Author Archive: Sarah

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IT16 Conference & Exhibition ~ Kent

| June 23, 2016 | 6 Comments 

EIS 16

EIS KentA Keynote and workshops at the IT16 Conference & Exhibition at the Ashford International Hotel in Kent.

There was an other Keynote from Peter Twining.

Our keynote was called Animal Magic! A Mission Improbable.


We spent some fun time exploring the power of inventive technologies and see how they can have a huge impact on raising computing skills and creativity in children, right across the curriculum. We need to inspire young people; 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 and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life. With a focus very much on creativity, particularly engaging learners’ imaginations, we investigated ways of working that are centered on innovation with many free accessible tech tools and practical ideas.

Our workshop was called Out of this World. Tech to Inspire…. Games Based Learning for Real


Accessible tools and ideas for raising the levels of creativity, writing, speaking and listening among children of all ages. Understand the powerful effect of using digital games, Web2 tools, software, handheld devices and more, to model a way of teaching that focuses on quality learning, rather than the latest gadget. Investigate how virtual worlds, with their stunning landscapes, peaceful characters and realistic challenges, can be used across subject areas.

Hertfordshire Deputy & Assistant Heads Conference

| June 16, 2016 | 0 Comments 

Herts for Learning
inner_logo‘Resilience’, the Enabler or Barrier to Effective Leadership  – A one-day national conference for primary deputy and assistant headteachers. Strong leadership in schools is key to driving up standards and ensuring all young people get the good education they need at The Auction House, Luton.

Exploring the power of inventive technologies and see how they can have a huge impact on raising computing skills and creativity in children, right across the curriculum. We need to inspire young people; 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 and benefit from the experience of others; to motivate a love of learning for life. With a focus very much on creativity, particularly engaging learners’ imaginations, we investigated ways of working that are centered on innovation with many free accessible tech tools and practical ideas.

One element that is very important to us, is the many ways to inspire and motivate children into believing they are writers. Changing the perception of themselves into being a writer. “I didn’t know I could do this and… I’m actually enjoying the process. Did I write THAT?!”

Don’t guess at things. If there’s something factual about your story, check it. Research can be great fun.

Get someone you trust to check it through for any mistakes (but don’t let them re-write it for you!).

And, of course …..

It doesn’t always have to be digital

Always try to make your first line or paragraph unusual or interesting to get the attention of someone who’s just idly picked it up.

Get dialogue going quite quickly.

Do work on good description BUT don’t over-do it.

Try to avoid using clichés to describe things – ie: instead of saying ‘Scared to death’ think of a way to really describe how you felt. Eg: ‘I felt my stomach clench and my hands start to shake, while a feeling of panic seemed to rise up in my throat’.

Use your own experiences. Use your imagination, of course, but also write about things you know about. This makes your writing ring true, which is really important.

Thanks go to Lynne Wilson and Danielle Wallington for inviting us and cooordinating today’s event.

Other keynotes included Dr Angela Smith is a forensic psychologist, coach, trainer, keynote speaker and regular blogger on the Huffington Post and Jonathan Lear, Award-winning practising teacher, deputy head and creator of Guerilla Education.

Summit for Transformative Learning in St. Louis, Missouri ~ Workshop

| June 7, 2016 | 0 Comments 

MICDS Workshop Tools to Tell a Tale

A Workshop …at the 2nd annual Summit for Transformative Learning in St. Louis, Missouri hosted by Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS). and we gave folk the chance to explore virtual worlds for real, then find out how to make their own resources that engage, motivate, inspire and differentiate, children of all ages and abilities.

We investigated the power of engaging children in the writing, speaking and listening, and inventing, processes – and how this can impact on so many areas of a child’s progress. In our workshops we shared links, ideas, and tools, for encouraging creativity within our students, whatever age, whatever ability.

We took folk on a magical tour of inspirational tools to inspire the uninspired learner.

We had a hands on, and hands off, time… exploring a range of digital delights, and the analog learning that flows through them. You had to be there… a group of sunshine~itself, contributive laughter, smiles, inventive, supportive, warmth~alive voyagers!

We shared our fantasy journeys with a group of intrepid explorers, and set off to distant lands, beyond even the huge range of places they joined us from. We stood still, and pondered, in beautiful, virtual territories, but also set off to discover those who lived beyond.

