DynaKars are fantastic devices for producing distance-time and velocity-time graphs. They are really engaging and my classes just love them. They are constantly asking me, "are we using the DynaKars today, Miss?"
"No, because we're learning about Biology..."
They are really easy to use and set up, just plug and play and the software is really accessible. It can plot different shaped graphs for motions, be used instead of a light gate for a whole journey, really used for any sort of motion analysis.
Another fantastic thing about them is you can easily find the area under the graph or the gradient to find acceleration or distance travelled, which makes them fantastic for KS3 or KS4.
The cars have hooks at their base so they can be accelerated with masses and pulleys and are a much more exciting form of the traditional trolley down a ramp (which is the only experiment any adult can ever remember doing when I tell them I'm a Physics teacher).
A really awesome little piece of kit, making motion graphs much more exciting!
uLog sensors are a very good set of USB sensors that are fantastically easy to use. Even a Biology teacher can use them (just kidding)! They also have an excellent range: forces, sound, temperature..... and they all use the same software. They mostly have autosense so will record what the children should be recording automatically. Great for demos and class experiments.
I was so excited to get onto the raspberry pi educators course. It has a really long waiting list but is completely amazing and well worth it.
The course is two days long and gives you a great introduction to physical computing, raspberry pis, sonic pi, python, twython and then a day of project work that really gives you a chance to play with the new tools. I'd recommend it for beginners and more advanced users.
I can't wait to try out my new skills!
This was an excellent workshop and came with loads of absolutely amazing free goodies (a teacher's favourite kind)!
This two day course was a combination of admissions information, obviously they were trying to sell their university, and practical workshops using the free kit.
The first workshop was in optics. We were given the photonics explorer kit, which is brilliant kit full of mirrors, lasers, polarisers, filters... everything you need to teach light to most key stages and a whole class set. It also comes with handy worksheets full of suggested experiments. These were part of an EU project and you can only get your hands on them through training courses but keep your eyes out.
The second fantastic piece of kit were were given was a Music Mixer board (or 15 of them!). This is a kit that was designed by students at the university as part of an outreach project. It is a circuit board that has components on it for several A Level experiments: wave interference, potential dividers and deriving Plank's constant with different coloured LEDs. It's a brilliant bit of kit that is incredibly useful for us as Plank's constant kits are normally very expensive but also for the University as it is emblazoned with their logo.
We also had an introduction to Isaac Physics and lots of chances to network with other teachers. It was free two day event with free accommodation and a fancy dinner. Really worth a visit!
Imagine a school trip where you didn't have to fill in any paper work, carry around 5 epipens, 6 inhalers and a ridiculous number of spare pack lunches, no counting students onto and off buses, no registering every 5 minutes, no apologising for their behaviour, no debate as to whether they should wear uniform (if they do you can easily see where they are but if they don't no one knows that the children belong to you...). Well look no further: google have the answer!
Google Expeditions is an app for your smart phone or tablet that has loads of trip destinations: my students have dived in coral reefs and floated in space stations. There are simply loads to choose from: you'll definitely find one for your subject. The teacher is the expedition leader and chooses what the students will look at. These pictures will appear on their tablets. It works with cardboard and other VR devices but I have only used it with tablets: the children can move their tablet around to look at the 360 degree view. As a teacher you can see where each of your students is looking at as it's labelled like the marauders map on your screen. If you want to draw their attention to something in particular, tap on it and an arrow will appear on all of their screens encouraging them to turn around. The fantastic thing is that not only can you take them to interesting places, there is lots of information there for the teacher to read out as the narrator. It's such a fantastic hook or activity in a lesson and what's more, it's free and easy to use. I thoroughly recommend you try it out. You will need a google account to sign in though.
A bit of a stream of consciousness but I saw LOADS of inspiring and exciting things.
Talk: Ed Before Tech
The media is often quite negative about the use of educational technology but we can’t deny that when paired with a professional teacher, it improves students’ learning. Jo Neale warned against using technology for technology’s sake rather than to improve learning. Apps should be assessed using the following criteria:
Remember pedagogy is the drive and tech is the accelerator.
Further reading: Stratosphere by Michael Fullan and Creative Schools by Ken Robinson
Talk: Answering creativity’s call for STEAM talent: the untapped opportunity to redress the career gender and diversity gap
The panel were from both engineering and the creative arts and discussed the engineering skills gap. The creative arts need lots of STEAM graduates to do coding for apps, data analysis and graphic design. It is important that students know they need these skills in later life.
Priya Lakhani OBE led the panel discussion. She left law to found the big data firm Century-Tech and is a member of the Department of Business and Skills Advisory board. Pretty impressive CV, good speaker – Wider World/ Inspiring Women?
