Useful Sites

poets.org | Academy of American Poets This American site can be search by looking up a poet or poem. It includes featured thematic lists such as “love poems” and “black history month.”
Famous Poets and Poems – Read and Enjoy Poetry This site offers an eclectic mix of poetry, both modern and classic. There is a list of the top 50 poems, famous quotes by poets and you can search thematically.
Poetry Foundation This site includes established and classic poets. You can click on “poems and poets” and browse for poems. Searches can be done by themes or by browsing by poem type.
poetryarchive.org | Poetry archive This an archive of poets reading their own work. It isaccompanied by the written text. It also contains lesser known poets and is searchable by theme, the poet, or a poem.
Purdue OWL: MLA Formatting and Style Guide This is Purdue University’s Citation site, and links directly to the MLA section. It is a valuable resources for all students who are looking for citation information!
R U 4 R.E.A.L? Strategy for Website Evaluation Slideshow that sets out how to evaluate websites using the pneumonic R.E.A.L. Explains how you tell if a website is credible or could be used for a school research project by explaining the R.E.A.L. strategy. Puts up the sorts of questions students should ask to evaluate a website’s credibility before using its information for a school project.
Critical Evaluation – Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything Kathy Schrock has created a long list of links to iuseful information about how to critically evaluate information found on the Web. This page includes forms for teaching the process, articles for learning about the aspect of literacy, and a list of bogus sites to use to showcase that all things on the Web are not real.
Evaluating Internet Resources This post outines the Criteria for Evaluation of resources. “Students need to learn to evaluate the quality of information they find on the web as well as other information resources such as books, magazines, CD-ROM, and television.” Students should be skeptical of everything they find. They need to be encouraged to compare and contrast different information resources. Also has links to hoax sites that can be used to to explain how to evaluate information.
Evaluating Sources – Use the C.R.A.P. Test! — Mercer University Libraries When undertaking any research you will need to evaluate all of them to determine whether or not they are reliable and relevant to whatever your project is. It does not matter if you have a book, article, website, or other source, you can use the C.R.A.P. Test* to decide whether or not it’s worth including in your resource list. This piece outine what is involved in the “C.R.A.P.” test.
Getting ‘REAL’ with web evaluation – tips and tools to develop information literacy | LinkingLearning Using the ideas of Alan November, who presents a great strategy for students to apply whenever they are researching and need to confirm the reliability of the source of their information. The pneumonic ‘REAL’ illustrates the step that can be used to test the any site.
5 Components of Information Literacy – YouTube“Published on 29 Jan 2014. Information literacy can be divided into five different categories: Identify, Find, Evaluate, Apply, and Acknowledge. View academic and real world examples for each component to discover why information literacy is important to success in college or university and in life.”
Why can’t I just Google? – YouTube “Uploaded on 9 Feb 2010 Information is everywhere! Its just so easy to Google and use something that looks relevant… so why cant you just Google?”

Why Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Scores An interesting look at how technology should be used in the classroon for it to be effective. “HAVING technology means nothing. You have to: 1. Have technology in the classroom, 2. Students must have access, and 3. Teachers must know how to teach with tech.  A number of different ideas for “using Technology in Ways that Improve Classroom Learning” are then explained

Free Technology for Teachers: Streamline Your Feedback Process in Google Docs “JoeZoo Express doesn’t limit you to using just feedback phrases that they have listed. You can create your own feedback phrases and explanations.

Teachers who want to use rubrics to give feedback and grades can do so within JoeZoo Express. JoeZoo offers a free rubric builder tool. You can customize the rubric to meet your specific needs. The rubrics that you create can be saved and inserted into students’ documents when you are grading their work.”

