Teaching Learning and Assessment Conference in March

There are so many things to do as a teacher – things beyond your core workflow.

Well, maybe this conference should be one of them? The Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference hosted by Berkhamsted School in March promises to be a valuable day for any teacher for £40.00. It’s on a Saturday so no cover is required. It’s just off the M25 so convenient for many to travel a fair distance to. Despite being hosted by an independent school, the line-up of teachers presenting is an excellent mix from state and independent schools. It is not for profit.

The line-up of practitioners is really very impressive. I read nearly all of their blogs as they share their work and ideas. I am flattered – read: I am not worthy – to be among them.

I have the pleasure of presenting a workshop on how we are teaching KS3 ICT at my school this year – through other subjects. I will give detailed insight into, what I call, ICT in Subjects. This project brings the end of discrete ICT lessons in my school, and instead delivers the ICT curriculum in other subjects, team-taught with the subject specialist teacher and the ICT teacher. It is possible that all the National Curriculum reviews, in full flow as I write, might bring this type of cross-curricular ICT into every school.

As part of the research for my MA, I am evaluating the success of the project; so my findings are supported by data collected from the pupils and teachers involved. So far this year, we have worked with Geography, English, RE, Music and PE. A lot of the work has been ambitious in using Google Apps for collaborative website-based projects. Groups have been allocated specific roles – e.g. content manager, functionality manager, time manager, project manager – as well as every pupil choosing independent lines of enquiry within their group. A lot of obstacles have been hit head-on and lessons learned.

The aims of the ICT in Subjects are as follows:

  • to deliver the ICT curriculum;
  • to embed ICT into other subjects;
  • to disseminate ICT skills to as many teachers as possible;
  • to reflect the penetration of ICT into all walks of life.

If you are available March 16th, I hope to see you at the conference.

Marking work electronically in Frog


As part of ICT in Subjects, my department is working with the Music department to create scratch games and/or animations with music and sound effects composed in CuBase.

First lesson is to recreate the famous pong game in scratch. So, I set a Frog assignment (Quick Issue Work) to all five classes so 125 pupils could hand in their file to be scored out of 3 [0 = no file; 1 = struggled; 2 = complete with errors; 3 = complete] plus a comment.


Below is a video of the marking process of one file. Frog is not very good at this yet. I wonder if Frog4OS will be any better at this. Frog4 runs on any device because it is coded in HTML5, and so will remove limitations on usage – people expect a VLE to work properly on any device (maybe not handhelds) or in any modern browser. Frog3 is guaranteed to work only on Windows running IE.

The marking does work but there are a lot of clicks involved. In Moodle, all the grades and files and comments would be accessible from one page which makes the process much faster and allows easy copy and pasting of comments. Also, you cannot release (return to pupil) marks for pupils that have done their work before the deadline. I made a big mistake as shown in the video – knew it as I did it: d’oh! – by assigning the same assignment to all five classes. This means we will not to be able to release the marks until all pupils have submitted.

Anyway, if interested, watch the video and please let me know about your experiences of marking work in Frog3 or Frog4.


It’s alright MA, I’m only trying..

Over two years ago I made the choice to suspend my MA for family reasons. I don’t like to discuss my family online so only minimal detail is shared here. However, now the postponement deadline has passed and I face a decision of whether or not to complete my Masters in Education: Leading Innovation and Change.

Sitting in Ealing library (incredibly busy BTW – hard to get a seat at a computer or non-computer desk – the world is changing) in an attempt to plan the next two weeks work leading to 6000 words of academic prose, this post is to warm up my brain. I restarted the MA in September, convinced that SOLO taxonomy was the most fruitful research I could do because it would also help refine my learning design skills. However, shortly before the end of term, in the two week period I had selected to execute my research, a full inspection was announced, providing a hectic week of preparation and delivery whist 13 guests gathered evidence to judge our school. The inspection went well. We await the formal feedback next month.

