Archive for the ‘reflective journal 14-15’ category

Writing Research Questions is Hard!

A discussion post from Cathy:

From the beginning of the project I struggled with the research questions & what was being asked. We had a braod outline of what we wanted to look at – We had a class set of iPads we wanted to use well, we wanted to know what the students thought about using these technologies and we wanted to see if tasks we did in class impacted on the students’ use of their own mobile technologies. The practicalilities of what we were doing seemed simpler. . We’d told the students about the project & ethics forms were signed. We used the iPads in class and we met regularly to share what we were doing and what we were learning from our activities.

It has taken most of the year for me to really fully understand what it is about our original questions that don’t work:

educational benefit

Read more ►

Re-connecting with the project

It’s April 2015. How has that happened?

It feels like there has been a mid-project lull. I’ve have mild recollections of being excited at the beginning of the project & how good it was to be getting started early. There have been regular meetings with Yvonne, and it’s been really great that Mo joined the project in the new year too. At each of these meetings we enthuse about what we’re doing, share experiences and thoughts & I have the best of intentions to write these but don’t ever seem to get around to it.

Is this one of the downsides of keeping a reflective journal? I know it is a good research tool, once I start I usaully enjoy writing & I like having the posts to review and be reminded of what was happening. But this year feels like I have spent as much time berating myself for not updating the journal than actually updating the journal. Read more ►

An update and some maths apps

GCSE – still not using the class iPads but we are having discussions about different apps and giving them the choice about whether they want to download them themselves. recommended apps Ss have used are:

photomaths - With this app you can take a photo of an equation (it can’t be words or handwriting)). The app then gives the answer and an explanation of the steps taken to solve it.

This app has been shared by various different people. Sean (a mahts tutor) told Dionne (a GCSE student and a LSA in college) who told the GCSE group about it.

GCSE maths geometry – This app has 14 different categorgies for geometry, with 10 quesitons on each. I like this because the feedback is good – once you have completed the quiz there is a clear expanation of the right answer. This app has been recommended to the GCSE group and I know of at least one student who has paid for the app and says she’s finding it useful.

I found this by ‘playing’. I put GCSE in the app store search, this app came up & I liked it enough to recoemmned it. I like apps that are easy to use and useful. I don’t want anything where the technology is too hard and gets in the way of practicing the maths. Read more ►

Excited ramblings on having an iPad at home.

Having recently  joined this project I have been doing some research on using apps in the classroom.  I have found the JISC blog really useful. I did a search for ‘dyslexia’ and I enjoyed spending some time exploring the resources on the site:

I have a LONG list of articles I’ve read. My feeling is there is a lot of work being done in primary schools. I don’t understand why we ar so far behind. I spoke to a colleague in college and her daughter gets to take home an iPad from school. It is a real share we don’t have that opportunity for our FE students (it would be nice to have it for the tutors!!)

Having access to an iPad at home is great. My daughter has an iPad too so I have learnt a lot from her. I can now do a screenshot! It is so handy to have the iPad, I read it a lot in bed and it is so comfortable. I would never do this with my laptop. I read it a lot at bedtime – should I be doing that??

I didn’t put in a proposal to do my own action research project, but I was nervous about time – I’ve got 125 functional skills students to get through their exams!! Maybe next year I can apply to do my own project.

I’m really keen to take these into the class and I’m very frustrated by them not working. I hope next week that the students can get their writing tasks finished leaving a good 1/2 hour to have a ‘play’ with the iPads. I have two choices, either I will have them for the last 30mins as a reward for finishes, or I may give them first, then say once they’ve finished their writing they can use them again. Ss could also look to use speech to text to help them write their assignment.


*Mo joined our project just before 1/2 term and is exploring using a college iPad at home and the class set with an E3-L2 functional skills group

A surprise reply

Teacher: What would be your perfect app to help you improve your English?

Students ‘Scrabble!’

A surprising (to me) reply to taking the iPads into a E3-L2 English lesson for the first time.

by Mo.

Maths apps and BYOD vs paper dominoes

Three of the students from the E3 maths group have downloaded the Penguin Jump Maths Free Game onto their own phones and I have observed them using this in class, competing with each other, while they wait for me to start class! This is a great app because it covers all the four basic rules, the students can pick what they want to practice and they get to complete a race on the iPad and then keep track of the time it takes to do the game and compete with others in this way.

In one session I gave them an option to practice by playing a paper dominoes game or by playing maths games on the iPads and the whole class chose to use the iPads over the paper activity.



New Year reflections

Maths GCSE: Yvonne’s reflections

I have only used the iPads once in the class. It’s not feeling so ‘easy’ to bledd the use of the class iPads into the sessions as it is with the lower level group. I’m not sure if it’s because they have and use technology themselves already for work, but I don’t know if they are using it to support their maths. It’s not a novelty (which it is to the E3 group). This is an evening class, all students have been at work all day (and work full time) and come straight to class. I had wanted to use them this week, but it was a very intensive lesson so with 30 minutes of the class remaining I finished the class early as they had worked hard and I could tell they had enough – although there was time I felt it wasn’t the appropriate time to bring out the iPads.

