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). 

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.

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.

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.

Planning Ahead

June 22, 2013

As the end of term is rapidly approaching (we break up on Friday), I am thinking ahead to next academic year. I know my timetable already and one of my classes I will be sharing with a new teacher. This means that I have to make sure that this teacher knows what the class will be doing each lesson. Now normally I have my schemes of work (SOW) and I follow these, adapting to the needs of the individual class. But to make it easier for this teacher I am going to have to produce lesson plans for each of our lessons, especially as he is new to teaching my subject.

So I have been investigating lesson planning apps and thinking about how to make it easy to share these. None of my current mark book apps have easy lesson planning, so I needed a separate app.

After trawling through the App Store, I came along Teacher Plan Lite (there is also a paid for option with more functionality). It was one of the few apps that wasn’t USA centric (i.e. involving ‘common core’ which we don’t use in the UK).
The app is very simple to use, it provides a series of boxes that are partly filled in (although I tended to delete the current info). You fill out the boxes you need (they turn from grey to white after you fill them out, showing that they have been activated).

When you have finished writing your lesson plan you have a variety of export options.

But I was most interested in the calendar option, especially as in the calendar fields I had the option to invite someone to the event (perfect for sharing with my new teacher).

You can’t save the lesson plan you create, only export it, but the current lesson plan remains active until you overwrite the top field.

I also wanted to look at calendar apps, especially since my main calendar app has lots of events synced to it making it very cluttered. I tried out 2 different apps.

The first was Planner Plus, this was a free trial app with the option to pay £5.99 to get the full version (as it likes to remind you).

I quite liked the layout, similar to a paper planner. You have the option of day, month or year views. You can also choose which calendars you would like to view (and as I have 7 this was quite useful!).

The other app I tried was Week Agenda Ultimate, I really liked this app. The layout is very simple and clean. You can flip between the weeks (jumping ahead or back months or years by 2 or 3 finger swipes, it explains in the App Store notes). Once again I could choose which calandars I wanted to show.

With both apps, when I tapped on the event you could easily see the lesson plan contained within the notes.

I would still like to be able to colour code my classes, but I think that would involve yet another app which seems excessive!

Some Organisation

May 4, 2013

My Year 11s are about to go on study leave, which means 3 things. First, I've prepared them as much as I can, provided them with resources (both in paper form and on the intranet), its now up to them to revise in which ever way they prefer. Second, invigilation season is soon going to be here (I find invigilating incredibly tedious, but it needs to be done). Third, I don't have scheduled lessons with my year 11s any more (which gives me some 'free' time), so I can start planning for next year.

Because my subject is very project based (after all, the best to learn how a mortise and tenon joint works is to make one), I spend most of my summer term (and start of the holidays) perfecting the projects I want to run the following year.

This involves lots of planning, making one (to see if it is pupil friendly), costing the materials used, writing schemes of work and making all the resources to go with the project. Each year I try and update at least one year group project. Last year it was my Year 9 project, in which we make an MP3 speaker. That is now working well, so it can stay the same for next year.

This was my example project from last year

So this year it is the turn of my Year 10s. We spend most of Year 10 doing mini making projects, as most of them have not really used the machines in the workshop. So I want to introduce a mainly metal working project.

I am currently in the planning stage, scribbling down various ideas on whatever is to hand. On my iPad I have quite a few notebook apps (I download them when they are free, I really should have a purge at some point).


My favourite one is Penultimate. This notebook is really good, partly becuase it works really well with my stylus (the Adonit Jot Pro) and also because it syncs with Evernote.

These are my current scribblings in Penultimate.

I am not a dedicated Evernote user, I don't sync every single note I make to it. But in this case it is useful, I can note down my ideas, and because it syncs to Evernote I can then show other people on my iPhone or their desktop computer via the Evernote website. Very useful when you want to get people's comments on the current thinking.


I've started making the first prototype of next years project, I'll let you know how it goes!


Easy Mind Maps

April 27, 2013

The education year tends to be quite circular, so as my Year 11s finish their controlled assessment (and I am in the throes of marking and moderating) my Year 10s are just starting their controlled assessment.

One of the first things they have to do is analyse the task they have chosen in the form of a mind map. In previous years we have used PowerPoint to do this (as they produce all of their written work in PowerPoint), but this is quite a labour intensive process involving adding shapes to the slides and joining them with conecting lines.

My pupils were finding this quite frustrating, so I encouraged them to look for alternatives and they came across ExamTime. After trying it out with my two classes, and having good reviews from my pupils, I thought I would share it with you.

Examtime is currently free, and it looks like the current features will remain free. You can make a variety of revision resources, but most importantly you can make mind maps.

It’s also easy to set up your resources by subject. You just tap the + button to add a new subject.

I used ExamTime during the lesson to demonstrate how a mind map works. It was very easy to use, even on an iPad.

Here you can see the beginnings of a mind maps all about the design task to ‘Design and make a gadget tidy’

The mind map I created automatically saved to my area, so I could easily log in again to work on it some more. During the lesson one of pupils accidentally closed his Internet browser and was quite worried that he had lost all of his work, but because it saved as he worked he could log back in and continue working.

You can see here my saved mind map, ready to be opened again and worked on. When my pupils had finished they could either print screen the finished image and paste it into their PowerPoint, or they could export it as a PDF and do a similar thing.

We were really impressed with ExamTime, and how easy and intuitive it was to use. I will be recommending to pupils again in the future.

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