Revising using edtech


Over the years I have tried a number of apps and web 2.0 tools in order to facilitate revision with my GCSE classes.  Listed below are some of my favourites.


I love using Quizlet to help my students learn or revise vocabulary.  This web 2.0 tool allows you or your students to make flashcards. In the case of Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) I put the French on one side of the card and the English on the other but for other subjects it could be words on one and definitions the other.  You can also search the website for other ‘sets’ that you can copy and use.  In this way, you are not constantly reinventing the wheel.  The site has a variety of activities that the students can engage in including a couple of games.  My students really enjoy the game scatter and Quizlet has a recently introduced a new collaborative game called Quizlet live which all of my students have enjoyed playing.

Students do not have to create an account in order use Quizlet simply share the link to your ‘set’ with them and they are off.  One of the features that I do like is that Quizlet easily links with Google Classroom – simply click the share button and select classroom. . If you want to more functionality  you can sign up for a pro account for which there is a cost involved.

If you like Quizlet you may also like Memrise


If you have never used or come across Kahoot now is the perfect time to make its acquaintance.  Kahoot is a quizzing game that is highly addictive and competitive.  My current GCSE class is made up mainly of boys and they practically beg me to play this game every lesson.  Kahoot allows you to make or search for quizzes by topic.  The quiz question is displayed on the main screen in class and the students’ tablet, laptop or phone becomes the key pad.  This tool enables you to set a time limit for each question and once the quiz is complete you can download results to your Google Drive or your computer – thus enabling you to see very quickly where student misconception lies.

If you like Kahoot  you may also like Quizizz or Plickers 

Listening and Reading


This web based tool also has an app.  If you want to create questions you need the teacher app and in order to answer you need the student app.  Socrative is a bit like Kahoot with less gamification.  I find it really useful when talking about metacognition with my class. 

You can make different types of quizzes with Socrative; multiple choice (I use this function the most as most reading and listening exam papers are made up of multiple choice questions) short answer questions or true/false questions.  One of the brilliant things about Socrative is that you don’t actually have to have made a quiz up before hand you can do one on the fly with the quick question function. All you have to do is ask the students a question and they use their tablet/ phone/ laptop as the answer pad.

You can follow the students as they answer questions in real time via your laptop or tablet.  I find this particularly useful as you can see who races through questions which often leads me to think are they reading the questions carefully or not?  The students answers turn red or green for incorrect and correct so at a quick glance you get an overview of how your class are getting on.

Once students have finished a test you can view the results.  The thing I particularly like about Socrative is you can click on the question number at the top of the results page (seen below in yellow) and see  what percentage of students gave which answer. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 13.45.53

This always allows for some interesting discussions particularly about how to approach the question, where difficulties lay etc.  There are many other elements to Socrative, so much so, that it probably deserves a blog post in itself.  Some other features are exit tickets, voting on answers and the space race game.

If you like Socrative you might also like Google Forms and the marking script Flubaroo which I have written about here.


This Web 2.0 tool and app allow you to insert questions into video clips which is really useful for creating listening exercises for students.  It’s really easy to make a task by simply clicking the create button and adding the video URL code.  Once loaded, you can  trim the clip if required then simply play the video and add questions; multiple choice or short answer by clicking the green question button as you go along.  Edpuzzle integrates with Google classroom but if you aren’t a GAFE school fear not, as sharing your work is dead easy simply share the URL code or by embed it in a blog or VLE. Students need to create an account in order to use Edpuzzle.

If you like Edpuzzle you may like Playpostit


The might app Explain Everything is perfect for all things metacognition. Firstly mirror your iPad to the main screen in the room using Apple TV or even better in my opinion AirServer.   I then use the app in combination with the iPad camera app to take photos of the students’ work and  use the drawing tools to highlight good and bad elements of an answer.  I also screen shot exam questions from the exam board website and discuss with students how to tackle the question again using the drawing tools to write all over the exam paper. I can also use this app to import the results from a Socrative quiz  (email yourself the results from Socrative) and then discuss and again highlight good answers, poor answers vocabulary and grammar issues  with students.  You can also view websites within the app and annotate them again, perfect for going through exam papers.

The real magic with this app however is that I use the record feature of the app in order to record my every move and discussion using the app.  Once the lesson or session is finished I have a video of all the work that we have done and this can be easily shared with students via Google Classroom, iTunesU, a blog or VLE  which they can then use as part of their revision tool box at home.

Before I end this post one generic revision app which definitely deserves a mention is Gojimo. This app is broken down into school subjects then exam boards and then questions and is well worth a look. 

As with all edtech use don’t just use it for using its sake.  Edtech in the classroom only works well when it is well thought out and has real pedagogical purpose.   


