Page 1

January 2014 Issue 1





Ideas for interactive teaching and thinking skills

Essential parts of the teaching toolkit

Exploration of the Chinese Education System

SOLO—What is it and how can it improve your teaching

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Click Here Contents Jan 2014 3-6 Reflections Ten changes to try out with your class.

8-11 Educating the Dragon Exploring the Chinese education system

12-13 Opportunities at KS1 A look at cross-curricular teaching in Key Stage One

14-18 The Teaching Toolbox Essential ideas to try in your classroom.

21-23 SOLO Taxonomy Help your pupils make connections to improve their learning

24-27 iPainting One artist swaps his paint brushes for a stylus

It’s a new year and it is a new beginning for UKedchat. UKedchat began on Twitter in 2010 as a forum to discuss the latest ideas in education. This is the first issue of the UKEDucation magazine which aims to share pedagogy, research, teaching tips and resources from real teachers in schools from across the United Kingdom. In this issue Rachel Jones creative and innovative ways to promote thinking skills in the classroom. I take a look at the education system in China and ask if we can learn anything from the changes sweeping though the country’s schools. Emma Hardy talks about how she plans to embed crosscurricular learning in her KS1 classroom this year.

Mark Anderson shares his pedagogical knowledge to equip you with the best teaching tools. Andy Knill makes connections by using SOLO Taxonomy in his classroom. He talks about the benefits and he discusses how you might implement SOLO in your class. Steve Crowther shares his shift from the easel to tablet with a showcast of his art work. And finally, Stephen Lockyer builds a class identity using some lessons from marketing and branding. Have a wonderful and successful beginning to the 2014. Martin Burrett Editor

28-29 Brand your Classroom Promote your pupils by building a class identity

30 Bookshelf Oops! Helping children learn accidentally

31 Websites for your Class 5 apps and sites to help you teach

32-33 Notice Board & Events Swap & share resources and CPD

34 Your guide to UKedchat Poster explaining how your colleagues can join UKedchat Editor Martin Burrett @ICTmagic @UKedchat


Like to write for the magazine?

Rachel Jones @rlj1981 Emma Hardy @emmaannhardy Mark Anderson @ICTevangelist Andy Knill @aknill Steve Crowther @stevecrowther Stephen Lockyer @mrlockyer

If you are an educator and would like to share what works in your school or classroom, we would like to hear from you.

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The publishers accepts no responsibility for any claims made in any advertisement appearing in this publication. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publishers accept no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Cover Photo Credit: by MDrX under Commercial Creative Commons License and edited with


Developing higher order thinking skills in your learners By Rachel Jones

All teachers work in one way or another using taxonomy. Many of us use Blooms hierarchical taxonomy, which sets out levels of learning from Understanding, through various stages to Analysis, right through to Evaluate towards the zenith of the pyramid, with Create at the top. This was designed to promote higher order thinking skills in education, and is really useful for encouraging teachers to consider Metacognition- the actual processes of how students learn. Of course there is also SOLO Taxonomy, which has been embedded into teaching practice, allowing students reach towards an extended abstract. Whichever taxonomy you use as educators, we should be guiding our learners to achieve their potential and beyond. Why settle for them just to understand something- my goldfish understands when it is going to be fed, doesn’t mean that it is a useful transferable skill. As a happy coincidence many exam boards ask questions that reward higher order thinking- so encouraging your learners to operate at this level is worth your time, in

terms of skills gained as well as potentially improving student outcomes. My students made Question Cubes to steer their thinking in terms of higher order questions - and hopefully answers. These were made from a box net, and they were asked to generate six questions, one for each face of the box. Question led learning can be very powerful, and a good way of demonstrating pre-structural learning and thus progress in a lesson. The student’s engagement in their own learning is heightened when the lesson is led by questions generated by them rather than simply posed by a teacher. It allows them to demonstrate their understanding of key terms, as well as making links with learning from previous lessons. This leads to a deeper level of learning as they are making links between new knowledge and the previous knowledge they had to enable them to construct the question cubes.


The students were encouraged to write higher order thinking questions, so they were framing their work with ‘evaluate’ or ‘analyse’ so when asking the questions they could write answers that did more than simply demonstrate knowledge or understanding. As a starter they wrote questions on each face of the cube. The questions were based on the learning from the previous lesson, and will be used next lesson as part of a student led plenary. I also thought that placing the blocks on top of each other would create a 3D questioning prompt, which learners could use in a meaningful way to inform essay writing or planning- giving them an essay tool kit of questions to help them frame their answer. Another activity to promote higher order thinking is creating evaluative bunting. During the previous lesson I had used SOLO taxonomy so that my learners had multi-structural knowledge on theorists on social deprivation and educational attainment. You can find out more about this here I wanted them to be able to apply this knowledge in an evaluative way, so I asked the class to form groups to draw the theorists’ ideas on bunting, with one theorist per flag. Of course, the focus was not on the art work and there were stickmen aplenty! They then swapped work with another group and tried to label the drawings with the correct theorists. I encouraged them to write on each other’s work, and to be comfortable with making mistakes. It was an excellent


opportunity to promote some positive learner characteristics about celebrating effort and risk taking. They were then tasked with creating the physical bunting and were asked to string in so that each flag had an evaluative relationship with the ones next to it. This was much enjoyed, and my classroom is now festooned with higher order bunting. In addition to that my learners are now comfortable talking about higher order thinking skills, and being creative in order to advance their academic skills. One learner commented how proud she was to see her work up in the classroom, and how lovely it was the see a physical product of a class working together. To consolidate this activity, the class used hexagons and drew on relational links, to reinforce the evaluative links created by the flags. They did his individually, but drew on the work done in groups. I should also mention that the class were live tweeting their learning, which I have written about before here and is an excellent tool if you have the confidence with the technology. Using twitter in the classroom is an excellent

