Tag Archives: cfe

5 Words to describe my class.

If you had to choose five words to describe your class, what would they be? -Dave Burgess
I found this idea and quotation here and thought it was a fantastic idea for teachers, but also a great idea to start the new school year off with a new class.
Messy.
Interactive.
Inquisitive.
Energetic,
Happy.
I wonder what words my class from last year would come up with?
Henti Smith fmgbain
Inquisitive Fascincation – Henti Smith

What I want for my pupils and Scottish Education.

My Professional learning plan for the West Lothian Leadership course begins with a section of self-evaluation. The first part of that is thinking about and noting down thoughts about what we want for Scottish Education, our schools, ourselves and our pupils.

Here are my thoughts about what I would like for the pupils I teach. I’d be grateful for any comments, awkward questions etc, as that is the reason I’m posting aspects of my personal learning plan online.

 

What do I want for my pupils and Scottish Education?

 

A Google search reveals lots of articles listing the things that our young people should develop in their education to succeed in the now and the future. Feel free to have a search yourself, there’s thousands of links to interesting reads. Many of these articles contain similar skills and ideas such as critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, ability to collaborate (which I find in practice means having a lot of ‘self-esteem chips’ as Richard Gerver calls them), adaptability and more. What these lists don’t contain in 2013 is much in the way of facts and figures (knowledge) – these being at our fingertips now. (The key skills for using facts and figures tend to be knowledge of how to internet search for them, a bit of curiosity and some source checking skills).

 

I want all of the above for the children I work with – who wouldn’t. However I believe that there are three key ideas which open up the rest of the ideas, and for me these are the things I believe are vital to education, Scottish or otherwise. These ideas will also allow our children to develop as societies themselves develop over time.

 

1. I want children to be inquisitive and curious and that means they need to enjoy their learning.

 

2. I want children to ask good questions of themselves, their peers and the adults in their lives.

 

3. I want children to have loads of self-confidence. This means they can develop their collaborative work, can accept having their work held to peer review and can develop better their own work.

 

If a child leaves my class/time with me with these three things, then I think they will be well placed for their future, wherever it may go.

Death Valley National Park, California (8)Death Valley by Ken Lund

It’s not about the tool?

It’s not about the tool is a phrase which seems to crop up a lot in education currently. It’s usually connected to ICT with someone telling us it’s not about a piece of software, hardware, operating system etc. It’s about how it’s used and the learning that takes place.

I’m not convinced.

Tools which don’t work as well as they should.

It seems this is new thinking for education authorities, and it could be argued this is an attempt to hide their incorrect decisions of the past. An example – Interactive White Boards – Why buy so many of them, at such a huge cost? Where was the debate about the most effective use of the money? And why not make them at the correct height for pupils in the classroom?

If your school has elderly laptops/PC’s then the chances are that some fabulous pieces of free, Web 2.0 type software won’t run on them due to a missing upgrade.

Many schools don’t have free choice of web browser, they’re tied to IE (which can’t always upgrade to the newest version) which means that many tools are not on the ‘menu’ to be chosen from.

High Quality Tools

Moving away from ICT and education, when I take my bike out I love the fact that it’s responsive, comfortable and it enhances the pleasure I get from being out, making me more likely to go out on it.

The creatives in our house enjoy using the best art tools they can, and they help to expand their creativity. They don’t produce a lot of art on slates – I’m sure they could but they’d soon become disillusioned as they see other artists using finer, more appropriate, more enhancing tools.

Aspiration.

If we want to develop our children’s learning, if we want to provide aspiration, if we want to develop self-esteem, if we’re really serious about it then we need to have the BEST tools available for the job. Of course we need to debate what they are, of course we need to ensure that teachers are using them as best they can (they usually are by the way).

‘Wow’ factor.

Benjamin Franklin wrote when he was 16 about Temples of Learning. For me part a Temple conjures up images of beauty, craftsmanship and inspires feelings of awe – or as my P4/5 class might put it ‘wow’.

Schools need to, and can, provide the ‘wow’ factor in so many young lives and a large part of that is in the materials available in school. Schools are already providing the ‘wow’ factor in many young lives through the quality of staff they employ, their attitudes and their commitment to the children they teach. It’s time to provide some of the tools to match.

