Teacher Kit Update

October 19, 2013

This week one of my most used apps received a very useful update. I use Teacher Kit every day at school, it is my register, mark book and behaviour monitor for each class.

The update came with an optional in app purchase to allow you to generate reports, it cost £1.99 but I think it is worth it.

Now when I open my class, I am given a breakdown of the class performance (attendance, grade book and behavior).

You can generate a much more detailed report by tapping on the report button at the top of the screen.

Instead of tabs to access the different areas in each class, you now have to tap a menu button at the top (slightly more long winded, which is annoying).

But the feature that I liked the most was the ability to generate individual reports on pupils (very useful for the upcoming parents evening!). For obvious reasons I have hidden all the pupils details!

I am quite interested to see how useful the data analysis becomes as the year progresses, especially as we are only 1/2 a term in.

Advertisements

A New Resource for GCSE (and iOS7)

September 21, 2013

I wanted to show you 2 things this week, one is linked to the release of iOS 7, the other is a new resource I have made for my GCSE pupils.

As you may be aware in iOS 7 you can view your calendar from the lock screen. I thought this could be quite a useful new feature, especially since I have been trialling using my calendar as a lesson planning resource. Here is a screen shot of my calendar from my lock screen showing my lessons and activities for part of the day.

It is quite useful being able to see a quick overview of the lessons for that day, although only being able to see the next few hours was a bit frustrating. I have put the lesson synopsis in the location field.

The resource I wanted to show you is specifically for my GCSE pupils. During the controlled assessment my pupils have to assess their designs against Social, Moral, Environmental and Sustainability issues. This is something my pupils find very difficult, primarily because they find it hard to think of issues that relate to their projects.

So I made them some cue cards. The questions came from the textbook and the pupils themselves. Then I came up with some example answers. The cue cards now live on my stationery trolley, so they can be used whenever they are needed.

I thought that other D&T teachers would find this useful, so I upload my file to the shared Edmodo group and also to the shared D&T Dropbox folder.


Edmodo – Marking Work

September 14, 2013

Now that my pupils are on Edmodo, I have had the first round of preps handed in through it. Almost all of my pupils successfully 'turned in' their prep via Edmodo (some got a bit confused and emailed it to me instead). I thought you might like to see how the marking process works. In order to protect my pupils I have blurred out their names and avatars.

In the notification centre at the top of the screen, I can see how many assignments have been turned in for me to mark. I can click on this link and will take me to the list of assignments, but I prefer to do it by class.

In the assignment I can see who has turned in their work (they are blue). When I click on each pupil I can preview their work (by clicking on the annotate button – shown with the red arrow) or download their work. Then I give it a mark (I did mine out of 10), rate it with a smiley face (which I find very annoying) and include a comment if I wish. The mark I allocate is automatically added to my grade book.

In the grade book as well as seeing all the grades I've given, I can also award badges. These appear on the pupils profile page and it's really easy to create custom made ones.

Here you can see that Harry has received a badge for an excellent mood board. You can also see that pupils can set up limited things on their profile. They can choose a favourite quote, add in how they like to learn and a career goal.

Edmodo gives you a series of badges you can award, but it's quick and easy to start building up a bank of custom badges specific to the way you mark.

Something else I quite liked was being able to see how many pupils had turned in their assignments on the assignment itself.

Plus all your assignments appear in your Edmodo planner (pupils will find it appears in their planner as well, which is useful if they have more than one teacher using Edmodo).

I thought that my older pupils would find the badges 'childish', but they got quite excited when I awarded the first batch. Some asked me (quite indignantly) why they hadn't been given a badge, I explained that they are given for going above and beyond the work set. So it will be interesting to see if what happens when the next set of prep is 'turned in'!

 


Setting up Edmodo

September 7, 2013

This week I have been meeting my new classes (and saying hello to some of the classes that I have kept on). With my new yr 9 and yr 10 classes I have decided to trial Edmodo as a means of setting and collecting homework.

I’ve been hearing a lot about Edmodo in my Twitter feed, but I’d never seen it in use, so I wasn’t really sure how it would work. All the screen shots are from the iPad app. However the app doesn’t yet have the same functionality as the website.

First of all I set up my teacher profile, you can do this by clicking on the ‘I’m a Teacher’ on the sign up screen.

Your pupils can see your profile page, and the other teachers you are connected to (my yr 9’s were very curious about these other teachers.)

You can then set up your classes. Each class has a group code which your pupils use to join your class.

During my first lesson with each class I explained what Edmodo was, showed them how to join, and reminded them that the shared wall in our class space on Edmodo was an extension of our classroom – not somewhere to post inane comments to each other.

At the end of our first lesson I set homework through Edmodo (in my school it is called prep). I made sure to show the pupils how to submit their prep through Edmodo, and most of my pupils have successfully done this (some didn’t quite understand the process, so I may have to go through it again).

When the pupils see this assignment post it has a button labeled ‘turn in’. When they click on this they can upload their prep (and rate it with a smiley face?!). I can then mark it through Edmodo, but more on that (possibly) next week.

I can keep track of the preps I have set, and how many have submitted it through the progress page. You can see here that there are 2 preps under my GCSE RM group. This is because I have 2 small groups within the class, as I have separate sets. By having smaller groups it enables me to set prep to the individual set, while still being able to post to the whole group.

Last of all, you can upload things to your Edmodo library. These files can be included as part of the prep set, so next week there will be a worksheet for my yr 9’s to complete as part of their prep.

It is still early days, but so far I am quite liking Edmodo. Although next week I have to help one of my pupils log in again as he has forgotten his username and password! (Fortunately I can see everyone’s username and reset passwords).

I will keep you updated with how this Edmodo experiment goes.


Getting Ready for the New Term

August 31, 2013

The new academic year starts on Monday (pupils start back on Tuesday), so I have been doing some of the little admin tasks that I need to do to be ready to teach my new classes. I am sure that my way of doing things is not the most time efficient, but I haven’t worked out an easier way of doing it yet.

So I thought I would show you the process I go through. Some things I can’t show due to data protection, but I will describe the stages I go through.

I like to have the photos of my pupils in my register as it helps me to learn lots of new names quickly. Also my pupils use email as their main communication tools with me, so I need to know who is sending me the email, hence my slightly long winded process.

It all starts at school, where I use our pupil management software to download my class lists with photos of pupils. We use iSams, but many other school use Sims.net which can do the same thing. I then right click on each of my pupil photographs and ‘save picture as’ to save into my documents (I file these by year group).

Then I open my school outlook and I add each pupil to my contacts (this is not as many as it seems, as many of them are already there!). I add the pupil photograph to each ‘contact card’. I also have a similar structure in place for all the teachers in my school as well.

Now that all of my pupils are in my outlook contacts (which is useful when they email me as their picture comes up!), I can start setting up my register.

I have mentioned before that I have been trying out Teacher Kit, as I have enjoyed using it for the past few terms I have decided to keep using it (at least until the promised Teachers Attaché update happens). But before I could start setting up my classes for this year, I needed to archive the data from the previous academic year. So this is how you do it:

When you open each class you have some buttons to tap in the top right corner, one of them is the export button. When you tap this you can decide what data you would like to export for this class, and how you wish to export it. I chose everything and exported via email. This meant that the data was emailed using CSV format to my school email, so I could save it.

I then deleted each class (after checking that the data had arrived).

This left me with an empty Teacher Kit. So now I could start adding my classes.

When you add a new class you have a variety of ways of adding the students. One of them is to add from contacts, which is useful when I have my school outlook synced to my iPad. So I can quickly search for a pupil from my contacts and they are added to the class with their picture already attached.

It took me about 1/2 hour at school adding pupils to my outlook with their pictures and another 1/2 hour at home to add my classes into my iPad. Although I did leave a full 24 hours for the data to sync between my school outlook and my iPad.

Some other features that Teacher Kit has that I find very useful are:

Being able to have customisable student fields.

Customisable attendance fields (the music lesson one is very useful). But most importantly

being able to set up my own grading fields (my school as an unusual method of grading work!).

So I am ready to greet my new classes on Tuesday, and hopefully the photographs will help me to distinguish between the various Oliver’s and James’ that seems to be ‘the’ name of the year (almost all of my classes have at least 2 of each!).

Next week I hoping to feed back on how easy it is to set up Edmodo with my senior school classes. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly…..