▲ Writing isn’t the only way to record ideas. Quick sketches can be an insightful way to share.

tool for encouraging higher order thinking. Many schools do not allow the use of mobile devices, which is a missed learning opportunity, however if this is the case with you and you are prevented from live tweeting a lesson following a designated hash tag, then why not simply project a contentious tweet (you could plant one appropriate for your subject/level) and ask the students to evaluate it in 140 characters on paper. More ideas on how to use twitter in the classroom here If access to technology is an issue for you,

▲ String theory—keep track of how ideas evolve using string to follow the ‘thread’ of a discussion.

▲ Sometimes you just need a bigger blackboard to understand big concepts.

remember that you would only be using it to enhance learning, not to lead it, so think around the issues, and use old school paper and pens. If you are a teacher who has to manage discussion (aren’t we all?) then why not try a String debate. Ask your class to sit on the tables all facing each other. The rules of the debate are simple, you have a ball of string and whenever anyone wants to talk the string is passed onto them but kept hold of by the last speaker. The result is that you will create something that looks like a giant spider web across the classroom, with students holding on to the pieces of the string. This is excellent for ensuring participation, even a quiet child will want to be involved in create the web. It is also effective for developing evaluation skills if you clearly state that participation can only occur if learners use evaluative language when they debate. To further this you can


use a balloon or similar with a hypothesis written on it, and you can see if your class web is strong enough to hold up this idea. Another activity which promotes higher order thinking is to make use of the outside space at your school, and to take your class onto your playground or tennis courts. Ask them to work in pairs and to write the names of two opposing theorists/ideas on the group in chalk. The pairs then have to do a call and response style reply game, where they work out why the ideas oppose. When they have done this have them draw a line between the theorists and write on the line what the evaluative link between the two ideas is. If you ensure everyone in the class starts with a different theorist, you can then change the parings and cover the entire space in chalk evaluative links, simply by change who works with who. This should create an evaluation web, where all the key ideas are linked together by how they evaluate each other. Do not understate the importance of taking a class

Image Credit: by ART used under Commercial Creative Commons License Word cloud made by Martin Burrett using Microsoft PowerPoint All other images have been captured and supplied by Rachel Jones. Commercial Creative Commons License licenses/by/2.0


▲ Using Twitter makes learning more meaningful and interactive.

outside, it can brighten the mood and reinvigorate students even during the last lesson of the day. Mine loved the idea of creating ‘academic graffiti’ and were very exuberant about calling each other out of the ideas of the theorist they represented. As Prisk recognises here allowing your class outside play (regardless of age) is about more than just developing academic talents, as it also calls for them to develop social skills, and work collaboratively to achieve a demanding objective. Improving our learners’ higher order thinking skills is really important. Not just for the exam, but for their ability to be an effective learner in the long term. Making this evaluation part of a physical process has been successful for me. It is often difficult to promote higher order thinking simply on paper, and I have found making the process physical or introducing a metaphor that represents the metacognition very helpful in assisting students to achieve at a higher level.

Rachel Jones is Sociology teacher at a Sixth Form College. She shares interesting ideas about pedagogy and other geeky stuff on her blog at You can find her on twitter @rlj1981

CPD from your Sofa! A TeachTweet is a free online gathering of educators on Twitter who watch and discuss CPD videos which have been made by the other teachers from the community. Join the next UKedchat TeachTweets on 16th January 2014. Just look for the #UKedchat hashtag on Twitter. Find out more at

Watch the TeachTweet preview video

Download the interactive poster with archived videos from the previous TeachTweet

Click here to sign up to submit a video


Educating the Dragon By Martin Burrett The crowds have gathered and line the street. Latecomers dash across the pavement and join the heaving mass. Behind the gate there are whistles and shouts as lines are made with military precision. The sound of the electronic bell drifts through the air as the gate of Number 10 Elementary School in the South-East Chinese city of Fuzhou slides open, releasing waves of the three thousand students to their waiting parents and grandparents who fill the street. China is a country of superlatives and the rapid rise of China is rarely out of the headlines. But there is a seismic shift coming in the Chinese education system and for the hundreds of millions of children and students that attend schools and colleges across the country. Until recently the Chinese education system had not changed greatly for a thousand years. But now Chinese government, in a bid to diversify the country's economy, is looking to the west for inspiration and innovation to develop its education system and change is happening at a ferocious pace. But what are the challenges and what can we learn from the Sleeping Dragon? The Chinese schooling system is separated into similar stages as the UK. Nursery, more commonly translated as kindergarten, begins at 2 years of age, but this is optional and usually provided by private companies. The first mandatory schooling is primary school, but there is a staggered starting age of 5-7 years old, which is decided by the child’s family. This is a legacy of China agricultural past and this is largely dependant on the economic circumstances of the parents, as many children help with their family business from a young age. However, the vast majority of children begin school as soon as they are able in modern China. At the end of six years of primary school the children sit written exams in Chinese, Maths and English as a foreign language. These tests decide which classes they will attend at the next stage of their schooling.


