11 Oct

Don’t forget! The power of Skype….

It has been a while since I posted about Skype, however moving schools has meant that I have introduced Skype to another set of pupils, and indeed another set of teachers as I am always amazed that teachers haven't tried any kind of video linking with their pupils.

Firstly let me remind you of the fantastic resource that is EducateSkype or Skype in the Classroom now. A health warning here as this is becoming increasingly linked with Microsoft's infrastructure, however if you keep a school skype account separate from a home one you should be fine.

The Skype in the Classroom site will allow you to connect with pre planned lessons, video and all sorts of content. Everytime I have gone there I have found something I am looking for – it really is amazing. However skype does not have to be so 'organised'.

In a nutshell:

  • It's cheap (or free) – just equipment is needed!
  • It literally brings the world to your classroom!
  • It's easy to find contacts…
  • The children remember the experience…

Mystery Skype

The hashtag 'mysteryskype' has really taken off – you can find schools on the website mentioned above, or search on twitter. Connecting with schools from across the globe where the children try to guess where they are never gets dull. My pupils always love it. Admittedly they can sometimes guess pretty quickly, but pinning down to city rather than country, or county in the UK will keep them busy!

Digital Leaders

I am currently collecting email addresses from those keen to skype with digital leaders – please let me know in the comments if you would like to be involved. It's brilliant. The children already have something in common, and can begin with shared questions about they do and how they do it.

School Council

This is going to be my next project – school council's chatting to one another. Our school council is very new, but think it will work wonders if they chat to a more established one!



Connecting with those who speak the language you are learning has obvious benefits! Skype can also offer three-way calling, which means you can get partner schools involved!


Career talks!

Particularly useful for schools 'off the beaten track' – chatting to those who are in specific careers is much easier via Skype – and is less hassle for those giving the talk…


Have you had any brilliant experiences with Skype you could share?



22 Aug

My top edtech tools 2015


In all the fuss and fizz it’s easy to forget that some digital technology tools are actually both time saving and incredibly useful – this is the tools I’ve turned to this year..



Google Drive – this has been a perfect introduction to cloud computing for the whole school! A great way to share resources and information and easy to keep track of whole school documents such as Teaching and Learning Policy!


Skype – a fantastic resource, one which I have written about many times! This year we continued our exploration of #mysteryskype.

An online MIS – years back I remember thinking that having a fully integrated MIS that handles everything from bus lists to behaviour notes, lunch menu and assessment data was the stuff of dreams… Having one means staff can access it for their classroom, registers all online means no paperwork, all information is kept together and is up to date. We use scholarpack, others are, obviously, available!

WordPress – sounds obvious right? But WordPress continues to be a top tool for me – building new class blogs, my own blog and even the school website (with help!).

Scratch – still top on my list for coding, creativity and challenge! Other apps and programs are catching up, but the resources are there and the children really enjoy using it!



Haiku Deck – so useful, so easy to create on and fantastic for those ‘guess the news story’ picture assemblies!

Finally an honourable mention for an app (there are many apps that I make use of!) Pic Collage – a great app for combining pictures, sharing and printing quickly them and easily.

And next year?

We’ve just started a Kindle Project – time will tell if this proves useful!

Go Animate is proving very popular with the pupils, will that still be around next year?

The digital platform MakeWav.es with their Online badges are also incredibly useful for keeping track of what the digital leaders are doing. Can this be used in other ways across the school

Which tools have you found useful this year? Please share!
10 Jan

Don’t Forget… e-reading!

As part of a review of the year it occurred to me that there were plenty of apps, programmes and ideas that shouldn’t get lost over time, but are often overlooked. So I thought a ‘don’t forget series’ might remind teachers of what is out there.

Number 3 : E-Reading


Strange, I know, but with the number of devices in a typical school these days it’s easy to forget that every single one of them could be used as a platform for books. The iPad and Guided Reading Post is still, after nearly two years, one of the top read posts of this site- so I know that people still see the iPad as a platform, but there is so much more you can do with computers, laptops and chromebooks.

On tablets the Kindle app is great for books – books can be cheaply bought for the app, and it allows notes taking, book marks and the usual tools such as a dictionary and read-aloud.


  • Talking Stories – great for language, vocabulary, creativity

With headphones children can access a wide world of story telling – most of it incredible high quality and usually free. Start your search here, at the ever excellent Woodland Junior Site, Many of these stories come with games to play alongside – such as the excellent Clifford at Scholastic. The Children Books Online site also offer an ever changing selection. The quality can vary though, so do check. There is an excellent site, currently free,  – Storyline Online which offers books being read aloud on video. A slightly different approach, but with great results.