It’s not JUST about the tool, but Government and Local Authorities, the tool is a large part of it. Do you do all that you can?

 

Weeknotes – 2013, week 5

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • Digital leaders are well underway with their podcast work and are ready to interview children and teachers alike. The P7 children have been trained (Ok, it was more this is the program, have a play…) in using Audacity and are confident using it now.
  • Another of my digital leaders is creating a wiki for our Nursery, which will provide details of a range of suitable websites for the Nursery children to use for different activities.
  • A couple of digital leaders also enjoyed playing about with scratch 2 and loved it!
  • I have worked briefly with our awesome and knowledgeable maths co-ordinator Alison Earnshaw, watching how she is currently assessing in depth our children as part of the Stages of Early Arithmetical Learning (SEAL) project. I thought I’d learned loads about maths from the NNS in England, but I’ve learned loads from Alison. It’s absolutely fascinating and is making me think hard about my teaching and my class’s learning of maths, specifically number.
  • I’ve enjoyed strumming the Ukulele as part of my West Lothian training – I’ve found a site, Ukulele Hunt which has great guidance and tunes on it.
  • I’ve continued thinking about homework and my feelings towards it, I think I’ll be blogging about this soon.
  • Kevin McLaughlin floated the idea via twitter of children creating something like Lifehacker, but about topics relevant and of interest to them. Sounds like an idea which has lots of possibilities in it. Be great if enough of us can find time to get it off the ground, as Kevin suggests, as a collaborative blogging project.
  • I’ve seen tweets, pics, blog posts and videos from BETT13. I’ve been envious of the teachers who have presented with their children, as I would love to take a group of children to That London, and see them presenting. It would be a wonderful experience for them I could easily see that type of experience and opportunity blowing their perceptions of education and of life’s ideas. Any sponsors wishing to make this happen, please contact me – the children have the creativity and the talent, but we’re over 400 miles from London.
  • The Glow2, Glew debate carries on North of the border, I read a fantastic blog post by Jaye Richards-Hill here, and I had some fun commenting on this blog post 
  • I battled with Youtube (not my favourite tool…but I’m working on it) to create a video about multiplication using a grid method for our blog page. I even added some text to the video!

Weeknotes – 2013, week 3.

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • I’ve developed the learning log my class are using. It now has four sections – content, skills, how skills could be applied elsewhere and targets. At the moment we are writing our thoughts in these areas, mainly as a whole class, but we will develop this over time. I feel highlighting the areas makes the learning more easily explained by the children, thus allowing them to set more specific targets and develop areas of need and interest.
  • I’ve written most of my forward plan for term 3. Quite a bit of work to do here as we have created a new topic area of Dr Who. I have also added some objectives to the school maths planner in measurement and shape, as part of my forward plan.
  • I’ve been using evernote more. The more I use it the more useful I find it. Photographing ‘notes’ on my phone and evernoting them means I can’t lose them and I can easily find them using the tags I create when required. I wonder how this can develop for moderating work? 🙂
  • I’ve downloaded ‘Mr Reader‘ onto my iPad and use it to read and share content from the totally awesome google reader. As well as using this I use Zite to read a wide range of content based on google reader, twitter and previously ‘liked’ blogs.
  • I’ve begun encouraging children to highlight examples of where they have fulfilled the success criteria with a note in the margin of their work. I can see how this works well in written tasks, but am still struggling over how to develop this in maths and ICT tasks. This is a task I am developing as part of the Raising Attainment Group.
  • I attended the Raising Attainment Group meeting. I’m really enjoying this and finding having a specified amount of time to focus solely on using feedback to raise attainment very useful. It’s also introduced me to the work of John Hattie, whose work Ewan McIntosh mentioned in a few tweets this week. There are great people in the group and I’m picking up loads of great things to raise attainment in class.
  • I added some resources to www.commentsbykids.com and many people expressed an interest in adding examples of great comments to the site via the google form interface.
  • Digital leaders continued to work on podcasting/vodcasting, and our school podcast channel is up on iTunes and ready to receive their work.
  • The digital leaders and I are going to comment on the 5 sentence challenge blog and help raise attainment in writing across the globe.
  • I’ve listened to 6Music’s greatest hits on spotify, read two great articles on Lance and cycling, on the live blog is some brilliant journalism from Matt Seaton and Dr. Hutch and a great farewell interview from Nicole Cooke loved watching Borgen again, enjoyed Silent Witness and despaired at England’s ODI cricket team. I’ve picked up the spin class after a 2 month break due to illness…great to know it’s still so painful, yet enjoyable.

