Creating a Digital Vlogging Diary

Over the past year, I have introduced vlogging into the classroom. Vlogging or video blogging has enabled my students to be much more creative when reflecting on their progress and assessing their work. Every student has their own iPad, so by using the built-in camera and camera app, vlogging is a very quick and easy process which enables everyone to create, whatever their ability may be.


A student creating a digital vlogging diary using Pages app.

In Septemeber, St Cyres School refreshed all iPad devices, which now enables the students to use iOS 12 and access newer apps. In Pages, you are able to insert media into the document such as photographs, audio and video. Long gone are the days of Pages solely being a word processor and therefore being able to add video to the document gave me the idea to create a student vlogging diary. The updated version of Pages enables documents to be exported as an ePub file, creating a finished product in the form of a digital book or diary. This is a very powerful way to evidence students’ progress throughout a project or unit of work.

Instead of just vlogging in the classroom at the end of a unit, I have recently been dedicating around ten minutes to vlogging at the end of each lesson. The students film themselves reflecting on what the lesson was about, what they achieved, what they did well and what they need to do to improve. Based on this they also discuss their next steps are and what they feel their current attainment level is.

Once the video has been recorded, the students then insert it into their digital diary within Pages. They usually dedicate a page for each lesson and sometimes the students may insert more than one video from a particular lesson, depending on what activities they have filmed.


Students can also record audio directly into Pages to accompany their vlogs

The main reason for creating a digital diary is to enable the students to reflect on their work and so that they can identify how they have improved and also what is required to improve further. The students find this task very engaging and challenging and it also develops lots of skills, such as oracy, communication, confidence, improving own learning, organisational skills and technical skills.

The aim is to create a digital diary filmed over each half term. This enables the teachers, parents or even visiting inspectors to see the learning from each lesson within the half term, without ever having been there. Due to the diary being digital and stored on the students’ iPad devices or shared with the teacher through the cloud, this enables access wherever and whenever required.



Students adding in vlogs from over a period of time


As we are now coming to the end of our first half term this academic year, the students have nearly finished their first digital vlogging diaries. Once all of the videos have been inserted in chronological order, students will be encouraged to create an attractive looking diary by changing the fonts and adding pictures and colour. The diaries will then be exported as an ePub file and shared with me for feedback.

Transforming the Music Classroom with Apple Technology

Every student I teach at St Cyres School has their own iPad for learning and this has enabled me to completely transform my classroom into a digital environment.


iPad devices are now used in music lessons

In 2014, when St Cyres School moved into a brand new build and adopted a 1:1 Apple iPad scheme,  I digitised all of the paper resources to substitute the sheet music and assessment forms. The benefits of this enable easy access for both the teacher and student, whenever and from wherever they have an internet connection. Photocopying has drastically reduced and gone are the days of taking hundreds of exercise books home for marking. Written feedback can now be given instantly through the collaborative features, even when the students are currently working on it themselves!

When the Apple technology was first introduced, I spent time discovering how my teaching environment could change by referring to the SAMR model. This model has four levels of how the technology can be integrated into the classroom.

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Since working with the SAMR model, I always strive to redefine the way music lessons are delivered and having the iPad devices in every lesson has enabled this to happen.

Music is obviously a very practical subject and the iPad devices have enhanced the way we compose and perform. The app GarageBand enables the students to compose and perform using high-quality sounds that even respond like real instruments, such as being able to bend a string on the guitar. Due to the quality of the sounds, this not only creates better compositions and performances but it also engages and challenges the students, so they constantly want to improve their learning.

Key Stage 3 students use GarageBand to compose, enabling them to produce professional sounding music which can easily be shared with the teacher, their peers and even family members at home. Each music classroom also has a suite of Apple Mac minis running Logic Pro X and this enables Key Stage 4 students to create high-quality GCSE compositions. Since creating music with these apps we’ve seen a major increase in composition grades.

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Students creating high-quality compositions using Logic Pro X

Due to every iPad having a built-in camera, this has enabled me to redefine how we self-assess and evidence classwork. Before the technology, we assessed the students’ work by using a paper sheet. This worked well but it did result in short and basic answers from the students. To create an engaging and challenging assessment task, the students use the camera tool on the iPad to demonstrate what they have learned, discuss what went well and what needs to be improved. They also predict their attainment and effort level. This is then shared with the teacher.

