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Bringing Children’s Rights into the Classroom [Scotland only]

Are you looking for a way to incorporate Getting it Right for Every Child into your classroom?

Child Rights Launchpad by Unicef UK aims to help you do this. Launchpad is a ready-to-use, Scotland specific resource that promotes learning about rights and supports the Curriculum for Excellence. It covers all 42 articles of the UNCRC directly relating to children and, best of all, this award-winning resource is completely FREE to use!

Don’t just take our word for how good it is, the resource is currently being used by teachers all over Scotland and they’ve been quick to praise Launchpad:

“We have introduced all our S1 pupils to Launchpad and it has definitely increased the pupils’ knowledge of Child Rights.  One great aspect of the resource is its focus on personalisation and choice.  I have also found it a helpful reference as a teacher and have used it to look up information on specific rights which I have then used in my lessons.”

Mrs. Hoyle, Teacher at Douglas Academy, East Dumbarton

See what other teachers (and children) had to say about Launchpad in this short video:


What to expect?

Launchpad is designed at three different levels, broadly aimed at the following age bands:

  • Level 1: three to seven-year-olds;
  • Level 2: eight to 12-year-olds; and
  • Level 3: 13 to 18-year-olds.

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Example of the site’s content.

At each level the ‘missions’ follow the same format. The exploration begins with an introduction to the right, before considering it in a Scottish context. The focus then switches to an international setting, exploring how the right is enjoyed in one or more countries around the world, followed by a related activity. Finally, the ‘mission’ is finished with an interactive quiz and a star for the ‘Super You’ character. After six missions each child or young person receives a certificate.

Detailed Guidance for Adults is available on the website- this will provide you with all the information you need about the resource. It’ll also help you to plan how you use Launchpad in your lessons.

Creating your free account is incredibly easy, simply follow this link, We’re confident that you’ll be glad you did – just remember to encourage your colleagues to create their accounts too!


ICT and Languages Conference 2016 #ililc6


It was not without a little trepidation that I headed to Dorking from Glasgow for my first #ililc event hosted by @joedale and @helenmyers at Ashcombe School Language College, sponsored by Sanako making it a free event for the first time, hence why I made the effort. Would my two tablets and smartphone connect, download the necessary apps and not show me up as still being at entry-level with regard to the wonders of the tablet-world? Would everyone be appsmashing over coffee as I remembered I’d forgotten to charge my gadgets? But no, I needn’t have worried, MFL teachers really are the best. Being a subject with communication and openness at its heart, MFL teachers are a chatty lot and so happy to share experiences.

Knowing Joe Dale’s inimitable style, we were all poised to keep up with his full-on whistle-stop tour of apps and websites as he set up a todaysmeet for us to post live comments on, as well as opening up a ‘top tech takeaway padlet, with Chrome ‘talk and comment’, ultratext and Speakpipe add-ons.I could have gone home happy after that first half-hour but there were four sessions with three presentations to choose from in each so, focussing on cross-platform sessions as we are not an ipad school, off I headed to Session 1 ‘Apps r us’ with Amanda Salt.

I would love to be in one of Amanda’s classes, her enthusiasm is infectious and the range of apps and websites she uses brings learning alive in so many ways. Far too many to list but a couple of key ideas I’ve taken away and have already used are

  • quizletlive which has engaged bottom set S3s (Y9), tested Higher Spanish (Y11) on the preterite describing a past holiday, and focused Higher French on the passé composé, (quizizz  and quizalize are similar)
  • creating a Department ‘brand’ to tag everything you create and share/upload

Some of the apps were ipad-only but looked great. I’m also the process of creating a loooooong list of website to request be unblocked by the authority firewall, sigh.

Session 2 was with Serena Dawson creating a storybook on the lines of a russian doll with layers, inserting audio Speakpipe again and sharing student work on Googledrive. I also loved the simplicity but attractiveness of pic collage  but have yet to access it in school. Serena gave the first mention to qr codes and how she sticks them in jotters for parents to access their children’s recordings.

Teaching in a school on the south coast in a community hosting a large number of refugee families, she also spoke with passion about inclusive education and making the MFL curriculum more relevant to current events by using websites such as 1jour1actu, which I do use with my Higher classes. The site has great cartoon video clips explaining all manner of questions sent in by French children. As I write this, today’s question/clip is ‘Why do we do tests at school?‘.

