Archive for December, 2012

#literacyinpe follow up on blogging

As a follow up to @davidfawcett27 excellent post on literacy ideas I thought I would expand on the idea I presented at tmbrock on students blogging to reflect on their learning and impact on their literacy.
The idea was to have the teacher post a synopsis of the lesson and then students were to write a reelection on what they had learnt and what they needed to do to improve.
Though this engaged the students and got them writing, did it actually have an impact on their literacy? Not really.
In reaction to this thought I met up with one of our English teachers for some guidance, the outcome was to have a focus per module that the students should think about when writing, just simple things but things that our students needed to focus on.
To encourage reflective writing all students will have access to either Edmodo or Posterous and will review their learning after each session. This is aimed at getting students to write about what they have done and look at targets to improve. The impact on literacy comes through the extra practice at writing and enhanced through modular focuses looking at writing structure.

Module 1: capital letters at the beginning of sentences and for names of people and places

Module 2: full stops at the end of every sentence

Module 3: apostrophes used for a) contractions (e.g. do not – don’t) and b) possession (e.g. the student’s kit/the students kits’)

Module 4: commas used for a) listing things and b) after a subordinate clause (e.g. When the ball was passed to me, I ran as quickly as I could.)

Module 5: using all of the above consistently.A board is in place where articles about sport will be displayed, this is to encourage reading around relevant and current issues and develop skills required in understanding different text.

This is now going to be launched to the students with the focus being reflected on over the whole module.


Having finished the initial trial with a group of students it is clear of the power that the iPad will have on all aspects of the teaching and learning experience.
One key thing that came out of the feedback and observations however is the need for staff training on the use of the devices.
Where staff had actively engaged in the opportunities offered for CPD via twitter, the school blog or the informal meetings, they have seen the greatest use of having the devices in the classroom. Where issues arose it was in the classrooms of the less confident or sceptical teachers (which is perfectly understandable)
So to counter these issues training will need to be provided based on stages of progression to get staff familiar with the device and some core apps that will make a difference.

Explain Everything
This app has so many uses in the classroom, it is an interactive whiteboard to present with, it is a recording tool, an analyser, an annotator a place for group work to happen.
Staff will need to know the basics about how to use the app and then have a chance to discuss its use in their classroom, the key being to enhance what is currently being done.
For instance
Where staff use the whiteboard for mind mapping activities and stimulating class discussion, this can be recorded on explain everything, stored as a movie and exported to students to be reviewed at a later time. This is essential for revision, not just of notes made in lesson but of the discussions that took place that are probably more in depth.

Not necessarily an iPad app as it is a web tool that can be used on various platforms, however if we move to a 1:1 system it will prove to be an invaluable tool in the classroom for a variety of purposes.
It is a communication tool, where I have been using it at present it has completely changed how students interact with myself and other students, we now have the opportunity to expand our classroom beyond timetabled lessons, I can set productive homework based on upcoming lessons and students can help each other out with questions about work. It helps develop a sense of community in the group.

A very simple to use app that staff can use to create video of elements in their sessions. It has many uses depending on what you want. Film part of a practical you are doing and add descriptions of what is happening. Add to YouTube for students to review. Film students at work over a period of weeks to show progression. Get students to make learning diaries where they talk about what they have learnt that week (think big brother diary room)
You can even use it to film students working as evidence towards vocational courses.

These are just a start point and more specific apps may be needed by some departments such as;

Coach’s eye in practical subjects (drama, PE, science, music, DT, catering).

Voicethread, audioboo, fotobabble for developing oral literacy.

Puppet pals, comic life for creative display of learning (MFL, humanities)

These apps are in keeping with the vision of create, collaborate, communicate.

Setting up BTEC Google
Watch on Posterous

Saw @ictevangelist presentation from tmlondon recently looking at augmented reality and how it can be used in the classroom, I have used this idea recently so thought I would write it up.

Worked with a group of students looking at a response to Lance Armstrong’s drug issues. They were tasked with the job of creating a news briefing from the point of view of a National Governing Body in sport. They had to think about what their point of view would be if it was there sport that was affected by the scandal.
To enhance the work they did they used augmented reality to bring their writing to life. We discussed impact if the spoken word alongside the written word (I linked it to Harry Potter and the newspapers with moving images)
The students were really engaged in the task, more so than if it was just a written piece of work, and they were very proud of their results.
This is a great example of enhancing work using devices, not simply replacing one tool with another for the same result. It tied in massively with the work I have been doing on literacy in PE. The students had to draft their work, then make a final copy. They had to talk in the right tense for the purpose of a news briefing. They then had to read it to record their voice for the Aurasma. When finished they had a very basic piece if work that when viewed with a device became a spoken piece of text.

Going for an iPad 1:1 model?

Over the last year I have been looking in to the benefits of deploying iPads to students at school, as a user myself I have seen massive changes in how I approach my work and the quality of what I can produce, how organised I have become and how it has impacted on my passion for teaching.
That being said it needs to be put into context when dealing with students and the context your students are in.

