iPads for teaching staff

Having moved schools at Easter, I am now the computing lead for a two form entry school in addition to teaching a year 5 class. The school took this year as an opportunity to work with the new curriculum for all the subjects outside of maths and literacy. However, when it came to the new computing curriculum they identified that additional input was needed. Consequently, they added the computing lead role to a KS2 teaching post that became available and this is the role that I have taken on.

One of my first jobs was to help deploy a set of iPad Airs that have been ordered for the teaching staff. There is one for each teacher and they arrived just in time for the summer holidays, so staff have time to play and learn on them home. We have a set of 8 iPad minis which were bought with a charging trolley and sorting and syncing the iPads is managed by our IT support contractor using Meraki.

We supplied the iPads to staff with the standard iOS7 apps and a few free ones (see blow).

We have also allowed them to explore the App Store and have a small budget to try and buy other apps. As a staff we can decide which apps we will add to everyone’s iPads using the Volume Purchasing Program. I’m hoping this will help to give staff a sense of ownership and the joy of discovery of great apps, whilst trying to prevent us ending up with hundreds of apps that don’t get used and multiple versions of apps that do similar things. Dughall McCormick suggested we try App Parties – 5 minutes at the start or end of every staff meeting to share any new apps staff have found, or how they have used the apps we already have. A fabulous idea that should help us learn and share together.

We will be using airserver to mirror the iPads on our interactive whiteboards. Staff have asked for visualisers, but we may hold off on those until after I’ve shown them mirroring! As these are new iPads, they will have iMovie, garage band, Pages, Numbers, iPhoto and Keynote for free (though this require separate download and installation which took some time!). Of course, there are lots of ways these can be used in the classroom, but there are still a few ‘essentials’ I’d like to add. The aim here is to provide apps that all can be used in a wide variety of ways and in a variety of contexts.

So far the list of ‘essentials’ includes:

A way of getting stuff on and off the iPads!
Our IT support recommended this. A sort of Dropbox, it allows direct connection to our shared planning drive, which all staff already access through VPN on laptops and desktops. This will enable staff to upload documents, photos and any other material created on the iPads to the shared system. It can also create links to be shared outside the system using password protection. However, the cost of this is now looking prohibitive, so I’m looking for alternatives.

Google earth (free)
A great way to quickly give children real perspective on where they are in the world.

Pic collage (free)
I used this almost daily in my last school. This has so many uses and a great way to quickly make attractive collages of photos for books, displays, story planning, explaining, labelling and identifying.

QR code reader and creator
QR codes are a great way to link to digital content. A quick way for children to find a website that you want them to use without being able to read, or copy complicated URLs. Link to audio or video content to make interactive displays. Create treasure hunts, use in geography for orienteering style challenges.

For learning programming for KS1 and a great companion to actual beebots.

Explain everything £1.99 (half price for educational use on VPP)
A whiteboard style app has been a game changer for many teachers in the classroom. Again can be used in many ways for example in plenaries to show work, for modelling, peer marking or demonstrating. Used by children, this can also be effective way for them to show what they know about a subject by making guides for others to use (e.g. How to use the grid method for a two digit multiplication sum).

Book creator £2.99 (half price for educational use on VPP)
Although the new iPads will have pages, book creator enables children and teachers to quickly create beautiful books with added sound. There is a free version that lets you create one book for free, the paid version allows unlimited book creations.

Volume Purchasing Plan
Setting up the VPP was straightforward but as we don’t have a credit card, setting up a payment system using Purchase Orders was long and painful, a process I started before the summer holidays and is still dragging on! To be fair, I didn’t chase it over the summer but it takes several steps which involve our business manager so between us it has slowed things down.

I’ve already seen that staff are beginning to use their iPads for iMovie and pic collage. I’m looking forward to encouraging their use everyday.

#camped14 activities and notes to remember

Camped14 was brilliant this weekend (23- 26 May 2014 at Cliffe House near Huddersfield). Before I forget, here are the events I took part in:


  • Go Bananas! Run by my husband, Richard Badge, this was a hands on workshop to extract DNA from bananas. Full instructions on how to do this at school (or at home!) are available on the GENIE website (GENIE is part of the University of Leicester and is based in the genetics dept where Richard works). We had a raft of very successful scientists take part and they made some excellent DNA – some of the best we’ve seen when doing this workshop. We decided that working in the Cliffe House classroom with the door open and a view of the pouring rain must definitely be the right sort of conditions for DNA precipitation!


