Friday, 16 August 2019


At the beginning of July my elder daughter went to her school prom.  This meant that the time between her GCSEs finishing and the prom was spent purchasing and pampering.  After the event I accompanied her to the nail salon as she wanted to have the nails removed - they were annoying her.  I sat in the "reception area" with another mother and a sister.  The sister was waiting for her sister to have some rather fearsome turquoise nails done, and was amusing herself by drawing on her i-Pad using an Apple pencil.  I had a few crafty looks at what she was doing and was impressed by the effects that she was achieving.

When I first tried sketchnoting I tried using a traditional stylus - one of those ones with the rubbery stopper on the end.  It was impossible to draw or write anything good with it, so hadn't tried writing or drawing on my tablet since.  That was 2015 and of course technology has moved on since then.  I searched the possibilities for a pencil for Android and purchased this one.  

I've been using it most days since then, along with the Autodesk Sketchbook app for Android, which I had tried before but which has had an update.  One of its interesting new functions is the ability to record a time lapse version of a picture that you are drawing.  This could perhaps be used in the classroom for students to draw a picture and then get their partner to narrate what they can see and what is happening.  Here is one of my offerings, for example:

I'm off to doing some more illustrations for my new resource.  The picture at the top is a little taster for you!

Saturday, 10 August 2019

More Spanish books

It seems kind of appropriate that I am writing this during a tropical thunderstorm.  The sky is very dark, thunder is rumbling and torrential rain has just started to fall.

This afternoon I was allowed half an hour in our nearest Barnes and Noble, the US equivalent of Waterstones.  I always head straight for the Libros para Niños, and even on such a short visit I was not disappointed.

I do weather with my Y5s, and so far it's been difficult to find suitable reading material.  This reader is a good level for UKS2, and of an appropriate maturity level too.

One of my Y5 classes read Wonder with their class teacher last year and produced some fantastic English writing about it.  This, by the same author, is beautifully illustrated and told in simple Spanish.  It has the messages of "todos somos únicos" - we are all unique - and "elige ser amable" - choose to be kind.  This book will be great for KS2 children, as they'll be familiar with the novel, and the theme fits in beautifully with the values that we want to instill in the children.

This book, called We're All Wonders in English, is not available in the UK but can be purchased from Amazon Spain.

Friday, 9 August 2019

What will be in your pencil case?

Good afternoon from the US of A, where I have just been to Super Target to buy groceries.  Because of the time of year, there is also a large Back to School section in said hypermarket, which, of course, I had to have a look round.  There were various local families there with their stationery lists, gathering supplies for the coming school year.

I picked up this school supply shopping list, which, as you can see, is in Spanish.  Our students would find this interesting to look at.  They could use their bilingual dictionaries to find out what the American children have to have for school.  Most of these things are provided for UK students by their schools.  There is also an interesting cultural angle.  Why is a shopping list in the USA printed in Spanish as well as English?

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Southampton University Primary Languages #SUPL

Yesterday, 19th July, was the last day of the school year for many.  I spent it at Southampton University at the SUPL (Southampton University Primary Languages) conference.  SUPL is part of the RiPL Network.  I was honoured to be asked to speak about writing - you can view a copy of my presentation here.  It was great to catch up with old friends (and my sister!) and to meet new people and hear about what they have been doing in their classrooms.

Here are my sketchnotes from the day.

Engaging children with reading - Mike Dodson
Oral language development through technology and app smashing with Book Creator and Adobe Spark Video - Joe Dale

Scaffolding writing - Sarah Dugdale

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Word Cloud by Smart Puffin

Many thanks to @mflbassie on Twitter who alerted me to Smart Puffin's Word Cloud app for Android this morning.

It makes word clouds in the same way as many of the other available apps (I like WordItOut, Word Clouds and Jason Davies Word Cloud Generator) but it has the added bonus of incorporating emojis, which you just enter along with the words in the app.

I made this one earlier on to test the app out.  It's easy to use, although getting the fonts to an even size can be a bit tricky.  

I put in animals for this one as that happened to be what I was thinking about at the time, and it was easy to find the emojis!  Children could count how many times each animal appears or pair up words and emojis.  You could include elements of writing frames as a different sort of guide to independent writing.

Have a play!