Case study: Teaching an Outstanding lesson with the aid of edtech

Ruth Smith

Apple-distinguished educator (ADE) Ruth Smith is a Primary Computing special needs teacher at Westmorland School in Chorley. She loves exciting new technology and finding ways to inspire her pupils to learn. Westmorland School is in the process of becoming a one-device-per-child school, and Ruth Smith enjoys looking at different apps to finding learning and teaching more interesting. She also leads the SEN CAS hub school for Lancashire and Bolton. She is a co-founder of Tech Teach Goals.

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Engaging the most difficult children is a difficult job for any teacher. However, by using technology, it can aid in engaging the reluctant learners and delivering an outstanding lesson to help them to progress.

When using technology within a lesson, it is important to think about how it is going to enhance the learning for the pupils and engage the learning. Many teachers worry about the technology failing within a lesson, and can therefore be wary about using it. However, as long as you have a backup plan and are able to think on your feet, if it fails then it can really enhance a lesson.

When planning an outstanding lesson using an iPad, it is important to think about the outline of the lesson initially and then look at how the technology can be incorporated afterwards.

One observed lesson which I had graded outstanding saw the use of an iPad to enhance and develop the learning of the pupils in my class, with the lesson being based around looking at fats in foods.

I started the lesson by using Inspiration mind-mapping app for kids. This resource is available as a free trial or £5.99 for the full version. It is a fabulous app which already has a variety of different activities"Inspiration is a fabulous app which has a variety of activities for whole-class teaching and individual work." for whole-class teaching or individual work, but also allows pupils to create different diagrams. We used one of the ready-made activities on it to recap what food goes into different food groups, allowing the pupils to be actively involved in the lesson. They enjoy using this app independently as well to recap on learning, and also make their own mind maps and activities.

Using video and an Apple TV enabled all the pupils to see what was going on with the next short experiment of the fat burning on a Pringle without getting up close. An Apple TV is a super resource to use within the classroom. It not only allows you as the teacher to share things, but it also enables the pupils to share their work with the whole class which pupils love to do.

The lesson then moved onto look at the learning intentions and facts around fats. I often use Prezi as my presentation tool, as it can incorporate a variety of different media and, with the various templates it offers, it can be exciting and engaging to view. The pupils enjoyed the different aspects and were wanting to produce their own Prezi presentation - which they did later on in the week! As a teacher or someone who works in education, you are able to get a free Prezi account which gives you more privacy settings than the free regular account.

Pupils were then set off on individual activities. This was explained to them and then shown to them on Showbie (which is a virtual classroom). As a school we use Showbie to share work with pupils and for pupils to send their work back to be marked and feedback sent. The pupils enjoy using this app as they find it easy to use. It is very Primary-friendly, and allows for a variety of media to be shared with the pupils. We use the pro version, which allows for marking and work to be kept forever. I shared the work with the pupils, allowing them to go back to look at it again later in the lesson if they couldn’t remember what they had to do. This is an aspect of the app I like, as many of these pupils have short-term memory, and this feature allows me to split the lessons into different tasks so they can see what they need to achieve. It also means that they can go back and recap on what they need to"I shared the work with the pupils, allowing them to go back to look at it again later in the lesson if they couldn’t remember." do. As you are able to send comments to the whole class or individuals, it also allows for differentiation without the pupils knowing.

The pupils then worked in small groups on the individual activities. They had to look at the amount of fats in different types of foods and weigh lard out to show the amount of fat in each. We used the fabulous Book Creator app for this part of the lesson. Not only does this resource allow pupils to have their different exercise books all in one place, but it also works with other apps such as Showbie allowing them to be sent backwards and forwards for marking. The pupils used Book Creator to produce a table showing their results, and then added pictures showing the amount of lard they had measured out. The app also allows you to add a variety of different media which can make an interactive book and also allows for differentiation such as recording videos, audio and adding pictures.

To extend the learning, the more able pupils went on to produce a bar chart of their data, allowing for cross-curricular learning. To do this, we used the Maths is Fun website, where you can create a bar chart without needing Flash. The pupils were then able to copy this, put it in Book Creator with their other work and then share this on Showbie with me for marking.

The less-able pupils then picked from a selection of different apps to produce a poster to show what they had found out. Some pupils used PicCollage - this is a lovely app to combine pictures and small amounts of words in a fun exciting way! Other pupils elected to use ChatterPix, a really interactive app that is great to use with SEN pupils. The kids used it make the different foods talk, telling people how much fat was in each food; this was a great way for the pupils to show what they had learnt. This could all be shared with me on Showbie at the end, allowing me to give detailed feedback.

To bring the lesson to a close, we recapped on what we had done using the Prezi presentation.

Using the iPads in this lesson enhanced the learning and using a variety of different apps allowed the pupils to be engaged with the learning and produce some fabulous work. As I explained earlier, it is important to think about how the technology will enhance the learning within the lesson. Great edtech is not just used because it is there.

Which edtech resources do you like to use? Let us know in the comments below.

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