  • Animation workshop – run by animate to educate (

    ). A chance to play and make a a stop motion film using Zu3D http://www.zu3d.com/. Ellie really enjoyed this one, and so did I. The software was easy to use. The ideas for making simple stages to film on, great use of props (MacDonald’s toys, plasticine, sparkly rocks) and the ability to add text and speech bubbles meant that you could achieve a great movie really quickly. Definitely one to look at when I get back to school.

  • Photo orienteering run by Katherine who works at Cliffe House (lucky lady, it was such a beautiful and inspiring place! Her classroom was perfect – lab benches combined with stunning sculptures and Harry Potter wands). In pairs and threes, we took laminated photos of places around the grounds and looked for a symbol painted on the objects or nearby, noted it down and went back for another photo. Simple to set up, great for finding our way around the place and we all felt we knew the grounds really well once we’d finished!


  • Walking – several of us went for a lovely walk around the edge of the village. It was good to blow the cobwebs away and one of those important spaces to talk and think.
  • Choral singing – something I never thought I’d do, but under the brilliant instruction of Ceri Williams, we had a go at becoming a crowd-sourced instrument using the pentatonic scale (Bobbie McFerrin style) . Huge fun (even if it wasn’t that tuneful!).
  • Catherine Elliott at short notice (read – Catherine had planned to show us how to play ultimate frisbee but the Yorkshire weather put paid to that) gave a great workshop with some ideas on teaching Computational Thinking. We looked at sorting algorithms using coloured blocks to introduce language such as IF and ELSE, and a bubble sort using children and adults on a bench getting in to height order. We did a quick sort using animals and who would win in a fight (if you are interested, a gorilla beats a donkey in a fight but not a lion). We also looked at writing algorithms for drawing a spiral (something I’d just touched on with my class last week using logo!).
  • Cat on yer head – a fabulous game to teach children about game design hosted by Dawn Hallybone and Tony Parkin. Tricky to describe, hopefully, Tony will write it up and I think Alex videoed us (should be very funny to watch!). Another one I’ll definitely be trying at school.


#camped14 An extended teachmeet with space to think

Science at camped14

I was still a PGCE student when I persuaded the family to go to #camped12. Learning and sharing in a field, it was a fantastic experience that at the whole family really enjoyed. They took no persuading to go to the second #camped, and for me it was even better than the first. Apart from the fantastic range of activities, beautiful and inspiring venue and the gathering of some amazing people and their families, the best part about camped14 for me was the space in between the sessions.

It may have only been a 4 week half term, but moving schools has had a huge impact on me. Going back to family camping after a 2 year break (PGCE and NQT years took their toll on my energy levels!) meant concentrating on the basics – getting the tent up quickly to avoid the worst of the rain, slowing down and taking time out to just sit a while and wait for the kettle to boil on the gas stove, stopping to talk to my daughters and husband. Camped provided the space to talk through the changes I’ve experienced in the past two years with colleagues and mull over some of the challenges still ahead was invaluable. The wisdom and practical experience of twitter friends has given me a raft of strategies, ideas and practical tips to get me started as an effective Computing Lead in my new school. I already know that that space to chat, ask questions, think aloud and reflect will impact on my practise. Of course, it helped that the whole weekend was huge fun, with belly laughs, good food and fabulous music too!

I’ll post separately about the workshops and activities, as they are important in their own right and I need to get them noted before I forget! BUt I felt it important to note the impact that this weekend has already had on me and send a massive thanks to Dughall McCormick  and Bill Lord and everyone else that helped to put the weekend together and make it such a success. I really hope that there is another CampEd, it’s a valuable space to have in the diary for any educator.

Leicester Teachmeet #TMLD14 QR codes for paired reading

My presentation for Leicester Teachmeet on 18 March 2014 at CrownHills School, Leicester. This was based on a teachtweet video I made earlier this year. I added a little extra about teaching algorithms too.

