Opportunity to Support Mencap

My good friend Marc is sailing across the Pacific for three months as part of a Clipper Round the World race, leading up to the 2012 London Olympics. He’s raising money for Mencap – a great charity that needs support in these times of drastic cuts. Please give generously if you can.

You can follow Marc’s progress here:

Clipper Round The World

And you can donate money here:

JustGiving

Thank you

iPod Touch leads to homework revolution

A recent purchase of an iPod Touch for our daughter’s 9th birthday has already revolutionised the daily homework grind. As expected – the functionality, ease of use, general Apple lushness of the device and the ease of use of various educational apps has meant previously dull activities such as learning spellings, doing times tables etc has suddenly become almost engaging.

Whereas before, a mini version of the battle of the Somme would take place every evening: us sending regular salvos of parental artillery across the table, sounding like the manic, abusive parent in Pink Floyd’s The Wall: “You must finish your homework before you can have anything nice!!!” (while I rant incoherently about attacking the next school governor’s meeting to demand an end to pointless, dull, educationally invalid, family harmony sapping homework…), while our darling mutters, “..no, I’m staying firmly entrenched in my bunker, adamant I won’t try these boring spellings on these flimsy and crumpled, crappy bits of paper I have to bring home from school, when I could be doing something more meaningful in my young life, like practicing some nifty new moves to Swan Lake.

But gosh..this morning the sun came out and as our solar-powered plastic butterfly fluttered it’s wings at the strong light beaming across the breakfast table, the iPod came out silently, the gentle ping of a new word learned blessed the air..no fuss..no hair-raising screaming from us…most of the week’s spellings sorted before school, five days early..job done completely independently..bliss. And after the spelling s were sorted some times tables were also dispatched successfully in a bloodless coup..

So – some great educational apps that we’ve installed to get her started (and there are squillions more out there..):

  Test you spelling – works a treat – there are loads of other ones..

Same as Times Tables – all sorts of these, including some that are created as games rather than straight sums. Lots of score board treats to suck ‘em in..

As a family who love photography, here’s a few we’ve used and put on the iPod:

  

OldBooth is great fun – make you Dad look like an eighties icon or even a camp squaddie from the fifties.

Hipstamatic allows you to shoot square framed images with an array of retro, Polaroid effects, nice movie style black and white and much more. You can swap film, lenses etc.

Here are some great science apps that will teach your kids about the stars and the solar system:

   

If your kids are keen on wildlife…here’s one on birds (costs a bit but has all UK bird songs, images, data etc..)

And finally for now…some great Google reference and research apps and GoogleEarth on your iPod:

       

As and when we toy with more apps that work well…we’ll let you know.

Why have a national curriculum if it’s not universal?

Some key questions here – why should any school have to endure a national curriculum if the government accepts that it may not be appropriate or desirable for academies and Free schools? Is this is a cynical carrot to change schools’ status and governance through devious means….?

The national curriculum: why have one if it’s not for everyone? | Education | The Guardian.