An App Smashette


I have long wanted to try app smashing with my classes but we only got our class set of iPads in September and I wanted to ensure that the students could use the well before we attempted our first smash.

The perfect opportunity to try our first smash presented itself on Valentine’s Day.  I had decided that I wanted my students to write some simple French love poetry.  I also hoped to highlight the use of inversion of verb and subject to create a question in French.

The students began by creating a very simple poem using the visual poet app.

visual poet

This app allows you to create 3 stanzas each with a picture.  You can use the picture search facility within the app or use your own photos.  The students used a basic starter for their poems, l’amour est… they then added their own idea, noun or adjective in order to complete the phrase.  L’amour est un xbox was not uncommon amongst my Y9 boys!


Once complete the students exported their poem into their camera roll and they then got to work on their smashette. I asked them to import the poem into the Pic collage app.  

pic collage app 2

Here they added the final part of their poem by inverting their l’amour est phrases and creating a question.  Thus I ended up with L’amour est le skate and Est l’amour le skate? The final line of their poems was c’est quoi l’amour? (what is love?)


Pic collage allowed them to be creative with fonts and stickers.   They completed their smashette in a 50 min lesson and the results are rather good.   It was a simple smash to start with but this is just the beginning…


The Power Of One; 1 iPad, 1 Classroom, 1 Teacher.


My first presentation at #ililc4 and I mean my very first EVER was a session attempting to address what to do if you only have 1 iPad in your classroom.  I was lucky enough to be given an iPad to trial in my classroom 2 years ago, in my session I looked to provide delegates with a list of apps that they could successfully use in a 1 iPad classroom.

Having only 1 iPad in the classroom allows you to make yourself the expert on the tool.  You will have to work at this, use your iPad regularly and when you hit a problem, search for a solution on Google or ask on Twitter or someone else in your school in this way you will learn about the functionality of the iPad and what to do when it doesn’t quite work.  Better that you learn when you only have one to deal with than when you have a class set.  Although we think our young people are tech savvy they aren’t as savvy as you may imagine and will need, just like you, to learn how to use an iPad effectively.


A VGA adapter – so that you use you iPad with your whiteboard

Apple TV – this enables you to show things from your iPad on you whiteboard wirelessly and it is a seriously cool bit of kit.

A clamp – borrow this form science and gently clamp your iPad over the work you want to show the class, go to the camera on you iPad and hey presto you have a visualiser!

Ideas for starter activities

Pass the parcel is a paid for app this allows you to turn you iPad into a children’s party game.  Simply create a list of questions in word or pages copy and paste your questions into the pass the parcel app and press play.  The students then pass the iPad around the class and when the music stops a question appears that the students must answer.

Make Dice is another paid for app which allows you to make word dice.  Simply type in the words you want to appear on each face. Shake the iPad and students had to say a sentence with that word or use a few dice and make them create sentences with the word shown.  There is a free version of this app called Make Dice Lite

Shake and Boom this turns your iPad into a bomb.  Simply arm the bomb pass it around the class and when it goes off ask a question – easy!  Again this is a paid for app.

Videoscribe and Haiku Deck are both apps which allow you to do presentations.  Videoscribe creates cartoon animation and Haiku Deck is a slide presentation app full of beautiful creative commons images.

Pairwork and discussion ideas

In pairs or small groups allow students to use the video camera function on the iPad to film themselves speaking then connect it to you whiteboard and show the rest of the class who then give feedback. app allows you to make simple short recordings, the results of which can be emailed to you.

Voice Record Pro allows you to make longer recordings which can then be shared via email, dropbox, Google Drive or Skydrive.

Wrapped app allows you to wrap up pictures.  Email the picture to yourself, display it on your board and then scratch you iPad like you are scratching a lottery card and the picture is slowly revealed.  Works well for guessing games  and discussions.

Guardian Eye Witness and Fotopedia beautiful and unusual photos are provided by both these apps.  Use them in conjunction with wrapped or put the photos into the app Over this then allows you to write questions or key vocabulary onto your photos which you can then save to you camera role and share via your whiteboard to prompt discussion.

Giving Feedback

Take a photo of exemplar work and put it into Skitch then use the pen and arrow tools to highlight the best bits and areas for improvement whilst projecting onto you whiteboard.

Flip your classroom using the Show Me app.  This is a recordable whiteboard  so you can record yourself teaching  and then share the link with your class via email or input it into a QR code creator  and share as a QR code.

Turn your iPad into a visualizer using a clap and the camera function.


Set up a class blog on a blogging platform like Kid blog allow a small fstudents to blog using group of students to blog using your iPad each week

Randomising and Timing

Decide now is a great selector app.  You basically fill in sections of a wheel and spin it.  I fill many of my wheels with topics, I spin the wheel and students have to talk for 1 minute on that topic

Ever had a row about who is going next – not any more.  Tap Roulette is a nifty little app.  Each student puts a finger on the screen you tap select and the app selects a finger – argument over!

