Sunday, 25 January 2015

BETT2015 Highlights Part 1

Once again I did not get to spend as much time as I wanted at BETT this year, but I still saw a lot of wonderful things. I went briefly on Thursday to do a talk about coding, then spent a good four hours there yesterday with my partner Rob, my colleague Elani and the world's cutest baby. I have a bag full of free swag, badges, leaflets and posters to sort through, but wanted to make a post about some of the highlights.

Firstly it was really nice to catch up with people I knew from Lego Education, Raspberry Pi and Britannica Schools and was great to meet some people from Kahoots and BrainPop. Even though we area already using these in our school it is always nice to hear new ideas and to share what we have been doing in the classroom. It also has reinvigorated me and given me new ideas - I'm even attending a Raspberry Pi Jam today with Elani to pick up some more ideas! The only negative thing about BETT is that attending on a Saturday is always a bit dry - the exhibitors are always worn out and actually the centre is pretty dead - I think a lot of people are given time from their schools to go, but not many people take the initiative or want to spend their own time at BETT-which is such a shame, because even just walking around is such great inspiration and helps you develop as an educator.

The only frustrating thing about BETT is sometimes you come across incredible products...but they fit perfectly with units you have just completed. This is how I feel about a new product Kidesign3D. From my BETT2014 Highlights post I spoke about wanting to use a 3D printer for a town planning unit and I am also right now in the middle of this unit, (though without a 3D printer).
Kidesign3D have designed a fantastic curriculum pack to help students use a 3D printer in a meaningful way and to enable collaboration across your whole class! Students are given cards describing the building they have to create, then build it, print it and then as a class they plan out their town. Although we still don't have a 3D printer, I think I am going to run this anyway and print it off site!

(Apologies for the blurriness) Here are some of the great cards. They had great illustrations on them and none of them showed you a building, so students were 100% free to design whatever they wanted.
As a teacher you get the base plate, cards, teaching resources, including lesson plans and videos. Students get their own packs with info about their building and more. You can re-use the kits each year.

The towns slot together beautifully! This actually reminded me of a few board games, like Settlers of Catan and Survive, so gave me more inspiration for my board game unit, (another unit I have just completed, but would like a 3D printer for one day). These models were designed by a Year 5 class and were wonderfully detailed and creative. Also as I will have to print off site, this would be very cheap to do, because the items are pretty small. Also they seem to be offering workshops in schools - I've contacted them about this and will write up a post if I get them into the school.

Anyway - this was by far my favourite thing I saw at BETT. They have just launched this weekend and I wish them all the success in the world - I really thing it has a lot of great potential!

Another stall we spent a far bit of time on was the Grok Learning. Elani and I are keen to do a lot more coding with the students and this seems like a great solution, because students can work through courses at their own level and at their own pace, allowing for easy differentiation - it also enables those students who are overtaking us to do that easily! They also run international competitions, so students can compete with other students across the world easily. At the moment these run in August, (because they are an Australian company-this is not summer holidays for them) and again in November. They may start running the competitions more, but as you have a teacher dashboard where you can monitor your students' progress, it should be easy enough to run your own. We were given a free trial of this, so I am going to test it out with a couple of students and I'll work through the courses myself.