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The Together We Grow Conference, Northern Ireland

| August 26, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

TWG

TWG

THIS was what it’s all about. Real, practical, inventive, balanced, effective teaching and learning, helping people who are “up for a challenge” and open to new ideas, that can have a positive impact in their classrooms. Children add a valuable perspective to the learning, and keep us all firmly focused on the true purpose of creative teaching: to inspire, motivate and engage all of our charges in a way that enables powerful progression. A true delight to share with colleagues, from Northern Ireland. Thank you all. AND WELL DONE!

We enjoyed starting off this academic year with colleagues from NI, in Eglinton, County Londonderry, for a pacey, interactive, collaborative day.

Our theme: TOGETHER we grow, ~ with many layers of technology, packed with ideas and… a good laugh!

A huge thank you to Donna Vaughan Curriculum Services Team who has been crucial in the run up to today’s event (and knows a good pint of Guiness whenever she sees one too! 🙂

Host School Eglinton Primary School and their Principal Mrs Lorna Blair.

We were joined by colleagues from Ballykelly Primary School, Cumber Claudy Primary School and Limavady Central Primary School.

Education can sometimes be a little slow in its uptake of new technologies. Can we some times be “Early Adopters” of tech that’s been around for a decade.

Whatever format, whatever degree of complexity, there has been a slight history of initial reluctance, before, eventually, some have involved “this new stuff” in their classroom environments. Whether it is a stick and sand, wax tablets, scrolls, books, slides, film, video, computers, PowerPoint, YouTube films, and beyond, …they have all been integrated in to teaching sessions, in some way though.

All the way through, however, these new tools have often been used to modify the way a teacher presents facts, and information, to their pupils. They have had more impact on TEACHING, than on LEARNING.

In many educational settings, the relationships, and interactions, stay unchanged: A teacher, as “Sage on the Stage”, imparting their wisdom, information, and knowledge, to an unsuspecting audience sat in front of them. Are we training our children how to come to school, sit, bored, for a few hours, and get away with it without being spotted?

In the same way, challenges (or, sadly, what we more often call “Tasks”), the independent elements of a lesson, can remain, rooted to the spot, for a long time.

Tech CAN make a difference… BUT IT IS GOOD TO HAVE A BREAK TOO…

| July 26, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Summer-TeKEducation can sometimes be a little slow in its uptake of new technologies.

Whatever format, whatever degree of complexity, there has been a slight history of initial reluctance, before, eventually, some have involved “this new stuff” in their classroom environments. Whether it is a stick and sand, wax tablets, scrolls, books, slides, film, video, computers, PowerPoint, YouTube films, and beyond, …they have all been integrated in to teaching sessions, in some way though.

All the way through, however, these new tools have often been used to modify the way a teacher presents facts, and information, to their pupils.

They have had more impact on TEACHING, than on LEARNING.

In many educational settings, the relationships, and interactions, stay unchanged: A teacher, as “Sage on the Stage”, imparting their wisdom, information, and knowledge, to an unsuspecting audience sat in front of them.

Summer HolidaysAre we training our children how to come to school, sit, bored, for a few hours, and get away with it without being spotted?

In the same way, challenges (or, sadly, what we more often call “Tasks”), the independent elements of a lesson, can remain, rooted to the spot, for a long time: children still wading through printed text books, step-by-step, and completing units set by teachers, in, and out of, the classroom?

How much tech has impacted upon, and benefited this part of the education process, is still debatable.

Is there a chance that ICT can still be thought of as “When students go to the computers”, or “When they get to do some typing”.

On a basic level, very little has changed.

It is so good to explore some of the potential for imaginative, inventive and different and innovative, “creative” use of technology, to bring our learning environments alive. Onwards onwards… (With a break too perhaps. See you on the other side…)

Spent!!

| July 20, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Spent is an interactive game which asks players to consider what life would be like as a potentially homeless person.

The game puts you in the shoes of someone who has lost their life savings, and has you choose one of three low-paying jobs to see for yourself how quickly money runs out, raising a child and making it through the month getting paid a minimum wage.

Take the role of restaurant server, warehouse worker, or office temp and discover how difficult it is to manage your initial $1000. “Homelessness is something that could never happen to me”. How one life changing event can send life spiraling out of control.

Useful when looking at personal economy, empathy, understanding and life choices. How would you cope?

Blobz ~ Electric Circuits

| July 19, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Andy Thelwell’s “Blobz” is targetted at 7-to 11-year olds

The hosts, a group of simple animated characters called ‘The Blobz’ and the absent-minded Professor Flobsworth. ‘The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits’ the basic principles of electric circuits, about the need for a complete circuit and a power source to be present. You can learn about how switches work, about which materials make good conductors, how the length and thickness of wires affects the current in a circuit, how circuit diagrams can be used to describe circuits and more.

