Monthly Archives: February 2019

Liked: Inter-disciplinary curriculum: why is it so difficult to develop? (part one)⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Liked Inter-disciplinary curriculum: why is it so difficult to develop? (part one) (Professor Mark Priestley)
These attempts to introduce IDL, and the national guidance that prompted them, have tended to be characterised by a lack of conceptual clarity about inter-disciplinary approaches, leading in many cases to activities that were not really inter-disciplinary, at best being cross-curricular. Public discourse around IDL uses many different terms interchangeably – for example, cross-curricular, integrated, thematic – which are conceptually distinctive but regularly conflated.

Looking forward to the next post:

which will follow in a few days, will explore what needs to be addressed if IDL is to become a practical reality in Scottish schools.

Real-time multi-user collaboration in Microsoft Excel Online⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Do your learners create graphs in your classroom? Perhaps after they undertake a survey, such as a traffic survey, favourite food, eye colour, or something related to an area of study in the curriculum? There’s a whole range of digital tools available to help create graphs and charts (have a look at this blogpost “Fun or fear? Spreadsheets for Problem Solving in the Primary Classroom – fun over fear!” for a host of ideas and links to digital tools for using spreadsheets in the classroom).

Microsoft Excel is one of the most well-known and widely used digital tools for creating spreadsheets, which can easily be used to create graphs and charts. Microsoft Excel Online is available to all Glow users in Scottish schools as part of Microsoft Office 365. Excel Online is available anytime, anywhere with online access so can be accessed at home or at school (it can also tie neatly into the desktop version and mobile apps for smartphones and tablets, so that information created on one device in one location, is accessible for editing and updating on another device elsewhere).

Excel Online can be used to create spreadsheets from the beginning (or you can upload an existing Excel spreadsheet from your computer to make it available to edit online thereafter). You can keep it private to you in your own OneDrive (the online cloud storage with massive capacity available to every Glow user in Scottish schools). Or you can, at any time, choose to make a Excel Online spreadsheet visible to other users of your choice – and you can choose whether to allow them to just be able to read it without being able to make changes, or you can give other users the access rights to be able to jointly edit the spreadsheet with you. If your class is using Microsoft Teams then a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet can be created in the shared files so that all members of the class can automatically collaborate without the need to find and add specific usernames.

Here’s how to create a table and bar chart for a class traffic survey in Microsoft Excel Online

Have a look at the Sway presentation here for a step-by-step guide for learners to create an Excel spreadsheet in Excel Online in their OneDrive in Microsoft office 365 via Glow and to share this with other Glow users to be able to jointly edit the same spreadsheet. This has steps outline for creating a table, into which the results of a class traffic survey can be entered. From this there are steps shown to guide as to how to create a bar chart, to sort the information in the table, to share with other users and for them to add comments so that questions can be asked about the information.


Want to know more about using Microsoft Excel Online?

Microsoft Excel – there is a wide range of resources online using Microsoft Excel as the tool to put spreadsheets in a context suitable for use by pupils in a primary classroom.  Some links have been provided below.  Some of these provide tutorials in the use of Excel while others provide the ready-made files along with classroom teaching notes. Excel Online is available for free to schools using Microsoft Office 365 (all schools in Scotland using Glow can access Microsoft Excel Online as part of Office 365. It’s available in OneDrive or as part of Microsoft Teams for classes so you can either create spreadsheets individually or collectively so that multiple learners can collaborate on the same Excel Online spreadsheet at the same time on different devices from anywhere).

Click here for a brief outline of Microsoft Excel Online – this includes how-to guides to the main features of using Excel Online

Click here for some guides to undertaking basic tasks in Microsoft Excel Online

Tips for Microsoft Excel Online:

More links to specific features and how-to guides for using Microsoft Excel Online:

The Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Excel Online – a handy guide by Matthew Guay describing with screenshot illustrations how to undertake a variety of tasks in Microsoft Excel Online, from starting a new spreadsheet file, looking at options in the menu ribbons, applying functions, adding charts and tables, using the survey tool, sharing and collaborating with others, using comments and more.

Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel Online– while pivot tables are not a function of spreadsheets which beginners may likely use, it may be handy to know that Microsoft Excel Online has this feature and that this link provides a guide to how to use them in the online version of Microsoft Excel

Users of Glow can access Microsoft Excel Online from within Glow by clicking on the OneDrive tile on the Glow Launchpad (from where Excel Online can be accessed from the 9-square waffle), or via Microsoft Teams Files tab (for Excel Online spreadsheets shared with the rest of the class Team) or directly from the Microsoft Excel Online login entering the Glow email address – which is usually something along the lines of the form which will then take you to the usual Glow login page.

