Archive for July, 2007

We’re all goin’ on a…

| July 20, 2007 | 0 Comments 

The two films we have seen at the cinema recently have made me decide something:

Unlike Pirates of the Caribbean III, I will not go rambling on aimlessly trying to squeeze more and more out of an empty plot line…

Instead, like Harry, Ron, Hermione and crew, I am going to take a decent summer break.

The blog and I will see you back here in September.

Until then, have fun…even if it doesn’t stop raining!!

Farewell… Chew Magna

| July 16, 2007 | 0 Comments 

I was more than a little sad to be making a trip to the Millennium Hall in Chew Magna, for a farewell “do”.

I thought that, as I had been on a year long sabbatical from Chew Magna school, I would slip out quietly, but, …no.

I am very grateful to Phil Hammond, (chair of governors at the school) Sue Taylor, Annie Spencer, the staff, pupils and others, for organising a really wonderful and relaxed evening. Touchingly, there were so many of my ex pupils there… and they are now all so much taller than me!

[rockyou 77262481]

We all sang some of the songs from the two musicals that we performed and recorded at school. When I say “sung”… well, even I forgot most of the words. 🙂

Debbie and I had still been writing A Brand New Paige as we started rehearsals etc for the original performance!

Carl Sorensen did the design for the CD and posters.

For the party, he had done a fantastic photoshop job on the poster, substituting my head for that of Paige!

Quite disconcerting but thank you to all those who signed the back of it.

It was great to get three of the four main characters back together, to pose again for the poster.

Thank you Sophie, Stephen and James for recreating the scene.

(Sorry you couldn’t make it Lucy. It just meant I had to have a go 🙂 )

Ellie’s school, Churchill Primary, are staging the musical this year with Ellie playing the part of Dagan, so it was good for her to meet the original.

Thank you to all of the staff, parents and pupils for the very generous gifts of a replacement Mr Walker, and a spectacular trip in a hot air balloon – one of my ambitions for years.

I am still introduced as Tim Rylands ” from Chew Magna Primary school” and know that I probably always will be.

Thank you for allowing me to take off and fly. I know you will do too.


| July 15, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Reality Desktop – video powered by Metacafe

Riven ‘ritin

| July 15, 2007 | 0 Comments 

Thank you to Sue Clamp, of Wheatfields Primary school, in Cambridgshire, for sending a link to some superb writing from her Year 6 after-school writing club, “The Write Pod”

They used Riven (the sequel to Myst) as a stimulus for some really original pieces. Well done Oliver, Bradley, Ryan L , Eden, James, Ryan W, Jordan, Jessica and Emma. Great stuff!

Read their dramatic texts HERE

Just follow the “Next” button at the bottom of the page to move on to more…

Padstow – Cornwall

| July 13, 2007 | 3 Comments 

I really am a lucky man. My job now means that I get to visit some truly gorgeous places AND get to meet some gorgeous people. Today, I was invited to lead a training day for a group based around Padstow Primary school in Cornwall.

The event took place at Bedruthan Steps Hotel. What a setting!

OK – The weather this year has not been conducive to beach walks but, as my dear friend Russell says: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes! Everyone needs ‘a system'” In other words, a set of wet weather gear and a walk on the beach is enough to inspire a soul.

Did manage to get in a visit to Watergate Bay, the location of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall. A Cornish pasty on the beach and tea at The Beach Hut. Lovely!


I really enjoyed today, as we explored the digital worlds of Myst with a really imaginative group of teachers who had a great sense of humour and were up for a challenge.

Thank you to John Ratcliffe, of St Merryn school, for the nudge towards Terragen. I have often admired the landscapes created using this nifty program but didn’t realise how accessible (…and free!!!) it is.

Padstow is an inspiring place. As are many areas of Cornwall. I look forward to some return visits I shall be making in the Autumn term.

Thank you to Phil Banks, head of Padstow school for organising a great day.

Bath Spa Music Conference

| July 11, 2007 | 2 Comments 

Was honoured to be invited back to Bath Spa again, this time for a music conference held there, involving schools and music specialists from the area.

