Digital AfL – DHSB Teachmeet 4

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Last year I wrote a post about my first ever Teachmeet: #TMDEVON. This was an incredible event and a remark from Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) stood out. He told me that I had to jump in at the deep end and challenged me to present at my next Teachmeet.

So here I am, writing about my presentation at DHSB Teachmeet 4!

A passion I have developed this year is all to do with digital technology within education and how this can be used to add to the learner’s experience, rather than just for the sake of it. At my school our GCSE and A level pupils are lucky enough to have access to 1-1 technology in the form of their very own Chromebooks. This has enabled me to use my Year 10s and 12s very much as guinea pigs for all manner of fascinating digital ideas I stumble across!

I am going to share 3 of my favourite ideas for Digital Assessment for Learning:

  1. Using Google Forms as a plenary tool
  2. Diagnostic Questions
  3. Flipped Learning with Edpuzzle


Picture-1Using Google Forms as a Plenary Tool

At the end of every topic I teach my year 10s they complete a Google Form. They RAG their confidence (Red, Amber, Green), they rate their effort (1-3), they jot down any key notes/facts/formulae that they need to remember and finally they record anything they are still unsure of or would like me to recap.

I then use this information in 2 ways:

  1. At the end of the lesson I can glance through the response sheet and quickly check who has grasped the topic and who is still unsure. I can also see whether there is anything that jumps out that I can try to recap next lesson or base my starter around. At this stage I also create a pie-chart of their confidence and keep these on a new sheet as a visual guide to which topics I may need to spend more revision time on as a whole class before exams.
  2. Before end of term exams I send my pupils the usual topic lists and revision questions, but I can also send them a copy of their responses to each topic we have covered. They can then use this as a revision guide, seeing which topics they may need to allocate more time to, but also the hints they left themselves at the end of each topic.

Overall I have found my pupils really engage with this form of AfL. After the first term, when they got their records back they could see its real benefit and now they are really thinking about the notes they leave themselves.

Click here for screenshots of this tool. 

dq-logoDiagnostic Questions

This is a website-based Quiz Creator ( with a difference. The questions all have multiple-choice answers and apart from the correct answer, the rest are all based around common misconceptions. The pupils are required to give a reason for their answer so it encourages them to think about their reasoning, but also allows you to understand their thought-processes.

There is a huge range of pre-written questions, covering a variety of subjects, but the majority are maths-based. Some questions have already been grouped into certain “collections”, for example there is a GCSE Higher collection which has several different quizzes, all designed at testing the basic skills required.

I often set these as starters or topic-specific quizzes at the end of a lesson. The pupils can answer from their laptops, tablets or phones and you can view their answers LIVE on your screen.

The results analysis available is incredible. You can see all your pupils’ responses, a breakdown for each question, but you can also hover over answers to see the reasoning they gave.

Click here for screenshots of this tool


edpuzzleFlipped Learning with EdPuzzle

This is my newest find and I love it! You can choose a variety of videos from multiple platforms, insert questions, send them out to your classes and get a detailed analysis in return (

I have used this in 2 main ways so far:

  1. As a flipped learning tool: I choose a video on a topic that I am about to teach and then edit the video by adding questions along the way. You can insert multiple choice questions or longer answer questions at specific points during the video. (You could also add voice-over if you wish) The pupils then watch the video, take notes and answer the questions, all for homework, before I have even taught them the topic. I can then see an online summary of their responses and can use it as a gauge as to what aspects I need to cover in more detail with them.
  2. As homework support: With year 10 I often provide them with a link to worked examples on EdPuzzle so they can look through these if they are stuck.

The results analysis for this is a bit extreme: You can even see how many times they have viewed each part of the video and can prevent them from skipping if you wish!


The Teachmeet was the easy bit! 7 minutes goes incredibly quickly, but I managed to rattle through these 3 topics. My slides can be found here if you’d like to see some screenshots from the above tools.

Let me know if you try any of these out!



Of being a Tutor… Dance-offs, Sharpies and Monkeyfeet

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“Good morning Beautiful Bs”

This is how I greet my tutor group in the morning. My new, shiny, eager-faced year 7 tutees.

This year is my first year as a tutor and their first year at secondary school. Let’s make it one to remember.

Now I’ve just deleted a whole paragraph of this blog where I ramble on about the difference between being a subject teacher and a tutor. Anyone can tell there is a difference, I do not need to spell it out, but the difference has really hit me square in the face this year as I contemplate the influence I can have on my tutees throughout their years at this school.

It is hard to talk about tutoring without sounding a little egotistical, but we must be aware of the impact we can have on children as they are growing up and deciding who they are going to be. I was discussing my upcoming role as tutor with colleagues before the summer and the most important question I left with was “What are the most important qualities you wish to pass on to your tutees?” I thought about this long and hard over the summer and I think about this every time I talk to my tutor group.

I want them to feel looked after, safe and important. I want them to feel like they matter and that someone is looking out for them. I want them to be strong, independent and confident, without being cocky, arrogant and selfish. I want them to have fun, enjoy education and love to learn, but be able to be serious and hard-working when needed. The list goes on…

I have decided to start on a simple one: I want them to feel like they matter…

3 weeks in to term and I truly believe that each of my tutees knows I would do anything for them and that I want the best for them, both academically and pastorally. Importantly they also know of my high expectations and I regularly feed back to them what I have heard about their behaviour and attitude from other teachers. They beam when I am proud of them and they look sheepish when they know they have disappointed me.

Now, having developed that rapport with them I feel that instilling in them a sense of my values will come quite naturally. Now I know it may seem naive, but I do know it is not always going to be the case and they will test me!

But having that rapport from the offset seems a jolly good place to start. This has not only led to my tutees having FUN in tutor sessions and feeling confident in the class, but also given me a Wheatabix boost! Seeing my tutor group every morning makes me look forward to the start of the day. We have some great conversations before school and we all start the day smiling.

Long may it last!

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In case you were wondering…

  • Dance-offs: On Thursdays we have Tutor Take-over and last week they decided to hold a dance-off to “Whip it / Nae Nae”, never before has Thursday 9am been so energetic!
  • Sharpies: They all think I’m crazy and have a definite addiction to Stationery…
  • Monkeyfeet: The funniest thing about our form photo was the 2 girls’ hands on the floor in front of me looking like they were attached to my legs, resulting in monkeyfeet…

Magic Moments – “Be present in all things, and thankful for all things”

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This is a lovely little idea I came across on Twitter at the end of the summer term. I thought what better a way to ensure a positive start to the new school year! The idea is simple: a beautiful way to record all those magical moments that remind you why teaching can be the most rewarding job on earth. When I experience one of those heart-warming moments I jot it down on a slip of paper and pop it in the jar. All these magic moments are then kept for a rainy day, I can look back on them after a particularly challenging day or when I need a reminder of the good moments!

What makes a Magic Moment is down to the individual and they can be very personal. My moments are purely just for me, however I will share an example of the first Magic Moment which made it into my jar.

Last year one of my year 8 pupils was constantly fighting a battle with severe maths anxiety, he had to leave some lessons  because it built up so much and he could never write anything down in a test. I used to dread collecting in the papers and seeing nothing but his name written at the top. On one particular test he had attempted several questions, but then scribbled all his answers out. This was heart-wrenching and I tried everything to help him battle with this, we worked on numerous strategies throughout the year. My Magic Moment came when I collected in their End of Year Exam papers. I rifled through the stack looking for his paper. I was holding my breath as I turned the first page. He had answered every single question on the paper. I was so proud of him. When I saw him the next day in the corridor I could not tell him his score, but pulled him to one side to congratulate him on answering every question and his smile stretched from ear to ear. That was my first Magic Moment.

Mrs K’s Learning Expectations

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Mrs Ks Learning Expectations

As the beginning of term approaches I turn to thinking about the biggest change I would like to make next year.

This was a focus of a #mathschat towards the end of last term and I found it very hard to narrow this down to just one change. Now I’m not saying I think I’m a lousy teacher, but once you start reflecting on your practice it is very easy to start changing aspects of what you are doing. I have learnt so much over this past year, from personal experience, talks with colleagues, observations, training events and also pedagogy books I have read. (Shout out to 100 Ideas by @teachertoolkit and Of Teaching, Learning and Sherbet Lemons by @musicmind). I have learnt to reflect on my teaching with a critical eye and am excited about some of the changes I am about to make as I start my second year of teaching.

I could not possibly list all the things I am about to change in my teaching repertoire, including classroom routines, structure, assessment and feedback, language used and subject content delivery. However the main element I wish to attempt to change is the Learning Expectations of my pupils. I strongly believe that if the pupils are in the right mindset during a lesson and have a positive learning attitude then most of the other elements fall into place.

I have therefore created a poster on Mrs K’s Learning Expectations. I will place this poster in my classroom and on my door and discuss it with pupils in depth at the start of the year. If a pupil struggles with these expectations throughout the year I will send them out to look at the poster and reconsider their learning attitude. For some it is a behaviour management tool, for others it is a gentle encouragement to have faith in themselves.

The 6 main Learning Expectations I have chosen are: Respect, Growth Mindset, Self-Belief, Ambition, Perseverance and Positivity. I believe that if pupils actively think about these 6 qualities and work on them in lessons then they can unlock all their learning potential.

Have a go and see what you think!

Link to TES:

Thank you to @mathsjem for giving me the idea of using piktochart.


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Thanks to @rlj1981 from for this Summery idea! The long summer holidays can seem like an eternity from this side of the break-up and I am always full of ideas and plans which get lost in the whirlwind of time once the holidays actually start and are over in the blink of an eye! So this seems like a perfect way of seeing what I can actually achieve during this fantastic time of year 🙂

The reason I am posting this on my blog is because I think it fits in brilliantly with #teacher5aday and really promotes teacher wellbeing and a focus on the work/life balance. Lets see how many of these I get done this Summer! Hopefully at the end of the holidays I’ll be able to reflect positively on the amount of things I have achieved which I feel are important to me.

Here goes, in no particular order (but my Psychology hat tells me this must say something about my priorities!):

1. Climbing: I have recently increased my rock-climbing training in preparation for a trip out to Sardinia in August this year. I really want to be at my peak for this trip so I can get the most out of it, and possibly beat the husband!

2. Running: This year I have actually stuck to my New Year’s Resolution of increasing my exercise habits. I have however hit a wall with my running and am really struggling at the moment. This summer I hope to break through this wall and hit my first 5k.

3. Quality time with the Husband: This is of key importance to me and this year we are fortunate to have 3 or 4 weeks holiday together. We have been very busy of late and keep passing at the door so will definitely make the most of it.

4. School Work #1: Preparation for the new Psychology specification – I am mostly there, but want to read through the sections I am teaching first to make sure I can really focus on the teaching, rather than trying to understand the content come September

5. School Work #2: How to teach Year 10! I will be teaching Year 10 for the first time in September and want to keep up to date with the new spec and familiarise myself with the topics.

6. School Work #3: Sift through my hundreds of new pedagogy ideas and choose the ones I will implement in September. I have an overwhelming urge to try every one of them all at once, but feel this may backfire terribly!

7. Read (and finish) a novel: So many half-attempted books lie discarded around my home. I need to source some great recommendations and get lost in a few holiday reads – it’s been too long!

8. Attack the garden before it attacks me! Currently the brambles are taking over and the garden has been reduced to a square foot… This must change!

9. Visit as many distant friends as possible. We have recently relocated away from most of our friends so holidays are a great opportunity to make longer trips to see those further afield. This will give me such a boost before September!

10. Finally manage to cook light summery meals that also fill the husband! I have not perfected this balance yet, but surely it must be my time to get it right.

I challenge you now to think of your own #Summer10 and accomplish as many of these as possible before September. Make the holiday really count by prioritising what is most important to you #teacher5aday


Mrs K’s Lightbulb Checklist: The Hook

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Download Mrs K’s Lightbulb Checklist here:

The first element of the lesson that hits the pupils is “The Hook” and it really should whack them round the face! This is your chance to excite them, engage them, inspire their curiosity. I truly believe if you have a great hook then as long as you follow it up with a high quality lesson then engagement will be high and students will WANT to learn.

Now I have not been teaching long, but over the past year I have tried to use a variety of different hooks and have been inspired by observing colleagues and through discussions with teachers all over the world. There is no end to the options that surround “The hook”, but the more creative the better! This is the time to unleash your inner child and go for the “Awe & Wonder” moment as demonstrated by @ICTevangelist using a remote control drone at a recent Teach Meet…

I would like to share with you some of “The Hooks” I have used this year, but hopefully this will inspire you to think up more radical ways to spark your own Awe & Wonder moments right from the get go.

  1. Videos

There is something about a video clip which instantly draws a pupil in. Have you ever seen a child stare at the TV, completely engaged, even during an advert? There is something mesmerising about the interaction of visual, animation and audio that hooks them immediately.

