Cesicon 2016 – My Day

My first CESI conference! I set my alarm for 7am this morning to head to DCU to attend the Computers in Education Society of Ireland’s 2016 Conference. When I arrived, I spent the morning trying to match faces to Twitter profiles- many of the attendees are passionate teachers that I follow religiously on social media. After the opening speeches and keynote address, here’s a quick rundown of the workshops I attended:


Clic News – Literacy and Technology for the next 5 years:

Clic News was established in collaboration with the Dublin Institute of Technology. Clic News is a resource for upper-primary pupils providing relevant, child-friendly versions of news and current affairs articles. Developed with literacy skills in mind, children are encouraged to comment after reading each piece for which they earn stars based on good grammar and content. The stars can then be exchanged in the ‘swap-shop’ for small prizes.


Tradigital Education:

Principal Nichola Spokes spoke about Scoil Oscair CNS in Lucan – a primary school that aims to blend modern pedagogies and technologies. For me, this was the highlight of the day. Nichola spoke passionately and her enthusiasm was infectious. She gave an insight into life in a school where each child has their own iPad. To see pupils as young as Senior Infants/First Class engaging in activities such as robotics, MakeyMakey and coding was, for me, fascinating.


STEAM through creative technology:

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. We chatted about bringing the ‘Maker’ culture of experimentation and peer learning to schools. Using a MakeyMakey kit, we made a Pacman games controller using pen, paper and a graphite pencil. This was probably the session that I took the most out of as I’ve never used MakeyMakey before.



Exploring the Digital Strategy: Learning, Assessment and Teaching Enhancement through the integration of ICT:

Finally, I attended a session delivered by PDST facilitators Mark Finlay and Siobhán O’Sullivan. Another really informative session covering alternative search strategies for pupils, acquiring copyright-free images and assessment tools. Tools covered included Socrative, Google Treks and Kahoot.

It’s amazing what spending a day in the company of such innovative, enthusiastic peers can do for you. I left DCU feeling completely inspired and excited! Well done to the organisers and presenters on a great day! Huge thanks to my lecturer Richard Millwood for encouraging our M.Sc class to attend.

PenPal Schools

I wanted to share something I recently discovered on Twitter. I came across some tweets about PenPal Schools – an interactive PenPal matching app for children in senior classes.

Penpal Schools

The idea:

Each week, the students log on to PenPal Schools’ app, to complete a lesson, which is usually focused on global issues such as poverty, environment, and technology. PenPal Schools provides a video, attaches a news article, and offers a set of discussion questions on the topic. Students are then encouraged to discuss the lesson with their assigned Penpal and exchange perspectives. Each course runs on a three to six week basis.

The courses on offer:

There are two courses particularly suitable for Irish primary school children (others are a little American orientated…)

  1. World Explorer

Connects children to study life, traditions and cultures in their penpal’s country. Great for Geography and Literacy.

2. World News

Probably suited to an able Fifth/Sixth Class (website advises ages 12 and up). Connects children to learn about global events and issues in their penpal’s country.

The application aims to match each child with an individual child in another country. So let’s imagine a class of 25 children could potentially be matched to children in 25 countries – imagine the scope for learning!

Sightwords.com – Word Games Generator

Sightwords.com is one of those websites that every teacher needs to know about, whether you’re subbing or working full time. Sightwords has an inbuilt game generator where you can input Dolch words, reader words or essentially any words you’re teaching your class. In terms of substitute teachers, print off a handful of games for your subbing kit – particularly useful for junior classes.

Sight words games

What I love about this website is that the games are colourful, varied and there are loads to choose from. I have already tried and tested them with my Senior Infants group who were suitably impressed!

How to enhance your CV for the incoming term

I often receive e-mails from newly qualified teachers asking how they can enhance their CV or how to add more experience to it. Summer courses and online professional development courses are usually quite expensive but PDST offer some short online courses – and best of all, they’re free!

Have a look at TeacherCPD to view the upcoming schedule. I’ve taken some of these courses in the past and they’re generally very beneficial. They’re short and sweet, and it’s great to show prospective principals that you’re taking an interest in upskilling!

Course Schedule