Category Archives: Teaching Digital Skills

Using Glow and Teams for Remote Learning

Glow is a really powerful platform for connected learning, however we still often don’t engage as well as we could – I myself am guilty of that.

With COVID-19, suddenly we have been forced to reconsider everything we know about delivering learning experiences and are turning to online platforms.

Many schools are considering using Teams (who aren’t already) after the holidays, but not all staff and pupils feel confident in using it.  I have, therefore, created tutorial videos for teachers and pupils on Twitter, and will share below so that they are all in one place.

Please take care and stay safe.



For Teachers

Setting up Teams for your class on Glow

You will need a glow account in order to do this.

Sign into Glow at and follow the below tutorial to add ‘Microsoft Teams’ to your launchpad, find your class’ login details (you will need to find a way to send these out to pupils) and set up your team.

The video also shows some of the features of Teams that you will be able to use to support children with their learning.

When changing passwords for the children, I would recommend using one password for everyone and ticking the box which allows them to change their password.  This is an excellent way to start a conversation about the importance of keeping passwords safe and secure.

If you forget to tick the box allowing pupils to change their password, don’t worry as I will cover how pupils can change their own password in my tutorial for them.

The official Glow quick-start guide can be found here

If any of your pupils do not have a Glow account, this needs to be set up on SEEMIS Click and Go.  Your school admin or SLT should be able to do this.

Here is an easy template to share pupil details via email/post to your class.  It also includes links to the pupil help videos featured below.  Click here for the Microsoft Word document containing information for pupils.

A full guide to using Teams

This video is an in-depth look into using Teams.  I have tried to keep it as simple as possible, so for more advanced features please check out some other readily available tutorials on Teams.  This looks at an overview of what the Teams experience will be like for you and your class, with a demonstration video meeting as well.

Use the timecodes below to skip to the relevant sections.

Video Timecodes.
1. Join or Create a Team (1min 18s) – find out how to create your own class team or join a team.
2. Activity and Chat (3 mins 02s) – Take a look at the ‘Activity’ and ‘Chat’ options in the left-hand menu.
3. Assignments and Quizzes (3 mins 55s) – Learn how to set assignments and create quizzes for your class team all within the application in the left- hand menu.
4. Calendar and Meetings (4 mins 43s) – Learn how to create meetings for your class (video lessons) using the calendar option on the left-hand menu.
5. Calls, Files, and Other Options (6 mins 31s) – Find out about the final left-hand menu options.
6. Inside Your Team (7 mins 15s) – Learn about all of the options you have inside your team page, such as hosting quick video meetings, text conversation, team files, applications, and giving out reward points.
7. Channels (11 mins 44s) – Learn about channels and how they are used.
8. Hosting a Meeting (12 mins 27s) – Take a look at what it is like to host a meeting with an on-screen mock meeting, and see the options that you have including sharing your desktop for the class to see PowerPoints etc while you’re talking.
9. How to Mute and Use Chat (16 mins 50s) – This is really underrated but so important in teams meetings in order to prevent glitching audio and nonsensical dialogue.
10. Pupils Sharing (18 mins 21s) – See how pupils are able to share their screen and examples of their work during a meeting (they can also upload to the files/conversation)

Using the Teams App – common troubleshooting

A common troubleshooting issue when signing in to the mobile & desktop app is using the full glow email extension.  This quick video will talk you through using the Microsoft Teams app on any device.

Ideas for using Teams

For ideas about ways to get started using Teams, check out Malcolm Wilson’s blog post here and follow him on Twitter @claganach.

For Children

Please feel free to send the video links via your communication platforms to children that you want to support in accessing Glow and Teams.

Video 1 – How To Set Up Your Glow Account

URL to share with pupils:

Video 2 – How To Set Up and Use Teams

(Make sure to set up your Glow account before watching this video; video 1 will help you with that)

URL to share with pupils:




I love Spheros.  They have so much potential to really enhance learning and teaching, and really provide you with opportunities to allow learners to apply their learning in different contexts.  They are not cheap though, but they are so versatile that they are a really good investment.

Many schools and councils are purchasing Spheros, so hopefully this blog will be beneficial if you have/are getting Spheros and would like to know what you can do with them.  Even if you aren’t planning on getting them, hopefully this blog will allow you to understand more about them, what they do and how they can enhance the learning of your children.

What are Spheros?

Image from source

I think the New Yorker sums it up the best in their post: “Spheros aren’t just fun; they are also an excellent teaching tool. Students have begun using them to learn everything from geometry to genetics. They can code them, too, to take a first step into computer programming.”

Spheros are programmable toys, similar to Beebots but with far more capability and potential.  In a computer programming context, children can apply their learning of code to make the Sphero perform a variety of actions, such as: drawing shapes, completing mazes, and even to interact with their surroundings.  Movement with spheros isn’t as simple as ‘move forward’ for a set number of steps.  Children have to apply an understanding of angles, speed and time in order for the sphero to move.  They can develop an understanding of the link between speed, distance and time to accurately program their device to move as intended.

Spheros aren’t just for older learners though – there is so much potential for younger learners to use the ‘draw’ feature to manipulate the device.  D&T activities are also notable, as children can design devices that are powered by the Spero – such as a racing car that is driven by the sphero, or even a helicopter whose rotary blade spins as the sphero spins.

There are a variety of different Spheros available – most schools use SPRK+, however all are fantastic.  You can see the full range here.

Below is a fantastic intro video that shows what Sphero Edu is all about:


Activities and Resources

Fortunately, getting started with Spheros need not be daunting or tricky; there are a whole host of free resources to use with Spheros.  A Sphero resource guide is available here although is based on the American K-12 system.