You can download my book about ‘Classroom Vlogging’ here: –


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The iPad device’s camera is a very powerful tool for self-assessment

St Cyres School has just refreshed all of the students’ iPad devices. The students now have faster processors, bigger storage and a much higher quality built-in camera. The iPad devices are running IOS 12 which enable the students and teachers to use the latest apps for learning in the classroom.

Recently, Apple has released the Everyone Can Create curriculum which is in the form of a series of books containing resources for students to create with iPad devices.

Being a music teacher I am particularly looking forward to using the music curriculum with all of my Year 9 students after October half term, so watch this space for blogs about their progress.

Click here to download the Everyone Can Create Music Book: –




Olevi’s Outstanding Facilitator Programme

Last month I spent three days at Olevi’s Headquarters in Orpington, London as part of their Outstanding Facilitator Programme (OFP).

Olevi is the centre for leadership in teaching and learning that have two aims: –

  • to drive up standards in schools around the world
  • to create a successful teaching and learning culture that leaves a lasting legacy
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The delegates of the OFP tweeted by Olevi

Two years ago I completed Olevi’s Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP) and although I always strive to be the best teacher I can possibly be, being recognised as an outstanding teacher and having the opportunity to complete the programme was such a fulfilling and positive experience. This programme gave me the confidence and freedom to ensure that I always go the extra mile in all of my lessons, challenging and engaging the pupils and therefore having a major impact on their learning.

The Outstanding Teacher Programme has been developed to ensure that teachers consistently deliver high quality lessons through the use of different teaching models and techniques.

The main model used is DR ICE which focuses on five areas that are the main ingredients in creating an outstanding lesson.

  • Deepening Thinking
  • Role Modelling
  • Impact
  • Challenge
  • Engagement
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Working with school leaders from around the UK at part of Olevi’s OFP

Now that I am an accredited facilitator of the OTP and ITP, this will allow my school to facilitate the OTP programme and to develop outstanding teaching and learning. We plan to deliver the programme to select members of staff during the next academic year.

As teachers we are so busy and very rarely have time to stop and discuss what we do in our classrooms. I feel that having the opportunity to reflect on our teaching and how our lessons impact the student’s learning is vital to ensure we are the best teachers we can be.

Becoming an accredited facilitator of the OTP and ITP

Everyone Can Create at Fairfield Primary

It was an absolute pleasure to spend the morning at Fairfield Primary School in Penarth, teaching two iPad lessons to their Year 5 pupils.

I teach at St Cyres School which is an Apple Distinguished School where every pupil has their own iPad, so for the new Year 7 pupils arriving in September there is a big change in the way they learn. Therefore I feel it is important to spend time with the primary pupils to ease the transition between schools.

With the recent focus on creativity in the classroom, I decided to focus my lessons at Fairfield on creating their own music compositions using GarageBand. Fairfield does not have their own iPads so I took enough along with me to allow every pupil in the classroom to create.

I only had forty-five minutes with each class and after giving a demonstration of the app on how to use it for live performance and composition, I set the pupils the task to create their own mobile alert tone using Apple Loops.

Due to Apple Loops being high quality professional sounding audio samples, they allow all pupils to create whatever their musical ability may be.

The thing that always impresses me when using Apple Loops with pupils who have never used GarageBand before is the speed and how little time is required before we see results. Also, the use of the iPads and GarageBand in the classroom is very engaging and all pupils at Fairfield Primary worked very hard and well together on this task.

I gave each pupil a time limit of fifteen minutes to compose their ringtones. They had to consider the choice of instruments (timbre), the arrangement (texture) and ensure their loops all work together in pitch and rhythm. After the fifteen minutes was up I was so impressed to see that every pupil had a product that would work perfectly well as a phone ringtone or an iPad alert tone.

I was even more impressed with the fact that this was the first time some of the pupils had ever used GarageBand and they really seemed to understand and adapt to how to use the app.

