Archive for May, 2007

A grand Day Out for Blackpool and Fylde College

| May 25, 2007 | 6 Comments 

Up here at Preston Guild Hall for a day with the grown-ups. i.e. college folk.

Stephen Heppell delivered the opening keynote presentation of the Blackpool and Fylde College Grand Day Out.

Among many things, he put forward some interesting ideas for 21st Century learning tasks. For example, those essays that are available for free download these days: Instead of banning them and ignoring their existence, how about getting students to choose a few of those essays and compare and contrast them, improve upon them, offer a critique. Stephen also did a word search through a policy document: references to “standards” – 98, references to “failure” – 45 – references to “creativity” ZERO

Stephen referred to his Be Very Afraid events, where children and students present their uses of technology.

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Eccleston Lane Ends, Write Club 7 and Becta bods

| May 24, 2007 | 0 Comments 

It is a while since I have been for an interview. Today, though, reminded me of the final stages of the Becta award process that I experienced a couple of years ago. I am up in the North West to present at a conference tomorrow for Blackpool and Fylde College. Whilst here, I was asked if I would come and be a “witness” to the wonderful work being done by Write Club 7 based in St Helens. Write Club 7 have been shortlisted for a Becta ICT Excellence Award in the Extending Learning Opportunities category. I have been involved with the project over an extended period and am coming up again for a fortnight in October to work with all of the schools in the cluster, so I feel very happy to offer my support.

Whilst here at Eccleston Lane Ends I enjoyed the chance to work briefly with Years 3 and 6. What imaginations and vocabulary! The year 3s have been wandering in Exile to inspire their writing, but were also using it today to stimulate some art work on landscapes. One of them was bravely facing some of the challenging Becta questions, to showcase some of the excellent writing he has done whilst taking part in the Myst project.

Had a quick chat with Debs Ayerst, learning platforms consultant for St Helens LA, about the direction that the authority is taking in looking for a provider. Debs was another one of the witnesses to the innovation of the Write Club 7 project, focussing on the online collaboration.

It is a little surreal to find, again, that one simple lesson and idea has been picked up and developed by folks all over the place. I am also aware, though, how my own use of resources has developed too, since the ICT in Practice Award days. During my travels to share ideas for inspiring writing etc, I am also learning so much !!

Thank you to Margaret and Rachel for a fun, flying visit… and good luck with the award. You deserve it for your enthusiasm, innovation and, let’s face it, nuttiness!

eLive! ’07

| May 22, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Was honoured to be asked to give the opening keynote presentation at eLive!’07 today.

This superb event featured a dynamic range of seminars, keynotes, an exhibition area, learning spaces and much more. It was hosted at Murrayfield Stadium and buzzed with energy.

I had flown straight from yesterday’s event in Oxford but I did manage to get a quick look around Murrayfield before we started. I have had a year of stadiums and sporting venues so far, including the Charlton Athletic ground and Haydock Racecourse. It is always a good experience as you can almost hear the echo of the weekend crowds.

We had a couple of technical difficulties to begin with (That is the joy of proper, big-boys, professnial projectors – they don’t think and they get confused when you ask them to change screen resolutions!) but that didn’t stop us having a laugh. I had bought a poster for URU, which was signed by Rand Miller (the game’s creator) ready for a competition at the end of the presentation. However, a young lad in the audience who was there to take part in a demo activity later in the day, very astutely identified Rand as the mind behind the Myst series and, quite rightly, deserved to win the picture, for his observation alone.

I decided to have a laugh and try a live “Doors of Doom Challenge” even with such a large audience. Their particpation meant that we didn’t do too badly at all. 🙂 The Hat chose Linnea from the crowd and the “Oooohs” “Left” “The door in the middle” calls from the rest of the room successfully guided her through a far from linear experience (sorry about the bad pun there, Linnea.) The game is a simple use of PowerPoint, using hyperlinks between slides. I have some of my classmates to thank for providing us with a fun session.

