Tag Archives: reading

Community readers – The most magnificent thing⤴

from @ Glowing Posts

This blog was active until 2022. It is a great example of a project blog:

This blog records the fantastic reading work which takes place at Kirkhill Primary School and Dechmont Infant School. We love to read and encourage all our families to read and share books for enjoyment as much as possible. While our access to books and ability to share books has been limited over the last eighteen months we have found new ways to celebrate reading.

Community readers – The most magnificent thing | Kirkhill Reads/ Dechmont reads

The blog consists of posts containing videos of different people from the school community reading different books. What a great idea.

Making the most of Microsoft Lens to support learning and teaching⤴

from @ Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk

Microsoft Office Lens (or Office Lens, or Microsoft Lens) is a versatile digital tool which can be helpful in many situations in an educational context. A teacher may wish to quickly grab the text from a page of a printed document to edit, to annotate and to share with a class. Office Lens can do …

Why you should start a reading habit.⤴

from @ Becoming Educated

“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching”

I love reading.

I believe that it makes me a better teacher and that it could make you a better teacher too. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a better teacher and to learn something every single day. It is what we want for our school children so why should we stop when we are an adult. Henry Ford once said “Anyone who stops learning is old whether at twenty or eighty. Any one who keeps learning stays young” and I want to stay young that’s for sure so if Mr Ford is right I’m going to read every day.

I didn’t always read. Not because I wasn’t able to but I told myself the famous old excuses, the same excuses that our students will give us:

‘I read too slow’

‘The book is far too long’

‘I don’t have the time’

‘Books are boring’

Do these sound familiar? I bet you have used one of them at some point. We all have.

Reading is highly enjoyable, informative, thought provoking, it can clarify thoughts that have been swimming around your head and bring new perspectives that you may never have had. As teachers, of some subjects more than others, we wax lyrical about the benefits of reading to our students who just aren’t interested. We must, however, ensure that we have a love for reading and that we have built a reading habit. This will allow us to model to students our good habits and share with them our joy of reading.

If you already read then please share your successes with others. Tell them about the books you read and what you are learning. How it is shaping your mind and your life. It will amaze you what comes back and how people love to share what they have read also.

If you don’t regularly read I implore you to start. It doesn’t have to be non-fiction or books about education (although I’d love to share my learning with you if you want to chat about it). We can learn so much from fiction as the characters and their personalities came from somewhere right?

So why should you start or have a reading habit? Why don’t we start with this study published in Neurology in 2013. The researchers demonstrated that reading can slow the cognitive agin process as when your mind is engaged in intense mental activity (reading a new book) it does better. You could compare it to working hard in the gym the more you train the stronger you become. Books are like protein shakes for the brain!

In short: Read. Use your Brain. Be better.

The biggest excuse for most of the adult population is that of time. Consider this, if you read only 10 pages per day you would read 3650 pages per year. This equates to 18 200 page books. Imagine the knowledge you could gain in one year from simply reading 10 pages per day. It’s not that much is it?

Here are some tips on how you could easily make reading a habit in your daily life:

  • Set a time. You could read while having breakfast. Read while using the toilet. Read after dinner. Read before you sleep (we have all heard about not having technology in the bedroom but books are encouraged!!) If you read at all those times for 10 minutes that would be 40 minutes a day (roughly), plenty time for you to get your 10 pages done.
  • Have a set place. Some places are just full of distraction so to give it your full attention I’d recommend having a quiet place at work or at home. If you don’t have one make one, it is worth it.
  • Always carry a book. I listened to a podcast with Ryan Holiday (a brilliant author) and he spoke of always carrying a book with you so I have started doing this. In a queue, read your book. At your Childs gymnastic class, read a book. Waiting at the airport, read a book. Waiting in line at Starbucks, read a book. You get the gist.
  • Instead of watching the news use that time to read a book. The news is bad for you according to this post in the Guardian quite a few years ago. The news is full of hyperbole and negativity. It fuels your negativity bias and encourages people to post on social media about the catastrophe and drama it promotes. How often does the news share good and great stories about the many amazing people in the world? Instead use that time to read a book. Instead of a newspaper, read a book on the science of how we learn. Wouldn’t that be much better for your students and children?
  • If you have children read to them every single day. Reading books to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It develops their language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Do I need to say more?
  • Have a reading hour. Further to having a set time you could adopt a reading hour. Many personal development advocates like Tony Robbins, Robin Sharma, Hal Elrod etc etc. All advocate a power hour of learning. Adopt it and read as much as you can. The more you learn the more you grow and the more you know the more you realise you don’t know. So you learn some more. Isn’t that just magic?
  • Start or join a book club. Sharing and collaborating is one of the great joys of life (in my humble opinion) so reading with an aim to share is a great way to build reading into your life as it will make you want to do it and contribute to the discussion. Being a part of. book club helps with decreasing the stress of reading as you are ‘in it together’, encourages you to finish books, allows you to gain new perspectives as everyone will understand t=it differently and it has also been shown to boost teamwork skills!

I hope this post helps you foster a love of reading. It really has moved my thinking forward and I feel confident when offering my thoughts and opinions as I have worked through them in the books that I read.

Happy reading!



Developing Literacy with GarageBand⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Supporting the development of literacy in the classroom with GarageBand iPad app

GarageBand is an iPad app which has a host of uses for recording audio, which can include music in a host of different ways. But here’s how GarageBand can be used specifically to support the development of literacy in the classroom.

The how-to guide below provides the steps for learners recording themselves speaking using the GarageBand app on an iPad. A teacher can vary the steps depending on the purpose of the activity – so learners may start off needing to write a short story, or a poem or a conversation between characters, a report, or whatever is undertaken in the class.

It may be that learners have to retain key information, and the process of working sufficiently with a piece of text in order to prepare for recording it, then going through the recording process, then manipulating that recording (refining or editing or adding backing tracks), then sharing and listening to that recording, may help the learner engage more fully with the text, absorb it and make it their own, so they may be better able to recall that information if required to support their learning.

The outcome is that this chosen piece of writing is to be made into an audio recording to be shared with others. Whether that’s simply played back in class or shared with a wider audience online as determined by the learners and their teacher.

Knowing that their work will have a wider audience than their teacher changes the dynamic for the learner.

The resulting recording can have unwanted silences or other sounds edited out as described below, before the audio recording is shared with others.

Or as exercise in listening one group of pupils might record the words of a well-known piece of text being studied in class, but with the words in the incorrect order for another group of learners to use GarageBand to move the recordings of the words around until they are in the correct sequence.

So how do you use GarageBand to record and edit the spoken word? Follow the steps below, and then adapt the activity to suit the learning needs.

Recording learners speaking using the GarageBand iPad app

1. Click on + at top right in GarageBand Recents screen to begin a new recording

2. Choose Tracks tab along the top

3. Slide from the screen left to right until you see Audio Recorder choice

4. Now click click on + at top right 

5. On the next screen click to the right of Section A where it says 8 bars to change to automatic by changing the slider to show on position for automatic

6. Switch off metronome icon so it does not show blue

7. Click on the input settings icon to the left beside the word “IN” and slide the button to the right beside the word “Automatic” to switch this on

8. Switch the view to show the tracks by clicking on the icon to the top left next to the down arrow

9. Then click record red button, wait for the audible clicking and on-screen countdown before speaking.

10. Once you have finished speaking, press the white square stop button to halt recording.

11. Press the white triangle play button to play back what you recorded.


12. Double-clicking on the blue audio track will reveal a range of choices for editing that recording, whether cut, copy, delete, loop, split, rename or (from the settings option) adjusting the speed or even reversing the recording.


13. To edit out unwanted silence or noises between speaking then when you double click the track, slide the timeline arrow above the track to before the unwanted sound, choose split from the menu when double-clicked on the track, and pull downwards on the scissors icon which will appear. Repeat this to split after the unwanted part of the recording, then double click this unwanted section and cut it or delete it.

14. Using this process you can cut and paste sections, phrases or individual words or sounds and move elements around.

15. Click and hold any track and choose to redo if wanted

16. Once you’re happy with your recording then click on the downwards pointing arrow at the top left and choose “My Songs” to save this recording and return to the list of any other recordings


17. To name this recording simply hold your finger on the recording icon for the recording you’ve just made and choose rename from the menu, give it a new name and click done.

