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November 14, 2012 / owexelstein

Creativity Exchange Fife

Last week I attended the first Creativity Exchange Fife which was organised by Fife’s Creative Learning Network.  The event was opened up by Ken Greer (Fife’s Executive Director of Education) who spoke about the importance of developing creativity with the young people we work with.  He spoke a lot about the work of Sir Ken Robinson and in particular mentioned the RSA video Changing Education Paradigms (see below)

It’s also worth watching his TED talk Do schools kill creativity?

One statement that Ken made which I feel is very relevant as schools strive towards delivering a Curriculum for Excellence “Creativity is not subject specific”.  This was certainly apparent in the next part of the session which saw all the attendees sitting at 10 tables where the presenters had 10 minutes to deliver their presentation before we moved onto the next table.  Jon Gill (@onthesuperfly)  has written a great blog post where he described it as Creative Speed Dating.

I certainly enjoyed the format because often when you go to conferences you only get to select a few workshops, it’s usually difficult to know which ones to select.  Each presentation was only 10 minutes so if you were sitting at one you weren’t really interested in you weren’t there for long (this didn’t happen in my case because I thought all the presentations were excellent).  At the end of the conference there was a networking opportunity so if there was a presentation that you wanted to find out more about you could go and speak to the presenters themselves.

Fife’s Creative Learning Network have produced a lovely publication called Creativity in Learning: Fife which has details of the workshops that were available and contact details for each of the presenters.  You can download a PDF version here.

For teachers in Fife who would like to find out more and/or join Fife’s Creative Learning Network click here. (password required)

For teacher’s not in Fife but would still like to find out more click here for the public blog.

I came away from the event feeling very inspired and look forward to the next one with great anticipation.

October 23, 2012 / owexelstein

RM Unify

This year at the Scottish Learning Festival I attended a presentation demonstrating RM unify which is the new launchpad for glow.  For those who were unable to attend or haven’t had a chance to access the information about the change which is available within glow, here is a brief outline of what it is going to provide:-

  • continue to use single sign on
  • quicker, more direct access to tools people want to use
  • wide range of tools from 3rd parties
  • support for mobile devices
  • an app library (this will future proof glow as apps can be added as they become available)
  • access to Microsoft Office 365 tools

The video below demonstrates the look of unify and some of it’s current content.

The next video demonstrates more content and how, when login on as an administrator, you can add or remove apps for your organisation.

Currently unify is being piloted in selected schools but should be available for users by the end of the year.




One of projects I am going to be involved in on my secondment at RM is looking at what apps users would like made available in the app library.  What apps would you like to see included?  Please use the comment box below to add any suggests.  All help will be greatly appreciated.  Please note that there are no guarantees that these will be made available and will depend on decisions made at national level.

(Just to clarify by apps I mean websites or webtools you currently use)

February 26, 2012 / owexelstein

Homework Help Website

In a March we are hosting a numeracy showcase for parents to come and experience some of the ways their children are taught maths.  One of my colleagues suggested that we gave the parents a handout with a list of websites the children could use at home to help reinforce their learning.  However being handed a sheet full of very long URL’s to type in, is not very inspiring or practical.  So I suggested that I could create a website that would contain all these links which would mean that the parents would only need 1 URL.  So over the last week I have created a Homework Help website using wix (please note this is a flash website and so will not work on IPhones or IPads).  What was great was that I was able to make the folders I had already created with weblinks in Edmodo public.  So all I had to do with this website was create links to these, simple!  What’s even better is that I have a couple of pupils in my class that have issues remembering their passwords to our VLE so I can tell them just to use this website and it means they don’t need to waste any time logging in.

Please feel free to share the website URL with your friends and colleagues and if you have any suggestions for improvements to the site or websites I should include then please let me know on the feedback page.