I had a “Steve Jobs moment” and showed some of my children’s “iPod Scrubs.” As I stood in front of an enormous view of a video iPod, I felt a bit like Mr Jobs when he is doing his big “reveals” at the Mac events but I carefully avoided the temptation to go “Boom!” (Worth a quick look)

I enjoyed the opportunity to meet a few folks in a Forum session. So much of what I am doing fits so well with the Scottish education drive for creativity. (see Glowing in Aberdeenshire and the feedback there in the “Comments Filed section) Some really insightful questions opened up a fascinating discussion.

It was good to meet up with Joe (Moretti) and Oscar (Stringer) , two remarkable and wise gentlemen who offer encouraging support whenever it is necessary on the creative path.

I also managed to hook up with a couple of other gentlemen who I have had a lot of (digital) time for but it was even better to get to chat face to face.

Ewan McIntosh is a well known blogger who has become a hub for many aspects of web 2.0 creativity. Ewan even live-blogged my presentation, including the nightmare of the projector and my “vamp ’til ready” efforts. (Thank you Ewan for the photos used in this post.)

I enjoyed a chat with Derek Robertson and found his keynote on the use of games in literacy thought provoking and inspiring as he collected together many original elements, from Crazy Talk through to Mission Maker via a most amusing film of him as a Guitar Hero.

Thank you to Andrew Watt for the invitation up to eLive’07. I am looking forward to a couple more trips up to Scotland over the coming months and hope that they will be as much fun as I have had today. 🙂


| May 21, 2007 | 0 Comments 

A great day in Hawkwell House, Oxford, running an Improving Boys’ Writing Course for the Primary Strategy Team of Oxfordshire County Council.

I am finding that so many venues I am asked to present in now are perfect settings in terms of exploring the world of words. Hawkwell House is a lovely venue in elegant surroundings.

I have had some lovely e-mails over the last week, from heads and teachers of schools, thanking me for preparing their children for SATs!! Thank you. However, apart from the fact that I am allergic to the tests themselves I also believe that the less emphasis we as a school placed on preparing for SATs the better our scores got! I am a firm believer that it places an emphasis on quality teaching and learning through the whole year, rather than a stressful blast in the “run up weeks”, (for some, months!)

What they actually were refering to was the subject of the short writing task, a descriptive story opener about what lies beyond a mystery door. There should have been more than a few children and staff, who I have worked with, having a quiet, private chuckle as we often focus on the tension and mystery that the doors we encounter in the Myst games hold.

A fun day today, with more than few mysterious doors explored. Teachers from schools across Oxfordshire, who were up for a challenge. 🙂

(A few technical difficulties with the internetty-web connectivity doodahs so will upload on my return to “base”.)

Thanks to Nilofer, Anna and the literacy team, and all those involved in organising today’s event. Well done!

A new T

| May 19, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Well… put it this way: I once did three maths tests. I failed FOUR!

There are three types of people when it comes to maths: Those who can and those who can’t.


| May 8, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Some might consider me a bit off my rocker to head out onto the roads of the Southwest of England on May Day bank holiday Monday, but my trip was worth it. I “swam against the flow” of holiday-maker traffic, well the majority of it anyway, to the most southern part of the U.K. and the glorious seaside harbour of Porthleven in Cornwall.

For me, this area of the world is a glorious example of a landscape to inspire…

… but I was invited down to work for two days with the staff and children of Porthleven primary school, and some colleagues from surrounding schools, in exploring some other mystical landscapes, this time digital.We could have been dressed in white and dancing through the streets, as today was Flora Day in neighbouring Helston. I don’t trust my leggies to do anything except keep my bottom off the floor and to try to steer me in a straight line (I don’t do changing directions, cornering or stopping quickly any more 🙂 ) so it was safer to walk, metaphorically, through some fantasy landscapes and admire the flora (and fauna) there.

Porthleven primary school is set within this beautiful region of the country and has a good focus on environmental issues. It has recently built a large knot garden. These two photographs, taken from a helicopter piloted by a parent from the school, show the design and first days of the new creation.