â–˛ Afternoon eye exercises are meant to help pupils maintain good eye sight while studying for long hours in class.

Martin Burrett spent over 3 years teaching in China. He is now a teacher and consultant in Essex. View thousands of educational resources on his site at

Next children progress to middle school with three years of Junior Middle School (similar to secondary school in the UK) and then, if their exam grades are good enough, three years of Senior Middle School until around the age of 18. At the end of senior schooling student sit the Gao Kou or National Higher Education Entrance Examination, which determines whether they can go to University and what 'major' of degree they can study. Every university student has to take some basic courses to ensure they have a rounded education and English is one area which is studied by all university students. The Chinese school day is structured a little differently from that of the UK. Each day the children arrive at school at 7:30am. On Monday mornings all the staff and students gather around the school flag pole for the flag raising ceremony. The national anthem is played through loud speakers and the Principal addresses the crowd with news about the week ahead. The students have classes until 9:30am and have a break until

10:10am when every student takes part in the marvel that is the Chinese school en masse exercise programme – Several thousand pupils in neat rows of ascending age performing a series of perfectly synced, choreographed movements in time to regulation military music and counting from the speakers. Lessons continue until lunch which begins at around 11am. Just like in the UK, children living close to the school opt to have lunch at home, while others eat at school. Lunch time is usually longer in China than we are used to. In most parts of China it becomes very hot in summer, so it is the custom to take a nap and return to school at around 1pm. Younger children leave school at around 3:30pm, but even by the age of 1011 the students have classes as late as 5pm. Homework is given in almost every lesson resulting in around 2-3 hours nightly for upper Elementary pupils and older. A teacher can expect to receive over a hundred pieces of homework to mark every day, not to mention work produced in class.


parents around the world as very important, but in China this often takes on religious fervour and China has a booming private education section and private tutors for those how can afford it.

▲ English is seen as an important life skill for many Chinese people. It is also closely connected with youth culture as many young people in China listen to Western music and watch English language television and movies. An English Corner is a popular, learner-led gathering for practising English and a common phenomenon at Chinese universities, high schools and town squares across China. As a native English speaker, you are guaranteed a warm welcome if you visit an English Corner.

In most Chinese schools, each class has a class monitor. It’s a hotly contested position and this pupil is effectively in charge of the class when teachers are not around. Their duties include ensuring everyone is working, checking that homework is handed in and making sure that everyone completes their eye exercises – A set of coordinated massages around the eyes that are set to music midway through the afternoon. The importance of education is part of the foundation of Chinese society and culture. Since the time of Confucius, around 2,500 years ago, knowledge and wisdom have been seen as the pinnacle of achievement and revered. With a burgeoning population, competition for higher education and jobs is fierce in today’s China. Education is usually seen by most


China has been experimenting with a system of ‘free schools’ for quite some time and educators in the UK should examine where this has lead and take note. The system of state funded private schools began more than ten years ago and in a similar way that they are now being introduced in the UK. A decade on and the system has lead to many state schools being split down the middle and have a two tiered system for those students and parents willing to pay for premium facilities and teachers. The ‘basic’ school class sizes can be very large and 40-50 is common in both Elementary and Middle schools. Most classrooms are set in rows and have basic equipment, such as a few blackboards, a TV and an increasing number have projectors and interactive whiteboards. Even at Elementary school the pupils move around the school to be taught in different classrooms for different subjects. Just like in most secondary schools in the UK, classrooms in China are designated for particular subjects and rooms for art or science have specialist equipment. In most Chinese schools today the textbook is king and compared to the UK, there is a distinct lack of pupil interaction. Many elementary and middle school lessons resemble lectures where the teacher imparts knowledge to their class. However, this is beginning to change as many local provincial governments are sitting up and taking note of the teaching methods of pedagogical advances and research happening overseas and

incorporating these into initial teacher training. There is still a long way to go, but newly qualified teachers are beginning use games, collaborative learning and using ICT to bring teaching to life. However, these changes will spread slowly as teachers do not generally receive additional training once they have qualified and there are no education trainers, consultants or CPD providers to speak of in China. There is a limited mentoring system that is arranged within schools, if the school feels it is of benefit. New recruits usually learn the tricks of the trade as they teach and are left in a training vacuum where they hone their skills in virtual isolation. There is no equivalent to Ofsted in China, but there is a Communist party official stationed in every school to ensure compliance with government regulations.

Image Credit: by Vin Crosbie under Commercial Creative Commons License Commercial Creative Commons License

In the biggest cities in China it is becoming common to have native English speakers in every level of school, as educational institutions and strategist encourage learning English to try to develop a competitive edge. Chinese schools are seeking to develop international partnerships with schools across the world, including many schools in the UK. Schools and the government are eager to learn new ways of teaching from overseas partners and exchanging both teachers and students is common once a partnership has been set up. Linking to an international partner is highly beneficial for both sides and my own school has taken part in numerous joint activities to foster understanding and improve cultural awareness. As I write this, it is relatively quiet outside Number 10 Elementary School and beyond the gate the school grounds are deserted. Looking skyward at the tall cityscape that surrounds me, the shiny new skyscrapers stand testament to the rapid economic progress China has made over the past 20 years. The state is now trying to diversify the educational horizons of the country and the scope and ambition of its young people by putting the vast resources of the dragon behind the Chinese schooling system and importing and adapting the best from around the world. This may turn out to be the real Chinese miracle.

Other images were captured by Martin Burrett who has given permission to use them in the magazine.


