Pay attention, please… Engaging students in their learning


I like the opening lines above this infographic. After being a teacher for quite a few years now, all my observations show that one of the most important things for a teacher in a class of young people is to remain passionate about your subject and about learning. The students at my school will forgive quite a lot if you have that passion. If you have that deep interest, chances are that you will also be constantly reading and developing your knowledge and looking for new ways for students to learn about it.
The infographic offers a lot of practical ideas to be proactive about ways out of difficult moments without resorting to negative options.
Keep the passion, maintain the fire for learning and enjoy the time you spend with developing minds.

Originally posted on An Ethical Island:


it is the students who are bored


sometimes it is the instructor who is boring.

Engaged students pay attention.

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Teaching code via our “coding club”

We have recently started a junior coding club at our school, after not managing to have a subject put into the year 8 curriculum. It is interesting how to see how each week a few more boys are joining our ranks. It was also great to have some of our year 10 students offer to work with the younger boys as mentors and teachers. It has been many years since I have really worked in this area so it is a big learning curve for me but with the good will of the students we are all learning together  and having fun at the same time.

I thought I would include the infographic below. It sums up some of the questions we had to face when we wanted to introduce coding into the junior curriculum. Sometimes it is very frustrating but in the long run there will be a greater acceptance that coding is a useful skill for all students. It can encourage and develop a range of skills in our students: problem-solving, logical thinking, interpretation of data/information, innovation and original ideas,  abstract thought and creativity. Our students will learn to be creators, not just consumers at the mercy of other developers, or at least better understand the world they inhabit.

I still argue that we should  Teach coding to students, it’s an important skill. (A post I wrote 12 months ago). More articles are being written and research undertaken  that also support this view. One interesting article I read back in August was Coding overtakes French as UK’s most popular second language in primary schools. The headline alone piqued my interest.

So we continue with the coding club and lay the groundwork for all students to have access this most useful way of developing a range of skills. 
Teaching Coding in Classroom

Courtesy of: AssignmentHelpNet

Useful links

Educational Postcard: ”Collaboration is by Ken Whytock, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  Ken Whytock 
South Orange Middle School Library – Twitter Style Book Review How to create Twitter style book reviews. This activity can be easily adapted and students of all abilities can have fun trying to create a good tweet about their book.
Transforming assessment and feedback with technology | Jisc “JISC page that provides ideas and resources to help colleges and universities enhance the entire assessment and feedback lifecycle.” There are many transferable ideas for secondary school teachers.

20 Ways to Engage Students “A research study was carried out at PROCAT to investigate students’ expectations and experiences when using technology at college. You can read the research report here. The E-Zine below is a further resource, which follows on from the research report. It provides 20 key messages for Instructors, which summarises feedback direct from PROCAT Students on how to engage learners. The magazine provides a useful checklist for teaching staff and is a resource they can keep referring to for ideas and to check they are on track. You will need flash to be installed to view the e-zine.”

Developing students’ digital literacy | Jisc A quick guide to a very good and comprehensive report on Improving the student digital experience
Growth mindset for teachers | Education Evangelist Offers a nice graphic to encourage a “Growth Mindset for teachers using technology”
‘Which Book Reader Species Are You?’: INFOGRAPHIC | GalleyCat “In this post, we’re describing and classifying close to 50 reader species-from the folks who see books as precious display objects to those who sort of hate reading.”

Kelly Fitzgerald ~ EdTech Nut: Using Collections in TweetDeck to Save Tweets I use TweetDeck. It is a useful tool for following along during a Twitter chat as it allows you to build columns that help to keep track of the many different feeds, notifications, mentions, etc. It can be difficult to check out the resources shared and keep up with it all. There are many methods for ‘saving’ the resources shared. Kelly Fitzgerald @LISDTechie uses the collections feature in TweetDeck to gather those resources to review at a later time. Here she offers advice about how to add a collection and start saving those wonderful resources people are sharing.

