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Showing posts from 2016


One of our favourite apps for making posters, title screens and photo collages is Moldiv. Simple and quick, with lots of free design options, this a must-have for any Star Classroom teacher. There are lots of photo collage-style apps out there, but Moldiv is one that we keep returning to time and time again. Our favourite use of Moldiv is using it to make video clip titles - perfect for DRET.TV clips and flipped learning videos.
Check out the Moldiv explainer video here (DRET log in required) or see all of our training videos on DRET.TV

Don't have a DRET log in? We have made some resources available to all here

Happy Christmas!

It has been an incredibly busy and rewarding term!
17 Star Classroom 'Basecamp' training days completed to date so far, with more to come in January. The classrooms that have already had their installations are looking great, and we have already witnessed first hand some amazing things happening in lessons with technology being put to use thoughtfully and creatively by the talented teachers who have passed through Basecamp.

It has been fantastic to meet lots of new people, and reconnect with those we already knew. Already we have received positive comments from pupils of our academies as to how intelligent use of technology is making their learning a more positive and enriching experience. We look forward to gathering more detailed feedback from pupils across the age ranges in the new year, and adding to the Star Classroom experience along the way.

Already plans are afoot in academies to start building on the Star Classroom model, and we are excited by the direction things are…

iPad mirroring for instant and ongoing feedback

Being able to mirror the iPad to the big screen is a very effective way to demonstrate student work, and provide ongoing and instant feedback during the lesson. The ability to ‘freeze’ the screen then annotate over the top is a game changer for many.

In this example, the teacher took a photo of a student's work using the iPad, edited out the unwanted part of the page, and mirrored the photo to the big screen, all in a matter of seconds.
From there, she could: write over the top (the red annotations), make changes, ask the class for alternatives, highlight, correct, brainstorm etc, providing the class with useful ongoing feedback for their own work - ultimately leading into the next steps for the lesson.
Simple and quick, but highly effective.
(Credit: C. King, Charles Read Academy)
To find out how to mirror an iPad to another screen, click here (DRET login required). To see this and all of our training videos, click here
To keep up to date with more like this, follow us on Twitter @st…

Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

Whether you are checking your emails, filling out your register on SIMS, or displaying a PowerPoint - you are no doubt spending most of the day using Windows. For those of you taking part in Star Classroom, you are now using the latest version of Windows - Windows 10!

So, we have put together a guide that outlines a few favourite Windows 10 tips and tricks to help you better use the software and take advantage of the new features that it has to offer.

If you have any Windows 10 favourites that you think should be added to this guide, please let us know by adding a comment to this post. Quietly Taking Off

STOP PRESS: We've had several new requests from outside the Trust to view the video channels - sadly we can't do that but we have now made a mini-site that is public called "" to showcase the best stuff - we'll put anything on this blog there from now on. is almost a year old, but it was quite a quiet and unused corner of our system for a long time. We used it to post copies of videos from the website and our YouTube channel, and for some training videos. Suddenly though, in large part because of the work of a number of very creative teachers it has started to take off - already we're aware of a teacher in one academy using a video from a colleague he's never met at another in a lesson - and some of them are getting a lot more viewers than there are people in the class (a "view" on the system is a person, so if the same person sees the video 20 times, it only counts once!)

The system works well because There are …

Record your Screen with ActivePresenter

Have you ever wanted to capture part of your lesson quickly and easily? For example, you have just explained a new topic to the class and would like to make it available for them to see again or maybe you want to demonstrate how to do something on the computer. ActivePresenter is a free tool that will record your PC screen and your voice at the same time and produce a high-quality video for you to share.
ActivePresenter records what is happening on the screen so it doesn’t matter what software you are using – you could quite simply have a Word document open and be explaining the task for the lesson.
Here are a few examples of when you may want to use it (if you think of other examples please share in the comments section below):
Creating a video for your class if you know you are going to be away – you can open up all of the relevant materials you’ve left with the supply teacher and explain what they need to doIf you use any of the following interactive whiteboard tools; Active Inspi…

Our December eLearning Newsletter is Now Up

As an aside - we made the newsletter with the all-new version of Google Sites (which you can reach instead of the standard one by using the web address - at some point soon anyone who already has sites on the system should see them move safely over and the old Google Sites will be but a memory.

