Education reviews: Digital resources

Evaluations supplied by Schoolzone, an independent body that asks teachers to evaluate digital learning titles
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Kahootz 3

Tag Learning
Cross Curricular
Key Stages 2 and 3

Kahootz 3 is an astonishingly versatile animation programme. It can be used to cover and greatly enhance many areas of the curriculum. Aimed at pupils between the ages of seven and 15, Kahootz 3 is an exciting tool for teachers who are looking for new ways to engage and communicate with their students. It is an excellent platform for literacy as it can easily be used for story-boarding to produce animated storylines. In art classes, children can explore the possibilities of light, shadow, perspective and features of landscapes. In Year 4 it has been an ideal platform for cross-curricular work in ICT literacy, science and art. Kahootz 3 expressions can now be exported into QuickTime, allowing for further manipulation and creativity using digital video editing software. It is an extremely exciting piece of software giving students the opportunity to explore and create amazing new worlds in a safe environment.

Interactive English 7

Year 7 Dynamic Learning Network Edition
DVD-ROM
Hodder Education
English
Key Stage 3

All of the resources provided for the 90 lessons within Interactive English 7 are valuable in their own right, making the resource a useful standalone addition to teaching. But the real benefit is to be found in the “lesson builder” section of the software. This allows the teacher to edit the lessons, or create new ones, using resources from within the software. You can tailor the resources for the particular group you are teaching and build up the lessons, with support from tried and tested files of your own. The capacity to adapt the lessons is a valuable and very easy process. There are also links from within the programme to the relevant pages of the accompanying course book, which can be viewed on screen.

Crime and punishment Through Time

CD-ROM 1: Dynamic Learning Network Edition: People and Periods
Hodder Education
PHSE
Key Stage 4

This product is designed to be used in conjunction with Hodder Education’s Crime and Punishment textbooks, and follows on from the popular Medicine and Health Through Time series. It breaks down each of the historical periods on the syllabus into a series of key questions, events or accomplishments. It can be used with single pupils, small groups or even with whole classes and also has a lesson builder function. Praise where it is due: Ian Dawson and Don Cumming have created a cracking piece of software that should become an essential part of the teaching and learning arsenal.

MoneySense for School

Edcoms
Cross Curricular
Key Stages 3 and 4 and beyond

According to the MoneySense for Schools website, 90 per cent of adults in the UK have never received lessons on managing money at school, so perhaps its not surprising that many people have financial problems at some stage in their lives. The MoneySense program initiated by the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest sets out to address these important issues. Through the Every Child Matters initiative and the Citizenship National Curriculum, schools now have a duty to teach pupils about personal finance, and this comprehensive web-based resource is ideal for the task. The website enables students to find out what banks do, how to manage money and learn about saving, borrowing and setting up a business. While these topics may seem a bit dreary, – particularly for young people – this resource succeeds in enabling teachers to provide a wide, stimulating and engaging range of activities.

www.yTeach.co.uk

Young Digital Planet
Maths and science
Key Stages 3 and 4 and beyond

yTeach is a vast collection of |high-quality interactive learning resources or “learning objects” which can either be managed and used from the website or purchased, downloaded and installed into a virtual learning environment (VLE). yTeach has been designed mainly for use by teachers. Each lesson consists of a selection of interactive activities, simulations, animations, and videos, as well as assessment activities which give feedback to the teacher and the student. In addition, yTeach allows the teacher to manage and organise their favourite interactive resources, prepare presentations for students, build and store playlists, and create class assignments, which they can send to their students and review their results.

BrainPOP UK

BrainPOP
Maths, English and science
Key Stages 2 and 3

BrainPOP is a fun, web-based educational program which has hundreds of animated short films in all curriculum subjects, backed up with quizzes and worksheets. Each film features a boy, Tim, who speaks and explains everything, and a robot, Moby, who doesn’t speak. The characters quickly become popular with children, who enjoy the familiarity. The product is aimed at Years 3 to 8 (aged eight-14), and has been designed to support the National Curriculum, referencing the QCA Schemes of Work where applicable. This is extremely useful where planning needs to show coverage of the National Curriculum and saves teacher time. The ease of use and the product content makes this a real winner, and it really does live up to expectations, being a massive time saver and a hook for students. The flexibility of the product means that it can be used to start off a lesson as a stimulus, as part of a lesson, or as a standalone filler, such as during registration, when there are a few spare moments.

Project X

Interactive Stories Year 2/P3
Oxford University Press
English
Key Stages 2 and 3

Project X: Interactive Stories Year 2/P3 is a reading programme especially designed to appeal to boys and to help raise standards in reading. The stories have been designed for whole class teaching or they can be used to complement guided reading sessions, or even for independent work. The six stories are linked to the Oxford Reading Tree series stages 7-11. Each book is presented in the same format and structure, making it easy to use and navigate. The stories and linked activities are imaginatively designed. The graphic, almost life-like characters are fun and recognisable; pupils can readily identify with them and their various circumstances. Both boys and girls in Year 2 equally enjoyed the stories and related activities.

La Jolie Ronde Spanish Scheme of Work for Years 5 and 6

La Jolie Ronde
Spanish
Key Stage 2

La Jolie Ronde’s Spanish scheme of work for Years 5 and 6 is a welcome follow-on to their scheme for Years 3 and 4. Once again La Jolie Ronde and Rachel Redfearn of Wakefield LEA, have collaborated to present teachers of primary Spanish with a superb resource. The scheme builds on previous learning from the Wakefield Y3/4 scheme, or from an alternative course, and introduces new vocabulary and structures while ensuring consolidation of earlier language learning. As with its predecessor, this resource is thorough and meticulous in its planning. There is a clear overview and detailed lesson plans which can be used flexibly. There are also strong links with QCA schemes for geography and science.

GCSE Podcasts Science (network version)

Letts and Lonsdale
Science
Key Stage 4

Revise on the Move is a series of podcasts aimed at covering the GSCE science topics all the way up to triple award (for the separate subjects of biology, chemistry and physics). Each of the podcasts covers the topics in a clear and concise way so that they can be used in short, manageable sections on the move with an iPod. You can listen to the podcasts while you are travelling and they constitute a key learning and revising technique that has been overlooked until recently. The podcasts can be downloaded through iTunes and played through a computer. They also include some visual material that can be viewed on an iPod if it has video capability. As the podcast is played, the sound of a slide moving is heard and this gives an indication to the user that some visual material is available with that section of the podcast.

Report:Assist

Report:Assist
ICT for Teachers, Cross Curricular
Early Years and Key Stages 1 and 2

Report:Assist is a program that allows teachers to create individual reports for parents, regarding their children’s progress at school. The software comprises a number of relevant statement banks and includes separate report formats for Early Years (0-5), Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The 2009 version includes a newly developed grid-box system for creating table-style sections for reports. Using this system, teachers are able to write appropriately detailed and professionally presented reports. The software allows pupil and teacher data to be imported directly from SIMS or similar sources. The statement banks, are adapted from the QCA schemes of work, NC learning objectives, NC level descriptors as well as more general comments. They are therefore comprehensive, and can be edited to represent clear progressions of skills, knowledge and understanding.

Further Information

* All evaluations are written by practising teachers who have used these resources in their classroom over several weeks.

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