Welcome to the blog. As of September 2011 we became part of the Sheffield City Council eLearning Team, and now work with all the schools across the city. This blog will no longer be updated, but will remain live as an archive of the projects we have done over the years.
There is also a wiki for sharing resources and ideas for teaching computing to pupils with special needs and disabilities: http://sencomputing.wikispaces.com/
The new Sheffield ILS eLearning Team website is up and running now at www.sheffieldclc.net – this will tell you a little more about who we are, what we do, and where to find us. This blog will no longer be regularly updated, instead I’m moving to an integrated blog on the website (Blogs > Special Schools Blog). Please come and visit us there!
From April this year my main responsibility in the new eLearning Team for Sheffield City Council has been working with the Special Schools in Sheffield. We have 7 Special Schools signed up to our service for 2012-2013, which is great news. Across these schools, there has been a lot of interest in the use of touchscreen tablets with SEN learners, as they are very accessible and have a number of uses – for example as communication aids or tools for independent exploration of cause and effect. So far we have been concentrating on the iPad, as there are many excellent (and free) apps available. In future I hope to trial some LearnPads too, which use Android as their operating system, and are more affordable.
During the summer holidays I’ve been working on two documents for our schools, as it seems that iPads are often used without much structure and purpose. The first document maps iPad apps to P Levels in ICT, so for example at P1 a student may show a simple reflex response to a music app like Magic Piano when played loudly next to them. At P4 a student can use ChoiceBoard Creator to indicate a preference, whereas at P8 they may be able to use Pic Collage to create a collage of their images with some text to present information.
The second document looks at Motor Skill Development using iPad Apps. These range from gross targeting using Pocket Pond to letter formation in ABC Phonics Animal Writing, to complex pinch and rotate gestures with multiple digits to create patterns in Somantics.
Both documents are very much works in progress, and I’m looking forwards to working with teachers and students to see how they can aid learning and development.
I worked with four different phase two classes from Seven Hills School before Easter to help them bring alive their topic on World War II. Each class chose a different aspect of the war and wrote a script for a short film. We filmed using the green screen, both at the CLC and in school, and added voiceovers, backgrounds and music. The finished films were:
- 2BT – Evacuation
- 2SM – The Blitz: with information on the different types of shelters.
- 2DS – D Day: including poems written by the pupils.
- 2JL – Rationing: with dishes cooked by the students based on wartime recipes.
Using the green screen was a great way to put the students into an era very different to their own, and helped them to understand how life was for young people at the time.
A year 7/8 class from Talbot Specialist School bought a Sheffield legend to life this term through animation and artwork. Lizzie the elephant was used by T W Ward and Co scrap metal dealers during the First World War, to replace horses that were conscripted by the military. The Talbot class brought to life a number of stories about Lizzie, using stop-motion animation.
The students worked really hard on the film, recording the voice-over, writing the titles, drawing the backgrounds and models, animating the stories, and finally editing the film. We were also very lucky to find the perfect soundtrack, a song called “Lizzie Wards Elephant” by a songwriter called Steve Birks (you can see his MySpace page here). He very kindly gave permission for the song to be used in the film.
For more information about Lizzie’s story, see the Sheffield Jungle page on the University website.
Sorry for the long hiatus in posts on the blog, but I have returned from maternity leave and have lots of exciting things to blog about already. On the 28th January I travelled down to Leicester for a TeachMeet with a SEN focus. A TeachMeet is essentially a load of teachers (and other educators) getting together to talk about great stuff they’ve done in the classroom, often with technology, but not always.
It was really nice to meet face-to-face some of the people I follow on Twitter, and whose blogs I read. Here are just some of the things I learnt:
- Tony Shepherd (@grumbledook) showed a video about using iPads with visually impaired learners. The accessibility features are very useful, for example the screen reader with the Pages app; Documents to Go with a magnifier; voiceover on the scientific calculator.
- Bev Evans (@bevevans22) mentioned Befuddlr.com which creates jigsaw puzzles from images uploaded to Flickr. She also showed a great video of a Beebot’s eye view – using a Flip camera, gorilla tripod and tape.
- Mary Farmer (@ebd35) showed some great films made by a couple of boys in her class who really don’t like writing, but loved telling a story to accompany their drawings – using an iPhone to record the audio and take photos of the drawings, then putting them together in iMovie. These can be viewed here.
- Marc Faulder uses Kinect games, like Kinectimals, to support physical literacy amongst his pupils. He also uses the Kinectimals app for the iPad in order to practise fine motor skills. His blog is at http://enablingenvironments.posterous.com.
I gave a presentation about using animation to support literacy, based on the work I’ve done with the Sheffield special schools. Here is a link to my presentation: Using animation to support literacy.
