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Showing posts from 2015

Google Classroom - learning in the virtual classroom

Most educators would say that they are learning all the time.  This is certainly true for me; I love reading about pedagogy, sharing teaching ideas and collaborating with colleagues online via Twitter or in the real staff room where I teach. This term, I have been pioneering the use of Google Classroom with a number of my classes. Our approach has very much been bottom up as opposed to top down and I have been at the heart of the push to bring this tool into our classrooms.  To ensure success I have been moving slowly so that, for my colleagues, I can instill confidence in the benefits provided by this excellent online tool.
Here's a brief account of how I have used this tool so far and why I think it is so effective.
So far I have only really used Google Classroom to set an assignment where my students can complete some extended writing in readiness for their controlled assessment.  I use the word 'only' quite loosely as this has, in fact, been an excellent way for my st…

Idoceo - revisiting the 21st century markbook

I have been using idoceo for over a year now and have posted a blog about it here.  This is just another short post to sing its praises again and to highlight how this excellent tool can be used. I do not propose to go over features I have already explored in my previous blog but to share some other features I have used this year.
For me, one of the best features of this app is the ability to get so much information about a class as a whole, about particular tasks and about pupil progress.  Surely, details that every teacher needs at the touch of a button? 
Take for example this infographic taken from my Year 9 class.    At a glance I can see how the class have fared on a verb test or an adjective worksheet.  Indeed, whatever the task I can work out the average, mean or mode and see at a glance the highest and lowest value in the class and how many did not complete a task.  At the top of the infographic there is  a graph that tells me about class attendance which is information that als…

Behind every good lesson... part 2 - HOTS

As this post explains, when I am preparing lessons the first and most important factor that guides my planning is pedagogy. This is true even though I am a true fan of embedding technology into my practice.  Technology is never the driver or the star, it is a vehicle.  In this post you can see how I have sown the foundations to a new topic and my students have a solid vocabulary base on which to build.  I may have used active learning strategies or pair work activities, listening exercises and reading comprehensions - to name but a few.  At some point in the process I will have embraced a technological tool because when MOTS activities are necessary, technology can meet this need perfectly.
I am now at the point in my planning when I want my students to use this new language and also combine it with previous knowledge to create new work that demonstrates their progress.  I am looking for some knowledge construction.  There are many ways to go about this and I still may not feel the n…

Behind every good lesson....part 1 - MOTS

Behind every good lesson there's a great plan.  Even if the lesson does not come off well the chances are there were good intentions laid out in the plan.  Of course nowadays with so many technological tools at our disposal lesson plans have changed.  Right?  Wrong!  Technology may play a key part in lessons but does this mean that our focus is on the technology when we come to plan lessons.  Do we start with the tool?  Definitely not.
Think Pedagogy First! At the forefront of my mind when I plan is my goal for the lesson and what I want the students to achieve.  Of course there is also the bigger picture and the long term goal to consider. How I get my students to think and to engage with the lesson content is really important to me.  How can I stretch and challenge them, how can I ensure that I am meeting all their needs?  How can I ensure that my students make progress - after all, that is the whole point of the lesson.  These are the questions that drive my planning.  It'…

Educational Poster Delight

Since I have discovered posters making apps I have had a lot of fun.  Here's one created for me by @ictevangelist using Adobe Slate.

However, poster making is not just for fun.  It is also about communication.  
I have written before here about the educational value of creating posters with your students.  Over the last year I have created posters for my own purposes mainly to share ideas and good quotes with my PLN but also to help me clarify thoughts on various topics and sometimes simply to send messages. I have made use of quipio, canva, phoster, and PhotoFunia.  Here are some examples:

So, it has been a busy and productive year.  Have I missed anything off the list? Let me know in the comments.

New to iPad/Tablet - where to start?

This blog post is for anyone who has just got a new iPad or Tablet that they want to use in their classrooms.  Given that I am a modern languages teacher my focus will be on tools that are great to use in MFL but many of the tools are perfect for other disciplines too.
There are a plethora of apps that are perfect but it can be hard to know where to start.  I think it is wise to choose a few and work on them until you feel confident then build in some others.
Here's what I would do if I was starting over.
Have a look at moldiv (also available on tablet).  This simple tool helps you create fantastic collages, edit the photos you use and add text.  For example:

There are some good opportunities here to create cartoon strips.   Once you have created your image and saved it to your camera roll you might consider putting it into @Book Creator. This is a tool with lots of good features which I have written about before here but the recent ability to add speech bubbles with sound make…

Feedback stimulates learning.

I have read a couple of articles recently that have given me the kick I needed to get my thoughts down in a post.  Firstly, @drdavidjames wrote an excellent post on why using text books is not such a bad thing.  In his post he talks about having written his own text book and the benefits for him in taking part in that process.  The second post I read was on the website where @mrhistoire bemoans the fact that people and schools confuse feedback with marking.  I have certainly seen that happen and know exactly what he means.  Providing feedback is something in which I believe strongly.  As for marking - I can take it or leave it.... It often feels like a chore until I remind myself that what I actually need to do is provide feedback for my students to make the necessary improvements to progress.   How then do these two posts link up?  For me it's simple.  One talks about the benefits of feedback (which, if you need reminding - is not marking) and the other talks about ho…

We Are All Unique

I think we all know that the students we teach have different needs and often that is misinterpreted as meaning that for each child we need to create a different worksheet.   While this can be appropriate I think one idea that is often overlooked is the idea that students have different ways of working.  In this respect technology can provide numerous ways to differentiate learning processes for students.  Click here for some more on this topic.  Of course, technology is not the only way to differentiate.  We need to remember that every student is unique and each has individual learning needs and desired outcomes.  This video (made with Vidra) explains my thoughts further.

