Archive for June, 2007

Bath Spa II

| June 29, 2007 | 7 Comments 

I was honoured to be asked to deliver the opening keynote speech at a conference organised by Bath Spa University and their School of Education looking at ways of redesigning the curriculum in the light of the new Primary Framework.

I had so much fun as this receptive audience had a superb sense of humour. Because of this, I ran comprehensively over time. 🙂 Well done to Ed, for getting through a Doors of Doom Challenge.Ed was chosen by the hat. There was NO fix there Ed. Honest. Who would have believed your name could come up TWICE out of over a hundred people?! That throws my lessons on Probability out of the window!

It was good to get to have a chat with folks afterwards too. 🙂

The Bath Spa campus at Newton Park is a remarkable setting for a university. Situated on the outskirts of Bath, Newton Park is a wonderful parkland estate, leased from the Duchy of Cornwall. The grounds were designed by the well-known landscape architect Capability Brown in the eighteenth century. The campus boasts its own lake, nature reserve, woods and farmland, along with beautiful historically important buildings. Several of the period buildings have been refurbished to provide teaching and study rooms – such as the 14th century Castle tower, the oldest building on the campus and a scheduled ancient monument.

As I am a huge fan of panoramas, I am glad to say that Bath Spa have a “Virtual Tour” of some of the campus HERE

Again, I was presenting in the main theatre in the Michael Tippett Centre, a superb venue with remarkable acoustics. The hall hosts a huge range of concerts and is one of the central venus for the International Guitar Festival in August, which I attended last year and took a “Logic 101″ music programming course with Joe Moretti

I will be making a third return trip to Bath Spa in on Wednesday the 11th of July, to present at The Music Education Conference

Thankyou to Susan Haywood for organising an excellent day today.

East Wickham Junior, Bexley

| June 28, 2007 | 1 Comment 

A fun day of doing what I enjoy most: TEACHING. I taught three demo lessons using Myst III:Exile as a stimulus for discussion and writing in three classes at East Wickham Junior school in Welling, (which is a district in the London Borough of Bexley.)

The children of East Wickham Junior were ready with some really creative and interesting comments, ideas and thoughts which they transfered to paper with some style… and humour!

At the end of the day, joined by colleagues from the infants school, I led a staff meeting where we delved deeper into some of the visual literacy ideas and the other potential activities we have been developing.

When looking at digital film making, we discussed how invaluable the process itself is to developing team working. Skills such as discussion, critical thinking and analysis, refining… Above all though the planning stage creates many opportunities for a learning experience in its own right. There is a really simple description of how Pixar develop a film project here.

It is amazing how even a simple idea can be really effective

The movies do have there own odd rules don’t they?!

I have become intrigued by the idea of on screen pop up books after exploring Shoo Fly’s excellent The Three Little Cowboy Builders. Tom, (Moore) their innovative software designer has created a world first, in my mind. He has turned Ann Curtis’ imaginative twist on the original Three Little Pigs story into a fully interactive 3-D pop up book that children can read, navigate, print out and make for themselves. Typically for Shoo Fly, this resource includes cross-curricular teacher support and story creator software to engage the most reluctant of learners, promoting creativity whilst developing language and writing skills. Oh yes… and, as usual it is GREAT FUN!!

Here is another one for YOU to explore, this time on the theme of computer games and the internet. It is interactive and online, so watch out what pops up for you

Thank you to Susan Jefferies, and all her colleagues at East Wickham Junior school, for a VERY enjoyable day. Keep up the good work.

Us on our Ollidays

| June 26, 2007 | 1 Comment 

Guess where I’ve been…

I don’t normally blog about me-time-orf, but … well, GLASTONBURY!!?!

A remarkable mini city of cutural oddities springs into life in the middle of the countryside. Forget the images you see on the news or even the T.V. coverage. No words can explain the incredible variety of human life and experiences that Glastonbury delivers. Everything: bands, circus, comedians, dancers, jugglers, artists, sculpters, musicians, great food, laughs, oh yes, and a little bit of MUD!

How often have you been woken on a Sunday morning by the National Youth Orchestra playing Fanfare for the Common Man for you in your bed?

Now “back to it” …and a bit of washing!

Bridgend Talk Conference

| June 18, 2007 | 3 Comments 

I was invited, by Les Phillips, School Development Officer, Bridgend County Borough Council Bridgend to open the Bridgend Talk Project Conference at the ESIS Conference Centre near Cardiff today.

I have become very involved with Bridgend and have always enjoyed the visits I have made before. I am also coming back  over three weeks in the autumn term, working clusters of schools, in the region.

Les, Jane Ryan Caine, Jo Blackman and Beth Williams organised a really interesting day, full of discussion on ways of motivating speaking and listening in children of all abilities and ages.The project has received financial and moral support from the Basic Skills Agency for Wales, in the shape of their Training and Strategic Intervention Grants

The Talk Project aims to develop talk-based learning through interactive group work, using techniques and strategies inspired by the work of the National Oracy Project. These strategies are generic and can be applied from foundation stage through to key stage 3, across all subjects. I find many of the elements fascinating and similar to the techniques we have been developing when using the Myst games as a stimulus. Individual think time; paired talk; structured talk; thinking and talking, envoying, collating ideas, sharing across a group…

On a previous trip to Bridgend, we touched upon many of these features and planned how we might work across all areas of the curriculum and recorded them on 2Simple’s 2Connect:

A lot of the development process in the Bridgend Talk Project is based on modelling, focus on key vocabulary, and reading writing to peers. All of these elements are particularly valuable for boys, who need an audience for their work and ideas.

The Talk Project was originally developed, in Hull, by the Education Development Unit (part of St Martin’s College, Ambleside) Original work was carried out by John Peatfield and his team.

You can see some case studies from the Hull project here: Collingwood Primary School, Bricknell Primary School

It was fun to get the folk at the conference to try some of the talk elements through one of the Myst landscapes. However, for me, one of the most enjoyable experiences was watching Karen Morgan and Julia Williams, from Mynydd Cynffig Junior school and Tynerheol Primary school, present all of the excellent work they have been doing using Myst. They had so many thought provoking ideas: getting children to design real perfumes after studying the plant life in the Myst landscapes. Superb! Character profiles for all of the Myst inhabitants:

One of the “extras” I mentioned was my use of Crazy Talk 4. Discussed with a few people how useful this can be for presenting work in an original and fun way. It is also great for exploring facial expressions with children on the autistic spectrum. We had Tony Blair welcoming us all personally this morning.

Thanks to all for a valuable and practical day.

St Helens – Write Club 7 Conference – Haydock

| June 14, 2007 | 9 Comments 

Back on the circuit of sporting venues again today with a very enjoyable visit to the St Helens Write Club 7 Conference, which was held at Haydock Park Race Course.

I resisted the temptation for a quick canter round the track during the breaks, but it was lovely to look out across the course from the balcony rooms we were in.

Had a “different” journey up with the car producing as much steam as Ferdinand Verbiest tried to do in his vehicle, but we got here in the end.

This is the second time I have presented at a WC7 conference, the first held last year and also at Haydock. 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. Write Club 7 have been shortlisted for a Becta ICT Excellence Award in the Extending Learning Opportunities category.

The conference was opened by Margaret Baxter, Teacher, ICT Team Member and AST at Eccleston Lane Ends Primary School and Outreach worker delivering Hands on Support for St Helens LA. (What a job title!) Margaret is a remarkable lady. I have rarely met someone with such enthusiasm, such a quick wit and sense of humour. Irrepressible. “Tim, It’s so busy here, I feel I am trying to juggle soot or nail a jelly to the ceiling” Margaret describes herself as a lady with a passion for using ICT in learning. She works closely with another dear friend, Sarah Neild from Birchley St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Wigan.

I have seen these two presenting at BETT for Marc Keable, on the Classroom ICT stand and have seen the warm wit they use to get across their passion for effective use of IT in schools. You can see Margaret and Sarah in action HERE when they were presenting at the Naace conference – Effective models for ICT CPD. (You may have to scroll through, or wait, to find them!)

Today I had the opportunity to watch a whole presentation from Margaret. As I would have expected, she told us about some of the many interesting, innovative and accessible ideas she has developed for using ICT with children of all abilities… and she did so with her usual style, full of dry wit and humour. Brilliant.