At the end of the session, every pupil was so keen and excited to play their compositions to the class which then allowed for classroom discussion and peer assessment. The pupils were very proud of what they had achieved and were able to discuss the successes of their finished compositions.

If pupils who have never used GarageBand before can create a piece of music within fifteen minutes, imagine what the quality of work will be like in Year 7 or even GCSE and upwards.

This goes to prove that whatever your musical background or ability, everyone can create!

iPad Workshop with Llandough Primary

I teach at St Cyres School Penarth which is the first and only Apple Distinguished School in Wales. In 2014 we moved into a brand new building, adopting a one-to-one iPad scheme. This not only allows us to keep up with the current technological demands but through forward-thinking leadership and staff we are pushing the boundaries in digital teaching and learning.

Before our pupils start at St Cyres they may have had one or two lessons using iPads in primary school but to switch to a one-to-one scheme, using iPads every day in almost every lesson creates a learning curve for pupils as they adjust to this way of learning.

Therefore, to give a taster of what lessons are like at St Cyres, over this academic year I have arranged to visit all five of our feeder primary schools to lead iPad workshops, preparing the pupils for Year 7.

The Class

Year 5 class at Llandough Primary School

I recently visited Llandough Primary and spent the morning working with a Year 5 class. I took iPads with me so that all pupils were able to have access to a device during the session.

We started by learning about the way St Cyres School use iPads and I introduced the pupils to the most commonly used classroom apps. The pupils were highly engaged and excited to see how much the technology can enhance lessons across all subjects.


Teaching Year 5 pupils how iPads are used in lessons at St Cyres School

The main task I set for the pupils was to create a video or vlog about themselves. The pupils used the Notes app to digital sketch ideas and a mind mapping app called MindNode to plan and create the content for their videos. These were topics such as hobbies, family and activities with their friends. The pupils were all very engaged, comfortable and confident using the iPads which allowed the focus to be on the task and not on how to use the device.


Llandough Primary School pupils planning their vlogs on the iPad

The second part of the session was spent using the video camera app to vlog themselves and each other. They went to different areas of the classroom and spent about ten minutes creating their video. It takes a lot of confidence and it’s very challenging to deliver a good presentation to camera but the pupils gave a very natural performance.

We then spent time AirPlaying the vlogs to the class and we discussed what went well and how to make them better. We also discussed the next stage of creating the vlogs by using iMovie to edit and produce a final video.


Filming each other to create video content for their vlogs

To end the session I took along St Cyres School’s video drone and we flew it over the school. Again this proved to be a very engaging experience for the pupils as the majority have never seen a high-quality video drone before. The pupils learned about how high and far the drone can fly as well as capturing different video footage angles from the air. The footage was then edited and uploaded to YouTube to thank the pupils for a fantastic video workshop at Llandough Primary School.

Click here to watch the drone video

A Song for Christmas

For the past four years at Christmas time, I have used my passion for technology and video production, together with my role as music teacher at St Cyres School to create a primary schools’ Christmas music video for the local community.

This involves six local primary schools learning and singing the same song, then coming together in the video to perform as one big choir. In the past this would have usually have been filmed separately at each school and then brought together during the final edit, but this year each primary school brought a selection of pupils to St Cyres School and including our own choir we performed and filmed the song as one.


Briefing the pupils from the seven different schools on how we were going to shoot the video

The majority of the filming was done using two Canon digital SLR cameras with Rode microphones mounted on top. The singers performed a few takes so that I could position the cameras in different areas of the hall to achieve multiple angle shots. The school has recently purchased a DJI Spark drone, so I couldn’t resist using this too!


One of the Canon DSLR cameras used to film the music video

Once the filming was completed, I used Apple’s Final Cut Pro X software to edit the different angles together, syncing the footage to the original backing track to achieve the highest quality sound. I also added the magic of Christmas by super imposing snow and a flying Santa over the school!


On the morning of December 1, the finished video was uploaded to St Cyres School’s YouTube channel and made available for all of the primary schools to share with their pupils and to the wide community using social media.

To watch the video please click on this link –  A Song for Christmas 2017 – St Cyres School