GPS tracker: i-gotU

November 5, 2009

This GPS tracker has been written about before by my counterpart at East CLC (see his post here), but I thought I’d add my own opinion too.

Essentially the tracker logs your position every 6 seconds and creates a track on Google Maps when you return and plug it into the computer.

Any photos taken on the trip can also be uploaded, added to the map and annotated – in order for these to be placed correctly, the time on the camera needs to match the time on the computer (ensure in winter that the Daylight Saving Time box isn’t checked in the software when you load the trip data). The map can then be shared on the www.a-trip.com website – either as a private trip or made public. You can see an example of mine here, which involved a walk around Chatsworth House to look at the latest Beyond Limits sculpture exhibition. As you can see the route isn’t always 100% accurate (I’m pretty sure I can’t walk on water), but considering the device was in my pocket for tha majority of the time, it did an excellent job.

Positives:

  • It’s really small, as you can see from the photo above.
  • It is simple to use, with a single button and some LED lights.
  • The software to create the map and add photos is easy to use too (see exceptions below).
  • It is retailing at £49.99 at the moment, and so is affordable for schools. (See the website for more information on where to buy.)

Negatives:

  • Sometimes it’s hard to work out if it’s waiting for satellite data or just not turned on, as you rely on the combinations of LED lights.
  • The software is great when it works, but there have been some glitches on certain computers – and it’s not clear why that is happening.
  • You sometimes need to drag the photos to the correct spot on the map, even when the time onthe camera is set properly.

In all though, the device is great, so much simpler and more reliable to use than previous devices we’ve looked at, and it seems to have some obvious educational applications, in particular documenting field trips.

One of our partnership schools, Mundella Primary, borrowed the tracker for their year 6 field trip to Eyam. Dave Shaw, the teacher who led the project, said:

“The GPS tracker was useful for the children to help recap on everything we did and saw. The photos linked to the GPS especially helped their memories. They were also able to see the ‘bigger’ picture by using the maps to look at the landscape and its uses. […] It brought the project alive!!”

We are also planning on using the tracker for a transition project at Newfield School, with year 6 pupils from their feeder schools taking a tour around the school grounds, then adding photos and descriptions of what happens at different sites.


Free Ordnance Survey Maps for Year 7s

September 4, 2009

Ordnance Survey logo

The Ordnance Survey have announced their scheme to provide a free OS Explorer Map to every year 7 pupil in the country.

“The scheme not only supports learning about geography and the environment but also helps encourage children and their families to get out and about and explore their local area. It has been praised by teachers, pupils and parents alike.”

Teachers must place their order for maps by 30 November 2009 on the Ordnance Survey free maps website: www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/freemapsfor11yearolds.

An additional resource will also be available to teachers, a booklet called The Language of Landscape, created with help from the Geographical Association.

For more information about this initiative, see the press release here.

Incidentally, the Geographical Association‘s new website is now live, Geographical Association Logowith lots of resources for geography teaching, primary and secondary: http://www.geography.org.uk/.


Sri Lanka Transition Project

July 3, 2009

Sir Harold jackson pupils

A year 6 class from Sir Harold Jackson School spent a number of sessions at the CLC this half term to work on a transition project. The original plan was to focus on French and learn about Madagascar with support from Paula Lewis at Meadowhead, but after a visit from a Sri Lankan lady to the school, we changed the focus.

The idea behind the project was to learn more  about Sri Lanka whilst sri lankan celebrationlearning new ICT skills in order to present what they had found out. They began by finding images of Sri Lanka and using Picnik to edit the photos and add text. Students also researched the weather in Sri Lanka and presented their own weather reports, using the Green Screen to add backgrounds. Finally they created comic strips using Comic Life, to write mini-interviews with imaginary residents of Sri Lanka. By the end of the project, all the students were confident in using the tools and were showing the teachers how it was done. In addition to the work on Sri Lanka, each pupil created a Glog (multimedia poster) to reflect on what they had learnt.

