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We thought it would be a nice idea to produce weekly ‘Microsoft Teaching & Learning’ e-zines (online newsletters). The series will feature some great examples of how our Microsoft Innovative Educators and Microsoft Showcase Schools are using technology in the classroom. Hopefully, these little T&L snippets will inspire a little innovation in your own classrooms. 

In this weeks’ e-zine explore how Microsoft Innovative Educator Charlotte Coade, from Simon DeSenlis Primary school in Northampton, is experimenting with windows 8 with her year 6 students. Collectively they are working as a team to see how technology in the classroom can help raise attainment and improve their overall learning experiences.           

Guest blog post by Charlotte Coade: 
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In Year 6, we are on the constant look out for ways that we could improve children’s learning as well as preparing them for the dreaded ‘SATs’ word at the end of the year. Whilst teaching for test is not something that should be encouraged, the fact children will be tested on their Reading, Writing and Mathematical ability at the end of the year cannot be ignored. We know that delivering the curriculum in an exciting and innovative way is important however we still have a duty to prepare our children as much as we can. This involves looking at previous tests and building in a range of strategies in order for the pupils to access the content and achieve the best result they possibly can.

English: Reading Trainer App

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* Reading Trainer improves your reading speed and retention rate with 12 challenging and fun exercises.
* Significant increases in your reading speed.

* Eye-exercises and improvements in your mental capacity


One area that I wanted to focus and improve on in particular was Reading. I found that most of my children are able readers. During guided reading sessions twice a week, we would read together and analyse a text in detail, picking apart authorial techniques and analysing hidden meanings. However there was one problem that was obvious every time; reading stamina. I found that reading through the text took a large proportion of the time, with this being particularly evident within the tests which several children did not complete and therefore lost crucial marks. It was clear to me that I had to build up the children’s speed and retention of the text. This was when I found Reading Trainer on Windows 8.

Once I had downloaded this app onto the devices, I dedicated one session each day to working building up my class’ reading stamina. It appealed to all children – those who often found it hard to concentrate along with those who like a challenge The software immediately recognizes the children’s strengths and weaknesses and the statistics function let me see and track their progress. The children are able to set targets and check their reading speed at any time using the reading tests from a variety of topics, muck like the Reading Paper in SATs. There are also tests linked to the papers to assess the children’s understanding of what they have read. I have noticed a considerable difference within group sessions and plan on continuing this throughout the year.

Maths: Mathletics on Windows 8

If you are subscribed to Mathletics, Windows 8 now offers you the opportunity to access the website on many of its tablets. For our school it has changed the approach and attitude to Maths. Simon de Senlis has over 400 children on roll and recently signed up to this scheme. It allows children to practice and apply skills taught in the classroom in their own time at home, or consolidate learning within school hours. In the recent months, the application has transformed the way that children feel about maths. They are now excited for homework to be set, and look forward to the challenges. Children compete against people in their class, school and across the world to earn points and certificates. Teachers have access to the tasks set, and can monitor progress on individual children to inform planning.

Since having access to 60 Windows 8 tablets compatible with the Mathletics, we now have more children than ever accessing the programme on a daily basis. For 45 minutes a day, children take part in a rotation of activities which involve guided reading. When children are not with a teacher focus group, they have the chance to complete homework, work on targets, improve mental maths skills, compete against other children and address misconceptions from recent work. We have found this incredibly beneficial to the children’s confidence and application within lessons.

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Science: Fast forward learning with TimeLaspe

TimeLapse for Windows 8 is a fantastic resource to capture those extraordinary moments that you would otherwise miss!

Now this has me thinking…how could I use TimeLapse to its full potential within the classroom and allow children to access material that they couldn’t without technology. One of the Science topics that we study is ‘Interdependence and Adaptation’ – a topic that can be very limited in its delivery. Yes we can show pictures of plants and leaves to the children and get them to read about the changes in plants from a text book, but is this really engaging for the children? And how much do they benefit from it? It’s important to remember that the whole point of technology is to enhance learning – not just replace something for the sake of it.

However this topic is one example where TimeLapse fits in quite nicely. It allows children to make observations of plant growth and compare the changes over time. As a result they are able to evaluate the process once observing the footage.

What happens to the leaves and petals once the sun comes out? What changes happen over time? What are the changes to a plant if it is not given enough water and nutrients? All these are questions that can be answered using this app. Or why not take it back to basics and use time-lapse photography to document the stages of plant life. Plant a seed in a glass vase and take regular pictures for the length of its gestation to a mature plant. Another experiment that could benefit from TimeLapse is to test how different solutions used to water plants affect growth. The results can be measured and recorded by students while also being captured on time-lapse video.

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Educator Spotlight: Charlotte Coade

Hi i’m Charlotte Coade from Simon De Senlis Primary school, Northampton. I work closely with the Digital Leaders team at my school and together we have recently set up a blog to explore Apps in education. Check out our blog here: Digital Leaders exploring Windows Charlotte Coade
                                                                                   

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