Archive for January, 2009

Fleetdown Infant School, Kent

| January 30, 2009 | 3 Comments 

Day 10, and what a gorgeous finale to our fortnight here in Kent.

We had the pleasure to meet and work with the pupils and staff at Fleetdown Infant School today.   Continue Reading

New Ash Green Primary School, Kent

| January 29, 2009 | 0 Comments 

New Ash Green Primary School today, a completely difference location to yesterday as New Ash Green Village was only built in 1967!

Thank you to headteacher, Maggie Cox, Deputy, Debbie Hockey and the rest of the staff, for getting everything ready and for looking after us. Again, we had a delightful day,   Continue Reading

Chantry Primary School, Kent

| January 28, 2009 | 1 Comment 

Day 8 and we have moved north  west to  Chantry Primary School, in Gravesend.

We received a very warm welcome from headteacher, Hazel King and her colleagues. Thank you. Continue Reading

Harrietsham Primary School, Kent

| January 27, 2009 | 2 Comments 

At Harrietsham Primary School, Kent today, and we jumped at the chance to use their rear projection screen.

In the Y3/Y4 lesson we had a gardener, and the gardener’s son, come up and sit on the ‘stone bench’. They told us all sorts of facinating tales about their lives, good times and sad. Well done, lads! Continue Reading

Brunswick House Primary School, Kent

| January 26, 2009 | 6 Comments 

A super day at Brunswick House Primary School, Kent, as part of the huge project we are involved in over this two week period, and beyond.

Year 3 and Year 4 pupils

A lovely comment from one of the children when I asked what they thought might be behind the hills. “A lost city” We all agreed that to lose a house, would be careless. To lose a small village, absent minded. But to lose a whole city, …well!

Year 1 and Year 2 pupils

Year 5 and Year 6 pupils

We were joined after school by 37 colleagues from schools in the area for the twilight session, where ideas and experiences were explored and shared.

Have a look at Listverses “top ten abandoned places” for some intriguing images, and stories.

On the subject of lost, I was always a fan of “Where’s Wally” or “Where’s Waldo” as it is better known in the U.S..

Here is a great twist upon the idea. An artist, Melanie Coles hid an enormous 55 ft painting of Waldo on a rooftop of an undisclosed location in Vancouver, in the hope that it will be picked up by Google Earth satellites.
The location of the painting is top secret, and the anticipation of when it will show up on Google Earth is part of the fun.  Martin Handford, the illustrator and creator of the original character, even sent her a personal drawing. There is also a brief TV slot you can view here.

Melanie’s blog has gone a bit quiet, perhaps because Google Earth does not publicize their schedule, no one knows when Waldo will show on a computer screen somewhere, and it could take some time. The project has sparked off an international buzz with net users, who are keen to be the first to spot Waldo.

Try the online Find Wally

Molehill copse 1962 – 1965 Staplehurst 1967

My dad used to teach at neighbouring Molehill Copse School, way back in the dim and distant 1960’s.

When I was due to arrive (I was two weeks late and, my dad says, I have been ever since) my mum, Joy, was in everybody’s thoughts. Every day, apparently, the Molehill Copse staff chose the hymn “Jesus, Good Above All Other” because it ends with the words:

Lord, in all our doings guide us;
Pride and hate shall ne’er divide us,
We’ll go on with thee beside us,
And with joy we’ll persevere!

I was going to put up some links to celebrate Chinese New Year. But, why try when we are working alongside the guru of links and creatively gathering resources and useful sites, Mandy Barrow, (“Yes. THE Mandy Barrow.”)

Try visiting the page Mandy has created on the Kent site HERE

G’day to a good day…

| January 25, 2009 | 1 Comment 

On Friday, at Aylesford Sports College, we were joined by Kim Pericles and her principal Gail Dyer, from Belmore South Public School, in Australia.

Kim and Gail are in the U.K as a result of Kim receiving a 2008 Premier’s English Scholarship. The Premier’s Teaching Scholarships are an initiative of the New South Wales Government, where teachers have the opportunity to undertake further professional development that will benefit them, and most importantly their students. Teachers selected to receive a scholarship can undertake international study tours and visit some of the world’s best schools and centres of education to expand their knowledge and understanding. Continue Reading

Aylesford School Sports College & Aylesford Primary, Kent

| January 23, 2009 | 2 Comments 

Today, we had fun working with the children from Aylesford Primary School who came over to the next door secondary school, Aylesford School Sports College many pupils and even more teachers, as we were joined by teachers from many surrounding schools.

