Author Archive: Sarah

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With the saddest heart …

| November 3, 2017 | 4 Comments 

It is with the saddest of hearts I write this post. Tim passed away on the 30th October 2017 at the age of 54. He had the disease called adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN).

The symptoms of the disease first showed signs when Tim was in his 30’s. There is no effective treatment for the disease. If you wish to donate to The Myelin Project, who are endeavouring to find treatments, please click here

Tim loved producing this blog and meeting so many amazing educators and children over the past years

This blog contains many inspirational ideas and resources. I am sure that Tim would love people to still refer to them.

In his famous sign off, Cheers Ta

Kenilworth Consortium of Schools, Warwickshire

| November 18, 2016 | 1 Comment 

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Today an INSET day for the Kenilworth Consortium of Schools: 8 primary schools, 150+ teachers and TAs from St John’s Primary School and Nursery, Priors Field Primary, Clinton Primary School, St Augustines Primary School, St Nicholas Primary School, All Saint Primary, All Saints’ School Church of England, V.A. Primary School and Burton Green Primary School (Federated with All Saints).

Many thanks to Darren Barrow, Head Teacher, St John’s Primary School and Nursery for coordinating arrangements for today’s event. Jo, the admin lady at St Nicholas Primary School for co-ordinating the venue arrangements. Lucy, the Consortia Co-ordinator, who liaised with her regarding the venue arrangements.

Today was a day spent almost entirely digitally, with colleagues from across the consortium. We explored a vast amount of online resources, perfect for bringing learning experiences even more alive.

We looked at how technology should support the experiences children have, not replace them, – there can be no replacement for the doing – technology, combined with the sensory experiences that we help to supply, can help them on the journey to developing the basic skills of oracy and then to using their ‘scribbly sticks’, or digital tools, with increasing confidence and effectiveness.

There is a huge, and accessible, range of digital, and analogue, ways to engage, and motivate students of all ages, and abilities, These elements are not only essential for quality learning experiences to take place, but can also have a massive impact on standards, achievement… and enjoyment!

It was some of that massive amount of, freely available, tools that we explored and experimented with today. Well done all.

A huge thank you to everybody.

Richmond Hill Primary, Leeds ~ Day 3

| November 9, 2016 | 1 Comment 

richmond-hill-primary

Five groups of Y5 pupils ~ One challenge, today at Richmond Hill Primary to create wondrous wildlings, mysterious intriguing oddities, using some inventive digital, and analog tools. A huge THANK YOU to all the staff for their support and enthusiasm and, especially, to Morag Clunie, Assistant Headteacher, for coordinating all arrangements and looking after us so beautifully!! THANK YOU

We brewed up our own concoctions of combination creatures, researched about them, and presented our findings using some magical, online gems. The link to the padlet of results is here.

We enjoyed a full on and up for it Ani~smiles/animals/animules time with all the folk here today, both adults and children. Taking a journey in the digital age and the analog one, we all set out on an amazing adventure.

Reading and writing are a stimulus and model building sophistication in children’s own writing. Speaking and listening, come alive when we expose children to new opportunities, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences.

Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence … sometimes, making it up as we go, verbal, or written “jazz”, produces some of the most intriguing, and fascinating results. Today, we looked at how to inspire all of these elements, through the use of technology and beyond. Well done all.

We created, researched and reported on, our own magical imaginings, and, using creative technologies, we went wild and woolly with our new, remarkable creatures.

Together we explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact on raising confidence in children across the curriculum…

A massive well done, and Thank you to all of the staff and children today at Richmond Hill who shared their animules in one form or another.

“We know this is true because we made it up ourselves”.

(definitely “Richmond Hill Ready”!)

Richmond Hill Primary, Leeds ~ Day 2

| November 8, 2016 | 4 Comments 

richmond-hill-primary

A second day in Leeds and doing some analog wandering in digital landscapes, with the children of Richmond Hill Primary.

We explored everything from persuasive language and balanced arguments, through to taking off and flying with descriptive imaginations of what might lay beyond where we stood, in a mysterious, fantasy landscape.

Today, we took a group of more than Key Stage Two children for a journey in the morning, and an afternoon with thirty Year Two voyagers, exploring some virtual worlds, as an inspiration for talk, drama, and SO much more.

When we’re travelling (or rather, standing still) in the virtual worlds we always hope that it looks like we’re making it up, & that there have been unexpected turns, not only in the way we travel, but also in the route that the lesson itself goes.

In reality, you couldn’t do lesson sessions, like the ones we did today, without knowing EXACTLY what you want to achieve. The aim is to make it look, and feel, and genuinely BE a shared learning journey. Instead of showing that you knew you were going to ask the children to do, it can be a simple, yet incredibly effective step, to pretend you have just made the challenge up yourself.

We explored everything from persuasive language and balanced arguments, through to taking off and flying with descriptive imaginations of what might lay beyond where we stood, in a mysterious, fantasy landscape.

And, it is not about the technology. The fact that the technology enables us to experience moving, living, breathing landscapes is the thing.

It is always interesting, to mix writing, thinking, speaking, and listening, with movement. The use of physical actions to reinforce new concepts and terms can ensure that pupils retain knowledge for use in further activities at later dates. In fact, somebody once said they were quite surprised, when teaching a class about simile and metaphor after being involved in one of these sessions, that their class all started to strike poses and pull funny faces when reciting the terminology!

The strategies adhered to a social constructivist method of learning (I know! oooh er eh?!); we encouraged children to share as a class, in groups and with partners, channeling  their excitement and energy into expressive and focussed activities. Some improvised drama, where children took on spontaneous roles, immersing them in the world on “the screen” ~ although the screen is never referred to, ~ it becomes REAL. These on-the-spot performances were impressive to observe, unleashing come creative power without children being prepared by being given specific lines of dialogue.

After a good deal of discussion, the children wrote spontaneously, producing work of a high quality full of vivid imagery. They were also encouraged to refine their spoken language & clarify their ideas. Despite the length of the session, they remained on task and enthusiastic throughout.

Some superb writing, dramatic involvement and effort all round. Well done ALL!

Richmond Hill Primary, Leeds ~ Day 1

| November 7, 2016 | 7 Comments 

richmond-hill-primaryToday had a day of training with teachers from Richmond Hill Primary with their headteacher Nathan Atkinson. We first met Nathan in Doncaster back in 2011, a truly inspirational head teacher who makes a difference wherever he goes. Well worth reading up on the projects he has championed, especially Fuel for School.

richmond-hill-readyOur focus today was on the tech and how it can be used to engage and motivate, though none of this is possible unless the 4 key areas that Nathan ensures are in place in his schools working. Read more on this here

The teachers were keen to explore the digital tools, techniques and knowhow shared today, building upon the already dynamic teaching they employ.

Our digital days, working alongside teachers, all over the place, have become SO fast, and down~to~the~second FULL, that they are almost impossible to describe now. Things have grown, and developed, as elements have grown, and developed, in the world of the web, and the experiences gathered over the last few years, mean that a whole story has grown, and builds through the day.

Today, at pace, through building a progression to support the introduction of these ideas, we looked at inspiring, accessible tools and ideas, for raising the level of writing, speaking and listening, and creativity in lots of young folk.

Many aspect, had roots from a few years ago, but, oh, how it’s grown: An exploration of virtual worlds, Web2.0 and visual literacy elements, and how they have had a huge impact on raising children’s confidence and collaboration, across the creative curriculum. The games based aspects remain crucial, and powerful, but it’s what they are accompanied by that takes it in different directions.

 

NAPE Computing & EDTECH Conference 2016, Oxford

| October 20, 2016 | 2 Comments 

nape-16

nape-header-1Fantastic to be presenting a keynote for the NAPE Computing & EDTECH Conference 2016, at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford.

NAPE is The National Association for Primary Education. It brings together everyone who has a concern for the learning of children from birth to 13 years. Members and affiliated schools work to improve education through the Early, Primary and Middle Years.


Our keynote focused on enthusing and inspiring learners, including in there of course teachers, using technology.

