Teacher's Notes

all about education

HM King Bhumibol

The teachers and students have been observing a minute’s silence during assembly each morning out of respect for HM King Bhumibol of Thailand who passed away on Thursday 13th October, 2016.

During the first 30 days of mourning the teachers will be wearing white and black and festive activities will be postponed.


The back-to-school assignment: Updated

A new take on an old favourite..
For my first day back at school, I tried a new take on an old favourite – having students select three pictures from their social media accounts which could be used to summarize their holidays. Then ask the students to describe what is happening in the pictures.

This really engaged the learners in the exercise and also enabled them to write about activities they enjoy. It also gives the teacher value insights to the students’ lives.

Virtual Reality Ed-Tech

With teachers becoming increasingly tech-savvy, and technology advancing at break-neck speed, it’s intriguing to wonder what the next big thing in educational technology will be. Ed-Tech insiders believe the answer, which would have seemed like science fiction a decade ago, is the widespread application of virtual reality (VR) technology in schools and colleges.

Virtual reality hardware and software has become increasingly accessible in recent year, driven primarily by the computer gaming industry. Virtual reality headsets have steadily declined in cost and head-mounted displays (HMDs) are now available from $20 for Google Cardboard, Google’s soon to be released Daydream VR is expected to cost $79, Samsung Gear VR is available for $99, and for those with deeper pockets, the Oculus Rift, can be bought for $599. As the VR market grows and demand increases, the prices for these devices are set to fall further, which will make them a reasonable option for more educational institutions.

In the States a number of tech companies (including zSpace, Alchemy VR and Immersive VR Education) have long realised the potential of these resources and have already developed educational curriculum, content packages and teacher training programmes to support schools with the adoption of VR assisted learning in the classroom. More tech developers are expected to join the sector in the coming years and analysts predict the VR education industry will be worth $100 billion by 2020.

Early Innovators

As with all new learning technologies, the challenge for schools and colleges will be adopting and implementing these resources to ensure there are benefits which enhance student learning. Two educational organisations leading the adoption of VR assisted learning are the San Francisco Unified School District and Polk County Public Schools in Florida. The students in these school districts have been using Nearpod VR with Google Cardboards to enhance their learning by taking virtual field trips through the ancient pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef, Easter Island and Mars.

The Possibilities

While VR can be an incredible resource for teaching history by bringing lost civilizations back to life and enabling students to explore these cities and witness the way of life ‘first hand’, there are plenty more applications for VR besides field trips. Virtual reality can be used in many areas of the curriculum, including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, English, Geography and Languages, with interactive simulations that enable learners to engage with advanced theories and concepts.

Virtual Reality technology could also provide the opportunity for students to participate in exchange programmes with schools from other parts of the world. Imagine taking your class on an exchange trip to a school in Asia or South America for the day. – what a great way to increasing multicultural understanding among young students!

Alongside pre-developed currciula and activities offered by ed-tech companies, these resources also provide creative tools for educators to develop their own VR lessons tailored to their learners’ needs. Teachers resources also include tracking systems to record and analyse each of the students’ progress through the virtual environment to ensure learners stay on task and benefit from these resources.

The Benefits

When implemented and applied correctly, there are multitude of benefits for students learning with virtual reality technology.

Learning is active rather than passive: One of the corner stones of modern education theory is that learning is more effective when it is active rather than passive. VR technologies provide excellent opportunities to actively interact and engage with academic content.

– Immersive experience avoids distraction: Students can be easily distracted by all manner of interruptions, but in the virtual environment these distractions are removed and students are surrounded entirely by engaging educational activities.

– Engaging for 21st Century Learners: This generation of students have grown up surrounded by technology and many respond to computer generated learning better than traditional methods. Virtual reality learning enables students to engage with subject matter in a way they are comfortable with.

– The VR experience helps learners understand complex concepts: In the same way that students understanding of advanced scientific concepts is greatly enhances through the participation of experiments in the lab, students virtual reality experiences will support their ability to better understand complex theories, in a wide range of different subjects.

VR Learning is well suited for different learning styles: Differentiated learning in the traditional classroom, to ensure that students with different learning styles are all engaged, can be extremely difficult to implement. Virtual reality assisted learning will increase teachers’ abilities to engage kinesthetic learners and visual learners in new innovative ways that support their learning more effectively.

The Future

It may still seem a long way off but the chances are that virtual reality technologies will, like smartboards and tablets before them, become a common feature in modern schools within the next couple of years, are you ready?



Tech Review: Education City

Twelve months after having successfully adopted and implemented EducationCity in the Primary Department at Varee Chiangmai School, it is clear that this learning tool is not only user-friendly and engaging but also a very effective learning resource.

As a programme coordinator with over 1,200 students accounts, I was particularly impressed with how quickly teachers and students embraced this new learning innovation. The learning activities are well designed, clearly presented and motivate young learners to log on and learn. A large number of our students use EducationCity during the weekend too, regardless of whether they have homework or not.

From the teachers’ perspective, reviewing, assigning and evaluating student’s work is straightforward, and teachers, some of which are self-confessed technophobes find the system easy to navigate. The support team at EducationCity are also very helpful and always ready to help with any queries we have.

EducationCity’s functionality for assessing learning progress is also an excellent tool which enables teachers to quickly tailor learning to meet students’ needs.

Finally, I’d fully recommend EducationCity to other international educational institutions that are looking for an effective online learning resource for young learners.

I’d fully recommend EducationCity to other educational institutions that are looking for an effective online learning resource for young learners.”

Tech Review: ShowMyHomework

ShowMyHomework is a web resource I’ve only been using for a few month, but I’m a huge fan of it already.

Teachers allocate each student an account and students login in to check their homework schedule, complete homework assignments and submit homework online. The site enables teachers to track homework completion in real time, and create personalized quizzes for learners to complete online. Teachers using ShowMyHomework can also give parents access to follow their child’s progress, a useful option, but not one my teenage students are particularly fond of. The reporting functionality in ShowMyHomework is also a powerful tool for motivating students.

Although, ShowMyHomework is a great resource, i have encountered a couple of difficulties with this resource. On occasion, I have had some trouble using this resource when the internet speeds have slowed – with activities not loading, so this would be a concern for teachers in schools with limited internet connectivity. There is also a bug on the programmes which often appears when the students reach the last questions which leaves the students unable to click an answer and having to retake the test. The only other problem I’ve had with the resource is with the spelling test function often the voice is unclear and students unable to understand the word they are being asked to spell.

Finally, there is a smartphone app for this resource but the app only enables students to check their progress and the homework calendar. It would be great if a future upgraded enabled students to complete their homework quizzes on their smart phone.

Ed-Tech Review:

The ‘Hour of Code’ is an excellent initiative from the US which was first introduced in response to the lack of opportunities for school students to learn basic programming skills. The initiative, which has the support of a diverse range of public figures that includes; Bill Gates, Snoop Dogg, Malala Yousafzai, Richard Branson, Aston Kutcher and Mark Zuckerberg, aims to ‘demystify the art of coding’ and expand student participation in computer science.

I’m not a computer science teacher but I appreciate the important of 21st Century learners being introduced to computer coding and Code.Org has some great tutorials that make coding exciting and assessable for students of all ages. The new Minecraft tutorial is a great place to start. It uses Blocky to introduce learners to the basics of computer code. Students use these blocks to program a Minecraft character to complete various tasks. Not only is the tutorial easy to follow and engaging but it also introduces learners to ‘commands’, ‘repeat loops’ and ‘if statements’, concepts which lie at the very foundations of computer programming. Once you’ve come to grips with the Minecraft tutorial they can move on to the Star Wars tutorial which allows students to create their own games and adventures. There is also a Frozen tutorial which encourages students to program Elsa to carve patterns by skating over the ice – a great activity for students learning angles.


Ed-Tech Review: M-Reader

M-Reader is a resource I stumbled across, as if by chance, during a professional development workshop in 2012. This resource is simple but very effective and it’s a great way to keep track of students’ extensive reading.

The resource was developed with research funds from Kyoto Sangyo University and the Japanese Ministry of Education and there are now over 4,300 quizzes in the database, covering virtually all popular graded reader series and a wealth of youth literature.

When students complete a text they take a quick comprehension quiz on M-Reader before moving on to the next book. I find the resource great for mixed ability classes because each student can go at their own pace and teachers can easily track each student’s progress. The librarian at my school also loves this resource because it enables her to quickly create reports on achievement and the students’ reading habits.

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