Trilby TV v4 – What’s New?

It would not be an exaggeration to say that adopting Trilby TV has had a huge impact on teaching and learning at our school. We adopted Trilby in September 2017 and since then, our digital signage has burst into life with pupil work and achievements brightening our corridors every single day.  Furthermore, our staff room has become a hub of information and ideas now we can direct specific content to the newly fitted plasma TV that adorns one of the walls.

Even sharing the daily schedule has become a breeze! What once was a laborious task of turning on an ancient laptop stored in a filing cabinet, waiting 10 minutes for it to load and then entering the details via an auto-playing PowerPoint, is now a quick and simple part of my daily routine. I remotely update using Google Slides, and with the related HTML embedded within Trilby, the updates appear instantly on the Trilby TV.

Our marketing department have also seized the opportunity to regenerate the screen in our main school reception; posting student work, activities and news from across the school whilst also advertising future events such as upcoming concerts, productions and Open Days.

Adding to all this excitement was February’s eagerly awaited Trilby TV v4 update, meaning the old App will no longer work. However, in the mean time before the new app arrives, the web app works wonderfully on iPads and others tablets too.

So, once we have logged into v4, what are the new features that we can look forward to?

1. New interface

First and foremost, we have a fantastic new interface to deal with.  As before, the + button allows us to add content, which can be in the form of videos, slideshows, twitter feeds, web content or a title screen. However, the overall layout is easier to navigate and the button design looks great too!

On the left hand sidebar you can (from the top down):

Return home,

See each individual player that is connected on your network,

Set up playlists,

Edit different categories,

Add and manage new users

Check permission groups and settings

Manage the system dashboard


You can also view the content of each individual channel by hitting the settings button in the top left hand corner.

2. Twitter Feed and Title Screen Colours

Another great new feature allows users to add different colours to their twitter feeds and title screens. This is very pleasing aesthetically, especially when selecting colours that, for example, link with ones Twitter avatar. I have included an example here from our main school account.

 3. Editing Slide Shows

A minor gripe with previous version of Trilby TV was the inability to edit the slides that made up your slideshows. For example, if adding a set of pictures from a school trip, once published to Trilby TV you could not add or delete pictures. Instead, to make changes you would have to re-upload all the images again and make the alterations that way. It’s all different now! You can easily add and delete individual slides to your hearts content.

4. Smarter playlist tools

Playlists are a great way to organise content and with V4, you can edit and re-order you playlists with much greater ease. They can then be sent to different players and, like all content, can be set to a specific broadcast schedule.

And finally…

There are probably a few other features that I have missed – please let me know if you are aware of anything I have left out and I will update this post accordingly!

For details about getting your school signed up to Trilby or taking advantage of their 30 day free trial – take a look at their website.


Vocal Recall – Reduce Teacher Workload With No Fuss for Free!

Reducing teacher workload for free? It sounds too good to be true, I know. However, after seeing a Facebook Post from the brilliant Teacher Toolkit, I made it my main mission to track the Vocal Recall team down in the ‘Futures’ area at BETT last week to see what the fuss was about. It was a detour well worth making….

How it works:

The concept is simple, and that is part of it’s beauty.

  • To get started, you download the free, Vocal Recall app – available on iOS and Andriod.
  • You also need some QR codes. These can be ordered on-line, or emailed via the app and printed onto sticky labels or even just onto normal paper to be cut-out, and stuck into books with glue.
  • You then simply open the App, press record and leave your feedback (max 5 minutes). Recordings can be paused mid-message.
  • Once finished, you tap the scan button and scan one of the pre-printed QR codes.
  • Finally, name the recording, stick the QR code in with the relevant work and the marking is done!

Upon receiving their book/work, the children can then simply use their smart devices to scan the QR code which takes them directly to their specific feedback.

Why it’s brilliant:

When students scan their QR code they simple follow the link for their vocal feedback.