A Day of Fun CPD (part 2)

July 27, 2013

Last week I started telling you about my day of CPD courtesy of Teach Design. This week I am going to tell you about the last 2 sessions of the day.

The James Dyson Foundation has a resource box that it loans out to schools. I had read about it on their website, but wasn’t sure how I could use it in my lessons. So I was very pleased that we got to experience part of the box during the CPD day. All of us got to disassemble a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner head, and Steve our session leader showed us the sorts of things he would do with pupils while this was going on. It was fascinating seeing all the different types of plastics used in the product.

Here you can see my vacuum cleaner head disassembled. But it was really easy to put it back together again!

After having seen how this tool could be used in the classroom, I am definitely going to be booking one for my school.

The last session of the day was all about circular economy. This was not something I knew much about, and even though I have a slightly better understanding now I am going to have to learn a lot more about it. You can read all about it on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation website. But in a nutshell it is all about the importance of designing products and systems in which all the materials can be reused at the end of the products life, thereby creating a closed loop of material usage. The key impact on my teaching that this will have is to get my pupils to design products that can be easily disassembled (one way of doing this is to ban glue – a scary prospect!).

Something you can do with pupils is get them to disassemble broken products to see if they have been designed with a circular economy in mind. So this is what we got to do!

We paired up and collected a product, I got a DAB radio. We then had to see how far we could disassemble it (we were provided with a range of tools).

My partner and I originally thought that this would be quite easy to take apart, but we were quickly proved wrong! After trying to cut away the leather exterior we found a solid MDF structure that could not be opened. We tried accessing the inside through the speakers, but once again were foiled by soild MDF. Only by fluke did we discover that the back panel could be removed (but it was very difficult)

By now all the other teams had finished disassembling their products, however we refused to be beaten and proceeded to unscrew the unit (you can see we finally got inside in the last picture above!).

It was lots of fun, and something I am eager to try with my GCSE pupils. I need to go and hunt out some broken products!

It was an amazing day and has made me think a lot about what I am teaching my pupils. I am hoping to introduce lots of the concepts from the day into my GCSE curriculum.


Facebook Groups and Other Updates!

May 18, 2013

I have been trying out a lot of new things this year, and as you try things out you learn what works and what doesn’t. I thought it would be useful to revisit one of things I trialled last term, especially as it didn’t work very well!

You may remember me posting about setting up a Facebook page for my Yr11s to give information regarding revision etc. I quickly discovered that a ‘page’ didn’t really work, because the pupils hadn’t ‘liked’ the page they didn’t get the notifications. So I decided to look at Facebook’s options again.

I decided to consult an expert (namely a year 10 pupil) who has set up several pages and groups on Facebook. After a chat about various options, it seemed that creating a group would work better.

So at the start of the controlled assessment with my Year 10s, I decided to set up a group on Facebook as a triall to compare it to the ‘page’ I had tried before.

I looked carefully at the setting and privacy options in the group settings:

I set it so that any group member could invite people to the group, but I had to approve all of them. Also only I could post messages to the group, but pupils could comments on postings (I can delete what they post if necessary).

On my teacher Facebook account I have no friends. This proved problematic, as you can only invite friends to groups. So I turned again to my ‘expert’ and he agreed to friend me so that I could add him to the group.

Once he was in the group I could ‘unfriend’ him, but he could now invite other members of the class who were his friends to the group. Within 12 hours all of the class had been invited to the group (I was impressed by how quickly it spread through the pupils).

It has been very interesting seeing how the pupils interact with the group, in the picture above one of the boys is reminding another of the required work for the upcoming deadline. It later transpired that he was replying to a message this boy had sent him earlier, specifically asking what work needed to be done!

Another interesting feature is that I could set up deadlines as events and see which of them had read the post.

We’ve been trialling this for a few weeks. So far it is much better than a ‘page’, but I am still waiting to see how this fares long term.

Another update, I posted a while ago about the end of controlled assessment and I promised to show you some of the finished products. Well the products are now on display, and my amazing technician has been making custom built plinths to show the work off.

So here are some of the products, rotating spice rack, Mondrian themed bedside unit, Rackets press, MP3 Speaker, Saxaphone stand, CD rack and another storage unit (this time Art Deco themed).


%d bloggers like this: