Networked Society

October 2, 2016

I’ve spent the last week preparing for a ICT lesson on our ‘networked society’ with year 9. It’s part of a series we do looking at how communication has changed us and society over the years, focussing on the development of the internet. 

I publish the course on google sites, so that anyone who wishes to may read or use it. 

Every year we teachers have had fun looking for examples of a ‘networked society’ and ‘internet of things’. We also ask the pupils to find examples, and some of them have been fascinating!

This year I have decided to include Amazon Dash as my main example. Further down the page I have asked the pupils to research into smart homes, it will interesting to see how many of them already have this. 

Once we finish this segment, we will be starting an introduction to coding (HTML, then CSS, then JavaScript). 

OneNote Classbook

September 17, 2016

My school activated Google Apps for Education last year, and it is quite useful. I will write a post about it soon. We also activated Office 365 this year, and I was quite excited about this because of the OneNote Classbook

As I am now the Director of ICT and have asked a group of teachers to experiment with using ICT in their classrooms, I thought I would also experiment with OneNote. So I picked my Year 9 Product Design class as my guinea pigs. I choose them mainly because they are in a rotation, so I only teach them for 7 weeks before getting a new class. Also they will be generating hand drawn ideas as well as photographs of models. 

Setting up the Classbook was easy. I just added the pupils in my class to the notebook. They were then sent an email from ‘sharepoint’ with a link to the Classbook. 

In the lesson I got them all to login to OneNote and gave them a tour of the Classbook. In particular how they copy pages from the content library into their own notebook. 

In the content library I had already created the pages I wanted them to use for the next few weeks. I discovered (after showing them how to copy into their own notebook) that I could distribute a page into the pupil notebooks.

I also populated the main notebook with the teaching resources I was going to use, as well as exemplars of previous pupils’ work.

After our first designing lesson, I asked the pupils to photograph their designs with their smartphone, email the pictures to themselves and upload the pictures to their notebook on a school computer. At the moment they can’t seem login to OneNote on their phone, hence the slightly complicated work around.

Here you can see a pupils work so far. On each page I have written a checklist for the pupils, which they can tick off as they complete it. To mark the work I opened the OneNote Classbook on my iPad Pro and annotated it with the pencil. It was easy, and remarkably fast, to mark all the pupil’s work.

I’ll find out on Monday (as that is when I next teach the class) what the pupils think!


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.

Sketching – Paper 53

January 19, 2014

This week I have been trying out some sketching apps to see if I could find one almost as easy as just using paper and pencil. I tried out Autodesk Sketchbook Express, which I found quite fiddly to use, and Paper 53 which I am going to talk more about here.

Paper 53 is a very simple to use app. It has been designed to be a close to a paper experience as possible. Before you ask ‘why not just stick with paper and pencil’, I wanted to find some alternatives for those pupils who want to produce their controlled assessment completely electronically. Currently we have to scan in all the pupil’s designs, which is surprising time consuming.

Paper 53’s interface is very clean and simple, although you can have as many notebooks as you want.

Each notebook has several easy to rearrange pages. I also liked the fact that you can zoom in on the page to put more details in.

I felt that the best way to show how easy it was to use was to make a video. So here is a quick demonstration of Paper 53.

I’m going to keep sketching designs on Paper 53. If you are interested in seeing the designs I come up with then you can follow my tumblr.


November 9, 2013

I've been seeing 'ThingLink' talked about a lot on my Twitter feed, but hadn't really seen how I could use it in my teaching. For those who don't know, ThingLink allows you to create pictures with interactive tags on them.

This week I needed to set up two new classes on Edmodo, as my year 9 classes had rotated round to new teachers. Last time the pupils had difficulty remembering how to submit their prep after they had gone home, so I made a ThingLink using a screen shot of the turn in page to help them. I was surprised, not only by how quick and easy it was to make a ThingLink, but by how much my pupils enjoyed using it.

So here is a quick tour or ThingLink, there is a very good website and also an app (which doesn't quite have the same functionality but still works fine)

They have an educator account, and you can choose if you want your ThingLinks to be publicly available, or private (you can still embed or share with a link if it's private).

All of your created ThingLinks are easily available on both the website and the app. You can easily edit them whenever you want.
To create a ThingLink, all you need to do is:

Choose an image (from camera roll in the app, or by uploading an image in the website).

Tap wherever you want a tag to appear. On the website you have more choice of tag icons, but in the app you can easily add pictures as tags. There are a huge range of tags you can use, but I tended to use video and websites (as well as old fashioned text).

When you've finished save your ThingLink (it uploads to the website) or choose your sharing options, you can also access these again through the website but I couldn't seem to find them again in the app.

You can then open your new ThingLink and see if the tags worked as you want them too, you can always go back and edit if you need too.

I was really impressed to find that one of the automatic embed options in a ThingLink was Edmodo, but you are also given an embed code so it can be out wherever you want. I embedded a ThingLink about the Bauhaus on my school intranet.

This is the finished Bauhaus ThingLink. Although it is very difficult to embed things on a WordPress blog, so currently it seems to not be working. I will keep investigating how to do it (it took me ages to work embedding Prezis!)


An App to Avoid

October 26, 2013

It is not often I review something negatively. However in my recent browse of the App Store for new teacher apps, I came across another grade book app which has annoyed me so much in testing it that I feel I should notify you about it so you can avoid it.

As you may know, I collect a lot of planning and grade book apps (especially when they are on sale or have free 'lite' test versions).

So when I came across 'Lazy Teacher' (which had a free lite version) I thought I would see what it was like – even though I found the name slightly offensive.

When I opened the app to experiment with setting up some test classes, I was surprised to find that it was almost identical to Teacher Kit, an app I use all the time.

This is the first time I have come across a grade book app that is practically identical to another. If this was a piece of homework I was marking then I would be speaking to the pupils involved about plagiarism!

By now another (very irritating) thing had been happening. Every time I tapped on something; to start a new class, add a pupil to the class, change a setting; a pop up would appear.

I am assuming that this doesn't happen in the real app, but it doesn't make me want to spend money on this as it was extremely annoying.

After trying out 'Lazy Teacher' for a bit I concluded that 'Teacher Kit' was much better (and offered the app for free, with an in-app purchase if you wanted the reporting tools).