Aspects include—‘What makes circuits work’, ‘Conductors & Insulators’, ‘Switches’, ‘Changing Circuits’ & ‘Circuit Diagrams’. Each section has useful info, an interactive activity and a quiz.

The Art of tagging ~ Discussing The Divine Comedy With Dante Alive

| July 19, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

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It is impressive the way you can explore Discussing The Divine Comedy With Dante, HERE with hyperlinks to wiki entries about each character. Art, History, Wiki links AND mouse over “tagging” – creativity on many levels.

The 2006 artwork by Chinese artists Dai Dudu, Li Tiezi and Zhang Anjun became an internet hit, with people scrambling to identify all the 103 figures depicted in it.

The dinner party guests – including Stalin, Beethoven, Audrey Hepburn, Bruce Lee, Marlon Brando, Mao Zedong, Gandhi and Bill Clinton – are surrounded by images of Man’s creations such as the Pyramids.

How many people can you recognise? Continue Reading

Blog Booker

| July 19, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

We’ve mentioned a few ways to export a website, or blog, as a pdf or jpeg. Blogbooker does the job in great style.

It exports everything, (except embedded flash files, for example) including images, and every hyperlink. It even produces an index page & each title links to the relevant post.

The process is easy & requires no sign up. Produce a pdf booklet of all of your hard work.

EasyPrompter .com

| July 11, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Easy Prompter is a FREE, full-featured, and easy to use teleprompter, for online and offline use!

Like Cue Prompter.com Easy Prompter is powerful because you can adjust font size, vary the speed, check the time that has elapsed, control and operate the prompter through keyboard and mouse controls (start/pause, ff/rew, etc) and run it in full screen, for clutter free guidance through your chosen text.

The “portable” version of Easy Prompter means you can use the prompter without an active internet connection.Put your text, and the prompter, on to a USB drive and you’ll always have a cue card wherever you are.

EVAT Collaborative CPD Day, Darlington

| July 4, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

EVAT16

EVATThe Education Village Academy Trust, Darlington.Educational Village copy

Thank you to Lisa M. Forkin, Assistant Headteacher: Training & Development, for getting us back & organising our involvement.

After an introduction to the day from Mike Butler, it was great to get the day off to a creative swing, with an inaginatve keynote, alongside 350+ secondary and primary staff.


Lisa says:

The Education Village Academy Trust (EVAT) is a fairly unusual organisation…

Officially, we came into being in 2006 as simply ‘The Education Village’; three schools that may not naturally be grouped together to work in the same building (a special school, a mainstream secondary and a mainstream primary), but this works for us! Since 2006 our organisation has expanded to include another mainstream primary school and a free school specialising in primary provision for children identified with SEMH conditions.

Such a diverse organisation comes with challenges but any logistical compromises are vastly outweighed by the invaluable expertise, experience and knowledge our large staff possess. Coming together to share practice and engage in collaborative working is one the hugely beneficial points of being in a collective of differing schools; the challenge is to find a time when 300+ individuals can all get together!

To this end, we designate one common CPD day in each academic year when all schools within the Trust can gather together and experience some new learning and share the practice that has taken place. This year, you will be joining colleagues from across EVAT as keynote speaker on 4th July to inspire and motivate us to connect creativity and technology together in new and exciting ways. He will explore this further with our Primary schools as the day progresses through a series of workshops designed to enhance the experience of our children in our different settings.

We are looking forward to welcoming Tim and Sarah to the EV – exciting times and opportunities for us all!

Next we join staff from Gurney Pease Academy and Springfield Academy for a workshop exploring further ideas and then an afternoon with Marchbank Free School and @Mowden Hall.


We were at The Education Village back in 2008.

A big thank you to Paul, from Marchbank, who supported everybody’s explorations today!

“Areas of focus for our children would ideally be linked to elements of writing, engagement, motivation and use of technology to help with these areas. No small feat clearly!”

But something we love to support wherever we go.

“The school is a Special School, working with children with difficulties around social, emotional and mental health issues. We are a primary school, so Year 1-6 and have 43 children. We do have some girls, but are very much boy heavy. We have Laptops, iPads and Chromebooks which are all currently used by the children across a range of lessons and subjects. I understand that in the time you have, what you are able to cover will be somewhat limited, but I’m sure that it will still be an inspirational afternoon from previous experience.”

…a fast paced exploration of many ways to inspire, and motivate, children of all ages, and abilities, with, and without, technology, alongside colleagues from across the Village.

Exploring a huge range of digital delights.

Some see the way forward as preparing for tests, where even good is not good enough. We could think that education is imparting a body of knowledge, rather than a shared journey of discovery. There are so many pressures put upon educators these days that enjoyment, inspiration, creativity, and fun can be forced out of the classroom.

