Sunday, 3 April 2016

iDigital Leaders

Since the start of this school year, I have been wanting to start an iDigital Leaders group of students in our school. But as teachers know at the start of the school year with so many new initiatives I was not able to get it up and running. In January I had the opportunity to meet my fellow ADE’s at the BETT and also at the Apple regional meet. Speaking to them about it, I was inspired with ideas and getting the project off the ground.

My main objective was to get some of the senior middle school students to lead the iDigital Leaders. I had a few grade 7 students who have helped me since grade 6 and I spoke to them about leading this project with the grade 6 students. They were excited and we agreed that we would have to have a formal application process if we wanted to make this a success.

I decided to create a timeline which consisted of:
  • Creating a promotion video
  • Creating an application form
  • Informing parents about the new initiative
  • Email informing successful applicants of interview times
  • Creating interview questions
  • Email successful applicants
  • Email Parents about ongoing process
  • Inform staff about students selected

One of the first things I did first was to create a promotion video and a slide show for Grade 6 students at assembly. I kept the application form open for a week and received an overwhelming response. I sent individual emails to all students about the date and time of their interview. Due to the sheer number of students I had to run the Interview process over two days. I also involved some of the Grade 7 students who were going to lead this initiative to take part in the interview process.

After the interviews we have selected 20 students whom we were quite impressed by their level of knowledge, the variety of skills and their willingness to work as part of a team. The groups will be lead by the grade 7 pupils (soon to be grade 8) and were divided into three groups based on their interests which were:

  • Social Media and Training
  • Researching and Creative
  • Technical and Coding

As iDigital Leaders, my goal is for them to be ambassadors for ACS Egham and have an opportunity to advocate what’s possible when we bring technology into teaching and learning,
Plus, the chance to collaborate with students, teachers and parents and share their ideas through different mediums.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Take a proper break… You’ll be much more productive if you do !

As a teacher there is the temptation that come the summer holidays, this is the best time to get work completed such as getting all schemes of work written up, lesson plans, student lists etc. 

During term time we all know that ‘time’ does does not permit us teachers to complete all the tasks above to perfection and detail as marking takes precedence.  

In my early years of teaching, I’d be thinking that being away from looking at the stuff I am responsible for was a dereliction of duty, a lack of commitment to the cause.

Today I am happy to report that I was very naive for thinking like that. My epiphany came after a holiday to the British Virgin Islands, a couple of years ago. I was shocked at how much more productive I was when I came back to work. I felt my energy levels increased and I was more positive and creative at my job.

These days when school closes for the summer holiday, I spend the first 3 days just sorting out my files, doing backups and deleting files and email that is no longer needed. I also make it a point to write a plan of things to do before the start of the new school year. 

A week before school reopens I look at that list and spend an hour each day working on completing items from that list and this helps me to get my mind thinking about the new school year.

After 14 years of teaching my advice is to revel in your time off and chances are that you will be more efficient and effective when you return back to school. And no matter what you teach in a school don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

In the wise words from my ex Head of Department who is now retired ‘ Teaching is a Marathon and not a 100 meter race. Remember to pace yourself and reserve your energy.’

Something that we all must strive to accomplish due at our workplace.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Reflection: ADE Week in Amsterdam

It's been two weeks since i’ve been back from the ADE conference in Amsterdam and quite frankly I am still recovering from it. The experience was wonderful and the people even more brilliant. Sharing of ideas as part of the community and meeting new people was a great experience. Friendships I hope to last a lifetime.

I spent last week just reflecting and jotting down all the different things I learnt from the institute but also from talking to different ADE’s from EMEA. I have started putting together a plan taking into consideration what are the priorities at my school and what would work in the short term. I am sort of breaking this down into Whole school ideas and individual subject areas.

My main focus for whole school will be iTunes U and training teachers how to use it. For Departments it would be iBooks Author and subject specific apps. One of my other goals would be to get together a group of students who will be my ‘Tech Ambassadors’ in the school and will train and promote the use of apps to students and teachers.

Below are my top three ADE highlights:

ADE Showcases:
These were three minute long showcases and were started of by the Alumni and 2015 ADE’s. This gave us all an insight as to how ADE’s were revolutionising teaching in their schools and making change happen. These showcases also gave us ideas as to how existing and new apps were being used across different subject areas and gave us an opportunity into looking at the workflow which is so important in our role.

Also if we needed more information all we had to do was to post a question in the discussion area of the iTunes U course or meet the ADE personally which was really helpful. One of the other notable showcases were the ones teaching SEN children. It was really moving to see how iPads have made a difference in their education and also how fortunate some of us are to teach in 1-1 iPad schools.

Bill Frakes:
We were very fortunate to be given a masterclass by award winning Pulitzer prize winner Bill Frakes. He gave us an insight into his life, his passion, some fabulous stories, but most of all how to take great pictures and in his words ‘It's all about the light’.

Follow Bill and Laura at:

Education Leadership: A time for change
Another highlight for me was being part of a great group of people who share the same vision as me but are in different roles within education. Just getting to know their story and being part of what they want to achieve and develop is itself an honour. We hope to share good practice, ideas but most importantly support each other with any queries and our projects going forward.

Finally I would like to say that being part of this ADE community keeps me buzzing with ideas based on discussions and forums but it’s important to focus on what will work in the classroom in our school and take small baby steps with our teachers in order to show them the big picture with numerous possibilities.

Friday, 24 April 2015

ADE Class of 2015

Received the most wonderful news of being accepted to the ADE class of 2015. All the hard work has paid off. I am honoured to have been selected and super excited to embark on this new journey and challenge. Looking forward to being part of and working with the ADE community.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Creating a stop motion film with EAL students

Over the last two weeks I have had the privilege of working with EAL students in their English lesson. In order to get them to talk and work with each other their task was to create a stop motion film of a gadget that has moving parts. Their film needed to be a minimum of 30 seconds albeit creative and original in groups of 2 or 3.

We first had students planning their idea on paper and then doing a trial of their idea and modifying it to make it work. They used various props such as lego, tubes, ping pong balls, arts and craft to make their idea work. It was amazing to see the quieter students speaking up trying to get their idea across and most importantly enjoying what they were doing.   

We showed students how to use the free iMotion app by Fingerlab for their stop motion film. The free version allows you to save the film directly to your camera roll. The students then took the film into iMovie and edited the start and the end. Some of the examples of work using iMotion and iMovie are below.