Everyday Apps for Teaching & Learning

Everyday Apps for Teaching and Learning - teacherrocks.co.uk

Well i’m happy to report that I survived the first week back intact and its been great to see the experiences (both positive and negative) of the twitter teaching community being shared.

Twitter is a great CPD resource for teachers and I would recommend to any teacher both NQT and experienced to get online and join the conversation. You can also check out our twitter feed to see what we are up to – @teacherrocksuk

A class set of iPads – Now what?

At the beginning of the summer I was told that I would be receiving a dedicated set of iPad for the whole year as a proof of concept trial. We had had iPads in school as a bookable resource for the last two years but this is the first year of my teaching career where I have access to a dedicated set of 10 iPads for my class full time.

With the set of iPads at my disposal I have had to really think about how to get the best out of them and make the maximum impact on the kids learning. The school has has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scheme in place for children that have their own iPads for the last year so many of my children will be bringing their own kit in to use which will only increase the number available in class over time.

As I trawled through all my purchased Apps from over the years and hit the App Store for high impact free Apps I managed to find a few gems. I’ve made a point of doing as much as possible with freely available apps so to reduce the barriers to entry for children and parents wishing to use their own devices. Every iPad regardless of who owns it now has the same apps installed from the start, which really simplifies things.

This lead me to a new problem.. how do I actually implement this? Well, sitting with each child’s device and installing all these apps sounded like a nightmare. So I decided a great way for the pupils and parents to do this themselves would be via QR codes. All they need to begin is QR code reader and the rest is can be done either in class or at home with a printout app list.

Everyday iPad Apps - teacherrocks.co.uk

Why these apps?

Some were featured in our top 3 free English apps and top 3 free maths apps lists but we’d like to add a few more non-subject specific apps into the mix.

Showbie, Nearpod and Socrative

These apps are great aids for a teacher in the class. Showbie is a great way of storing children’s work paperlessly. It has some great ways to prove progress and feedback with instant access to video, text or voice note files.

Nearpod is a wonderful way to present lessons and let children move at their own pace. This also has great systems for feedback built in with various question types that children answer live.

Socrative is a wonderful voting and questioning app that we use so that children can give answers and votes directly to the teacher.

Epic

Epic is a new find for me, I stumbled across it on the App Store and investigated. It has revolutionised my reading sessions and has motivated my little readers more than I have ever seen before.

Children input their interests and a library is created for them. The back end that you have access to provides key information such as how many books have they read, are they just flicking through the pages, when are they reading? All answered at your finger tips.

Aurasma

Aurasma is something I have played with for years. If you not seen it before then I recommend that you download it as it can be a lot of fun. Aurasma is a great free augmented reality app.

One good use is to use the app to take a picture for your display, you can then add in an explainer video describing the display for example. As soon as someone scans the picture using the app, you video will be overlaid. Is a great way of building an element of interactivity into your (normally static) display boards.

Everyday Apps – A Printable Resource

We have made our list of everyday apps available to download, modify and print out. Feel free to modify the document to your hearts content, take some apps out and add your own!

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Follow Friday (#FF) – LearnMaker

Today’s FollowFriday (#FF) – 18th Sept 2015 – is LearnMaker (@LearnMakerUK)

I first met Jay and James (the guys behind LearnMaker) back in Autumn 2013 when they were consulting for a potential iPad rollout when they both worked for a large educational IT supplier. Jay really knows his edtech and James is an excellent trainer.

Since then they have teamed up to form LearnMaker, a consulting company dedicated to getting the best out of technology in the classroom.

LearnMaker

Recently i’ve met up with them at a local Apple Tech Day where James was presenting on getting the best out of iPads in the classroom. James is an excellent presenter who was unfazed even when the WiFi dropped mid session (it’s very hard to demonstrate learning with iPads with a flaky internet connection – but he managed it brilliantly).

LearnMaker is a commercial company but they have produced some great teaching resources and ideas in ebook form – you can check out their website at http://learnmaker.co.uk/ and see their free resources at http://learnmaker.co.uk/resources

Welcome Back To School

Welcome back to school 2015 - teacherrocks.co.uk

Happy 1st of September everyone!

We hope that you have had a fantastic break and are looking forward to your new classes! Some will be going straight back into class while others may be on Inset days but either way, we hope you have a great start to the new academic year.

