Wednesday, 29 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 slides or not. You can then use these annotations with another class, or keep them as evidence, if the work has been produced by the students.


Yasmin & Guy working with new team member on Webinar
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.

Friday, 17 March 2017

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 (DRET log-in required)

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

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 scenario:
A school wants to create a folder full of GSCE revision material for this year's Y11 - so that students have access to lesson resources, slideshows, videos, revision guides etc whilst they are revising for their exams, that they can access out of school. The folder is created, and link sharing is turned on - but crucially, anyone with the link can view only. This therefore means that everything within this folder - be it individual files or sub-folders - inherits this view only access right and becomes view only, i.e people with the link can't edit or move things. This link is then the link that is given to students - be it via Google Classroom, Show My Homework, Class Dojo, or whatever digital communication the school uses. Within that folder, subject specific sub-folders are created (Maths, English, History etc) and these are still view only for anyone with the link. However (and here's where the admin cross over comes into it), each sub-folder can then be shared with specific teachers, and crucially, they are given admin rights. With admin rights, the teachers can add their files and lesson materials into their subject's sub-folder. They only have editing rights to their subject's sub-folder, so Maths teachers can only add to the Maths folder, English teachers to English folder and so on.

So within one folder, students can view everything and have access to all the materials, but can't edit anything; but teachers have edit access to specific folders so that they can fill them with their GCSE revision materials to aid revision.

In a few simple steps, we have created a revision folder for students to access and staff to contribute to. Everyone has a small piece of the puzzle so to speak, but collectively this adds to a much bigger and more efficient, effective resource for students to be able to access outside of school.

To see how we did it in more detail, you can watch the video here

To see more of our training videos, including how to set up Google Drive,  Google Classroom, Yammer and accessing our ebook library, see all of our training videos here (DRET log in required) or for more information please get in touch with the eLearning team.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

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 coffee shop etc, via wifi or mobile data, or download it for offline use.

We've said it before and we'll say it again - simple, quick, effective.

Credit J Smith, Charnwood College

For information on how to set up Google Classroom, see our training video here (DRET log in required), or get in touch.

Friday, 10 March 2017

ë é ≠ ‽ ñ ∞ € ∑ ≉ *œ ß

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, including those with accents and diacritical marks. On the symbols layout, for example, click and hold the 1/2 symbol to see more fractions. Hold the mouse on the e and get all the options for French accents for another example:

Click the button labeled &123 to change from the standard QWERTY layout to one filled with symbols. Use the right and left arrows just above that button to display a second screen full of symbols, including symbols for the Euro and British Pound on a U.S. English configuration. Here's an example of what is available of you hold down the mouse button on the equals sign:

This is a quick and easy solution, and great for subjects like Maths, MFL and Science.

If you would like more information about how to use the touch keyboard then please get in touch with the team.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

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.

       Image result for plickers

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 Forms, please get in touch with the eLearning Team.

Credit: C King, Charles Read Academy