February 8, 2012 / owexelstein


I’ve decided to write this post about Eportfolios because even though I’ve been using them with my class for quite a while, I am constantly asked for advice on how to set them up. This post will hopefully help those people with any questions they have. If you think I’ve missed any important information out or have addition questions please feel free to comment at the bottom of this post.

What are Eportfolios?

Basically an eportfolio is an online digital space that pupils can use to reflect on learning, record wider achievement and teachers can use as an assessment tool.
Why did I start using Eportfolios?
Currently the school I work in uses a Learning Log as a way for the children to share their targets and reflect on their learning. This learning log is a folder which contains sheets of paper which the children fill in. I’d been finding that completing these logs was becoming very time consuming and very uninspiring for the pupils. At that point I had just not long completed my Glow (Scottish Schools VLE) training and decided to use this as a place to house our eportfolios.

How do you create an Eportfolio in Glow?

There is a National Eportfolio Glow group which can be found here. There you will find help sheets and videos which will take you through the set up process. However three things you will need to do before setting up eportfolios are
1. Ensure all pupils have Glow Light enabled (this can be done by clicking on pupil or staff home, scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking on Change Glow Light Settings. You must then ensure that Use Glow Light as my default home page when I next log in has been ticked)
2. Ensure that all pupils have permission to use Glow blogs (this can be done by your school ASM or by your Glow key contact)
3. Create a class or year Glow group which can be accessed by all the pupils. Either use the weblink part that already exists or create a new one for the pupils to put the URL’s of their eportfolios.
Once you have completed these 3 steps you are now ready to create your eportfolios with your pupils using the How to create an eporfolio help sheet.

What if I don’t have Glow?

The main part of the eportfolio that is created in Glow is a blog which uses wordpress. You can create your own free blog at There are lots of other sites where free blogs can be created e.g. blogger, edublogs, primary blogger, etc.

How can I use eportfolios with my class?

1. Each pupil’s eportfolio has a static front page; this allows them to create an All about me page. They can create an avatar and write some text to introduce themselves.
2. All posts the pupils write must be categorised. This makes it easy for readers to find posts on a similar subject; this is especially useful for interdisciplinary learning. Our eportfolios have categories for all areas of the curriculum, achievement, attainment, targets and review of the week.
3. Pupils can use the eportfolios as a place to record any targets they set for themselves and review their learning.
4. Pupils can report about and reflect on any learning undertaken. This becomes a very useful assessment tool for the teacher as it is easy to determine the level of understanding each pupil has of the activity they have participated in.
5. Eportfolios can be used as storage for evidence of work i.e. pieces of writing can be typed up and posted. Using a site called Slideboom PowerPoint presentations can be embedded into the blog. Websites that have been used for digital literacy activities e.g. voki, animoto and GoAnimate can also be embedded.
6. Feedback – All posts that are written can receive comments. This allows teachers to give instant feedback and also allows for peer to peer assessment.
7. Eportfolios can be shared extremely easily with parents who can also comment on their child’s posts.

Using the eportfolios with my class has been very successful. The pupils really enjoy creating posts and sharing their work. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in their enthusiasm to write and in their writing skills. Often pupils will post stories that they have been writing at home.

I have been involved in providing training other teachers in my cluster in how to set up eportfolios. Our next step is to decide what information an eportfolio contains so there will be continuity when P7’s move to S1.

Below is the animoto I created using the slides of my presentation I gave on Eportfolios at the Scottish Learning Festival 2011.

February 5, 2012 / owexelstein


Last week I discovered Pearltrees, a place to collect, organise, discover and share everything you like on the web.  I haven’t used any of the other websites that are available to bookmark websites.  I usually favourite a link someone has posted on twitter or email myself the link.  This is not great because I quite often do not get a chance to check back and use the resource I found.

Pearltrees is very simple and easy to use, you need to use chrome as your web browser (and install the pearler) or there is an app available for ipads.  From your root Pearltree you create other pearltrees (these are the categories that you want to sort your weblinks into).  Whenever you find a great weblink, all you need to do is click the pearler and choose which pearltree you want it to be associated with.