The best place to start is the Sphero Education Website.  The activities tab allows you to find fully comprehensive lessons sorted by stage / subject.  It should be noted that Spheros shouldn’t only be used for teaching computer science – there are so many applications across the curriculum that it really is worth browsing the activities site to see what you can do.

Another great resource is your local Apple store.  Did you know that you can take groups of children there for FREE to learn how to use Spheros (you don’t even need your own devices as the store provides them!) . Go to the Apple Field Trip website for more info and to book.

Of course, the other place that I love to go for my ideas is Twitter.  Loads of schools use Spheros really effectively.  Just search for ‘sphero’ in your Twitter search bar, and you will find loads of schools using them and be instantly inspired!

Here are some of my favourite recent examples:

How have I used them?

We’ve actually only just purchased our Spheros in Mosspark, so I have only used them twice with learners.

In the first lesson/few lessons with spheros, I like to let the children get used to syncing, controlling and putting to sleep the Sphero.  I often play ‘Sphero tig’ and other simple improvised games.  Sphero tig is easy – one Sphero is it and sets their colour to green.  The other Spheros are blue.  If the tigger catches a Sphero, it turns red and waits until a blue Sphero frees them by touching them and flashing their light on/off 5 times.  The children really enjoy this and it engages them instantly and allows them to quickly learn to control the Spheros through the ‘drive’ function.

You can follow our journey with Spheros by following @MossparkPS on Twitter.  Here are some of our recent Sphero tweets including our instant hit, ‘Sphero Tig’:


I hope that the post this evening has been helpful and has given you ideas about how to get started with Spheros in your own classrooms.

As always, please connect with me on twitter: @mrfeistsclass.  I love getting inspired by everything that you all do.  Feel free to send me suggestions for future blog posts and tag me in Tweets showing how you are using Spheros or any digi tech to enhance learning!

Have a great week





ICT for Early Years

There are lots of computing concepts and skills that can be taught in the early years; and indeed, the CfE asks that we teach a number of these.  However, I have spoken to a number of practitioners in the past who say that they don’t really do any computing with children in P1.  In this post, I want to look at ways to make teaching computing easy for P1 – what’s worked for me and how to develop skills so that children are able to use the devices available proficiently.  In this blog, I will focus only on computer skills, as our young learners are mostly quite proficient on tablet devices having often had a lot of exposure to them at home.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog ever since having a debate about P1 SNSA tests – this is a controversial subject, so I won’t post my views on here as that is irrelevant – but what I did take from it was the teacher saying “but most of our P1s can’t use a mouse, so it took a really long time as we had to support them 1-1”.

I do believe that all P1s should be able to use a mouse, and as such, mouse control is the skill that I will say is the most important thing that you can develop with your learners.  I will note how I have done this below; however, let’s first look at the experiences and outcomes (and benchmarks) for early years.

What’s worked for me?

I’ve been teaching NCCT cover computing to P1 (and all stages) for 45 minutes per week for the last three and a half years.  Until December, my focus is always on mouse control.  I do use strategies to make teaching computing easier to P1, which I will note below, but in order that we can progress with all aspects of computing, it is important that the children can coordinate mouse movements and clicks.  To do this, I use my favourite program: Microsoft Paint, which is available on all GCC (and I imagine all other authorities) desktop and laptop devices. For the first few sessions, I load MS Paint onto the children’s computers and show them how to use the mouse to “click” (for a dot) or “hold” for a line.  We practise in the air first – in the same way you might practise writing letters with imaginary pens.  And then I ask them to draw a picture of their class teacher or make a self portrait.  For the first few weeks, I do the same lesson to really reinforce the mouse control aspect but with different things to draw.  I always have the children working in pairs for this.

After most of the children are more proficient in using the mouse and MS paint, normally after a few weeks, I show them how to navigate to and open MS Paint.  I don’t generally pin it to the task bar or have it as a desktop shortcut, as I like them to get the practise of opening the START menu (we call this “the rainbow flag”) and then clicking on the paint icon.  Soon after learning to open Paint, the children also learn to close it using “the red x” and “pressing the middle button” (don’t save).

We continue using paint for lessons, but the complexity of what we draws increases as we add in selecting different colours, different brush types and fill.  We normally work up to the start of December and create winter scenes.  I know this seems like a lot of just using paint, but it really does work and with P1 I don’t get to start until mid-to-late September.

We also start to experiment with different programs at this time – learning to navigate to and open Microsoft Word, for example – and the children practice writing their names and opening / closing it.

After December, and where I am just now, we look at course A where the children begin to learn basic coding using arrows to navigate the angry bird to a pig.  I use offline tools as well – floor arrows to code partners to places in the room for example.  As this is very progressive, children who are more able can go off at their own pace, but generally speaking I have all children working in pairs.

We always start with “lesson 4, number 2” and I save the link to course A in the favourites bar at the top of the computer.  Children can therefore navigate to the course themselves, and they know to “look down for the number 4, and across to the number 2” (number 1 is a video, and the previous lessons are either videos or unplugged courses that I do at other times).  Each week, I start with this for a number of weeks until I feel that almost all of the children have a good understanding of how the program works and how to control the mouse well.  It does depend on the learners as to how quickly we progress and move on, and how far through the course we go.

Finally, in term 4, we look at typing basic words, such as ‘cat’, and do this in Google to find images.  We also look at basic passwords on the iPads – using a passcode to access the content.  Internet safety and cyber security is something that I cover throughout the year, but I won’t write about it here as I have made several other blog posts on the subject.

Making it easier

  1. Don’t use class log ins.  We ditched this years ago and it was the best thing ever.  Agree on one whole-school log in (e.g. a P7a one or one that you have decided on) and have your digital leaders or a small group of P7 children log in each morning at registration time.  Don’t log out of the computers until the end of the day.  This saves a huge amount of time in lessons and maximises the actual teaching time.  If you want children to learn to log off and log on then that can be built into your lesson – but for most lessons you won’t want this.
  2. Put a small sticker on the ‘left-click’ button on the mouse, as this is the only button that you will be wanting your children (in early years) to be pressing.  This is possible the hardest part about using a mouse for P1 children, so having a visual cue really helps them.
  3. Use a lot of repetition and repetitive language.  Each time, when we start a new lesson, we go over how to navigate and use exactly the same wording so that the children can chant along.
  4. For internet programs, use the favourites bar and create a favourites folder called “P1” or whatever the class name is and save websites as icons here.  Don’t expect your children to also type in web addresses, and don’t give yourself extra work by having to do it for each child – this wastes time!
  5. Get rid of the keyboard – well, not really – just push it far back as the children won’t be using it until term 4.  At the start, in the same way that P1 children require larger lines for writing and lots of room for making shapes, they need lots of space for using a mouse.  Make room by moving the keyboard out of the way.


Hopefully this has been helpful.  It has worked for me, and by the end of the year we have achieved a good coverage of all of the CfE Es and Os for early years and most of my learners are ready to start first level in P2 having done this.  I hope it works for you – but if not, if you can take anything from this, please teach mouse control and also get rid of class log ins!

Have a great week,




Christmas Coding

This is just going to be a very quick blog post as my main post for this week was published yesterday.  Moreover, this will be my last post until after Christmas, as with all of the concerts and additional engagements at this time of year, finding time to schedule writing is very tricky indeed.

I’m looking forward to seeing lots of you at Mosspark’s Digital School Open Doors on Wednesday.  Please note that this is fully subscribed now with a waiting list, so if you can no longer attend, please cancel your place so that someone else may be able to come!

Below, you will find guides for two simple Scratch projects that can be created with your children in the festive build-up.

Have a very Merry Christmas and see you all in 2019!





Creating Digital Art

Truthfully, I didn’t know what I was going to post about until Friday, during GoldenTime, when one of our P7 Marvels (below) wanted to show the fantastic art work that he created on the iPads, and imported it into Photoshop Mix to blend it over a stock image as an overlay (we have been learning to blend overlays in Camera Club).  I want to show you how to do this so that you can teach your learners!

He was so proud of his work – and, so he should have been.  It was super.

The truth is that using technology, creativity can be tapped into and explored to a much greater degree than without.  I don’t think there’s really any debate about that.  Of course, more tactile arts and many different art forms will always require us not to use technology, the power that technology gives our young learners to explore and create is unparalleled – and what’s better is that it doesn’t have the cost of purchasing all of the resources for each individual project.

Once again, I will be focussing on using iPads, as this is the main teaching tool that I use for creativity in technology; however, most of the below applications are available on all devices – I will note which of these do.

Tayasui Sketches School

The first app that our Marvel used for his work was Tayasui Sketches School.

Once again, I would like to refer you to the Apple Books entitled “Everyone Can Create“.  The book that I’m now on to, following on from “Music” and “Photography” is their guide on using the iPad for drawing.  Most interestingly though, they highlight a non-apple app as the best drawing app available, although also show you how to use Keynote, Pages, Camera and Photos for drawing too.  It should also be noted that ‘notes’ is a very good application for younger learners to create simple drawings.

The application that apple refers you to is the one that we are looking at today: “Tayasui Sketches School”.  It is pressure sensitive and has a huge array of tools, allowing you to create really detailed, intricate work.  Whilst it works best with an apple pencil, a cheap stylus or even finger will do the job!  Even better; it’s free (although a paid, pro version is available)!  Heres a link for iOS devices and a link for android (it should be noted, I have never used it on android, so don’t know if it is free or has the same features as on iOS).

Here’s a tutorial on using Sketches by Sylvia Duckworth, available on YouTube.

The thing that sells drawing on iPads for me, more than anything, is the amount of paper that you will save.  Children love to draw and create – fact – but a LOT of paper gets used up in their quest to develop their skills.  Yes, a device has an initial price tag, but it really does save money in the long run!


Photoshop Mix

The second app that our Marvel used was Photoshop Mix.  Photoshop comes in many forms – most notably as a paid professional product that photographers use on an daily basis.  It has also released some free apps (including Fix and Mix) which are all fab.  Photoshop Mix allows you to create some really impressive composite drawings – or, in this case, blend overlays to create dramatic and creative pieces of work.

A link for Photoshop Mix for iOS is here and for android is here – note, to use it, you have to have an adobe ID.  This is free and can be created the first time that you log in.

Here is a tutorial for using Adobe Photoshop Mix by Adobe Creative Cloud, however, I should note that the video is 2 years old at the time of writing this blog, and some of the features have changed quite a bit since then.  This being said, it is still very relevant and will give you a flavour of how to use the application.


The Project

With the overview of both apps covered, I’m going to demonstrate how this pupil managed to create such a beautiful piece of art work using the above apps.  I won’t use the same images, however, you should get a very good idea of how it works from the below.

I hope the video helps, and would be great to see some of the digital art work that your learners are doing, so make sure to tag me in tweets @mrfeistsclass as I love to share great work from across the country!

Have a great week!


Keynote – more than just a tool for presentations

I had an amusing experience at a recent digital-themed meeting.  A colleague from another establishment sat down beside me before we started and said “You watch, there’s going to be at least one geek here who opens up their MacBook, takes notes on their iPad with their apple pencil, sets a reminder on their Apple watch and just talks about the importance of code.  You wait.  I didn’t wait – I took out my MacBook, opened up Good Notes on the iPad Pro with my apple pencil at the ready (and for good measure set a reminder on the apple watch).  Sure enough, my role in the meeting was also to talk about what progression in ‘coding’ looks like in Early years and primary.  I just loved that the colleagued just sighed and had a good chuckle about it.

Sure, I’m a geek and proud – and following on from that, today, I’m looking at another Apple product – Keynote – and why I use it over PowerPoint each and every time.  I am not, however, saying it is better than PowerPoint.  PowerPoint is a phenomenal and powerful tool, and many of the things that I describe below can be done using PowerPoint – however, as Glasgow is undergoing a digital transformation where learners will be working with iPads on a 1-1 basis I feel that its an important tool to really get to grips with.  Hopefully, by the end of this blog post, you will have found new, creative ways to use Keynote (and perhaps PowerPoint) not just to create presentations, but as a tool for learning across the curriculum.

I will be focussing on the iPad (app version) of Keynote.  The Mac version has additional features and a slightly different layout, but it is less likely that your learners will have macs instead of iPads…

Here is a breakdown of what I aim to cover in this post:

  1. An overview of Keynote
  2. Presenting from Keynote in the classroom
  3. Creating a ‘links only’ presentation
  4. Photo editing and making creative montages using ‘Instant Alpha’

1. An Overview of Keynote

What is Keynote?

Simply stated, like Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote is presentation software.  Apple says this about Keynote: “With its powerful tools and dazzling effects, Keynote makes it easy to create stunning and memorable presentations. You can even use Apple Pencil on your iPad to create diagrams or illustrations that bring your slides to life. And with real-time collaboration, your team can work together, whether they’re on Mac, iPad or iPhone, or using a PC. (view source)”

Getting started

Instead of using picture guides, there are lots of great YouTube videos  available on using Keynote.  Here is a series of videos that are very clear and just focus on ‘getting started’.  Please note that the content is not created by me, but is publicly available on YouTube.  If you like the videos, please support the creator, WCPS, by giving their videos a ‘like’, sharing their content and/or subscribing to their channel.

Creating a Keynote Presentation

One edit from the above video: to delete a slide or select options, tap on the slide icon (instead of hold) so that it highlights in blue and then tap again – this is easier than first holding.

You will notice that it still feels very much like a ‘PowerPoint’ at this stage, and it is fantastic to use.  Keynote and PowerPoint are also interchangeable – you can open your previously made PowerPoints in Keynote, and you can save Keynote presentations as PowerPoints if you wanted to use it on a school computer.

Adding Content

Modifying Content in Keynote


2. Presenting from Keynote in the classroom

Linking to the projector

There are different ways that you can link to a projector in class.  The easiest is if you are lucky enough to have ‘Apple TV’ set up in your classroom and Wi-Fi – however, this is unlikely so I will skip over this.

Alternatively, you can purchase an iPad (lightning) to VGA adapter which will allow you to plug your device into the wire that normally connects your laptop to the projector.  Apple’s own lightning to VGA adapter is very good, but unnecessarily expensive.  There are much cheaper versions available on Amazon or similar.  *Please note that I am not affiliated with any products I mention, and am only doing so to note examples, but am not recommending any of these products as better than any others.* A search on amazon for lightning to VGA brings up some good results – make sure that you do select one that has a lightning (not thunderbolt) connector and is compatible with VGA (it may also have an additional HDMI or other post – that is okay).

I do have my own adapter, but the school have also purchased some as they are well used not only for presentations, but for modelling how to do different things on the iPad that we are teaching the children (e.g. using Garageband, Book creator, Pages etc.)

Presenter mode

With the iPad connected to the projector with a wire, it takes away from the ‘portability’ of the iPad.  Fortunately, Keynote has presenter mode through which you can not only control the Keynote from your phone/another iPad, but you can read your presenter notes on your second device while the students only see the presentation.

Using presenter mode is easy once you’ve done it once.  The very first time that you connect the devices, you need to be using WiFi or cellular, but thereafter you don’t need to be connected to WiFi or cellular (I don’t know if this is true for two iPads though – I use my phone and my own iPad for this – my iPad is not connected to WiFi when I use it and does not have cellular.)

To use presenter mode, open the presentation on the iPad that you wish to display your presentation and also open Keynote on the device that you want to control the presentation from.  I normally use my iPhone for this.

If you have previously paired your two devices, then follow these steps to remotely control your presentation.









If you can’t find the iPad that you wish to control (it won’t say ‘play’ if this is the case) click on ‘devices’ as below and then choose ‘add a device’.  To add a device for the first time, you should make sure that they are both connected to the same WiFi or cellular connection – thereafter they do not need to be connected (at least, I’ve not had them connected after this point).









Once you’ve used presenter mode, I can guarantee you won’t want to present in any other way, especially if you use all of the extra features like presenter notes and the laser-pen simulator / drawing tools!


3. Creating a ‘Links Only’ presentation.

I did this as a workshop in Strathclyde University for student teachers as it is a fab tool.  For older children, they could create interactive textbooks and study guides.  In the past I’ve used it to create ‘branching narrative’ style interactive stories.  There are lots of ways to use ‘links only’ and create links to external sources and also internal slides.

Here are some of the tweets prior to and from our #MPTechTeam trip to Strathclyde University:

4. Photo Editing and Making Creative Montages using ‘Instant Alpha’

For years, I’ve been using photoshop for this very thing, but it is available on our iPads for free and is surprisingly powerful!

Truthfully, until ‘Everyone Can Create: Photo‘ came out, and I read through the chapter on using Keynote for photography – making scrapbooks and montages etc, I hadn’t even realised that this was a feature or just how amazing it was.

Instead of trying to describe the process, in the below tweet is a video of a simple creative montage in action on Keynote – whilst watching, just think about the ways that children could use it creatively for art & design, or advertising a product, or for bringing stories to life in literacy etc.

