25 Jan

Planning for the future…

Recent posts about development plans (like this one) has made me think about mine. As part of ours, a digital strategy is key.

Some thoughts on long term digital strategy:

  • It’s impossible to plan too far in advance, a 3 yr development is not really a long time, but lately it feels as though everything in schools is changing on an almost monthly basis. For tech, this is no different.
  • Consider staff implications and CPD – would time be better spent investing in training that changing the provision?
  • What are the curriculum needs (now that it’s here!) – will other subject areas require tech?
  • What will really become obselete? Will companies stop supporting their ‘free’ services?

What will be on my long term plan?

  • A pause! There has been lots of change recently, once the IT infrastructure works to my satisfaction we will pause!
  • A mix of devices, with a mixture of operating system. Whilst the bulk of pupil use is through google drive and google apps I think it’s important that children experience a range of operating systems.
  • Free services, such as google, will be important.
  • Regular tech support and advice will be budgeted for.
  • A mixture of android tablets (cheap and accesible) with iPads (quality of apps and intuitive)
  • Windows in the classroom, ubuntu in shared areas, chromebooks and some laptops. – This is in part to get rid of Windows XP.
  • Robots / beebots / lego – and CPD to use them correctly.


I will upload the development plan once done – but would love to know what is going into your long term strategy!


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


04 Jan

5 to avoid….

Those edtech mistakes you need to try to stamp out…

1. It worked for one, so lets buy thirty…

I've seen this over and over again. One teacher, usually keen and a bit tech savvy, found something that worked very well. Perhaps a new tablet, a specfic laptop or the next new classroom equipment. It worked for them, so we buy a class set, or one for each class. Then there is surprise when issues occur, when there is not as much use from other teachers (or no use) – connectivity issues as the school's creaking wifi struggles.

Always test put purchases in the 'least likely' class, link pilot studies with teachers who are looking for a specific outcome and, if possible use suppliers who will let you lend equipment first! (This worked a treat with our chromebooks).


2. Don't ask around….

Someone, somewhere will have tried that new idea of yours! It is a mistake to try something without asking other schools, other teachers, or even twitter – #ukedchat. Locally there may be companies that others have tried with better services, deals (e.g. A 30 day trial on equipment), nationally there may be common pitfalls that can be avoided!


3. Forget about the teaching…

All too often we are given technology as an answer to a problem that didn't exist. Don't forget it is about the classroom, the children, the teaching! Is there an issue with connecting your schools to others? Do the teachers need to share what's happening in their classroom? Does the technology need replacing? Can the pupils easily access their work? What is it you actually want out of your technology?


4. Lock it down…

Schools, once invested in expensive technologies, can (understandably) be reluctant to let them loose on the whole school. Whilst it makes sense to emphasize how it can be used safely, and how to properly look after such equipment, it is a mistake to put people off of making use any new technology or services. With new online services educate pupils, parents and teachers on e-safety. With equipment build into the budget some loss and demonstrate proper use at every opportunity. Teachers who are confident can be good role models for this, and sharing 'what works' in staff meetings is a must!


5. Ignore the pupils…

The pupils in schools can be involved at every stage of technological investment – from consulting to training on the use of anything new. Consider starting with what they already use at home, if you are considering investing in new technology this is a great way to get ideas. New services can be reviewed by pupils, helping you to decide what might be useful in the classroom. This also applies to parents, who can be involved in similar phases.