So far I’ve been through all my favourites on twitter dating back to 2009 and found some really amazing resources.  You can view my Pearltree below feel free to share, join and add to.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My Pearltrees , posted with vodpod
January 19, 2012 / owexelstein

Formative Assessment – Part two

Our work with talk partners has been very successful so far, the children were able to come up with some very good success criteria which we’ve typed up and put on the wall so they are an easy visual reminder (see photo below).

Using the lollysticks to choose children to share their answers is also proving very productive. It has allowed me to observe very quickly the children who either need to put more effort into their discussions or require some support. All the partnerships are proving to be very successful.

The next task for the talk partners was to revisit work we’d done previously on fixed and growth mindset. Each pair was given a pile of statements which they had to discuss then sort into the headings fixed and growth mindsets. Once this was done each pair had to get a different coloured pencil and tick the statements that related to how they tackled learning situations. They then discussed with their partners why they had ticked each statement and ways they could overcome having a fixed mindset. Since introducing fixed and growth mindsets in my classroom the results have been very rewarding. Most of the children have a very positive attitude towards tackling new problems and don’t feel so embarrassed or negative when they get things wrong.

The final task was to establish the requirements for learning.

“In order to ensure effective engagement, reflection, dialogue and appropriate guidance, we need to create, with pupils, the best environment for those elements and therefore for effective learning to take place” Clarke (2008)

First the children discussed what helps them learn then what stops them from learning. From these discussions the children produced a set of success criteria for “What does a successful learner do?”. These have been typed up and displayed prominently in the classroom so they can be easily referred back to during any task or activity. These criteria also make a good behaviour management tool as children can be reminded quickly how they can be successful.

In part three of Formative Assessment I will be looking at asking worthwhile questions.

Reading / Video that helped me

DVD – The Power of Formative Assessment – Shirley Clarke

Clarke, S (2008) Active Learning through Formative Assessment, Hodder Education

January 18, 2012 / owexelstein

Formative Assessment – Part One

Although I have been using some aspects of formative assessment in my class for a number for years, with the removal of national tests and assessment being key to our SDP (school development plan) I am planning to review my practice and focus on several areas over the next months to make improvements.

My first step was to watch the Shirley Clarke DVD, The Power of Formative Assessment. Although all of the examples in the DVD are at primary level I thoroughly recommend that all educators would benefit from watching it as a lot of the techniques could be adapted for older learners. What I really like about it is that it shows in practice lots of the ideas and techniques Clarke recommends using in her book Active Learning through Formative Assessment. One of the key techniques demonstrated in the DVD is the use of Talk Partners. I frequently used the Aifl (Assessment is for learning) strategy “Think Pair Share” and a lot of the activities I plan in class involve working in groups or with a partner. However Talk Partners is a much more structured method where the same partners are kept for a week or a fortnight with the pupils both self and peer assessing their effectiveness as a talk partner.

Clarke (2008) recommends randomly paired talk partners as

“Pupils appreciate the fairness factor and get to appreciate the rich variety of social and learning experiences”

I plan to do this using the lollypop stick method as used in the DVD which has also been used by Dylan Williams, I will continue to use the lollypop sticks during all discussions or question and answer sessions. This will hopefully ensure that all my pupils will engage with learning activities and will give those more hesitant to join in the ability to have a voice.

The first “discussion” the talk partners will have, will be to discuss the success criteria for being a good talk partner i.e. what is good talk and good listening. These success criteria will then be used at the end of a fortnight for the pupils to self and peer assess if they had been good talk partners and what they need to improve on when working with their next partners. The partners will then be swopped and at the end of the next fortnight they will evaluate if improvements have been made.

Reading / Video that helped me

DVD – The Power of Formative Assessment – Shirley Clarke

Clarke, S (2008) Active Learning through Formative Assessment, Hodder Education