Category Archives: Blogging

#Blimage – Seating

Photo - Steve Wheeler.

Photo – Steve Wheeler.

 

When I first saw this particular #blimage it struck a chord with me immediately. Seating arrangements! One of the things in teaching I’ve read up about and tried out lots of to get the best learning out of my class (and in my early years tried to improve behaviour with too).

 

What can seating look like in primary schools?

 

Well those desks suggest the old style of rows to me. The type of thing that was actually being phased out when I went through primary schools in the 1980s. I’m not sure of the benefit of rows. If you were partnered (as our desks were double desks) with the ‘wrong person’ it made school life miserable. (My step-daughter who is a hard-working girl who isn’t easily distracted and tries her best ‘won’ the seat next to the class ‘naughty’ boy who was very talkative. She was sat there for a couple of terms…say it quickly it doesn’t sound a lot does it. Two block of 8 weeks maybe. 80 days then. 6 hours a day. 560 hours of school. With no planned benefits to her, only unhappiness because she’s not sat with the rest of her group). So maybe that seating wasn’t of the 70s and 80s? I’ve seen it used in classes in schools I’ve taught in. I assume (though never asked) to stop off task interactions.

 

A more traditional seating arrangement in primary school is the ‘table’ of around 6 children. Why do we do this? To create group interactions? Because it what primary classrooms look like – (thanks to SMT who’ve shared that gem in the past)? So that we can engineer groupings to ‘settle’ the behaviours of some children? In the early stage of my teaching life I used table groups and changed them regularly, twice a year (or moved ‘individuals’ around as a behaviour measure). I dread to think.

 

In latter years (after working with Shirley Clarke in Gateshead) I used tables of 6 children and changed them every Monday using lollipop sticks. The purpose behind this being to get the children interacting with as many different children in the class as possible. Finding out the skills and positive features that people they had never worked with had, as well as developing their own skills, through sharing their ideas and supporting each other in group work. It worked really well, and some of the feedback from the children about things they found out about each other was amazing. Of course if this happens you can’t have table points, table captains, table winners or table losers, you will need children to be self-motivated and working hard for themselves and not for external reward.

 

For the best part of a year I put all my tables together to form one large table in the classroom and mixed up the children weekly again using lollipop sticks. I did this after reading a book about how Apple and Google create spaces for ‘chance’ interactions. The class enjoyed working in this way and again reported that working with different people made for exciting learning time and exciting school time. (Behaviour, to my observation, was no worse using a ‘random’ approach to tables and seating than having ‘planned’ seating).

 

This coming year I am going for a horseshoe in my classroom with seating positions again changed weekly by random means. As well as the horseshoe, I have a table of 4 in the middle and a table for 8 for group teaching purposes. I will encourage the children to move furniture around for different tasks as they feel it suits their learning.

However, before all of this happens I will spend time in the first couple of weeks setting up the reasons behind our seating arrangements and setting up ground rules as well as discussing growth mindsets and key aspect of formative assessment. You can find loads of reading and resources about developing a growth mindset in the classroom all over the internet, and I have collected a few of the articles I have found useful here.

 

I’d be delighted to hear any of your ideas, arrangements etc in the comments.

 

.

 

Pedagoo Wonderland.

0530 on a Saturday morning is difficult, cold and after another long night of the ashes, very miserable. However, I was off to a Pedagoo event, packed with exciting speakers, thoughtful teachers, inspiring individuals and I was pretty confident that my chosen Saturday CPD event was going to be brilliant. It was…

 

The first thing that blew me away (after registering with the very welcoming pupils of the school) was the amazing building. It was bright, clean, tidy and very much the type of modern building I come to expect when I go ‘somewhere nice’. Just as our children know when they are being shortchanged as regards use of windows XP on old PC’s, they know it when they walk into a dingy building which is in desperate need of a paint job. Michael Gove said that the building and environment of a school makes no difference. I drive past these buildings at  Fettes and Stewart’s Melville on the way to my school every day. Clearly, environment makes a difference.

 

The other thing about the building I loved was the use of images of Joseph Swan children working, often with ideas about how they work, or slogans/quotations about respect, reading etc behind them. That is something I will try and create in the next couple of weeks if energies allow as it looks so good and inspires.

