Interactive Digital Workflow

Its happening. In September, we are initiating a 1:2:1 iPad project across Year Six! Two years of research, planning, hard work and graft have paid off and the school is looking forward to an exciting 2015-2016 full of new and engaging learning opportunities. Considering where the school was a couple of years ago, with regard to tech-infrastructure, it really is a huge step-forward. However, for the project to be successful, a clear and well-structured Digital Workflow is paramount to it’s success. Using the awesome Thinglink, I have created an interactive version for use by our teachers. It gives them an opportunity to learn more about the Apps/Tools and also provides information on how they could be used.


The King’s Prep digital workflow is based on an original by Greg Hughes but adapted to fit the needs of our school. Establishing a digital workflow helps classrooms operate with efficiency and allows teachers to personalise instruction, collect, mark, assess and return  work. Establishing a successful workflow requires careful thought, experimentation, and research into the best apps for accomplishing tasks in the context of your school.

Thinglink Revision Guides

The stress of exams live long in the memory

As an adult, I love Spring and saying goodbye to long, dark and cold nights. However, I distinctly remember as a teenager, dreading what has traditionally been exam season. In an attempt to alleviate some the stress inflicted on our y8’s,  I decided to dedicate the computing curriculum time to revision in other subjects.

This may sound odd, and neglectful of computing, but my theory is that by using technology to create engaging, interactive revision guides that both bookmarked useful sites and allowed students to create their own content, I would be providing them with the best of both worlds; time to learn, consolidate and revise but also time to create high quality digital content.

The ideal tool to do this is Thinglink. A free resource that allows users to pin links/video clips/images to an image of their choosing.

Example of student description of link

Students were encouraged to pick curriculum areas in which they lacked confidence and then develop their research skills and collate useful and helpful websites. Short descriptions and links were then added to their Thinglinks that explained the resource at the other end of the link.

Once 3/4 quality links were attached to their ThingLinks, students were then encouraged to create their own content. This could take the form of a film, blog post, podcast, popplet, quiz, prezi or whatever students thought would allow them to create content that would be useful for themselves and for their peers.

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Examples of positive and constructive student comments.

Finally, once completed, the students embedded their ThingLinks onto their year group blog. Each student was also careful to ensure that they categorised their work properly therefore creating what is now a complete revision hub, across all subjects, available to all students locally and indeed, globally! The categories range from German Revision to the Great Reform Act and contain superb links to both web content and self-created content. Another huge advantage of blogging is the ability for children to comment on each others work. This has done wonders for their self-esteem and has also created a great atmosphere of collegiality between the students .

I have embedded a few examples below but please take the time to visit their class page and even better, leave a comment or two!

Maths: iPad & Padlet

I recently ran a CPD session for our maths department and was short of ideas; however I knew I wanted to avoid simply going through times table or division drill apps. A quick text chat with fellow ADE and good friend, Marc Faulder, pointed me in the right direction and I decided to demonstrate how you can use Padlet, and a variety of free maths apps to challenge thinking and use technology to provide stimulating, engaging and fun learning opportunities!

Set up your Padlet and pose a question 

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Pose your question at the top of your padlet and then invite children to join the padlet on their iPads via the self-generated QR code. They can scan straight from the IAW/screen or from a pre-printed copy or even via a link shared on your school learning network.

Think 3D

The question posed on the Padlet read:

Using the Think 3D App OR Unifix Blocks, create your own cuboid with a volume of 18 cubes. Take photos or screen shots then open the Skitch App and draw the dimensions. How many different objects can we make with a volume of 18? Which is the longest/tallest/widest/highest?

Students can answer the question by either using unifix cubes or the Think 3D App and then annotate over the image using Skitch:


Maths Learning Centre Apps.

The FREE apps from the maths learning centre are a revelation! There are eight available; Number Line, Number Pieces Basic, Geoboard, Number Frames, Pattern Shapes, Number Pieces, Math Vocab and Number Rack. They really are fantastic tools for the classroom and incredibly user friendly.

The example below uses the Geoboard App and the question posed on the Padlet was:

“How many different rectangles can you make with an area of 12cm²?”



