Grade Cam – Multiple Choice

Quite often we forget that when we question our students, we can actually get a lot of value and a lot of discussion points from multiple choice questions. Using multiple choice questions can actually support your students learning in many ways.

Recently during a training session at my school, it was revealed that if you scaffold and plan your multiple choice questoins, it’s possible to address how much they know. For example you can see what they know by the wording of the question: –

What are the limitations of the 8 bit ascii character set?
A) A smaller character set is available
B) You can only use a small number of symbols
C) You can only use certain languages on a computer
D) You can’t use UNICODE

Now in this question, you can see that the real answer is that technically, B and C are the correct answer BUT A is the one that we usually look for in an exam. B and C are common mistakes, our students should always acknowledge the character set. This helps us address the misconception of symbols and languages that can often occur and we have tailored our multiple choice question as a deeper discussion point. This is how effective that Multiple choice questions can be. 

Grade Cam: – 

I have recently been playing with a piece of software called grade cam. I love it, it allows me to do multiple choice questions with my classes. I can get them to colour in a multiple choice quiz. multichoice

You can see from the picture on the left, that it gives you the lozenges that you can fill out. Each student fills them out and when they’re done, you can mark them together as a class.

Students can get their score from you but where it’s handy is the analysis tool. It’s free for 10 questions and it allows you to see the weaker areas in the analysis tool.

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Once the students have completed their assessment, I can hold up each of the coloured sheets and the software on the computer shows me their results. It scans the page like an OMR reader and tells me the weak points.

This now means that as a teacher, I can see that most of my class got the 2nd question wrong and that I can re-evaluate my teaching in order to make sure that they have better results on their next assessment.

If you would like to try grade cam, it’s free from : gradecam.com

I have attached a TechTips sheet which will help you through the process.

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E-Safety Week – Safety Resources

No Budget? No Problem?

As with our new Ofsted frameworks and endless logs of data that we have to include. I know that it’s not always easy for schools to make sure that they have logs of particular incidents. In our current guidance, we have to show as a school that we log all of our e-safety incidents and we need to make sure that we can show how we have actioned them.

During e-safety week, I thought about the number of systems that we have but I also thought about some of our smaller primary schools who may be working on a smaller budget. I have developed this simple to use spreadsheet which includes forms.

When you fill out the form on the front it will ask you to press add and it will add the incident to a separate sheet.

On the incident log, you can use the filters along the top to show it by date or by the member of staff that has reported or posted the incident.

I hope that this may be useful to some schools that are on a budget and that some leadership team may be able to use this which is why I’m sharing it.

Let me know if you would like any extra fields or support.

Click here to access the file from my dropbox

esafetylog

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Computing Podcasts–Year 11–2017 Exam

Now that it’s exam season, all teachers are thinking about ways in which they can help their students achieve their potential. Over the bank holiday weekend, I decided to go through old mark schemes and look at explanations for particular topics and to make some podcasts. In my year 11 lesson last week, I asked my students if they all had smart phones. 90% of my students said that they had a smart phone. I asked them if they had access to sound cloud or itunes. Again my students said that they had access to this. I decided that I would go through all of the topics that they’re studying and record some podcasts which they would be able to listen to on the way to their exam in the morning. All of my Computing GCSE students now have access to these.

Here are some of the Podcasts for those of you interested in Computing

How did I do this?

Once I had downloaded all of the old mark schemes for the subject, I installed a piece of software called audacity. It is free and you can find it here > http://www.audacityteam.org/ . The software installs really easily and all you need to do is press the red record button at the top of the screen.

Once you have pressed this record button, you’ll see your sound in the window below. You should see all of the analogue sound waves as shown in the picture below.

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Once you have finished with the sound, you simply go to the File> Export Audio button from the menu at the top.

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Choose MP3 from the list below and you will have a file that is now compatible.

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Moving it to SoundCloud

Go to soundcloud.com and register an account. Once you have clicked on sign up and you have created a number of different MP3 files for your students to listen to on the way to their exam. You can upload multiple files to soundcloud.com. Click on the Upload link at the top of your screen.

