Give it a try – our pick of the best apps and tools, part 3

Each week in our newsletter we highlight a favourite free or low-cost app/tool/resource/piece of software and give a brief rundown of how you might use it in the classroom. Every month or so we 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 – leave a comment in the box below. Catch up with all the tools in Give it a try, part 1 and part 2.

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.

Art Palette
This is a fun – and useful – new tool from Google. The latest in its attempt to use artificial intelligence in cultural applications,  Art Palette analyses thousands of artworks and distils them down to their essential colours. Find connections between paintings from different eras and cultures or upload your own image and make visual connections. Addictive!

Quizzes in Google Forms
We use Google forms all the time – to collect ideas, get feedback from teachers and for quizzes with students. Google has created
six new features in ‘Quizzes in Google Forms‘. Try it out with your class and let us know what you think.

We’ve become big fans of
Spiral having tried out the Team Up feature in a recent team day. It lets pupils join a virtual class, working together to build a presentation as a slideshow and then present from their devices to the whiteboard with the rest of the class posting questions and feedback as they present.

Get arty with Scratch scripts
Teachers often ask us how they can support their pupils’ progression and creativity in Scratch programming. One great way is to give children the opportunity to get artistic with their Scratch scripts. Check out these arty example projects. Each one shows off a different feature which your pupils can use to piece together their own Scratch masterpiece.

Kids Invent Stuff
Fun YouTube channel Kids Invent Stuff is where 5-11 year olds have the chance to get their invention ideas built by real engineers and engage with real engineering projects. Each month a challenge is announced, ideas can be submitted as drawings or videos, the most creative are showcased on the site and then one of them is built. A new video is released every Saturday at 6pm and previous inventions include a slime cannon, wearable technology and a cyborg pumpkin.

A fun way to learn about ciphers, Codemoji is a tool for encoding messages with emoji and teaching the basics of encryption.

Computer Literacy Project archive
Some computer history fun this week – the BBC has released the Computer Literacy Project archive. In the 1980s the
Computer Literacy Project led to the introduction of the BBC Micro alongside programmes which introduced viewers to the principles of computing. It was a huge development at the time. According to Hermann Hauser, co-founder of Acorn Computers, “the BBC Computer Literacy Project made Britain the most computer-literate nation on earth at the time and, with the BBC computer, created a generation of UK programmers who have become leaders in their field.” Now you can not only watch any of the 267 programmes but also run 166 BBC Micro programs that were used on-screen.

We came across some intriguing ideas about how to use Chatterpix in the classroom at last month’s CAS conference (read our blog post for other highlights). Chatterpix can make photos talk – just add a line to give it a mouth and record your voice with a message. Possible cross-curricula applications include using it in personal and social development where a child can project their own feelings onto a drawing and as an impetus for experiments in science.

At last month’s Computing at School (CAS) conference(read our blog post for highlights),
Quiver was singled out as a great tool for mark making and developing fine motor skills and language. Download colouring-in pages, get creative then bring the page to life using the app. Find more tips from the conference in our highlights blogpost.

Move it!
Google has a fun new AI experiment – Move Mirror. It maps your joint movements and creates a personalised GIF to show how you move. Give it a try (if you are happy to give Google permission to access your webcam)!

Thanks to Mark from Danesfield Manor School for sharing how successful
Flipgrid has been for encouraging feedback from pupils and engaging parents. Got a suggestion for a great app or resource? Let us know!

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Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

- 15:30
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions.

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations (details below) followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

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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