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chers And Experts

Innovative Practices From Tea

FREE - Issue 7 Innovate My School Innovation and Inspiration

A day in the life of an iPad teacher Giving students a global audience 3D in the classroom: A grand illusion? What is BYOD and why is it important?

The Innovation Magazine For Teachers

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contents Innovation update


Innovation speed dating 6 The Education Innovation Conference 8 A day in the life of an iPad teacher 10 What is BYOD and why is it important?


3D in the classroom


Top 5 tips for schools using social media


Giving students a global audience


Videoing for professional development 30 Read more articles on the Innovate My School website, such as • Tips for using Facebook in the classroom • Back to school with Google Docs • Applying Kanban principles to departmental leadership • The new dimension - Bring Your Own App

Director - Michael Forshaw Editor – Arun Allen Advertising – James O’Shea

If you would like to advertise in this magazine, please email, phone 0845 034 6690 or visit


As a new academic term arrives, many of you will be looking to make (and fulfil) some school-year resolutions. I will even venture to suggest that this might involve technology. Fortunately then, we have an issue packed with uncovering the latest edtech trends. In our featured article, Nick Dempster explains a typical day of teaching using an iPad, together with his favourite apps.There will be no raising of a sceptical eyebrow, however, when you read about what David Mitchell has accomplished with his class through blogging. Teachers who find it difficult to really connect with their students might find an answer through social media. Matt Britland guides you across this shaky ground, so pay close attention to his insightful tips. BYOD – or Bring Your Own Device – can save schools a fortune.Chris Wiseman draws a case study from the experience of a school which has recently implemented it. Seeing double? You’ve forgotten to wear your 3D glasses! Donald Brittain separates the gimmick from an effective gizmo. And here’s how to improve your teaching style – video yourself. Adam Lewis describes how it has helped both himself and colleagues identify flaws when questioning students. I hope you find our articles informative and inspirational – what topics do you want to see in our next magazine? Drop me a line at – I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Arun Allen, Editor 3

innovation update

How useful is a 3D printer for schools? In May this year, a law student in Texas made international news as the creator of the first usable gun manufactured by a 3D printer. If that wasn’t enough to get legislators wiping their foreheads while frantically scribbling draft amendments in their governmentissued notepads, the blueprints were then shared online across all torrent sites. Perhaps not the most flattering introduction to a technology that has the potential to transform the industrial, consumer and education markets through its efficient and cost-effective method of manufacture. The versatility of 3D printing lies in its ability to make design alterations to a prototype at a moment’s notice, regardless of its intricacy. This process can be completed in a fraction of the time it takes to redevelop a product using traditional means, such as injection moulding.


There’s nothing futuristic about this technology - an object is printed in cross sections, so layer upon layer, after being designed on a computer. This concept was patented by Charles Hull, who created the first 3D printer in 1984. The actual printing is performed by a machine-coordinated nozzle which slowly discharges molten plastic - or other heated materials - along a specific area, fusing it together with the ‘print’ in progress. 3D printing has been thrust into the limelight because of its virtually limitless applications. If you thought printing hearing aids and remote control units was extraordinary, how about rockets parts - a recent successful venture of NASA - or human organs, such as liver samples or ear cartilage, using living cells as the ‘ink’ instead of plastic. Once you’ve got your head round the concept of 3D printing and how it works, you can begin to envisage just how far companies can take it. If 3D printing continues to become more popular and well-known, schools may feel obligated to implement it into their


FUZE Competition

D&T departments, particular under a new National Curriculum framework for the 2014 academic year. Integrating it within the subject would more than satisfy the aims that students must “understand developments in design and technology”, “investigate new and emerging technologies” and “use We’re launching a competition to specialist tools, ... including computer-aided fuel a national demand for more manufacture”. programmers in the workplace by giving away a FUZE workstation for the acclaimed Raspberry Pi, Imagine beginning worth £180 - perfect for the new ICT curriculum. a History lesson

with an intricately designed model of a Mayan statue As already stated, however, the applications of 3D printing are diverse. Imagine beginning a History lesson with an intricately designed model of a Mayan statue or accurate coin replicas from the Roman Empire. Perhaps unveiling replicas of bones and crosssections of tissue for Biology classes, or a miniature model of a volcano in Geography to demonstrate vents and plate tectonics. Thus, it can even be used in different subjects to stimulate discussion, encourage practical work and help demonstrate difficult concepts.

