Monday, 17 November 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 8 - Art & Design and Music Special


Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue an Art & Design and Music special edition of Literacy Links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.


Quote of the Week:
"Books are a uniquely portable magic."

Stephen King - An American author of contemporary horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many of them have been adapted into feature films, television movies and comic books.



Links:
National Curriculum KS3 Document - Literacy in Art and Design

National Curriculum KS3 Document - Literacy in Music

TES Resource - Literacy in Art and Design - Evaluations

Literacy and the Music Video

Literacy in Art, Craft and Design Booklet

Video - Auchinleck Academy: Literacy in Musc

Essay - Art and Literacy

intergrating Music and Literacy

Video - Using Art to Teach Reading and Writing

Learning Literacy through Music

Guardian Article - Out of Art into Literacy at the National Gallery

Promoting Literacy Through Music

Study - Teaching Literacy Through Art

Literacy Skills in Music Class


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 7 - History and Geography Special

Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue a History and Geography special edition of Literacy Links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.


Quote of the Week:
“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”  Dr Seuss

Links:
National Curriculum Document - Literacy in Geography

National Curriculum Document - Literacy in History

GTIP Think Piece - Geography and Literacy

The Historical Association - History and Literacy

Literacy through Geography but not forgetting geography through literacy

TES Resource - History, Literacy, Revision and Learning Tools

Blog - Improving Literacy in Geography

Teachit Resources - Literacy in History

TES Forum - Literacy in Geography

History Teacher's Discussion Forum - Literacy in History

PPT - Creative GCSE Geography and Literacy

Case Study - What impact can development in literacy Teaching have on teaching and learning in history? 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 6 - ICT and Design Technology Special


Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue a ICT and Design Technology special edition of Literacy Links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 5 - Science and Maths Special

Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue a Science and Maths special edition of Literacy Links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 4


Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue is miscellany of links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 3


Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue is miscellany of links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 2


Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue is miscellany of links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Literacy Links - Issue 1


Each week I will be sharing some interesting reading in the area of Literacy from around the web for your reading pleasure. This issue is miscellany of links presented in no particular order.

The purpose of this e-magazine is to evoke thought and discussion around key literacy topics, not dictate a particular approach or view.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Why I teach...



I teach because I love being taught and teaching is a constant learning process.

I teach because I want to be a part of giving a young person a better chance I life to achieve all they wish to achieve.

I teach because there is nothing like working with young people - even the challenging ones - in fact, especially the challenging ones.

I teach because it challenges me and makes me question myself every day.

I teach because I love to see those lightbulb moments where their eyes light up and they 'get it'.

teach because no one day is ever the same - when I worked in an office it was and it killed me, slowly.


I teach because it is a part of who I am.


I teach because every now and then I see an ex-student of mine as I walk along the street, they tell me about what they are doing and where they are going and it fills me with pride.

I teach because I enjoy the comradery that naturally forms among teachers when times get tough.

I teach because I love reading stories, writing stories, exploring stories - I just love stories.

I teach because young people say the funniest things and I love them for it.

I teach because it is so important for a teacher to provide stability, structure and love in the lives of those young people that have none.



I teach because sometimes it is heartbreaking and that is important too.

I teach because I remember that feeling the great teachers gave, and still give, me.

I teach because I want to make a difference.



Why do you teach?





This post was inspired by @CaitlinTucker

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Holidays Are Here - Teachers, Take Some Time Off

So the holidays are here at last.  Schools have shut their gates for the last time this academic year and children are off, off and away - school a distant memory.  The corridors of schools up and down the country are peopled only by the occasional member of site staff doing repairs that they are never able to get done with us all getting in their way.  Classroom are empty, bar the bin bags full of a years worth of debris in preparation for the deep clean over the holidays.  




Every year is a wild and wonderful journey when you are a teacher.  Only a teacher can really know what you mean when you say this.  There are dizzy highs and some sad lows - lots of which are outside of our control.  It can feel at times that we are pulled from pillar to post with all the changes that are imposed upon us from every direction.  It can appear that we have no say and are not respected as professionals.  It can take all our strength to stay true to what we know while still being open to new ideas.  But we do it.  We do such an important job and we must remember this when times are tough.  We make a difference and what we do matters.  We have a duty to do our best and keep strong.

