iPads in Geography

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We were very lucky to have an hour today with visiting Australian-born but UK-resident teacher and ADE, Dr. Andrew Lee, who gave a presentation on exploiting iOS devices in Geography. Many of the uses he described we have been exploring ourselves, but he had several very clever ideas that were new to us and it was also good to be reminded of the amazing collection of measurement tools and sensors that are already part and parcel of the device, without endlessly looking for apps. With the redesigned KS3 curriculum imminent, this tool is going to have all sorts of potential for data-logging, mapping and reflection..

Student tech leaders

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Lovely to have a first meet and greet with our 20 newly-appointed Year 7 tech leaders today…I think they sense the unusual opportunity they are being given to potentially change the way they are being taught and in working WITH teachers in the subject they love. They are also really keen to make videos informing their peers..and very importantly, parents, about different aspects of growing up with technology. First job…make a video explaining Instagram.

Here is the ‘job description’ we discussed
– make help and advice videos about apps, workflow on the iPad, social networks
– test and discuss whole yeargroup ideas ie Portfolio platform, iPad carrybag
– suggest and devise competitions, projects, links with other subjects/year groups/schools
-suggest and devise TFL opportunities around the teaching of your subject area

Opportunities to
-develop their own tech skills
-collaborate and help peers, teachers, parents etc
-change how they are taught/will learn in school

iPads in Latin

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By Ben P-W
At the start we were asked to translate a Latin text called Venalicius (which is about Caecilius buying a new slave) not only through our knowledge but using the Cambridge Latin Course website. Then we were asked to create a short video about it which would show our understanding of the text. It would incorporate certain skills such as teamwork and thinking outside the box. When we heard we were going to use our new iPads to make an iMovie our group was very excited as these iPads really help enhance our learning as we had to use many different skills to do this such as teamwork and acting. For Venalicius we used our iPads in a unique way as we filmed it with the iPad and then used the app iMovie to enhance it. So overall the iPad played a very big role, probably the most important, and without it there is no way it would have been as good. This is because we probably couldn’t get a good enough camera or editing software. We had so much fun filming and we worked really well together!

Parent iPad workshop: Intermediate

ImageHad my second session this morning between 8 and 9am with parents wanting to develop their tech skills. All of this group already had an iPad but were amazed by all the hidden tips and tricks that make using the device even easier. Essentially I went over all the gestures, shortcuts and settings. Most didn’t know -did you? – that the iPad comes out of the box with Bluetooth turned on which is odd and definitely robs battery life. Other hits were Voice dictation of notes and emails using Siri, the Do Not Disturb feature and knowing how to close all running apps without having to cycle through them individually. All went away excited and wanting to learn more.

Parent iPad workshop: Beginners

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This morning I really enjoyed running my first hands-on session for parents who are keen to ‘catch up’ with their children in terms of tech use. There are three groups, this was the ‘treat me as a beginner’ group. Most had their own iPad but were not confident beyond sending emails. I went through the following functions:

Buttons: Turn on, Turn off, reboot
Volume, mute, orientation lock
Home button/power button screenshots
App icons
Move to different screen, make and name folders, remove apps from folders
The dock..add up to 6 apps
Gestures: The squid, 4 fingers up, view and close recent apps, 1 finger sideways left for spotlight, slide from top of screen for notifications

Settings: Notifications: banners, Brightness and wallpaper
General: Bluetooth off, auto screen lock with magnets, side switch preferences
Keyboard. international keyboards, shortcuts
Typing: keyboards, split keyboards, easy way to access numbers and symbols, caps and caps lock, foreign accents

It was great to have lots of ‘oh, now that’s cool/really useful’ moments during the hour as most of these functions were not known. Biggest hits: swiping between apps, not having to leave the regular keyboard in order to add numbers, setting shortcuts for commonly used phrases, turning off annoying notifications,

We finished by downloading the Flipboard app and adding the school’s Daily Bulletin as an RSS feed, as well as showing the group how to set up their own pages on subjects that interest them.

The group was really keen to meet again and explore further, parting comments included ‘I didn’t really want one of these devices, now I can see a whole new world opening up!’ That’ll do me for feedback…

My lesson observation this week..updated with feedback

For what it’s worth, I am going to share my thought process around my yearly formal lesson observation which took place this last Wednesday.

Since last year our school now puts two observers in a teacher’s lesson, one at Head of Dept or senior management level (often from within the faculty) and one teacher from another curriculum area, the idea being that we can all learn from seeing teachers of other disciplines. The lesson is no longer graded with a number – which naturally used to be the main focus of the lesson post-mortem and was the cause of intense stress, not to mention leading to the the inevitable and pedagogically unproductive consequence of almost channelling teachers to deliver formulaic, safe lessons. Since last year, and much more productively, our observation process has featured a two-way post-observation discussion and reflection around the evidence seen during the lesson in 4 areas that we refined as a staff:

Student learning and progress
Assessment for learning
Independent and collaborative learning
Effective and active questioning

Essentially, this new system encourages teachers to take risks, perhaps even to focus on areas they might consider a weakness or just want to try out, and to have a genuinely developmental, rather than judgmental, experience.

