Marshalls Park School and Performing Arts College, Havering

| November 3, 2010 | 2 Comments 

Today we are at the second of two workshops in the London Borough of Havering, it’s Wednesday so it must be Marshalls Park School. Thanks go again to Penny Patterson for writing today’s blog.

Marshalls Park is a performing arts school in Romford. It was a sunny autumn east London day but we had the chance to glimpse  a murky landscape with the skeleton of a ship, an acrid acidic smell, rocks like sharks teeth, and birds diving into thick, and milky, water. We spent the morning looking at ways to listen, talk and write. It takes courage to share ideas and there was courage in the room, from long pieces of writing to sparkling sentences – but we had to challenge each other, to be brave enough to speak, and share our ideas.

We shut our eyes, to smell the landscape; we sat quietly and listened to the slaughter of an animal, what was the skeleton we were looking at? Mr Rylands asked us to describe what we saw to the class: there were some brilliant descriptions. At first, we stayed very quiet, and then some pupils broke the silence with their writing and ideas.

Jack and Mr Rylands had an argument, should they venture to the remains of the ship or not? Jacks argument won through and he took us onto the ship. Was something living there? Who built the lift?

To explore the landscape we…
– Wrote about what we could see, we described what we were looking at, we used similes and metaphors to make our descriptions fabulous.
– We had guessing games with each other, who lived here? Are they human? How did they get here?
– Mr Rylands introduced us to the pirates and, using Sarah’s thinking dice, we looked at ways of asking good questions.

Some pupils took the challenge and became pirates and, through their interpreter, we found out there had been many more pirates on the ship, but in order to survive some had been eaten. Then, we all became pirates, questioners and translators. We had to think of different ways to ask and answer questions.

“How many crew on your boat?” became “Were there many people on the ship?”
“How long have you been here?” became “what length of time have you spent on this place”
“I’ve been here for many years” became “I have been in this place for a long time”

We explored new places, and found new ways to describe where we were, how we felt, were we frightened? Could you hear our hearts beating?

Groups and individuals had fabulous ideas… “my heart sunk like a stone”, “ I felt the world crashing round me like thunder”, “I was so frightened I felt like my breath was being sucked out by the wind”, “whatever it was shot me like a bullet into the sky”, “my heart was racing like a steam train”, “it jumped out like a lion rushing to attack its prey”, “my heart sped like a racing car”, “my heart was beating like a drum”.

We were all very proud of one of our ship mates! He took us to other parts of this strange land. We all agreed he was brilliant, especially as he has been speaking English just for one year! He painted a full, and exciting, picture for us in English and then a glimpse of the same, in Romanian.

How could any of us end this description?
– The lesson ended and then I had lunch and then I went home. The end.
– I’d had a fabulous morning, I was proud of my ideas, I’d written some great paragraphs and sentences. My similes were as bright as the sun, my writing flowed like honey from a pot. I’m going to try to use my ideas in brave and fearless ways in all my lessons – I have great ideas and I’m going to make sure I contribute so that my teachers and my classmates get to hear what I have to say. I’ve learnt not to worry about wrong answers and to always give it a go!

And then the afternoon

A group of us (which included the English department and visitors from other European countries  and although a small group we represented Italy, Belgium, Spain, New Zealand, Jamaica, UK) looked at exciting ideas for using ICT with our pupils.

Between us we had taught with a BBC Micro, learnt with a BBC Micro and there were some of us who have heard of a BBC Micro, but are very young and never had the opportunity to use one! It has been a long road with many changes from early ‘computing’ to games based learning and very visual and interactive ICT we have now.

It was interesting to look back on the lesson this morning and look at the way the engagement and dynamics changed as the pupils became absorbed in the landscape; they suspended reality and threw themselves into creative and descriptive narrative.  There was a noticeable change in social etiquette skills in the class, finding the right place to drip your idea in with those of the rest of the class, developing and extending thoughts, not just settling for monosyllabic answers.

Reflecting on this morning’s lesson we saw boys grabbing the opportunity, once they had been engaged by the idea of this fantasy world they wanted to carry on learning, sharing, writing and exploring.

