Next steps for Teachable

July 21st, 2014

Through the summer of 2014 we’re working to bring you a redesign of Teachable to take us back to our roots:  a simple service for teachers.

Through talking to many members over the last few years we realise that our contribution and subscription system has not been as clear as it possibly could, mainly because we tried to offer too many pricing plans and too many stages of moderation.  We’re now looking to fix this, as well as give our contributors more control of how they display and sell their prized resources.

Meanwhile, our founder Edward Upton is starting up another business (using insights from running Teachable) to help all small businesses make better sense of their web analytics.

LittleData is building a service to deliver actionable insights via a daily email news stream.  You can try our prototype for free if you run a business of your own.

Teachable partners with TeachPitch

May 19th, 2014

We’re very happy to announce that Teachable will be working with TeachPitch to display our resources to more teachers from all over the world. TeachPitch is an international learning community for teachers that helps educators in their professional development through direct exchange, online tutoring and the provision of high-quality learning material. Teachable has over 3,000 quality-checked lesson resources on sale from 500 different teachers. Teachable’s contributors earn 50% royalties from everything they sell on the system. Teachable’s founder, Edward Upton, says “We are seeing an increase interest in online English-language resources from classrooms around the world, and we hope we can provide an easy way for teachers on TeachPitch to source the best content from their peers.” As

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a teacher or tutor you can sign up for TeachPitch here

Top earners over the last year

March 26th, 2014

Congratulations to the following contributors who have made our top 10 earners list over the last year.

The average top contributor earned £330 last year from royalties – could you add your own resources and join them this year?

16 fantastic new teaching resources by Teachable contributors

January 11th, 2014

In December we ran a Christmas promotion where existing contributors could earn extra bonus for simply uploading their fresh resources. New teaching materials were submitted mainly for Science, Maths and English, by some of our teacher-members who are highlighted below.

John Hudson submitted two Physics resources for ages 11-18:

Susan Byrne contributed one Maths resource for ages 7-14:

Graham Davenport submitted six Maths resources for ages 14-16. Two examples included below:

James Ferguson created an extended Science quiz for ages 11-16:

  • Automatic and with rich imagery, Christmas Quiz 2013 has three rounds: the night sky, elemental fun, and festive flora and fauna.

Four Biology resources from Henry Cordy-McKenna cover ages 7-11. Two of them are based on a popular movie and animation:

Another Biology resource from Carol Lekkas covers ages 14-16:

Sarah Birkett submitted one English resource for ages 16-18:

Thank you for all the exciting submissions!

Christmas bonus for existing contributors

December 11th, 2013

Dear Contributors,

We’ve really valued your contributions over the last few years, but since we have increased the number of subscribers by 50% over the last year we have lots of demand for fresh material.

As a special Christmas bonus (not affecting your future royalties) we are offering

  • £25 cash for the first new file you upload by New Year’s Eve,
  • and £4 for every subsequent file you upload.

If the files meet our conditions below we will pay the bonus by 5th January to pay off some of that Christmas splurge – and you will still go on to earn rewards as your files are reviewed and downloaded.

Get uploading and have a Happy Christmas!




  1. Your new files must be uploaded and in pending or ‘on trial’ state by midnight on 31st December 2013
  2. A qualifying file must reach our pricing threshold: be more than 1 page for a Word / PDF document and 3 pages for a Powerpoint / presentation
  3. Files can be attached to one or more resources – there is no extra bonus for splitting them into different resources if they are related to the same lesson
  4. The bonus is not dependent on the resource being reviewed or rated – we’ve already seen the quality you produce, so we know other members will like it
  5. Files must be substantially your own work – see our usual contributing guidelines
  6. To qualify you must have previously contributed files to Teachable
  7. By Monday 6th January you will be notified by email of your files counted, and the bonus paid.  If you do not receive an email by that time, but have tried to upload, please contact us.


The future’s not what it used to be

November 8th, 2013

One of my favourite cartoons from Tottering By Gently has got Dicky (older aristocrat) sitting in his London club with a half empty bottle of whisky in the foreground.

I felt I was hearing more of the same sitting in the Edtech Summit  this morning, including watching a clip from Spielberg’s Warhorse movie, where the cavalry charge (read traditional school system) gets mown down by machine guns (read new technology).  The Future of Education is not what it used to be.

Of course the reason for spouting dubious nonsense at 10am was not excess whisky, but a desire to court controversy.  So let me unpack some of the more contentious statements for our level-headed audience!

“Teaching is facing an unprecedented challenge to prepare students for a new world of technology”, Lord Puttnam

Yes, the world is changing – but then it always has.  Teachers two generations ago had to prepare students for a post-industrial society where jobs used abstract desk-based skills rather than predictable factory tasks.  Was that not also a challenge?

And worrying too much about the world our children will grow into is futile.  I remember a futurology book from 1985 which had many accurate predications like flat-screen TVs, electric cars and GPS watches – which are just coming true 20 years out.  But the real social revolutions of the mobile phone and internet were missed completely.

