Improvise a coherent presentation from images you’ve never seen with PechaFlickr

pechaflickrPechaFlickr – for encouraging learners to think on their feet, and have fun as they try to improvise a coherent talk to a presentation of 20 random photographs which they have never seen before, each displayed for 20 seconds.

This free online tool lets you specify a word (it’s set up by default to be “dog” and if not changed will present a random series of images of dogs, each on display for 20 seconds). All you do is replace the word dog with another word, then either set a topic on which to talk (not necessarily related to the chosen picture topic!) – click play and then return to the slides as they display one at a time. The speaker must try to make a coherent presentation from these slides. This develops the PechaKucha form of making a presentation.

At a simple level the learners may try to narrate a made-up story relating to the pictures they see, but for more interest and challenge the learner may try to talk about something on which they are trying to demonstrate their learning and understanding, while in some way linking to the random images which appear every 20 seconds, the image topic not having any obvious connection to the subject on which the learner is demonstrating their learning! Challenging and fun – give it a go and see if you can do it!

Learn a second language with Duolingo

Duolingo – – a free online tool which works via PC or mobile device (via browser or mobile-specific apps) and supports learners in learning a language of their choice from a range of languages available.

Duolingo combines game based learning with online rewards systems of points and milestones to encourage and chart progress with goal setting, and your choice of topics to suit your needs.

Text, images and audio are included with tasks, broken into small steps to make learning fun through manageable chunks of activity which build on learning as you progress. text which appears have clickable links to definitions and audio which helps reassure learners when they feel that need.

Learners can use the beginning activities in the system without creating an account. However by creating an account the progress can be recorded and development made to activities which build on previously learned words and phrases.

While individuals can work on this without needing to be grouped together as a class there is now the facility for a teacher of a class to support their learners and provide further feedback through being able to track progress using Duolingo for Schools – this lets teachers either set up their class for their pupils from scratch, or collate existing accounts which learners may already have been using. Larry Ferlazzo has written about getting started with Duolingo for schools here:

Here’s an introductory video to Duolingo

OneNote to Rule them All

OneNote is a free tool which works online through a web browser, or through apps for mobile devices, or as a desktop software (it’s also part of Microsoft Office 2013).

And it’s available to users of Microsoft Office 365 (so all Scottish school pupils and staff with Glow access have this as part of the features available automatically to them via their Glow login).

But what is OneNote?

It’s like a ring-binder where you can choose to have multiple sections (like card-dividers in a real ring-binder), and within each section you can have multiple pages​. And it all synchronises on multiple devices should you wish it to do so.

How might OneNote be used in a classroom context?

So you may be a teacher who may have sections in a OneNote file for each subject, and within each subject pages for each pupil. Each page can contain text, photographs, comments, web links, audio or video so may be an evidence gathering tool for a teacher. A picture to show evidence of a piece of practical work can be instantly inserted via mobile device straight to a pupil’s page for a particular subject in the OneNote file.

Pupils could create a OneNote of their own and use it as a learning log, an eportfolio, a place to jot down their notes, links to resources, documents, websites, etc. And a OneNote stored online can be shared with another user – so a pupil may create a piece of work in a OneNote file for a particular topic, subject or teacher and share access to that so it could be shared only with that one pupil and their teacher.

The creator of the OneNote file can choose to make it so that the teacher can add comments to the document for feedback to the pupil, directly on the document. And in some versions they can also add an audio file of feedback straight into the page.

Here’s a video tutorial showing how OneNote might be used as a pupil topic research tool

Here’s a video showing OneNote being used as a learning journal shared by the pupil with their teacher

Here’s a video by educator Lisa Cuthbert-Novak showing how her learners use OneNote to chronicle their learning journey in writing, particularly noting the reflections the pupils added to what they were learning as they added examples of their work, their thoughts on the process and links to resources they found:

Choose Your Own Adventure stories - this links to a blog post by Pip Cleaves describing how using the facility to add links to different pages in a OneNote file pupils can create stories with alternative texts for different junctures in a story for their readers.