With all that in mind, it is so important that we recuperate and regroup when we can - WE NEED TO!  Summer holidays are the perfect time to do just this so take that time and enjoy it.  You will be a much better teacher for it when term time comes around again.

Yes, of course we have to spend some of our holiday preparing for the year ahead but don't let this fill your holiday - because it will if you let it. Allocate specific time to school related work.  Teachers, I appeal to you to make sure that you make time to be you this summer.  Do what you love and revel in it. (Outside of teaching of course!)  

Holiday To Do List:
  1. Read those books that have been piling up on your bedside table. 
  2. See the friends you have been neglecting during term time. 
  3. Take that trip away with a loved one that you have spoken about for so long. 
  4. Unashamedly, take a nap in the middle of the day. 
  5. Lie in the sun all afternoon with your music a little too loud and a cool drink of your choice in your hand. 
  6. Spend quality time with family and show them how much you love and appreciate them.
  7. Follow your passion and enjoy your hobby be it knitting, sport, writing or gardening.
  8. Take some time to relax - do some yoga, go for a walk or meditate - whatever it takes.
  9. Try something new. Do something you have never done before, just for the heck of it.
  10. Go on a day trip.  Get on a train or hop in the car and just get away from it all for the day.

Have an adventure this summer and go back to school refreshed and happy that you have had a great break.

Happy holiday teachers!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Back to (Teaching and Learning) Basics - Language in the Classroom


For me it was never an issue.  I was brought up with parents who spoke to me about the world and discussed things with in a way that allowed me to never feel out of my depth but always challenged.  They encouraged me to share my opinions freely and express myself well.  They bred a love of words and an interest in learning in me.  Once that base is there, no one can take it away from you - it is there forever.  I am eternally thankful to them for that.

There were always books in my home and I read like there was no tomorrow from a young age.  I remember never wanting book to end and mourning them once they did.  Trips to the book shop became a treasured time that I would yearn for.  I vividly remember scanning the shelves and deliberating for hours about which book to choose next.  One Christmas spent at Auntie Jean's I spent nearly the entire holiday holed up in the attic reading the box set of books I had received as a present.

Lots of our students don't have this environment at home.  They don't have access to books whenever they want to escape into another world.  They are not encouraged to share opinions and discuss things openly.  They don't have parents who know how to challenge and support them with their expression of language as they themselves were never challenged and supported.  This is not an indication of a parent's lack of love for their children and I would never want it to be thought of that way.  It is simply a different life experience.

The world today demands so much of our young people when they leave full time education whether that be at 18 or older.  If their expression and language use is not developed to a certain standard they are automatically at a disadvantage and life is tough enough out there without this avoidable barrier.  Teachers have the opportunity, no the responsibility, to bridge that gap.  We have a duty to give them the gift of language and all the power that comes with that gift.


Some Top Tips for developing student's use of language in the classroom:


  1. No Slang - Never accept slang use in the classroom.  Buy that I do not mean tell them off for using slang if the meaning is correct behind the word, but ask them to rephrase to make the sentence formal.  Once this is done celebrate their answer.  You don't want them to feel embarrassed for using slang but you want them to be able to express their meaning well.  Supportive correction is the way forward.
  2. Exam Talk - Getting them used to talking as if they were writing an answer in an exam is the fastest way to get them writing better in their written work.  If you expect them to write in full sentences and formal language in exam answers in your subject then you musty expect them to speak in full sentences and formal language.  If they can say it they can write it.
  3. Amazing Vocabulary - Share brilliant words linked to your subject with your students often.  Talk about their meaning, different ways of being used, links to other words, ways it can be used and their origins.  Foster a love of words through modelling this love with the students.
  4. Reading Exposure - Expose students to high quality texts and talk about them openly.  Share with them shorter extracts from challenging texts linked to your subject such as articles from The Guardian, research papers, A-Level and degree reading materials, books from different cultures and eras. The importance lies in how you approach these texts and the discussion that you encourage and expect form them on the text.  
  5. Formal Debating - Host a formal debate or two across the year on a question pertinent to your subject.  Expose them to the conventions of formal debate and get them fighting for their side in a controlled and eloquent manner.  Very powerful.
  6. Language Displays - Get some beautifully phrased and inspirational quotes highlighting key concepts in your subject up on your walls.  Literacy linked displays that can be referred to and used in everyday teaching are great too.  Surrounding students with excellent language use will seep into their language use without them ever realising it.  Immersing your students in language and inspiration to express themselves better can really get those that are day dreamers and ponderers to up their anti in terms of their language use too.
  7. Perseverance - It takes time to learn a new language, which is essential what some of our students are doing when we expose them to academic talk and writing.  Repeat, remind and encourage regular practise of academic language.  Think of different ways to challenge and test them in class and celebrate their successes.
  8. Vocabulary Journals - It is a great idea to encourage students to keep track of the new words they are collecting in their vocabulary.  Keeping a journal of new words learnt can really make a difference and embed the learning of new words.  This can be just within your subject in their books but works just as well across subjects on a whole school level in a cross-curricular vocabulary journal that they carry around.
  9. Language Frames - Provide sentence starters / stems to aid discussion and writing in class.  This can take the fear out of formal talk and academic language use.  It is important to remove this aid once the students are proficient in using them so that they can develop further.
  10. Never Dumb Down Your Language - it is important that you constantly model excellent use of language in your classroom and in your subject.  If you expect them to do this they need to see that it is possible and you are the best person for this job.  High expectations at all times in every way.  If they do not understand then explain or express it differently - don't dumb it down.

