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What literature has had the biggest impact on your practice? #gtcsPL

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As a member of the GTCS Research Engagement Group, I’m facilitating this week’s slow twitter chat with the hashtag #gtcspl.

Slow twitter chat? What’s that? Well, discussing educational literature is complex, and rightly so, so rather than trying to cram our chats into an hour, we’re hoping to encourage folk to join in over the course of a week. This is the third such chat and taking the week-long approach has really worked for allowing the conversation to develop, as well as giving lots of busy teachers the chance to join in over the course of the week.

So for my week I’ve chosen to ask the question…

What literature has had the biggest impact on your practice?

I’m hoping this will kick off with lots of sharing of great articles and books (some of which will hopefully be available through EBSCO) but I’m hoping to encourage folk to go further and also share what impact it had, why and how they know. We’ll see how we get on.

So, get your thinking caps on folks and join in all week!


Here are the storifies (sp?) capturing the tweets from the week:

It was suggested that we compile all the books suggested in the first three days of the chat into one list on the fourth day and then vote on a top ten on the last day. You can see both of these lists below. We ended up with a top 12 instead of a top 10 due to a tie.

Wireless Projecting


I’m in the ridiculously fortunate position of having been given 20 chromebooks a few years ago, 17 of which are still working. I was also given a wireless network to make them work, which has been fab. It occurred to me recently however that with these two ingredients it might just be possible for me to add a chromecast to my network and get some wireless projecting happening. So, one of my colleagues who has a chromecast took one of the chromebooks home and gave it a go on his TV…and, it worked!

So, I set about trying to work out how to connect an HDMI chromecast to a projector which doesn’t have HDMI…a tonne of cables later, and lo and behold, it works!


What I hadn’t quite anticipated is that not only can I now project wirelessly…anyone who is on the network can! So, if a student has something worth sharing with the whole class, they can just cast it straight up onto the screen from their desk. I’m only just beginning to get to grips with the implications of this technology for learning and teaching…but I thought I’d share what I’d done to at least have got it working – something I really wasn’t expecting to occur when I started playing around with this!

In case anyone else is thinking of doing something similar, here’s what I’ve had to buy to make it all work…

Leaders of Learning

My S1 class are very fortunate to currently be involved in Children in Scotland’s Leaders of Learning project. Phase one of this project involved Children in Scotland consulting with children and young people on their learning which culminated in this report. In the current phase of the project Children in Scotland are working with various schools on some of the key themes which arose through phase one. My class are working on the following theme with Linda Young and others from Children in Scotland:

Children and young people want a more active role in planning around their learning

Following an introductory session the project began with an ice-breaker spaghetti/marshmallow tower challenge which was fantastic for getting the class talking to our new visitors to the class, and also was very effective for getting them thinking about and sharing the skills and attitudes they’d used to complete the challenge.

In the introductory session the pupils were asked to think of something which they could teach others. The second half of session one saw them work in threes to teach these skills. These ranged from dancing, maths, keepie-uppies and the clarinet. In their threes they arranged themselves into a teacher, a learner and an observer. The role of the observer was to make notes on what both the teacher and learner were doing to make the ‘lesson’ effective. I was really amazed by how well the observers were able to complete their task and their feedback was really excellent.

From this task we then began work on planning a lesson together. The class helped me to plan which lesson we would do, what the learning intentions and success criteria would be and how they would know if they’d met these success criteria. Linda then went on to inform the class they would not only be learners in this lesson, but they would also be acting as observers. She then asked them what questions they might have on an observer feedback form, in about ten minutes they came up with the following:


I thought that this was an astonishing response. We agreed that this was too many questions for one form, so the class decided to split them over two forms with half the class completing one and the other half completing the other. You can see their completed forms here.

The next stages of the project will involve the class researching the rest of their learning in school to find out when they have a say in their learning and then they’re going to work on producing something to share the outcomes of the project.

Yet again, this class has already demonstrated that when given the opportunity young people can consistently astonish you with what they’re capable of…we really need to be finding ways of providing them many more opportunities to do so.

