Following the last Teachmeet I presented at, TMBolton (23rd Nov 2012), whereby I shared two fantastic apps that I use both within my class and across school, here is the Blog post about them and how I use them within school.

I am at a one form entry school in Blackpool – Mereside (http://meresideblog.wordpress.com/) and this September we decided we wanted to collect evidence of the foundation subjects in relation to the skills being taught, alongside levelling them to give a picture of the subjects across school.  After talking with SMT, I persuaded them to go for Evernote.  We gave every teacher an Ipod touch, synced with the school Evernote account.  After some initial training we decided the way forward was to focuss on building up an e-portfolio of every child in school.

I set up the account as follows:-

Each year group has a Notebook – dated the year the children leave Mereside e.g. Yr 6 = 2013.  Within each Notebook every child has a Notebook e.g. James 13 (the reason we numbered the child was incase there was another child in school with the same name).  I then set up the ‘tags’.  The tags allow can be applied to any individual note whilst allowing you to then view all the notes with a specific tag (will come back to this later!)

As a staff we agreed to subject tags:-

tags for the subjects –  Lit, Num, Topic, Sci, Art, DT, PE, RE, Geog, Hist, PSHE ICT
tags for levels – L1, L2, L3, L4, L5
break down of the skills 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, 3b, 3c, 4a, 4b, 4c, 5a, 5b, 5c

staff With all this then set up we then set about letting the staff collect evidence of the children’s work.  The simply load the Evernote app, take a picture of the work, tag it (Yr, subject, level, skill), share/place it into the correct Notebook.

This has revolutionised the way we now assess.  As a subject leader I no longer need to ask for books to monitor, I can simply load Evernote, enter the subject in the search area, click return and all the evidence for that subject across the whole school is there! The search can then be refined even further by adding a tag – eg Sci, L3

On a personal level, I have been using my own personall Evernote account since September as well.  I take notes within it, all my staff meetings are writtien within it, everytime I have a meeting or a piece of paper is given to me – I simple take a photo, tag it and save – for once I can now say I haven’t lost the peice of paper!




The other app I am loving within my class is Skitch.  I am lucky enough to have both an Ipad and Apple TV within my class.  I use my Ipad within my lesson as a portable visualiser through using the camera app.  If i find something I want the children to the focuss on (a piece of writing, a calcuation worked out on a whiteboard), I take a picture with Skitch, hand my Ipad over to another child within my class and ask them to peer share/evaluate. Skitch allows you to annotate over the image, highlight or sketch.  This has proved such a powerful self assessment tool for the children – they are constantly wanting me to take an picture, for them to then share their explanation of why.  The added bonus with Skitch is you can snyc it directly into your Evernote account – thus allowing me to collect even more evidence ……….

Blackpool LITES

Blackpool LITES is not an acronym but a play on words where IT represents Inclusive Technologies and naturally links with a local context through the Lights analogy.

 Blackpool LITES is a developing new pilot using a local concept identity that supports creativity in the classroom. It supports a school to school network of professional development, showcases and trials of new technologies, professional technology conversations, shared networks, links and uses of resources, research, safeguarding,  e-safety, mobile learning development together with media and communication infrastructures.” via Blackpool CLC website

I am lucky enough to be involved with the Blackpool LITES initiative.  A number of exciting opportunities have come up for me :-

  • including running open drop in sessions at the Blackpool CLC
  • Supporting schools in setting up blogs
  • working with the LA on and supporting them setting up Google Apps for Education
  • delvered training on using Google Docs in the classroom
  • sharing apps that i use within the classroom alongside how I use Apple TV

I am looking forward to seeing what other opportunities come up this year …………

Innovation in Education award

On Wednesday (21.11.12) evening, I was lucky enough to be shortlisted for the ‘Innovation in Education award” as part of the Blackpool Gazette education awards along with two High Schools from the local area.

It was fantastic to find out that I had won when the winner was announced, I was very suprised and a little shocked as to me, all I do is go about my daily role of being a class teacher, whilst trying to make the learning opportunites creative and innovative at the same time.