 Other post in the Back to (teaching and learning basics) series are below.
  1. Introduction
  2. Lesson Objectives
  3. Reviewing Learning
  4. Marking and Feedback
  5. Making Students Feel Safe and Valued
  6. Assessment and Planning Loop
  7. Attitudes to Learning
  8. Challenge
  9. Enjoyment
  10. Pace
  11. Expectations




Sunday, 18 May 2014

Back to (Teaching and Learning) Basics - Making Students Feel Safe and Valued

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou 



Making our students feel valued and cared for is vital to their well being while in our care.  This does not mean we need to be their friends or create an overly relaxed environment in our classroom where the student is always right.  It is much more complex and delicate than that.  Some classes will take longer, a lot longer, than others.  However long it takes, all classes need you to preserver and work through issues to attain that feeling of everyone in the room valuing one another and feeling safe enough to work well, express their ideas and achieve.

We teachers really do have such power to shape the experience that our student shave when they are with us in our lessons.  We are the ones that create the atmosphere and the attitude our students have in our classrooms.  This is no mean feat and can seem like it is out of our control on some days but the truth be told, it rarely is.  When I started to think about what making students feel save an valued involved everything I came up with I felt that well of course I do that - but do I?  All of the time?  I have made mistakes, we all have.  What we do has an impact so we need to keep trying our best to do it well.

Below are some ideas I have been mulling over and trying to follow in my own classroom day to day...

High Expectations - Having constant and consistent high expectations is a must.  Never accepting a half hearted answer or and refusal to take part is very important.  Sometimes the outcome will be different that you were expecting but it should always be of high quality and the student should have tried their best.  This can take time with some students who prefer to shrink into the background in class but it is so worthwhile.  Language used in class should always be corrected and expressed in as formal a manner as you expect in their work.  Negative behaviour should always be stopped and a discussion helped as to why it is not acceptable.  The key to this correction is to be mindful of ensuring the student knows it is ok to make mistakes as long as we correct them.

Address Issues Openly - If an issue occurs in the classroom such as a student saying something inappropriate or offensive it should always be addressed there and then.  Students will do this... probably fairly often.  They are in the process of growing up and at times don't realise the seriousness of their words.  It is our role to not be shaken by these things and see it as an opportunity for the whole class to learn.  Students can very quickly feel unsafe if they see that inappropriate or offensive language is seen as ok in the classroom.  On the other hand they can very quickly feel safe if they see that you will deal with such issues.  It is not what is said it is how you deal with it that leave the mark on students.

Never Get Personal - Students can push our boundaries in the classroom but it is so vital not to make personal comments in response.  The smallest thing can very easily be taken to heart and held by that student for far longer that it is in your mind.  Not reacting to a student who is out of control in any way or trying to push buttons is always the best approach.  They are the children, we are the adults.  Children see you as their moral compass in the classroom and will build a mistrust towards you if they ever witness you making a personal attack against a pupil or even about a pupil in their absence.  If you feel you are unable to cope then seek assistance rather than stay in the negative situation.