I had a couple of fun practical sessions, where the folk had a great sense of humour. We made soundtracks and scores to go with some of the game elements. Pictoral scores are a great way of planning or recording a composition though we certainly didn’t quite get as wild as the score I shall put at the bottom of this post!

I am a big fan of using GarageBand with children of all ages. It gives them the opportunity of creating sound tracks alongside film. There are many downloadable promo films for the Myst games. These are perfect as a stimulus for a music project. Selecting appropriate timbres, timing sounds to match changes of images, creating a collage of colours within the sound spectrum to enhance the on screen images.

If you don’t have access to GarageBand on a Mac, there are some superb, simple alternatives for P.C. that give children the chance to compose: 2Simple’s 2Compose includes the opportunity to compose with notation as well; More Musical Monsters is part of the Musical monsters range from QandA and encourages children to build and combine blocks of sounds, thus creating simple but eefective compositions. With both of these programs, the end result can be exported as a MIDI file which can be inserted into PowerPoint presentation. (Insert: Sound from file: find it)

A quick way of building a song backing track is provided by Chord Studio

Try Create Bands for a laugh too!

Visit the Animusic site for some excellent and imaginative digital instruments of the future. There are animated clips on the “DVD info and Clips” page

It may be a cacophony we produce when we try our hand for the first time at composition, but it is SO MUCH FUN!

Thank you to Christine Wright,Teaching & Learning Consultant for Music, at the South Gloucestershire Music Service, and to all of her colleagues, and Caro Barrett of North Somerset Music Service, for a great day.

Eric Bibb says it all, again.

| July 8, 2007 | 2 Comments 


| July 4, 2007 | 9 Comments 

I was invited to give the opening, Keynote presentation on the second day of the E2BN Conference, in Wyboston, Bedfordshire. I thoroughly enjoyed myself because of the sense of humour of the audience. For a start, we had a mini joke swap session to “fill” whilst the technical swap over was happening. My favourite: from Benny Wars the movie (see yesterday’s post) and to be said in a Star Wars voice: “Luke. I know what you’re getting for Christmas… I felt your presents!.

I really enjoyed the opportunity to listen to Chris Morley and Brendan Routledge talk about User Generated Learning and the huge opportunities available from social networking and Web 2.0 tools. I agree with them that the pitfalls are worth overcoming because they are out weighed by the huge benefits.

Chris and Brendan introduced some fascinating ideas on how mobile phones can be a powerful tool within the classroom. Yes! Phones in a classroom! Bluetooth phones can communicate with many devices and be used as an input device, sound recorder, diary, podcasting and blogging tool, calculator, camera and more.

They pointed us in the direction of the E2BN Gallery, a rapidly developing store of useful resources that is being added to by the users; Story Maker 2, a free online story creating site

I also had the opportunity to work with a group, on a hands-on session, where we explored the games and the potential learning that can spring from these huge banks of stimulus materials.

The E2BN Conference is an ambitious and imaginative event. This year, the conference was entitled “Challenging Every Child”, and looked at how ICT can be used across the curriculum to offer new challenges to pupils of all abilities, both in school and at home.

The conference dinner was an experience in its own right, with an apparently “impromptu” performance by the the three waiters!

The conference sessions and workshops were organised to help teachers and head teachers, as well as ICT and support staff, gain the confidence to implement ICT more effectively within their schools or subject areas. The conference had a focus on a number of key initiatives and areas that need to be addressed if we are to “challenge every child”.

They included: Every Child Matters – the DfES’s five year strategy to put the child at the centre of learning; Harnessing Technology – maximizing a learner’s potential through the personalisation of their learning and development; Learning Platforms; Building Schools for the Future; The need to ensure we provide a safe and secure environment for young people to utilise online resources and that they are aware of the potential dangers of the internet and mobile technologies; The opportunities offered by web 2 technologies and social networking; The new opportunities that are being offered through a UK wide National Education Network and the content and activities freely available for schools to use… and a lot more.