Co-edit a Microsoft Excel Online spreadsheet – here a link to show the steps to collaborating on a Microsoft Excel Online spreadsheet with multiple users.

How to add a chart in Microsoft Excel Online

Excel Online within Office 365 tutorial – shared by Edinburgh University, with descriptions which apply also to Glow users


Technology on this week’s trip to Blairvadach⤴

from @ The Digital Revolution

I’ve blogged previously on the use of communication technologies and their impact, but this week I really wanted to do it again after a superb week away at Blairvadach with the Mosspark P7 children.  I have never enjoyed a trip so much as I did with this group of young people – truly incredible individuals, and the first time that I have ever been away and not had to check on rooms after lights out!  What made the trip even more special for me though, was being able to share memories and moments with the children’s families and being able to pass on their responses to the children.  Also, being able to let the children enjoy seeing video clips of their adventures as they came to reflect on their day in their journals.

I do love technology, however also realise the value of being away from it.  I can’t emphasise enough how important this is, especially on outdoor learning adventures, yet I also think it can play a huge role when used well to record and share memories and engage families in their children’s learning away.  In my mind, if I am ever blessed with having children, and they come home from a week away and I ask how it was and I am greeted with “great”, I would love to have some footage or photos to look at and use as visual stimulation for great conversations about the learning.

Indeed, I wish that I had had the technology to do all of this when I was a child – my only memories from my outdoor learning experiences as a child are some blurry photos.  Now though, we have the technology to really capture and share moments with families throughout a course.  In this blog, I want to show how we did it, and the ways that we made it as simple as we could.  Before I continue though, I’d love to give a huge shout out to the team at Blairvadach for, not only the wonderful job that they did with our young people – some of the most nurturing instructors I have ever worked with – but also for their use of social media. Almost all of the instructors now use twitter to share what their groups were up to and it allowed the parents to not only engage with the school but see the instructors comments and feedback on a regular basis.


I know that there are lots of social media platforms out there that schools use, from their own websites to facebook and instagram.  The reason that I love twitter (aside from it being a truly fantastic PLN) is that it is concise.  You don’t feel the need to write essays about what everyone did – it restricts that.  Similarly, videos are restricted to 2mins 20 so you don’t feel the need to post absolutely everything – just highlights.

I have said this loads before, and I will again; if you are on Twitter, use hashtags and let parents know what one you are using.  Make sure that it is unique so that when parents search for it they don’t find loads of other tweets on the same subject.  For example, this year instead of using #Blairvadach for our trip (as loads of schools may have used this) we used #MPBlairvadach19 and if you click on it, you will see all of the tweets from our trip away.

What was most amazing was the engagement we had from so many parents on it.  We also provided a link to our twitter feed on our school app and website for those parents who didn’t use Twitter.


In order to create simple, short videos using the media that we had taken each day, we used Clips (this is an apple app though – similar apps are availavle for android such as Quik by GoPro).  Using clips, we were able to quickly collate our photos and sections of video into simple but effective videos that highlighted each group’s learning.

Here’s one from the final day (watch to the end if you want a laugh!):

A very simple and yet great way to share learning – lots of tutorials online and CPD available in using clips, so do check it out if you haven’t already.

Pic Collage (or similar)

Pic Collage is a great way to compile multiple photos into one image.  As Twitter can only take four images at a time, instead of posting 7 tweets on the same subject to put out all of the photos, you can use Pic Collage.  What’s more, Pic collage can be used for video as well as photos.  We had great fun capturing some Slow Mo videos of the children jumping into “the jacuzzi” but couldn’t add them all into the clips due to the length of time available, so used pic collage to merge some.

Class Camera

I took my Olympus Tough and GoPro with me, both of which are old and I didn’t mind too much having them on the course.  These weren’t for me to use though.  As there were only three teachers, but four groups, and we wanted to capture every activity that the children did, some of our camera club children were in charge of documenting their activities if there was no school teacher with them.  They loved this responsibility, and it meant that we had evidence from all of the activities.

Whilst you may not have a camera that you are willing to take, there are normally old school or class cameras that have become almost redundant now that we have iPads: why not take these and let the children record some of their experiences on activity!

Heres some of the footage taken by one of our children:

Waterproof Phone Cases

The best and most simple thing that you can take with you to ensure that you don’t miss a moment is a cheap waterproof phone pouch.  An example is one like this that I took with me for the other two staff on the trip – it was a two-pack so worked out really cheap in the end!


I do hope that there were some ideas that you can take from this – even just by looking at our twitter hashtag  you’ll be able to see how we, and indeed the instructors, were using twitter to engage families and our wider school community.  Some of the responses from parents have been fantastic, and truly make it all worthwhile.

I hope that you all have a great week,



Time-lapse, slow-mo, burst-mode and more – using tablet or smartphone cameras in the classroom⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Smartphones and tablets such as iPads have inbuilt cameras with a host of features beyond simply taking a photograph. Whether it’s time-lapse, slo-mo, burst-mode, video, panorama, zoom or a range of filters, quality choice or proportions.

How might these be used in the classroom to support learning and teaching?

Perhaps trying to show development of work over time in time-lapse mode for a creation process in writing, an experiment in science; or perhaps using slow-motion to more closely let a learner study techniques in physical education or music instrumental technique; or using burst-mode to capture a precise moment when observing minibeasts or animals.

Browse through the Sway presentations below to see how to use these tools on an iPad, as well as for some examples of their use in a learning environment.


Click here for a Sway showing how to use the time-lapse mode on an iPad camera, along with some examples of use, where this lets you record activity over an extended period of time but are able to view it played back with the images showing in rapid succession.


Click here for a Tweet showing an example of the use of the slow-motion mode


When you want to get the best shot of a fast-moving activity you might try to use the ordinary camera mode but, as often as not, you’ll probably find that by the time you’ve got the camera ready and clicked to take the picture you’re either too early or miss the critical moment. So here’s where the burst mode comes into play – it lets you take a series of single images from which you can then select the one which captures the moment you wish to illustrate a specific moment in time.

Click here for a Sway showing how to use the iPad camera burst-mode rapid multi-shot photo mode to capture an action image

Panorama mode

Click here for an example of use of panorama mode in iPad camera (and with pupils moving to appear multiple times in the same photograph as the camera pans round slowly!!)

How do I share photographs and videos created on my iPad?

In a classroom setting where you may be using iPads shared between multiple users, or where a teacher wants to bring images created by others together for using in other applications jointly by a class, there are different options for sharing what’s stored on an iPad. One way might be for learners to use the iPad AirDrop feature to share with another iPad – perhaps the teacher’s device for collating all created resources. Click on this link to a Sway showing how to use AirDrop. Or perhaps uploading to cloud storage online using OneDrive (provided to all users of Glow in Scottish schools). Click on this link to a Sway showing how to upload to OneDrive via a browser on an iPad.


HTML5 semantic sections with markdown⤴

from @ Sharing and learning

I’ve written a second extension for python markdown that will work with MkDocs. This one will let you put HTML5 semantic sectioning elements into the generated HTML. So, instead of just having <div>s in your generated HTML you can have, for example, an <article> or <chapter> divided into <sections>. Each of these can have an id attribute, and so can be identified, described in metadata (for example using embedded YAML) and linked to as a part of the page.  You can find the OCXSect extension on github, and you can read more about the development of it in some pages generated by MkDocs (that incidentally use the extension).

markdown that will generate HTML5 with semantic sectioning elements

What’s it do?

Markers of the form ~~X~~ and ~~\X~~ can be inserted in a markdown document at the beginning and end of what you want to be a section. The letter used will determine the type of HTML5 sectioning element is put into the HTML,<chapter><article><header><main><footer><section><nav> and <div> are currently supported (use the initial of the type of section you want). Text  after the letter will be used for the id attribute of the section. The choice of text is limited to ASCII A-Z, a-z, 0-9 !$-()+ so as to avoid unfortunate after effects if a non-URL safe character is used in what will become a fragment identifier in a URL. As a bonus, a textual representation of the structure is generated that can be useful for debugging.

So the markdown

~~C lesson1~~
#Markdown structure test
This is in the header section of a chapter. The chapter has id #lesson1. The header has no id.
~~S section 1~~
#Activity 1
This is in a regular section (id #section1) of a chapter
This is in the footer of the chapter

Generates the HTML

<chapter id="lesson1">
<h1>Markdown structure test</h1>
This is in the header section of a chapter. The chapter has id #lesson1. The header has no id.
<section id="section1">
<h1>Activity 1</h1>
This is in a regular section (id #section1) of a chapter
This is in the footer of the chapter

and the following representation of that structure:

|--chapter{'id': 'lesson1'}
    |--section{'id': 'section1'}

What’s it for?

