Friday, 27 June 2008

Computer Club Lip Dub

One of the 'internet moments' of 2007 was surely the creation of the 'Office Lip Dub'. The medium first came to prominence after the work of a New York company called Creative Media, who produced their lip dub after work one evening. The video of Harvey Danger's Flagpole Sitta became an instant internet classic and was used as a recruitment video for the company before inspiring thousands of copycat videos across the net community.

Wikipedia describes the Lip Dub like this...
A Lip dub is a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video. It is composed of filming individuals or a group of people lip synching while listening to a song or any recorded audio then dubbing over it in post editing with the original audio of the song. There is often some form of mobile audio device used such as an ipod. Often they look like simple music videos, although many involve a lot of preparation and are well produced. They have become popular with the advent of mass participatory video content sites like youtube.

Computer Club have been attempting to make their own lip dub this term. There's lots of work involved with the need to block out movements on a plan prior to filming, as well as sourcing appropriate music and learning lyrics.

Our efforts are not quite perfect, but they did live up to the Lip Dub criteria in that they were all filmed in one take. The overdubbing process was very time consuming and almost spot on. It's a little out in places, so don't look too carefully!

Of the three groups that filmed, two are shown below. The boys group never quite made it! However, the Paramore video was shot and arranged by Arthur and Alisdair.

Well done to all on your efforts and to Computer Club which has been great fun this year.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Problem Solving Games

One or two year groups have completed their ICT assignments for the term and have been tackling some problem solving activities. Surprisingly, a good source of this type of activity is Miniclip, the legendary games site! We have been concentrating on two games in particular; the Red Bugs Puzzle and the Magic Pen, both of which are extremely stimulating and require a good deal of spatial awareness to complete. Well done to Mrs Bull who has completed the Magic Pen... my attempts were not quite so good.
You can follow the links below to have a go yourself.

Games at - Red Bugs Puzzle
Red Bugs Puzzle

Clear the path for the red bug to reach the end of each level.

Play this free game now!!

Whilst it is true that some of the games on Miniclip may not be particularly educational, there are some fascinating problem-solving activities which require a good deal of predicting, planning and all round problem-solving skills.

Games at - Magic Pen
Magic Pen

Collect the flags with the red ball to complete each level.

Play this free game now!!

We've also been experimenting with the excellent simulation Armadillo Run. This science based game is another taxing piece of software designed to help students think creatively to solve problems whilst paying attention to the laws of physics.

What do youhave to do? According to the web site...

You have to build structures with the purpose of getting an armadillo to a certain point in space. There is a selection of building materials, each with different properties, which can be combined to form almost anything. The realistic physics simulation gives you the freedom to solve each level in many different ways.

First impressions of this simulation are very favourable and we'll be looking to include it in our curriculum somewhere next year.

You can visit the Armadillo Run web site and download the limited version of the game for free by clicking here.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Interactive quiz test!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

To Firefox or not?

Fifteen years ago when I started using the web, the Mozilla browser was the one I used. I stubbornly stayed with it for a couple of years before switching to Internet Exlorer. After all, it came bundled with any PC I bought so was easy to use. Mozilla continued to exist and has recently begun to make huge gains in the battle of the browsers with Firefox.

The recent release of Firefox 3 was heralded alongside a bid to break the world record for downloads. Indeed, over 8 million downloads occured in 24 hours, one of which was me! I've been using Firefox at home for a while now and I'm increasingly seeing it as my main browser. As far as the technical workings of the browser are concerned I'm not at all interested. What I do know is that all the sites I use work straight away in Firefox. They certainly don't do that in Internet Exlporer 7. Well, it's now on my classroom PC and I'm expecting to use it more and more from now on. Year 7/8 pupils have the choice of using Firefox on their 121 laptops, and whilst it is unlikely that the whole school moves away from IE, it's certainly worth bearing this in mind.

One of our pupils, Jake, is in no doubt as to which browser is best;

"Some differences between Mozzila Firefox and Internet Explorer are that depending on which Internet Explorer you have (6 and below) you do not have tabs, Firefox has better streaming of video and better quality picures on the internet only, also Firefox automatically signs you into google blogger. These are some of the differences between Mozzila Firefox and Internet Explorer. I highly recommend Firefox over Internet Explorer."

That's good enough for me.

One thing worth bearing in mind was that the only time I checked my school e-mail on an Apple Mac without issue was when I was using Firefox.

Friday, 13 June 2008

The Making of.... The Programme.

Apart from the show itself there are a number of other elements which are needed to make the P6 show come to life. There's lots to do for those involved in the dinner before the show and the presentation afterwards.

Last week the ICT room was converted into a photography studio so that we could shoot images for the programme.

