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Showing posts from March, 2017

Annotating Directly on PowerPoint Slides

In the Star Classroom training, we demonstrated many ways to annotate using the screen, and here is another technique using the built-in pen tool in PowerPoint.

Credit: Mr Willis, Havelock Academy

The ability to draw and highlight directly onto your slides has been available for a while now, although it may have not been a feature you would have needed or noticed, unless you had a board with good interactivity. To use the built-in pen tool, all you need to do is open a PowerPoint and go into Presentation Mode. You should now be able to see that there is a greyed out toolbox along the bottom or left-hand side of the slide (see image 1). You may need to hover your mouse over the slide if you can’t see it. Once the pen tool is selected, you can then draw over your slides - moving forwards or backwards whilst keeping the annotations intact. When you get to the end of the presentation, or if you click the Esc key, you will be prompted to decide if you want to keep the annotations on the sli…


We've really enjoyed running Webinars for staff after school on topics like Google Drive and Google Forms. People sign up (more than anything else so we don't end with more in the session than we can cope with) using an online form and head into our room on Appear.In for the workshop at the appointed time. Most webinars are fairly short and to the point lasting about 30 minutes although people are very welcome to stay longer to ask questions.

Because they are so convenient - all you need is a quiet place, a computer and a web browser, we think they make a great alternative to a face to face training session, or just watching a video on our training channel on

Feedback has been really positive so we're offering a chance for people to express interest in future sessions using this link.

Moderating using digital tools

In this new training video we look at the possibility of undertaking writing moderation using digital tools.

Plenty of meeting time gets taken up by moderation meetings, but does it have to be done face to face? What if you want to moderate with another school but logistical problems are getting in the way? Using digital tools, geography is no longer an issue and being face to face is no longer high priority. What is important is good quality discussion, clear justification and having effective tools to do the job properly.

This video shows the use of Scannable, Google Drive, Google Docs, Microsoft Word and Appear.In to produce a collaborative piece of moderation by colleagues in different parts of the country, that can be stored digitally or printed as a hard copy.

It certainly saves the photocopying and driving times - allowing more time to be spent on the actual act of effective moderating.

See the video here or get in touch for more information.

See all of our training videos here

Using Google Drive with staff and students simultaneously

Lots of schools have switched to using Google Drive as their way to store files, share files with colleagues and collaborate on documents. As an admin tool, it's excellent.

Many schools also use Google Drive with their students - to share resources, give out and receive homework for example.

But is there ever a cross over? Is there a scenario whereby staff admin and student resource distribution are blurred together? Of course there is, or at least with Google Drive, there is the potential to do so. Many Google Drive users can be a little hesitant when giving out admin rights to a folder, and rightly so. Whenever you are giving lots of people edit access to a folder you always run the risk of someone making a mistake, moving files out of folders, or not completely knowing what they are doing. What makes Google Drive an excellent tool is that you can share files and folders with many people, but differentiate who has what access rights.

In the video below, we use the following sce…

Whatever did we do without it?

Simple, quick, effective.

How many times are those 3 words used in this blog? (answer = a lot!). Effective use of technology is the name of the game, to enhance teaching and learning, make workflow easier and help keep us organised.

We recently saw a superb example of simple, quick and effective use of technology at Charnwood College. During the lesson, the teacher had helped a struggling student make a useful science revision guide. At the end of the lesson, all students wanted a copy as it was a great resource! The Reprographics Department was closed and it wasn't possible to make quick photocopies. Step forward Google Classroom. The teacher simply took a photo of the resource on their Star Classroom iPad (or could have scanned it using something like Scannable), and shared it with the rest of the class on Google Classroom.

Instantly, the class had paperless access to the revision resource, and it took less than a minute. They could then access it at home, on the bus, at the cof…

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We were recently asked the quickest way to get French accents onto text when creating a Google Form. There are lots of ways to do this, including using Chrome Store extensions, but here is one of the quickest and easiest ways to do it from a Windows 10 PC, and especially with our DRET Star Classroom set up. Not just for language accents and diacritical marks - this works great for mathematical and science symbols too!

On a Windows 10 PC, use the touch keyboard. It's not just a touch keyboard - it works with the mouse too.

The Touch Keyboard button appears just to the left of the clock, on the right side of the taskbar. (If it's not visible, right-click any empty space on the taskbar to open the taskbar customization menu and then click the 'show touch keyboard' button option.)

Click the Touch Keyboard button to slide up the on-screen keyboard. Here are a few things you can do:

Click any letter or symbol and hold the mouse button down to see variations of that letter, inclu…

Plickers: a fun and engaging quiz tool without the use of class devices

Plickers is a great tool to collect formative assessments from your class, without the requirement of individual devices. You can set your own multiple choice questions to check understanding of learning, and the students can respond to the questions using Plickers cards, which you can print for free. Simply scan the room of students with their Plickers cards held up, and the app will show the results of the question on screen. It’s a great starter or plenary to engage students with a new topic or to test their knowledge of the topic they have just learned. What’s more, you as the teacher get real-time feedback so you know who needs more help, or who needs to be stretched further.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a Plickers activity.

For more information visit the Plickers website.

Using Google Forms for pupil premium intervention mapping

We recently saw a fantastic use of Google Forms for highlighting student's barriers to learning, and informing decisions about future intervention provision.

A Google Form was made, with each child's name added instead of a question asked. The answers were added as check boxes, with each check box being a specific barrier to learning.

Each teacher was sent the form, and completed it by ticking the boxes that they thought were a barrier to learning for each student.

Once everyone had completed the form, there was a clear and precise visual representation of the results, and it could clearly be seen the dominant barriers to learning for each child.

These results could then be used in lots of ways for planning and recording intervention needs. In this case, it was for pupil premium students, but it could be applied in lots of areas.

The great thing is, there is a ready made form that can be adapted and used again.

Simple and effective.

If you would like to know more about Google…