Tag Archives: choice

Highers – Follow up.

Since writing about my step-daughter and highers last week, I’ve received some good feedback from and MSP, parents, teachers and educationalists.

Before I go into that, an update. It’s now Wednesday of the holidays and my step-daughter has been into school on ever weekday of the holiday, apart from Easter Monday. She’s also done lots of work when at home. She’s not really her normal self, is a bit tetchy and showing some signs of being fed up. (I offer cups of tea, hugs and chocolate feeling a bit helpess)

I have found out that the school my step-daughter attends is paying staff to work in the Easter holidays. For me that raises many, many questions. What else could be done with that money? What if your family have already booked a holiday in the Easter holidays (because booking in term-time is strongly discouraged by schools, but encouraged by pricing structures of the holiday sector), surely you don’t have equality of opportunity for this use of public money? Are the teachers being paid a universal teacher rate (i.e. teachers daily rater or supply rates) ? How much pressure is put on teachers to do this? Do the public know teachers are being paid overtime to get the grades which will be trumpeted as a triumph for Scottish Education/ Government / Political Parties when the results are announced? Do we have a true financial cost?

Feedback: You can read Amanda Wilson’s feelings in the comments below the original post. Thanks again for your time

Mark Priestley said:

and

Iain Gray MSP said:

Angela Constance replied:

I will publish her reply in full when I receive it.

Jak tweeted:

As well as these reponses I have received a long and sincere e-mail from a teacher who sympathises and dislikes the current system.

I have also received many favourable comments on FB as well as face to face when meeting parents of children of all ages in person.

I ended my initial post thus: This isn’t progress. This isn’t creating an education system better than the oft-mocked English system I described earlier. This isn’t good enough.

It seems I’m not alone in those thoughts.

35,000 Images.

There are over 35,000 images which you can freely download  from the National Galleries website. This is a great resource and has loads of uses in class. I’ve always found that children really enjoy looking at different pictures and whilst not as good as a trip to a gallery, it’s a great resource.

‘We must find meaning in the time we spend online. Are we building our tools with that in mind?” Anil Dash

 

‘We must find meaning in the time we spend online. Are we building our tools with that in mind?” #mozfest @anildash — THAT. AND THAT AGAIN.

— Robert Drummond (@robertd1981) October 27, 2013

 

 

So, I’ve been at the #mozfest for the long weekend, and I’m on the train mulling things over and that idea from Anil Dash, just keeps coming back to me.

I was completely amazed by the ethics of the Mozilla people that just shone through in all aspects of the weekend. I knew I was going to like the geeky stuff, – the Open Badges, the Digital Leaders etc, but the morality of what Mozilla are doing and are trying to do I wasn’t really prepared for. I got that they like open source, I got their ideas around web privacy, but this weekend just showed me that their beliefs are driving the tools they’re creating, the learning they’re facilitating, the teaching they’re doing and the difference they’re making.

I think it was Mark Steel who said that the trouble with public services being provided by bodies who aren’t democratically elected is that they are doing what they do with an agenda. He was looking at the negative sides of this – Right-Wing (or left I guess) groups providing care but with a ‘side’ to it, religious bodies providing education, care etc. I think this weekend #mozfest made me see why they do what they do, what their agenda is.

I take their agenda to be giving people the tools to shape the web (and beyond) to create the web, school, community, that they want to create: Not being held back. Empowerment.

On Saturday morning, Anil Dash spoke about the web, about the way it has evolved (or not) and about the ownership of so much of it by organisations whose interests are profits not people, clicks not change.

And then he talked about how he spends more time on the web, than he does reading to his young son. (What a brave thing to say to an audience), and then the key idea.

If we’re going to spend some much time on the web, we’d better bloody well do something worthwhile with it.

In July I shared this, which pretty much sums up why I teach, ICT, or anything really. It’s about giving the tools to people, empowering them, letting them solve the problems they want and need to solve.

The web has transformed learning as much as the printing press did, and may transform it more. And just as with the first book learning exploded, so it was with the internet. And then… we log into facebook and let facebook show us the web. The power we have is not used.

If we’re going to spend some much time on the web, we’d better bloody well do something worthwhile with it.

So what am I going to do about it.

I’m going to give the young people these tools to shape the web and let it improve their lives, solve their problems, show that differences can be made if that’s what they want.

It’s probably not going to be easy either- obstacles in the way are many, time consuming and frustrating. It may not be popular.

But I’m convinced it’s right.