We had a speedy tour round other web 2 tools which included – wordle, word sift, tag galaxy, tagxedo, visuwords

What will we do now (we’re up for a challenge) …

–          Explore the locked page on the blog

–          Think about how we can increase participation of all pupils

–          Look at ways of making our classroom climate and etiquette positive

–          Practice the PowerPoint tools Sarah showed us

–          Try out some of the web 2 tools Tim suggested

–          If we are on Twitter we’re going to follow Tim and Sarah, and  check out who they follow

–          When we find other good sites and web 2 applications we’ll share it – with colleagues in school, tweet it, post it on Tim’s blog etc.

–          If we find good sites that are blocked we’ll do somthing about it – get it unfiltered in school and on LGfL

We’ve had a great session – thank you Tim and Sarah for sharing your ideas with us all, we have learnt a huge amount and we promise to share this with our pupils and colleagues.

Marshalls Park School – Teachers workshop (2)

 And here we go again…..

 This time teachers, LSAs, TAs, SLT, members of the advisory service – and visitors from Italy and Belgium.  A long day where chocolate biscuits and cups of tea kept us focused.

The twilight crew explored some of the suggestions in Tim’s blog – you know where the blog is because you are on it now. We had access to the locked area, but Tim was right there is even more in the open blog area. We also checked out the list.

So here’s the quick tour:

–          games, pupils lusting after challenge, using a Wii game to gather FFacts ‘fascinating facts’, being a photo journalist, using an immersive environments

–          the Y factor, thinking dice, avoiding PowerPointlessness, taking an activity from “they really enjoyed that” to something that has real impact

–          excellence and enjoyment woven into everything we do, writing which floats on a sea of speaking and listening, slowing things down, taking longer over questions, building in time for reflection

–          web 2 tools such as wordle, tag galaxy

–          QuickTime panoramas, google maps, google earth, switcheroo zoo, run keeper, geotagging

–          stickybits – we could sticky bit the sign writing and displays around the school, we could use stickybits for peer assessment of work, we could use stickybits for book reviews in our library

–          find ways of getting our pupils talking in a less self consciously

–          kodu game lab, photosynth, scratch, 2simpleDIY, primarypad (multi authored writing), crazytalk (we know a couple of these have a cost)

–          Using PowerPoint to build an non linear presentation using hyperlinks

–          primarypad (multi authored writing), wallwisher

–          tottleville the game (built in PowerPoint)

  (apologies for the lack of TM and (c))

Game – a gem – Mega!!!

Time now to say thank you to Tim and Sarah for the whole day and for visiting Havering to share their ideas which we will use as we strive to keep on make learning better.

Dear Tim and Sarah
Many thanks for your visit to Marshalls Park today. What was great about today was that I got to meet and hear ideas from pupils who I have never met before. I had preconceived ideas about what might be the outcomes of today. However, I am pleased to say that I was overwhelmed by some of the things I saw and heard. Everyone wrote something and said something, which was an achievement in itself. I was actually moved to dicreet tears by C’s use of English (and Romanian) and I’m glad that when you videoed him, I was hidden behind another pupil! I will be using some of your tips as soon as possible.
Thanks again
Julia Hayden (2i/c English and Literacy)

Category: 1) Events and Training days

Comments (2)

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  1. Pam Mason says:

    It was a pleasure to have Tim in school today.
    Students and staff have come away with so many ideas and ways to ensure the active engagement of students in lessons. Simple to use strategies that will have an immediate impact on student achievement. We have been inspired and intend to ensure that all staff implement some of the strategies presented. We have been provided with a wealth of free resources that we cannot wait to use.
    A huge thank you for your time and effort.


  2. Dee says:

    Students had a lovely morning with Tim including flute playing playing with question dice but above all becoming totally engaged with MYST. This led to all students contributing either vocally or in written form using amazing similes and metaphors. They enjoyed it so much, they didn’t want to go to break!
    The staff training sessions were equally inspiring with a world wind tour of fantastic useable resources. Brilliant!

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