The time this will save teachers is HUGE! A quick demo to our Head of English at break time today resulted in her commentating “Just think of the hours this will save!” However, the concept is not simply limited to feedback or feedforward. Conversations about work can be recorded in exactly the same way and furthermore, explanations about practical work or work on display can easily be taped and recalled.

Indeed, other ideas could include:

  • Whole class feedback
  • Explanation of tasks
  • Treasure hunts
  • Interactive displays, instructions, worksheets
  • Peer/self assessment
  • Audio tours
  • Language learning
  • EAL support

The faff with this sort of thing previously was generating QR codes, cutting them out and then attaching them to the relevant audio. However, with Vocal Recall the QR Codes themselves can be emailed from within the App; up to 280 at a time. Furthermore, all the recordings are self-contained within the app so no need for any third-party!

As far as data-protection is concerned, all recordings are securely end-to-end encrypted. This means that it will be nigh-on impossible to listen to the recording, unless you have the QR code that it was originally attached to.

Final thoughts:

At a time of increasing teacher-burnout and major work-overload, it is simple but highly effective ideas like Vocal Recall that can really make a difference. Indeed, the guys behind the idea are actual teachers too and fair play to them for not monetising something that could be worth so much to so many.

Absorbing ADE2017: Five Things I Took Home From Windsor

Windsor is a stunning town, situated on the River Thames, 20 miles or so west of London. It is the home of Legoland UK and the world famous royal residence, Windsor Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century. In July 2017, it also was one of the locations that welcomed the new Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) class of 2017 and I was lucky enough to attend as Alumni. They were a brilliant few days, and I’d like to share five things that I took away from a remarkable experience.

1.Teaching Is Amazing

With all the negativity surrounding Ofsted, SATs, teachers pay, teacher recruitment etc. it is easy to forget what an amazing job teaching actually is and what a brilliant job teachers do.  At ADE2017, all attendees were provided with ample opportunities to hear stories from classrooms across the world, demonstrating the wonderful work that takes place on a daily basis. From showcases to informal conversations, it was inspiring to hear so many marvellous projects taking place, orchestrated by a brilliant team of educators.

2. Chase and Status Don’t Just Make Brilliant Music

One of the highlights was the interview conducted by Peter Ford with Chase and Status’ very own Will Kennard (aka Status). I have long been a fan of Chase and Status and was amazed when Mr Kennard appeared on stage! He provided a fascinating insight into his own education and how although he attended a good school, was not engaged with the education available there. He passed his exams and went to university as he felt he had too, but “dropped out” after a year (much to his Mum’s dismay) to concentrate on his true passion; electronic music production and DJing. It proved to be the right choice as Chase and Status are now global superstars within their scene and regularly tour the planet, headlining major music festivals across the planet. We also got a sneak preview of their new album, Tribe, which sounded typically awesome. However, the most inspiring aspect of Will’s story was that he used his negative experience of education to try and make a positive difference to young people today by forming the East London School for Arts and Music (ELAM). The objective of ELAM is to give children the opportunity to develop their skills in music, arts and drama, regardless of their background. Furthermore, their unique curriculum allows the fusion of songwriting, poetry, news articles, gig reviews, and even plays that have been performed at the National Theatre. The dreaded OFSTED had even confirmed what a stellar job Will and his team are doing when they awarded the school ‘Outstanding’ in their most recent inspection.

3. There Are More Fantastic Swift Playground And Coding Resources Available

I have already used Swift Playground, Apple’s quite excellent coding App, with Year 7 and received fantastic feedback from students. However, it looks like there may be even more excitement next school year as there is now bluetooth connectivity to robots, drones and musical instruments including Lego Mindstorms Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. Furthermore, the younger pupils will be able to enjoy more coding as I will be using the free Get Started With Code teacher guide. I will be using it alongside Tynker, CodeSpark Academy and Keynote. All resources are free and each lesson has editable slides, purpose built for the classroom and importantly, in case you get stuck, the answers!

