National Trust Green Living Competition

clock October 31, 2008 by Sue

Have your pupils got the green factor? That is what the National Trust are trying to discover.

The National Trust  are running an online competition for schools and youth groups. There are two categories, primary and secondary. They want students to write and record a song about green living before the deadline of 30 November, 2008.

The prize offered to the two winners will be £70 worth of green products and their songs will be published on the National Trust green living website. An overall winning song will be selected to be featured as The National Trust Christmas Number 1!

This competition is right up my street as I am committed to helping the environment and green living. I am proud that Topmarks is hosted using 100% renewable energy by 1&1 web hosting.


Create Touch Reveal Objects in SMART Notebook 10

clock October 26, 2008 by Sue

If you, like me, have upgraded to SMART Notebook software Version 10, then perhaps you are not yet familiar with all the new elements that are on offer.

I have been exploring the Object Animation feature and in particular how to make objects fade when clicked to reveal different things. I think this has the potential to make teacher created resources more interesting.

I set myself the task of creating a Shape Reveal SMART Notebook resource for 6 - 7 year olds which you are welcome to download and keep. I have always found children love seeing who can guess the name of a 2D shape first as it is slowly revealed from behind a screen. So I have created some shapes, each hidden behind a Screen Shade and made each shape clickable to reveal the name of the shape. The resource is intended for use in Full-Screen mode otherwise children will be able to see what shape is coming next in the page-sorter.

To demonstrate how I made the resource I have also produced another SMART Notebook file which provides step-by-step instructions on how I created just one of the shapes. Quite simply I made a sandwich of two identical shapes with the shape's name in between. When clicked, the top one fades to reveal the name. The resource can be used as a starter or plenary activity with Year 1 or Year 2 children. If there are too many shapes, simply delete certain pages. For older children you may like to add more complex shapes.

The same technique could be adapted for identifying 3D shapes too. I couldn't find an octagon in the SMART Notebook gallery, so I created a filled octagon in Microsoft Word using the Draw Menu and simply cut and pasted it into Notebook.

Even if you teach older children it won't take more than a few minutes to try the technique and see how it could be adapted for other uses. I have tried it on the map of the British Isles from the gallery. Each of the maps of the four countries of the UK fits perfectly into the outline map. The same technique could be used to make a clickable map which reveals the names of the countries.

I would love to know how you get on and if you are on half-term this week - enjoy!


The Best of Topmarks - September 2008

clock October 16, 2008 by Sue

I am often asked if I can let people know of new additions to Topmarks. I think an ideal way to do this will be to write a monthly blog post featuring a selection of the recent additions. I know this one is a little late, but in the future look out for my 'The Best of Topmarks' posts at the beginning of each month. 

Interactive Whiteboard Resources

We have redesigned our Interactive Whiteboard section, adding more than 700 new sites, and more subjects and age groups. We'd love to know what you think.

Topmarks Blog

A new introduction in September was of course this blog, which aims to give teaching ideas, highlight fantastic resources and let you know about Topmarks' news. Feel free to use the comments facility to share your views and ask us questions.

Additions to Our Search Engine

English - Key Stage 1, P2 - P3, Ages 5 - 7

The Three Little Pigs
A well animated story with text of the traditional tale 'The Three Little Pigs'. In this version the first two pigs get eaten and the wolf is boiled in the cooking pot. This site is a useful teaching aid as the animation can be paused.

Teaching Synthetic Phonics Phase 3
Video excerpts of a teacher delivering a 'Letters and Sounds' phase 3 Synthetic phonics session.

History - Key Stage 2 and 3, P4-S3, Ages 7 - 14

Making Mummies and Sarcophagi
A workshop designed to introduce children, from 6 to 12 years old, to simple sculpture processes. It involves making a Plasticine model of a mummy, wrapping it in modroc and then making a cast of the mummy to form the sarcophagus.

World War II
An amazing collection of interactive whiteboard resources about the Second World War. They have been created for use in Scotland but they are appropriate for other areas of the UK. They include topics such as evacuation, food rationing and more.

Hidden Lives
An archive of amazing documents and photographs where you can find out what it was like to be really poor in Victorian and Edwardian times. Target age range 10 to 15 years.

Art - Key Stages 1 - 4, P2 - S5, Ages 6 to 16

BRUSHster
BRUSHster is a painting machine for all ages. It has more than forty brushes, different stroke options and special effects. You can use it to draw pictures but the idea is to create Abstract art. This is a really powerful resource, which can be quite addictive. You can save your work and print out the best. For ideas scroll down the page to watch the slideshow.

Geography - Key Stages 1 - 4, P2 - S5, Ages 6 to 16

Geography Image Bank
Great copyright free images from Worcestershire LEA. Categories include: Human Geography, Physical Geography, Buildings (homes), Culture, Seaside and Transport. The photographs would be useful teaching aids on an interactive whiteboard. They could be used by pupils to illustrate their topic work or assignments.

Geography - Key Stages 2, P5 - P6, Ages 8 to 10

Grid References
A useful mapping teaching aid on grid references. This resource also covers basic Ordnance Survey symbols. It works well on an interactive whiteboard. Access the different sections through the drop-down list or download the lesson pack and use offline.

Biology/Science - Key Stage 3, S1 - S3, Ages 11 - 14

Population Size
A Flash lesson about populations, organisms of the same species that live together in the same habitat, and the factors such as space, disease and predators that can affect the size or survival of a population.

Smoking
A website which outlines the facts about smoking, how it affects the human body and the benefits of not smoking. Great on an interactive whiteboard and there are interactive diagrams on the respiratory system. There is a more detailed version on the Topmarks Search Engine for Key Stage 4 students.