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Writing is the way we communicate when we’re not there

| April 29, 2017 | Add Your Thoughts 

Writing is the way we communicate when we’re not there

in Speaking we can modify our emphasis and gesticulate

in Writing we have to pick the right words, framed in a real context

Children need a real purpose in order to encourage engagement with writing

Teachers need, regardless of their route in to the profession, a real understanding of what grammar is. Not conjugating verbs, but understanding REAL structure for real needs

Skilled users of language and socially adaptable

Complex range of literacies in a constantly changing world full of a huge range of literacies

Grammar for Writing is still a useful tool but, more essentially, grammar needs to be taught in exciting vibrant contextualized ways


Emancipated autonomous users of language

Phonic development is really important but not as a standalone, every now and then subject

Needs to be taught consistently and in an exciting way, a development continuum,

Reading is an essential precursor to writing and writing is an essential precursor to reading

Teachers need to plan experiences that require an ever widening range of forms for an ever increasing range of purposes and audiences

Make it real!

Reading is a stimulus and model building sophistication in children’s writing

Speaking and listening, comes alive when we expose children to new, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences.

Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence

Peer revue and analysis is powerful in the “work in progress: stage not just at the end. Intervention early, helps children move forwards far more effectively than if it is just picked apart when it is complete.

A finely honed set of skills is near useless unless it can help, and be used, in real contexts and challenges.

Blogging, and other ways of publishing, planning, and preparing online, are fantastic opportunities to create authors.

| April 28, 2017 | Add Your Thoughts 

Sorry footie fans, Keeping Score is an interactive invitation to explore some of the greatest classical music, by reading the musical notation and investigating background information, from the grandest ideas, to the most subtle of emotions.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score is designed to give people of all musical backgrounds an opportunity to explore the music and life of the composers such as Mahler, Beethoven, Berlioz, Stravinsky, Shostakovitch, Tchaikovsky, and Aaron Copland.

Extensive audio, video, and interactive material offer an engaging and quite in-depth online learning experience. By following scores and exploring musical techniques, as well as the personal and historical stories behind some key pieces of music, we gain a real, and dynamic, understanding of just how remarkable the mind and soul of a composer is.

In one small excerpt, for example, we discover that, after the premiere of his First Symphony, Mahler found that the opening “sounded far too substantial for the shimmering and glimmering of the air that I had in mind.” So he changed the instrumentation to the whispery sound of string harmonics. He continued revising the instrumentation for five more years before the symphony’s publication!

The site also includes a historical timeline that takes users deeper into the eight individual composers’ political, social, and cultural milieus as well as downloadable lesson plans created by teachers who have experienced the Keeping Score Education program.

Keeping Score aims to connect music to all subjects in the curriculum as a way of bringing learning alive.

The site is designed to appeal particularly to secondary, college and university music appreciation students and their teachers, but contains some brilliant elements that would work across younger age groups.

The great thing about classical music is its ability to reach us at all levels. So relax, pick the piece of classical music you love the best, and take a great journey with your students!


Category: 2) Useful n Interesting


| April 5, 2017 | Add Your Thoughts 

Allowing children to explore the world of “creativity” guides them to places in which imagination can grow, aspirations can be raised and self-confidence enables them to explore the potential of the world around them.`

iPiccy Great online photo editing

| March 8, 2017 | Add Your Thoughts 

A fave: iPiccy has many easy to use photo tools, enabling you to edit pictures, apply photo effects, add text or paint freehand from scratch.

iPiccy is free and no registration is required.

The iPiccy editor seems accessible enough that children, of many ages and abilities, can edit and create artistic reworkings of photographs, without too much of a learning curve.

As well as retouching individual pictures, it takes very little time to make collages of multiple images. (Requires  temporary access to a local drive) but SO handy.

Rhym(ing all the timing)

| January 13, 2017 | Add Your Thoughts 

Rhyme ‘n Learn, (“Music That Puts The Cool Back In School”), is maths and science taught by mnemonics. Mnemonics use word associations like rhymes so that a term or fact is easier to recall later. An example of a mnemonic is “In fourteen hundred ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” or “Thirty days hath September. All the rest I can’t remember!”

Rhyme ‘n Learn was created by teacher Joe Ocando, who has taught maths and science to students of all ages and discovered that many find it difficult to memorize hundreds of new terms and facts. Rap seemed to help, and does seem to make some concepts easier to remember.

The concepts covered are more suited to older students Examples include Pi Rap | Don’t Let Pi Make Ya Cry and Rational and Irrational Numbers Rap | E-rational Thoughts

Type a maths or science term in the search bar on the site to find a mnemonic for it. If you can’t find it, send content suggestions to

Don’t forget another teacher led site “MathTrain”. Mathtrain.TV is a free educational “kids teaching kids” project from middle school mathematics teacher Eric Marcos & his students.

Both sites could be a great inspiration to students to create explanatory videos, or raps.

That is NOT cool

| December 5, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Thats not cooltnc_logoThat’s not Cool is an interesting site, dealing, as it does, with slightly older students, and their experience of internet, and mobile, etiquette, or the lack of it.

Your mobile phone, and online profile are all digital extensions of who you are. When someone you’re with pressures or disrespects you in those places, that’s not cool. Draw your digital line about what is, or is not, okay in relationships.


| November 29, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


Kompoze is one for those of you who …compose… from time to time, but are short on people to play with, to bring that music alive. Create songs with a bass player in Birminham, a drummer in Dortmund, and a guitarist in Goa…or from across the street?

