Friday 26 September 2014


Calling all teachers! Have you discovered Pinterest yet? I have in the last few months and it is an incredible source of resources. I am primarily using it for starters in my lessons. This year, I am displaying a lesson-specific cartoon or saying on the board as the pupils come into the room and they discuss the meaning with their partner or table before we come together to check comprehension. 
Here are some of my favourites: 
A generic one. (3 depressing facts. Today isn't Friday. Tomorrow isn't Friday. Even the day after tomorrow isn't Friday) 

Form 3 are doing parts of the body (I've got your nose) 

Form 2 and Form 5 are doing the topic of education (When your teacher separates you from your best friend in class) 

Yes, you could probably find most of these using a search engine but the excellent thing about Pinterest is its ability to store these pins for you. 


I saw a tweet a while ago on Twitter about Plickers and made a note to myself to check it out. As Upper 6 ploughed their way through a timed essay today, I decided to have a look. The tag line on their website is "Plickers is a powerfully simple tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices"  It uses funny wee cards and one smartphone and it's genius. Here's my idiot's guide...
1) go to the website
2) sign up for an account
3) select classes tab and click on Add new class then type pupil names in. This was slightly tiresome as I have all class lists electronically but couldn't see a way to import them. Nor could I see a way to fix a typo and ended up deleting a class (twice!) and starting again. 
  NB message just arrived in email 
"You can edit a student by viewing your roster for that particular class from the Classes tab on the website. Then, you can hover over the student's name to see the dropdown menu arrow, and you'll have options there, including one to "Edit student." "
4) print off the cards from the website and ensure the pupils know which card is theirs, according to the number on the website class list. I went to the photocopier room after school and have copied enough to let the pupils have their own to glue into their books. I figure this will save time and make it much more immediate than giving the cards out every time, sorting the numbers etc.. 
5) select library tab and type in a question plus 4 options for answers. Then add it to a class. Today I did a question in Spanish for U6 on how happy they were with their essay and one for Form 2 on their favourite subject. 
6) crucially, download the Plickers app! I forgot I had done this and a tech-savvy U6 and I struggled round the website trying to work out how to use it. Whoops! 
7) open the app and log in with the same user details as the website. 
8) select a class and then select the question you want to ask them. 
9) click on the camera icon at the bottom of the screen. 
10) get the pupils to hold their card up with the side labelled A, B, C or D at the top according to what they think 
11) slowly scan the room and the app registers the pupil responses, with a bar chart displayed in the top right corner as it constantly updates the responses. Genius! 
Of course, with Apple TV on, the pupils found it hilarious to be on the big screen but all in all it went well and I think it has enormous potential. 

Reflections of an iPad classroom 26/9/14

Oh blog, it's been a while. Apologies but I'm sure I'm just like the rest of you, hitting the ground running after the summer. 

So the iPads are still with me for the foreseeable future and the HODs and SMT in school have all got one each too. It's been weird for me trying to think about how to use one iPad in a classroom when I'm used to at least one between two, one each at A level. There are certain apps which lend themselves to it of course, from the fabulous Explain Everything to my two of my favourites for starters,  Decide Now and Make Dice Lite. 

I have been using Explain Everything in three main ways. Firstly, I have made some videos, using old PPTs and recording audio with them, as a way to flip the classroom. The videos are uploaded to Edmodo and the pupils can access them there in advance of the lesson, which frees up the lesson time to consolidate learning. Secondly, I have marked pupil work which they uploaded to Edmodo, talking through mistakes as I circled them using the pen tool and then I uploaded the video back onto Edmodo for them to watch and correct their work. Lastly, I have taken pictures of pupils' work in class as we have worked through translation work. It is easier for them to see corrections if they can see the base model on the screen and we talk through the different options they have too. I am finding that they are contributing more than they would otherwise. 

With the set of 17 iPads, we have been using Quizlet in bursts within the lesson to consolidate vocabulary acquisition. The pupils love it and feel it has really helped them learn the vocab. I set up a departmental account that they all log in to, which means that the tailored vocabulary is there waiting for them. Interestingly, we find the website better than the app, if you choose to use it. 

Finally, today I used Plickers for the first time. I had read about it on Twitter but hadn't done anything with it yet. It's a way of using one iPad in the classroom to assess pupil understanding and record answers. I'll do a separate blogpost on it soon.