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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sneak peak into Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen

So when your son needs a walk and you need a break from the festive family celebrations, what is a Director of Digital Learning and Innovation to do? Well, if like me your in-laws live around the corner from one of Wales' most innovative schools, you take a walk and have a look (even though it may be getting a little dark).

Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen (Oak Community College) is descirbed as a 'super school' and was formed from Ogmore Comprehensive School and Ynysawdre Comprehensive School. I understand that the school uses 1:1 iPads and from my look through the windows, it was clear they were also using large flat screen displays and Apple TV. There are write-on surfaces as shown below and large areas of communal seating.

Other than this sneak peak though, there isn't alot more I can tell you about  Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen - there website is here - - however, I couldn't get much information from this.

With it being just around the corner from my in-laws, I hope in time I will be able to find out more and possibly explore inside sometime.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Love this! Merry Christmas Everyone!

I wish all readers of my blog a very Merry Christmas! I saw this Apple advert on TV tonight and instantly loved it, if you haven't seen it - please enjoy.

PRESS RELEASE - Coding Immersion Day

On Tuesday 17th December, students from the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy took part in a Coding Immersion Day at the Portland Academy’s Osprey Quay Campus. The event was offered to students to refine their programming skills to support their work towards their Computing GCSE. Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at the Academy, Mr. Gary Spracklen, explains how, ‘Computer Science is fast becoming an essential skill for anyone wishing to get ahead in business, media or the creative arts. We are delighted that as an Academy we are developing an all-through approach to Computer Science that ensures that all pupils get the maximum exposure to learn new skills and concepts’.

Speaking about the experience, Year 9 pupil Kyle Creasy said, ‘I found it quite hard at first and needed help when I got stuck. As the day progressed though, I developed in confidence and found out that I can code much better than I ever thought. I am really looking forward to developing my skills as my course continues’.

The Coding Immersion Day was supported by Mr. Jordan Day who is completing his sandwich year at IPACA before returning to Brunel University for the final year of his Computer Science degree. Speaking about the students involved in the day, Mr. Day said, ‘all involved today worked really well to develop and test their ideas. Their determination to succeed was excellent and many of them showed real potential’. He added, ‘it is great to see IPACA leading the way in this field and very exciting to be part of such a forward-thinking establishment’.

Finally, Mr. Spracklen notes, ‘Many of the students who were involved today will be traveling to London in January to represent IPACA at the BETT show (the world’s largest educational technology show)’. He adds, ‘We are passionate about the difference technology is making here at IPACA and the positive impact it is having on learning. We are delighted that we are the most improved local school and look forward to continuing this development in 2014’.

To find out more about how IPACA embeds Digital Technology to support learning please visit -

Friday, 13 December 2013

IPACA FM Continues

Last night we had another great Digital Leaders meeting at Royal Manor Campus.

We broke into two groups, the first group continued there work with Will. Check out their podcast below -

Our second group, continued to explore @IPACA_Praise which is our Twitter platform for sharing praise and rewards. Check out their latest tweets from below -

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

SWGfL Trust - Innovation Panel

It was great to be at SWGfL (South West Grid for Learning) HQ today in Exeter for the first 'SWGfL Trust - Innovation Panel'. The aims of the sessions were outlined by Julia Adamson (Education Manager, SWGfL) -

The panel focused around three session.

Online Safety and SWGfL School Internet Services

Ken Cornish led an activity with a focus on 'risk'. We explored as a group key online safety risks and consider those risks which had the biggest impact and those risk which are most frequent. We also explored how risk is assessed and what resources are required.

Ken shared how success comes from choosing the right resources and managing them successfully.

SWGfL Communications

The group explored with Julia Adamson the current communications SWGfL make with schools and how these could be developed moving forward.

Road Map

In the final session, the SWGfL Road Map was shared.

CFGS with @ben40forte

It was great to visit Ben Forte (@ben40forte) at Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Torbay today. Left really inspired by his use of Google Apps for Education and a custom built in-house PHP platform know as 'CFGS Live'.

A particularly impressive element of CFGS Live is Ben's custom-built library system, this is agreat system all powered by Google Books API.

Check out the site now at -

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Guest Post - PISA Cake

The below post has been written by Chris Wadley (Head of Faculty of Communication)

You might have read or seen the results of the latest PISA test in the press recently, and noticed that England was accused of stagnating (or even going backwards) in the global ranking for schools. If not, it was reported like this:

The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test is an international exam taken by about 50,000 students. Basically, it tests reading, maths or science in rotation, and each country participating has to put forward 5,000 students (or everyone, if the country is smaller) to be assessed. This, coupled with questionnaires about living conditions and a bit of mathematical jiggling of the figures, allows a league table of how well different countries have done in comparison to each other to be drawn up – although the results are controversial, with Singapore and Hong Kong always scoring highly despite not actually being countries!

The IPACA English Department decided it would be an interesting exercise, given that our students have never, ever been asked to participate but get lumped in with the “must do better” results, to sit one of the Reading tests and see how we did.

Year 10 duly sat down in early December, and worked through the questions on a past paper. Many were multiple choice, asking students to confirm if a library would be open at a certain time by consulting the published hours of business or to work out which items a customer had purchased by looking at a receipt. Others asked for short answers, such as what action the reader would take on receiving a letter about charity, or longer responses, like reading a story about a court case in a foreign country and comparing it to what would have happened in the same circumstances in this country.

This was quite a useful exercise, as it not only demonstrated to the students what the international standard was, but also provided good practice for the Language GCSE the students will take next year, increasingly based as it is on reading comprehension. Several youngsters, for instance, thought that a library open from 9am to 8pm would be shut at 6pm just because that time wasn’t explicitly mentioned on the timetable!

The exam took about 90 minutes, and was then marked out of 28 and averaged as a mean of all the students sitting it, before being turned into a score out of 800.

The average score in the actual PISA test this year was about 17 out of 28. Our students averaged 23 out of 28. Not only was this above average, but beat the score for the top 3 entries on the league table, who averaged about 20.

Now, obviously our 124 students didn’t quite match the 5,000 that most countries enter (although Iceland and Greenland couldn’t find that many 15 year olds either), and the averages have been worked out by Mr Wadley who isn’t the world’s authority on the “Rasch model of item response theory” that PISA say they use to weight the questions.

But the evidence would seem to suggest that if Portland broke away from the mainland, declared itself an independent nation, and just entered IPACA for the PISA, we’d score in the 650s for reading and be declared the brainiest nation in the world.

Hey, if Shanghai can get away with it…!

Contributed by -

Chris Wadley
Head of Faculty of Communication
Royal Manor Campus
Weston Road

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Great Digital Leader Meeting - #DLChat

We had a great Digital Leaders meeting here at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy tonight. Read below to see what we got up to -

Group One - This group worked with former IPACA pupil Will to continue exploring the world of online audio recording and made the below podcast:

Group Two - Our second group tonight worked with Mr. Day to create a new device to power our 65" digital display. Previously this screen was being powered by a Macbook Pro with an Apple TV connected. Digital Leaders felt these devices could be much better placed in a classroom to support learning and instead swapped the Apple kit out for a Raspberry Pi.

Group Two are going to pick up on this again next week, but already they have got the display up and running and are exploring how a Makey Makey invention kit can be used to refresh the digital display.

Close - To close the meeting we all headed down to the Sports Hall where we all had a go at flying IPACA's new AR Drone.

Check out the video below of it below in action -

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

IFTTT - Superb Site

Thanks to Alastair Nisbett (@Alastair) who shared this superb website with me.

IFTT (If This Then Than) enables users to create and share "Recipes" that fit the simple statement: "if this then that". The “this” part of a Recipe is called a Trigger. Some example Triggers are “I’m tagged in a photo on Facebook” or “I check in on Foursquare”. The “that” part of a Recipe is called an Action. Some example Actions are “send me a text message” or “create a status message on Facebook”. The combination of a Trigger and an Action from a user's active channels are called Recipes. The service offers Triggers and Actions for 72 channels, such as Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr, and Box. 

