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Wallingford Partnership of Schools, Oxfordshire ~ Day 2

| January 5, 2016 | 0 Comments 

Wallingford Partnership Day 2

Superb to be back at It is great at Fir Tree Junior School, with The Wallingford Partnership spending time with the teachers from the partnership and the children from Fir Tree Junior School and St Nicholas’ CE Infant School.

Sat in amoungst

WritingThey have placed the emphasis of our visit on the teaching, and learning, experiences that can happen when using games as a stimulus. So, it was a joy to spend a second day, working alongside the children of the school, with the “big people” dotted in amongst them, joining in, mucking in, modelling, scribing, and taking part in all of the experiences.

Today, we went all analog. After a full on day, yesterday, introducing ourselves to a vast plethora of digital delights, we reverted back to our “scribbly stick”, put pen to paper, and concentrated on the art of bending, blending, extending and attending to the magical power of words.

Sat in amongst Y2Teachers, and learning assistants, writing alongside children means that those children get to see that writing isn’t something we inflict upon them, and then go off and do something “far more interesting”. Some of our children have never seen what “enjoying writing” looks like. To sit together, share the struggle, and the delight in successes, is a simple, but potentially powerful, experience.

CharacterMarvelous magic took place again in these sessions. Picking up words, ideas, and thoughts, and then juggling with them, …takes courage. A huge well done to all of the folk here today, whatever size, whatever age, whatever ability, for exploring the terrain of text in inventive ways.

Yesterday we had a chance to explore a swathe of digital delights. Games are but one method of enhancing the imaginative spirit of our children. When paired with some of the other potential that the wonders of web2.0 offer, magic can ensue. There have been some superb magicians over these two days!

A special thank you to headteacher, Nilofer Khan for her smiles, observations and enthusiam over the two days working with her children and colleagues.

Wallingford Partnership of Schools, Oxfordshire ~ Day 1

| January 4, 2016 | 6 Comments 

Wallingford Partnership of Schools

A big THANK YOU to Nilofer Khan Headteacher, Fir Tree Junior School, Wallingford, the Wallingford Partnership of Schools, and those who joined us today, to start off 2016 in style!

Benson C of E Primary, Crowmarsh Gifford CE Primary, St Nicholas’ Infants, St John’s Primary, Cholsey Primary, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell Primary, Whitchurch Primary and The Manor

Folk round here are doing some REMARKABLE things in the face of challenging times, and misconceptions. We are honoured to know such inventive, inspiring educators.

It just goes to show that with the right stimulus and input, many of the children will write not just because their teacher wants them to, not even because it’s about a computer game, but because they have been challenged and inspired and want to write for themselves.

School and home life is not, and shouldn’t be, all about technology. However, if we, as educators, do not keep up with some of the skills, interests, passions, and playful times of our pupils (those who are lucky enough, it has to be said, to have access to these technologies) then our classrooms will appear stagnant environments, in comparison to their homes.

There was certainly a shared desire to tackle the challenge of pupil engagement today. Well done all.

We worked with Nilofer way back in 2007 and 2008! so it was good to be back with her for these two days:

“The Wallingford Partnership of Schools is getting ready to welcome Tim Rylands. As a partnership we pride ourselves in the professional development we offer our teachers and when we saw Tim at our Oxfordshire Head’s conference in Stratford last year, we grabbed the opportunity to book him for a two day inset for our partnership and opened it up for other schools to join us. We strongly believe in giving our staff professional development that can ignite and nurture their creativity. Tim’s ICT to Inspire is just what we were looking for. On the second day Tim will be teaching a year 2 and a year 6 class, giving the teachers an opportunity to see him in action at what he does best-teach! We have been looking forward to the 4th and 5th of January-a good start to the new term and to 2016”

Oxfordshire Improving Boys’ Writing Course

| June 5, 2008 | 2 Comments 

A second, and very much enjoyable, training day for schools in Oxfordshire, organised by the Oxfordshire Primary National Strategy Literacy team, this time at Hawkwell House, in Iffley, just outside Oxford.