 

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.

Keeping Connected

Whilst off school recovering from a headache-y, nausea bug, I noticed a tweet from Tom Barrett about an event with northantsblt.

This event was hashtagged (meaning it was easy to find all the tweets in one place) #northantsblt. I used hootsuite to open up a stream for that hashtag and then dipped into the tweets from under my blanket during the day.

I found it a really good read and wanted to keep some of the tweets for further reading and reference.

I remembered storify. I’ve only really dabbled with that piece of software, but I have selected many of the tweets from the day and published them in a storify document, which I have then embedded below.

A simple and good use of blanket time I felt…and even better than Jeremy Kyle Under the Hammer!

Northants BLT 20/11/12

Tweets using hashtag Northantsblt

Storified by Robert Drummond · Tue, Nov 20 2012 09:06:25

#NorthantsBLT Learning tree – interactive display where a new leaf appears for every thing that they’ve learnedEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Online bulletin boards for questions – question boardsEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Exit pass – show me on a post-it what you’ve learned before you goEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Blogging – for comments that document the learning journeyEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Learning tags – adding keywords at top of work – metacognitionEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Snowballing – group of kids at table develop ideas, screw up ideas, throw to table, next group have to build on itEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Window shopping – stealing ideas from fellow students. Browsing the learningEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT Babblegabble: children build on each other’s ideasEwan McIntosh
What can’t we do without…? #NorthantsBLT http://pic.twitter.com/e03wUclRAndrew Evans
What do we need to control?…really? @ewanmcintosh #NorthantsBLT http://pic.twitter.com/pLLnv6A5Andrew Evans
If you can draw it, you can share it, you can learn from it…eliminating ‘death by powerpoint’ @ewanmcintosh #NorthantsBLTAndrew Evans
#NorthantsBLT it is about developing your learning culture. How much time do we spend on developing this culture in our schools?Leigh Wolmarans
@johnpopham Kids think YouTube is a real website. They think school websites aren’t. #NorthantsBLTEwan McIntosh
#NorthantsBLT we need to stop teaching so children can really learn!Leigh Wolmarans
How can we use technology to help make the messiness of thinking more visible. #northantsbltHelen Caldwell
Spoon feeding is for babies! #northantsbltKevin Hewitson
Lots of Juicy questions explored in kids TED talks- finding things that matter to them, empathy to engage.#NorthantsBLTStacey
Sunderland kids TEDx talks /bit.ly/p5bKKS #northantsbltHelen Caldwell
Chn to have and IDENTIFY their own STAR moment in their learning- Something they’ll always remember. #NorthantsBLTStacey
Get children to plan a STAR moment when planning writing… ‘Something They’ll Always Remember’.#NorthantsBLTTom Rees
Applying story structures and drawing inspiration from video games to develop talk. #northantsbltHelen Caldwell
Love this clip we have been introduced to by @ewanmcintosh…http://www.ted.com/talks/bobby_mcferrin_hacks_your_brain_with_music.html#NorthantsBLTTom Rees
Choice, collaborate, challenge, responsibility, respect, real things 3Cs and 3Rs of learning. #northantsbltHelen Caldwell
Difference between Ilearning about Newton and thinking like Newton: Visible learning. #NorthantsBLTHelen Caldwell
Do we want children to learn about someone, or do we want them to think like someone? @ewanmcintosh #NorthantsBLTAndrew Evans
#NorthantsBLT remember it is not about the technology you have but how it is effectively used.Leigh Wolmarans
Ideas are not logical…they don’t go a, b, c, d @ewanmcintosh #NorthantsBLTAndrew Evans
RT @JugieK: #northantsblt check out GuardianEyewitness app for amazing daily photos from around the world. Screen shot to use photos in presentations.Ewan McIntosh

 

Digital Leaders @Uphall

After attending Naace’s amazing 3rd Millennium hothouse event in Crewe over the summer, one of the things I was keen to start at Uphall was creating a digital leaders group. It was the knowledge, enthusiasm and energy of @shellibb @chrismayoh and @lagerama who gave a wonderful presentation at which convinced us to give it a go at Uphall.