Sketchnoting As A Tool For Revision

FullSizeRender (8)

I first came across the idea of sketchnoting last summer when I was reading the tweets from #ADE2014 the delegates had been encouraged to arrange their thoughts on each of the talks as sketchnotes rather than “real” written notes, all done on iPads of course! Sketchnoting is doodling whilst listening, the doodles emphasising your notes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 14.05.13

The good news about sketchnoting is that you don’t have to be good at art to do them -phew! And the second piece of good news is that there are no rules to sketchnoting it is very much an individual thing – Hurrah! There’s something soothing about doodling isn’t there? Afterall, who hasn’t done this during a long phone call to their mum/mother-in-law?IMG_4012 In 2009 Jackie Andrade a professor at the University of Plymouth created a psychological experiment to see if doodling was of any benefit to your memory.  One group was asked to doodle whilst listening to a phone message and the other group didn’t.  The group that doodled retained 29% more information than the group that didn’t.  Whilst this is hardly conclusive proof that doodling is a huge aid to memory it does point towards its potential. If you are still unconvinced watch Sunni Brown’s TED talk on doodling.

Lots of my students doodle in the margins of their books, in spite of my control freakery I try not to let this annoy me!  A surprisingly large number of doodlers are in my Y11 class. This class is full of unbelievably creative young people; dancers, actors, musicians, artists, needle workers… and so I decided to try and teach this class some sketchnoting skills as I believed some students would find it to be a really useful revision tool. I am no sketchnoting expert but I was encouraged by Joe Dale to have a go at it at this year’s #ililc5 conference and I loved it and I hoped some of my students would too. What’s required for a sketchnoting lesson?  I did this with tech naturally, so each student had an iPad and the app Paper 53, I love this app it’s so beautifully designed and you can save your sketches to camera roll which is always a bonus. Each student also had a stylus.  I bought these styluses off ebay they are made by the Friendly Swede and they cost £20 for 40

. app-icon  IMG_3849

To begin with I showed my students some “professional” sketchnotes just to give them the idea and then I showed them some of mine just to prove that we are all still learning.  We talked about the app and some of the functions of it, zooming in and mixing colours, rewinding etc.  Next I got them drawing.  The thing about sketchnoting for me, is that you have to have a bank of simple drawings in your head that you can readily draw without thinking.  I gave my class a list of things eg a watch, an alarm clock, an iPad, a car, a tractor, a train, a coffee cup and they had to draw them with no fuss. Now, at this stage we had a lot of “oh I can’t draw..” comments to which I kept saying  “wait until we paint them..” and so, once we had sketched we painted our sketches and this was when the students started to enjoy the process because the paint makes the sketches come alive. IMG_3952 Next we looked at text and emphasis. We played around with words and underlining and boxes so that when we sketched we could highlight the important elements of our work. The final thing that we looked at was layout.  You can sketch using columns, a web, from left to right or in sections. Ordinarily you would sketchnote whilst listening to someone speak but as we were at the beginning of our learning journey the students chose a topic and sketchnoted some key words from that topic.  An air of calm and relaxation pervaded the classroom that lesson as students got to work on their sketchnotes, examples of which can be seen below. IMG_3804 IMG_3805 IMG_3806 image (1) image Where would I go with this next in the MFL classroom? Students could record themselves reading out a text and then either listen to their own recording or that of another student and sketchnote the salient vocabulary.  They could also read a text and then sketchnote.  It could also be used as part of a listening exercise. All of my students enjoyed the sketchnoting experience and many of them noted that it is a skill that is transferable across subjects. If you’ve never had a try I suggest you have a go.  You don’t have to use tech you can use a pencil and paper. Mike Rohde’s website is a good place to start.  Have a look at his sketchnotes and his sketchnoting book is also well worth buying. Sylvia Duckworth is also a fan of sketchnoting, she has also blogged about it.

What of me and my sketchnotes? Well, here’s a few of mine that I did during #ililc5 IMG_3730 IMG_3747 IMG_3722 IMG_3730

Revising Revision using Thinglink

Say the word revision to any Y11 class and it is met with a collective groan, it invariably means going over old ground in an attempt to fill the empty vessels that are our students brains full of lovely stuff just in time for exams, at least that’s how the students appear to view it. Highlighters often come into play, just don’t tell fellow teacher blogger Alex Quigley, and a palpable sense of boredom descends upon the classroom that seems to last until May no matter what you do!


I have been trying to get round this over the past few years and to be honest, I haven’t been wholly successful all of the time however one thing that has worked really well recently is using thing link to collate vocabulary and ideas into Thinglink to make an interactive revision image.

This week my Y11 French GCSE students made just such an image on the the theme of New Technology.

Firstly they were asked to create images using ballon stickies + app  in which they had to say how they used the technology pictured. They then put all their single images into the Moldiv app and created a composite image.  They then used this as their base image in ThingLink.  Thinglink allows you to add what they call “hotspots” to the image these hotspots can either be text or media. My students made short videos about technology and its use using either the iPad camera, tellagami, yakit kids or chatterpix.  Once complete they added these to their Thinglink. They also add some key pieces of vocabulary and thus creating an interactive revision image like this example.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 17.30.13 

You will note that this image is not absolutely accurate in terms of language but what it does provide is a point from which I can discuss with the students – images can be edited within the website.

Whilst creating the images the students were focussed looking for suitable and relevant vocabulary and seemed to enjoy the creativity of the task.  From my point of view it was a much more positive experience than “traditional” revision activities which is at least one reason for giving it a go!