First Experiences of AirHead

As I mentioned in my previous post, we’re very lucky to have Google Apps for Education hosted for us on edubuzz.org by our LA. It’s fab, however one issue with it is that there is no focal point for all the various tools. There’s no ‘homepage’ which aggregates all your various content and apps. This has frustrated me for a while, but I think it’s going to become a bigger issue in the future as we move towards open Wifi and bring your own device. I’ve therefore been keen to find a solution and when I heard about AirHead I thought we might just have found one.

Since the start of the session we’ve been working with AirHead to get it installed with edubuzz.org so that we could give it a try and we got it all sorted just before the Christmas hols. I was excited therefore this morning to get a class onto it – my S1 Science class. I thought it would be good to share some reflections on this first proper encounter of having students on AirHead…

  • Firstly I was surprised how readily they agreed with me that a lack of a ‘home’ was a problem. They agreed that it would be good to have a one-stop shop which gave you access to all of your online tools – both learning and social/personal.
  • They loved being able to create their own LaunchPads and customising the background etc. This was a big plus for them. I was amazed by how quickly they were creating their own tiles for their LaunchPads.
  • They were amazed at the ‘live’ nature of the FlightDecks. They liked being able to see their emails without having to open Gmail and having the school Daily Notices twitter feed right there also. The Calendar widget had them reaching for their phones and getting their school edubuzz accounts set up on them to help them manage their homeworks.
  • They also were very keen to begin using AirHead on their phones through the browser and liked that it synchronised with the desktop version. They were a bit frustrated with the way that if you try to scroll on a launchpad on your phone it has a tendency to rearrange the tiles instead.

Overall, they were remarkably enthused by AirHead, they felt it was solving a problem they already face and they were able to begin using it and making it their own very quickly and with minimal support and guidance from me.

Next week I’m planning on showing it to the rest of the staff and recruiting a team to begin trying it out to support learning and teaching.

Have you seen what’s Glowing?

Glow has taken a real knock over the last few years, and rightly so to be fair. It was a great idea that got a bit lost and left behind for various reasons that I think are now best left in the past. I still think though that there’s potential in the idea, if done well.

That’s why it’s such a shame that it has become almost impossible to have a positive conversation with fellow teachers in Scotland which mentions the dreaded ‘Glow’ word. It’s got a difficult legacy to overhaul. There’s an argument that they should’ve started the rethink with a name change, but I disagree. A change of name would achieve nothing and would be seen as a cynical ‘rebranding’. No, what Glow needs is not a new name but to become genuinely useful to teachers and their learners. And anyway, Glow is such a brilliant name for writing bad post titles for blogs about Glow!

Glow needs to intuitively solve problems in Scotland’s classrooms and then folk will begin to actually use it. In my opinion, they’re getting there.

So, what do I like about the ‘new’ Glow? Here’s just a few things…

  • Not only have they not changed the name, they haven’t even called it ‘new’ Glow, or Glow 2.0 or Glow365 or anything like that. It’s just Glow. There’s no big switch on date. There’s no great fanfare. They’re just quietly, and continuously, making it better.
  • The RM Unify system makes the whole user experience a lot better than what there was before. Logging in, changing your password and changing other people’s passwords is a whole lot easier and much more pleasant than before.
  • Office365 is really well integrated now and such a powerful tool. Full web-based Office functionality with cloud storage and huge potential for online collaboration between learners – be they school pupils or teachers. If we didn’t already have access to Google Apps through eduBuzz in East Lothian, I’d be all over this feature.
  • They’ve retained, and are improving, the WordPress blogs and Wiki functionality.
  • The public and purposeful approach they’re taking to sharing progress and engaging with schools. I think the new Glow Connect site is really nicely done. It’s attempting to be genuinely useful and doesn’t come across as primarily ‘marketing’ as some previous iterations have done.

Seriously folks, whatever your experience of Glow in the past, I think it’s time we all gave it a second chance. I know if I worked in a Local Authority which had limited access to web tools and cloud computing, I’d be giving it another look.