The new system is (even) less for the power user but is a tremendous tool for someone that wants to make a site that looks good and concentrate on the content on the page rather than the geekery of web design.

First impressions after spending an hour making this page is that it is a remarkable improvement.

Web Clipping Fact Card

So you have something on a web page that you want to make part of your worksheet/ slide deck/ whiteboard file/ notebook? You can usually copy and paste but sometimes you want to be able to capture it exactly as it looks on the screen at that moment.

Web Clipping is one of those things that does actually take practice, and you may need to unlearn some tricks.

If you aren't used to working with one you probably have a workaround (on a Mac my old method involves holding down three keys on the keyboard, choosing what I want, then inserting the picture manually - it takes a while and leaves my desktop littered with files I don't want). When you see someone using one it is so obviously something worth learning.

There are some guides on the factsheet for using web clipping with various popular apps - take the time to become so confident you can use it without thinking during lessons.

If you use use Windows 10, the web-clipping tool in Microsoft Edge is simple and absolutely brillian…

Introducing the David Ross Education Trust eLibrary

Login information will be shared with staff and students in the next few days (the aim is for it to be the same as the one used in to login to everything else). This video has been made to introduce the eLibrary to staff and students.

Google Classroom Fact Card

Here is another "Fact Cards" about the numerous tools for teachers and students we feature in the Basecamp training. This example is Google Classroom. This is a hugely powerful tool for anyone that has already started using Google Drive and wants to take sharing materials with their classes to the next level.

Create a course online and either invite your students via email, or give them a code to type in to allow them to enrol.
As lessons go by post things for the class:

An announcement - perhaps a reminder or a link to the OneNote used in the lesson, or an attached OfficeMix they may find useful.An online assignment - something for the students to complete online and submit - perhaps responding individually to complete a writing frame provided for the task, or working collaboratively on a presentation. Multiple files can be attached to an assignment (of any kind - not always Google ones - indeed products like OneNote, Mix and Sway from Microsoft work brilliantly in Classroo…

Save to Google Drive Chrome Extension

An increasing number of educators are turning to Google Drive as opposed to external hard drives and USB memory sticks for saving work - none more so than DRET's Star Classroom teachers. The benefits of 'cloud' storage as opposed to a physical storage device are numerous, and well documented. But plain and simply, it just makes life easier.

For those that have turned to Google Drive as their primary method of storing work, lesson plans, documents, presentations etc, there are many great add-ons that make life a little easier, and your work-flow simpler.  None more so than an extension to the Google Chrome browser called 'Save to Google Drive.' It provides a quick and easy way to save images from a google search directly into a Google Drive folder.

Check out our brief video explaining what's what, to see just how easy it is!

See more great training videos on DRET.TV (you must be logged in to a DRET account to view videos)

Rolling Out Those Big Screens

Star Classroom is first and foremost about professional development and building a community of practice that spans all our academies and massively improves our agility to adopt, adapt and fully exploit new technologies in our work in ways that work for us: not as a parallel "tech for its own sake" agenda, but simply by supporting all our great teachers in their work to make learning better.

That said, the work to put in the physical side of the project - our standard classroom equipment, is now well underway. This is in no way the classroom of the future - we can't wait that long - this is the classroom of the present.

Engineers from European Electronique are visiting academies to do site surveys and discuss any special requirements with staff and then visiting to put up as quickly and with as little fuss as possible the equipment.

The installs have been done so far at Charles Read, Charnwood, Ingoldsby, Eastfield, Cedar Road, Briar Hill and Newnham: and there are many …

Office Mix Fact Card

In the coming weeks we will share some "Fact Cards" about the numerous tools for teachers and students we feature in the Basecamp training. This first example is Office Mix. Although what it does (at least what we do with it) is quite simple and limited, it can be incredibly powerful.
Take one of those Powerpoint files you already have.
Load it up on the screen and tap Record.
Draw on the slides as you use them in class and when you're ready click to stop recording.
Tap on Publish to video and choose the channel you want to push it to on and your slides, annotation and voice-over is on the web for the class to access on their web browser, tablet or smartphone.

