My Bett Takeaways

My Bett Takeaways – 2017


For years teachers have tried to find engaging and appealing ways to get students to revise material. From a faithful mnemonic and dodgy acronym to wallpapering their room with flash cards and post it notes.img_2741

Not all techniques suit every student and often attempts to get ‘down with the kids’ often lead to embarrassing laughs from the teenage audience. However, the team at Studytracks have bought something new to the table with curriculum specific lyrics carefully crafted over smooth tunes  in the genres that students can ‘get down’ with. No nursery rhyme rhythms here, but slick beats and killer hooks.

I certainly think that this will be appealing to Year 10 and 11 students at my school who want to reenergise their learning in a culturally relevant and satisfying way.


schoolgirl-with-vr-headsetSo will 2017 be the year for VR? Speculation about the integration of virtual reality into the spheres of everyday entertainment and education has been stirring for the past five years, with 2015, then 2016 penned as the revolutionary year of a breakthrough for affordable, accessible and purposeful solutions.  I think that 2017 could be that year, with an unignorable rise of VR gaming leading up to Christmas; 360° functionality on Facebook and YouTube; apps such as BBC sport 360°; and the sale of Pudsey Cardboard headsets for Children in Need all pointing towards a shift in production models and consumer desire.

After taking part in Google Expeditions Pioneer programme, creating my own VR and 360° content using CoSpaces and ThingLink 360°, I went to Bett really looking for a practical classroom solution. The current drawbacks to using VR in a school or classroom setting are that you either need to get students to bring in their own devices from home or you have a model where you ask staff and parents to recycle their old mobiles so that you can create your own class set of VR headsets in some sort of Cardboard net.

Most schools have a blanket ban of mobile phones, and with good reason, so the first option is often a non-starter. Students can use their iPads to experience VR and 360° content, although they do not get the full immersive experience.

ClassVR have a solution that solves these issues and helps teachers manage the VR devices easily. They can use a website to manage the content on the headsets and the all in one device allows the students to use them easily, without pressing the wrong button or having mobile phones slip out of a cardboard casing. Any apps and content can be controlled by the teacher and contextualised.

We have a bookable immersive space at our school to take our students on a alternative learning experience. I think that ClassVr could work in the same way, where students will have a more memorable learning experience for those lessons where the teacher really wants to engage them, in order to improve the retention of information. As we hope to be a pioneer school for ClassVR, I hope to blog more about this in the future.

Innovate My School

It’s always a pleasure to work with Innovate My School, as screenshot-2017-01-31-11-42-12the team are always so keen and
passionate about changing education. The online magazine has turned into more of a community of likeminded, collaborative and forward thinking educators over the past two years and has provided me with great ideas for my school and classroom. Their #innovationbursts are a great way of getting hints of snapshots of great ideas in education. I did mine on Kahoot! as I believe they are doing a great job of transforming classroom all around the world with a great interactive idea that students love. Check out my video here:


New Toys for The New Term


vrblogA fun term was had by all! It would be great if this was always the case for everyone, but as we know the life of a teacher can’t always be fun. However, I’ve had some great moments  trying out some new tech ideas this term at St Wilfrid’s and thought I’d share a few with you that transform the classroom and really capture students imagination.

The first is CoSpaces – an interactive web-based platform that lets the user create a virtual environment that they or others can explore.

I have had a real journey into 360˚ and Virtual Reality (VR) for education over the last five months that started at an ADE Global institute in Berlin in June (something I’ll be taking about in more detail at the Bett Show in January).  University educator, Sarah Jones (@virtualsarah) introduced me to various educational notions including CoSpaces . What excites me about this is that students are not only immersing themselves in an exciting environment, but they are able to go into a world that they have created themselves. As a child I played the PC game, Themepark and really wanted to be a customer experiences the park, rather than just the architect or business manger behind it. Well with CoSpaces , you almost can.

I first used the platform with students to make virtual museums. St Wilfrid’s, in Blackburn, has teamed up with EDN school in Catalonia, Godby High School in Åland and Simono Dacho School in Lithuania for a two year Erasmus project, where we are bringing new life to elements of local history in the form of a virtual museum.

Students had the chance to enter their own virtual museum.

We will had the initial thought of using ThingLink 360 as a presentation platform, but need to wait and see what develops over the next 18 months before solidifying our plans. CoSpaces was put to great use on our first international meeting in Åland this September, where students could display their historical research in a virtual 360˚ environment, allowing them to fully understand the concept of an immersive environment and visualise their creative ideas.

Using Cardboard, students could immerse themselves in a 360 VR envirnment.

I then used CoSpaces in my English lessons back at school, where students were learning about transactional writing through creating their own theme park and writing leaflets to attract people to visit. Students were able to design their themed worlds using CoSpaces and then invite other class members to virtually visit it. In using this immersive technique to experience their world, they could then be prompted to use extended vocabulary and exciting adjectives to sell their park and the experience of being in it.

I’m sure this immersive experience technique could also be used to inspire creative writing in English, as well as recreating historic landmarks in History and Geography lessons.

Seppo is another exciting web-based platform for education, which combines interactive multi-media activities and real world environments.

Students have to navigate a pre-loaded map, where they are assigned different tasks at different places. They use an electronic mobile device to answer multiple choice questions, take pictures/videos or enter text to solve a problem. In moving around the environment, whilst using metacognitive processes to decide how to respond to tasks, their brains become more active than if they were sat in a classroom looking at a screen.

Here is our interactive map of the school that students had to navigate.

As a teacher, you can monitor activity, mark students assignments and send messages to students as they are out and about. We used Seppo as part of our two day iPad induction programme at St Wilfrid’s to try and funk up our delivery of the iPad code of conduct. Each assignment had a task related to rules about iPad safe usage and behaviour. The students had to use the map of the school on their iPads to find where each activity was and complete it to the best of their ability.

Here teachers can view activities and give feedback whilst students are out and about.

With elements of Pokémon Go and using the full toolkit of multi-media elements that students are used to using, they really enjoyed the treasure hunt methodology, mixed with the SnapChat style tasks and were all well versed in our iPad code of conduct.

When showcasing this at one of our #TMLancashire Teachmeets at St Wilfrid’s, teachers were impressed with the fun that could be had whilst learning.

The third Christmas treat I’d like to share is the newest feature of my favourite web-based learning platform, Kahoot! Kahoot Jumble exercises the brain even more than the quick fire questions we are used to with this game-show style service, by asking students to sort and rank possible answers.

Kahoot have added some great Christmas activities to test this out with classes, and as ever, there are great educators around the world adding their own content to the platform for teachers to use. I have had limited use of this platform so far, but tested it out with putting words into alphabetical order for younger students and sorting films by their release date in my Media Studies class.

Kahoot Jumble in action

Ideas that could work really well are sorting elements in science, putting fractions in order of size in Maths lessons and putting events in order in an English narrative or in a History lesson.

I think the next step would be to be able to mix and match regular Kahoot questions with Kahoot Jumble questions.

These are some great ideas to try out in the new year if you haven’t tried them already. I suggest you have a play with them after the festivities to get yourself pepped up about returning to school. Merry Christmas everyone.

For more about my experiences in VR and 360° come and see my talk on the Bett Futures stage on 28th January.