Archive for November, 2012

I have started to look at the impact the iPads are having in school on teaching and learning and felt that I needed to consolidate a lot of the things I have been doing so that any future deployment had a streamlined process.
In reviewing all of the apps that I have trialled it soon became apparent that there were some very clear pedagogies coming through. The chance to develop communication in various ways, to enhance collaboration between students and staff and finally creativity, again from all areas of the school. So this is where I am at, how do I show staff, students and parents how the iPad can help develop their school experience, not just as a gadget to engage but to actually make a difference in doing things we could not before (@ictevangelist really made me think about this aspect after his SAMR presentation at #tmclevedon)

Over the last year I have tried out several different apps that have really improved the communication I have with both staff and students. I have recently started to really explore the use of Edmodo. Such a simple tool for keeping in contact with specific groups, class groups, sports teams, staff groups, the list goes on. The beauty of the app is the ownership you have over it. We have a VLE we have email but these are school run systems that the students have no sense of ownership of, they are given it and expected to use it. The difference with Edmodo is that they have their own page and can have a picture on it, a simple thing but allows it to become theirs not ours. They then use it more. In the few weeks I have been using it I already have a better line of communication with the students and staff and means the endless emails I get everyday that are not actually for me are minimised.
Other communication benefits of the app come as part if the increased use of apps that allow for feedback to be given to students. My first venture into instant feedback in the digital form was through using google docs and google drive to link all of the departments BTEC course together and allow the students to see exactly where they are at all times. There are many other benefits to doing it in this way but the communication with students is key to it. When they submit their work now they get feedback that they can view whenever and wherever which means work can be corrected quicker and away from school.
This has had a huge impact on how the students are performing and brings in parental engagement as they too can see what is going in with their children’s progress in school.

This has been a buzz word around school for some time, how can we enhance a learners experience by linking subjects? Or how can students develop a deeper understanding through group work? Both valid things but are they done effectively? The one issue is time, we all struggle to find time to do the basic things so how are we meant to find time to do things on top if that? Apps like Evernote, Dropbox and google docs enable us to share ideas, files, resources etc with such ease that collaboration can be much more enhanced. Students working on a project can set up a shared folder and all can have access to add things in to it, to review each others contributions and to develop them, the beauty is this can take place anywhere, no longer are they constrained by the time in a classroom or arranging times to meet up. Individuals can work in their time and then use class time to really take things further, to deepen the understanding they have.
As a staff team we can do this even further. I have had the great pleasure to meet (mostly in the virtual sense) lots of great educators outside of my school, twitter has brought us together but things have developed aside from that. Examples include a shared bit if work on literacy in PE, started up by @davidfawett27, we use Dropbox and google docs to share ideas and resources that we can all try out in the our own schools and report back on the progress. Also there is a growing movement of #pegeeks that have a Dropbox shared folder for resources and now a YouTube channel for video resources. Finally I am working with @jamiegodzy on some iPad based work again collaborating on ideas, sharing use and generally having quality feedback on progress.
Could these things be done another way? Possibly but having the iPad makes it do much more efficient and hence it happens. I can find a YouTube video, save it straight into the shared channel, tweet about its use, create a resource, share that in Dropbox etc, all whilst being away from a computer or office.

This is the real highlight, for me, I want students to really see the relevance behind the things I am asking them to do, all to often as a non IT specialist I am left using PowerPoint or Word or if I am feeling really daring Prezi. The problem is it makes all the work seem very similar for the students. The iPads have made a huge difference to this. The vast amount of apps available give endless options for students to be creative with their output and gives a real audience for the things they have created.
For example my students used to use PowerPoint to create posters for assignments in BTEC. It was an easy solution and the end result was okay, nothing special but it was easy for them to use as they knew how to. After doing this all the time however the impact, engagement and excitement goes. Now we find new ways to create things and the students get the chance to select what suits them the best. We now have work completed that can be shared anywhere as it is done in a variety of formats. For example students have recently completed a piece if work using Zapd, a simple tool that helps create web pages, the students find the information as they always did but now they can be more creative with the end product which is something they may be asked to do in a job. Students are learning real skills as well as producing work they can be really proud of. There are so many apps like this, moodboard, educreations, Zapd, video thread, fotobabble to name just a few, students are creating podcasts, websites, posters, and they have complete control. The feedback is excellent, and the standard of work is so much greater and from a literacy point of view it really helps. The real benefit is that most of these apps are free, so trial and error is encouraged without risk of wasting money.