Stop Go app is a timing app that looks like a set of traffic lights.  You can set each light to be on for a length of time.  For example 5 mins on green 1 min on amber.  The app bings each time the colour changes which serves to remind you and them how long they have left.  I often don’t project the picture and just hook my iPad up to the speakers for the sound.

Personal Organisation

I am trying to go paperless this year so I have been planning my lessons on my iPad.  The app that I have had most success with is Daybook at the moment I just use it to plan with but it does have a mark book function too.

Smart seat is a seating plan app but it also has a randomising feature on it too so you can easily select students in your class. This app is sleek and simple and I use it lots

Google Drive and Dropbox

Cloud storage apps which allow you to easily share documents with each other.  I love the collaborative features in Drive and use it a great deal with my older students.

Wunderlist is a lovely to do list app.  You can assign tasks to others who share your lists it’s beauty is in it’s simplicity.

Flipboard is app which helps you to collate stuff from the web or twitter into magazines that you can share with others.

Do You Flubaroo? #ililc4


I was lucky enough to be able to present at this year’s #ililc4 conference in Southampton which took place last weekend.

One of my sessions was about using the marking script Flubaroo.  This script automatically marks answers for google forms.  In this powerpoint I go through the process of creating a google form and then applying the Flubaroo scrip step by step.  I have found that multiple choice and text answers are the ones that work best with Flubaroo as it relies on your students’ answers matching exactly to the answer that you give Flubaroo.

It is also important to not and this is not in the powerpoint that one of your questions MUST be what is your name?  and if you want to email the test results back to your students you must have another question asking them for their email address.

Ensure that you tick the box when making your google form which says required question, this means that students have to have to put an answer in for each question.

Goggle forms are great for use when flipping the classroom or for setting vocabulary tests. You can now embed pictures and video into Google Forms so you can now easily set up listening activities and matching activities.  Have fun and happy Flubarooing!

Any questions just leave a comment or send me a tweet to @lancslassrach and I’ll try to help as best I can.

The 20 Day Challenge Or Creating Good Habits


This weekend I attended the #ililc4 languages conference in Southampton.  At the show and tell on Saturday evening I talked about the 20-day challenge that I set for my Y10 GCSE group.

I found a brilliant TED talk by Matt Cutts called Try Something New For 30 Days.  In his talk Matt, who by his own admission is a geek who works for Google explains how you can change your habits by trying something new for 30 days.  Matt tries all sorts of bizarre things some he sticks with, others less so.  I was intrigued by his idea so I took it to my GCSE class.

Firstly we watched Matt’s TED talk, and we discussed forming habits and how that Matt had done something so regularly that it had become a part of his day.  I wanted my students to apply this to their language learning.

What could you do for 10 minutes everyday that would enhance your language learning?  We kicked around a few ideas in the classroom such as listening to more French by finding interesting videos on YouTube, reading more French such as articles on un jour 1 actu, listening to French music again via YouTube or Spotify, learning vocabulary using or and so on.

We then discussed how we would find our 10 minutes per day.  We discussed the notion of dead time.  We have time when we walk to school or catch the bus to school that we could use productively.  Maybe you could find 10 minutes just as mum was preparing dinner where you could squeeze in a sneaky 10 minutes of language learning.

Each student then wrote down in their exercise books what they were going to try and do each day for 10 minutes for 20 days (incidentally, I chose 20 days because at the time we had 4 weeks left of school before Christmas)

I then took to twitter and everyday using the #20daychallenge I tweeted something for my students to do for 10 minutes that day.  Some students used these ideas others didn’t.

Here are some of the ideas that I tweeted

5 new words

Links to peppa pig in French – the whole series is on YouTube

Links to Stroame music videos

Links to un jour un actu articles

A verb paradigm

A link to the Duolinguo app on the app store

Retweeting interesting snippets that I found on twitter such as le saviez vous facts.

Every lesson I mentioned the 20 – day challenge in order to keep it fresh in their minds.  As with all things that are not compulsory and with things that are, some embraced the challenge and others did not.  This however did not make the exercise any less valid and it is without doubt something that I will return to in the coming months.   If you would like your students to get involved let me know and we can do the challenge at the same time.

An Inaugural Teach Meet

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As Kev Schofield said in his talk tonight at the very first Isle of Man Teach Meet, they don’t like change much on the Isle of Man but just like the tide change has to come in and so it did.

The 6th of February saw a new sort of CPD hit the island – Teach Meet.   Our Teach Meet took place along with many others across the UK as part of #TMUK and, even if I do say so myself it was very much a success; attended by a mix of primary, secondary, FE and outdoor ed staff it was a great evening.