 

Whilst having my complimentary tea and danish pastry (which would contravene the bring your own tea and biscuits policy of many councils) I set about reading my welcome pack. I loved the Happy Mondays leaflet which contained loads of great, ready to use, ideas for enhancing and reinforcing learning in the classroom. The Happy Mondays reference is because the teachers at Joseph Swan receive and e-mail every Monday, with a new idea or resource in it from their SMT. I love that idea!

 

MY first session of the day was in the Reading Room (and what an amazing space that is…) with David Hodgson. David talked about how we learn and how we can use techniques in the classroom to help children learn and remember how they learned things. As a primary teacher I get asked lots of questions from the children and my most frequent answer to them is good question. I don’t believe in throwing the knowledge confetti about for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m not convinced the children will remember it whilst they walk back to their desks and secondly I (or A.N.Other teacher) will not always be there for them when they have a question or want to learn something. The things we did in his session were all practical examples of an NLP approach, and I was so impressed I bought his book for my Kindle this morning. He used this pupil feelings graphic in his session too which I find a useful tool to have by my desk in the class room. Something David said which rang a bell was that we should ensure our children ‘Have a get out clause for children when they don’t learn’. This is vital, so often our children get way more stressed than we ever do about a wrong answer. We need them to take risks, get it wrong, change it and get it wrong again, smiling all the time! That is a successful learner right there.

The next session was with Rachel Orr who is HT at Holy Trinity Rosehill Her workshop was about developing writing through Primary Learning and specifically using Pie Corbett’s talk for writing work. I had worked on a Pie Corbett workshop for writing day before (January 2007??) and it was amazing. I’ve bought a few of his books and love his approach to writing. There is a lot of material on the internet too to supplement his written work. I also liked the punctuation sounds and actions which children are to use when they are talking and can then reinforce the assessment process in class. Rachel has used Pie’s work in two differing schools now and shared with us examples of the successes her young writers had, and these examples cal be seen on her school blogs. Rachel gave us a disk with loads of fantastic resources on, many her own work (the learning keys are a great idea!).

 

During lunch I met some great folk including @spiceweasel77 who is doing some brilliantly exciting things with his class!

 

After lunch it was on to Hywel Roberts session. Hywel spoke passionately and humourously about creating contexts in the curriculum, allowing the children to view the learning they are given through their own filters and engaging children in their learning. I made loads of notes during Hywel’s session and later tweeted many of them. Here’s the quotations I tweeted:

 

‘It’s our job to get the World thinking.’

 

‘We need to dig learning holes for our children to fall into.’

 

‘we are the people who make sense of the curriculum we are given. ‘

 

‘Have a what’s great 2 mins at the start of staff meetings’

 

‘we need to induct our kids into learning’

 

‘all of these things are just doing the job we’ve been asked to do. That we’re paid for. ‘

 

I’ve got Hywel’s book and it’s a great read. I need to do more of this in my classes. It’s great stuff. I was incredibly impressed with Hywel and the way he works in schools.

Finally, my last session was about using enquiry based learning in maths. Stephanie Thirtle took this session, she is a maths teacher at Joseph Swan. (I’d love The Girl to have her as a maths teacher, lessons would be so interesting!)

We did some enquiry based openers which really got us thinking and she talked about the approach of letting the children work things out for themselves, rather than an I teach then you do model. I love the work things out idea and think the way she’s bringing it to maths in a high school works really well. Much of the rationale for enquiry based learning was on her presentation and clearly showed examples of enquiry based learning which we could use as one-off lessons or develop for a maths topic. Such things investigating square numbers, straight line graphs using algebra, and one which P7 will be seeing soon – 12 Days of Christmas maths.

Her room displays were wonderful and I snapped many of them on my phone and you can see them here. I particularly liked that ways she put maths into context making it real for the children.

That chimed so well with the session from Hywel previously.

 

I came away with my head full of wonderful ideas and a bag full of goodies!

So, what next…well before Christmas I will make some posters of children and their ideas about learning to go up in school and I will also make some musical posters for the music room.

After Christmas I will take loads more of these ideas and run with them. It’ll be different, fun and learning will happen.

Here are my photo’s from the day. They are not brilliant, but the school environment was so good you may find the content useful.

#Mozfest

I’m waiting to board my train back to Edinburgh, after a brilliant time at Mozfest, so I thought I’d collate some of my thoughts and learning tweets into one place and share them again. As you’ll see there bits that fit together and bits that don’t!

 

Values of the web needs to be a part of digital citizenship learning in schools. #mozfest #dlchat

“We must find meaning in the time we spend online. Are we building our tools with that in mind?” #mozfest #openingkeynote @anildash

#mozfest about building real things for real people.

big theme of #mozfest is giving control and knowledge of the web to the learners and children. Love that idea. #dlchat

If 9 yr olds can be passionate about pollution, they can become passionate about privacy and the web. #mozfest #dlchat

#mozfest stuff I learned. Webmaker is brill and projects allow it to be accessed as cross curricular ICT tool. Kids can make rather than ppt

#mozfest stuff I learned. Badges are close to being school ready. Will pilot use with @makewaves with dig leaders. #dlchat

#mozfest stuff I learned. Mozilla is all about the ethics of the web and we need to cover this in our digital citizenship learning.

#mozfest stuff I learned. Citizen science looks great from what @MobileMaggie said. Love the Serengeti project. That’s real world learning.

#mozfest stuff I learned. Lambic beer. It’s the future. Like sourdough bread, but in a beer format.

#mozfest. Stuff I think. The web ownership debate is important to the kids we teach. It might be the most important bit of citizenship.

#mozfest. Stuff I think. Great point comparing environmental care to web ownership. Kids can get it if we allow them into the debate.

#mozfest. Stuff I think. Tomorrow I will not do badges nor teach the web going to visit the unknown bits of Mozilla.

#mozfest. Stuff I think. The Web Literacy Standards are a great guide for teaching our Primary Children about ICT and their roles with it,

#mozfest. Stuff I think. The WebLit Standards when aligned with webmaker tools and badges will be amazing for kids in schools!

#mozfest. Stuff I think. Pupil council could announce a schedule and any interested school members come along to a hackerspace & work on topic.

#mozfest stuff I think. Hive projects in learning spaces like Uni raises the aspiration of the young as to what they can achieve.

My Journey to the Scottish Digital Leaders Network.

On Wednesday 25th September, I presented at the SLF teachmeet on the topic of the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. Here is that presentation

 

2 years ago I taught ICT across the school as RCCT cover…it nearly killed me. Not the ICT bit, I loved it for enabling children to do fantastic creative work, and powerpoints, the way they could discover things, share things and be enthused and curious about learning. Parts of it were like an advert for the teacher training agency.

What nearly killed me was the day to day problems which got in the way. Flash updates, word templates not working, no access to colour printers, flash updates, using IE 6, aspects of filtering, flash updates, java…you get the picture. It really got in the way of me extending the children’s learning in ICT. As part of my ICT role I spent two days at a NAACE conference in Crewe where I met some amazing people and was introduced to the idea of Digital Leaders.

 

Rather than me try to define a digital leader, I thought I’d share with you a child’s own view of the role, taken from an Edmodo post…on a Sunday afternoon.

Slide2

And then rather than get you to read loads more, made a quick wordle which highlights helping, technology, responsible, and for some reason curtain.

Slide3

Digital leaders are a group of children in school which help with ICT in loads of different ways. They have expertise in ICT, are responsible and are given positions with real influence and real responsibility in your school. They exist in every school.

Last year I decided to turn our ICT group at Uphall into a Digital Leaders group. Something I felt would go beyond an after school group and something where I wanted the children to have more of a leading role.

So, having decided to give digital leaders a go, we asked them to apply online and we interviewed them and selected our first 13 digital leaders.This interview and application process is an important part of the digital leaders ethos in my opinion. It helps create a standard and expectation for the children, parents and staff and it is a process our children took very seriously and were brilliant at. I was fortunate enough to have my headteacher involved in the process which added loads to the process.