A tech-obsessed teacher back then may have been teaching the inner workings of a fax machine or Casio watch … which would have been less useful than a good grasp on Shakespeare for 2000s office life.

‘Teachers in 10 years time will spend a lot less time creating resources – they will just pick the top content from around the world’ Jose Ferreira, Knewton

This is partly true.  Through Teachable and other sites teachers are already cherry picking the most useful material to reuse.

But our member teachers constantly tell us how they see creating / adapting resources for their students is part and parcel of their role.  That’s why Teachable allows you to download most content in an editable format.

What will emerge our online tools like Zondle which enable you to build your own ‘content’ which students can use interactively on mobiles or other platforms.

“Textbooks have a very poor form factor and won’t exist in 10 years time”, Jose Ferreira, Knewton

Five years ago I would have told you of the imminent death of textbooks – and the imminent switch to Teachable downloads.  However, textbooks are still around today, alongside lots of digital content.  Indeed printing text on dead trees turns out to have enduring attraction:

  • Textbooks can be dropped from any height and still work
  • Textbooks wear out, so publishers can make a sustainable living off re-publishing the same niche content
  • Textbooks don’t need a reliable internet connection or power to work

Most importantly, textbooks free up your tablet / laptop to be used for interactive.  Visiting The Cedars School in Greenock last year, I was surprised to see one of the first iPad-only schools with books all over their desks.  “Don’t you want the content on the iPads”, I asked the teacher naively.  “Oh no, because it much harder to switch between writing on the iPad and reading the text on screen.”

There were predictions I agreed with, such as ‘teaching in the class will increasingly focus on what robots (self-learning activities) can’t do well – grey or complex topics’.

But the future has always been changing.  And always will.

Maths IS Computing

November 7th, 2013

How to make maths interesting? The best talks I’ve heard on inspiring maths teaching are about making maths relevant to real world problems. And yet all the real-world maths problems worth solving use computers.

The stand-out talk for me at today’s Future of Education debate in the Houses of Parliament was by Conrad Wolfram, famously co-founder of Wolfram Alpha, on how maths teaching involves computers.

Conrad frames real-world maths problem solving (such as how do we predict weather patterns for the next week) as involving these steps:

  1. Pose the right questions
  2. State the question in mathematical terms (as an equation or formula)
  3. Run the computation
  4. Verify the result against the real-world data

The crazy thing about school maths is that 80% of lesson time is spent trying to teach how to do step 3 manually and abstractly. On paper, or if you are lucky with a scientific calculator – something I’ve never seen in a real office!

So maths lessons and tests are all about your ability to do hand calculations, whereas even Siri (the iPhone assistant) can compute equations well beyond A-level standard on the fly. Computers are just better at doing computation than humans. Any human on the planet.

So the real value-add for humans in problem solving is steps 1,2 and 4, which CAN’T be easily automated. That’s where the teaching time should be spent.

Conrad’s radical suggestion is that ALL maths lessons should involve computers and programming – ‘Maths need to be computer-based, not just computer-assisted’.

Remove the computer and you remove the context.

I have recent experience of this, doing an excellent course on Machine Learning through Coursera. I’d understand the derivation of many of the equations used better understood if I’d be taught calculus (which is wasn’t) but I’m still able to follow the course (and write the code) by understanding the principles. I just need to understand in principle what linear regression using gradient descent is… and then call the right function in the computer program.

Yes, it’s nice to know some maths from first principles, but if we can accept Pythagoras’ without having complete proof, then we can probably accept a whole lot of more complex maths without being able to run the calculations on a side of A4.

Jobs in the real world demand maths skills in increasing volumes. And those jobs are necessarily jobs with computers.

So let’s train the next generation of mathematicians to work with computers, not see them as a lazy alternative to a stick of graphite.

August Contributor of the Month: Toby Tufton

August 15th, 2013

At Teachable we receive content submissions from all over the UK, and as far as the US and Australia. As part of our initiative to highlight teachers who have grown our bank of resources to thousands of files, we invite them to share a little bit about themselves on our blog. This month we had a chat with Toby Tufton who’s been with us since the very beginning and has 63 pages of Science resources for ages 11-18. Toby grew up in a small village in rural Worcestershire. He gained Natural Sciences degree at Cambridge, PhD in Evolutionary Biology at Sheffield, PGCE in Bristol, and then NQT in 1994 at a large state comprehensive in Leicestershire where he’s been ever since. Now Toby’s the Head of Science and a member of Leadership team.