Get to Know Them as People - Take the time to get to know your students.  What clubs do they attend in school?  What are their hobbies in their free time?  Can you pop in to see them in their club?  Getting to know their interests and chatting with them about those interests is a really lovely experience and with time can really build a strong bond between child and adult.  Bringing interests you know the class have into your lessons from time to time where appropriate is a great way to let them know that you know them as people not just student in your class.  It is also important to get to know your student's home situation.  This information should generally be treated with care and confidentiality and used really only to inform your approach to the students within your setting.  Knowing them and their situation goes a long way towards creating a safe environment where they feel valued.

Maintain Your Classroom Environment - The room you teach a class in and the state of that room can really make a difference to how students feel about their time with you.  I don't think a classroom need be a work of art (unless you are that way inclined) but keeping it tidy and presentable really does make a difference.   If the walls are tatty, displayed work is outdated, posters hanging off, tables not well arranged or resources strewn all over the place then you are sending a message that you do not care.  How can students feel safe and valued if they are receiving subliminal messages that you could not care less?  Make the classroom appealing and well ordered and the students will feel that you value your time with them in that space.

Value Student Contributions - When students make a wonderfully profound contribution to your lesson, as they do from time to time, make sure you celebrate that contribution and make them feel valued for it.  If a student produced a wonderful piece of class or home work then make sure you hold that piece of work up as excellent practice and show it off to other students, perhaps even display it in the room.  How you value students will vary form student to student.   Some students will value a public shower of praise while others will cower in shame.  Some students will value a phone call home to celebrate the achievement while others will be mortified at the thought.  This comes down to knowing your student well. However your value their contributions just make sure you do.



 Other post in the Back to (teaching and learning basics) series are below.

  1. Introduction
  2. Lesson Objectives
  3. Reviewing Learning
  4. Language in the Classroom
  5. Marking and Feedback
  6. Assessment and Planning Loop
  7. Attitudes to Learning
  8. Challenge
  9. Enjoyment
  10. Pace
  11. Expectations



Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Back to (Teaching and Learning) Basics


So they say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks - I'm not sure I agree with that as this old dog loves an occasional new (teaching and learning) trick!  Whether us teachers are up for a new trick in the classroom or not we sure as heck can always get better at the old tricks.  No matter how long you have been teaching you are never too long in the tooth to be revisiting your basic skills in teaching and enabling learning in your class.  

At times the seasoned teacher can become less focused on their basic skills in teaching and enabling learning in the classroom.  We do the basics naturally, almost subconsciously.  It becomes harder and harder for us to analyse our own practice as we just do things with out thinking - we are so used to it.  It is vital that we refocus on these skills from time to time in order to assess why we do the things we do and whether they are still the most effective ways of doing them.

All teachers, experienced and inexperienced, have the ever changing pressures of government intervention in education, exam board changes, curriculum changes, national news and school expectation changes.  This constant sea of change can make us doubt our own abilities and confuse what we know to be effective with what is the hot topic right now.  We need to reflect, research and be assured in out abilities to get the most out of out students. We need to get the basics right.



So, I have decided that, for me, it is time to get back to basics.  I want to rediscover what works for me, look at why it works and make sure I am doing it the best I can.   The posts will look at how and why I do the things I do in my teaching practice and investigate whether they are working in terms of aiding the learning in my class.  These blogs are really more about making sure I am keeping myself in check than advocating any one way of doing anything in your classroom.  

"I write to understand as much as to be understood." Ellie Wiesel

In this series I will be looking at the following topics in no particular order and probably changing my mind as I write them. :-)

  1. Lesson Objectives
  2. Reviewing Learning
  3. Students Feeling Safe and Valued
  4. Language in the Classroom
  5. Marking and Feedback
  6. Assessment and Planning Loop
  7. Attitudes to Learning
  8. Challenge
  9. Enjoyment
  10. Pace
  11. Expectations



Sunday, 30 March 2014

Decent Approaches to Digital Tools - Engaging English Lessons and Digital Tools Virtual Presentation - TLAB14

This is the final post of my virtual presentation on Engaging English Lessons and Virtual Tools for TLAB 2014 that was hosted at Berkhampstead School.  If you have any questions about any of the tools or techniques please feel free to contact me on twitter.  My twitter handle is @MsFindlater