Useful links

DigCit Deep Dive – DigCit@SJP “Good online behavior is directly and inextricably related to good behavior in general, which rests at the heart of a solid K–12 education. We cannot predict what technology will look like in 2020, or even 5 years. But we do know that children will always need our guidance in managing and navigating the increasingly complex digital world. Such guidance is essential in creating not only a generation of positive, responsible, and kind digital natives, but also a generation of good citizens. The basic tenets and concepts around digital citizenship are evergreen. Digital citizenship and information literacy comprise some of the most important education we can provide our children. Unlike the comings and goings of technology devices and applications, the way people operate in the digital world will be relevant and significant for years to come.” $ tenets: Etiquette; communication and responsibility; privacy & safety and Ifentity and personal brand.
Kids & Family Reading Report – Scholastic What Kids want in books. An overview with choice being #1
The Strategy for Digital Citizenship Some of the rationale: “Much of digital citizenship education is related to being a good citizen and exercising good judgment. We teach these values in everyday life, but to date the digital life of children is often considered outside this realm. By focusing on digital citizenship, we acknowledge that our students’ online lives require the same attention and guidance as we give to their offline lives. Our aim is to empower students to make smart, responsible, and respectful decisions when using media. At the same time, we want to help them to understand the ethical consequences behind the decisions they make online.:
Top Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Easy Formative Assessment “The secret to great teaching is to understand what students know. Formative assessment can improve your classroom learning. Technology can make formative assessment easier for you and make a lesson flow.”
An English language lesson from the movies Alternatives to using “very”
Mathematical Habits of Mind | Edutopia Although about maths the ideas and concepts are applicable more widely. “Experienced vs. Inexperienced Problem Solvers. According to Levasseur and Cuoco (PDF, 80KB), it’s the mathematical habits of mind, or modes of thought, that enable us to reason about the world from a quantitative and spatial perspective, and to reason about math content that empowers us to use our mathematical knowledge and skills to make sense of and solve problems. It’s these habits that separate the “experienced” from the “inexperienced” problem solver.”
Note Taking Skills for 21st Century Students @coolcatteacher “Note taking skills aren’t just automatic. We tell students “take notes” but they have no idea what that means. What makes “good notes.” What do they write down? How should notes look?” “A new frustration that has me grappling with noteaking. I don’t just take my students into full blown digital notetaking in the beginning. If they don’t have basic notetaking skills down in an analog way adding a new technology AND teaching how to take notes at the same time is too much.
Design: Creating An Effective Scientific Poster Presentation Simple tips on how to create better presentatilons
Poster Basics – How to Create a Research Poster – Research Guides at New York University “The poster is usually a mixture of a brief text mixed with tables, graphs, pictures, and other presentation formats. At a conference, the researcher stands by the poster display while other participants can come and view the presentation and interact with the author. What makes a good poster? Important information should be readable from about 10 feet away. Title is short and draws interestText is clear and to the point. Use of bullets, numbering, and headlines make it easy to read. Effective use of graphics, color and fonts. Consistent and clean layout. Includes acknowledgments, your name and institutional affiliation A sample of a well designed poster
Infographic: Tips for designing better research posters “The research poster must be clear, concise and attractive in order to generate discussion and feedback from colleagues. However, it is not easy to achieve those goals in a pleasing layout. Here are some tips to help you design effective research posters that stand out.”
Templates – Scientific Posters Useful poster templates

Education at a Glance 2016 – OECD Indicators – en – OECD “Education at a Glance 2016

OECD Indicators”
Why we Need to Talk About Leslie Jones in Class – Teacher Tech This post offer some good advice about how to get the message across. “Why telling kids to “be nice” online is NOT enough” is a post by @julnilsmith on the blog of @alicekeeler. This is a very useful one on the topic of Digital Citizenship, security & privacy.
Free Infographic Maker – Venngage Free tool that enables you to make infographics

Evaluating Websites: Using pneumonics to remember C.R.A.P. AND R.E.A.L.

Working with students in year 7 (and after some research sessions with parents) I created this slideshow to help students (and parents) remember the things we spoke about and investigated. The students used in in conjunction with someweb research they were doing in respone to a variety of English tasks where they were to recommend several websites that would be useful to the characters they chose to work on. The students had to find and evaluate the sites then explain why they were sites their characters would have used.

