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App Spotlight – Adobe Post

Next Generation Learning; Today...

Nowadays, you see Social Graphics everywhere. Facebook and Twitter are literally littered with them. From humorous or political MEMEs, to nauseating quotes about true love; for the average digital citizen they are nigh-on impossible to escape from.

So rather than try to avoid these pieces of digital-dialogue, I would actually encourage educators to start creating their own with the fantastic free APP, Adobe Post – there are a myriad of ways in which they can be used at school and beyond!

Once downloaded, you can select from a variety of ready made ‘Posts’ from the Inspiration Wall generated by Adobe. You can simply to choose to explore and remix those or even better, create your very own truly unique masterpiece.

FullSizeRender Some of the ready made Posts that you can choose from.

You hit the large green ‘plus’ sign at the bottom of the screen to get started.

You can then choose between a wide…

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Day 4

So the week was already moving at a fast pace, today was a great day for really working with my PLN and others to really develop my skills. We looked at iTunes U today and seeing as I have barely looked at it I chose the basics session.  just as well really as they covered the things that I really needed to look at.  iTunes U for those that don’t know is a course creation tool for making courses to be accessed on iOS devices.  it is a way to combine resources and lead learning either directly through session led courses or at self paced level.  This is a fantastic way to structure content and I can personally see the benefits for teaching students with accessibility needs such as EAL as they have options for making notes on everything from text to videos.  All of this then gets synced to their notes section and makes for a great revision tool.

More time followed with a chance to sit with PLN to develop practice.  First a huge thank you to @ICTEvangelist for showing me the basics of Final Cut Pro, this is going to be useful in some of the work I do this year.  These were the moments that really made an impact this week.  The chance to share our best practice and ask questions to a room full of experts.  Simple things like using an app and having others want to know a little more about it and how it works.

The afternoon sessions were again small workshop style sessions that we could opt for.

The first session for me was the Lennon Bus ( @lennonbus) OMG, this was a great experience and you really need to have a look at the work that they are doing.  It is a fully equipped recording studio that tours around Europe to work with students of all ages.

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This group of amazing people run this as a charity and work with students to really develop their skills in creativity.  A lot of the time they are working with students that have no experience at all but they leave with a professional product at the end.

These are some examples of the work that they do.  They really are inspirational.  Hopefully they will be coming to visit my students as I have put in an early request with them.

Next I did a session on Keynote led by Josiah from Duarte.  This session absolutely blew my mind.  The tips and tricks they shared here were unbelievable.  Real magicians on the stage making simple things look amazing.  I desperately tried to keep up with everything they were doing but definitely had to rely on my notes and those of others to develop my skills.  They were showing us how to use the built-in tools to create amazing keynotes that can be used in interactive books.

The last session was improv games.  This was led again by the excellent Rebecca Stockley.  This was a great opportunity to see some more games that could be used with students or staff to build collaboration and trust.

We started in a circle and were instructed, without talking, to form a square, then a triangle.  This was quite an interesting tool and really got everyone thinking about everyone else in the group.  Next we were asked to try to make an equilateral triangle with 2 others but were not allowed to let them know we were using them.  Each person in the room (nearly 30) all had chosen 2 others and had to form a triangle too.  As we moved around we were affecting others triangles and so it continued.  We never actually formed a still shape but it got extremely funny at times.  Next we had to create a human machine.  one person would start with an action and others would join in with an action that was a reaction to the one we were next to.  We also had to add in a sound to go with the noise.  As it grew the person that started had to slow down and so you could hear as the collaboration was happening.  Again a great game to build collaboration into a group.  These games were great fun and we looked at how they might be used in subjects as games to break away from the norm and get groups working together.  We also did some more work with Rebecca that she called recess games.  We were doing some work as a PLN and she asked us if we wanted to try some things.  Glad we said yes.  We played a couple of great games.  First up the Bunny Bunny game, a great game for building trust, then a game where you go to the middle of the circle and make a pose declaring what you are, then someone joins adding to it and one more person add.  We started with, a tree, an apple and a worm.  The first person then choses an object to stay and the game continues.  Very funny.  So many games it is impossible to get them all down in this blog but really useful and inspired me to possibly take some of the drama classes just to try them out with students.