The Epic BYOD Toolchest (51 Tools You Can Use Now) | Edutopia Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) has shared the apps or app categories that she recommends for other teachers in their schools. “There are lots of apps, and these are just my opinion based on what I’ve used with my students or successfully tested.”

15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code (Even Without a Computer) | Edutopia Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) put forward the following resources that you can use to teach programming with every student and every age

Professional Conversations | Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership “The formal and informal dialogue that occurs between education professionals including teachers, mentors, coaches and school leaders, which is focused on educational matters.What do teachers talk about professionally? Where do these conversations happen, when do they happen, and what are the conditions that are needed to make them more effective? Most importantly, what is the impact that they can have on developing teacher expertise and improving student outcomes?
he Professional Conversations Project sought to answer our questions about professional conversations by exploring the literature and asking teachers in schools across Australia about their experiences with professional conversations”

Digital Citizenship: Resource Roundup | Edutopia This id a great list that iffers many ideas babout how to approach the topic.  “Edutopia’s collection of articles, videos, and other resources on internet safety, cyberbullying, digital responsibility, and media and digital literacy.”
Designing Learning That Matters | Edutopia Deep learning often happens when learners encounter experiences that challenge them to figure something out, explore new information, and create a product.
Challenge yourself with Reading Bingo 2014 (pictures) Printable Reading Bingo containing 24 reading challenges that will help you read more and have more fun with it.
Short Stories with a Twist Ending  “A list of some short stories with surprising endings that could be used for learning or teaching careful reading. Sometimes the author tries to give the reader a fair chance to figure out what’s going to happen. Even though a twist ending is supposed to give the reader a jolt, in hindsight it should seem perfectly reasonable. The best ones seem inevitable and seamless.”
Books for Kids Who Don’t Like to Read | eBay Useful list of titles (and series).
8 Excellent Google Sheets Add-ons to Create Smarter Spdreasheets ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning“A post that looks at a collection of important add-ons to use on your Google Sheets to create smarter spreadsheets with beautiful designs and more sophisticated functionalities. Using these extensions will enable you to add different styles and fonts to your spreadsheets; remove duplicate values between two tables or in one sheet; find and clean up data; split names to several columns, search in values, formulas, notes and hyperlinks in all sheets at once; easily generate Gantter schedules from your sheets; add reminders to your sheets; smart autofilling of data into other columns based on the values of the other columns, and many more.”
Five Research-Driven Education Trends At Work in Classrooms | MindShift | KQED News Increasingly, educators are looking to research about how kids learn to influence teaching practices and tools. What seemed like on-the-fringe experiments, like game-based learning, have turned into real trends, and have gradually made their way into many (though certainly not most) classrooms.
10 Tech-Savvy Web Teaching Apps Students (& Other Teachers) Will Love — Emerging Education Technologies Ten great apps are listed and their use demonstrated with 3 Minute Tutorials for each. These videos show you how to get started and the rest is up to you

3 Ways Mobile Technology Boosts Instruction | The Edvocate The piece offers a discussion around the benefits for teachers as well as students. Three ways that teachers can benefit from mobile technologies are discussed.

” Administrative plans must go beyond simply purchasing mobile devices, or implementing bring-your-device policies that include teacher empowerment of the technology. Mobile technology has potential to change the student-teacher dynamic for the better but only if implemented correctly”
How Games Lead Kids to the Good Stuff: Understanding Context | The MindShift Guide to Digital Games and Learning | MindShift | KQED News A good discussion about the benefits of using games to assist learning in the classroom. “Game-based learning is an instructional method that allows students to experience, understand, and solve problems in the world of a particular subject, or system, from the inside. Imagine a game that works like an instrument, but teaches mathematics. That’s how “
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Useful links

It is not what you look at but what you see-sml

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Using photos to understand history.