Opportunities with the New Key Stage One Curriculum By Emma Hardy Tim Taylor has done a very good comparison of the old and new primary curriculum and for infant teachers very little has changed, unless you want it to. See the link here.

Yes, in Key Stage 1 schools can continue to teach the same History topics in the same way but the freedoms that we had in the original curriculum still remain and so I see this as an opportunity to make more dramatic changes.

Following the February draft of the primary curriculum I became involved in the Defend School History group because I disagreed with a number of things including the omission of Historical inquiry skills. My reaction to the July draft was much more positive and my only criticism now, of the KS1 History Curriculum, is a political one that seeks to divide schools into those who must teach it and those who have the freedom to set their own curriculum – I still fail to see any justification for that but this is a different argument for another time.

My aim is still to teach my children under a topic heading and the challenge will be trying to make all the different curriculum elements fit together. This year I am going to experiment with an ‘Adventures’ topic in the Spring term. We are going to study Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong as our significant people and then link this to the Geography mapping skills and the new location knowledge requirement. At the start of the year we are putting a world map in the front of our children’s books and as we learn about new places throughout the year they can update this map. This new topic will also include teaching story writing, adjectives, adverbs for description, poetry – the list is endless. We could have a ‘Historical day’ and get the children to dress up for the day as explorers and maybe take part in a school treasure hunt. During our music lessons we could listen to and learn about the Holst Planet suite and create our own eerie musical compositions.

▲ One small step in Key Stage One, where cross curricular activities are the norm.


Our art could be inspired by a number of links, from Pop Art from the 1960’s when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, to looking at portraits and how they were used to convey status and achievement during the time of Christopher Columbus – again the possibilities are endless. All these ideas for Art and Music are possible due to the vagueness of the KS1 primary curriculum. It would be wonderful to make rockets in DT but we do need to “explore

and use mechanisms, [such as levers, sliders, wheels and axles], in their products” so making space buggies would have to suffice. The materials topic in Science would fit nicely with this and we could look at the materials needed for a spacesuit or which materials we would use to make a bag when going on an adventure and then we could test our space buggies and “compare how things move on different surfaces.” The possibilities really are endless for KS1 so I think we should embrace every freedom offered to continue to teach in the best way possible for our children. (I have deliberately left out my reaction to the KS1 Mathematics and English curriculum) Yes, the content will be covered and yes there will a number of teaching styles used but as infant practitioners we can make the KS1 curriculum work - if only we were given more time to do it… Image Credit: by woodleywonderworks under Commercial Creative Commons License by georgeowensfx under Commercial Creative Commons License Commercial Creative Commons License

▲ High seas adventures - teaching and learning can take you to unexpected places.

Emma Hardy has been a primary teacher in the East Riding for nine years and she is a Young Teachers’ officer in the NUT. See her blog at and find her on Twitter at @emmaannhardy


By Mark Anderson I often read about teachers questioning the importance of technology in the classroom, asking whether or not it is part of a traditional or a progressive form of education. Asking whether technology actually has any place in the classroom at all. As you’ll probably guess from my Twitter handle, @ICTEvangelist, my blog “” and my book ‘Perfect ICT Every Lesson’ you can pretty much see where my thoughts lie. The thing is, like every other teacher (at least this should be the case) I know that actually, the most important thing in education is about learning and the teaching that supports it. Things such as great relationships with students. Knowing what we are talking about. Encouragement of the students and celebrating their progress and achievements. We need to be a guide, mentor, feedback champion, questioning king and supporter of a student’s ability to fail, pick themselves back up, learn from it and move on. There are a plethora of books (Hattie / Dweck / Freire / Beere /


great Elder) out there which talk of how we can develop and work with our students to bring out the best in them. Documents such ‘The Engaging School’ (help showcase compelling case studies on how we can do this as well. Hattie says this too in his latest offering, “Teachers become more effective when they begin to see the learning process through the eyes of their students”. By being there every day, being involved, interested and focused on knowing our learners; giving them their feedback and saying hi in the morning and meeting them at the doorway and asking them how there weekend was. Asking them how they got on in their football match. Or how the trick or treating went. Or whatever it is that makes them know that for the next 50 minutes they’re in your space and they are there to learn with you about the most amazing facts and practice the most brilliant skills and make themselves a better person because of it. Because of you… All those other skills I mentioned earlier about questioning, feedback, so forth and so on…

they’re important too alongside all of these things. Very important. They’re essential parts to our teaching toolkit to ensure learning takes place. The thing is… technology fits in to that toolkit too. And like a compass in our pencil case, it doesn’t have to be used at all times – in fact, I’d wholeheartedly suggest that it isn’t. Who’d want to learn using technology all of the time? But it needs to be part of all of our toolkits. In fact, I think, It’s about time we came up with a framework or toolkit for teachers. A digital toolkit. A list of key skills that all teachers should have in order to be able to engage in the learning mantra of a technologically aware classroom. One which has technology, not used for the sake of technology, but used for the benefit of learning. Just like we would hope that our teachers use proven frameworks and pedagogies to bring about great learning in classrooms, so we should use technological pedagogies to inform practice in the classroom. The quote from the start of this article comes from the ‘Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit’ from the section on Digital Technology.

