I'm sorry - for the last three days I have been the victim of a virus doing the rounds here in North Oxfordshire. So instead of sitting behind a keyboard, and giving your more Christmas gifts, I have been behind a duvet, trying to recover (and not infect the family). I don't know what the usual winter bugs have been doing in your school, but a local primary school ended up closing a day early, as their pupils were dropping like flies, and they even had special "deep cleaners" in every night for a week. So not a happy week, but all will be well for Christmas (fingers crossed).
So, I've got a backlog of gifts for the last few days to handover
The 6th Day of Christmas - Free Maths Add-In for Word
The free add-in for Microsoft Word to help with Maths (handily, called "Microsoft Math Add-in for Word") adds all kinds of graphing and equation capabilities to Word 2007. It specifically adds an "Equation Tools" tab to the Ribbon, and is a really handy way to create and simplif algebraic expressions. This is great for student use, and even more useful for teachers creating worksheets in Word, where they need to put complex equations in. A real time save.
You can download it free from the Microsoft Downloads site
The 7th Day of Christmas - Free e-safety resources for teachers & trainee teachers
The Know IT All programme, sponsored by Microsoft, is designed to help children to understand and manage the risks involved with Internet use. The great thing about the way that Know IT All has been designed by Childnet International, is that there are resources there for parents, children, schools and teachers. The latest, Know IT All for Teachers and Trainee Teachers, have been designed for use by any school with 11-year olds+, and also as part of the teacher training programme. Although e-safety is important, isn't part of the required curriculum for teacher training, so the resources created have been designed to be easily delivered, without time-consuming preparation.
The 8th Day of Christmas - Free e-safety CD ROM for parents
Okay, I'm going to cheat a little...
The Know IT All programme, sponsored by Microsoft.......
The other Know IT All resource that is well worth using is "Know IT All for Parents". It contains advice for parents and carers, and a special section for children and young people. Schools can order copies Free of Charge for distribution to parents, and so far about 1 million copies have been ordered. (That might seem like a lot, but it's still only around 20% of all secondary students).
More details are on the Childnet website, and the full content from the CD ROM is available online here including a summary of the advice in Arabic, Mandarin, Polish, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, and British Sign Language.
The 9th Day of Christmas - Free Training Add-In for Office 2007
Which brings us bang up to date. By this point, I know I'm talking to a dwindling audience - every school in Britain has broken up, and most of you are probably reading this in January, but ho hum (or should that be "ho ho") I'll carry on anyway...
Are you moving to Office 2007 next year? Most users love the switch, and find that the new Ribbon interface makes some things easy which were previously quite difficult - my favourite example is "conditional formatting", which allows you to show data more graphically in Excel 2007, with a couple of mouse clicks. So from a table of 300 attendance percentages a couple of clicks will highlight the top 10 and bottom 10 pupils, with no hard work involved.
But change, of any kind, can disorient some users, so there's a great set of free downloads available which add a "Get Started" tab to the Word/Excel/PowerPoint menu, with links for online training, interactive guides video demos, and links to online Office discussion groups.
Download the new tabs using the links below: