Friday, 14 November 2014

Rapid Progress For *Boys' Writing (*Girls Too)

There are many challenges facing educators and students today. One of these is the increase in the use and availability of digital technology. In some quarters, there have been voices of concern that the widespread prevalence of digital technology is affecting students’ social and communication development and limiting interest and motivation for learning.

At Mr Andrews Online we take the opposite view. We have developed this approach over 12 months with classroom trials in a large number and wide range of schools, teacher consultation and feedback have led to this unique and highly effective approach. We harness the incredible power of technology these lesson plans teach students to write for a range of purposes and audiences, and additionally they make the students want to write and enjoy writing.

Rapid Progress For *Boys' Writing (*Girls' Too) is available for just £50

This book contains:

  • A clear and structured approach to teaching all genres of writing using popular games as a stimulus.
  • Easy to follow lesson plans which raise standards, secure rapid progress and make a sustained impact on all young writers, even those who are most reluctant.
  • Note taking sheets, vocabulary ideas, sentence starters, writing prompts and over 80 ideas for writing activities.
  • Typed and hand written examples from writing projects we have delivered in classroom in schools across the UK
  • A transferable cross-curricular approach demonstrating a clear, accessible progression covering: Talk for writing/ oral rehearsal, planning, drafting, feedback/collaboration and digital publishing.

Inspiring outstanding writing using iPad/Android tablet games, this revolutionary approach to teaching writing uses spectacular digital games and tablet technology to engage all young learners with a love of writing. Following the completion of an activity or challenge in a chosen game, students begin a clearly structured sequence of activities to develop language, expression and build sequenced ideas in preparation for writing. Writing outcomes can take the form of handwritten work or be presented as a digital book. All key genres of writing are covered.

Chris Williams presenting at the 'How to be Outstanding in the New Curriculum" conference for the National Literacy Trust
Working this way, students develop a passion for writing and sharing their ideas, standards improve both in print and with the spoken word, and a lifelong engagement with the importance of written and oral communication is started.

Classroom Projects: The writing approach has been developed in a large number and range of schools across the UK
This unrivalled product provides a clear background and explanation of the approach for educators, it also gives structured and sequenced directions allowing class teachers and to share the approach with their students. The step-by-step explanation ensures maximum impact of this dynamic, innovative and highly effective approach to teaching students to write for a range of purposes and audiences.

Resources from one of the Writing Modules
A small number of expertly chosen apps and a tablet computer (iPad or Android) are required to support this groundbreaking process, which was first presented at the UK National Literacy Trust conference “How to be Outstanding” in October 2013.

“I have a number of reluctant writers and have been looking for ways to engage them for some time. This product was just what I needed. The immersion in the games gave the pupils real knowledge for the writing tasks. They were hooked into writing straight away. It was clear that there was an increase in motivation, application and enjoyment resulting in higher standards of writing.”

Petra Rafferty, Senior Teacher, Highlands Primary School, Hull, UK

“I am so thankful to have come across the work of David and Chris. Their work inspired me and provided me with opportunity to engage and motivate the struggling writers in my class. When I reached out to David and Chris I was pleasantly surprised at the support and guidance they provided me. Their leadership around the integration of technology, student engagement and classroom innovation has benefited my practice and the achievement of my students. I consider their counsel to be invaluable and I am certain you would as well.”

Rolland Chidiac, Elementary School Teacher, Ontario, Canada

“I continue to be amazed at the creative and innovative uses of classroom technology developed by David and Chris. They recognise the power and impact of technology in the classroom and provided exceptional support, guidance and feedback. I am always excited to meet educators like David and Chris and completely support the approach they use to engage learners and raises standards.”

Dr Reshan Richards, Director of Ed Tech and App Designer (Explain Everything), New Jersey, USA

“I think your ideas have enormous potential and will be extremely useful for teachers and schools.”

Dr Peter Rudd, Reader in Education, York University. Specialism: Overcoming the barriers to educational disadvantage (especially using technology)

“David and Chris are at the forefront of the growing move towards using mobile technology as a way of engaging pupils and accelerating learning. The philosophy is based on a clear approach on how technology can be used to influence learners positively. I would recommend their input for a range of purposes. They are real teachers doing the job, not just talking about theory. I have been overwhelmed by the progress this product has enabled. Standards of writing have accelerated beyond my expectations.”