We originally wanted to have the pupils 'float' in their photos and considered using a 'green screen' that Mrs Bull has made, but in the end settled for a black backcloth and wrapping the students in black material!

The final images are quite effective and are available for students to download if they wish.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

P6 Show

It's showtime! The P6 show week comes to a climax tomorrow with the performance of the play, School Daze. This morning saw the dress rehearsal take place and if that was anything to go by the parents are in for a real treat tomorrow night.

Great perfomances all round and some rousing songs combined with some hilarious insights into what really happens in school. Well done to all those involved.

To make the morning even more amazing, we welcomed a very special guest to Kellett to witness the dress rehearsal! Mig Ayesa is currently in Hong Kong starring as the lead in the Ben Elton musical "We Will Rock You" and agreed to drop in to watch the show as a result of meeting some of our students after a performance at the Lyric Theatre. Mig has played the part of Galileo in the show across the world, but gained worldwide fame as a result of finishing in the final three of the tv show Rockstar:INXS. He has also recorded with Queen guitarist Brian May and last year released his own CD.

Mig stayed for the whole rehearsal offering words of advice and encouragement to the cast and then congratulated them on their excellent show. He also posed for a number of photos, but the highlight was undoubtedly an impromptu performace of the Queen classic 'We Will Rock You' with the cast providing the backing vocal. An unforgettable experience for all those involved.

Well done to those students who invited Mig and a special thanks to all those involved behind the scenes in helping to ensure his visit was kept as a big surprise for all those present! Lastly, of course, a huge thankyou to Mig for taking time out of his gruelling performance schedule to spend so long with our students and giving so freely of his time.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

P5 Games Based Learning

P5 pupils have spent time in their ICT lessons investigating the simulation Rollercoaster Tycoon. This game, which is rather old now, is an excellent means of showing how game play can work within the curriculum.

Students have to design a theme park from scratch, planning where the rides are positioned and ensuring they have the funds to purchase them. They also need to manage the staff, ensuring there are enough to run the establishment, co-ordinate publicity, set a research budget and manage their finances.

The type of organisational, planning and strategic skills outlined above are crucial if players are to succeed in Rollercoaster Tycoon... in fact, these skills are pretty crucial in the real world too!

As part of their work, P5 students are also carrying out tasks in Literacy, using the game as a stimulus for writing. In may ways this is similar(not quite on the same level!) to the groundbreaking work carried out by Tim Rylands in the UK using the computer game Myst.

From next year all year groups at Kellett will have a simulation/game playing module built into their ICT studies, with Key Stage Three students looking at elements of games design too.

There is a groundswell of opinion amongst experts that this type of work will become far more common in schools. Influential voices such as Marc Prensky and Derek Robertson are keen advocates of games based learning and research studies looking at the use of games such as Dr Kawashima and Nintendogs are already taking place now.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Buzz Lightyear Joins NASA

The current Space Shuttle, Discovery has a very special guest on board. Buzz Lightyear has finally managed to make it into space for real as part of NASA's Education Programme.

Pupils in Key Stage One have been visiting the NASA web site to follow Buzz's progress. Buzz transmits a daily mission update and offers a number of interactive tasks for students to tackle.

After completing the tasks, you can find out more about NASA's Education Programme and watch a number of videos looking at aspects of space exploration.

The site also offers the chance to track Discovery and the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth. There is a page which gives information about when the Station will be viewable from Hong Kong.... weather permitting!!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Decisions Decisions!

Over the last few weeks we've had a number of meetings with suppliers to help us make our purchasing decisions for next year. Not only do we have the normal replacement of some classroom PCs in Key Stage One, the laptops used around the gym have come to the end of their shelf life and need to be replaced. Our new Year 7 cohort also require laptops for the 121 programme we run at secondary.

We have been looking at the possibility of implementing tablet PCs for our Year 7 students, but have pretty much discounted this idea, mainly because of concerns over cost and durability. However, it's likely that a few tablets will make an appearance at Kellett next year as there is clearly a use for the level of interactivity these machines offer, for example, as teachers or students model writing. We have had three tablets for evaluation recently, two from HP and one from Dell. Some teachers have used them in the classroom and a number of pupils have had a go at using the character recognition. Personally I like the look and feel of the Dell, but the character recognition of the HP seems much more efficient.

Later this week we will be receiving a couple of HP Mininotes to trial. These are currently being considered for Year 7 use in 08 along with two models from Dell. I hope that the current Year 7 will be able to use them for a while and offer their feedback in relation to the Dell laptops they have been using.

Thanks to Ddraig-Goch for passing on this helpful evaluation of the Mininote.