The start of September also marks what would have been the official launch of the TeacherRocks blog. Originally we had decided that we would launch on the 1st of September, but we had so many ideas that we wanted to start work on it seemed silly to keep them to ourselves, so as we finished the posts we got them published.

Here’s some links to the articles that we’ve published over the last couple of weeks:

We have also been very busy on Twitter, clocking up 240 posts and 124 followers. We have started to connect with a fantastic community of educators that we find inspiring – so if you are not yet on Twitter, make that your “New Academic Years Resolution!“. If you’d like to connect with us, then you can find us via @teacherrocksuk.

We have a number of fantastic projects that we are working on at the moment, of particular note is a series on green screening and a teaching resources index/directory that we are very excited about.

Lets get cracking.. 🙂

5 Children’s Apps to Enhance Outdoor Learning

5 Children's Apps to Enhance Outdoor Learning

This is a guest post from Sam Flatman from Pentagon Sport.

Technology is commonplace inside the classroom, but some teachers are still holding back when it comes to taking tech outdoors. There are many debates about the role of technology in outdoor learning and we must ensure that using tablets and other devices enhances learning rather than detracts from it. For teachers who are keen to integrate outdoor learning and technology into their lessons, apps can be used to supplement learning across the curriculum.

5 Children’s Apps to Enhance Outdoor Learning

These five apps are particularly excellent for engaging learners.

Project Noah by Networked Organisms

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Project Noah is a great app for exploring and documenting wildlife. As you come across animals and insects while outdoors, the app can be used to ‘submit spottings’ and help you to identify the species.

Children can earn patches for their hard work by uploading animal sightings, participating in missions and more.

Project Noah is an excellent app to combine with the science curriculum and learn about local wildlife.
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Curious Words by Curious Hat

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The aim of this app is to get children thinking about words.

A word will randomly appear on the screen and learners must shoot a one second video to represent this word. For example, if the word “smile” appears, they could video their friend smiling at the camera. The app strings together these words and videos to make a short film.

Curious words is an excellent app for literacy-based classes and can encourage interest in film studies early on.
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Curious Words is available as a paid app from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS7 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 4 and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 5th Generation and newer.

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Compass by Harpan LLC

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Many young learners struggle with navigational and map-reading skills.

Compass is a simple app which teaches children how to use a compass and how to follow a trail map.

This is great practise for children and can be used to support the geography curriculum  by helping children to understand how map reading works.
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Free Compass is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS4.2 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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Storyboard That by Clever Prototypes, LLC

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Another app for which is great for literacy, Storyboard That allows children to build a storyboard by dragging and dropping images into a sequence.

Children can choose between preloaded images or they can head outside and snap their own photos to tell their tale.

This app is excellent for KS2 and even KS3 as it helps learners to concentrate on ensuring their creative writing has a good structure.
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Photogene by Omer Shoor

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Photo apps are always excellent for art class.

Photogene is a really creative and fun app which encourages children to shoot and edit their own photos. A great activity for this app is to head outside and take close ups of flowers and plants outside.

Back in the classroom, the photos can be edited to strengthen colours, then learners can grab their paints and try to replicate the image that they just took outside.
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Photogene is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS6 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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There are an enormous number of apps out there that can be used to support the school curriculum. This isn’t always a straightforward process and it’s important that activities which use apps and well planned. I always recommend that children are split into small groups to share tablets.

This not only means that they have to use their sharing skills, but also ensures that learners aren’t always focused on the screen, but instead are looking around outdoors to spot wildlife, searching landmarks from their map, or finding things to photograph.

What other apps do your class use for outdoor learning?


About the Author: Sam Flatman is an Educational Consultant for Pentagon Sport. Pentagon have worked with over 6,000 settings to create innovative playgrounds and learning environments for young students.

Website: http://www.pentagonsport.co.uk
Pentagon’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PentagonSportUK
Pentagon’s Twitter: @PentagonSportUK

Top 10 Tips for NQTs and NQT+ (Part 2)

Our Top 10 Tips for NQTs (Part 2) - TeacherRocks.co.uk

Welcome to part two of our Top 10 Tips for NQTs – don’t forget to check out part one if you missed it!

Lets crack on with part two..

Top Tip 6: Build Professional Relationships

Make sure that you build professional relationships whenever you leave the classroom and make sure that you ask plenty of questions.