Adding Work To Padlet


Once the students have drawn their rectangles, they can save to camera roll by taking a screen shot and the upload to Padlet using the upload button:

From Skitch

Another setting worth noting on Padlet is the ability to change the layout into a grid. This means that when students contribute their work, it automatically goes into a clear and easy to follow grid formation:

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 17.14.45Once the work is on the board, students can be invited to present their work and question their peers understanding. Students work can be enlarger, simply by clicking on it.

Padlet really is a great classroom tool and its use should not be limited to maths. It can be used across the curriculum in a variety of different ways and I encourage you to give it a go!





The Jigsaw of a Successful School

Sometimes things just make sense. Take for example, the ‘Jigsaw of a Successful School’ graphic that was shared at a recent NPQSL seminar; it instantly resonated with me and invited reflection.  The graphic below lays out the elements of a successful school into a 15 piece jigsaw. The pieces are not sequential or expected to be simultaneous. However, according to their author – Professor Tim Brighouse – they are all interrelated and ‘depend on one another to keep a school developing’.

The jigsaw analogy is fully explained in Professor Brighouse’s superb publication ‘Essential Pieces; The Jigsaw of a Successful School’ and certainly supplies a large portion of food for thought for teachers, leaders and indeed all members of a school community.


Digital Story Telling – Epic Citadel


On Monday, we hosted 55 children from nearby schools at a ‘Digital Story Telling’ Day. We used the App, Epic Citadel, as the inspiration and were stunned by the quality of the writing. Using Epic Citadel was inspired by the work of Tim Rylands and ICT Mr P, although we did add a few twists of our own. Here is what we got up to:

TASK ONE – Explore The Citadel

  • Use your iPad to explore the Epic Citadel​
  • As you explore, use notes to write down words that describe the settlement and the feelings you experience as you wander the streets​
  • We will meet every group and ask them for some of their words and use Padlet to create a visual display of them​

We then used our teacher iPads and Padlet to collate the words from the children, and project them onto the big screen.


TASK TWO – Create a Digital Word Cloud

  • Use a selection of the words on display and the app, Tag Cloud, to create your very own digital Word Cloud that you can include in your digital book​
  • When you have finished your tag cloud – make sure you save it to camera roll​

Tag Cloud

TASK THREE  – Describe Epic Citadel in a descriptive paragraph
  • Use Keynote to write your descriptive passage on Epic Citadel, use the words in your Word Clouds to fuel some amazing writing.

Citadel Town

Citadel Town2

Task Four – Epic Comic

—Choose from one of these scenarios:

    • —You have just escaped from the dungeon
    • —You are the only survivor and are being chased by a killer dragon
    • —You need to find the princess who is imprisoned in the tallest tower
  • —Take some screenshots from Epic Citadel that fit in with your scenario, adding them to your camera roll
  • —Choose a template
  • —Import the pictures into Strip Design
  • —Add the text that tells your story using text balloons
  • —Edit your text boxes appropriately
  • —Save to camera roll



Task Five – Epic Puppet Pals

  • —Imagine that you, your partner are either a dragon, witch, knight, princess or fairy godmother are in the Epic Citadel! What would you talk about?
  • —Use Pages to constuct a 30 second dialogue between the characters you choose.
  • —Start the Puppet Pal App
  • —Select your two characters
  • —You can choose between three parts of The Citadel, a castle, the dragon’s cave or the enchanted forest. Just pick TWO of them.
  • —Act out the dialogue
  • —Save your final scene to camera roll

Task Six – Create Your Own Digital Book

  • —Use Book Creator to put your work together
  • Add narration where appropriate

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It proved to be a great day and some of the writing was extraordinary! There are all sorts of extensions you could add to your book, such as a Morfo to bring alive a Medieval character or even use a green screen to put the children into the Epic Citadel itself!

