Social Icons

Monday, 31 March 2014

Samsung XE503C12 Chromebook - #GAFE

Ok, so i’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on the new Samsung XE503C12 Chromebook for a couple of days. I don’t really do reviews, so if you are after a full breakdown I would encourage you to check out another site. I particularly recommend Guy Shearer's (@GuyShearer) thoughts on this device at - (very similar to mine).

What I can tell you though is my initial thoughts and in time (probably tomorrow) those of my Digital Leaders. Vine videos from my Digital Leaders will follow.

For me, I instantly like the device, i’ll be honest and say I wasn’t expecting to but I actually love it more with every hold. The thought of a laptop with a faux leather exterior and with stitching down the side seems bizarre but works. The device feels strong and more durable than any other Chromebook I have ever held (Pixel excluded). The feel of the device makes you feel like you are holding something special and I can see this being a real pull for schools.

The device feels reasonably light although it is heavier than the iconic Samsung Chromebook we use here at IPACA. What you add in weight you gain in robustness though, the base board is metal finished which continues the executive feel to the device. I can see teachers happily accepting this device as their ‘teacher device’ as more services become cloud hosted.

On the sides you have a Micro SD slot (a move away from pure SD input) and two USB ports. The device support HDMI output and there is a headphone jack and charger connection positioned for easy access.

On the downside, the charger connection is still incredibly small. This doesn’t make it easy for young children to charge independently and like the iconic Samsung Chromebook will mean some breakages will occur. Only benefit with this will be that the same style will make sourcing replacements easy and potentially cheaper.

More to follow on this.

Samsung Digital Classroom Launch with @matthancockmp

I had the pleasure of attending the Samsung Digital Classroom launch today at the Royal Albert Hall. The event which attracted an array of high-profile guests was a great showcase of the power of technology to support learning.

Samsung has been working with the Royal Albert Hall since 2012 as it’s official screen supplier and became it’s education technology partner in 2014. The relationship is clearly a match made in Edtech heaven as was so well demonstrated at today’s launch. The new Samsung Digital Classroom in the Hall will host a series of unique cross-curricula music programmes for children aged 7 to 14. Children will be invited to use Samsung’s devices to learn maths and science through music covering subjects such as fractions, probability, wavelengths and frequencies.

What struck me about the whole experience today was the sheer commitment of all involved to embrace technology to support learning. The team at Samsung, the Royal Albert Hall and collection of guests (including a notable minister) clearly ‘got it’ when recongising the importance this pedagogy plays in supporting 21st century learning. This was supported by Minster for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock who attended the launch. He shared the importance technology plays in equipping our young learners for a 21st economy and renewed the Governments commitment to get all pupils coding.

I look forward to hearing learning experiences shared globally from the Samsung Digital Classroom at the Royal Albert Hall (they definitely need their own social media feeds) and hope one day I can take a class up to visit this excellent resource.


Read more about the event by click here.

#GAFE in Music (@IPACA_Music)

Martyn Mullender (@IPACA_Music), Head of Music here at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy has been having some fun incorporating Google Forms into his teaching of Music. He has had some great results as the below shows -

Martyn says, "This is a first attempt, since finishing it last night I've decided to experiment with using using sound cloud as I then don't have to covert the audio into video each time as recommended by Google. I think it has enormous potential and I've also experimented with getting students to watch a video of an orchestra playing live on YouTube and answering questions via a form as our students don't get the chance to see and hear a live symphony orchestra".

When working on a similar form with Year 8 students Martyn asks students to comment on the following questions -

What did you enjoy about this homework?

"I liked concentrating on the music and listening to all the different kinds of instruments and noticing them."

"I found it very interesting. I did enjoy doing this homework because it is different to all the different types of homework that we get set."

"Actually listening to the pieces and answering questions instead of just been given questions about music in general and having to answer them."

"I liked this homework because you were able to concentrate on a piece of music and analyse thoroughly. It was also really listen to the pieces in depth."

"It was fun to do because it was interactive with YouTube."

Children benefit from the right sort of screen time

The below is no surprise, but it's always good to remind ourselves -

It is an issue many parents will have grappled with. Is the peace you get by handing your child a touchscreen or sitting them in front of the TV worth the undefined damage you worry it's causing? The subject resurfaced last week with one study claiming that screen time was linked with increased BMI and another finding it adversely affected children's emotional well-being.
The headlines may have struck a chord, but each study faced different criticisms. So just what can we say about screen time?
First of all, lumping all screens into one category is not helpful. "Screen time is a really enticing measure because it's simple – it's usually described as the number of hours a day using screen-based technology. But it's completely meaningless," says Pete Etchells at Bath Spa University, UK, who studies the effects of video games on behaviour. "It doesn't say anything about what you're using that time for."
Thanks to Jon Smith for sharing the above with me.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Impact GCSE Revision

This session specifically designed for KS4 teachers showcased some creative, innovative and very practical ways of using ICT to support GCSE revision.The session included showcasing how webcasting, podcasting and social media streams can support the final push.

A highlight of the session was having a Google Hangout with Mike Tidd (Head of Geography at Gillingham School, Dorset). Check out Mike on Twitter @TiddTalk or via his blog at

Global Connection CPD

Internet connectivity in educational settings provides opportunities for interactive exchange and collaboration between students living on other sides of the planet! These synchronous, real-time discussions using free software like “Skype” can tangibly expand the walls of the traditional classroom and engage students to write, share, and communicate with an authentic audience inaccessible just a few years ago. On Tuesday 25th March, 2014 we explored just this at an IPACA Engage, Innovate and Inspire CPD session. We were very lucky to be joined on Skype for the session by  Jon Tait, better known as @TeamTait on Twitter who is Assistant Headteacher at the Wooodham Academy, Durham.

Jon shared with us how to build meaningful connections between your classroom and the world! See below for this session in full -

A copy of Sharon Chapman's notes from this session can be accessed by clicking here.

Golden Age of Invention

Young learners at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community have been studying 'Inventions that changed the world'. The knowledge harvest (carried out at the start of a topic) highlighted that the children wanted to focus on the earliest inventions. With this in mind,  the learners researched the Golden Age of Invention commonly known as the Dark Ages. The learners focused on the scholars from that era.
The below pictures show the learners hard at work-

Learners worked in four groups and were asked to create a presentation on a particular scholar. Children learnt to cope with set backs, learnt to delegate roles between them and were able to take control of their own learning. The learners were fully engaged and developed successful presentations using an online program called Prezi. The pictures below show the learners presenting their work -

First Mystery Skype Call


Year 6 students from the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy tried their first ever mystery Skype call today with Mr Spracklen and Mrs Taylor. The picture above shows the students in Iowa crowded around the laptop to talk to us here on Portland.

The below report was written by two IPACA students -
It was exciting setting it all up and waiting for the call to come through. Mr Spracklen explained that this was the first time we had tried this at IPACA.
It proved to be quite tricky as we had to identify where our mystery callers were in the world.
The questions could only be answered with yes or no.
We found out they were in America, not in Illinois but it does have a letter I in the name of the state. Also, we found they were based near Chicago (no more than 5 hours away).
We also found they were in Iowa.
What a fun afternoon.
Thanks Mr Spracklen!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Brilliant Day

Last Thursday was a great day as I traveled throughout IPACA delivering some really fun lessons. My day began at Southwell Campus where I worked with Year 5 to introduce them to the brilliant iPad App 'Aurasma'.

The Year 5 class are working with Portland Community Action to create a 'memory trail' around Portland, they will capture the voices of the 'older generation' for this project which promises to be very exciting!

Next up was Underhill Campus where I took Year 6 for the afternoon as part of their topic 'Control Technology'. We explored how an AR Drone works and even had a chance to fly the Quad Copter in the Campus Hall -

 While at Underhill Campus, Year 6 also had a go at the 'Hour of Code'. I was really impressed with the classes efforts with this website and look forward to hearing how they get on with the site's more trickier challenges!

I finished the day at Osprey Quay Campus for Community Computer Club which this week focused on the 3D Design and Printing -

Saturday, 8 March 2014

New Zealand Skype Call

Young learners at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy have been very busy this term learning about food as part of their work within the International Primary Curriculum.