The solid metal case provides a robust and secure housing for your Pi and retains all connectivity via the easily accessible back panel. The unit has an integrated keyboard, easily accessible I/O ports and a solderless breadboard, allowing students to interface the Raspberry Pi with basic electronics. To enter, simply ‘Like’ the Innovate My School Facebook page, and enter your name and e-mail. Good luck! (

I could go on, however some of you at this point are probably thinking, “I’ll believe it when I see it”. Fair enough, but this technology, once better understood, believed and harnessed, will only become more refined and prevalent. ‘Limitless creativity’ is a term I used to associate with drawing a picture or writing a story from scratch. It is only with 3D printing that I can ever see this phrase being realistically implemented into a whole new dimension.


innovation update

Speed dating: The most effective route to updating your school Mention ‘speed dating’ to someone and you might be met with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. But with time being so precious, the concept is a brilliant one - you get to meet about ten or twenty people, know all about them, and then decide if you want to meet them again. So why wouldn’t you do the same for your school? Perhaps you’re looking to upgrade your ICT suite, or make classrooms more paperless. Regardless, you want to be informed and inspired by what’s out there that can transform your school in some way. That’s where Innovate My School come in. Instead of having a sales pitch from one company citing numerous facts and figures, we arrange for 6-7 innovative companies, all with different products guaranteed to spark discussion, and you chat to each one on a table, in groups, until 15 minutes is up and you move to the next one. It’s informal. There’s no ‘selling’. It’s simply there to give you a better grasp of products, methods or systems that can quite literally innovate your school. For more information, visit: 6


10/ done! l l e w 10 CC



EICE February 2014 A free event with training and workshops tailored for school leaders



The Education Innovation Conference & Exhibition will take place for the second time at Manchester Central on February 27th and 28th 2014. The free event is designed to offer education leaders, business managers and practitioners advice, training and guidance when it comes to integrating innovation and technology into learning.This will come in the form of CPD training, access to inspirational keynote speakers, practical workshops, and an exhibition of over 100 solution providers. At a time of great change, Education Innovation will offer free advice sessions on: • Improving your OFSTED performance • Guidance on implementing the new curriculum • E-safety and dealing with cyberbullying for all ages • Technology helping adult learning and training • Mobile learning, tablets and BYOD • More effective use of MIS, cloud computing, data management • Apprenticeships and innovative ways to encourage entrepreneurism • More effective and efficient procurement • Change management to make ICT and Computing exciting for KS1-KS3 • Technology supporting dyslexia and autism • Technology to help governance

96% of the visitors to the 2013 event said that the conference was “excellent” or “good” and the confirmed speakers for the next show include the head of ICT inspection at OFSTED, David Brown,Tim Rylands,Toby Young, Russell Prue, Lynne Sedgemore and many more. The event will include advice hubs from Eskills, Computing at School, AMiE, EduGeek and Naace. Pre-registration is now live and you can also nominate your institution for an Education Innovation Award. Event manager David Ventris-Field said: “Building on the success of last year’s Education Innovation, we’re really focusing on how innovation can be used to raise achievement with lots of practical, hands-on workshops for teachers and lecturers and more strategic content for education leaders and business managers.” Education Innovation is proud to be co-located with both the “iThink therefore iPad 2014” and “iThink Therefore iLearn” conferences, and the Raspberry Jamboree 2014. Find out more at and follow the show @EICEManchester using #EICE.

New features for 2014 will include a dedicated ‘innovation in practice’ centre where teachers, educators, business managers and network managers will showcase the latest ideas and demonstrate how they are put to practical use to raise achievement.


title a Day here in the life of an ipad teacher

A day in the life of an

iPad teacher



a Day in the life of an ipad teacher

How can an iPad be used to enhance the school day? Which apps are the best? Nick Dempster, a Year 6 teacher at Linaker Primary School in Southport and an Apple Distinguished Educator shares his experiences.

