Why I’ll defend EdTech, but accept it’s not the magic solution to pupil progress

There’s been a lot of discussion in the press about tablet devices, mobile phones and other technological approaches to teaching and learning. The general trend from comments close to the government is that tablets and mobile phones are inherently a problem (Pupils set for ban on mobiles and iPads in the classroom to stop lessons being disrupted). For me, articles like this risk conflating two separate issues: use of mobile devices as a behaviour issue and thoughtful use of educational technology. Grouping the two together is unhelpful.


I’m not for one second suggesting that there should be a free for all with mobile phones in school. In fact, I’m very much in favour of having strict policies for their use and consistently enforced sanctions for those students who choose to ignore basic rules. But the more this debate goes on, there’s a danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.

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Approaching research skills in a digitally literate classroom

An area I’m currently exploring is how to promote digital literacy across the curriculum. One of the ways that this can be done is through explicitly teaching research skills and guiding students through the process. The result is that students gain transferable skills and a set of useful notes at the end of the process (and we don’t have to wade through copy and pasted information that (most likely) is either less than relevant or beyond the students’ understanding of a topic).

In a nutshell – if we don’t teach students how to research well, then the success of any research task is left (at least in part) to chance.

The process here is taken from an eBook for a Year 9 group. Students will be researching the social and historical context of WW1 poetry and they’ll record their findings in a pdf version of this workbook in Showbie or Notability.

Step 1: Give the students a reason to buy into the research process

Step 1: Give the students a reason to buy into the research process.

Start by giving students a reason to buy into the research process so they can see the value in high-quality research. This idea is taken loosely from the  ‘so that…’ form of lesson objective as it highlights a sense of purpose. The aim with this starter is to get students thinking about the role of context when they interpret literature so that they can appreciate that literature isn’t just created in a vacuum. Once they understand the reason for exploring social and historical context, they’re more likely to engage with the research process.

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