ADE Project – ClipsTours

A week ago I got back from ADE Academy in London.  Simultaneously it feels like it was forever ago and no time at all.

Since coming home I’ve had to recharge my phone at least twice a day.  Sometimes I just put my watch on to airplane mode to manage the constant stream of notifications.  I met some of the best people at Academy.  Teachers passionate about education and making a dent in the universe.  Teachers with a clear “why” who do everything for the love of learning.  It a fantastic buzz to be part of this community.  My phone just can’t keep up with all the buzzes!

One of the reasons as well why my phone battery isn’t holding up to a full days use is Twitter, another is Apple Clips.  I’m working on a project at the moment with my friend and ADE 2017 classmate Laura Dickinson.  ClipsTours aims to showcase our world through a series of short videos made with Apple Clips.  The project has only been alive for five days and already we have 45 clips submitted spanning the whole word.  You can take a look at the map here and follow the project on twitter @clipstours or #clipstours Maybe even make one of your own!

The exciting thing for me is that its not only other ADEs getting involved, its teachers and hopefully very soon, pupils.

As an early years teacher I’ve seen the value and importance of opening pupils eyes to the worlds beyond their experience.  As a teacher in a fairly insular and closed community  I know how vital it is to grow understanding and acceptance of different people from different places.

If we want our pupils to grow up to be responsible, engaged global citizens we need them to realise that they are part of a bigger world, that they have a place and a part to play.

Its a big aim, but I’m hoping that #ClipsTours might help with that.  Lack of education leads to fear and mistrust, which can lead to prejudice, racism and a whole host of social problems.

So lets start with education.  Lets build five minutes of global awareness into our classes every day.  Lets watch clips.  Lets connect with different people in different places.

Let’s make a dent.


ADE Academy 2017: First Reflections

I’m just back from ADE Academy 2017 in London.

I have so many thoughts and feelings that it’s going to take me time to process and reflect properly, but I’m also aware I want to get some initial thoughts down before they float away and are forgotten.

Over the next few days and weeks expect to see blog posts on these themes.

Start with the why….

My showcase journey.

Change and influence.

Create. Share. Amplify.

For now let me just share with you these thoughts.

Passion is contagious

Community is the key

When we collaborate we make each other better. Together we shine more brilliantly than we ever could alone.

I’m not the only crazy one.


Apple Distinguished Educator

One of the things that I am most interested in as a teacher is using educational technology to make a difference in the classroom.  I use iPads, Apple TV and my interactive whiteboard nearly every day but for a whole range of purposes.

In February I applied to become an Apple Distinguished Educator.  This global programme accepts applications every two years and the main part of the application is a two minute video sharing your story of how you impact change using Apple Technologies in your setting.

Apple Distinguished Educators are Advocates, Ambassadors, Authors and Advisors, sharing what can be possible in the classroom when Apple Technologies are used effectively.  Being part of the Apple Distinguished Educator community is an honour, they are some of the most innovative and encouraging teachers I have ever come into contact with and collaboration, sharing ideas and working together, is such a big part of the community ethos.  Everyone is just SO helpful and lovely.

I had been working towards applying for around 18 months, collecting evidence of the practice that I was doing anyway – trying to showcase the difference having iPads in school makes.

With some advice and encouragement from ADEs I know from online and real life I submitted my application in February.

The wait to hear back seemed never ending, especially with some false starts of other applicants on twitter saying that we would hear on a certain date (dates that passed without announcements). Until Apple Edu tweeted saying the new class would be announced on 3rd April.

I was delighted when at 5pm on the button, while I was sitting in Tesco carpark on my way home from school I got the email.

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A huge thank you has to go to the ADE alumni who have encouraged me and advised me,  especially Dessie Tennyson and Rachel Smith, to the other ADE applicants who were like a little online support group and to my family and friends who pretty much heard about nothing else for the last four months….

Its difficult to put into words how much this means.  Its an honour for what I do in my class and my school to be recognised.  Its exciting to get to part of the programme and I’m looking forward to meeting others from the class and some alumni at Apple Institute in the summer.

And I know that this is just the start of the adventure!




#AppShareLive 2

This morning I got to join in with AppShareLive, a fantastic idea from ICT Evangelist, Mark Anderson.    A group of educators with 5 minutes each to share an app that they use in their classrooms or with teachers they work with.

I have watched Mark’s other projects like this (AppSmashLive) with interest, so when I saw that people could offer to present I jumped at the opportunity.  Its just like an online Teachmeet.

I chose to present on Seesaw.  Probably my most used app on a daily basis. I’ve presented on it before at Teachmeet at #NIEDCAMP but I keep finding new ways to use it and new things you can do with it.

I have two special projects in Seesaw at the moment:

Global link up class: where I have invited teachers from around the world to join me in a virtual classroom.  Over 4 weeks our pupils will share about what their schoollife is like so that they can learn about how children their age live in other countries.

Snow Safari: I made videos in iMovie on polar animals, uploaded them to my own seesaw folder, logged in to seesaw via my browser, got a shareable link for each video, made each link into a QR code and made posters to put up round the school.  Pupils will go on a snow safari finding the posters, scanning the codes, watching the videos and identifying the animals on safari spotter sheets.  The children from my class, both our P1 classes and our Learning Support Unit will be using this too so it is learning across our key stage.