Be mindful that some teachers don’t always like talking shop, but many live and breath their profession and won’t mind being asked even the simplest of questions

When you get the chance to speak to these teachers, ask them how they would tackle situations you are facing. Ask as many as you can before picking the best pieces for a solution that suites your pedagogy.

Top Tip 7: Get Social

We always recommend that you build relationships in the wider teaching community, beyond the physical walls of your school. Make sure that you join Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Use the teaching professionals on social media as away to be constantly revising and improving your teaching style.  I was lucky to be in a very supportive and innovative school as an NQT but you may not be so lucky. Having access to new ideas and approaches will keep you interested and motivated.

It also goes a long way to ensuring children are on task.  Keep an eye open for our round up of the best educators to follow on social media being published over the coming weeks.

Top Tip 8: Embrace Mobile

Lots of schools now are moving towards mobile devices in classrooms, if your school is then that’s fantastic news. If you are not one of the lucky few, then please don’t let that hold you back.

Depending on your schools IT department, you may have access to a school device, or you may be able to use your own tablet or phone. If you do have access then use them to help make learning exciting and interesting.  Apps such as Action Movie FX, FX Guru, Morfo and Aurasma are all available to make lessons exciting with a twist on the context for the lesson.

If iPads are in school already you may want to have a play now with apps such as Nearpod, iTunes U and Showbie.

These are ways of delivering your planning to maximise impact. We already have released our Top 3 Free Apps for Maths and English and in future posts we will look into these Apps in more detail.

If you have any specific questions about any of the above, leave a comment and we will be straight back to you.

Top Tip 9: Join a Marking Club

We all know marking has to be done and it can be a time consuming job.  Try to turn that around.

The idea of marking clubs was recently featured on Twitter and I have discussed it with my team.  A number of us this year are going to watch the Star Wars series on a designated night each week while completing marking for 2 hours.

An added bonus is that when there is something on the screen, less people will walk in and interrupt.

Top Tip 10: Be Positive!

Be positive, never focus on the list of jobs that are still left to do at the end of the day or you will doomed to an endless life at your desk.

Celebrate the tasks that were completed and the huge successes of the children.  Go home smiling and relish the next day.  Enjoy what you do and stick to your ideals and pedagogy.

It does become easier as tasks become routine.


Thats it for our Top Ten tips for NQTs and we hope you have found it useful. If we have missed something obvious or if you have your own tips for NQTs then please contact us via FacebookTwitter or a good old fashioned contact form.

Top 10 Tips for NQTs and NQT+ (Part 1)

Our Top 10 Tips for NQTs (Part 1) - TeacherRocks.co.uk

Remembering back to the start of my teaching career I have sound advice I would travel back in time and tell myself. I also feel this advice can continue to be relevant for teachers that have recently moved school or are anxious about those first days back in a new class. After all, you never stop learning year on year once you become a teacher. 

First of all to all you NQTs, congratulations on making it through a massively difficult process as well as a hugely crowded selection process to get that first teaching position.  Although that is the hard bit, you are now left to wait for the summer to be over to begin.

Remembering back to my experience, I had a million questions to ask and no point of contact.  Nobody to reassure me or even to talk to.  So I though a great way to begin our TeacherRocks blog would be to give some advice and be a sounding board for any questions.

Top Tip 1 – Don’t Panic!

First of all do not panic, everyone has been in the same mind set as you are right now.

Being prepared is important and having the room looking exciting with interactive displays (more on this in an upcoming blog post) can be a summer focus.

Trying to focus on things you don’t yet have the resources for is impossible.  Concentrate your energy on problems you can resolve.

Top Tip 2 – Plan With Structure

Plan with structure, not with script like detail.  A pattern I was shown in my NQT year was the accelerated learning cycle.

The Accelerated Learning Cycle - TeacherRocks.co.uk
The Accelerated Learning Cycle

If you already have a school suggested planning format, consider where these parts will fit in.  Remembering that you starter should connect the learners to new concepts or progress from those previously taught.  You must activate those learners with new information, preferably with a visual demonstration.

Next the work of the pupil in the activity.  Finally the children will demonstrate their learning with a short task and consolidate with discussions.  If you have no planning format get in touch, we are working on some free formats based upon this.

