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Monday, 19 December 2016

The Great Christmas Dinner Shop Debate

Last week, I had the pleasure of working with our great Year 6 and so decided to use an idea from my eBook - The 12 iPad lessons of Christmas.

But we decided to take it even further and bring in a performance element.

In groups, the children were given a different shop:
  • Asda
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury's
  • Aldi
  • Waitrose
  • Co-op
  • Iceland
  • Marks and Spencer
  • Morrisons
They first had to price up a full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Working out the value for their shop. They then were given the task to making a two-minute presentation to try and convince people to shop at their chosen shop. 

They had to use their initial research to help and find their unique selling point. If the price was quite cheap focus on that. If it was more expensive think of words to exaggerate how tasty and delicious their food is. Some could research other shops and use a comparison to help persuade people to back their pitch. 

As a way to add more purpose to the task, we decided to present our pitches LIVE on facebook. The winner would then be the team who gets the most votes/comments. I have previously blogged about using Facebook Live here. 

I love this tool as the children knew they had an audience to present too. Over the weekend the video has had a reach of nearly 15k. 

Some teachers have asked how we can do this and we have this covered in our permission form. 

You can watch the children's presentations here. They would love a comment. All of this was done in our morning session, so with more time we would have polished some of our performances but I was still really pleased and proud of their efforts:


Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Staff Christmas Do

It is that time of year again, teachers up and down the country will be preparing for their annual Christmas party. On my facebook page, I put this video together for what happens on every staff do. See if these sound familiar:

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Special Letter To Father Christmas!

I had to share this letter written by one of our Digital Leaders! Amazing! Not going to lie, I had a tear in my eye!

Please take a minute to read it and then help it come true!

Please help by sharing and downloading a copy of the song:

Friday, 9 December 2016

Do they know it's Christmas Comprehension lesson

As many of you know, I often use music as a way to explore text and improve comprehension skills.

To get in the festive mood, here is another brilliant song to deconstruct with your class and inspired a recent project with my pupils.

It is my favourite Christmas song - Band Aid - Do they know it's Christmas?

Here are the lyrics with some questions to consider!

It's Christmastime; there's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

  • Can you find a contraction? What is it short for?
  • Why is there a semi-colon in the first line?
  • Why is there no need to be afraid at Christmas? We put our troubles aside and enjoy time spent with our families.
  • What do the symbols of light and shade stand for? We associate light with joy and happiness, shade is darkness and is linked to danger or evil.
  • What do you think the word plenty stands for? All the material things we have.
  • How effective is the word plenty on a scale of 1-5?
  • What does the word banish mean? On a scale of 1-5 how effective is this word?
  • In what other way could we say 'throw your arms around'? Hug
  • What is the singer trying to say with the last line? A hug is a sign of affection and embracing someone or something you care about.

But say a prayer to pray for the other ones
At Christmastime
It's hard, but when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears

  • Who are the other ones we should pray for? Poor, less fortunate people.
  • Why is it hard to pray for others at Christmastime? We are usually consumed with what we will be getting as presents. 
  • What is the meaning behind the world outside your window? As we all have houses, we spend Christmas inside enjoying the time with our family but there are so many other people out there who need our help.
  • What do you think about the words dread and fear?
  • Why is the world full of dread and fear? Dread for what is going to happen to these people suffering and fear of how will it end?
  • Whereabouts in the world were the singers singing about? Explain that in 1984 when this song was written, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure founded Band-Aid to raise money for anti-poverty efforts in Ethiopia. A large portion of Ethiopia is desert or semi-arid. When this song was recorded, there were two particularly bad famines in Ethiopia. In some areas of the country there was very little water, let alone drinkable water.
  • How would a bitter sting feel? Painful
  • Why does the singer describe the tears in this way? We can cry tears of happiness and when we are sad, he is really emphasising how bad and painful their situation is. 

And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

  • Are the bells that ring there the same as once we hear at Christmas? 
  • Where do you usually hear bells? At church
  • What events at church usually involve bells? 
  • The clanging chimes of doom, what type of bells may these be? Funeral
  • Well tonight thank God.... is considered the most powerful line of the song, why? It is meant to make us reflect and be very grateful that we’re not suffering from starvation due to famine. Don’t forget how lucky and privileged you are to be able to eat every day.
  • The next few lines have been considered to be a misrepresentation of Africa, can you think why? The two Ethiopian famines of the mid-80s were caused primarily by the government’s poor agricultural policies, misuse of international aid, and an overzealous military which took funds away from health spending. Poor rainfall exacerbated this. Of course, it is factually inaccurate to paint all of Africa (the second biggest continent) as one barren wasteland. There are many rivers, lots of rain, huge amounts of plant life, and even snow. To further demonstrate this point, use Google maps to try and find some. 

Here's to you, raise a glass for everyone
Here's to them, underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

  • Why should we raise a glass for everyone? We should be making sure we think about everyone around the world. 
  • What does Christmas mean to us? 
  • Why does the singer ask a question? To make us realise that the way we celebrate Christmas is very different to the way people living in poverty and harsh conditions will be. 

Feed the world
Feed the world

Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmastime again

  • What do we mean by feed the world? 
  • Why is it repeated?

Why do you think the song was so successful? Do you think it is still popular today? Is it still relevant today over 30 years later? Why do you think this?

After doing this activity, my pupils were inspired to write their own song, which they have made into a song and is available to download, please help share their message by watching and sharing their video and then downloading a copy! 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Our Christmas Wish!

Finally, I can share this amazing project done by the pupils at our school.

What started as a discussion about the links between music and poetry, where I demonstrated my love for songwriting and what an amazing way to express yourself has now turned into the children publishing a song they have written themselves.

We started by exploring some lyrics to different songs and discussing them. The children then wanted to write their own song. The pupils wanted to write a song to combat the negativity they have seen all over the news this year. Being close to Christmas, they wanted to use it as an opportunity to spread positivity and help others. When I explained that we would try and turn their writing into an actual song. This added purpose to the writing and the efforts were incredible!

We now can proudly announce that the song written by the Davyhulme Primary Digital Leaders is available to download and stream!

Once the song was written, my friend and his band put together the backing track and the children performed it, including an amazing rap from a very talented pupil, Daniel. They have designed the artwork, recorded a video and all done on a single iPad! 

They researched different charities for where to donate any money made from selling the song. They decided on Save the Children. They want to help children a lot less fortunate than themselves. 

When I showed the children the finished song, they were so incredibly proud. When I said, "I think it will get in the charts!" I was met by a certain look from the children that told me they thought that would be impossible. They think they can't compete with the big corporations like X Factor or with other records from high profile artists.


I want to show my class that hard work, determination and education is more important than anything else. I want to show that having good ideas and believing in yourself can take you places! 

It would be amazing if a little Primary school in Davyhulme can make a song on the iPad and be up there with the big guns.


I need you to download, buy and stream the song as many times as you can!

I need you to share this video on twitter, facebook and spread the word with your friends.

We need everyone of you to support us!

So whatever the reason: 
  • to show how much you like the song, 
  • to show your appreciation for their hard work, 
  • to donate to a really good cause, 
  • to show how creativity is so important to education, 
  • to take a stand against the big corporations and the obsession with celebrity culture in our country, 
  • to simply finish 2016 on a positive note 
  • or because it is Christmas

    Please support the project!

I know how tough and negative 2016 has been for many of us, what a wonderful way to finish the year by saying "you've tried your best 2016, but we're ok, the future is bright when it lies in the hands of these creative, caring, compassionate children."

So here is their video with links to download and buy!

Thank you and have a wonderful Christmas! 

Monday, 5 December 2016

UK Blog Awards Nomination

I am very excited and honoured to see that my blog has been nominated for the UK Blog Awards 2017. This will be the third year my blog has been nominated. In the previous two years, I have made it to the shortlist and narrowly missed out on the top prize!

This year, I would love to go one step further! But I NEED YOUR HELP!

The next part of the process is the public vote, so I need as many people as possible to vote for my blog. I have been nominated for three categories: Education, Digital and Technology and Vlogger! So if you have found any ideas or inspiration through the blog, or found some of the videos and vlogs funny, please take a minute to click the links and vote. I really really appreciate it!

Please click here to vote for Education and Digital & Technology Categories
Please click here for the Vlogging Category

Thank you so much for the continued support! It means an awful lot! Fingers crossed, I can make the shortlist again!

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Struggles for a Teacher Putting on a Christmas Play!

I am sure there are plenty of teachers around the country who can relate to this! So feel free to share!

Friday, 2 December 2016

50 ways to use my app 1-4-0 in class

I have been meaning to put this blog post together for a long time. Just before Summer, Alan Peat and the team very kindly turned one of my ideas into an app.

The 1-4-0 app.

My main focus when it comes to using mobile technology is trying to get teachers and pupils to see themselves as creators and focus on apps that allow students to create, demonstrate, express and share their learning.

A lot of schools are still stuck using app that just focus on consuming and using the tech. Don't get me wrong, there are some brilliant consumer apps out there: some great maths games and English word games. My worry comes when schools are only using technology in this way and therefore not being creative through the technology.

I like to think of the 1-4-0 app as a creative app that allows students to create content. The app, however, has a focus on providing constraints which further promotes creativity. For a number of years I have been using and adapting some of the ideas Alan Peat shares on constraints, including his book - 50 ways to retell a story and his work on OULIPO.  I love using constructs as it does force creativity. You only have to look at the social media platform vine and how 6 second videoIt led me to create some of my own constraints in the classroom such as:

It is the twitter idea that has been the main driving force behind the app. I am a massive fan of using twitter, not just for the CPD benefits, but the way it encourages me to play with language. This is because you can only get your idea or message across in 140 characters. A character can be a letter, space or punctuation mark. I decided to use this as a writing constraint with my class. A simple 10 x 14 grid would give them 140 characters to play with. The problem with this low-tech version was the children focused far too much on the counting and not the content. This is where the technology helps. The app does all the counting for you.

Added into the app are different options: Write a tweet (140 characters,) write a mini saga (50 words,) write a drabble (100 words) and choose your own (you decide the character and word limit.)

Once you have chosen your challenge, you will have a text box which will allow you to type into and the counting will be done automatically. The app will then stop you if you go over the limit. There is the option to save a picture of the screenshot or with the Twitter challenge you can turn the text box into a tweet screenshot. Here you can add an image, username and handle to create your own tweet. With the choose your own challenge option there are endless possibilities for how to use this app. So to get you going here are a few I've come up with. First here is a video of some ideas I shared at a recent teachmeet:

1-4-0 app

  1. Spooky 6 word stories - Set your own challenge to six words and challenge your students to create a chilling 6 word story.
  2. 6 word blurb - Same as above but write a blurb for a book.
  3. 6 word review - Review a film/song in 6 words.
  4. 6 word headline - Using a recent news story try and create a headline for the story in 6 words.
  5. Tweet book review - Write a book review in 140 characters.
  6. Drabble book review - Same as above but in 100 words.
  7. Mini saga book review - Same as above but abstract to 50 words.
  8. Tweet book synopsis - Rather than review a book, write a summary of the story in 140 characters.
  9. Mini saga book synopsis - Same as above but in 50 words.
  10. Drabble book synopsis - Same as above but in 100 words.
  11. Retell a fairytale in a tweet - Choosing their favourite fairytale or traditional tale, write a new version in 140 characters.
  12. Retell a fairytale in a Drabble - Same as above but in 100 words.
  13. Retell a fairytale in a mini saga - Same as above but in 50 words.
  14. News story in a tweet - Choose a recent news story and sum up the story in 140 characters.
  15. News story in a Drabble - Same as above but in 100 words.
  16. News story in a mini saga - Same as above but in 50 words.
  17. Create a twitter account for a historical figure.
  18. Write a short biography of a historical figure as a drabble.
  19. Write a short biography of a historical figure as a mini saga.
  20. Have a discussion between two historical figures in tweets. Ask your pupils to creatively retell an historical even through a series of tweets.
  21. Create a twitter account for a story book character.
  22. Retell a story through a character's perspective in a series of tweets.
  23. Retell a story through a character's perspective in a drabble.
  24. Retell a story through a character's perspective in a mini saga.
  25. Summarise a chapter of the class reader in a tweet.
  26. Summarise a chapter of the class reader as a mini saga.
  27. Summarise a chapter of the class reader as a drabble.
  28. Predict what will happen next in our class reader as a tweet.
  29. Predict what will happen next in our class reader as a mini saga.
  30. Predict what will happen next in our class reader as a drabble.
  31. Create a Rashomon story in a series of tweets.
  32. Write the scariest story in a tweet.
  33. Write the scariest story as a mini saga.
  34. Write the scariest story as a drabble.
  35. Write a description of a picture in a tweet.
  36. Write a description of a picture as a mini saga.
  37. Write a description of a picture as a drabble.
  38. Write a persuasive advert for a new product in a tweet.
  39. Write a persuasive advert as a drabble.
  40. Write a persuasive advert as a mini saga.
  41. Explain the findings of a science investigation in a tweet.
  42. Enter the 100 word challenge.
  43. Describe the weather in a tweet.
  44. Ask the children to write a recount of their weekend in a tweet
  45. Ask the children to write a recount of their half term in a tweet.
  46. Give peer to peer feedback on another student's work in a tweet.
  47.  Give the children a story opener for them to continue in a tweet.
  48. Re-write an emoji sentence in a tweet.
  49. Evaluate their learning of a topic in a tweet
  50. Create fake celebrity tweets with SPaG errors for children to correct.

As you can see I started to get bored repeating the same idea three times but you can see there are a wealth of short writing activities that get children playing, thinking and experimenting with words and language.

The app provides the perfect extension activity if a child finishes a writing task early. Ask them to take their last two paragraphs and rewrite it as a tweet, Drabble or mini saga.

For just 99p it is a great go-to resource to support writing in the classroom. Download it here.