Day 75 – Mastery v Tests

Tests are an accepted way of gauging achievement at a given point. However, at times teaching can be overly focused on this event. I’m not suggesting that colleagues teach to the tests but they are more than mindful of the consequences of not providing the correct level of exposure to the prescribed learning outcomes. But I think it goes further, I believe our education system is weakened if the tested years (Y2,Y6, GCSE etc)  are seen as the most important. Focus can be unbalanced which reduces the impact of teaching or the ability for the teacher to feel that they have the time to really explore and remain creative to achieve the goals. My fear is that the curriculum becomes constricted and narrows.

This week at school, being off formal curriculum LO’s and based on the usual plans have not been a barrier to learning. In fact it has released time to focus on perfecting a skill, rehearsing and editing – in short – mastery of a skill. Today was a case in point. I wanted the students to feel that they could build on their previous knowledge & digital literacy.

What have I used I the classroom today? 

Showbie to gather resources for the challenge based learning task and Classroom app to release additional  resources such as iBooks, podcasts and websites as necessary to the individual needs of the pupil. The focus was on developing a challenge based approach setting a task that needed the students to practise, experiment and for the students to have a positive mindset.

I wanted to layer the skills as i had planned to follow this up with a Keynote masterclass using animation. The task was simple, to animate a dot. The students learnt to effectively use the tools to give an inanimate object some personality…they exceeded my expectations but more importantly surprised themselves with what was possible. Having the time to spend time building the foundation skills will pay dividends in the end as the students can rely on these basic skills and grow with future learning.

Online Safety – Quik it’s so important that the students have the opportunity to recall in their own words and express this understanding in different formats which truly reflects their views and can be a measure of just how they view the world. Whether their views are relevant, responsible and effective to keep them safe online. This was presented as a short animated storyboard…judge for yourself if the students were successful. Check out an example of a video that was shared on Trilby Tv to inform the rest of the school.

This is such a worthy step as the community as an audience is exactly who this knowledge affects and  is valued by. So as far as I am concerned a curriculum based on the premise that mastery of base skills, wrapped in challenge based tasks is a learning environment that promotes achievement, self value and beneficial attitudes to learning including perseverance, independence and self reliance.

Day 74 – Going dotty

Returning to school after a holiday is always demanding. Even with all the planning in the world, one never seems to be 100% ready, whether it’s the forgotten log in details for the language program or the label for the spelling book of the late registered’s enough to send you dotty! 

It’s demanding on the students too with a new teacher, classroom, classmates and routines every second of the first weeks require full focus. Making new friends and bonding with a new circle of friends is hard. But is exactly this environment that is ripe for encouraging and reinforcing good habits. Taking a step back to reflect on why getting along with a variety of people is a useful (life) skill.
At school this week, there has been some space made to do extended projects. The teachers have planned an immersive,  artistic & creative curriculum based on The Dot a book by Peter Reynolds. The activities encourage purposeful social talk, unlimited creativity without being constrained to red group, top group, starfish or whatever derivation of hierarchy is common place in differentiating work. Tasks are collaborative and this shared experience strengthens identity within a new class. 

What have I used in the classroom today? 

I chose a mathematical slant, focusing on the formation of a circle whilst encouraging the pupils to use the properties of circles. Having seen a great pin on pin interest using a paintbrush in a pair of compasses – a collaborative artwork was created. 

The series of skills practised the manipulation of the compasses resulting in an instructional video demo using the built in camera on video mode. The video was airplayed to the class screen and repeated from photos so the support could continue as many times as was necessary. 

Resulting a whole class large version using chalk and string on the classroom floor. 

2) The class were re-introduced to iPad and so the refresh of using app went hand in hand with the refresh of share aware (NSPCC online safety iniitative) and SMART thinking (CEOP – both these sites are excellent for ideas in class to support discussions and reinforce the responsible use of technology in and outside the classroom. 

I used Showbie to distribute resources and set up challenges and switched between AirPlay and using this feature in Classroom, Apple’s newly released classroom management app.  The students responded well to the initial locking of the iPad, they were quite excited by it but in fact as the lesson progressed they were equally eager to see the next resource that they had been directed to. 

