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Showing posts from 2018

Bringing Picture Books to Life!

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Ever since John Murray (@ReadingExplorer) visited our school around 5 years ago, our school's approach to reading has changed massively. One aspect of the training which has really engaged our teachers and students was the use of picture books as a stimulus in English. It is something we have embraced right from EYFS to Year 6 and every class do at least one unit of English based on a picture book.

Since then, there's been a wealth of resources and support for using picture books to inspire English. One of my favourite people to follow on twitter is Simon Smith (@SmithSmm) who, for me, is like the guru of children's fiction. I was truly inspired by his session at Reading Rocks around the brilliant Arthur and The Golden Rope picture book. Click the picture to read Simon's blog post on this:



Year 4 have started looking at the beautiful book 'Flotsam.' Having explored the first few pages, we decided to create short videos telling the story in our own words.

To do t…

Removing Barriers in Reading Comprehension by improving Oral Speaking

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Recently, I was asked to write an article for Teach Primary magazine alongside John Murray (@ReadingExplorer.) The topic was to explain the pedagogy behind the Read Write Perform approach. You can read the article here:


A big focus with Read Write Perform is to get teachers to value oral speaking skills and demonstrate how much speaking and listening benefits other areas of the English curriculum. I see with many schools the constant accountability of work in books through Book Scrutinies is forcing many teachers to neglect this part of the English Curriculum. This was something I discussed in Episode 1 of Taking Teaching Back:

The obsession with work in books can create barriers for certain children if writing is something they struggle with. I have seen this in maths and reading especially. If the only way a student can show their understanding and reasoning is by writing it as a full sentence in their book, it may look like they are struggling if writing is challengeing. 
Through …

If they're into the craze, use it to engage!

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Viral crazes, you either love them or hate them. As a teacher, it is probably the latter. There is nothing worse than trying to explain the past progressive tense and spying a pupil trying to perfect the latest dance craze.


We've had everything - dabbing, bottle flipping, even the Harlem Shake... remember that?

The latest seems to be the Floss Dance. My pupils have been doing it so much they seem to have forgotten how to walk, they just floss everywhere. Dentists up and down the country must have been buzzing when they heard there was a floss craze. "FINALLY, people are taking our recommendations seriously" I could hear them cry. Imagine their surprise when they realised it turns out to be an awkward, Dad dancing move.


The look on their faces!
In the past, with some of the crazes, I have used them to great effect when it comes to writing in class. I truly believe children will do their best writing when they are writing about something they are truly engaged with. One o…

An Empowering song for Comprehension

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Over the weekend, I finally managed to watch the film - The Greatest Showman. One of the songs stood out to me and straight away I thought, this is a must for the classroom. If you have followed my blog, you know I am a fan of using music for reading comprehension and you can read some of my other posts here.

The film tells the story of PT Barnum and his circus.

"This Is Me" is a fight song for people who are not accepted by society. It is sung by Lettie Lutz after she and the rest of the circus troupe are barred by Barnum from an after party following Jenny Lind's performance. The bearded lady refuses to be cut down by the fact that the showman is embarrassed by them. According to the song's writer, "It was really inspired by the group of oddities in the film, and what they came to represent and what [director] Michael [Gracey] talked about them representing," Pasek told Billboard. "People who had lived in the shadows their whole lives and for the fi…

Making Dreams Come True Through The Internet

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I am always trying to promote the positive use of the internet. For me, it has changed my life in a way I never thought possible. Having my ideas shared and used all around the world is amazing and now to be able to visit and work with so many teachers around the country and beyond is brilliant. It is a tool I use a lot in class to add an authentic purpose to children's learning. Connecting our classroom to professionals and experts through social media has had an incredible impact on the quality of work we get from our students.

I have blogged plenty of examples of where the internet has created these amazing opportunities and experiences for our pupils, such as Blackfish, learning about our local area or a message for the England football team.

A couple of weeks ago, we had primary futures week where our pupils were learning about different jobs, had parents visit and talk about their career and discussion our aspirations.

I worked with Year 2 and challenged them to make some eB…

Using GIFs in the classroom

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A few years back, I put together an eBook - 15+ ideas for the emoji keyboard in class. The eBook shared some useful and inspiring ideas for how to utilise the emoji keyboard.