Really need to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the following people who affected my development.  the sessions were great in everyday but definitely enhanced due to the people I was with (though I’m sure I could have been with anyone)

@gavinsmart @linakerict @snarfjle @tessenglish1 @jespersh @mrjonesict @headdowneyesup @wsoeldner @ictevangelist @syded06 @rebeccastockley

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Thank you all.

Day 3

This day started with the excellent presentation from Duarte,  by Nancy Duarte herself and Josiah the Senior Accounts Manager.  Between them they talked us through the power of presenting.

The presentation was titled Resonating through contrast.  The message i received was that in order to reach people in a way to make a change you need to find a common message, to make them see where you are coming from and how what you are saying will change them.  If you can identify their passion, you will resonate with them.

It was all about creating a story and making links to great stories told in film and how we as educators fit into that model.  We as teachers are not the hero of any story but the sidekick.  The hero is the learner.  An example given was from Star Wars, the students are Luke and the teacher is Yoda.

When creating presentations or delivering information you need to construct it as a story.  to fully understand this I highly recommend her book.  Particular attention should be given to her study of great speeches that have been made and the model that she has created as a result.

Next up Josiah took us through the visuals.  great simple ideas about how to make presentations look great.  Use of white space, taking the noise out of a visual.  What is the thing you want to draw attention to and what is a distraction?  Clear unified style consisting of colour scheme and fonts.  An easy way to check this is the glance test.  Look at something for a few seconds and then say what you were drawn to.  If it wasn’t the main thing, then it needs to change.  He also spoke of the flow of things.  Where are you drawn on the page?  Are you drawn to the right thing?  Such great ideas learnt here about the visual presentation that will have a huge impact on my work.

Next up was a session on using iBooks Author.

Having made a couple of these I went for the advanced session to get some extra tips.  Some great ideas in here thinking about the Duarte presentation and making books accessible to all.  We learnt all about making sure the books flowed well and looked good.  We also looked at using widgets in the books to make them truly interactive and how using iAd producer you can create your own widgets too.

We then had a chance to meet with our PLN and discuss things we had been working on.  using a great structure we spoke about a project, then there was clarification time, then each person answered three prompts

I really liked….

I wonder if….

A good next step would be…..

this was a great tool for developing ideas and getting quality feedback.

That evening I had the great opportunity to take part in a 1 in 3 series of presentations to the Institute.  1 idea given in just 3 minutes.  I presented on some of the work I was doing on Numeracy in Sport and the lunchtime club I had set up.  This was a great experience presenting in front of not only fantastic educators but also Apple themselves.  It was a very nervous affair but received some great support and positive feedback so thanks to all.


Here is the presentation I gave

Overall a great day again and really starting to feel like I do make a difference doing what I do.

For the last week I have had the great privilege to take part in the Apple distinguished educator institute in Cork.  I met great educators and heard from some amazingly inspirational speakers in what can only be described as a whirlwind of a week.


This post will be a summation of both the things I have learnt and a reflection on the people I met and how they have inspired me.

Day 1

We arrived at the institute with some ideas around what was going to happen but in general were fairly in the dark about what we were going to experience.  Sunday was just a settling in day on the programme, a chance for the 200 or so ADEs to travel and settle in.  No time is ever wasted though and this was the first of many opportunities to network and make some great connections.  After just a few minutes it was clear that I was surrounded by great educators that were going to have a huge impact on my week and beyond.  @headdowneyesup @tessenglish1 @linakerict @mrjonesict @wsoeldner @gavinsmart @ictevangelist (more would impact later)

First session was an orientation, a chance to get an idea of what the week was about. Advisor, Ambassador, Advocate and Author. That is what ADEs are.  We heard about what we would be doing this week and were told that the people we meet would become friends for life (at this point I hadn’t met all those people who would fit this bill but no truer words have been spoken)  The week would be a mix of inspirational talks, smaller workshops to meet our personal needs, opportunities to get expert advise and a chance to work within a PLN of similar thinkers.

This institute covered Europe the Middle East and India bringing together over 200 of the most innovative educators around, a real mix of cultures, languages and experiences.  This would lead to a real mix of ideas and possibilities.

