Wednesday 26 September 2012

Friday 14 September 2012

Web tools update

New additions on the Web tools site:

penzu a delightful and delightfully simple to use note, blog, write it down tool with lots of extra uses

101 a simple app which makes sending SMS to pupils and parents easy and safe

lingro very cool on-line dictionary, 11 languages and facilities for web translation

QR codes make your QR code images and links video conference as simple as it can be - just share a url!

myna remix music tracks, collaborate, record your own voice

Schoology a nice place to view and share teaching resources with extra features too for your own classes


three apps featured on the Schoology site but which have appeal individually for maths and language, common core subject activities

yola nice all-on-line web site building with no code knowledge required and almost invisible advertising

Ooo, Schoology!

Some time ago I signed in to Schoology, thought it looked interesting but then must have been distracted by something and forgot to go back and review the site. It's great - well set out and, so far, seems free and uncluttered with no adverts trying to sell us this or that.

I am still trying to figure out exactly what I can do with an area called The Studyzone which I presume is the name I gave to one particular area but the key feature that I should draw your attention to is the shared resources section. Here teachers from all over the place have added their own materials and links. These can be searched and sorted - by most highly rated or most recently added, for example (although none of those I added appeared in the most recently added search so my guess is that there must be some delay between publishing and their actual availability for reasons I have yet to understand. With luck, it will be a check on suitability, copyright and if someone is filtering out potentially offensive material then that would be a good reason.

Yes, it's mostly US-based and the references are to their curriculum but whether you say maths or math, organise or organize shouldn't detract too much from their value. I suppose the English materials could get a bit annoying with dialing instead of dialling (although just who does dial any more?) but, again, it may well be that the basic ideas being shared could be easily adapted for use on whichever side of The Pond you are.

I like the link to Google Documents which would enable very quick sharing or publication of files stored on-line but haven't yet put that to the test.

There's a blog section but, really, you might best be advised just to throw in a single post linking to your existing blogs and continue to utilise Blogger, Wordpress, Tumblr or whatever which have rather more useful RSS feeds that can be picked up and deposited elsewhere, like VLEs if you still use one. The still was deliberate as, and this will have to be a separate article, I think we are coming to the end of VLE Days as we know them. But that is another story. Back to Schoology.

In amongst a section called Apps I found a few new bits and piecesI had not encountered before that look worth a closer look and will be added to the Webtools site soon. these are 101, a simple way to text students, parents etc with updates, advice, requirements etc. Another is BrainNook. In BrainNook, children travel through virtual worlds while playing math and language games, complete assignments to win badges, and compete with their classmates to reach the top of their class scoreboard. BrainNook games are mapped to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and Language Arts.

Then there's Scootpad. ScootPad is a way to engage students in mastering Common Core Standards and Concepts in maths and reading with personalised, self-paced and stimulating practice. It is claimed that their data and research show that students practice on average 5 times more problems on ScootPad than the traditional worksheets/paper.

Teachers get real-time classroom performance dashboards and reports that enable in-depth progress tracking and proficiency insights. Teachers can assign and review homework (Maths Practice, Reading Practice, Spelling Practice, Reading Log etc.) and students can complete and manage their homework all online on ScootPad.

Lastly, there's Concept Bank. Now that's not a name that is likely to fire the imagination but this is what they say it does: "Common Core Standards drive a major shift in both instruction and assessment. We've made it easy for educators to access/navigate the standards, drill down to the supporting concepts and review sample questions to better understand the instructional shifts and practice rigor needed to ensure that all students are on track to college and career readiness." It looks a lot simpler and that's why I'm including it here. They might need to hire someone to write better reviews or descriptions.

Now it may be that I've missed some huge charge for some of these apps or that they are totally impossible for anyone in the UK to utilise but maybe someone will take a closer look before I get a chance and advise. Certainly if you're reading this in the States then these could be useful straight out of the box. Wherever you're based, though, I would encourage you to take a look at Schoology.

Monday 3 September 2012

More money offers for educators (but be quick for some!)


Provided by Voluntary Arts Network, the development agency for arts participation, the Epic Awards are designed to draw attention to work taking place within the voluntary and amateur arts sector. The awards aim to provide these groups with the opportunity to raise their profile and to win a package of prizes including training, equipment and publicity.

The awards will be made under the following four categories: Engagement | Partnerships | Innovation |

Successful groups receive an electronic Epic Award winner pack including logo and branding that can be used on all communication, if desired. The winner of each of the four categories will receive £250 worth of gift vouchers and runners-up will receive £100 worth of gift vouchers. These can be redeemed at GreatArt. Each winning group will also receive annual membership of Arts Development UK, worth £165.

