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Tools to Tell a Tale, Dillington House, Somerset

| October 1, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

TTTAT Somerset

InFinity LiteracyIn-finity Literacy Limited hosted “Tools to Tell a Tale – Improving reading and writing through ICT” with us,  Pie Corbett and David Mitchell at Dillington House.

This one-day conference was about injecting creativity back into classrooms, mixing digital methods with traditional writing strategies, and providing a host of practical and simple ideas for literacy lessons and beyond. The day featured:

  • a vast range of ways to use ICT to enhance literacy
  • methods of engaging interest and developing communication
  • the power of blogging
  • a ‘Coveritlive’ collaborative writing session
  • shared writing in conjunction with powerful, accessible, technology
  • creating a story that travels around the world and is built upon by children across the globe.

A big Thank You to Maria Richards, Literacy Consultant/Trainer & Talk for Writing Primary Adviser, for organising this joyous event

We demonstrated the use of imaginative techniques and inventive tools, whilst interacting with pupils from around the globe as we “set the tale, developed the plot, enhanced the drama and inspired the world in just six hours”.

“This one-day workshop aimed to inject the creativity back into classrooms, mixing digital methods with traditional writing strategies, and provided delegates with a host of practical and simple ideas to apply in their literacy lessons”.

Our friends today know how to get to a hidden bit, of this blog, which has every link the three chrome domes shared with them.

Tools to Tells a Tale, is an intriguing experience, bringing together the three bald blokes, for an exploration of story telling, on a global scale. Folks were part of an evolving story, alongside children from around the world, investigating a wondrous collection of digital, and analog, gems for bringing learning alive

Folks joined us, as we travelled across dangerous terrain, through swamp-infested landscapes, and to the top of crumbling towers, all through the power of inventive technologies”.

David Tim PieThe chance to be a part of a live writing master-class, with children from Skye to Sydney, responding to this creative challenge.

An engaging, imaginative and exciting experience, for those joining the journey, aiming to leave everyone with copious practical ideas, approaches and technical tools to take back and use in their own teaching, with children of all ages, and abilities.


| September 30, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

ScribbleMapsScribbleMaps enables the creation of labelled maps on a lot of different scales. Annotate, and link off, your journey

The Oaks CE Learning Federation, at Bartley C of E ~ Day 2

| September 30, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

The Oaks CE Learning Federation

oaks_mini_logosOur second day with the The Oaks CE Learning FederationCopythorne CE Infant School, Netley Marsh CE Infant School and St Michael and All Angels CE Infant School, again kindly hosted at Bartley C Of E Junior School.

We started the day taking a journey in some digital domains, with the younger children, a joyous exploration, in a magical virtual setting. Laughter, and knowing smiles, mixed with some full on chatter and discussion. This flowed into some imaginative, and inventive writing, and drawing, before we travelled even further.

Our afternoon was another wandering in the world of words, this time, alongside some older pupils. Taking time, to stand still, and contemplate, and then head off in to some florid, descriptive narrative ~ powerful. Well done all.


| September 29, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

SplatulataSpatulattaheader_logo features some simple, and more complex, recipes and how to demos for some fascinating cooking. One aspect is over 350 video recipes.

Search for creations by main ingredient, country/cuisine, special occasion or featured recipes. This free site is Flash based and features some subtle advertising. Get cooking!

The Oaks CE Learning Federation, at Bartley C of E Juniors

| September 29, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

The Oaks CE Learning Federation at Bartley Junior School


The first of two days with the The Oaks CE Learning Federation, made up of Copythorne CE Infant School, Netley Marsh CE Infant School and St Michael and All Angels CE Infant School, our visit kindly hosted by Bartley C Of E Junior School.

The three small Church Infant Schools are based in the villages of Copythorne, Lyndhurst and Netley Marsh, who all work closely together under the leadership of Federation Headteacher Tina Daniels and Governing Body.

OaksWith Federation status, they share expertise, and resources, and are therefore able to achieve more together than any one school can individually, but recognise it is important to retain each of the three schools’ unique and individual characters within their own community.

Thanks too, to Jane Flood, of Copythorne Infant School, for sharing these thoughts:

The Oaks Learning Federation came into being in 2009/10. It is made up of 3 small infant schools, each with 3 classes and a church in view. All are housed in old buildings in the New Forest. St Michaels and All Angels is at the top of the busy High Street in Lyndhurst. Copythorne is a couple of miles away surrounded by fields & forest and Netley Marsh is again situated off a busy main road with a church and a pub. We have 3 churches and 3 vicars.

Lots of the children come from out of catchment with a mixture from the nearest large town of Totton, old forest families with forest rights and professionals who want the semi rural life. The 3 schools make up the main feeder schools for Bartley Junior  which is a  3 form entry Junior half way between Copythorne and Netley Marsh. We have 1 Executive Headteacher – Tina Daniel – who was the first appointed head of the Federation. Each school then has its own head of learning (deputy head to you and me) who has a part time class responsibility.