*Images used in this video are stock images purchased through Adobe Stock*


Hopefully this has been a helpful insight into using Keynote and why I now use it for everything!

Sorry this blog is late, I had hoped to finish it before performing in Edinburgh today, however, that wasn’t to be!  A great day though, with an audience in the tens of thousands our boys did phenomenally well – you can see what we were up to on the choir twitter feed or facebook page.

As always, please get in touch via twitter with feedback / suggestions etc

Thanks again!




The most versatile tool

Over the last two weeks, I have been mainly focusing on the ‘Everyone Can Create: Music” publication, available for free on the apple book store – looking at how we can use digital tools (with a heavy focus on GarageBand for iPad) to achieve music experiences and outcomes.  Whilst this week I am moving away from music, I would like to stick to the “Everyone Can Create” series, as one of the other publications in the series as I am currently reading each book, and they are fantastic.

This week we are looking at the most versatile tool available to us – the camera.  Of course, “Everyone Can Create: Photos” is the publication that I will mostly be referencing today, however, a physical camera (potentially combined with a computer program) or any device with camera function will enable you to achieve much of what we will look at today.

The Camera – ways to meet EXA outcomes.

I think the value of the camera is often understated in education.  Yet, it is a tool that can be used for so many different aspects of learning before we even begin to look at some of the amazing creative ideas outlined in ‘Everyone Can Create: Photos”.  With iPads/tablets/phones/class cameras, children can photograph / document aspects of their learning that they are proud of for saving digitally and sharing electronically home.  Children can capture aspects of peer performance that they like and use this for feedback.  They can capture and edit images creatively, creating montages of their learning, or IDL posters.  They can use them to capture images that will enable them to promote enterprise projects.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

However, all of this is mostly about ‘capturing’.  Photography itself is also an expressive art, and, considering this children can also create using cameras.  Take the below EXA outcomes for art and design.  All of these can be met through photography as well as by ‘drawing’ or ‘sketching’.

Let’s look at some of these to se how we can use the camera.

  • “…comparing and combining them (photos in this case) for specific tasks.”   For this one, children could capture images on a theme, combine them in a collage-maker app, or in Keynote/Pages for a different task – e.g. poster / story etc.
  • “…line, shape, form, tone, colour…” edit images creatively in mark-up or the inbuilt editor, playing with saturation, hue, white balance, lighting.
  • “…to convey ideas, thoughts and feelings…” capturing ‘mood’ in photography, looking at composition, colour choice or more.

That’s just a very quick snapshot of some of the ways we could use cameras.  It’s versatile, reliable, relevant and simple to use from nursery age right through to further and higher education.

Everyone Can Create: Photos

I do love this publication, and will be using it with my school camera club (see below for tweets from them) over the coming months.

The guide aims to teach us how to do the following, using a combination of the camera, photos, keynote and pages apps.  Even if your school doesn’t have iPads though, I’d strongly recommend you check out this fantastic publication as it does have so many great ideas that could be taken and used on different software available in your school.

  • A personalised picture
  • A portrait from the past
  • A story in a single photo
  • A moment in motion (using the iPad to create slow shutter speed images)
  • A personalised collage (using Keynote and the mask tool)
  • A photo documentary (and thinking about photo journalism)
  • A portfolio of your favourite photos

As I say, I really rate this publication and will be using it with my school camera club and also in classes.

Mark-up with younger learners

Something I love to do with younger learners is not only capture images, but to edit and personalise them.  The iPads have a fab built-in app called ‘mark up’, where children can add drawings to their pictures.  This covers digital outcomes in addition to some of the above EXA ones, so well worth doing with your learners (and they love it!)

For the below demo, I will use a stock photo from Adobe Stock.

  • Take a photo using the ‘camera’ app, or open a previously saved photo from the ‘photos’ app.

  • Select the blue ‘edit’ icon in the top right hand corner

  • There are lots of different options now that can change the lighting etc – it’s great for older children to experiment with these and get a feel for what they do.  For our younger learners using ‘Mark-Up’ though, select the ‘three dots’.  Please note, I have additional applications in this option that may not be installed on your iPad so won’t appear by default.

  • Children can then add their own annotations/drawings to edit their image creatively.  A cheap stylus is a bonus if you have one (or an apple pencil if you can!) but children can also just draw with their fingers!

  • Click ‘done’ when finished to save the image.

Other apps

There are, of course, lots of apps out there that work in a similar way to mark up, or that can be used for more advanced photo editing, but I love the sheer simplicity of mark up for our youngest learners, and have used it with P1+ in the past.

Other free apps I like to use are:

  • Keynote and Photoshop Mix (for creatively mixing images together)
  • PicCollage for children to select their favourite images and creatively put them together for display/sharing
  • Notes and pages for annotating images
  • Greenscreen apps (such as DoInk – although this is not free) for using the images as a background for a news report etc


This year I have started a photography club in my school, mainly because a P7 wants to be a photographer when she’s older and I thought that this would be a great way to help her develop her skills – however, I’m finding that it is so beneficial and is developing such good creativity that I think it will be one I keep running for years to come!  It is open to children in P7 only, and runs after school.  The reason I mention it is that we will be starting to use the ‘Everyone Can Create: Photos” resource, mentioned earlier; but have been using the ‘camera’ creatively (funnily enough!)

I will add three of the tweets below detailing what we have done so far, but do follow us on twitter using #MPCameraClub – tweeting from @mrfeistsclass and @MossparkPS – to see more.





I hope that this blog has been helpful.

As always, if you have any comments/feedback/ideas for future blogs please do get in touch on Twitter.

Have a good week,


Learning about music through technology.


Let’s talk about ‘that’ experience and outcome; the one that is so rarely met in its entirety due to “Music Technology”.

I remember being introduced to Sibelius – a program for musical composition – when I was studying music, but rarely, if ever, did I get to use music technology creatively, let alone to experiment with (and therefor, learn through play) music.  However, as technology has evolved, so has our ability to create and experiment with music through technology.

This term, I have planned a progressive music technology lesson series with P6 and P7/6, so look forward to blogging about how that goes towards the end of the term.

Everyone Can Create: Music

Being an Apple nut, I think it is always inevitable that I will talk about their products first – however, when it comes to music technology and education, I truly believe that they are leading the way.  I was thrilled to be at a conference recently where they revealed Apple’s latest series of teacher guides: Everyone Can Create.  Available in the Apple Book Store for free, these books cover teaching expressive arts with iPads, and how iPads can truly transform children’s ability to learn creatively.


I have already read ‘Everyone Can Create: Music’ and have really been impressed with it – indeed, I am basing the P7/6 and P6 lesson series for this term on it, and I can’t wait to explore the other ones.

Find out more about the ‘Everyone Can Create’ series here.



I couldn’t recommend the ‘Everyone Can Create: Music” enough, and I genuinely believe that it will transform your teaching, and confidence in teaching, music.


Everyone Can Create: Music is based on using GarageBand.  I realise, initially it is a daunting app.  I started using it a few years ago and quickly stopped as I didn’t get it.  Now, however, I use it with P2 upwards.  Once you get past the initial fear of what everything does, you soon realise that it is not only one of the best apps for creating and recording your own music, it is also right up there for creating a virtual band and playing instruments in a classroom.  For children in councils/schools that are investing in 1-1 iPads, GarageBand becomes a tool for your children to enjoy exploring and understanding music as well as creating their own compositions.  As there is a huge amount to GarageBand, next week I will do an in-depth guide to using GarageBand.  In the meantime though, I recommend reading, or at least glancing through, “Everyone Can Create: Music”.


Audacity is a free open-source program for PCs and laptops that (with a microphone or other input device, or by downloading and inserting audio [be aware of copyright laws when doing this]) allows you to record and edit your own music in multiple layers, or tracks.  This allows children to better understand how music recording works.

It can be a bit tricky to get sued to at first, but there are many online guides to using Audacity.

Here is a great YouTube video on how to use Audacity for beginners by Mike Russell:


There are other apps; a search for ‘apps for composing music’ for example bring these to you.  Some that come highly recommended (I don’t know if they’re free/paid though) are in this blogpost

Sorry it’s been a short post today, but it is the first of a number that look at creativity on the iPads.  Next week I will bring you an in depth guide to using GarageBand and look at how I’ve used it with children from P2 upwards.

I hope you have a good week


How can we teach digital skills with a very limited number of devices?

Even where schools have limited, or next to no access to ICT provisions, lots can still be achieved.  Whilst I would always recommend investing in additional technology it’s not always possible, so it’s good to make the most of what you already have.



The best way to make full use of ICT provisions effectively, is to timetable it for good use.  Even for schools with masses of technology available to them, it’s not going to have any impact if it’s not used.