Livestream recording of the teachmeet now available thanks to Leon @eyebeams

This was an idea that David Mitchell described that he used in school, I tried it this autumn, and it worked really well!

QR codes and paired reading

During daily guided reading with my year 4 class, which I run as a carousel of activities, my children can use the class iPad on a rota. A different pair of children each day get to use the iPad with a focussed task. During the first half term of the school year, their task was to find a book from our year 1 classroom and record themselves reading it (with good expression!) using Audioboo (a free sound recording app).  They photograph the cover of the book and publish the recording. The Audioboo recording is set to publish directly to our class blog (in Audioboo settings set to publish to your blog). We then make a QR code to link to the blog post and print out a copy. The paper QR code is stuck into the book and placed back in the year 1 classroom. The year 1 children can use their class iPad to scan the QR code and listen to the story book being read aloud.

Example – Where’s my teddy? Read by Eden and Lewis.

screenshot of blog post audioboo player

Slides on Google


Audioboo app: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/audioboo/id305204540

QR code reader app https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/qr-reader-for-iphone/id368494609?mt=8

QR stuff screenshot: http://www.qrstuff.com/

iPad image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad_Mini

Audioboo image http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8096/8545410166_5e15c53777_z.jpg


I will soon be changing schools, starting at Rushey Mead Primary school as ICT lead after Easter. I am very much looking forward to the challenge and for my interview lesson I taught a group of year 5 children how to write an algorithm. The main idea was to show that although the new ICT curriculum has a lot of technical language in it, some of it can be taught from what teachers already know how to do well. Algorithms are basically instructions. I used padlocks and a mixed set of keys to get the children to write some instructions on how to choose a key to open the padlock. They included a decision (does the key fit?) to make the change from simple instructions to become an algorithm.

I was directed (by lots of lovely people on twitter) to several great resources whilst researching the lesson:

Phil Bagge’s Code it.

A treasure trove of planning, ideas, videos and very practical help for anyone worried about the new computing curriculum. If you haven’t seen sandwich bot, you are missing a treat!

Computer science unplugged

Teaching computing without a computer. Does what it says on the tin 🙂

This started me thinking about cross curricular links, with maths and science. I’ve started to work computing language into my maths lessons, to get children to realise the connections between sorting and maths. We were playing 20 questions to guess a number (is it odd? does it have 3 digits?) and I pointed out that Google search works by a process of sorting that many of the children resorted to. They realised that if they knew it was a 3 digit number, they could ask if it was bigger than 500 and narrow down the search options quickly, by picking the mid point to ask about each time (is it bigger than 250?). Branching databases in science are another perfect opportunity to link to computing.

Teachtweet: QR codes for paired reading

This is a video presentation I made for the #ukedchat Teachtweet online meeting on 16 January 2014.

This was an idea that David Mitchell described that he used in school, I tried it this autumn, and it worked really well!

During daily guided reading with my year 4 class, which I run as a carousel of activities, my children can use the class iPad on a rota. A different pair of children each day get to use the iPad with a focussed task. During the first half term of the school year, their task was to find a book from our year 1 classroom and record themselves reading it (with good expression!) using Audioboo (a free sound recording app).  They photograph the cover of the book and publish the recording. The Audioboo recording is set to publish directly to our class blog (in Audioboo settings set to publish to your blog). We then make a QR code to link to the blog post and print out a copy. The paper QR code is stuck into the book and placed back in the year 1 classroom. The year 1 children can use their class iPad to scan the QR code and listen to the story book being read aloud.

Example – Where’s my teddy? Read by Eden and Lewis.