Here’s a video by Tamara Sullivan explaining how learners in Sydney and Brisbane, who did not meet face to face, collaborated on a photo essay project using OneNote as the vehicle by which they could share ideas, tasks, photo-essays and comments by learners on the work of others.


So how do you get started using OneNote?

Here’s a link to a basic guide to OneNote Online: ​ ​

These two links below also give an overview of the features of the different versions of OneNote, whether the online version, the full desktop software version, or the apps specific to different devices:

OneNote Toolkit for Teachers – a site which provides guides, examples and hints and tips for teachers looking to use OneNote in a classroom context.  This comes from the Microsoft Educator Network

​OneNote Class Notebook Creator

If schools are signed up to Office 365 then they also have the additional option to use OneNote’s education-specific class tool OneNote Class Notebook Creator where a OneNote class file can be set up so that individual sections or pages can have different access rights or permissions. So a teacher may have a pupil’s page in a class OneNote file shared with only that pupil and the teacher, meaning that nobody else can see that pupil’s work except the teacher and the specific pupil. Or a group of named pupils could have access to specific pages for collaborative working. This is designed to make management easier for the teacher and give more options for different purposes.

Note that in Office 365 the OneNote Class Notebook Creator needs to first be enabled by whoever administers the school’s establishment site – once it’s installed teachers can then set up their own class Notebooks.

Here’s a video showing how to get started setting up and using OneNote Class Creator so that a teacher can set up a personal workspace for every learner, a content library for resources, and a collaboration space for lessons and activities

Here’s a video showing how a teacher can set up a OneNote Class Notebook from their OneDrive in Office 365:

Here's a related interactive online guide to setting up and using OneNote Class notebook creator - listen to the information, move on pages at your own speed.

OneNote and Assessment – this is a blogpost by Chantelle Davies describing how they see the use of OneNote for assessment with a focus on the audio and video features providing the facility for teachers to create a workspace for every pupil, to offer a content library for adding material, and a collaboration space, with which pupils can work in their space and teachers can give feedback in the same place. The work and feedback can be accessed anywhere any time.

OneNote for Teachers – a comprehensive site which details how OneNote can be got for any device, how it can be set up for use, examples of ways in which it can be used, help guides and much more – all within a classroom context.

Microsoft Office has also produced a visual walk-through guide “Getting Started with the OneNote Class Notebook Creator: A Walkthrough for Teachers”

Visual Dictionary Online

Shahi Visual Dictionary – a free online tool which lets users enter the desired word and it will generate definition texts from the free online multilingual dictionary Wiktionary along with images from Flickr, Google and Yahoo. You can specify from a drop-down next to the text box as to which image search tool you’d prefer as the default tool (though can click on any of the tabs too. Once definitions appear, with examples of the word in contexts, there will be words within these definitions which also lead to further definitions.

Wordnik – a free online dictionary which provides multiple definitions, displays where the word has been used in contexts online, searches Twitter for use of the word and displays the tweets with that word, searches Flickr images, has synonyms, homonymns, a reverse dictionary, and even gives the Scrabble score for the chosen word!

Wikipedia in the classroom – do you know all it can do?

Wikipedia ranks in the top 10 of all websites and may well be used by learners of all ages who search for information and find a Wikipedia entry one of the first suggested results from a web search on many, many topics. For all that it’s now a well-known encyclopedia, it could be likely that many users will only be aware of a fraction of the resources available via Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has a set of policies and guidelines summed up in its five pillars which all contributors must follow: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; Wikipedia has a neutral point of view; Wikipedia is free content; Wikipedians should interact in a respectful and civil manner; and Wikipedia does not have firm rules. This requirement for anti-bias, verifiability, and reliable sourcing as well as the worldwide community of contributors can be seen to set Wikipedia apart from print-based published encyclopedia.

From the Wikipedia page about Wikipedia itself can be found the following: “Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference websites, attracting 470 million unique visitors monthly as of February 2012. There are more than 76,000 active contributors working on more than 31,000,000 articles in 285 languages. There are 4,644,653 articles in English. Every day, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world collectively make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles to augment the knowledge held by the Wikipedia encyclopedia. People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can add or edit article prose, references, images and other media here. What is contributed is more important than the expertise or qualifications of the contributor. What will remain depends upon whether the content is free of copyright restrictions and contentious material about living people, and whether it fits within Wikipedia’s policies, including being verifiable against a published reliable source, thereby excluding editors’ opinions and beliefs and unreviewed research. Contributions cannot damage Wikipedia because the software allows easy reversal of mistakes and many experienced editors are watching to help ensure that edits are cumulative improvements.”

Wikipedia is a live collaboration differing from paper-based reference sources in important ways. Unlike printed encyclopedias, Wikipedia is continually created and updated, with articles on historic events appearing within minutes, rather than months or years. There is a Wikipedia page aimed specifically at providing advice for parents/carers or teachers of children and young people, about their use of Wikipedia: “Wikipedia’s goal is to offer “the sum of all human knowledge” in a format which is legal to copy, modify and redistribute (copyleft, as we call it) to all, at no cost. With this aim in mind, we have grown to become one of the largest collections of information ever assembled, and enjoy a high profile as one of the most popular websites on the internet. We hope you will find huge educational value within this project; and amongst our millions of articles, you will certainly find many relevant to almost all areas of study. No encyclopedia should be the end of the line in any research, however, and we hope you’ll find our articles useful road maps for further exploration across a whole range of subjects. Wikipedia is freely editable by anyone and everyone, but this does not mean that anyone can write anything. Both inaccuracy and sheer vandalism are therefore problems that the project faces on a daily basis. However, a number of safeguards are in effect. These include insisting that editors cite reliable sources, as well as Recent Changes Patrolling for vandalism, and New Page Patrolling for recently created articles with inappropriate content.”

Did you know you can see the history of contributions or editing of a wikipedia entry? This lets you see what was changed, who added, edited or changed it as well as a summary of what the reasons for the change were. Look for the “view history” tab along the top of a Wikipedia page. On that page you can also find out more about contributors to a page. So if your learners are looking at digital literacy in the context of study or research on any topic this is a useful tool to provide sources of information, authors/contributors and to give an indication of how reliable and up to date the information provided on the Wikipedia entry is.

Did you know there is a Wikipedia for schools? This is a selection of articles from Wikipedia to support the school curriculum (specifically aimed at schools in the UK though can be accessed worldwide) and aimed at use by pupils. 6000 articles, 26 million words and 50,000 images which have been checked for use by schools, and are also categorised by school subject. You can even download Wikipedia for Schools from You can also get a copy on USB memory stick.

Did you know there is a section on Wikipedia “Guidance for Young Editors – this gives advice aimed at young people creating or editing content. While this may not be seen as something which many young people will be looking to do, there are many who have particular interests where this would be useful to provide guidance aimed at them. For all younger users the guidance also provides a useful starting point, written in more accessible language aimed specifically at younger readers, about how Wikipedia as a joint collaborative research tool works.

Did you know there is a Wikipedia WikiProject Schools site? This provides space, templates and guidance specifically for schools to provide information about their school.

Did you know there is a Wikipedia:Student Assignments section? Occasionally teachers may have learning situations where it would be appropriate to have learners collaborate together on a joint project as an assignment using Wikipedia as the tool – it may be for specific areas local to the school or on specific topics where Wikipedia does not have a wealth of information. In that case the extensive guidance for teachers is essential reading for the teacher.

Did you know there is a Wikipedia List of Historical Anniversaries? For any day of the year, in any year, for any month, you will find an entry listing events on that day, births, deaths, holidays or observances. And of course, as with any entry in Wikipedia, there are links to the Wikipedia pages providing more information on any of these entries, whether individuals, groups or events. So in a classroom situation if you are going to be teaching about a particular topic it’s likely you will find something relating to that context on the particular day on which you are teaching that topic. And that can provide a form of engagement for learners to the topic about which they will be learning.