Day 2

Today was all about creating our PLN to get together with like-minded individuals to share ideas and develop our network.  This PLN would become integral as a support network when creating new things as they were people who shared a similar passion.  Making these PLNs was a great tool in itself for any development session.  First we had to write down a keyword that summed up what we were about.  Maths, Leadership, Creativity, Media etc.  We then walked around holding our signs to see who else shared that passion.  This started to merge into conversations to explain what the passion was in detail and allowed for those keywords to change.  Eventually we found groups of like-minded individuals and began to think about what tied us all together.  My PLN was ‘Think Different”  a range of teachers from different backgrounds, some primary, some secondary and a range of subjects.  We all felt that the things being taught needed to be done in a new way to really develop students thinking. @gavinsmart @tessenglish1 @linakerict @mrjonesict @snarfje @jespersh

In these sessions we also looked at team building activities with the utterly amazing Rebecca Stockley ( @rebeccastockley)  I will say more about this great lady later but the session was designed to break down every barrier in the room from language to the usual British reservations of things.  First find a partner and find out how to say hello and thank you in other languages.  Next, a game of simply counting from 1 to 3 with a partner.  Alternate between each person counting in sequence.  This is where we were introduced to ‘the failure bow’ an opportunity to accept failure and to celebrate it.  When mistakes were made we cheered, this is a great tool, especially for my students that fear failure.  We then adapted the game, taking out the 1 and replacing with clicking fingers.  This continued, trying, failing, celebrating, changing partner, failing some more.  Such a simple approach but very powerful in breaking down barriers.

Next we looked at a game to open up conversations.  Yes, and….  n this game we had to tell a story, a random story about a place we may like to visit.  One person starts with, do you remember when we….. When they are done with their statement the next person has to start with yes and.  In this way the statement from the previous person is positively accepted and then built on, rather than being dismissed.  It makes you really listen to the other person, co creating a story and building the skills of adaptation and acceptance.

This would be the first of many references to storytelling being a very powerful tool to be used in education.

Next we looked at Accessibility.  Learners with a range of needs have had their access to the world changed through technology.  Here we learnt about the whole range of options available on iOS devices to really help with this.  From voice over to closed captioning.  When creating any content for learners it needs to be added in.  This was a really powerful message and really made me think about the things I make and how to adapt them or enhance them to allow everyone to access.

Next up.  Looking at the SAMR model for using technology in the classroom and what it is doing to the learning.  Lots has been written on this by Mark Anderson @ICTEvangelist and I urge you to read his work as it really makes it clear about the purpose of using technology in education.

Finally we were treated to a great talk from Bill Frakes @billfrakes  he is a world-renowned photographer.  he was talking to us about digital storytelling.  Basically the message was that our brains are wired for storytelling, it’s what we remember about things we are told and that devices we use enable us to easily create and share these stories.  I urge you to look at his work as it is simply inspiring.  He also shared a video with us that was really special.

That was all just day 1 of the institute.  Some amazing experiences and some awesome friends made, and still 3 days to go…..

Next steps

So it has been an interesting year this year.  Lots of highs (TMClevedon, TMBrum, TMBrock, Getting ADE status) and some challenges (what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger)  All in all it has seen the biggest change in my professional practice since my NQT year.

On reflection I have set myself new challenges for the next academic year.  To make my Curriculum area outstanding.  Not just from an Ofsted point of view, but in every way we can.  To help the team develop to become real beacons of excellence in school and outside of school.

Not an easy challenge granted, but need to aim high.

The issue is to work out how to do it.

Ensure Teaching is the best it can be in every lesson.  Is an Outstanding Ofsted lesson possible every lesson?  It should be. the plan is as a department to really analyse what we do that makes us outstanding, to really know what it looks, sounds and feels like and then to find the basic ingredients that make it that way.  As a team, discussing this will bring out all of the great things that we do everyday and then embed it into everyday practice.  Developing learning walks to see outstanding elements, to celebrate the successes we have and to continue the sharing of outstanding practice.  Where areas are found that need developing we look at our combined strengths to help combat it.  Peer mentoring, coaching etc will be used to intervene and develop staff to see their full potential.

Share that good practice outside of the department.  In reflecting on what we do as teachers in detail, we can see that teaching is teaching, regardless of subject.  if we are demonstrating outstanding lessons daily and we know what the nuts and bolts of this are then surely it can be transferred across the school.  So can we then be seen as outstanding in our leadership in the school?  Developing peer mentoring across curriculum areas, the sharing of simple ideas etc.

Develop meeting time to be productive and purposeful.  At times meetings can become a moaning space or a time to give out notices.  i want to develop these into really looking at developing new ideas, to engage in quality discussion that results in impact points to develop the department and students learning.  I have seen the power of really bringing together a diverse team to discuss a new pedagogy and adapt it to the needs of our students.  In doing this we should have real impact  on the curriculum we deliver and student experiences.

