Tag Archives: Uphall Primary School

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.

Bloom’s Taxonomy in Music.

I’m creating a wall of Bloom’s questions for my music room at school. I love using these questions with the children. Really makes them think and I find the level of answers the children give me challenges the ‘ ability groupings’ they find themselves in for many aspects of schooling.

Here is the resource to share and discuss as well as a couple of pieces of reading I used when creating my display.

My Bloom’s questions for display.

Use of Bloom’s in a unit of work. (includes questions I added to my display)

Wendell Hanna’s piece about the implications of Bloom’s in music education.

     AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Ferrari + caballos + fuerza = cerebro Humano


Attribution  Share Alike Some rights reserved by Ferrari + caballos + fuerza = cerebro Humano

 

 

#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.

3.2.4 and all that.

In this post, I will share the course notes from session 1, discuss my coaching session 1 and my second piece of homework.

Here are the notes from session 1 of the course.

Having had my first coaching meeting as part of my middle leadership course, I identified my target from the middle leadership standards and practices.

The area I decided to focus on was 3.2.4 which says:

Middle leaders evaluate the impact of professional learning on teachers‟ practice and understanding, in relation to outcomes for learners

 work with the team to critically reflect on individual and collective professional learning;
 plan and evaluate professional learning provision directly on its intended impact on learning, within their areas of responsibility.

 

What I took this to mean for my project area of developing digital leaders throughout the school was getting people across the school to ‘buy into’ the digital leaders more. i.e the ‘Professional Learning’ is the digital leaders project, which I learned of from Naace Conference 2012, and I would use this to reflect with other staff members on how learning and teaching could be developed using Digital Leaders.

I decided that this should be the area I focused on, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I have become used to working with ‘the convinced’. Teachers at Teachmeet events, teachers on twitter etc. Working with a group who were already believers in the power of digital leadership wasn’t really moving beyond my comfort zone.

Secondly for the digital leaders project to move towards maximum impact in school, I felt I had to share the potential of digital leaders throughout the school.  Involving other staff, pupil support workers, parents and other children along the way would make the digital leaders a key asset to our learning environment in school, not just something Mr Drummond does.

 

Having identified my area to work on, my coach and I discussed a plan of action.  With my coach’s help I decided the next steps were:

To read articles about developing teams and getting people to buy into a leader’s vision.

Select a group of staff at school whom digital leaders can work with.

Audit the group of staff to see how they currently view the digital leaders and how they feel the Digital Leaders could support them.

Have a clear vision to present to this first group of staff at school.

Share the vision, linking to the staff’s views from the audit (and beyond…) with the staff.

Make sure the digital leaders understand their responsibilities when working with other staff and children around school.

Allow time for the magic to happen.

Audit staff and digital leaders to see if their work is becoming embedded across all school areas.

 

NB Where I use the word staff in the above statements, I mean teaching staff and pupil support workers.

Many thanks to my coach for her time. I’m off to do some reading.

By The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Started with Digital Leaders?

There seems to be quite a few people who are interested in getting Digital Leader groups set up and asking for ideas/help. Hope this helps, please feel free to get in contact, especially if you are based in Scotland, as my digital leaders are desperate to meet other DL-ers.

 

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.

2013-2014

I have been accepted on the West Lothian Leadership Programme for 2013-14. I applied as I am interested in learning more about and debating leadership roles within school and I also wish to see if this is a role I would like to take in school (UPS or otherwise).

The course looks quite interesting and looks the sort of course where the more time that is devoted to it, the more the participants get out of it. I have needed to choose a project to develop over the year, and have chosen to develop the role of digital leaders in school and beyond (by setting up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network).

A major part of the course is a Professional Learning Plan, and I intend to develop mine by using this blog, and tagging each part with Leadership and PLP for ease of my finding it!

If you are interested in the course, here is the course outline.

Colourful Reflections (38/365)

Learning Spaces.

An area I wanted to develop this term in class was my use of displays. I feel ‘traditional’ primary school displays are not a natural strength of mine, and I’ve always wondered about the effectiveness of the display in effecting children’s learning. I’m open to any researched ideas about the effects if you’d like to post in the comments or e-mail me I’d be grateful.