Did you know that, although you will often find using a search engine of your choice will bring up a Wikipedia page in one of the top returns, Wikipedia also has its own search box – just enter what you’re looking for into the Wikipedia Search box on any page and it will search only Wikipedia. Wikipedia also has a very useful Wikipedia Help page – this provides guidance about how to better target your searching to find exactly what you are looking for; it provides answers to commonly asked questions about Wikipedia itself; it provides links to guidance about how to go about editing Wikipedia pages; and how to report an issue with any Wikipedia page.

Did you know there is a Wikipedia Community Portal where you can see what’s needing to be done, whether adding an image to accompany an article, whether checking spelling, whether adding links to related material. This page provides a list of the elements needing attention, and may provide a useful way into using Wikipedia as a contributor for learners of all ages, rather than as simply consumers.

Did you know there is a Scots Language version of Wikipedia? This comprises many tens of thousands of articles written in Scots, which provides a rich source of material for all Scottish schools looking at the Scots language.

Did you know there is a Simple English Wikipedia? This has the “stated aim of providing an encyclopedia for people with different needs, such as students, children, adults with learning difficulties and people who are trying to learn English” and contains over 100,000 content pages. Not only do the articles use a simplified English, the tabs and menus also use simplified terms, making this ideal for use in the classroom with younger learners.

This article only scratches the surface of all that Wikipedia offers for schools – explore and see how it can help in your classroom

Adding interactivity to videos with EDpuzzle

EDpuzzle is a free tool to let you add interactivity to online videos to help engage learners with the content rather than simply be passive viewers. You can select videos from a host of online hosts (including YouTube, Khan Academy and more) or ones you have uploaded yourself, crop the video to show only the part you are interested in showing to your learners. You can add your own audio, add a quiz or questions at specific points in the video, and as the teacher match the activity to the learner – you can even stop pupils jumping ahead on the video. The teacher sets up an account, gives the pupils a class code and the learning begins.

Here is a video which explains how EDpuzzle works:

 Here’s a link to the EDpuzzle YouTube channel with a host of videos showing how it can be used in an educational context.

So you want to create a presentation?

Whether you wish to give a presentation on a teaching topic, or your learners wish to use a presentation to demonstrate their understanding of a topic, there are several ways in which a presentation may be created and shared. And while Microsoft Office Powerpoint may still provide many templates and formats which have become standard over many years for doing so, there are many who have found more engaging ways to share information with an audience, whether simply in using Powerpoint in more creative ways, or in using other slide presentation tools which are now available.

What help is there to inspire creating more engaging presentations?

In the past presentations may have followed certain templates and made use of bullet-points, with presenters perhaps falling into the trap of simply reading the text from the bullet-points (which everyone could have read for themselves).

Chris Betcher has written about how he has encouraged pupils to change how they think about using Powerpoint to deliver their presentations, describing in this post how using only visuals with no text has transformed how learners view their presentation skills.

Cybraryman Powerpoint Resources – Jerry Blumengarten has collated and described a host of resources which support educators in their use of Powerpoint, either as a teaching tool or for pupil use, including links to tutorials, templates, and tips and ideas.

Pecha Kucha and Ignite were devised to make the presentations more interesting visually, as well as imposing specific limitations on time and number of slides – the aim being to encourage presenters to focus on what they want to say and present that information in a creative way but succinctly! Pecha Kucha comprises 20 slides each shown for 20 seconds. Ignite consists of 20 slides in 5 minutes, with each slide lasting 15 seconds.

Pecha Kucha: Tips, resources and Examples is a post by Catherine Cronin which describes features of different kinds of presentations, provides links to tutorials and tools for creating presentations, and also provides links to examples of student-created presentations in different styles. Jerry Blumengarten has also put together a host of resources about the use of Pecha Kucha in education at his Cybraryman Pecha Kucha page

There is Life Beyond Death for Powerpoint - an article by David Roberts on Times Higher Education which sets out how the use of images instead of text can revitalise a lecture in higher education. While this article is in a higher education context the principles of the findings can be applied to other areas of education.

10 Tips to Design Effective Presentations – a post by Med Kharbach on the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog, which provides tips and hints to designing more effective presentations. It also links to a presentation on the topic by Anitra Nottingham.

Powerpoint doesn’t suck; 10 ideas to make it great – a post by George Couros with tips and suggestions for making more effective presentations. These are aimed at use of Powerpoint but apply equally to any other presentation tool.

What tools are there for creating presentations?

There are many tools for creating presentations. here are just some of them.

Microsoft Office 365 Powerpoint – the ubiquitous Powerpoint presentation tool available online (and free to education users). Simon Haughton has described how he has encouraged primary pupils to create more interesting presentations using Powerpoint. Click here for the Cybraryman Powerpoint Resource page for educators. Chris Smith has put together a host of resources about using Powerpoint in education at his Shambles site.

Movenote –  a free online tool which has a two-screen view with option to have a slideshow format presentation displayed in the larger of the two screens accompanied by the presenter on video in the smaller screen.

Slideshare – free online service where you can upload existing Powerpoint presentations and then share with others online or embed on websites or blogs elsewhere.

Google Apps for Education Slides Presentation Tool – free tool as part of Google apps for Education which lets users upload existing Powerpoint presentations, or create from scratch within the tool itself (and includes templates as well as facility for importing further templates). These can then be shared by link (or kept private to the user or selected others) or embedded online elsewhere.

Prezi - free tool (with premium upgrades available for more features or greater storage, and with a free account for those with school email addresses) which hosts your presentation online in the cloud (though can also be downloaded for offline presentation). Prezi presentations are created on a zooming canvas – meaning you can zoom in on a part of a word, image, link or video or take your viewers on a journey by following a path, rather than simply presenting a series of slides in traditional format. Tom Barrett has collated ideas by educators of interesting ways to use Prezi in an educational context. Jerry Blumengarten has collated a host of links to resources related to the use of Prezi in education at his Cybraryman Prezi page.

Powtoon – a free online tool which lets users create a presentation with animated images, animated text which appears as if written by hand and much more.

Zentation – a free tool where you upload a video to YouTube, upload a Powerpoint presentation and match the two together using Zentation online tool.

Emaze – free online presentation tool which lets you create a presentation to which you can add video or audio (in the premium version the presentation can be downloaded either in html5 version for offline viewing, or as a pdf). 


Powerpoint and other Presentation Tools – a page full of links to resources supporting the use of Powerpoint and many other alternative slide presentation tools at the Shambles website.

10 counter-intuitive, researched tips on use of video in education – a post by Donald Clark which presents advice based on studies about ways to ensure your use of video has maximum impact on engaging learners and does not have the opposite effect to what might be presumed by some to be effective.

Gaining Ground with Geocaching

Geocaching is a way to use mobile devices to engage learners with a geographical area – creating or finding hidden “caches” which can be found by solving clues to locate them.

OpenCaching is a free source of geocaches which can be downloaded to a mobile device (there are free apps for mobile devices). This site explains exactly what geocaching is all about, how it works, how learners can create geocaches or search for existing geocaches shared by others. The site details the etiquette of setting geocache challenges as well as providing guidelines for users who find geocaches, and links to the free downloadable apps for mobile devices. is a US site which provides a host of background information about geocaching, how to get started and how to create or find geocaches. There is a Geocaching 101 which provides answers to a series of frequently asked questions.

Ollie Bray has written about the use of geocaching by primary schools. This post sets out how geocaching can support various aspects of the curriculum, and also provides links to further resources for using geocaching in an educational setting.

Jen Deyenberg, in her Trails Optional blog, has written extensively about the use of geocaching in the primary classroom in particular. There are several blogposts in the geocaching category on this blog each either giving examples of how geocaching has been used to support specific curricular areas, or how to go about setting up geocaches. The helpful gudies as well as illustrations of what actually happened in the classroom makes these useful for primary teachers looking for inspiration.