Blog 25: Using Google Maps to map learning across the school year.

I have long been a fan of Google Maps ever since I set up the primary blog map (http://goo.gl/maps/GnGtN).  For those unfamiliar with Google Maps, it is part of the Google package, so if you have a GMail account or a Google Apps for edu account you will have access. To access it, use the services tabs along the top of the Google homepage.

You can create your own personal maps, on which you can pin destinations with notes, HTML code and links. You can keep the map private, or share it by making it public and sharing the map's URL or embedding the map on a blog or webpage (see below).
(Primary Blog Map)

What we have done on our class webpage is create a Class Learning Map.  As the year progresses we will add destinations that we have 'visited' in our learning. By the end of the year we should have a well populated map.
I really like the way it allows the pupils the opportunity to explore the destinations discussed using satellite views.

You can see our current learning map by visiting this url: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/viewer?mid=zY0HfQkd_QCw.kJmGh7SiuTl0

If your pupils have their own blogs and Google accounts, why not let them create their own maps, writing about the places that they have visited?

It's a simple, straightforward idea that is easy to maintain- get the pupils to do it all!

Like this idea? There's loads more at www.chrismcwilliam.blogspot.co.uk


Blog 24: Spacecraft 3D

If you use iPads in school and are teaching about Space then I recommend that you give your class some time to explore Nasa's Spacecraft 3D application for iPad (free).

It is an augmented reality app allowing pupils to bring many of NASA's spacecraft and satellites in the classroom. Point the camera at the trigger image and, hey presto, the craft appears.  Some of the images can be manipulated, allowing you to turn them, extend aerials, etc.

The kids loved it. It also makes a fantastic interactive writing prompt. Try it. You'll be amazed.

App link: 



Blog 23: Using ICT to show progression within a lesson

How do you know your pupils have made progress within one lesson? As a teacher you know, but it is not always possible to prove or evidence it (for APP etc.), however there are one or two things you can try that will help. Below is one way I use ICT, namely Google forms, to evidence progression.

What is Google Forms?
To quote Google themselves, 'Google Forms is a useful tool to help you plan events, send a survey, give students a quiz, or collect other information in an easy, streamlined way.'

Essentially, you can create a survey, questionnaire or quiz, which users then complete.
Responses are then automatically collated into a spreadsheet, allowing you to see all at a glance.

You can also view numerical responses in graphs and charts.

How have I used it in English?

I set up a form titled 'Similes and Metaphors- BEFORE'.  As the pupils entered the room they were asked to complete the form. Responses on the spreadsheet automatically showed me who required work on this and who didn't, allowing more effective differentiation.  (Pink column above)

At the end of the lesson/ day I asked the pupils to complete the same form (this time titled 'Similes and Metaphors- AFTER').  I was then able to glance over the spreadsheet to identify who has achieved the objective or not (green column above).  Obviously it will need further assessment in writing contexts, but as far as the lesson was concerned I had immediate and accurate feedback information and evidence of progress.

Other ideas for use in English are:

  • Multiple choice spelling and grammar quizzes
  • Comprehension answer forms
  • Word type quizzes
  • Up levelling games (suggest a word that would improve this sentence)
How have I used them in Maths?

In Maths I have used them regularly to enable me to intervene more appropriately when needed.
Here's one example.  We were doing problem solving, so each ability group had a form consisting of 2 boxes per problem. These were 'calculation' and 'answer' boxes.  Pupils had a 'working out' sheet for their working, entering the function and answer for each problem on their device.  On my iPad I had the response spreadsheet open, and as it was updated in real time I was able to see who was getting it and who wasn't, therefore I could support those finding it difficult and push those who needed more challenging. 
For those who got answers wrong, I was able to see how they got them by looking at their working out sheets.

Other ideas for use in Maths are:

  • Calcualtion answers
  • Mental maths testing
  • Shape identification
  • Vocabulary definition
  • Success criteria construction

There are 100s of uses and applications for Google forms other than as an assessment tool, and it works on pretty much any device.

When sharing this with a colleague a response I got was 'Yeah but it takes ages to set this up.'  Not at all!

