Archive for October, 2008

Great Bedwyn CE Primary School

| October 24, 2008 | 5 Comments 

A truly fun-filled, laughter-soaked day at Great Bedwyn CE Primary School.

We get to work in a huge variety of venues – from to enormous conference halls, to small classrooms. Today, however, was one of the most original: we took the staff in to the ICT suite, a long “railway carriage-like” room. A lovely setting to take people on a virtual roller-coaster ride, or trip on The Hogwarts Express!

I say “The Hogwarts Express” because that makes a good way to get your children on their feets: “Imagine you are at platform 9 and 3/4. Along comes the train – there are no seats – you will have to stand up -the train sets off – loop your hand in the leather strap above your head – you might find yourself jostling against the people around you (gently) – turn to the nearest passengers and have a chat about (insert subject here) – lots of excited chatter – ooh look: we’re coming into the station – and ooh look! A seat!” Continue Reading

Coed-y-Lan Revisited

| October 23, 2008 | 2 Comments 

“Tim returned to our school today and worked with pupils from Y 1-6, showing the staff how his ideas could be put into practice. The pupils were all enthusiastic and engrossed as they explored the landscapes from Myst. Everyone shared laughter, imagination and time disappeared too soon.

One of our Year One boys never contributes to class discussions and is normally very withdrawn and suffers from poor concentration.

He engaged fully with the session and made many suggestions about what was waiting at the top of a cliff  – “a magical giant” was a favourite’.

A Year Two boy has trouble focusing during lessons, but during Tim’s session concentrated one hundred percent.  He had excellent ideas about the magical world and what was on top of the stalk.

Overall this sessions tied in well with what Year One and Two have been doing this term in Literacy, they have been learning to write their own stories using descriptive words and this session showed how creative the children could be.  It reinforced what has been done in the classroom.  What was most striking was that the group of children who have difficulty thinking of creative stories were fired up and came up with some wonderfully descriptive words and fully engaged with the session with enjoyment and enthusiasm.

Tim’s use of the landscapes and his modelling of questioning techniques enable the pupils’ imaginations to take flight. It was delightful, in particular , to see some of the more reluctant writers write with abandon. Though this wasn’t the occasion to be held back by problems with spelling and punctuation, this approach enable the usual stumbling blocks to be removed – there will be time for ediitng later when all the ideas are on paper.

With our Y1/2 class, Tim was relating the virtual to the real, the digital to the analogue. In this case we looked at  a nest in the game and compared the description and setting with the book The Owl Babies. This stimulated some genuine empathy for the small chick left alone in the “virtual nest”.

A brilliant time was had by all and we have all been truly (in Tim’s daughter Ellie’s word) fligminkled!”

Robert James. (Head teacher, Coed-y-Lan Primary School)

Eastern Region Gifted & Talented Partnership 3rd Regional Conference

| October 21, 2008 | 6 Comments 

I was honoured to be asked to give the opening keynote presentation at today’s Eastern Region Gifted & Talented Partnership 3rd Regional Conference at Newmarket Racecourse Conference Centre.

The Eastern Region Gifted & Talented Partnership comprises eleven local authorities in Eastern England together with local HEIs and other agencies. It provides a termly newsletter sent to all schools and a variety of conferences and other CPD opportunities.

Workshops today included: Geoff Dean, Philosophy for Children, Creativity in Teaching & Learning, Visual Literacy, Creative Curriculum, Musical Futures, Mantle of the Expert, Primary Science, and mine on Virtual Worlds and Visual Literacy.

Sarah and i delivered a workshop on using virtual worlds and on creating new worlds of words, including how to shine with multimodal PowerPointyThingies! Fun stuff.

“BTW”, try the DCFS site for some advice about, and definitions of, Gifted and talented children.

There are some helpful pieces of information within the QCA Guidance

Young Gifted and Talented, The National Association for Gifted Children, G&T Wise, and the database of resources at the National Literacy Trust are just a few of the sites you may find useful.

Teachers TV have some great programmes about gifted and talented pupils HERE

Geoff mentioned a super poem:

Come to the Edge
Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them and they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire (possibly!) (French Poet)

Coed-y-lan Primary School, Mid Glamorgan

| October 20, 2008 | 9 Comments 

The rain could not dampen the warm welcome we were given as we arrived at Coed-y-lan Primary School, Pontypridd today.

We travel through many different landscapes but find quite a few coincidences and links which remind us that it is a small world (I wouldn’t like to have to paint it though!!).

For example, as we arrived this morning the song ‘I can see clearly now the rain has gone’ was playing on Radio 2 (yes, I know we’re boring old f@rts) whilst headteacher, Robert James, (himself an ICT bod) walked towards us bearing a huge umbrella. The song lyrics were on display in the music room where we had lunch.

An even larger coincidence occurred whilst we were in Cyprus the week before last. We had been talking about our up coming schedule and our visit to South Wales today. As we came to a junction in the road we were greeted by a poster announcing a concert by The Pontypridd Male Voice Choir! Guess which song was part of their repertoire on that evening?

 A big THANK YOU to Robert, his staff and visiting colleagues.

