What might Digital Literacy / Competence look like in terms of lessons? (day 8)

While we’re waiting to hear what the Welsh Government’s response will be to the Donaldson Report, it was noticeable how many companies were tweeting within 24 hours of the report’s publication that they could provide your school with a solution to ‘Digital Competence’. Best of luck to them, although you might want to ask them what this week’s lottery numbers are going to be as there is no official definition of what this will look like yet.

What we do have though is one of the resources created for schools in Wales by the South West Grid for Learning as part of the Hwb Project – the Digital Literacy Resource. This provides a series of outline lessons for each year group from reception to Yr 10 that cover 8 areas of ‘Digital Literacy’, each one with resources, and mapped back to the Literacy and Numeracy frameworks, the PSE and IT curriculum and suggestions for how you could use Hwb+ to deliver the lessons (although you could equally use J2E, Office 365 or another online tool of your choice).

You can find the resource via Hwb (either search for ‘Digital Literacy’ in the resource section or follow the links via the E-Safety Tab). Or you can click here to go direct!

The site contains downloadable pdfs and Word files for each year group.

If you’re either an IT coordinator or PSE coordinator in Wales and you haven’t had a look at these yet, get yourself over there now. If you know and IT Coordinator or PSE Coordinator send it to them quick sharp. It might save them so much time they can take you for a drink to say thanks!

Nb – A version for the English curriculum exists here

There are a number of other E-Safety tools and resources available to schools via Hwb, including the 360 Safe Cymru tool self review tool for schools. You can find them all by going to Hwb and clicking the E-Safety button.


Copyright free images for teachers and learning (7)

I wrote this yesterday, but struggled to get it online from my mid-Wales hotel. I’m going to post it now, and add the images tomorrow!

There are few things that annoy me more than an image in a teacher-created resource with a big watermarked copyright sign in the middle of it. We (quite rightly) pick up attempts by our students to plagiarise other people’s work, but in the closed nature of schools, and with the ease of access to Google images, teachers either don’t know or don’t care that they are committing exactly the same offense.
It’s never been easier to find images that you can legally use. Here’s a few ways:

Through Hwb
If you’re a teacher in a school in Wales you can log in to Hwb, click ‘Resources’ and choose to search ‘Image Quest’ – this is the image library from Encyclopaedia Britannica and you have access to these images for use in your lessons and resources (as do your students)

Flickr – Flickr.com
You can search for ‘Creative Commons’ images in Flickr, which include images uploaded by many museums, libraries and archives around the world.
Wikimedia Commonscommons.wikimedia.org
All the images on Wikipedia (and many others) are gathered together in the Wikimedia Commons library. Just like the articles on Wikipedia everything here is licensed for reuse
Even Google itself lets you filter the image search for images that it believes are licences for reuse. From an image search click search tools > usage rights> and select one of the options (I tend to just go for ‘licensed for reuse).

This can be frustrating as the image that caught your eye may well disappear once you apply the filter of images only licences for reuse. You can add the filter before you search, although Google haven’t really made it that easy – from the Google Images home page choose ‘settings’ in the bottom right of the screen and then select ‘advanced search’. The final option in the second block (narrow your search by…) is license.

(As an aside, while you’re at it you can filter just large images to make sure they don’t break up when you fill your powerpoint slides with them…)

And there’s more.
A quick search for ‘Creative Commons Images’ brought up a number of other libraries that look promising including:
(This last one contains a good overview of what ‘Creative Commons’ is any how it’s different to Copyright)


As you can see, there really is no excuse for those pixelated, watermarked, obviously copyright images in resources anymore!


I have mostly been reading… (6)

A few things that stood out this evening when I reviewed the starred items in Feedly. The full list is at http://ihavemostlybeenreading.tumblr.com/. I just need to work out how to get StaffRm recommendations in there…

Want to share knowledge organisers?

Following some recent conversations about ‘knowledge organisers’, this post by James Theobald contains a link to a shared Google Drive where these are being crowd sourced. Both an interesting idea and a great way of sharing the load.

Ideas for Teaching Better. All In One Place.