4. Clips Are Everywhere and Bursting With Potential

If you are a teacher on Twitter, you may have noticed a sudden burst of #classroomclips appear on your timeline. One of the main reasons is that us ADE’s were set the challenge of producing something useful, tangible and constructive using the new, simple and intuitive Apple App, Clips. It is free and allows for very quick production of pretty professional looking video clips, ideal for sharing on social media. I have already seen some brilliant projects unfold, such as the #ClipsTours videos which showcase parts of the world visited by ADE’s or the @TechTeachGoals team who are now sharing short but useful hints and tips for #Edtech use in the classroom. However, I am most excited by the prospect of seeing what the pupils will produce when back at school and are unleashed upon the Clips App themselves.

5. The amazing prospect of Apple School Manager & Shared iPad

Over the summer, we are lucky enough to be adding 20 brand new iPads to our resources at King’s ready for September. They are the new ‘iPad’ which means that we will be able to set up users on the devices who will be able to log-in and find their respective set up. Our existing shared iPads were iPad Mini 2’s and although they have proved brilliant for our pupils, there were lots of occasions where work was lost, wrongly edited or settings had been changed. Instead, with Apple School Manager and shared iPad, individual users log-in to the device to find their own unique settings. We will be among the first schools in the UK to be using the new feature and I can’t wait to get started. Regarding the old devices, they will now be exclusively for Y4 whilst the new devices, for Y5. Furthermore, we are lucky enough to have 1:2:1 iPads in Y6,Y7 and Y8 so our pupils iPad provision has never looked so healthy.



Operation: Cosmic Dust – A Pupil Powered Mission To Space

In September 2016, an email from The Principal began what was to become a remarkable adventure, not only for Roffa The Teddy Bear, but also for the pupils of my place of employment; King’s Prep School in Rochester. The mission, code named ‘Operation: Cosmic Dust’ was clear; get Roffa The Bear into space and back whilst obtaining some footage of the journey! Simple, right?

Captain Roffa The Bear

Immediately, this seemed like an ideal challenge based learning project for the Prep School’s extraordinary Digital Genius team; two members of each class that meet once a week with myself to learn about everything Edtech and to be on hand in every class to assist teachers and their fellow pupils. As the Michaelmas term ‘blasted’ towards Christmas, naturally the weather started to deteriorate. Therefore, our wonderful ‘cluster’ of Digital Geniuses spent the rest of the term procuring the required equipment; accompanying Captain Roffa on his journey was two SIM card GPS transmitters, a 64GB SD card and a Go-Pro Camera to record the adventure. Most of the equipment was purchased from the fantastic team at Sent Into Space.

The Digital Genius Team and Roffa’s kit

The Digital Genius team immediately set about designing and building the payload to carry Roffa and the equipment into space. Once completed, it was simply a matter of waiting for the right weather conditions to occur. Roffa could not travel north due to air-traffic, whilst travelling east was no-good due to the proximity of the Thames Estuary and the North Sea. Days turned to weeks, and weeks to months until, deep into May, the metaphorical planets aligned and the launch date was finally decided for Thursday the 25th.

The landing predictor finally comes up trumps!

When the countdown had finished and take-off day was upon us, at lunch time the whole school gathered on the school field, known as The Paddock, to watch the extraordinary event unfold. When everything was prepared, everybody shouted out the countdown from 10 and then, in a blink of an eye, Roffa’s astonishing ascent to the stratosphere began. As Roffa majestically disappeared from sight, it was down to Head of Science – Mr Caithness, and myself to head off into the Kent wilderness in the hope we could retrieve the Astrobear.