Clip 5 - Class Blogging and You Tube:



Clip 6 - Edmodo and Google Drive:



Previous Clip - Creative Writing



Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Captivating Approaches to Creative Writing - Engaging English Lessons and Digital Tools Virtual Presentation - TLAB14

The next few posts will form my full virtual presentation on Engaging English Lessons and Virtual Tools for TLAB 2014 that was hosted at Berkhampstead School.  If you have any questions about any of the tools or techniques please feel free to contact me on twitter.  My twitter handle is @MsFindlater




Previous Clip - Poetry

Next Clip - Digital Tools

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Powerful Approaches to Poetry - Engaging English Lessons and Digital Tools Virtual Presentation - TLAB14

The next few posts will form my full virtual presentation on Engaging English Lessons and Virtual Tools for TLAB 2014 that was hosted at Berkhampstead School.  If you have any questions about any of the tools or techniques please feel free to contact me on twitter.  My twitter handle is @MsFindlater.

Clip 2 - Poetry:


Previous Clip - Class Novel

Next Clip - Creative Writing

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Creative Approaches to the Class Novel - Engaging English Lessons and Digital Tools Virtual Presentation - TLAB14

The next few posts will form my full virtual presentation on Engaging English Lessons and Virtual Tools for TLAB 2014 that was hosted at Berkhampstead School.  If you have any questions about any of the tools or techniques please feel free to contact me on twitter.  My twitter handle is @MsFindlater.

Clip 2 - Class Novel:




Previous Clip - Introduction

Next Clip - Poetry

Introduction - Engaging English Lessons and Digital Tools - Virtual Presentation - TLAB14

The next few posts will form my full virtual presentation on Engaging English Lessons and Virtual Tools for TLAB 2014 that was hosted at Berkhampstead School.  If you have any questions about any of the tools or techniques please feel free to contact me on twitter.  My twitter handle is @MsFindlater.

Clip 1 - Introduction:


Next Clip - The Class Novel

TLAB14 - Engaging English Lessons and Digital Tools



I am honoured to be running a session at TLAB 14 at Berkhampstead School today.  I'm sure that I am no more an expert than any of the wonderful folk that are attending my talk today but I will try and ensure that I give them food for thoughts.  What I do know is that I am passionate about my teaching and I am always trying out new things to keep my lessons fresh and engaging for myself and my learners alike.  I hope the teacher attending my session today are able to take something away that they can try on Monday.

My presentation is below.



Like I said we are all experts in our own right and all have something to give.  I am challenging the teachers attending my session and anyone else out there who wants to to write an activity they use that they and the students enjoy or get a lot out of.  

Why don't you join in the discuss and leave a comment?  What are your favourite activities for engaging learning in your English classroom?  

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Educating With Edmodo - Assignments

This is the third post in a series on how to use Edmodo in the classroom.  Previous posts have looked at how to set up Edmodo with your class and how to use the alerts and notes tools in Edmodo.  Below is a step by step guide on how to use notes and alerts in Edmodo


How to Use Assignments in Edmodo

An assignment is a piece of work that the students will hand in on Edmodo that you plan to grade.  This assignment will be added to the classes built in grade book and you will be able to assess all the handed in assignment from one place within Edmodo.  You can mark and feedback to the individual students.  Edmodo gives you one central place for you to view all the grades and feedback for all your students.




Step 1 - On the home page you will see a line of tabs giving you options to post a note, alert,  assignment, quiz or poll.  Make sure that you have selected 'assignment'.

Step 2 - Give your assignment a title that is meaningful to the class, group or student you are aiming it at in the box that says 'Assignment title'.

Step 3 - Write a brief outline of the assignment you are setting this class, group or student and any instructions you deem necessary in the box that says 'Describe the assignment'.

Step 4 - Type the name of the class, group or student you are aiming the assignment at in the box that says 'send to...' that has now appeared under the 'Describe the assignment' box.

Step 5 -  Below the 'send to...' box you have just typed in there are a number of icons that give you options to attach things to the assignment to your class.  You can now attach a file from your computer by clicking the icon that looks like a piece of paper with writing on it.  You can attach a link to a website by clicking on the icon that looks like a link in a chain.  There is also a icon that looks like a book which gives you the option of attaching any files you have stored in your Edmodo library - you are unlikely to have any if you are just starting out with Edmodo.  You can also choose to schedule the post to be sent to your class, group or student at a later date and time if you wish by clicking on the clock icon.