You may have sensed my hesitation – or should I call it inertia – toward my MA. It’s there. The momentum I generated achieving distinction in my first year has evaporated. I am looking to recapture the gas. This is a very busy year. My eldest has his finals at Oxford. My middle one has his A2s. My youngest has her final year GCSEs. My partner has all this and her couragous daily negotiation of medical matters. And we have a household to run (drudge – meh!). On top of this, I have to design an ongoing scheme of work to team teach ICT in as many different departments as possible, manage the people and resources involved and execute the delivery. I also have to lead the school’s implementation of Frog as a replacement VLE which has so far included nine hours directed staff training, launch to 850 pupils and integrating the VLE as a hub of daily communications.  So, without further ado, what am I going to research?

My chosen line of enquiry

This year my school made the decision to cease discrete KS3 ICT lessons, and to teach ICT across the curriculum as a serious venture. It is a fantastic project, and innovative that the school has put siginificant staff resources behind it; sadly this has not been backed-up with hardware investment. Last term my fellow ICT teacher and I worked with nine different teachers in English, RE and Geography. In the New Year we are working with another five teachers in Music and PE. I have to complete the evaluation of this work from both the teacher and pupil points-of-view. Therefore, it makes enormous sense to make this process of evaluation and feedback the content of my action research project. The other choices are to re-initiate the research I have started on SOLO or to look at implementing Frog from a school-wide viewpoint. I have decided on the ICTinSubjects project because it requires an enormous amount of work anyway, it demands proper evaluation and feedback, and when the time comes to review the project as a whole, the more evidence I have to inform the best course of action the better (1: go back to discrete ICT; 2. a combination of discrete ICT and ICT in Subjects; or 3. to continue as we are). The more rigour I can bring to that evidence, which should be centred around learning, the better it will be for my school. Finally, I have the pleasure of running a workshop on my work with ICT in Subjects at the Teaching and Learning conference in March 2013 at Berkhamsted School and this will help me prepare for that as well.

So, it’s alright MA, I’m only trying…

Sources & References spreadsheet

Website Sources and References

Sources & References spreadsheet

Following my attempt to create a website evaluation stamp, I have revised the idea to make a Google spreadsheet that pupils can copy and embed into their project website to record what sites they have used and why. The spreadsheet has notes that appear when you hover over each title to tell what you what is required in each column. Should the column not be appropriate, leave it blank. SImple. Or so I thought.

I tried this out in class and it was still not good enough. I printed out a table with these headings (and the notes) so each pupil could familiarise themselves with the process before one person from each group copied the site and embedded it for their research. But there were too many questions. Part of the tension running cross-curricular project-based learning is that you need to give the pupils time to develop their research and there is not sufficient time to learn the ICT element; in this case website bias, validity and reliability. Too much information possibly. I was throwing copyright in there too, and referencing. I’m creating confusion for the user. Is it for references or source crediting? Or is it for reliability of websites used?

Back to the drawing board once more. I will have to use the above for this project because I started and did not have time to review and change it as the cycle of lessons with each of the five classes in this year group passed complemented with the urgency of all things an inspection (running parallel) brings. Need to rethink it and start again with lessons learned.

Website Evaluation Stamp

Website Evaluation Stamp

I’m working on collaborative group research projects with Y7 at the moment. I want to create a simple and yet sophisticated system for evaluating sources used in the research. I’m thinking a little table for each reference used, acting a bit like a stamp to show sources have been considered for reliability and bias. However, I’m not sure where to limit the categories. Here are the ones I have so far:

  1. Identify author? Y/N
  2. Identify date created or last edited? Y/N
  3. Identify target audience? Y/N
  4. Copyright mark? Y/N
  5. Contact Info? Y/N
  6. Advertising? Y/N
  7. Can you tell if it is biased? Y/N
  8. Does it have reference links to other sites? Y/N
  9. Can you see evidence to prove statements? Y/N
  10. Does it use a reliable domain?

I think the best approach is a small table that provides a column for Y or N. This will focus the pupil on checking the reliability of the website as part of their research. However, it might be better to have other categories:

  1. Image
  2. Fact
  3. Opinion
  4. Statistic
  5. Quote

These might be incorporated into the same stamp, maybe as delete as appropriate. It might look something like this:Website Evaluation Stamp

Any thoughts anyone? Is this over the top? Would it take too long to complete this checklist for each source? Maybe just use it for major/critical information sources. They will be also referencing all sources using a simplified Havard method. However, this stamp might be useful to help them learn the importance of website provenance.