Over the last half term I have been trying to push the use of the Ipad alongside Apple TV.  Having just moved into a modern, state of the art, new build – I am lucky to have all the infastructure in place in which to let the innovation run smoothly.  In my classroom I have an Epson EB-455Wi  projector , one school ipad, my own ipad, and a 3 yr old Macbook.

I take a lot of inspiration from my PLN via twitter, there are so many teachers who are pushing innovation and creativity on a daily basis – I am just trying to use some of that within my class.

Collaboration is the key! After finding out (just after half term) which class I was going to be in for September 2011, I decided to set up a google document to share with my PLN (personal learning network) via my twitter account.

Initially I could not believe the response of those that follow me, straight away a number of fellow teachers, who were all going to be in Year 5 (UK aged 9-10) signed up wanting to share ideas, resources, planning and collaborate together. This then got me thinking – What if i created a document for every year group (for Primary schools) whereby teachers could share and collaborate? So one early Sunday morning I set bout creating documents for all to the year groups within a Primary school, from EYFS up to Year 6.

Each document has the same layout “Here we are going to share ideas/resources/plans – anything that is collaborative to all year 5 teachers (chn aged 9-10 yrs old) with an aim to really get the ball rolling ready for SEPT 2011. We might share some planning, or a resource to assist in literacy. It might be a shared document for a maths mental/oral starter.

I could even be a share live lesson between 2 or 3 classes around the world on a specific topic – the ideas are endless – Please add to the items and lets get sharing !”

It is then followed by a Literacy overview for the year with some suggested texts (many thanks to Pete Richardson @primarypete_ for creating these!) along with a link to the Numeracy units (however I am aware these will move soon to the National Archives – but will update it when they do) and finally a section for topic ideas. Some potential ideas for collaboration included:- BLOGGING with class blogs – like the Quadblogging idea via David Mitchell (@deputymitchell)

VLOGGING – video news, comparisons re things like the playgound, lunches, etc 🙂

TWEETING – follow fellow class tweets – reply/ask questions – crowd source EBOOKS – (@colport is the man 4 this)

GOOGLE DOCs – chn create a piece of writing – other chn star and wish/level it ? Script writing – groups can work together on one script. Comments and discussions can be used to help facilitate the writers towards their writing goals.

VOICETHREADS – simiar to above but with video and audio

AUDIOBOO’s – on the spot news reports from schools, feedback from school fieldtrips/off site visits/trips,

PRIMARYWALL – shared M/O starters ? Words other than ? Sentence construction ?

SKYPING: maybe something completely different like passing a rhythm? Not forgetting skype calls with museums

EDMODO : Linked groups for discussions, science? Novel Study?

I have shared it via my PLN – the more teachers that sign up to a year group the better – collaboration is the key! Fancy joining in the collaborations – click here – find which year group you are going to be in next year – sign up and join in the collaborations !

There is an app for that!

A few weeks ago when flicking through my timeline on twitter, I read about two schools creating an ‘app’ for their school.  An ‘app’ is short for application software.

Both Ian Addison (@ianaddison) and Simon Widdowson (xannov) had both managed to create an app for their schools.  So I thought I would like one of those for my school to help withparental engagement.  After tweeting them both a few questions I set about creating the ‘Mereside app’

Once I had mange to get all the key pieces of information into my app – I then had the issue of getting it published.  They are two ways to go about this.

1) sign up and join Apple’s developer group – for an annual fee

2) find someone who is already registered

Having decided method two was the way forward – Twitter again helped me find Doug Stitcher (@therenegade78) who helped me through the process of getting my app approved through apple and getting it approved for android devices as well.  We also managed to get a feature in the local newspaper.


Currently we are still the only school in Blackpool to have an ‘app’ but I am sure once more schools see the potential of having their own app, more and more school we be develop theirs.  Download the Mereside app – here for iPhone or here for Android here