Teamviewer. This will allow you to see and manipulate your laptop screen from your iPad. Simply open up SIMs on your laptop, connect your iPad and - as long as you have an internet connection - you can fill in your register from anywhere. 09:30am – Literacy

There are so many potential uses of an iPad for reading and writing that I am going to 08:00am - Before school focus on a particular practice that I use every week. Being in Year 6, there is a big push for The iPad is out and making itself useful long preparing for the end of year SATs, and the before the children arrive. All my plans and iPads have massively enhanced this process. I resources are saved to the cloud, so I use my regularly e-mail out reading materials to the iPad to print out anything that is needed for children to read outside of class, which allows the day. It is so much quicker to access your more time to focus on answering questions files this way than waiting for a PC or pen during lessons. I also promote purposeful drive to load up. There are so many different writing through the iPads - children are cloud based platforms to use nowadays, able to write book reviews which are then many of which are free and have their own published online. In the past we have done app to make accessing your files very smooth this on booksellers’ websites, but next year I and painless. At the moment I use Microsoft intend to use the iBook store review section Skydrive as our school’s e-mail system is in the same way. based on there. There are many alternatives that are just as good though - Dropbox, 10:30am - Wet break Google Drive and iCloud, to name a few. As a child, I hated wet breaks. All of the 08:45am – Registration board games were missing pieces and the other option of “sit and draw something” The children arrive on the playground and became tiresome very quickly. It is not a spend 10 minutes outside before heading problem any more though, as wet breaks are in for lessons. I’ve always disliked calling an opportunity to be creative with the iPads. names on the register - so much wasted Some children are creating animations, others time! There are now ways around this. I use are designing games on Sketch Nation. There an app called Emerge HD to access all our are a few lads having tournaments on the electronic registers on our SIMS anywhere, chess app, whilst a couple of children have so mine is completed before the children shared pictures and are creating a collage even enter the classroom. It is very intuitive with them. And I am in the centre of them all, but can be quite expensive for schools to in awe of their imaginative pursuits! adopt. A cheaper alternative is to use a remote desktop app such as Splashtop or


title a Day here in the life of an ipad teacher 11:00am – Numeracy

02:15pm – Science

Today, we are revising long multiplication, and I want to check which method each child is using. They open an app called Explain Everything to record their markings in realtime when working-out a calculation. They can even record their voice explaining what they have done. The children show me their answers by holding their iPads up, and I am able to see any errors or misconceptions by playing their recordings back. This offers instant feedback. I can also ask a child to show their work by using the Apple TV that is connected to my projector. Now everybody can see their screen, and we can discuss how successful the child’s workingout is, and suggest next steps together.

The final lesson of the day is a write up of our investigation on micro-organisms. The week before the children made bread to understand the role of yeast in the process. We used the time-lapse function on I Can Animate to capture the bread rising in realtime, and replay it at a fraction of the time. Once we have researched and discussed the chemical reaction as a class, the children are given the freedom to present their findings using their iPads however they choose. Some create a Comic Life strip, while others present their work using Keynote. A couple of children want to take a picture of the bread and bring it to life using Morfo.

01:15pm – Spanish

Once again, I am able to take a back seat during this part of the lesson, answering questions and helping the children along but giving them full control over their own method and pace of learning. Their finished piece is sent to me for review at the end of the lesson.

This is a subject that I love to teach but with such little time (1 hour a week), it’s very important to create a lesson that will resonate. I recently discovered Zondle, which is a free app and website that allows you to create multiple-choice quizzes. Users Nick is writing an iBook explaining some of are rewarded for answering correctly by these techniques and many more, which he getting to play a short game before the hopes to publish this year. next question. I first used this with my class to teach weather phrases and it had an instant impact. Every child continued playing at home which significantly improved their language acquisition, meaning we could move on much quicker than usual to forming full Article written by: sentences and paragraphs. Nick Dempster, Year 6 Teacher The next step is to use the iPad’s camera (Linaker Primary School) function to record the children talking in ICT co-ordinator Spanish. They can then peer and self assess, and continue to rehearse and practice whilst @Linakerict at home. Again, this has improved their skill level in the language exponentially. 12


8th –29th November 2013

How will you help raise attainment? Join us for the autumn round of our RM Educational Seminars to discover how ICT can help to inspire results in and beyond the classroom. Get new ideas, network with your peers, see the latest solutions from RM Education and other key technology suppliers. Book your free places now. 0800 046 9796


What is BYOD and why is it important?