Creating a form is a 5 minute job. Creating a shortcut to the form or emailing to pupils is a 30 second job.  Done. The automated 'at a glance' response spreadsheets drastically cut down the marking process and make assessment more efficient. When you compare the set up time to the length of time it takes to thoroughly scrutinise each pupil's book, the difference is big.

Another response was 'How do you feedback to the child?' Verbally or a quick note in their target books. The difference being that I am able to make that comment more immediately in that lesson, making feedback more relevant.

Have you used Google Forms? How?

For more information watch:


Blog 22: Using iPads and Übersense for Assessment in PE

I have recently come across a fabulous free app called Übersense. It is a video capturing app that enables you to slow the video down, adding annotations and explanations. It is perfect for use in PE, as you can tag videos to specific users and save them in categories.

We used them this week to analyse push passes, control and dribbling our in hockey. The pupils had the videos of themselves on iPads and were able to assess and improve their own performances.

I am sure this very effective app will have many applications across the curriculum.


Blog 21: What we've done with video this year

Here are a few of the things my class (Y5) have done with video this year.  

Earlier this year my class were rather taken with Felix Baumgartner's free fall from the edge of space (see earlier blog).  We use 2Animate to create cartoon animations of the free fall, which were then imported into movie maker, with the pupils recording descriptions of the fall as if they were Felix.

We used the 'I Can Animate' app to recreate the attempted invasion of the Spanish Armada as part of our Topic work.  The pupils were given a 2 minute demo of the app and then had to work it out for themselves, a method I find increasingly useful.  The pupils had card for a backdrop, materials for a boat and other props.  In 2 afternoons they were complete and a great success.
Green Screening
This is a particular favourite of most of the pupils in my class, and a popular choice when pupils have free choice of presentation.  Initially we bought 'I Can Present' software (£149), complete with a green screen (£99).  This worked fairly well, although we had a lot of trouble finding a compatible camera and PC.  Since then we have purchased a great app called 'Green Screen Movie FX Studio'.  Probably the best feature of this app is that you can use any solid coloured background as the 'green screen'.  We've used this to create news reports (Tudor news, Fair Trade reports), music videos and superhero trailers.  It is a fun, creative way of presenting work.

Using iMovie
This is my personal favourite. Again I gave a 2 minute demo then challenged the class to produce movie trailers for the Secret Garden, linking together our work on older literature and our work on persuasion.  If you are unfamiliar with iMovie, it is a video capturing and editing app for iPad, allowing you to add effects and soundtracks to your videos. It also has a set of template movie trailers.  This is what we used and here is my favourite.

Video presentations using Video Scribe
This is a great app that allows you to create simple and effective presentations, such as the one we used to open our class assembly.

Generally having a bit of fun
There are other video apps that we have used, although we have only had a play with them.  This first is 'Funny Movie Maker' (or 'The Annoying Orange app'). Basically you choose or upload an image, position the camera so your mouth replaces the mouth in the image, and film. Another fun way to present your work.
'Video Star' allows you to film yourself or others over a music soundtrack, adding effects in real time. Simple and fun.

The software and apps we've used this year have allowed the pupils to realise their visions and think in a more creative way in a variety of situations.
Do you create and use video? What have you done? How do you store the work?


Blog 20: iThink Therefore iPad 2013

Wow.  I have 20 minutes to get this down, so here goes...

It's been 24 hours since the ITTIP13 Conference at Manchester Central (formerly GMex) and, once again, my head is still spinning from the bombardment of ideas, innovation and enthusiasm on display here.

Now, before you judge me as being one of these 'iPad this, 'Pad that' kind of guys, I must state that I have experimented with a range of tablets and mobile devices in my class room, so I do have a basis for comparison.  I must state, however, I am extremely pro-iPad, with good reason.  Not just because of the effect they've had on my own pupils, but because of the possibilities. iPads don't hold the answers, but they provide an exciting way to find them.  Creativity and adoption are key.

Back to the conference.  I arrived to listen to Charles Leadbeater () deliver an extremely thought provoking speech, in which he compared Apple to Christianity, technology to wine and something (I can't remember) to the Hungarian Football team.