My goal these days, in as many lessons as possible, and regardless of the presence of an observer, is to have students ‘do the work’ and, almost regardless of topic or level of conceptual challenge, to plan for that work to involve all three skills of independence, collaboration and reflection.

My role as the Head of Technology for Learning has basically come about through a passion for using tech to enhance and transform learning in the MFL departments I have led, and I try to share good practice throughout the year, but the pressure is undoubtedly raised when you have to demonstrate that you practise what you preach in this kind of scenario!

I chose to be observed with my Year 7 French class for the simple reason that these students were issued iPads as part of a Y6 and 7 mobile learning pilot so I have taken advantage in pretty much every lesson I have had with them this year to push the boundaries of how the device can support the three skills I mentioned.

In the spirit of delivering a ‘real’ lesson that genuinely led from the previous one and therefore could not be planned weeks in advance, I had to acknowledge the students’ own feedback to me that they were still feeling unsure in their understanding of the recently introduced and tricky Perfect tense. At the same time, I was feeling the pressure we all experience from seeing the scheme of work and thinking ‘I need to move on and get through the curriculum!!’

So, I had to come up with a plan to meet both objectives of moving on and recapping at the same time. This what I did:

A top set of 21 students (15 girls and 6 boys) – but still a relatively wide spread of ability as this is the first year they are streamed. 3 students with some near-native speaker background but with poor grammar.

Class setup: I always teach the kids in tables of 6 to facilitate pair and group work so no change needed there..

1. (5 minutes)
Students come in, scan QR code on board linking to lesson objectives, copy into ex. book (see my previous post as to why this is better than copying from the board) They also correct any work from their previous homework handed back today.

Meanwhile I set up the three near-native speakers on a separate project for the lesson (draft, peer-assess, record and post to our class edmodo page a conversation about shopping using the Perfect tense with the 4 verbs I plan to teach the other kids today)

2. Clear explanation of how rest of lesson will proceed..slide on IWB has this info and remains up throughout the lesson

3. 30 minutes (this is the period of observation)
The 3 tables of 6 students work through the following three 10-minute activities (I check in with the native speakers after every 10 minute slot)

1. use iPads to access edmodo link to a Quizlet set of flashcards involving text, images and audio with instant testing and game features to introduce the names and genders of 14 shop names.

2. read a printed worksheet that has instructions on what to do and a QR code linking straight to a 4-minute online video tutorial I made about the 4 ways to say ‘to the’ with different French shop names (using Explain Everything app). They use headphones to watch this on iPads and then have to work in pairs to come up with their own agreed definition of the rules and write into exercise books with their own examples.

3. These independent activities free me up to sit with each table in turn for 10 minutes and recap the shaky areas of the perfect tense face-to-face. This involves introducing new verbs of to look for, find, choose and buy. I use direct questioning and pairwork to reinforce these verbs and the formation of the Perfect tense ie we make up a sentence and mime to partner for them to work out, exaggerating the mouth shape and slowing down, also the Mastermind game where they get 4 guesses in French as to what their partner’s sentence is, only getting a ‘one, both or neither correct’ answer to their two-part guess of who and what ie
Person A writes ‘J’ai trouvé’
Partner guesses ‘Tu as trouvé?’
Person A says ‘one part correct’ but does NOT say which part…
Partner has 3 more tries

I have never used this game but it works really well.

5. Final 10/15 minutes:

Students work together in their table group as a ‘pub quiz’ team, without reference to any notes, to take this Socrative quiz (SOC-920005) assessing what they have learned today.

Meanwhile, I do final check of accuracy of the native speakers’ work and send them out to find a quiet place to record and post their conversation..reminding them to keep it slow and deliberate!

Quizzes are submitted, I download results from Socrative, will check and give prize to winning table next lesson!

This has taken quite a long time for me to process and write (as well as for you to read!), so I will update the blog with the feedback I have now had from my observers tomorrow. Tune in then!