What is BYOD and why is it important?

Bring your own device (BYOD) in schools is a system where students bring their personal laptops, tablets, and smartphones from home and use them for educational purposes in the classroom. BYOD, a powerful concept for many reasons, may also improve connections between school and home learning, says Chris Wiseman. 14


Schools have and always will be faced with tough decisions when it comes to new technology: Which platform to purchase? What codes and practices to adopt?

reputation for ICT innovation and creativity. Business manager John Drinkwater explains the school’s reasons for adopting BYOD in 2011: “Our college has always remained at the forefront of adopting new technologies. For instance, we introduced 1:1 computing years ago throughout our college, but as budgets continued to be squeezed, we had to evaluate alternative options such as BYOD.”

Perhaps the most difficult choices come during the early phases of emerging trends, such as Bring Your own Device (BYOD), a mobile learning framework whereby students are allowed to use their own tablets or He continues, “BYOD is currently available smartphones for educational purposes on to all sixth form students, and allows them the school network. to access school resources and data on their personal mobile devices, both in college and It is not unusual for digital natives today at home. It has been highly beneficial for to own multiple devices for different students, parents, teachers and of course the situations and activities. Smartphones, tablets, college itself.” notebooks, laptops, and e-readers are all valuable learning tools for schools to tap into. Providing a completely new element of Whilst most schools would like to be able to freedom and flexibility that has not been provide a device for every student, in reality experienced before, BYOD is viewed by it may be unfeasible, particularly in financially sixth-form students as a rare opportunity. unstable times. Drinkwater states, “In our area, we are one of the few schools offering BYOD, so parents and students view it as a bonus. As the students own the devices themselves, they Our college has assume responsibility and have great respect always remained at the for their own property.”

forefront of adopting new technologies. For instance, we introduced 1:1 computing years ago throughout our college, but as budgets continued to be squeezed, we had to evaluate alternative options such as BYOD

Changing patterns In the past, a clear divide has existed for students between school and home learning, as well as a different perception between school and home use of technology, particularly as personal mobile resources can be more up-to-date than those provided by schools. However, fuelled by the adoption of mobile technologies in the consumer market, the pre-existing divide is in decline.

BYOD in action Hugh Christie Technology College in Tonbridge, Kent is a specialist school with a

Students are incredibly fluent with technology, and to reflect their use of mobile technologies in their leisure time, expectations in an education setting are


What is BYOD and why is it important? swiftly changing. There is a shift to anytime, anywhere learning, and the portability of mobile devices supports this ethos. Through improved engagement and motivation, BYOD could be the pivotal link between school and home learning. For instance, there are opportunities for creative exploration and to pursue interests and hobbies relating to subject matters introduced at school. In fact, as students begin to take ownership of their learning, it becomes an integral part of their life.

Parental engagement has a major influence on achievement and success. BYOD can help students and parents learn together, which is why we encourage it

Involving the family At Hugh Christie college there is a great emphasis placed on collaboration with parents, with a specialist group dedicated to this cause. “Parental engagement has a major influence on achievement and success. BYOD can help students and parents learn together, which is why we encourage it,” Mr Drinkwater explains. The portability of mobile devices also helps with this. Students can easily learn with their parents, the majority of whom own similar technologies themselves, creating a degree 16

of unity with minimal usability issues. In fact, children teaching their parents to use technology is a common scenario these days! Although the BYOD approach is not yet available to all students, Hugh Christie college has found that BYOD encourages and motivates students. “In the future BYOD may be a viable option for more of our students, and we will certainly be considering the merits of taking BYOD a step further,” John states. Perhaps one example of this is the school’s ‘Silver Surfers’ course, a highly acclaimed effort to educate the wider community with a free computer class for 55s and over. Instead of learning on an unfamiliar device, adult learners are invited to bring their own mobile devices into the college and gain guest access to the network. A powerful concept As well as providing an extension to their personal lives, the increasing adoption of BYOD in the commercial world means students are likely to use this approach in their working lives, making it an even more pertinent scheme for schools and colleges preparing students for their future careers.

