Archive for September, 2008

Working in Cyprus

| September 30, 2008 | 0 Comments 

 It’s a hard job but somebody’s got to do it. A couple of sunny days (and some rain!!!) preparing for our time working in the Service Children’s Education secondary schools on the island of Cyprus.

Being down here at the other end of the Mediterranean Sea, yet updating the blog and communicating with so many people makes you realise just how small this world really is. Take a look at Breathing Earth to see it living and changing.


 (Can’t swim because of the fibreglass cast on my broken hand but doesn’t stop me stopping sometimes eh?! )


Woolston Community Primary School

| September 30, 2008 | 0 Comments 

(Sorry this post is going up late. A big thank you to web-guru, Clive, for beavering away to solve some major technical glitches 🙂 )

Joyous! Really enjoyed our day at Woolston Community Primary School, Warrington. Very responsive children, some of whom surprised themselves and their teachers. There was smiles, laughter and creative thinking galore. Well done all.

Thank you to Hannah Moore and Siobhan Regan for looking after us like royalty.

For a West Country lad, Hannah has a significant name, it being the same as the famed Hannah More who is buried in the church at Wrington Village where I now live. She was an educator, writer and social reformer, and instrumental in setting up twelve schools in the 18th century.

Uvver stuff…

| September 24, 2008 | 2 Comments 

The encased (pink) hand hasn’t held me back completely. In addition to the many recent training days and school visits, we have also managed to enjoy some other events.

We had the opportunity to work alongside the Cornwall Literacy team and a select group of teachers from three secondary schools in developing a transition project to take place in 2009. This will integrate some of the visual Literacy ideas and MYST elements alongside Softease’s “Honeycomb“, an integrated set of online creativity and collaboration tools that work through the Internet.


I was also honoured to be invited to North Somerset’s “Find Your Talent” launch. This included a performance of World at our Door, a collection of 5 songs written, by myself, Caro and Tim Barrett. This was originally commissioned for a performance at the Millennium Dome in 2000.

North Somerset has been chosen as one of 10 pilot areas in the country for a government initiative called ‘Find Your Talent’.

The £25 million programme aims to give young people the chance to encounter a range of high-quality cultural experiences for five hours a week both in and outside school.

The scheme will trial different ways of offering young people a range of cultural experiences both within schools and in professional art settings. Different approaches will be used, based on partnerships between schools, local authorities and arts organisations, so that creative practitioners will spend time in schools, as well as children getting the chance to gain experience outside the classroom.


Warrington LEA

| September 24, 2008 | 14 Comments 

After weeks of anticipation, it was a great pleasure to make it up to the North West again to work alongside the Warrington ICT and Literacy consultants and colleagues from schools across the authority.

We had a quick look at the power and potential of blogging. Warrington itself has three excellent and regularly maintained blogs: Get IT Write, Visual Literacy and Warrington ICT.

Thank you to Chris Beedham and her colleagues for a well organised and fun filled, buzzing event.

Looking forward to a day of lessons at Woolston Community Primary School observed by colleagues attending today’s course.

I have referred to ways of making an internet search more accurate and on target before. A few folk today asked for some more guidance with this.

1. Banish tension by using extensions.

One of the best ways to search for a file is to add the file extension, or file type, you are looking for.

(All file extensions are preceded by a dot (or full stop) and tell the computer which program or programs are to be used to open that kind of file.)

This can be useful when looking up movie files, images, sounds, and many other document formats.

For example, if you are doing your science planning and are about to spend hours making a PowerPoint presentation about the parts of a plant, save your time.

Try a search for “parts of a plant” and you will come up with hundreds of results.

However, now add “.ppt” (one of the file extensions for PowerPoint) and you will find many, and, some of them, very good presentations about plants and their anatomy. (You could also use “.pps”)

Below are just some of the main “file extension” labels you might find useful in narrowing down a search.

If you are looking for an audio clip, try the name you want (e.g. dog barking, or the name of a TV theme) and one of the following extensions (remembering to put a “dot” before the group of letters)

Films and movie clips might be followed by one of these extensions:


Pictures or graphics:

Word documents:


Flash files e.g. whiteboard activities:


There are many other file extensions, but these might get you going to begin with.

Happy hunting!

Do let me know of any obvious (or less obvious) ones I’ve missed.

Thanks Geoff for the reminder of .pdf for… well… pdfs. 🙂

St Ives School, Cornwall

| September 24, 2008 | 0 Comments 

I can only apologise for the delay in getting this post up about our visit to St Ives School, especially as the trip was so much fun.

Thank you to Patrick Swayne and his class for an enjoyable stumble through the world of words.

One lass bore a uncanny resemblance to Yeesha, the main character in MYST IV:Revelation. She also rose to the challenge of responding to some probing questions from her classmates as she took on the role of her double.

After all the virtual beach trips we take children on we were lucky enough to do it for real and had a beautiful explore on St Ives beach with bright blue skies and hot Indian Summer sunshine.

Talking of virtual, Flash Earth is an experimental application for viewing satellite and aerial imagery of the Earth from multiple mapping websites inside a single Flash-based interface.  It is not designed to be a fully-fledged mapping application but more for enjoying and exploring images of our planet.