I often get staff, or pupils, to come up with whacky ideas for why Mr Walker, my walking stick, has holes. For example:

He was hit with loads of fencing swords.

A tube that lets out laughing gas

Secret storage.

Mr Walker is an unknown doorknob in disguise and fits into one and only one special door and the holes are the keys. The top knob is the doorknob.

Mr walker has holes for a hair curler

A multi-storey hotel for woodworm.

Mr walker is a jet pack

It could be a bazooka which fires red ants

A runway for flying bugs.

A spiritual stick for tribes to store ancient message

A spaghetti maker.

A karate wisdom plank.

That’s not a word!!

Well, it is now!

One of my other favourite starters for a bit of wittering , is to get people to suggest definitions of the word “Fligminkle”

Fligminkle is a word invented my daughter Ellie. It has, up until now, been a pseudo Googlewhack (although that should be a two word search) in that there was only one other reference to it on the interweb.

I would like to change that! How many suggestions can you get your students (or colleagues) to come up with for what the TRUE meaning of fligminkle is.

e.g. “It always happens to me at parties, especially after a few pork pies.” (Thanks Tom)

“The real word for the fluff that gathers on the filter in a tumble drier.”

A large game of Call my Bluff across a whole classroom.

Try Amblesides Call My Bluff, made by the children.

I find that being able to argue your case for a convincing definition helps when you are cheating at Scrabble! (try an online, whiteboard game of Scrabble HERE.)

Here are just some of the definitions that the folk from today came up with:

Fligminkle (n)
The name of a newly discovered beetle in the Amazon Rainforest named after the Dutch scientist who discovered it

Fligminkle (n)
When one doesn’t know where one is going, one is a fligminkle.

Fligminkle: (n) The sense of achievement you get when you complete post-course tasks!

Fligminkle (n)
A small insect from the Amazonian Rainforest.

Fligminkle (n)
A furry creature

Fligminkle (n)
A fantasy character

Fligminkle (n)
Getting in a muddle, state of confusion

Fligminkle (n)
Name of a strange small person from the land of Frig

Fligminkle (n)
Character from Lord of the Rings.

Fligminkle (n)
Little people who live at the bottom of the wardrobe and hide your shoes.

Fligminkle (n)
A prehistoric nocturnal land mammal.

Fligminkle (n)
Small nocturnal weasel type creature – now extinct.

Fligminkle (n)
One of Queen Titania’s fairies in Midsummer Nights’ Dream – not  mentioned in Shakespeare’s play due to a mysterious incident.

Fligminkle (n)
A cocktail made from fruit of the flig tree that has been mixed with milk, vodka and lemon juice.

Fligminkle (n)
The name of my first born child (when I have one)!

Thank you to Nilofer Khan, Stephanie Hilder, Amanda King, Emma Stinga, their colleagues and the staff who attended todays explorations of the worlds of words.



| May 21, 2007 | 0 Comments 

A great day in Hawkwell House, Oxford, running an Improving Boys’ Writing Course for the Primary Strategy Team of Oxfordshire County Council.

I am finding that so many venues I am asked to present in now are perfect settings in terms of exploring the world of words. Hawkwell House is a lovely venue in elegant surroundings.

I have had some lovely e-mails over the last week, from heads and teachers of schools, thanking me for preparing their children for SATs!! Thank you. However, apart from the fact that I am allergic to the tests themselves I also believe that the less emphasis we as a school placed on preparing for SATs the better our scores got! I am a firm believer that it places an emphasis on quality teaching and learning through the whole year, rather than a stressful blast in the “run up weeks”, (for some, months!)

What they actually were refering to was the subject of the short writing task, a descriptive story opener about what lies beyond a mystery door. There should have been more than a few children and staff, who I have worked with, having a quiet, private chuckle as we often focus on the tension and mystery that the doors we encounter in the Myst games hold.

A fun day today, with more than few mysterious doors explored. Teachers from schools across Oxfordshire, who were up for a challenge. 🙂

(A few technical difficulties with the internetty-web connectivity doodahs so will upload on my return to “base”.)

Thanks to Nilofer, Anna and the literacy team, and all those involved in organising today’s event. Well done!