I have since blogged about using Bitmoji in class. This is another great tool that allows teachers to turn themselves into a cartoon and then create images such as these to share with your pupils:

I have just seen a blog from Mr Hill who shares some more ideas for Bitmoji, you can read it here.
More recently, there has been a new tool that seems to have dominated every social media platform and that is GIFs. To define a GIF:
An animated GIF is an image encoded in graphics interchange format (GIF), which contains a number of images or frames in a single file and is described by its own graphic control extension. The frames are presented in a specific order in order to convey animation. An animated GIF can loop endlessly or stop after a few sequences.
GIFs seem to be everywhere and for the past few months, I have be…

Figment AR to Inspire Writing

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Today I worked with one of our Year 3 classes and I eventually had the chance to try out a new app I've been desperate to use - Figment AR.

I first heard of this app after reading a blog post from the brilliant @ICTEvangelist. You can read his blog post here:
Figment AR For Story Telling And Re-Living Field Trips In IOS


The feature in the app which I was immediately drawn to was the portals feature. This allows you to place a portal within your world. This portal allows you to travel to any 360° image. There are a couple of pictures included but you can also add your own. Straight away I knew this would be something that would inspire some amazing writing in my class and today I finally got the chance to have a go with our brilliant Year 3 pupils. But as I always discuss on my CPD and INSET the big hook was what they were going to do with their writing which was to bring it to life and create their own movie!

As their topic is linked to space, we decided to use a 360° image of spa…

Seeing AI - An App That Narrates the World!

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One of my favourite new discoveries at BETT was the app Seeing AI. My good friend, Julian Woods (@Ideas_Factory) shared this with me and I am really impressed by how accuarate and quick it is.

The app is described as a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.

An app which has is considered a talking camera for the blind, it has the potential to support pupils in lots of ways in the classroom.

This short little video gives a quick demonstration to how the app works. The app is free and just click the app icon above to download it.

Another Song to Develop Comprehension in Class

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I have blogged about the power of music in the classroom and have previously shared a number of songs which can be used in the classroom, especially for reading comprehension. You can read them here. 

The song currently at Number 1 in the charts - These Days by Rudimental feat. Macklemore, Jess Glyne and Dan Caplen - is another great song which can be used in class. Here is a link to the music video:



Here are the lyrics with some suggested questions:
I know you moved onto someone new
Hope life is beautiful
You were the light for me to find my truth
I just wanna say, thank you


Who is the rapper speaking about?Are the couple still together? How do you know? No - moved onto someone new.How does he feel towards his old girlfriend? He still likes her - wishes her wellIs this always the case when people split up? Open to discussionDo you think he regrets breaking up with her? No, the relationship helped him grow.Why is he thanking her? He recognises that she helped him on his journey to reach hi…

Enhancing Learning in Geography Through Technology Lesson 3

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Over the past half term, I have been working in Year 2 and supporting both classes with their Geography topic.

I have blogged what we have done previously and you can read what we have covered so far:

Enhancing Learning in Geography Through Technology Lesson 1

Enhancing Learning in Geography Through Technology Lesson 2

The next step was to focus in on our local area of Manchester and Urmston where our school is.

We listed some of the famous landmarks and interesting places to visit. We also discussed other reasons why people should visit or even live here.

The children were then challenged to create their own eBooks about why people should live in Urmston, Manchester.



The students worked in pairs using the app Book Creator to create their eBooks. Book Creator has always been one of my favourite apps to use in class. As a creative tool, it is up there as one of the best apps/tools for the classroom and is a must for any primary and secondary school. The app allows pupils to create eBooks…

Teach Rex - Bringing Your Dinosaur Topic To Life!

This week, we were very lucky to have the team from Teach Rex visit our school. The brought their good friend Jam to see our pupils and led workshops to help us learn about the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Needless to say, our pupils were captivated! To have an actual dinosaur roam our school was amazing!

See the moment Jam appeared to our KS1 pupils here:



To say the pupils enjoyed the experience was an understatement! They didn't stop talking about it all day. For me, Primary School should be about creating incredible experiences that ignite a love for learning and provide memories that last a lifetime. 

We had such a good day when @teach_rex came to visit this week! This short video gives you a glimpse of what we were doing and the excitement and wonder on our pupil’s faces! If you head over to Facebook, you could win a FREE visit from the team! A post shared by Lee Parkinson (@ict_mrp) on Feb 25, 2018 at 2:41am PST

What I liked most about the visit from Teach Rex was the fact is was led …

My Thoughts on the Idea of Arming Teachers

With the recent tragedy in Florida, where so many young innocent lives were taken in another school shooting, Trump has sparked controversy by suggesting that teachers should be armed with guns.

