Give it a try – our pick of the best apps and tools, part 5

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 part 2,  part 3 and part 4

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.

London skyscape.
London skyscape. Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash

Layers of London
We love this. An interactive map of London that brings together digitised historic maps, photos and other resources, enabling you to interact with and contribute to many different ‘layers’ of London’s history from the Romans to the present day. These layers include historic maps, images of buildings and films as well as information about people who have lived and worked in London over the centuries.

There are lots of suggestions for use in the classroom plus an offer of free CPD for teachers as the project is keen to work with schools across London, and to enable them to use Layers to learn about their neighbourhoods, develop their own projects, learn how to geo-reference and share the information online.

In these heated times, a company whose mission is to ‘make the world more thoughtful’ has to be worth a look. Free for schools, Kialo is a debate platform that encourages thoughtful discussion, helps debaters to see others’ points of view and also supports collaborative decision making. The site uses structured argument ‘trees’ to present discussions, which makes it easy to see the flow of the argument and who has been swayed which way. There are both public debates and the facility to keep debates, such as classroom discussions, private. (Oh, and Kialo is Esperanto for ‘reason’.)

Another handy tool for decision making is Loomio, which seeks to nudge groups towards consensus. After discussing a proposal, every member of a Loomio group can make one of four choices: agree, disagree, abstain, or block. Blocking acts as a veto, which forces the group to reconsider the initial proposal and amend it until consensus has been reached.

Take control of your phone
Hat tip to Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes for this  suggestion, which comes via their excellent Tide (Today in Digital Education) podcast.
Take control of your phone is a very useful page of simple hints and tricks from the Center for Humane Technology to put you back in charge of your phone. Some will be  familiar (charge your phone outside your bedroom, delete social media apps so you have to make a conscious effort to use them from a computer only) while others are more left field – ever considered going greyscale to stop your brain getting so excited at the sight of all those bright, shiny app icons? There’s also a good list of apps and extensions that help you live without distraction.

Glitch is a ‘friendly community’ of free, open projects, from useful tools that solve problems at work, to cutting-edge VR experiences, smart bots and apps. And, what’s more, every project can be remixed, customised and personalised so you can ‘build the app of your dreams’. It can look a little daunting to begin with but it’s worth delving in to see what you can discover.


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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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