Tag Archives: enjoyment

Teachmeet Firestarter 2017.

It was cold. Cold like winter. In fact, it was winter, but 15 teachers from across the region started fires, literally and metaphorically.

The first part of the teachmeet involved using steel and flints to spark onto a cotton wool pad which had some vaseline on it. It was huge fun. I think your class would like it.

Once we’d managed a spark and ignited the cotton wool we added the kindle we’d been taught how to split and gradually built our fires. Some were in Kelly Cans and one was in a colander with a trivet on the top. Simple, but huge fun. We boiled the water in the Kelly Cans and mashed ourselves a cup of tea. I know my class would love this, all of them and when they went home that night I reckon they’d tell their folks.

Matt from Grounds for Learning explained how to keep it safe, how to use the equipment and gave examples of the ages of children who’ve done this. You’d be surprised.

Aileen gave out some red strips of paper to add to the fire with our reasons we don’t do more outdoor learning. For me it’s really a bit of laziness. I know when I’ve gone outside with my classes they’ve loved it and they are engaged. Engaging children is something I believe is vital to our children getting the most from school life. I burned my laziness paper, I need to do a bit better.

The more traditional teachmeet section that followed was, as always, interesting. Listening to teachers talk about what they do, why they do it and the impact it has always is. Listening to Aileen talk about children needing recent experiences to talk and write about sparked my thoughts. I need to get my class outdoors a bit more. Teacher after teacher talked about outdoor experiences they had with their classes and each one spoke of the engagement with the traditionally ‘hard to reach’ groups of children.

Our final challenge was to write and then share:

‘What fires are you going to start:

In yourself?

In your class?

In your school?’

 

Well, I am going to take my class out once a week for at least half an hour of learning – I’m thinking this will be maths as this is an area I feel comfortable with and happy to challenge myself with.

In my school, I’m going to tell people how much my class enjoyed going out and offer to share the learning we’ve done and resources we’ve used.

In myself, I’m going to get my outdoor clothing organised so I can go out whatever the weather with my class!

 

Many thanks to Matt and Aileen. Grounds for Learning is know in the rest of the UK as ‘Learning Through Landscapes’.  Their website has lots of resources and ideas.

It really was cold, but it was worth it and I will make sure my children’s learning benefits.

 

Why I teach…

2042 Saturday night, and I’m checking my twitter feed to see if my letter to the ECB has got a response yet and I come across…

which has also been favorited by Sam’s Mum.

I’m pretty certain I never showed this program to Sam, but I know I shared it with his older brother’s class.

I love Sam’s creativity with it and the fact that his parents are sharing with me and the world.

Like it says…why I teach!

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

Weeknotes…what happened?

I did think when I began my weeknotes that it could be an ambitious thing to try and write something once a week, and sure enough as term progressed and I got more tired, I got less productive and weeknotes weren’t written.

 

So, what did I do in the last 3 to 4 weeks.

  • P4/5 and P5 had their Dr Who showcase which brought the Dr Who topic to a conclusion. The work the children put into that (which was fantastic) can be seen on our pages on the school blog. There are still a few more scratch games to post up on there too. The topic inspired 2 children to create this wonderful drama at home!
  • The digital leaders never quite completed their podcast – I think a combination of Audacity and windows XP proved insurmountable for them. We will try again using the ‘Voice record’ app on the iOS systems. This looks to be a great app and much more friendly that Audacity, although not as high-end.
  • Ukulele news… The Girl has a electro-acoustic tenor. (Envy, jealousy etc) Looks great and sounds fantastic! I’m still playing away on my Uke and am trying to finger pick a bit.
  • Cooking – I made Easter Sunday dinner for the family. Lamb Shanks from the Ruhlman’s Twenty book (which is wonderful, never made anything bad from this book) and a Quorn alternative for The Girl and me. I also made a poppy seed torte from the Guardian cook which was dreadful.
  • Comic relief day in school was very successful – well done to Pupil Council, your ideas were brilliant. Again the school blog is the place to see photos of the day.
  • I used Mailstrom to re-organise my gmail account and have achieved Inbox zero, and not gone beyond 10 e-mails in my inbox since! Great program.
  • I made it to the Easter holidays, it was a tiring term and I’m not really feeling human yet, but I made it which I am really pleased about.

 

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. 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

Wii Sports for Mean, Mode and Median.

This first appeared on January 23rd 2010 on my old blog. I’m re-posting some material which I have salvaged from that mysteriously disappered blog here. I hope you find it useful

 

My final lesson of the week to involve the Wii used the practice option for batting on Wii sports baseball. I decided that I wanted to create a larger range of numbers for the children to find the median number of. Wii sports baseball batting practice allows you to have 10 swings at 10 pitches. It records (quite quickly) what the distance is that you hit it. It was this data we recorded for our averages lesson. As with the bowling, there were 10 numbers to record, meaning we had to split the 5th and 6th numbers to find the median. After a discussion about the best way to do this, we managed quite well and got better at it as we progressed through the tables taking their turns at batting.

The children were by now quite good at finding the mean and mode for the range of numbers. One of the more interesting discussions we had whilst using the Wii for averages, was the way the modal average differed between the bowling game and the baseball game. In the bowling game, the mode was 10, and the mean average score was frequently around 9. The children could clearly see that the mode and mean were closely related in that scenario. However, despite some of my group being ace sluggers, (the record was 7 homers out of 10 attempts!), the mode for each set distances was 0. This was not close to the mean average, which was around 110m.We briefly discussed the reasons behind this and talked about which average is most useful in which situations.

One final thought about the Wii bowling. The scoring of bowling is quite complex when spares and strikes are involved (which with my class they always seemed to be) I wonder i there is some maths to be investigated  in how the scores are made, maybe with a secondary class devising new scoring methods for bowling and using the Wii bowling game to see how they would work, comparing the scoring methods with each other. The children throughout the week certainly enjoyed our use of the Wii, and they seem to have learned how to calculate the mean, mode and median averages for a set of numbers. An enjoyable and productive week in maths.

By The Library of Congress 

Primary Games Arena.

The Primary Games Arena is a site which contains lots of games aimed at children in the primary age range. There are games for a wide range of subject areas aimed at learners right across the primary years. The games are available on android mobile format, ps3 and wii (which my class feel adds to the ‘cool’ factor).

Have a look at the site and see what you think.

The link is http://primarygamesarena.com/# 

Primary_school_games_fun_curriculum_games

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.

css.php