Follow the global dancing exploits and travels of Matt

Holywell Primary School, Needingworth, Cambridgeshire

| September 22, 2008 | 0 Comments 
Dear Tim
I took my class to The Cambridge Corn Exchange film festival award ceremony where they met you.  I met you a few years previously at a heads conference.
They had a truly fantastic time and were keen to send you a piece of work we completed during our ‘Book Week’ last March as a whole school.  Year 5 started the story, year 6 ended it, and all other classes wrote the middle – even foundation!.  All we started with was the name and the main picture.  Only a couple of the children had heard about ‘Myst’. They were very proud of their story.  It is as it was – no teacher editing has happened.
I hope you like it.
Yours sincerely
Claire Macdonald
Holywell Primary School
(Thank you Claire and your classes. Well done indeed. By the way, if your school filter is blocking the document from Scribd below, I have added the text below the “break”).

Curnow School, Cornwall

| September 16, 2008 | 1 Comment 

Curnow is a large special school in the beautiful county of Cornwall.

They cater for children and students between 2 and 19 and all have severe learning difficulties (SLD), with many also having sensory or medical needs.

Children and students come from a large geographical area:  from Newquay on the north coast, to Coverack on the Lizard to Hayle in Penwith.  We cover an area of approximately 170 square miles, and all the children and students travel in daily.

The school believes strongly that the most effective way of helping their children and students to learn is through the development of appropriate systems of communication.  So we had some great fun this afternoon.

We took the students on a sensory journey. A virtual beach trip! The weather has been so unpredictable and disappointing this year, even in the normally sunny Cornwall, so it was a relief to catch a glimpse of the sun on our journey in to Myst III:Exile. I don’t know whether I got a sun tan or if that was just a flush of excitement from seeing so many smiles.

If you want some excellent resources for sensory experiences, visit Pete Wells’ brilliant site.

UPDATE: His site seems to be undergoing some re arrangement so a lot of his humorous presentation materials can be found HERE.

The Plasma Screen and Whiteboard site contains a large amount of detailed resources split in to sections on Cause and Effect, Sensory Stories, Targetting and Choosing and Visual Stimulation. Each unit is linked with relevant P scales.

The Priory Woods School website contains a brilliant selection of music videos and animations that can be used to develop cause & effect and targeting skills.

Philip Whittaker has created a group of simple flash animations to develop targeting skills.

There are many different sign languages. I’d only manage half of any of them being currently one-handed. (Have I told you I broke my hand? Yes, Tim!). Handspeak is a website that gives an introduction to just one of those diverse methods of communication.

Pool School, Cornwall

| September 16, 2008 | 1 Comment 

Plaster of Paris doesn’t respond very well to swimming and I’m missing it, so I really enjoyed immersing myself and diving headlong into a great few sessions at Pool School, Cornwall. 🙂

I really enjoyed the session with Year 7.

After yesterday’s detailed tutorial on drawing dynamic hands, try visiting Anticz for an easier, yet superb guide to drawing the human hand.

Artist, Guido Daniele has taken handart to new levels. Have a look at his animal hand art HERE.



Newquay Tretherras School, Cornwall

| September 15, 2008 | 6 Comments 

First day working as an (even more) unbalanced (!) lop-sided chap, with my arm in plaster, so thankfully it was at a such a friendly and welcoming place as Newquay Tretherras School in Cornwall.

It is not until you can’t use a hand you realise how much you do use it. My mouse control created a few laughs.

The day started in Key Stage 4 with some Year 10 students, and two of the lads immersed themselves in role playing Yeesha’s brother and a translator. With flare, they responded to questions from their classmates, offerring creative, imaginative, and often very entertaining replies. Thanks Lads!

Well done to the students and staff for offering many helpful hands through, what turned out to be a tremendous and funny stumble through the world of words.

A special Thank You to Jane Griffiths, for organising such a successful and enjoyable day’s training involving the members of her English Department, and beyond. Her conducting skills were very inventive and I secured her authograph for prosperity.

Toby (the only male in the English Department) confidently tackled the Doors of Doom Challenge and survived!


Read this document on Scribd: Drawing Dynamic Hands

A break in transmission

| September 14, 2008 | 1 Comment 

Blog’s been a bit quiet recently because my hand had an argument with a wall … and lost. After years climbing, throwing my body around and doing silly things but getting away with it, I broke the first bone in my body, last Tuesday, tripping over my own foot!

Warning: The picture below is X-Ray-ted.

As a man with wobbly leggies, I tend to rely on my hands to help me walk. In other words, gripping on to Mr Walker, my walking stick, or just grabbing hold of the nearest solid object or friendly shoulder.

dfthdtb  cfh rg wsergn gjh dfh … oops… typing with my left hand is also more than a little clumsy and sluggish.

With an arm in plaster, I’m not able to drive, swim and so much more (1, 2, 3 ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh) but “they aint gonna stop me yet”.

Take a look at this site for some really inventive hand art.

Isle of Sheppey Academy, Kent

| September 3, 2008 | 6 Comments 

Today was interesting because, technically, we were at a school that doesn’t yet exist! (Cue spooky music.)

Well, OK it does and it doesn’t.

We were at an event organised by Dr. Paul Mortimer, Academy Principal Designate of The Isle of Sheppey Academy. The day was hosted by Minster School. Continue Reading