Toby, what encouraged you to start sharing your teaching resources back in 2008 when you first joined Teachable? TT: I saw a flyer and thought sharing resources made a lot of sense. It seemed pretty stupid that everyone was reinventing the wheel. I liked the idea that I got something for uploads and that this depended how popular they were. What gets you up in the morning to face the day of teaching? TT: Radio 4 / iPad / Pint of tea / cereal – and then, after going through in my head how I think the day will pan out, it’s up and out. I’ve never had any doubts that teaching kids is important and it’s the part of the job

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that I enjoy most, by far. If you were to advise colleagues, what would be your best advice for keeping students interested in the subject? TT: If you’re enjoying it, they’ll enjoy it. Trust, mutual respect and humour are essential. Try and get the students doing things and provoke them with questions and new ideas as much as you can. Your Science resources have consistently the highest ratings on the site. What are your top 3 resources of all time and why? TT: It’s a hard question. Different resources suit different groups – often for no obvious reason. Experiments are always the best way to spend a lesson, but of the written resources I’ve made (Biology A-level):

  • The “Action potential slider” is challenging and makes something the students are entertained by (largely because they can’t believe I was sad enough to work it all out). It was also quite satisfying to have had the idea and made something quite unlike anything else.
  • The “Oxidative phosphorylation” colouring-in activity is simple and works.
  • The “Succession” Powerpoint is a favourite largely because it’s set in Dartmoor where I spend most holidays. Each photo has many memories – occasionally, they’ve been cropped to hide the children!

Why did you get into teaching and in which direction do you picture it to go? TT: I first realised I’d enjoy teaching when I was a post graduate in Sheffield helping to run practicals for undergraduates. Having said that, my friends assure me it was written across my forehead for years before that. Which direction… much to everyone’s horror, I like teaching where I am. I live in the middle of the catchment area (This is genetic. I grew up opposite the school my mother taught in). My kids go to my school. As long as new and interesting challenges keep cropping up, which they always have, there seems little reason to move. What’s your approach to creating resources for your class? TT:

  • Help, I’ve got a lesson on Monday! They need something to do and everything I can find is useless or boring.
  • What do they like doing?
  • How can they learn what they need to learn in a nice way? I then mull it over, and look at past exam questions, relevant books and Google for inspiration.

If I need to use Powerpoint, the key is big trigger pictures and very few words. Worksheets need to be relevant, in the right order, decent font size and relatively easy to mark. If I’m doing an experiment I don’t want them to have to write aim/method etc, I want them to get on with it (unless I’m trying to teach them how to write aim/method etc) so it needs to be included on their Worksheet. The students need to be challenged and doing something interesting. How do you make the most out of free time (if you have any)? TT: Five kids and I’m the only driver – which accounts for most of it! I have done pottery (throwing) since I was at school at weekly evening classes. This is non-negotiable. I’m a scout leader (although I’m trying to wriggle out of it!). I chain-read novels (often while sat at music-lessons or swimming-lessons), grow vegetables and cook while listening to very loud 70’s soul with #4 on Saturday evenings.

Thanks, Toby! We enjoyed learning more about you and hope others do as well. Previous Contributor of the Month:


Happiness Skills [FREE Kindle Book for Limited Time]

July 10th, 2013

One of our contributors, John Hesnan of Inspired Solutions, is offering his recently-published Kindle book “Happiness Skills” for free for only two days this week. You can get your copy between Wednesday 10 July – Thursday 11 July on Amazon.

In his book John looks at practical tools

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to improve the quality of life through managing stress, resolving conflicts and other essential skills:

An essential Book for all Teachers / Educators, filled with practical tools you can use at any time in your life. Help yourself and your students to develop new ways to create a happier and more fulfilling way of living. The skills of happiness can be learned by anyone, at anytime. This book will help you become more optimistic and motivated in the knowledge that what you are doing is your choice. It will help you to build strong relationships, overcome challenges, and succeed at work and in life. My life was one of struggle until I discovered my purpose in life and was then able to set meaningful goals based on my values”

John is an award-winning entrepreneur who has also developed an animated and interactive music learning resources MusiCan, which are available to download on his page.

8 Fun Games for End of Term

July 1st, 2013

Bring some fun into your classroom with these time-saving resources that teachers have spent hours to make. I hope you will enjoy them as much as other members, as shown by the great reviews left on each resource.

Seaside Maths Quiz

Give your students a flavour of summer, sea, ice-cream and sandcastles with a fun problem-solving Maths game. Suitable for KS2 and KS3 students, and adaptable for other ages.

Created by Susan Byrne

Domino Games For A-Level Chemistry

These A-level Chemistry games are very popular with students and add some variety into teaching. Cover most topics and include two free samples for you to try out.

Created by Stuart Barker

Scattergories Nouns Powerpoint Game

A simple but fun game to engage English KS2 students with nouns. Works great as a template to create other games.

Created by Alison Stewart

Invasion Game Fun Activities

Aimed at improving basic, fundamental dribbling and passing skills for football but equally suitable for many other invasion games, such as hockey or basketball. Ready to print immediately and easy to use.

Created by David Smith

A2 Physics Gravity Resources

Two interactive whiteboard games for A-level Physics to increase the knowledge about the Universe, gravitation fields and escape velocity.

Created by John Hudson

Electricity Board Game

Your KS3 Physics students take a role of an electron travelling around the circuit board with an aim to collect the most energy units.

Created by Sayed Fathy

Fun For Your Last Lesson With Year 11

Play Henry’s “Most likely to…” game on your last lesson to predict what the future holds for each person in class. Suitable for all subjects.

Created by Henry Cordy-McKenna

Science Quiz I

Science quiz with 8 rounds of questions, including 2 sound rounds that are students’ favourites.

Created by James Ferguson