Step 6 - There is a box on the top right of the assignment screen that says 'due date'.  Click on the calendar and select the date by which you want the students to hand in the assignments.  If students do not hand in assignments by the set date then a 'late' notice will be sent to them as a reminder.

Step 7 - Click send.  Your assignment will now appear to the class, group or student you have directed it to.

Step 8 - The assignment will be added to the classes grade book ready for you to review once the students hand in the work.  




Students can attach a document or there is an option to link up Google drive and attach Google Docs too.  Once the assignments are handed in you will be able to see them all in the same place for ease of marking and feedback.  If you wish you can leave your marking and feedback against the students handed in work within Edmodo.  This will then appear as an alert when the student next logs in.  All your marking and feedback for all of your classes in one place is really handy.  Each individual student will have all of their marking and feedback in one place too.  There is also the facility for the student to leave a reply to your marking and also resubmit their piece of work with amendments - great for showing a clear improvement and progress within a skill.




Next time I will be looking at how to use the quiz tool in Edmodo with your classes.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Educating With Edmodo - Notes and Alerts

This is the second post in a series on how to use Edmodo in the classroom.  Below is a step by step guide on how to use notes and alerts in Edmodo


Once you have set up your class in Edmodo and they all have access to the platform it is time to get using the tool with your classes.  They can have a little fun by filing in their profile, adding a picture of their choice and noting down their hobbies, choosing a favourite quote and highlighting how they like to learn - another easy way for you to get to know your class.  

How To Use Notes In Edmodo:
The note option is used for posting general messages or reminders to your groups.
Step 1 - On the home page you will see a line of tabs giving you options to post a note, alert,   assignment, quiz or poll.  Make sure that you have selected 'note'.

Step 2 - Type your note into the box that says 'type your note here'.

Step 3 - Type the name of the class, group or student you are aiming the note at in the box that sats 'send to...' that has now appeared under the note box.

Step 4 -  Below the 'send to...' box you have just typed in there are a number of icons that give you options to attach things to the note to your class.  You can now attach a file from your computer by clicking the icon that looks like a piece of paper with writing on it.  You can attach a link to a website by clicking on the icon that looks like a link in a chain.  There is also a icon that looks like a book which gives you the option of attaching any files you have stored in your Edmodo library - you are unlikely to have any if you are just starting out with Edmodo.  You can also choose to schedule the post to be sent to your class, group or student at a later date and time if you wish by clicking on the clock icon.

Step 5 - Click send.  Your note will now appear to the class, group or student you have directed it to.


How To Use Alerts In Edmodo:
An alert is similar to note but when posted it shows up in bold on the users timeline making it stand out more.  It also limits the amount you can write so that it is always short and to the point; making it more likely to be read by the students at first glance.
Step 1 - On the home page you will see a line of tabs giving you options to post a note, alert,   assignment, quiz or poll.  Make sure that you have selected 'alert'.

Step 2 - Type your note into the box that says 'type your note here' using no more that 140 characters.

Step 3 - Type the name of the class, group or student you are aiming the alert at in the box that sats 'send to...' that has now appeared under the alert box.

Step 4 -  Below the 'send to...' box you have just typed in there only one icon - the clock icon - this allows you to schedule the alert to be sent to your class, group or student at a later date and time if you wish.

Step 5 - Click send.  Your alert will now appear to the class, group or student you have directed it to.



Next time I will be looking at how to use the assignment tool in Edmodo with your classes.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

My Latest Guardian Piece - Five top technology tools for the English classroom

My piece on digital tools in the English classroom - or any classroom for that matter!

Very happy to be asked to do this piece, as always. Thank your for the opportunity The Guardian. 

http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2014/feb/19/five-top-technology-tools-english-classroom

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Whether you are a seasoned techy of terrified of Google, here are five useful tools to help students learn and teachers manage their workload.
There are many educational technology tools available to use in your English classroom – and they're increasing at a rapid rate.
Whether you're a seasoned tech classroom user or new to the idea, below are a few handy tools for you to get your teeth into. It's not an extensive list but these five are easy to use and a good introduction to what's available. If you have any other suggestions, please do share them in the comments section below.