Voluntary or amateur art and craft groups/organisations in the United Kingdom and Ireland are eligible to apply ie:

  • Those arts and crafts that people undertake for self-improvement, social networking and leisure, but not primarily for payment.
  • Groups that are self-organised.
  • Not-for-profit groups.
The deadline for receipt of entries is 30 November 2012 (5pm).

LandAid - Open to Applications to become a Charity Partner

LandAid is now seeking to establish new partnerships which will form the focus of its grant giving and other types of support over the next three years. Funding is available for the refurbishment, conversion, extension or new build of facilities for disadvantaged young people (16 to 25 year olds). Projects should provide or improve buildings or spaces within a building to support young people, such as, providing them with accommodation, independent living skills, educational or employment opportunities.

Priority will be given to projects that provide support for young people who live in communities which are high in the Indices of Deprivation or directly experience the issues associated with deprivation, many of whom are also NEETs (not in employment, education or training).

Registered charities and registered community interest companies in the UK can apply for capital grants of between £20,000 and £150,000 per annum. Smaller amounts of grant are also available for revenue projects associated with the capital investment, as part of the £20,000 to £150,000. LandAid is also able to offer a variety of in-kind support, such as free property and building advice, mentoring and work experience opportunities for young people.

The deadline for applications is 1 October 2012 (5pm).


The Individual Funding for Radio and Audio Training scheme supports freelance radio and audio professionals with funding to spend on the craft, technical and business skills training the industry needs.

Grants will be offered to individuals to undertake short courses or other short term training solutions, coaching and mentoring solutions as part of continuous professional development (CPD) training within two priority areas:

  1. Craft and technical skills, including those related to the use of online / social media and digital platform technology.
  2. Business, team working and management skills.

The grant can account for up to 80% of the combined course fees, travel and accommodation costs to a maximum of £1,500 inclusive of VAT.

The money can be spent on any course that meets a demonstrable need for career progression or up-skilling. It will only support training that develops skills within the following priority areas, which have been identified as a result of research and consultation with the industry on short and long-term skills gaps. The scheme can fund the following:

  • Craft and technical skills, including those related to the use of online / social media and digital platform technology.
  • Business, team working and management skills.
  • Travel and accommodation costs.
  • Childcare costs.

The scheme is open to applications by freelance radio and audio industry professionals in the UK. The radio and audio industry is defined as the major radio broadcasters, including commercial, BBC and, community radio companies and independent radio and audio production and post production companies.

The deadline for applications is 30 September 2012.

Equality and Diversity Partnership Project Fund 2012-13

The Skills Funding Agency and Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) are pleased to invite learning and skills providers to submit bids to deliver projects which advance equality, diversity and inclusion.

This is a flexible project fund, designed to enable Further Education and skills providers to design and deliver the projects that will have the greatest impact for learners and potential learners in the Further Education sector.

The aim of the fund is to support innovative and sustainable projects which develop the capacity of the sector to meet the public sector Equality Duty.

Individual colleges and training organisations are invited to bid for one of the following:-
A grant of between £1,000 and £4,999
A grant of between £5,000 and £25,000

The application process will open on 10 August and will close on 10 September 2012. Please re-visit this page for instructions on how to apply.

Phase 2 Support and Aspiration

LSIS is inviting project Clusters that will be managed by a specialist adviser in each of the nine regions and will be expected to focus their energies on 'Preparation for Adulthood' and 'Challenging Low Expectations' through sharing delivery and effective practice.

In May 2012 the DfE published Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability - Progress and next steps which sets out progress to date in relation to the vision articulated in the original Green Paper. In the paper the Government promises to:

"expand the clusters of FE providers to include additional providers and are considering how to encourage the Teaching School Alliance to engage with FE clusters as we take forward phase two of the work."

The Aims of Phase 2To create a greater shared understanding of how providers in the sector can work together colloboratively and not competitively to spread knowledge, improve expertise, build capacity and share delivery arrangements in order to support learners prepare for adulthood
To evidence and model progression pathways for learners

Outputs expectedEach cluster will be required to write a short final report end of July 2013
Resources developed to support the project outcomes will be shared with the sector via the Excellence Gateway.

Each provider taking part in phase 2 will receive a grant of £4,000.

The closing date for applications to this fund is 14 September 2012 at 12 noon.