Tag Archives: inspiration

QR Code Madness

QRQR codes are square barcodes, which are quick to read and can contain more information than older linear barcodes. More importantly, QR codes can contains links which take scanners directly to a location on the Internet, and can be scanned by almost any phone or laptop. These codes can, with a little imagination, be used in some really innovative ways within schools. For example, students can record audio book reviews, which are then QR coded, and stuck onto books in the library, allowing potential borrowers to get a quick overview. Or, they could be used to tell stories around school, such as how each school trophy was won.

Today I unleashed Happyism, a little QR project I have been organising with my pastoral group. The aim of the project was to be the opposite of terrorism, namely an act of trying to make people happy, inspired and positive in a public place. When students came out of class for lunch, they discovered 150 unique QR codes stuck around the canteen and stairway area. Each of these codes, when scanned with a phone or computer, took the student to a website which aimed to make them laugh, think or act. Some staff also wore codes, linking to sites relating to their subject area, personality or nationality.

At first students were a little unsure, but with a lot of prompting, a few started investigating. Within 20 minutes there were groups of students gathering around phones, animatedly enjoying a variety of videos, pictures, quotes and stories. A particular highlight was Ms. Goldthorpe, whose QR code, resting on her bump, led students to an ultrasound of her unborn child (thanks to my wife for this genius idea).

The process of gathering the sites (shared amongst students and myself) was time consuming, as was vetting them, creating codes, printing, cutting and sticking. However, the effort was more than worth it, with a real buzz around campus during the day. Even better, a number of staff asked how they could build this into their curriculum areas, showing a great willingness to try new things. If you are interested in trying this out at your school, some of the following may be useful:

  • QR Code Madess – the full listing of almost 150 unique QR codes, appropriate for use in secondary school.
  • Web QR – scan straight from the web (seems to work best with Chrome, at least on Mac).
  • QR Droid – for Android devices.
  • QR Reader for iOS devices.

Computer Guy

I am an ICT teacher. I run ICT at my school. I am seconded to another school to help them with their ICT development. I have a computer science degree. I used to work in ICT. I blog, I tweet, I tag, iPad (sometimes). I develop a free school management platform (Gibbon). I encourage my students to use ICT to make them better students. I help my colleagues to use ICT to make them better teachers. I simply enjoy the experience of using a computer.

But for all of that, I do not count myself as a nerd. I lead a full life as a husband, father, son and teacher. I think a lot, I write a little too. I have great friends. I am a man of varied interests. I do yoga, I hike, I play golf, I love music, I read (paper) books, I play ultimate frisbee. I love rollerblading really long distances. I’m a landlubber who aspires to surf. I jump off waterfalls and occasionally cliffs. I love hot weather and warm ale. I would like to believe I am an inspiring, caring and interesting teacher.

Yet, for all the range in my life, I suspect that most of my colleagues and students see me as a “computer guy”. I am sure some of them suspect that I have a “knack” for using computers, perhaps even a little magic in my finger tips. But the truth is I have simply spent time accumulating a range of skills, understandings and interests.

How then can I convince others that they too can be empowered by technology? That the barriers to becoming a tech savy, innovative teacher really aren’t that high? That they can create, share, lead and help others. What are the key skills and attitudes I need to pass on in order to inspire others to be and do better with technology?

Sadly, I do not yet have the answers to these questions, but at least I have asked them. Hopefully, with time, the answers will come.

Thanks to: all the amazing teachers I am encountering on Twitter, who are making me think, do and change. Special thanks to @intrepidteacher for this video, which really got me thinking:

Images to Inspire

Recently I have been thinking about how I can set up my classroom to inspire my students. I was looking online for some interesting posters, and to be frank, there was very little that appealed to me. I was mulling over the idea of producing my own posters, when I was struck by an idea that now seems very obvious: why not get prints of great photos from the web, and have them framed.

The images are related to my role within the school, which is not only to teach ICT, but also to promote environmental awareness and positive values amongst the students. I am thinking of grouping the images into two collections: Our World and Personal Heroes. The remaining two photos (which are very large) will be displayed on their own. Once the images are up, I will post some photos here.

Despite the fact that many teachers have rejected Wikipedia, I maintain that it is one of the richest resources available to teachers. As proof of this, consider the fact that all of the images shown below are from the Wikimedia Commons, which acts as Wikipedia’s media gallery. What’s particularly neat about this is that the images are all provided under permissive licenses (such as Creative Commons): this means that all of this work is legal, provided I follow a few simple rules.

Stunning High-Speed Photos of Birds


Every so often, someone does something so well, you wonder why its ever been done any other way. In this case, despite having seen a great many photos in my life, I was still taken aback by the quality, depth and detail of Andrew Zuckerman’s work. Why are all photos not this good? These images, selected from his book Bird, really bring his subjects to life (as do those in its predecessor, Creature).

No Arms, No Legs. No Worries


Nick Vujicic may have neither arms nor legs, but what really sets him apart from most of us is his attitude. Whilst it is hard to imagine someone with more to complain about, he maintains an extremely positive outlook on life. In this video we see him use his unique outlook to move and motivate high school students, showing them that being different does not have to mean being limited. If you ever feel like complaining, you might want to stop, remember this video, and then think about whether you really have anything to complain about.

TEDx Events


TED provides a consistently rich and varied source of inspiration for teachers and students (explaining why it is so heavily featured on this site). I have often thought how amazing it would be to attend a TED convention, and even more so to be invited to speak at one. TEDx, in some ways, allows this dream to become a reality, providing a way for organisations to hold their own, independent TED-style events.  Imagine a gala evening at a school, where parents, teachers and students are invited to talk on inspiring and creative areas in which they are interested in. I believe such an event would be not only stimulating, but also highly motivation for students.

Food For Thought

This is a great poem that sums up the important relationships that exist between parent and teacher, home and school. I saw it on a classroom wall in Sydney today, and it really made me stop and think about the way I teach and how I might be able to involve parents in their children’s education. At current, as a casual teacher, there is not much I can do in this regard, however once I start permanent teaching it will be at the top of my agenda.  The thumbnail image chosen for this piece (Piles of Salt by Luca Galuzzi) ties nicely into a theme I keep coming back to: that we are all seperate but neither isolated nor independent (both from our environment and in relation to each other).

I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind
And they fashioned it with care.One was a teacher; the tools being used
Were books and music and art,
One a parent with a guiding hand
And a gentle, loving heart.

Day after day the teacher toiled
With touch that was deft and sure,
While the parent laboured just as hard
And polished and smoothed it o’er.

When at last their task was done
They were proud of what they had wrought,
For the things they had moulded into the child
Could neither be sold nor bought.

And both agreed they would have failed
If they had worked alone;
For behind the parent stood the school
And behind the teacher, the home.

David Bowen

No Impact Man


Colin Beavan (a.k.a No Impact Man) dedicated a year of his life to trying to reduce his environmental impact to zero. He stopped taking taxis, trains and elevators, only ate food grown within 250 miles of his home, left the power grid, stopped buying anything new and stopped making trash.

His inspiring book and blog follow his adventures, and attempt to distill from them a way for humanity to move forward without destroying the environment. No Impact Man’s approach is interesting as it focuses both inward and outward, calling into question the materialistic, wasteful and inefficient way we live our lives. He questions why we work so hard to buy things, when surely spending time with out friends and family will in fact bring us more happiness. This book is crammed full of interesting and surprising facts and figures, but is approachable enough to make a introduction to serious environmental issues.