Technology won’t improve children’s learning without the passion and enthusiasm of those who use it.

We showed how technology can be used to deliver teaching that reaches out to all children and gives them hooks to learn from, how the tools technology delivers can fire their imagination, can entice the reticent learners and can engage the whole class so that learning becomes fun and exciting.

elephant

We loved sharing technolgical tools that have proven impact to excite and lift the eyebrows (as well as the writing hand) of even the most reluctant scribbler! Using freely available tools that can be used within 2 minutes in the classroom, with the aim of taking pupils onto another level of creativity and enthusiasm for writing.

Have a look at the great creatures created today, and thank you to our elephant keeper for being so kind.

As always at these events: a huge thank you to Pip Marples and Peter Cansell for coordinating our involvement.

Thank you too to Stuart Swann-Director of the Kassam Conference Programme.

Stuart began his career in primary schools where he was responsible for music and ICT. (Sounds like Mr Rylands) During that time he played a significant role in developing the role of ICT across the curriculum to the point where the subject was considered to be above national expectations. In demand to deliver INSET for the local authority, Stuart moved out of the classroom in 2002 to lead on the curriculum in the City learning Centres in Greenwich.

stuart-swannOver the next ten years, Stuart implemented a number of initiatives to raise standards through the use of technology. These included games based and handheld learning (and a partnership with Nintendo UK), the use of creativity within the curriculum and of LEGO Education products.
Stuart was responsible for the management of both the Apple Regional Training Centre and LEGO Education Centre in his borough.
Stuart is a LEGO® Education Academy Certified Trainer, an Apple Distinguished Educator, an Apple Professional Development Authorised Trainer and a Digital Creator, trainer and assessor and so much more. He is Vice Chair of NAPE

gooseberry-panetSe7ca76be0a0b5c713972ae5788fd0420tella James, is Founder of Gooseberry Planet (@gooseberryplan) teaching Online safety through gamification (#womenintech). Safeguarding is currently one of the most challenging areas for education. Stella James offers practical information about how online access impacts safeguarding.

  • What a school needs to do to meet the statutory requirements.
  • What are the latest trends.
  • What’s in,what’s out.
  • How to keep your school safe.

Miles BeADE Global Institute 2012 Miles Berryrry,ict (another “BECTA ICT in practice awards” soul like Sarah and Tim) shared the stage with us.

Many have argued that the concepts and approaches of computational thinking have applications beyond computing itself.

Now that computing is firmly established as a subject in many schools, there is a great opportunity for pupils to apply their newly acquired programming skills in the context of some of the other subjects they study. Ranging from Monte Carlo methods for estimating pi, to composing music with Sonic Pi, Miles takes a quick tour of some ways that pupils can practise their programming in meaningful contexts and deepen their knowledge and understanding of other disciplines.

Had good chat with Mark Taylor about Education on Fire.

ed_on_fire_t_shirt2-2Education On Fire is a podcast that interviews teachers and educators. We want to share the creative and inspiring way children are learning today and support you with ideas about how to enhance your own classroom or school. When it goes live, take a listen and hear how vibrant life can be.

Rowlatts Hill Primary School, Leicester ~ The Return

| September 21, 2016 | 1 Comment 

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RHP_Logo_RGB

Great, to be invited back, to Rowlatts Hill Primary and, this time, with the children and teachers creating our composite creatures.

Thank you to Jay Virk, Headteacher,  for inviting us to be with her colleagues and children for the day; special thanks to Deb Swann, Deputy Head, for coordinating arrangements wonderfully and to the staff and Y6 pupils for being to up for the challenge of investigating some of “the other parts” of our computing needs.

…to create wondrous wildlings, mysterious intriguing oddities, using some inventive digital, and analog tools. We brewed up our own concoctions of combination creatures, researched about them, and presented our findings using some magical, online gems.

Each group generated their own beast; found out fascinating “facts” about those elements; (and even made up their own; then presented the findings, using other resources.

“I know this is true because I made it up myself”.