  • In-class computers: In my previous school, we had been given advice not to have an ICT suite, and to instead have 2/3 computers per class. The thought behind this was that children would have constant access to computers and thus skills could be developed as part of daily learning.  In reality however, computers were often just left, and ICT skills couldn’t ever really be taught as that would mean teaching only 2-6 children while the rest of the class were doing something else.  Fortunately, we did have a good space available and were able to create an ICT suite with 16 desktop computers.
    Space is a huge issue in some schools though, and those schools have to rely on class computers.  Where this is the case, timetabling for the use of the computers is essential.  Children should be in the routine of turning them on first thing in the morning and should be timetabled on them.  In my recent coding blog, I noted how for a time my children accessed ‘hour of code’ in pairs as part of a timetable.  Computer coding teaches children not only computer science but instructional writing, logical thinking, problem solving, aspects of maths (including angles, measure, directional language, coordinates etc), and many other skills, and should never be seen as children missing out on other areas of the curriculum.  In a week, one hour of a lesson – be it language, maths, R.E. or anything – is not going to impact on a child’s learning of that subject when they are instead developing vast amounts of skills through a course such as an Hour of Code course (
    Sumdog is another fantastic tool that can be timetabled for during maths time – 5 maths lessons a week at normally an hour each.  This time easily allows for your children to be timetabled on to the class computers for 20 minutes individually to complete Sumdog challenges (
    Often the importance of touch typing is underrated.  In our day and age, typing quickly and efficiently is just as important as being able to write legibly and quickly.  The skills developed in typing are the same as those obtained through writing.  For dyslexic children, cursive handwriting is very beneficial to their retention of words due to muscle memory so should not be underestimated; this is also true for touch typing. Two great touch-typing websites are BBC dance mat typing (p2-4) and
    Class computers are of course also great for research tasks and for interactive finisher tasks.
    For younger children, Microsoft paint is fantastic for developing Mouse Control and practicing drawing and writing letters.  There are also many interactive games that can be left on the computers for children to explore.
  • Small ICT suite: Used well, an ICT suite of only 8 computers can be just as effective as one of 30 computers, again, it is all about timetabling it to be so. With a smaller number of computers, I would recommend fewer scheduled sessions (none less than one hour long).  I would recommend three main uses of the ICT suite.
    –ICT suite for developing digital literacy.  org has the most fantastic code course that your children can work through at their own pace.  Teachers can create a free account and provide their children with a login where they can work through the course at their own pace.  This can be done in school or at home.  I’d suggest, in a small ICT suite to have children doing paired-programming (working with a partner).  This is something that are really big on, and most of their videos are tailored to it – one child is the ‘driver’ and in charge of operating the computer, whilst the other is the ‘navigator’ and in charge of spotting errors or better routes.  In a smaller suite of say 8 computers, this would only be about half the class; however, with effective timetabling, the other half could be doing an unplugged coding activity (I will blog more ideas about this soon) or an instructional writing or other task.  After half the lesson (30-45 minutes) your two groups could swap.  This is a very effective way of delivering high quality digital literacy sessions, and with an instructional teaching input at the start and plenary at the end can really deepen the children’s understanding of coding as a problem solving and literacy experience rather than something separate from their other learning.
    –ICT suite for developing numeracy.  I’ve already mentioned Sumdog.  Sumdog should always be done as an individual activity.  In a similar manner to code above, I’d have three maths stations in a small ICT suite with Sumdog as one of them and two other stations, with children rotating after 20-30 minutes.  Sumdog has been proven to raise attainment in numeracy and is included in the Scottish attainment challenge.
    –Other.  There are many other ways to utilise a small ICT suite, but again timetabling is key.  An unused ICT suite is a wasted learning opportunity as in this digital age children should be preparing themselves for a digital world of work.  Unused times to prepare for that world are wasted opportunities.
  • iPads – Where there are limited numbers of iPads (say 5) they can either be used as part of a timetabled learning experience, as with the ICT suite, or be used to enhance learning experiences. I’d strongly suggest the latter.  For this section, I will assume that there is no WiFi with the iPads.
    –Peer assessment and evaluation.  Use of the ‘camera’ to record video and/or photos can be a valuable self/peer assessment for the children, especially when used with apps such as clips and iMovie.  Let’s take P.E. for example, and the ‘Evaluating and Appreciating’ Outcomes HWB 0-24a to HWB 4-24a, children could use the iPads to film their partner doing say a gymnastics routine.  The children could then look at the footage and use it as evidence during the ‘feedback’.  The children could import it into clips and add text and arrows to highlight aspects of their feedback.  Again, the learning experience could be achieved without the iPad, but the use of it truly enhances that learning experience as the children are much more quickly able to recognise how they can improve their own performance.  In literacy, children can use the camera to take photos of parts of other children’s work and highlight why they think it was good, by using ‘mark-up’ to write on and highlight parts of the work without actually damaging or changing the original.
    –EXA.  So many aspects of the EXA experiences and outcomes can be better realised with the assistance of the iPad.  Creating short films in iMovie can bring to life children’s dramas and ideas.  Garageband (although its interface can be intimidating at first, it’s actually very simple to use – especially ‘live loops’ – I’ve had P2 using it in the past) is a fantastic tool for letting children compose and create their own music without having to worry about first learning musical notation.
  • Logins – I’d strongly recommend a whole school login and saving work into a class folder in ‘my documents’ rather than class logins – as these eat into time. In Mosspark, our Tech Team are timetabled to log on to the computers every morning as part of their duties so that they are ready for the children to use as soon as they go to class.  Children don’t log out of the computers.

Digital leaders

I have published a blog article recently about the power and importance of a digital leaders team and I can’t recommend them enough.  Not only can they support children, they can support teachers.  Whereas in the past, teachers would all come to me for advice on something that they were doing, and then it was a case of finding time for me to come in to them when I wasn’t in class; now, they can ask for a member of the team to come in and support them at any point – be it, show them how to work something, or work with some children.  Where my team don’t know how to do something, I support and then train the team in that area so that we are always learning.   A digital leaders team is truly invaluable!

ASN support groups

In Mosspark, we are being followed by Education Scotland this year as part of their ‘live narrative’ in our use of digital tools to raise attainment across the curriculum.  As part of this, we have daily Sumdog groups where targeted children have a daily 30-minute Sumdog session with a member of support staff, either from 9am-9:30am or from 1pm-1:30pm, and the ICT suite is not timetabled to classes during this time.  This daily Sumdog input has had a very positive effect on our young learners, and you will soon be able to access this information on the Education Scotland website.

We have also had a fantastic input from the ASL Technology service, with an especial focus on Ivona Mini-Reader (available on all GCC computers and most authority ones – just search for it in your start menu.) This program will read any computer based word-processed text (if you can highlight it and copy it, it can be read).  This means that our children can highlight any word/sentence/paragraph and the computer will read it to them, allowing them to access the same content as their peers without a member of staff working individually with them.  All they need is headphones.  The self-confidence of our children that use this program has improved dramatically, as there is no stigma now of someone having to read everything to them.

I am still looking into more ways to raise attainment in literacy this year through tech as my main focus and look forward to blogging about my findings towards the end of the year.


PLNs or Professional Learning Networks

Often the thing that holds schools back the most in the deployment and effective use of digital technologies is staff confidence and knowledge about what is available.  Many schools, including ours, are now encouraging their staff to use twitter as a PLN as part of their CPD.  I couldn’t recommend it highly enough as since being on twitter my own practice has improved so much, as I am continually inspired by colleagues from across the world and get ideas every time I go online.  There are of course many other PLNs including Facebook groups, but Twitter is the one that I get the most out of.



Sharing Learning on Social Media

Most schools do use Twitter and other sites now to share learning which is fantastic.  One thing I think schools could do better to allow parents easier access to their children’s work is to use hashtags.  In Mosspark, each class has a class hashtag (e.g. #MossparkP1a or #MossparkP7) so that parents can simply search for their child’s class to see what they’ve been learning rather than having to search through the school feed continually.  Note though, if you’re doing this, special characters can’t be used in a hashtag, so composite classes, such as P3/2 have to be tweeted as #MossparkP32.

We have also built into our WTA that teachers send at least one example of learning and photo per week to be tweeted so that all classes are represented on a weekly basis.


I hope that this has been helpful.

There are so many ways that technology can be used where there is limited provision, but I think the above is a good starting place for any school.