Chris Beazeley, Primary Headteacher, Essex, UK

“I love your ideas! They are endlessly inspiring for me and the children I work with. I work in schools consulting regarding integrating technology into the curriculum.This has been such a good way to help our boys WANT to write!”

Denise Hall, Educational Consultant, Victoria, Australia

I attended one of David and Chris’ course and immediately recognised the potential of their work in our school. To say that they have been a like a shining beacon is an understatement. The whole staff have been inspired by their work. Pupils with low self-esteem, low concentration and low academic levels have positively glowed these last few weeks. Truly magical. I thought it was Hogwarts at times!”

Paul Browning, Primary Headteacher, Hull, UK

“I have been using your ideas with my class. One of the stand out moments has been the work of one of the poorest children in my class. He is working just within level 2 on a day to day basis. The buzz he has found from writing has been such a rewarding thing to observe, where I am normally faced with frustration and lack of engagement now he is keen as mustard to write and it just seems to flow out of him. I know we have some issues with grammar and few technical elements of writing but I’m a firm believer that this bit can be taught whereas the want to write can’t!”

Michelle Randall-Harris, Primary School Teacher, UK

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

When It Comes to Education Technology Learning Must Come First. Always.

This Blog Post first appeared on Daily Genius on the 8th October 2014

By Chris Williams

How can we use technology to transform learning outcomes for our children and young people?

What really are the main benefits in the classroom, and what approaches should be avoided?

The presence of technology in all aspects of society, from the home to the school and the office, often provides more questions than answers. It can’t be ignored, and all educators need a strong and clear understanding of how education technology can (or can’t) support their work as well as its core purpose: teaching, learning and student progress.


Until my collaboration with David Andrews (@dmandrews15) (an ICT leader focused on whole school impact and ensuring learning comes first), I was a firm techno-sceptic and remained a big advocate of the “Toxic Childhood” work of Sue Palmer, holding the view that technology – and access to it – can be damaging and detrimental to children’s social, emotional, physical and communication development. We see it everywhere: children immersed in their tablet based games; parents not talking to or looking at their children as they live their lives on smartphones.

Language delay is a growing and significant issue ( Risley, T. R & Hart, B. (2006) for many young children and impacts their progress in reading, writing, and success in education as they grow up. David helped me open my mind to the technology (although the first time he showed me an iPad, I felt this was just another shiny waste of money that meant little to me and my pupils).

With an expert’s eye and an insistence that technology was simply a facilitation tool, David helped me channel my creative and learning-focused principles into gaining skills with a small number of applications which supported my firm belief in language and communication development. Together, we developed a small “app toolbox” which is central to our approach in the classroom. I now firmly believe now that with a clear purpose classroom technology can lead to remarkable progress, higher standards and improved life opportunities for students.


Through collaboration with psychologists, speech therapists, school leaders and classroom teachers, I have reached a point where I am convinced that harnessing the power of tablet technology can provide genuine transformation for all teachers. I have worked extensively over the past 2 years with David and colleagues in hundreds of schools across the UK to develop a simple, whole-school accessible approach to using education technology in the classroom to achieve relevant outcomes and maintain the focus on learning.

With a background in language development and primary/special education, I have used examples of best practice in promoting learning to produce successful, high-impact approaches which firmly place the power of technology in the hands of the teacher, parent, and education professional.

We now have available to us incredibly powerful devices which can make an immediate and sustained impact on standards and progress, but it is important we put all of our efforts on learning first, and recognize that technology is simply a valuable tool which may or not be appropriate for the task in hand.

There is so much more to using technology in education than word-processing, Google, and spectacular apps – and the answers are often much more simple than expected. My primary aim when I am using technology when working with students of all ages is to ensure progress in spoken language and communication which will underpin success in reading and writing, and understanding in all subjects.


Recently I have presented two full day practical training sessions for children in Scotland with a focus on progress in writing and removing barriers for students with additional needs.

Both sessions were buzzing with creativity from the educators in attendance as they quickly began to see how technology could do so much for their students in ways they hadn’t considered before. This room full of creative educators quickly put their own stamp on these ideas.

Technology Used to Support Writing at Pocklington School 
They developed instant resources matched to meet the needs of individual students, created powerful multimedia assessment opportunities, and explored a wide variety of approaches to promote spoken communication. The discussion surrounding our carefully structured audio-visual approach to producing plans for writing was driven by inspired educators realizing that they now had the tools to make real changes to the learning process. Mhaire, an educational psychologist from South Lanarkshire, summed up the impact of the sessions:

“The way we can now connect with individual students and their learning needs is incredible. There are so many ways these approaches can change make an impact on lifelong learning for students of all ages.”