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This will give you a brand new page that you will be taken to. Click on the Choose file to upload link.

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You should now be able to highlight and select multiple MP3 files from your computer.

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Once you’ve selected all of the MP3’s that you would like in your playlist. Click the open button.

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This gives you a playlist screen. Fill out the details and scroll down to the save button.

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Once you’ve pushed the save button, you will be given a link which you can share with your students. They can also look for you on soundcloud and have access to all of the MP3 recordings for their GCSE.

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Teaching Stress–How do we cope?

I have always loved teaching and I will say that there isn’t a better profession to get into. It has great holidays, you build relationships with students that will last a life time and you learn something different every day. You are able to build character and you also become stronger as a person. That being said, there is a lot of press about teachers being overworked, stressed out and there have been some articles recently that have shone a negative light on teaching.

I’m hopefully going to share some of my own personal experience on teaching. I think that people see that I have won awards and assume that teaching has been ‘easy’ for me. It hasn’t come without it’s hiccups. I have had to learn how to manage my lifestyle around my job. When I manage it well, I get great results and it has minimal impact on my life. I want to give you some tips on managing your work load with relationships.

Relationships

IMG_0606One of the things which came out in an article recently was that relationships become strained and some teachers find it hard to settle down and get a family dude to finding that balance. I can agree with this 100%. Before I got married, I was in a long distance relationship and it was quite easy to manage my workload. I would simple turn off the computer and that would be me for the evening and I would get work done. I would turn on or turn off my relationship.

Unfortunately, after I got married this couldn’t continue. Me and my wife had to learn. Teaching is a life style and you’re either built for it or you’re not. My wife saw my passion for teaching and was more understanding but we realised that we had to work together and work at things in order to get the best out of our job and our relationship.

In terms of dealing with relationships, the only way we worked through this was by communicating. The way I manage my work load with my relationship now is that we have a shared calendar on our phones and also on the wall on display. My wife understands that I need down time and we discuss and if possible, I will arrange chill out time with friends a month in advanced so that my wife knows when I’m going to be home and when we can plan time together.

This calendar is on full view in my house and I know some of my friends think it’s a little strange that I will message them a month in advanced to hang out but it makes things easier for us. You can see from my calendar for April that I also teach Irish Dance classes and have this time on the calendar. My wife now knows that my Monday’s, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are time where I will make sure we have time together. My wife can also see that Friday’s are planned TV nights. If I want to fill up my Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with hanging out with friends, I’ll discuss things with her. If I’m going to spend my evening doing lots of marking, I’ll add it to the calendar.

Like I said, I’m not going to sugar coat it. I love my job but we’ve had to work at our relationship. If you’re going into teaching, make sure you give yourself a calendar and discipline yourself and you will enjoy life. This is what I do and it helps me. I’m giving you this advice because I’m a little sick of seeing people talking about teaching but not actually talking about how to handle things. It is because that I have this time management in place that I’m able to come up with or spend time to get ideas to make lessons more engaging.

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VTA Summit Day 1

pic1Due to making the top 10 of the Global Teacher Prize, I was invited to attend the Varkey Teacher Amabassadors Leadership Summit. It was hosted at the GEMS National Academy in Dubai. We started off our day with a warm welcome and an introduction to the week to come.  It was a great morning and as we gathered in the reception, it also gave me time to connect with the other teachers who are in the top 10. You can see one of these in the picture.

We received a very warm welcome from Vikas Pota who explained that we are the leaders of the future. He talked about the importance of teachers in education and gave every teacher in the conference a very big round of applause. It was so humbling and nice to see such positive things being said about education. While at the VTA Summit we started the day with a number of sessions aimed at helping us be advocates for Education. In some countries there is a negative attitude towards teachers and they’re seen as ‘second rate’ jobs. Many people do not see it as a profession. I’m very pleased with the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammad and Sunny Varkey for what they’re doing.

Morning Sessions: –

pic5In the morning we looked at developing and sharing a vision for the Varkey Teacher Ambassadors. We want to promote the need for teachers and the importance. We are change-makers and we discussed issues that we have around this. One teacher talked about their difficulties in establishing global connections due to their ‘internet connection’. We talked about how we could address this and tweets were sent out and teachers are now going to give their school postal addresses so that his students can be enabled.

We also had the opportunity to meet Sunny Varkey. He was a very warm gentlemen to meet and he talked about the importance of teachers. He also talked about how we are the scaffolding and architects of the future. It was great to see his passion come through as he had a discussion with teachers about how they can promote the need of teachers globally. 

We also interacted and talked about the media. Teachers aren’t portrayed in a positive light by some of the media and it’s important that we have a voice. Sheetal Adhvaryu explains that we have a right to say no. If we think that we’re going to step into territory that we’re unsure of, remember that it’s ok to say no. We had a discussion and I reminded teachers that they should stick to what they know. If something doesn’t feel right, if someone is trying to give us direction with our students (media / press) – Remember that you know your students best.

Afternoon Sessions: –

globalIn the afternoon we were split into break out sessions where teachers shared their vision of creating a global citizen. In our group, we discussed the ways in which we could help create ‘science’ global citizens. How do we enable teachers and students to take their lessons global. How can we help them with their communication. There was a lot of valuable discussion about the importance in making things more accessible. One area that we all agreed on is there there needs to be direction for teachers who have never thought about enabling global citizenship. You can find out more about this in the next couple of days.

Evening Session: –

pic4At the end of our afternoon sessions the Varkey Foundation created a team building exercise called the amazing race. Teachers were encouraged to talk to someone who they have never spoke to before. I was very fortunate enough to meet up with 3 teachers. These teachers were Lisa Parasi from the United States, Janet Hayward from the United Kingdom and Andrew NChessie from Malawi. We had a great time and had to take as many ‘selfies’ as possible around Dubai. We were given a number of challenges. It was quite funny. I ended up being the ‘tallest’ person in most of the pictures. We were also able to look at the city in a bit more depth. I made some amazing connections and I know that these guys will be friends for life.

Thank you Ruler Sheikh Mohammad and Sunny Varkey for this opportunity. I would also like to thank the team at the Varkey Foundation for everything that they have done so far in the organisation of this amazing summit.

Posted in Computer Science, Computing, global teacher prize, innovative teaching, new ideas teachers, teaching, varkey foundation | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tips for NQT’s

Recently I was fortunate enough to deliver an NQT training session at my school. I was honoured to be able to share with so many enthused teachers. We had a good catch up about challenges we face with technology and we also talked about how technology could apply to different subjects. This post aims to share with teachers different tools which could influence their teaching. These are tools which can be useful in any situation.

Standards: –

In the U.K we have many teaching standards which we must meet to become a teacher. When looking at technology I feel that these three areas can be assigned.

•Manage behaviour effectively to ensure a good and safe learning environment

•Make accurate and productive use of assessment

•Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils

To summarise how each of these standards are applicable to technology I’m going to give you a few examples. Over the years I’ve spoken to many teachers who have talked about some of the challenges that they face on trying to get students to behave. When technology is used in an immersive way, it can help engage pupils. When your pupils are engaged and participating in your lesson, they’re less likely to misbehave. Not to mention, if you teach your students how to use technology effectively, they’re going to behave better online and become better digital citizens.

Making accurate and productive use of assessment can be addressed in a number of ways. There are tools available such as Plickers which allow you to give each of your students are QR code. They can hold this QR code up to the rest of the class and you scan the class with your phone. Upon scanning the room, you can instantly assess whether your class has understood something without giving away ‘who’ didn’t understand it. It helps create a safe learning environment.

Setting high expectations is also addressable through technology due to the challenge and pace you can set through technology. You can create videos to inspire and motivate your students. You can create resources and make them freely available at ease. You can record your lessons as you deliver them and students can revisit them later on.