The finished animations were quickly uploaded to Trilby Tv and shared across the school to give further reinforcement to good practice when communicating online. A full day collaborating and exploring the possibilities. The difference today was that the value of the technology in the classroom facilitated the students to work with the resources in their own way without preconceived end points. Refreshing. 

Day 69 – trail blazing

When a school fully embraces technology the possibilities are endless – thinking big becomes the norm. 


Take charity work – the disaster fund created for the displaced of Nepal’s earthquake prompted a den building day. The day was recounted via Quik and shared by the students to TrilbyTv – this easily generated a public link which could be shared using a QR code. These codes were displayed and the ability to be transported back to the event was created.


What have I used in the classroom today ? 
Numbers – currently my year 6 are enjoying the freedom from SATs so functional maths comes to the fore. Setting the work easily on the file sharing app Showbie – I can set up templates and encourage entering functions to make calculations more exciting. 


The students worked collaboratively to produce the profits for their Fairgrouund company and tackled tiers of word based problem challenges without complaint!
GReen Screen and iMovie – excellent creative partners to encourage and support creativity and team work. putting in a production of ‘Shakespeare Rocks’ has meant a multitude of marketing opportunities which expand the use of functional literacy skills alongside developing digital aquity.


The end result a class who are able to express themselves whilst reinforcing the key skills that will strengthen the foundations as they embark on their journey towards secondary school.




Day 70 – Advantage iPad

So what’s the advantage of having an iPad in the classroom?

Answer: Ease of planning, delivery of bespoke, rich and targeted resources, easy assessment and work flow and, and, and… Actually having thought about the advantages it’s hard not to be smug and be evangelistic about the iPad as a tool for learning. This week is creative curriculum focused on Wimbledon. 
What have I used in the classroom today? 

Showbie remains my go to app for sharing files and assessing children’s work, because of the reliable & flexible way I can add resources and the simple pathway for students to access and post their work. 
I use it without thinking and take for granted the amount of time it saves me in planning and marking work. 
By adding in links to Padlet  work is made challenging but interesting as we collaborate not just at the start of a lesson brain storming ideas but use it as an opportunity for AFl. Students like to look at others work, the inherent satisfaction of knowing your on the right track can make someone’s day. So, a interesting way is to upload video clips onto the Padlet so others can be inspired or encouraged to try a new angle in their own work. Here year 3&4 share their beta versions of alternative games based on tennis created in Scratch jnr. The recording of the video as evidence of work was also easily uploaded to TrilbyTv to share in the creative ways the children decided tho shape their task. This transforms the students ability to edit their work and improve or refine ideas. 

The older children used Hopscotch to work out their skills in positioning and movement using iPad.  
Advantages here are based on seeing exactly the skills of each partner, as pairing students can result in pre-conceived outcomes. But with this task, each partner is forced to show their ability as the task demands full participation from each person. So no-one left on the side lines of learning. 
As the school has a creative curriculum week based on Wimbledon, maths was a focus today and in Y6&5 was ran a Negative number tennis tournament. The students started by watching a video clip that I added to their Padlet showing the comparisons between Fred Perry and Andy Murray. This led to them watching a tutorial, that I had constructed in Explain Everything  on how to construct a negative number tennis court, the rules and how to score. This meant that the questions of those – who find aural instructions difficult to recall after the second instruction – remain independent in control as they could re-visit, pause and remain focuses. 

By taking photos whilst the class were working it is easy then to convert a series of images into a album and set up a slideshow as a plenary. The slideshow is motivating and allows for the students to relive and appreciate the work they contributed to the class success. It also means that the photos are easily accessible when making a video in Quik and then after tapping a few buttons uploaded speedily to Trilby Tv to create a QR code for the display or share on the screens for the community’s benefit. Advantage iPad. 

Day 68 – Amnesty

Day 68 – Amnesty

Today, working with the students I have come to question whether or not iPads can disrupt more than enhance learning. It’s a thought that I’ve always tried to rationalise and think positively about. Educating the children in how to use their device to support their learning is easy- as the students enjoy using their device and enjoy working as a result. But as the end of term looms and tiredness sets in, attitudes can alter. So, if I’m unhappy about the diversions that I have heard about today – it stands to reason that other less confident teachers with iPad will be questioning the reasons behind using iPad in their classroom.