As for the Federation, it is like George Lucas has named us. May the force be with you.

Thank you to Sue Griffiths, of Bartley Junior, for thoughts on the junior element:

BartleyThe staff and children of Bartley C of E Junior School are looking forward to working alongside Tim to develop literacy through computing. This will provide all children and staff with an exciting opportunity to access the curriculum and learn in innovative ways.

Bartley C of E Junior School lies in the heart of the New Forest and has 366 pupils on role who travel to us from a wide catchment area. We have spent considerable time developing computing across our school and the work with Tim will further help to enhance our curriculum as we strive for excellence in every area.

Two Foods

| September 26, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

food_comparisonTTwo foods App BananwoFoods is a food comparision tool that compares the nutritional data of two food items to see which food suits your healthy eating goal. Example food items: burger and Greek salad. Fascinating and useful on a personal and an educational level.

Staple Hill Primary School, Bristol

| September 26, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Staple Hill Primary

Barley CloseStaple HillTraining Day at Staple Hill Primary, Bristol, joined by colleagues from Barley Close Community Primary.

A big thank you to headteacher Peter Foss-Clark and Arwa Said, Deputy Headteacher, and Joe Beament head teacher of Barley Close Primary

We splattered folks with a huge collection of (mostly free) resources, and ideas, for developing lesson structures.

Alongside this exposure to a vast array of possibilities, we contemplated the aspect that we DO need to take our time in this context too. To fly from one tool to the next, without a focus on the learning that flows from careful use of one of them, is not as valuable as careful, considerate, contemplative use of the best elements of the best of technology.

It’s more about PACE. Less about speed.

Well done to all of the staff here today, for some insightful analysis of the potential power of all of the Web2.0 sites we splattered them with. To discover, and build upon, the powerful effect of using games, useful Web2 tools and software (most of it free), hand-held devices and more, and the impact these can have on the curriculum, and standards, it remains vital for us all to think about the “doing it” rather than just the “talking about it” – investigating 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’.

“Staple Hill Primary School is a happy, forward-looking school situated in north east Bristol. We serve a community which is diverse both in terms of ethnicity and economic advantage. We have a deserved reputation as a welcoming and inclusive school. Our staff team is hard-working, collaborative and committed to giving all our children the opportunities and skills they need to realise their potential.”

123D Catch

| September 25, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

123D Catch

123D Catch enables you to use your camera to capture the people, places and things around you as amazingly realistic 3D experiences, and automatically transform them into interactive 3D models.

• Take a series of photographs from different angles.
• Showcase your work and follow other amazing 3D photographers from around the world through the in-app gallery.
• Store your captured objects in the cloud to access them from all your devices.
• Export 3D models in a variety of formats from the 123D online community for use in other 3D tools and projects.
• Works on iPad/iPhone & iPod Touch.

South Gloucestershire Teachmeet at Blackhorse Primary

| September 25, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 


S Glos TeachmeetA big thank you to Headteacher of Blackhorse Primary, Simon Botten, for organising The South Gloucestershire Teachmeet. With a space theme, we went intergalactic ~ “To Boldly Go” where no teacher had gone before.

Teachmeets are fun! We try to take part in as many as we can during our travels. An informal gathering of those curious about teaching and learning. Anyone could share great ideas they’ve trialled in their classrooms, ask important questions or simply sign up to take part in learning conversations.

The main part of TeachMeet is hearing stories about learning, from teachers. This was not an event to present about a product or theory – it was a chance for teachers from all types of establishments to hear ideas from each other. Real narratives of practice that make a difference.

It was about being engaged and inspired by our immediate colleagues and a whole bucket load of networking to boot!

Lots of learning and LOADS of laughter!

Teachmeet presentations are short, which is one of the good things about them! Attendees can simply come along & watch or ideally offer to give a 7 minute micro presentation or 2 minute nano presentation, showcasing something they’ve found useful in their classroom practice.

We started with a buffet and networking, before we got all spaced out with our opening keynote. Micro Talks, came from Matt Smith (Meadowbrook), Alex Hindle & Hannah Klinkert (Blackhorse), the Rhona England, the SENCO of Mangotsfield, Ross Newman (Kings Forest), Patrick Watson (Emersons Green), and Faye Kitchen on Community Cohesion. Alan Turpin from Bristol Grammar sent a video of his session.

Nano Talks were shared by a Kings Forest Teacher, Mel Wilcox, Faye Bertham, from Stanbridge and Simon Botten

Blackhorse Primary, South Gloucestershire

| September 25, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts 

Blackhorse Primary

Blackhorse PrimaryA full on day at Blackhorse Primary,  large primary school in Emersons Green, Bristol, South Gloucestershire followed by a twilight session with all of the staff, and their Teachmeet.

This is a a school with  an incredibly open, and “up for it” approach to technology across the curriculum. Our day was a shared between the analog learning that flows from virtual worlds, and taking a fast paced glimpse at some of the digital delights that are available to bring learning even more alive.

