person’s Trust For the Environment, a charity website set up for the purpose of promoting young people’s understanding of the environment and of the need for sustainability. It really is a treasure trove of fascinating and useful information. It’s an excellent website for use in either science lessons or as a non-fiction literacy resource.
The charity’s aim is to highlight environmental problems such as climate change, disappearing wildlife, pollution of soil, air and water, the destruction of rainforests and wetlands, the spread of desert regions and the misuse of the oceans.
The site has hundreds of superb resources both for primary aged children and for teenagers. Topics range from global issues such as the rainforests to those closer to home such as minibeasts in the garden. The excellent factsheets include both animal facts and environmental facts. There are downloadable lesson plans, videos and presentations for teachers and up-to-date articles on environmental news.