This is the feedback I had from my two observers each category:

Learning and progress:
Huge strength, combination of consolidation and acquisition of new language. Students 100% on task, mature and independent, differentiation strong, teacher free to monitor informally

Assessment for Learning:
Strong, up to date marking and strengths and targets, evidence of peer assessment, teacher promoting talk for learning

Independent and collaborative learning:
Students working independently, self-reliant, responsible for their own learning.
Students encouraged to take risks, show resilience, mutually supportive

Effective and active questioning:
At individual and group level, warm, encouraging, very calm, time to question, no management to attend to

Overall what went well?
Climate, engagement, differentiation, student-led, accessible,curiosity, independence, enthusiasm, skills with iPad powerful. Great class that clearly enjoyed the lesson and variety of activities hugely

Even better if…
Could develop the role of the three near-native speakers to include more leadership and modelling

As you can imagine, I am pretty happy with this!! Wll keep on taking risks and sharing things that work well as well as things that don’t go to plan!!

iPads in English

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by Katie and Ayisha

‘The iPads have been a benefit because they are so easy to carry around and instead of wasting paper by printing 24 sheets out each lesson, we use the iPads to open worksheets and edit them. Another useful app is ‘Pages’ as most of our English sheets and homework are found on ‘Pages’ and if we want to share them or show them to our teacher we drop them into ‘Webdav’ – a file app- and the teacher can get it and can mark it from there!

Movies have been simple to make because you just film your scenes using the iPad video camera, and then edit them in the ‘iMovie’ app, cropping and editing your takes and even adding music and sound effects. It is easy to export the finished video too, you can either upload it to something like Dropbox, or save it to your camera roll and drop it into ‘WebDav’ for classmates or teachers to see. Students now have a Vimeo account to make sharing even easier. We just recently made an iMovie about ‘A Christmas Carol’. We used iMovie to take videos, edit it and in the end we made quite a good short clip of a scene in the book, with our own comments.’

iPad Pilot successful

Am delighted that my school has comprehensively reviewed our 6 month pilot and announced to the community today a further rollout for next academic year. A lot of people have made this happen: leaders, teachers, tech and library staff, students and, of course, parents. Now just have to train 50 more staff, on top of the 80 already done, before the end of June!! Very pleased that Apple in Singapore is supporting us so well..

QR codes for learning


Two weeks ago I set myself the task of discovering whether qr codes can be more than a great means to create ‘treasure hunt’ type activities, (as much fun as that undoubtedly is!), to be genuinely used to enhance or transform how my students learn. I decided to make a mindmap that would try to sum up a variety of areas: a rationale for QR code use, some ideas of how to use in lessons, the easiest way to make and share qr codes, concrete ways to use codes to link to text, websites, audio, images, videos, and other online materials. Here is the mindmap..I am refining it with each new discovery. http://popplet.com/app/#/803240

In running a number of training sessions with staff this week, what has come through as a justification for QR codes is not just that they add an element of discovery to a learning activity, but that the bridging of a static paper resource like a poster or worksheet to some digital content can -with some thought- genuinely redefine the task at hand in a unique way. Our school uses edmodo as a VLE so the obvious question was ‘ why not just post weblinks there’? The answer seems to lie in the fact that once you post a weblink to a class on the VLE then it is available to all immediately, and the ability to have students move from one activity to another, either individually or in groups, is lost. The existence of the physical worksheet or of printed codes ensures that the teacher can make these appear by simply handing them out or by having sheets on separate stations in the classroom.

My mind is racing now with the possibilities for differentiation and personalized learning because having the paper resource link to further help/support/challenge without the need for the student to approach me leaves me to work more closely with targeted students or groups face-to-face.

I started my own qr journey in class this week with two very simple examples. When my students enter my class they know to come in, open their exercise books and copy the Learning objectives from the flipchart projected on the IWB. Underneath that there is always a small challenge for them to solve, like an anagram or a jumbled sentence or a translation to attempt based on recent tense structures or vocabulary. They will usually collaborate on discussing this challenge and I have frequently used Socrative this year for them to post their answer and the compare with everyone else’s. This week, instead of the challenge sentence written out, I just had a QR code on the screen. I said nothing but they quickly worked out what to do, scanned the code and attempted the challenge. Agreed, the use of the code in this example did not alter the original task, but it did augment it in a couple of ways. Firstly, only students who were ready could scan the code so there was a definite incentive for the objectives to be written swiftly as the students were more curious than usual to see what the puzzle was! Secondly, by having the challenge now visible on their iPad screen rather than on the whiteboards made it easier for them to refer to rather than have to keep looking to the front of the classroom for the information. The second use for the code was to have a weblink to student.infuselearning.com appear on the next slide as I planned to use it next. It took the whole class only 10 seconds to scan the code and get to the exact website I needed them to go to without having to open the VLE or try to copy a web address from the whiteboard. A real timesaver.
I am being observed with this class next week so am planning to to take a few risks and see what I can come up with..my students have just done some reflection on their strengths and targets so I know some of them want to go over the perfect tense again whilst others are ready to move on to the next topic..am going to see if QR codes will help me divide and conquer!