Session 3 was hosted by one of Ashcombe’s teachers, Anna Sichla, with different uses for apps/websites previously mentioned, in additions to  Zondle to make games, Kahoot  for more quizzes, using Vocaroo to generate a url to in turn generate a QR code. Anna is a big fan of youtubing and explained how to use Powtoon , although I think that’s one step too far for me just now. I’d love to use Chatterkid app but sadly it’s ipad only.

With my mind whirling I headed to Session 4 with Aurélie Charles on using Google apps for education. Very much a hands-on session with a helpful interactive ticklist of tasks to work through as she explained different aspects, allowing us to work at our own pace.

Short walk to the hotel and feet up for half an hour before heading back for the evening’s pizza and ‘show and tell’. Us MFL teachers are totally committed to our job! Amongst other presentations,

  • Charlie showcased the website for a school exchange he’s launching on Monday (before heading off to run the London Marathon!)
  • Alison described a very effective transition day, themed around arriving at an airport then taking a plane, with departments across the school contributing a linked activity. It sounded wonderful!
  • Jonathan described how his school has signed up to Global Learning through Global Dimension . Also how, post Y9 options, he keeps  pupils engaged by them making primary MFL language games.
  • Rachel shared ideas for making learning relevant by describing a module on ‘a new school for the Jungle’, the migrant camp in Calais.
  • Joe couldn’t resist playing with msqrd , another video/audio tool to take the focus of speaking for pupils, but serving an educational purpose.
  • David explained how he has built up a popular Duolingo club, celebrating the success of pupils at assemblies.
  • Maxime, and NQT, shared images of a practical homework he set which surprised him by how engaged pupils became, the task being to cook a French dish and photograph/record it.  Some of the pupils had gone to great lengths to produce the food and images.

At 9pm I headed back to my hotel, shattered, but of course I had to start trying out some of my new ideas…

Sunday morning’s first session was with Annalise Adam on QR codes. Inspiring isn’t the word! She showed very clearly how to use QR code generators such as Kaywa or qr-code-generator to link to websites. She gave a practical demonstration of how she created a simple listening exercise by recording German weather phrases on Vocaroo , generating QR codes and posting them around the room for us to scan, identify the weather and note down. Pupils could then use Padlet  to post key phrases as a plenary. So simple but so effective and engaging! Annalise also uses QR codes to bring worksheets to life.

Putting learning into practice.

  • The #ililc6 weekend totally re-energised me. I emailed my Headteacher before I got on the plane home, evangelising the wonders of ICT (when the internet isn’t buffering, the sun isn’t shining on my interactive whiteboard and the websites aren’t blocked) and offering to run a school Teachmeet.
  • Once I got home, I created a departmental poster of QR codes linking to activity websites such as Linguascope, reference sites we use such as Word Reference  and exam support via SQA . Copied, laminated and distrubuted Monday at coffee!
  • This week’s DM was dedicated to a handful of ideas and I intend for us to focus on one idea per month so staff don’t feel overwhelmed but they’re used to me getting carried away with ideas. Some staff have already tried out some of the new ideas and love them, as do their pupils.
  • Having been inspired Serena and Annalise, I created a powerpoint for my Higher French class on the death of Prince and also of David Bowie earlier this year, using QR codes to link to French tv news reports and a 1jour1actu cartoon clip on Bowie. P2 Monday morning was maybe a bit early for my poor Highers to appreciate my even more energetic enthusiasm for my new ‘toys’, but they too used to be getting over-excited now and then.
  • Quizlet live has been a big success and colleagues are similarly enthused.
  • We subscribe to textivate  and when I created an activity this week, I remembered to give it the dept tag ‘invacad’ so it’s easy to find again.

I really can’t emphasise how much I appreciated this weekend, it has easily been the best cpd-event I’ve ever attended and has had an immediate impact on my teaching practice and a knock-on effect on my colleagues. I’m fairly new to Twitter and have been using our Department account @invacadmfl to share the #ililc6 love. Thank you @JoeDale!


Using iMovie Trailers Across the Curriculum (#PedagooPerth Conversation)
Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 17.26.27

I first became aware of the idea of making book trailers about 3 years ago when the Scottish Book Trust launched a book trailer competition to coincide with the Scottish Book Trust Awards.  At that time I had a number of boys in P7 who were at that difficult stage of trying to find new books that were ‘cool’ enough to really get into.  The Scottish Book Trust Awards take place every year and are a great way of discovering new authors and due to the voting timescale it gives the pupils a clear deadline to work towards.  Essentially book trailers are exactly the same as film trailers but are created to encourage people to read books.  The group were enthralled with the book ‘Black Tide’ and were keen to encourage others to read it, after introducing the trailer concept to them they couldn’t wait to get started.  You can see the rather unnerving trailer here https://youtu.be/TSG0iLgZK6s

The key literacy skills involved link nicely with reciprocal reading strategies http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/ReciprocalReadingGuide_tcm4-812956.pdf and also the skill of visualisation.  There is a really useful resource aimed at pupils aged 9+ I’ve included the link  below. http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/learning/learning-resources/resource/how-to-create-book-trailers-video-series Over the past couple of years I have adapted the activities to suit younger pupils too.

You can use any film making approach to creating your trailers however the simplest one I have found is the ‘trailer’ section of the free iMovie app on an iPad.  It handles all the formatting and sound and you just add your content, words, still pictures and short clips of video.  Deciding which theme to use is also a great way for the pupils to think about what genre the book is so they can use a relevant theme for their trailer.  Initially I had encouraged the groups to fill in blank story boards to plan out their trailers however the formatting for iMovie Trailers is quite specific so I was delighted to find that someone had already created a set of storyboards linked to the themes! http://learninginhand.com/blog/2014/8/6/plan-a-better-imovie-trailer-with-these-pdfs

We have included book trailers as part of our literacy programme each year using the shortlisted books for the Scottish Book Trust.  This year I have a much younger class, P1-6 with the majority being in P1-3, we went through the same process looking at examples of trailers, picking out the things we liked and things we would change.  P4/6 had the task of creating the storyboard, they then passed it on to P3 who had to interpret their storyboard and direct P1/2 in acting out the scenes.  You can view the result here https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/pk/GrandtullyPrimary/2015/11/27/book-week-scotland/

Trailers are clearly an excellent way of developing key skills in literacy and discussing the language of film, however I think there are many more uses across the curriculum and at all stages of learning.  Last year we created a trailer as part of our transition programme where pupils were encouraged to think about what learning & responsibilities  lay ahead for them.  We also filmed our new P1 pupils so they could see themselves as part of the school.  This was then shown at our celebration of success.  Similar to this we created a trailer to show parents what the planned topic was for the next term, this was also to get pupils thinking about what we needed to plan and what skills we might need to develop. https://youtu.be/J2QtXNe2DqY

During the sessionat #PedagooPerth there was great discussion about how the trailers could be used across a range of subjects and stages e.g. as a summary of learning in Modern Languages, to highlight skills taught in a project, transition work, to promote clubs, activities and experiences that some pupils can be unsure about and even to publicise the next Pedagoo event!

How could you use this in your setting?

If you would like any further information on how we’ve enjoyed creating trailers please get in touch.  CMGibson@pkc.gov.uk


ICT enhanced teaching and learning: digital pedagogy.

At the moment I am undertaking some design and teaching work for UCL IOE on behalf of the Government of Macedonia. I am fortunate to be part of a small team developing a training program for the Macedonian Secondary Teachers ITT course and as part of this group am leading on ICT enhanced teaching and learning and Creative teaching. Below are my initial thoughts concerning ICT enhanced teaching and learning or ‘digital pedagogy’.

Why do we need ICT enabled teaching and learning and what is its relationship with effective learning?

It is my belief that learning results from an active process of engagement with learning in order to achieve premeditated goals (Ireson, 2008; Resnich, 1987). This process is enabled through cognitive and physical interactions between three dimensions of learning, content, incentive and environment, (Illeris, 2007) with the environment conceptualised as a tri-directional relationship between rules, tools and community, shaping the activation, direction and nature of learning (Engestrom, 1987, 2009). As in the cases of an active, critical and creative pedagogy, ICT enabled teaching and learning and a possible digital pedagogy should reflect this articulation of effective learning.