St Teresa’s Catholic Junior School, Liverpool

| October 17, 2008

Thank you to Katie Lowe, deputy head, and David O’Brian, head teacher of St Teresa’s Catholic Junior School, Liverpool for hosting a  thoroughly enjoyable day.  The strong decision to pair up a training day on Ros Wilson’s ‘The Big Write’ with a practical, hands on, imaginative exploration of stimulus resources, really paid off. The staff seem fired up and ready to further enhance their already creative curriculum.

As ever, a big THANK YOU, for a really fun training day full of laughter and enthusiasm.


Wanted to send some MYST IV saved games today. They’re quite big files so used YouSendIt to do so.

I bet everyone wants or needs to send big files to someone else sometimes. The are more than 100 sites that enable you to do that. Here are just a few of the “FREE” ones:

Springwood Heath Primary School, Liverpool, II

| October 16, 2008 | 0 Comments 

Rebecca Shipton has kindly offered to share her thoughts on our day at  Springwood Heath Primary School, Liverpool:

“Having been an active participant on Day 1 yesterday at Parklands, I was looking forward to Day 2 with excitement and a little trepidation, mostly because being a Year 6 teacher, I rarely come into contact with ‘littlies’. Walking into Springwood, I was faced with feeling of warmth from the staff and pupils and a buzz amongst my fellow course attendees, eager to see how Tim’s inspirational ideas would be put into practise.

The first session was with a group of very lively Year 3 and 4 pupils, differing greatly in ability and needs. Using the opening scene of Myst 3: Exile and Tim’s broken arm as stimuli, many speaking and listening activities ensued.

So how did Tim break his arm? Was he ‘flying a Sesner plane?’ Did he get his arm ‘stuck in a bus door running away from an elephant’? Many wild and wacky ideas emerged – the children were all eager to share their ideas amongst their peers and as the session progressed, they became confident enough to share with the whole room.

Following a brief chat about Mr Walker, the attention turned to Myst. The bird circling and darting the landscape was certainly capturing their attention. Many wonderful descriptions came from the children; some needed the extra stimulus of sand to feel, however most of the learners were keen to air their thoughts.

Continue Reading

Springwood Heath Primary School, Liverpool

| October 16, 2008 | 2 Comments 

Today was delightful. We had the pleasure of working with the staff and children at  Springwood Heath Primary School, Liverpool. A special place to be.

During their inspection in November 2007, Ofsted Inspectors stated that Springwood Heath was a school that gave children an outstanding level of care – and that was clear to us as we explored the stimulating environment created at Springwood for learning and development. The head teacher,  Phil Daniels, explained to us that the school endeavours to provide every opportunity for each child to reach the highest possible standard they can and to achieve great successes, so developing into a responsible and thoughtful members of their community. Their successes have been recognised nationally, being awarded the Quality in Basic Skills, Healthy Schools, Quality in Study Support, School Achievement, Dyslexia Friendly Status and, Investor in People. In May 2008,  they were awarded the Advanced Inclusion Charter Mark. These are clear signs that this school cares for everyone.

“I had planned to go to a conference to-day,” said Phil Daniels. “I am so glad I didn’t. Instead I have been able to observe all of our children writing … and enjoying it.”

“The most fantastic time I’ve had for ages”. “Not my words” says Phil, “but those of ten year old Lucas who had just finished writing a story. He wore a huge smile and was so proud of what he had achieved”.

“We have been working very hard at Springwood Heath to motivate children to write and to want to write , but progress has been slow. Today, the whole school has been responding to their tasks with laughter, wonder and a desire to show off verbally. And show off they did”.

“I think the children surprised themselves, not with the ideas, but with being able to express themselves, at their own level of understanding and capability, and feeling very pleased and proud with the outcomes. Staff also have been reminded that teaching isn’t always about following the script.”

We would like to say another huge THANK YOU to Sheila O’Keeffe, and to Alison Roberts, for the organisation of today’s event. Spot on dip dap and dubbly! 🙂

On another note, I really don’t like it when pubs and hotels have a “haunted fish tank /TV” chunnering away to itself in a corner of a room being totally ignored by all. Yet in the hotel we are staying this week, they had a more subtle approach. The sub-titles facility provided by the BBC was engaged and I was fascinated by the speed and accuracy the words word displayed on the screen. So much so, I had to find out how it was done. I also challenged a fellow hotel guest, Stuart, to this quest and, last night in the hotel, we compared notes. To view our results please click here. Clever stuff!

“ICT to INSPIRE!” 2 Day Event, Liverpool ~ & Stan

| October 15, 2008 | 19 Comments 

We paid a return visit to the Parklands City Learning Centre, Liverpool today, this time to work alongside Sheila O’Keeffe, Education Consultant,  Maureen Hints, Learning Network Director and others who have organised a 2 day event for teachers. Today staff from the South Liverpool and G10 networks experienced how to inspire children to write through the use of Myst and other techniques.     Continue Reading

Booker Avenue Infant School, Liverpool

| October 14, 2008 | 7 Comments 

A lovely welcome at  Booker Avenue Infant School. This is a school full of smiling faces. The staff, the children and the walls glow.

