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What is a troll?

I occasionally get asked 'What is a troll?' and 'How do you deal with them?' so...

Troll ~ 
Noun A mythical, cave-dwelling being depicted in folklore as either a giant or a dwarf, typically having a very ugly appearance.The action of trolling for fish. Verb Fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat: "we trolled for mackerel".

Urban DictionaryOne who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.
I'm sure every blogger will come across the troll at some point. On social media platforms such as Twitter they are even more prevalent yet hide behind their self justifying anonymity. Sometimes we take the bait they throw at us and other times we try to ignore their petulant whining. 

Teachers will meet trolls not only online but in the staffroom too. Some call them bullies others call them names that will remain unmentionable on this blog. I've met a few and exchanged p…

YouTube Analytics as a Maths resource

YouTube provides a fantastic analytics section for every video you upload and the information it provides could be a great resource for Maths and calculations such as:

Reading Graphs - line graphs and pie charts are usedPercentagesEstimationsTimeProblem solving Depending on the information you are looking at you can download it as a CSV file providing opportunities for spreadsheet investigations.

Have you used YouTube analytics in your teaching?

My Top Tech of 2012

Even though there are a few days remaining, 2012 has been a fantastic year for technology  in teaching and learning. And what better way to celebrate it than to give you my top tech of 2012. This list, which has no particular order, demonstrates the technology I have found to be the most effective for raising standards in teaching and learning.
Airserver is an over the air receiver for Macs and PC's giving you a similar experience you would get with an Apple TV but for a fraction of the price. It has been indispensable in my classroom and will remain to be so.Edmodo has been a firm favourite for the past 2 years and continues to impress me and my class. It fits perfectly into the 'Virtual Learning Environment' category yet costs nothing. Why schools pay for VLE's is beyond me when Edmodo is so much better.The iPad is simply the best tablet device bar none. No other tablet offers as many apps for educational use nor gives users the power to create content as easily. iMov…

Why international schools outperform those in England

I taught in an international school in Gran Canaria, Spain for 8 years. Almost very child was Spanish and they received a curriculum based on the National Curriculum in England. Apart from their daily Spanish class, they learned everything in English. We had no teaching assistants but we did have one SEN teacher who did the most brilliant job. At times the going was difficult but every child tried their best, teachers worked their hardest and when the SAT's in English and Maths were taken we never doubted that the results would be similar to if not better than those from England's primaries. And every year the children proved themselves by doing just that.

How could that be?

It's quite simple really. There isn't a magic bullet, no secret teaching method nor learning style is used. What that school and many other international schools do is to leave out all the nonsense from government and trust their teachers to do the job they know best. Teachers are left to teach, to u…

The 21st Century teaching and learning myths

If you happen to follow the latest Education news you will have no doubt heard of the terms '21st Century Learner', '21st Century Classroom' and '21st Century Teacher'. And if you delve a little deeper to discover just what these terms mean then you may or may not come to the same conclusion as I have, they are myths.

Throughout history, we humans have used education as a means to better ourselves, to inform ourselves about the world around us, to gain knowledge and understanding, to make sense of it all, and we have used the tools and ideas around at those times to help us achieve those aims. From a rock to a piece of flint, an animal skin to the Book of Kells, fire to the atomic bomb, tools have driven our desire to learn more and more. Without the tools I wouldn't be writing this on my iPad, nor would I be able to use the Internet to publish it. You wouldn't be able to read it as it would probably be still in my head nor would you care as you wouldn&#…

Moving from Wordpress.org to Blogger

I have moved my blog which I have hosted using Wordpress.org to its new home, here on Blogger. Why? What on earth possessed you? What have you done to my feeds!!! Well, the reasons for the move are quite straightforward.

Why I moved from Wordpress.Org

The iPod Touch as a story teller

Creating film in a classroom might fill some educators with nervous anticipation and in some cases fear and blind panic. But it does not need to be like that. All you need is the imagination that a class of children can provide and access to an app on one device - iMovie on the iPod Touch 4th Gen. 

I have recently started the study of film as part of a class topic in Literacy. Film is part of our lives and its effects are found throughout most stories children write. Using film as the inspiration for Literacy work therefore makes a lot of sense as it captivates even the youngest of ages and provides them a platform to unleash their own cinematic ideas onto paper. Well, in my case through the digital medium of the iPod Touch and the iMovie app. I have used iMovie on the iPod Touch before but this is the first occasion that I have decided to outline how I have used it and how my class have benefited from it. 