 

Over the year they made videos, created a resource website to help replace education city’s maths games,  taught numerous children how to do many things, helped install firefox, used webmaker tools and finally the P7’s wrote the interview questions for this year’s cohort. Much of this work we shared on our blog space.

Slide4

This was great, but what they desperately wanted was to meet other digital leaders, online and in real life for meetups and beyond…and I had some ideas I thought they could develop too!

Slide5Many of these ideas also involve taking digital leaders beyond our school and meeting up with similar groups.

So I thought I would try and set up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. The network exists currently on Google + and we have an edmodo group. I am happy for the resources and network to reside anywhere where we can easily do the things we want to do, so we’re not tied to any medium. These are the things you’ll find there.

Slide6

One of the really exciting things going on this year is the badges for DL-ers from digital me. Digital me help young people gain skills and confidence through new technology and work alongside groups such as Nesta and Mozilla to develop young people’s skills. The badges look brilliant, and there you can view the prototype designs in the G+ group.

Slide7

What I would like you to do, is, having seen this, consider whether Digital Leaders is something you could start at your school. If it is please drop me an e-mail and I’ll organise you joining the network and hopefully we can support you and share ideas and solutions.

If it’s something you’re already doing under a different name, it would be great if you’d consider joining the network and making connections with people, I really think your children would enjoy the opportunities of working with other people.

Obviously, any questions please get in touch via e-mail, twitter or the comments below.

That was my presentation and slides and I’ve been really pleased with the feedback so far. There are a few hoops to go through to get into a google + group. You need a google account and you need to have activated your G+ account. I went for G+ as it offers webmeet capacity across the UK and beyond, which sadly Glow doesn’t yet and Skype calling seems unavailable in many schools.

The Edmodo group for Scottish Digital Leaders is here. You need to drop me an e-mail or DM for the code.

What I want for my school.

Having decided what I want for education and children, I would like my school to be the place that delivers those things-

 

A school where children look forward to the day ahead.

 

A school where children are valued, and the children know it.

 

A school where the priorities are the needs of the children, the needs of the children and the needs of the children.

 

A school where the staff recognise the huge impact they can make in changing lives.

Some of these ideals would be delivered through the staff working in the school, others would be people from outside the school delivering these ideals.

 

Something I would love to improve is the quality of the buildings we make our children learn in, and their upkeep. In September of last year we were lucky enough to visit citizen M. Everyone (adults and the children we visited with) agreed that it was a fantastic space with wonderful seats, whiteboard walls you can write on, air conditioned work rooms, lots of glass for viewing other areas. These spaces have been designed by architects with the user in mind. School buildings are rarely like this. Chairs are uncomfortable , lighting is poor quality strip lighting, books are sometimes old, technology is often outdated (McDonalds and buses have open wifi before schools!!). When work in schools is completed it is rarely done to a standard we would wish for our own homes, and the main (only?) factor to be considered is cost, not user satisfaction. I wonder how many teachers in schools have thought about approaching a worker in school to ask about doing some work for them out of school?

These ideals sound very distant and a bit of a pipe-dream. If weren’t for the fact that I drive past 4 such schools every morning on my commute I might think so too.

 6008113604_e209af91bdSchool by Krzysztof Pacholak

Why might sharing and publishing in the open be advantageous?

This is one of a series of blog posts from #teachtheweb course. My other posts can be found at Teacher, teach thyself.

The creator controls what of their work is seen or heard, by whom, where and when.

 

In my opinion sharing and publishing have never been easier, nor more accessible for all of us. We share photos through Instagram, Facebook and Flickr, we can share ideas through blog writing, tweeting and facebook, we can share pretty much all aspects of our daily life and it’s only going to get easier.

 

Who do we share with? Close friends, less close friends, colleagues from work or education, people from around the world. Pretty much anyone we want who has some level of open and available internet access.

 

We can also produce more formal pieces of publishing such as e-books and ‘real’ books through tools such as Lulu.

 

In my early lifetime, sharing meant meeting up with someone, sending something via the post, photocopying pieces of paper and the thought of publishing your own writing was a pipe dream – it was in the hands of newspaper editors or book publishers. They decided what was to be seen, not the user and certainly not the ‘receiver’ of the information.

