Formative Assessment Ebook on the iBooks Store!

This year at school we launched a new  Professional Learning program, where we are encouraged as teachers to research topics of interest to us in order to reflect and record our own professional development. The final outcome is a book produced in iBooks Author and then published to the ibooks Store.

I have always been interested in publishing and you can read about my experience using the great BookCreator App here. My role as a learning technologies coach means I get to work with teachers and share ideas, helping them implement them in their own classrooms. This has led me to co-publish with Maria Ruiz my own book on the iBooks Store!

The experience has also served as preparation for the book I will produce at the end of the school year, reflecting on my own professional development as well as my teaching. I now feel better prepared to make an even better book next time!

If you are new to the use of technology and would like to read some easy to implement ideas for starting to use formative assessment in your digital classroom, please download the book here!

The whole process is not complicated and made easy by the step by step publishing, making it possible for anyone to become a publisher!

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The Smart Talk – Family Contract

Working in a 1:1 iPad school, one of the top concerns shared by parents is how much time their children are spending on digital devices. This is completely understandable and something which should be discussed openly.

As a school community it is important to involve parents and invite them to participate in this discussion. When I have met parents and talked about this topic I have always tried to explain that the technology can be used in so many positive ways, I feel very passionate about opening the possibilities of what children can do in their free time at home, other than play games or watch youtube videos.

In my meetings with parents we discuss responsible use and how to encourage children to use the technology to create content, be it their own videos, podcasts, books, etc.

If you would like some more ideas on how to encourage children to use technology creatively, then have a look at the Essential Creativity Guide for some ideas from Common Sense Media.

There are tools that can help parents manage ‘screen time’ like for example the Ourpact application that allows parents to limit screen time on a device by blocking internet and app access. Another option is TheSmartTalk, a website that produces a ‘contract’ which can be customised by parents and children and then printed and signed.

If you would like some more information regarding screen time and finding the right balance for children and the use of technology please do visit Common Sense, a very valuable resource for parents and teachers!

Everyone can publish!



Recently I ran a staff workshop on BookCreator and the possibilities it has in the classroom. I was lucky enough to attend the iPad K-5 conference at UWCSEA in Singapore where I attended a workshop by Jane Ross, a Digital Literacy coach at Jakarta Intercultural School. In the workshop she talked about her own experiences using BookCreator and iBooks to help students publish their work and it really inspired me.

I see so many possibilities with Apps such as BookCreator and iBooks Author, motivating students to create content and even the possibility of publishing their work to share with the world. One of my targets this year is going to be to try and inspire students at my school to create their own books and maybe even publish them!

I first wanted to experience the process for myself and luckily enough I have actually just submitted and had approved my first ever book published to the iBooks Store! I am part of a big family (6 brothers and sisters) and I am an uncle to 9 nieces and nephews. Back in 2012 I wrote a short story for very young children and asked a very talented friend of my sisters’ to create some illustrations for me, I wanted to create the book to give to all my nieces and nephews.

Once it was eventually ready, I only managed to print a few copies and never managed to give it away as a present. After what was a magnificent experience at the iPadK5 conference and having the opportunity to meet and speak to so many inspiring teachers and educational technology experts I was determined to put into place some of the ideas learnt at the conference.

The whole process only took a few hours, I already had all the text and illustrations so all I had to do was use BookCreator to make the layout of the book. Creating an account to offer books for Free on Itunes Connect is very easy and the whole process is very well laid out and explained. Once my book was submitted, it took about 24hrs for it to be approved.

Imagine the possibilities you open up to students; from a school or family environment, you can motivate and engage them by offering them a larger audience. Publishing is not always necessary, creating content and using Apps like BookCreator to motivate students to compile learning journals or reflect on their work is such a powerful tool.

The Snake in My House, is a simple example of how technology can open up possibilities that did not exist before and how everyone can really become a publisher! Please download the book and share with your children, family, friends and colleagues. I hope this post will motivate you to inspire your students and show them the possibilities that exist!

Cover Artwork Author


Mystery Skype – Learning about Geography and the world around us!

For the past few weeks my class has been taking part in a mystery skype game with another class somewhere in the world. Mystery Skype is a game that is usually played live where two classes skype and have to ask yes/no questions and try and find where the other class is in the world. It encourages children to learn about geography and use their skills to think of questions to try and guess where the other class is.

Due to time difference we have been playing a slight variation of the game. As a live game was impossible we have been sending daily video messages asking and answering questions. It is incredible how excited the children are everyday and how engaged, one student brought in a world map from home and some have even brought atlases and small maps.

It only takes about 5 minutes and we have it as part of our IPC lessons or homeroom time. Children do most of the work at home where they discuss what questions are best to ask the other class. Google classroom helps here, as children can communicate with each other and I have shared a document with the whole class. Two people are in charge of editing an online document where we register the date, questions asked, answers, etc, this helps us keep track of the game.

For our first try participating in a Mystery Skype the whole experience has been excellent, the whole class enjoyed their learning and it was great to see how much they learnt from the whole experience!