Top Tip 3 – Use Positive Descriptive Praise

When you meet the children, from the very first instant use positive descriptive praise.

You can not simply give out points, the children need to know exactly what they are doing well so others can imitate.  “I love the way Billy is sat with his legs under the table, facing me waiting.  I know he is ready to learn.”

Try this on your first day and see the other 29 imitate that.  Placed alongside a good merit system behaviour management becomes much easier than shouting at every problem.

A great editable system I use is Class Dojo (check back soon for an in depth focus on this).

Top Tip 4 – Don’t Listen to Everyone

There will always be that member of staff that you have to ignore.

In a profession where 99% of people give their own personal time and money for their classrooms, we still have staffroom comments. “He’s a wrong one!” “She’s unteachable, don’t worry!” “It’s all a waste of time anyway, I just use last year years planning.”

These are just the tip of the iceberg but don’t let them influence you or your work ethic.

Top Tip 5 – Enjoy Your Lunch

Half way there, lunchtime, make sure you have at least 30 minutes out of your classroom and speaking with normal people (or as normal as you can find in the staffroom).

Do not let the pile of marking you have chain you to that desk.

As time goes on that key phrase ‘work/life balance’ needs to become your mantra. Those 30 minutes in the staffroom or an evening off from planning may be the difference between you sinking or swimming in that first year.


Thats it for our part one of our top ten tips for NQTs, we’ll be posting part two early next week. If you have your own tips for NQTs then please contact us via Facebook, Twitter or a good old fashioned contact form.

Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for Maths

Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for Maths - Sept 2015

During a recent conversation on Twitter with @MichaelT1979, we were asked to recommend our top free apps for English and Maths for students to download and use over the summer. 

We use these apps every week and they make fantastic free additions to your iPad app portfolio.

We would recommend that you also check out Part 1 of this mini series – Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for English

Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for Maths

Presented in no particular order:

Splash Math by StudyPad, Inc.

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[su_column size=”4/5″]Splash Math is a wonderful little Maths app that covers a whole range of topics including addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, geometry, fractions, time and even money. The app covers a whole range of skill levels and is suitable for ages 4 to 14.

Children are encouraged, once they have completed all the maths challenges that their level, to go beyond and practice the next grade level. If a child is stuck on some of the questions, they can switch to lower grades to revise and reenforce their learning before having another go.

A web version of the app is also available.

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Splash Math is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS7 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 4 and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 5th Generation and newer.

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My Times Tables by WhoMadeThis

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[su_column size=”4/5″]My Times Tables is a fun and easy way for your pupils to learn the first 20 times tables. The app has four steps, the first is to review the times tables one by one. The second step is to fill out missing numbers from the times tables.

Step three is where you can compete against the computer or even your friends through the Games Center. The last step of the game is to review the times tables as a whole.

Its a great little app that really injects some fun into learning your times tables!

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My Times Tables is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS6 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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Numbers Game! by Ben Sheehan

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[su_column size=”4/5″]Numbers Game! is a simple but addictive maths game. The aim of the game is to reach the target number using any of the 6 numbers that have been provided using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

Players can work through a variety of levels with increasing difficulty or they can choose to play against the clock in a “time attack” mode.

The game also integrates well with Apple’s Game Centre so you can compete with players all over the world.

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Numbers Game! is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS6 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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Whats in your top apps list for Maths? Are there any interesting apps that we have missed? If so, you can contact us via Facebook, Twitter or a good old fashioned contact form.

 

Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for English

Our top 3 free ipad apps for English - Sept 2015

During a recent conversation on Twitter with @MichaelT1979, we were asked to recommend our top free apps for English and Maths for students to download and use over the summer. 

We use these apps every week and they make fantastic free additions to your iPad app portfolio.

We would recommend that you also check out Part 2 of this mini series – Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for Maths

Our Top 3 Free iPad Apps for English

Presented in no particular order:

SpellFix by Alan Peat Ltd

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[su_column size=”4/5″]Spellfix is a great app to encourage children to learn some of the harder words in the English language.

Each level has 8 tricky spellings to find to progress to the next level, progression is made through using the clues and available letters on screen.

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Spellfix is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS6 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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Learn English with Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge by British Council

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[su_column size=”4/5″]Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge encourages players to beat the clock and answer as many spelling, vocabulary and grammar questions you can in the 60 second limit.