Students beginning their secondary level education will never have lived in a world without the internet or computers. Those in primary level education will never have experienced a world without smart phones. Such rapid advances have arguably revolutionised the way in which we learn, play communicate and socialise (Mouza and Lavigne 2013). This Net Gen (Tapscott, 2008) have Grown up Digital (Tapscott, 2009) and with this have developed a capacity to engage with the multimedia landscape, without being fully conscious of such a process, in such a way as to become more knowledgeable and skilled.

A utopian view of digitally enhanced self-directed learning (such as that championed by Sugata Mitra) is not the consensus. Many signal warnings with relation to digitally enhanced learning outside and within the classroom (see for example Bauerlein, 2008; and Twenge, 2006). Without seeking to undermine the well constructed arguments of the critics of digitally enhanced learning, I am confident that educators were equally concerned when chalk boards and textbooks were introduced into the classroom for the very first time. Whatever our sense or personal opinion about this new culture, as educators we can not ignore its existence or its obvious value and potential for enhancing effective learning. This is particularly true when it is evidently such an important aspect of the rapidly changing youth environment (Weigel et. al., 2010) and a symbiotic facet of our post modern knowledge society (see for example Long, 1990; Field, 2000; Skidmore, 2003; Alheit, 2009 for a discussion of how education systems need to respond to global economic and social change). To prepare through a formal education for an unknown future a creative pedagogy which empowers learners, is required. ICT enabled teaching and learning, what may be called a digital pedagogy, would be an example of such a creative approach to teaching and learning relevant to todays student learners. Such a pedagogy should be based on 1: understanding how new digital media can complement or enhance effective learning processes 2: how new digital media skills can be taught through an adapted curriculum and 3: a sustainable capacity to harness technology and new digital media to enhance all functions of the ‘teacher’.

What is ICT enabled teaching and learning?

According to Halverson and Smith (2010) Technologies for Learning are generic tools that define learning goals, develop structures to guide students, and in some cases provide measures of learning outcomes regardless of motivation or the ability of individual learners (see for example Khan Academy and MOOCS). Technologies for learners emphasise student agency by allowing learners to select their own route through their learning journey. These have begun to be increasingly prevalent in out of school contexts. Yet the enabled teacher could seek to enhance their practice and the learning of others by adopting such technologies within classrooms, forming a greater interface between the learner and the duel facilitator (teacher and technology). Bridging formal and informal learning contexts through augmentation of the digital and physical classroom could stimulate the most effective forms of learning. These digital technologies which support effective learning could be separated into 4 areas: Technologies that support,

  • Learning to understand and create;
  • Learning by collaboration;
  • Anytime, anyplace learning; and
  • Learning by Gaming (Mouza and Lavigne, 2013).

In addition to technologies for learning and learners, differing models of the relationship between humans and the digital domain where learning, of some form, happens can be conceptualised. The ‘Solarian model’ (Sternberg, 2010) of people in isolation learning online, a second model of distance learning where learners nominally work with unseen others, a third model of students working physically together in a 1:1 technology rich classroom undertaking lessons presented online, a fourth model of ICT enabled interactive group-inquiry taking place within a classroom environment where physical and online interactions can take place and a fifth ‘blended’ model where a fluid (solo-local-global) relationship of learning networks with pre-meditated and/or collaboratively co-constructed goals emerge (see for example the investigation into the causes of SARS in 2003). For the classroom teacher seeking to develop a digital pedagogy the above models may be considered but the most effective practitioners of a digital pedagogy will be those that collaboratively construct models relevant to their own contexts.

An effective framework has been developed by Law et. al. (2011) which can be used to model, implement, assess and evaluate levels of innovativeness within six dimensions of ICT enabled teaching innovation. These dimensions of Learning objectives, Teacher’s role(s), Students’ role(s), ICT used, Connectedness, and Multiplicity of learning outcomes exhibited, reflect features of professional practice within the online and physical classroom. Application of such practices combined with an understanding of the technologies and models of an applied ICT enhanced approach to teaching and learning is what is commonly being called a ‘Blended Learning’ methodology.

How do we enable a digital pedagogy? 

