Fifteen fabulous free edtech tools for primary schools to try in autumn 2021

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software that we think might be useful or fun in your classroom or school. We regularly round them up here on the blog.

We’d love to hear what you think about them if you give them a go, and any others you’d like to share.  Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1 , part 2, part 3 , part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8part 9, part 10 , part 11,  part 12 ,  part 13, part 14 and part 15

Don’t want to wait for the roundup? Sign up to our newsletter to get a new ‘give it a try’ in your inbox every Thursday lunchtime.

Mona Lisa

Léonard de Vinci (Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, dit Leonardo da Vinci)Italie, Musée du Louvre, Département des Peintures, INV 779 - -

1. A visit to the Louvre

Trips to Paris may be trickier at the moment but, thanks to the Louvre’s digitisation efforts, you can now discover 480,000 works of art on its most famous art gallery’s website, including, of course, the Mona Lisa. 

2. Total Darkness

Can you work out why the power has gone out in your town? What’s the real cause of ‘total darkness’…? Become a science detective in this game from the Science Museum designed to celebrate the curiosity, teamwork and creative problem solving skills at the heart of science. 

3. Become a gifmaster

Ever thought of using gifs (very short looping videos) to explain ideas and complex processes? It’s both more effective and easier than you might think.  It can even, says Edutopia, be life-changing. There are lots of suggestions for creating and using the transformative power of gifs in this Edutopia article, while Lindsay Ann Learning also suggests ways students can use Screencastify or Giphy to create and share gifs. Finally, there are some fantastic science-focused gigs to use at Phenomena for NGSS

4. Expand Bitly or other short URLs without clicking

This useful tip is from Richard Byrne and feeds into online safety skills as well as being a generally good thing to know. To discover what’s behind a shortened URl and therefore avoid clicking on anything unwelcome, simply add a "+" to the end of any Bitly or TinyURL address. The URL will then redirect to the Bitly or TinyURL page on which the shortened URL is hosted and will show you the address of the original link.

5. Open content toolkit

This amazingly useful resource (via a tweet from Theo Kuechel) offers millions of images, texts, music, videos and more you can download and use without copyright issues. 

Photo by Amber Kipp on Unsplash

6. I know where your cat lives

Hat tip to Miles Berry (@mberry) for this great tool for teaching about image metadata, location tracking and privacy. I Know Where Your Cat Lives is a data visualisation experiment that locates a sample of one million public images of cats on a world map by the latitude and longitude coordinates embedded in their metadata. The cats were accessed via publicly available APIs provided by popular photo sharing websites. The photos were then run through various clustering algorithms using a supercomputer in order to represent the enormity of the data source. 

7. Art colouring book

On a digital art theme, have some relaxing fun colouring your way through the palettes of some masterpieces in this Google Arts and Culture experiment

8. Get up to speed with Google updates

There are some updates already here or on their way from Google Workspace for Education, including Classroom, Docs and Meet. The ever-helpful Richard Byrne has summed them up in an easy to digest way. CLC’s Ben notes that it’s a “simple list but the big one for me is a checklist feature with strikethrough on completion (ctrl+shift+9) instead of bullets!”

9. Seeing Music

There’s lots to explore in this interactive digital exhibition on music, visualisation and communication. Can you help an alien AI understand our human music? Or match scribbles to sound? As well as the games (actually an academic research project exploring ‘interdisciplinary collaboration across music, linguistics, cognitive science and art’ there is also a digital exhibition that uses a series of custom interactive slideshows to help you learn more about sensory experience, sensory diversity and how our senses make us human. 

10. The prime number game

Prime numbers* have practical utility in computing – such as with error-correcting codes and encryption – and this is a fun (also described as “very simple, but infuriatingly difficult”) game to sort as many numbers as possible into ‘prime’ or ‘not prime’ in 60 seconds. The record is 127. Go!

11. ProjectEVOLVE knowledge map

This new initiative from the UK Safer Internet Centre for school years 1, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 10 is intended to reduce teachers’ workload by recommending resources relevant to the children they teach while giving valuable insight into where strengths and weaknesses lie in their online development. The knowledge map “offers students a variety of scenarios about their online lives and provides a set of responses that are carefully mapped against the Burch Competencies. These competencies attempt to categorise children’s understanding of a concept; whether it is secure, emerging, developing, if they’re unsure or if they have understood the concept incorrectly."

12. The Online Together project

The latest tool from invites children and their parents/carers to take a short quiz to help recognise how gender stereotypes can impact them in online spaces and encourage them to respect and celebrate differences. Give it a try

13. CoSpaces Edu

In a recent blog post, CLC’s Caitlin McMillan rediscovers CoSpaces Edu, which makes it easy for children to build their own 3D creations, animate them with code and explore them in virtual or augmented reality. It’s got some new features so, if you haven’t had a look at it for a while, then, like Caitlin, you might want to check it out again, too. 

14. Into Film+ World Mental Health Day resources

The BFI’s Into Film+ has pulled together some of the best films that focus on mental wellbeing.  Each pick also includes a film guide and teaching resources plus bonus video content, such as director introductions, cast interviews, film analysis and extra learning materials to encourage discussion around key topics related to mental wellbeing.

15. Canva’s free online video editor

With another hat tip to Richard Byrne, we agree with him that Canva’s new video editor looks like a really nifty little tool. He notes that it includes: online collaboration so students can invite their classmates to work on a video project remotely; hundreds of video project templates designed for classroom projects; millions of stock pictures, drawings and icons; a large library of free music and video clips to include in video projects; a built-in video recorder; and the capability to import and edit existing video clips. You build your video on a frame-by-frame basis and Richard’s made a video to show you how.

Book now

New to subject leadership in primary school computing session 1, 2 and 3

- 17:15

This programme is designed for primary teachers who have recently taken on responsibilities and leadership for technology and computing. It will cover curriculum planning, tools and resources, methods for supporting colleagues and progression and assessment. Colleagues will be expected to attend all three sessions. The third session will be held in a school and will include classroom visits.

Further details for sessions 2 and 3 to follow:

Session 2: 9.30-11.30am Thursday 27 January (virtual)

Session 3: TBC (in person)

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Upcoming CPD

New to subject leadership in primary school computing session 1, 2 and 3
New to subject leadership in primary school computing session 1, 2 and 3

This programme is designed for primary teachers who have recently taken on responsibilities and leadership for technology and computing. It will cover curriculum planning, tools and resources, methods for supporting colleagues and progression and assessment. Colleagues will be expected to attend all three sessions. The third session will be held in a school and will include classroom visits.

Further details for sessions 2 and 3 to follow:

Session 2: 9.30-11.30am Thursday 27 January (virtual)

Session 3: TBC (in person)

- 17:15
KS1, KS2
Computing subject leaders, Headteachers...
Computing and Online safety conference for primary schools
Computing and Online safety conference for primary schools

Diving deep into all things computing, this conference will consist of two sessions. Participants can choose to join us for the full day, or book for just the morning or afternoon separately.

Online Safety & Data Security (am)
This session is for computing subject leaders, senior leaders, safeguarding leads and other relevant school staff. Falling in the lead up to Safer Internet Day 2022 (Tuesday 8 February), the morning of the conference will have a particular focus on online safety, bringing together a variety of external resources with expertise from within the CLC team to help schools get to grips with the complexities of online safety and data security.

Leading Computing in the Classroom (pm)
This portion of the day is for computing subject leaders and teachers interested in the use of technologies across the curriculum. It will include policy and curriculum updates as well as practical workshops and opportunities to hear from colleagues in other schools.

- 15:30
Business leaders, Computing subject leaders...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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