Article written by: Chris Wiseman, Sales Director, Education at Capita Managed IT Solutions @Capita_MITS


title here

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Student information including timetables, attendance, minutes late, absence notes, medical information, behavioural and achievement data can be accessed wherever the teacher is located (even in another country) without the need to rely on a desktop or laptop computer.


3D in the Classroom

3D in the Classroom: A Grand Illusion?



When a lesson is presented in stereoscopic 3D, the lesson material appears to physically “float” or “hover” in the classroom. This is accomplished by sending differing, carefully defined images to the students’ left and right eyes, and with proper hardware and software these images create very convincing illusions of depth and volume. Imagine showing a beating heart, or the nucleus and orbiting electrons of an atom, or the dynamic birth of a galaxy, to your students in this manner. The visually engaging, almost visceral 3D experience helps bring the lesson material alive, making it more ‘real’ and memorable. But there are some people who feel that using 3D in the classroom is simply a gimmick – today’s proverbial “shiny object” and just a passing fad. A grand delusion, if you will. Illusion or delusion? Without access to a crystal ball or time machine we can’t be sure how things will turn out in the future, but we can certainly look at the various pros and cons related to the use of 3D as a teaching aid today. On the side of “delusion” there are certainly some facts that dull a bit of the 3D shine. For example, a small percentage of students can’t fully perceive 3D effects (estimates range from 1-2% up to about 5%). For those students the separate left and right images never fuse together to create the appearance of 3D objects being present in the classroom.

However, it is not clear what portion of these students have vision-related problems that could also affect their ability to learn via more traditional methods. In any case, these students are not likely to gain anything from having a lesson presented in 3D. Another “delusion” is that using 3D can “heal” otherwise boring lectures. While 3D techniques can definitely increase visual interest and understanding, a bad lecture presented in 3D is still a bad lecture. If explanations are poorly given, even in a 3D context, they will remain poorly received and quickly forgotten. Jumping to the “grand illusion” camp, much ado is often made about individual test scores going up when students are taught using 3D techniques. The reason behind this, however – that student engagement and understanding is improving – offers much more to be excited about.

While 3D techniques can definitely increase visual interest and understanding, a bad lecture presented in 3D is still a bad lecture By presenting complex lessons in an entertaining and illuminating fashion, the concepts are better understood, which in turn not only yields better test results, but provides students with a better working knowledge of the subject material.


3D in the Classroom To retain the benefits of teaching in 3D, it is best employed as a complement to other teaching methods. One suggestion is to use 3D lesson material when introducing a topic in order to stimulate interest and instill genuine curiosity surrounding it. In other words, 3D helps set the stage for “active learning” to commence. Then, after several lessons, revisit the material in 3D. This will help solidify the abstract concepts in a visually compelling and memorable manner, while also providing students with a feeling of competence and closure as they relive the introductory 3D presentation and realise how much they have recently learned about the subject material.

used to enhance. Some things that are perfectly understood in 2D will gain little benefit – and perhaps even lose clarity – if presented in 3D; however, material with natural depth or complex motion, for instance, will gain the most. Think about trying to teach the workings of an internal combustion engine, the way a generator produces electrical current from mechanical motion through a magnetic field, or the way the shape of a wing creates lift as it is propelled through the atmosphere. These are hard concepts to explain with only flat or static imagery, but they truly come to life in an informative and engaging way when presented interactively in 3D.

Some things that are perfectly understood in 2D will gain little benefit if presented in 3D; however, material with natural depth or complex motion will gain the most


Another recommended technique is to allow students to explore the interactive portions of the lesson material individually on a computer or tablet – actively “playing with” the 3D models in an exploratory fashion after seeing the introductory presentation of the same material in its 3D format.

