Tag Archive | online tools

MIICE Conference Thoughts

Last year I wrote a blog post about my introduction to MIICE (Measurement of the Impact of ICT on Children’s Education). Before being seconded, I’d never heard of the MIICE partnership and I wondered if that was the same for other classroom teachers. At today’s conference in Dundee, however, there were eleven classroom teachers present – so maybe things are changing? I really enjoyed listening to the presenters and I scribbled down some notes as they spoke. I’m now summarising them in this blog post because I think they’ll give me ideas to use in my own classroom practice when I return to school in August – hopefully it will be just a case of searching on here to refresh my memory instead of wading through piles of crumpled paper 🙂 These are my interpretations of what the presenters said, though, so I apologise if  I’ve misconstrued the intended messages.

One of the main purposes of the conference was that the attendees would “hear a range of experiences of dealing with the issues associated with measuring the impact of using ICT as part of the learning and teaching processes“.

  • The first speaker was Donna Bullivant, a class teacher from Cowie Primary School. Donna spoke about how she had used a range of ICT strategies to improve literacy across learning. She began with her use of Endless Ocean and the opportunities that were created for improving writing. Parents were invited to afternoon workshops led by the children. Students from Stirling University visited the class to talk about their diving experiences. The children even had the opportunity to interview a marine biologist. Donna’s message was that it wasn’t just about using the game – but about the many varied activities that were able to be ‘tapped into’ as a result. Donna also spoke about her experience of using Animation with the class. The topic was the Highland Clearances and the children were divided in to ‘families’ who then used storyboarding to tell the stories. She had learned from a previous experience of using Animation that it was important not to get too involved in designing the scenery. Donna decided to focus on simple 2D props because she didn’t want to take away the emphasis from the main learning which was to improve literacy. The class concentrated on script writing – the setting, the characters, and the dialogue. After that was in place, they got to act out the scenes. An important part of the process was the opportunity to showcase the learning. They even had an Oscar ceremony, all planned by the children themselves.
  • Maggie Irving from Argyll and Bute Council opened with this video clip then spoke about the website she has created with loads of ideas for using ICT to support Curriculum for Excellence. She was a very entertaining speaker, but was brimming with common sense advice for taking learning in to the 21st century – even using a simple thing like a digital camera to help children record their understanding of basic concepts such as nouns and verbs. Another great idea was to allow the children to create a forward plan for a class topic. The construction of a large wallchart with movable blu-tack icons is certainly something I’m going to try when I return to class in August.
  • Ian Simpson, a teacher of computing at Inverurie Academy told us about his experience of using Little Big Planet with his S5/6 Intermediate 2 class. He talked about a 4 term project that culminated in a growth of confidence in the students who were involved – and this, in turn, may have led to their improved exam results. In term 3 of the project, the High School students held mock interviews to elect a ‘development team’ – the primary 1 children were the ‘clients’. We were shown an example of one of the levels that was created and 3 brave volunteers even played the game ‘live’ during the conference. It was great fun to watch 🙂 I’m going to take some time to have a closer look at what else is on Ian’s blog.

This blog post just gives a very small flavour of the conference – but at least I wrote some of it down here and I’m sure I’ll be referring to this post for practical ideas next session.

Still Playing Around With ePortfolios

 I’ve beememoonan writing …. and tweeting …… and talking for a while now about ePortfolios!

 I initially set them up for a few primary 6 stage children at Carronshore. Since then these children have helped some Primary 6s at Nethermains to set up one, too. The Nethermains group and their teacher are coming along to Carronshore tomorrow so that they can find out how easy it is to embed a Voki and Photopeach slideshow into their ePortfolio.

 I’ve also been sharing the idea with the teachers from the Art Department at the local High School and I’ve helped a small group of 4th year students to begin working on their own ePortfolio.

 When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : So … what is an ePortfolio?”

I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across. 

1. What is an ePortfolio?:

  • It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements 

2. What should they look like?

  • There should be evidence of self-reflection

3. What’s the teacher’s role?

  • They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria 
  • Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey

4. What about the pupils?

  • Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
  • Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.

The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”

Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ‘play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.

eport wikiname





Once you create an account, you can create more spaces with their own unique URLs. You can then invite others to become members of that new space by sending them an email.


invite gmail message blog post




One way to keep control over the new wikispaces you create, is to invite users using the ‘gmail trick’ method by adding a ‘+ name’ the first part of the email address.


The instructions in the slideshow below show the steps involved and describe how the same method can be used to create multiple  accounts in a variety of online tools.

Just Another ‘Secondment Thoughts’ Post

At the beginning of this session, I submitted a number of CPD ‘twighlight’ courses that I planned to present to teachers here who were willing to give up two hours of their own time after a day at school. This is quite a responsibility, I think, because I didn’t want teachers to go away believing that:

” Well that was ok –  but I could probably have spent that time doing something more productive

I know that I’ve attended quite a few of those sort of CPD sessions in my time 🙂

I wanted to hear the, ” Thanks for that – I feel that I could use some of these ideas tomorrow in my class” type of comment. I was delighted, therefore, that this was exactly the reaction I got from the last two sessions I provided. The first session was on Digital Storytelling. I’ve included a slideshare version of the handouts I provided for the session. 

View more presentations from carronshore.

Producing something like this before a CPD session helps me to focus on what it is I’m trying to portray – the theory behind the practice sort of research. Being seconded, however, means that I usually have practical examples to show. The short ‘story’ below, for instance, was made by the primary 7 children after a class trip. They were faced with a number of potentially dangerous scenarios and this helped them to become more aware of  water safety, fire safety, first aid, safety with animals, food safety, etc.  When we returned to school they were asked to use the pictures taken during the day as prompts to remind them of what was learned. A digital story resulted …. well it wasn’t what we called it at the time – but it almost fits the definition??


Untitled from Education Services on Vimeo.

 This was just one of the examples I was able to show. There are lots more on our class blog ….perhaps another good reason for keeping a blog – a record of what has been covered / learned etc. in class

One of the things that surprised me during the CPD session, however, was the interest in my wordle pic I’d used on one of the powerpoint slides:


 We spent a fair amount of time exploring http://www.wordle.net/ and looking and the great possibilities for interesting ways of using it in class.

Because of the interest shown, I made sure that ‘wordle’ was included in the next CPD session on ‘motivating learners through the use of freely available online tools’. I decided to focus on just a few so that they wouldn’t be too overwhelmed.

 The handout for that session is included here.

View more presentations from carronshore.

I sensed that the teachers were interested in what I was saying and, as a result, I went off on a tangent (once more!) and introduced them to a number of other tools. At the time, I worried that I was going too fast too quickly and had possibly bombarded them with too much information – I even pointed them in the direction of  http://cooltoolsforschools.wikispaces.com/ . I think this is a fantastic resource, but can find it overwhelming sometimes 🙂

At the end of the CPD session I was  pleasantly surprised again, though, by the feedback – especially the verbal comments as people were leaving. A few of them stopped to thank me, and the impression I got was that, although they felt a bit ‘snowed under’  they valued the many practical examples of how I’d used most of the tools mentioned in my own practice.

Another Twitter Find!

On Friday I logged on to my twitter account to see what was happening. I’d signed up for the education 2020   flashmeeting session – but I’ll save that experience for another post 🙂

When I logged on to twitter I found (as usual) loads of  links to new sites useful for education. One of these was praising http://photopeach.com/home so I’ve been palaying around with it today. My effort looked good to me on the photopeach site … so fingers crossed that it’ll look good on here too 🙂

The Story of the Carronshore Blog on PhotoPeach