Tools

Microsoft Office: –

Cap1I first started showing teachers tools that are freely available if you have Microsoft Office. If you use the internet and install ‘Office Mix’ it has an add in that allows you to record your presentation as you deliver it. This is the tool that I use for my own lesson. If you visit www.youtube.com/mrraychambers you will see many video tutorials of my own lessons. I use Office mix and I go to the office mix tab and create presentations and videos that my students can use for flipped learning tasks.

Speech tools – Do you have students who struggle to read? Did you know that you can go to File > Options > Ribbon and if you go down to speak. You can add this to your tool bar. Now, whenever you email a word document to your student, they just need to highlight the text and then press the play button. It will read out the text to them out loud and they can also use this for proof reading.

 

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Present Online – Many schools struggle to get funding for tools that allow you to send your screen to your students. Did you realise that you can press the button present online in PowerPoint and this will create a link that you can email your students. Many people do not realise that it’s there! You email this link and your students can view your presentation through the internet browser. Students can access all of your content and you can even use it as a behaviour management tool. You don’t need to stand at the front of your class to present because you can see what you’re talking about on every screen in the classroom.

Plickers: –

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Plickers is a great tool for classroom engagement and it avoids that whole ‘hands up rule’. Everyone is expected to participate. You install the app on your phone or tablet to begin with. This can be found in the app store. Each student is given a unique ‘QR’ code. You can see examples of this in the picture on the left. You can create a login for yourself at plickers.com. You create a bank of questions really easily online and once they’re there you’re set for the rest of your classes. You give the students their card from 1 to 30. You can copy whole class lists into it.

From your tablet or phone, you select the question you want. Then all students hold up the QR code as either A,B,C,D . They tilt it in the direction they want to answer the question in. Once you have done this you push a button on your phone and scan the class really quickly. It recognises the answers and tells you the percentage of students that have the answer correct / incorrect and you can fill in the gaps. You can reveal the students who have got it wrong (if you wish). I prefer to make them anonymous and I address these students later.

Makey Makey: –

MakeyMakey

Makey Makey is a tool which will cost you roughly £40 to buy brand new. It is a great tool! I recommended this piece of kit to Computer Science and Music teachers. The kit works by connecting crocodile clips up to an electronic arduino board.  You can then go onto something simple like scratch and program it to do things based on the keys the board represents. These are keys such as ‘up’,’down’,’left’,’right’ or space etc… There are extension opportunities on the board.

Once you have connected them up, the students can use any conducting material. I’ve used water, bananas and other fruit. Alternatively you can use tin foil and cover objects.

One area where this has been really effective has been design technology. I approached design technology teachers in school and said that they could use a Makey Makey kit in order to get their students designing game controllers. You can teach students about anthropometrics and ergonomics by getting the students to make it.

 

Songsmith: –   

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Songsmith is a tool that is predominantly for music teachers but when you’re using it you can relate it to other subjects. You record yourself singing and it detects the sound of your voice and the key. Once you’ve done this it creates a song with a backing tract which you can go and use for your lessons. I’ve seen english teachers use this to help students write songs about shakespeare. I’ve used this to get my students making songs about difficult topics. It helps them remember it.

You can get your students to record revision rhymes!

 

Answer Garden: –

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One of the last tools that I spoke about was answergarden.ch It is a great way of getting your class to collaborate if you are using tablets, computers or mobile devices. You go onto answergarden.ch and type in a question. Press the generate button and it generates a cloud. The students have a link that they access and they keep typing in words that they can think of relating to the previous lesson. You can moderate these to make sure that students do not type in anything inappropriate. Once you’re happy with the results, you can reveal them to the class.

This is great for English teachers who are trying to get their students to discuss tone or emotion of material that they’re covering.

 

 

Summing Up: –

In summary, these are just a number of tools that you can use to make your classroom a little more ‘innovative’. I would say, use the tool because it works for you. If you try something and it doesn’t work, then try something else. We need to be reflective in our approach to teaching and if we use technology for the ‘sake’ of it, then we’re not going to get the best from our pupils.

I hope that this has been useful to you and the best of luck with trying these new tools.

Posted in Education, innovative teaching, new ideas teachers, NQT Training, technology, technology in teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment