Valence Electrons – An Example of an Online Resource

Valence electrons resource

My previous blog post was the first in a series in which I will be describing how I put together my online video resources and how I produce and upload them.  At this point I thought that I would show you an example of the sort of products I enjoy creating.

I have another site where I upload science revision videos, and to date my videos have been watched nearly 16,000 times – not bad for a channel that has only been up and running for a short time.  I have offered to make revision videos ‘on demand’, and it has been really rewarding to receive requests from viewers for specific topics.

The video ‘Valence electrons’ was recently requested, and from beginning to end must have taken me about three hours. The majority of this time is spent putting together the various Powerpoint slides – the recording phase is relatively short (except today when anything that could go wrong did go wrong!).

The final product is then uploaded to YouTube, and shared with my other sites as required.

I’m continuing to experiment with my Waco bamboo tablet  – one day I’ll be as proficient as Salman Khan (of Khan Academy fame) – but it’s another skill that I need to master.  I’ll keep you informed as to how it’s going.

Watch out for the next video in the ‘Create Your Own Online Teaching Resources’ series when I’ll be telling you what tools I use for video production, and I’ll be sharing with you where you can get most of the software absolutely free!

Until next time,


Create Your Own Online Teaching Resources!

Create your own teaching resource

In recent blog posts I have discussed the relative merits of blended (flipped) learning and spaced learning.  Both of these approaches can impact significantly upon your teaching, and upon the success of your students.  Just this morning I have checked on a spaced learning resource that I put up on YouTube for my students in preparation for a test, and it was really heartening to see how many hits there have been – my time has obviously not been wasted!

Feedback received from the blog posts has been really positive, but one of the questions I keep getting asked is “how do I develop the video resources for my students?”.
Such a good question, and I’ve decided to do something about it!  Over the past couple of years I must have produced several hundred online videos, and my hit counter of YouTube is now fast approaching 100,000 hits.  My daughters can’t believe that their dear old dad is such a success on ‘the Tube’!

Given the right tools, a clear plan, and some dedicated time, producing video resources is relatively straightforward.  To really help you get started I have produced a series of video tutorials to show what to do every step along the way.  All you have to do is to click on the link – ‘Create Your Own Online Teaching Resources’ – either at the top or bottom of this blog and you’re away!

The first video is a general introduction but well worth a watch as it explains why we should be developing video resources, and the different types of videos that you could produce.

I always welcome feedback, so if you’ve got any questions or comments about developing your own online teaching resources then please contact me at:

Until next time,


Create your own teaching resource


Better Memory Retention With Spaced Learning

Spaced learning

Do your students find it difficult to take in and retain the facts that you’re teaching – I’ll bet they do!  Schools invest a lot of time and money encouraging their students to effectively revise.  As a teacher I find it frustrating that even though I may have flagged up a forthcoming test over and over again, I can guarantee that only a handful of my students will actually make any effort to revise.

Throughout my teaching career I have looked for better ways to encourage revision, and I’m still in search of that holy grail.  Recently I came across a reference to ‘spaced learning’ so I thought I should investigate in more detail and give it a try.

My initial search came across a link in Baroness Susan Greenfield’s site:

Spaced learning depends upon creating neural pathways which results in the development of long-term memories.  Constant stimulation did not result in the required linking of cells, but the important factor was the gap between stimulations.

Monkseaton High School embraced the concept of spaced learning, and came up with a structure for a lesson to help develop memory retention.  Each lesson consists of five key parts:

  • Teacher input of key facts / information
  • 10-minute break
  • Student recall of key facts / information
  • 10-minute break
  • Student application of key facts / information

The breaks involved some form of physical activity that avoided stimulating the memory pathways being formed.  Monkseaton recommended activities such as origami, play-dough modelling, or even ball handling games.  Teacher input involved the use of Powerpoint presentations to the whole class.

At my own school I decided to develop spaced-learning lessons following a similar method to Monkseaton.  One key difference however was the way in which the information was delivered.  To my way of thinking, it was so important that students were focused for the entire 10-15 minute period of knowledge acquisition.  My students are of average ability, and concentration is not necessarily a strong point!

I therefore decided to produce videos that students could watch individually.  With their own computer and headphones they could watch the material in their own little ‘bubble’ without distractions from others.  I also wrote short questions for completion at the end of the session.