The school gathers to watch the launch of Roffa

Finally, after 4 hours Roffa made contact and provided GPS coordinates stating he had landed just east of Hadlow. With no hesitation, we sped over to the location but, to our dismay, after an extensive search, it was clear Roffa was gone…

Roffa was recovered in Hadlow by Mr Tim Shilton

However, just as we were about to return to school empty-handed, Mr Caithness received a phonecall! Thankfully, Roffa had been found by a Mr Tim Shilton of Hadlow! We made the short journey to Mr Shilton’s house who then explained he had been enjoying a glass of Shiraz with his wife when he suddenly saw the bear descend near the bottom of his back garden! He retrieved Roffa from a tree and then made the call.

Roffa Featured in The Times

The next day, the Digital Genius team carefully opened the payload and ejected the SD card and the footage they found was simply stunning. The curvature of the earth was clear alongside East Anglia, the Isle of Wight, France, Belgium and beyond and all can be seen the film at the bottom of this post.  Roffa’s journey was subsequently featured in the Medway Messenger, The Times and even the international press. Furthermore, the Digital Genius Team were invited to present their project at Sussex University as part of the Solutions INC Annual Education Summit.

The Digital Genius Team at Sussex University

Nevertheless, most importantly of all, Roffa’s adventure inspired the learners of King’s Prep School in what was a truly memorable experience for us all.

Operation: Cosmic Dust – Launch Day from King’s Prep School on Vimeo.


Getting Started With Apple Classroom

The Apple Classroom App has been available for over a year, however, until the release of Apple Classroom 2.0 unless your MDM was ahead of the game, whether you could use it not was in it’s hands. Thankfully, that is no longer the case; the release of version 2.0 means that as long as you have the right iPads, any teacher can take advantage of deploying this free, powerful and simple app in their classroom.

So, lets start with the ‘right iPads’. Simply, as long as student iPads can download iOS 10.3.0 or above, you are OK. Make sure you are all on the same WiFi network and have Bluetooth turned on as discovery is completed via Bluetooth, whilst connection is over WiFi using ‘Bonjour’.

What is Apple Classroom?

Apple classroom provides a whole new level of control to teachers who benefit from using iPads in their classroom. In an instant you can:

  • Open an app on all devices
  • Navigate the iPads to a web page or a chapter in a book in iBooks
  • Lock and unlock the iPad screens
  • View a device’s screen remotely
  • Initiate an AirPlay session between a single student device and the classroom Apple TV

How do you set up your classes?

Step 1 – Teachers need to download the Classroom App

Step 2 – Open the App and hit ‘Create New Class’. Give the class a name and, if you wish, choose them a colour!

Step 3 – Select the class and then hit the ‘Add’ button.

Step 4 – Students should navigate their iPads to settings and should see the classroom app appear in the menu on the right hand side

Step 5 – The Students should then be able to select the relevant class and the teacher can then add them into the class via the App.

Once the students are added to the class, you can start to take advantage of the Classroom App features.

What are the features of Classroom?

The following features can either be initiated with the whole class or to individuals, pairs etc.

Open – Use this feature to open specific apps on the iPads

Navigate – Direct the iPads to a specific website

Lock – lock the iPads so they can not be used

Mute – Stop sounds on the ipads

Screens – take a look at the activity on each iPad. When you do this, students are notified on their devices by a blue bar at the top of their screens.

Groups – Classroom creates a group to start with: All. This contains all the devices that are in the class. The teacher can then create static groups as required – for example project teams. The app also generates groups based on factors such as low-battery life or students that are on specific apps.

In conclusion, Apple Classroom is a pretty awesome tool. When deployed, it can alleviate any fears that students are not on task with their devices. It’s very simple to use and adds an unprecedented element of control to iPad classrooms.


Getting started with Swift Playgrounds


Apple’s Swift Playgrounds is a fantastic app built to help teach programming. It is ideal for the classroom and it’s purpose is to help children from Y6 onward get started with coding and learn some of the fundamental concepts involved. It uses Apple’s own programming language, Swift, and is intuitive and beautifully designed. Furthermore, it is relatively simple to use and best of all – it’s free!

