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 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 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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Download the PDF

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Download the Word Doc


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.