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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.

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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


Over the last few years my passion for digital innovation may have made some people think that it was all about the technology.

This is far from the case

In my quest to look at how technology can work in schools, it has always been deeply rooted in teaching and learning. Others have made it much more eloquent and have linked it to educational research but I try to keep it simple.

New technologies enhance teaching and learning. Fact!

When implementing any change in my classroom the impact on students is always at the heart of anything I do. This is critical as it is not about my passion for using digital tech but about how it can inspire students to learn in their own way. To engage them in the curriculum and to ensure they want to continue learning outside the classroom.

Lots of schools have implemented 1:1 programmes and not necessarily thought about the teaching and learning that goes with it. Examples of GREAT practice can be seen @chepstowschool and @clevedonschool, both have the Teaching and Learning at the heart of what they do and I am sure there are many others in this same mould.

Why is this important?

Simply because students need to see that these changes in approach are being done to support them, staff need to buy in to something that shows that it makes a difference and parents need to see that it is not just a gimmick.

I spent today at the Frog conference, I am openly a sceptic about VLE’s as they were introduced poorly to me so I had no buy in. I did see today that they had huge potential, in the right context, if managed correctly and if left to be used as teachers feel it helps them. More than that though I saw today that if you start with teaching and learning and then use the tech to enhance it, then it is harder to resist.

I feel at times that I get seen as ‘the guy who wants us all to have iPads’ though this is mostly true, the reason behind why I want them is not always seen.

As a student myself I questioned the relevance of why I was learning certain things. Students today do that all the time. Yet do we always give them a legitimate reason? Passing an exam by the way is not good enough. I try to teach students in a way that they can see why they need to know it. Co constructing learning to create links to the real world outside the classroom. This is what I endeavour to pass on to staff in school. That getting students engaged in the learning, by bringing THEIR world into the classroom, will ultimately result in them progressing further. It is not enough to just teach the curriculum, it will not inspire every student. Teach it in a way that engages them, allows creativity and speaks their language and see the difference it makes.

This is where the tech comes in.

To create a world class educational experience the technology allows the teaching and learning strategies to be enhanced and enriched, giving learners a choice of ways to create learning, to demonstrate knowledge and a greater audience than just their teacher.

In my classroom I use technology to help students progress by giving feedback that can be accessed online to help at home, I give access to reading, videos and audio for students to review and reflect on in their own time. I create opportunities for students to be creative with their presentation of knowledge, in a way that suits their learning choices. I give them a broader audience through the use of blogs or creating apps. Basically I try to move my teaching to meet their needs and to bring their world into school.

Examples include
Making apps
Creating videos
Video analysis
Creating ebooks

In conclusion, to enhance teaching and learning and to engage students, digital technology can be used as a tool to help achieve it. Whatever way you choose to make a difference, think about your context, consult the students, inspire the staff and make things relevant, but remember

Do nothing, convince yourself that no change is needed, and the danger is that things will stagnate.



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.



Today saw the first ever City Academy Teachmeet for all staff.  I decided to hijack a staff meeting to really put across all of the great things that are going on at school.

For the last two years I have been looking at digital innovation in teaching and learning and in that time have been able to first of all impact on my own curriculum area of Health and Expression and then further across the school.  This has largely been done through bombarding staff with emails, tweets, blogs and more recently the teaching and learning newsletter.

Last term I met with our SLT in charge of T&L and asked for some time to present what I had done to the whole school, but to show real impact, get those that I had impacted on to spread what impact it has had in their lessons.

From a Deputy Curriculum Leader position I think people do not expect you to do whole school impact work but in a climate of limited movement in job positions I felt it was important to look beyond my job title and do something strategic and with high impact.  My personal CPD this year has been to develop myself as a practitioner who has whole school impact from a very strategic point of view.  Today was a bit of a signposting moment to highlight the progress I was making in the journey and also to continue spreading the message about digital innovation.

Now I did not expect all staff to instantly jump on board and embrace everything that was being presented but the initial feedback has been really positive and I did end the session asking for any queries to come my way so we could address staff concerns.

What I really enjoyed about the session was hearing staff talk about the things they had been introduced to but then had made them their own and grown them.  This to me really highlighted the impact I had, not merely copying something I had introduced them to but to really personalise it in their lessons to meet their students needs.  To be honest I felt quite proud.

When looking at CPD I always feel it is important for everyone to get something out of it, not just the audience.  In this case the audience were made aware of simple things they could do in their teaching straight away, the presenters had the opportunity to share their good practice and develop themselves as leaders to the whole school and for me, I have reinforced to myself that I can definitely lead on whole school strategies, develop these and then share the vision to the whole school body.  This is just the beginning of a movement to empower and develop staff confidence in their own practice and sharing it with others, as well as further developing digital innovation at the City Academy Bristol


The paperless classroom

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Over the last two years i have tried to reduce the amount of paper that I deal with on a daily basis.  This in part is due to organisation but more importantly to encourage learners to work better away from school.

I have looked at several different methods to achieve this, from Evernote to Dropbox, finally resulting in using Edmodo and Google Drive.

Google Drive gave me a platform for tracking progress and providing feedback to students in a digital way, so that work could be accessed anywhere, I have blogged on this before (link).  What Google Drive also offers is a variety of ways to interact with students.  You can comment on their work, directly annotating on the work and also add voice comments which opens a whole new world of options when working with students with different needs.

Though Google Drive gave a wealth of improvements to the course, it still was a bit messy and i needed something to combine it all in to one place, somewhere where all students could access their work, communicate with me and find extra resources.

Enter Edmodo.  This has a whole range of options to really build a platform for interacting with students.  For the paperless classroom it really gives a central place to file all of the evidence created.  The real beauty of Edmodo is that it links in really simply with everything i had done in Google drive.  In the library section of Edmodo there is an option to link your Google Docs, this gives access to everything in Google Drive and with a simple click it can be shared with your class.

Now students are encouraged to use Google docs to create work, it leads to better collaboration and i can give ongoing feedback to inform progression.  From a staff point of view, all of the tracking and feedback sheets can be shared internally through Edmodo, all of the coursework is stored in one place, I can simply track who has or hasn’t submitted work.

Now There is no real need for paper.  Students can create their work in whatever way they want, Videos uploaded via a link, Documents via Google Drive, Podcasts even their own apps via iBuildapp.  I can mark their work, give brief ongoing feedback on the work on Google Drive and in the comments section on Edmodo.  Detailed feedback (which BTEC require) on Google Drive.  I can then also track ongoing progress, modular and overall.  Not only is the course now paperless it also encourages independent learning and students to work in a productive manner when away from school

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.

Joined up thinking?????

So, I have had a bit of time recently, left alone with my thoughts, to think about what I have done over the last couple of years.  To say I am a reflective person is an understatement, at times it is great, but can cause me to over analyse things.

Hopefully this reflection will be constructive and lead to a real transformation in my teaching.

In my drive to better myself and develop skills in areas that I need to improve I have taken a huge interest in Teaching and Learning.  Using twitter, blogs, attending and presenting at teachmeets and generally reading more than I have ever done before.

It has occurred to me that my passion for digital technology and teaching and learning are not always joined up enough and they need to be in order to really change what happens in schools.

So to start with the iPads and iPods, I think by now it is clear to most that these devices can have an impact in the classroom and in many ways.  Mark Anderson (@ictevangelist) opened my eyes to the fact that it is not about just changing how we do things but to really impact on what we do.  (See his posts on SAMR). What I want to look into now is how the whole concept of school can be changed to allow students to learn in their own way, to extend their study how they see fit and to become true independant learners.

This is where I think digital tech and new pedagogies really come in.  iTunes U, iBooks  and Edmodo are just some tools that can really help to redefine how we approach the teaching and learning progress.  I am already seeing huge developments in increased distance learning opportunities but the real impact will be when students are creating content that can then be used to help teach others.  In this way they can see the relevance of what they are learning and see the benefit it brings to others.

I would like to think that in the same way that I have self taught about digital tech, the same approach can be used with students.  Not just a syllabus that needs to be recalled in exams or regurgitated in coursework but a real opportunity to create something with long lasting impact.

How this can be facilitated will be where I will focus my ongoing efforts.  Looking at curriculums, project based learning, digital technology etc and how it can be used to create a different approach to learning.  Students that have timetabled lessons for face to face interaction, to share ideas and what they have learnt, to develop ideas and test out theories.  All the learning having taken place away from the classroom.  Digital tech is pivotal to this, to help with the communication and collaboration so that progress is constant and monitored.

I feel my PLN are going to have me asking them a lot of questions over the summer as I try to make more sense of this, but I know that as always, they will be there to help.

A few months ago I engaged in a conversation on Twitter over measuring students progress from KS2 to KS3 and that the data that we were using was flawed as it was not really based on them from a practical point of view, (in particular PE in my case but this does apply across other subjects)

When measuring progress we were seeing big differences in targets and predicted and on analysis it was fairly obvious why.