Wavepad (great tool)

| November 25, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

WavePad is free audio editing software that can be used across many platforms*. The tablet version has the big advantage of not limiting your recording size (apart from the free space left on your device *Windows and Mac iPad, & Android.

Kenilworth Consortium of Schools, Warwickshire

| November 18, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


Today an INSET day for the Kenilworth Consortium of Schools: 8 primary schools, 150+ teachers and TAs from St John’s Primary School and Nursery, Priors Field Primary, Clinton Primary School, St Augustines Primary School, St Nicholas Primary School, All Saint Primary, All Saints’ School Church of England, V.A. Primary School and Burton Green Primary School (Federated with All Saints).

Many thanks to Darren Barrow, Head Teacher, St John’s Primary School and Nursery for coordinating arrangements for today’s event. Jo, the admin lady at St Nicholas Primary School for co-ordinating the venue arrangements. Lucy, the Consortia Co-ordinator, who liaised with her regarding the venue arrangements.

Today was a day spent almost entirely digitally, with colleagues from across the consortium. We explored a vast amount of online resources, perfect for bringing learning experiences even more alive.

We looked at how technology should support the experiences children have, not replace them, – there can be no replacement for the doing – technology, combined with the sensory experiences that we help to supply, can help them on the journey to developing the basic skills of oracy and then to using their ‘scribbly sticks’, or digital tools, with increasing confidence and effectiveness.

There is a huge, and accessible, range of digital, and analogue, ways to engage, and motivate students of all ages, and abilities, These elements are not only essential for quality learning experiences to take place, but can also have a massive impact on standards, achievement… and enjoyment!

It was some of that massive amount of, freely available, tools that we explored and experimented with today. Well done all.

A huge thank you to everybody.

Richmond Hill Primary, Leeds ~ Day 3

| November 9, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


Five groups of Y5 pupils ~ One challenge, today at Richmond Hill Primary to create wondrous wildlings, mysterious intriguing oddities, using some inventive digital, and analog tools. A huge THANK YOU to all the staff for their support and enthusiasm and, especially, to Morag Clunie, Assistant Headteacher, for coordinating all arrangements and looking after us so beautifully!! THANK YOU

We brewed up our own concoctions of combination creatures, researched about them, and presented our findings using some magical, online gems. The link to the padlet of results is here.

We enjoyed a full on and up for it Ani~smiles/animals/animules time with all the folk here today, both adults and children. Taking a journey in the digital age and the analog one, we all set out on an amazing adventure.

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.

Together 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 curriculum…

A massive well done, and Thank you to all of the staff and children today at Richmond Hill who shared their animules in one form or another.

“We know this is true because we made it up ourselves”.

(definitely “Richmond Hill Ready”!)

Richmond Hill Primary, Leeds ~ Day 2

| November 8, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


A second day in Leeds and doing some analog wandering in digital landscapes, with the children of Richmond Hill Primary.

We explored everything from persuasive language and balanced arguments, through to taking off and flying with descriptive imaginations of what might lay beyond where we stood, in a mysterious, fantasy landscape.

Today, we took a group of more than Key Stage Two children for a journey in the morning, and an afternoon with thirty Year Two voyagers, exploring some virtual worlds, as an inspiration for talk, drama, and SO much more.

When we’re travelling (or rather, standing still) in the virtual worlds we always hope that it looks like we’re making it up, & that there have been unexpected turns, not only in the way we travel, but also in the route that the lesson itself goes.

In reality, you couldn’t do lesson sessions, like the ones we did today, without knowing EXACTLY what you want to achieve. The aim is to make it look, and feel, and genuinely BE a shared learning journey. Instead of showing that you knew you were going to ask the children to do, it can be a simple, yet incredibly effective step, to pretend you have just made the challenge up yourself.

We explored everything from persuasive language and balanced arguments, through to taking off and flying with descriptive imaginations of what might lay beyond where we stood, in a mysterious, fantasy landscape.

And, it is not about the technology. The fact that the technology enables us to experience moving, living, breathing landscapes is the thing.

It is always interesting, to mix writing, thinking, speaking, and listening, with movement. The use of physical actions to reinforce new concepts and terms can ensure that pupils retain knowledge for use in further activities at later dates. In fact, somebody once said they were quite surprised, when teaching a class about simile and metaphor after being involved in one of these sessions, that their class all started to strike poses and pull funny faces when reciting the terminology!

The strategies adhered to a social constructivist method of learning (I know! oooh er eh?!); we encouraged children to share as a class, in groups and with partners, channeling  their excitement and energy into expressive and focussed activities. Some improvised drama, where children took on spontaneous roles, immersing them in the world on “the screen” ~ although the screen is never referred to, ~ it becomes REAL. These on-the-spot performances were impressive to observe, unleashing come creative power without children being prepared by being given specific lines of dialogue.

After a good deal of discussion, the children wrote spontaneously, producing work of a high quality full of vivid imagery. They were also encouraged to refine their spoken language & clarify their ideas. Despite the length of the session, they remained on task and enthusiastic throughout.

Some superb writing, dramatic involvement and effort all round. Well done ALL!