Looking forward to trying it again as well as taking part in a live Mystery skype!


I have had a twitter account for some years but have only recently started using it again. I have found it to be such a valuable tool! So, if you are a teacher and have never used twitter before, you are probably asking yourself:


*Well first of all, as in any job, I believe you should always aim to stay up to date and twitter does a great job connecting you with educators all over the world. It is incredible how easy it is to find and follow people who are online sharing best practices.

*Second, in twitter you will meet and network with teachers, this will open incredible doors and will present you and your class with different learning opportunities. Collaboration between classes is something which I am trying out at the moment with my class and I feel it is such an incredible opportunity for my students and their learning. Giving them the opportunity to connect with other students from all over the world and share their learning and different perspectives. This will definitely help them in their future learning.

*Sharing of resources, as I mentioned before, educators on twitter are constantly sharing resources and ideas. What better place to start looking for resources? It is also a great community and once you have networked it is a great place to ask for help.

Well, these are only a few reasons why you should join twitter. I know a lot of people are sceptical about using social media and I completely understand where they are coming from. As teachers we have 100 and 1 things to do…marking to get through….observation lessons to prepare…homework to set…lessons to plan and god knows what else. I do not use twitter at school during my day to day mainly because when I am in school I do not stop. But at home, I do think it’s a great tool for the reasons I mentioned above!

So, give it a go and you can follow me at @Mr_ODonovan    🙂


kahoot-logoRecently we have introduced Kahoot into some of our lessons. During our year group planning sessions we sometimes find it difficult to come up with new and exciting ways to engage our students, especially lesson starters and plenaries, but we are always looking for technological ways to engage students and enhance their learning.

Kahoot has proven to be an excellent tool for student engagement. It is so simple to use and the students don’t even have to log in, they simply access the Kahoot Quiz via a ‘Game Pin’. The amount of Quizzes already available make it a breeze to find something useful and if not then you can always duplicate a quiz to edit it or make one of your own from scratch!

Going back to student engagement, it really is genius! Students are excited about the whole ‘game’ feel that Kahoot has, the competition with leader boards and just how fun it is! Now, what about the education value from a teachers perspective?

Well, we have only used Kahoot a few times, but the features it has for teachers make it a useful formative assessment tool. As a teacher you can access all the data about each quiz you have played with a class. The results are downloaded as an excel document where you can see the names of the students that participated and all the questions they faced in the quiz. You can also save the results to your Google Drive.

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This is then broken down further, the results will show each question, how students answered and if they got the question correct or not. You can then access individual questions to further analyse the results where you can see the percentage of students that answered the question correctly and how long they took to decide on an answer.

Global view of student names and the questions, showing whether they answered correctly or not:

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Breakdown of individual questions:

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In the above question it is clear that a high percentage of the class could not answer the question correctly, this helps in identifying areas that need to be addressed.

We will definitely be using Kahoot in the future and I recommend you try it in your classroom if you haven’t done so already!

Guided Reading Questioning Framework App

I have just started using this App to help during my guided reading sessions. It is a great way to use structured questions during guided reading and the questions are even differentiated by Lower Order, Middle Order and Higher Order questions!

You can get the App here: Click to go to App. The App is from Alan Peat, he has quite a few good Apps so check them out while you are at it! 🙂


Adobe Voice

Adobe Voice is an excellent, easy to use App for the classroom. Creating digital content in class is always fun and Adobe Voice proves to be a great tool for engagement as children are immediately drawn to creating videos.

Here is my experience so far:

I would suggest you create a class account, which can then be used by all the children in class. I created one account for all teachers and students in my year. To create an account click here and create an account.

Once you log in it is really very simple to use and the App is extremely intuitive.

Basic video tutorial on how to use once you have an Adobe ID

Some examples of how I have used it in class:

International day video

IPC UNIT – The Holiday Show – Game App Promotion video


If you use Adobe Voice, please comment below and share your ideas!

Improving A Piece Of Descriptive Writing – #Literacy

Improving a piece of descriptive writing – #Literacy

5913123665_d4ba71d870_zIn Literacy we have been working on our descriptive writing and the children have been doing an amazing job! Looking at how to enhance engagement in some of my more reluctant writers and push some of the more advanced I came up with this idea for a few lessons:

Students love teaching each other. I try and give opportunities in my lessons for students to ‘teach’ each other concepts and show understanding, I find this is a useful strategy. I planned a lesson where students had to evaluate a piece of descriptive writing and then improve it.

As a whole class we discussed the success criteria for descriptive writing and what we would expect from a good piece of descriptive writing. Children then went away and in their groups discussed their paragraphs and used a similar marking code to the one we use in school. They used highlighters and different colour pens to identify good writing and then added and improved parts of it.

I asked all children to take a picture with their iPads of both the original and their improved piece. At the moment we don’t have access to paid Apps so using the very popular ‘Explain Everything’ App was not possible but I found a free alternative called IPEVO Whiteboard App, which allows you to record and save to the camera roll.

Very happy with the outcomes!

Examples from lesson



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