Slides available on Google 


Audioboo app: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/audioboo/id305204540

QR code reader app https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/qr-reader-for-iphone/id368494609?mt=8

QR stuff screenshot: http://www.qrstuff.com/

iPad image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad_Mini

Audioboo image http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8096/8545410166_5e15c53777_z.jpg

Association for Science Education conference and primary teachmeet #tmase @thease #aseconf

Great example of using lists of vocabulary to go and find real examples outdoors. Children use laminated vocab lists to go and find examples to take a picture with all the and put into a pic collage and label up. From @drbiol .
Natural dyes on wool (easier than cotton, no pre wash). Boiling water, fix with vinegar or salt. Could investigate different methods, quantities and materials.
Use playground to look for materials and then what is growing on them.
Top trumps for energy sources – free resources form centre for alternative technology. Compare different forms of alternative energy. centre for alternative energy

I just went around the Association for Science Education conference’s free exhibition but found plenty of ideas:
Collins had their new science curriculum materials so I had chance to be be talked through the evaluation pack (saving me reading it in detail!)
The Met office had some great resources that I hadn’t managed to of find on their website that will be useful for science and maths:
– Daily (mon to fri in term time) child friendly weather forecast
– WOW weather observations Website- upload your own weather station data and compare to other places in yeah world – fabulous for real weather data for using in the he new maths curriculum (time graphs).
make you own weather forecast kit – we are going to a do a weather forecast in French this term, so we can use these resources to help make our filmed forecasts look really professional!

British model aircraft association – some wonderful resources for making model aircraft and a competition for us to enter to give some real life purpose to our fight and flight theme after half term. fly your plane



Reflecting back and looking forward #nurture1314

Updated July 2014, updates in bold

I’ve been very inspired by the #nuture1314 posts this week (see a lovely stories collection of tweets and links to other posts), from an idea last year (I think originally from @chocotzar, #nurture1314) the format seems to have taken hold, so here are my 13 reflections for 2013 and 14 aspirations for 2014.

I used to really enjoy the formal written reflections we did during my PGCE and reflection is one of the tools I felt I really got to grips with to help my teaching when I was a student. During the hustle and bustle of life at school it is pretty difficult to reflect as deeply as I did then. I find my commute to and from work is a good place to think about specific lessons, or children and plan some next steps, but a chance to sit and think about a whole year of teaching is a rare event and feels very exciting!

13 reflections from 2013:

1. Passing my NQT year. I’m pretty proud of that, coming into teaching as a novice having been used to being an expert in my previous profession was a steep learning curve, professionally and emotionally.
Still feel I’m learning something new everyday!

2. I’m pleased to have put some of my Google teaching experience into action, setting up Google Apps for the school, getting started with class blogging last year, carrying on this year with my new class and trying our hand at two rounds of Quadblogging. I’ve redesigned the new school website started last year on google sites and set up a self hosted installation of WordPress for us to develop our blogging as a school in the future. Major highlights here include having THE @deputymitchell come to start the whole staff on our blogging journey and our most read (over 1000 views) and tweeted post asking my PLN to respond to a survey so we could do some real life data analysis in numeracy.
3. I took my first tentative steps into subject leadership, with my science background being put to use as Science subject lead. I’ve enjoyed starting to make links with other science leads and educators on twitter, and even meeting some in person (the lovely @boydon1967) at a regional ASE meeting.
I moved school at Easter so now I am Computing Subject lead which I am really enjoying getting my teeth into.

4. Although it seems an eon ago, I survived my first Ofsted last January. I was brave enough to ask them to come and observe me a second time, having had a very short observation in guided reading, I wanted some feedback on a more standard lesson, and getting a ‘good’ from them for my literacy lesson was worth the nerves.
5. The summer holidays this year were just blissful. Hot sun, time with friends and family, catching up on the life I felt I’d missed out on in my NQT year.
very much ready for the summer holidays again…

6. Although I tweet far less often than I did before I was teaching, twitter is probably even more an essential part of my day than before. Always informative, supportive and inspiring, I value my PLN every day.

if anything my PLN has strengthened further this year, especially after Camped – see below.

7. I finally started going to yoga classes in the Autumn, something I’d promised myself I’d do for years. The classes are well worth the effort of getting out of the house and have really helped me to try to keep work and life in proportion.
8. I’ve a photo of my first class on my study wall. It is so lovely to see them developing in school and know that I have taught them.
9. I’ve survived two terms with 37 then 36 children in my class. I’ll be going back to a class of 35, I’m hoping those two less books will help with the marking mountain 😉

At my new school I have 29 children in a year 5 class.