Margaret’s title was “What works in my classroom” She did her presentation using 2Simple’s 2Connect. I have started to use this remarkable little program in a similar way, too, as it allows you to present in a non-linear way. Margaret covered a huge amount of creative ideas: Teachers TV, the use of video clips, e-books, countdown, the St Helens website (full of useful resources) original ways of using powerpoint… and so much more.

In looking up some of these links as Margaret is presenting, I came across a site I used to use a lot, but had forgotten about: The Primary Resources Blog. Links to useful resources galore.

Margaret offered the useful tip of looking for files by adding the extension after a file name e.g. .ppt for powerpoint presentations on the subject you are teaching; .wav or .mp3 for audio files; .exe for programs; .doc or .pdf or .txt for text files.

Margaret uses games and simulations as a stimulus. For example, Freddie Fish has proved to be a very useful way of encouraging writing and bringing in structure for young lads in her class.

The whole day proved to be full of humour with laughter all round. I enjoyed my sessions, which included a hands-on exploration of the visual literacy, speaking and listening ideas in the afternoon. We also made some of our own interactive powerpoint games. For example we looked at how to make an interactive tour of the school, and how to make one of the, now famous, Doors of Doom Challenges. 🙂

Thank you so much to Margaret, Rachel Rimmer, Joe Leather, Kristy Geraghty and their colleagues at Write Club 7 for organising a really fun day.

Bath Spa University… and The Republic Polytechnic, Singapore.

| June 12, 2007 | 2 Comments 

I was invited to present an evening seminar at Bath Spa University. Susan Haywood,Head of Partnership within the School of Education, had invited schools who host students on postgraduate teacher training courses, to The Michael Tippett Centre on the Newton Park campus. Remarkably, over seventy people came …and we had a really good laugh too!

The day started with a very different kind of meeting however. I met with three fine gentlemen from The Republic Polytechnic in Singapore. (R.P.) Ridwan Othman, Frederick Chew and their director Glen Ogrady are visiting the U.K. to find out about effective ways of integrating computer games in their courses.

One of the distinguishing features of Republic Polytechnic’s education system is its unique adaptation of Problem Based Learning. Very siginificantly it is problem based rather than problem solving – all about the life long cognitive and commnication skills necessary across any discipline.

Students are organised into classes of 25 and, within those classes, into teams of 5. A 16 week module might comprise a series of challenges or problems, with a facilitator working with a class for a whole day at a time. The facilitator provides written feedback on a daily basis. They focus on taking away the emphasis on content and accentuate the idea that we all “learn” at differing paces and in a variety of ways. “Over whole of course you will have gained…” seems to be the key point. This ties in so well with my own thoughts on creativity within the curriculum and being creative WITH  the curriculum.

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Germany – Derby Middle School, OsnabrĂĽck

| June 7, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Paid a flying visit to Derby Middle School, OsnabrĂĽck in Germany. My flight times were changed so we had to compact the day slightly but that did not stop us having FUN! I really enjoyed the sense of humour from all of the folk there.

Jessica’s acrostic (Computers Overcome Most Problems, Unless They Electronically Refuse!) was particularly appropriate as we did come across a few glitches, including Daros the dalek “rapping” over the P.A. system!… but we overcame him/them and had a laugh too throughout the day.
It was good to work with colleagues across a huge age range (not young or old, wrinkly teachers – but their pupils coming from early years up to secondary!) We thought of how the visual literacy ideas and tools can be applied, but also how “unconnected” activities can be integrated into units of work. Derby school has a background in stimulating discussion and literacy through a subtle use of IT. Their recent “Derby Goes to Hollywood” week was a creative media project and saw the children making mini-masterpieces on film. They even awarded Oscars, made by in DT, at the end of the week. (Nice one Dave Crausby and crew.)

Some know that I am a huge fan of panoramas. OsnabrĂĽck has taken the next step and combined rotatable panoramas together with “hotspots” to make a virtual tour of the city. Try it HERE:
Panoramas are a fantastic way of immersing children (or yourself) in a different location. I have often pointed folk in the direction of a great site, full of resources that you can use as a visual stimulus:

It is important to not forget to take the time to stand still in each QTVR (Quick time virtual reality) Panorama and write or discuss – before you even think about moving. It is the first movement that creates a bit of magic when using these with children.