For anyone who is unsure of what a digital leader is, have a look at Shelli’s work here

The first step in selecting our Digi Leaders was to announce our intention in assembly and ask the children to apply online for a position. I created a simple presentation and online google form to collect the information, and you can see these below.

Once the children had completed the application, we made time for the HT (@fiona_macphail) and myself to interview them. We drafted 4 questions and shared them with the children the day before their interview. Having Fiona on board was great as it made things very ‘special’ for the children, being interviewed by the HT

The questions we asked were:

If you could show or teach children once piece of ICT software/website/program what would you choose and why?

Someone in a class you are supporting is stuck on their ICT work. What would YOU do to help?

What do you love about using ICT?

Are there any questions you would like to ask us?

Finally I selected a piece of shared writing from my class blog page, and ask the children to write a blog comment about it – this was an unseen task for the children.

We interviewed the children in groups and their answers were amazing.
I have created a tagxedo cloud of what the children said which really impressed Fiona and myself.

Since appointing the successful candidates, we have created a space on Edmodo for us to share ideas between ourselves and created a web space joined as part of the school website.
You can see our website here and see how we develop our digital leaders.

Fiona and myself do not know where the digital leaders @uphall will go, that will be very much up to our leaders. We do know that we have immensely creative, talented and thoughtful children in our group, and that wherever they choose to lead, it will be a great trip for all of us in school!

20% time

Friday’s this year in my class are going to be different. We are going to have ‘20%’ time.

If you haven’t come across 20% time before, it’s and idea that 3m and google and some other companies use which frees up 20% of the working week for their staff to pursue their own projects and interests. In the company time.

I read a few blog posts about this approach being undertaken in classes and thought it sounded like a great idea and something I wanted to try. Why?

1. I wanted the children in class to have an enjoyable learning experience at least once a week (I’m aiming for more than that, but I hope that ALL the children have one enjoyable learning experience guaranteed using 20%)

2. I want the children to see that their interests are valued and that our classroom is a place they can nurture those interests they already have, not leave them at the school door.

3. I want all the children I teach to develop a love of learning, not for ticks, badges or scores, but for the buzz of learning.

4. I thought if offered the opportunity to develop skills for learning in a context where the children felt safe, happy and stress free. I really want the children to see the learning skills they have, and develop their self-esteem chips (as Richard Gerver calls them) I also thought it gave a good opportunity for separating our the learning skills from the content knowledge.

They were some of the things I thought 20% could offer in my class, and with the support of the SMT, we set off on our first steps this week.
More of that in the next few posts.

 

Learning as an Active Process by Mitchell Norris. 

 

Appshed.

Appshed.

After an amazing 2 days at Naace, I thought I’d share some of the wonderful things we were introduced to in short blog posts. I will also post this to the www.uphallresources.com website for Uphall staff CPD.

Appshed is a web based program which allows you to create web apps on any topic you wish for free. The program is easy to use, once you have registered and logged in. There are a variety of wizards within the package which explain how to add all of the aspect you wish your app to have.

Have a look at the NAACE app in web form or on your mobile device.

Using the wizards and other instructions around the site, it seems easy to produce high quality, accessible apps and these could be created by adults or children – for children their desire to create the app will allow them to persevere and solve any problems that arise for them. This piece of software allows our children to utilise ICT to create their own work, online and make it accessible for all. It fulfils many key aspects of what 3rd Millennium education should be.

When we were being introduced to this piece of software, there was a real buzz around the hall with mutterings of ‘Is this free?’ and ‘How can this be free?’ Well it is free, the company charges for other services (such as creating apps for you and sending them to the apps stores for different devices etc).

The fab @squiggle7 has also written about this piece of kit and you kind find her writing here

Have a look at the site, register and have a play, I think you’ll be glad you did!

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