So with the help of all the great people on twitter and the great ideas that are spread around I will be sharing and moulding an already great department to one that hopefully continually evolves and is adapting to new ideas. The digital transformation has shown what is possible and will continue to develop but we will also be looking at our impact on Literacy, Numeracy, EAL, FSM and how we can impact whole school.  If we can do that and work in that way, then hopefully our students will too.

As a part of my schools ongoing quest to improve standards we are looking at how feedback is given on a regular basis and in particular the quality of verbal feedback.

One of our media teachers spoke of her issues as her work is mostly digital and feedback was usually verbal and if this was to be checked she would not have the evidence of it.

One solution I thought of was to use technology to record this evidence and to attach it to her digital work.  This then led to the use of Voice Thread.Voice Thread

Voice Thread is a great online tool (also available on mobile devices)  It allows for the upload of various files for anyone to then give feedback on.  Feedback can be given as audio, text or even video.

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 17.46.04

Simple to use you just insert the media into the page and then click comment.  the work will display on the screen and a video will record, click comment and choose your comment type and it will add into the timeline.

The real beauty of this is when you share it with others.  They can also add feedback to the video and it all gets stored on the same file and can be built on.

For example.

Take a picture of a poster that a student has created in a lesson.

Upload this to Voice Thread

Click comment

Give feedback on the work

Share the work with the student and get them to comment on your feedback.

This is almost endless in its applications in education, giving a place where staff and students can comment on work to make improvements and build a sense of collaboration into project work.  important to build in your rules of feedback first though.

Not only is this recorded to show it has been done but the impact on work could be huge.  If you look at Austins Butterfly, the power of simple but effective feedback can be seen.  This adds in an extra layer to the process as the feedback is also stored to be reviewed at any time.


Here is a link to me using Voice Thread to explain Voice Thread



Last night I was asked to present at my local schools internal inset on my journey with iPads. At Chepstow School in Monmouthshire they have been embarking this year on a project to determine the impact devices would have on teaching and learning.  Led by Jamie Goddard (@jamiegodzy) they have had staff bid for use of a class set of iPads with an Action research focus to look at things such as flipped learning to the impact on SEN.

First of all, I have to say I was completely taken aback by the level of engagement from the staff team and how much they had done in such a small space of time.  The projects were thorough and were showing some excellent results and were clearly well thought out to meet the needs of the schools specific learners.  this was not an example of copying what was happening in other school but a well thought out strategic approach to ensuring the iPads had maximum impact.

I presented on my own journey, how I had taken my own iPad and looked to embed it in my practice to engage learners, inspire students and staff and to create more dynamic ways for students to engage in their learning.  Not from a specific subject point of view but as a way any department can evolve their practice to not just teach a syllabus but to make it relevant and inspiring to learners.

The overall feeling from the evening was that these tools (and that is all they are) are really shaping 21st Century practice.  Learners are provided with an opportunity to base their learning around their own skills and to embrace new ways to do things, with a confidence that is both new and exciting.

It has always been my belief that the world we live in moves at such a pace that we as educators need to be not only one step ahead but to also create opportunities for students to be adaptive learners.  To continually strive to do things in new ways.  In this way they will be able to easily adapt to the ever changing world that they go into from school and will be best placed to face these challenges.

Chepstow is really striving to achieve this and I am honoured and excited to be a part of their journey (if only from the outside)  To find out more contact @jamiegodzy or @chepstowhead on twitter.

Sat at home on a friday night watching Moneyball, the movie based on the book about American Baseball and the idea of using stats to create a team. (good movie, great book) But this is neither a review or one of those, “this is what I am doing tonight” posts.

It got me thinking about whether the concept stretched to other areas and ultimately into teaching.
The basic premise is that you look at your situation and what your goal is, you then look at how you can fill the needs using the collective skills of what you have.
What skills do you have in an organisation to fill the gaps made by people leaving or people moving up in the organisation?

Is it the case that in schools we look at who is next in line for jobs or do we really look at what they offer to the whole establishment. Do we sometimes look at how someone can do a role or do we look at what they can do additional to the role?
It strikes me in looking around that there are a great many teachers that are doing some fantastic things in their classrooms but they are not seen as leaders because they do not have responsibility. That’s the point though. All teachers have responsibility, to the people we work for, the students.

