ICT Evangelist *Newsletter* May 2018 edition Sharing teaching and learning ideas with and without technology


The older I get the quicker time seems to pass by. Here we are now in SATs week and with our Year 11 and Post 16 students starting their exams. The culmination of all our hard work with them over their time with us coming to a head. Can I please take this opportunity to wish you and your pupils and students the very best of luck in their tests and examinations.

My thanks too to everyone who checks out my work and reads my newsletter. It is always great to hear back from you about how you're using my work in your schools and how the newsletter is being shared around your teams.

This past month has been busy like always and has seen some great events take place across the UK and beyond. My thanks always goes to those who chose to ask me to be involved in working with them.

If you'd like to work with me then please get in touch.

Opening keynote at #TMReading18

As with every newsletter we have our regular features:

  • a recommended teaching and learning resource
  • a recommend app with ideas for its use
  • a featured resource
  • some recommended reading
  • blog post of the month

If you are interested in sponsoring this newsletter then please get in touch using the button below

A quote taken from a recent excellent blog post by @jillberry102

Guest recommended teaching and learning resource

This month's guest to the newsletter is Olly Lewis, a Head of Physics and a Head of Year. Olly is a great sharer of ideas, a real advocate for modern pedagogy and definitely someone I would categorise as an informed and connected educator. You can find him on Twitter and he blogs regularly on his website OllyLewisLearning.com.

Modelling concepts using everyday items and edtech...

I was recently talking about modelling with a colleague of mine, Dr Susie Nyman and she suggested using some everyday creative objects to help learners visualise difficult to grasp concepts. This resonated heavily with me following my reading of the work of the Learning Scientists on their website about Concrete Examples and so I developed a strategy of using this idea with my students.

In my subject of Physics we often have to explain difficult concepts. Given my recent conversation, when I was planning the teaching of Year 7 about the solar system I decided to use Play-Doh as a means of helping them learn about the different sizes and scales of the planets, distances between them and how gravity interacts with them in their rotation around the Sun. From my model, learners were then able to, supported by me, to make their own models.

The lesson went really well and so given the success of this lesson, I have been developing this technique with a number of different classes with a few additional tweaks. You can see some of their efforts in the images below:

Some examples made by students

Use across the curriculum

In order to further deepen their knowledge of the concepts I thought it’d be great to have them create explainer videos where they would create a video. The video would have them either annotating photographs or videos of their models to explain key points by using text or by using their voice. Some learners attempted to create stop-frame animations using the Quik app. Some use Adobe Spark Video. It was a really good opportunity not only for them to evidence conceptual understanding but also to develop their digital and oracy skills.

Taking this further, the use of these everyday objects and creating explainer content can be used in subjects right across the curriculum, not just in Physics. Why not think about representing landforms in Geography or plotting three dimensional graphs in Maths or the Product Life Cycle in Economics or the Kennedy assassination in History. There are so many ways in which you could apply this type of activity in the classroom. Not only did my learners love it (which whilst not essential, is a helpful by-product of the activity), their demonstrated understanding of the topic showed clear understanding.

As shown in the section of ‘Making Every Lesson Count’ looking at modelling and why it matters, this process of teacher explanation with joint practice, co-construction and application of their learning, in creating these videos, learners have shown their developing independence in applying their learning.

Taken from 'Making Every Lesson Count' by Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby

My interactions with learners through questioning, feedback and a bit of cajoling at times, I was able to help them to really show what they know. The activity helped to make visible where they had gaps in their knowledge too so I was able to help them further improve their outcomes in the moment rather than at the completion of the task.

Their subsequent low stakes test results completed using a mixture of Quizizz, Quizlet and exam questions showed an improved ability to retrieve information on the topics compared to other topics. We are continuing to address the topics in our lessons to help with the process of embedding the information, as per the findings of retrieval practice theory.

Recommended app of the month

This month's app of the month won't be everyone's cup of tea but I find it massively useful and I'm sure many of you will too.

I am a huge fan of using great, clean fonts to work with when creating presentations, graphics and other things that include text. Often though I see fonts being used in other scenarios and I'm not sure what they are. Enter 'What The Font'.

So what does it do?

With this app, all you have to do is point your camera on your phone at the text you want to find out about and then take a picture. Then, simply highlight the text you wish to search from and submit and then boom, it gives you the result.

Check out this video below to see it in action!