Plomp, Brummelhuis and Rapmund (1996) discuss the concept of emergent pedagogical practices arising out of the implementation of ICT within classroom based teaching and learning. They consider issues related to the management of change associated with integrating ICT into teaching and learning. Process is not just adoption of new technologies. The process must also, if it is to be sustainable and highly effective, produce new learning outcomes and new ‘creative’ modes of learning. Exposure to good practice case studies and the creative use of digital tools such as the Google Apps package or the educational use of so called ‘learning platforms’ is vital, but to impose ‘off the peg’ solutions such as IWB’s (see the 2007 IOE study) or expecting digital literacy from educators would fail to create an ecologically sustainable model of digital practice within education. This process of innovation is gradual and must begin with ITT and maintained throughout the lifespan of an educators professional practice. The approach outlined by Law et. al. (2011) should be coupled with,

  • ongoing teacher exposure to existing innovative practices;
  • awareness of developments in new digital media and technology;
  • the creation of an enabling environment for creativity and innovation; and, fundamentally
  • a teachers capacity to ask the question How will this enable and enhance the most effective learning?

Tools such as those developed by Law et. al. (2011) and an application of a taxonomy of digital and information literacies linked to Bloom’s Taxonomy,  such as that developed by Beetham and Sharpe (2013), would begin a learning focused engagement with ICT enhanced teaching and learning. To direct training and ‘innovation’ is ‘to do to’, but to empower and enable an educator to direct their own engagement with ICT enabled teaching and learning would reap a more fruitful digital pedagogy.

As has been discussed in previous articles on this site it is flexibility within teachers and within school systems which enables creativity in teaching, and what is more creative than coopting technologies and new digital media to the pursuit of organised effective learning? Without flexibility, trust and the promotion of teacher agency, measured risks can’t be taken; with risk central to creativity (Cleeland, 2012). Enabling teaching professionals, through training and support, to have a growth mindset (Dweck, 2012), to develop their own agency for enhanced professional practices (Priestly et al., 2012) and empowering them to form and use collaborative networks in order to enable a sustained application of a digital pedagogy are vital.

Join Me
December 15, 2015

As mentioned in my previous post, I am one of our school’s digital leaders and super excited about all things technological, especially if they enhance the learning. Sadly, I have seen ICT being used one too many times in a way that seems like a ‘bolt on’ to the lesson, simply because it’s there or because it seems super modern and seems to add the WOW factor. But unfortunately, in my experience, when used in this way it is pointless and detracts from, or slows down the learning process. I’m a wholehearted believer that ICT should be engaged with and used, but only when it’s integrated into the learning and the opportunity calls for it.

The past few years, I have needed to use ICT increasingly during my time in my current school to support children who have visual impairment. ICT is the key for them to access their learning. Fonts can be increased to a suitable size at the flip of a button, spacing altered, background colour….the list goes on. I have had children who can take a snap shot of something on the board, using their ipad, and zoom in and out as they need to. I could provide them with endless ‘altered’ work – in fact, as a team we were – but the ICT has given them power to access learning for themselves. We of course, still adapt where needed.

One of the tools we have been looking into more is Apple TV, in order to connect what is happening on the board with the ipads. This is taking some time, with a variant of IT difficulties. In the meantime, we have found an amazing resource called Join Me.

Join Me is an online meeting space. It is free. It allows me, with a click of a button, to enable anybody to see what is on my board, via their smart device, laptop or computer. This has proved particularly useful for my children with additional needs! But it has supported the learning immensely in the classroom, by just making what is on the board more accessible for all children. It has allowed me to organise groups and the space better, so that when groups are off working, they still have all they need right in front of them.

Signing up, allows an icon to appear on your desktop. Double click on it and you will see this.


I have selected my ‘handle’ above (which is what the children type into the address bar) and click play.

Then you will see this presentation page:


The first button, allows you to instantly share what is on your screen. The second allows you see participants. The fourth button, allows you to record, annotate and erase what you can see on the screen before you, allowing your participants to ‘participate’!

It is brilliant – do check it out. This is a new resource for me and whilst it has been enormously supportive of learning so far, I know I have probably just scrapped the barrel.