Getting Started:


Tap the featured button to choose your playgrounds

Once you have downloaded the app, you need to select the playground you wish to start in. To do so, tap on the featured button and then I would strongly recommend that you pick ‘Learning to code 1; Fundamentals of Swift’ before embarking on any other of the challenges . Simply because it will provide a basic scaffold on which pupils can start to build their understanding of the app and the Swift language itself.

Navigating The App:


Playgrounds has introductory slides for each concept

Once downloaded, you tap on the Playgrounds and an in-built keynote presentation will walk you through the coding concept of each section. The first is commands and the presentation gives a nice overview before the coding starts.

Once the introductory presentation is finished, the first playground starts up and you are ready to start coding! The annotated picture below shows you what’s what.



Teacher Guide:

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-12-28-42To accompany the app, Apple have also released a brilliant teacher guide available in iBooks. The book is designed for use with students and is packed full of fantastic content to help teachers, including those that are less confident, use the app in the classroom. The materials included align with curriculum standards for computer science and provide lesson plans, learning objectives, key vocabulary, a whole host of activity ideas, a grade-book to track progress and achievement and best of all – the answers, in case you get completely stuck! Furthermore, the book also contains the following interactive features which really help when rolling out Swift Playgrounds:


Keynote Slides

The Keynote slides are very helpful and once downloaded, fully customisable. They contain interactive examples of children’s work, key vocabulary and explanations. There are also additional activities that are a great add-on to the playgrounds themselves; providing the opportunity for children to learn the key concepts unplugged. Or in otherwords, examine what the concepts mean without computers.

Using SeeSaw 

The grade-book is great for summative assessment, but for formative assessment Apple recommend that teachers use the awesome SeeSaw. SeeSaw is a fantastic, simple-to-use portfolio App that means pupils can hand in examples of their work in video or picture format. Teachers can then annotate, like, and provide feedback (verbal or written) to the pupils and they receive instant notification. All their work is stored in personal folders making it easy to monitor and very helpful for events like parents evening!


Swift Playgrounds really is a fabulous tool for the classroom. Whether you are a Computer Science wizard, or a primary teacher who has unwillingly been given the responsibility of running the coding curriculum, the App and accompanying resources provide a wonderful opportunity to engage, challenge and promote computer science in any school that is fortunate enough to have iPads available for their pupils.


Super Josh Magennis!


Charlton are unbeaten in 2017 and no one in the EFL has scored more goals in this calendar year than Josh Magennis! Well, we haven’t had a lot to be proud about recently so why not take this opportunity? In all fairness, this was a very good Charlton performance by a team that appears to have its confidence back after another turbulent few months in SE7.

After conceding to a Jermaine Easter opener following a slip by the Big Friendly German, it all felt rather familiar at The Valley. However, this time our heads did not go down, the crowd didn’t turn and once we equalised in the 41st minute through Magennis, we actually started to play some decent football.

The Addicks were shooting towards The Covered End in the second half and we were fortunate enough to witness the best 45 minutes by Charlton at home this season. Other than Magennis, the stand out performance was from academy product Joe Aribo who set up Magennis for his second and provided another assist for Teixeira to slot home the third from close range. However, with the imminent departures of Konsa and Lookman on the horizon, it’ll be interesting to see how long Joe hangs around.

Magennis completed his hat-trick in the 73rd minute after latching onto a pass from Crofts and finished with some aplomb; celebrating in front of an ecstatic (and surprised) North Stand.

Although not everyones cup of tea, a lot of credit has to go to new manager Karl Robinson who has clearly realised the huge work to be done to rebuild the relationship between the club and the fans. He ensured the whole team clapped all three stands (just like Matty Holland used to do…) following the final whistle and we also saw the first tunnel jump in a long time! Josh Magennis appearing twice as following his first jump, he forgot to re-collect his much deserved hat-trick match-ball! Just for a very brief second, it felt like we had got our Charlton back.

Let’s just hope Robinson is given the time and resources to build something positive at The Valley despite the hapless record of the current regime.