In March time I came across No Tosh’s posts on learning spaces and was really interested in some of the ideas in the post. I was particularly interested in the learning wall idea, and set about creating one in my class using plastic wallets to display the children’s work in a respectful manner as well as allowing the much needed fluidity for the display’s success.

We launched our topic in April, Beavers – back after 400 years, and I explained the ideas to the children, and waited…and waited…and waited. Well this week we had a bit of a breakthrough. A couple of children brought work in on Tuesday, a couple more on Wednesday and today I had a child asking to stay in through lunchtime to create her work for the display. I have to say I am delighted that the idea seems to be taking off. I hope to have more work to add to the display coming in thick and fast now.

How does it compare to ‘traditional’ displays? Well, the children are very interested by what is on the display and clearly as work is beginning to come in they are motivated by what they see and want to copy, build on and develop their peers work. Could this happen on a ‘traditional’ display? Well yes it could, but my experience (and/or lack of artistic eye) means through my career it hasn’t happened as much as I’d have liked, and certainly not as much as the time and physical resources used in a display should have impacted. It is certainly something I will be using again next school year and I hope it will have the same motivational effect.

Here is the work the children have created to date.

 

 

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.

 

Weeknotes 2013 – Week 8.

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

  • Our cluster was privileged enough to have Sir John Jones speak to us at our staff meeting on Friday. It’s the 3rd time I’ve hear SJJ speak, twice in person and once on a video link. I find him to be funny and inspiring which is a good combination for a teacher to have and something which we should all aspire to. Among the things he said which made me think were his ideas about Rock Thinkers and Water Thinkers and the idea that we can’t keep on doing what we’re doing (even when it what we do is brilliant). I thought of British Cycling who are always changing things up to maintain their success, but also companies like Kodak who were at the pinnacle of the photography market, had digital photography available, but rather than develop that stayed with their traditions of film photography for too long, they didn’t go backwards in the digital age, they just got overtaken by the ‘water thinkers’ who moved more rapidly than them. I will post more of the ideas from SJJ here in the coming days.
  • Minecraft – wow. Our digital leaders are trying to create their own minecraft club and are doing a fantastic job. It will be great when it’s up and running. They are so creative with their ideas for their club, creating challenges, creating simple wiki websites with links to good sites on and despairing of my general uselessness at the game. The children in our school (and everywhere else in the known universe) are desperate to play minecraft, to create their own worlds, objects, towns, cities, homes with it. It’s something us teachers should begin trying to use to develop deeper learning, the children would be delighted.
  • We had maths training on measurement delivered by the excellent John Sexton. The session was on measure and one of the key messages I took away was the need to allow more time for practical measurement activities. These concrete experiences are what the children will use to support them in their measurement learning when the context is more challenging. It’s not good enough firing up the worksheet of conversions and so-called ‘real-life’ problems and hoping. If you want examples of amazing maths problems look at Dan Meyer’s brilliant work.
  • I attended our parent council meeting (and volunteered to run a family quiz at school) on Tuesday evening. It makes for a late night but it’s good to hear about what our children tell their parents about school life and how positive they are about it. The parent council also do a brilliant job in supporting the school through raising money and our profile in the community.
  • Pupil council at school are doing brilliant work (with little help from me as ever!!) on developing diamond time, organizing comic relief events, reviewing school meals (answering questions pupils have about school dinners). They are true independent learners and thinkers and are dealing brilliantly with the responsibilities and frustrations that real life contains. I am incredibly proud of their work.
  • I made another video – I hate it, you hate it, we all hate videoing ourselves but… making a quick video (don’t worry about your hair, your clothes, fancy editting etc) can get across an idea in 2 minutes that might take 30 minutes to blog.
  • On a ukulele front I discovered Richard G’s ukulele song book which has some great tunes to strum!
  • I discovered that Sky Sports is available for £4.99 a month on iPad – thus allowing me to keep up with all things cricket without a) paying for a full subscription and b) hogging our TV.
  • Finally the baseball season is nearly here which means I am back in charge of my fantasy baseball teams. Great fun, lots of geeky stats, lots of banter a good stress buster.
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