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An exciting participatory Project for Science and Maths Teachers

Some of you already will probably have heard about our Open Educational Resource programme ‘The Virtual School‘ before. Today we thought: let’s write an open letter to all Pedagoo members who haven’t. This is just one page, but you might prefer a video to reading a document:


Maybe this is already enough to make you want to give it a go and participate.

Get in touch by sending us an email: vsteam@fusion-universal.com

For those of you who want to know more:

Why are so few teachers in the UK doing something like Khan Academy?

Many teachers in the UK have been looking across the big lake at what the guys at Khan Academy are doing. We have met many teachers in the UK who think they can do an equally good or even better job in explaining the easy and difficult concepts of the secondary curriculum in the sciences or in Maths. Many of them are saying: why not do it through videos, if that means that they can reach thousands or sometimes even hundreds of thousands of learners – now that’s one really big classroom!

But how can you manage to make videos in your spare time?

Nowadays, any teacher can record her or his voice (and therefore a lesson) – because recording devices are all around us: pcs, macs, ipads, phones – the list continues. But making a video based on an audio lesson takes time and animation skills – and only few teachers in the UK have both.

No doubt: At ‘the Virtual School’, we want to co-create resources with those select few 21st century prototype teachers. But we want more: we want to give all motivated Science and Maths teacher who haven’t got this visualisation ability the same opportunity to get their lesson to the hundreds of thousands of learners out there waiting for good teaching to come their way.

Our creative design team picks up the 2-3 min audio lesson, and turns it into an engaging video. Let’s say for instance for the topic “What are Quarks?”:



Anybody, including the contributing teacher, can pick this video resource up for free and integrate it in a blended learning model with their own students.

Our background:

The Virtual School is the social responsibility programme of our educational technology startup Fusion Universal. Our social programme is funded by our work in the corporate space, in which we have created a successful social learning platform called Fuse. This cloud platform and our video production facilities are being used by our corporate clients. Our idea: now that we have all this expertise and technology, why not also use it for a purely social project and make a real difference? That’s why we not only distribute the co-created Virtual School videos absolutely free of charge under a Creative Commons License (contributing teachers are of course accredited) but also make sure they are translated and available to learners in developing countries.

To do all that we need your help – at the heart of our project is your brain – and your teaching.

To be honest: months have past since we first stumbled upon Pedagoo – how one get’s carried away by the day to day… Mind you, maybe the wait has been for the better: since then we have learned many lessons and have honed our collaboration with teachers to make it really easy for you to contribute. Teaching thousands of learners really is just a couple of mouse clicks and a little audio recording away – and all that in a topic of your choice that you feel really passionate about.

You can view our videos co-created with UK teachers to date under: http://www.youtube.com/virtualschool
And of course, we are also available on Twitter: https://twitter.com/virtualschooluk

It would be great to discuss in the comment section what you think about our programme.

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Since beginning the iPad journey in our school, I have been dying to use some of the Augmented Reality apps available on the iPad. I didn’t want to dive in and use it with no substance I wanted to make sure there was real potential to enhance the learning in the classroom.

For those people who are not familiar with the term “Augmented Reality,” here is a web definition:

“Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.”

If that is a little too technical, Augmented Reality is a way of using a picture, known as a trigger image, to generate a video, slideshow or computer generated graphic. It seems that technology moving forward will be using a lot of AR and here is google’s next project proving the incredible potential with AR:

How can Augmented Reality be used in the classroom?

I am always looking for ways to inspire, motivate and engage children. Augmented Reality definitely provides the WOW factor in the classroom. The reaction of showing the a class some examples of AR was that of utter shock, amazement and complete awe. Children are fascinated to see how a picture they have drawn or made can transform into a video. They are perplexed by how it works and definitely enthralled by the sense of magic that AR provides.

Recently I have been doing a lot of literacy work with a group of Year 5 based on the app “Epic Citadel,” this is a wonderful free app that allows the children to navigate around a dynamic fantasy setting which is the backdrop to the game Infinity Blade. Without characters and storyline, the app lends itself to the classroom as it provides the setting but allows children to use their imagination to add characters and a story line.

To begin with I wanted to let the children roam the app and generate descriptive language and make a word cloud that can be then referred to later for more writing. – See the word clouds made by the class.

The next lesson I used slow writing to help the children write an introduction to the setting of Epic Citadel. But I didn’t just want it to be written in their books I wanted to bring their writing alive. I decided to use Aurasma to make this happen.


  1. Download the app “Aurasma” onto your Smartphone.
  2. Open the app and press the A at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Click on the search option.
  4. Type in Davyhulme and click the option.
  5. Press like to subscribe to our Auras.
  6. Open the app and scan one of our pictures, if it doesn’t work from your screen you may need to print the word clouds.
  7. Watch in awe the amazing descriptions of the fantastic world of Epic Citadel.

Using Augmented Reality in the Classroom from Davyhulme Primary School on Vimeo.

I was asked that when I work with Year 6 on a Thursday could I use the iPads to help the children prepare for the controversial SPAG test. I found a few apps to use which the children really enjoyed but the biggest reaction was when I used Augmented Reality for the children to demonstrate their understanding of using different punctuation marks – you can see the lesson and examples here. I am planning something very similar next week with the other Year 6 class but focusing on different word types – Nouns, Verbs etc.

Aurasma is definitely an app with lots of potential. I am truly excited by the prospect of using this app right through the curriculum and in different Key Stages.
Some other ideas I have had are:

  • Making a truly interactive display, rather than putting up work with explanations from teachers, examples of work could be used to trigger video explanations from the children.
  • Cross curricular opportunities can be used to link writing with art or drama by using a picture of a story to reveal artwork linking to that story.
  • When looking at an example of a particular text type children can scan it to reveal the features used or more of an in depth analysis.
  • In Numeracy, teachers can make an aura showing a particular method for solving a calculation that children can scan to remind them.
  • Science/History/Geography topics can be truly brought to life. Rather than just using a book children can scan an image to reveal videos and images packed with much more interesting facts and information. A chemistry teacher could make a fully interactive periodic table where all the elements can be scanned to reveal more in depth information.
  • Lower down the school, to help children with initial words for reading, auras can be created to associate a word with a particular picture. They could scan numbers to reveal pictures of the number – for example – the number 3, scanned reveals 3 apples. Making learning much more visual and engaging.
  • Assessment – AR could reduce so much paperwork if an aura was made for a child to show a recording of them reading, or working on a particular maths objective. You would be able to demonstrate that children can meet certain objectives. Imagine scanning a picture of a child with a leveling sheet to then reveal examples that back up your judgement as a teacher.
  • I have also seen Christmas cards used to make Auras to attach a personal message from the children. See here

Here is an interesting video about how a school have been using Augemented Reality through Aurasma:

Other Augmented Reality Apps

Aurasma is definitely a great app for generating, sharing and scanning examples of AR, however there are other Augmented Reality apps that can really spark some creativity in the classroom.

String – This app provides a teacher with some awesome Augmented Reality that would be perfect as a stimulus in Literacy.
The app has four different trigger images that generate some superb examples of Augmented Reality such as:

  • An Alien
  • A Dragon
  • A trainer that can be customised
  • Free writing.

The Year 3 class at my current school are using Space as their topic this term. Last lesson I used a fotobooth to turn themselves into Aliens – See the lesson here. The Alien from the String app would be perfect to inspire some writing to describe an alien that landed in our class. The almost magical aspect to Augmented Reality really fascinates the children. The same idea could be used for the Dragon image or even use it to inspire some art work. The trainer that can be designed by the children could be a fantastic stimulus for persuasive writing. See the examples in this video:

First News + – First News, the popular children’s newspaper, now boasts that it is the world’s first fully interactive newspaper. Using AR children can scan certain articles to reveal more content through videos and pictures. Having used this already, the children love being able to learn more about a particular news story.
Zooburst – This app allows you to make a fully interactive 3D pop up book. Children can import characters, setting, pictures and add sound effects or record their own voices. Once a book has been made a special code is generated which uses Augmented Reality to generate your story by scanning the code.
There is a cost to sign up for full access of the Zooburst but their is plenty of potential for some fantastic writing opportunities.