Talk: The best apps to use with the equipment your school probably already has (secondary)
The panel discussed how to best choose the technology to use in your school. Despite the title they didn’t name very many apps to use but cautioned that all teachers should use the same set of apps.
Some apps they did mention: Explain Everything (this is brilliant, if we don’t have this on the ipads, we should. I will check)
They suggested Twitter for trip updates
Google Expeditions- this is a 3D VR tour of various places. I will trial this on my cardboard and update. You can also use it in 2D. I have asked HH to install this on the iPads. You can give tours of coral reefs, CERN etc. A good hook or introduction to lessons. Probably excellent for Geography or Biology.
Panel Discussion: Artificial Intelligence in Education- Priya Lakhani, Anthony Sheldon, Graeme Laurie, Jim Nigh, Rose Luckin
“The Fourth Education Revolution” by Anthony Sheldon, to be published soon
This talk was about how AI could be used to improve learning in the classroom. It was suggested that an AI assistant could be used to monitor student progress in various areas and feedback to the teacher. It could mark work and suggest further tasks leaving the teacher free to teach. To wander around the classroom providing the nurture and personal attention that the children need.
AI could also be used to analyse learning styles and provide different work for each student (adaptive learning) so that they could all work at their own pace towards a goal. There are already a few companies in their infancy working on this. Pearson also has some adaptive learning software but it does not use AI.
AI could also be used to monitor the social interactions and well-being of students. Buckingham University is currently running a trial that students can sign up to. Their social media is monitored for trigger words and the wellbeing of the university is being tracked. The chancellor can see the university as a whole but individual students can see what their own wellbeing is.
This approach could provide truly personalised learning that would improve social mobility. It was then discussed that the current school system was not fit for purpose as it was designed in the 19th centuary. Children did not need to be rote learners of facts but appliers of information. They needed skills. If we had AI in the classroom monitoring all aspects of their learning we would not need examinations as their abilities would already be know. Companies could then use this data to hire them.
This would make life easier for the teachers and would help solve the current teacher recruitment crisis as long as staff and parents could be persuaded that this would help. It could eliminate marking and reports.
They then went on to discuss how such a system could be implemented and when the technology would be able to achieve it. It would be able to do it now but we need more data monitoring and would it be ethical to sign children up to it. It would also cost a lot of money but in the long run save the billions that the UK pays towards exams.
Talk: The role of the teacher in the future? From teacher to coach how will the teacher-student relationship evolve?
This was given by e-learning coordinators and SLT members of one to one device schools. They talked about how ed tech has improved their classes but changed the roles of the teacher and the student. With the age of the internet and students’ ability to find out information easily, it allows them to collate the information that they need to learn quickly for themselves and for lessons to move on swiftly to the discussion and application of information. They suggested that the flipped classroom model is very easy to achieve now. Apps can also allow a much better dialogue in marking and students can redraft or respond to comments easily.
However, it takes time to create a classroom that works well with the equipment. The students have to be trained to be more independent and the teachers have to be trained to let go a little more. The teachers are still ‘driving the education bus but the students can now help them navigate’.
Teachers will need training in different apps and different departments need bespoke training in order for it to work effectively. Often the students know more about the technology than the teachers do so the teachers can say they want a video and the students will download and use the appropriate app. However, because things like videos and posters etc can be made to look much more professional teachers need higher standards for the work that is handing it. Students make good digital leaders that can be leant out to classes to help. They also make good e-safety leaders as they know what is trending.
Talk: The black box Inside the Black Box
This was a talk with tips on how to use technology to make tasks more efficient. There were lots of good ideas from the school, which can be found on the following link: https://Goo.gl/KghjgM
The most interesting uses were:
Using the ‘draftback’ add-on on google docs. You can see the work that was done on fast forward and when the document was accessed. Very useful for watching how the student is approaching the task and structuring ideas. It also allows you to see whether the student is allowing the right amount of time for the task.
Using the app ‘ants’ to annotate videos. This would be really good for Drama or English to analyse plays. Or even for science- you could add explanations to a skydiver to explain the forces for Terminal Velocity ect.
Taking photos of marking and putting feedback online (eg. Using the Firefly app) allowing feedback to be a conversation and it can’t be lost if the book or piece of paper is lost.
Use of lesson blogs. They are awesome, I agree. Excellent for sharing resources with students and other teachers in your faculty.