Originally I was made aware of this by my friend, Nina Jackson and it is a simply superb and easy app to use. Available for free on iOS and Android it is a really handy tool that sits nicely in my toolbox of apps. If you don't have access to an Android or iOS device then you can always submit a screenshot to the MyFont website and do it there instead by visiting here.

Recommended teaching and learning resource

I shared today a blog post about research-informed ways to use technology to aid with revision for exams. The basis for much of the post and its related technology ideas and choices come from the work of many people but showcased superbly over the last few years on the developing website and blog of the Learning Scientists.

The Learning Scientist's Website

Why is it a teaching and learning resource?

Their site is a great teaching and learning resource for a number of reasons. Firstly, it's the ideas here that you can apply to teaching and learning in every scenario. Secondly, there isn't a single thing on the site which isn't geared towards improving standards through research-informed strategies about what works when it comes to learning and teaching. It is superb.

In fact for me, the things that they share where they apply research and knowledge from the world of Cognitive Psychology to learning is some of the most exciting things I've seen in education during the course of my career. Added to that, the innovative work of others, creating resources that are being informed by these different areas is truly cutting-edge. There are lots of fantastic resources on the site but here is a good place to start:

Please do check it out if you haven't done so already.

Recommended Reading

This month's recommended read is one which I have shared about a few times but never formally so I thought I'd share it here as it is a book which I feel should be a field guide for every educator. Its content is rich in research but more than a book about research and what works, the authors decipher the research, unpick it and present it in ways that educators can take away and apply to the classroom with relative ease.

By Nick Rose and David Didau

Covering key areas of research and applying it to the classroom, the authors take the time to explain why the different things they have found matters. For example, in the feedback chapter, they firstly unpick the research and then take the time to explain 'what every teacher needs to know about feedback' which is then followed with clear pointers.

The best advice about feedback is that it should be: specific and clear, focused on the task rather than the student and targeted to increase student's task commitment, explanatory and focused on improvement not just verifying performance, designed to attribute outcomes to internal factors that students can control, designed to make students consider unstable factors that are dependent on effort.

The advice continues and the sections in each chapter on "what every teacher needs to know about...", whilst obviously link right back to the title of the book, are superb signposts in each chapter for readers to focus in on to help them improve their practice in each of the different areas.

The book covers lots of areas as you might imagine and not just feedback as mentioned above. The book covers areas such as:

  • assessment
  • cognitive load
  • long-term memory and forgetting
  • effective instruction
  • motivation
  • behaviour
  • self-regulation
  • mastery
  • restorative practice
  • creativity

... and many more besides. As the authors say themselves in the opening section:

Whilst we cannot and should not relinquish our professional judgements in the face of outlandish claims, we should at least be aware of what scientists have discovered about learning, thinking, motivation, behaviour and assessment over the past few decades.

So the book is jam packed full of cognitive psychology research ideas and how that can work in the classroom. It should, I believe, be a book on every educator's bookshelf.

Blog post of the month

Ten Things Every Educator Should Be Able To Do With Their iPad

My most popular blog post this month by far has been this one which explores different things teachers will find useful in helping teaching and supporting learning.

The iPad is great as a learning device and has come a long way since it was launched. With all of these advances, I thought it prudent to share ten things every educator should be able to do with their iPad.

In the post it explores key areas educators can use the iPad to not only help them in their daily work but in creating resources, and most importantly how it can be used to help learning in the classroom.

Your iPad's control centre

There are a number of tutorials included such as this one which shows how to customise your control centre on your iPad...

...and other great features and tools. For example, I share how to use Apple Classroom, how to use screen recording on your iPad to create short videos quickly and easily and how to use markup tools to annotate notes and give feedback to learners quickly and effectively...

To get the full lowdown you can read the post using the button below.


Thanks for reading this far. I hope you have found the newsletter useful.

If you are interested in contributing to the newsletter, please contact Mark via ictevangelist.com.

If you are interested in working with me, then please click the button below. Also, if you are interested in sponsoring the newsletter then please click the link below and get in touch!


Created By
Mark Anderson


Created with images by jplenio - "nature dandelion macro" • walsarabi - "doha skyline skyline doha" • Bru-nO - "children play fun" • Florian Klauer - "vintage typewriter" • Riccardo Annandale - "untitled image" • Courtney Corlew - "untitled image" • Heidi Sandstrom. - "untitled image"

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