Tag Archives: creative

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 7

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

 

  • My Ukulele arrived. Whoop. Sounds great even with someone as ham-fisted as me playing it! I also attended the next Uke course. It was a bit meh as we didn’t cover anything new, just recapped the previous songs and chords we have done. Also, I get that not providing a tea or coffee saves cash in the short-term, but would the cost of providing a biscuit and a drink be repaid in the work and attitudes of the people taking part in a course? I’d be interested to see if there’s any research into it.
  • I had my half-term holiday, or a day off as it has reverted to. No-one has explained why the week has become one day again and why six weeks has become seven in the summer, but I’m sure there’s a well reasoned argument behind it. However, what seems to have been well researched and documented is the effects of summer holiday learning loss which suggests that “Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years.” and “In general, low-income students lose around 3 months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months. Middle income students lose about 1 month of grade-level equivalency over the summer. Thus, the achievement gap widens, due to out-of-school influences and lack of summer learning opportunities” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_learning_loss
  • On our training day our maths guru Alison Earnshaw shared some more of her excellent work on calculation with us. Again, thought provoking ideas about how children learn (and are taught) number.
  • I developed my use of evernote to assess/evidence a piece of reading from a child. Simple to do, I photographed the page and the child recorded themselves reading it. The next step is to work with the child and discuss the reading and begin to create targets for reading development.
  • Digital leaders have been busy planning an in school minecraft club. It is hugely popular with loads of our children. What impressed me about our Digital leaders was their thoughts on how to make the club more than a ‘free play’ minecraft experience. Hopefully they will blog about it on our DL page.
  • Dannielle has published her nursery resources wiki. I am really pleased with the effort she has put into this in her own time and I hope it proves useful for our nursery staff.
  • I have begun working on the Learning Creative Learning MOOC and as part of this I’ve been looking again at Scratch and how it can be used as a creative tool. Clearly it can, but along with that I feel that some of it’s rigour (i.e. you have to be precise in your scripts, careful where you save it etc…) add to its value as a tool for use in the classroom.
  • As part of the LCL MOOC I also created a google+ group. This was so easy to set up, manage and use. The more I use Google+ the more I like it. It’s been a slow burner but it’s beginning to prove really useful for work ideas, storing photos from my phone with the instant upload feature, and even using Hangouts with my Mum!!
  • Finally, and sadly I completed season 2 of Borgen. Great series, great characters and storylines. Bring on series 3.

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.

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!

IT – What I want to see

Before heading off to #3mhothouse I’d been thinking about what I want IT to be for our pupils in the near future.

I want it to be an enabler. To allow children to create things they couldn’t otherwise, and produce professional quality products.

I want children to be good citizens in life and extend this into their online world. They need to see the benefits of social media/networking and respect both the people and the media. I would love them to be ambassadors for the good things young people can do with social media and battle some of the negativity that some traditional media writes about them.

I want IT to be enjoyable if it is being taught as a discrete lesson. Too many Fridays my step-daughter has come home moaning about how dull IT lessons were at school and then proceeded to spend 4 hours creating, curating and interacting wonderfully on the computer at home.

I don’t want IT to be limited by age or stage. I do not want a scheme of work where 7 year olds change font style, and 8 year olds change font colour. It will show a progression of sorts, but that will not be tied to ages.

I want IT to be chosen by children for a task. Another tool in the learning bag. Alongside this children need to be introduced to the vast range of tools which are available, so they know that you don’t have to use powerpoint for every presentation, nor kidpix for each piece of art. Fine tuning of tool selection will be vital.

As I think of more ideas and try to rough out an ICT framework for school I may add to this piece.

I’d be delighted if you added any ideas of your own.

 

 

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!

Automatoon- Easy Animation For The Web!

Really like the look of this. Hope it works on our computer network. I would like to use this next year with some of our classes. I think the children would really enjoy this and could create good results quite easily.

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