If last year opened my eyes to the possibilities of iPads in school, this year stretched them wide and propped them open with match sticks, mainly thanks to Mike Barnes, Headteacher of Flakefleet Primary School, Blackpool (@flaketweet).

I had the pleasure of visiting this school just prior to it's new build, roughly 9 months ago. At the time I think they had 7 staff iPads. They are now pushing 200 iPads, plus 140 iPod touches. The diversity with which iPads are being used was amazing.  I was struggling to keep up with my note taking, but here's what I got...

  • Registration, tracking, parental contact etc. (ie. SIMS) was stored on an app called Emerge, which requires subscription to GroupCall. This means that all possible information a teacher needs is in one place, in the teacher's hands, removing the need for bulky tracking documents, paper registers, fire registers, parent text services that must be done via the office, etc.
  • Parent Evening appointments booked via roombookingsystem.co.uk: parent's make appointments online and it automatically organises appointments
  • Pupil rewards and sanctions using Class Dojo app
  • Pupil notes kept on 'Numbers' stored on iPads
  • Shared calendars stored on iPad and displayed on staff room monitor
  • Memos and schedules sent electronically
Mike stressed the stresses of managing this quantity of gadgets. Ho do you sync so many? How do you share apps? (Apple Volume Purchasing Programme).

He also showed us other changes at his school, including the scrapping of whiteboards and the introduction of learning walls (Ideas Paint) and Apple TV.

It was an amazing transformation and appears, so far, to be a successful and worthwhile one.

The main app that was being 'bigged up' this year was Book Creator (£1.99)

Used superbly for:
Sharing writing
Annotating and self assessing video performances
Creating work books for pupils to work through and edit
Narrating story maps

Other apps mentioned were:

  • Uber Sense- great for analysing video technique, especially in PE
  • My script calculator- hand write a sum or formula and it works it out for you, including what 'x' may be!
  • Simple Mind Map-pretty self explanatory
  • Showbie- set and collect pupils' assignments
  • Star Tracker HD- track the stars.... in HD
  • I annotate- PDF annotator. Great for electronic marking
  • Numbers- use of forms and spreadsheets for pupil data
  • 2Simple EYFS- build Early Years profiles electronically
  • QR Codes- link on worksheets for extension activities
  • Aurasma- use augmented reality to bring your classroom to life
  • Popplet- mind mapping collaboratively
  • Book People- purchase and sync electronic books
  • Intro Designer- create free movie intros
  • Red Laser QR Scanner
  • Flickr Studio
  • Kids Paint by Fizzios
  • Puppet Pals HD- animation
  • ipadrepairs.co.uk- erm?
  • Grid player- communication
CPD and sharing idea: SPEED DATING
Staff to have a certain amount of time (e.g. 1 term) to get to grips with the iPad and it's apps.  Sit in twos for 3 minutes each and share. Bell rings and swap.  Better still, involve the pupils!  This could be applied tomany things, not just iPad sharing.

Overall it was a fantastic day, giving me plenty of ideas and reassuring me that what I've done so far is worth it.

I'd very strongly recommend it for anyone using, or thinking of using, iPads in class.

Thanks to Mike Barnes (@mcbcestrian), Charles Leadbeater (@LeadbeaterCh), Stephen Heppell (@stephenheppell), M. Bunyan (@mbunyan) and the many more fantastic presenter and young leaders sharing ideas.


Blog 19: Auditing Staff Skills

Here is the document I will be using to audit the basic ICT skills and confidence of my colleagues. 