Players can earn a series of badges by completing levels with the ultimate goal of achieving Johnnys Gold Badge.

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Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS6 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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Jumbled Sentences 3 by Innovative Net Learning Limited

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[su_column size=”4/5″]Jumbled Sentences is a great app that helps beginners improve their writing skills.

The app offers an engaging and interactive way for beginners to learn and master word order. The app also offers a self checking tool that allows players to check their own progress as they go.

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Jumbled Sentences 3 is available for free from the iTunes store for both iPhone and iPad. The app is compatible with all current iOS devices, requiring a minimum of iOS6 to run. It will work on the following devices: iPhone 3GS and newer, iPad 2 and newer and iPod touch 4th Generation and newer.

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Whats in your top apps list for English? Are there any interesting apps that we have missed? If so, you can contact us via Facebook, Twitter or a good old fashioned contact form.

Thanks!

TeacherRocks – An Introduction

The Teacher Rocks blog logo

Like many great ideas throughout history, TeacherRocks.co.uk was born out of a conversation in the pub.

After a couple of hours of chatting, the conversation moved onto the general state of teaching resources and teaching blogs online. There are many inspiring blogs on the internet, and many more that are very poor in both content and presentation.

Most of the resources online are of very poor quality, difficult to work with or out of date. They are often provided in a locked PDF format where staff spend more time rewriting or copying the resources – this is pointless as it can often be quicker to create the resource from scratch than attempt to modify something existing.

What is the point of making these available for free if they are unusable?

After working together for the past 3 years and collaborating on many in-school projects, we decided to start this very blog to address these problems.

Introducing TeacherRocks

TeacherRocks has been setup to provide quality teaching advice, resources and opinion for all of KS1 and KS2 across all aspects of the curriculum. The resources we create will be of high quality, easily modifiable and adaptable to your own planning.

We plan on releasing the resources we create in all formats – so you can pick the one thats best for you, be it PDF, PowerPoint, Word, Plain Text or hopefully in the future Smart Notebook formats.

We will also be covering teaching ideas and best practice as well as our own opinions of aspects of the teaching profession with the odd bit of humour thrown in for good measure.

We also plan on covering the use of technology in the classroom – and hope to release easy to follow how-to guides on using technology easily and effectively.

Introducing the Team

In order to create fantastic teaching resources, you really need to know what you are talking about – to quote a popular internet meme:

One does not simply create a teaching blog

The team behind TeacherRocks.co.uk consists of Joe Shepherd, currently a KS2 teacher and Maths lead and Gary Danton, an ICT Manager in a busy Primary School.

A bit about Joe

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You can follow Joe on Twitter via @pepeshepherdo
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Joe decided to become a teacher after an 8 year period as a Human Resource Manager. Having survived a tough few years of transition, he is making a great impact by leading Maths in school.

Always eager to improve the quality and quantity of time spent with children, Joe often leans towards ICT for innovation.  Using blogs, apps and self made resources to drive progress and attainment. His main focus generally though is the development of young individuals that are active, interested and ready to enquire.

With his natural lean towards number there will be some great resources continuously added that everyone can use. As well as some teaching styles and techniques you can try quickly and free.

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A bit about Gary

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You can follow Gary on Twitter via @garydanton
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Although Gary isn’t a classroom teacher, he has 8 years of experience of IT in education from Primary to FE level. Gary has assisted teaching staff with integrating the existing computing curriculum into everyday lessons (which is no mean task).

As a non-teacher Gary often plays Devils advocate –  just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that its the best way of doing it. Gary enjoys challenging the accepted norms.

Gary’s primary role on TeacherRocks is to run the site on a day to day basis, developing both the website and the resources that we create. Gary will also be blogging about ICT in a School environment from both a teaching and non-teaching point of view, as well as how to get the best value from your existing ICT kit.
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When are we launching?

As this is a teaching blog, we though it appropriate to “officially” launch on the 1st September 2015, that gives us some time to fine tune the website and get all our planning in order for the start of the academic year.

If you’d like to contact us in the mean time, you can leave us a message via our contact form below – we look forward to hearing from you!

Edit:

We actually ended up starting a little sooner than expected after we were asked on Twitter to recommend some English and Maths apps – You can check our top 3 lists below:

[contact-form-7 id=”4″ title=”Main Contact Form”]