My ancient 2008 Macbook, is now officially vintage in the U.S. and obsolete in Europe.  I prefer calling in vintage though, obsolete makes me sad.  I had a fair few technical difficulties during the Google Hangout, but everyone was very patient and my screenshare worked eventually.  For anyone wanting to have a look at it, you can see it here: SeesawAppShare

The appshare was also recorded so you can watch it on ICT Evangelist’s youtube channel here.

Snow Safari

My topic for the next while in school is Brrrrr! Cold Places.  The element the children always seem to enjoy most about this topic is learning about the animals that live in Cold Places.

I have animal playsets for the tough spot to go alongside junk material to create a polar landscape, water tray animals with bits of polystyrene to create ice bergs and the light table is the perfect place to build igloos with plastic cups. I have a lovely wooden Polar Playset as well that is always a favourite.  Normally we learn a little bit about different animals from powerpoints/keynotes or from books.

This year I decided to do things a little bit differently.  This post is how I used iMovie, Seesaw and QR codes to create a virtual snow safari for my class.


I searched for images that were free to use on photos for class and pixabay.  I used these to make a set of 1 minute videos in iMovie on Penguins, Seals, Polar Bears, Walruses and Orcas.

I uploaded these to my own Seesaw journal ( I have a folder set up as a student – this allows me to put modelled work, worked examples and teaching content for the children to access independently). In my Seesaw account, logged in as the teacher, I got a shareable link for each of these videos.  I then made QR codes for each of these videos using this website.

I’m going to print these QR codes out on posters (here) and put them around the school ready for my class to go on a Snow Safari! We will walk round the school looking for the QR code posters to scan and watch the videos.  As we find each animal the children can then identify it on this page and circle it.  If they ever want to rewatch an animal video they can do it easily in the class feed view in Seesaw.  Perhaps when they are making their own video about a polar animal or uploading what they’ve found out to their own Seesaw portfolio.


Now the way I’ve done this has a few more steps that it absolutely had to have. It might have been easier to use AR or Youtube or even link my QR codes to my google drive directly but I engineered this way on purpose.

I deliberately chose Seesaw to put the photos on because the children are familiar with it, it works in school and its a totally safe environment.  QR codes are easy to scan and my 4-6 year old pupils can work them well, sometimes with Aurasma they found it hard to get the screen in just the right place to trigger the aura.  Also we had a few filtering issues with Aurasma in school.  The QR codes also make it easier to share with colleagues in other schools – they can copy the lesson by printing out the Snow Safari posters here, if they want to.  The QR codes themselves could always be turned into auras for display boards at a later stage if I really wanted to use AR in this too.

I let you know how it goes once I’ve used it!

EU Code Week

The past week in school has been really good, really busy, but really good. We’ve had parent teacher interviews, a book fair, a leaving assembly for our Principal and a staff lunch on Friday. It’s also been EU Code Week.

I’ve thought for about 6 months that we need to get coding and programming into school more. So over the Summer when I heard about EU Code Week I thought that would be the perfect lauchpad for our pupils and staff to get involved in.

I researched and downloaded apps that I thought would be useful for our pupils to use to get started and then I made up a plan of what EU Code Week would look like in school.

All pupils would complete an Hour of Code over the week, using iPads as they are the most accessible with 4 per class.
Pupils would be involved in using programmable devices like Beebots and drones.
We would get iTeach in deliver some sessions on Coding and Programming with our KS2 students (bringing the drone).
A special assembly would be held with a visitor, Amy, a systems analyst in the civil service would come in and talk to us about her job and allow the children to ask questions. This is especially good as our girls can see that IT jobs can be done by women as well as men.

As a school we were very fortunate to get a grant from Google to help us run our Code Week Activities.

I made some handouts for the teachers to show how Coding and Programming fits in with the NI Curriculum and also an Overview of the Apps that they could choose from. If you’d like to use them I have put them onto google drive so you can access them by clicking on the links embedded above, just please say where you got them from. They were done quite quickly on the iPad so be kind if you spot any typos.  They’ve certainly been helpful to our staff.

Its safe to say that EU Code Week in school was a success.  The students loved it, the teachers were surprised by how engaged they all were, even some of our normally hard to motivate P7 boys loved it.  Foundation Stage loved that it was applicable for them and easy to take down to a suitable level for their classes.  Two Primary Two boys even managed to complete the game The Foos, which they were so proud of.  The lessons with Michael from iTeach were fantastic and really sparked the KS2 pupils imaginations.  I took both P1 classes for a short session for 4 days of the week and they loved playing the games and really got the concepts quickly.  It got the point where they were excited to see me coming! The week ended with the visit from Amy and all of the learning of the week was reflected in how good and well thought through the pupils questions were.  While we got the obvious “Did you make {Insert game name here}?” We also got questions like, how do you make a game? What is the best thing you’ve made? What do you like most about your job? How do you stop people hacking into things using code? What code languages do you use to make websites? I think Amy was impressed – I know I was.

EU Code Week might be over today, but our integration of coding and programming in school is not.  Tomorrow afternoon is the second meeting of the Code Club that I’ve set up in school working with Scratch and I know that P1 are planning on using programmable devices in maths next week (because I have lent them my beebot!) P7 are continuing on with Hopscotch and I’m sure the coding and programming apps will be kept on the iPads for a while yet.  Coding and Programming is definitely here to stay.

Sylvia Duckworth – hero of sketchnoting – has made this, illustrating Brian Aspinall‘s  thoughts. I love her sketchnote style but this is one of my favourites.