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.


Using Technology to Facilitate Verbal Discussion – Giving Every Student a Voice.

This morning at Saint Wilfrid’s Academy in Blackburn I presented the first in a new series of New Tech breakfast meetings. This series is looking at interactive response systems and how they can transform the classroom. To be able to get ideas from every student in the classroom is extremely powerful if used in purposeful and meaningful ways.

In being able to get the views of every student in the classroom, rather than the select few who put up their hands or those that the teacher pick, as a teacher you can delve deeper into questioning, using answers that you may not have received without the use of technology. I use Socractive a lot to do this. The ad-hoc feature of asking students for a short response allows me to see all students’ views and then share those views with the entire class, using the vote button put into the app.

The questioning develops when the teacher picks  a students’ response and gets the writer of it, or other class members to elaborate on it in a basket balling type of technique. This has made discussion times in the classroom more sophisticated and meaningful. Check out the Socrative app and the ad-hoc features it offers. Plickers is another great app to facilitate verbal discussion. Although, this time you will have to print off some voting cards for your class and question the students after a multiple choice question.


AFL with Kahoot and Plickers


Discovering Kahoot last year transformed my classroom and the way I use online student response systems. Whereas most systems have students glued to their screens, Kahoot allows students to interact with the teacher, with the class screen and use their iPads to make selections.

There has been a real game show, competitive element to lessons where students are celebrating getting things right, with the opportunity to respond and reflect on their answers in discussion with their teacher.

For teachers, it is so easy to see where the learning gaps are in your classroom and using the results options on the website informs planning for subsequent lessons. Kahoot does require strict rules in order for your class to enter their actual names, rather than nicknames and to keep the noise and joviality at a reasonable level, although it is great to see students celebrating success. To create a teacher account go to

Whilst I wait for our year 7 classes at St Wilfrid’s to get their iPads, Plickers has been a great way to show them the power of new technology and to assess the understanding of my class very quickly. Plickers is a fast and easy way to get instant feedback from the entire class using a paper and technology based voting system. From the Plickers website you can download a class set of voting cards for your students to respond to a multiple-choice question.

By scanning their cards with the Plickers app, you are then able to see your students’ results. This is great for the end of a lesson where you want to assess student understanding, in order to plan for future lessons.

An example of a question could be: “Who feels confident that they could write a speech using effective persuasive devices?”

Multiple choice answers could be: Fully confident, quite confident, slightly confident, not confident.

In the space of two minutes you will have a visual representation of the confidence of your class and can plan what you will do to raise the confidence of those who need extra help.

More information can be found at

New Term – New Ideas

 Screenshot 2015-09-09 18.40.30

So September is here, time to take all I have learnt over the summer and put it to good use in the classroom, with a focus on student engagement and progress. This blog with document all my ideas in the classroom that are facilitated through New Technology. Some new ideas for me to try out this year will include the new iTunes U, Classcraft for KS3 boys and using iPads in Futher Education. I will also be blogging about all the training and CPD that I will be involved with this academic year.