Using YouTube Videos with

We've had a number of requests to make some videos from our channel publicly available - this being one shown on the Basecamp Resources page that attracted the most interest: allows you to strip away adverts and comments from a YouTube video, and to clip it to just the section that will be most useful for your lesson. In the video Ben from our eLearning team walks through the process from start to end, so you can watch YouTube in class.

Welcome to the Basecamp

We call the initial immersion day for our Star Classroom programme "Basecamp" - because (and forgive the cliche) if the development and sharing of best practice in using IT in the classroom and to engage and support teachers, parents and students inside and outside the room is climbing a mountain, this training is not about carrying people up the slope, it is about getting them to the starting point well equipped and supported and ready to get climbing! In week one we've worked with eighteen teachers from nine different academies, some of whom have already had our new "standard" classroom set up installed.

Basecamp is about 10% to do with how to use the equipment in the room (the remote control takes a few minutes to master of course) but much more about sharing how the current good practice that led the teachers to be asked to join the programme can adapt to it, and the opportunities to  develop new approaches.
All of the materials used are accumulating on a p…

Basecamp Day 1

Our first Star Classroom Basecamp training day took place at Charles Read Academy, joined by an illustrious cast of teachers from Charles Read, Ingoldsby and Charnwood Academies. A multi-layered day covered over 25 different pieces of software, hardware and equipment covering varied topics such as video production, sharing resources and making the most of the big screen. One down, 20 to go: what's going to be great is that each day will have its own flavour as we are joined by teachers from different schools, subject areas and backgrounds, with different skills and creative ideas.

Yammer Group of the Week

All Governors Group
This week's Yammer group of the week is a new private group created for school governors. This is a private online group for all people that are governors at a DRET academy for the governor services team to share materials, but also for Q&A etc. 
If you'd like to join please find the group in the "Discover More Groups" area of Yammer, or alternatively click here

Introducing Swivl

One of the tools we're setting up for every Star Classroom is a "Swivl." These devices (which somehow always remind me of R2D2 from Star Wars) make grabbing video in lessons - for whatever purpose - so simple.

If any academies would like additional training over and above that provided through Star Classroom there are two help videos on the channel, and we'd be happy to set up a short workshop for you. how to upload videos to a channel

Sorry, only logged in users on van view this video

This short training video explains how channels work on and how to upload a video to a channel from a web browser (such as on a PC, Mac or Chromebook).

The process is nearly identical from an iPad (we aren't using the iOS app in this example) but there is an extra option that lets you record directly from the iPad camera to the system - useful if something is happening that you want to be able to share really quickly after the event.

Yammer group of the week

Hot off the press! A new group has just been made and it's going to be a good one, we're sure of it!

If your work is STEM-related, this will be well worth a join. A place to discuss and share all things STEM!
Don't forget, if you are unsure how to join groups on Yammer, or want to set a group yourself but don't know how, you can watch the training videos on DRET TV

Star Classroom has lift off!

Charles Read Academy has had the first Star Classroom installed; very exciting times we are sure you'll agree!
Charles Read will be one of our training bases - with more to follow asap... Check out the video of installation!
Dates for installations and Basecamp training will be published soon - watch this space!

Sharing Solved: Salamander

One of the recurring problems with many of the web-based tools for collaboration is having to manage a long list of email addresses every time you want to share something - for example with a class. Managing groups of people by hand is difficult - as people come and go these groups can get out of date very quickly.

Salamander is the system we've deployed to solve that problem. Every evening it checks SIMS and makes up to date groups for year groups, forms and timetabled classes and gives each an email address.  So far we have it set up at Malcolm Arnold, Lodge Park, Skegness Grammar, Havelock, King Edward VI and Charles Read academies - with all others to follow in the next few weeks.