So what can I do about it?
Reflect: what is causing the disruption? Is the work pitched correctly to ensure challenge level matches ability? Do the class appreciate why they are using the device? Is it time to revisit online safety and appropriate use…especially with the ‘Y6 – leavers’…there could be many reasons.
Having just recently chaired a really positive Digital Genius Ambassador teacher forum – I demonstrated the yet to be release classroom app from Apple. This boasts the features of putting control back in the hands of the teacher. Classroom organisation and ‘power’ to oversee, refocus and ultimate stop the students from straying of the designated (pre planned) path to knowledge. It certainly ticks all those boxes – it also allows the teacher to operate ‘Classroom’ with a TA as support and another pair of digital eyes across the room. All positive. Today – this setting or imposing limits would be a quick fix in preventing diversions from the task.

My response to this problem has been to restrict access temporarily for those renegade learners to reinforce that using the iPad is an essential tool to learning and when it is not available makes the learning more difficult to access…I’m not sure though that now, that is enough. Only time will tell. I will be revisiting acceptable use policy and the sanctions that are clearly outlined. The transient nature of the classroom means that it is ever more important to educate the student to be responsible, informed and flexible digital citizen. This is the ultimate aim for our students, whether it takes a few misdemeanours in a controlled environment, perhaps the additional thinking and reflection time is the most valuable experience that school can provide. Doing what’s right and knowing what’s wrong is the bedrock of any society…

Day 67 – Exposed

Day 67 – Exposed

The Ŷ Teaching exposes you to amazing opportunities and never fails to surprise and delight.

Working with iPad allows me – as a teacher – to use all the tools available to make the process of learning as accessible as possible. I try to remind myself how difficult learning is…as adults we don’t often put ourselves in a position where we are not in control. School can feel like this everyday for some people – alien in fact. It’s my job to utilise all the tools at my disposal to make the experience in the classroom as effective as possible. Notice not easy – thinking is hard and school without a challenge is, well – worthless.
What did I use in my classroom today? 
Listening, comprehending, acting and following through is a complex task for some. Especially if you haven’t yet developed the sophisticated skills of decoding words and communicating meaning. For whatever reason, following instructions is hard. To help those in my class who find multi step instructions tricky and fall short of expectations to replicate or reproduce similar modelled work – filming  the introduction and posting it back in Showbie to be replayed as and when necessary by the children .

The resulting work was noticeably more precise and looked controlled and considered, dare I say cared for?  I was proud of the efforts of the class, making nets is never easy (all those tabs) but today there was real success, no curved edges on the cuboids. Taking no more time as it was filmed when I delivered the lesson.
The class have been working on a computer competition entry. The task is to use a Makey Makey into a control pad for a game made in Scratch. Today was beta testing day…
The game is a culmination of teamwork, the collaboration within the class makes this everyone’s game, even though a selected few will present it to the judging panel. 

The idea is that the athlete runs and collects healthy food, the four objects change when bumped from healthy food when you gain points, to unhealthy food which reduces your score… Today records were broken and a score of 27 points gained! The students gathered both positive and negative comments and used this to refine and tweak their code. Debugging at its most relevant. This ideas were then captured in a Book Creator visual diary of the whole process. I am very proud of the children they are the opitome of digital learners – achieving above and beyond what they believe possible. The final diary was then exported as a movie file and uploaded instantly to Trilby TV, so others could marvel in the students aptitude. The public link providing a QRlink for instantly exposed for public scrutiny and praise.

Day 66 – Ultimate understanding

Day 66 – Ultimate understanding

As a teacher we always put out practice under the microscope and dissect it.  This micro management can prevent the students from expressing themselves. Independence of thought as well as independent choice of how to present understanding is the ultimate goal. It was refreshing today to see how the youngest pupils and their talented teachers are providing a child centred and rich learning experience by incorporating the iPad in the classroom. By embracing the possibilities to transform the learning environment that the iPad provides – powerful learning is released.

This moment was captured and at first sight it looks isolating for the student, but this year 1 student was actually completing an independent challenge. The challenge was set up with a verbal instruction and the necessary resources on Showbie. This student had decided herself  to sit quietly as she wanted to record her response which was a prediction of the characters and plot that they imagined this unknown book could present. The ability for this child to talk without an audience and without the pressure to perform with an adult listening, freed her to show her true understanding.