(Diagram CC Mark Anderson)

Lots of the findings ring true and are based upon research: ►Effective use of technology is driven by learning and teaching goals rather than a specific technology: technology is not an end in itself. ►It is important to identify clearly how the introduction of technology will improve learning rather than assuming that new technology will automatically lead to increased attainment; technology without pedagogy is very unlikely to be effective. ►Technology should support pupils to work harder, for longer or more efficiently to improve their learning. ►Motivation to use technology does not always translate into more effective learning, particularly if the use of the technology and the learning outcomes are not closely aligned. ►Teachers need support and time to learn to use new technology effectively. This involves more than just learning how to use the technology and should include support to use it for teaching through professional development. There are a number of pedagogies and taxonomies which we can apply to our technologically aware classroom. (continues on page 18)



(Diagram CC Mark Anderson)


The first of which is relatively easy to get our heads around and is called SAMR. The development of SAMR by Dr Ruben Puentedura basically gives a framework for moving learning activities from a substitutional level at one end of the framework to a redefinition level at the other end. If you’d like to find out more about this, please check out his work on his blog here: I have written quite extensively on it too and there are some resources on my blog and even more in my book in Chapter 1. Another great framework for thinking about how we can use technology in the classroom is the TPACK framework. Developed by Mishra & Koehler, TPACK is a further development of Schulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge. Basically, what the framework allows us to do is look at how we can plan learning experiences for students where we combine technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. By combining these different elements we can bring about a variety of different learning opportunities for students. A full version of the diagram above can be downloaded from my site via tpackexplained As you can see, there are a number of ways that we can look at how we use technology in the classroom. The thing is… we’ve been educators for a while… we all must have had that experience with our young people when they say, “I don’t get it”. “I don’t understand”. At that point, your teacher ears will prick up and you’ll start putting your teacher skills to the max. You’ll jump in and ask them (ala Jim Smith) “What if I gave you a million pounds to ‘get it’, what would you do then?” Using the tools of your trade. Would you accept learned helplessness from the young people in your classroom?


If you do, please go to teacher ‘jail’. If you pass ‘Go’, do not collect £200. I’ll see you at the end of school… We don’t accept this from our learners and why should we? We know we should be promoting tenacity, grit, determination – a growth mindset (ala Dweck). Discussion, debate and blog post a plenty recognise this to be a problem with our learners and there are so many different strategies that we can put in to play in order to turn this around. So… my next question is this… why do we accept this from our colleagues if we don’t accept this from our students? I’d love to hear an answer to that question. I don’t have one, but I have some thoughts on why a number of teachers don’t relish the thought of technology in their classrooms. A growth mindset in our colleagues is the way forward but I can understand why it might be the case that some teachers find it difficult to have a growth mindset when it comes to technology. It’s a big deal and can take a lot of confidence to try things out in the classroom, particularly if you’re not a digital native like many of your students probably are. In their work ‘Classroom Dynamics: Implementing a Technology-Based Learning Environment’, Mandinach & Cline talked about four levels of confidence in the use of technology. More recently, Fraser et al have been looking at Digital Literacy in the area of Leicester and the results of their survey in to Digital Literacy in their BSF schools also has four strands linked to the responses although in their survey it links not to confidence but confidence. In their survey, practices are grouped in to Entry, Core, Developer or Pioneer descriptors. Interestingly, in their results which were based on 450 practitioners from 19 of the secondary schools, they found that 52% of staff classified their skills and confidence at

the highest level – Pioneer - in one or more of the six key digital literacy areas. Things are clearly getting there! Fraser and her team at Leicester City Council and at De Montfort University have a plan for how they move forward in supporting and developing the staff in their schools. How can you as a teacher working elsewhere do something to help move yourself towards the Pioneer or Innovation levels described here?

(Diagram CC Mark Anderson)

As the Education Endowment Fund stated: “Teachers need support and time to learn to use new technology effectively. This involves more than just learning how to use the technology and should include support to use it for teaching through professional development” – is your school helping you to move forward? I would hope that they are, but you can do some of this for yourself too. The Digital Literacy team in Leicester broke their digital literacy strands down in to 6 sections 1) Finding, Evaluating and Organising; 2) Creating and Sharing; 3) Assessment and Feedback; 4) Communication, Collaboration and Participation; 5) E-Safety and Online Identity; 6) Technology supported Professional Development

▲ Mark is the author of The Perfect ICT lesson Click here to view the book on Amazon.

By breaking down your attempts to use technology to support your work in to these different areas there are a number of ways you can help to develop your own digital toolkit.


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▲Check out Mark’s blog for useful and insight into teaching pedagogy and digital teaching technology.

Learn more about the Leicester Digital Literacy project here: lccdigilit.our. and read their 2013 survey results here: uploads/2013/10/DigiLit-Leicester-2013Survey-Report-FINAL-131030.pdf - many thanks too to Josie Fraser for her help with the development of this article. You can find her on Twitter at – you guessed it: @josiefraser. If you’d like to read more about how you can help develop your use of ICT in the classroom, whatever your subject or whether you are primary or secondary, please check out my book on Amazon here:

Over the coming weeks, I will be exploring these different strands and how we can push ourselves and develop our practice using technology to support each of these different areas and publishing them on my site. In the meantime though; taking control and responsibility for your own professional development; taking some time to read some of the many amazing blogs that are out there; attending some of the hundreds of Teachmeets and other free CPD events taking place across the UK ( will do wonders for inspiring you; not just with your use of technology but the pedagogy you use in your classroom too. Give IT a go… what’s the worst that can happen!?

Mark Anderson is Assistant Head Teacher and directory of E-Learning at Sir Bernard Lovell School near Bristol and the author of Perfect ICT Every Lesson.

