Blog 30: My favourite free teacher tools

Here are some of the free tools that I have found most useful throughout my time as a teacher. 

Lino app/ www.linoit.com

My class love this.  It's basically a pin board on which you can add notes, reminders, documents and photos.  You can set your boards to private, or share them with certain users.  Use it on browsers or tablets (app).  We have one account logged into all devices, so boards are easily shared and sync across all users.  There's also an option to allow people to add pins via email. A good way of collecting homework!


Again, this is either browser or app based. Pupils can create mind maps, adding text and images. The paid version allows collaborative mind maps that sync across devices.


This site is crammed full of useful webtools. A few of my most used ones include:

Random Name Selector

Use these tools to randomly select pupils from your class. Get rid of the lolly sticks and try this!

Countdown Timer

Choose from a range of well known soundtracks, or upload your own MP3s and turn them into timers.  The range of songs available makes it versatile and applicable to a range of tasks.

Alternatively you can use the other countdown timer to link You Tube songs to the timer. 


A great tool for creating biographies and presenting them in an interesting way. Create fake Facebook style profiles and print.


A fake Twitter generator. Useful for summarising key events. For exampe, Tweet as Winston Churchill the day war ended. Kids love the challenge of writing in just 140 characters.


A simple multimedia presentation maker. Good for younger pupils.


A site that shortens URLs. Ideal if you use Google Forms or collaborative documents. Peraonalise the address. e.g. a long url will become www.bit.ly/mypage


A free blogging service. Either blog on browser or via the app. 100MB free storage and you can add pupil users.


Edmodo is a free, social network style learning and sharing platform.  Share out work, recieve work, set polls, tasks and reminders.  Pupils can engage in safe and secure discussions, connecting with users from the class only.  Again, browser and app.

Google Apps for Education/ Google Classroom

A fantastic suite of tools allowing you to create staff and pupil emails, create collaborative office documents online, create survey forms (great for quick and easy assessment), create websites and much more.
Google Classroom allows you, as teacher, to send out work and receive work to your online 'classroom'.  No need for paper. No need to print. You can mark it online and send feedback back to the pupils.  For more information click here.


Blogmap is a world map with pins on. The pins link to over 240 class blogs world wide.  You can explore the physical enviroment surrounding a school before looking at and commenting on their blog.  I included this site as a shameless plug! (My own site)

Other really useful tools include:
  • Nearpod
  • Socrative
  • Doceri
  • Symbaloo
  • and many more


Blog 29: Using Google Drive across a range of devices in school

Here's how we use Google Drive to save, retrieve and share documents across a school set of iPads.

Before I continue I must state that we have set up Google Apps for Education, which gives us the function to provide each member of school a Google account, giving them access to Google Drive.

To avoid having pupils log in and out every time they use Google Drive we have set them up in two different ways.

1. One account:  initially we set up one account which was signed in on all devices.  That meant that each class/ user had access to the same account.  Then we set up a folder for each class, which was shared with that class' teacher (see screenshot)

2. Separate class accounts:  we then changed this method to set up a Google Drive account per class.  All class accounts were simultaneously signed in on the devices, a useful feature of the iPad app.  

To avoid pupils accessing the wrong accounts, you can activate a passcode security setting for each account.  Give your class their passcode only and, hey presto, your accounts are secure.
This method works the best or us and has solved a problem of sharing securely.  You can further share these accounts with pupils' Google accounts, thus allowing them to access at home on their PCs or mobile devices

Do you use the app differently?  If so, let me know!


Blog 28: Introducing Email in Early Years and Key Stage 1

Today I was mapping out some ideas for the new curriculum when I stumbled across a fantastic FREE (or seemingly free) email service called Maily (www.maily.com or download the mobile app version).

The Maily website describes the service as "Your child's first email".

It also provides this informative Vimeo video:

Below is a quick guide using the iPad version.
Basically, you create one adult/ parental account. This account is used to monitor all activity by child users.The app works either in child mode or adult mode.
You then create child's accounts using the options on screen.
Once accounts are in place, the pupils will see avatars or photos for each of their accounts.  To access their account they simply tap on their avatar.
When composing an email the pupils have the following easy to use tools:

Pupils can combine these tools to create their emails.
Pupils' emails will then send.

The recipient's email account will look like this once the email is recieved:

They simply tap on their email avatar to open the email.

The advatages of using a system like this include:

- It's FREE
- All activity is closely monitored by the adult account
- It's incredibly intuitive and easy to use
- It works on desktop, iPad, iPod and iPhone
- It provides the ideal starting point to build on email and digital communication
- You can introduce esafety issues. For example, set up accounts as fairy tale characters. Goldilocks recieves an email from a user called Grandma, whose avatar looks suspiciously like a wolf in diguise. What should she do?
- It's FREE.

I'm looking to trial this app with some Year 1 pupils this term to gauge the level of user, hoping it will be in place in the curriculum next year. I hope to blog about the success of this later in the year.

Have you used Maily? Do you have a similar product that you use? What do you think? Let me know.

Thanks :-)


Blog 27: iThink Therefore iPad 2014

Today I had the privilege of presenting, along with two of our fantastic pupils, at iThink Therefore iPad 2014, hosted by MMU at Manchester Central.

All in all it was a fantastic day, coming away with loads of new ideas and making a few new contacts to boots.

I will blog in more depth about the day. As promised, here is my Prezi presentation from today.

Thanks 😄


Blog 26: Sharing Weblinks on Tablets Using Symbaloo

Symbaloo.com is a free web service that I discovered at a Teach Meet in Bolton two years ago.  I've been using it as a personal 'Internet favourites' tool since.

This year we've been using it in school and have found it to be an excellent tool for sharing weblinks across a range of devices at once.  This means that pupils aren't wasting time locating websites or misspelling URLs, resulting in increased learning time (although pupils still have opportunities elsewhere to practise these skills.)

Here's a brief overview of how to set up and use it.  (Note- we use the iPad version, but it is available on other platforms).

To set up your weblinks, go to Symbaloo.com and login using you account details (these will be the account details you will be using for all devices)

Either set up or select your year group's tab:

Then click on an empty tile to add a new link: 

Then complete the box on the left of the screen:
It is now created! 

Accessing on tablets (iPads used for this example)

 Set up the iPads so that they are already logged into the school account.

The app icon looks like this:

When you tap it this menu should appear:
Select the class you want and the menu should appear:
This icon ^ gives you
the option to open the link in Web Browser, otherwise it opens 'in-app'

Try it and see how it goes!  You can also add links to tiles to class webpages and blogs.