In June 2012, the service entered the Internet of Things space by integrating with Belkin WeMo devices, allowing Recipes to interact with the physical world. By combining IFTTT with other services such as Yahoo! Pipes, one can build elaborate systems that enable easier consumption of content from a variety of sources.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Google Drive and Cover Lessons

As always with this time of year, there have been a number of staff stepping in to lessons that they wouldn't normally teach. This 'covering' of sessions can sometimes be 'tricky' on both the part of the teacher who is absent and the teacher taking the session. Increasingly though, at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy, Google Drive is being used to support learning during these sessions.

As an example, see the below Geography lesson shared with me to deliver -

As the use of Google Drive to support cover lessons becomes more common, I have three top tips to help ensure success.

- Share Settings - When setting up files to be used during a cover lesson, always ensure you share it with all staff. The best way to do this is to put the files in the 'Staff Masterdrive', this will allow every member of staff access without having the annoying 'shared with you' email from Google.

When it comes to sharing with students, again the 'Student Masterdrive' is probably the best way to go. This file on Google Drive will allow students view access but not edit rights, so if you need this encourage them to make their own copy of the document.

However you choose to share your files, be sure to make it clear in the plan you leave how to access these files which will support learning in the lesson.

- Collaboration - When leaving a cover lesson on Google Drive it can be easy to think of independent tasks which will keep a class submissive in their approach to learning. Don't be afraid to engage in collaborative tasks though and leave tasks such as discuss with your partner, find someone else in class that shares your views, etc, etc.

Working collaboratively on a single document or presentation through Google Drive can also really enhance learning. Working in this way, with one class, can also mean you can keep an eye on what they are all doing, even if you are not in the same room.

Finally, for collaboration, encourage through your plan for colleagues to get the students working not just 1:1 on devices. Sometimes the best discussion on learning comes from talking things through with a peer. For this reason alone, 1:2 and 1:3 use of devices can sometimes be much more powerful for learning.

- Feedback - Finally, feedback is really important. If you have missed a lesson for any reason, don't wait until next lesson to see how students got on. We all now have great tools at our disposal to continue learning outside the classroom so why not put them to good use to gain feedback and help support future learning opportunities. This could be done through many means, ask throught Twitter, send an email or set up a shared documents for all students to share their thoughts.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

A new video from Leap Motion

I love the Leap Motion devices we have at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy, they are a real innovation in product, design and learning experience.

Check out Leap Motion's latest video below:


Hands have the power to change the world. From artists and DJs pushing the boundaries of creative expression, to small children reaching out to learn and explore, we’ve seen how the Leap Motion Controller has opened a new world of things you can do with your hands.

ICE - Session 2 - Impact on Learning

ICE ran a series of workshops throughout the day, the second of these that I attended was 'Impact on Teaching and Learning' - please see below for a selection of bullet points shared from this session to the wider group -

 - Really good feedback with a long list of things discussed.

- Big impact from instant on nature of Chromebooks - quick access to technology.

- Compatibility - GAFE providing a cross-platform solution - no excuses for lost homework.

- Personalisation of learning - the use of online learning.

ICE - Session 1 - 1:1 Approaches

ICE ran a series of workshops throughout the day, the first of these that I attended was '1:1 Approaches' - please see below for a selection of bullet points shared from this session to the wider group -

- Together we have had alot of experiences of what constitutes '1:1 provision'.

- Different schools of thought around control of devices and filtering (open or locked down).

- Discussion of issues around accessiblity and involving parents in this.

- The importance of BYOD and how GAFE can link a agnostic approach to devices.

ICE - Innovative Cloud Educators

Today I attended the Innovative Cloud Educators event at Samsung's Chertsey office. The event was attended by around 30 people including Headteachers, Directors of ICT, Heads of E-Learning and Network Managers together with Ben Brown (Samsung) & Liz Sproat (Google).

Ian Nairn (C-Learning) welcoming colleagues

A website dedicated to the event can be found at: 

Friday, 15 November 2013

#IPACALearn Chromebook Project - Week 2

In Week 2 of our Chromebook project, we began our lesson by calling one of our end users. Mr. Flowers is a member of IT Support and he gave us some pointers on what we can do to improve our website.

To see our progress with our website, please click here.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Brilliant Code Club Posters!