When looking to appoint a member of staff it is straight forward to look at what you had and then what needs to be replaced. The thing that gets missed in this is that replacing someone will lead to a lack of change. You can teach someone to do the role but you can not teach them passion or the “extra” that they are prepared to bring.

It appears to me that there is an opportunity in this process to make small changes, to really think about what you want to achieve, when someone new takes on a role do they fill in the gap that was left, to fulfil a role that already existed? or can they do that and more? In speaking with a colleague today we discussed personality. Leadership can always be taught and developed, but personality shines through and without it, without a personal touch, it is difficult to get people to follow.

So with the Moneyball approach this is how it might look.

You need a new head of department. Your first thought is probably to who is currently in post that could step up. Possibly based on time served, desire to progress or several other things. Are you looking for the right things. A replacement will come in and do the job, hopefully in a different way that changes an approach and freshens things up, but ultimately its the same thing.

Instead you use the opportunity to look at what you need in your school, what big gaps are there and what could be developed. When you then search for that new member of staff you look for the extra they give, how can you capture their passion to do something and really make an impact. You may employ a head of department that also has a real skill for something that your school is missing. You then fill two roles.

it may already work like this, I hope it does. You can always teach someone the job, but never teach someone the passion.

Start with the ‘why’


Have you ever wondered WHY a student is struggling in your lesson but looked at WHAT they can’t do rather than WHY?

After a chat with a colleague this week I have thought a lot about this little concept.

The most inquisitive mind I know is my 3 year old boy. He asks “why” about nearly everything. Though this of course at times can be a little tedious as we all know, it is how he is learning about the world around him. He is learning things at a rate that is quicker than he will in later life. Yet he has no outlined plan of what he needs to learn, no deadlines or targets, he just wants to know things.

When does this stop? When do children stop asking why and start thinking what? Is it the children that change or something else?

It has long occurred to me that relevance is key to anything that you do, the reason for doing something should be the start point in the exercise. If I am told to do something I may get it done but is it going to be my best? If there is a reason behind it that is part of a shared goal, something that I believe in and will make a difference, then surely the product will be better?
Take this blog for instance, I am writing it as I think it could help people, that is my why, I’m not doing it because I haven’t written one for a while or because I was told to. It makes a difference.

In class I think that too often students just go through the motions, they are not part of the process they are the process. They are on a conveyor belt of knowledge where they are expected to learn, to pass a test, to hit their target, to meet the school target. Does this inspire children to learn? What about starting learning with why?
Why will learning algebra help me in my life?
Why is knowing about nutrition going to help me as I get older?

Once children feel part of the process they should hopefully get more engaged. We have learning objectives and they give us a target to get to in a lesson. These help with maintaining focus but what about adding in the why, a relevance to the lesson, how will it help students?

Possibly looking at WHY might help us understand where we can help students more, maybe we will be able to identify why they are disengaged, reluctant to want to learn or simply misbehave. Step away from the process occasionally and maybe it will help.

Student news blog

In an attempt to try to drive the use of technology across school and to also impact literacy I decided to look at some of the things that were having an impact on my teaching and how they may help students.
One thing that I was really keen to get going was students blogging. This way they were being reflective and were using and developing their literacy skills.
We already had in place a sports council that was being led by @pearcy23 and this was having a good impact but one issue was that we were not getting the message out to the rest of the school. The sports council had a lot of good ideas, but no voice.
After doing some work on blogging within PE lessons I thought that combining these would be a useful tool and also lead to further developments.
We took the sports council and decided that they would be our first school news blog team. The initial idea was to give them a topic and get them to go away and write a report on it. The first results were really impressive, the students seemed to really enjoy the work and they were getting over 200 views per post.
Clearly this was something that was having an impact.
They now have specific things to report on from things going on in school, to media, film and games. They were also recently asked to interview students about their subjects to help our current year 8&9 students with their option choices.
It will soon become a really simple way to spread news about what students are doing in school and develop an interest in writing.
Really impressed with their work.

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tessenglish1 

Blog by Nick Davies - Director for Learning for English at Tendring Enterprise Studio School and StudioCre8 Apple Regional Training Centre manager.

Next Generation Learning; Today...

John Jones - Head of Digital Learning |  Distinguished Educator | Raspberry Pi Certified Educator | Learn. Teach. Repeat...

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