Posts

In Praise of amateurorchestras.org.uk

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Many of you will know that I am a little obsessed with my music and the greatest asset I have in my musical travels is amateurorchestras.org.uk. I take my trumpet with me most places I go to. I have even been known to practise in car parks when the walls in my hotel room are too thin and rushed through a few scales in my car, outside many schools across the UK when I arrive too early.

  This website is full of 100s of full orchestras, string orchestras, brass bands, wind bands, concert bands, and a category called miscellaneous which can include things such as flute groups, clarinet choirs and so on. There is also a map for you to browse for a group near you and It's a Google Map so it delights me to see someone using Google Tools for such a great purpose.

As I travel around the country, I take a moment to search this website for local groups. I tend to go for Wind and Concert bands or big bands. I contact them, tell them I am in the area looking for a blow but that I am not looking…

Google Innovator Academy - LON19

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OMG, I say OMG!!

Those who know me will already know that I am a huge fan of all things Google. I think they offer a set of tools for schools that are second to none. The ease of use and the simple way to share and collaborate really enrich the experience for learners of all ages. I can't recommend them enough. 

People may also know that I have a good list of Google qualifications; Educator Level 1 and 2, Google Education Trainer and an old G-Suite administration certification which is almost certainly out of date but I am still proud I have it because I am not the most technically minded person.


There has been one qualification that has eluded me for a while and that is the Google Innovator - but not anymore. I am absolutely delighted that I can confirm that I am going to attend the Google Innovator Academy in London in July. I am so excited. Innovator is a year-long project to realise a solution to a problem that you hope will benefit the Google for Education Community. It starts w…

Google Jamboard - A great collaboration tool!

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When I work with the Jamboard, I recall the Steve Jobs quote:

"Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them."

The Jamboard is the most amazing collaboration tool that was aimed squarely at the commercial market but it soon became clear that schools could epitomise Steve Job's quote and adopt this product for themselves. This board looks for all the world like an Interactive whiteboard but it is so much more than that.

Ignore its appearance and try not to think of it as an Interactive Whiteboard.

Here are some of the amazing things I have seen it used for:


Explaining the significance of the elements of Plato's caveExplore the theme of Ambition in Macbethearly language adopters to read simple CVC words and then draw what they have read and vice versacreating a representation of the gestation of a human child using imagesdevelop …

Amazon Echo or Google Home?

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We have both. Our household is slowly getting used to the presence of two machine learning devices. What do they offer?



Both are excellent devices. The family make extensive use of music services almost all of the time they are in the room with the device and we have heard music as diverse as Monteverdi, Frank Sinatra, Vera Lynn and the British Grime scene. ( My son will be disgusted I can't remember any Grime artists). 

We have occasional times when we explore how much it actually knows and can respond to. Recent questions include:
How many seconds are there in 55 years? Turns out I am 1,734,480,000 seconds old!Will you marry me?What is the weather like?What is this piece of music?When was (insert an historical event)?


The Google Home arrived first. It was really simple to set up and I am really pleased with the sound quality of such a small device. We would have stopped there except during the family holiday to Crete in August 2017, my Mother-in-Law found the Google Home an invalua…

G Suite not enough? Add-ons, Apps and extensions to the rescue!

To enhance the functionality of your G Suite for Education, you need to look at the wealth of extensions, add-ons and apps that will connect and integrate into your core suite. Extensions enhance the functionality of your Chrome browser, Add-ons add extra functionality to a Docs, Sheets or Form, and Apps are cloud-based services that link to your G Suite domain.

Here is a quick fly through some of my favourites. This is not a comprehensive list but a list of those extensions, apps and add-ons I use a lot at the moment.

Google URL shortener 
This shortens any web address and also creates QR codes that link to the same web address. If you ar working with tablets in our classroom, the QR codes are a really quick and simple way to direct students to relevant websites.

Share to Classroom
This allows me to post assignments and announcements to any of my Google Classrooms. So, any website I find that I think is useful, I can post directly to the correct Classroom. I use Classroom extensively with…

Keyboard shortcut junkie

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I remember reading many years ago about the indicators of competence on a computer. I don't remember the source (apologies for this - please let me know if you read the same thing), but it went something like this:
First use is slow and awkward, the user struggles to locate keys and movement between keyboard and mouse is slow and measured. visual checks between hands and screen are frequent.As use progresses, the speed of movement from mouse and keyboard increases and visual checks are less frequent.eventually the user becomes competent in both keyboard and mouse use and devices work together to complete tasks. keyboard shortcuts are used often to expedite tasks.
With this in mind, I thought I would share my keyboard shortcut obsession with you all. if you are not familiar with keyboard shortcuts or do not use them, then I would encourage you to do so. They do increase efficiency and improve integration between the mouse and keyboard.
Ctrl + Ctrl - Ctrl 0 My daughter showed me thi…

Some useful apps

Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them. Steve Jobs



I want to emphasise the importance of the teacher in the process of getting the best out of any app they might use. There is no "killer app" that is a panacea for every classroom. Each individual teacher will need to go and look and decide whether these particular apps are any use to them. By all means be guided by others but be critical and make certain it will suit you and your students. What I hope for is that teachers will go and look and if these apps don't quite fit their requirements, they will go and find a more suitable one for them. I have been trying to decide what to include in this blog for a while and it is getting delayed over and over so I am going to do it in instalments instead. Publish and be damned!
So, now the caveat is stated, here are some apps I thi…