It is, in fact, essential and imperative.

Today, we investigated how we need to inspire young people and nurture their imaginations; enhance their creativity and confidence so they can pick ideas up and start to juggle with them; encourage resourcefulness through challenge, but also the ability to reflect, change and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life.

Fascination is a tool that can be easily lost. This digital world, when mixed with the analogue, brings such potential for communication, invention, experimentation, investigation, exploration, and so much more.

We shared, discussed, and demonstrated, the powerful effect of using games, useful Web2 tools and software (most of it free), hand-held devices and more, – thinking about a way of teaching, where quality learning is the focus rather than the latest gadget; ‘what is said, rather than what is used to say it’.

We can sometimes have a focus on the end target in a challenge for example, that we can forget how important, valuable and worthwhile the process is too.

We have our eyes fixed so firmly on the end, the destination, and where we want to go, that we can miss out on the getting there. Today was a joyous celebration of successes along the way. The journey not the destination.

And, what a fantastic journey we went on today!

We are great believers in play! As adults we simply do not play enough. And yet play offers us the opportunity to experience ‘learning’ in its purest form. Think of our youngest children in schools, who have their learning facilitated by highly skilled practitioners who provide them with ‘learning’ opportunities. The interactions, distilling, reviewing and perseverance that go into building Lego towers or the concentration, balance and reflection that occurs when walking across a wooden log are huge in any context. They are afforded time and the freedom to explore and investigate approaches; they have no fear of failure uninhibited by the social norms of wrong or right. Time to ‘play’ and explore new tools for learning, time to consider how we can adapt them and use them, safe in the knowledge that there are no rights or wrongs.

We all need time To Stand Still. Really effective teachers understand that using ICT to support learning does not mean that we use it constantly or that it is about bombarding learners to the point of sensory overload! We really understand that technology in any form is just one tool that supports teaching and learning. Throughout our time, we as teachers model the traits of highly effective education adventurers, using thoughtful questioning, think time, appropriate differentiation, modeling and scaffolding, creating intrigue and high levels of engagement all delivered with palpable passion and enthusiasm… in whatever setting, virtual or “real”.

TrackClass .com

| July 1, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Could this be useful when working with students who find personal organisation a challenge? TrackClass offers free tools to coordinate things like timetables, notes (which track changes), overdue and upcoming exams and assignment reminders. You can even attach files to events …so the dog can’t eat your homework.

The West of England ICT Conference

| June 30, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

WEICT16

WEict-Logo-smallThis year’s theme is unlocking and opening Digital Doorways that will takes delegates on learning journeys to make new discoveries and explore new places, exploring how technology can empower teachers and learners, as global citizens, to unlock learning and connect to new opportunities.

Thank you to Jo Briscombe, Teaching and Learning Adviser and CPD Lead, Integra Schools, for inviting us to present a keynote.

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference


We enjoyed a full on and up for it Ani~smiles/animals/animules time with all the folk here today.

digital-map-fullTaking a journey in the digital age, we all set out on an amazing adventure. We focussed on tech, but, also on the power of picking up words and juggling them.

Reading and writing are a stimulus and model building sophistication in children’s own writing. Speaking and listening, come alive when we expose children to new opportunities, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences.

Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence … sometimes, making it up as we go, verbal, or written “jazz”, produces some of the most intriguing, and fascinating results. Today, we looked at how to inspire all of these elements, through the use of technology and beyond. Well done all.

We created, researched and reported on, our own magical imaginings, and, using creative technologies, we went wild and woolly with our new, remarkable creatures.

We explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact on raising confidence in children across the creative curriculum… Unlocking (Digital) Doorways.

Myst III: Exile at Park Mead Primary School

| June 28, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

A huge well done, and thank you, to Mr Driscoll, from Park Mead Primary School. We have heard from Jack before back in 2013 when he has sent us his pupils creations – Some Crazy Cranleigh Creatures.

Here are some more of his celebrations, this time using Myst III:Exile.

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I just wanted to contact to say how continually surprised I am with the results of using Myst 3 in the classroom. Even with the graphical improvements today it is still hands down the kids favourite part of English during the year. I’ve attached some writing that my class did this week! #proudteachermoment

We have used Myst 3 in Year 4 since Tim visited a few years ago. It continually surprises me just how fantastic the writing is from it. My class are always eager to return to the lands and their descriptions of it are vivid, showing the high level of engagement they have. I have also loved using Myst III as a teacher because each class you have come up with slightly different ideas and descriptions of the landscape and wonderful scenery the game has to offer.

Attached are a few pieces of work from my Year 4 class, who showed a great deal of pride and enjoyment in their writing.

Mr Driscoll
Park Mead Primary School
@parkmeadprimary

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