This will enable me, as subject leader, to:
  • Plug gaps in software and hardware provision
  • Identify trends in use. Are there any gaps in teachers' knowledge, skills and understanding?
  • Provide specific training and support
  • Remove obsolete resources
  • Embed ICT more effectively in the teaching and learning of the curriculum.
If you have any suggestions or comments please let me know, or if you would like a copy please let me know by email chrismcwilliam95@gmail.com


Blog 18: Information, Communication and Learning Technology: A Guide for Primary Schools

I have recently completed my guide to ICT, which is available online as an ebook, or as a downloadable PDF.  I have put this guide together based on what has worked for me over the last two years.  It is a culmination of a lot of help from a lot of helpful people, too many to mention.  The book covers:

  • Planning
  • Assessment levels
  • End of year expectations
  • Curriculum Coverage
  • Policies
  • Software and apps
  • The upcoming curriculum
  • Digital leaders
It is not intended as an extensive guide full of 'must do' strategies. It is intended to provide guidance to newly appointed ICT coordinators and schools looking to integrate ICT into a creative curriculum.  Put simply, I wanted to create a resource that I would have found useful when I first became an ICT subject leader.  All feedback welcomed and encouraged!

Click the thumbnail below to view online.

Information, Communication and Learning Technology: A Guide for Primary Schools

Download for iBooks
Download as PDF


Blog 17: Ideas for introducing game making

Through recent discussions with ICT guys in my LEA, there was a lot of confusion as to how to introduce game making into the curriculum, and what it looks like at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

I've been trialling a few things and also picked up a few things from colleagues on Twitter. These include:

@KS1 and KS2   Tiny Tap- Free iPad app

You use this app to turn photos or 'moments' into games. For example, if you had a picture of a plant, the children can record themselves verbally asking 'Where are the petals?' They then select the region of the picture that, when tapped, gives the correct answer. Games can be shared through the app itself, via email or via iTunes. Really easy to use and effective from Y1 upwards. The beauty of the app is, even as an upper Key Stage 2 user, it can be applied in a range of subject areas.
For example, photograph a sentences and ask the pupils to identify various features. 'Touch the dropped clause. Touch the adverb' etc.

@KS1 and KS2   2DIY- PC based software

This 2Simple software program allows users to create a variety of quizzes and games. This link will give you an overview. (Courtesy of Education Scotland)

@KS2    Scratch- PC Based Software

Scratch allows you to create and share your own interactive games, music, stories and art.  It is free to use.  There are numerous demos online, however I have found the resources available through the Code Club most useful as they start from scratch (no pun intended).  The Code Club resources are split into three units. We aim to teach unit 1 in Y4, unit 2 in Y5 and unit 3 in Y6.

@KS2   Zondle

Zondle contains many quizzes to support learning, and allows users to create their own quizzes.  As pupil users, children have the chance to create their own games using the 'Create a Game' tool.

@KS2   Sploder

Sploder is an online game creator. Pupils can create fun games that they can publish to the net and email to friends.

What do you use for game creation? Please share ideas as I am sure there is much much more available!


Blog 16: A Video Tour of My Teacher iPad

I recently asked if anyone would be interested in seeing a video tour of my teacher iPad. The response was an ovewhelming 'yes', so here goes. 

If you are new to iPad use as a teacher, or maybe contemplating introducing them as a teaching tool, then this series of video blogs should come in handy. 

If I have missed out any great apps, or you have other comments/ recommendations then please leave feedback. 

I must state that I am in no way trying to tell you that these are the best uses for the iPad as a teaching tool, but these applications work well for me. I hope it is of use.


Blog 15: Assessment Using Socrative

Below is the first of my video blogs about how I use technology to aid my teaching.

Socrative is a free app, available in various formats. You can access it on their website or through a teacher and student app.

You can use Socrative to assess effectively in real time within your lessons. I hope this video provides some insight to how I have made it work for me.  Comments, feedback and suggestions are more than welcome. Do you use it?  Are you interesting in setting it up? How do you use it?


Blog 14: What makes a learner?

Following a discussion at our recent INSET I thought I would share some of our responses.  Do you agree? Add your own ideas.


Blog 13: Collaborative learning using Linoit

This is another blog about something I picked up at a Teach Meet. I cannot remember who was using it, but many thanks as it has had a big impact on part of my practice. Read on to find out how.