The challenge was repeated by a few of the other students and shared back In the classroom before the book was read aloud. The teacher here has used Apple TV to share the work, which prompted and modelled good speech and encouraged the younger reception pupils to explore this method of sharing their understanding,

 Later that afternoon a reception child asked his teacher if he could explain what a Perch fish is like as he had made a model and wanted to share his knowledge, he picked up an iPad and asked to use Adobe spark  but he couldn’t log in quickly enough to so he switched to Book Creator. He soon returned to show his teacher what he had done. He had photographed his model, and unprompted experimented with the tools and labelled his model, using  a colour code. In his own words – fin, spikes & tummy. But he went further and added a voice note – to help everyone understand about his Perch. AMAZING! The success was shared and celebrated in the classroom.
This was added to Showbie and quickly added to this child’s digital portfolio as evidence that this child has a voice and is in control of his learning. Expectations met – and exceeded.

Day 65 – Roll up or Roll back?

Day 65 – Roll up or roll back?

I know this is an over simplification and I should remember the name of the learnéd individual from my initial teacher training that put forward the idea of a continuous spiral of learning. As a maths teacher at heart – I believe this to be true. Children don’t just keep on learning because you give them more things to do…basically consolidation of concepts need revision (aside from the effects of child developmental stages) -confirming learning is life long. This seems at odds with how schools are now set up. Continuing demand to meet targets, hitting expected (age appropriate) attainment levels or goals throughout their school career. Evidence is needed at every stage, so today, I was conscious of the need to not always do something new but to revisit a topic or skill and take once step back to go two steps ahead.

So what did I use in the classroom today?
Showbie to distribute the resources or should I say to amend the existing resources – to look afresh at the same learning objective to encourage a different slant.
We began with a padlet to show our understanding and where the children needed the reinforcement.

This was followed by using a template in Numbers – yes Numbers for English – so that the focus was distilled to the appropriate skill rather than hoping that the children will learn it properly this time!

To consolidate learning the students were asked to make an Adobe Spark video with a partner to verbalise their thinking and this was uploaded to TrilbyTv so that it can be replayed in the background to facilitate learning.

This was then the basis of a student created Kahoot quiz which provided me with the evidence that the students know individually ( as they can also say when a hyphen isn’t used)  but also allows for those who still are unsure to practice and practice again in a motivating and competitive environment.
The students respond to this approach, a mash of individualised learning and supported collaborative work that together will ensure the whole learning community moves forward.

Day 64- Demanding

Why was today so demanding as the teacher? Didn’t I plan efficiently enough, were the challenges pitched incorrectly or was it a case that the students were so integral to the learning that they required support that needed to adapt and morph itself into more effective mentoring? Although exhausted, by the intensity of the day…on reflection I’d like to capture the buzz, energy and urgency to learn that was evident in the classroom today. I almost wish I was the calibre of teacher that could provide experiences like today’s, every day.

 What have I used in the classroom today? 

‘The Worst Children in the World’  was how the day kicked off, reading the short story about Brian Wong – the boy who never got anything wrong, newly published by David Walliams. This was the stimulus for the cold writing task. The difference today is I used the iPad as a visualiser, projecting live images of the text as I read onto the class screen. Walliams is a master at using alliteration and exentuating words for effect, and this had to been seen to get the full experience. 30 year 5&6 gripped from the mouth-watering first word until the last, which happened to be a grave stone. The children were enthralled by the words but included in the discovery of the tale. This echoed in the first drafts of the cold writing task that followed – no additional need for stimulus as the students had experienced by using all their senses the modelled story.

One child, who recently joined the school had no prior experience of boxing up a story plan so he and I took the time to plan a story using Adobe Spark (formerly voice). This was transformation for this student allowed him to use his skills in an adapted format in order to be as successful. He joined the class with limited ability to read and almost non existent writing skills – decoding is unknown to him and at 10 years old he’s finding school an alien environment. But today his success was obvious as his work was spoken into the iPad and after discussion – he was able to converted his ideas into a beginning, middle and end of a worthwhile story. The task took 40 mins which is the longest that he has stayed focuses and willing to participate. At the end of the day he remarked, ” it can’t be home time yet” normally the day drags and lasts for so long… This is a celebratory moment, further reinforced by the star of the week certificate for good work and that he can see his work on the screens around the school having uploaded his video to Trilby Tv – then icing on the cake.