Cross-posted from Mr P’s ICT blog

An Experiment in Target Setting

As an ICT teacher of 5 years experience in a 6th form college in Cheshire, I experience the usual problems that we all encounter on a day to day basis. Lateness, attendance and apathy have all proven a problem to me in my relatively short career but the biggest problem for me seems to be progress.Like most ICT teachers,  I teach predominantly vocational courses. Therefore, we’re focused on coursework 100% of the time. The issue that arises most often than not is that students don’t make enough progress in these lessons, they often seem distracted and poorly focused even in a post 16 environment.

In early September after a meeting with my line manager I was set a performance management target for 2012/13 to try to develop a program/project/system to tackle this issue. I initially thought of short term targets as a way to focus students right at the beginning of the lesson, at least that way they would know what to work on. This initially started as a paper based exercise at the start of each session, where a new target sheet was passed around the class. There was some clear successes with this, as student focus did seem to improve. However, there were also problems. Such as the sheet sometimes taking a very long time to circulate the classroom, and the inevitable class clown drawing genitalia on it !

This led me back to an area where I’m very comfortable, the internet. I built a simple web based database and had students enter targets onto it each lesson. Eliminating the problems with the paper system straight away. This then grew slowly in my spare time to a web based application I called Today’s Target (http://www.todaystarget.com), and I’ve now reached a point where my system is ready for the world to use it, test it and help me improve it.I now use this system in every coursework lesson, students set targets upon entering the classroom and I review these on an individual basis at the end of the lesson using an IOS app I’ve written. It’s a ready built start & plenary !

I’ve noticed a number of improvements –

  • Focus at the start of the lesson is much improved, students now come in sit down and think ‘What am I going to do today ?”
  • Students who make poor progress can see it in black and white, and are motivated to improve
  • Students know their targets will be reviewed in each lesson, so make sure they work to these targets to avoid it being marked ‘not met’
  • I can use the data collected for discussions with students on their progress and their own expectations of themselves.

I would love to invite all Pedagoo readers to try this with their classes in coursework lessons. My students now do it instinctively upon logging on and I’d be very interested to hear other points of view.

I’m not your Stepping Stone…

I’ve been reading a lot lately, both online in blogs and tweets and in things like TES, about Learning Outcomes and the varying schools of thought around their efficacy or otherwise.

Reading the supposed gurus (no names, no pack drill) and their published texts, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had to use them all the time and get the jargon  exactly right or no learning would ever take place.

I remember a lecture/tutorial thing from my time at Jordanhill (BA Sport in the Community, not BEd…) when we had a session during a block about coaching and the coaching process. Our tutor, a venerable ex PE teacher and Scotland Rugby Internationalist, asked us questions along the lines of “are Learning Outcomes goals we MUST get to? Are there stepping stones on the way? What might they be called? Are they objectives? Must we do things in a certain way and with a certain vocabulary to get the best results?”

He summed up, after we’d batted the idea about for a good ninety minutes, with something I still think is valid today:

It doesn’t matter what you call them as long as they tell you what you want to do, how you’re going to get there and how you’ll know if you’ve done it or not.

I also “studied” (attended lectures, rattled off an assignment) Marketing at the time as part of the course. They like their objectives those Marketing guys. That’s fair enough, people (companies, businesses, public sector organisations) are spending a lot of money to promote whatever it is they need to promote, so it’s only right that there are checks and balances in place to ensure they’re getting a fair bang for their buck.