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The Dimensions of Change

It’s happening. WiFi is arriving at King’s Rochester. Not just any WiFi either – we are lucky enough to be having a cutting edge, fully managed and scalable Meru Network installed over the Christmas break. The good news does not end there. We will also be the lucky recipients of 20 shared iPads and the necessary MDM required to manage and sync the devices. Considering where the school was a year and a half ago with regard to technology, it truly is a huge step forward for King’s. However, the real work has not even started yet…

The WiFi and iPads will be rendered useless if after all, they make no impact on learning. After all, the devices themselves are inanimate objects. On their own they do nothing. However, if the project is managed successfully – there is every chance that there will be a dramatic shift in the boundaries of learning and the conventions of the traditional classroom will finally be displaced. Nevertheless, it is that very change, that shift in parameters, which brings with it the project makers or breakers. During a recent NPQSL seminar, we were presented with the Dimensions of Change table you see below and this provided the perfect platform for me to reflect on our project thus far, and analyse what we were doing right -and where we will need to take action.

VISION – since starting at King’s, I have had a clear vision of where I wanted the school to be. I used my experience of establishing a 1:2:1 program in Monaco, conversations with other professionals and visits to schools with mobile learning infrastructure to hone this vision to one that matched the needs of my school. However, a solitary vision is rarely successful. Knowing this, I organised an ‘EdTech Committee’ in which the Heads of School , Heads of Computing, ICT Manager and Bursar started to meet to discuss, analyse and formulate a shared vision of WiFi and how Mobile Learning would best be deployed in each respective school. However, to avoid confusion it is essential that the vision is shared, understood and supported by all members of the school community.

SKILLS – For technology to be usefully deployed in the classroom and for redefined learning opportunities to take place, teachers need to know how to use the technology available. There have been plenty of examples of thousands of pounds being wasted on tech, as money was not spent on CPD for the teachers who were supposed to use it.  With that in mind, we have been running in-house CPD sessions for over a year now. Ranging from superb in house Teach-Meet sessions to Apple Tech breakfast workshops. However, attendance has not always been as good as it might have so it is vital that this continues. I have established Digital Leaders who I am to train on the iPads and who therefore will be available, in every class, for teachers to utilise should they feel the need. I also aim to up to the quality and quantity of iPad CPD over the coming years to ensure teachers skill levels and confidence is continually building. We have also utilised external CPD through Trilby, Solutions INC and ADE’s such as Marc Faulder, EYFS and KS1 specialist. This will be ongoing and hopefully utilised as much as possible by our staff and prevent any unnecessary anxiety.

INCENTIVES – The incentives for staff to immerse themselves in WiFi and mobile learning are hard to quantify. Pay rises or million dollar bonuses are unlikely. However, the personal incentives for teachers to develop their own practice, learn new skills and improve their lessons are immediate. Additionally, the acquisition of new technology know-how also has the added incentive of reducing workload and stress! I find it so much easier to mark and plan on a computer and deliver my lessons digitally. I can honestly say I have not used the photocopier once in 1 and 1/2 years at King’s, what more of an incentive could a teacher want? Finally, offering new redefined learning opportunities to pupil’s is perhaps the greatest incentive of all and will hopefully help to ease any resistance.

RESOURCES – The Meru WiFi network is going to be awesome. It is future proofed, holistic, fully managed and scalable. The iPads are also transformational resources and will be able to safely rely on the network to work, so in that sense the resources are going to be there. However, knowing that teachers themselves will need tech, we have also acquired some extra iPads for departments and have also started a Salary Sacrifice scheme that allows teachers to purchase tech for use at school with at least a 32% discount. However, in an ideal world, staff would each be given a device as it’s impossible to expect teachers to use the devices if they do not have access to them and without the necessary tools, will understandably get frustrated.

ACTION PLANS – Since the vision wasUntitled-1.fw originally shared back in October 2013, a clear, evolving, flexible but specific action plan has underpinned strategic development. From visiting other schools, to creating student Digital Leaders, the plan was comprehensive enough to work, but adaptable enough to change when barriers where met. For example, the original plan involved a staggered adoption, each of our three schools adopting WiFi one by one. This proved impractical and the decision was made to go whole-school all at once.