Article written by: Donald L Brittain, PhD Chief Software Architect, 3D-Hub

In conclusion, the success of using 3D depends on the type of material it is being



top 5 tips for schools using social media

Top 5 Tips for Schools using Social Media 1. Vision

3. Training

This is essential if you are going to convince your school that using social media in education is a good idea. Why do you want to use social media? Is it primarily for teaching and learning, or communicating with students, parents or even the public?

Before implementing social media in your school, give all students digital citizenship lessons, including training in e-safety. During online safety lessons, I like to actually go through Facebook’s privacy settings with my students, rather than just speaking about them.

In order to get an idea whether your use of social media has worked you will need to decide what your aims and objectives are, and assess how well these have been met later on. If you’re stuck, do some research on how other schools have used social networks. You could also check educational blogs and ask some questions on Twitter.

My preferred model is to dedicate time in ICT lessons for this, although some schools do this in PSHE. This is fine as long as those teaching it are fully trained, and preferably users of social media themselves.

2. Administration It is important to be able to keep track of all of your accounts and groups. If you don’t, there is a danger of it becoming a free-for-all with different staff members setting up groups or accounts on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus. I find it easier to keep track of all this activity online using Google Apps, which also lets me share documents with other teachers who can amend certain details if necessary.

Training teachers in how to use social media, as well as how they can protect their profile, is also important.They need to be confident users if they are to buy into the idea of using it in their school. Finally, get the parents involved. Run an information evening and show them what young people use the internet for and let them know how you are educating their children to use the internet safely and productively.

If you are leading the social media initiative I would advise you to be a member of all groups or follow all Twitter feeds. You can then help to moderate their use and give teachers advice when they need it, in addition to drawing up a list of rules and guidelines that staff members should follow. 22


There are many potential benefits of using social media in the classroom: it can improve your relationship with pupils, and inspire them to spend more time on their work. Before setting up a Facebook or Twitter account, however, significant preparation is required. Here are my top 5 tips:

4. Content

5. Evaluation

Social media can be used for extra curricular clubs, trips, marketing and communication, but it is also a powerful tool for teaching and learning. It could be used simply as a means of broadcasting information quickly to your students. Taking it a step further, you could make it mandatory to contribute to Facebook groups for a project in order to guarantee collaboration and online discussion. Students could share links, videos, audio and their work with their group via social media - it could even be part of their homework.

After a set period of time, it is important to evaluate the initiative. Both students and teachers need to be asked in order to get an accurate and balanced perspective of how well your aims and objectives have been met. The best route for me was to create a form using Google Apps, which was then emailed to everyone involved.

Once you have done this, you will be able to judge whether social media is a successful and worthwhile learning tool for your school. It will then be useful to come up with a list of recommendations and compile a report on If you intend to share information using social media, make sure you do not abandon it. If you your findings. stop using it or rarely update it, your students may lose interest. However, don’t overload students with information, as they will struggle to keep up or just decide to ignore what you are posting. Finally, everything you share should be relevant to the course or project.

Article written by: Matt Britland Head of ICT

(Kingston Grammar School)

Director of Realise Learning @mattbritland



How Homewood school brought the

cloud into the classroom

Homewood School has formed a new digital curriculum partnership with LearnersCloud, the leading provider of e-learning resources for GCSE students.