Tom Sherringham’s blog is one of my ‘must-reads’. This is an excellent summary of his teaching posts from the last three years of blogging.

Self-esteem, Self-efficacy for Science, and Ability Grouping

There’s so much good stuff over on StaffRm I could do one of these posts dedicated to stuff posted over there alone. This from James Mannion is worth checking out both for the approach and the findings.

Scaffolding: what we can learn from the metaphor

I first saw David Didau talking about scaffolding in the video of his talk on Slow Writing at ReasearchED. This post develops some of those ideas a little further. It’s one of those things that sounds so obvious once you hear it – the thing about scaffolding is that you should have a plan for taking it down.

(Bonus David Didau – How to get assessment wrong – seriously this guy is producing an embarrassment of riches at the moment)

Should schools count the opportunity cost? (Spoiler: no)

While I still think the concept is a useful one to consider, this from James Mannion again (on his own blog this time) makes an interesting analysis of when a concept is taken too far.


Should we start comment coding our teaching resources? (5)

***File under random pondering***

Flicking through Twitter this evening I saw a cartoon linking to this article about the importance of adding comments to code.

If you’ve never tried a bit of coding yourself, one of the options when writing code is to add comments for others who may look at the code, but which will be ignored by the computer. A thought occurred to me that perhaps it would be useful to have teachers add their thoughts and ideas to their resources – not to be read by the class, but to explain their thinking to other teachers who might be then using those resources. Especially as we encourage teachers to share their resources via Hwb.

Powerpoint has an obvious feature in the ‘notes’, but I guess an extra sheet could be added in Word (the comments feature may confuse people who aren’t used to using it).

I’m planning on going through my old resources over the next few days to update the resources section here, so I might try and give it a go…

Image credit: Twitterank Disclaimer Comments by theritters. CC Licensed on Flickr.

If it were my home (day 4)

One of the ways I’m going to be able sustain this posting-every-day malarky is to have blog posts sharing links to online tools and resources that I either use myself, or have seen recommended.

If it were my home comes via the excellent ‘Free Technology 4 Teachers’ blog maintained by Richard Byrne. The site allows you to compare two countries on a variety of measures, but what makes it stand out is the personal language it used to describe the comparisons.

Wales isn’t mentioned separately, but if I compare the UK to Mali (picked at random) I find that..

Mali vs UK

It also provides a map showing the size of one country overlaid onto the other


I haven’t used this site in any detail (there are options to compare disaster impacts as well as discuss with other user which country you would rather live in and why), but it looks likes one that might be worth exploring. It strikes me as being a very user friendly way of bringing the reality of life in different countries into the classroom for a range of ages as well as presenting lots of chances for ESDGC and numeracy.



Computational thinking – probably not as tricky as it sounds! (Day 3)

Barefoot Computing poster

Computational thinking is something I’ve heard about before from Tom Crick and others, but often struggled to get my head around. With a growing number of primary schools in Wales looking at using J2Code through Hwb as a way of delivering some kind of computing to their pupils while we wait to see what our new curriculum will hold, it’s an area I’m aware could easily be overlooked. While pupils can still get lots of enjoyment and doubtless a better understanding of some elements of programing and computing, it strikes me as something that can be made something much richer, deeper and more worthwhile if underpinned by an understanding of computational thinking.

One of the sessions I attended at this year’s TLAB was from Jane Waite from Barefoot Computing. This group is run under the Computing At School umbrella and provides training and resources to schools in England, but also to anyone who chooses to sign up to the site. I came away from the session with a much deeper understanding of the kind of things we mean by Computational Thinking, and the fact that many teachers are already doing many of these kinds of activities without knowing how they fit into this particular bracket. The image in the header of this post is of a picture I took of one of their posters.

Jane described Computational Thinking as being made up of six concepts and five approaches. These being:


Logic (predicting and analysing)
Algorithms (making steps and rules)
Decomposition (breaking down into parts)
Patterns (spotting and using similarities)
Abstraction (removing unnecessary detail)
Evaluation (making judgements)


Tinkering (experimenting and playing)
Creating (designing and making)
Debugging (finding and fixing errors)
Persevering (keeping going)
Collaborating (working together)

If you’re looking at developing computing at any level, then I’d strongly recommend giving some thought as to how you’re underpinning it with computational thinking. It’s certainly an area I wish I’d made much more explicit in my teaching as KS3 classes explored programs like Scratch. And if I were you I’d head over to Barefoot computing, sign up and have a look at what they have to offer.