The answers can be unexpected for some colleagues, and previously held ideas are sometimes challenged. The sessions are packed with countless practical, accessible and transferable approaches which map out the next steps for the forward thinking, ambitious, and truly innovative schools. Examples from the training activities include a distinct and carefully structured audio-visual planning tool for all genres of writing, powerful assessment approaches which ensure feedback is meaningful, relevant and responded to, plus a two-way approach to sharing pupil and teacher content through the quick and easy production of powerful web apps.
I am looking forward to working with the exceptional EdTechTeacher team and meeting the creative and learning-focused educators at the iPad Summit in November. My workshop uses a small handful of apps which come together to produce an approach which instantly raises standards in every classroom.

Our work is not restricted to iPad devices and is relevant for all mobile devices (Android/Surface etc). Our approach to teaching writing in all subjects has been adapted and developed as a digital training product (featuring lesson plans, model texts, student examples and video demonstrations) and includes our methods for multimedia planning and assessment which can be accessed at

Any* schools wishing to use the resources and approaches without cost to help provide feedback can email us at: to receive a free access code. (*10 available)

This November, I will be presenting the approach that I use at venues across the UK, and in London, on November 19th. I will also be sharing this fully transferable approach at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston on November 13th and at UK National Literacy Trust conferences in the Spring.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Programming Made Easy

'Programming Made Easy' on iPads will be launched on the 8th July to address the current challenges facing many primary school. How do they give teachers the confidence to teach the new Computing curriculum? Based on a popular training course this book offers 35 lesson plans for 5 - 11 year olds and will give primary teachers an invaluable assistance when it comes to teaching code to their pupils. 

A pupil in Key Stage 1 using logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs
Programming - Why is it important?

Learning to program is now an entitlement and a vital skill for children to learn. As technology becomes more and more ingrained into our everyday lives, it is important that our pupils have practical experience of programming and an understanding of technology and how it works as we prepare them with  the skills and creativity needed for the future workplace.

Businesses are in need of good programmers. Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group states “whether we’re fighting climate change or going into space everything is powered by computers, and we don’t have enough people who can code.” Not only is programming an employable skill for the 21st Century but a highly useful skill too. Maria Klawe, President, Harvey Mudd College says “Coding is today’s language of creativity. All our children deserve a chance to become creators instead of consumers of computer science.”
Alongside any programming lessons the pupils should begin to develop a sound knowledge of computers and how they work. For example:

  • Do they know the components that make up the inside of a computer system? 
  • What’s the difference between hardware and software?
  • What is an operating system? 
  • What is a network? How does it work?
  • What is programming and what are some of the programming languages used to make
  • programs work?

Embedding Programming in other Areas of the Curriculum.

Should programming be discrete or embedded? Both. There may be times when a programming skill needs to be taught as a discrete skill but there are so many opportunities to embed programming into other subjects to provide interesting objectives for student’s programming projects.

For example, if the pupils have designed a game using the app Sketch Nation there are opportunities for cross-curricular writing. The project could incorporate digital literacy skills and include designing logos and posters, using garageband to create a radio advert and jingles. They could write a persuasive advert as if their game appeared in the App Store as in the popular blog post 'Game Design as Part of an Integrated Project'. Information Technology skills could be incorporated. The pupils could design a spreadsheet to work out how much money the game will make if it sells at x number at £0.69? What if the price increased? Etc. The project could form part of a business and enterprise project, in which the pupils collect tokens from pupils who wish to play their game.

Learning to program enhances other areas too. Including problem solving, critical thinking and logical thinking and can be helpful in understanding other subjects, such as mathematics. 


Opportunities should be given to students to share their finished programs with an audience. This could be fellow students, another class, on a blog, with parents/carers or on twitter. Providing the opportunity for pupils to create something for a specific audience is a crucial part of the learning process. Not only will this give the pupils a real focus and sense of ownership but it will make their work matter - especially if they have an opportunities to showcase their work and get real focused feedback by writing for a specific audience (see Guest Markers & Game Design Project blog posts).

A game could be designed for a specific audience and pupils in the school could invite other pupils to play a game they've design by organising a games fair. At Bellfield Primary they held a 'Dragons Den' afternoon and invited parent/carers in. The pupils pitched their games and had to persuade to their audience to play their game - giving the pupils' project a real purpose and audience for their work. As the new curriculum aims states 'pupils are competent in the art of speaking and listening, making  formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate'

Pupils at a Games Fair.
Learning Wall - Each Pupils Advertisement for their Game
An example of a pupils Advertisement for their game

35 lessons Programming Lessons for 5 - 11 Year Olds

A specific number of pertinent apps on iPads have been hand-picked in order to give teachers extra confidence and make the crucial transition to programming fun. In each lesson, pupils will become familiar with key programming concepts, which they will revisit as they progress to more complex lesson plans. The lesson plans focus on getting students to understand the breakdown of programming terminology using clear examples and enjoyable tasks.

This comprehensive product includes:
  • 35 lesson plans for 5 - 11 years old.
  • An easy to understand breakdown of key terminology of programming terms with clear
  • examples and screenshots from the programming apps.
  • Focused objectives for each lesson.
  • Fun challenges.
  • Questions to ask the pupils, so they remain involved and attentive throughout.
  • Extension activities.
  • Screenshots with annotations to explain key concepts to make sure understanding is clear for all involved.
  • Examples of how the pupils can reflect on their understanding by combining creative apps.
  • Ways the pupils can keep digital portfolios to show clear progression of skills.
  • Ideas how pupils can incorporate crucial spoken language skills by explaining key
  • concepts through the power of the technology. 
These engaging lessons teach pupils the fundamentals of programming and will provide an excellent springboard to learn text-based programming languages in Key Stage 3.

Free Sample
During the ‘A.L.E.X’ lesson, pupils will design and create a purposefully challenging level. They will then record the best ways to overcome the level’s demands, capturing screenshots along the way, and ultimately invite other pupils, teachers and parents to play them.

A game designed by a pupil in Year 5 - demonstrating their understanding of solving problems by decomposing them into smaller parts.

“I saw this product after attending the ‘The New Computing Curriculum Made Easy’ courses by Mr Andrews Online,” said one headteacher at a NAHT conference. “It is a fantastic resource! The lesson plans are really easy to follow, and will give the staff at my school the confidence to teach programming skills.You can tell it’s created by a teacher who understands the classroom”.

Programming Made Easy is now available at £75 + VAT. For more information and to pre-order a copy, visit or contact

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

iPads in the Music Classroom - Developing Musicianship Through Creativity

"Mr Andrews Online is a testament to the educational possibilities that iPads afford across the curriculum - putting creativity at the heart of learning, allowing pupils ownership over  their own learning journey, and creating tangible products at the end of projects that pupils can be proud of." Ben Sellers, Transformance Music.


This full day course combines the musical expertise of Ben Sellers director of Transformance Music, along with the cross-curricular approach to raising standards developed by Chris Williams, founder of Mr Andrews Online (recently recognised as one of the top 3 blogs in the UK in Education).

For more information and to book a place on this course, click HERE

Ben has kindly written a blog post describing his innovative work in music using iPads:

These three factors are also fundamental in effective music teaching, especially as pupils takes their first steps in songwriting and composition. The iPad provides a set of virtual instruments, recording facilities and ways to layer melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ideas that, if used thoughtfully, allow pupils to create great sounding music quickly whilst still learning fundamental musical principles and achieving the clear learning outcomes and progression at all levels.

Here is a run down of the top four apps I have have found most useful at Key Stage 1 and 2:


Garageband is the closest we have to an 'all in one' music app. It includes several virtual instruments, a sampler, an audio recorder, a library of useful loops and a 'timeline' page  layers up recorded tracks to create a multi-layered recording, similar to a traditional 4-track recorder. 

The beauty of Garageband is that it allows students with no musical experience to make something that sounds great almost immediately, but has enough depth to stretch more advanced students, accessing concepts of musical theory- chord progressions, inversions, compound time, melodic phrasing- that ready them for composition with acoustic instruments. 

Here are two tutorial videos I have developed offering complete sets of lesson plans for KS2 teachers using Garageband:

ThumbJam is a powerful instrument emulator and looping device with studio quality instrument samples and the ability to play with expressive techniques such as tremelo, pitch bending and dynamics. 

Two of the features particularly useful in the classroom are the huge bank of scales from around the world that can be chosen from or added to, and a playing surface that has space for two instruments at a time, allowing two students to play together. We can also create our own instruments using the iPad microphone, great for students who have have trouble vocalising. Thumbjam shows our pupils the value of control over music-making: The more skill a participant has on an instrument, the more effectively they can communicate their ideas and emotions. 

Projects I have developed on Thumbjam include compositing and improvising in the idiom of Balinese Gamelan (using the Hang drum sound and the in-built Balinese 'Pelog' scale) and creating a Jazz quartet, with four students using two ipads to play  together within the framework of a 12-bar blues.

MadPad HD - Remix Your Life

MadPad is a video sampler that is allows us to create 'soundboards'- 12 video clips of acoustic instruments, vocals, found sounds or sound effects. I recently worked on a project with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, creating a Madpad 'set' by sampling a Violin and a Viola player and then allowing a pupil with limited mobility to play these sounds as part of our school ensemble alongside his peers. I have also used it at KS1 to explore making music from every day objects, and recently did a project with Boomwhackers, using this as my inspiration.


Loopseque allows pupils to make rhythms, basslines and simple melodies within an interface that emphasises the cyclical nature of rhythm, and makes editing rhythms and creating polyrhythms incredibly intuitive. Several contrasting rhythmic loops can be created and then moved between to create whole songs. Like all these apps, the initial ease of use belies the depth of the app, and in Loopseque it is possible to change soundsets, add effects such as delay, reverb and filters, and record 'performances' within the app.

All these apps can be used alone, or mixed with each other or acoustic instruments to great effect. I have found that once teachers - music specialists and non-specialists alike are confident with the technology, they quickly make the iPads an integral part of their work on composition and songwriting across KS1 and 2, with increased engagement and enthusiasm from pupils across the learning spectrum. So long as musical learning outcomes constantly being worked on and achieved, iPads really allow us to develop musicianship through creativity. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Giving Pupils Ownership of their Work Using Mobile Devices

Bellfield Primary School

Over the past year, Mr Andrews Online have worked extensively with Bellfield Primary School, sharing methods on how the planned use of mobile technology can have a sustained impact on standards across the curriculum. James, a Year 5 teacher at the school illustrates how through the effective use of technology in his classroom he was able to give his pupils ownership of their learning and the opportunity to learn independently, subsequently raising standards in his class.

Having had the same class for the last two years, I have been able to develop the children's ICT skills across a range of iPad apps. Along with working with myself, both David and Chris have also worked with my class on several occasions which has given them a good understanding of a range of apps. As a result I felt it was time to allow the children to begin to choose how they wanted to present their learning, instead of instructing them on a particular app I wanted them to use.
The children's topic this term is 'Wonders of the World' which has involved them studying different aspects of Ancient Greece. The learning challenge from this particular week was 'What religion did the Ancient Greeks follow?'. Consequently, I decided to deliver a History lesson based on the Ancient Greek gods. When planning the lesson I felt that this would be a good opportunity to use iPads to enhance the children's learning. I could have just given the children a source of information and let them write down their findings, however I felt this would 'turn off' several children in the class.
The task given to the children was simply to describe an Ancient Greek god. Having recently signed up for Quadblogging, the children were told that they had to describe a god of their choice to their real life audience. They discussed a range of apps that they could use to present their learning and then the children were then shown the following example to ensure they knew what was expected by the end of the lesson:
After using this as a hook to get the children engaged, they were given some initial time to research their chosen god. The children were provided with a hard copy of information about a range of gods which also included a QR code which was linked to a teacher selected (child appropriate) website.
How were iPads used as a tool to enhance learning during the research stage?
The children were told that the information given to them in the booklet had not come from a particularly reliable source. Having recently worked on different types of sources in previous History lessons, the children knew they would have to verify the information before using it in their presentation. They scanned the QR code and used the chosen website, along with some of their own websites, to ensure the information was accurate and also add additional facts about their chosen god.
How did the children respond to being given the freedom to choose their own apps?
After reminding the children on a range of different apps they could use, the children then began to transform their research into an appealing presentation that would describe their chosen god to their audience.

Editing in iMovie
Many of the children used the model shown to them as a starting point for their own presentation and as a result 'Tellagami' was the app first used by the majority of children. Having previous experience of this app, the children were quickly able to produce an introduction to their presentation. The benefit of this app was clear to see as the children who would usually finding writing difficult or disengaging were able to either use the voice recording aspect or type what they wanted to say without having to worry about their handwriting or spelling. The children saved their initial Tellagami video clip to the camera roll and then exported it to iMovie. Once in iMovie they were able to edit the video clip, insert images, and also add sound effects and background music. Many children repeated this process throughout the rest of their presentation, however some children also decided to use other apps.
A range of children chose to use the app 'VideoScribe' as a way to introduce and end their presentation. Using their previous knowledge of the app, the children were able to reduce the time taken for the images and font to be drawn and then export them into iMovie to accompany their Tellagami clips.
Another app used by some children was 'Phoster'. The children made posters containing images and text that were again exported to iMoive and placed into the required position within their final presentation.
One of the most pleasing aspects evident throughout the session was the amount of independent learning taking place. As the children were choosing the apps they wanted to use, I was able to facilitate learning and support children who were facing some minor technical issues. As earlier discussed, the biggest impact of using the iPads was seen in the children who would usually find reading and writing difficult. These children produced a presentation of similar quality to the 'more able' writers and were highly engaged throughout the entire lesson.
Examples of work produced:

After posting their presentations on their individual blog pages the children then received comments on their work from similar aged pupils from around the world. This interaction with a real audience gave the children's work a real purpose and they were able to respond to comments made during a blogging session.   

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Global Screen Casting Project

Since meeting Greg Kulowiec at last year’s EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Atlanta we have been able to experience the real opportunities for global collaboration for both students and education professionals. Greg is currently working on an exciting “Global Screencasting Project” which has huge potential for learners of all ages and we are encouraging everyone we work with to get involved. The project maximises the capacity of the iPad/Android screencasting app “Explain Everything” which was designed by Dr Reshan Richards, Director of Educational Technology, Montclair Kimberley Academy, New Jersey.
This re-blogged post was written by Greg and published on his blog The History 2.0 Classroom  outlines the project and explains how to get involved. Have a go! Collaborating on projects created in Explain Everything and shared via Dropbox/Google Drive is the tip of the iceberg for groundbreaking transformational outcomes. What can be achieved now that was previously inconceivable? Participation in this project will go some way towards beginning to answer that question.
Global Screencasting Project: Alphabet X Explain Everything

Welcome to the Global Alphabet Screencast!

The purpose of this experiment is to explore the capabilities of global collaboration facilitated through the use of iPads as a screen casting device. Anyone is welcome to contribute to the global alphabet screencast by simply selecting one letter of the alphabet and creating a short (30 second or less) screencast that captures the meaning, essence or unique perspective on that particular letter. This project would not be possible without the creation and thoughtful development of Explain Everything.

Created in Explain Everything: One of the contributions to the project

How does one contribute?
Create a short screencast (30 seconds or less) about one letter of the alphabet. Explain, describe, narrate, animate, sing, recite a short poem about or provide insight into any letter of your choice. Each screencast will then be merged and compiled into one world wide English alphabet screencast that will be published online (YouTube & Vimeo) for the entire world to view.

Please watch this short video tutorial if you are not sure how to upload and share an Explain Everything project through Google Drive or Dropbox.
NOTE: If your school Google Apps domain does not allow for sharing of work outside of the domain you may have to use a private / individual Google Drive account to share. You may also upload your Explain Everything project to Dropbox & share the link to the file.

TARGET AUDIENCE: Any educator, classroom, student or administrator is welcome to contribute!

Due Date: March 31st, 2014 (tentative)

Publishing Date: TBD - the goal is to combine and publish one week after the due date. The final project will be published on both YouTube and Vimeo.

Resources Required:
1. iPad
2. Explain Everything
3. Google Drive or Dropbox
4. Creativity

Sign up Process:
Complete the Google Form below. Please select one letter of the alphabet as indicated by the first drop-down menu. I will include four (4) screencasts per letter in the final project and will do my best to update the Google Form by removing any letters from the drop-down menu that have been successfully completed.
If you are a younger student submitting you may wish to use your teacher’s name in the name field below. Names are only being collected to assign proper attribution once the project is complete.

Click HERE to sign up via the Google Form

Submitting Your Screencast:
Option 1: Google Drive1. Upload your Explain Everything PROJECT file to Google Drive. Once uploaded the file should have a .XPL file extension.
2. Name the file: Alphabet Letter - Your Name - State - Country - School Name
3.. Share the Explain Everything PROJECT (.XPL file) to:

Thursday, 20 February 2014

App Smashing with Explain Everything

In recent months Mr Andrews Online have been working extensively with the Outwood Teaching School Alliance (@outwoodtsa) We have enjoyed working with Lee Wilson, Director of Primary School Improvement,  as well as a number of Wakefield headteachers including Jackie Savage from Outwood Primary Academy Lofthouse Gate and Paul Fenton from Stanley St Peters Primary School. This work has allowed us to work with teachers from several schools sharing our approach to using technology to support teaching and learning across the curriculum. This has included classroom projects from EYFS to year 6, INSET sessions and keynote presentations at national conferences. 

The focus of the work we do is frequently based on speaking and listening, explanations and oral presentations. During our time working with the schools we have met many teachers who are making effective use of technology in their classroom. This guest blog post by Libby Walker (@MissWClass11), teacher at Stanley St Peters Primary School, illustrates the impact of the app “Explain Everything” in science teaching.

With a recent introduction of iPads into our primary school (Stanley St Peters Church of England Primary School), we as a key stage decided to implement the iPads within our current topic- Rivers!

With a view to revamp the science project and inject some of the excitement and interest you often see in other subjects across the curriculum, we decided the iPads would best compliment the science project of ‘The Water Cycle’. The children’s task was to be able to understand, explain and present the process of ‘The Water Cycle’. In previous years this project would have necessitated a Power Point or perhaps a drama production. 

The Water Cycle previously involved an introduction session that demonstrated the processes; this was usually demonstrated with a video clip. From this session, the children would have been expected to draw a diagram or begin work on their presentation. Many flaws could be identified in this style of teaching such as: most children in year 5 and 6 are more than competent at creating a PowerPoint and are no longer excited by this method of technology. Very often children copied and pasted large chunks of information to fill their slides and finally when speaking to the children, they said rarely did anyone look at their PowerPoint’s, other than the children’s who were selected in the lesson.

So how could the introduction of the iPad shift the science project to child centred learning, with a sense of purpose?

First of all, we had to investigate ‘What is the Water Cycle?’ using QR codes, which linked to teacher selected (child appropriate) websites all focused on the Water Cycle. We allowed the children a session to view a variety of the websites; we discussed how to take useful notes, which would allow the children to reuse the information from the websites later in their projects. As teachers we placed a huge emphasis on the science being correct. 

The Task- The children were asked to produce an animation, which identified and explained each stage of the Water Cycle. 

Although as a key stage we had a variety of experience, we selected: Explain Everything and iMovie as the focus apps. Creating my own presentation beforehand proved invaluable as I (@MissWClass11) could highlight any difficulties or mistakes to the children before they began.

As a class we established a checklist of ‘what must be included…’ We allowed the children to take full lead; they decided all 6 processes of the Water Cycle and an introduction page.

‘Explain Everything’ was the first app the children used, most children decided to complete the project using two characters (almost a question and answer set up). The children selected their characters from google images. They saved the pictures to ‘camera roll’ which allowed them to import it to ‘Explain Everything’. Within this app, there is a cropping tool, which allows the children to select the specific element of the picture they wish to use.

Most children decided to have one constant character throughout each slide, who asked, ‘where am I now? What part of the cycle am I now in?’ then another character at each different point would respond.

The children saved and imported an image to reflect each stage of the Water Cycle, to keep the project manageable the children completed one process per page. On each page the children inserted a background (and locked it into place). They then inserted the characters on top of the background leaving them unlocked. 

Locking images to the screen

Using the internal record button the children used their script to record each process as a slide within Explain Everything, the children found it useful to use their script so that they knew how long to move each character for.

Finished Explain Everything ready to be exported to the Camera Roll

Once each slide had been recorded the children exported their video to the camera roll, allowing it to be imported into iMovie. Within this app the children were able to mute the previous recording as this had been conducted in a noisy classroom, where as the children were able to find recording zones in school to record on iMovie. iMovie enabled the children to insert ‘splits’ which sectioned the video into the different processes of the Water Cycle. 

iMovie also allowed the children to insert themed music in the background of their video, insert a title page and credits. All of these tools were discovered by the children whilst they were completing their projects, none of which were on the example.

This is the link to the children's work on the water cycle:

This is a documentary the children went on to create after the work with the water cycle:

Another example of a documentary:

Finally the children were able to export their finished videos back to the camera roll and through the amazing tool of ‘airdrop’ we were able to share the children’s work instantly!

I was astounded and amazed with the quality of the work produced, the level of engagement was amazing and we were asked several times… ‘What is our next project?’