One way of doing that is to ensure that any plan/campaign/initiative they devise has an associated set of targets. They like to call them “SMART Targets” – I’m sure you’ve heard of them. It’s an acronym. Now, for me, acronyms are generally hateful things but this one stands up well.

The exact nomenclature changes depending on the publication you read but SMART is generally taken to mean that a target must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound
These, I hope, are pretty much self-explanatory but just in case here’s another wee version of the same. The crux of it is that things (whatever they may be) can’t work well or at any rate *efficiently* if you don’t have an agreed timetable for them to happen to.
Other acronyms, WALT and WILF are often maligned and, to be fair, I’m not keen on the anthropomorphism of them into “characters” but I accept that it’s good to have something to hang your lesson and ideas on.

I don’t always use the phrase “We are learning to…” with the class, sometimes it’s “we are looking at…” or “we’d like to know if…” but the bottom line is the same: it says what you’re hoping to do. I never have too many “WALTS” because then it gets busy, messy and difficult to evaluate but I do always try to flag up any accidental/serendipitious learning after the lesson.

For example, I might write up on the whiteboard during the plenary (tick!):

WALT “x…y…z” – we know we achieved it because “…(revisit WILF)” and We Also Found/Learned/Discovered….

In the Curriculum for Excellence this kind of “accidental learning” or discovery is the kind that I’m finding more and more of.

Today in Science with p4-7 we started off on vinegar and baking soda and ended up looking at the Giant’s Causeway. Don’t ask. It does however mean that, through the children’s own enquiry, we’ve now collaboratively mapped out some possibilities to explore in the coming weeks, everything from studying basalt to trying to organise a talk about the geological history of Ben Nevis.

If I’d put up a strict (ie must-be-adhered-to) list of objectives/targets/whatevers for yesterday’s  lesson then anyone sitting with a checklist would have failed the lot of us yet I’d argue we all got more out of the session as a result of discussions and “happy accidents”.

That’s not to say, of course, that we can ignore plans and pre-determined Outcomes – we must keep them there if we want to ensure appropriate coverage in terms of depth and progression – but they can’t be an enslaving ideology, they must be more of a guiding principle. Surely that’s not too much of a Mission (Statement): Impossible?


Inside Out Poetry
January 27, 2013

‘Inside Out’ Poetry

I may be speaking for myself here, and if so I apologise, but isn’t it the case that we teachers of English sometimes assume that our pupils ‘know’ how to ‘read’ poetry,  when in fact they haven’t a clue?  The truth is that pupils are terrified when they are confronted with a new poem to analyse. They do not feel equal to the  challenge of  cracking the code of the inscrutable and obscure text in front of them and their response is to shut down.

As a result, I have got into the habit of approaching the poem from the inside out, starting with the  words or lexical items – the linguistic soil out of which the poem grows and only then working towards a reading of the poem as a whole. I have come to think of this approach as ‘inside out’ poetry.  At its most simple, this might involve working with a word cloud as a pre-reading exercise.e one below. The pupils work in groups with the language of the poem – grouping words and anticipating themes; exploring connotations and speculating about style.  This is brilliant because it means that they have rolled up their sleeves and got the linguistic muck beneath their fingernails. It also means that they have formulated theories about the poem and they are keen to test their theories out against the poem itself. As a result,  they have a sense of ownership of the poem; they are no longer intimidated and they have already begun to engage in close analysis before they have even read the text.

If you haven’t tried this approach to and would like to you need to take a look at Wordle and ABCya. Of the two, Wordle is by far the sexiest, but it comes with a health warning: firstly, network firewalls mean that Wordle may not work in school and, secondly, you can’t save the word clouds that you make on Wordle. Instead you have to take a screen shot and paste it into Word. If you want to save it as a Jpeg, you can, but you would need to paste it into ppt and save it in the appropriate format. ABCya is a good alternative. While the word clouds that it generates are less striking than those that you can make on Wordle, it does work in school and you can save the images. Here’s one that I made earlier:

Poetry Word Cloud Made Using ABCya


Using Poetry to Develop Our Psychic Abilities

This is essentially a development of the ‘Inside Out’ approach to poetry and  another example of the benefits of approaching reading through the mindset of a writer (see previous posts). I would also like to think that it is in the spirit of @HYWEL_ROBERTS’ book Oops! – a book which I have found incredibly inspiring and regenerative.  In Oops,  Hwyel stresses the importance of ‘hooking’ your pupils into learning. He argues that the best way to do this is to create an imaginative context for learning and then to introduce a ‘lure’, which pupils can’t resist and which leads them into learning whether they like it or not. He also writes about the impact of ‘altering the status quo’ on pupils learning: a change in venue or routine, or anything out the ordinary tends to engage pupils’ interest and prime them for learning.  I have tried to draw on these excellent  ideas in developing the  lesson, which goes something like this:

When the pupils enter the class room they find a sealed envelope on each chair. As this is unusual, they are intrigued. They are told to place the envelope on the desk in front of them and to leave it alone for the time being. Next, in order to create an appropriately imaginative and engaging context for learning, I introduce my ‘pretend’ learning intentions. The pupils are told that the objective of the lesson is to develop their psychic abilities; the outcome is that they will be able to ‘read’  a poem in a sealed envelope. By this point, they are ‘buzzing’ – another of Hwyel’s favourite concepts.

I then explain that before exercising their psychic powers and using muscles in the mind that we rarely exercise (cross curricular connections with science?),  it is important to limber up our minds, just as they would in PE (another cross curricular link?). I then display the following words on the board:

carrot, cabbage, onion, broccoli, plum.

This is a starter activity that I have pinched from Helen Dunmore and you can find it here. Pupils have to identify the odd one out in the list. The obvious candidate is ‘plum’, because it is the only fruit, but the trick is to get them to think about any other possible odd ones out. For instance, ‘onion’ is the only one that begins with a vowel. The key is that there is no ‘right’ answer. I then display the next list and the pupils go through the same process:

happiness, wedding cake, bride, bouquet, coffin.

Odd ones out could include ‘happiness’, because it is an abstract noun, or ‘wedding cake’, because it is the only one that they can eat. There is usually some bright spark who identifies ‘funeral’ as the odd one out, because all the rest are connected with happiness. At which point, I ask them if any of them have ever been married?

Anyway, the activity works well, because of the element of competition and because it gets the pupils’ brains working  thinking about words and the way they can be categorised. It also, as Dunmore points out, nails the Literacy objectives for that lesson.

Next, I ask the pupils to take the sealed envelope, to close their eyes and to press the envelope to their foreheads, while concentrating and trying to visualise the poem. They ALL do this and I am filled with joy at the power I exert over these impressionable young minds ; ) But, seriously – is there anything better than being a teacher?

While they’ve been doing this, my helpers have been giving out envelopes filled with words. They do not know this (though some of them will suspect) , but they are the lexical or ‘content’  words from the poem in the envelope.  There are two ways of doing this. You can laboriously type the words of the poem into a table, leaving out ‘grammar’ words, like conjunctions and prepositions, into a table or you can feed the poem into a text ‘cruncher’ like this one at Teachit. However, you need Teachit works membership to access this. Failing that, I am sure that there are free text crunchers if you google for them.


all alone already away bed believe black blight book
both bottles call clear crime dad dead death disbelief
disconnected distance drop end ends gas get give gone
grief hear hot hour just kept key knew leather
life lock long look love mother name new number
off out pass phone popped raw renew risk rusted
same scrape she’d shopping side slippers soon still such
sure tea there’s time transport warming years


The next stage is for the pupils to gather the words into groups. They do this in pairs. The only rule is that they give their group of words a title. Working with the words in the table, they might identify groups of words with titles like ‘death’, ‘domesticity’ ‘loss’  or ‘time’. However, it also pays to advise them not to look for groups based on spelling or word types (abstract nouns), which they might be inclined to do, depending on how the starter activity panned out. You can differentiate by asking specific pairs to aim for a specific number of groups.