We had some geography units for our students based around how areas have changed over time. Many of our students enjoyed comparing historical photos I found for the local areas they knew and current photos that I took of the same places.

There are a few opportunities to make this a real life project and add to a global history project.

The tools below could be  useful for either history of geography if they were focusing on local studies.  I also see potential for the information to be used in our language classes where they also look into the culture of the country.

 1. History Pin 


Back in 2010 I wrote about a tool called History Pin. It was created  by “We Are What We Do”, a social action movement based in the UK (London) which is now known as Shift. History Pin was created in partnership with Google and is a tool looking at history with a timeline of photographs.

Still supported, it allows users to upload photographs, date them and then slide the timeline through history to see the changes over time. Whether you are interested in buildings, transport or “life” from a particular time, History Pin offers you a glimpse into the past.

It offered our students a great opportunity to do their own research and spend time with older members of their family, talking about the old photos in their family and making sure the stories they hear are kept for posterity. Some used it as a basis for family histories as they did the technical work and the older generations telling their stories/history.

Getting started 

To begin you will need to:

  • collect your own photos and it is recommended that they be outdoor shots.
  • know the location for each photo (the street rather than town or suburb)
  • scan your photos onto a computer

You can register by going to the homepage and clicking on the join button. You will need a Gmail address (you can get one from here) and once you have joined you use will use Google’s Picassa site for sharing photos.

2.  What Was there?


What Was There is a free online tool that makes use of Google Maps and the ability for people to upload old pictures of any location, add the date, and then pinpoint the location on a map and match it to the same view today. It provides a brief history of buildings that have long gone or still exist today. You can even look at a building or street via ‘street view’ and then it will overlay the old photograph on top, allowing you to fade the photo to reveal what it looks like today.

It is simple to adjust the view to match the view in the old photograph as it uses eye-level street view tools. When uploaded you can fade from one view to another so you can see the changes appear before your eyes.

This would be useful for pupils to see how streets around their home or school may have changed over time. They could contribute photographs or link from those elsewhere. It is being updated constantly with new photos.  There is also an iPhone app available as well.


Teach coding to students, it’s an important skill.

Our Minister for Education has been praising the review of the “National Curriculum” This report has caused quite a lot of angst across the board but  technology in particular may well be phased back, especially before year 9. Whilst most agree that there is a  crowded curriculum many do not believe that studying  ICT contributes to a this unnecessarily. Many will argue that ICT skills are fundamental and it is critical that they should form part of the core curriculum, along with numeracy and literacy, in this increasingly digitized world.

Today I came across this well designed together infographic that explains how teaching coding to students, even young students, has several benefits and  why teachers must teach coding to their students. It is offers a very good argument for teaching the skills.

It was created by Kodable and is an iOS app that teaches children various coding and programming concepts through a variety of maze activities.The free version allows users to play the first 30 levels (Smeeborg World) for free.  The Pro version (has a small fee) offers full access, giving you a total of 4 Worlds. I have only seen the work of others as I use microsoft and android options.

Please include attribution to Kodable with this graphic.

5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Code

A few links to other posts/tools that might be useful:

7 Apps for Teaching Children Coding Skills Digital learning specialist Anna Adam provides a quick overview of seven apps that are appropriate for teaching younger children one of the most critical 21st century skills: coding.

Ten Resources for Helping Students Learn to Code and Program  by Richard Byrne on his blog Free technology for teachers. Very well explained uses for 10 tools.

Engaging 6th Graders With Coding A guest post on Richard Byrne’s Free technology for teachers where a teacher discusses how she approached teaching coding to her class.

Scratch Tutorials provides guidance on getting starting with Scratch with kids. Scratch is a website from MIT specifically for kids. Kids can program stories, games, and animation. It’s so empowering for kids to be able to learn how to build their own programs.

A useful pinterest board is Coding or Programming for students that collects all sorts of resources.

Useful links

The more you read Dr Seuss-web
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Debbi Long 

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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