We discussed the aspect of pupil motivation, engagement, and involvement, being some of the most valuable elements of powerful learning experiences, and crucial to enable an initial “take off”. They also ensure that children remain in touch with their own development, and learning, with improved outcomes, in terms of standards, confidence, and developing that desire to fly.

Finding additional, effective approaches, techniques, and tools, is the root of our work over our two days, in different settings. So it is is powerful, as today, to be invited back to extend these aspects event further.

The common factor is that desire for children to be passionate about their life long learning.

Information, is accessible, available, downloadable, and discoverable, in many forms, for free, and just a click away, these days. It was superb to share, swap, discuss, and develop opportunities to build, discuss, and extend, ways that folk here today could continue the great work they are already doing, in moving beyond the older model of education when the focus seemed to be on generating “memorising machines”.

The learning, behind the tools we discussed, was all about nurturing independent, (yet cooperative) analytical, (and open) questioning, (and accepting) thoughtful (and thinking) critical children. Children who are able to assess the voracity of that readily available stack of “facts”. Children who are able to be involved in guiding their own learning, and (perhaps the most important role of quality learning), able to consider approaches in knowing, (or working out) what to do when they don’t know what to do. Well done all.

Abbeymead Primary, Gloucester

| September 1, 2016 | 0 Comments 

Abbeymead Primary

AbbeymeadToday we had the pleasure of providing an INSET for the staff of AbbeyMead Primary School.

Thanks go to Amy Coole, Assistant Head, for coordinating our visit.  Amy has been along to our sessions before.

Today we focussed on tech, but, more on the power of picking up words an juggling them. Reading is a stimulus and models building sophistication in children’s writing. Speaking and listening, come alive when we expose children to new, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences. Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence … sometimes, making it up as we go, verbal, or written “jazz”, produces some of the most intriguing, and fascinating results. Today, we looked at how to inspire all of these elements, through the use of technology and beyond. Well done all.

Everybody here today was “Up for a challenge”! The aim was to have a look at some of the plethora of ICT ideas available, and how they can, even further, enhance the curriculum, particularly in the area of writing.

Today, we explored an increasingly speedy whizz through many analogue and digital gems. Folk were up for the challenges, and stuck with us on some quite technical wizardry, and a range of free, accessible tools that can be powerful in many contexts, in the classroom and beyond. Too many to mention in fact. Thanks one and all, for your laughter as well.

We splattered folk with oodles of accessible tools and ideas for raising the levels of creativity, writing, speaking and listening among children of all ages. We looked at the powerful effect of using games, Web2 tools, software, handheld devices and more and explored ways of teaching that focus on quality learning, rather than the latest gadget.

The school have a focus on the children enjoying their writing, having a belief, and confidence to believe they can do it, understanding that creativity is possible alongside the pressures that raising standards can put on teachers, and children. Feedback marking has its place, and benefits. We explored ways of developing enthusiasm to write, to enable that feedback to be based on real writing, for purpose, and building the desire to take off and fly.

This is a group of teachers who are up for anything. A bubbling passion can make the difference between a mundane, meandering, unfulfilling session and an incredible, meaningful learning experiences.

Writing can sometimes feel like something we inflict upon children and, whilst they do it, we go off and do something else, far more mysterious, intriguing and interesting, almost as if writing is beneath us.

It is vital to join children in whatever, essentially challenging, enjoyable task we set. Modelling can be one of the best ways of scribing. Some children don’t know what enjoying working looks like. Much in the same way that if we read a newspaper in front of a toddler we might find that they are imitating us and doing the same thing (O.K. It’s upside down but it’s the idea) it can be valuable to sit, amongst our pupils and rise to challenges ourselves.

The Together We Grow Conference, Northern Ireland

| August 26, 2016 | 1 Comment 

TWG

TWG

THIS was what it’s all about. Real, practical, inventive, balanced, effective teaching and learning, helping people who are “up for a challenge” and open to new ideas, that can have a positive impact in their classrooms. Children add a valuable perspective to the learning, and keep us all firmly focused on the true purpose of creative teaching: to inspire, motivate and engage all of our charges in a way that enables powerful progression. A true delight to share with colleagues, from Northern Ireland. Thank you all. AND WELL DONE!

