Tag Archives: Prezi

Using SOLO for Intervention (part 2)

As I explored in my earlier post, I have had the fantastic task of running a group for our intervention. We had selected several students, 50 in total to carry out controlled assessments. I had a group of 21 students, from the C/D borderline mostly, and one or two below. We had decided to extend the group we were targeting to ensure that, while we focus on the C/D borderline to boost our headline figures, we also targeted a number of the weaker students to ensure they also made progress (and obviously, this is now reported in the league tables).

The group I had contained a number of challenging students and we had our work cut out for us as we had 5 hours to complete the intervention, from scratch a piece on the spoken language study.

Structure and Resources

I had prepared a Prezi as I like the fact that YouTube clips can be embedded into the presentation, and play without delay, I also liked the fact that it allows you to physically show the ‘big picture’. I included a timeline of the day to make sure that the whole group could see what we were going to do during each of the 5 lessons. I also planned to use SOLO as I have found it really helpful in scaffolding the cognitive leap from the D grade and up.

Lesson 1 I set out a connect and activate series of tasks. The connect tasks were pretty simple and aimed to target the knowledge that the group already had on political speeches. From there we built to explore a small section of the text, working in pairs to analyse and identify features of the political speech.

This meant the group had a variety of points they expected to find in a political speech and had a variety of quotations already identified. At this stage I introduced the SOLO sheet, many of the group (those I teach) had seen this before, others picked it up pretty quickly. We discussed each of the levels and I asked the students to identify where they felt they were. Most felt that they were on either unistructural or multistructural – some were very specific and insisted they were on the boundary between the two. Two of the less confident girls thought they were prestructural, but when we explored this a little further they decided that they were actually unistructural moving towards multistructural. We then discussed what they needed to do to move their understanding on and target the B and C grades.

This brought the first hour to a close. For the start of the second hour, I decided that the group could do with something more physically active. We did an IWB quiz on persuasive techniques. The quiz was from the @TESresources and was a flash quiz – it was a matching persuasive techniques to the definition against the clock. Although a little reluctant at first, we had several volunteers and the group seemed to enjoy the change in pace and task.

The focus for the second hour was to view and analyse the speech and to consider the purpose. We watched the speech via the YouTube clip and started to annotate the text. I had set up the text in the form of Cornell notes with a broad margin down the side for annotation and a section at the bottom of the page for summary. This worked very well and the group seemed to find the layout easy to use, and for once, there were no complaints about a lack of space to write notes. This section was the most content heavy, we analysed and made notes on the speech ‘Yes we can‘. With the group highlighting the text and annotating. We finished by making sure that the effects of the speech were written onto the triangles.

After break we needed to move onto the note making phase, but also needed to make sure that the group had got a good range of ideas about the text, understood the effect being created and could make those all important links. I had decided to use triangles, as a variation on the use of hexagons, for two reasons, firstly that they were much easier to cut out (!) and secondly because they could link into groups. I think this worked fairly well, but would have been more effective if we could have spent a little more time on the task – because of our time constraints this section was rather more rushed than I would have liked. I tried to boost morale at this stage by providing some sweets and water in the classroom. This went down well, and had the additional benefit of keeping some of the more chatty quiet during my instructions as they were eating the sweets! The group used their triangle patterns to make their notes for the assessment.

The final section was for the pupils to write up their assessment. They had two hours, with lunch in between, and could continue into the 25 minute PM registration if needed. The group were obviously fairly tired by this point but worked well. As each student finished they were given a small packet of haribo (highly sought-after sweets at my school).


I was keen to see how the group had done, the work I had seen as I supervised looked good, but I wanted to get a better view, so for once was looking forward to marking the pieces.  The three weakest in the group improved their work from F/G to a D grade. The majority increased their grade to a C, many moving 2 grades higher. 4 students managed to improve their work to a low B. So overall this was a huge, albeit stressful and tiring, success. Again, it is not possible to scientifically identify whether SOLO helped the students make the cognitive leap, but the results certainly make it look worth a go.

Teaching 2.0 – Prezi and SideVibe

It is often said that one of the only constants in education is change. Sometimes that is a good thing, sometimes anything but. Technology is rapidly developing and becoming a core part of many classrooms.

When I started teaching (a mere 11 years ago), the height of technology – at my school – was an OHP, a bookable computer suite and a photocopier. Go back a few more years, when I was at school myself, we had a typing room and ‘the’ school computer.

The danger is that technology is often used without any thought of whether it is useful or practical. Hours of my time have been spent on resource creation for VLEs, and other forms of technology, that have then been discarded almost before the resources have been used, so I always like to run a few trials before committing myself to a new piece of teaching kit. I will try a new piece of tech, or a new teaching idea, with a class or two and ask the following:

  1. Does it engage the learners?
  2. Does it help them make progress?
  3. Is it easy to use?
  4. Does it take longer to produce a lesson or resource than the students will take to complete it?

I am going to explore some of the technologies available to classroom teachers.


I have been toying with Prezi on and off for the past couple of years. Prezi offers teachers and students a free educational licence at prezi.com . It certainly impresses the students and allows a smoother transition from text to YouTube clips than Powerpoint does. Although easy to use, it can be time consuming to create. Used in a lesson, it really just does what Powerpoint does, in a rather more attractive way. However, for me, where Prezi really comes into its own is through the use of the ‘path’ tool that allows you you direct the viewer. This is great for tasks where a series of clips are being explored – for example for analysis in Media Studies – or for revision materials to be viewed outside school. It is also very useful for students to create interesting presentations.

This is an example of a revision Prezi I created for WJEC Film Studies FM4 Urban Stories.


This is another idea I picked up from Twitter, this time from @coolcatteacher. SideVibe is a free tool that allows you to create online worksheets that ‘float’ over webpages. Teachers can sign up for an account at SideVibe.com and students can get a free account.

Screen Shot of SideVibe Sign Up Page

When you sign up you download a toolbar that allows you to select any website you brouse. This ‘companion’ will let you select sites and create mini worksheets that allow you to ask students to respond to the material.

It can be used with a whiteboard, but my initial trials will be restricted to a series of homework revision tasks for my Y12 Film Studies class and a lesson on short stories for Year 9. I created 6 revision ‘vibes’ pretty quickly; the ‘vibes’ for Y9 took longer, mainly as I had to come up with a series of questions the group could do in class. As a back up, I have decided that we will look at the stories on the whiteboard if there are problems with students logging in. I have also decided to be brave and ask for feedback both on SideVibe and what would make the lesson better – a bit nervous about that, but nothing ventured…

I will feed back once my classes have had a chance to use them.