Updates and New Beginnings

September 12, 2016

It’s been a while, in fact it’s been 2 years. A lot has happened in that time and I thought I would give a little update.

I all but stopped using my iPad to teach with in 2014-15, for a variety of reasons. But mainly because I prolapsed a disc in my back and had to have surgery to fix it. It kind of put life on hold for 9 months while I got it sorted out. But my love of technology hasn’t stopped, although it did take a while to get back into the swing of things. I am now using an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil (mainly due to my recent 1 year appointment as Head of ICT) to teach with.

My school started using Google Apps for Education last year, and I have been actively involved in training staff in different ways of using drive, docs and classroom. We also activated office 365 this year and I am starting to experiment with OneNote Classbook.

As my use of technology (in particular Apple products) has grown and changed so much, I thought I would have a go at restarting this blog to document the things I am doing now.  So watch this space……



Challenge Based Learning

January 25, 2014

This week I spent a lovely day at the Apple Education Summit in London. Whilst there were many things in the event that I felt I already know, there were several things that certainly made me think.

Delegates were allocated 2 workshops with demonstrations of how Apple technology is being used in schools. These demonstrations were given by pupils and teachers. I was fortunate to allocated a session with Bohunt School. After an introduction from the teacher, the pupils took us through a science lesson. This wasn’t a normal ‘chalk and talk’ lesson, instead it was based on a ‘challenge based learning‘ approach.

I had heard of challenge based learning before, but wasn’t really sure how it would work. Or more importantly how it could work in my subject.

Although I am still at the start of my investigation into challenge based learning, the basics are as follows:

  • You set an overarching challenge to the pupils (in the session it was that a disease had spread through Scunthorpe, but people were dying before the medication could cure them, we had to find a way to double the rate of reaction).
  • You give the pupils some guided learning (for example how to use equipment to measure the rate of reaction and how to run an experiment)
  • You then let the pupils devise their own way of solving the challenge (for example devising experiments with different catalysts to see if they can reduce the rate of reaction).
  • You give the pupils some guidance in how to document their work (using a range of tools, ie written work, video, ‘explain everything‘ etc.)

What I liked about this approach is that it uses children’s creativity and desire to find out things (or learn!). The pupils I spoke to at Bohunt told me that they really enjoyed this approach and they felt that they learnt much more than they did when they learnt science principles in the traditional way.

I am still reading and researching more about this methods of teaching, particularly how I can implement it in Resistant Materials. I have found some iTunesU courses that I am working my way through:

If you are already using CBL then I would love to hear about it.

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…..

Happy Blog-iversary

May 25, 2013

I’ve been counting down the weeks and finally it’s here! I have now been blogging once a week for a year! Although technically this blog started on January 14th 2012, I didn’t start regularly blogging until May 26th 2012 when I discovered WYSIWYG blog editors.

I originally wanted to document my journey as I set out to use a iPad 2 in my teaching. But I have been amazed by how much my teaching has changed since then.

So here are some of things I discovered or tried out this year:

I experimented with a few different teacher planners,

Teachers Attaché which I liked for it’s easy use and ability to create lesson plans that linked to classes.
Learnboost which I liked because I could also access it from a desktop, but it was difficult to use on my iPad.
Teacherkit which I liked for it’s easy to use format, and last but not least
iTeacherbook which I am trialling with one class (feedback soon).
I ended up comparing the different planners I had tried out, but I think my favourite one so far has been TeacherKit.

I found out some useful apps to help me make revision resources. From crosswords to interactive quizzes that utilised pupil smart phones (both Socrative, and it’s update, and eClicker). I also showed you one of the low tech games we play (shared through Dropmark).

I discovered social media (well I didn’t discover it, I was already an active user – I just hadn’t realised how useful it could be for education). I set up my ‘teacher twitter‘ account and have discovered lots of people to follow (hmm, I really should do an update about that soon), tried out Facebook (first with pages, then more successfully with a group).

After using iTunes U myself, I also started creating content for my pupils to use outside of the lesson. From setting up iTunes U to finishing my first course (which quite a few pupils have already started using). I am now working with our head of ICT to set our school iTunes U area so that there is a central place to access courses created by teachers within the school. We are also hoping it will encourage more of our teachers to create courses as well.

I applied to be an Apple Distinguished Educator, and although I didn’t get it I learnt a lot about using iMovie. My department YouTube account has been gradually growing and my pupils find it a useful place to go and look at evaluation videos from previous years.

One of the most exciting things (I think) that happened was my school starting an iPad trial for a group of teachers. Since this started, I have been asked to run some inset training for fellow teachers on how I use technology in my teaching. I ran one about Socrative, which was quite popular. There are now quite a few teachers who are using it in their lessons. I was also asked to run a session for the iPad trial group showing the core apps I use, it was quite nerve racking!

So that has been my year, well not all of it just a quick overview (although writing this has made me realise that I really need to update my App Review page!). Thank you so much for being part of it (I still can’t believe that – at the point of writing this – I have 104 people following my blog), I hope you will join me for what will hopefully be another year of investigation.

Social Media with Pupils?

April 6, 2013

In a few short weeks, my GCSE pupils will be going on study leave. The exam for my subject is one of the last ones they will do, so once we start approaching the end of June I offer to run an in school revision session for those pupils who wish to come in. However, contacting them all has proved difficult in the past (sending an email does not always guarantee they will read it!). So I thought I would try and use social media (specifically Facebook) as a form of class communication.

We do have a very good intranet at school, which my pupils are used to using all the time to access resources. But they have to log in from home through the school website. I have been told by some of them that once they go on study leave, they only log in if they have to find something for their revision. Whereas they have Facebook on in the background almost all the time!

I know that there is a ‘safer’ form of Facebook in the form of Edmodo, but I don’t have the time to get them used to using it. I am planning on trialling Edmodo with my new GCSE class next year (as I will have 2 years to train them on using it!)

Anyway, back to Facebook.

I decided to set up a ‘page’ after reading this helpful explanation of the difference between ‘page’ and ‘group’. On my page I can post notifications, invitations to events (like revision sessions) and notes (like their holiday prep). Pupils can comment on individual posts I make, but can’t create their own post. However, unlike a group, a page cannot (to my knowledge) be set to private or invitation only. So in theory anyone could comment on the page, but I can delete comments.

It is still early days, but if this works (i.e if I get positive feedback from pupils) then I may use this more often. And if you are thinking of doing the same thing, make sure you check your school’s policy on use of the Internet and social media. I was pleased to find out that my school had the ‘use it sensibly, if in doubt don’t post’ approach. I also checked with our head of ICT before starting this endeavour, and he was quite supportive.

The iPad Trial

October 6, 2012

My school are starting an iPad trial with a small group of teachers, to see if we can use iPads as our main teaching tool. With that in mind, I thought it might be useful to summarise what I consider to be my essential apps to begin with (with links to the relevant blog post):

This is a screenshot of my ‘Teacher Screen’

Teacher Planners

Teachers Attaché


Quiz Programmes

Make My Own Puzzles



Standard Software



QuickOffice HD


My general Cloud storage summary can be found here.

I am looking forward to discovering new apps, and new ways to use my iPad in my teaching (and if all goes according to plan – and Amazon hurry up with my order – I may have sorted out the VGA whiteboard connection).

%d bloggers like this: