Category Archives: Technology

Day 8 Powerful words

gobby_academy_logo (1)During the last training day I attended on “challenging the most able”, the session leader mentioned using a mobile application called Gobby Academy developed by the University of Warwick and Stealth Education. This app focuses on finding the most powerful words to include in essays, university applications, and research reports so the writer can express himself in a successful way.

Since I downloaded it, I used it in different contexts and I welcome any idea so I can make best use of it.

One successful way of using it was with the year 11 going through past papers, working on essay questions and quick planning. I organised a carrousel activity where each group of students had 10 minutes to read the question and plan an answer. After 10 minutes, they were given a different question. I encouraged them to use the “Top Trump Words” in the app to reword the questions. The benefits of it are that first, they had to take time to analyse the question before jotting down on paper any idea. When reading an essay question, they had to make the link between the words used and the assessment criteria.

You are maybe thinking by now that a dictionary would certainly do just the same job, as I was doing at uni and school just a few years ago but you’ll have to admit that beyond the mobile practicality, the context feature helps a better understanding of the word.

You can find the link here to download the app:

Merci 🙂 Helene WeltonGobby

How Google Classroom has helped me?

Google classroom 1

Earlier in the year, I wrote a post about how I use a Google site to deliver Psychology A Level. This piece acts as a companion to that, explaining how I use Google Classroom alongside the site. I also use Classroom in some of the other things I do but I will leave those to one side for now and concentrate on Psychology.

These are the main things I have done on Google Classroom.

a) Uploaded Slides For Each Lesson

I use Google Slides to plan and deliver each lesson. It is easy to upload these into Classroom so that students can access them.

b) Passed On Routine Information

Classroom links directly to students’ gmail accounts. If I need to tell them something, I can post an announcement. That is easier than emailing them directly because I have a record of communication with each group in one place.

c) Set Up Quizzes For Each Sub-Topic, With Hyperlinks To Core Content

My plan at the start of the academic year was to have quizzes on Google Forms as pre-reading tasks for students to do before tackling the sub-topic in class. That has not worked out, partly because I have not been able to get ahead of myself and prepare a few days in advance and partly because I have often wanted the first sight of a sub-topic for students to be looking at an image or watching a video. The advantage of giving short multiple choice quizzes on each sub-topic in class is that I do not have to explain each point laboriously. Google Forms lets me present a summary of quiz answers so that, without naming names, we can all see which questions produced errors and can focus on the complexity behind them.

d) Delivered Feedback On Assessments, Using Markschemes With Hyperlinks

For major assessments, I can share a markscheme with students, with hyperlinks to the content they have covered on the Google site so that they can see the connection between what they have learnt and what was in the assessment. I can add commentary on each question in the same way as an examiners’ report does for a live exam. I then use Classroom as a place to keep self-reviews so that students can comment on what they have achieved and set targets.

e) Posted Links To My Post Of The Week On My Blog

I have been writing a blog for a while. It has become an important way of keeping interested in current trends in Psychology. It gets very few hits from my students but they have no excuse for not looking at it. I can add a link to each post on Classroom.
f) Used It For Mastery Learning

I use the concepts of “core” and “mastery learning”. “Core” represents the theories, evidence and definitions needed to pass the exam. “Mastery learning” refers to the tasks we do to explore ideas and deepen knowledge. That involves looking at a wider range of questions and sources. In AS, this is to a large extent optional. In A2, because students need to include issues, debates and approaches in their essays to achieve higher grades, it becomes compulsory. Students sometimes contribute answers via class discussion, at other times they contribute by adding a comment to the workstream on Classroom and at others still, we have a Google doc shared via Classroom on which students can write what they think. In each case, I can then use the Classroom environment to sum up what has been learnt and what we need to think about next. Using Classroom means that when the exam season approaches, I can go through the workstream for each class, summarising what has been done and identifying any issues which need further attention. For the A2 course, there has been an extra element. For each topic, I have been able to distill commentary from each sub-topic into a “How Science Works” summary. In A2 Psychology, “How Science Works” is the route to A* writing.

g) Managed Student Projects

I share with students on Classroom project briefs for practicals. Classroom enables me to make a copy for each student. The brief contains a checklist and a self-assessment. At the end of the project, they turn in their work.
What do you think about Google Classroom?

Simon Tombs @tombssimon

Teacher of Psychology

Edtech Revision Special – Catch of the Day 2


This one is for students, teachers, mums, dads, brothers, sisters & friends; because let’s face it, the exam period can be a family affair! A time when we can all collaborate to help you get the most out of your exams as possible.

This EdTech revision special is concentrating on technology that could help you revise, identify weaknesses and develop your subject knowledge. Some of the technologies have been discussed in previous DHSB Teaching Blog posts but we are hoping to identify key areas in which they can be used to help you revise. All of the tools discussed are free and easy to use so please explore and see what works best for you.


Due to the feedback Kahoot is a great tool for teachers and classes to identify specific subject areas which the class on the whole need to work on together and also individual areas in which students may need to work on in their own time. Building up to exams Kahoots quizzes can be used to firstly cover whole subjects to identify the weaker areas and as they progress through the weeks the quizzes can become more specific, hopefully becoming even more and more specific as the key weak areas are worked on during lessons and in the students own time until students have worked through the whole curriculum forming a solid base of all round subject knowledge. This will equip students with the best possible chances going into exams knowing that we have built on the whole curriculum, developing depth of knowledge in the weaker areas identified by Kahoots continuous feedback.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use Kahoot:

Kahoot Demo


StudyBlue is based on flash card learning, you create ‘Term’ front side and ‘Definition’ reverse sides of cards online using your notes, more recently they have created a function which suggests in the side panel similar peoples publicly viewable cards which relate to your own to make it easier to create a more wholesome subject content flash card set or even quicker for the terms you are currently using. The technology lets you then take the Cards as a quiz or in the standard flash card way anywhere that you have a web browser or access to their app. After you are finished learning it gives you feedback of your score, tells you what you got wrong and what you got right and you can then choose to retake the whole flash card set or only the ones that you got wrong; if you don’t have time to retake the flash cards again right now you can set a reminder for when you are free and that can be sent via the app, text, email or facebook. StudyBlue sorts the flash cards into associated classes that you create, this enables you to keep track of what you have done and also share with your classmates, collaborate and really make the most out of it.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use StudyBlue:

StudyBlue Demo


Flippity is similar to StudyBlue but is really another option of and using a different platform which students may prefer. Flippity isn’t as flash as StudyBlue but at DHSB we use Google Apps and the integration of Google Sheets with Flippity to create your flash cards, quizzes and certificates is very streamlined with what we are doing here. Which means this may be an easier option for students & teachers to transfer their notes, create quizzes & certificates in Flippity due to the familiarity of Google Sheets and sometimes keeping things simple and familiar at what can be a stressful time is a positive thing. I really like the game show style quizzes in Flippity and think the collaboration and good competition in the classroom can enhance learning and retention of information as well as being a good tool for identifying weak areas for individuals or the whole group.

Flippity uses creates links for your work which you can store in another spreadsheet in Google to keep track of what is what and with the URL link you can share what you have created with anyone anywhere making this another great collaborative tool; you can share and compare your notes with all of your friends.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use Flippity:

Flippity Demo


Tackk lets you create an online page full of information and all types of media, whether it be audio, video, pictures or links. This lets students get creative and use different ways to create their own online learning space of which they can access on any device with a  web browser. I think to create a Tackk for each subject or even sub section of a subject as a summary of what you have learnt and how you have learnt it would be a great tool for reflecting on when revising, everyone learns in different ways and I believe the combination of different medias would really have a positive effect on firstly learning the knowledge and secondly retaining it in different ways so that in an examination it will be easier to recall. You can leave your Tackk as public and also share with anyone that you like so for collaboration this is another great tool, you can also use the community to search and find other peoples Tackks for subjects that are of interest to you so explore and have fun.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use Tackk:

Tackk Demo

Daniel Shahin @danielshahin
Educational Technologist

Keep calm but have fun with Kahoot

I have been guilty of treating my sixth form to a diet of lectures followed by open book paper test questions for a fortnight (to make sure that we finish the syllabus before the holiday and  to free-up time for coaching in exam questions and technique afterwards!)

It has allowed me time to emphasise the essentials, add context and also allowed me more time to keep up with marking their work but it  has limited my engagement with the class and if I’m honest: their engagement with their learning. We were working hard but the work was supervisory not awfully formative nor particularly memorable. How surprised were they when having finished another hour long speed delivery through evolution, I asked them to “take a break and return for a quiz” .” A test you mean Miss” , they groaned. How delighted they were when they returned to complete a Kahoot!


(Students search Google for, then enter the game code to play. The timed questions and answers are displayed on the whiteboard and they answer by keying in the correct colour choice icon that appears on their own screen)

Yes it was a sequence of test questions but they had instant feedback, we could move at a good pace, we could explore misconceptions where mistakes were being made ( an analysis appears after each question stating the highest 6 scorers and presenting a bar chart of class results)and I could save these as an excel file and examine them later.It was fun, lots of fun! In fact it was so much fun, that the class pleaded for more and we used a public Quiz that was shared on Biochemistry before they left. (I’d usually prefer to check all quizes through first of course!)

Here  I am at home two days later, and I can see who needs help with discontinuous variation  so I’ll speak with them individually  before we move on, on Tuesday.

Far from ‘fun’ being a luxury of learning at this point in the course;learning together was essentially fun!

Thanks 12C

Sharon Davidson @sharondavidson1

Assistant Headteacher

14 Reasons Why I Use A Website, Not A Text Book


I decided for September 2014 that I would not buy textbooks for the A Level Psychology course. Kim Croft @kimberleyfcroft, from whom I was taking over, had developed a revision site which students liked using. I had been using printed notes and resources for a couple of years and had found increasingly that the text books which I gave to students to accompany the notes I had written and printed were coming back more or less untouched. I had some training at DHSB about how to make a Google site and managed before September to get everything online. Just before I started my job, this news story about the Stephen Perse Foundation school in Cambridge suggested that I might be on the right track.

Six months or so into my job, I have made a list of why using a website is better than using a text book. I wrote these points down as they came into my mind, in no order of importance.

  1. Ease of access.
  2. Links between topics.
  3. Move between topics.
  4. Update as you go.
  5. Add video content to explain text, for example Khan Academy videos.
  6. Personalise to reflect an individual view of what is important about Psychology.
  7. Hyperlink to quizzes in the Google environment to introduce content.
  8. Hyperlinks on mark schemes to create coherence.
  9. Establish a core for students: essential things they need to know.
  10. Separate core from “mastery learning”.
  11. Communication with parents: what exactly needs to be done.
  12. Incorporate up to date assessment materials alongside course content.
  13. Use images creatively.
  14. Gives me control over content.

I will focus on four of these for now.

  1. Update as you go.

I like being able to upload new content as I find it. I use Twitter to keep me up to date with some of the new developments in Psychology. Last week, a piece of video was published by the Royal Society about the history and practice of peer review in science. I could upload this video next to my account of peer review.

  1. Hyperlinks on mark schemes to create coherence

Psychology A Level requires students to shape their knowledge to meet the demands of a question. After they have done assessments, I share with students markschemes with hyperlinks between questions and the core content of the course on their website. This enables them to refer back the course content in order to see what information they needed to use to answer each question. This creates coherence. Because that content is readily available, they can focus on the higher order skill of applying knowledge.

  1. Separate core from “mastery learning”.

On my webpages, the core content is written in black and white. It shows students what they need to know for the exam. I use a different colour background for “mastery learning”. I use this term to refer to tasks I want students to do to broaden and deepen their learning. These involve wider reading and often the use of audio and video. In AS, students can treat mastery learning tasks as optional in their exam preparation. In A2, they need this mastery learning to access higher mark bands. I cannot think of a way of making this distinction clear on paper.

These three are important to me in my day to day practice. On reflection, number 14, “Gives me control over content” has wider significance. I am in my 28th year of teaching. I realise that I have always wanted to control content in my lessons. I like to write things down in my own way. In the early days, that meant duplicating worksheets on a banda machine. In 1993, I bought a home computer partly so that I could make my own worksheets. The site I use now is an extension of something I have been doing for a long time. It has been a liberating experience.

There are of course some disadvantages. It takes time to put the site together. For me, that has been possible because most of what is there now existed before in print based form. Using the site relies on good wi-fi and good hardware. That is getting easier. The hardest thing for me is that because I am taking sole responsibility for course content, it is my fault when things go wrong. I spend much time checking mark schemes and examiners’ reports word by word to make sure I have got it right.

The article about the Stephen Perse Foundation I quoted at the start refers to teachers working differently and to being “at the beginning of the transformation of the way in which we teach in schools.” I think that I am doing what I have always done. Using a Google site has helped me do it a bit better. I like that.

Simon Tombs @tombssimon

Teacher of Psychology

Interactive Independent learning at Key Stage 5

With the constraint of limited time,I feel anxious about the need to complete multiple controlled assessments at the same time as desperation to finish the syllabus with time for revision before the first AS exams. To  improve the chances of  the latter, I often set my students the task of giving presentations on certain topics of the syllabus to their peers and asking them all to complete their own notes on these. This has worked well for years and with advances in technology, the students have delivered increasingly polished presentations and I have been impressed with their ability to speak well and present thorough material. However.. there is always room for improvement and with Google docs, the students are able to work collaboratively and can easily share their work. We can all comment on content and give feedback or challenge material. This format still works. even then….

So my latest development is to set the same task through asking the students to create a Tackk!

This way they can create a mini website with all materials easily accessed through one shared area with interactive features. I have just received the first back and it is impressive. The students could take this further and link a google form through a button at the end which would allow them to assess the learning of everyone in the class… so things can get better and better!!!

Here are my instructions

and here is the first one back

The format of the tackk takes about 15 minutes to master… it’s so easy and just look at these great results.

Sharon Davidson @sharondavidson1

Assistant Headteacher

Revise with Studyblue


I have been playing round with some revision based activities recently for my Year 8 Science class and have used many online flash card websites over the years however I have been trying out one called StudyBlue recently.

As a teacher or student I can set up an account for free, there is a premium service that you pay for to have access to more online flashcards already created however I don’t feel you necessarily need that.

As a teacher I can create a set of revision materials for a specific class and invite them to view and use them. These are basically electronic versions of flashcards where I can create keywords and with their meanings and then view them like flashcards. You can then test your own progress with your revision through a quiz or filling in the blanks etc

Even better you could get students to create their own revision activities then share it with the rest of the group. As I joined and registered to the site I noticed that there were around 15 students from my school already using this themselves personally and I was able to view their quizzes and see that they were using it already and have been using it for the last 6 months in a wide range of subjects.

I think that this will be particularly beneficial in improving literacy within science with my Year 8 class which is one of the reasons why I have started using it.

The site is also accessible via an app for both android and ios which makes revising on the go much more easier too.

As we are starting to head into the exam season this would be a great resource to share with your students.

Dan Roberts @danjjroberts

Deputy Headteacher