10. I couldn’t have made it this far without the support of my family. Especially my daughters and husband who are always there with a smile and a cup of tea. My Mum and Dad have been just as supportive, regularly turning up to garden, wash or iron just when I need it most. No idea what I would do without them.


11. I’ve managed to keep in touch with most of my friends, though many I haven’t seen anywhere as often as I would like. When I have seen or spoken to them, they have been amazing.
12. Thanks to old university connections, I’ve started some consultancy , a small project for some educational materials for schools visiting Rockingham village hall. It has been fun to think of something different and use my teaching knowledge in a different way to offer advice and practical experience to the project. I’m grateful to Zara Hooley for the opportunity.

This was a super project. I’ll be working with Zara again this year, but this time to raise some chicks in school, another of her many talents!

13. The last two weeks of the Autumn term are an experience that I would rather not repeat. Difficult circumstances showed me just how strong our staff was and I was thankful to be working with such generous and caring people.

14 things for 2014

1. Keep up my Yoga classes. An hour and a half once a week to chill out.

I did well with this in the winter, which is when I need the exercise the most. Moving to a classroom up 4 flights if stairs has given me plenty of exercise since Easter!

2. Join the Association of Science Education, attend some of their regional committee meetings and continue to network with other science leaders there. After July I will apply to be a Registered Scientist (Rsci) using the fast track system, putting my degree and PhD to use!

I joined and had completely forgotten about the Registered Scientist, will try and get this done in the summer!

3. Find out if there is a still a vacancy on our school governing board, and see if I can apply.

I moved school and so didn’t pursue this.

4. Continue to develop the use of blogging in class and to encourage more children to post from home or start their own blog. I’ll be running an ICT club this year, and would like to focus it on helping children set up their own blogs. I’m wondering about inviting parents to join us, as I know that many will want to know that their children are working safely online.

ICT club was great fun, I have signed up to run one in my new school in the Spring. This may be code club, or an attempt to resurrect some antique lego mindstorm equipment.

5. To make better use of our school iPads in class. I already have a daily task for the children to do in rotation during guided reading, initially it was reading a book for KS1 and recording it on audioboo, making a QR code and putting it in huge book so the children could listen to it. Then we have moved onto allowing them to do some free writing and I’m determined to use this time to develop some other skills over the year. This little and often daily approach has really helped when we’ve used these skills in other lessons.

Will be applying this principle with my new class in the new year.

6. Use Coveritlive to develop writing with my class and widen their use of vocabulary. We used it for a hot seating style session before Christmas and I got a glimpse of the power it could have.

This will be on the to do list for Spring.

7. Plan and execute our whole school Science day in April. Based on forensic science, I’ll be roping in my husband to add a real genetic scientist in to the mix, with DNA extractions and a taste of university aspirations for our children that school.

Science day was great fun, despite the fact that the company we had booked didn’t turn up! Fortunately, my husband was already there so did a little extra and meant that at least KS2 had an outside visitor.

8. Book as many holidays as we can! I’ve learned that the first weekend of each half term needs to be spent away with with family to switch off from the term.

we went away at Easter, Half term, last weekend and have 2 weeks booked in the summer as well as another Camped lined up in October!

9. This year my twin daughters will start secondary school. A big step for all of us!

Delighted to report that they loved their transition days last week.

10. Get to grips with the new Science curriculum and help other members of staff in school to do the same.

Working through the curriculum for both keystages has stood me in good stead for moving year groups. I’m now doing the same with the computing curriculum and have led my first staff meeting.

11. I start teaching the New maths curriculum after Christmas as my year 4 children will be the first to be tested under the new curriculum. Not so much of an aspiration as a reality!

More to come…

12. Grow more veggies in the garden.

I tried! Planted plenty but not much success yet…

13. Go to #Camped14 and talk to more people than I did at #camped12! If you haven’t heard of Camped, it is like an extended teachmeet/sleepover. Great fun and a great place to meet people that you’ve only ever tweeted with!

CampEd was amazing. I’ve blogged about it.

14. Attend and present at a teachmeet. Having organised a national one in my PGCE year, I would like to get back into the local teachmeet community as it is a super place to be!

Presented at our local Leicester Teachmeet. Must try to host one…