We spent the day in the company of three Year 2 classes, joined by colleagues from across all the age ranges in the school. Staff modelled, scribed, scribbled, drew and generally mucked in with the children who also explored the world of words in creative and imaginative ways.

Each class brought different ideas which took the sessions in some fascinating and rewarding directions.

A pair of young reporters also took the chance to interview us about what motivates, challenges and inspires us in our travels around the country. Well done to you two!

Thank you to Esther Gibson, Anne Barlow and their colleagues for hosting our visit so warmly.

The children responded incredibly openly today, even though I was wielding a large, black cast – the artistic pink one has been snipped off at the fingers, allowing me to wiggle my digits at last, and has been very kindly re-covered in stylish black fibreglass. Disappointed not to get my whole hand back in service, but hey ho, here we go.

With my fingers on the loose everything I touch feels really strange. Hands are pins might be an exaggeration.

After a few more weeks of incarceration I hope to learn how to use my hands again.

Cyprus Autumn 2008 – a sunny delight.

| October 13, 2008 | 2 Comments 

Our invitation to spend six days working in Cyprus with the staff and children of the SCE (Service Children’s Education), proved to be one of the most enjoyable, challenging yet rewarding, creative experiences we have had the priviledge to be involved in.

As well as developing and extending the use of creating English across many areas of the curriculum, our role included an introduction to the power and potential of Blogging.

A practical and powerful application of blogging is when children can make their ideas public to the world instantly and offer constructive comments to their peers.

A huge joy over all the days working at both King Richard and St John’s was being involved in very professional and effective problem tackling and sharing ideas with colleagues.

The SCE schools have identified a need to develop an understanding of community cohesion, preparing their students for life in multicultural Britain, after, for some, many or all of their childhood years abroad.

Working alongside the staff we supported, in the one school, their exploration of what it means to be British and, in the other, the use of descriptive narrative to capture the features of the local Cypriot landscape.

Some of the results can be seen on the blogs found HERE and HERE.

SCE Secondary English Advisor, Cynthia Symon, was pivotal in getting this project off-the-ground and organised. She is a remarkable spirit, fully of energy and fun, yet with a thorough perception of what is needed to support developments in teaching and learning.

All the staff were up for challenges and new ideas too.

The multimodal writing frame concept was enthusiastically embraced by colleagues and student alike. The technique was applied effectively throughout our stay on the island, with, amongst other things, children recording their responses and evaluations into attractive, interactive, teacher produced templates.

We are sure this is going to be popping up in many areas of the curriculum.

With the teachers, we used those multimodal writing frames to gather some valuable feedback from the pupils.

Here are just a few snippets:

“Firstly, I have learnt how to correctly use similes and metaphors. Secondly, how to proof-read my work. Thirdly, how to add fantasy and mystery into my future piece of work.
I enjoyed it when we worked in groups to co-operate and what I enjoyed the most was writing what we saw about the picture of the garrison and the part of the game at the very beginning because it was tense.

I wouldn’t change anything I found it perfect the way it was.

My writing has become more exciting and interesting through using more similes. I also use more paragraphs.

I would just like to thank  Mr. Rylands and all the other staff for giving us such a miraculous English lesson. It definitely changed the whole idea of a lesson into an educational adventure. Thank you.

I have learnt to let people share my sentences beginnings and ideas. I have been listening more to my friends to take in good advice.

Continue Reading

St John’s School, Cyprus

| October 8, 2008 | 7 Comments 

Three very rewarding days at St John’s School here in Cyprus. Monday started with a presentation to the English and ICT departments and neighbouring Episkopi and Akrotiri primary schools.

Thank you to Amanda, Dave, Lia, Cynthia, Athy, Judith, Charles, Jane, Nigel, John, Zoe, Helen, Liz and all the other colleagues who joined us for a buzzing, thrilling, well-organised three days full of new experiences and ideas, problem tackling and professional cooperation. Everyone was willing to go way beyond the call of duty, developing new materials, searching for resources, setting up blogs and all for the benefit of the many children, who also steamed creatively through the challenging activities.

Thank you Maria and Martin for technical support and helping in our aim in making the techie elements painfree and invisible.

One of the things we discussed today was keyboard shortcuts. Here is a little HANDY HINT:

When you try to copy a group of files from one folder to another, Windows will bring up a handy little window if it notices files in the target directory with the same name as files from the source directory. You can manually choose which files to overwrite or leave be one by one. Or you can click “Yes to All” to effectively overwrite every file with a duplicate name in the target directory.

But what if you want to click “No to All?” There’s no button for you, but that doesn’t mean Windows won’t let you skip all the duplicate files. All you have to do is hold down the Shift key and click No. Now Windows will skip all files with duplicate names and copy the rest of your files to the new directory, thus saving you a lot of time, heartache, and repetitive finger motions, and giving you the opportunity to go and make a nice cup of tea instead.

max. size days before file deleted Sign-up Required
YouSendIt 100Mb 7 No
Gigasize 1.5 gb 90 days Yes
October 2008
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