Looking into concept mapping
Jan 22nd, 2013 by H-Blog

I’d been asked by my Head Teacher to see what my network had to say about concept mapping. A few shouts on Twitter and some retweets from the pedagoo crew got me a pile of responses, so thanks to Kenny Pieper, Fearghal Kelly, Drew Burrett, Sinclair Mackenzie, Alan Stewart, Samantha Williams, Malcolm Wilson and Allan Reid for all their help.

So, what did I find?

A pile of stuff actually. On the free side, as well as being pointed towards which I have used before, I was also given links to FutureLabs exploratree and the quite interesting text2mindmap whilst Google suggested I take a look at Simple Mapper and I also stumbled across the Seeing Reason Tool from Intel.  Commercial resources mentioned included  SMART’s SMART Ideas, Mindomo, MindMeister and creately (most of which have free versions with limited functionality). Alan sent an address for a Livebinder which as well as having most of these links and a pile of others, also reminded me how useful LiveBinder could be.

So, job done then?

Sadly not. Over and above the resources themselves, I’d been hoping to find examples from people who are working with concept mapping already, and nobody seemed to have anything to share on this point. We’d also been quite hopeful of finding someone who might be able to deliver some training on the effective use of concept mapping, and whilst I had noticed that iansyst had a mention of concept mapping training on their site, I could find little else.

So, that’s where things stand just now. But I’ll keep looking and listening and see if I can find out anything else!      


Symmetry with letters
Sep 15th, 2011 by H-Blog

Quick blog post about a nice site I found today whilst working with some pupils on symmetry – we were finding some of the letters a bit tricky to work out, so I went looking for an online resource that would let us see exactly what we were doing. I  had a quick trawl through a few different sites, but Symmetry Artist suited us best, allowing us to change the axis of symmetry from horizontal to vertical and also to write in the parts of the letters we already had and see what happened. Below you can see us trying out the letter ‘M’!

We try out the letter 'M' with a vertical axis of symmetry


The site lets you selct x-axis or y-axis symmetry, diagonal symmetry (x=y or x=-y), symmetry about the origin or even up to 9-point rotational symmetry. You can choose from a variety of pens (including some exploding dots!), adjust the thickness of the line and choose the colour of the ink, allowing more creative types to be artistic as well as symmetrical. It  also allows you to choose whether to see the line of symmetry, to select either a circle or a square canvas, or to add a grid of dots to help illustrate your points. Very versatile.

The pupils really enjoyed it, and said it was a big help. Worth a look, definitely.

Come and have a Glow if you think you’re hard enough….
Feb 12th, 2010 by H-Blog

How does your classroom Glow?

So, today I was mainly responsible for the in-service training of all our teachers and SMT on Glow. I had decided, in discussions with Katie Barrowman at LTS to follow the model we had seenCon Morris use in his CPD Challenges, and so I set about constructing (with a LOT of help from Katie) a brand new Glow group called “Have a Glow @IMS” which was based round a set of challenges ranging from signing in to Glow all the way up to creating their own Glow Groups.

Often I find Glow confusing and almost too much information. For this reason, and based on the very sexy new National Site, I decided to go a different way:

The front page of the Glow National Site
The front page of the Glow National Site

As well as looking very nice, the new National Site utilised a graphical interface – clicking on various ‘objects’ on screen would take you to different places in Glow. I really liked the idea of using a visual menu, and Katie came up with a good way to put one together, utilising tables in a text editor web part. Over about a day and a half, I managed to build the whole group and its ten challenges from scratch, and without an iota of coding ability. I finally worked out about 10 minutes before I was due in school how to do the one picture, multiple links trick but by then it was too late and I had to go with what I had. Working collaboratively with Katie and Alan Hamilton (of Stirling High School) I managed to troubleshoot the group whilst taking part in the morning INSET activities.

Come the afternoon, we were ready to go. The teachers in my school are not, it is fair to say, Glow enthusiasts, so it was looking like a big ask. When I mucked up typing my password in on the first attempt, they all had a hearty laugh. Second time was better and we were in, and I pointed out the side menu links to the school page, and how to get to the group we were going to be working in. They were sent off then to find a computer in pairs or on their own and to work through the challenges. I was to ‘troubleshoot’ along with my DHT and one of the Instructors.

We spent a good bit of the first hour resetting passwords and helping people log in. The chat as I moved round was slightly negative – all the usual Glow Aunt Sallys; clunky interface, unintuitive, hard to get in to, etc, etc – but as the afternoon went on and they had a look round Glow the chat started to become a bit brighter. Once the challenges were getting completed, there was laughter and hilarity ringing round the school (in a good way I hope). There was even a decent number of (fairly simple) Glow Groups set up by the end of the day!

So what did I learn from this experience of setting up a Glow group and running it in this way?

The Glow Group with the 10 challenges
The Glow Group with the 10 challenges

First of all, I learnt A LOT about using Glow to create. Katie and  Alan were a huge help in keeping me on the straight and narrow, but I did all the graft myself, meaning I became more comfortable and proficient using the interface. I even managed to work out the National Site trick, and changed my own Glow Group front page to utilise the same trick.

Passwords should maybe be done as a separate, perhaps preceding session, as this would have saved a lot of time at the start of this session.

I decided that as well as a home button at the bottom of each page, there should have been a “Previous Challenge” and “Next Challenge” button.

I learnt that if you give people time to ‘play’ on Glow, along with adequate support, they will begin to see the benefits of using it.

User account issues were another thing that should have been done in advance of the session, to prevent troubleshooting in the middle, or people missing out on a challenge.

I was also reminded of the power of Twitter – I had a number of people looking to join the group even before it was finished

Finally, I decided that what Katie Barrowman doesn’t know about Glow just isn’t worth knowing! Also, thanks again to both Katie and Alan for their help and support

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