One of the best so far…

…and by the way, I always appreciate your links to these too. Thank you.
Choose a book from the shelves above. Have fun!

I would like to thank Ceris, Sue and all of the colleagues, for a really enjoyable day today. Good luck over the next few months as changes take place in Derby school, and also with your upcoming Ofsted – I know you will fly through it! If they give you any hassle, just wheel out your alien sound system. That ‘ll scare ’em off!

Images from OsnabrĂĽck HIVE. Thankyou.

More doors…at Bryncethin.

| June 6, 2007 | 0 Comments 

The doors idea seems to have really caught some people’s imaginations as I have a had quite a few emails from teachers over the last few weeks. It was also very good timing for those who had to inflict SATs on their Year 6s!

Luke, from Bryncethin Primary in Bridgend, Wales, was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to go through that process but I appreciate the link he sent, to some of the work his children have been doing:

“Hi Tim, I sent you a mail a few months ago congratulating you on your work, and how I enjoyed your seminar in Bryngarw (I was the big guy who helped instal the Myst discs.) I have been using your strategies to great effect, and they have definitely improved writing and the willingness to write. I have a lovely display, I’ll send a picture to you. I have also used the multimedia images of doors to great effect, some results can be seen on our website: Bryncethin Primary

I have shared the techniques with other staff and also Welsh Assembly, which will be published in a forthcoming document. I would very much like to meet again and ‘pick’ your brains about some other ideas when you are around.

Kind regards, and Thanks again
Luke Chaeter.”

Thanks Luke and well done to you and your class!

Also had a good long chat with Paul Hutton, the Primary Teaching and Learning Consultant from Luton, about all of the exciting work they have been doing with Exile. Watch this space!

Keep coming with your ideas and examples of some of the great work you have been doing.

It’s not rocket science 39

| June 6, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Too many choices! HERE

Mind you, I don’t know what right I have to comment:

I find it difficult to fill in a lottery form! 🙂

(Picture from Teaching for Learning – worth a look too)

Hammond Primary School

| June 5, 2007 | 3 Comments 

A fun visit to Hammond Primary School and Nursery in Hemel Hempstead. A creative crew who were ready with imaginative responses and up for an unusual challenge. I really enjoyed our exploration of the “virtual” worlds of words. These folk know how to laugh. All the staff, including TAs and chair of governors got fully immersed in their “travels” and did so with a great sense of humour.

Caroline was chosen (by The Hat) to tackle the “Doors of Doom” challenge. I must get one of the children to change the route through the doors, as I am becoming far too helpful to those who risk (digital) life and limb in the game. 🙂

encyclopedia dramatica

Thank you to Zoe, Emma, Gail and all their colleagues for organising a great day. I am sure we will stumble across each other again.


| June 3, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Have just returned from a really great week in Austria, paying a visit to the excellent “Ars Electronica” museum in Linz.

Ellie’s passport arrived on the Saturday morning and, as it was half term week, and she features in my presentations, I managed to get hold of a ticket for her, too.

So, within an hour of having her passport to independent travel, she was able to come with me to Salzburg and Linz.

There was a practical advantage too, as Ellie was able to give a “young techno” perspective on the innovative ideas we saw. She was also far more qualified to “take off” with some of the ideas.

In some cases, literally:

The highlight of our visit was most definitely the flight simulator “Humphrey II”

This enables you to dive into a world only made up by bits and bytes. The person taking the trip is connected to the computer by cables fixed all over the body. They are then winched into the air in front of three large screens.

It is possible to fly over a “virtual” Linz, dive into the Danube, or swim through a coral reef. The direction you travel is dictated by how you move your arms and legs.

Ellie became a proficient flyer in a short space of time, only once nearly crashing into the tower of a large church!

Ellie: “Flying was a great experience, shame it was so short! My head still hurts from the little collision with the cathederal!! During our time in “Electric Bottom” (as I called it!) we watched a plastic house spin with weird light effects; had a photograph taken and put onto a digital landscape, using green screen; made music with different shapes on a board and visited the featured ‘cave’, where we had a 3D tour of some place in Italy – I really liked this one because it really felt like we were walking, I even ducked when we “walked” under a low door! But my favourite was definitely the flying though.”

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