The Comic app by Made in Me – Me Comics



  • Just books

There are, of course, options of just accessing books – and whether it is leacing an open book on the computer for children to access or setting homework there are many to find. Some can be American-English, so always have a read through first (or get older children to review them for you!)

Children’s Storybooks on MagicKey


  • Creating books

On iPad, books can be easily using apps such as Book Creator – but there are other ways of creating images and adding sound – such as Explain Everything. Some apps also allow you to create books within them  – Collins Big Cat are great examples of this. Some paid services such as Pearson TikaTok also offer a platform for children to write and be published.


Some ideas:

  • Older children, or digital leaders, can review books and then share them with younger children.
  • Often the authors site will contain extracts, or section read by the author – these can be a great way in to a story.
  • Check with any reading schemes you use – they often have online areas to share books.
  • Sites will also offer books in other languages – great for practise!
  • Share with parents! What you find useful in school may be just what a parents is looking for!



Scholastic Storia

An excellent article here by the British Council

A digital Frankenstein

Oxford Owl

Storyline Online

05 Jan

Don’t Forget… Padlet

As part of a review of the year it occurred to me that there were plenty of apps, programmes and ideas that shouldn't get lost over time, but are often overlooked. So I thought a 'don't forget series' might remind teachers of what is out there.

Number 2 – Padlet

I wrote about Padlet here.


Padlet is great because it is a quick, versatile tool that can be embedded and saved once created. Think electronic post-it notes. Padlet is growing, and in recent months has changed. It now includes an account which registers Padlets you have answered on as well as a multitude of options for privacy.

You can still just click 'create a padlet' and get going however!

And for a while Padlets were embedded 'everywhere'… Or at least in posts like this and this. For a few simple reasons:

  • Easy sharing – a link, an embed, or a code for the site. Anyone can contribute to your Padlet.
  • Protectable – embed one in your class blog and protect it with a password.
  • They can be anonymous, or invite only. In class you can insist everyone contributes, give a synonym, extend a story, write a question for a numerical answer. Whatever your focus, leave a Padlet on a computer and then let the pupils contribute.
  • They work on all systems. At least, i've not come across one it doesn't work on yet.

In the classroom:

  • Use it to assess knowledge prior to teaching, an open question about a topic, or a question that opens up more questions.
  • Great for PHSE – different answers to sensitive problems that can be anonymous (or not)
  • Quick fire vocabulary collecting – 'how is the wolf described?'
  • Embed pictures to showcase work.



Ideas for history teachers.

Teachers guide here.


04 Jan

Don’t forget…

As part of a review of the year it occurred to me that there were plenty of apps, programmes and ideas that shouldn’t get lost over time, but are often overlooked. So I thought a ‘don’t forget series’ might remind teachers of what is out there.

Number 1 – Google Earth / Google Maps

Easily forgotten, but is accessible on almost all computers, tablets and chromebooks and looks brilliant on an interactive whiteboard. The Earth app can be downloaded, and then it is a matter of inputting in postcode or landmark. With maps you can access online. Earth also has additional features, including a map gallery (through google map) and Mars and Sky on the PC. Whether you have a mixture of devices, just the one, or work in a 1:1 environment you will find google earth a useful tool.

Key features include the 3D landmarks, the night sky with google Earth and the ability to save maps and ideas Some areas have a historical timeslider which will let you see development over time. (Very American at the minute!)

Loads of uses….

1. Geography – compare and contrast – as a resource for pictures and evidence, using google maps and earth (app on iPad) is quick and simple. As part of many resources, including atlases, maps and photographs you can get lots of information for comparisons. Can you write directions?

2. Maths – directions, size, distances, area, perimeter.. The list for maths goes on and on. Quickly snapshot google map images and then they can be drawn on, printed, used in other iPad apps such as Explain Everything.

3. Art – inspiration from Google Earth – compare different areas of the earth looking at colour and space used. Zoom in on landmarks.

4. Local area studies. Zooming in on Earth, then overlaying different information can provide lots of ways to examine your local area? Can you write a guide for your local area?

5. Go deeper – you can download tours and map packs – try searching for ‘google earth tours’ – the showcase is also very informative and includes gems such as this 3D tree tour.

6. Science and Space – Google Earth has a special Mars section – and there are loads of resources to support the use of it in the classroom. Find it in the browser here.

7. Challenge – can they find volcanoes? Can they find the tallest building? Link to historical sites, battlefields, archaelogical digs. Many key areas are available for a tour in 3D as well!


Got any interesting uses for Google Earth from your classroom? Please share!



Google Earth from Google

Ideas from Juicy Geography

Mars – google.com/mars

Ideas for teachers on thenextweb.com