Laura Williams from Castle Rushen HIgh School had nominated herself to present first.  She talked about developing skills at Y7 and 8 in her school. In CRHS they had concentrated on developing the 6 R’s  (readiness, reflectiveness, resourcefulness, remembering, resilience, relationships) which underpin the educational philosophy on the island.  The students had engaged in community projects and had also produced work about their link school in Malawi.  The project is continuing next term as the pupils complete a project on their own town of Castletown.


A quick spin of the wheel of doom, as it affectionately became know (thank you and David Mitchell also from CRHS was up next with his talk on how he is using google docs and google drive to great effect with his KS4 and 5 students.  All students upload their work to their own files and David encourages students to comment on each others work using the comment facility, this clearly allows for peer assessment but it also places the ball firmly back in the students’ court in terms of responding to and giving feedback.  For me, the most fascinating aspect of David’s talk was his use of google docs as a mark book.  I have gone paperless this year and absolutely love it, but David has taken this one step further.  He shares his mark book with his students via Google Docs, this was a lightbulb moment for me and one which I will definitely be stealing. Moreover when David marks coursework each mark in his mark book brings up the marking commentary from the exam board specification so that students can see exactly why they gained their marks – a fabulous idea!


Up next was Jonathan Brookes again from CRHS he spoke to us all about how he was getting students to engage with learning through the use of  the socrative app.  He talked the assembled  crowed through how to set up a quiz explaining how simple it was to do.  Furthermore, Socrative clearly shows teachers how much students understand at a point in a lesson – great AFL  His students clearly love using this as was demonstrated here.

Our co-host was up next Helen Almond – she spoke about closing the gap and how do we taken into account any socio economic, ethnic, gender differences that there may be amongst our students.  She posed questions asking how do we level the playing field in order that all of our students may achieve their goals?  How do we release the inner superhero in all of them?  A thought provoking talk with many more questions than answers.

Next it was ME!  I spoke about the use of Twitter as a tool in teaching.  There are very few manx teachers on twitter and I wanted to encourage more of them to join the global classroom.   I asked twitter what impact had it had on their teaching and showed some of the answers.  I also asked twitter to tweet me with the #helloiom to show how far a tweet can go and also to show how many teachers form across the world you can connect with, this work a treat as I had replies from Canada, London and Australia – thank you twitter you were very persuasive.  You can see my presentation here.

Time for some cake and a chat.  Our local supermarket, Shoprite had very generously supported our Teach Meet and had provided us with refreshments so there was cake a plenty.  As with all Teach Meets the coffee break is one of the most important and best bits of the evening, a chance to catch up with some old faces and to meet some new ones.  On the island it is very rare for secondary, primary and FE staff to all be in the same room so it was great opportunity to network.

Full of tea and cake and were off again.  Paul Melling from the Outdoor Education Service talked to us about the importance of the outdoors in education, it’s our natural learning habitat and we should be very aware of this when dealing with our students, we don’t want them to be scared of the outdoors, especially as we are blessed with such beautiful countryside on our door steps we don’t want our children to end up like this.

Tony Fallon then talked about crossing the bridge and his experience of changing schools and roles after many years and how it had opened his eyes to new ideas and methods of dealing with things.  It’s easy to become blinkered in education and I guess that’s why Teach Meets and connecting through social media like twitter become so important.  There is no bridge between Peel and Castletown but Tony certainly felt he had crossed the metaphorical one and it had clearly been a positive experience.

Karen Riley from Michael School was our only speaker from the Primary sector but what she had to say really hit home with many of us Karen spoke to us about a project that she runs mainly with Y6 but involving the whole school and the wider community at christmas time called the Nativitea cafe.  Karen and her class plan, stock and staff a working cafe for a week in December.  The learning outcomes were clear, students work with percentages, fractions, they take real orders from real customers and have to deal with real money.  Her project clearly brings the community into school and the pupils obviously love it because they are organising their next cafe experience which will take place during TT practice week it will of course be the Tea Tea Cafe!

Our last talk of the night was from Kev Schofield from St Ninan’s High School.  He showed us how he was using Explain Everything to Flip his A level classroom.  The students are apparently currently unsure about this phenomena giving rise to the quote of the night.

“They don’t like change much here do they?”

Suffice it to say that Kev has recently moved to the island from Liverpool!

He uploads his presentations to Youtube or Google docs and the students access them through there.  This gives Kev and his classes much more class time to go through problems and issue that may have arisen as a result of the students watching his videos explaining mathematical concepts and thus time in the classroom is used more effectively.

And that was that.  Our first Teach Meet was over, Twickl cups were given to our speakers.  Prizes were drawn – Tony Fallon won the books – thank you Crown house Publishing!  Goodbyes and thank yous were said along with tentative organisation for the next Teach Meet.  I think we can chalk that up to a success.

Thank you all for supporting our endeavour.

Thanks to Andy Fox and the staff of SNHS for accommodating us for the evening and for providing the tea and coffee.

Big thanks goes to my co-organiser the simply wonderful Helen Almond it has been great working with you!