Useful links

The EdTech Eleven: This Month’s Must-Know Tools | Common Sense Education ” From coomonSenseEducaion – for teachers who find it difficult to keep up with the chnges in Ed Tech. They created the EdTech Eleven: a monthly list of noteworthy tools generating buzz in the edtech world. While these aren’t recommendations or ratings (you have to check out our Top Picks for that), what you’ll find on the EdTech Eleven is a quick and current list of trending tools you might want to check out.”
The Trends and Challenges Shaping Technology Adoption In Schools | MindShift | KQED News “Trends affecting the adoption of technology in schools. (NMC/CoSN Horizons Report: K-12 Edition)”
Does Minecraft Help Students Become Better Readers? – Wise Guys “As student engage in various literacy activities centered around Minecraft, there is no doubt that increased fluency and comprehension will occur. As long as the game stays popular with kids, it will also be a popular way for teachers and parents to promote the enrichment of reading skills too.”
Coding: Developing Rigorous Thinkers An interesting article about why one teacher believes that it is important to teach coding in schools. “Coding challenges teachers and students to think abstractly. There is plenty of research suggesting a strong spatial sense yields future success in mathematics. Being able to write simple coding instructions and accounting for different variables is like playing chess and visualizing different scenarios. Playing hockey is no different. Goaltenders are constantly assessing the play, changing variables and predicting different outcomes in order to make saves. Computer Science is about moving towards real world applications like design thinking that tie in other subject areas. This form of self expression becomes a medium for storytelling and creativity and less about a math exercise.”
Why the 21st century teacher needs to understand research Tom Bennet’s short presentation for researchED Scotland on the importance of being research literate.
The Power Of I Don’t Know Questioning is an important tool. It is the catalyst for inquiry and useful for an assessment strategy. The best questions drive units of instruction when they become the essential question. Questions transcend content, the bridge between students and their context. I don’t know isn’t just a starting point for finding an answer, or a ready-made template for some academic essential question. Rather, it returns the learning to the student, and restores the scale of understanding to a universe of knowledge.”
104 Photo Editing Tools You Should Know About A long list of briefly described tools that are grouped under the following headings: Photo enhancers (1-3); Online editors (4-21); Free desktop editors (22-26); Paid desktop editors (27-40); HDR photo editors (41-53); Cross-platform image editors (54-57); Photo filters (58-66); Photo editing mobile apps (67-85); RAW processors (86-96); Photo viewers and managers (97-99); Other (100-104)

Why Technology in Classrooms Doesn’t Always Boost Scores An interesting look at how technology should be used in the classroon for it to be effective. “HAVING technology means nothing. You have to: 1. Have technology in the classroom, 2. Students must have access, and 3. Teachers must know how to teach with tech. A number of different ideas for “using Technology in Ways that Improve Classroom Learning” are then explained

Free Technology for Teachers: Streamline Your Feedback Process in Google Docs “JoeZoo Express doesn’t limit you to using just feedback phrases that they have listed. You can create your own feedback phrases and explanations. Teachers who want to use rubrics to give feedback and grades can do so within JoeZoo Express. JoeZoo offers a free rubric builder tool. You can customize the rubric to meet your specific needs. The rubrics that you create can be saved and inserted into students’ documents when you are grading their work.”

The 5Ds framework for integrating technology in the classroom – Book Creator app 5 Ds Framework for a meaningful and purposeful integration of technology in the classroom
Free Technology for Teachers: Try My Simpleshow for Creating Explanatory Videos A tutorial by Richard Byrne about how to best use this free tool. “Students have to write a script on My Simpleshow before they can begin to use the video editing tools. This tool enables you to create Common Craft style explanatory videos. The best aspect of My Simpleshow is the emphasis that the developers have placed on storyline planing and development.”

GoConqr – Create Flashcards With Images on Your Android Device | Android 4 Schools This is a service that offers tools for creating flashcards and mind maps. The GoConqr Flashcard app for Android allows students to develop sets of flashcards on their mobile devices. Students can create flashcards that are solely text-based or they can choose to incorporate pictures into their flashcards. Within the app students can create as many sets of flashcards as they like. The app does not require students to be connected to the Internet in order to review their flashcards.