Google Drive

Google Drive is a free online storage cloud that has Google's version of Word, Powerpoint and Excel built into it. It allows students to create documents for free on the go. They can access and edit these documents on a tablet device or computer from various locations with their Google account login. They can share the documents they are working on with other students and can even work in one document at the same time to co-create pieces of work. They can also share the document with their teachers while they work or once they've finished to get instant feedback.
Teachers can help students with the creative writing process by getting them to share their stories as they write so you can feedback live without stopping their creative flow. You can give them quick and easy targets through the chat facility or highlight specific sections and create a comment – they have to respond to these otherwise the comment alert won't disappear. You could also get students to co-create a presentation with one another on an element of the social or historical context of a text you're studying, for example. Once finished, they can share the document with you, close down their computers and come up one at a time and simply click on their presentation now housed in your drive for instant feedback.

Edmodo

Edmodo is a free social learning platform for students, teachers and parents. It looks a little bit like Facebook so it is a familiar format for students to use. But before you run for the hills, it is very different to Facebook in that it's completely controlled by the teacher and specifically designed for educational purposes – one of my classes has affectionately named it "Fakebook". It has a shared timeline as a homepage where you and your students can interact and you can allow students to interact with one another, if you wish. Both teachers and students have a library where they can store documents and share them with others if they want to. The teacher can set assignments, students hand in assignments and teachers feedback on the work all within Edmodo. Two particularly useful functions are the quizzes and polls, and there's also a built-in grade book that houses your teacher-assessed grades and quiz results for each student.
It really is a very useful all-round tool. You could consider saving essential documents – such as mark schemes, poems being studied and teachingpresentations – in the class library to give students easy access to these at any time. You could also post photos of classwork completed by groups of students or individuals so all the students can see it for best practice. You could schedule weekly spelling tests – set as multiple choice quizzes – through Edmondo which will automatically collate the results so you can easily see trends within the class's performance.

Screen casting

There a loads of tools out there that capture your computer or device screen and allow you to record your voice while you do so. Two that are often used are ScreenR which is free and Explain Everything, which is quite cheap. The idea is that you can take a picture of your computer or device screen and then set your voice against the website or pre-prepared powerpoint. If you collate these in one place, you have a bank of instructional videos.
A simple way to use this tool is to create short instructional videos to help your students study independently or revise a topic. For instance, you might create clips outlining different writing styles or perhaps your team can work together to create clips on themes you all think are important. You could get students involved and ask them to prepare a short videos explaining poems that you have been studying as a revision tool.

YouTube

One way to collate the videos created by a screencast tool is to start a YouTube channel and upload them all there. This is simply your own YouTube home page – you can style the background, upload profile information and follow other channels of interest. You can also create playlists within your channel to organise videos into topics and allow students to find them easily. If creating your own videos is not for you then you can create playlists of videos that are already out there that relate to the topics you are studying.
What about creating a channel for your department? Create a playlist for each topic on your curriculum map from myths and legends to war poetry and creative writing. All you would need to do is to drop in videos of your choice. The videos could be created by your students, staff or just found from educational sources around the web. The clips could help students get more from the topic or encourage them to read and research around the subject – a wonderful resource for years to come that you can regularly update.

Blogging

There are many blogging platforms around but the two that are most popular are Wordpress and Blogger. If you're looking for the easier of the two then Blogger from Google is the one. If you want a more sophisticated platform then Wordpress is probably a better choice. A basic blog allows you to have a rolling front page of updating posts and static pages accessed via tabs, often along the top of the page. It is a great record of the year for the students to look back over.
Get your students to create their own blogs and use them as digital portfolios for the year, posting up their best work. Getting feedback from a real audience as well as peers, parents and teachers is a great opportunity for development. How about creating a blog for your class? You could update the main page with homework tasks, recommended reading and updates from your classroom. Try creating a post with a task or question based on the topic you're studying and get the students to use the comments facility to respond. They could even extend their answers by responding to one another's comments. You could use the blog as a record of lessons by uploading presentations and photos. If a student is ever absent, this is an invaluable tool to enable them to keep up.
I hope you find some of these tools a beneficial to use as I have over the last year and a half.