Author Archives: Catharine Slade

The truth about teenagers and how they’re learning from the Internet


We recently did a survey and asked a group of 12-18 year olds about how they use the Internet to support their learning.

Of the 83 who responded,  92.11%  said that they used the Internet for learning at least once a week: nothing unexpected there.

The interesting bit came when we asked them about the sites they’re using. We’d assumed that they’d be using a whole range of sites to suit their varying styles of learning and needs. Wrong!

Those who responded said they used a very small range of sites – just 11 in total, with the most used being Wikipedia (31.81%) Google (20.45%) BBC (13.63%) and My Maths (13.63%).

We thought that was a real shame. They’re missing out on so much good stuff and really not making the most of what the Internet has to offer for learning.

That’s when we decided to do something about it – and created Rockfig.

So if you know of any teenagers who could do with learning from a much broader range of resources from across the web, and  would like to save time trying to find the right ones, please let them know about Rockfig.



Do videos really help people to learn?


If you’ve used Rockfig you’ll know that Rockfig members love video. Most Collections contain at least one video and many contain more.

But why do people like learning from videos and how can videos enhance learning?

Take a look at this great infographic from CISCO: It has all the answers.


Video in Education : CISCO

Myths about how easy it is to use the internet to help kids with homework

As parents we all know how important it is to be involved in our kids’ education.

Numerous studies have shown that children who are supported by their families with homework are likely to perform significantly better in exams at 16 years old and beyond, than those who aren’t.

But how easy is it to help teenagers with their homework? In my experience…not very:

  1. They don’t listen (in general)
  2. They don’t want to listen (to you in particular)
  3. The stuff they’re studying is actually quite tricky (and you’ve forgotten how to do it /you never learnt it at school)

So what do we all do? We turn to the internet and within 5 seconds we’ve found the perfect resource to help and motivate our child, whatever their age. Right? Wrong.

We surveyed 50 parents and found that things are actually quite different:

Myth#1:  It’s easy for parents to find internet resources to help their children with homework

Our survey results:  65.21% said they found it moderately difficult or difficult to find age and ability appropriate resources to help their children with learning

Myth#2: Parents are using resources from a huge range of sites

Our survey results: When parents were asked to list those free Internet learning sites they used most, they identified a common, very small range of sites (7 in total), with the most used being BBC (40.54%), Wikipedia (24.32%) Google (10.81%) and My Maths (8.1%).

So parents and children are missing out on some amazing resources to help with homework, just because they don’t know where they are or haven’t got the time to go out and find them.

And that’s why we decided to launch Rockfig: From now on, every parent can quickly and easily find the very best FREE resources to help their child with their homework. And that’s not a myth…that’s a fact!




Follow these rules to be a great parent

A joint NAHT and Family Action Partnership campaign, being backed by the Government, aims to raise parents’ awareness of their role in children’s learning – something we at Rockfig are very keen on.

The guide, which will be distributed by schools, tells parents to:

• Praise your children’s efforts and let them know it is “okay to make mistakes”

• Listen to your child and show them that you value their views and opinions;

• Help your child understand about a balanced diet and the importance of eating fruit and vegetables to keep them fit and healthy;

• Let your child help with baking and preparing family meals so they understand about food;

• Encourage children to exercise for 30 minutes a day and adopt at least one hobby involving physical activity, such as dance, swimming or football;

• Get out and about as a family, including playing tag in the park or going for a bike ride;

• Think twice before lighting up cigarettes in front of children;

• Talk to children about the “importance of personal hygiene, such as showering regularly, having clean PE kit and using deodorant when they need to”;

  • Tell your child that you love them every day

My thoughts:

Things like this make me realise how lucky I was to have had a good parent as a role model.  All of this seems like common sense to me ( although of course I’m not claiming I always achieve it!). Sadly many children are brought up in households where their parents didn’t get such good advice from their own parents. I just wonder if that advice can be replaced with a leaflet.



How Rockfig helps you meet the challenges of flipped learning

Flipped learning is on the rise.

According to recently released research from the Speak Up National Research Project, flipped learning is surpassing all other digital trend in US schools and is growing in popularity in the UK too.

What is flipped learning?

In a nutshell, it’s ‘using videos as homework while using class time for more in-depth learning such as discussions, projects, experiments, and to provide personalised coaching to individual students.’



The research found that:

  • Among district administrators, 25 percent identify flipped learning as already having a significant impact on transforming teaching and learning in their district, surpassing other trends such as educational games and mobile apps (21 percent). An additional 40 percent of administrators said they were interested in their teachers “trying flipped learning” this year (2014)
  • One out of six maths and science teachers are implementing a flipped learning model using videos that they have created or sourced online
  •  Almost one-fifth of current teachers have “learning how to flip my classroom” on their wish list for professional development this year
  • 75 percent of middle and high school students agree that flipped learning would be a good way for them to learn, with 32 percent of those students strongly agreeing with that idea

But what are the challenges of flipped learning?


