Archive for April, 2007

Fun at Folville

| April 30, 2007 | 1 Comment 

I enjoyed a return trip up to Leicester today and some sunny fun with the staff and children of Folville Junior school.

I was impressed, as ever, by the enthusiastic responses from the children. They threw themselves into the challenges and came up with some inventive, imaginative ideas.
One pair of lads even set themselves up as imaginary builders of the glass domed greenhouse owned by Catherine and Atrus.

“It took us three weeks to build. The stain glass panels came ready to bolt together. I tell you, it was hot work! If we ever got invited onto the house, we had to take our shoes off as it was SO posh!!”

Bennon Isle, Builders. (Est. 2007)


The whole of Folville school is full of such imagination and colour. Some superb displays all over the place, from classroom to corridors.

I have built up strong connections with Leicester City, after the innovative Leicester Boys Writing Project that was run over five days last year. They based their whole project on the Rylands-Islands ideas and I, too, learned a lot from the experience. Adelle Hull took a brave leap with the whole concept and it has been one that other authorities have taken ideas, and courage, from.

You can download a pdf of the project review here.

As for today… Well done to Rachel, and all of her colleagues at Folville.

That really WAS fun! Thank you.

Web 2.0 sides of the argument

| April 29, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Two (Contrasting/conflicting???) views on the world of web 2
Both worth a careful, thoughtful viewing.
From Michael Wesch at Kansas State University:

In response… Cory the Raven

Portsmouth – at last…

| April 27, 2007 | 1 Comment 

A really fun day with the ICT coordinators of Portsmouth today. It was a relief to actually make it as, last year, I had been unable to attend as I was stuck in Kuala Lumpur having been flown out of the centre of Borneo after an argument with a particularly ugly caterpillar!
This time, I was asked to give the opening keynote speech and then take a practical workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed both.
In the practical session, we had a brief exploration of the potential to expand children’s speaking and listening, writing and other areas of the creative curriculum, using visual stimuli. Well done all.

Through the day, we went from chroma key films and animation through to Virtual learning Environments.

Well done to Paul Heinrich for overcoming all the technical difficulties!
As Jessica in my class once, now famously, said:



M.ost problems





Nice one, eh?!

It was a great day to meet people, including Miles Berry, who I handed my Becta “crown” to in 2006. Miles is the learning platform king and has also landed himself the job as head of Alton school. A busy chap!

Thank you to Paul Heinrich and the rest of the Porstmouth team for organising a great day. I am already looking forward to my return trips.

GLOW(ing) in Aberdeenshire

| April 19, 2007 | 5 Comments 

This week reminds me of the Crowded House song “Four Seasons in One Day” In the early part of the week it was mid summer. Glorious sunny days with bluebells and blossom. (This picture is of my daughter, Ellie, walking in the wood behind our house, on Monday)
I enjoyed a good flight up to Aberdeen on Wednesday where snow was forecast.

The welcome I received on my arrival was really warm though. Some might say GLOW-ing

Anna Rossvoll, of Aberdeenshire council, has organised a large scale project based around the Myst idea. It involves teachers from many schools in the Aberdeenshire region. “The Myst Project”

I was invited up to launch the project by starting with a presentation on the concepts and some of the other visual literacy elements I have been lucky enough to develop around the country.

I then spent the rest of the day working with the group involved in the project.

I also went “next door” and had a great time doing a demo lesson with a P5/6 class of children. They were just not phased by having SO many people observing and came up with some excellent, creative thought and writing.

The group of teachers involved in the project are also trialling Glow, the new name for Scottish schools’ digital network. They are using Glow to communicate with each other and explore the opportunities available from their Myst-ical adventures. I am looking forward to the web conference sessions we have planned, where they will be able to ask questions of the bald bloke. I will be able to learn from their experiences too I am sure.

Our aims during this Myst project are:

• to motivate and engage learners to write creatively
• to measure the impact of using games in the classroom for learning
• to encourage and promote creative thinking
• to use technology to enable successful learning
• to make learning fun, active and challenging
• to stimulate exploration of complimentary ideas/technologies
• to embed and extend Assessment is For Learning
• To enable teachers to work with one another to share standards of performance through local moderation
• To use the ‘Myst’ Glow Group to communicate and collaborate.
During our sessions today we also focussed on the four key elements of the Curriculum for Excellence

  • successful learners
  • confident individuals
  • responsible citizens
  • effective contributors.

These areas are so fully supported by the work I have been fortunate enough to develop around the country; using computer games and other visual stimuli as a springboard for discussion, language development, speaking and listening, problem solving, collaboration, sharing of results, perceptiveness, reflection, group dynamics, imagination, inventiveness, …a bit of magic… and so much more.

I am paying a return trip North of the border on the 22nd of May, when I have been asked to present the opening keynote speech at eLive! ’07 in Edinburgh. I am hoping that I will have further opportunity to work in Scotland over the next year, as I enjoy the possibilities offered by their increasing focus on creativity and child centred learning.

Thank you to Morag, Jonathan, Julie, Aileen, Sarah, Susan, Alison, Anna R, Aloyise, Barbara, Elaine, Marek, Emma, Anna F, Allicia, Alison, Susan, Elsie, Barbara, Leah, Ruth, Lynne, Dawn, Liza and the children in Lynne’s class for your FUN and thought provoking company.

Well done to Anna, and the rest of the team, for organising the day.

Whatever the weather, it left me with a warm glow.