Digital Literacies – A new framework for ICT

ICT – Information Communication Technology has been the title of the curriculum approach to the teaching and learning of technology in schools in England for the best part of this millennia. It has outstayed its welcome therefore in January of this year, Michael Gove announced that the ICT program of study was no longer necessary and schools could teach ICT as they saw fit. Finally, we were given the ‘nod’ to continue doing as we had been doing which was to ignore the old ICT curriculum only fit for the 1990′s and concentrate on approaching ICT in ways that reflected the constant change revolving around technology. Amen.

24/7 webcam Science with IPEVO

I recently received an IPEVO Point to View USB web camera and I have been very impressed with its ease of use, sturdiness and image quality. We have been using the webcam quite a bit in class for instant displaying of student work through the projector onto the board and demonstrating activities to the class particularly art based work. The image quality is sharp, clear and colour is excellent. It also shoots in low light conditions which is a bonus and with an autofocusing lens it made sense to use this webcam for our 24/7 Science lab experiment.

Kinect Calculations

A quick post for Sunday. Last week I started using the Kinect system with my XBox in class. I've only got Kinect Adventures but that it has more than enough options for use in many areas of the curriculum.
I used the Reflex Bridge activity to generate the numbers required for our mental calculation work in class. The game can be played by two players which involves lots of jumping, ducking and swerving to avoid oncoming obstacles whilst trying to collect pins. The total for each player is displayed at the end of the game which lasts approximately 3 minutes.

The two 3 digit numbers provide a wealth of mental calculation possibilities.

We do make a difference

Over the last week the teaching profession, which I am proud to be part of, has once again come under attack from the Education Secretary Michael Gove and the Chief of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw. The attacks have been so vile that I wanted to vent my anger and frustration here on my blog. But last night, every word they uttered, every letter printed by the media paled into insignificance when my teaching assistant called me and told me to buy the Leicester Mercury Newspaper and turn to the letters page.

I did and this is what I found.

Digital Literacy in the primary classroom

Image courtesy of Doug Belshaw  I've been following the work on Digital Literacy by Doug Belshaw for just over 2 years and I'm still getting my head round what it means to be digitally literate. Two years ago Doug published a post which really grabbed my interest in which he outlined his 8 elements of Digital Literacy as part of his thesis. I am reproducing these below (all rights belong to Doug). Cultural [Cu]Cognitive [Cg]Constructive [Cn]Communication [Co]Confidence [Cf]Creative [Cr]Critical [Ct]Civic [Ci]

Personalising Learning does more than get results

At the start of January of this year I embarked on a different approach to teaching and learning in my classroom, I personalised the learning of each and every learner in my class focusing on their learning not my teaching. I had read, researched and discussed this approach but I was still unsure whether it would be as effective as I hoped it would be in raising the level of attainment in my class. It not only did so but it surpassed any aspirations I had and it has made me even more determined to pursue this approach through the remainder of this academic year.

Personalising Learning is not something you can pick up and start in your own class tomorrow. You need to take into account most if not all of the following. It takes a lot of thought and effortIt takes time to build up a clear picture of every learner in your class and where they are in their own learningIt takes courage to stand back as a teacher and let the learning happen of its own accordIt requires a vision and belief that…

Playing hide and seek with data protection

You can't hide from me We all know the game 'Hide and Seek', I loved playing it as a kid and it's always been one of my favourite games. Yet the game's essence of hiding is apparent in some of today's internet users who are adamant they will not be found. They hide behind anonymous proxies, ip addresses that lead nowhere, servers that mask their identities. They refrain from posting anything online that will ever connect others to their real personas, they mask themselves in lies, deceit, paranoia, fear and anger. Anger that no one is taking notice, anger that our data is being taken from us, that our liberties are being eroded and that we are losing control of our real identities that some believe are being sold to the highest bidder.

The answer is very simple but one that they don't wish to adhere to - don't go online. Ever.

