Category Archives: Resources

Teaching & learning resources, including those created by me, and those created by others.

Visual Assessment Guide v2

The Visual Assessment Guide continues to evolve alongside my school‘s requirements for assessment and reporting. v2 adds some new terms, uses a simpler scale in terms of levels and fixes a bugs with highlighting individual terms. In using this with students I am now opening it in Apple’s Preview, and using its built in highlighter to colour terms according to student achievement: green, yellow or red. This ties in with my school’s Common Formative Assessment reporting, which uses the terms Secure, Secure In Parts and Not Yet Secure to describe student learning.

Visual Assessment Guide - ICT & Media Printable Version (PDF)


The Wall Of (Internet) Culture

Over the past year I have been building up a wall in my classroom with a range of Internet inspired cultural artifacts. The aim is to present interesting, thought provoking ideas in a humorous way, using a graphical language that my students are familiar with and respond to (e.g. Internet memes). Although I never promote the site directly to my students, many of the materials are from, which though crude and inappropriate at times, nonetheless provides a wealth of cultural learning opportunities for teachers. Want to understand your students, what interests them, what they are talking about? 9gag is a great place to start.

Click on the image below to see a really large version, allowing you to enjoy the wall in some of its glory.

Wall Of (Internet) Culture

The result is that, unlike my more traditional boards, students really do stop and look at this one. Often this happens in pairs, and a discussion breaks out as they try and work out a joke or decide if something is serious or not. This might be called teaching by stealth.

Emoji Story

I am starting to wonder how emoji (expressive characters) might affect the way students learn to communicate. As an experiment, I am going to ask my Year 7 students to produce an “Emoji Story”, using the instructions below: Emoji Story I imagine that they will copy and paste emoji into a slideshow, and when they present, they will talk through the slideshow, narrating their story. The slideshow can then be read by others without narration, to see how differently it can be interpreted.

Hong Kong Lyrics Mix

Hong Kong, the amazing city that I call home, has featured in songs from many genres and decades. Over the years I have meant to put together a playlist of songs in which “Hong Kong” features in the lyrics, as a tribute to this amazing city, its history, people and culture. What I really like is the different ways in which Hong Kong is portrayed in the various songs: R&R stop, finance hub, travel stop.

After many false starts, here is that playlist. It’s a short start, but hopefully people will make some suggestions here, which I can add in. I am sure there are a bunch of songs that I have missed out, but these are the ones that come to mind, and the ones I could find online.

If you want to listen on Spotify, click here.

Binary Wall Art

Binary Wall ArtSo, you’ve been to my classroom, scanned my binary wall art QR code and landed here. Want to know what it is all about? Keep reading!

Computers store and move information in binary, that is, using only the numbers 0 and 1. The reason for this is that it is much easier to build electronics to store 2 states, instead of say 4, 10 or 12. We are so used to counting in decimal (0-9), that the binary counting seems alien to us. However, the principals are just the same, as shown in the videos below.

What you see on the wall of my classroom are two numbers written in binary:

  • 01001001
  • 01000011
  • 01010100

These three numbers can be converted into binary to give:

  • 73
  • 67
  • 84

However, in this context, they are not representing numbers, but rather, are representing the letters, using a character system called ASCII. In ASCII (pronounced “ass-key”), each binary numbers are used to stand in for letters using the following conversion table (click to enlarge):


So, if you can locate the three binary sequences that appear on the wall, using the table below, you can turn them into letters, and unlock the secret message. Good luck!

Image Credit: the binary chart and videos are from The chart carries no copyright information, but Google Images shows it as Creative Commons, so it is used on that basis.

Relative vs Absolute

scratchIn ICT we see the concepts of absolute and relative in a range of situations, including URLs, spreadsheets and programming. Although hard for students to grasp, the distinction is important. With absolute referencing, we always know what we are going to get (e.g. go to coordinates 0, 0). With relative, we will get a different result, depending on our starting position (e.g. take 10 steps forward).

With absolute references we have a sense of certainty, and know we will get the same result every time. Conversely, relative references allows us to use changing circumstances to our advantage. Neither is better than the other, but it is powerful when students see the difference, and can make clear decisions on which approach to use.

In the past I have taught my students about this concept, using examples in Scratch. It has worked, but never that well. Today, for the first time, in teaching Programming 101, I put the image below on screen, and asked students to think about why I had divided the commands into two groups. There were some good guesses, and some students claimed to know but not be able to explain (fair enough, it is tricky ; ). One student observed that the commands linked horizontally, which was very astute. When the image was unpacked, with a role play example based on turn vs point in direction, students seemed to have a much clearer understanding.

Absolute vs Relative

Epic Wallpapers 2

This is a second collection of wonderful Epic Wallpapers produced by my year 7 students. The design were chosen for the strength of their designs, attention to detail, Creative Commons licensing and overall appeal. Well done to the students for creating such lovely work. Feel free to download the designs, which are all at 1680 x1050 pixels, and should fill most screens.

The Learning Zone

When we are too comfortable we do not need to learn. When pushed too hard, we are not capable of learning. In between is the small zone, different for each of us, in which learning takes place. This theory of the learning zone (or as Vygotsky said, the Zone of Proximal Development), is widely used at my school, and reminds us that in any class we will have kids spread over all three zones. Hopefully, with skill, we can pull our students into the learning zone for more of their time, thus helping them become more effective learners.

As there were no good Creative Commons version of this graphic, I have produced the one below, so please feel free to use it.

The Learning Zone