It is a sensory garden, with the first phase looking at “Taste” so it is full of vegetables (no scrumpin’!!) BBC Gardeners World have been down to film and are going to return to see how the garden is progressing – so watch your TVs to see the results.

A superb and creative bunch of staff explored the “inspiration potential” behind these visual literacy ideas. Thank you Claude for summarizing the fact that the games we use are a huge bank of resources to be plundered only when appropriate, but that there are so many times when they ARE relevant.

Well done to Chris, who got picked on rather unfairly, 🙂 to conduct a huge orchestral cacophony (sorry) concerto of sound.

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Thank you to the staff from Rosemellin, Halwin, Manaccan, Roskear, Troon, Lanner and Porthlevin for a great fun day, full of laughter. Thank you, too, to Duncan for organizing this visit and for your generous hospitality.

Optickle illusionistration

| May 7, 2007 | 1 Comment 
One of my favourite activities with children, is to get them to write imaginary instructions. (attach the flenge carefully to the extreeded splicket. If the grellble is fullated, scrunn it frobullously with a full snucket.)

p.s. only try this with a fully inflated scree net.

(On re-read, my example sounds like a classic Kenneth Williams as Rambling Sid Rumpo!! Here’s a link to an archive recording of Ken at his gruntnussocking best:

Thank you to “Mr W” for sending me this link.)

Sir Ken on creativity

| May 4, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Another enlightening presentation from Sir Ken Robinson.

I had the honour of presenting at SETT in Glasgow when Sir Ken was doing a keynote there. It was a great pleasure to meet him back stage afterwards and he gave me some open and encouraging advice about travelling and presenting around the world, as he, like me, experiences some slight mobility limitations. I was inspired by his energy and enthusiasm; his vision and humorous style of delivery.
It was a significant meeting for me as I felt encouraged to carry on in my “own way” and style and not let my leggies get in the way of a full and dynamic life. (At least these legs of mine are still keeping my bottom off the floor! 🙂 )

This presentation, recorded at TEDD, in Monterey, CA, is typical of his combination of deep insight and wit, portrayed in a fashion that reminds of a cross between Michael Cane and a warm-natured stand-up comedian.

Sir Ken had more time to develop his thoughts when he presented at SETT but you do get some flavour of the man here.

Write on…

| May 4, 2007 | 0 Comments 

It is always lovely to get sent work springing from one of my visits. Folk have sent me everything from art work to films. So, thank you, today, to Helen’s class, at Oxford school, Muenster, Germany

After thoroughly enjoying your training at the ICT conference in Hamm, I’ve boldly (or baldly 🙂 ) led some training in school following your example. I felt so exhilarated by the positive response from the teachers at school, but more importantly from the response from the kids in my class. I teach year 6 at the moment, and I just wanted to share with you some of their writing.



I love the idea that the marble ledge was worn down by centuries of intrigued elbows! Spot on! That really conjures up a picture of people standing in that room, surrounded by beautiful mystery doesn’t it?
Well done to P.F and C.C


Keep ‘em coming folks…


| May 3, 2007 | 0 Comments 

I popped along to the open day of eShed, held at the Watershed in Bristol.

eShed is…an exciting new website designed by young people for young people (14-21). eShed is a virtual space where you can find out about film and creative media events, activities and opportunities that you can get involved in. eShed will be regularly updated so check out their calender and news section to keep up to speed with all the latest film and media events for young people in and around Bristol. (Yep, I know that is Bristol, U.K. but the online aspect is a global showcase.)

As a member you can also send eShed your own short films and events/film reviews that could be put on to the site.

There are already some good films showcased at the moment. Take a look, for example, at the (only slightly) chilling tale of the Bedminster Dragon!!!

 Well done to all of those involved in such a creative initiative.

 The Watershed, on Bristol’s harbourside, is a great venue. As well as excellent food, they also have free internet access, so I often arrange to have meetings there… or just go to think. 🙂

It is also, conveniently, next to the home of Futurelab.

The Watershed has another site, also acting as a display case for film making talent at: