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Practical ideas for using ICT in Primary – Wolfram Alpha

March 9th, 2015 by Angela Rees

An excerpt from the Taccle2 handbook for Primary teachers. You can download all of the books for free from the Taccle2 website.

Savvy Searching

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 22.46.09

WolframAlpha is a search engine that works completely differently from, say, Google.[[1]] Whereas other search engines will provide reams and reams of results in the form of web pages, many of them too detailed and difficult for learners to read and extract what they want, results on WolframAlpha are clearer and much less wordy. It is also a good idea to get children used to the idea that there are different sorts of search engine.


This scientific search engine is great for learners who want information and data on specific, ‘technical’ themes e.g. countries, animals, famous people, materials. For example, you may want them to write a project on the countries in the European Union, or to collect data specifically on one topic for a maths lesson e.g. populations of the countries in Europe.

Begin by asking learners to go to the WolframAlpha homepage. Then ask them to type a keyword, question or maths equation into the box beneath ‘Enter what you want to calculate or know about’. Click on the ‘=’ to get their results.

WolframAlpha will give the results of different meanings of the word e.g. if you type ‘France’ you will be given information and data relating to the country e.g. flag, location on a map, population etc. However, it will also give you alternative meanings you can search on e.g. ‘a given name’. Clicking on this will load a different page and a different result. In this example, it gives an outline of ‘France’ as a ‘female given name in the US’.

The word ‘banana’ is another good one to try – it gives about 5 or 6 different definitions of the word and you can search on any of them with surprising results.

We also like the little fun questions that pop out of the left hand side of the screen. You can click on them to get the answers.

What do I need?

Pupils will need a very quick tutorial – max 10 mins!

[1] Wolfram Alpha is a Computational Search Engine – it computes the answer from separate items of data rather than giving you a list of web pages that might have useful information.  Google is a Semantic Search Engine that takes the text you type in and ‘matches’ it against the key words on a web site.

3 practical ideas for using ICT in STEM teaching – Chemistry

March 2nd, 2015 by Angela Rees

More ideas from our Taccle2 Handbooks for teachers, I couldn’t pass up an excuse to get Tom Lehrer on the Pontydysgu website!

Science Songs

Mark Rosengarten has recorded a lot of chemistry tutorials and songs. One of our favourites is “It’s a family thing” a song about a list of organic molecules. It’s great to use at the end of the lesson so that you can end the lesson on a high. You can also give students the link to use the song as a revision aid. Watch out for humming during exams!

The other classic song (which may only be familiar to those of us of a certain age) is Tom Lehrer’s ‘Elements Song’. Some versions have pictures of the elements for added interest.  Or you can find a version with words.  Divide the class into groups and let them have an impromptu karaoke session – can they keep up with him? A lyrics sheet may nelp! Total chaos but fun.

Divide your class into groups and ask them to write their own song about something they are learning in chemistry.  Create a podcast using Audacity (or GarageBand on a Mac).  If you don’t feel confident about that, make a PowerPoint and add a voice over. Or use Helloslide or Knovio.

All of the Taccle2 handbooks are available to download for free from the Taccle2 website.

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    News Bites

    Online Educa Berlin

    OEB Global (formerly Online Educa Berlin) has announced its Call for Proposals and the overall theme for 2018: Learning to Love Learning. The event will incorporate Learning Technologies Germany – a leading European exhibition on learning technologies in the workplace – for the first time this year. More details here.

    Barcelona to go Open Source

    The Spanish newspaper, El País, has reported that the City of Barcelona is in the process of migrating its computer system to Open Source technologies.

    According to the news report, the city plans to first replace all its user applications with alternative open source applications. This will go on until the only remaining proprietary software will be Windows where it will finally be replaced with a Linux distribution.

    To support the move, the city will employ 65 new developers to build software programs for their specific needs. they also plan the development of a digital market – an online platform – whereby small businesses will use to take part in public tenders.

    OER18: Open to All,

    The OER18 Conference takes place in Bristol, UK on 18 – 19 April 2018. OER18 is the 9th annual conference for Open Education research, practice and policy. The final keynote has now been announced: Dr Momodou Sallah is Reader in Globalisation and Global Youth Work at the Social Work, Youth and Community Division, De Montfort University.  More about the conference:

    Learning about technology

    According to the University Technical Colleges web site, new research released of 11 to 17-year-olds, commissioned by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, the charity which promotes and supports University Technical Colleges (UTCs), reveals that over a third (36%) have no opportunity to learn about the latest technology in the classroom and over two thirds (67%) admit that they have not had the opportunity even to discuss a new tech or app idea with a teacher.

    When asked about the tech skills they would like to learn the top five were:

    Building apps (45%)
    Creating Games (43%)
    Virtual reality (38%)
    Coding computer languages (34%)
    Artificial intelligence (28%)

    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

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