Offline or ‘Unplugged’ Coding

Images used in this week’s post are from the Weblify Pinterest ‘coding quotes‘ board. You can also visit their website for more information.

Background and Benchmarks

For years, teachers have been teaching ‘coding skills’ without even realising it.  Teaching coding is not tricky, and if you want proof, just look at the Technologies Benchmarks – most of the digital literacy outcomes can be achieved without even using a computer.  Of course, it is always best to apply the skills that have been learned to ‘online’ coding activities, such as creating games in Scratch and completing code courses on If however, you are new to coding and are still trying to up-skill yourself in using computers and iPads, unplugged coding is a great way to begin.  For teachers that have been doing coding activities with your children online, and are confident teaching coding skills, unplugged activities are a fantastic way to reinforce learning and apply skills in a different situation.

Let us first look at the Technologies Benchmarks (below) that are most relevant to the ‘computing science’ element of digital literacy.  I have highlighted all benchmarks that can be met through offline coding activities.  Please note that I have only highlighted the ‘primary school’ benchmarks as these are the ones that I am familiar with, however, they should give secondary teachers (especially maths and English) some ideas.

What strikes me the most about this – aside from how many outcomes can be met through offline coding opportunities – is just how many links there are to other areas of the curriculum: even suggestions for learning across the curriculum including problem solving in P.E.

I will do a future post about digital learning across the curriculum, but, if this is your first time looking at the benchmarks for computing science it will hopefully show you just how much scope there is for cross curricular digital learning.

**Please note that there are also Digital Literacy and Cyber Security benchmarks within the technologies benchmarks pages.**

Unplugged Coding Ideas

Early Years

Many people see ‘coding’ as something that only older children / adults can accomplish.  This is simply not true.  Teaching computational thinking can start as early as you like and a lot sooner than you realise.  Even sorting shapes – an activity my sister has been doing with her son since he was just over a year old – is a form of computational thinking.  Looking at the benchmarks for early years, teaching coding is truly a vast and rich way for children to learn.

The very first benchmark makes this the most clear: “Identifies and sequences the main steps in an everyday task to create instructions/an algorithm for example, washing hands.”  We are continually using visual timetables with our infant children to reinforce learning and list a day’s activities.  We are using story boards to describe the sequence of a story.  All of these are computational thinking tasks.  All of these are coding.

Why not take it a step further and, using small diagrams, ask children to ‘program’ their friend to do something, or ‘code’ the teacher to perform a simple task.  It is a great fun learning experience that I have done with P1 many times in the past and plan to do with the nursery children this year in my establishment.

The ‘predicting’ benchmark is also very important, as this is the introduction of ‘debugging’.  Using floor spots is an excellent way to do this task.  Lay out the floor spots and put a teddy on one spot, and another object on a different spot.  Using arrows, the children have to get Teddy to the object.  Moreover, you could draw the arrows, and the children have to work out if teddy will get to the object using your arrows.

First Level

Whilst children in Early Years can achieve the majority of their benchmarks without touching a computer, it is important in first level that there is a good balance between on and offline coding activities.  Reinforcement of skills in different learning environments is vital in developing the logical thinking and problem solving elements required in computer programming.  Simply letting your children only do code courses online will not fully develop their thinking, in the same way that solely doing offline tasks will not let them experience the problem solving aspects of actually using a programming language to solve tasks and create games of their own.

Similar offline activities to the early years should be used, however, children should start to write their instructions down.  Writing instructions for ‘turning off a light’ for example, is a fantastic way of letting children understand how important it is for a computer to be told everything that it needs to know or it won’t operate.

Take the following example of a lesson I did with P4, for example.  In asking the children to code the teacher (me) to turn off the light.  They wrote “press it”.  I was sitting on my chair and read the instruction, so pressed my nose.  The child looked at me like I was insane!  Whilst funny, it was a good learning point for the class, as the next person told me to ‘stand up and walk across the room to the light switch and press it”.  You can then develop the task by placing obstacles in the way for the person to avoid.  You can introduce ‘if’ statements like “if table is in your way, move around table” to stop the teacher crashing into it.  The level of challenge is that which you set.  Differentiation is easy – even that some children may be using arrows / picture prompts, whilst others are writing theirs as a list of commands.

There are lots of offline resources (below) to use with all levels.  These are great for having physical evidence for tracking in addition to developing core skills.

Second Level

By second level, most of the coding experience should be ‘plugged in’, however, there is always time to develop offline coding alongside it.  Instructional writing is a big part of the literacy input in second level, and can be done well as a coding task.  Using printable scratch blocks to format writing in order that it starts to read as computer script is a great way to enable children to really think about what their programming language would look like on a computer.

The biggest problem that children have in second level, when creating their own games online, is debugging and problem solving.  Continually developing children’s problem solving skills and ability across the curriculum really does help with this.

Below are a wide array of resources for offline coding for all stages.  I would highly recommend checking them out.


  • I’ve put together some printable ScratchJr blocks / arrows for you to use with your children, as not only will they be useful for ‘coding activities’ such as the one above, but will help your children get familiar with ScratchJR itself.
  • has a fantastic course book that details both their online courses and also gives you a huge wealth of offline, unplugged lessons with full resources and lesson plans.  Available through this link.
  • CS Unplugged has a huge range of unplugged resources and information.  Available through this link.
  • There are some great resources and ideas available on Pinterest.
  • also have some fantastic unplugged code resources.

Of course, there are many other places that you can go to for ideas and resources – a simple search into google for unplugged coding resources pulls up over 250’000 hits!  My favourites are the above, but mostly I love just letting the children program each other to do things – it’s fun, active and really gets them working together.

I hope that this post has been beneficial and has helped you to think of ways that you can get children to develop their computational thinking skills through every day tasks that benefit other areas of the curriculum.

See you next week!