Starters and Plenaries Facilitated by iPads

I had a request this week to focus our New Tech’ Breakfast meeting at St Wilfrid’s on Starters and Plenaries. iPads can help to facilitate engaging activities at the start a lesson and consolidatory activities at the end. Most of the ideas noted are to be used in a 1:1 mobile device school.Ideas for Starters

Padlet is a great tool to start instant collaborative discussion at the start of a lesson. By putting your Padlet’s QR code on the whiteboard as students enter the classroom, they are thrown into a discussion created by teacher. A discussion can be based around a question or a picture, using Padlet’s media tools.

QR Codes are brilliant for reavealing information to students with a great sense of discovery to engage. I used these on the reverse of a card sort activity to give students extra facts to inform their decision making. An example would be to ask students to rate countries on their quality of life. After their initial ranking, they could flip over the country cards, scan a QR code and get some additional facts about the average life span for people on that country. They could then rank again, with the teacher asking how the information changed their decision making.

The Socrative student response system is a great hook into the start of a lesson. By starting a quiz before students enter and displaying log in instructions on the classroom’s whiteboard, students can get on with a quiz straight away, focussed on the topic of the lesson that day. Should you have classes that come into your classroom in dribs and drabs, Socrative’s self paced feature is great to get students on board whenever they enter the room. By adding an open ended question at the end, those who come into class earlier and whiz through the quiz are kept occupied until others have finished and are being stretched.

Ideas for Plenaries 

Socrative’s ad hoc question feature is a good way to gauge student understanding at the end of a lesson. If students are asked to provide a short written answer, these answers can then be shared with the entire class on their mobile devices. The voting feature allows students to read each other’s answers and vote on the best one, helping them to learn from each other.

Plickers is a fun AFL tool to see where your class is, in terms of their understanding. Setting up questions on the app is easy and students find it straight forward to hold up their Plicker voting card to be scanned. Multiple choice answers can be based on levels of understanding and the need for more support.



Helping Students to Create Quality Videos

Being a film and media teacher for the past 9 years, I have welcomed the introduction of multimedia mobile technology whole heartedly. iPads afford students the access to film, edit and publish film with relative ease. It is great to see teachers across the curriculum giving their students video projects to demonstrate their understanding, however how can we ensure that the quality of the video is as good as the content that the students are presenting?

For any project of this nature students are given subject specific success criteria to ensure the content of their video reflects the learning that has taken place in lessons, but we also need to provide students with additional production guidelines to ensure that the quality of the video that comes back has appropriate production value.

Without wanting to bamboozle students with high level media terminology, I have produced a simple guide to help students produce videos that they can be really proud of.


An iNimating Experience

Over the past year it has been a real treat to be involved with the Erasmus + project, iNmation in Clay. The project is a collaboration between schools from The Ă…land Islands, Catalonia, England, Lithuania, Poland and Turkey, where teachers and students get a chance to explore cultural aspects of each country, learning skills as they go, in order to create a combined stop frame animation film.The week this international delegation have been in Accrington, England where they have been learning filming and editing techniques. I was fortunate enough to be invited to run a showcase looking at shot types and the meaning behind them. I wanted to make the workshops as interactive as possible so new tech was at the forefront of facilitating the three hours that I had.

Apple TV – Visualising Shots

An easy way to demonstrate each shot type to students is using Apple TV. Before this technology I had to hook up a video camera to the whiteboard which was laborious and awkward. Putting my iPad into camera mode and embarrassing some reluctant volunteers made it easy to explain each shot type and demonstrate how to take them.

And For My Next Trick… …Aurasma! 

 Bringing the wow factor into the workshop to engage and inspire students worked well using Aurasma. As students scanned still images of film clips they came to life on screen, with an explanation of why each shot type was used. The augmented reality was a hook into a memorable learning experience.

My Faithful Favourite, Kahoot

In order to assess the learning so far and to create a competitive edge to the workshop, Kahoot helped to continue to buzz about the place, pitting each table against each other in an interactive quiz. The preparation time is minimal and the execution highly rewarding, when you see students comparing their scores and feeling like they are part of a TV game show. I quizzed the group on shot types from famous films, with some fun shots thrown in for engaging edutainment.

Applying Through Adobe Voice  

This digital storytelling app is very intuitive with a high production value feel to it. Working in groups, students were able to take a series of photos using their iPads to tell a story. They then stitched these photos together in Adobe Voice, where they could record their own voice over, select a theme for their story and add a soundtrack. Using Apple TV, we could then play each team’s story back to the entire group to celebrate their successes.  