 

The user can access more content than before, and more easily.

 

If I wish to find some writing about a subject it is easy. I use the web and search engines and find lots of information in a variety of forms. This is a brilliant, as work which previously I would have been excluded from accessing due to cost and geographical restrictions is know available and most often for no or minimal cost. Secondly, it’s easily searchable (whilst acknowledging google organises things in a google search initially) I can use some advanced search techniques to precisely access the materials I would like.

 

The user can choose how to acknowledge the creator.

 

If I buy a book, I have acknowledged the creator(s) up front by paying. If the work is not of a standard I desire, or if it is an incredible life changing book the acknowledgement is the same – £15.

 

I’ve also paid an amount which is set by some 3rd parties – publishers, shops as well as the creator. It’s probably fair to say that if I pay £15 for a book, the creator will not recieve £15.

 

If I am accessing something via the open web, I can choose how I acknowledge the work – I can tweet the link to the work, I can access the creator directly via a comments section, I can pay some money via paypal in some cases (I choose if and how much of course), or I can write a response myself citing the original work on my own spaces.

 

The collaboration possibilities are endless.

 

It’s a reasonable assumption that if you are spending your non work time writing/creating and sharing works for free, it is something you are passionate about. By sharing these things in the ‘open’ format, you are likely to connect to people with similar passions. The greatest working groups I have worked in are the ones where the members have shared goals or passions. The work created in these groups has been of a high quality

 

The effect of your passion being shared with liked minded individuals is a massive gain. It allows you to work together (virtually or real) to create more pieces and connect with a wider audience, it lets you see how other people with similar passions are creating and can give you hope that you’re not alone.

 

And yet…

 

There are examples of work practices being used which stop or limit openness and sharing. Some planning programs in school only allow printed copies and copies within the format of their (paid) software, meaning the work created in them cannot be shared easily. Some education intranet sites allow access only to members of their community, excluding a huge range of educators from contributing and making the process of sharing work on those intranet more laborious than it should/needs to be. It would be interesting to know what the thinking is behind these decisions being imposed as I feel the benefits of openness and sharing are huge.

Blogging.

I love the idea of children blogging (and our digital leaders are proving they do too!). The thought of children writing and sharing their work with each other is a major positive of the ‘internet age’ I feel. The fact that children can have an immediate audience for their writing and can interact with each other’s writing is so far removed from life when I was in school (which was not quite in the Dark Ages).

One of the features of blogging I’m trying to develop with my class is the quality of their comments. Commenting on a blog post was on of the tasks our digital leaders had to do as part of their interview process. The comments they wrote (using paper 1.0 and pencil 2.0) were great, but too often comments are not written on the blog.

I have created a website www.commentsbykids.com and a twitter account @commentbykids to promote high quality commenting by children and share these comments around the world.

I aim to use it to inspire my children onwards to the great comments I know they are capable of.

It would be great if you or your digital leaders found the time to add some of the awesome comments from your class blog.

Quadblogging

I got some exciting news last night, as @deputymitchell began putting the quads together for next year’s first term of quadblogging. I found out which schools we will be blogging with next year.

If you do not know what quadblogging is, have a look at this page which explains it.

The class I shared last year quadblogged for a term and loved it. It had a great impact on many of the children in the class and also had other children from around the school wanting to join in.

Like many schools which are encouraging children to blog, we at Uphall, wanted our children to blog to develop their literacy skills further. How does blogging do this?

Well, it provides an audience for children’s writing. We found that this lead to children writing more high quality pieces of writing (wanting to get positive feedback) for their audience. It also lead to children writing their own pieces of writing at home which we published on our creative space. Many of the children who did these pieces of writing at home were children who did not always find writing the easiest thing, and were sometimes the children who did not enjoy what we might consider ‘normal’ homework.

Blogging also provides reasons for reading and following up reading with quality commenting and questioning. The class loved reading what they had written and through quadblogging love reading what their new found friends around the world were learning about in class. The children’s commenting skills developed rapidly from ‘This is good’ standard, to highlighting what they liked in a piece of writing and asking pertinent questions for the author to answer and develop in their piece of writing. They soon realised that the higher the standard of their comments or questions, the more likely they were to get an answer which interested them. This developed their inferential comprehension considerably.