Here are my thoughts on this idea and what I feel would be the universal response to this suggestion:


The response to this video has been incredible and it seems that most teachers are certainly on the same page.

The School Staff Oscars

It is awards season! We've had the BAFTAs and BRITS and will soon have the Oscars. But what about teachers and other school staff? What about celebrating them? Well, I've decided to do something about that!

This video, which I posted on Facebook, has all of Mr P's nominations for this year's School Staff Oscars. The winners? That's up to you! You can tag your winners in the comments!


Now That's What I Call Being a Teacher Vol. 14 - The 90s Edition

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The next in the series takes a step back in time and uses some of the best hits from the 90s for those popular teacher catchphrases:


Watch every volume of Now That's What I Call Being A Teacher Vol 1-14 here.
Please subscribe on YouTube.

Enhancing Learning in Geography through Technology Lesson 2

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Last week, I blogged about the work I had started in Year 2 linked to their Geography topic:

Enhancing Learning in Geography through Technology Lesson 1

After the students had labelled the continents on a world map:



The next step was to focus in on the UK. The first step was to create a similar labelled map through Seesaw. However, this time we discussed improving the formatting and style:

The next step was to look at finding out about each country in the UK. First, we generated a series of questions to help us with our research, some of the suggested questions:


Where is it?How many people live there? (Population)What is the Capital City?What does the flag look like?What is the national anthem?What famous landmarks are there to visit?Who is the patron saint? The pupils were then given some time to research online and try and find the answers to these questions. After writing a script using their facts, they created a short video about their country using Adobe Spark Video. This tool has…

Taking Teaching Back Episode 2 - The Fear in Education

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The response to the first Taking Teaching Back Episode has been amazing! Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to watch it. The comments have been great and it has been so encouraging to hear of teachers who have taken the discussion into school and are actively looking at ways to change what they were doing in a way to help reduce workload. This is EXACTLY what I wanted from these videos. So here is Episode 2 and this one looks at one of the biggest reasons for the workload crisis in schools which is... FEAR. As always, please let me know what you think.



In case you missed Episode 1, here it is:

Enhancing Learning in Geography through Technology Lesson 1

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For the past few weeks, I have been working with Year 2 in my school. I have been team teaching with the staff to help build their confidence in using technology more in class. Along with English and Maths, we have been looking at ways in which technology can enhance learning in Geography. The topic is all about learning about their local area, but to start with, we look at the world and gradually work in.

Around 4/5 years ago now, we did the same topic in Year 2 and I blogged about the tools we used then. You can read that blog post here - Using iPad to give children a better understanding of the World. 

This time, we have used some different creative apps. As I discuss a lot on my training, this is how we should be focusing our use of technology in schools: allowing students to use tools to creatively demonstrate their knowledge and understanding about the chosen topic.

I understand the pressures teachers are under, especially in Year 2 when SATs are looming. English and Maths take …

Taking Teaching Back Episode 1 - Book Scrutinies

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I am in an incredible position where I am able to visit schools all over the UK. On that journey, I try to inspire teachers with ideas for how best to utilise technology in their school. One part of this is looking at ways in which technology can be used to help teachers work smarter, not harder. There are still so many schools who are struggling to effectively manage workload for a number of reasons. This is something I am passionate about changing. Being able to address some of these issues when visiting schools is great however it is only a small amount of schools compared to amount throughout the UK and beyond.

Thanks to the unbelievable support I have through this blog and social media channels, I am able to reach thousands of teachers, which is why I have started this new series of videos.

Taking Teaching Back will be a series of videos that look at addressing a number of issues within education that I feel contribute to workload. I cannot guarantee that I'll be able to provi…

Our New Interactive Display on Never Giving Up!

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In my sessions each week at Davyhulme, I have been working on a project with my Digital Leaders. As a school with a motto 'Reaching for the Stars,' I wanted the pupils to create a display that would inspire children to persevere and not let failure stop them achieving their goals.

The idea was inspired by something I saw at Candleby Lane School in Nottingham. They had a display featuring stories from teachers talking about how they have failed and how they overcame that failure. So we did the same, we asked teachers to share stories of times when they felt they had failed and how they worked through it and didn't let it stop them from achieving their goals. I feel this is a really powerful thing to share with our students to make them understand that everyone will have ups and downs including their teachers. Here is my example:




The Digital Leaders also researched famous people who had also struggled in their journey to reach their goal. To share what they had learned, they…