Thanks to Jo Badge (@jobadge) and Josie Fraser (@josiefraser) for organising. All of the resources and presentations will be posted on a mini-site soon. I’ll link to it as soon as it goes live.
So, what’s this competition all about?
The Showroom Workstation, The Childrens University, Red Tape Central (SVC), Sheffield Theatres and Channel 4 are working together on this exciting competition which will give you the chance to make a documentary film with the experts!
The most successful entrants will see their entry screened at the Showroom before an audience of industry professionals on Monday 24th October. You will also be offered a place on a four day Mobile Movie Workshop held at the Showroom and Red Tape Central from 25th – 28th October 2011 (during the half-term holiday) when you will work through from pre to post production to plan, film and edit your very own documentary!
The films from the workshops will be showcased in the Mobile Movie Finals at Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema on at 11am on Saturday 5th November when each member of the team producing the winning film will receive a Toshiba Camileo S20 Full HD 1080p Camcorder!
The closing date for submissions is the 18th September 2011. The entries will the be judged by an industry panel and the winners notified by email and post by Friday 7th October.
So, if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a bit of a filmmaker or have ambitions to become the next David Fincher or Steven Spielberg, this could be just what you need to get noticed by the right people and start to make your dreams a reality!
CLICK HERE <http://www.sheffield-mobile-movie.co.uk/> to visit the Sheffield Mobile Movie website for more details!
Hold on, did someone mention Channel 4?
That’s right! The Sheffield Mobile Movie competition is part of Channel 4’s Inspiration Week. All entrants to the Sheffield Mobile Movie competition are invited to register for the Sheffield Channel 4 open day, taking place on Saturday 17th September. The Channel 4 Inspiration event will then take place on Monday 24th October. Details of this event can be found HERE.
OK, great! What do I have to do to enter?
All you have to do is make a documentary style movie on your mobile phone between 1 and 2 minutes in length and upload it at the Sheffield Mobile Movie website HERE. <http://www.sheffield-mobile-movie.co.uk/>
The subject of your Mobile Movie can be anything that inspires you, from sport to music or anything in between. All they ask is that you are between 14-19 years old, are currently attending a Sheffield school and that your finished film complies to the BBFC ‘U’ certificate, details of which can be found HERE. <http://www.bbfc.co.uk/classification/guidelines/u/>
I want to get started, how long have I got?
You can upload your Mobile Movie right away! The closing date for submissions is the 18th September 2011. The entries will the be judged by our industry panel and the winners notified by email and post by Friday 7th October 2011. Please note that the judge’s decision is final.
I’m still not sure what I have to do, can I contact anyone?
No problem, just visit the website HERE
<http://www.sheffield-mobile-movie.co.uk/index.php?option=com_contact1> and use our contact form. The Sheffield Mobile Movie Team will get back to you as soon as they can.
We are now working as part of a city-wide eLearning Team, with the primary ICT consultants and colleagues from the other CLCs in the city. The South CLC based on the site of Newfield School will remain open, and we hope to continue working with our partnership schools, and those across the city, in the new academic year.
Meanwhile I’m off on maternity leave, starting tomorrow, but I’m hoping you will still be updated on our projectson the blog by the rest of the staff here. Thankyou to all our readers, I hope to be back in 2012!
Two year 6 classes from Bradway School spent a full day each at the CLC to animate the traditional Japanese stories they had been learning about in class. The students had also being studying Manga comics, and each group created some fantastic 2D characters, props and sets for the animations. They were the most ambitious characters I’ve seen at the CLC, with a huge number of moving parts, with different eyes, mouths and profiles. I was very impressed with how the students managed to keep track of all the bits and use them to full effect in their films.
Once again the difficulties of animating enough action to match the scripts came to the fore. The problem partially lies in recording the voice-over separately, rather than straight onto the animation, but this isn’t really practical. However I think that any problems like this teach the pupils a lot, and they hopefully will be very aware of the issue for future animations.
Here are some of my favourites from the sessions (I just love the Windy Bride story!):
The year 1 class from St Thomas of Canterbury attended the CLC in two halves this past couple of weeks in order to animate the stories they had been learning in lessons. The first half animated The Gruffalo, each group taking one or scenes to work on. These were all put together at the end with the voiceover recorded in class. We used the software Zu3D, as it is very easy to use and primary friendly, with the ability to add titles and audio to the animation without having to export it into another application. The pupils worked really hard to get the animations completed in a morning, although we had the common problem of struggling to have enough action to fit the voice-over. This is where one of the Zu3D features is particularly useful – the frame rate slider means you can quickly reduce the number of frames per second, in order to slow the film down.
The second half of the class animated a Funny Bones story which you can see below.