Education England 2015 - a warning

Here lies Freedom in Education It's May 2015 and the General Election is upon us in the UK. The last 5 years in Education can only be described as the most destructive ever undertaken. The seismic changes that Sir Michael Gove and Lord Michael Wilshaw (ex Ofsted chief) have imposed upon schools in England from the end of 2011 are only starting to be horribly realised. 
Thousands of teachers have left the profession due to measures that have brought untold misery to millions of learners now subjected to 'teaching to the test' to keep England in the top 5 of the PISA table, and Performance Related Pay, which has failed in its promise to attract the best to the profession, has been the subject of intense scrutiny after it was alleged results were been manipulated to ensure some schools could continue offering the best salaries. Prime Minister Cameron, who survived one attempted leadership battle after his disastrous handling of the Iran crisis in 2012, now faces another as his …

Blog ownership - Learner or Teacher?

I've been following some debate about the ownership of blogs used in classrooms. There are those that say blogs must be led by the teacher and all posts moderated for content and spelling by the teacher. Then there are those that say blogs must be owned by the learners, that they should have control over content that is posted no matter if it contains spelling mistakes but comments should be moderated by teachers.
Writing a blog is something that every class should be doing no matter what age group, there's no debating it. It's as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. It can become an essential part of the learning process throughout the school year or a noose around a teacher's neck as they deliberate over content and finding time to keep it updated. Blogging is powerful no matter way you look at it and it should not be cast aside as a fad. It's been around for quite some time and will more than likely be around for quite some time to come, so schools should…

Leashes not required

For the past 3 weeks I have been personalising every child’s learning in my class. I use a weekly plan which is made up of Literacy and Numeracy targets specifically chosen by me so that the child can work towards these during the week. Every child is given the opportunity to add further targets which they feel will make a difference to their learning. These targets are taken from the Year 4 EoY targets for both Literacy and Numeracy. Children also have the opportunity to create their own ‘Most Important’ target for that week and a Personal Journey (PJ) which is Project Based Learning.
I have noted distinct and measurable improvements in every child’s learning since their introduction 3 weeks ago, for example, this week every child in my class has met or surpassed their numeracy targets. Each child is now responsible for their learning and the PJ inspires them to focus on the learning that will move them forward. This personalisation allows me more time to focus on teaching specific sk…

One week with personalised learning

One week has passed with my class using Personal Journey's, each one containing their very own personalised curriculum for the week ahead. Has the week been successful? Has learning improved? Well, one week is far too short to give detailed answers but I can say that personalising the curriculum for every child in my class has been an inspiring journey for me. I have watched in awe at children working their way through their learning, solving problems in pairs, discussing and thinking, coming up with solutions, offering suggestions and advice to their peers. It has confirmed my belief that if we give learners opportunities to follow a personalised approach they will fly.


Personalising a curriculum requires a knowledge of every learner in your class, which is why I wouldn't consider using this approach with a new class at the beginning of their school year. To ensure the approach works you must know every learner and understand their needs. A Personalised Curriculum gives every …

Personalising Learning

If you go into a classroom at the beginning of a lesson you will more than likely find the learners facing the teacher at the front of the room. The lesson will start and 15 minutes* later the class will have been given the go ahead to do their work. If the teacher teaches in this way for every lesson during the school day, the learners will be listening for at least 1 hour or put it another way, learners in such classrooms spend just over 8 days of a school year listening to lesson introductions. That's for a teacher who manages to make their lesson introductions succinct. Listening time increases to almost 11 days for a 20 minute intro and an agonising 13.5 days for a 25 minute intro teacher. This needs to change.
Lesson introductions are important but some teachers use a lesson introduction for every lesson which cuts into learning time as you can see. If you remove the lesson introduction completely you are left with a full day of learning. Some may argue that introductions are…

Innovating learning requires innovating the classroom too

I have always liked moving classroom furniture around, mixing up tables, moving bookshelves along with reorganising the learners in the room too. I usually do this at the start of every term as a way of shaking off the last term and starting afresh, a new perspective and for some, a new partner to work alongside. But recently I have realised that not much has actually changed, the classroom is basically still the same. The mode of learning has remained focused at designated tables. I decided that if I wanted to continue looking at innovating teaching and learning I also had to innovate my classroom too.

The word classroom can be defined as a place where teaching and learning occur. It can be indoors which is normally the case or outside. Today it can even be on your PC or mobile device. Yet in almost every school we see classrooms very much alike - chairs will be grouped around tables or in rows so that each learner can clearly see the teacher who is usually at the front of the room. V…