These three areas overlap and if I were more creative I could produce a really nice Venn diagram to show it. The apps enable these new ways if working to seamlessly link together and make the skills become implicit, students create their work, usually with collaborative elements and can receive instant feedback on it.

Hopefully this can help convince people that the move towards digital technology is not a fad but a real change to help in the classroom and give staff a different way to approach their classes


I eventually got into using Edmodo after being introduced to it by @syded06 and then shown it in more detail by @jamiegodzy.
Basically it is like Facebook for your classroom, don’t let that put you off though as it is designed to look that way to help engage students. It’s use however are so much greater than just social networking.

1. Class use.
I have set up groups with all of my teaching groups, I teach both BTEC Sport level 2 and 3 and KS3 PE.
BTEC groups, these classes use Edmodo in lots of ways, I can share resources directly with the students and direct them to look at it before sessions. This helps as they come prepared with thoughts, ideas and discussion points to help engagement in the lesson. We can also post comments on our class wall (in Edmodo) and further engage in learning outside of the classroom. This is what actually got me interested in Edmodo in the first place, the ability for students to check understanding outside the classroom saves so much time and maintains that engagement in the subject.
Finally we set assignments from within Edmodo which sets a calendar event for students, this helps so much, especially if you teach multiple groups and have lots of deadlines, it is also a good reminder for students as they have notification saying something is due. Once it needs to be handed in they do this via Edmodo so all of their work is collated in one place, you can see what is outstanding and can award grades and feedback all in one place (we do still use google drive however as it meets the SV process from BTEC)

In this class I use it slightly differently, the group have access to video tutorials that I think will help them with skills that we are looking at or even just a video that gets them interested in the sport. It is also really useful if you are teaching sports they may not have seen before, put clips of games on so they can see the big picture or even rules involved. I also use it to gauge how students are getting on in sessions, this is just a simple post about what we did and students respond letting me know their level of understanding. This is really useful and so simple.

2. As department CPD and communication.
The department now has an Edmodo group that allows us to share resources and communicate about things that are happening on the department, fixtures, clubs etc. we can put videos or task sheets in the library and share them or even just post about a good session, also good if staff are out as you can send any messages that might need to be passed on to students  I have now set up a staff group for the whole school and called it CAB teachmeet.  i have asked staff to join and to share ideas and resources with each other.  it is in its early stages but could prove to be huge.

3. Team groups
How often do you find yourself running around trying to find players for a match, let them know a change of date or change of venue, set up a group and invite the team in and this is simple, (you can even enhance it by linking it to coach pad recordings of formations and tactics).  This is going to be set up with my basketball team, it will hopefully give them some responsibility for organising themselves as well as a place for the team to keep in contact with each other.  I can put fixtures, results and pictures on there so they have something to show for their efforts.

4. Work experience booklets
Spoke to a member of staff this morning who is looking at post 16 work experience. She has started using it there got students to post about their experience, using it as a log book rather than filling in and losing their booklets they are given. It also enables day to day monitoring by staff.

5. For target groups
I am currently running an iPad trial in school with 40 students to see the potential of having a 1:1 programme, I have a group set up on Edmodo that enables me to contact the group and encourage the group to chat to each other about what issues or successes they are having. If you have groups that you want to target for any reasons it is a really powerful tool. This has now been developed and will be launched to our G&T students in the New Year, the idea is to create a group that all the G&T students can join and share experiences with each other, it provides the staff with a portal to contact them all and discuss needs etc and to store resources that could be of use to students to help them extend their learning.  For example in sport we will be creating some guides that students can use to help extend their own work.  Information will be provided on video analysis, coaching and umpiring.

There are just a few uses and I’m sure there are loads more and different ways to use it. It really is a powerful tool and best of all it is personalised to your groups.

Keywords ebook for Sport and literacy


Been looking at how we can help support and develop literacy from a PE perspective. This is a joint project involving lots of really great practitioners and headed up by @davidfawcett27.
One of my ideas was to create an ebook that contained all the keywords from our BTEC sport course. The idea is that this would be downloaded by all of the students and would be support for their work and a place to check understanding.
I have started to collate the keywords into the book and wanted to bring it to life with some more audio visual representation of the keywords.
I have found some great videos that show the keywords in action and I have recorded my own explanation of the keywords.
I feel that what would really bring this to life however is to use the practical work of the students on the course. In this way the book serves multi purposes.
Students have a place to present their work in a way that it is not only seen but used.
It makes the book evolve over time as videos and audio clips can simply be change.
It gives a tool to engage and extend G&T students
One Issue that I have found is that due to the size of the book it is difficult to share so it would need to be broken down into chapters.
Lots of potential here though and could prove to be a great project to work on with the students

The iPad mini, my review

I am not going to tell you about performance compared to another model or discuss the merits if a million pixels if a variety of colours… I’m just going to say how I have been using the iPad mini over the last week and the difference it has made to me as a teacher.
Firstly, it is so much lighter, strange that that would have an impact but it does, I can simply hold it in one hand and type away without getting arm ache after a while. I’m not saying it is a reason to dump a full size iPad but it does make a difference, especially for me as I rarely sit at a desk to teach. The portability allows me to respond to teachers questions on emails or mark student work, whilst being out away from my office.
Secondly, it does everything the full size iPad does but the battery does not appear to drain as quick, after a full day of showing videos, recording students practically working, marking work and giving feedback, I still have plenty of battery left. Again not a massive reason to get one but it does make it easier to plan your sessions without thinking about when it might need a charge or will it last till l get back to the office.
From a student point of view, do I think it would be a valuable tool for them in the classroom? Definitely
It is big enough to use to type on and be creative? I have fairly large clumsy fingers and I cope okay, so students should be fine.
It is also small enough that it can slip into a pocket and doesn’t take up any room at all in a bag (our students tend to not have the latter so the pocket thing is important)

All in all it has not changed my practice but has made it a little easier, if you are thinking of getting an iPad and not sure which to go for. I would opt for the mini as I am a sports teacher and it is more portable.

So there, my simple and brief review.

iPads in PE and apps to help

As a department we spent the day today looking at our planning and how it could be improved. As a department that has embraced the use of the iPads as a teaching aid we were discussing how we use the different apps in our teaching.
Different staff are at different stages of their own comfort levels with using the devices at this point so I thought I would review what we have achieved so far and where we are heading as a team.
I want to put together a post that the staff can review in their own time to look at what they are achieving and areas they can develop.

I will start with core PE sessions.

Coach’s eye
This is a really useful app for teaching practical subjects of any type, the ability to be able to record events and then instantly be able to review what has been done, slow it down, pinpoint strengths and areas for development and even to annotate with drawing and audio over the top.
This is an app we will use a lot in Sport both in the hands of the staff but more importantly with students in control. This links nicely with YouTube as well for storage of video and this will be referred to later.

This is a simple picture and audio app that has some really useful applications in sport. The idea is that students will take pictures if a peer performing a closed skill,they then review the pictures to find the best shot, this in itself gets students doing some very simple analysis of performance. Once they select the best picture they then click record and talk about what is happening in the picture and how it could be improved. This can then be shared with their partner to inform progress.

This is a simple AFL tool that can be used throughout a session to check the students understanding of the learning. Simply create a quiz and get students to answer the questions. This in itself can generate conversation about students learning as they will no doubt discuss what they answered with each other. The app sends a report to your email and this can be viewed as a class if required to look at general trends. It is also really good for informing future planning.

I have discussed blogging in previous posts but as a quick review staff and students use Posterous to keep a blog of their learning, students write about what they have learnt and what they want to target as an improvement, this van then be used at the start of the next lesson to look at what students have learnt. It is also a way to get students to practice literacy in sport sessions.

We have set up a department YouTube channel which we use for a few different purposes.
We store videos created in sessions looking at how to perform different skills in sport. This is useful for students to track their progress across the key stage as we can see where they have progressed from.
We have compiled playlists of exemplar models of how to do skills to have models of good practice.
It is also a storage location for BTEC coursework.
The potential for YouTube in this way is huge as it becomes a storage location for our flipped learning as students can access a wealth of content to help them develop.

This is a really useful app with many uses, the one I hope will have a huge impact is to record parts of each lesson to build a lesson by lesson review of each sport. By filming sections and then reviewing at the end if the module students have an opportunity to see how they have developed over the course of the module. This should lead to some good conversation around what has been covered. Again this would be uploaded to YouTube for other staff to review and share with future students to see what can be achieved, it also helps with moderation of assessment.

This is something I have only just started looking at and it is a combination of the video created in sessions, exemplar models on YouTube and assessment. The idea is to use our student focused level descriptors that are displayed around our sportshall and create augmented reality clips that would show exactly what that level would look like. Students could then use this independently in lessons to help their understanding. This could also be done using QR codes.

Class Dojo
This is something I introduced to our scholarship teachers. They use it as a simple reward and sanction tool to track student engagement in sessions. The students have responded really well to this and as it can be totally customised it suits whatever need you want to use it for.

