Apps for Good – a novel way to deliver computational thinking and foster creativity


Apps for Good is a charitable organisation aiming to allow students the opportunity to prepare for the real world by taking part in an app-designing challenge. They have created structured programmes where young people are challenged to come up with an app which provides a solution to a real-life problem. They then take their idea through the design process, working together as part of a team.

Apps for Good provide online training for teachers, teaching materials as well as course guidelines matched with CfE outcomes. The course structure is flexible, with a short and long versions, and is free for all non-fee-paying schools. Based in London, the company currently works with over 450 educational establishments and over 22,000 students from all parts of the UK. Some of their most successful app developing teams so far have come from a school in Wick.

The scheme is suitable to use all year round, although the deadline for competition entries is normally around Easter. This isn’t obligatory – schools can choose whether or not they’d like to take part in the competition, which is really a celebration of the hard work that has been happening throughout the year. The main aim of Apps for Good is to encourage entrepreneurial spirit in young people, allowing them access to a huge variety of industry experts who are giving back to the community by taking part in the scheme.

Several Edinburgh schools are already using Apps for good, including Boroughmuir and Craigmount High Schools. Here are some thoughts from teachers who have been delivering the programme:

“The materials are good and you can easily adapt them for your class. My pupils particularly enjoyed feedback from the Expert sessions. The Apps for Good team have been extremely supportive too.”
– Ms L. Dighton, Boroughmuir HS

“For anyone looking for a course that covers programming, app design, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and marketing you should really look into it.
The course has so many benefits:
Allows students to work together to create an app to solve an existing problem
Forces students to think about solutions to problems that they encounter
Forces students to work together from generation of ideas right through to implementation and marketing.” – Mr D. Sansom, Craigmount HS

For further information about Apps for Good or to sign up, please download their flyer here or view their website here.

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OneNote Class Notebook at Tynecastle High School

(Please click on the images to see in more detail)

From Skitch blur cMartyn Call, acting PT Maths at Tynecastle High, has been using Class Notebook with his Nat 5 Class this year.

Each pupil accesses OneNote via the App on their iPad.

Each pupil has their own area within class notebook for their classwork making it a virtual jotter.



From Skitch b


When teaching the whole class Martyn uses the smartboard and anything he does automatically appears in the ’Content Library’.

This means that the pupils are not required to copy anything down.

He can also easily add the Success criteria and he has personalised the ‘tags’ to distinguish the type of task that they are allocated.




The Notebook can also be used for tracking.


From Skitch 2From Skitch 3










Tasks carried out in a jotter can easily be captured and embedded in Class Notebook.


From Skitch 1

The pupils in the class said:-

“It’s better for revising and note taking and you can do your homework in one area and it allows you to draw directly on to the app.”

“I like it because it tracks what I do well and what I need to work on.”

“The benefits are it’s better for revising and no paper. Learning is easy – you don’t need to use your jotter.”

Martyn commented that:-

“OneNote allows me to interact with students in real time. Teaching with OneNote (which syncs with student iPads) has been great in building up class notes. The content library and personal spaces allow me to give out homework and feedback easily.”

OneNote is also being used in these other areas of the school:-

Physics – use as textbook

PSE – use as portfolio

PE – textbook and peer feedback

For more information on OneNote Click here:-



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Safer Internet Day 2016


Safer Internet Day 2016 takes place on Tuesday 9th February and the theme is Play your part for a better internet!

Edinburgh schools can nominate themselves for exemplifying good practice and there are also competitions that pupils can enter. For more information please click here and if you would like a poster you can get a copy here.

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iPad in the Classroom Twilight

Last Monday evening saw the first of our ‘iPad in the Classroom’ sessions for this year, with over 30 teachers coming along looking for inspiration and practical tips on using iPads effectively in their teaching and learning.

Some of the apps that teachers tried out were Padlet, Lego Movie Maker, Popplet, Chatterpix Kids, Decide Now!, Book Creator, Pic Collage and Adobe Voice. It was a very hands-on session with participants working in groups to complete activities using their iPads. Teachers were also encouraged to discuss how they could modify these tasks so that they could be used across different stages and curricular areas.

From the course, here is an example of a simple animation made with Lego Movie Maker exploring the concept of division:

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Coding Week @ Echline PS

Jude Moir, P7 teacher at Echline Primary School, describes a very successful coding week run by his school just before the summer holidays:


Will Wright helping some of the children design their games


Mrs Crawford, Head Teacher, plays a game


Some of the Scratch code involved in creating a game


Andrew Knight and Will Wright – games designers

Last session Primary 4/5 and Primary 5 took part in a week-long interdisciplinary project that involved them devising and creating their own computer games.

The children were working in groups of 4 and had to decide on certain roles; Programmer, Head of Advertising, Story Director and Art director. Workshops were given throughout the week to help the children achieve success in their roles.

The children used Scratch to program their games, and were free to create a game in any way they liked. We were fortunate enough to have the expertise of Games Designer Andrew Knight, who was able to guide the children to create exciting games and help with any bugs that crept up throughout the week.

The children were working towards an exhibition of their work at the end of the week where they would have a stall set up with their computer game, and other classes from around the school would visit to try out the exciting games. Advertising was a really strong element of the exhibition and teams had made posters, leaflets and costumes to make their game stand out.

The teams were voted on under the following categories: Best Advertising, Best Game and there was also an Industry award voted for by Andrew Knight and Will Wright who were our visiting games design professionals, as well as Erin Mercer, a recent graduate of the Abertay Computer Design course. The children were also very excited when a photographer from the local newspaper came in to take pictures.

On the exhibition day the children also had the chance to try out Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that allowed them to explore the world of Minecraft.

The week was such a positive experience and on reflection the children identified teamwork, problem solving, ICT skills, literacy and art as the skills that were developed.

From a teacher’s point of view the experience was fantastic. The children were motivated, engaged and hard-working throughout the whole week. They showed resilience and persistence in the face of problems and worked together as teams to overcome any issues. My confidence with computers and Scratch was definitely an advantage, however the children soon overtook me in terms of mastery of the processes involved in creating a game.

If you are planning a similar project, or if it is something you would be interested in, I would recommend spending a bit of time letting the children explore Scratch first (or any other program). This allowed them to develop their confidence before working towards a more extended project.

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CPD iconPlease click on the icon or here to view the courses that are being offered by the Digital Learning Team this term.

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1:1 Digital Learning at Gracemount High School

XMA worked with us recently to film a case study about 1:1 digital learning at Gracemount High School. The video outlines the many advantages of 1:1, describing how successfully embedding digital technologies in learning can impact on engagement and attainment. 

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