18. To share this recording elsewhere or with others then hold your finger on the recording icon for the recording you’ve just made and click on the sideways arrow until you see share as an option and click on that.


19. Choose “Song” so that this will convert the GarageBand file into an audio recording which can be played back by others without the need for the GarageBand app.

20. Select the level of quality you wish than click “share” so that you can then choose how you wish to share it, whether by airdrop to another iPad or saved somewhere else of your choosing.

21. You can even save it to this iPad just into iPad Notes so you can keep it beside typed text without having to have an internet connection to share elsewhere – you can still share this note and the recording later elsewhere.

Do you want to add background music to the audio recording of spoken text?

GarageBand has a host of inbuilt musical instruments available from which to choose to create a musical backing track to your audio recording of the spoken text. You don’t have to add this but it can add another dimension to the recording, especially if the recording is to be shared elsewhere. Also, as the musical background track is being added, the learner once more listens to the text to which the background track is added each time adjustments are made.

You don’t need to be able to play the chosen instrument, or know much about music, since GarageBand includes options for using neat auto-creation wizards. For this guide the steps will show how to add a guitar backing track.

How to add a guitar backing track to audio recording of spoken text

  1. Open the audio recording of spoken text you previously created in GarageBand
  2. Ensure you are viewing in track mode (click on the track icon to the top left next to the downwards pointing arrow).
  3. Click on the + symbol to the bottom left to add another track.

4. Slide from left to right until the guitar choice appears on screen

5. Click on “smart guitar” at the bottom left

6. Now click on the icon which looks like a volume control dial at the top right

7. Click on the “Autoplay” dial so that the choice dot aligns with number 4 (you can make a different choice as you wish).

8. Try out creating music simply by clicking in turn on each chord to hear how it might sound. When you are ready to record the music simply click on the red record button, wait for the countdown, and then start playing your choice of chord buttons – note that you will hear the previously recorded audio recording of spoken text played back so that you will be able to match your guitar chords playing with this recording, and click on the white square stop icon to finish recording.

9. You can click on this guitar track to choose from the menus as to whether to delete and try again, or split and cut elements. You can adjust the relative volume of this track by sliding from the left and adjusting the volume control there.

10. Once ready to save and share this recording click on the downwards facing arrow at the top left

Looking to learn how to use more features of GarageBand iPad app?

Click on the link below for a free online manual on the Apple support site which guides you through every aspect of using the GarageBand app on an iPad



The video below “Beginner’s Guide to GarageBand for iPad” on the excellent Technology for Teachers and Students YouTube channel provides an introduction to using GarageBand on an iPad, including a host of tips and suggestions for using different features of the app.


Apple Teacher classroom-specific guide to using GarageBand

Click on the link below to sign up for the free Apple Teacher programme. This comprises standalone modules, one of which covers the use of GarageBand in a classroom setting


Reading this week…13th January⤴


The first piece is by Mark Ensor, and it’s about parts of teaching which are not seen, but happen all the time in a reflective classroom. The piece discusses lesson observations at one point. I’ve had a few of those and I wouldn’t rate them highly as something that has improved my teaching. The things that have improved my teaching are reading websites, tweets and books, high quality training and casual observations and chat with the wonderful folk I’ve been lucky enough to work with.

Here is teacherhead revisiting Dylan Wiliam’s formative assessment strategies. When I’ve heard or read Dylan, it is a good reminder that his key principles of formative assessment have become many things to many people. He doesn’t think all of them are a good fit with his initial ideas.

If you’re wanting some podcasts for the new year based on education Third Space has this list.

I’m very interested in the use of retrieval practice to secure pupil learning and I’m always looking for ways to use it in class. Here is one teacher’s ideas.

And here are some more ideas of how we can use recall in class.

A simple sketchnote to help develop depth in questioning from Impact Wales. And another one.

Day 24 of 365

Gordon McKinlay

Day 24 of 365

Doorway Online Interactive and Accessible Learning⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Doorway Online Interactive and Accessible Learninghttp://www.doorwayonline.org.uk/– an array of free online teaching resources which can be used by early learners independently or as classroom activities led by a teacher on an interactive whiteboard.