Image Credit: by josef.stuefer, edited with under Commercial Creative Commons License All other images have been captured and supplied by Mark Anderson. Commercial Creative Commons License


Taxonomy What is it? Should you try it? By Andy Knill What is it? SOLO taxonomy was developed by Biggs and Collis in 1982 to develop a shared language and common understanding between students and teachers so that the "Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes" was clear.

The Stages of Solo Pre-structural When we start a new topic we may start with no prior knowledge, everything we add is progress.

Uni - structural We start our learning with a single fact.

Multi - structural We now know a range of facts. We are unable to show their relationship to each other or the topic studied.

Relational Facts and ideas can now be linked and related to the topic.

Extended abstract The relational understanding can now be used as a basis for prediction, generalisation, reflection or creating new understanding.


My initial uses of Solo focused on the use of hexagon shapes to identify single facts. These could be added to and then links could be identified. In Geography lessons I have used this to develop how to extend an exam style assessment answer, identify location factors for industries on O.S. maps and many other ideas. I then trialled the language of the stages by teaching a lesson where the topic under discussion arose from a student vote. A risky strategy but one that generally was a great success and I sat with several pupil leaders as a prestructural learner. Online, the best resource I have used for introducing the Solo terminology has been the Emily Hughes "SOLO taxonomy explained using Lego" on YouTube. The Videoscribe based clip uses a format that appeals to students and a toy which many are familiar with. In fact, this year 2013/14 I hope to use actual lego bricks when exploring the structure with year 7 classes. My own lesson planning format changed in March 2013 when I attended the Pedagoo London event at The Institute of Education, London. I adopted the 7Es plan presented by @HThompson1982 which incorporates SOLO stages as differentiated learning outcomes. My pupils in Key Stage 3 classes have responded well. Self and peer assessment is done accurately and comments support each other in developing their work further. I consider myself a confident user but need to develop my practice further over the coming years. Image Credit: Diagrams modified from free downloads at and included with the kind permission from Pam Hook. All other images have been captured and supplied by Andy Knill.


This is a brief introduction, I recommend the following sources to develop your knowledge: Pam Hook in New Zealand has authored several SOLO books and has a range of resources on her website and on Twitter @arti_choke. I have blogged about my own use at Biggs, J.B. & Collis, K.F. (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning: The SOLO taxonomy. New York: Academic Press. Other SOLO users; @JOHNSAYERS blogging at @andyphilipday blogging at on his work with GCSE groups @LGolton blogging at @davidgawcett27 blogging at and many more around the world.

Andy Knill is a Secondary Geography teacher in Essex. You can find him on Twitter @aknill. He blogs at

◄Far from flying solo—Using SOLO helps pupils see connections between ideas and thoughts for discussion and to use in their work.

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Swapping the Brush For the Stylus By Steve Crowther I started to paint using ‘traditional’ media in 2008. Having taught design and technology for 17 years I always had a bit of an eye for drawing but I had never tried painting before. The opportunity to join a local art group came up, so I went off to purchase a huge amount of equipment and a beret, before taking myself off to the class. It proved to be a bit harder than I thought! I am not sure why this surprised me though. Whilst I had the picture in my head it was proving difficult to put it down on paper. My first mistake was thinking that watercolours would be the easiest medium to use - in reality they are unforgiving and tend to do whatever they want - a bit like pushing water up hill at times. In a very short time I became addicted just wanting to get better and better. The trouble was, I wanted to do more art at home, but without a studio (spare bedroom) I had nowhere to leave equipment out, and painting on the dining room table meant a lot of getting out and putting away of equipment. I was also scared to death of dropping acrylic paint on to the carpet which would have been the end of it, and possible divorce. I needed an easier way - the lazy man’s way of painting. I had seen that David Hockney had been trail blazing with the app "Brushes" on the iPhone and iPad. I didn’t really like his art but the iPad idea made me download the app and have a try at this new way of painting. It was ok, but not like ‘real’ painting - the tools didn’t act as I wanted them to. Another visit to the app store and about ten apps later I stumbled across my favourite…"Artrage". This is a super app and has a number of tools that mimic traditional materials very well with the bonus that there is no mess on the carpet.


Any app takes a while to get to grips with and "Artrage" does have a few quirks. But once you know what it is doing it is possible to produce some wonderful effects in pencil, pen, oil, watercolour and pastels with all the blending and mixing capabilities of real paint on a palette.

Once I could use the app being quite happy with the result, I needed something to paint and draw with that was thinner than my finger. I don’t enjoy finger painting as it doesn’t feel natural. A stylus was the next thing on my shopping list. There are a huge number on the market from basic £1 shop versions to £100 pressure sensitive ones that attempt to give the feeling of pressing on to get a thicker line. I have settled on two. The Adonit Jot Pro and a Sensu Brush. The Adonit Jot has a small clear plastic disc on the end which means I can draw fine lines and actually see where they are, rather than being under my fat finger. The Sensu brush is an amazing bit of kit as it is an actual paint brush with the look and feel of a traditional sable brush.

Another great features which gives an instant hits is the ability to import an image as a reference photo. This means that I don’t need to print out a photo when I want to paint one of my own images. I can simply import it, move and resize it as needed, even zooming right in to see the detail. With the bonus of a comprehensive layering system it is great to produce the distance, sky, middle distance and foreground on separate layers experimenting with colour and tone without ruining the rest of the image. ▼ iPainting—Amazing works of art created on a tablet.