A fun filled day, starting with the upper Key Stage 2 pupils and their teachers in the morning…

… the Year 2 pupils and their teachers in the afternoon, …

… followed by a twilight after school with all the teachers.Blackhorse Twilight

Thank you to Headteacher Simon Botten, for these thoughts:

Fighting through the ‘flim-flam’

Simon BottenIn a recent research paper by Wayne Holmes from University of London’s Institute of Education, reported in the TES concluded that technology in schools often had little impact on learning, despite massive investment because ‘one of the biggest problems was policymakers, academy chains and school leaders getting excited about innovations but failing to adequately consider how they could be integrated into classrooms.Furthermore, at the resent ResearchEd conference, speaker Nick Rose, when discussing innovation in the classroom declared These pseudoscientific ideas, the ones with no scientific founding and quite often disconfirming evidence, have rattled their way through a school, having been ousted out of other disciplinary areas, and have nested and taken root.” And therein lies both digital learning’s biggest problem and, I believe, its coming of age.

At Blackhorse, we believe that technology offers huge potential for new and more effective ways of learning. However, we also understand that the latest shiny piece of hardware is simply a tool which can be used well or badly. In the same way as owning a pencil won’t make you Shakespeare, we understand that owning 200 IPads won’t automatically lead to outstanding learning outcomes – and in the worst cases can actually distract from and hamper learning. .

Blackhorse in SpaceThis has led us to ask one simple question when considering new technology: ‘why bother?’ This may seem like the mantra of the the lazy, the conservative or the Luddite. But our children we never get that ill-conceived or ill thought out lesson/ unit/ year again and we therefore have only one chance it get it right so must justify all our innovations.

An example of this was our adoption of IPads as learning tools. Four years ago a number of academics in the US began noticing that children with Autism responded unexpectedly when asked to work on IPads and other touch screen tablets, demonstrating the ability to communicate via these devices in more complex ways than their teachers had previously thought possible. Social Media and blogs also provided an emerging ecosystem of families and educators sharing their anecdotal evidence which correlated with more official findings.

CelebrationsAs a school with a Resource Base for Autistic children, most of whom find aspects of communication difficult, we felt that this research justified an investment in 10 IPads for exclusive use within the Resource Base. Importantly it was the research that drove the deployment of technology – not the other way around.

Having established a clear need for the technology and evidence to indicate its effectiveness we then turned our thoughts as to which teachers should be given these shiny new gadgets. All too often new technology is given to the techno-zealots, the teachers who will love their new technology unconditionally and who will perform wonderfully dramatic feats with their new gadget… which may or may not have a meaningful impact on learning.

We didn’t do this. We gave them to a team of outstanding teachers (all specialists in teaching autistic children) who greeted the news with an unimpressed silence. These were teachers who had a proven track record for improving the outcomes of autistic children, as well as a healthy scepticism of technology promising a magic cure.

Next we presented them with the research and introduced them to the vast international online community sharing their findings and suggesting apps (many written by specialist educators).

And then we (as a leadership team) got out of the way.

To start with nothing happened. The IPads sat on the shelf while the Resource Base teachers eyed them suspiciously. However, over the weeks that followed, activities presented themselves which the teachers felt would be enhanced by the IPads. Again, the learning imperative created the technological imperative, not the other way around.

Blackhorse in UgandaWithin six months the teachers had sought out highly effective Apps and uses of the IPads and the effect on learning in the Resource Base became unexpectedly significant. A child whose pencil control was so poor he could only draw a rough circle on a piece of paper was writing legibly within lines as a result of the daily use of an OT App; a child who rarely spoke narrated a story into a multi-media book App; and the KS2 class was able to perform and share a Christmas play via a video app for the first time.

We believe that these gains were achieved because we first looked at the evidence, then looked for the most appropriate technology, then gave it to people who were talented enough to discern the best ways to deploy it and then encouraged these professionals to engage with an online community of professionals with whom to collectively develop a pedagogy.

Compared to many schools our adoption of IPads for learning could be considered cautiously slow. However, by taking time to develop a clear pedagogy, we believe that we have improved learning in a clear and evidence-based way.

And if we are to avoid the technological tail wagging the dog of learning this care, reflection and caution must surely be the only way to ensure that technology truly impacts on learning. ~ Learn touch typing

| September 24, 2014 | Add Your Thoughts, a web application that will help you teach touch typing, or typing without using the sense of sight to find the keys. It can improve any individual’s typing speed and accuracy dramatically.

A short tutorial explains how works. Use the left and right arrow keys to navigate the site

Or maybe stay like Miss Print from A Load of Rubbish!: “On completing her studies at the Mavis Bacon school of typing Miss Print dived straight into the typing pool ..and sank. She has since resurfaced with great style and when pushed can type 65w.p.m. When shoved she can get up to 65m.p.h. !!!!