The picture above shows our WiFi adoption timeline, which forms part of the overall EdTech Action Plan. It is based on the principles of Hooper and Reiber, and each stage had a more focused Action Plan layered underneath. I am currently finalising the Action Plan for the ‘Integrate’ and ‘Transform’ stage to ensure success and avoid false starts.

COLLEGIALITY – Defined as the ‘cooperative relationship of colleagues’, collegiality is essential for success with our mobile learning project. Staff are under no obligation to use the devices, but with the correct support available, I’m certain that teachers will see the advantages of using mobile technology in the classroom and do their best to make the project work.

The future at King’s is not what it used to be and I for one am incredibly excited about it.

Bridging The Digital Divide

Communication Shakedown (1)

Over the past decade, the growth of social media has been quite remarkable. Global citizens have embraced new ways to communicate which have, quite literally, changed The World. Text messages and emails are fast becoming a thing of the past as new and innovative social media concepts continually spring up and pave new ways for communication and sharing. Just the other day, I was conversing with a friend of mine, @hallboy10, via Garmin Connect; a social media for runners and cyclists to share their exercise statistics and comment on achievements. It dawned on me that I was using at least 5 different mediums with which to communicate with the same person depending on the context!

The graphic on the left was made using Piktochart and demonstrates how the methods by which I communicate have changed since the 1980s. I have never been the first to utilise a social media, and until 2011 was pretty sceptical about most of them. However, I pride myself on being open to new ideas and after hearing the praises of Twitter being sung by HGJohn during his visit to The International School of Monaco, I gave it a go and have not looked back.

However, not everyone who grew up in the 60s, 70s and 80s has taken the plunge into the murky depths of social media, many preferring to skim the surface or indeed avoid getting their toes wet altogether. A consequence of this however, is the emergence of a digital-divide. Our children are growing up in a world where communication via social media is the norm and in many cases parents, guardians and teachers have no real idea about what these services provide, what there terms and conditions of use are, how they differ from each other and what their children are doing on them.

However, burying our heads in the sand is simply NOT an option. Social Media is not going away. Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 20.12.02In addition to the very clear data presented in my line-graph, there are some stark statistics that give further insight into the revolution that is happening on screens large and small across the globe:

  • 6 out of 7 people on the planet have internet access
  • 72% of all internet users use social media
  • 89% of 18-29 year olds use Social Media
  • 93% of marketers use social media for business

So, social media is here to stay, but what can be do to ensure we are comfortable that our children are using it responsibly and are aware of its dangers? I think a sensible, open minded and informed approach is best. Children are far more likely to take advice from someone who knows the difference between Snapchat and WhatsApp than someone who still thinks Instagram is a quick form of measurement. Furthermore, simply removing a device will not solve the potential problems. In fact, I believe this could be counter productive as children will still have access to social media via friend’s phones and as we know, those who are less educated in matters tend to be the ones who do or say the daftest things. Embracing the changing digital world, whilst being fully aware of (and sharing) its potential pitfalls, will most likely have positive outcomes.

Teachers, therefore, must make it an absolute priority to intertwine digital literacy within the curriculum wherever appropriate, whilst projecting a positive yet cautious approach to social media. The benefits of the internet far outweigh the negatives, but children need to be aware of the harm a damaging digital footprint can leave. Furthermore, the tragic consequences of cyberbullying should never be overlooked and positive strategies for avoiding/dealing/preventing it should be made as coherent and as accessible as possible.

Using digital leaders to promote e-awareness and responsible digital citizenship could be another idea, and one that may have an effect on those less likely to listen to a “boring old teacher”.  Developing a school blogging platform also provides an opportunity for children to learn about digital literacy and use social media in a secure and authentic environment. Involving parents in both these initiatives is another way of bridging the digital divide whilst also providing a more significant audience and purpose for any published content.

Finally, as we prepare ourselves for whatever the future of digital communication may hold, holding a workshop with parents will also lead to a more knowledgeable, informed and progressive approach towards social media by all those in the school community.  If you do decide to do this then please feel free to utilise this SOCIAL MEDIA PREZI that was successfully used to walk concerned parents through some of the basics of popular social media. It contains links to sites and user terms and conditions which will hopefully prove useful.