The children are competing to create and code a game – and the stakes are getting higher as the deadline looms. Yesterday the leaders of the groups had an injection of advanced scratch coaching and today was their opportunity to share their newly acquired knowledge with their own groups, mentoring and experiencing life from the other side of the fence. Being in the position of teacher is a privilege and full of different demands – patience & magnanimity being brought to the fore.

Code was researched and reviewed on iPad before adding to the PC version. Group work being the most important element to making progress.

During science Book Creator was the vehicle for the evaluation and experiment planning stage of the Light project. Why do bubbles appear to be made of different colours? The students used the stimulus image from Showbie to mark up with captions highlighting the key known facts in addition sound feature was used to verbalise complicated reasoning and explanations of how light that travels in straight line can be affected by interference to create colour.

The students were the epitome of independent learners, usintilising the iPad to enhance their understanding and reinforce known facts and experiences. Teaching is the best job in the world.

Day 63 – All sorts.

Day 63 – All sorts

Single apps or a multitude of apps? For lots of reasons dominant apps which can be accessed by a wide variety of ages and abilities are for me more rewarding and nurturing and deserve a place in my classroom. A champion app needs to have all sorts of uses for students to include the iPad across the curriculum, certainly not restricted to a specific subject area, to justify its place on the mobile devices.

So what did I use in the classroom today? 
Firstly, Trilby Tv was refreshed in the library and the screen was instantly rich with examples of excellent ways in which the students & teachers communicate their learning.  From the QR codes on the displays containing links to the video diaries of the geography field work trip , generated by the public link in the app, to a collection of still images punctuated by captions and comments. The screens echoed to the delightful sound tracks which signalled the ePub books made in Book Creatorexported directly to photos as a movie file. This enabled the Students to directly upload to the screens as easily as 1,2,3…with huge smiles on their faces.  Their teacher could also instantly recognise the appropriate use of connectives, nouns and accurate SPAG!
Book Creator has been used to record the thoughts and diary entries of each team entering the computing competition. The books pages are filled with sound bites, videos discoveries and comments on how their games, coded in Scratch and using a Makey Makey for an alternative controller, are being evaluated, refined and edited as a result of peer assessment and additional mentoring.

Book Creator was further used as an individual digital profile to show progress made in hitting the Early years targets (reception) and consolidating phonics (year 1&2)  In partnership with the cursive writing wizard app the students are developing their cursive writing as they become more confident in sounding out their stories…chooseday became – Tuesday  fansy dress cossoome became – fancy dress costume and prinsess – became princess. The sound capture enables the children to write their own. Vocabulary word list and speak their word (hearing their own voice is such a confidence booster) whilst it is displayed on screen in the correct cursive formation, with the ability to trace the letters properly. 
Cursive Writing Wizard – Kids Learn Joined Letters by L’Escapadou
Using VPP the price of the app is greatly reduced and as a class set resource, common word lists are easily shared to support word recognition and formation.
This is developed further in the school by encouraging students in Key Stage 1 to speak their stories before the process of writing. This has been made possible by the introduction of Adobe Voice. The progress is rapid in the sentence structure and construction of language written in pen within their exercise books.
Book Creator is such a creative app which allows my students the chance to stamp their personality on their tasks, providing them with the opportunity to enjoy, experiment and be flamboyant about being creative. Year 6 continue to add references and pages to their Shakespearean dictionary – Shakespearean words are defined but sound memos allow the children to be transported back to the Tudor age with quotes from the playscript puts the alien-words into a contempary context.
Year 5 have are been adding to their ePub template by inserting screen shots of refined coding blocks as they tweak and develop their Scratch game. It’s good that tasks can be returned to and worked on beyond the lesson usual timetabled duration.
As a personal reflection, I sat and watched the celebration screens around the school. As I watched, I was bowled over by the variety and scope of the work that the digital citizens in our school can communicate and share. Their work is exceptional in parts and wonderfully wacky and individual in others. But some how it works. Learning has been transformed and through Trilby Tv has managed to reach and ‘infect’ others with the excited buzz that the digital learning continues to bring.