Pedagogy Postcard #3: Live exemplars; iPads and visualisers

A series of short posts about specific elements of teaching practice that I think are effective and make life interesting. Some are based on my own lessons and others are borrowed from lessons I’ve observed.


This Pedagogy Postcard is about using a visualiser or ipad to capture students’ work as they are doing it, to share with the class. It’s closely linked to an earlier post Great Lessons 9: Possibilities.  I see this technique a lot all over my school and use it myself as much as I can.  It’s such a powerful method for getting into the detail of what standards are expected.  At KEGS we have some fancy visualisers but I have found that my ipad is all I need.  It can be used in camera mode, raised on a box…

Exemplar book-work projected via my ipad to explore the possibilities.
Exemplar book-work projected via my ipad to explore the possibilities.

But increasingly I just use it to snap pictures and project those.. it saves a lot of fiddling about.  Recently, I used it for my electricity unit with Year 9. I’ve captured a sample circuit with ammeter readings visible and a good circuit layout to reinforce the learning next lesson. (Incidentally this was part of a co-constructed lesson; Kieret here was explaining what students had to do)

Kieret gave the instructions.. and this is one of the examples.
Kieret gave the instructions.. and this is one of the examples.

I used the method a lot with a recent Y9 chemistry unit.  It’s perfect for looking at graphs. We projected these examples from different students to identify good features, errors, areas to improve and to take some gradient measurements, writing over the projected image. We tackled the issue of ‘joining the dots’ rather than plotting smooth curves.

Details of graphs projected and discussed.
Details of graphs projected and discussed.

This exercise really helped to show that ‘rate of reaction’ could not only be compared but quantified and measured… a new and fairly advanced concept for Year 9… but is was easy to show.

Finally, it’s hard to discuss students’ written work when they’ve all had a go at getting their ideas down. You can ask students to read out their efforts..but nothing beats showing the work visually – or taking a snap and projecting it. Here are some examples: they throw up lots of things to share – some great bits of analysis and some obvious mistakes (which is what you want):

Screen shot 2014-03-23 at 19.40.19
Samples of student writing, projected and analysed with the class. (The bottom sample comes from a worksheet devised by my Limestone co-construction team)

Students are usually happy for their work to be shared in this way provided that you can say plenty of good things about it relative to the mistakes or areas for improvement.  It’s a judgement as to whether to go for the best examples or those with more issues to discuss.

You can apply this method to work that has been done for homework too – obviously enough. Actually that’s very helpful.  But I find the live sampling especially effective.. cruising the classroom taking photos of work to show the class.  (I don’t have any of those gizmos that allows me do it wirelessly from where I’m standing but even the hassle of plugging in via my VGA cable is well worth it!…it’s not really a hassle.)

The key thing is for this method to reinforce an overarching ‘ethic of excellence’ approach, as in Ron Berger’s ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ video…as described in this post – using the feedback process to challenge mediocrity and focus on the details.


  1. Tom, one way that I use to do this “wirelessly” is walking around with my tablet/iPad I immediately add the photos to Google Drive/Dropbox (insert your online storage of choice). My laptop is almost alway connected to the projector with Google Drive/Dropbox synced so I can immediately bring up the examples when I return to the projector and I have them stored already for future reference. I also make good use of a CDN$70 iPEVO document camera connected by USB to my laptop for things like live demos of work with math manipulatives. I use this strategy a lot and agree that students are usually happy to have their work shared provided the tone is positive and critique constructive in a generally (for the whole class) informative manner.


  2. Tom – we have Air Server on each classroom PC so colleagues can project from iPads with ease whilst teaching … no more need for visualisers or leads!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s