This video from the training channel explains more.

Yammer Group of the Week

Online safety is an area that we are all responsible for - regardless of job title or job description. In schools a major element of safeguarding involves students being safe online and acting responsibly.

We should all try to stay up to date with current best practice: this week's 'Group of The Week' is DRET Online Safety, a Yammer Group set up for all things related to Online Safety. There are resources, discussions. presentations and more. A great place to stay up to date, find resources, ask questions or have a discussion. Recent posts have included recognising phishing, social media use, 'Prevent' strategy and more.

This is a public group so anyone can join, and all are welcome  - see you there!

New to Yammer? See our training videos here for help with set up and joining groups.

New OneNote Training Videos

Two new videos have been added to our training channel on

OneNote Basics introduces the app (which is available on all our PCs with the standard system, on the home page in the Microsoft Office folder and in the self-service store for our iPads) as something much more powerful than just a note taking tool.

OneNote allows the teacher to create a scrapbook for a topic or lesson (or course!) gathering together all their files into one place and arranging them as needed, and allows them to share the contents with colleagues and with students in a very simple way - including allowing them to collaborate live on the notebook just as they do so successfully in Google Docs. On top of that the drawing tools make it a great fit for the interactive whiteboard or touchscreen.

The second video unpacks some more specific teaching ideas and tools to show what the app is capable of.

OneNote will be one of the apps we feature strongly in the Star Classroom programme, and more video…

Yammer Group of the Week

Whilst it's not all work, work, work (as demonstrated by groups such as DRET Running Club and DRET Bake Off), our professional social network, Yammer, is an excellent way of communicating with others - especially through groups.

Take for example this week's group of the week: Physics Teachers. A group formed for, unsurprisingly, Physics teachers - to collaborate, discuss and share ideas. Subject enhancement days are currently a hot topic in this group!

If you are a Physics teacher or take an interest in the subject, then this is the group for you. Not a Physicist? Then why not set up your own group? We have training videos here to help.
Whatever your interest, Yammer will surely help reduce E = P x t

Join Our eLibrary Preview

One of the most exciting parts of our eLearning Strategy is making available a large online library of eBooks that staff and students can take out books from - both reference to support their study and just because they enjoy reading!

We're pleased to announce that we're on track to fully launch the service in November, and that in October we want to invite staff with a strong interest in the service to join a preview programme.
Who do we particularly want to join up?Anyone with experience of promoting reading and lending books to students - whether you work in a library or a classroom.Anyone who plays a major role in selecting textbooks and wants to shape our thinking about the kinds of textbooks and reference books and the numbers we buy.Anyone who thinks it is a really interesting project and just wants to try it early and share opinions and ideas! What is missing in the preview? From the standpoint of trying the system the preview is pretty much the finished article. Once…

Yammer Group of the Week

The first in a series of weekly posts, the eLearning team will be turning the spotlight towards a new group on DRET's Yammer pages.

First up in our weekly series:

This group has been created to talk all things 'apps.' A place to discuss favourite apps, share different uses for apps, share with each other what apps we use, ask what apps others use for times tables/physics revision/AFL/movie making etc etc. In short, anything app-related! What's your favourite app? Which app do your students love? Which is the most versatile? Do you try new ones but always find yourself heading back to a tried and tested app?  Perhaps you're looking for an app to use but want some opinions from others? Or do you just want to get some new ideas? Then this is the group for you! New to Yammer? Find it here and log in with your usual DRET log-in/email  Not sure how to find join/create groups on Yammer? Then check out the training videos on DRET TV's Training Channel Happ…

Our Own App Store

Part of the Star Classroom project is providing the teachers involved with a mobile device - with the long term objective of replacing those Windows laptops. In preparation for that we're working on how to manage a fleet of iPads to ensure they come right out of the box ready to use, with easy access to a good selection of apps without any hassle.

After looking at a number of alternative ways of managing iPads we've selected a system called Casper from Jamfsoft. It allows us to set up an iPad so that even from the moment it is first unboxed and give staff access to an App Store where we can put together a collection of apps for them to download and use.

