Dec. 12, 2018
Jen McCulloch spends half the week in New Brighton and the other half supporting teachers in implementing the computing curriculum in their schools. She is an enthusiastic advocate of Purple Mash.
Indeed, she's been using it since it was launched, and it's because of her that New Brighton has used it for all that time. In fact, the school has recently been designated a 2Simple Centre of Excellence, an accolade of which the school is extremely proud.
We asked Jen what she specifically liked about Purple Mash. “All of it!”, she beamed. Fortunately, she then gave us some specifics.
"I love 2DIY”, she went on. "You can use it across different subjects for all different things. For example, you can use it to create quizzes, or make a pairs game, like the Spanish pairs we've created where the children have to match up the Spanish word with its English translation."
Jen also loves the animation tools, and, like the children, 2DIY3D for making games. "And", Jen continues, "the Mash Cams are brilliant for lower down in the school because the children can easily record themselves."
"I love the fact that you can use several different apps in Purple Mash to teach a particular topic! For example, we do a history unit on the Beatles and Pop Art and use a number of Purple Mash tools and compare which is best. As another example, Year 2 have been comparing the different tools in Purple Mash. Which is the best piece of software to make Pop Art with repeated patterns? Is it 2Paint or 2Paint A Picture?
"I like the way we can use Purple Mash with a range of other pieces of software too. Although I love Purple Mash I do like to include other tools because I think that’s really important. We also use apps and compare them to what we create in Purple Mash. We talk about the best piece of software for the job. It's so important to encourage children to think about that. But for some schools the whole scheme of work, which includes assessment, to accompany the software is perfect for them!”
At the moment, the school uses Purple Mash, primarily in Computing, but two exciting developments are being planned. First, the school is going to roll out Mini Mash into Foundation 1, the nursery age group. Purple Mash is used in Foundation 2, the Reception classes, but a recent CPD session run by 2Simple revealed the existence of a button that makes it easy to switch between Mini Mash and Purple Mash. "This will help with continuous provision," says Jen.
Secondly, Jen is planning to use Purple Mash in all the Foundation subjects. For example, Jen uses Purple Mash to teach Pop Art in Year 2, and already makes links between Purple Mash and other subject areas wherever possible, by building the computing curriculum around topics from different subjects. But she hopes that other teachers will start to use it more frequently too.
"I run staff meetings," continues Jen, “in which I show teachers what you can do in Purple Mash, and try to get across to everyone how engaged the children are. I also tweet a lot about ideas for using Purple Mash on the school's Twitter feed. Also, Purple Mash has lots of planning resources for different areas of the curriculum, and I send those it to the appropriate staff. For example, a little while ago I emailed all the teachers some materials with a note saying that if you teach Geography, you can use these.”
"I'm really pleased that we have four people on our new computing team, and they all get release time. The school is very supportive of my mission to raise standards in computing in school and within the LA. The release team consists of two teachers, one full-time technician and an HLTA teaching assistant (who teaches some of the computing lessons). Not only that, we have a Digital Leaders team made up of ten very enthusiastic pupils, and they promote Purple Mash. In fact, they even conducted a pupil survey to find out if the other children like Computing, and almost all of them said they loved it.”
We asked her about having a full-time technician, because not many primary schools are so fortunate. Is that what it takes to run Purple Mash successfully?
"Oh no! I know of some schools who manage with a technician for only half a day a week. The beauty of having Purple Mash online is that you don't have to spend ages making sure it works on all the devices, which in our case are iPads. In any case, when I've had the odd niggle I've phoned 2Simple and they've sorted it out pretty much straight away. The other great thing is that sometimes I've suggested a feature, and they've gone ahead and put it in! For example, I told them it would be really nice if the children were able to send emails from their favourite character in a book, and the next thing I knew was that 2Simple had made that possible!"
One of the things that any school can do to help ensure that pupils make good progress is to engage parents, and that's on the to-do list for Jen:
"Quite a few of our pupils log in to Purple Mash at home, already. We're planning to give parents a special code that will let them see and comment on their child's or children's work.”
As an IT Technician, the amount of time Purple Mash saves us is incredible. Having access to online tools that require no installation, are always up-to-date and constantly improving and being refreshed is so valuable to us. Their technical team are knowledgeable and pleasant to deal with, always getting problems resolved quickly and effectively. Thanks to the well thought-out management tools, accessing user details is simple and effective to use. The ability to print out username cards so simply is a massive added bonus.
(Andy Woosey, IT Technician)
I enjoy using Purple Mash in computing lessons. It’s easy to use and the help videos are great if I ever get stuck. The children love using it too and pick up new skills very quickly. (Claire Evans, HLTA)
It is easy for members of staff who are new to computing to use in lessons. (Ellie Shannon, Teacher)
Here are some of the things that the school’s Digital Leaders are saying…
"You can use it anywhere as long as you have your tablet with you."
"It has easy access and little children can use it with Mini Mash."
"Any age can use it – there are some more advanced things. It is easy to learn and pick up."
"Purple Mash has lots of different apps and games. It's so easy to use."
You can find out more about how the school is using Purple Mash and its sister products, and pick up some great ideas for you to try out too, follow New Brighton on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NBPSComputing. For even more ideas for Purple Mash, look at the Local Authority's IT Services for Schools Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ITs4Schools. And just in case that's not enough, check out Jen's own professional Twitter feed on which she talks about – you guessed it – Purple Mash! That's at https://twitter.com/MissMacICT.
Lastly, for the announcement of New Brighton Primary School’s Centre of Excellence status, look on their website.