KS3 NC Levels and spreadsheets

In my ongoing quest to get back down to basics with the KS3 NC for ICT I have been looking at how we deliver spreadsheets.  In keeping with the ‘back to basics’ theme I have looked at the level descriptors that I feel can be used with a spreadsheet topic and edited some of them so that they make more sense.  I also arranged them into the levels so that some sequence might become clear.  The result of this was the following:


  • predict what will happen in a model or simulation based on my decisions
  • exploring the model or simulation to see patterns and relationships
  • input of poor quality data = output of poor quality data


  • what happens when I change a variable


  • use a model to make predictions
  • Change the rules in a model
  • compare output of a model with information from other sources
  • ask complex questions to test a hypothesis


  • Design a model including procedures and variables to meet a need


  • Evaluate a model by looking at the situation which it was developed for
  • Evaluate a model by looking at how efficient it is, how easy it is to use and how appropriate it is for the purpose it was designed for

I then also looked to see if I could include other descriptors from different parts of the programme of study when teaching spreadsheets.  I ended up with the following list:

Fundamentals and organisation


  • Use sensible folders and file names to save work


  • Find and open work saved in logical / sensible folders and file names
  • Use ICT safely
  • Use ICT responsibly


  • Create a portfolio of evidence that is structured logically

Audience and Purpose


  • I can plan my work

Reflection and evaluation


  • Reflect critically on own work and then improve it


  • Review my work

Next up is to put down in writing exactly what ‘teaching spreadsheets’ actually means.  I will post shortly on how I arived at a list of topics that I believe should be included.


Keeping up to date with reading blogs – Flipboard, Instapaper and Kindle

google reader image              

I was a fairly early adopter of the iPad and love it as a tool for professional development and as a means to stay up to date with the many excellent blogs that are out there.  Initially I was so enthusiastic about adding blogs to follow that I ended up with a great big list of posts that I had the best intentions to read but never did.  I needed a way to quickly access the blog updates and to save some posts for reading later.

This is my solution …..  I set up an account with Google Reader and over time added RSS feeds from blogs that were recommended or that I stumbled upon (usually on Twitter).  The number of blog posts became a little unmanageable and although Google Reader is a good aggregator, I needed something more user friendly.  Using Twitter, I saw a tweet about FlipBoard, so being inquisitive, I downloaded the free App and set up an account.

This was exactly what I was looking for!  I added my Google Reader Account to the settings and waited a short while for it to populate with the most recent posts from the blogs that I had subscribed to.  I could now use flipboard to dynamically turn pages and browse the posts (it makes it seem more real, actually turning a page!).  When I found a post that interested me, I could tap on it and open it full screen to read.  I have found this to be a much more eficient way of discovering new posts.

Now I had more efficient access to the blogs, I was reading more and adding more bloggers at a very fast rate.  I needed a way of storing some of the posts so that I could read them later and with the possibility of reading them when I didn’t have access to wireless (I know it doesn’t happen often …. but still often enough!).  The answer to my problem was Instapaper .  I installed the free App and created an account.  I can now browse through flipboard and read the posts and when I see one that I want to spend some more time on later, I can click on ‘Read it Later’ and the link will be stored and synch’d so that I can read it offline when I am ready.  I have also added a button to safari on my iPad so that I can do the same when browsing the Internet.  Instapaper goes even further as it also works a bit like Diigo in that your saved links can also be accessed on the internet from any enabled PC.  So even if you don’t have a mobile devide with you, as long as you have access to the internet, you have access to your Instapaper account.

Finally, I wanted a way to read some of the posts when I didn’t have my iPad but when I fancied a change from reading a book.  I converted to Kindle about 6 months ago and recently set up Instapaper so that it synch’s with the Kindle (using the wireless connectivity).  I can now read the posts on the Kindle wherever I am – problem solved!