Things to follow up: does Microsoft have an equivalent to ‘Draft back’. Trial ‘Video Ant’ app
Stuff I already have at school
There is a new systems update for isams coming soon. Everything is going to look a lot more colourful and friendly. There will be separate dashboards for different levels of staff so teachers and Heads of Year etc will be able to access the modules they need more easily.
The isams calendar will now sync with outlook. We currently use outlook for our calendar rather than isams. I imagine that outlook will only be able to read the isams calendar rather than write to it so this won’t really affect us.
All timetables are going to become more like a calendar with a day view, week view or month view. The natural progression from this would be that you could add one off events to the timetable.
There is a new admissions module that allows registration and fee payment to take place on line.
There is a new sanatorium module that can manage doctors appointments ect. This would probably be more useful for a boarding school.
The A2C project was scrapped by the government so there is a delay in the new exams module. There will be an update soon, however, with new reports. In the future they are hoping to be able to use it and the cover module to do invigilation.
The parent portal is being phased out to be replaced by the parent and student apps. The parent app allows parents to see all the information on the portal but is more accessible and less chunky. It is hard to customise the portal and there is a lot of functionality we don’t use. The photos haven’t been updated since 2011. I think we should move the parents onto the iparent app. I do not believe there is currently a use for the istudent app.
The new iteacher app is out. We have this already and use it on the registration ipads. It will be upgraded slightly and there will be the option to write reports on it soon. Our free trial ends at the end of this year and I thoroughly recommend we buy the module. It has huge functionality and would be even better if staff could have it on a mobile device to use all the time.
Firefly 6 looks great. It has some exciting new features but some stuff has moved around. Its main features are the student and staff planner. It is gaining more functionality with its teacher and student apps. I really think it would be a good idea to have these: it would be great to replace homework diaries with task setting and you can use Firefly to keep a mark book. There are now new task setting features so you can include anything with the tasks: a page of resources, youtube video, basically all the content of your lesson, similar to a lesson blog.
I spoke to Yvonne Mitchel Director of Digital Strategy of Fettes College and they raved about using Firefly. From September they got rid of homework diaries and all homework had to be set through Firefly with both staff and pupils using the app. She reported that it has been a huge success. However, it did mean a change in the rules about pupils using mobile phones and the staff had ipads.
Tablets for staff
I know in the past I have been anti-ipad as there are a limited number of apps and it does not have a keyboard. However, the software that we currently use, isams and firefly, both have really excellent apps for mobile devices that I think would be very beneficial for staff to have. I have been trialling my Microsoft Surface and it is lovely, very light and easy to carry around with a good sized keyboard. But I have yet to use it in a lesson as we don’t have a way (I’m sure there is one but suggestions I have had have been quite expensive) to connect it to the board and keep the board interactive. We already have a way to do that with the iPads: they can airplay to the laptop connected to the board. I think I am moving my support away from Microsoft surfaces and back towards ipads. However, staff would not be able to plan their lessons with just iPads; they would also need their laptops so this would be an extra expense.
Apps for Parents and pupils
We use two main pieces of software that parents need a log in for and sadly they have different functions and cannot be reduced to just one:
Isams is for the general running of the school – attendance, reports, exam results, updating their contact details
Firefly is for learning- homework, trips, the vle and vdi
I think that we should have the parent apps for both firefly and isams. We certainly need it for isams as the parent portal is going to be phased out. As Firefly allows us to send letters and set tasks for parents and we are trying to move everything onto this system, it might be worth having the app for that too. However, all tasks are emailed to the parent so possibly not necessary.
I don’t think that we need the isams app for the students. I’m sure they don’t need to look at their reports or their merits more often than could be done with their parents’ phones.
It is worth considering if we are going to use Firefly’s excellent task setting and marking functions to set homework for the students. If we do, they should have the student app.
New Apps and interesting technology
Look at Century Tech- an interesting idea using AI and data to track learners progress and best learning styles. Content can be created by the teacher or there is lots of content already for GCSE English and Maths. Tracks progress in different streams. Asks questions more frequently if more practice is needed and will ask again in a few weeks to revise. Good homework program? Better when there is more content. In a few years I think this will be excellent but not ready yet.