As one of our digital leaders at school, responsible for raising our digital prowess and use of technology to enhance learning (rather than just a bolt on), I am often asked what are my most recommended apps/tools to use in the classroom. I am by no means an expert – in fact, quite late to the technological game when it comes to it being integrated into the classroom. I have learnt a great deal from experts in the field, such as Mr P ICT and Rob Smith (founder of Literacy Shed). As an avid fan of all things technological, I spend my CPD time learning from them and gleaning whatever I can from the trail they, and others, have carved out. So, with all that in mind, I apologise now if anything I share might be ‘old news’ for you.

My favourite at the moment is ‘Blendspace’, which does exactly as it says on the tin – blend the ‘digital’ space with that of your classroom. I have found this tool invaluable with any children I teach (KS1 – KS2). It allows me to create a digital pinboard, for the children to access online content that I have chosen and selected beforehand. I have used QR codes for a while (another post to come) to allow children to quickly access a website, without having to enter in the inordinately long address. When I have needed them to access multiple websites, I have given them multiple QR codes, which in its essence, is fine. Except there is something better. Blendspace.

You can access this website (soon to be an app also, I hear) through your TES account. If you don’t have one of those….you’d be the first teacher I’ve met who doesn’t. Go get one! It’s free and is a whole remarkable resource all of its own. I don’t have time to unpack the genius of this place here and now. Alternatively, you can just sign up for Blendspace.

Blendspace allows me to compile any digital content that I want in one central place for the children to access. I can upload directly from TES, Google, Youtube, images….etc.

Here is a screen grab of a lesson I delivered a few weeks back to Year 6 on Charles Darwin. I wanted them to research, using the questions they had generated. By ‘googling’ Charles Darwin, they would have spent too much time sifting through to find relevant KS2 appropriate information. Here, I provided it for them.


Here you can see that I found a PDF, links to websites and a video, through the search function on the right. I then just clicked and dragged into the available boxes on the left. Here, all the research resources they need are in one location. Now, for them to access this ‘digital lesson’ I have done one of two things. Either:

1 – Used the link above as a hyperlink on our class blog. I tend to do this if I want them to access this outside of school.

2 – Clicked on the green ‘share’ button at the top and then copied and pasted the QR code onto a document. I usually display this on the board, or print off for tables. All our children have access to ipads and so can scan the QR code, which will take them to what you can see above.

Saying that – it isn’t the longer address and they could type it into the address bar. Not my first choice, but not a problem either.

Once created, I named my lesson and it became forever in my library of lessons. Others can access it too, if they search for ‘Charles Darwin’. On that note, if you click on ‘blendspace’ at the top, it will take you back to your dashboard – your homepage, if you will. From here, you can search for lessons that already exist, that others have made. Super useful.

You could differentiate the ‘lesson’ by creating a different pinboard for each group. I have also used it in a carousel activity, when I needed multiple stations, each with different research. My students have also used this to create ‘lessons’ on a topic they researched for Home Learning, to make the websites/resources they used available to all. After we have finished, the QR codes are added to the display board, for anyone to continue to research in their own time. A number do.

I was using this before we purchased iPads. Whilst I believe they do make it smoother, they are not essential to using this excellent tool.

I used this weekly in some capacity or another, in a range of lessons throughout the curriculum. Sometimes, it has just been set up as a station for those who are ready for challenge/early morning work, with websites to SPAG revision, phonics games etc. We have even used it to upload the children’s actual work, be it writing, calculations or art work, so that it can be seen by others (parents, children, teacher) all in one place – a gallery of learning.

If you are already using it, I would love to hear about other ways you have used it, whatever your setting. If you haven’t, please let me know if you started using it and what you thought of it. My staff were really excited to discover this and have found it invaluable already. I hope it is for you too.  Happy blending!

Dealing with Teens and Online Privacy Issues
November 17, 2015


Recently in a middle school poster contest, an eleven-year-old won with her very clear, very concise and very true words emblazoned in bold lettering: The Internet is public; The Internet is forever. She also wore the words painted on her t-shirt and it had many participants and educators talking. If her words rang so true, why do some teen still expect a degree of privacy in such a vast world of technology invading their daily existence, and should they?