We had great fun exploring the virtual worlds we explored, but also everything from hotseating, active listening, to developing open questioning.

One of the teachers there today, Carmela Puopolo, from The Malling School, took part in each of the three lessons today,  and wrote this comment:

“It was great to see what the pupils created after Tim’s lesson! The program, and the way Tim models its use, opens up a multitude of ways a teacher can promote higher thinking skills, for ANY year group. I am a KS3/KS4 teacher. My students, however, are a year (or two, some three years), behind their year group; their weaknesses are mostly in their reading, writing and thinking about writing skills. I will use MYST and adopt (or nick) some of Tim’s techniques when delivering the program to the student to enable them to THINK OUTSIDE, AROUND, AND BEYOND the box. Eventually, students will write using similes, metaphors, and verbs (among a few techniques) to enhance their writing. Wonderful demo – it was great to see the training put into place in this demo with the students.

During the Year 5/6 lesson I had an out of body experience as the students began reading their stories aloud – individually and independently. No orchestrating was required yet as they read, it was like music. Incredible! How quickly they came out of their shells!
The students were engaged and enthused with the activities. This lesson was not limited to MYST instruction, but it also included pedagogical tips. I appreciate how Tim embraced ‘shouting out’ their ideas. At times I feel bombarded with answers from my students shouted out all at once, but if I talk to my students about their timing when answering and now I like that they have the courage, to answer aloud on their own, then the speaking and listening tasks will be a better experience for the students. Tim modelled how this could be achieved.”
Thank you, Carmela

Somebody today wrote a feedback comment that “this was the furthest from black and white worksheets” Thank you

Here’s a superb thought jogger to go by the printer courtesy of Adrian Bruce, an award winning chap who is known for his generosity with his innovative learning materials.

I have mentioned this before but, Adrian has a similar philosophy to me, that, if you have an idea that works, the best way of finding out what else you can do with it, how it can be developed and used best to the advantage of our children, is… share it!
Adrian’s site contains a vast amount of genuinely useful, inventive and imaginative ideas, games, posters and interactive elements. His site is subtle about its “donationware” basis but, if you find anything “free” out there, it is, at least, manners to give credit, or, better still, show your appreciation in other ways.

Check him out here:

Paddock Wood Primary School, Kent

| January 22, 2009 | 3 Comments 

A magical day at Paddock Wood Primary School, Kent. We had some great, imaginative ideas and inventive thought. Coloured steam rose from Mr Walker and delicate fire flies danced through the hall.

Year 4 Lesson

Year 2 Lesson

Linda Fearnley, Head of Y5 and ICT Coordinator, kindly put these ideas together for us:

“Totally inspiring, fantastic ideas, I’m lost for words. The main thing that came out for me was the thinking ‘out of the box’, maybe how we used to think years ago. Simple ideas delivered effectively, makes you think ‘I could do that’. Fun ways of teaching. Brilliant story telling that engaes both children and adults. All the adults were thinking ‘I can do this!’, I’m sure. They were gripped.”

And Mike Olley, Headteacher, made these comments:

“Inspiring children to write- YES! But much more than that. Inspiring thought, inspiring teaching. In the midst of targets, SATs, learning objectives and success criteria, Tim created a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what teaching is all about, and how every child can be respected for the their unique contributions and creativiity.”

Thank you.

Health Warning

Recently, I received the following email from Tim Harwood….

Hi Tim, have had an amazing week working with you and MYST this week, but thought I should mention that you forgot to warn us about the side effects of your ideas!  I was so excited about using them with my class, I decided to be brave, and so paired up my Year 2 class with Year 3 children and began MYST 3 by standing on the beach.  After about half an hour of the children buzzing, and developing great thoughts about ‘hot sand squeezing between our toes’, and ‘clouds like candy floss’, we decided to write a description of our setting to remind us where we were. I copied your ideas, and read out one child’s work – after telling her how amazing it really was, i asked if anyone else would like to read theirs out?  The hand went up of a really shy, middle of the class ability girl who I had worked with last year, so she read it out.  Then something happened that had never happened to me before – it was so good, and she was so confident to read it to the 60 children in the room, that I was absolutely speechless – there weren’t words to describe to her how proud I was, and (although I’m sure it was dust) it actually made me cry – much to the children’s amusement!  I think your work should now carry a health warning about these dangerous effects!!!  Thank you so much, I know my first ever lesson using your ideas will live with me for a very long time!

Thank you Tim, for sharing these tender moments.