I love starting lessons with a video clip for a number of reasons. Firstly because of the immediate engagement as mentioned above, but secondly because as soon as it starts playing a quiet descends on the room. This allows the pupils to focus on the lesson content as soon as they walk through the door and ensures absolute attention without me having to open my mouth. Third it often sparks a debate. Recently I played a Coca-cola advert as the pupils walked into the classroom. In the advert people are filmed setting up miniature newsagent stalls on a high street and buying mini coca-cola cans from mini vending machines (knee height). As the advert finished pupils immediately started discussing their thoughts and guessing what this could have to do with the lesson. I asked them what they thought and their answers were fantastically creative and varied, ranging from topics such as marketing techniques and branding to enlargement and ratio. We then went on to compare the surface area and volume of the 2 different sized coke cans using real prices to determine which was a better deal for the companies and for the customers. The point is that even though they came up with many options that I was not about to teach, they were at that moment without even realising it answering their own questions about how maths relates to the “wider world”! That for me is incredible to see and really helps them understand the benefit of everything we do.

A brief selection of other videos I have used include:

Scene from Frozen – drawing happiness/time graphs

Batman Car Chase – speed graphs

Evian baby advert – reflection

Lego movie theme tune – 3D Isometric drawing

Rotating mask illusion – rotation

  1. A BIG question

This is an idea which has stemmed from SOLE lessons (self-organised learning environments). These follow a set-up where you ask students a big question (requiring research and many smaller questions to approach a solution) and allow them to organise their own research / problem solving throughout the rest of the lesson to come up with an answer.

I often use the first element of this approach by writing a question up on the board for them to see as soon as they come in. This works best if it is slightly controversial, funny or slightly vague: Gets them to question it immediately.

This is then best followed by sparking a debate amongst the pupils, to increase engagement and a WANT to find out the answer! At this stage you can even get a round of “Argument Tennis” going where they have to stand on opposite sides of the room depending on their viewpoint and argue their case each time they catch the ball.

The lesson then follows in a variety of ways. I either make frequent reference to the big question throughout the lesson, maintaining their interest by answering it a little at a time, but not completely until near the end. In a different instance I may refer back to the question at times, reminding the students of its’ existence, keeping them interested, but not explicitly looking at it during every element of the lesson. I think my favourite way of using this is to hold a bit of a debate at the beginning of the lesson and then ignore the question until during the lesson one of the pupils realises we can now answer it (because of new learnt content). This worked well when learning how to find the area of a circle. I initially asked them which pizza was a better deal: one 12” pizza for £7.99 or two 2 8” pizzas for the same price. The majority of a class answered with two 8” pizzas and came up with their reasoning behind their answer. We then went on to learn about area and I did not mention the pizzas again. That was until half an hour later when one pupil piped up with “Miss, I’ve changed my mind, I’ve just worked it out and the 12” is much better value!”

This for me shows the true benefits of using a “Hook” such as this question. Firstly the pupils were engaged and actively debating maths from the start of the lesson, secondly the question stuck in their mind and they were intrinsically curious about finding out the answer. That is the beauty of maths. The more you learn, the more you can unlock.

  1. A statement

As the pupils enter the classroom I tell them a statement. Again this works if it is slightly controversial, seems out of character, appears incorrect or relates to popular culture. I do not reply to them, I just repeat the statement to the next pupil through the door. They then start to talk to each other about it as I am not responding, sparking debate.

This often works better than a question as they can immediately disagree. My pupils love to disagree and I love a good maths debate.

  1. Miscellaneous Excitement!

Let your imagination take over! Props work fantastically. Just a giant foam dice in the middle of the room immediately sparks interest. Or a can of baked beans on every table… Why not have a picture up on the board with a “Spot the Maths” question above it. Points for the most imaginative source of maths in the picture!

To sum it up, I love a good hook! These are some of the moments I really enjoy as a teacher. Creating that buzz of excitement as the pupils enter their room, watering that intrinsic thirst for knowledge. I can spend far too long dreaming up great ways to introduce a new topic, but I honestly believe it is worth it. A great hook can make a lesson.
Please comment below with any fantastic “hooks” you have used or tweet me @mrskidson14, there are so many imaginative options out there!

Download Mrs K’s Lightbulb Checklist here:

10 reasons why It’s a great time to be a maths teacher

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It is great to read something really positive about teaching, especially about teaching maths. I love it!

Solve My Maths

It’s the end of the school year, I feel it’s time someone reminded us all of why teaching can be great.

1. Rightly or wrongly (see: wrongly), getting a student a C or above in maths has a much greater impact on their life than (almost) any other subject. What a fantastic enabler than is. You can directly alter (massively) the life path of a student for the better.

2. The support network for teaching maths is greater than in any other subject. There are dozens of maths conferences led by teachers sharing great practice. The internet is a hive of activity surrounding ways to teach maths.

3. Great resources have never been easier to come by. With sites like resourceaholic, Don Steward and this one, free resources are all around you. Not just any resource, but high quality resources recommended by maths teachers across the country.

4. Planning is easier…

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