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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Christmas Around the World Project 2016

As a follow-up to the successful project last year (see here), we will once again be looking to connect classrooms across the world. In the lead up to Christmas, you can deepen your understanding of different Christmas traditions by asking other children from around the world about how they celebrate Christmas in their community.

The project is simple, sign up using the form below, pick a school from the number of willing participants in the spreadsheet and arrange a time to connect using a variety of ways such as Skype, Google Hangouts and Periscope. Please be aware of time zone differences and this website may help - Click Here.

You may also wish to live stream an assembly or Christmas show to share with the world to Youtube, Facebook Live or use Periscope. If you have been busy blogging and creating work related to Christmas, you can share it on the global Padlet below.

What you may need to take part in this project:
All you need to do is fill out this form and add your class to the database. The best thing about the project is that it is completely FREE! See the bottom of the page for responses:

Ways in which to use this project:

Obviously the main aim is to connect live with another class from around the world, the easiest way to do this would be to use Skype.

The free account with Skype will let you connect with one school from around the world. However as an alternative Google Hangouts on Air allows you to connect with up to 10 people. This means more than one class from a school can connect with other schools or one class can connect with a range of different classes. Google Hangouts also allows you to live stream the video chat to YouTube and will save this as a video afterwards, meaning children can watch the conversation again and again. This also gives you the ability to broadcast an assembly or school performance for Parents who may not be able to attend or one of the classes you are connecting with. Another option as far as live streaming is to use UStream which allows you to broadcast live an assembly for anyone to watch live. Quality of video will depend on the strength of your Wifi and the quality of webcam.

Note - if you are considering streaming a performance, check about permission for children to appear online. You may want to check with Parents first before going ahead. For more information on live streaming - click here and here.

If you are unable to use Skype or Google but you still want to share some of the exciting activities your class have been doing leading up to Christmas, add it to our Padlet below. Just simple click on a space add your name and location and link either a blog post or YouTube video or even upload a picture for all to see: HERE IS A LINK TO THIS PADLET TO APPEAR BIGGER AND SEE ALL THE ENTRIES

Find someone on the map and contact them to arrange to share -

And here is a list of other classes who have signed up for the project:

Please do send any comments, examples of work or photos to, I would love to see how this project has worked for different schools!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Virtual School Tour for our School Website

Last week, I challenged my digital leaders to create a tour of our school on the iPads. Our current tour  on the website has a birds eye picture of our school with pictures of different parts of the school. I wanted the children to be involved in this process. In pairs, they recorded themselves in different locations around the school, sharing information about the location they were recording from.

These were then shared via Airdrop to another iPad where children were then linking the videos to a bird eye picture of the school using the app Thinglink.

Once created, the children published the thinglink to our channel and from here we would embed it on our school website.

Here is the tour the digital leaders created:

To see what this looks like on our school website - click here.

It was a fantastic activity that the children really enjoyed knowing the finished results would feature on the school website. It was lovely to see and hear how proud the children are of the school they go to!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Honest Teacher Subtitles!

As many teachers are preparing for their first Parents Evening of the year, I thought I would create a fun little video sharing what we say to parents and what we really mean! 😂😉 Feel free to share!


Thursday, 6 October 2016

Google Expeditions in the Classroom!

Today has been a day I have been looking forward to for over six months. When I first heard about Google Expeditions, I immediately tried to sign up to find out in was only available in America. Fast forward a few months and Google have now deployed the tool in England and what an amazing tool it is!

So thanks to +Dughall McCormick who sent the Google team my way, I was able to book a day with a Google representative. They brought in two class sets of the Google Cardboard headsets with Android devices. 

The cardboard headsets can be used with children aged 7 and over so all our KS2 classes had a lesson with them. On each of the devices was the 'Google Expeditions' app. This is available on iOS and Android. The teachers had to choose from the 250 expeditions available. We tried to link these to our current topics. Each teacher then controlled the session through the leader tool within the app. Here they can load the different scenes from each expedition. On all the pupil's devices the 360 panoramic image loads. They can view this in 3D using the headset or through the magic window tool if you were to use iPads. Each panoramic picture has a text box full of information and suggested questions for the teacher to share and ask as children are exploring. 