Glam Science- go into schools and events to run tailored workshops on science. They are a charity so you only have to pay for travel but you can donate more (as a private school we should). Would be good for Science Week next year. http://www.glamsci.org/about.html
Scientific Literacy Tool- this is a widget that can be added to a web browser. When you highlight a scientific word it will show you lots of information/ papers/ web pages about that. It’s free. I think we should look into installing it. Everyone needs a log in, perhaps there should be a school login? It is free. http://literacytool.com/
Partake Augmented Reality- this is an app that costs £300. It is a virtual museum. They have scanned in various exhibits from around the world and you can look at them in augmented reality and rotate them in 3D. It includes an audio track telling you about them. There are a few science resources but most of them are historical artifacts. I think this is an excellent ipad app and is worth asking for a free trial to show to History and Classics departments to see if they could incorporate this into their teaching. Very engaging and very interesting. http://www.partakear.com/
Microsoft Hacking Stem- these are free downloads showing how to use arduinos, office and easy to gather materials such as cardboard and copper wire to make awesome little robots. This would be a good STEM club activity or cross curricular project for a year group. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/education/education-workshop/default.aspx
Hydrogen Horizon- this is a school racing project- pupils research renewable energies and then design and build a hydrogen fuelled racing car and compete in an endurance race. I think this would be really excellent. There are several good racing events but they mostly involve building cars for people, for which Queen’s Gate doesn’t have enough space. This is a small remote control car so it could be just the thing. I would like to contact the person running it to discuss what DT equipment the school would need to properly take part. This could also be an excellent STEM club project. http://hydrogenhorizon.org/
Video Ant- this is a web-based program that allows you to add annotations to a streaming video. This can easily be shared and exported as it is all html5 code (it could be uploaded onto a MyQG page. I think this could be really good for Drama and English- perfomances could be analysed and discussed. I would like to play around with this a little more and then report back, training up the relevant departments if it turns out to be good. https://ant.umn.edu/
Google Expeditions- this is a fun app that works really well with Google cardboard and mobiles on a headset but also will work on the ipads (it has now been installed on all of them). It would work as a very good hook to engage students. I can see it being used a lot in science and geography. Lots of 360° photos that can be looked at. A teacher ‘leads’ the students through the different scenes and can highlight interesting things, eg on the ISS or looking around a coral reef. I would like to have a further mess around with this and demo it in a staff meeting.
Draft Back- this is a chrome extension that allows you to watch back a sped up version of your work on google docs. It could be good to see how students are writing their essays and planning their structure. I think it would be a powerful tool to analyse how students are working. However, it requires them to use google docs rather than normal word. https://draftback.com/ This can be done by getting students to turn on the ‘track changes’ mode when they work in Microsoft Word. You can see all the things that have been deleted.
Nearpod- a lesson planning and presentation app. Students can annotate etc. Would like to trial this a little to see what it is like. Lots of recommendations from speakers at BETT.
Glisser (or equivalent)- throughout the talks BETT were using Glisser for audience questions. The audience log onto the talk with their mobile devices or laptops and can type questions when they think of them. A question board is formed for the speaker to answer at the end. You can also upvote other audience members’ questions so the most popular questions are answered. It’s free for up to 100 logins and 5 presentations a month. I thought it might be interesting to trial it during a wider world talk.
Revisio- this is an online revision tracker and planner. You input which GCSEs and IGCSEs you are taking and it links to the syllabuses, past papers and mark schemes. You tell it how much revision you want to do a day and it provides you with a timetable to make sure that all areas of the syllabus are covered and gives you time to do exams. It also gives you an exam timetable. You can tick off what you have done and make notes for yourself. It will adjust the timetables accordingly. Teachers and parents can access past paper grades and monitor whether you are completing the revision. £30 a student. I think we should get all of this year’s UVth to sign up before Easter. It would be a good test of the system and it is quite cheap, particularly if we pass the expense onto the parents. www.revisio.co
I read a great article about using scratch to teach Physics principles and thought I would try it out.
It's a great chance for students to play with ideas. I tried it with the year 12s- they didn't have much programming experience but managed to produce nice models in the end.
Using programming is a good way to introduce the concept that velocity is a change in position and acceleration is a change in velocity.
I've put the instructions below but you can find the project here.
About 18 months ago I submitted an article to Physics Review, an A Level Physics magazine about how 3D images can be created. Now I shall be famous in school libraries up and down the country! Such literary success.
MatchGraph! is a free game from Pasco Scientific and it is well worth playing if you have their data logging software. It uses their motion sensor and blue tooth transmitter. Connect your iPad to the bluetooth sensor and away you go. You are given different shaped distance and velocity graphs that you have to try and act out in front of the sensor. You are then marked on accuracy and given a score out of 100. The graphs range from easy to very difficult and are brilliant fun. They children loved this from KS3 to A Level who were incredibly competitive about it. It's fantastic.
I would normally get the children to draw motion graphs for their partner to act out: this is a great activity to do after they have warmed up with that as they can be assessed. With weaker groups, you can get them to discuss the shapes before they give them a go.
It's so good we even got it out for the royal visit!
is also a teacher and massive e-learning nerd.