South Africa

Getting addicted to making Youtube Videos!

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This Youtube Physics revision channel has started to take off. I’ve been  lucky in that now is the GCSE exam revision time in the UK so lots of kids are surfing the web for revision material – There is a lot out there! So I am trying to find stuff that has either not been covered or something I can give my style to. I have stopped filming myself with tablet but I am now using an app called Explain Everything – it’s excellent and very easy to use. Also I am trying to keep my videos short as most videos seem to go on way too long – It’s difficult!

Here are a few examples of working with explain everything.







My New Youtube Channel for Physics

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I’ve been experimenting recently with using my tablet to record videos of myself teaching. I have made a few videos for A-level and IGCSE Physics. Eventually the ideas is that I will cover all the material but it will take some time. I really want to try flip teaching and see if that is successful. I try and make a few videos of material I am about to teach and will report back on how successful it was.

If you are are a student who wants a revision video for either A-level of IGCSE please send me a message or leave a comment below. I would be more than happy to help. Anyway, here are some examples of what I have done so far.





Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated..

The Weekend Experiments – Gravity

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Do you remember those days at school when your physics teacher would tell you that the strength of gravitational acceleration is 9.8 m/s2? You just took it on blind faith that that was the strength of gravity right? Well, in the first of my Weekend Experiments series we are going to look at a very simple experiment anyone can do to find the strength of gravity in their local area (or planet). All we need is some string, a weight and your mobile phone to do some timings and a few calculations.


Myself and students of St Saviours High School, Leribe, Lesotho performing the Pendulum Investigation – 2010

What you need

A long piece of string – the longer the better

Somewhere to hang it from

A stop watch – just use the one on your phone

A weight – even a small stone will do

And a measuring tape or metre stick

Calculator – again use the one on your phone if desperate

What you do

Tie the weight to the end of the string and hang the piece of string up from the other end (remember the longer the string the better).

Measure the length of the string in metres to the nearest mm if you can.

Let the weight rest down and give it a little push – just a few cm will do.

The weight should now start moving back and forth in a pendulum motion.

Using your stopwatch we need to time how long the pendulum takes to go back and forth (We call this an oscillation). Human beings don’t have great reaction times so I suggest you time 10 swings or more in one go and find an average.

The Calculation

So here comes the maths – don’t freak out.

g = L4π2/T2

L is the length of your string in metres

π is that circle thing equal to 3.142 (approximately)

T is the time taken for one swing

An example

L = 3.56m

T = 3.8 seconds

g = 3.56 x 4 x 3.142 x 3.142 / (3.8 x 3.8)

and I get..

g = 9.73m/s2

not a bad answer with just some basic equipment!


QR Code Treasure hunt

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20140128_123901I don’t know where I got this interest in QR codes from as they are not that popular yet in South Africa. On recent trip to the UK I found them often in newspapers linking to product websites and wondered how difficult would it be to make my own. A lot of students now have phones capable of reading QR codes so I thought it would be a fun to make a QR code treasure hunt. I decided to only inform the principal of the school and no member of staff to keep it as secret as possible. The interesting thing about QR codes is the it’s not like a normal treasure hunt as there is an air of mystery about these unusual symbols. You don’t tend to notice QR codes as much as normal text and it was a lot of fun hiding them around the school. We had eight base stations in total and I designed the clues so that it wouldn’t matter which QR code the students scanned in first with a loop of 8 different clues. With each clue the students would gain an extra letter and these letters would all make up a master key word. One of my favourite hiding places for hiding the QR codes was behind one of the basketball hoops. If you are interested in making your own QR codes there are plenty of apps and also many free online QR code was the website that I used to make my QR codes as it outputs the QR codes as simple png format that can easily be printed


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Are we doing enough for gifted and talented students?

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So much of a teacher’s time is spent on struggling students who do not show meunderstand concepts. I would estimate that 80% of my time spent with students is trying to guide the students who are failing and I generally leave the students who are working well to just get on with it. Of course there should always be differentiation going on in the classroom but gifted and talented students simply do not get their fair share of my time. How could I change this? I’ve been looking at Flip Teaching, The process where you record your lessons on a tablet and the students watch the video back at their own pace, answering questions as they do. I tried using the principal’s iPad to record a basic test of the idea using an App called show me. The great thing about show me is that all the recording and publishing software is built into the app. The only problem I have with it is that all the material that you produce goes straight on to the show me servers and I have no control over it. Here in South Africa we are still limited by our broadband speed so it would be much more useful to dump the videos on the local server here in the school than have them eating away at our bandwidth and data usage, which at R30 per gigabyte can soon get expensive when 30 students are all streaming video content. I think over the Christmas holiday I might try to produce a few lessons in video and do a little experiment in flip teaching in the new year.

What is the future of education?

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Where is education going? I’ve been teaching for seven years now and I have noticed some big changes even in my short time in the profession. I started teaching in the UK in 2006 but moved to South Africa in 2011. In South Africa many people seem to be interested in home schooling. They feel the state system has let them down and that even private schools do not give them what they need. With the plethora of apps, past papers and YouTube videos that are widely available online there is the feeling that they can go it alone. Is that wise? Nothing can really replace the experience of a professional teacher who is trained in pedagogy, knows their subject and knows how students tick.

Technology has really changed teaching. A lot of the time I am facilitating learningBUb8ASvIAAApEu5 rather than doing the teaching myself. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. Students need to go at their own pace, to be independent learners and need to gain the key skills that will set them up for life. I recently discovered which is a fantastic site that can guide students through a multitude of problems in Mathematics and Science. They are set at the students individual level and I would strongly recommend any parents to push their children to give it a go, it’s sure to help.

What I do love about teaching with modern technology is the collaborative effort that you get when working with other teachers online. I joined when I started my teaching career. To begin with I was simply grabbing as many resources I could in order to keep my head above the water as a newly qualified teacher but I soon started uploading my own worksheets and Powerpoints – some have been downloaded over 50,000 times!! Amazing to think that my resources are being used in so many different classrooms. It even started to get a bit addictive.. The feedback from other teachers around the globe was very positive and this spurred me on to do more…