Within each image there are some hotspots that the teacher can orientate the class to and then share some more information. See one of the lessons in action here:

It was a truly amazing day. The children were in awe with every place they explored. The best thing about it was Google came into school for FREE!!! If you want to book a session, just follow this link!

Here is a video I made with pictures and videos from the day:

To see a more detailed explanation of the app, check out this Facebook Live video I made earlier:

Watch this space for some amazing work the children will produce from the rich learning experience today!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Growth Mindset Posters with Adobe Spark Post

On Thursday afternoons, I work with a select group of children from KS2 who have the responsibility of being our first group of digital champions. Their role includes supporting teachers and other pupils when using technology in class. As one of the first tasks, we looked at sharing some motivational and inspiring thoughts around the school. The students wanted to help other children and give them a positive outlook towards their learning.

I set them the task of creating some growth mindset posters that they could then display around the school for other pupils to view and appreciate. The app the children used was Adobe Spark Post. It is one of three FREE apps from Adobe available on tablets as well as through the web.

The app is fantastic for creating posters, quotes and graphics. There are a range of options from adding background pictures to editing the text and changing the design in different ways. There is even the option to turn the poster into a short animation.

I was so impressed with some of the pupils ideas and designs. Here are a couple of my favourites:


We discussed how much the design can add to the poster, through colour, size, how the image should link to the text etc. The children were then able to print their designs and find the best place to put their posters for other pupils to see. The digital champions loved the idea that their work would help motivate their fellow peers! A great little activity that linked PSHCE and Computing.

I had to chuckle with this example. Although I agree with it, it didn't fit with our values to print and put up! It now lives in the staffroom! 😂

Sunday, 2 October 2016

More Emotional Literacy: Reading Comprehension through Music

On Friday, John Murray and I led our very popular 'Improving Reading and Writing through Popular Children's Media' conference in Manchester. Thank you to everyone who attended and a huge thank you for all the lovely feedback. Here are a few of the comments from the day:

The day focuses on inspiring and creative approaches to improving reading and writing through a variety of media. We make clear that text is imperative. Music, animations, film clips can all be valuable tools; however without quality texts within or linked to it, it won't improve learning. Reading Comprehension can only be done through text. Both myself and John are working with schools who have tried to move away from text and teach english through images and videos. This has led to a dramatic drop in results, especially reading. On the conference, we reiterated the importance of using a TEXT-CENTRIC approach and demonstrated the best ways in which media can link in with this. 

We are running the day in Coventry on Wednesday 2nd November, South Wales in March and have started to take bookings from Academy Trusts and Clusters for the day to be run with schools. If you are interested, please email

As a further example of the approach to the day, I thought I would share this amazing song from James TW "When you Love Someone." It fits in so well with the Emotional Literacy aspect of the day and the textcentric approach. Thanks to Mr Beedie for sharing this one!

Here is the song and music video:

Here are the lyrics with some questions to consider:

Come home early after class
Don't be hanging 'round the back of the schoolyard
I've been called up by a teacher
She says she can't even reach you 'cause you're so far
You've been talking with your fist
We didn't raise you up like this, now did we
There have been changes in this house
Things that you don't know about in this family

  • Who do you think is singing the song?
  • Who are they singing to?
  • Why do you think the singer wants the boy to come home early?
  • What do you think the teacher has said to the singer?
  • What does it mean 'talking with your fist'?
  • How does the boy feel?
  • Why does he feel like that?
It don't make sense, but nevertheless
You gotta believe us, it's all for the best
It don't make sense
The way things go
Son you should know
Sometimes moms and dads fall out of love
Sometimes two homes are better than one
Some things you can't tell your sister 'cause she's still too young
Yeah you'll understand
When you love someone

  •  What doesn't make sense? Why does the singer repeat that phrase?
  • Can you find the two conjunctions? 
  • Why do you think it is all for the best?
  • What part of the world is this song from? How do you know?
  • Why do you think in this situation, two homes are better than one?
  • How old is the sister do you think?
  • Using the evidence from the text, how old is the boy the singer is speaking to?
  • What is 'you'll' a contraction of?