In East Base, one of the questions that came up at the beginning of the topic was about apples and how they are grown. To answer this question we had a Skype call with a couple in New Zealand who have an orchard. The children thought about what they wanted to find out and wrote down their questions. The Skype call was very successful and a lot of the children’s questions were answered.

Some of the children wanted to comment on what they thought.

“I loved the phone call” - Nathan
“I learnt a lot about apples” - Emily
“It was fun” - Max
A huge thank you to Richard for staying up late to speak to us!

Friday, 7 March 2014

What is wise for parents in this new digital age?

Just seen this from Digital Jersey, really powerful thoughts from IPACA Patron Professor. Stephen Heppell (@StephenHeppell) -


A short edit from the recent Stephen Heppell seminar on what is wise for parents in this new digital age.

@melissaheppell #TMDorset Presentation

At last night's TeachMeet Dorset, Melissa Heppell's (@melissaheppell) virtual presentation was a huge success. This presentation is available to watch again below along with some Twitter comments from the event. To find out more about West Base's work at the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy, visit their Blog now at


Last night saw #TMDorset hit a new level as we saw around 25-30 teachers join together at the Badger Brewery in Blandford. TeachMeet Dorset is a free CPD event run for teachers by teachers. It was great last night to see so many delegates take part from teachers to TAs, SLT members to LA authority advisers and even a Principal or two!

I was really proud to be part of the team pulling this event together with Alan Frame (@HeadDownEyesUp) and Mike Tidd (@tiddtalk). I loved all the linked up thinking and teamwork that went around this to make it such a positive event. 

My highlights from the event can be summed up in the below Tweets. Find more TeachMeet Dorset tweets by searching '#TMDorset' on Twitter.

@ben40forte visits IPACA

On Thursday 6th March it was my pleasure to welcome Ben Forte (@ben40forte) and his colleague from Churston Grammar School to the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy. I admire and respect Ben's work and a couple of months ago it was a pleasure to make my own visit to Churston Grammar School. With this in mind, it was great to read his blog post about IPACA last night which I include below for future reference -

IPACA - Chromebooks 1:1

Original blog post available at - 

We had a great day out! Greeted at the Osprey Quay Campus by "Where's Wally & Harry Potter" (World Book Day)

We then proceeded to the first classroom and took off our shoes :)

Flexible spaces is key at the Osprey Quay Campus. The large rooms allow for groups to be completely separated from each other to work in smaller groups on specific topics. I really like the whiteboard desks allowing students to work together on ideas without wasting lots of paper.

Technology is very widely used. It is embedded yet subtle. Digital Signage linked to Apple TVs with class Flickr feeds showing all the latest student work, was a feature which I loved. The students were free to choose technology which they liked to use be it iPad, Chromebook or others.

We then got in the car and moved onto the Royal Manor Campus to get down to proper Chromebook business.

We had a chance to speak to all different people from helpful IT Technical staff, teachers, SLT, students and even a governor. It is very clear that everyone is very happy with the choice of technology to have gone for in the 1:1 trial.

The biggest benefit that kept coming back from students was how much of an impact is achieved by having the device at home for homework. Some even said they feel less need for Facebook type pressures as they can all communicate using school email so easily.

Homework was even being done during school lunch in the canteen!

Chromebooks were not being used for the sake of using them. Some lessons were using them some weren't. Some students were using them some weren't. Google Forms, Shared Presentations, Photographing Technology projects and online research were just a handful of things that we saw in a few classrooms.

I look forward to our future with introducing more Chromebooks. Thanks Gary Spracklen (@Nelkcarps) and everyone at IPACA for showing us around your school! Keep up the good work! #IPACALearn!!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

#DLChat - Great DL Session

On Thursday we had another fabulous Digital Leader meeting combined with the Community Computer Club at Osprey Quay Campus. At the meeting we saw more examples of great cross-phase learning with Year 2, 3, 8, 9 and 11 pupils working together to create the IPACA  Online Radio Show. Click here to listen.

In addition to this, we also had a go with the AR Drone.

Take a look at the below video of it in action -