You can’t just put a badge on it. (Day 2)

For a while now I’ve been interested in the idea of using badges as an alternative assessment method. I mentioned it a few years ago as the possible basis of a different way of working for a Yr 7 IT curriculum (an idea that didn’t get implemented for a whole range of reasons I won’t go into here). I was fascinated by Zoe Ross’s work at TLAB a couple of years ago, and I always read with interest what Doug Belshaw has to say on the subject.

But as the idea of e-badges or open badges becomes more widespread, so I’ve started to hear them described as a quick fix solution to badly thought through learning outcomes.

Teacher’s don’t want to engage with training? We could give them badges.

Students aren’t engaged in some poorly thought out, tacked on curriculum? We could give them badges.


We could. But it won’t work.


The problem here isn’t the badges, it’s that the learning path is badly designed.

By all means think about what badges can offer in terms of wider accreditation or in terms of displaying achievements. But don’t just think you can stick a badge on it like sticking plaster and it’ll all be ok. Because the badge only counts if people want to wear it. If they’re proud of what they’ve achieved or they see a value in it.

I’d love to hear from anyone making really good use of badges in learning.


This post is in part inspired by Richard Byrne’s post yesterday.

Image credit: Nerd Merit Badges shipment by Hyperdashery badges. CC Licensed on Flickr.com

Back to the blog – Don’t break the chain

After the veritable splurge of blog posts that was February while I was involved in Tom Barrett’s #28daysofwriting, things have pretty much dried up around here again. Much of March was focused on trying to comment on other people’s blogs (something I’ve actually kept up better than blogging) but it would appear that without some kind of external commitment, blogging just drops too far down the priority list.

Half term gives a chance for reflection and a reset, so today I’m going to start with an idea I’ve borrowed from Damian Bariexca – Don’t break the chain. The idea is (on paper) relatively simple. I’m going to post something here every day. It may be a link or a 5 minute reflection on something I’ve seen that day, or it may be a longer form blog post. As before, I’m keeping a blog garden of half completed ideas and posts and I’m also going to try and keep a reserve of finished posts held in draft so on a day when I really don’t have that five minutes, or my brain is completely frazzled, I can still publish something. I’ll post everything here, with some cross posted or adapted on StaffRm.

Today is day one. Let’s see how far we can go!

Image credit: Juan Cortez – CC Licensed on Flickr.com

#TLAB15 – E-learning across the curriculum: reflections of what worked, what didn’t, and why

I’m back in Berkhamsted today for the third Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference organised by the sickeningly enthusiastic Nick Dennis.

This year I’m leading a workshop session looking at effective e-learning across the curriculum. You can find the slides for the session below, and links to some of the things I talk about below that. Feel free to use the comments to ask any questions (the slides may not make huge sense without the talk going alongside it) or continue the discussion from the session.




“Shut down or Restart” – Royal Society report into computing in schools.

Successful Futures – Donaldson review of the curriculum in Wales

Dr Ruben Puentedura  (SAMR)



Some of the tools mentioned:



Cross curricular serendipity

Image credit: Serendipity by Laura Dantonio. CC Licensed on Flickr.

***File this under ‘when I rule the world’

One of the problems in secondary schools is that it’s hard for teachers to know what’s going on in other departments. Without that knowledge, opportunities to link learning across subjects can be missed.

It struck me that one way to overcome this would be to have each dept produce an A4 / A3 summary of their topic for each year groups for each half term. The sheets wouldn’t be too detailed – maybe an overview of the content covered and any assessment tasks planned.

These could then be put up around the staffroom (or similar space) for everyone to see what was being taught around the school. Hopefully this would trigger more of those ‘ooo. I didn’t know you were teaching that…’ conversations, more interdisciplinary learning could emerge and the world would be a better place.