I generally allow ten to fifteen minutes for the completion of this task, after which they go pairs into fours to compare, agree and rank order the groupings that they are most pleased with. Next they feedback and, as a whole class,  we talk about the groupings: are there any surprising groups? Do they all ‘fit’ together?  Finally, we ask what a poem with these groups of words might be about.  Without realising it they are exploring the semantic field of the poem (the real learning intention).

The next step is for the pupils to use the words and their groupings to write at least five lines of ‘the’ poem. They are allowed to add additional words;  they do not have to use all of the words and they can change the tense. However, they must not attempt to rhyme. I allow them ten minutes to write without stopping. This tends to take the pressure off. After all, you can’t be expected to produce a masterpiece in ten minutes (see previous posts). Of course, if the energy is there, I allow it to run on.

Because the pupils are working with a poem ‘concentrate’ – a bit like undiluted orange squash, they write with more confidence and the results are usually very impressive. They get to experience a feeling of success. It is at this point that I ask them to open their envelopes and one pupil reads out:

Long Distance II by Tony Harrison

This poem works well because it is not too long, so the pupils will not be overwhelmed with words and there are a number of clear semantic fields.

I ask the class if any of their poems share similar ideas with the ‘real poem’ and there is always at least one poem that is close to the original. We talk about similarities and differences and then I ask why this should be the case. Is it down to psychic ability? By this time all of the pupils have caught on and it is easy to draw out the ‘real’ learning outcome – the concept of semantic field and the connection between semantic field and theme.

I have used this lesson with all key stages and have found that it delivers engagement, creativity and learning. You can, of course, discard the envelopes and the psychic window dressing and it works just as well.

Cross-posted from Let’s go to work…

Is this a cheap plastic shuttlecock I see before me?
January 26, 2013
So this all started when I read this genius tweet from genius @nicnacraph:
Yr12s prepare for Tabletop Shakespeare: using everyday objects to explore 'Twelfth Night' #PedagooFriday http://t.co/tx4CTeTC
Nic Raphael

This piqued my interest (curiosity may have killed the cat, but in between all of the gory felinicide it finds plenty of time to prod me into a bit of lesson planning), and a quick Google search took me to Be Stone No More, a project by the RSC involving actors performing ‘Table Top Shakespeare’. I won’t explain what this is, just have a look at these examples for yourself:

Romeo and Juliet performed by Sam Taylor


Hamlet performed by Nina Lampic


What a great way to get pupils to cement their understanding of a narrative’s plot, don’t you think? A lot more interesting than a fusty old card sort.

Director Tim Etchells, who created the idea, makes reference to using “a collection of banal materials and objects”, which suggests a disconnection between the objects and the characters. However, for those who like a bit of praxis and extended abstract thinking, ‘banal materials’ are an opportunity to make interesting connections with seemingly unconnected objects.

Having just looked at the story of Romeo and Juliet with my Year 11 class, I felt this was a perfect task to consolidate their understanding of the plot before moving onto textual analysis. With this in mind, I made a quick trip to the 99p shop with no other criteria than to find items that came in packets of 8 or more. Just under £15 lighter, I came back with this haul of ‘banal’ objects:

The ingredients of Heston's celebrated pound shop tat bouillabaisse


I then sorted this potpourri of cheap curios into 8 Table Top Shakespeare starter sets:

The global recession had really taken its toll on the traditional Academy Awards gift baskets


The lessons that resulted were quite simple. After arranging the pupils into groups of 3-4, I gave each group a sheet of sugar paper and a pen. As a nice recall starter, I asked each group to write down the names of as many characters from the play that they could remember. Inspired by the spirit of competition, cue groups huddled over sheets trying to protect the classified name of “that bloke who married them” and taking out super injunctions so that nobody in their group may utter the names of the Montague servants out loud for fear of other groups hearing this classified information.