‘With LearnersCloud, we can give our students total flexibility in terms of how and when they learn,’ says Chris. ‘They can learn at a time and place that suits them – whenever they have a spare moment.The e-learning Homewood School and Sixth Form Centre, resource is delivered across all digital platforms, enabling students to access their in Tenterden, Kent, is a forward-looking establishment that aims to make the learning LearnersCloud subscription on their laptop, as flexible and intuitive as possible.The school iOS, and Android devices, 24/7. has a strong reputation for applied learning LearnersCloud provides comprehensive and is dedicated to teaching and learning, coverage of GCSE Maths, English, Biology, which has already helped thousands of Chemistry, Physics and Maths iGCSE.Tailored students increase their confidence and ability to cover the UK’s leading exam specifications in using mobile ICT. (AQA, Edexcel, OCR and WJEC), LearnersCloud complements classroom When Homewood decided to build e-learning into their curriculum, they needed teaching strategies and personalises the learning experience, enabling teachers to a solution that would adapt to their existing easily integrate visual components into their approach. ‘We pride ourselves on being at lesson plans and stimulate higher levels of the forefront of the personalised learning engagement from their learners. agenda,’ says Chris Foreman,Vice- Principal, Partnerships, at Homewood. ‘When we reviewed the online e-learning market we found most offerings were too rigid, or put up too many barriers to learning.’ LearnersCloud, however, allows students to view hundreds of engaging, easy-to-follow and detailed HD videos on their computer or mobile device. Each video is presented by a fully qualified GCSE tutor and combines quality-assured content with animated and illustrated sequences that bring events, facts and concepts vividly to life. Students can also test themselves on what they’ve learned, using the in-app question feature or a separate test & learn question app, which combines thousands of questions interpreted from actual GCSE exam papers.



Giving Students a Global Audience After a grueling week with your wonderful Year 6 class surpassing their non-chronological reports, you think you have aced it! They have chosen their topic of choice and it’s 10:50am on a Friday – it’s BIG Writing time! The candle is burning… or more realistically, the interactive whiteboard is displaying the faint flicker of a candle flame. If you silence the class, you can hear the calming tones of Mozart tickling away at thought processes. It’s then, just as the children pick up their Big Writing pens that you utter those important words: “Don’t forget... consider your audience!”

However, do we ever pause to think of what is going through our students’ brains as they process what we have just said? “If I’m lucky, this piece of writing will get marked!” “If I do my very best, and Miss likes it, my writing might end upon the wall!” “If I impress Miss, and I get sent to the head and she likes it, my writing might get shown in assembly!” Even if all of this did happen, their audience at best will be a couple of hundred other children. What if you could give your children an audience of millions? What effect might that have on your pupils? The days where students’ efforts of planning, thinking and writing end up in books only to be wheeled out of the writing tray once a week are numbered. 25

Giving Students a Global Audience Web2.0 epitomises the evolution of the world wide web from an online library of static pages to an interactive two-way environment. It is the experience that many of our pupils have of the internet whenever they are outside the school building, yet, despite it being around since 2006, many schools are not capitalising on it. I first introduced blogging at my school in 2009 and this turned around the way pupils experienced writing. A blog is a website where you simply ‘post’ information on a particular topic to the public, but its real power is harnessed in the ability to share opinion via ‘comments’. Although pupils can log into a class blog and post whatever they want whenever they want, nothing appears on the class blog without the teacher approving it. Even comments have to be approved. If you are thinking about starting a class blog, here’s a downloadable ‘Blogging Policy’ I have written that might help you. After introducing blogging to my Year 6 class, children began to fall in love with writing; so much so, some boys wrote over 100,000 words on their class blog in one year. Results for writing at Level 5 shot up from 9% to 60% in just 2 months (National Key Stage 2 SATs Tests 2010) with each child out of a cohort of 30 making double the expected points progress. My pupils were not only getting a global audience for their writing, they were also receiving highquality constructive feedback from other pupils, teachers and interested parties worldwide. We saw visits from famous authors including Michael Morpurgo, Pie Corbett, the German Ambassador to the UK and many more highly important and influential people. I once asked a pupil of mine, “Why, after all these months of me harping on at you to start using capital letters and full stops do you start to use them after a comment from New Zealand?”


And he replied, “It’s because you aren’t real Mr. Mitchell! You’re a teacher; you’re paid to help me. Mr. Smith isn’t; he’s given up his spare time to leave that comment!”That’s the power of a simple comment from a ‘real’ person! Running a class blog isn’t too difficult and neither is it too time consuming, but a class blog needs the teacher to be enthusiastic and committed to bringing an audience to their pupils. After the initial investment of time showing your pupils what blogging is all about, a successful class blog can be managed with little over 45 minutes per week. Once you see the effect this has on your pupils, however, I’ll challenge you not to get even more excited than them! Whether you want to change their behaviour and attitudes or enhance their progress and attainment, starting a class blog could be the most important thing you ever do for them.