It was good to meet up briefly with Mahreen Abbas and Louise Cerqua from Leagrave Primary School in Bedfordshire. Paul Hutton, Primary Teaching and Learning Consultant for Luton, had introduced me to them and had previously sent me some examples of the excellent work they have been doing with the Myst idea. It was a privilege to show some of their children’s superb work in my presentation. (I will add more examples and add a link HERE when they are “up”)

Thank you and well done to Kathy Olsson, e-Learning Strategy Manager for the East of England Broadband Network for the invite and to all of those involved in organising a superb event.

(I was also glad to have woken this morning to the news of the release of the highly respected reporter Alan Johnston who has been in in my thoughts over the last four months. He has been a key figure for me because of his integrity and positive efforts to report independently about affairs in a difficult area. The last nearly four months have been a remarkably tense time for all of Alan’s colleagues and family.

Alan is a British journalist working for the BBC. He has been the BBC’s correspondent in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Gaza. He was kidnapped on March 12, 2007 and has been released, after nearly 4 months in captivity.

His captivity led to many protests in the Palestinian territories, as well as the British government meeting a Hamas member for the first time. On April 15 unconfirmed reports claiming that he had been murdered surfaced, later declared by Palestinian intelligence sources to be false. A tape claiming to be from Johnston’s kidnappers surfaced on May 8, leading to renewed hope that he would soon be released, and three weeks later a Hamas spokesperson spoke of his hope that Johnston would be freed quickly. Johnston then appeared in a video released online by his alleged kidnappers on June 1. Hopes were raised for his release in mid-June after Hamas took full control of Gaza and set a deadline for his release, but on June 24 a video of him wearing what he said was an explosive vest was released along with a warning that if attempts were made to rescue him by force it would be detonated.

It is a great relief to know that Alan, who has had respect for those who he has worked alongside, has been released)

The South West Regional ICT Conference 2007

| July 3, 2007 | 1 Comment 

A bit of a homecoming gig today, presenting at the 2007 South West Regional ICT Conference, held at The University of the West of England. This is my fourth appearance there, but still, in excess of 140 folk chose to endure my session. 🙂

I had the opportunity to recap some of the ground covered in the last couple of years and mention some of our recent developments. The on-line aspect has really intrigued many people and I hope that we can move things forward as soon as possible.

On a more immediate and accessible note:

I have often mentioned the 5 P Principle: “Proper Preparation Prevents a Poor Performance” and how important planning is to a film project. I have discovered how useful PowerPoint and speech bubbles can be in planning a task like a Public Information Broadcast, where they have to get over a powerful message in a short space of time.

I also enjoy using “Comic Life” with children because the possibilities are endless. Again, it can come in handy at the “quicky planning” stage. It has proved useful for blogging events as well.

The good folk at Sandaig Primary school use comic life to great effect in their blog too. They regularly update their site with activities and goings on at school, and often record these articles in Comic Life. It is well worth checking out the Eco blog or Sandaig TV for excellent ideas on how blogging can bring life to a school website.

Comic Life allows you to insert pictures, anotate them with bubbles, call outs, and stretchable text. Even the sound effects as you manipulate the shape of words are worth a listen

The exciting news re Comic Life, is that there is a PC Beta version available now.

Visit the Plasq website for more details.

Alternatively, make the wise decision to invest in at least one Mac for your school.

“Why?” you ask. Well, apart from the fact that they work, are beautiful places to sit at, and do what you ask them too… there are so many invaluable and accessible tools “as standard.” GarageBand, iMovie and others, seamlessly integrate and enable children to produce some excellent results, …and independently too.

I use a MacBookPro, as it also has an inbuilt camera and, even on a simplistic level, children can have so much fun with PhotoBooth.

Photo Booth is a nifty little program. You can take standard portraits, or add one of many effects including some superb distortions and colour themes.

These can be exported and added to Comic Life or any film software. “Benny Wars: The Movie” being one such film. (I will post the link to that film when it is available.)

Well done Ben! A film director at nine!

Thank you to all those involved in the organisation of the South West Conference. As ever it is one of the best. A wide range of seminars and a good trade show.

I look forward to returning AGAIN… if you’ll have me. 🙂