My workflow now sees me import my reference image, set up the various layers, draw the image using the Adonit Jot Pro as a pencil or pen then apply the digital paint using the Sensu brush. Once the image is completed it is exported to my iPad camera roll and imported into "Snapseed" app. With this photograph editing app I can crop the image and apply a basic frame before saving it back to the camera roll. If I want to see what the painting will look like in a frame and a mount, I use an app called "Wall of Memories". This app lets the artist apply a whole range of frame and mount combinations before printing and framing the image for real. I have painted a few pet portraits for friends printing out. They come out well when printed on traditional watercolour paper, even though I have to coax the paper through my cheap printer. If the image is needed at a larger scale I run it through a great PC program called "Perfect Resize". This is not a free program but worth every penny for its ability to create huge images for printing onto canvas from original 1024x768 photos or smaller, I sometimes need this as I have the lower resolution iPad 2. As I have been painting seriously on the iPad for the last year I have found great joy in the immediacy of the medium.

The strange thing though, is that I feel it has improved my traditional water and oil based painting. I have thought long and hard about this and I am sure it is that I am no longer afraid of dark paint in my paintings. If you look at a painting and think there is something wrong with it but you are not sure what, a lot of the time it will be because the colours are too washed out and there are no intense dark areas. The iPad lets me put dark colours in a painting and colour experiment with the reassurance of the undo button. I also find myself looking at everything with a view to painting, trying to spot shadows and the composition. As I always have a camera with me - as so long as I have my phone - I find I am taking pictures of a huge variety of subjects I would never have dared to paint with watercolours, as I lacked the confidence worring about not being able to control the paint; another thing else the Ipad has helped me overcome. There are some that scoff saying that iPad painting is not ‘real’ art. It is. It is just a different media. It is instant, inexpensive and immensely enjoyable. If a painting doesn’t work out, delete it and start again. When it works out and you want to share it there are fantastic possibilities how to show your work online. I tend to post my paintings on a number of Facebook groups and blogs. It


takes me just as long to share my art as it does to produce it! But when you get instant feedback from your peers, hopefully positive, it really spurs you on to produce more and improve your techniques. The images here are a range of topics I enjoy painting the most. I must admit to enjoying painting selfportraits, and I did a whole series of weird expressions and angles. I also enjoy painting animals, especially dogs which seems strange for a nondog person, but they seem to suit my "splodge and mix" painting method. Recently I have started to paint landscapes on the iPad after seeing some wonderful paintings on a Facebook page I co-moderate. Simplification seems to be the key here. Let the viewer put in the detail, after all everyone knows what trees look like so let the viewer know there are trees in there and give them some work to do by putting the detail in themselves. Steve taught design and technology and ICT as Head of Department for 17 years before becoming an educational consultant working in schools and with business clients on a number of teaching and learning systems. His main area of interest is training teachers how to get the best from their Interactive Whiteboards and multimedia equipment, including iPads. He is the lead trainer for Primary Engineer who work with Primary teachers and engineers in the practical aspects of STEM, allowing him to get his hands dirty manufacturing models with the teachers. As an artist, Steve displays his own work at and he co-moderates a Facebook Group called ‘Ipad Artists’ which currently has over 300 members and nearly 4000 contributors works of art. You can also find him hanging around twitter as @stevecrowther Image Credit: by John Ward under Commercial Creative Commons License Edited with Commercial Creative Commons License All other images have been made and supplied by Steve Crowther


Branding your Classroom According to research, we are exposed to 247 brands every day, and this of course increases exponentially if we read magazines, watch TVs or go anywhere near the Yahoo homepage. Branding has long since fascinated me. I love logos, am really taken by the way that companies pitch themselves, and love seeing an effective cross-promotion. More than this, I love the way that tribalism and loyalty can develop over time - that we can gain a protective passion for our brand, or come to expect a certain standard or quality from a company. I once rented a VW camper for a week, and while it drew admiring glances, it was the knowing smile as you passed another VW camper that fascinated me the most; that idea of 'we think the same.' Whenever I talk to people about branding my classroom, they immediately think that I want to cover it in corporate logos - this is not the case. I am literally talking about branding the class. Put simply - what does your class stand for? What does it represent? How could you demonstrate this? I first started doing this on a Teaching Practice in the lovely Hampton Hill Junior School, where I was placed with 6S. I loved that class name - it was a shortcut to Success (6S=success, try saying them out loud)! It began with chants and built from there: "Who are we?" "6S" "And what do we want?" "Success!" Huge huge fun. I wonder sometimes if that teaching practice fearlessness of taking risk is what is missing in schools?


By Stephen Lockyer

Below are some ways in which you can brand you classroom. This isn't to make you better than other classes in the school, make you competitive or even turn your children tribal. This is more about building an identity and making a clear stand for what bring in that class represents. Motto/slogan Why can't a class have a motto? This would be something you have over your door, repeat at key times, and eventually, the power of habit lets the pupils take it with them as they move to another class. Younger classes tend to have this anyway, as I've heard my daughter come home with phrases her teacher says a lot to ingrain positive learning and behaviour. What is sharing - sharing is caring, what works - teamworks. The easiest way to do this is to either borrow someone else's (until you find your own) or ask the children - they are never short of ideas! Logo The logo can be as simple as the class name. If you have a shape, animal or bird (Primary school friends), look up with the class what qualities this has. Have the children design a logo. Make those letters and numbers mean something. Even a 4 with a smile looks better than simply a 4. I went a bit over-the-top one year and put the class logo on every exercise book and worksheet I used that year. It used a lot of stickers (for the exercise book) and cutting and pasting (for the worksheets) but the children loved it.