Great way for students to reflect on their learning and create revision tools whilst building up a set of their own revision cards.
Buncee | Create, Present and Share Engaging Multimedia Lessons Buncee is a good tool for creating visual stories. You need to sign up but it is free for an individual to use. Schools can buy a licence for their staff and students. It is easy to use and products look good.
mysimpleshow – create your own explainer video in minutesThis is a free tool for creating simple explanatory videos (in the style of Common Craft videos). In My Simpleshow the emphasisis on storyline planning and development. This would make students focus on their message not the “bells and Whistles”. If the video developers work on that aspect the rest falls into place.

Book Review: Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens

I had the chance to read a few novels over the past 2 weeks and especially enjoyed the newest addition to the Wells and Wong series. These books are a great read for girls who enjoy the crime genre with the added bonus of the Boarding house life (so no annoying adults to stifle the protagonists adventures.)

Jolly Foul Play (A Murder Most Unladylike Mystery, #4)Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another delightful tale about our two young detectives, Daisy and Hazel, who again have to deal with another murder in their school Deepdene, a year after their first investigation. This is the fourth book in the Wells and Wong series by Robin Stevens .
In this classic whodunit mystery set in the 1930’s, Elizabeth, a mean-spirited Head Girl has been found dead next to the bonfire on the fireworks night at Deepdean School for Girls. Although the teachers think that it was an accident, Daisy Wells and Heather Wong, aka The Detective Society, immediately see that it she was murdered and get on to the case.
This year’s Head Girl Elizabeth Hurst, who together with her team of prefects, the Big Girls, loved to terrorise the younger students, seemed to have been in possession of other students secrets and was especially fond of using them to leverage her power. After Elizabeth’s death, some may have felt safe but then the secrets of Deepdean start to surface, one at a time, written in pieces of paper and spread all around the grounds. The plot revolves around these secrets and the consequences that occur once they are revealed. Many friendships and loyalties are tested and Kitty, Beanie and Lavinia, the other girls from Daisy and Hazel’s dormitory, have bigger roles to play in solving the crime this time.
As usual the book is packed with red-herrings and suspicious behaviour. There were the twists and turns as the loyalties between the girls is tested. Silly small things blew up into major arguments and jealousies raged at times but the determination and spirit in this English boarding school overcame them in the end when the clues finally dropped into place and the danger was successfully alleviated.
This story was a good romp, complete with bun breaks, midnight feasts, gym-knickers, hockey sticks, and other “jolly japes”. The narrative has an excellent pace, likeable characters and seems right for the period, with several references to what is happening beyond the Deepdean world. Modern language is used with occasional period words, explained in the glossary at the end, thrown in for effect so younger readers can easily relate to the character and events.
There were occasionally references to previous adventures but nothing that gets in the way of the story for a new reader. Anything important from the past was explained as events unfolded in the story. A great addition to the series and the genre.

View all my reviews

STEM: resources

I have been investigating resources for supporting the curriculum next year. We will be embracing the STEM ideas in a more structured way for the first time although other schools have been onboard for a long time. There are  a myriad of rich resources and approaches that other schools and organisations have shared by schools. The sites I find that meet our needs are being added to my Blendspace lesson on STEM resources. Although I like the STEAM idea that incorporates creativity (through the Arts addition), I am keen to get all our teachers on the same wavelength with STEM. There are still some who are not sure about why we are making this push. The following infographic (although from the US) gives us some ideas about why we need to get kids excited about science and maths.

Why STEM Matters
Image source: www.topeducationdegrees.org

Digital literacy: Better Googling. Parent sessions

Recently we ran some Digital literacy session for parents. They were run over three evening and were hour-long session designed to give parents an idea about the tips we give to their sons. The second session was entitled “Better Googling” and explained about how to use the standard Google search more effectively to get the most useful results. This following was a slide presentation I prepared. We always try to make the sessions hands-on and encourage participants to play. There are so many things we could cover but we keep it to an hour because, at the end of the day, we believe this is an optimum length for everyone to concentrate and enjoy the sessions.

Although we used live internet connections, copies of Powerpoint slides given as handouts work well with parents as they like to write down notes.