Does spaced-learning work?  I’m not sure yet as the exam results will not be available for a couple of months.  However, students have commented on how useful the sessions have been, and staff have noted the benefits.  I have also made the videos available for use at home, and there is very clear evidence that a significant number of students have made the effort to engage in their own time.

The advocates of spaced-learning claim that it is possible to cover a whole module of work in one session.  I have tried to achieve this, and my videos have been summaries of key facts – I am indebted to the excellent module summaries in the Collins Revision Guides for content!

In the resources section in the left hand panel of my site I have included some examples of the material I have produced – I hope you find it of interest, and why not give spaced-learning a go?

Until next time,


Blended Learning – Education In The Future?

Blended learningIn a recent issue of ‘Wired’ magazine, Daphne Koller (cofounder of the online-learning platform Coursera) expressed concern about the lack of educational capacity in many countries.  For example, it has been estimated that India will need 1,500 universities to accommodate its growing population.  A major stumbling block in any planning towards this goal is the fact that India is short of 300,000 faculty members.

Daphne Koller’s solution to the problem is a rapid expansion in online education.  In particular, she advocates the development of a blended approach, where students watch lectures at home and use the classroom for discussion.  It has been shown through research studies that blended learning is superior to purely face-to-face or online teaching.

Blended, or flipped learning as it is perhaps more commonly known, has been growing in popularity across the United States, but it is a relatively new phenomenon in the UK.  The key benefit of the approach is that it can generate more time in the classroom to develop understanding.  A major requirement, if the approach is to be successful, is the development of suitable online materials.

I have been actively interested in the flipped learning approach since the beginning of 2012.  At that time I took on a tutoring role with a home-schooled student.  In order to cover the Biology and Chemistry exam specifications I decided to begin producing videos that my student could watch between tutorials.  As a result of this tutoring, I now have complete video resources – link below:

Recently I have been interested in how I could develop a blended learning approach with students in my school.  I have begun to trial the technique with a group of Year 10 students, and feedback so far has been very positive.  Three key issues have arisen:

1. the production of suitable video materials.
2. the planning of effective knowledge consolidation in the classroom.
3. how can I ensure that my students actually do their homework?

Each of these issues require consideration in future posts.  For now I recommend that you have a look at one of the videos I produced for my class – just look under the ‘Resources’ tab on the left hand side of this page, and click on ‘Flipped Learning – Chromosomes, genes and DNA’.

Until next time,


Logo idea 3

Welcome To Online Science Teaching!

online science teaching

Hi, and welcome to my first post on this new blog.

The ‘About’ page gives you a brief outline of who I am, what I do, my family and my interests.  Suffice to say here, I am a science teacher and have been so for over 30 years (I stood in front of my first class in January 1983!).  So I have vast experience of teaching, and have been leading successful science departments since 1991.
I decided to develop ‘Online Science Teaching’ following many months of hard work and late nights.  Let me give you the background……      

A little while ago I was asked to tutor a student in a nearby village.  Having tutored many students in the past, I was in no rush to take on another one.  But the mother was persistent, so eventually I agreed to become the girl’s tutor.  The student in question was being home-schooled, and during our first session it became abundantly clear that she had little basic knowledge of science – there was no way that we would be able to cover the specification in sufficient detail in the time available.

In a rash moment I offered to do something that was to occupy many hours of my time in the months ahead.  I decided to produce video courses that would cover the entire specifications!  The plan was that I would deliver a video every week, my student would watch the video in her own time, and during our tuition slot I would go through any problems and also use prepared questions and past papers to check her understanding.

Time was limited, so we decided to concentrate on Biology and Chemistry, and the materials were prepared following the Edexcel iGCSE specifications.  I chose the iGCSE courses because there were no practical assessments involved.  In a future blog post I will describe the various options available to homeschoolers and their exam entries.

Each video was about 20 minutes in duration, and took about 6 hours to prepare.  I managed to condense the Biology and Chemistry courses into about 20 videos each, and within eighteen months I had covered everything.

As development of the courses progressed, more and more people showed interest in what I was doing, and I received requests to make the courses available to others.  So, to cut a long story short, I developed a site where interested parents, students, tutors and establishments could purchase the videos.  The site can be found at:

I decided to develop this blog in support of my main site, and also to ‘showcase’ other materials as and when I develop them.  I’ll also be introducing you to other resources that could be of interest.

So, many thanks for reading my first post on this new blog – I hope you like what you see!

Until next time,