These support learning and teaching in literacy (letter and number formation, first sounds, first words, first blends, spelling using look, say, cover, write and check), numeracy (odd and even, counting to 10, number table, number sequencing, station of the times tables, addition and subtraction to 10 and to 100, telling the time, and handling money), touch-typing games to learn keyboarding skills, and matching and memory games.

Each activity has a range of accessibility (whether keyboard-only users, mouse-only users and switch users) and a range of difficulty options.


Microsoft Learning Tools with Immersive Reader⤴

from @ ICT for Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Learning Tools with Immersive Reader provide users of Microsoft Office 365 (including Word and OneNote) with a range of tools to support learners with varying needs, making reading and writing more accessible for any learner. This is available to all Glow users in Scottish schools.

Have a look at the Sway presentation here to see more about Immersive Reader and Learning Tools


Alberto Manguel – his part in my reading life⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

I’ve always loved reading about reading. The lives readers lead and the way books have formed them is an endless source of fascination, often envy. From Francis Spufford’s ‘The Child that Books Built’ to Susan Hill’s ‘Howard’s End is on the Landing’, tales of the remarkable journeys that we go on as readers have encouraged me to reflect on my own reading history, forming many of my values as an English Teacher. In particular, Alberto Manguel’s books continue to document the life of the reader like no others. So I was thrilled recently to discover that he has a new book this year, ‘Packing my Library: an Elegy and Ten Digressions’.

My first experience of Manguel came when I discovered his ‘A Reading Diary: A Year of favourite Books’ in a second hand book shop. It is a joyful short read, doing exactly what the title suggests. He takes us through his literary thoughts on classics such as ‘Don Quixote’ and ‘The Wind in the Willows’: he never reviews, never critiques; merely shares his thoughts as he walks alongside Mole and  Sancho Panza, reflecting on his life at that moment. I’d never read anything like it. Beautifully written, infectiously optimistic, it might possibly be the root of much that came after for me. He recognised that ‘Reading is a comfortable, solitary, slow and sensuous task’ while recognising that ‘every book exists in a dreamlike condition until the hand that open it and the eyes that peruse it stir the words into awareness’. And if I’d written that sentence I might never have to write another one.

When I began to write my own book on reading, it was to Manguel that I first turned; his ‘A History of Reading’ being as a good a point as any to start. Impeccably and painstakingly researched, Manguel walked me through the roots of reading. From a pre-Aristotle age to very contemporary, political approaches to reading, the book is a remarkable achievement, carefully arguing the roots and the pros and cons of silent reading, to translation and banned books. How we have changed as readers through the ages, how reading has been valued, and de-valued throughout history and how reading and literacy  have become the political tool of our age is a liberating story.

He sums up the importance of reading in the words of Thomas a Kempis: ‘I have sought for happiness everywhere but I have found it nowhere except in a little corner with a little book.’

While I’ve had it for a few years, I’m unsure I’ve read all of Manguel’s ‘A Reader on Reading’. It’s a magnificent collection of essays which you can dip into; my favourites being, ‘How Pinocchio Learned to Read’ and ‘The Library at Home’. The range and breadth of subjects covered suggests a writer who knows his subject. His journey is a thoughtful and remarkable one and this is a book which I return to often. Those of you who really ‘get’ that books can be a haven from a hectic world will love it:

“In the midst of uncertainty and many kinds of fear, threatened by loss, change, and the welling of pain within and without for which one can offer no comfort, readers know that at least there are, here and there, a few safe places, as real as paper and as bracing as ink, to grant us roof and board in our passage through the dark and nameless wood.”

Finally, as I wait patiently for his new book, another essay collection to recommend is ‘The Library at Night’. Now I grew up in libraries, having never had my own at home, and, in an era where libraries are seen as an excessive luxury rather than societal necessity, Manguel’s essays will make you weep with joy for a world sadly disappearing. He takes us through a series of thoughts and explanations, a series of treatise about libraries as collections of books as much as spaces; how those spaces, wherever they may be, provide us with places to live, places to think, places to grow.

“And for the course of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexations, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass into their world.”

Thank you, Alberto Manguel.