December '16

Follow the news more frequently on Twitter at @star_classroom or at


  • Launching the eLibrary
  • Star Classroom - full speed ahead
  • Get Yammering! Our Staff Social Network
  • Using YouTube Safely
  • Flippin' Greenfields
  • Clearing Roadblocks

Top Tip

Did you know that all David Ross Education Trust staff and students can download and use Microsoft Office for free? Just follow this link.

Launching the eLibrary

Click the image on the right to play the introductory video

This month we launch our online "eLibrary" which allows staff and students to borrow from a wide selection of eBooks - bestsellers, classics, textbooks, autobiographies - there is already a good selection and it is easy to request particular titles you'd like to see.

Invitations and instructions are being sent out academy by academy, but if you are impatient join the eLibrary Preview group on Yammer.

On the web the eLibrary can be found at

The App for the library is available free from....

Problems playing the video above? The video is on a service we run called that only lets you play videos when you are logged in - to try again head to and login there. You'll find training material and a growing selection of videos produced by teachers to share with their classes.

Star Classroom

"Star Classroom" is a professional development programme for the whole Trust aiming to create a team of 100+ teachers with the skills and experience to work with colleagues and spread best practice in using IT to support learning. We've particularly focused in the early stages of the project on the skills needed to rapidly make learning materials for lessons and to share that work with students, both on the big screen and online.

Alongside that we're fitting-out the classrooms of those teachers with what we 're confident is the best value, most durable and effective set of teacher equipment available - an LED touchscreen with a built-in PC and a mobile device to use whilst teaching. We've been able to secure a good deal on the equipment and academies are already ordering more rooms of their own.

So far the training has been centred on academies in Loughborough, Northampton and Hull, but by mid-January all areas will have been covered.

If you're a teacher interested in how to make the best use of new technologies please do get involved. There is an online community in Yammer called Star Classroom where we share ideas and resources, and there will be an ongoing programme of training open to all. We also have the Star Classroom blog where new material and ideas are shared several times a week.

Yammer is our "professional social network." It is open to all staff in our academies to join groups or form their own. You can share resources, post messages and collaborate with colleagues in similar roles from all across the Trust. There are groups for scientists, business managers, runners, bakers, learning sign language and much more - and if there isn't a group for what you need: make it and get colleagues involved. You can find help videos to get started on

Making YouTube Safer

Click the image on the right to play the training video

There are many, many good resources on YouTube, alongside the cat videos and other random clips. Unfortunately the adverts, comments and related videos can be an issue for using it in the classroom For this reason many schools ban YouTube completely. is a useful site that allows you to paste in a link to a YouTube video and strip away everything except the video - and even focus on just a small section of the video rather than the whole thing. The link it gives you can be used in lessons safe in the knowledge that the video the teacher selected is the only one on the screen when you click the link. The video here (which needs you to login) explains how it works.

Flippin' Greenfields

Anyone that has taken a look at can't help noticing a growing collection of videos in channels created by staff at Greenfields Primary for their classes (our team favourite is probably the classic, Four Times Table: Minecraft Style from the Proud Lions channel - a masterpiece). The videos engage pupils and their families as well as showcasing some of the learning taking place every day in an easily accessible form.

Many people think that making videos is hard work - but using tools like Office Mix, any Powerpoint presentation can be made into a video on with just two extra clicks (one to start recording, one to publish the finished file) - including what was said while you were presenting it, and any annotation you drew on it during the lesson.

You don't have to buy into the Flipped Classroom approach to benefit from being able to share videos from lessons with students - on a blog, website, Show My Homework, Google Classroom or just via email.

Get Involved

Please do sign up for Yammer and join the various groups there - you don't have to be enrolled in the Star Classroom programme to join the group and get involved.

We'd love to feature ideas, tips and projects from across the Trust - please get in touch.

Want to organise a training event in your academy? We'd love to help.

Clearing Roadblocks

Although it may not be the most glamorous of subjects, things like poor WiFi or slow broadband can make using IT in lessons far less attractive.

As well as professional development and new services we're also hard at work making good infrastructure site by site. This autumn/ winter we're replacing broadband completely at Cedar Road, Fairfield and Eresby, and setting up good WiFi at Barnes Wallis, King Edward VI, Greenfields, Charnwood, Fairfield and Hogsthorpe.

We've also changed the internet filtering at Lodge Park over to a much faster and more streamlined system called Smoothwall: which we'll gradually be introducing at all academies.

That's a good start but the work won't end there - please do be patient as we work to make sure every academy has all the basics working well, reliably, every day.

Next Time

  • Google Classroom - building online courses and sharing materials with your classes using this free tool.
  • Internet Filtering - we are setting up a common system for filtering internet use in academies called Smoothwall. We'll take a closer look at how it works and what it does (and doesn't) do.
  • Students and staff visit both Microsoft and Google to find out more about what those companies see on the horizon for technology in education in the coming decade - and to reflect on how that fits in best with our work, how we can adapt it to our needs.
  • Office Mix - how to take a folder of old Powerpoints and breathe new life into them.
  • A tour of some Star Classrooms and a look at the work taking place there.