Students may not have internet access at home  – but with the ever increasing number of students with smart phones this challenge is slowly diminishing.


Teachers need to know how to ‘best use’ the additional classroom time – but with support, shared experience and appropriate professional development this challenge can be overcome.


Teachers may need help finding the high quality, age and curriculum appropriate videos they need to give to their students for homework – and that’s where Rockfig comes in!

Rockfig has been created to help Teachers, Students and Parents find and share the web’s best learning resources for 11-18 year olds – and it’s FREE.

So if you know of a great resource that might help those wanting to flip their classrooms, please share it on Rockfig and help overcome this challenge.

And don’t miss out on our offer to find resources for you!
Find out more in this blog post.


We’d love to hear about your opinions on and experiences of flipped learning so please get in touch.

Here are a few links if you’d like to find out more:




Should parents on the school run have a dress code?

I had to smile when I recently saw one of the mums at my daughter’s school, dropping off her child whilst wearing her pyjamas and slippers. It turns out they had overslept and subsequently decided that wearing pyjamas was better than her daughter getting a late mark in the register.

So does it really matter what parents wear on the school run?

Dr. Rosalind Osgood, School Board Member at a Florida High School thinks it does. She has recently suggested that there should be a dress code for parents. This follows the arrival of children at school with some parents in hair curlers, and others wearing baggy trousers that expose their underwear. She believes that parents should lead by example and arrive at school dressed appropriately.

So what do you think? Is it OK for working Mums like Colleen Rooney to drop the kids off whilst wearing rollers? Perhaps…

And what about baggy trousers and exposed underwear? Mmm…I think Dr. Rosalind might be right.


Colleen Rooney









Common grammar mistakes that can reduce your GCSE grade

With 5% of marks in English Literature, History, Geography and Religious Studies GCSEs now being allocated for spelling, punctuation and grammar ( SPaG),  improving these skills could mean the difference between a C grade and a D.

With Mr. Gove ( Education Secretary) announcing that the marks allocated in English Language will increase from 12% to 20% by 2015, the importance of SPaG is not going away.

So if your grammar could do with a bit of a brush up, take a look at this ‘common mistakes’ infographic from

Hopefully it will help alot… I mean a lot.



Common grammar mistakes






Brain food for the exam season

It’s all too easy to reward ourselves with junk food when we’re working hard on revision even though we know that certain foods plus exercise can actually enhance brain function.

So take a few minutes to read this great infographic from Convita, and then go for a walk and stock your fridge with brain foods.

You never know, it could make the 1 point difference between an ‘A’ and a ‘B’!



So you think you know how to revise?

This time of year there’s an abundance of advice out there for students who want to know the best way to revise. But is all of this advice good?

I recently came across some research ( first published in 2013 by Prof John Dunlovsky, of Kent State University) that I think is worth re-sharing as it shows that some of the most popular exam revision techniques,  will not actually lead to success in exams.

Highlighting: One of the most common and satisfying strategies but beware – it has LOW results. The research found that picking out individual phrases in florescent yellow, green or pink can actually hinder rather than support revision as students remember what is highlighted, but don’t integrate what they’ve read into the larger whole.

Writing summaries: You’d think this was a good test of what you’ve learnt, but the research showed that writing summaries does not help with revision at all.

Keyword mnemonics: Used since the beginning of time- but guess what – choosing a word to associate with information only works if you’re trying to remember specific information. It won’t help if you’re trying to remember large passages or maths and physics.

Imagery: forming mental pictures while reading or listening surprisingly produces LOW results

Re-reading: like writing summaries, re-reading was found to have LOW results.

So enough of what doesn’t work, what has HIGH results?

Practice testing – You need to learn the material and then self-test to check you know it. This retrieves what you know from your memory which means you’ll know the material better in the long-run. Flash-cards are a great tool for helping you do this so once you’ve learnt it, use the cards to test yourself.

Distributed practice: This means planning ahead and not doing all your revision on one subject in a block. Space it out, don’t cram and this is the most powerful and successful strategy of all.

So the next time you pick up those highlighters, think again: the research also showed that practice testing and distributed practice are not just effective for some people, but are better for everyone.





Do you have a photographic memory?

Those with a photographic memory must be at a huge advantage when it come to learning and revision, but are you one of them?

The Open University and ‘The Bang Goes The Theory’ Team ( BBC ) have come up with this ‘Photographic Memory Test’ so you can find out if you’re one of the lucky ones by answering the 10 questions.

My results
Sadly I failed – but that’s not surprising as I’ve spent my whole life using numerous strategies to drill things into my head ready for an exam, only to forget the whole lot the day after ( I’m the one you really don’t want on your pub-quiz team ). But of course things like Google ( and now Rockfig) are my saviour and now I can proudly say ‘I don’t have to remember it – I just Google (Rockfig) it!’.

I love the words below but not sure I’ll ever remember to quote them.

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