“I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it!”

As you are perhaps aware, 2015 is most famous for being ‘The Future’ in the Back to the Future movies, well it’s February and not much has happened yet….but the scene above is from the first movie, where Marty McFly, in 1955, returns to his parents’ school for the ‘Enchantment Under the Sea’ dance and plays Johnny B Goode (not to be released until 1958!)

Watching the movies with my children the other night – a vital part of a young person’s education in my opinion!- got me to thinking…what would Marty notice was different from 1955 to 1985 and into 2015 in schools?

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I had the pleasure this week of talking to PGDE students about Flipping the Classroom/Ed Tech and general teacher geekery.  They were eager for information, guidance, a place to start…my answer…Twitter!

Gasps ensue..Social Media?  The black hole of depravity? The graveyard for teacher’s careers who posted one too many pics of their lunch?  In a word…no.  To be fair, you are probably reading this after following a link on Twitter (thanks by the way!) so you are, perhaps, well aware of the fantastic and fertile land of ideas, sharing and collaboration…some might even say revolution that Twitter is the catalyst for in education. Watch this video if you have 14 minutes, more on it later.

I dislike posts entitled “10 steps to decluttering your home”, “5 steps to losing 6 pounds in 7 days!”etc.  My dislike is borne out of the fact that a few of these steps are usually quite good, and the rest are there to make up the numbers – so I’m going to start giving a few good tips and see where we go…

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Research for Teachers? Whatever will they think of next?!

Throughout the past 9 months as a flipped learning educator, I have been asked, “it sounds great, but does it work?”  My answer, usually just managing to sidestep the pedantic “define work?”, has been so far quite vague.  I will refrain from blaming the question, because as teachers we know what this means generally…does the flipped classroom ‘raise attainment’?  Well, it hasn’t lowered it, thanks Ken for the witty repartee!

I have mentioned in the past, and on Radio Edutalk, that as teachers, we care.  We do not want to change for changes sake, we want to know that the effort that we put in on a daily basis for young people will yield results for them.  Yet the puzzling thing about all of this is…is that we rely on someone else to tell us what works, what will have an effect on learning, engagement, attainment, results?!  The mere mention of finding out for yourself has not yet taken hold in the majority of practitioners minds…yet.

Think of it like this…you go to the doctors, feeling stressed and run-down.  the doctor breaks out this:

blood letting!

It’s a ‘scarifier’ from around 1810 or so, and the doc casually mentions that the treatment is blood letting!  You do this…

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Radio Edutalk

So this week it was my absolute pleasure to appear on Radio Edutalk.  David Noble is a great host, who graciously allowed me to chat at length about Flipped Learning and my journey so far.

I would encourage you to check out the Edutalk website, or download the podcasts for an inspirational boost during your commute!  There have been many excellent shows, but I would highly recommend Professor Paul Kirschner and David Price OBE as excellent starting points.

I couldn’t really link my own show could I?…..ah well, here it is!

Please leave a comment to let me know what you think of the show!

When the Flipped Classroom opens a can of virtual worms

Firstly, I must apologise for my absence from this blog over the past month, I have a note…but the Unicorn ate it.

Anyway, as I have delved deeper into Flipped Learning as a concept, I have become acutely aware of the sheer volume, and variety of technological learning tools (try the twitter hashtag EdTech to see for yourself!) that are being promoted on a daily basis.  Many are great, and most are free too!

Opening this very pleasant can of worms has been a great exercise in realising the potential of technology to have daily impact on learning and especially on engagement, in our classrooms.  Prior to flipping my classroom, I may have been guilty of dismissing these innovations as gimmicky and lacking in real value…I have since changed my tune considerably.


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When the ‘Hot Seat’ is just ‘too darn hot’

In my last post, I omitted certain details of my assessment model as I felt that I was droning on, and on, and on…..  there is one aspect that I would like to share further though, so I’ve put it in a new post (I’m a teacher, I clearly can’t help droning on!) So, to alleviate any potential boredom, and as a wee thank you for all of the great feedback that I have had on the blog so far, I’ll open the post with a song:

‘Hot Seating’ has been, and still is, all the rage in teaching and has a variety of different approaches.  For good reason, as articulating your learning is an excellent way to evidence it.  If I can talk to a young person about how to approach a problem, then I know that they understand it by their responses, their confidence and other subtle cues that simply cannot be replicated with pencil and paper.  I have used this strategy effectively in my Flipped classroom, mainly due to the extra face to face time that I have with students to allow me to actually have a conversation!

It has been my intention during the entire process of preparing for ‘the test’ to try as much as possible to take the pressure off of the students so that they will perform better, and see taking a test as a part of the fuller assessment process and not ‘Judgement Day’ where they make or break their entire life with 12 questions of Mathematical hell!  The ‘Hot Seat’ in my case has been re-branded by my students as…the ‘Cool It’ seat!

Spot the geographically inaccurate Penguin!

Spot the geographically inaccurate Penguin!

Assessment, a few thoughts…


                  “The challenge for today’s educators is to lift their focus from the inevitable granular character of our national obsession with measurement, to the future which is broad brushed and uncertain. I do not underestimate this challenge but surely to constrain our debate as we habitually do is failing to educate the next generation in a way which is right for them and their lives in tomorrow’s world.”

from a very interesting blog post on the Stephen Perse Foundation…some very intriguing and inspiring content.

Somehow, just giving a standard test as the only evidence of learning just isn’t enough this time around.  In the past, as a Maths teacher this has been the standard modus operandi but this model carries with it a whole host of issues.

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