Which apps should we use? We'll be creating a group on Yammer for staff to select the best for primary, secondary and general use and vote on the ones that should be standard on every iPad.

Auto-filled Calendar

This poor old test user has a timetable of lessons in early August, but what it shows is a new feature of our system coming into operation. From now on it will be possible to have people's timetable from SIMS automatically update their calendar (to save the hassle of typing it in yourself).

By default the calendar will be updated for six week's ahead and if your timetable changes in SIMS that evening your calendar will be fixed too. Students will also have their timetable auto-loaded.

We're currently doing final tests before rolling this out to all sites. Obviously secondary academies will be the ones with the most to gain, so we'll launch it there first, but every academy with SIMS will have this added.

The same system (Salamandersoft) that does this will also automagically set up groups for every timetabled class, form, year group and department, so emailing and sharing resources will become much much easier - more about that in a few days,

Improving WiFi

Remember a world before WiFi? It's become essential for so many things and we want it to be consistently good at every academy across the Trust. Over the Summer and Autumn we're doing two things.

Where the WiFi is poor we're either adding to it, or simply replacing it with easy-to-manage access points that we know will be good for several years ahead. This should mean that all indoor spaces and many outdoor ones will have good quality signal, linked to our network for staff, students and guests.We're making the experience of using that WiFi consistent so that if you've used the service at one of our sites, it will "just work" from then on.  Part of that simplification process will involve people having to register their device with us before they can connect for the first time: this will allow us to ensure that when they bring their own device it can only access what it should, and make sure that their internet use can be properly tracked.
When your acade…

How to Access CPD on the Microsoft Innovative Education Network

(Apologies if the video above is blank for you: Only logged in users on can view it: if you are a member of staff please go to, login and then come back to look).

Microsoft publish a wide range of resources for teachers on the Innovative Educators Network website, ranging from simple how to guides up to quite extensive courses. Alongside that members can interact with other teachers across the world.

DRET staff can use their normal login/ password to login to the site using the link on our home page and selecting the option of Office 365 login. The video above shows the process.
The video is hosted on our Office 365 Video site "DRET TV" in the IT channel - there are many other videos there: if you are a member of staff and would be interested in managing a channel of your own (perhaps to share resources with your class) please get in touch.

Contact Us

To contact the eLearning Strategy project please:
If you are a member of staff at a David Ross Education Trust Academy, visit Yammer (log in with your usual user ID and password) and look for the groups for eLearning there. We'd love to hear from anyone else - the best first point of contact is our Twitter account @star_classroom.  Commercial enquiries: We strongly prefer to initiate contact ourselves for products and services that interest us - for larger items this will be through the various frameworks. Please don't cold call.

Coming Autumn 2016 to DRET: RM Books

We're pleased to announce that RM Books will be available to our staff and students in the very near future - we are holding some initial set up and training with availability to staff in September and will soon announce the full launch date for the service. Working together as a network of academies means we can put together a far better collection of titles than we ever could working as individual sites.

RM Books will appear as a new tile on the homepage for users as soon as it is available - your usual user name and password will give you access. There is a free app you can download - again your account is the same as your academy one.

RM Books is RM Books is an online eBook library specially designed for education. It allows us to provide access to high-quality etextbooks, curriculum titles, fiction and non-fiction, as well as free use of hundreds of classic literature ebooks. Initially we are offering a collection of popular fiction and non-fiction books, but we will be askin…

People: Guy Shearer

Guy is the Trust's Head of Service for IT and the lead for the eLearning Strategy. He is on twitter as @guyshearer.

Follow Us On Twitter

We've just created a Twitter Account to share news and information about our eLearning Strategy. Please follow us to keep in touch with the programme and share ideas and examples from your own classes.


This blog is a reference point for the Star Classroom project at the David Ross Education Trust - to introduce the people and the tools used. Much of the material will be available elsewhere, but as this site is public, anyone outside the Trust who would like to know more about our work will be able to find out here.