Once we’d recapped and I’d broken the Official Secrets Act by asking them to share their lists with each other, I presented each group with their TTS starter kit. This group understand the SOLO levels, so were comfortable when I asked them to use extended abstract thinking to apply an object to each name. I asked them to think about how they can make links between the object and the character and to justify their choices. As these objects weren’t bought without conscious connections in mind – price was the only influencing factor – this is a nice use of praxis, or post rationalisation (the pupils are doing the work to justify the connections: I had no preconceived ideas about connections when I handed them out). I also urged them to root around in their pockets and bags for any other items that they wanted to use to bolster the kits.

The extended abstract connections were excellent and showed real understanding of character. I heard discussions where people had assigned a toothbrush to Lady Capulet as it symbolises health and care, only for others in the same group to argue that Nurse would fit that reasoning better and that a scourer should be Lady Capulet as she is only interested in the appearance of perfection. In other groups, Nurse was a plant pot because she nurtured Juliet and watched her grow, unlike her mum. A peg represented Friar Lawrence because he binds the lovers together through marriage. A plastic banana was Mercutio because he has a skewed look on love compared to Romeo. Romeo was seen as a packet of tissues “because he’s soppy” and a pineapple because “he’s soft inside”. Tybalt was a toy dinosaur or a soldier because of his aggression, and even a shuttlecock because… “well, he’s a cock, isn’t he sir?”

Table Top Shakespeare

We then looked at some clips from the videos above and I set them the task of creating their own 5-10 minute Table Top Shakespeare films. They planned this out ready to make their films during the next lesson. At the beginning of this next lesson, we did some work on speaking and listening success criteria. They were then given a video camera, a table, their boxes of objects and the lesson to produce their films. The pupils really threw themselves into the task and showed clear understanding of the plot of the play and how the narrative fits together as a whole. This will inform their textual analysis and help them support their ideas (particularly helpful with a discussion of foreshadowing) by reference to the wider text.

But why stop at Shakespeare? I’ll be using Table Top ‘Of Mice and Men’ and Table Top ‘An Inspector Calls’ to revise with GCSE classes in the future.

Pick of #PedagooFriday 25/1/13
January 25, 2013

I don’t know if the picks of the day reflect the personality of the picker, but if they do I must love roly-polies, quiet kids being loud, shy kids taking control, algebra murders and drunken security guards. Sounds about right, actually. Enjoy!!!

Finally, because I’m a big softie, here’s a Storify of all the unique #PedagooFriday tweets from today.  Enjoy.  I know I did.


Pedagoo… to Infinity and Beyond!
January 25, 2013


Above is just a tiny selection of tweets from teachers wanting to share great ideas from their week in the classroom. By teachers, for teachers, Pedagoo rocks! Pedagoo is the reason why I drove north (who knew there was anything further north than Newcastle) for five hours on a Saturday to join in with the very first Pedagoo Fringe event in Glasgow – I know it does not usually take that long…I got lost. It was more than worth the time and the weekend!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounded by like minded educators, all as thirsty as you are for new and exciting ideas to enhance their practice. It is this very enthusiasm, passion and excitement about the possibilities within our profession that make Pedagoo’s heart beat. We want more and more people to catch the Pedagoo fun bug so that each event brings together even more great educators and great ideas.

Whether it be collaboration through following and contributing to #PedagooFriday with your weekly classroom ideas, contributing to the blog at Pedagoo.org (new bloggers always welcome), joining in with #PedagooResolutions and contributing to the forums creating a focussed online TLC, your collaboration is wanted and will be well received.

Pedagoo originated in Scotland but its positivity is now reaching far and wide. I did offer to personally visit sunny Australia and spread the word there but it turns out that, thanks to our wonderful digital world…they have already received the message!

It does not matter if you are a student teacher, an NQT, a teacher, a member of SLT or even head of the school; perhaps you are a teacher from England, Scotland, Australia or Zimbabwe, it does not matter, Pedagoo wants you!