The motivation for this extension, as with the previous one for generating metadata via YAML in markdown, is the K12 OCX project that I have been working on with people at Learning Tapestry. The aim of that project is to describe the structure and intent of curriculum and content material (CCM) for K12 in such a way as not only allows the exchange of CCM but also facilitates reuse and repurposing by editing and remixing. So rather than just say “here’s a load course material, use it as it is” we’re providing information about what the structure is, from course down to  activity, what all the pieces are and metadata to describe the content and role of those pieces. At some point that structuring happens within an HTML page, and so the pieces being described are sections of a page. For this we advocate using HTML5 sectioning elements that indicate the semantics of that section of the HTML, and JSON-LD metadata to describe the pedagogically significant sections. The sectioning part of this is actually quite similar to the ideas around textbook structure and elements I learned about from the Rebus community session run by the open textbook network.

We use MkDocs for documenting the K12OCX spec, and so in the spirit of eating our dog food I wanted to explore whether the spec could be exemplified to some extent by the documentation.

How’s it work

Essentially there are two parts to this extension, a python markdown treeprocessor that rearranges the HTML element tree after it has been generated, and a preprocessor that makes sure that the input is what we expect it to be.

The preprocessor runs through all the nodes in the HTML element tree, and recursively through the children of those nodes, replacing any p elements that indicate the start of a sectioning element (i.e . those that have text such as ~~S~~) with a new section into which subsequent nodes are moved until an element indicating the end of a section is reached.

This presupposes that the section start and end markers are in a paragraph by themselves, which will only happen if there is a blank line or block-level element the line before and after in the markdown before processing. The preprocessor does the user the favour of making sure that this is the case, while also making the input upper case, so that the original markers can be case-insensitive.

Take a look at my markdown notebook for this work for implementation details, or on github for the code.

Information about how to download, install, test and run the code in MkDocs are also on github. Please test it with caution, and let me know what you think.

Yokerburn Early Years⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Extended day centre within Yoker area of north west Glasgow. Nursery caters for children from 0–5 years from a multitude of cultural, social, financial and learning backgrounds.

Click to view slideshow.

Raising awareness of job roles within local community by working with a range of different partners in the community is one of ur key priorities. This inspires the children and provides an early introduction into the world of work.  Our children have been working with a local care home to build up confidence and familiarity of the world of work. The children have experienced several different roles within the care home including: nursing, cooking, hair and beauty and table set-up . This is a fantastic opportunity for the children to gain a real insight into the world of work.

The project has grown and we have now had several engagements with the organisation:

Working with the care home to grow products. This project is in conjunction with another partner Dumbarton Environmental Trust. The project is helping our young people to improve their understanding of science but also introducing a wide range of different career options.

Remembrance Day
We joined the care home residents on Remembrance Day and the young people made their own poppies to commemorate the occasion. This was another opportunity for the residents to discuss their own lives with our children.

We have other experiences available to our children:

Parental Employability Sessions
We have encouraged our parents to become involved in our employability events and we have had several successful parental QA sessions. This allows the children to experience these skills from some familiar faces.

Fruit Stall
This project has allowed our childen to learn employability skills in a real-life context. The children are involved in all aspects of the enterprise activity

Health and hygiene
Money handling
Stock control

They also produce a survey on what products are selling the best and plan their purchases accordingly.

Community Police Visit
The children had a visit from the community police, this was another opportunity to show a positive role model for them. They had a QA session and had the opportunity to ask a wide range of diverse questions.

“The effective incorporation of simple counting, matching, comparison tasks into the conversation encouraged early numeracy skills and the reciprocal question and answers and new vocabulary in context developed early literacy skills for our children in a real and meaningful way. Our childen have been extremely engaged during visits to Quayside with older residents and we have recognised that often adults can underestimate children’s abilities in terms of empathy and awareness. We have had statements from Quayside about increased motivation, interest and engagement by some residents and there really is an observable connection between the regular visitors.Promoting the world of work is allowing our children to access early knowledge of the wide range of different career pathways.” Head Teacher

We are building on our local partners and will continue to actively promote the positive impact of early introduction to the world of work.

Next Steps
Working with local partners
Continuing our links with local community and strengthening joint appreciation of the people and families in our area.

“We have noticed a surge of energy and increase in physical activity for some of our residents when they know the children will be visiting” Anne from Quayside