Duxford – more than a flying visit!

| April 14, 2007 | 0 Comments 

I spent a very enjoyable day today at Duxford Church of England Community Primary School, in Duxford, Cambridgeshire. They were hosting a joint training day with the Sawston Area cluster of schools.

Duxford school is set within the picturesque village of Duxford which is very close to the Imperial War Museum, Duxford This famous heritage site began as an airfield in the First World War and also played a vital role in the Second World War, first as an RAF fighter station and later as an American USAAF fighter base. (Its exhibits include one of the two British assembled pre-production Concordes, and the famous ‘Sally B’ B-17 Flying Fortress, star of the motion picture ‘Memphis Belle’.)

I am a great believer that what we are trying to do with children (and adults perhaps) is get them to FLY with ideas and ways of writing (or planning!)

And boy, did we “take off” today!

There were around 70 people from schools in the Sawston Area cluster. We had a fun hands-on exploration of the potential uses of one of the games in the Myst series. As there were so many of us, it was decided for folk to work within their year groups, but across all of the schools. Some excellent collaborative banter ensued.

It was a glorious day and perfect for sitting outside too…

In the afternoon session, there were a lot of original ideas for uses across many areas of the curriculum. Whilst outside, all 70 of us, we marvelled at a world where there could be August temperatures in April, cherry blossom …BUT trees without buds at the same time!

We even tackled a bit of composing. Quite a challenge with so many keen musicians playing at the same time. it would take a genius to control all of us! Into the Albert Hole strode a man up for the task. Duxford deputy, Neil, was rightly renamed Gustav for his excellent conducting.

I have to say that I have never seen, or heard, 70 folk create such a convincing sound track to what was a really complex visual stimulus.

Well done to “Gustav” and his orchestra!

A pictoral score of it might have looked “interesting” but it sounded superb.

“Duxford Symphony No.5” Gustav Harris 1732 – 2065

I think that, considering our proximity to Duxford, it might be appropriate to recap on one of my first links for 2007: the glorious “Goggles”

Although it has been around for a while now, I still enjoy having a fly in “Goggles”, the “mod” of Google Earth. In my TimesEd review of Google Earth itself I ended with “…and I think to myself what a wonderful world!” In Goggles case I think to myself “what a clever chap!” I’m not sure if I “approve” of the ability to take potshots at locations but, it is great to fly Biggles-like in a bi-plane over London or, even, the Moon!

Goggles LogoSafe flying folks!


Thankyou to Ann and the rest of the crew for a great flight!

Well done to all the staff from

Babraham C of E Primary

Duxford Primary 

Icknield Primary 

Stapleford Primary 

William Westley C of E Primary 

John Paxton Junior School 

John Falkner Infant School 

Great and Little Shelford CE (Aided) Primary School 

Thank you, too, to Janice for all your technical assistance.

The power of words

| April 5, 2007 | 0 Comments 

What amazing power and magic come from picking up words and juggling with them!

(Picture courtesy of )

Wondrous Windwhistle!

| April 4, 2007 | 5 Comments 

Today was a bit of a “homecoming gig” for me, in that I spent some time with old colleagues and new friends from Windwhistle Primary, Weston-super-Mare.

I taught for eight years at Windwhistle, and they were eight of the most enjoyable, challenging and rewarding years of my career.

I have so many happy memories: our big scale productions; trips to the Isle of Wight; Windwhistle TV where we made half an hour of TV content including adverts, weather reports, documenteries, pop videos, news, and even had David Amos (the head then) leading a MrMotivator style fitness class!

… and so much more!

During my time at the school, I taught in one of the upstairs classrooms for a while, and, each day, passed the huge mural of Noah’s Ark that has been on the staircase for many years.

It was lovely to see that it still there.

Many of my friends from that time are still working at the school and remain an incredibly positive and bubbly bunch through the challenges they can sometimes face. It was lovely to spend more time in their company again.

It was at Windwhistle that I first tried out the idea of using one of Myst games as a stimulus for discussion. At that time, we didn’t have any interactive whiteboards or projectors so I sat with a 13″ monitor on my lap, with the children (Year 5s at the time) sat on the carpet.

I had not even thought then, I have to admit, that it might motivate writing. However, one of my class got up off the carpet and started walking away. When I asked him to come back and sit down, he said “I’m just going to get my book. I want to write this down.” A-ha! 🙂

Then, we were investigating the ages of Riven. I had been recommended to try exploring this incredible landscape, by Debbie Smith, daughter of our dear friends Russell and Gill. At the time I was beginning to experience the first stages of a condition that is attacking my central nervous system. ( Forgive me if I start to sound like the bloke at the bar talking about his hip replacement!) Debbie said to me then “If you’re finding it hard to walk… try this!” She was right and as many people will know, it has since proven to be an empowering experience for many physically impaired children too.

The game had not long been released and I was still grappling with the early stages but, myself and my Windwhistle wanderers, did explore everything from the revolving room, to the little school building that could only be reached by submarine.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed today. We took the next steps, as it were, and explored Myst III: Exile (the sequel to Riven)

I really appreciated that all of the LSAs were involved in the training day, as these visual literacy ideas are something that is proving really valuable, on a one-to-one basis, or as part of small group work, as well as in a whole class context.

Humour is one of my over-riding memories of Windwhistle and it was great to see that there are still huge smiles on the Bournville Estate.
We certainly laughed!!

We most definitely had a giggle making a soundtrack!

Thank you so much to Lyn, Pat, Perry, Jenny, Julie and ALL OF THOSE INVOLVED in organising a fun way to start my Easter holiday.

It was lovely spending time with you all. Thank you.