Stage 1
Research research research. Not necessarily to find ways of doing things but to get an idea of what can be done. There is no point following a trend if it will have little to no impact on your current model. I looked at examples from around the world of how iPads are being used. From classroom sets to BYOD and of course full on 1:1.

Stage 2
Get some sort of trial in place, you will not know the impact until you start to put it in place in your surroundings, you can visit as many places as you like but with anything it is not a simple transfer process. Different staff, students, parents and needs all need to be taken into account. I set up a trial loaning some iPads and deployed them
To a set of students, a plan was in place to meet regularly and train on app use and feedback was regular on issues and successes. This was huge, it taught me as much as it taught the students. They really did analyse the use and as always with students, they were honest.
A warning at this point, do not get bogged down with data, you will never achieve compelling data in a short study of use, look at engagement, punctuality, willingness to discuss school. These things will ultimately make improvements but it won’t be instant. I have just completed this part and the results were as expected, but this is still only stage 2

Stage 3
Research research research, what do you need to do to make this work? You need a structure in place, you should by now know the basics of what you have, wifi, staff needs, student needs etc. you will need to now think about the bigger issues. App purchase, system management (is your network manager up to speed on managing mobile devices) buying the devices (where from, what price) launching to parents (this in itself needs careful planning, go all in and risk a backlash, don’t seem like you have a plan and risk a lack of interest). Long term CPD, management of resources (Dropbox, google, Edmodo, Evernote, you need something the whole school uses) and of course a vision, a shared vision of how this will build. I have looked at create, communicate and collaborate,
A simple overview of what the device should do to impact our school. It ties in directly to other work we are doing so the iPad is seen as supportive of current practice and nothing different and to get the staff on board it can not be put out as a new initiative, it is supportive of current practice and simply enhances what we currently do.

Stage 4
Don’t rush things, get it right, cover all bases

Hope this helps

The more I look in to getting iPads deployed in school the more I am looking into why we should do it.
It goes so much deeper than the idea of having a device that gives better access to things, it is a way to look at the whole curriculum and the very core of why we do what we do.

I recently watched a video on YouTube where a young man talks about education and being educated.
Basically he is discussing the merits of education and the difference to being educated. Now I have often held the belief that it should not be all about the grades, that school should be about developing minds to be creative, adaptive and developmental.

I felt this when I was in uni, studying about how students in universities in the not so distant past were the game changers, the thinkers. I thought as I say there learning about this mass movement to make a difference that I had better remember all this to write it in an exam so I could pass my course. Oh the irony. There I was learning about students making a difference so I could get the right answer in an exam and pass a course.

If I go in to a store to ask for help, do I want a yes or a no? Or do I want someone to hear my issue and be able to think about what they could do to help? How frustrating is it when you call a call centre only to be spoken to by someone reading from a script rather than being able to actually think for themselves? Are we just creating students that do this as we just teach them how to answer a question and not how to think for themselves.

So the iPad, where does it fit in to this mini rant? It has provided me with a tool to develop, to expand my own practice and to break a mould of what I used to be like as a teacher. I can find out things for myself, I can learn new things in my own time and I can be creative in the way I approach things. If this has changed my way of thinking, what might it do to education?
Could students be given the chance to develop ideas, to express themselves, to take the things we teach them and have the chance to apply them in a way that engages them in the process. Rather than just write it in an exercise book and hope it gets marked right. Imagine the power to take what you have learnt in a subject and mix it with a passion you may have in a different area.
For example, a student that loves music and making songs, learn something about a novel in English, take that and make a song and video on their ipad. Not a conventional lesson as it is not the normal approach, but would that student not remember what they had done, and seen how it effected their life?
I saw an example of this from @kennypieper
A students homework. It blew me away. Would it have done had it been written?

Now I’m not suggesting that this is an easy process but by making small steps and having these possibilities then school really can become a place that broadens horizons. As a dad myself I worry that if my son can not remember things well or is not academic then he will be considered a failure in school, by the school system. He is however so creative and imaginative, if he was allowed to demonstrate his knowledge in a different way, maybe he would be seen as a success. Though he always will be by me. As are so many students I teach that are ‘failing’ but are so creative with their knowledge. I would live to think that all students have the chance to show their knowledge in their own way. I really think that iPads go some way to allowing this possibility, can education adapt to it?

Linking pages, Dropbox and Edmodo

Using ipads to teach. here is a quick tip to link your resources to Edmodo via Dropbox
Check out this video on YouTube:

Sent from my iPad


Google drive was recently updated with extra tools on the go in the spreadsheets section. This has a really good impact on how we can help students identify their progress.
A simple tool that allows me to show and edit colourful versions of the tracking page.
As I enter the pass, merit or distinction value into the spreadsheet it is set to change colour.
Students can see this and it has a huge impact on their motivation and engagement. Progress is visual and due to the calculations being built in they can see their overall grade calculated as an ongoing process.
Really easy to set up

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