Future plans:

  • consider using math specific apps for revision. Currebntly I think this is the only way I can use them, it may change but lets see.

Maths E3

The original plan was to review the apps already on from before Xmas and to choose whether to use these again or to try to find new ones. No wifi so no choice but to use existing ones.

Reflections on the lesson:

  • students are starting to help each other
  • I think the Ss like the iPads because they think they are playing – they are learning – but think it’s great fun
  • one student chose a app that was aimed at GCSE level  and she had a go at it and she got a couple of questions right. The student was happy to get a few right and she said she wants to do GCSE anyway so was happy to choose the app. She used the whole of the free app and then when I explained to get more questions it would cost £1.99 the student said ‘oh, I’ll look at that’. I’ll ask next week if she bought it? She is a new student who only started last week and she is very enthusiastic.
  • general feedback is that they really like the iPads and they have big smiles on their face when they see them!!
  • one student has a laptop, she won’t bring it into college because it’s heavy and bulky and she’s scared someone will steal it. She is now thinking about buying a tablet (after using them in class) because it’s lighter, smaller and easier to carry around. She said if she got one she would bring it into college. It will be interesting to see if this happens

Future plans:

  • Tell the students that there is a limited budget and which free apps do they like best and which do they want to upgrade to the full paid version. This will have to be a class decision – bringing literacy (debate) into the maths class.

Cert Ed/PGCE: Cathy’s reflections

Often during lessons I will say something about how amazing Twitter is, and link this to the lesson. I have also introduced the teacher ed Facebook page to the group and promoted this. During class today a student told me that since I’ve been doing this she has started looking at the Twitter feed on the VLE page and has ‘liked’ the facebook page and has found some interesting articles. Others agreed that these things were about offering opportunities for ss to make their own decisions about whether to use or not.


a catch up meeting

How have you been using the iPads so far?

Tutor 1. “I have taken a single iPad into class to film student presentations. In the past I have audio recorded presentations and used these for students to self and peer review, but having the Ipad and recording the presentations meant I was also able to focus on giving feedback on body langauge too. I set the task up by giving students prompts of specific things they should give peer feedback on. This is linked directly to exam prep and evidence of improvement of a ‘soft skill’. I’ll repeat this task later in year so students will be able to see their progress over the course.”

To do: We discussed the possibility of using the You Tube Capture app on the iPad. The videos can easily be uploaded to the ESOL You Tube account keeping them private. During class, this privacy setting can be chanaged so ss can view the video and a discussion can be had on internet safety, privacy issues and ss given the choice about whether they want the links to remain open so they can share them with others.

Tutor 2. “to be honest I haven’t used the iPads yet. When I looked at them before they weren’t charged up so I didn’t use them. I like the idea of using them to record and linking this to mock exam practice. There is a level 1 criteria on body language so video-ing the students and doing a peer review task would be really useful. I can video them this week and plan for feedback next week.”

Other ideas: We looked at the Show Me app and discussed the possibility of higher level ESOL students creating videos on a particular grammar point. We also talked about Powtoon and whether this was a PC based software or a mobile app.



a to do list

It was really useful to get together with an ESOL colleague to discuss using the class iPads and we were both reminded of how important collaboration is – not only to get ideas but mainly as a motivation to try new things with the technology.

From the meeting I came away with a short to do list:

1. review access to the iPads. There are several people using the iPads now and it’s important people know they can plan to use them so we need to ensure the system for this is working OK

2. Neither of us had ever asked the students to access the VLE on their own devices or on the class iPad. We thought having them accessing the VLE on the iPads initally may encourage them to think about accessing it on their own devices, so we set up a VLE link button on the Home Screen. We now need to think about how we can set up At Home tasks to encourage using the college VLE outside class.

3. Folders – as more and more apps were being added the Home Screen were becoming crowded. We reviewed how to make folders & we need to let people know that they can create folders at any time, but really one person needs to have an overview of all the devices to keep them ‘tidy’

4. Overcoming Tech issues: sometimes when the wifi doesn’t connect the first time if you use the ‘forget this network’ and then reconnect it then works. Students need support in getting onto the wifi initally.


BYOD – ss sharing photos to practice describing people

Here is a short reflection from an ESOL tutor:

“All the E2 ESOL students have their own phones & in class they predominently use them as dictionaries. I had a lesson on describing people & I wanted to personalise the lesson by asking students to describe photos of people they knew – so asked them to take out their phone and look at the pictures on their phone. Many of the students looked worried when asked to do this and it took about five minutes of cajoling and encouraging for everyone to take part.

Once they did take part they really enjoyed the task & I had to work hard to stop the task and bring everyone back together!

Why the inital nervousness? Was it because they thought they would not be allowed to use their phone? That it wasn’t a useful classroom activity? Was it because they had reservations about sharing private photos in the class?

I’m not sure what the answer is, but once on task they all really enjoyed it and we repeated the activity at the end of the class for a chance to practice describing people again using the langauge we’d covered in the lesson.”