And in BTEC sessions

This has a lot of uses in our sessions, it can serve as a place to store useful links to websites that you want students to read, store them in a notebook and share it with the students in your class. It is a place to store coursework to save on having numerous paper files. I have also linked it to Awesome note and store overviews of my lessons on it, again these notebooks are shared with my groups so they can see the lessons and content that has been covered so if they do miss a session they can see what they missed. Finally I link it with Explain Everything to share created content, I will explain this desperately.

Explain Everything
Due to the Sports staff having whatever classroom is available around the school we can not rely on having smart boards available all the time. Explain Everything enables us to have interactive whiteboards in any classroom. It has a whole host of options from simple drawing it writing to recording audio and annotating over pictures or web pages. You can record everything that you put on the slides and this can then be shared via Evernote so students can review it in their own time. It is really useful for recording discussions in class and ensures students take part in discussions rather than focusing on making notes on what is being discussed.

As discussed above but for BTEC it is great for capturing practical demonstration and saving it as evidence, for example pictures of students testing fitness and an audio recording of how they did it.

This is a podcast creator and similar to above is a great tool to capture student work in an alternative way to writing it down. Examples used have been in the creation if podcasts for fitness training methods. This gives students a chance to create something that is used in the real world and have it commented on outside of school

This is a nice presentation tool that works really well to develop a sequence to learning, it animates the drawing of pictures and words and moves between them smoothly, I have found it useful to show things that might work in a cycle as it brings things together nicely, if you have used prezi it works in a similar way.

Book creator
This is similar to iBooks Author but can be done on the iPad, it’s used are fairly straight forward. You can create your own text books and include more digital resources such as video or audio links to bring the book to life. The power here is that your books can be continually updated and with a little bit of creativity you can get the students to create chapters as well. If you want to give purpose to a piece if work done by a student tell them they could have it published in the school text book used by future classes.

Coachnote or coachpad
These are similar apps but both are centred around a coach board that can be used to analyse tactics in a game, in BTEC we use it so students can demonstrate their knowledge of set plays, formations etc in games as evidence for the practical sport module, it has also been used by non doers in practical lessons to plan and lead drills and to analyse performance, for instance in basketball looking at shots made and missed.

Google Drive
Again this has been covered in previous posts but the idea is that it is used for feedback to students on their coursework and a way to share progress of students.

These are just a few of the apps that we currently use or are planning on using. They are not a replacement to teaching and learning, just tools to help enhance the experience in the classroom.

This post was due to be about how the technology we use in lessons can benefit students with dyslexia but in the planning of the post it occurred to me that the tools that are applied are actually just good practice for all students.

Today we had inset on various things that the school was working on, one being helping students with dyslexia. I had a student in my BTEC session with dyslexia and thought this session would really benefit me in being able to help him, was I structuring sessions to meet his needs?

After an overview of what the main issues were that a dyslexic student may face, I got thinking about how I teach now I have adopted using my iPad as a teaching tool and iPods as student tools. On reflection the things I have been getting ALL of the students to do are actually the correct things for aiding dyslexic students.

One thing that was identified was to give them something to aid them with remembering information to supplement their difficulty in retaining short term memories.

For this I have been getting students for a while now to use their devices to take pictures of the board or voice record discussions we are having. We use Evernote on personal devices or I use my iPad to record things and then share to their Evernote accounts.

The reason for this from my point was that students stored something to refer back to and it created time to discuss facts rather than waste time simply copying things down. The time spent discussing the issues has a much greater impact than just writing it in a book and potentially not reading it again.

The second key issue is the fact that dyslexic students struggle to formulate patterns when structuring writing.

To combat this students should be given opportunities to be creative as that suits their needs.

Well this is something I have wanted all students to do, it shows an application of their learning and gives them an opportunity to work independently and in a way that they have ownership of the task.
Examples of this have been in creating podcasts of student work in fitness testing or creating videos of mock interviews pretending to be sports people looking at issues in sport. Both examples have less focus in the written work but enable students to be creative in their response.

Now I am not saying that written work is not important, my previous posts are about improving literacy through sport, but I do feel there needs to be a balance and a way that students with difficulties can still show their ability and get feedback that installs a sense if achievement and will lead to them to keep trying.

Key points
Use apps like Evernote to record information that can be reviewed in students own time
Allow for multiple ways to present work not just written work but oral work or creative ways of presenting using tech if available.

The results are hard to ignore. The student I have is achieving well where he is given opportunity to be creative and his attendance and punctuality is excellent.

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