As well as the literacy skills of the children developing, their thinking skills developed, as they began using some of the higher order skills of Bloom’s Taxonomy – analysing, evaluating their own and others blog posts and then creating their own posts .

The children’s own aspirations were raised as they saw the standard of work their peers were producing around the world were creating and how their own work was enjoyed by people around the world also.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the children were incredibly motivated by the blogging and quadblogging experience. They were all keen to write and keen to read what had been written, leave increasingly more sophisticated comments. There was a buzz around the classroom and a collective ‘yes’ if we found time to quadblog in class time! It was a great experience for the teachers and children involved and it had a great impact on children’s literacy skills who took part.

Have a look again at the page and if you haven’t signed up yet, do so before it’s too late for this quad.

Finally, a huge thanks to David Mitchell for thinking up and organising such a great project!

Web 2.0 Week 3.

Before I post, I’ve noticed that some of the keys on this laptop are a bit sticky,so apologies for any typo’s.

I’ve not used a lot in the way of web 2.0 in class this week, which I feel in an odd way is a positive things. Whilst one of my aims for 2010 was to utilise the web 2.0 more in class, it’s important that it’s used to enhance what is already there, not just to ‘show off’ what is there on the internet or what my new ‘find’ of the week is.

What we have done this week is used word to edit some stories. My experience is that using word for this gives the redrafting process a lift as well as producing good-looking stories at the end of the process. I feel that children like the edit process on a word processing tool. Unlike a rubber there is no grubby mark left in word!

Also by word processing it is then a short step to publishing on the web, which I have made a start on this week on my class’s blog page and on Buddy Bear’s Diary page.

My class are using some of our web tools out of school now which I am pleased about. Several children have created their own wallwisher sites. There have been the first set of comments left on the blog and I received an e-mail through GLOW on Sunday asking for some help with writing up Buddy’s weekend diary. I’m pleased at the beginnings of what I hope is taking learning beyond the classroom walls.

Next week we will be using simple wikipedia to do some research on movie making. I’ve forgotten now whom I got the link from for that site, but I’ve had a look around it and it’s really good. It gives children just the facts they need without them getting bogged down in technical language.

Web 2.0, week 2

This week, as you can read below, we’ve used a range of IT across the curriculum in P7.

Our maths has used the wii extensively for work on mean, mode and median averages, and we have used mind42.com to create online mindmaps about how to make Buddy Bear famous. There is more about using mind42.com in the post below.

We also used wallwisher to suggest ideas about how we could make Buddy famous. This has been done entirely out of school and can be seen here. Hopefully we’ll get a stream of ideas going onto this page. Again,I like wallwisher as it is a simple way of children putting down their simple thoughts about something, a book, a unit of work etc and it is also a kept record of their ideas (as opposed to the piece of large paper with post-its beginning to fall off). 4 of my class have now created their own walls using wallwisher to post (with their friends) their favourite pets, sports etc. This suggests to me that they find using the software both stimulating and effective.

I have created a blog for Buddy Bear, using blogger. The idea behind this came from the postings on wallwisher suggesting we put a film of Buddy on youtube and post some pictures of him onto the internet. Blogger seemed a good way of bringing all of these online ideas together. I will also use that blog site to allow the children to tell the world of Buddy’s adventures when they get to take him him. Buddy’s blog can be found here.

I read Tom Barrett’s excellent articles on bloggging, specifically the ones about using Blogger with his class. This seemed like a good option for Buddy Bear’s Blog, as I wanted to have text (his diary entry) and pictures (of his visits) and eventually video all in the same place. By adding some tools to the basic blog my class can gauge how successful they are in making buddy famous around the world. The tools I added were a feedjit live traffic feed, a clustrmap and a simple hit counter. The class enjoy looking at the blog and some have viewed it at home, but as yet only I have left a comment.

I created a picasa account for the project which I will put pictures of Buddy in as the children take them. Blogger runs using google accounts so the account for the blog provides a picasa account and an e-mail account to which the children can e-mail their pictures in as they take them.

css.php