Tigtag CLIL shortlisted for British Council ELTons innovation award

Tigtag CLIL has been shortlisted in the Innovation in teacher resources category at the British Council ELTons awards!


The ELTons are all about excellence in English language teaching, and we at Twig are all delighted to have gained recognition from the highly experienced specialist judging panel. Tigtag CLIL is designed to help teachers with the tricky undertaking of teaching science in a foreign language – and the feedback so far suggests it’s made a big difference for the teachers using it.


There were more than 115 international submissions this year – each of which was assessed against criteria of innovation and practical functionality.


Winners will be announced at the ceremony on 14th June at Altitude, in London. We will be keeping our fingers crossed to add another accolade to our Bett Award-winning resource.

Davenies School embrace Tigtag for iPad

Tigtag subscriber Davenies Prep School is one of an increasing number of schools to embrace the iPad. The deal took two years to push through, but now every pupil in Year 4 has their own designated tablet with filtered content controlled by the school.


So why are iPads crucial to learning? Year 4 teacher Greg Fearon explains:


‘The biggest thing is that the children love it. You can talk about science until you are blue in the face, but if you can show it to the children, you instantly have their attention.

Obviously, practical science is important and shouldn’t be overlooked, but you only have to look at the sort of lessons we were doing before the iPads compared with now, to see the improvement.’


Among the new sorts of lessons are those driven by Tigtag; a digital resource with high-quality short films that can ‘show’ scientific concepts.

Fearon says:

‘When pupils use Tigtag or Twig on the iPads, they are independently learning and that allows them to take possession of their work. They can also answer the big questions instantly – all the information is available at their fingertips.’


Year 3 and 4 teacher Judith Revie agrees:

‘Tigtag covers the whole curriculum. I’ve checked. I went through it and it covers everything I teach.’


In addition to Tigtag and Twig, Davenies have found an array of innovative ways to incorporate their iPads. Speaking assignments utilise the camera function as students dress up as historical figures, a project on the Blitz includes soundbites of air raid sirens and high-res imagery when before it was cut and paste, and maths lessons feature an interactive quiz where students cheer when they get the right answer.


One 13-year-old pupil has even taken the initiative to code his own app. School Hub is used by Davenies to set and mark homework, and has inspired other students to create projects out of school hours. Elizabeth Gibson, Head of I.T. says the switch to Apple was a natural progression:

‘the boys already had them at home. Parents and staff were using an iPhone or iPod, so it made sense to use something that was easy and familiar.’


@TigtagWorld @DaveniesSchool

What is Three Dimensional Learning?

Why do we need NGSS?

The fundamental aim of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is to change science teaching as we know it. The way that we currently teach science is not a reflection of how science is being used in the real world: the scientists and engineers of today approach science in a practical, proactive way on a day-to-day basis. This means that the theory-based concepts students learn about in school are a bit dated, and even the best teachers can only do so much without a proper framework in place to support them.


NGSS was initially conceived in an effort to improve what the results of the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores showed: the US was ranked 27th in science. Recent years, and indeed the latest PISA results, have only intensified the need for a change in science teaching.


So how does NGSS affect the classroom?


With the help of the new standards, teachers will be able to make science more approachable, more practical and definitely more hands-on. The aim is to encourage students to think like scientists. This means a shift in the role of the teachers as well – from a sage on the stage to a guiding presence.


Three Dimensional Learning

You might be familiar with this increasingly popular term. In fact, if you visit the NGSS page, you can’t miss seeing this symbol, which illustrates the aforementioned three dimensions.


Three-dimensional learning forms the basis of NGSS, with each standard encompassing the following:

  1. Science and Engineering Practices (SEP)
  2. Crosscutting Concepts (CC)
  3. Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI)

Scientific and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts are designed to be taught in context, while a focus on a small number of Disciplinary Core Ideas help high school students gain a thorough understanding. Together, these three aspects of the programme far more accurately reflect how science and engineering is practised in the real world.

Here’s a short summary of each dimension:

Scientific and Engineering Practices describe the practices that scientists and engineers employ within their industries: scientists build theories, investigating them by using models; engineers have specific practices in use to design and build effective, efficient systems. The practices are designed to work with the Crosscutting Concepts in order for students to understand the relation between different areas of scientific enquiry – students are encouraged to form their own understanding of scientific concepts.

Crosscutting Concepts are designed to help students understand and explore the interconnections between various disciplines in science and engineering. Echoing many of the unifying concepts and processes in the National Science Education Standards , the common themes in the Benchmarks for Science Literacy , and the unifying concepts in the Science College Board Standards for College Success the framework’s structure also reflects discussions related to the NSTA Science Anchors project. In short, the NGSS is an amalgamation of the best ideas on teaching science.

Disciplinary Core Ideas were formed in response to the simple fact that the continuous expansion of scientific knowledge makes it impossible to teach everything related to a given discipline during the K–12 years. With information now available at the click of a button, science education needs to prepare students with sufficient core knowledge so that they are well prepared to acquire additional information on their own, at a later stage. Disciplinary Core Ideas are a set of ideas and practices in science and engineering that enable students to select and evaluate reliable sources of scientific information in order for them to continue their development well beyond their school years as science learners, users of scientific knowledge, and perhaps even producers of such knowledge.

Want to more know how video helps combine 3D learning?

Reach Out Reporter receives its first award

As you may have seen on social media over the weekend, Twig World and Imperial College London were at the Educational Resource Awards 2017, hosted at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham.


We are thrilled to announce that of our two finalist nominations, we won the award for best Free Educational Resource for Reach Out Reporter, in partnership with Imperial College London.


Reach Out Reporter is an online primary science news service that helps teachers to integrate topical science into everyday teaching and learning. Teachers can introduce topics using short films based on the latest news or issues in science, and complete a lesson using classroom resource Tigtag.


Beating off stiff competition from TES, Promethean, National Geographic and Which?, this award is the first for Reach Out Reporter, and is a huge achievement for all involved, especially considering it’s just over four months old!


A little more about ERA, in their own words:


“The Education Resources Awards (ERAs) are now in their 18th successful year and are firmly established as the premier annual event to celebrate outstanding success for the suppliers and teaching professionals of the education sector throughout the UK.


The awards highlight and reward the quality and diversity of educational products, resources, services and people as well as the best educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the teaching profession. The ERAs aim to encourage the raising of educational services and product standards throughout the industry and are recognised throughout the sector as the accolade of excellence.”

Understanding NGSS: What, Who, Why and When

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are the newest entrant in the science-teaching playground, and they are already making a big change in the way the subject is being taught. Changes can seem a bit scary, so we thought it would be worth putting together a blog post on the whatwhowhy and when of NGSS.


What is NGSS?

NGSS stands for Next Generation Science Standards: a set of science standards designed to reflect the interconnectedness of science as it is practised in the real world. This is done through three dimensions of the NGSS: crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and science and engineering practices.All three are designed to work together to build a comprehensive understanding of science over time.


Who formulated the NGSS?

That’s a great question. It’s difficult to trust anything without knowing where it came from, so why should NGSS be any different? Well, the good news is that NGSS is very much a “for the teachers, by the teachers” initiative. Twenty-six states have participated in the formulation of NGSS, and a number of leading science organisations (such as The National Academy of Science, The National Science Teachers Association, Achieve, and The American Association for the Advancement of Science) have also made important contributions.



Science and the teaching of science has been an issue the US has grappled with for a while now. According to the recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test: The US ranks at no. 24 in Science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.


States have previously used the National Science Education Standards (from the National Research Council) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (from the American Association for the Advancement of Science) to guide the development of their current state science standards. While these are comprehensive guidelines, they have been in use for 15 years and are virtually out of date when it comes to keeping pace with the rate of scientific advancement and achievements.


NGSS is therefore designed not just to teach young people science, but also to encourage and cultivate curiosity and sense of scientific thought at a young age, through a three-dimensional learning process.


When is NGSS coming to town?

This question requires a slightly more complicated answer. The document setting out the framework for NGSS was published in 2011, and the final Next Generation Science Standards – a new set of internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education – were released in 2013. Tracking state adoptions of the Next Generation Science Standards, however, has been a bit tricky. Achieve, the group that led the development of the common science standards, doesn’t keep a map on its website. There isn’t one on the Next Generation Science Standards website, either. Some states have also been quiet about their adoption decisions; it seems likely that this is to avoid drumming up the kind of controversy that’s characterised the Common Core State Standards. As of April 2016, 18 states and DC had adopted NGSS. Some states are adopting the standards with a caveat: in 2017, the Idaho Senate Education Committee joined the House Education Committee in deleting standards regarding the human impact on climate change. Lawmakers say they want more balance in the standards, and that this means examining all views on climate change. There is hope, however, that these changes are temporary and that other states will adopt NGSS soon, just as it is.

10 Unusual STEM Careers

Mention of STEM jobs often conjures up images of traditional careers in medicine and engineering, which can then lead to students considering a career in STEM as uninteresting. Part of the problem is that students simply aren’t aware of many of the other opportunities out there. Contrary to popular belief, a STEM career is often a way down a less-travelled path. Here’s a list of unusual STEM careers to start you off. The rest are still waiting to be discovered.


1.Gene Therapy

Gene therapy is an experimental technique in which a defective mutant allele is replaced with a functional one. With further development and research, gene therapy might hold the key to treating a wide range of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and AIDS. The technique is currently still in its early stages, but is already proving effective. In a case just over two years ago, a French teen was given gene therapy for sickle cell disease, and now has enough functioning red blood cells to dodge the effects of the disorder.


2. Robotics

Robots have fired our imagination since times immemorial, from the Greek giant Talos to CP3O and Robocop. Robots come in various sizes and forms, and are used in a number of industries such as medicine, agriculture, the military and manufacturing. A career in robotics offers several options. Robotics engineers design, build and test robots; software developers design the operating systems that are built into robots; robotic technicians build, maintain, test and repair robots. You can also get robot operators whose job it is to remotely control vehicles or robot submarines, used for undersea repairs and exploration. You can’t ask for a cooler job than that.


3. Ecologist

Ecologists often have to apply for individual special licenses in order to study, survey or conserve special species, such as bats. They perform important tasks that are crucial to our understanding of our planet and its ecosystem. We all know that science is intrinsic to understanding our world, and that our actions can have big impacts. Ecologists help us to understand that chain of action and reaction. They study the delicate relationships between animals, plants and the environment. They investigate urban, suburban, rural, forest, freshwater, estuarine and marine environments, helping us understand the connections between organisms and their environment.


4. Medical illustration

If you think STEM is all about numbers and calculations, then let us introduce you to the world of medical illustration. Medical illustrators use the best of both science and art to produce photographs, videos and graphical images for use in health care, helping to promote scientific knowledge to patients and the greater public. Being a medical illustrator isn’t easy, though – it involves grasping and distilling down complex information in order to represent it within a clear visual narrative that is accurate, educational and engaging. Medical illustrators are strongly in demand – they’re needed in a variety of medical fields, from genetics to robotic surgery.


5. Photogrammetrist

We did promise you unusual STEM careers! Photogrammetrists are essentially mapmakers – but if the term “mapmaking” conjures up images of sundials, compasses and old parchments, then you might be a little off-path. Mapmaking today uses aerial imagery and digital databases – photogrammetrists utilise satellite images, aerial photographs, and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to craft models of the Earth’s features and surface to create topographic maps.


6. Pyrotechnic engineer

Pyrotechnic engineers make sparks fly – but more specifically, they make fireworks fly, designing displays for use in sports arenas and concert venues, and for special effects in movies and television. A lot goes into designing fireworks, as it is a difficult and dangerous job. Pyrotechnic engineers must have a working knowledge of chemistry, physics and mathematics in order to design precisely timed explosions.


7. Forensic scientist

Forensic scientists are the superheroes behind the scenes, analysing everything from blood samples to tyre tracks in order to provide impartial scientific evidence for use in courts of law to support the prosecution or defence in criminal and civil investigations.


8. Sound engineer/technician

You don’t need acting skills to consider a career in the film/music industry – all that’s necessary is a good ear and a STEM qualification. Sound technicians work in a range of industries including film, broadcasting (radio or television), live performance (theatre, music, dance), advertising and audio recordings. Sound technicians are required to assemble, operate and maintain the technical equipment used to record, amplify, enhance, mix and reproduce sound. They identify the sound requirements for a given situation and use their specialised knowledge to produce this sound.


9. Cryptanalyst

Cryptanalysts design, implement, and analyse algorithms for solving problems. This career requires a high level of expertise in mathematics, because the codes used are based on numerical theories and cutting edge mathematical algorithms. Cryptoanalysts decipher secret coding systems and decode messages for military, political, or law enforcement agencies or organisations, helping to provide privacy for people and corporations, and keep hackers out of important data systems. Now, repeat after us: maths is cool.


10: Food chemist

Having a STEM education has some unusual perks, especially if you are a foodie. Food chemists experiment with the chemical makeup of foods to make them safer, tastier, longer lasting or easier to ship. This requires food chemists to be highly trained in chemistry, food sciences and organic chemistry. They are actively involved with raw and packaged food, trying to work out longer shelf lives, heat processing methods, packaging problems and how to enhance nutritional content. Job perks can even involve sampling food!


We hope this has helped to inspire the budding scientists in your classroom. For more resources to help engage your students, sign up for a free-30 day trial. Available for Twig (ages 11-16), Tigtag (7-11), and Tigtag Junior (4-7).