Year 8 are (app) Smashing!

I am lucky to have a really positive year 8 group who are very keen to practise their spoken French.  So, after a few weeks building up some relevant vocabulary and practising our grammar skills we then spent time preparing a presentation about our Vacances D├ęsastreuses.  I gave the students certain freedom about how they presented their work.  A couple went down the traditional route and made a powerpoint presentation on the class computer and then acted out their role play.  Others decided to make use of my iPad (or even their own iPod touch that they had been allowed to bring to class expressly for this purpose) and add a little extra to the background image of their presentation.  They followed some simple steps:

source some photos and save in the photo libraryupload to Photo Collage Maker and put them together with this simple appsave to the photo libraryupload the newly formed collage to Balloon Stickies and add a thought bubble save to the photo librarygo to Tellagami and creat…

Long live my Interactive Whiteboard

Now that is not something you hear too often these days.
There are so many technological options available to us as teachers at the moment in the classroom. We have come a long way from chalkboards, Banda worksheets and overhead projectors.  As classroom tools have moved with the times my teaching has taken into account these tools and has sought to investigate how these tools can enhance my classroom practice.  Note the onus here - how could my teaching be enhanced?  It can not be said enough - pedagogy first, technology second. So now classrooms can be awash with technological tools such as laptops and iPads and I embrace these too.  How will they help me to help my students to improve their learning?  I have posted blogs on a number of apps that I have explored and even with my one iPad I have seen great benefits and I have a good understanding of just what can be achieved.  I am amazed and delighted at what I can do with my sole iPad in class.  Check out this presentation for e…

One classroom, one iPad - more ideas

It seems like just a few months ago that I penned my first post on this topic area.  In fact it is over six months and already there are more ideas for making the most of your one iPad in class.
One oversight in the first post was the absence of Plickers.  Wow! What an app!  If you are looking for a way to assess your learners in a way which gives you detailed feedback the Plickers is it.  I have written more about it here, but suffice to say, with some simple downloadable cards from the plickers website and the app on your iPad you can get a full breakdown of just what your students know (or, indeed, what they do not know) and thus plan the next steps in class accordingly.
Another app that at the time I knew nothing about but that I now use a few times a week is post-it plus.  This tool takes an already excellent classroom idea and builds on it in a way that only technology makes possible. Students give feedback or write their ideas on a post it note in the normal way.  Post-it plu…

Going global

I was so lucky to go to Bett2015 and even luckier to attend #TMBett15.  There were some great presentations on a variety of topics.  Sadly I did not get to do my presentation as there just was not the time.  If I had had the opportunity to present this is what I would have said.
As an MFL teacher I obviously have a vested interest in running cross channel projects.  An online exchange can be an excellent way to work in language skills, getting the students to correct each other's language and then ultimately to work together to negotiate meaning to produce a final project.  However, a global project is not just the domain of the languages teacher.  A project such as this can be of great benefit in other subject areas too.   It can bring to students an intercultural understanding which in this day and age is absolutely necessary.  As teachers we should make it our business to educate our students about the need to understand one another and other cultures. To get going on a global …

Wanted - Poster!

Recently I have been exploring a few poster apps.  As with many of the tools available to us there are a number of apps that seem to do similar things.

I have made use of Phoster, Canva (@canva) and Quipio (@Quipio).  The first two are similar in many ways. Both have options to import photos to use as backgrounds and there are a number of shapes available in both. Canva, which is also available online, has more background choices in terms of photos - soothing views, seascapes, barren landscapes, sunsets and many more.  You name it, Canva has got it.  Add to this a variety of fonts, colours and font size permutations and you can create all manner of great posters. All you need now is something to say....  

Phoster, too, has flexibility in that you can import a background of your choice and play around with fonts, sizes and background colours.   A phoster poster can be more formulaic in its layout but its final product certainly does not disappoint.

Finally, consider using Quipio whose …

#teacher5aday 16 days on

In the midst of the Christmas holidays I sat down and thought about my wellbeing.  To be more precise my wellbeing and the wellbeing of my family in 2015.  So, here I am, 16 days into the new year, how am I doing? 
#connect - Well I promised myself that I would keep getting as much as I can from TeachMeets by attending and taking part and that I would, as far as possible, get my colleagues to enjoy the benefits of TeachMeets too.  I have been true to my word.  I have signed up to attend and present at #TeachMeet Bett and at #TMReading at the end of March.  In terms of sharing the love I'm hoping to take a minibus load of colleagues to the TeachMeet and I have an idea to get the staffroom into twitterchats.   Watch this space.
#exercise - Mmm.  I'm doing okay with this but not as well as I thought.  B- I could do better.
#learn - Term started with a great Inset and I certainly learnt lots which I have already put into practice. I have enjoyed sharing this with my colleagues and my…