We enjoyed starting off this academic year with colleagues from NI, in Eglinton, County Londonderry, for a pacey, interactive, collaborative day.

Our theme: TOGETHER we grow, ~ with many layers of technology, packed with ideas and… a good laugh!

A huge thank you to Donna Vaughan Curriculum Services Team who has been crucial in the run up to today’s event (and knows a good pint of Guiness whenever she sees one too! 🙂

Host School Eglinton Primary School and their Principal Mrs Lorna Blair.

We were joined by colleagues from Ballykelly Primary School, Cumber Claudy Primary School and Limavady Central Primary School.

Education can sometimes be a little slow in its uptake of new technologies. Can we some times be “Early Adopters” of tech that’s been around for a decade.

Whatever format, whatever degree of complexity, there has been a slight history of initial reluctance, before, eventually, some have involved “this new stuff” in their classroom environments. Whether it is a stick and sand, wax tablets, scrolls, books, slides, film, video, computers, PowerPoint, YouTube films, and beyond, …they have all been integrated in to teaching sessions, in some way though.

All the way through, however, these new tools have often been used to modify the way a teacher presents facts, and information, to their pupils. They have had more impact on TEACHING, than on LEARNING.

In many educational settings, the relationships, and interactions, stay unchanged: A teacher, as “Sage on the Stage”, imparting their wisdom, information, and knowledge, to an unsuspecting audience sat in front of them. Are we training our children how to come to school, sit, bored, for a few hours, and get away with it without being spotted?

In the same way, challenges (or, sadly, what we more often call “Tasks”), the independent elements of a lesson, can remain, rooted to the spot, for a long time.

EVAT Collaborative CPD Day, Darlington

| July 4, 2016 | 0 Comments 

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EVATThe Education Village Academy Trust, Darlington.Educational Village copy

Thank you to Lisa M. Forkin, Assistant Headteacher: Training & Development, for getting us back & organising our involvement.

After an introduction to the day from Mike Butler, it was great to get the day off to a creative swing, with an inaginatve keynote, alongside 350+ secondary and primary staff.


Lisa says:

The Education Village Academy Trust (EVAT) is a fairly unusual organisation…

Officially, we came into being in 2006 as simply ‘The Education Village’; three schools that may not naturally be grouped together to work in the same building (a special school, a mainstream secondary and a mainstream primary), but this works for us! Since 2006 our organisation has expanded to include another mainstream primary school and a free school specialising in primary provision for children identified with SEMH conditions.

Such a diverse organisation comes with challenges but any logistical compromises are vastly outweighed by the invaluable expertise, experience and knowledge our large staff possess. Coming together to share practice and engage in collaborative working is one the hugely beneficial points of being in a collective of differing schools; the challenge is to find a time when 300+ individuals can all get together!

To this end, we designate one common CPD day in each academic year when all schools within the Trust can gather together and experience some new learning and share the practice that has taken place. This year, you will be joining colleagues from across EVAT as keynote speaker on 4th July to inspire and motivate us to connect creativity and technology together in new and exciting ways. He will explore this further with our Primary schools as the day progresses through a series of workshops designed to enhance the experience of our children in our different settings.

We are looking forward to welcoming Tim and Sarah to the EV – exciting times and opportunities for us all!

Next we join staff from Gurney Pease Academy and Springfield Academy for a workshop exploring further ideas and then an afternoon with Marchbank Free School and @Mowden Hall.


We were at The Education Village back in 2008.

A big thank you to Paul, from Marchbank, who supported everybody’s explorations today!

“Areas of focus for our children would ideally be linked to elements of writing, engagement, motivation and use of technology to help with these areas. No small feat clearly!”

But something we love to support wherever we go.

“The school is a Special School, working with children with difficulties around social, emotional and mental health issues. We are a primary school, so Year 1-6 and have 43 children. We do have some girls, but are very much boy heavy. We have Laptops, iPads and Chromebooks which are all currently used by the children across a range of lessons and subjects. I understand that in the time you have, what you are able to cover will be somewhat limited, but I’m sure that it will still be an inspirational afternoon from previous experience.”

