Aurasma teaching tip

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My TFL (Technology for Learning) colleagues and I took the plunge and ran an introduction to Augmented Reality session with the whole Senior School staff this morning as our contribution to the weekly internal staff teaching tip programme we have. After thanking the TFL team and all staff for making our iPad pilot year such a success, I briefly explained the concept and potential of augmented reality and then we let everyone loose.

We had examples spread all over the place from all the Faculty areas, 17 images triggering videos of students discussing their work, teachers explaining concepts, open day recruitment videos, etc

Obviously, as images can link to anything, the wider potential across the school is huge…pop-up instructions on how to use PE, Science or first-aid equipment, interactive points around the school for visitors, talking departmental and option evening displays, singing concert posters…you name it.

The technology worked flawlessly and there was a really good buzz. Best outcome? I could see quite a few teachers trying straightaway to make their own auras and many others came up and demanded training!! Always the best way round for CPD!

Student tech leaders in action again..

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Introducing Edmodo…
by Louis M, Y7

In weeks 4 and 5, during our senior lunch hour, we (the team of 20 Year 7 student tech leaders) visited the Year 6 unit to give students a taster of Edmodo, the Senior School’s social learning network. The Technology for Learning teachers, assisted by the Head and Assistant Head of Year 7, Mr Edwards and Mrs Biddles, started by explaining how the platform is used in the Seniors, then walked the students through the signup process. Then we all helped the Juniors complete a scavenger hunt activity in which they needed to find found out for themselves how to use the key functions of Edmodo. We noticed that the Juniors couldn’t help but use text talk and emojis to begin with but they soon got into good habits! They were obviously right at home with this platform and were excited by it. This time next year some of them will be helping the next lot of Juniors use Edmodo!

Student tech leaders in action

Excellent day today. Our 20 Y7 tech leaders helped us get the Y6 students signed up and doing a familiarisation ‘scavenger hunt’ on Edmodo. Very interesting to see how the Y6 students really really struggled to avoid ‘text talk’, abbreviations, emoticons etc in their early posts to the group! It’s in their genes!!

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Collaborative brainstorming with Padlet

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Enjoyed this activity today: I needed to recap what leisure activities my Y7 students could remember in French before introducing them to the simple Future tense. I made a shared wall on, shared the url with them on edmodo and they had to add a verb and an image whilst trying not to duplicate those being posted by other students. They worked out very easily how to add images from their camera roll. The major advantages of this over a regular verbal or whiteboard brainstorming session were that the kids were doing the work, that they came up with a much wider range of activities than normal, that it was anonymous and that they all had a great resource to refer to when they they made up their future tense sentences later. Result!! Here is the wall they populated.

Bump app tutorial: Transfer photos, videos and docs between iOS devices and with desktops

Bump is a cool free iPhone app (which also therefore works on iPads) that allows you to gently bump devices together to instantly transfer photos, videos, files and contacts without the fuss of emailing. This is not an April Fool! Just as useful -and rather extraordinary -is that you can also use the app and any web browser to transfer the same kinds of items to and from any computer without the need for cables or iTunes. Could be very useful for enabling students to share work with one another and with the teacher…let’s say photos they have taken on a field trip, for example.

Aurasma: A how-to video tutorial

I have struggled for some time to get the Aurasma creation and sharing process working, but now that  I have- with some help from looking at Kelda Richards’ blog, and working in tandem with my colleague Nicky Hodges and Tweetbuddy Dee Blackman – I thought I would share a video tutorial that takes you and your students through the steps needed to bring those displays to life!


Marking on the iPad: Markup beta review

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I have been trying the beta version of Markup, a Kickstarter project by the creators of Showme that has been fully funded and has now been submitted to the App store.

Essentially, you set up an email address with Markup, your students email a pdf of their work to that address. You open the pdf, annotate using your finger or stylus, from a small palette of colours, then mail the pdf back to the student.

It works perfectly as described…but even though I backed this app on Kickstarter, it is not -in its current form at least – the answer to iPad workflow, as I can already achieve the same goal, but with many more functions like voice recording, typed text etc with other apps like Explain Everything. The workspace is not searchable and there is no way to organise student work into folders so the interface will quickly become unmanageable. Also, whilst you are making annotations you can undo or erase them but if you close the document and reopen it, your earlier annotations are no longer editable.

What I dream of is a seamless solution where student saves a pdf to a shared workspace, I open it and annotate over the work..but just as a layer on top…the student then opens the work and makes changes to their original. No email, no multiple versions.

Currently the closest I can see is using the annotation feature in Edmodo, or students using Google Docs. Of course, Edmodo features GoogleDocs integration so I think that is worth further investigation. Hapara offers a great teacher dashboard solution for GoogleDocs, at a cost, but of course you cannot make or edit a Google Presentation on the iPad…hmmm.

None of this is uniquely an iOS issue, the same would be true on an Android or Windows device in terms of the digital submission/correction/resubmission flow. Whoever comes up with the solution to this is going to make a mint! The key will be having a way to organise and view student work without needing multiple folders. Obviously, the Holy Grail would be having this system work with school information systems and feed into assessments, grades and even reporting..a one-stop shop.

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!!