Useful Links: Specialist school blog provider Specialist school blog provider FREE Global blogging project to assist in audience building FREE weekly writing blogging project

Article written by: David Mitchell, Deputy Headteacher

(Heathfield Primary School)

Freelance Consultant

(Quadblogging Founder) @DeputyMitchell


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Touch-screen teaching Touch-screen technology is at the heart and soul of day to day life. The touch phenomenon has been influencing the design of consumer electronics devices for years, ranging from the iPhone to computer desktops, digital cameras and MP3 players. Allowing diverse functionality by tapping, sliding or dragging a finger, people want touchscreen devices because they are well designed, easy to use and in-keeping with the modern world. A prominent feature therefore within the retail environment, touch-screens also appeal to businesses, who use the technology for information kiosks and points of sale, for example. In education, however, the touch screen is only just beginning its journey.


Research shows that less than 5% of the current market share of screen technology in schools is touch-based, the majority using the traditional combination of interactive whiteboards and projectors.This, however, is set to change dramatically over the forthcoming years as schools become aware that this engaging modern technology is now available for use in the classrooms. Interestingly, it is in education that the touchscreen can deliver the most dramatic results when replacing traditional devices. Financial savings, full HD resolution, a wealth of growing software and apps along with perfect orientation are proving to ‘wow’ schools all over the country. VII aims to deliver these exciting and innovative displays that will improve pupils’ engagement in class by implementing a modern and updated version of the interactive whiteboard. Innovatemyschool

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Videoing for Professional Development We’ve all been observed whilst teaching, whether it’s by mentors, mentees, colleagues, SMT or even the dreaded OFSTED. We’re given feedback and we try and implement changes to improve our teaching. However, it is often difficult to remember which part of the lesson the observer is referring to, or which student in particular is being criticised for not being focused enough. Videoing yourself teaching can change all that. Either by setting up a camera at the back of the classroom, asking a colleague to film it for you or investing in more professional hardware designed for schools, you can transform the way you approach professional development. Say, for example, that you know questioning is a particular weakness for you. You’ve been told that you are predominantly posing closed questions which aren’t developing your class’ thinking or understanding of the topic. If you were to video yourself, you could then pick apart your use of questioning in a very precise way. How long am I giving for thinking time? Where am I standing when I ask the questions? Which students do I ask to answer questions? Am I asking probing, clarification or recommendation questions? A colleague of mine recently videoed herself in order to improve her distribution of questions by analysing where in the classroom she was standing when asking questions to students. She noticed a particular tendency to ask questions in a certain area of the room which made it less likely for students further away to get a chance to speak. As a result of a deliberate effort to walk beyond her ‘comfort zone’, she encouraged discourse from 30

other students and acquired a better grasp of how they were progressing. Recording yourself teaching means you can revisit certain parts over and over again.You can make notes whilst you’re reviewing it so that you are analysing your practice in detail rather than relying on your memory. If you record yourself in lessons periodically, you will hopefully be able to observe the marginal gains in your practice over time and see how feedback and even small changes in specific areas can make a huge difference. You don’t have to share the video with anyone else, but it is often very useful to also get a colleague or two to observe the aspect of teaching you aim to improve on. You will then be able to see if the details they commented on correspond with your initial concerns about your teaching style. Finally, videoing yourself takes little time and effort, and allows more freedom to choose a mutually convenient time with your observer. Once you become accustomed to your voice, and start to notice your posture and how on earth you managed to miss the students talking at the opposite side of the room, video-recording becomes an invaluable tool for reflection.

Article written by: Adam Lewis English Teacher (Cramlington Learning Village) @englishalewis


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Profile for Innovate My School

Innovate My School: September 2013  

Issue 7 of Innovate My School’s online magazine, bringing the latest in educational innovation and inspiration to educators across the UK.

Innovate My School: September 2013  

Issue 7 of Innovate My School’s online magazine, bringing the latest in educational innovation and inspiration to educators across the UK.