The Humbie Experience

P1-3 has been learning to use the Stop, Motion, Animation tool on the blue digital camera, which we bought with our Tesco vouchers.  For their first movie they used small world characters to create, “Accident in Happy Land.”  This required the children to systematically move the characters very slightly and take photos of each move.  The programme played the 1800 photos very quickly together which gave the illusion that the characters came to life.All children had the opportunity to be directors (plan the moves), operate the computer to take shots, edit the movie and add sound effects.  The final result was a two minute animation about road safety. The children have been busy advertising and selling tickets for their premiere.  They are going to show their movie and a video of how they did it to the older children, parents and staff on Friday 8th Dec.  They are also going to make and sell popcorn and we thought if we could find a red carpet we’d roll it for the stars – it’s all go at Humbie!

Using Alphasmarts to support writing in the curriculum

Great features in an Alphasmart: –* children can start work in school, work on it at home and bring it back to school again * work is automatically saved and cannot be deleted in error * Co-Writer (installed on all Alphasmarts) aids spelling and enables the children to create a lengthy piece of work with a lot less effort * Alphasmarts are fun to use and the children love the independence they bring.*  with the provided USB cable it is easy for the children to send the information to a word processing package on the computer independently  

Exc-el Update

East Lothian Education’s Exc-el development has gained momentum this month.

The 2-month-old WordPress-based Exc-el Edublog system is extending its reach into classroom teaching, with large numbers of students now able to contribute. Some have their own learning blogs, others are contributing posts for their class, and some are simply using comments to ask for help with exercises – and to help support other students. There are now over 130 blogs and over 200 registered users. A number of these blogs have been publicised through links on the Exc-el web site, and are generating positive feedback, and interest, well beyond East Lothian.

We’ve also been exploring how best to develop school web sites. Schools have been asking for tools that make it easy to keep their web site up-to-date, and which aren’t expensive. We’ve now got a couple of schools, Preston Lodge High and Law Primary, developing websites on Exc-el using the free, easy-to-use Website Baker product, and feedback is very positive.

Plans are under way to migrate Exc-el to a new, more student-friendly name that reflects the emerging focus on the use of web-based conversation and narrative to improve teaching and learning. As part of that, we’ll be redesigning the web site to make it easier for visitors to find, and contribute to, those conversations.

Training in new technologies continues to be in demand. A new, short, whole-staff TeachMeet Roadshow format was tested by the Education ICT team at Law Primary on Friday 24th November, and proved successful. The format was based on staff groups working together to share hands-on experience. This one was on digital imaging, and included how to use existing software as well as some newer web-based tools. Others are planned to cover such things as video, blogging and podcasting.

A range of new technology CPD courses has also been arranged, and can be booked in the usual way.

Finding the right tool for the job

There are about 3000 start-up companies sitting in Silicon Valley at the moment, each producing more or less cool, engaging web tools which could feasibly be used in the classroom. It’s great fun to play around with these but, if like most teachers your playtime is shorter than you would like, good opportunities might pass you by. Frustrating, but sadly inevitable. That’s where I might be able to help. In my new role in Learning and Teaching Scotland’s Futures Team I have been given the opportunity to help East Lothian continue to be at the front of new technology use to improve the students’ experience and attainment at school. If you would like to increase the choices you have to help your students to learn then I am online, on the phone or in a school near you to help you* Find the best tool for the job (sharing? Showing best work? Visual? Textual?)* See how best to use the tools you already have access to* Explore what staff development needs you might have. I will also be leading several new CPD opportunities within the Authority covering basic to advanced blogging, podcasting, using digital images for learning and learning how to get the internet to come to you (no more visiting a million Googled sites and still not finding what you want). Please sign up for these at; – In the meantime, if you have an idea for a collaborative or creative project and would like to explore what technology is available to make it possible, better or more fun, please get in touch: E: http://edu.blogs.comSkype: ewan.mcintoshM: 0793 23 43 188