It's very exciting that a code club is starting up this week at Royal Manor Campus. This is being led by Jordan Day (@JordanAJday) and Matt Delany (@IPACA_Business). I am really impressed with the posters they have put together (with a little help from the master Nigel Coelho).

Looking forward to seeing this club develop!

Guest Post - A Tour of Our Classroom

It's really good to see West Base at Osprey Quay Campus have set up a blog and are posting all about the fabulous learning that is happening at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy.

Please do read the blog at: and be sure to add your comments.

See below for the latest post:

Title - A Tour of Our Classroom

We thought it might be nice to give you a quick tour of our classroom. This video has been taken on a 'normal' school day during Guided reading. Guided reading happens every day for 30 minutes, just before lunch. This video gives you some idea of how the children at Osprey Quay work.

Community Computer Fun!

Really excited to see this starting in West Base at Osprey Quay Campus, 'From Thursday 7th November we will be running a fun weekly opportunity for parents and carers to spend time with their children exploring the technology used to support learning at IPACA. All children attending this event must be accompanied by an adult'.
I am certain who will be leading the learning at these event... the pupils of course!


Today students (2x Year 3, 2 x Year 5, 3 x Year 6, 1 x Year 7 and 1 x Year 8) from the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy attended  'Kidsmeet Dorset' at Downlands Primary School, Blandford.

Kidsmeet provided students with an opportunity to share the resources they use to support learning with their peers from throughout Dorset. As an Academy, we shared our use of 1:1 Chromebooks, how we use Computer Aided Design software throughout the curriculum and our use of 3D Printers.

Further information and a selection of pictures from the event can be found on the Downlands Primary School blog at:

Well done to everyone who went and represented IPACA so well.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Basic Overview - Gmail and Calendars

In tonight's 'Engage, Innovate and Inspire CPD Session' I shared a basic introduction to Gmail and Google Calendars with colleagues at Osprey Quay Campus. Please see below for a video of this session -

Sixth Form Video

As we prepare for our Sixth Form Open Evening next week (Wednesday 20th November, 2013) the below video has been created to promote the unique offer we have for students:

If you would like any more information on the IPACA Sixth Form, please see:

Friday, 8 November 2013

Guest Post - #GAFE Example

I have been really impressed with the way people have been embracing #GAFE across the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy. One great example of this in action, making real difference to teaching and learning is included below.

The below post was written by Head of Science Faculty at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy, Marcus Stevens -

I have been working quite hard over the past couple of days to come up with a nice document using Google forms, for helping me talk to the parents of the pupils in my family group.

How this works -

Essentially, during tutor time tomorrow, I will get the pupils to use their Chromebooks and I will send the form out to them to complete via the sharing facility. The form goes through a check list with some similarities to the paper copies that we have been given for them to write on. However, the difference with Google forms, is in the fact that their responses are sent back to you in a spreadsheet that has quite clever analysis capabilities built in.

Benefits -

Working in this way will allow the students to become much more involved in the process as they will be able to modify the form as they gain further reports in time. They can quite literally see their progress.

The document/form will allow students and the tutor to gather a greater amount of information for controlling their destiny and indeed can be modified by the owner to reflect changes in the pupils age and indeed the experiences that they gain over the time they spend at IPACA (work experience etc).

Year 9 #IPACALearn Literacy Session

Every week I am working with two Year 9 Literacy groups to explore writing for a purpose. This week we started creating our website which can be viewed at: I encourage you to check back regularly to see how this site grows and add a comment to support the pupils work.

In addition to starting the site, both groups also created the below video which I hope you will all enjoy. The video was created using iMovie on OSX.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Guest Post - #NaNoWriMo

The below guest post comes from Rachel Stempien-

You may not know it but NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is sweeping across the country, hey, even the world! NaNoWriMo’s Young Writer’s Program asks its participants to push themselves beyond what they’ve thought possible and write a phenomenal 30,000 words in one month.

As the days turned dark and November crept in upon us, students of Royal Manor Campus turned to their Chromebooks and set their imaginations free.

One week in and we’ve had several massive success stories already! Isabelle Ballard, Year 7, has produced an amazing 7,000 words in 7 days, while Katie Ingram-King in Year 8 has flown past us all, teachers and students alike, having written over 11,000 words already this month!