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

Digital portfolios for art college – Portfolio Oomph’s top 10 tips

From the www.portfolio-oomph.com blog – online hub covering all aspects of applying to art college.

Are your students applying for art college this year? Not all colleges interview every student anymore as the time, costs and organisation involved in this process is immense. Digital portfolios are the way to go!

Some of the colleges now require that you submit an digital portfolio or e-folio that is a representation of your work that is uploaded to their server. This is so that they can make an initial selection of students to interview, therefore if you pass through this selection process then you will be invited for interview. Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art both have this method in place as they struggle to cope with the large number of applicants all coming for interview now that you can make 5 choices of college on your UCAS application.

As we’ve been working with one of our mentoring students last week in finalising his digital portfolio for application to Glasgow School of Art we thought we’d share our top 10 tips for this part of the application.

1. Read the literature from each college on what they need to see for your digital portfolio  in terms of number of images, file size (memory kb etc.) and image size (pixels) – all will be different so you might not be able to use the same images for all the colleges you’re applying to.

2. Check that you’ve got enough work that sits in each category if they specify how many of each they want to see – for example in research, development, final images, time based work.

3. Check to see how they want to see time based work in your digital portfolio (video, film, animation), do they want stills or can you upload a link to Youtube, Vimeo or similar?

4. Take good photos or scans of your work, use lights or photograph outside it it’s light enough! Don’t use a flash if it makes a glare on your work. Focus, focus, focus!

5. If you can make a compilation of images then do so to enable you to include as much as possible in this digital portfolio. You might need to use an image manipulation programme such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements here to get a professional look.

6. If you can upload a piece of text that goes with each image in your digital portfolio to explain it a little do so. Don’t just describe what it is, talk about your ideas, the project and how it fulfills the brief.

7. Don’t upload images that are too small so that when they are viewed they need to be magnified. This will result in pixelisation and really poor quality images. This won’t do your work any justice at all.

8. Seek help of your teachers, technicians or parents, friends etc. who have some digital skills to help you make the very best job of this. If you mess up on this digital portfolio you won’t get a chance to demonstrate face to face why they should be taking you on the course.

9. Don’t leave it to the last minute to upload your digital portfolio as there might be technical issues outwith your control that leave you unable to submit your images to the colleges for their deadline.

10. Final review, does your digital portfolio do your work justice – honestly? If not, re-photograph your work until it does.

Good luck in this first part of your application. Anyone reading who’s already done it? Please give us some feedback on how it’s gone for you!

Visit www.portfolio-oomph.com for more information and resources on applying to art college.

Life Near the Equator

Hello to all at Pedagoo!

I’m currently a UK teacher living in Rwanda and am running an international project you may be interested in. I am volunteering for the next 2 years with Voluntary Service Overseas and will be based in a teacher training centre – training teachers and working in and visiting local rural schools. I will be living in Byumba high in the Rwandan hills.

This is an amazing opportunity for intercultural understanding and I have written a set of online resources available at www.life-near-the-equator.co.uk about distant locality learning and global citizenship based on these experiences. I have also written a curriculum using the current National Curriculum (which can be updated as and when) and based on important principles of 21st century distant locality learning which schools can request. These ideas and curriculum information can be found on my website:

Teaching resources – http://www.life-near-the-equator.co.uk/teaching-resources.html
Curriculum resources – http://www.life-near-the-equator.co.uk/curriculum-resources.html
Project for schools – http://www.life-near-the-equator.co.uk/project-offer-for-schools.html

Schools can use the online resources and follow my blog. Much of my research in my classroom over the last few years has been surrounding enquiry-based learning. Therefore I have created a space on my website where schools involved in the project can send me questions about daily life and culture and I am hoping the children’s questions will lead my blog posts. I will respond to them in my blog posts and will hopefully get the children in Rwanda to involved too.

All the information is available at www.life-near-the-equator.co.uk

Many thanks

Elizabeth Barnes

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