 I see real potential in using Adobe voice in learning a language. Being able to add in pictures, give them meaning through a voice over, and create a high end video can excite students to develop their skill set.

Wrapping up With Padlet

To finish, Padlet was a great AFL tool to see how the group collectively thought the workshops went and to share these ideas with the entire class all at once. Students found it easy to scan a QR code to find the Padlet wall and add their own thoughts for others to see. 

 All in all, a great day. How I wish I could have spent the whole week with the Erasmus + gang, but I’m sure that there will be opportunity for more international collaboration in the future.

Roll Up, Roll Up for Our iPad Roll Out

Students taking control of their learning

This Monday saw the hall at St Wilfrid’s packed with conscientious parents for our Year 7 information evening and iPad consultation. This event is key to my role in informing parents of our intentions and commitments involving education facilitated through mobile devices. Should the night be a success, we will be rolling out another lot of iPads for students in two months. 

The key term that I kept repeating was ‘Students taking control of the learning’; the fundamental idea, I think, that can transform learning and have an impact on progress. Whether it be improving metacognition and decision making by students, self guided learning or flipping the classroom, students have a world of information and resources at their fingertips. It is up to us as teachers to give routes and guidance to the right information and help them find their way.  

A big change I have introduced this year will be supervising all the year 7 devices and managing their access to apps. Our intention is to switch apps off after 9pm, giving parents peace of mind and helping with the challenges of eSafety. More information on what our scheme at St Wilfrid’s is all about can be found here: 

New Tech’ Breakfast – Behaviour 4 Learning with iPads

Technology with tasty food – a great combination.

Last year I stated an informal CPD drop in session for teachers at St Wilfrid’s. The New Tech’ Breakfast is all about offering teachers quick and purposeful ideas to use in their classroom to integrate iPad technology that does not need to take over the entire lesson. This week we looked at behaviour and routines.

How do we get students engaged at the start of a lesson or even before they walk in? My suggestion is QR codes. As a student waits to come into your lesson, why not put a QR code on the door linking to a video, image or a Padlet wall where they can respond to a discussion topic before they even sit down. Through Apple TV this can then be displayed in the board for all of the class to see and collaborate in. 

How do we monitor student activity on their iPads? By using Apple TV, teachers really can be free and mobile around the classroom, even when explaining tasks or using student response systems such as Kahoot. This mobility allows the teacher to stand at the back of the classroom and see what students are looking at on their devices. This does require clear direction from the teacher, who needs to instruct the class to listen to their voice but look at the class shared screen.

For more info on how to use, or how I use Apple TV, click here:

Here are some simple tips that have helped me in my classroom:


Engaging boys – Gamification

With the huge popularity of MMORPGs (Massive multi-player online role playing games) like World of Warcarft and Minecraft, tapping into that sphere of competition, character generation, points scoring and strategy has proved a successful engagement strategy for the classroom.

Classcraft allows you to split up your class into clans of avatars, who gain gain or lose game points depending on their behaviour and effort in the classroom. As a teacher you can award points to students, who can then exchange those points for powers or rewards. These powers can be customised to suit your classroom; a popular one has been the power of transportation, where for one lesson you can swap places in class with another student.

I have had to set strict ground rules with the use of classcraft to ensure students are not on their devices when they are supposed to be completing work. By using my iPad as I wonder around the classroom, I have been able to award or take away points which students can check at the end of the lesson.

My Year 9 boys have loved this so far but I still need to be convinced that this has longevity, as I am concerned that they may become bored of it. Time will tell.

Creating That WOW Factor with Aurasma

Open Evening is one of those opportunities when a school can really showcase the best in all it does. iPads and mobile technology is used at St Wilfrid’s in order to enhance the learning experience and prepare students to be responsible digital citizens. Student engagement is a term that is often given little regard when compared with student progress, however without the engagement we may not have the the opportunity to make real progress. 

Using augmented reality is a great hook for students, gives that wow factor and engages students instantly when they see still images comes to life. This is exactly what we did at our Open Evening this week. Images of teachers came to life to tell prospective students how iPads are used in a variety of subject areas across the academy. There was delight and awe on the faces of students and parents who wanted to know more about how this technology was used in school.

We have plans to make book reviews and e-safety posters using Aurasma, which I will post on my blog in the future.

All views and opinions in this post are my own.