As more and more pupils flock to participate in NaNoWriMo, the impossible is becoming increasingly possible. It is seeming that yes - together we can do it. We can write a novel in a month...each!

Brilliant Digital Leader Session - #IPACALearn

I really enjoyed my session tonight with our fantastic IPACA Digital Leaders at Royal Manor Campus. Tonight was a re-launch for the group which lost a little momentum last half-term.

Tonight was previewed through Edmodo, as the below shows:

This clearly engaged the Digital Leaders with one pupil producing the below ahead of our meeting. This video was created using which I really encourage you to check out if you haven't tried it yet.

Tonight there was great engagement from all three groups.

The first group, led by former pupil Will, explored thoughts for 'IPACA Radio' and created the below mini-podcast on a Chromebook using -

 The second group, supported by Mr. Day, explored the technology that will support @IPACA_Praise. @IPACA_Praise will be the online home of IPACA's Praise Pod (more information on this to follow shortly).

Finally, group three were making preparations for KidsMeet Dorset, see poster below, whic next week will see them travel with younger IPACA Digital Leaders to Downlands Primary School in Blandford.

More information on KidsMeet will follow shortly.

Molten Metal - Desktop 3D Printer

Aiming to make desktop 3D metal printing a reality, Vader Systems is developing a device which uses molten aluminum in place of plastic.

3D printing has so far been limited to plastics, but regular visitors to Springwise will have recently read about the DIWire, a machine that bends metal wire according to digital designs. Now aiming to make desktop 3D metal printing a reality, Vader Systems is developing a device which uses molten aluminum in place of plastic.

Demonstrating its prototype at the Maker Faire New York 2013, the machine features and small, onboard furnace that heats the metal until it is liquid. The printer then uses magnetism — either natural or electrically induced — to draw the material out onto the printer bed. When a digital file is sent to the Vader, its prints out tiny blobs of metal in the desired location in much the same way as an inkjet printer does with ink on paper. It also works as quickly as consumer inkjets, although as with plastic 3D printers it is able to layer the material additively to create 3D structures out of metal with a maximum build volume of 250mm cubed.

According to reports, the father-and-son team of Vader Systems hopes to continue developing the machine to be able to bring the final product to the market for around USD 10,000 sometime in 2014. Are there other materials that could get the 3D printing treatment?


Spotted by Murray Orange, written by Springwise

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Simply fabulous!

Another great story from as the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York has installed a new CT scanner that is disguised to look like a pirate ship.

While some hospitals such as the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Canada may be investing in technology like the USD 15,000 MEDi to keep kids calm in hospital, others are going down a more analog route. The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York has now installed a new CT scanner that is disguised to look like a pirate ship.

In order to get an accurate scan, it’s necessary for patients undergoing the process to remain still until it’s complete – something that’s difficult for kids, especially if they’re anxious about the procedure. In order to put younger visitors at ease, the entire room is decorated with bright, pirate-themed illustrations.

The CT scanner itself looks like a ship, while the walls include friendly characters such as a monkey pirate and tiger captain. The playful installation is already a hit with kids, according to registered nurse Naoki Hawkins, who says that one child even said: “Hurry up and get out so I can play.”

The CT scanner puts children’s minds at rest while undergoing an unfamiliar procedure, while also helping doctors to more easily get the job done, avoiding repeat scans and exposure to radiation for the child. Are there other ways to provide a distraction for kids in hospitals?


Spotted by Murtaza Patel, written by Springwise

GTA Application - #GTAUK

Tonight I have applied to be part of GTA (Google Teacher Academy) and have been reflecting on IPACA's use of Google Apps for Education. As part of this process, I had to make a one-minute video about 'Classroom Innovation'. To meet the brief, I created the below video which reflects the all-through vision for learning at IPACA. I would love to know what you think of this?

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

#UKLearning Event at RIBA - Final Session

Well it's been a fabulous day here at the RIBA, it's now the final session and I am excited to be hearing about 'New Spaces in Old Places' with Michael Magri from GSS Architecture.

Michael shared the example of Abington Vale Primary - Stirling Campus (read more about this project by clicking here). There is a good video about this project which you can see by clicking here. See below for some great before and after shots -