The Impact of Vlogging in the Classroom

Two years ago I was asked to talk at the Apple Distinguished Schools conference in London and to showcase vlogging in the classroom. This was something that I was trialling at the time and it was redefining the way my students reflect and assess their work at the end of a unit. Fast forward two years later and I was asked again to present at this year’s Apple Distinguished Schools conference.  I thought it would be powerful to show impact that vlogging has had in my classroom, across school and within the wider community.

In this blog I wanted to share with you what I presented,  to demonstrate the power and impact of vlogging for reflection and assessment of learning.

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Slide 1 – Students working together to reflect on their work.

Before I used iPad in the classroom, end of unit assessments were written on paper. The students were asked four questions which would inform me of what went well and how they needed to improve. The students were also asked to give themselves a level and an effort grade. A lot of the time the students’ answers were very basic, lacking detail and sometimes only writing one or two word answers. I have found by using the inbuilt camera and asking the students to talk, their answers are much more detailed and higher quality.

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Slide 2 – The students talking to the iPad camera to reflect on their work.

At the end of each unit of work, students reflect and assess by creating a vlog. This is shared with me so that I can use it as evidence and also give them feedback. Higher ability students are more creative with their vlogs by including pictures, other video clips, titles and background music. This is a very engaging task and a perfect homework task as the students take pride and time in creating their videos.

Above is an example of raw video footage, straight from students’ iPad.

The more able students can develop their vlogs further. When iMovie’s new green screen feature was recently introduced, this gave students new opportunities to be more creative in their reflection videos. The video below was an idea for the #WormholeChallenge on Twitter. Creating a mini cinema as a way to display a video within another video. Here you can see the work being carried out and evidenced but also at the same time the student reflects on what they did that lesson using the Lego cinema.

My final slide (below) shows the Impact that vlogging has had on my students.

ADS 2019 Presentation Pics.006Some of the main points I spoke about in my presentation: –

  •  Using iPad offers many challenges to the students but the main thing I have noticed is how everyone can create now matter their ability.  All students can create powerful vlogs just by recording themselves straight to camera or the higher ability students can be even more creative by adding in extra media and creating more detailed videos.
  • My students are very interested in vlogging as they watch their role models on YouTube and Instagram. By giving the students the opportunity to create their own vlog, this is a very engaging task for them.
  • By vlogging the students develop many skills but I have been particularly pleased with the impact on the students confidence. When I started vlogging in class a few years ago, the students were really shy of the camera and it would take a few minutes of convincing to get them to even start to record. Today, it is quite a natural process and normal for them to record themselves at the end of a unit. I just tell them I’d like a vlog reflection and they go ahead and load the camera app!
  • Setting the vlogging task as homework is preferred by a lot of students. This is because they can film themselves on their own in a quieter environment. They can also take their time and record many different takes until they are happy with their video.
  • Vlogging has also reduced teacher workload. This is because they record themselves performing then share it with me. Before the students had iPad, I would have had to record all students. It is also a lot easier and more engaging to watch the vlogs and feedback digitally, rather than mark hundreds of sheets of paper which usually only contain short answers.
  • Another positive point about vlogging is that by using video the students are creating first-hand evidence for the teacher, leadership or visiting inspectors. This vlogs shows the actual student demonstrating the knowledge gained and you are able to hear directly from the student on what well well and how to improve.

If you are interested in vlogging in the classroom or would like more information, please contact me through Twitter (@HopkinTeach) or you can download my book ‘Classroom Vlogging’

Year 5 iPad STEAM Day

Year 5 STEAM Day

It’s been a whole week since we ran our biggest collaboration project yet. We had over 110 students eagerly awaiting to take part in our STEAM day @StCyresSchool. Before the event Damian Parker (@Cyres_DT) myself and Laura Hilltout (@MrsHilltoutArt) visited our local primary school to deliver a kit of resources to build their robots ready for the main event. Each of the schools were given a kit of resources and two @Sphero robots to practise with, and develop their designs on. On the day of  the event, we were all prepared and excited to start. My year 8 students organised the resources, and our team greeted our visitors on arrival. 

Ice breaker

Before we split off into coding, all schools took part in Robot Wars. The aim of the game was to either pop the opponents balloon or simply knock them over. I’d forgotten how loud and excitable year 5 can be when competing against each other. Each team had a number of different runs, with the winners presented with a trophy at the end of each round.    


Working with our primary school teachers, the MAT pupils were moved on to attempt the challenges on our coding areas. Led by @BenPartridgeBTP and helped out by our own Coder’s, the students quickly worked through the range of challenges placed in front of them. As the students became more confident, so the courses were made more difficult. All students performed exceptionally, with many completing the final course. Winning teams were voted on, and final trophies were presented by our year 8.

The day passed so quickly, all students experienced what a STEAM day is all about and what an amazing school and students we have at St Cyres. The project could not have gone any better, and will definitely be something that we intend to run again next year.