Following a lesson today, I discussed with a group of teachers how sometimes in the game we don’t know what we are supposed to be doing. Unlike Chess, where we know the rules of the game and it is how we use the rules rather than bend them that help us win the game. In these virtual worlds it is more a case of travelling and picking up pieces of information and concepts that we can apply at a later stage, maybe to solve a problem and even enter a new world.

I like Chess, though.

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into our hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories.

After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.

“But why?” they asked, as they moved off.

“Because,” he said, “I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

Then again, the other night, we were having dinner with Garry Kasporov – Problem was, we had a checkered tablecloth and it took him two hours to pass the salt!

I look forward to hours of satisfying new moves now… with an on-line, simple version of the game HERE.

St John’s C.E. Primary School, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

| January 21, 2009 | 1 Comment 

At St John’s C.E. Primary School, Tunbridge Wells today – delightful. Some remarkably well behaved, yet sparky, children.

Year 3 and Year 4 pupils came with us through the desert.

Year 2 pupils explored a mysterious, organic landscape and wrote some excellent descriptions of what they imagined to be out of sight, up a magical stalk.

Carine Jacquel, Secondary Consultant for Hands on Support, a part of ‘ASK’, has kindly written this comment:

“I first heard Tim Rylands at the EIS conference in 2008, and immediately realised the enthusiasm that such a method would bring to children. I was on the edge of my chair wanting to see more of the game, open the doors etc and I could see by looking at the audience that I was definitely not the only one. We were part of the game, captivated, fascinated, and manage to forget that it was the afternoon session…… after lunch…… at the EIS conference…..and that we were listening to a guest speaker. We were well and truly part of the Myst. From then on, I could only imagine the extent to which children could be taken and teachers inspired by Myst.

Having had the luxury of being one of the 198 people who attended the launch on Monday at the Hop farm, I saw the other side of the Myst, the teaching point of view, how visual literacy can be a powerful tool in lessons to develop children’s creative writing.  It is lovely to watch pupils engaged, motivated and inspired as they were taken on a learning journey ‘inside’ the virtual world of Myst.

It was a delight to observe the demo lessons today and see Myst being used, and especially the response of the children. The Year 2’s flew with the experience; they were inspired, creative, engaged and I got the chance to admire the concentration and excitement on their faces as they were writing their piece. Being from a secondary background, I never thought I would see small children focusing on their writing with such a passion and a twinkle in their eyes.

It is a difficult task for a foreigner, with a language and ICT background, to be asks to comment on a literacy activity at KS3 level, but I can safely say that if I was an English teacher of a year 7 class, I would go back to school and use the creative teaching methods and the 3D game, as a stimulus that I have observed today be so effective with the children. The Year 5 and 6 pupils were so engaged and motivated and they created such fantastic and elaborated pieces of writing, that it made me feel proud of the class, even tough I was not their teacher. I can see that such a method would be a good reason to go back to teaching.

With my linguistic background, I can not help but imagine that Myst could be used to develop creative writing in foreign language too….food for thought….”

 Thank you Carine, and headteacher, Bev Sulway, Deputy Head Monica Pell, their colleagues and children, for a wonderful day of challenges and success!

After school we looked at many other methods of inspiring writing.

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:

On the subject of nonsense, I am grateful to my dad, for introducing me to the idea of mixed up animals. I have had some great fun with classes designing composite animals, drawing them and coming up with some poems.

I always start by telling them about our pet Camelephantelopelicanary, a cross between many exotic animals:

A Camelephantelopelicanary’s a strange and wonderful thing

The bits of its body are really quite shoddy so he’s all held together with string

Discovered, they say, on the first day of May by an explorer out wandering the Nile

The first thing he noted was the fact that it floated and its face was all covered in smile.


Here is a fun little invention you could use on a whiteboard to mix up two random creatures. Have fun!


Woodlands Junior School, Kent

| January 20, 2009 | 1 Comment 

A truly delightful, and fun filled, day today at Woodlands Junior School.

We all know of them as the hosts of one of the biggest and most visited school web sites in the world, designed by Advisory Service Kent host, Mandy Barrow.

However, the school itself, and their pupils outshine even that.

Three classes of children and a huge amount of visiting teachers coming from local schools, and we witnessed some remarkable creativity and juggling with words. Great stuff! Continue Reading

Kent ICT writing Project – Launch Day

| January 19, 2009 | 21 Comments 

Today was the launch event of the two week long Kent ICT/ writing project: “Emerging from the Myst”

It was attended by 198 teachers from about 190 schools and was held at The Hop Farm

What a day! Thank you everybody, for the superb feedback.

A lot of laughter and a lot of creative and imaginative thinking from all those present. Continue Reading