Northumberland II – Be Creative in English Conference

| March 2, 2010 | 8 Comments 

Today we are at The Alnwick Garden for Northumberland’s “Be Creative in English” Conference – an inpressive setting,  including acres of fascinating plants, water sculptures, an infamous Poison Garden and one of the world’s largest wooden tree houses.

The conference was introduced by Lynne Swainston, Primary Strategy Manager. Lynne beautifully read the poem ‘Telephone Conversation’ by Wole Soyinka , a Nigerian writer, poet and playwright who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, the first African to be so honoured, as an example of what had inspired her 30 years ago.

Lynne talked about how the touchstone of an excellent curriculum is that it instils in children a love of learning for its own sake.

A special thank you too, to Louise Rudd for coordinating our visit. Great to meet Kevin Halliford and colleagues as well.

It has been a joy to spend some time with Anne Curtis, the director and creative gem behind the magical stories and resources that spring out of Shoofly Publishing. Shoofly produce a range of dynamic and inspiring learning resources. They range from the sparky original Jack and the Beans Talk, through to the thought provoking Angel Boy. All of them passionate about making learning enjoyable, both for teachers and pupils.

Anne’s latest creation is being rolled out in tandem with Northumberland. It is the gloriously titled “The Pirate’s Chest (and other body parts)“.

As well as producing the Pirates materials, Anne has agreed to do 6 online sessions for schools via the Internet.

The sessions will cover a range of different writing styles and be supported by additional activity materials produced by Shoofly aimed for pupils in year 3 and 4

Schools will access the online sessions using Learn Online and each will be around 10 minutes long, with Anne introducing the stories and Pirates poems, setting tasks and responding to pupils.

Like a lot of Anne’s resources, this one starts off with humour, and then explores all things piratey in a more in-dpeth fashion.

Having fun with language and different forms of poetry and more. The resources, and project, cover many areas across the curriculum, sometimes dispelling the romance of pirating. It was a cruel and hard life.

Anne says “One of the most interesting things is I have learnt more than I ever. One of the key features of being a teacher.  For example, for pirates, the most sought after treasure was a ships surgeons bag, because of the value of the instruments, about 500 guineas in the late 1780s. Silks and materials were rich pickings too becuase of the Elizabethan “sumptuary law”. This was bought in as a demarcation between the lower and the upper classes. Only the gentry were allowed to wear certain types of clothing. The poor would often wear “motley” a cheep, multi coloured, cloth. Pirates flouted the law wearing what they wanted, colours and all. They often wore a mismatch of stolen clothes, hence the name “the motley crew”.

The most feared time, for a pirate, was not if they were hanged, but the moment when they were measured for the gibbet, and hung, alive in front of others.

Pirates had a strong moral streak too though. Fairnesss and democracy on board ships was important. Pirate ships were often a refuge for slaves, escaping captivity.

When you write something like this, you actually do learn a vast amount about real issues. Out of this, we try to choose the elements that will be fascinating for both children and teachers. Real life elements are far more exciting and interesting than the superficiality sometimes portrayed. The reality of a pirates life, has relevance today. Scurvy still exists in modern day teenagers.

The pirate project has been given a lot of support from outside agencies. For example, one of the poems is about a pirate who has 11 SPARE spare legs. Sea legs 11 is a poem about a pirate with interchangeable legs for different occasions.  This has been given endorsement by Blesma, the British Limbless Ex Servicemens Association.

I’ve a leg inside a leg inside a leg inside a leg
It’s a Russian leg I share
one for me and three to spare
I have to wer the tallest
Me parrot wear the smallest
The others are for Rover but he keeps on falling over

Things start in a quite light hearted and humorous way, but then they address serious and poignant issues.

Basically Anne says: “Like this or it’ll be the plank fer you!”

Continuing the pirate theme, this years Nodis (Northumberland Digital Learning Awards) event will be aimed at the primary phase, and schools will be invited to take part and submit pirate presentations.

There are going to be three launch/training days. These training days are to help staff develop multimedia skills in a range of software packages and then use them in class with pupils to develop materials to submit to the Nodis  Event.

Staff will get some tips on using such resources as 2 Animate, 2 Create, 2 Create a Story, Comic Life, Photostory, PowerPoint, Smart10, Animoto, podcasting using Podium and video animation.

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (8)

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  1. V. Marshall says:

    What a fantastically inspirational talk today…you affirmed why I teach & I can only imagine you touch every child’s life that is lucky enough to experience your energy, amazing ideas and humour!
    Thank you soooo much.

  2. Jill Jones says:

    Another fantastic session with lots of useful ideas and activities to stimulate the children’s imaginations. I have really enjoyed the last two days and it was a pleasure to meet you and Sarah. Have a safe journey home.

  3. Finn says:

    Hi Tim, Thanks for today’s seminar – it was really enjoyable and packed to the gunnels with online resources that I’m currently downloading/accessing & fitting in to my planning. Cracking.

  4. Ann Hetherington says:

    What an inspirational day! Thanks for reminding me that teaching children is fun and well done to all of us for not dying of hypothermia!

  5. Liz Naylor says:

    Awesome day! Learnt so much! Got lots of ideas, can’t wait to get back to school and try them out!!

  6. Anne Curtis says:

    Thanks Tim for all the wonderful things you say about Shoo Fly (all true!) Just wanted to say how inspired I was spending time with you and Sarah .. always food for thought … always pushing the boundaries … always young people at the heart of learning …
    Now back to me pirating … off to the deepest depths of Northumberland shortly to meet Bonny Annie .., sharpenin’ me cutlass against any affray … those Advisors can be a scurvy bunch o’ scallywags at Hepscott Park!Its a Fair Wind blowin’ an’ me sails are set.

  7. Ellie Renshaw says:

    Thank you for a fantastic day. As an NQT I’m always looking for ideas and resources and I have found both of these today. I really feel empowered to go into the classroom and be creative!

  8. Louise Richardson says:

    Thanks for a great day.I am someone who is not confident with ICT but I now feel that I can’t wait to try out your ideas in class. That’s quite an achievement Tim!Thanks

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