From my early days teaching I have been a keen user of post it notes in my classroom, from using them to annotate evidence of progression to collecting ideas and questions from pupils.  I mainly used them in my Science investigations, which was great yet frustrating.  Great because it was a quick way to collect ideas, questions and hypothesis. Frustrating because every morning I would enter my classroom to see a blank display with fallen post-its littering the carpet beneath.  Not great stickiness in my sticky notes!

I'm happy to say, thanks to Linoit, I don't have this problem anymore.

What is Linoit?
Lino (http://en.linoit.com/) is 'a free sticky and canvas service' that allows you to share ideas, photos, videos, websites and more.  Essentially, a virtual post-it noticeboard that can be used to share ideas/ questions etc.  It requires a web browser, alternatively it is available as an app for iPad.

How does Lino work?
To start, go to the above URL and sign up.  I created one account for our school, so all teachers use the same login.

 You will then have created a collaborative noticeboard that multiple users can add notes to. A working one, complete with custom background, will look like this.

Each note was added by a different pupil using a different computer/ laptop.
There are numerous ways of sharing a noticeboard. You can simply share the URL by creating a shortcut on the desktop or emailing it to pupils. Alternatively you can embed it onto a class blog or webpage (see my class page for an example). 

My preferred way of using Lino, however, is via the app. We are lucky to have enough iPads for 1:1 distribution, but it'd work well in group work. Each iPad has the Lino app, which has been activated using the same account. This means that new sticky notes will appear on all devices, simultaneously in real time.  Another advantage of using the iPads is using the camera to capture pictures which can be added to sticky notes.  This is great for evidence collection in investigations.

Lino also has features which integrate with calendars, task lists and email accounts, but I am unfamiliar with them.

So, to summarise:
  • Lino removes the messy process of sticking post it notes on the wall
  • Lino allows all pupils to see other pupils' notes in real time
  • Lino can be accessed and added to at home and in school
  • Lino can be embedded into class logs and web pages
  • Lino is free and easy to use
Ideas for use:
  • Planning investigations
  • Creating word lists for writing
  • Collecting visual evidence
  • Collecting feedback within lessons (leave one open for pupils to freely add comments to throughout the lesson)
  • Creating photo logs
  • Collecting pupil evidence


Blog 12: Top Trumps 2- Return of the Trump

This is my first blog of 2013 and hopefully the first of many. I am writing it with a 6 month old on my lap, so please excuse any grammatical or spelling errors. I shall fix them once this little one is off to sleep!

I have previously blogged about how I used Top Trumps as an inspiration for a mini project during the build up to the Olympics in 2012.

Since then, trumping has crept back into my classroom as an enterprise project linked to our topic on The Tudors.  In this project we designed Tudor Top Trump cards from scratch, which we then produced and sold to classes in our school. The money raised went towards food for our Tudor banquet.

I did a nano presentation at Teach Meet Bolton in November 2012, a video of which can be seen below (link to come).

A brief structure of the project can be seen in the Prezi presentaion below:

We started by playing with existing sets of cards, then we analysed what made a good card.  The children were then led to suggest creating our own for our topic, solving the problem of funding our forthcoming banquet.

Groups were created (using team picker app) and the challenge was set.  By the end of the two weeks each child had contributed to:
  • Researching famous people from the Tudor era
  • Creating and scanning portraits (some chose to create them using electronic art software such as 2Paint a Picture or the Art Rage app)
  • Combining text and graphics, including word art and borders (2Publish+)
  • Creating a net for the box using publisher
  • Adding a design to, printing and creating the net
  • Costing the product- creating a spreadsheet to show sales predictions
  • Creating a persuasive script for an advert
  • Persuasive writing: why you should buy my product
  • Filming and editing the adverts using the iPads (apps included: Green Screen HD, Funny Movie Maker, iMovie)
  • Writing a blog/ recount about the project
The most pleasing part of the project was the level of engagement for all pupils as they worked collaboratively towards a shared goal.  The standard of writing was very pleasing also, especially for the boys in my class.

The project was done over two weeks and encompassed so many areas of the curriculum, from writing (persuasion, biographies) to Art and DT (producing packaging and artwork for the cards).

This can be applied to most topics in school, so why not give it a try?

Scan video to 26:22 for my presentation