Often parents are faced with the insistence from their teens: “I want more privacy”. This used to mean a private place to talk on the phone, or insisting a visitor knocks before entering a closed bedroom door. But today, teens are talking about more freedom with their technology devices. They don’t want parents to know their passwords on Facebook and Twitter, or to “friend” them and know their communication with others is being monitored. It used to be relatively easy to monitor browsing when the family computer was in a centralized location. But with all the handheld devises today, teens can get online anywhere – on the bus, at the mall, and even alone I their “private space” bedrooms.

Advocates of effective parenting skills insist that parents or guardians always be aware of all their child’s passwords, access, user identifications and anything else as they navigate the online world. When a teen refuses monitoring, that’s usually a good sign it needs to be watched. We want to trust our children, and to help them to grow to behave like responsible adults, but his trust can be risky. The Internet provides plenty of instant risk, as easy as pushing a button.

Technocracy writer and advocate Phil Elmore makes some serious points about how much privacy to allow your child with regards to using the Internet, particularly surfing sites that are inappropriate, violent and pornographic. “The solution is NOT to throw up your hands and decide that, if they’re going to do it, they might as well do it in the safety of your home. That’s weak parenting. It’s the abdication of your responsibility. You MUST do everything you can to slow them down, to monitor as much as possible, even if you can’t stop them completely and you can’t see it all.” He makes parents aware, as does Julie Rovolo, writing for Forbes, who contends: “pornography comprises fully 4 percent of all websites. That number may not impress you until you consider just how many websites there are. There are perhaps a trillion websites on the Internet.” Pornography is the most prolific of Internet material your child will likely encounter, often without your monitoring.

At school, teachers and administrators also want to develop a degree of trust among the students with regards to appropriate use of the Internet and degrees of privacy. A degree of respect for the world of the teenager and a striving to change the environment that helps educate young people should include more understanding about what and how they think, feel and act. Teens in particular will always seek privacy as they explore their world without the watchful eyes of adults.

Elementary Principal and education blogger Peter deWitt points out four categories that help break down the need for privacy in the age of social media. The first of these is Persistence; knowledge that teens have that today everything has the capability of being recorded and retrieved …and can linger, or haunt forever. Secondly he discusses Replicability, which we know as the simple ability to cut, paste, record, and plagiarize. Teachers have had to teach the use of a plagiarism checker as an assessing tool more regularly. Thirdly, Search-ability make the whole world visible and content readily accessible. And finally, Scale-ability he defines as the scope of sharing, and the infinity of an audience. Social media, especially for teens, makes this the fastest form of gossip available.

There is room for all this technology in education, even if at times it can feel invasive to students and educators alike. Teens in particular can be taught that they can choose, through their words, what they want to privatize, and what they want to publicize. They are keenly aware that their schools and homes are under the watchful eyes of adult, controlled situations, but within these walls there are still places where privacy can be granted.

Social media may blur what is public and what is private, as communication always has been. Privacy can also be attained to some degree through control of situations. Even in a place as public as shopping mall, a teen will feel they can have a private conversation without scrutiny, perhaps more than in the privacy of their own home. As tech research Danah Boyd summarizes, and perhaps may be the next poster published by a middle-schooler : “The Internet is Public by default, Private by Effort”.

Sources :

Google Classroom…the new IT silver bullet?

The goal: going paperless. Why? Not only is it better for the environment but it prevents me from *misplacing* those pieces of paper without names that were handed to me in the corridor period 9 on a Friday and aids easy tracking of progress.

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Year 11 google classroom header

I have been using Google Classroom with my Year 11 class since the 16th of June and introduced it to my Year 10 and A Level groups at the start of this school year. I had previously been using Edmodo which had been working well, however, with Google Drive being such an integral part of my teaching life it seemed stupid not to give Google Classroom a go.

How does it work?

For those of you familiar with Edmodo it is similar in many ways – you provide your class with a code to access the classroom page. This is all done through the google sign in details. You can post announcements (which can include links to websites, images or document attachments) and create assignments that are submitted via the student’s google drive.