â–˛ From School badges to items in their packed lunch, children are exposed to branding.

Your letters You are 4L this year - what could those for L's stand for: living, loving, learning, laughing? You are 7J - what could those J's represent for you and your students? By linking the letters to your class, you create an indelible link with them. Values Adverts This is tricky to do, but well worth trying. On your class board (you do have a class board, right?), put up images that you or the children have taken/found which represent your values for that year - this really does help to highlight these values, and can create a really great competition with the pupils, as they all try to find a great image representing sharing for example. If you are concerned about cameras in class, have a look at the images on the website Compfight - you can set this to Creative Commons and print out to your delight. Getting Parents to buy in At my school, we have a pro-active attitude to emailling parents. We have a school email, and are encouraged to email them with information and praise. An email from your teacher is nothing to fear! Try emailling your parents if you see the pupils demonstrating some of the values of your 'brand' - it not only makes the parents' day, it also underlines what you are trying to instil.

Products My friend who works in a Secondary School became a house captain for the house which traditionally had come last in most school events. She does not do things by halves, and immediately set about trying to rebrand the house image. She started by inventing a few myths about the house infamous wins that had been 'hushed up' by other houses, more than famous alumni, that sort of thing. This instantly created a buzz around the house that the other houses didn't have. The second thing she did, which I think is just genius, is she had made a silicon wristband for all of the house, in the house colour and with the house name on it. She begged the children not to show the others the wristband, which of course made it even more exciting. The result - a totally engaged and united house, who for once felt enormously proud of themselves, plus an incredibly strong identity. Posters Brandish your message everywhere in class. Convert you class rules. Have the words of your motto placed all over the place. Hang hooked logo labels where your coat would normally sit. Change your screensaver so it shows this rather than something bland. Make your brand your world. This won't work in Secondary Schools? Try it. You may be surprised.

Stephen Lockyer is a Deputy Head in a school in Kent, tweets as @mrlockyer and blogs occasionally at


Bookshelf Bookshelf

Oops! Helping children learn accidentally

Book Author: Hywel Roberts Review by: William Portman Are you planning not to smile to your students until Christmas? Many a newly qualified teacher has been offered this pearl of wisdom as they embark on their career, but Hywel Roberts argues that your smile is actually one of the greatest tools in a teacher’s armoury. In fact, we all remember the teachers from our own childhood who made us smile, laugh, encouraged us, and praised us for our efforts.

Photo credit: Jane Hewitt @Janeh271

Teaching and Learning demands effort, not only on the part of the students but also on the part of the teacher, with this enthusiasm, dedication and desire showing through within Roberts’ very readable book which tries to help teachers ignite their passion for teaching and the subject they teach within. The Yorkshire-based ex-drama teacher now advocates his infectious enthusiasm around schools and universities, but his dedication and belief that teaching is one of the greatest jobs in the world is clear to see. In fact, one recent reviewer commented, “This book will cause you to question your own teaching, methods, approaches and motivation - be prepared to do some serious thinking about your own classroom. When was the last time you `lured' your pupils into their learning? Hywel talks about `igniting curiosity', 'capturing imagination' and `botheredness'!” (via Amazon). And that is what this book is all about. Getting pupils learning without them realising that you’ve set a trap and they are learning, being truly absorbed and engaged in the activity that you have set. This is relevant to all stages of education, being relevant at primary, secondary and further education. Take, for example, one of the many ideas offered in the book - Enthuse your pupils by grabbing a bag and asking them what you would need to pack in it if you were going on a trip to: the moon; the north pole; the magical land of Oz; a time travel trip to 1066; an evacuee during WWII. Roberts shows that it doesn’t take a lot to fire off your imagination, with such enthusiasm and commitment being transmitted through to your pupils. This book gives teachers permission to be brave, set clear expectations, to fight passive imaginations, and to hold on whilst letting go. This certainly is a book to re-ignite your passion for teaching, whilst also offering tips to established and newly qualified teachers. The book is available from Amazon, or as a Kindle book.

The best sites from Making time lapse videos is a wonderfully educational experience and changing how we view the world gives us valuable insight. This Apple and Android app can make stunning time lapse videos with just a few clicks. Set how long between taking each image and leave the app to it. You can even use it for create stop frame animations. You can upload your video directly to YouTube and link to the usual social media sites. There is a 'paid for' version for extra features. This is a useful news site which provides the same news story written at three different levels of English, making it a wonderful tool for ESL classes and differentiating for different age groups in reading comprehensions. All of the stories are suitable for children and most are ‘human interest’ stories. There is a sizable archive of past stories to browse and a new post is made every day. This is a fun geography game where you are transported to a random part of the world through Google Street Map and you must explore and guess where you are. It's a wonderful way to expand children's knowledge of the world. This is a superb history resource with over 25,000 aerial photos of Britain from 1919-1953. See a bird's eye view of how the landscape used to look. Look up your town and learn around how your community has been shaped. This is a superb site for making photo slideshows. It is designed for kids and it is really easy to use. just upload your images of choose photos from the gallery. Then add effects and record/upload audio. You can embed, link to or download your video. A free signup is required.

Check out the UKedchat Educational Apps directory for the best apps for teaching and learning.

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