…a fast paced exploration of many ways to inspire, and motivate, children of all ages, and abilities, with, and without, technology, alongside colleagues from across the Village.

Exploring a huge range of digital delights.

Some see the way forward as preparing for tests, where even good is not good enough. We could think that education is imparting a body of knowledge, rather than a shared journey of discovery. There are so many pressures put upon educators these days that enjoyment, inspiration, creativity, and fun can be forced out of the classroom.

It is, in fact, essential and imperative.

Today, we investigated how we need to inspire young people and nurture their imaginations; enhance their creativity and confidence so they can pick ideas up and start to juggle with them; encourage resourcefulness through challenge, but also the ability to reflect, change and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life.

Fascination is a tool that can be easily lost. This digital world, when mixed with the analogue, brings such potential for communication, invention, experimentation, investigation, exploration, and so much more.

We shared, discussed, and demonstrated, the powerful effect of using games, useful Web2 tools and software (most of it free), hand-held devices and more, – thinking about a way of teaching, where quality learning is the focus rather than the latest gadget; ‘what is said, rather than what is used to say it’.

We can sometimes have a focus on the end target in a challenge for example, that we can forget how important, valuable and worthwhile the process is too.

We have our eyes fixed so firmly on the end, the destination, and where we want to go, that we can miss out on the getting there. Today was a joyous celebration of successes along the way. The journey not the destination.

And, what a fantastic journey we went on today!

We are great believers in play! As adults we simply do not play enough. And yet play offers us the opportunity to experience ‘learning’ in its purest form. Think of our youngest children in schools, who have their learning facilitated by highly skilled practitioners who provide them with ‘learning’ opportunities. The interactions, distilling, reviewing and perseverance that go into building Lego towers or the concentration, balance and reflection that occurs when walking across a wooden log are huge in any context. They are afforded time and the freedom to explore and investigate approaches; they have no fear of failure uninhibited by the social norms of wrong or right. Time to ‘play’ and explore new tools for learning, time to consider how we can adapt them and use them, safe in the knowledge that there are no rights or wrongs.

We all need time To Stand Still. Really effective teachers understand that using ICT to support learning does not mean that we use it constantly or that it is about bombarding learners to the point of sensory overload! We really understand that technology in any form is just one tool that supports teaching and learning. Throughout our time, we as teachers model the traits of highly effective education adventurers, using thoughtful questioning, think time, appropriate differentiation, modeling and scaffolding, creating intrigue and high levels of engagement all delivered with palpable passion and enthusiasm… in whatever setting, virtual or “real”.

The West of England ICT Conference

| June 30, 2016 | 0 Comments 

WEICT16

WEict-Logo-smallThis year’s theme is unlocking and opening Digital Doorways that will takes delegates on learning journeys to make new discoveries and explore new places, exploring how technology can empower teachers and learners, as global citizens, to unlock learning and connect to new opportunities.

Thank you to Jo Briscombe, Teaching and Learning Adviser and CPD Lead, Integra Schools, for inviting us to present a keynote.

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference

West Of England ICT Conference


We enjoyed a full on and up for it Ani~smiles/animals/animules time with all the folk here today.

digital-map-fullTaking a journey in the digital age, we all set out on an amazing adventure. We focussed on tech, but, also on the power of picking up words and juggling them.

Reading and writing are a stimulus and model building sophistication in children’s own writing. Speaking and listening, come alive when we expose children to new opportunities, valid, interesting and real, whether that is through ICT, trips, or other experiences.

Oral rehearsal boosts quality and confidence … sometimes, making it up as we go, verbal, or written “jazz”, produces some of the most intriguing, and fascinating results. Today, we looked at how to inspire all of these elements, through the use of technology and beyond. Well done all.

We created, researched and reported on, our own magical imaginings, and, using creative technologies, we went wild and woolly with our new, remarkable creatures.

We explored the power of inventive technologies and visual literacy elements, and saw how they can have a huge impact on raising confidence in children across the creative curriculum… Unlocking (Digital) Doorways.