Google Sites getting a makeover at last!

Google Sites must be the forgotten child of Google Apps. While almost all of Google's services have been given a lovely makeover with nice new functionality, Google Sites has been left in its functional but reasonably outdated state for quite some time. Things like adding galleries or decent blogs or anything remotely modern looking have been missing for quite some time. However, good news is on the way with an all new Google Sites. Some Google Teachers have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview and it looks like the new Google Sites is going to be finally get the makeover it needed. I have only seen a video that was posted by a teacher on YouTube, which I'm pasting here below. The video shows that the new Google Sites looks very similar to the new Google Forms, which is good news. It seems...

Adobe Slide

I am attending a PDST Tutor training 2-day course in Dublin today and tomorrow. I'm facilitating a PDST Tech in Ed course for teachers this July so I am bring brought up to speed with all the latest and most loved educational/tech resources that are being looked at by the PDST. Some of you may have heard of Adobe Spark but if you haven't, here is a quick guide to why it is so great! If you have used powerpoint/prezi/storybird/photostory, then you will know how good these storytelling resources can be when helping children learn in an integrated way for any subject. But, Adobe Spark is slicker and super easy to use than those mentioned. You create an account with a few clicks through Google / Facebook. You then need to set a focal point and after that you add images, videos, text, to make a social graphic, web stories, and animated...

Virtual Reality and Primary Education

It's probably every teacher's worst nightmare: the children are plugged into virtual reality headgear and someone else is giving them their lessons while the teacher is redundantly hanging about or simply a bystander while the lesson is going on. Although the scenario is as unlikely as any virtual primary school teacher has so far proven to be, we have seen the benefits of utilising virtual learning environments such as YouTube, Minecraft, the Flipped Classrom and so on to compliment what is already happening in schools. Therefore, is there any argument for using Virtual Reality in some lessons? Right now, there are a few options for Virtual Reality: Google Cardboard is the main one as it is incredibly cheap and Google have already started making education content through Google Expeditions. Samsung have their VR headset too, which works with...

Not a SMART move

SMART, the company behind the Smartboard Interactive Whiteboard announced that their software "SMART Learning Suite" which includes the only program teachers probably ever used "Smart Notebook" can no longer be sold or used with  other displays. While this probably isn't going to affect that many Irish primary school teachers since we've moved way beyond Interactive Whiteboard software, it seems like a step in the wrong direction by SMART. Given that the software isn't that good, ultimately, it won't make people go out and buy Smartboards. Surely, it would be a better option to sell the software for use on other boards and have some sort of get out clause to say that the software is intended for use on Smartboards and that they can't take responsibility for how they work on other boards. Anyway, I'm sure there was some reason for this...

Technology and a New School Building

Lots of new school buildings are being built lately around the country, which is lovely news, and I've noticed that I'm getting a lot of questions around how technology works in terms of a new building. There are all sorts of decisions that have to be made in terms of what to buy and what setup to choose so I'm hoping that this article will help any principals who might be baffled by the jargon and choices that have to be made. The Number One Question: Wired or Wireless Since 2014, schools have a choice to either have a wired or a wireless network setup. Before then, schools were generally set up with a wired network infrastructure and if they wanted wifi in the school, they had to buy this separately. (For the purposes of this article wifi and wireless are the same thing.) Before you make any decisions, check with the DES architect...

ClassDojo Cartoons

I discovered something new on the ClassDojo website today - a whole bunch of ClassDojo cartoons. The example below is the first episode in their second series and it focuses on a moral lesson about when the going gets tough. The cartoons are beautifully produced and the stories that I've watched are great. It's well worth having a browse and the cartoons could form part of an SPHE or Learn Together lesson.

#dojoChatEU: Learning from mistakes in the classroom

Every week, I delve through ClassDojo's Twitter chat and answer the questions that were posed. This week, our own Ciara Brennan, (@primedteacher), was the moderator and the topic was all about learning from mistakes. As usual, here and the questions and my answers. Q1. Failure is the mother of success. Do you agree or disagree? A good question to start us off. I like this phrase about mistakes being like a mother (or father!) In the same way as we can't get success without making mistakes, children can't happen without being born, usually from their mother. Effectively, if one compares efforts to generations, at some point one of the offspring will be a success! There's hope for us all :-D Q2. How do you cope with failure in your own role as an educator? I make mistakes all the time and usually they help me get better at my job. I've...

#dojoChatEU: Fostering Positive Relationships

Every week I answer the questions posed in ClassDojo's weekly chat, #dojoChatEU. It happens every Wednesday from 8:30pm and it brings together teachers from around Europe. This week's topic is fostering positive relationships. Q1. Which famous person would you like to be friends with? I know it's probably a cliché to say that I've never really thought about this, but I haven't. The first names that pop into my head pale into insignificance as I don't really know what we'd have to talk about. I guess I'd like to meet someone who I could chat to who might be in a position to empower change as I am limited in this aspect. There are certain aspects of the Irish Education System that I have serious issues with in terms of inequality, especially on the basis of religious discrimination. I don't know what famous person could sit down with me...

#dojochatEU: Peer learning

Every week I take the questions from ClassDojo's weekly chat on Twitter, #dojochatEU. This week's topic was Peer Learning. Let's go through the questions and if you can, tune into the Twitter chat every Wednesday from 8:30pm. Q1. What does peer learning mean to you? Simply put, I think it means learning through your classmates and teacher rather than the teacher alone. The days of the teacher being the fountain of knowledge are coming to an end (hopefully) and we are entering a time where our pupils can not only learn from their teacher but from each other. A teacher in this new role becomes a facilitator: questioning, challenging, scaffolding and so on. Q2. The Sutton Trust report published in 2011 concluded that peer-learning was more effective at improving learning than one-to-one tutoring or smaller class sizes. Do you agree? I...

#dojochatEU: Has technology a place in education?

Every week I respond to the ClassDojo #dojochatEU Twitter conversation, which happens every Wednesday evening. This week's topic was "Has technology a place in education?" Here are the questions: Q1. Why do you think #edtech has a place in education? Education and technology must go hand in hand because the world and technology go hand in hand. The education world must represent what is happening in the world. Thankfully, most people now agree about the importance of technology in education. There are, of course, the naysayers who believe children have too much screen time at home so should get a break from it in school, but to me, this is the same logic that expects schools to pick up for every inadequacy in a child's life. The answer to children getting too much screentime at home is to lessen the amount of screentime at home. Schools...