When connecting with the Apple Community through Twitter I have always pushed myself to learn new things by taking part in the various creative challenges. Seeing how the Twitter challenges spread all around the world, especially the nomination challenges really proved the power of social media and how the Apple community are always willing to further develop themselves.

At the beginning of this academic year I was chatting to ADE Mat Pullen (@Mat6453) and we spoke about the Twitter challenges that we were both involved in. As I tweet a lot about the use of GarageBand in the classroom, Mat suggested that I started my own music based challenge. This was something I hadn’t really considered due to not being an ADE (at the time) and I felt I needed to be more established before creating a challenge.

When I became an ADE in April, I thought I would get the ball rolling by creating my own music based challenge. During the spring term I had been using GarageBand a lot with my classes, especially using Live Loops which enabled my students to create really high quality music compositions quickly and easily.

I realised that a Live Loops challenge is a perfect way for educators to have an introduction to creating music with GarageBand. There are a wide variety of genres to choose from, all containing Live Loops to create a piece of music that even Calvin Harris would be proud of!

I had to think of a way that would allow the music to be easily shared and for Twitter users to be able to hear the music instantly, without having to click a link or be redirected elsewhere. I made the decision to use the screen record function to create a video of the Live Loops Challenge. This worked out perfectly as the idea of the challenge is to compose ‘on the fly’ in an improvised way and this way the Twitter viewers would be able to see the loops being selected as it happened.

I started the challenge by recording my own Live Loops performance. Once the video was created I shared it on Twitter. I needed a hashtag so went with the obvious #LiveLoopsChallenge. I nominated five of my Twitter followers to take on the challenge and once they had completed it, they had to challenge five of their followers.

It was amazing to see the response to the challenge and be able to listen to so many great creations. It gave educators who wouldn’t usually use GarageBand in the classroom the opportunity to learn how to use Live Loops and it also encouraged them to pass this on to their students. A lot of educators think that GarageBand is only for use in music lessons but it is the perfect way to create great sounding background music for any project.

It was also great to see the hashtag come to life and people from around the world taking part. Thanks to everyone who took part and if you fancy creating your own music check out #LiveLoopsChallenge on Twitter by clicking here 

I have now started using the Live Loops Challenge with my classes at St Cyres School. It works very well as a starter activity due to being able to create instantly and have a finished product within minutes. The students love the challenge and are always fully engaged in the task. The idea of the challenge has now transformed to the classroom and the starter activity helps students develop ideas for their coursework compositions.




Apple’s Music In Our Schools Month

This month is Apple’s Music In Our Schools Month and as a music teacher who uses iPad in practically every music lesson, I think it’s very important to recognise the benefits of teaching music with Apple Technology. I am very lucky to teach in an Apple Distinguished School where every student has their own iPad with GarageBand and I also have a Mac suite in my classroom, running both GarageBand and Logic Pro X.

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Taken from Apple Education’s Twitter feed

Since the beginning of this academic year, I have used Apple’s Everyone Can Create Music guide for all of Key Stage 3 lessons. The guide has had a very positive impact on the students’ attainment levels and their engagement in the tasks. The guide enables you to follow it from the beginning to end with set tasks and activities, or you can dip in and out when it suits your lesson.

Using Live Loops is a great way to introduce your students to creating music. Composing music with Live Loops creates high-quality results as all of the loops sync perfectly together in time and pitch.

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Taken from Apple Education’s Twitter Feed

When I first started composing music, due to the lack of technology available, everything had to be written on paper. This would then be practised live and then recorded in one take to my old tape recorder. When I left school played in bands, we would hire professional recording studios to record our songs. The songs were also recorded to tape and then a master copy burned to CD. All of this can now be done on iPad. The students have access to a much higher quality sounding digital output and they can record anywhere!

The Everyone Can Create Music guide enables the students to learn the necessary skills to compose high-quality music. They can start by arranging using Live Loops all the way to remixing a hit record by Justin Timberlake.

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Taken from Apple Education’s Twitter feed

As well as developing music skills, using GarageBand to perform and create also develops many other skills. Composing and performing music develops leadership skills, eye-hand coordination, decision making and confidence skills. When the students compose using GarageBand they can share their finished song with the teacher or their peers in the classroom using AirPlay. They can also export their compositions to MP3 to be shared with family and friends. Also, using the built-in virtual instruments to perform develops the students’ confidence skills.

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Taken from ADE Simon Pile’s Twitter Feed

A lot of educators think that GarageBand is exclusive to the music classroom but it can be used in any subject area. GarageBand can be used to create background music to video projects or presentations, it can even be used to explore fractions using the Beat Sequencer. The screenshot above is how ADE Simon Pile (@mrpielee) used GarageBand in maths for Music In Our Schools Month.

Another powerful use of GarageBand is the audio recorder. Students from any subject can capture audio (voice, instruments of sounds) using the iPad microphone. The audio can be edited and manipulated using the many different sound effects. A very engaging classroom activity!

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Taken from Apple Education’s Twitter feed

I have recently written a book on using GarageBand in the classroom which explores the different ways to create music for learning. Click here to download it: –