Weeknotes – Week 6

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

  • I bought a ukulele. This bad boy is winging its way to me as we speak. It’s a bit of a risk as I haven’t played this model, but Ukulele Hunt highly recommend it and it’s not stocked in any shop in Scotland. Hope it’s as good as it sounds on youtube!!
  • Digital leaders are nearing completion of episode one of our podcast, which will be available to listen to from here.
  • Another of our digital leaders has completed her wiki of useful websites for nursery!
  • I had an attainment meeting with my brilliant HT Fiona discussing my forward plan and attainment within the class. This was great, so much better than being given a feedback sheet about my forward plan and as the meeting was in real time, rather than paper 2.0. If there was anything either of us were unsure of we could discuss it…there and then! Simple, but so effective.
  • Sadly I missed our CPD about probability with John Sexton the staff who were able to attend said it was really good, and I’m looking forward to the next CPD session, and looking at the presentation which went along with John’s CPD.
  • I had a lesson observation this week for which I was really nervous. That too was about probability, and for me the most interesting thing was using a ‘What do we know..?’ type questions in the starter and subsequently changing my groupings ‘on the fly’ as one child answered brilliantly and could clearly do a more challenging task. This ‘what do we know?’ start is one I also used in an IDL lesson on Monday – and helped me to create an independent working group who developed the task further and at a greater pace.
  • I discovered that if your Step-Daughter is involved in a house fire, and the person whose house she is in doesn’t give you any details about the fire, you can request and receive a copy of the fire report from Lothian and Borders Fire Service by e-mailing them. A really efficient service, albeit one I hope you never need to use.
  • I was really pleased with 8 of my children choosing to present their poetry work in a poster/book style this week. At the start of the year, they would all have chosen to use a computer, as I feel it was a bit of a novelty. Now they are viewing ICT as the tool it is in their learning toolbox and are making decisions for themselves on whether it is the tool they want for a particular task! You can see the work, ICT based and paper based here.

I’m on half-term break next week – well I’m off on Monday anyway.

Weeknotes -2013, week 4.

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

  • I attended some training about teaching fractions, decimals and percentages and was introduced to the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy. It was interesting looking at the survey and discussing it’s implications. However, having taught in a top down system for many years, I wonder if there is a case for national expectations for attainment being made more explicit.
  • I also attended lesson two of our Ukulele training. This was great fun again, and I loved playing on the concert Uke – watch out music shops of Edinburgh – it had a wonderful tone. I’m looking forward to beginning the lessons with my class.
  • I’ve been reading a lot of work on the Learning Spy. I’m finding it thought-provoking stuff and it’s fitting in nicely with the work we are doing with the raising attainment group in West Lothian. I tried out the who would lessons from this page and was pleased with the resulting discussions in the class.
  • I have had some good discussions with colleagues about differentiation (maybe on the back of my reading of the above). I feel differentiation is not about groupings in a class,  it’s more about having different expectations of outcomes from different pupils and creating opportunities for more ‘open learning’ and sharing of learning. Children need to be given the chance to experience all the learning available, not have it ‘trimmed down’ to ‘suit their needs’ (whatever that patronising, yet often heard, phrase might mean).
  • I have signed up for a MOOC Elearning and Digital Cultures which begins next week – hopefully time will allow me to complete the course watch this space!
  • Digital leaders have decided to create a podcast, rather than vodcast and have made up some great interview questions to ask the teachers. Hopefully we will launch episode 1 soon!
  • Sadly Frank Keating died this week, adding to CMJ and Tony Greig dying within the last month. Whilst not knowing them personally I know their work intimately and I will miss reading and listening to them.
  • I updated our school resources site to include the SSLN work and also the Ukulele presentations we have been following in our lessons.

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. 

 

TEDxKids@Sunderland

I found out about this event via @ewanmcintosh and @tombarrett on twitter this morning. Rather than me explaining it, I’ve clipped the explanation from the TEDxKids@Sunderland page itself. 
It turns out that TED conferences for kids had begun in 2009 
This seems like such a brilliant idea! I love the talks on the TEDxkidsSLAND site. The children have such an interest in their chosen topics and they talk about such a diverse range of topics. 
It’s set my mind moving, thinking about how we could do something similar in our school. 
Enjoy.


About this event

We began our project by exploring the nature of a great story and, therefore, of a great speech à la TED.
The teachers at Thorney Close Primary School were also introduced to a wide number of the TED talks and encouraged to discover, view and discuss a even more amongst themselves and with their students. Carefully selected examples were then used with the classes and unpicked to reveal the elements of their success – as session starters and finishers, these talks provided a superb, uplifting means of involving everyone in the class.

We would start by watching videos without any audio, then have one of the students (or a small group) provide a live commentary, that is, the speech they think they would give to go with the images – Nathan was first up, but it’s still amazing to see how far he came in this project, from the shy, quiet chap here to the forthright young man we heard two months later at TEDxKidsSland. Finally, we’d let the students listen to the ‘real’ talk, audio and visuals, before discussing what they liked most (two stars) and what they thought could be made better (a wish).

Through team teaching, example lessons, activity and project ideas we began to explore with the children what they would like to talk about. The Year 3 and 4 children were set the challenge of speaking passionately about a topic that is meaningful to them. At this point, our work concentrated on teachers’ questioning skills: if you ask your average eight-year-old what’s meaningful to him or her, the answer will invariably be “football”, “my hamster” or “mum”. Great questioning from the teachers swiftly, and sometimes painfully (!), moved almost all the students beyond these lower order solutions to “Have you ever wondered…?” questions that had most adults in the room pondering the students’ prospective answers with genuine interest.

Our project culminated with the Year 3 and 4 children organising and running the TEDxKids@Sunderland. They were involved in every step of the process from applying for the license, setting up Twitter accounts to phoning around to book the venue.

So on May 27th in a lecture hall in Sunderland sixty 7, 8 and 9 year olds explored topics such as the secret language of animals, why slugs have slime and what family means – and made history in the process by participating in the first ever TEDx event for under 10′s.

 

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