Now there is a bigger issue here that I wont go into too much detail over but there is a view that in PE we should measure their practical ability??  Sport actually covers so much more than this, from leadership to healthy lifestyles.  Do these get graded?  Can you make progress in these areas?  Which ever way you look at this aspect it is clear that KS2 data does not reflect any of them so progress against it is always going to have questions against it.

The solution!!!!!

The idea that came up through conversation (and there are schools that currently do this)  is to assess in some form at the start of Y7 and to then set target grades based on that. In this way you have a better picture of the students that you have in Y7 and a clearer idea of what needs to be done in order to improve.

What I proposed for our department was to build in an induction programme that looks at the full range of activities in the curriculum as well as a full range of concepts and processes.  Over the first 6 sessions in PE all teaching staff in PE will moderate and look at the cohort we have and give an assessment based on the activities covered.  Though this is still going to be a fairly crude measure the hope is that it will be more accurate than the current model.

Hopefully in using this system we will be able to plan interventions better and highlight where we have issues as a department. This should work in all subjects that have a practical focus, in talking to other subjects such as Art and Drama it is clear that they have similar issues.

Thanks to all the PEgeeks that helped me with this vision, as always you continue to support and inspire.


Over the last few weeks of Y11 on my BTEC course I have been trying to think of every way possible to get them to really achieve their full potential.  They are on target to get their grades but want them to push themselves to see if they are capable of more (which I believe they all are)

My way of tracking progress is through a google spreadsheet, it helps keep track of grades and works out points and final grades for me automatically.  it also works well for the students as it is colour coded so at a glance they can see where they are in the course.

What occurred to me in one of my sessions was that you could see those that were doing well so why not put them in rank order, this way i could quickly see who needed intervention and prescribe it to them.  this was not meant to be shown to the students in this way but one student saw the list and commented on how it looked like a league table.  The conversation developed and he seemed really enthused to see what he could do to move up a place.  he then went off, did the work, got it checked by a peer and resubmitted to get a better grade.

I then thought to share it with the group.  It worked, we talked about it being the premier league table complete with Champions League spots, Europa League and the dreaded relegation zone.  It was all done a bit tongue in cheek so as not to alienate anyone but in fact those lower down really showed a more conscious effort to make changes and those at the top wanted to keep their position.

It has resulted in a massive surge in work getting finished and a focus on peer assessing before it gets to me so they do not waste an opportunity to move up the league.

I don’t think it would work for all students but with a sports group it hit the mark.Image

Recently the excellent Jon Tait @teamtait posted on twitter about a teaching and learning newsletter that he had created using Smore  This led to a lot of fellow tweachers looking to create a similar thing to help spread the message about teaching and learning to a greater audience.  Jon’s original post can be found here

I created my own in an effort to publicise some of the work I had been doing with iPads in the classroom but also to spread the message I was getting from twitter about loads of great ideas.  My first attempt is here

I started to then think about the application of this in students work.  Lots of teachmeets I have been to recently have had Digital Leaders focusing on death by powerpoint and it has got me thinking about ensuring I give students a range of ways to present work and be creative.

Smore is a really simple tool to use but allows the user to create nice leaflets with digital content quite easily.  The final product is very professional and should allow students to feel proud of what they have achieved.  It also has links to social networks which means that the work created can hit a much wider audience at the students choice.  I use it on my iPad and it is simple to create flyers.

Choosing a type

When you start a new flyer you get to choose a type.  This just gives you a template to follow to get you started.


Once selected you then just simply edit the existing text to create your flyer.

From a students point of view this should help get them started but for the more able or creative you can start to create the outline in your own style.  By clicking on the + icon you get a wealth of options to upload media, text or links to websites.


Uses in the classroom.

My intention is to start to share this with the students to give them a new tool to use in creating work.  In my BTEC class I will introduce it as a new tool for them to create their coursework.  As it is about creating flyers it is a relevant tool that can be used for promoting events or advertising products.

Students could use it to create revision guides for topics that they have covered and these could then be shared amongst the group.

Staff could create reading guides for different topics and again share them out so studnts have access to a wealth of reading.

English students could use it to do book reviews and include links to pictures or video to help others interpret the text.

Schools that have digital leaders in place could use this as a way of creating guides for others to use certain apps.

The caution as with all things is not to use it to death.  Where it works and has relevance it will have impact, over do it and its your new powerpoint.

If people have other applications for its use I would be really keen to hear about them.

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