There ain't no one here to blame
Nothing's going to change with your old friends
Your room will stay the same
'Cause you'll only be away on the weekends
It don't make sense but nevertheless
You gotta believe us, it's all for the best
It don't make sense
It don't add up
We'll always love you no matter what

  •  What is ain't a contraction of?
  • Who might the boy be blaming? Why?
  • What is the singer trying to achieve in this verse?
  • Why has the singer used the phrase, 'you gotta believe us' what effect does this have?
  • Why does the singer use the pronouns 'we' and 'us' what do we learn from this?
  • What is 'we'll' a contraction of?

Sometimes moms and dads fall out of love
Sometimes two homes are better than one
Some things you can't tell your sister 'cause she's still too young
Yeah you'll understand
When you love someone
When you love someone
Come home early after class
Don't be hanging 'round the back of the schoolyard
And if we're crying on the couch
Don't let it freak you out
This has been so hard
Sometimes moms and dads fall out of love
Sometimes the best intentions just ain't enough
Some things you can't tell your sister 'cause she's still too young
Yeah you'll understand
When you love someone
When you love someone
When you love someone
When you love someone

  • Why might his parents be crying on the couch?
  • Why would seeing his parents crying 'freak him out'?
  • What does the phrase 'freak you out' mean?
  • Why has the singer chosen to use the adverb 'so' when talking about how hard this has been? What effect does this have?
  • What were the intentions of the Mum and Dad?
  • What tells us this decision is a last resort?
  • How do we know it hasn't been an easy decision?
  • Do you believe they are good parents? Why?
  • Why does the singer repeat the phrase 'when you love someone?'
  • Why will the boy understand when he loves someone?

You may feel the subject matter is tricky to use in class. However, I feel the song would be really useful, not necessarily for children who are going through something similar, more for the other children. It will help them develop their emotional dexterity. Through discussion about this song, children in your class will be able to empathise with someone going through something similar and therefore will be able to be more understanding and patient. 

You may have noticed some questions linked to SPAG in the form of contractions. If you haven't yet seen the resources, have a look, as they show how a contextualised SPAG approach has a much bigger impact on writing.  

As far a writing opportunities linked to the song. You could ask the children to write a reply from the Boy to his Dad or even ask your pupils to write a letter to the younger sister to explain the situation. 

10 things teachers say in a medical emergency



Bitmoji for Behaviour

Bitmoji is a great little app where you can turn yourself into a cartoon character and then generate different pictures to show your feelings, moods and thoughts.

I have previously blogged about the app here. 

Our school is now using Seesaw as a platform to evidence learning. I love it. It is saving our staff so much time and allowing us to now deliver and evidence so much more learning. I talk about it a lot on my training.  I thought of this idea as a way to bring both Seesaw and Bitmoji together as a way to reward attitude, behaviour and effort in a fun way.

Whenever you feel a child has impressed you and deserves recognition, use bitmoji to save an image showing how you feel about their behaviour, work, effort, achievement etc:

 These are a couple of examples. There are loads in the app, some not appropriate so I would advise only using this app on your teacher iPad.

If you then put the picture in Seesaw, tag the child and comment explaining the reason, the children will then be able to see how much you appreciated their hard work. This is particularly useful if you have the Seesaw for parents app set up as parents will also see this and can discuss it at home with their child.

You can then say once a student has three special photos in their portfolio, they will receive a special prize and link this to your whole school behaviour system. It is just a nice visual way to show how much you appreciated their efforts and achievements. If you don't use Seesaw, you could use Bitmoji for displays or even steps for success:

I hope you find the idea useful and please do share any other ways in which you use this idea and app.