I was in WH Smiths London Heathrow waiting for my flight to Abu Dhabi when I discovered a book entitled The Secret Teacher. It really is a secret because the author is unknown, despite people online trying to solve who the mystery author is! You might be familiar with The Guardian – Secret Teacher articles where teachers use anonymity to write about something connected to education that is bothering or frustrating them or something they simply could not express and publish for fear of losing their job! The Secret Teacher book isn’t a collection of secret teacher articles from The Guardian archives. Instead, it tells the story of a struggling Newly Qualified Teacher in an inner-city state school and his journey through the early years of his teaching career. It is clearly written by a teacher – with so much insight into teaching today in the UK. I’m not sure how much of the story is fiction or fact but there will be stories, scenarios and people that all teachers can relate to in this book!
Adding captions, speech and thought bubbles can be done digitally with ease and simplicity. Although this can be achieved by Word, Power point, Keynote etc the quickest method in my opinion is using the app Balloon Stickies Plus. This great app is also FREE! The app allows the user to insert speech and thought bubbles and captions onto images very quickly (there is another free app called Bubble but most of the features are locked unless you are willing to pay). Balloon Stickies Plus app also allows the user to convert spoken word through recording into text – this has a lot of potential in the classroom for SEND and/or EAL pupils. Here I share some examples of how I have used the app with my pupils.
QR (quick response) codes are not new and certainly not just for the classroom but they have so much potential for teaching and learning – I think they are great! There are a wide range of websites and apps to create and read/scan QR codes, I would recommend the app QR Reader. If you haven’t created QR codes before they are very easy to do so, I was surprised by how straightforward and quick it was! If you haven’t tried QR codes in your classroom then it is worth trying, because again its very simple yet effective so here is another blog with some advice to get you started.
Learning grids are a fantastic resource that can be used across different subjects and with different year groups/key stages. If you are not familiar with this resource it is simple; it is a grid consisting of 36 boxes ( 6 vertical and 6 horizontal). Dice are required – dice can be bought cheaply online or at stores such as Poundland or Tiger. Pupils will roll the dice twice – to give them a number they can use for the horizontal and vertical line (for example 2 across and 4 down). I have used learning grids in a variety of ways; to re-cap previous learning, support literacy, as a plenary and much more! The idea of a linking learning grid is more complex and challenging.
The Confident Teacher : Developing successful habits of mind, body and pedagogy by Alex Quigley really surprised me – as the book covered much more than I expected it to. I have never met Alex Quigley, yet I follow his educational profile online via his Twitter account @HuntingEnglish and I am a regular reader of his blog, also titled The Confident Teacher. I thoroughly enjoy reading his blogs and they have been great resource to me as a teacher, so I was very keen to read his book. Alex is a Teacher of English, that is evident as I think he has a wonderful style and use of language as well as many literature references made throughout his book. He is also Director of Huntington Research School, this book is heavily research informed and influenced which also supports many of his arguments and points. The Confident Teacher is obviously not some sort of quick fix self help guide to give teachers a transformation with confidence overnight, but it does focus on a wide range of strategies to develop confidence for both teachers and pupils. This book is filled with many stories from his career as well as anecdotes about various well known individuals from Pablo Picasso to Michael Jordan and Albert Bandura along the way!
In August 2016 I relocated to teach in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Before my move I had already made some online connections with teachers based in the UAE via Twitter and I have since been fortunate to meet many of them. I’ve also been able to stay in touch with the online educational community in the UK, keeping up to date with the latest developments and news via Twitter. If you are using Twitter you will know it is a fantastic resource for professional development with networking, sharing, collaborating and much more! I have blogged in more depth about how social media can be used for teachers’ professional development here.
Tonight, I have just hosted my first #Bettchat with @Bett_MiddleEast focusing on the topic of teachers using social media for professional development. If you are not familiar with #Bettchat it’s a Twitter chat, similar to the weekly #UKEdchat, where questions are posed and people respond on Twitter using the hashtag so others can read their responses and reply… simple! A Twitter chat is a powerful method of connecting educators worldwide, to all be involved in one specific discussion or debate online at the same time despite distance or time zone.
Initially, I assumed this book was aimed at teachers of ICT and Computing… I was wrong! Perfect ICT Every Lesson is written for all teachers; from Primary to Higher Education, to support embedding technology across the curriculum successfully, effectively and purposefully. Originally published in 2013, it could be assumed that technology has advanced so much in recent years that this book is quickly outdated. However, it is clear that the strategies, advice and tools that Mark suggests are very much relevant today. I can’t believe how advanced the technology was in 2013 at Mark’s school, as many schools are still playing catch-up today!
The app Typorama is a simple and easy app to use and I have used it in so many ways in my classroom!
I thoroughly enjoy creating teaching and learning resources. I’m also keen to embrace technology in my classroom and lesson planning. Typorama app ( a free app but it does cost to remove the watermark) transforms photos and text into amazing typographic designs on iOS. Images are provided on the app or you can upload your own from your camera roll. The images are powered by Pixabay search engine, where all images are released free of copyright. There are also over 40 different typographic styles available with photo filters, overlays and adjustment tools. I have used this app in a variety of ways. I wanted to share ten methods to use Typorama focusing on teaching and learning.
What does it mean to be a connected educator?
It’s that term you’ve probably heard but what are people actually talking about? The term ‘connected educator’ is the term used to describe teachers who use modern methods to stay connected with each other. Connected educators tend to be passionate and committed educators who use their global network of educators called a ‘professional learning network’ to share, learn and develop their work as an educator. This could vary from having a friend who teaches in another part of the world to having thousands of followers online from across the globe. In my opinion a connected educator is someone who is passionate about education and learning from others. Due to the global nature that comes with being a connected educator, essentially all connected educators are international because their networks transcend geographical boundaries (although time zones can be a pain sometimes!). Connected educators are able to keep up to date with educational issues and debates, beyond the walls of their staffroom and the whole school. Connected educators are dedicated to their own professional development and recognise that as well as learning and gaining so much from others they can also share, collaborate and inspire other educators in some shape or form.