Sri Lanka Comic LifeAnnabel Wales, the class teacher said, “The experiences of each pupil over the past six weeks have been individual and varied. They have been in charge of their own learning and while having a great deal of fun, have learnt some incredible and very impressive new skills. These skills while mostly linked to IT and geography have also been social skills and skills which will stand them in good stead for their transition to their secondary schools […] Overall this has been an incredibly successful project for all involved.”

Paula Lewis commented, “This has been a fantastic experience all round for Weather Reportsstaff and pupils. I have seen the students gain in self-confidence through acquisition of new skills and using new applications […] Incredible thanks from me to the CLC and to Mrs Wales and all the support staff from SHJ for making this happen, and huge congratulations to the Y6 students of SHJ who have been a total inspiration.”


Glogster – Create your own multimedia posters

November 19, 2008

CLC Glog

There are hundreds of new applications appearing on the web every day, but it’s not often you find one that ticks all the boxes for educational use. Glogster is such a one. Here you can create your own “Glogs”, essentially a poster with images, text, video, web links and sound. There is a large choice of backgrounds, types of text boxes, video players etc, to make it a very personal piece of work.

Perhaps most importantly, you can sign up for an educational account, where you can create up to 200 student accounts, and all Glogs can be seen by everyone in your class, but no-one else. There is the option to send messages via the site, which could be used for peer review (and since the teacher can see exactly who is sending what, there shouldn’t be any abuse of the system).

These Glogs would be perfect for presenting information in any subject and key stage, particularly for Modern Languages (reading, writing, listening and speaking all in one project), History (document a historical event, do mock interviews with the key people), Geography (project on the local area, with interviews, photographs etc.), English (interesting ways or presenting information, both spoken and written), Art (could be used in the planning stages of a piece of work, with sketches, commentary, links to artists). It is also a great way to document a field trip or visit.

To see a glog I created about the CLC, click here.

Update – Large video files take a while to appear in the Video box once you have uploaded them, so do be patient.


Weather Enquiry at Meadowhead

July 7, 2008
Pupils from Meadowhead

Year 7 geography students at Meadowhead School investigated the best place to put a new bench in the school grounds using Glofiish M700 Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). They used WildData software to log information at each site, such as temperature, wind direction and aspect, as well as taking photos of the sites. This was collated and transferred into Excel for analysis in the classroom.

The majority of the students enjoyed the experience, with all of them keen to do a future project using the PDAs. Generally they found it better than using pen and paper, “because it’s more active”, although some were nervous about dropping the equipment. There were some technical difficulties, with the screen being hard to read in the sunlight, and a couple of PDAs froze, but the pupils managed to complete all the tasks well. Matt Podbury, teacher of Geography at Meadowhead, enjoyed the experience, adding that “the students were very responsive.”


Power League – stimulating debate

April 10, 2008

Power League

http://www.powerleague.org.uk/

This website from Futurelab describes itself as a “fun and easy way to explore any topic […] Power League is a versatile resource that lets you ask tough questions, stimulates debate and creates a visual league table based on votes gathered across your group.” Essentially you choose a question, for example, “Which is the bigger cause of climate change?”and set up a league. Students are offered a series of random choices between two people or things, e.g. Deforestation and Farming, each backed up with a link to more information. After they’ve made a number of choices you can view the league. Currently in the World Power League (“Who do you wish had more power?”) Albert Einstein is top of the list, Michael Owen second from bottom.

This ideal for use in English, Citizenship, Geography, History, RE and indeed any subject that asks students to make decisions about aspects of what they are studying and be able to debate why they made that choice. The website includes a number of lesson plans.

World Power League


Weather and Climate

January 15, 2008

Check out this fantastic site: http://weather.atomwide.com/  for information from a number of weather stations acrossWeather data England, the nearest being in Rotherham. It has an attractive, clear pictorial view of the temperature, pressure, humidity, rain rate, wind direction (and others), updated every minute for each station. You can also click on any of the images to get a graph of, for example, the temperature over the past 24 hours. Obviously ideal for teaching about the weather and climate in geography and science, but could also fit in other curriculum areas. See the Met Office Education site for ideas:

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/education/index.html