The pros:

  • It allows for easy marking and editing of pieces of work that are submitted as google docs (tip: it is essential that students submit the documents as a Google Doc rather than a Microsoft Word document if you would like to edit or comment on it). The comments are seen down the side of the page and the student can then resolve them as they act on the piece of work.
  • It is easy to add missed worksheets or PowerPoints onto the page from my own Google Drive.
  • I can see the comments I have made on work previously submitted by a student and the mark that was given – this is lost when marking work on paper as the comment is returned with the students so it is difficult to verify whether the student has acted upon the feedback given.
  • Google drive is already an integral part of many workplaces.
  • It is easy to use and follows a similar format to Google Drive

The cons:

  • If your students do not already use Google Doc/Google Drive to store and complete work it can be quite an adjustment for them to get used to completing work in this format rather than in Microsoft Word.
  • Using Google Classroom is reliant on being connected to the internet – if you do not have access to a good internet connection either at school or at home it may not be for you.
  • For the marking and commenting process to be time efficient you should be comfortable typing and reading work from a screen.

For me, Google Classroom has made my marking both more efficient and effective and has worked in seamlessly with the way I already use Google Drive. Whilst it may not be an educational ‘silver bullet’ it may just save you some time (which we all need some more of) and seems to be one of the best ‘virtual classroom’ spaces available at the moment.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions about how Google Classroom works or how I have implemented it with my classes!


This is posted later than I planned but the rugby took precedent on Saturday night (What a game!) then life during the week happened.

I had my first experience of #pedagoo last weekend at #PedagooWorcs. Nervous and excited were just some of the great, albeit conflicting, feelings I felt before the ‘event’. I was originally asked to present by @DuncanSKing and although not having been to a Pedagoo event and only been to one TeachMeet I said, ‘Yes’.

I did my research before hand. I spoke, and am thankful, to Mark Anderson and Lee Parkinson for their time to discuss their thoughts on whether my topic and style was okay.

I planned my talk on the new Computing Curriculum and whether it was fit for purpose. What I meant by this statement was:

*Is there more to the Computer Curriculum than coding?

*Are we doing enough to prepare the children for the future?

*Is the rounded/balanced enough to be relevant in today’s world, and more importantly the future?

I set up (Well got my DLs to set up!) the iPads on the Friday. Now with the talk planned I arrived at Saturday’s event where I met @SBHSMissTaylor and @MurphieGirl and checked the room where I was to later present. At this point I discovered that the iPads had been used Friday afternoon and now needed setting up again; ah well the best laid plans! Once ready I joined my fellow #PedagooWorcs compatriots for a drink.

We were given a keynote talk from @DrMattoLeary where we encouraged to take all the positives from the day’s work event and similar TeachMeet events and to also take the power reclaiming and redefining your own CPD/PPD. I enjoyed the rest of the morning’s sessions and learned from other primary and senior school teachers.

The day passed quickly and then it was my turn. Well, what could have gone wrong went wrong! First the projector screen would not display the whole presentation screen and then Reflector would not show or sync with the iPads. Once ‘fixed’ and my blushing calmed down the session moved along quickly. I feel this is such an important of the day; I was very pleased to be able to share my thoughts and ideas and I feel all there were receptive and engaged. It was great!

I, personally feel, digital literacy must be given higher esteem in all our teaching.  There is the clamour for the teaching of coding and 85% of all our children’s jobs have not been created but not all will ‘code’ but all WILL have to use social media, email, video conferencing, computers  These ‘sharing’ skills are the ones that need to be looked at too.

Much was gained and I look forward to taking the idea forward and presenting and sharing again. If you have never been to a TeachMeet or Pedagoo event I wholeheartedly recommend them. As I said, ‘Been there, done that, loved it!


A new Digital Learning resource #digilearnscot
September 23, 2015
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Today sees the launch of a new resource to support the development of Digital Learning in Scotland: digilearn.scot

Supported by a new twitter account, the new Digital Learning Community website aims to support teachers to share digital practice and discuss digital learning and teaching. It’s a well designed, and open, site which has three main components: Talking Points, Sharing Zone and News & Events.

sharingzoneAs well as viewing the content, teachers are encouraged to contribute to the site and submit their own content. What’s great is that this is really easy to do. There’s no login required, no password to remember, just a really simple form with lots of spaces to include your links. Although it has been developed for Scottish teachers, the site is completely open and contributions are welcome from outwith Scotland.

So if you’ve found a great digital learning resource, or have got something to say about digital learning, get yourself over to digilearn.scot and join in.

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