• 01 Sep
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    You may remember a little while ago we asked for some of your help regarding a financial literacy article for Teach Primary magazine. Quite a few people volunteered their services so thank you very much! But it was Drew Buddie who won us over with his original finance lesson tips. Here’s the finished article which is currently appearing in Teach Primary’s September/October issue…

    The credit crunch has dominated headlines in the past year to such an extent that young people cannot avoid either reading or hearing about it, or worse, experiencing the consequences first-hand within their families.  In short, youngsters are hearing that financial experts got it so wrong that debts arising may not be paid for many years.

    In the face of this, I have tried to redress the balance within my classroom by showing my Year 5 and 6 students how to carry out financial exercises that allow them to see the implications of their decisions and understand how to deal with money in everyday situations.

    At the outset it’s important to understand that I am a Head of ICT in a school where I teach Year 5 to Year 13. I am not a teacher of Maths. However, I try to ensure my lessons are not just skills-based; they are contextualised so students see the application of ICT across a spectrum of situations. So, I’m going to outline a progressive blend of ICT-based activities I employ in the classroom which involve finances in some shape or form.

    Tim and Moby at the supermarket

    1. Shopping around

    Introducing spreadsheets gives rise to many opportunities for discussing finances. I give students a spreadsheet showing the cost of a recipe and they see how a rise in the cost of an ingredient can result in the cost of the finished meal increasing. After a discussion of the implications of this when working within a budget, students research prices of ingredients using supermarket websites, learning the value of shopping around – important when parents may exclusively shop in one supermarket.

    Using Disney’s superb business simulation, Hot Shot Business, students gain first-hand experience of what happens when they make crucial business decisions.  It lasts for six virtual weeks and gives students a good understanding of factors such as the repayment of loans,   competition, and supply and demand.  Students can take screenshots of financial updates at the end of each virtual week and incorporate the data into a spreadsheet of their own, creating live graphs of their progress. A combination of fun scenarios and engaging game play makes this one of my students’ favourite activities. It gives rise to many a ‘light bulb moment’

    2. Planning for disaster

    Placing students in a pressurised situation proves of great value when teaching the importance of money.  Stop Disasters Game is a website created by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.  This simulation presents five natural disasters scenarios for which students are given Mission Goals.  To succeed, students are given limited funds to spend to ensure that as many people as possible survive the impending disaster.  The game climaxes with a disaster occurring and students discover how successful they were.

    We discuss the finances involved during the game as students start to realise how much needs to be spent to keep people safe in vulnerable areas.  This leads to further discussion about why relief charities often need vast sums of money if they are to serve large areas of devastation.  Some of the discussions that have arisen from this exercise have been truly invigorating.

    3. Top of the league

    Finally, in terms of scale, no part of our lives seems to involve as much money as football currently does.  All of my students in Year 6 participate in Schools Fantasy League which is based on real life data attributed to the performances of English Premier League footballers. Pupils buy a team of real players and manage that team for the duration of the season.

    The realism and meaningfulness of the data is the game’s secret weapon and there are many spinoff activities. It is easy to use and is a hugely engaging activity which ensures the investigation into finances continues outside the classroom and into the home.

    As a teacher, what more could you ask for than that?

    Hear more from Drew Buddie by checking out his blog, http://digitalmavericks.blogspot.com/ or following him on Twitter, @digitalmaverick

    The September/October issue of Teach Primary is available in large WH Smith stores from 6th September.

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  • 22 Jan
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    BrainPOP UK was proud and excited to host the first ever Teachmeet Takeover at BETT 2010.

    But before Takeovers there was TeachMeet itself. If you don’t know what Teachmeet is you’re not alone! Teachmeet is a growing educational fringe movement, centred on local evening events hosted by teachers for teachers, to allow the sharing of ideas and best practice.

    It’s pretty awesome. If there’s one happening in your local area it’s a very worthwhile event to attend.

    BrainPOP UK has been very supportive of these events for some time, and we were even asked to make a movie to explain Teachmeet.

    But a major challenge of any movement is to encourage new members to join; to spread the word; to invite fresh blood into the tribe. BETT 2010 offered an opportunity to get the discussion and demonstrations of new online tools to a wider audience. Thus was born Teachmeet Takeover! You can read more on why we took part on our post: Off to BETT Part 3 – TeachMeet Takeover .

    Drew kicks off Teachmeet Takeover at BETT2010 on the BrainPOP UK stand

    Drew kicks off Teachmeet Takeover at BETT2010 on the BrainPOP UK stand

    Drew Buddie (@digitalmaverick), kicked things off with a talk on using Web 2.0 Tools. This was more historic moment than perhaps it appeared. For the first time at BETT a stand was being used to promote something other than its product.

    We all learned an important lesson in this first presentation, which is the importance of speaking LOUDLY!!! (BETT background noise is l-o-u-d). We didn’t have a microphone, or one of those fancy Madonna style headsets. Or even a megaphone. But most people could see and hear what Drew was presenting and that was the main thing.

    The audience and the BrainPOP UK team all leaned loads about using slideshow animation tools to bring pics, pdfs, and other media to new life. Drew took stills from some great BrainPOP UK movies, and showed how they could be given a new spin as annotated resources for kids, or, indeed, by kids.

    Tom Barrett was up next on the Friday and he gave a superb presentation on using Voicethread in the classroom. In case you missed it check out Tom’s excellent Google doc: “17 ways to use Voicethread in the Classroom

    Friday is the busiest day but even so the stand was mobbed. In fact, the queue was building out of the stand and blocking the pathway. But that’s kind of the point – be a little disruptive and get noticed. People were stopping and staying to see what all the fuss was about.

    BrainPOP UK stand packed for #TMTakeover #bett2010

    There were a series of great presentations on the variety of Takeovers and they’re sparking some fascinating debates about the impact and implications of Teachmeet – such as this much-commented on post on Tom Barrett’s blog .

    So if you’re off to BETT 2011 keep an eye out for TeachMeet Takeover flyers…who knows what you could learn?

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  • 08 Jan
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    What is TeachMeet takeover? We should probably leave that to Tom Barrett (the teacher who came up with the idea) to explain:

    “Educators presenting about FREE ideas on the vendor stands at the world’s largest educational technology event. Sharing inspiration for free.”

    Tom Barrett, Edte.ch blog: http://edte.ch/blog/2009/12/14/teachmeet-takeover-needs-you

    At each stand, at a certain time of the day (check out the TeachMeet Takeover time table), a teacher will “takeover” part of a stand to demo free tools and resources that teachers may find interesting and useful. On our stand it will be on the big plasma TV on the back wall.

    Lots of companies have volunteered to provide some space for a takeover:

    • Adobe
    • Scholastic
    • Studywiz
    • NetIntelligence
    • TrueTube
    • Rising Stars
    • The National Archives / BFI / English Heritage
    • Moava
    • Promethean Planet
    • VT Group
    • DB Education

    We’re privileged to be welcoming through the week:

    • the inimitable Drew Buddie (demoing “Doing more with Tim & Moby using freely available Web 2.0 Tools” and “Wordle, Tagul & BrainPOP“)
    • the inspirational John Johnston (demoing “A project to gather the voices of educators using mobile devices”)
    • the main man himself, Tom Barrett (demoing “Why Voicethread should be used in every primary classroom”)

    The demos will only be a few minutes long, and, having seen these 3 present before, we know you’ll walk away enlightened and full of new ideas. Also if you pick up a TeachMeet Takeover flyer during the show it will include a mini competition, along with the timetable of confirmed talks.

    You will need to collect 8 ideas from takeover talks from around the show to claim some prizes from the stands taking part. We’re donating some ice cool Tim and Moby memorabilia.

    Perhaps you’ll also be inspired enough to go to a TeachMeet one day.

    So why are we letting teachers “take over” our stand?

    There are 3 parts to our answer.

    1. Put simply, we are intrigued. BrainPOPpers are naturally inquisitive people. We’re also BETT veterans and like to feel part of its evolution. It may work, it may not – but if you don’t try you’ll never know.
    2. We support CPD (Continuing Professional Development). To support those who want to be better teachers. We know BrainPOP UK works best as part of a good teacher’s toolkit – we also know teachers call upon any number of other resources. Why shouldn’t we do our bit to encourage open minded investigation into new ways of doing things?
    3. We’ve always been big supporters and sponsors of the TeachMeet initiative too and part of the Takeover is to encourage new people to go to a TeachMeet.

    Our stand is only small but we’re sure TeachMeeters can make the best of it. You have our promise that we won’t “push” anything, we’re just happy to lend our space to help out this exciting event.

    All that’s left to say really is “Bring on the TeachMeet Takeover!”

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