Thank you all for a joyous time, full of shared laughter and learning… and that to-be-considered C word.

What does “creativity” actually mean? Suggestions included ‘you think of solutions out of the ordinary’, ‘to do ordinary in a different way from the usual’, ‘knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do’.

The Wikipedia reference to Creativity, includes the folowing thoughts:

Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new (a product, a solution, a work of art, a novel, a joke, etc.) that has some kind of value. What counts as “new” may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs. What counts as “valuable” is similarly defined in a variety of ways.

Scholarly interest in creativity ranges widely: Topics to which it is relevant include the relationship between creativity and general intelligence; the mental and neurological processes associated with creative activity; the relationship between personality type and creative ability; the relationship between creativity and mental health; the potential for fostering creativity through education and training, especially as augmented by technology; and the application of an individual’s existing creative resources to improve the effectiveness of learning processes and of the teaching processes tailored to them.

The Creativity debate. Can you? Can’t you? Do you? Is there such a thing? What are its values?

Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
— The Dilbert Principle

Creativity belongs to the artist in each of us. To create means to relate. The root meaning of the word art is “to fit together” and we all do this every day. Not all of us are painters but we are all artists. Each time we fit things together we are creating -whether it is to make a loaf of bread, a child, a day.”
– Corita Kent

To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.
– Georgia O’keeffe

Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.
– Pablo Picasso

SO…. what does creativity mean to you?

Wherever, however, whoever, whenever you are… we would value a comment on this. Be… um… creative!

Summit for Transformative Learning in St. Louis, Missouri ~ Keynote

| June 5, 2016 | 0 Comments 

MICDS_Olson_HallOpening Keynote at the 2nd annual Summit for Transformative Learning in St. Louis, Missouri hosted by Mary Institute and Saint Louis Country Day School (MICDS).

The “STLinSTL@MICDS” conference is designed to bring experts and classroom practitioners together to explore ways to enhance and maximize student learning.

The event, taking place in the school’s recently completed state-of-the-art McDonnell Hall and Brauer Hall STEM Building.

The summit has six strands: ‘Amplifying STEM’, ‘Best Practices in Pedagogy and Assessment’, ‘Brains on Learning’, ‘Contemporary Literacy’, ‘Excellence in Teaching, Coaching, and Athletic Development’ and ‘It’s Elementary’.


Elizabeth Helfant And TImThank you to Elizabeth Helfant for inviting us to this valuable event. We first met Elizabeth in Memphis back in 2013 at the Lausanne Learning Institute.

Enthusing and inspiring learners using ICT, was our theme, bringing together technology and learning into one space to enthuse and inspire technicians and teachers alike. The fusion has been deliberate. 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.

We took folk on a magical tour of inspirational tools to inspire the uninspired learner. Real examples of transformational education, technolgical tools that have proven impact to excite and lift the eyebrows (as well as the writing hand) of even the most reluctant writer! Using freely available tools that can be used within 2 minutes in your classroom, take your pupils onto another level of creativity and enthusiasm for writing

In this speedily changing education world, with a potentially daunting set of “new” elements to teach, we picked apart some of the possibilities to unravel the computing conundrums, but also started off what we regarded as key aspects of any teacher’s tech armoury, for bringing lessons alive across the curriculum.

“Improving Outcomes” using Technology Conference – Warwickshire

| May 20, 2016 | 3 Comments 

Warwickshire IO with ICT

WESToday in Leamington Spa for the “Improving Outcomes” using Technology Conference hosted by Warwickshire ICT Development Service’s Summer Conference, delivering a keynote exploring the wonders of the web assisted by plasticine, googly eyes and feathers, followed by workshops developing story telling and writing skills, with and without technology.

Huge thank you to Colin Talbot, e-learning adviser for ICT Development Service, Warwickshire County Council, for inviting us to his event and for coordinating today’s processings magnificently.


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. Giving children the opportunity, and encouragement, to become “creative plagiarists”, to borrow ideas off their teacher, and from each other, that is when you get a spiral upwards within a classroom.

In our keynote, we investigated the power of engaging children in the writing, speaking and listening, and inventing, processes – and how this can impact on so many areas of a child’s progress. In our workshops we shared links, ideas, and tools, for encouraging creativity within our students, whatever age, whatever ability.

We took folk on a magical tour of inspirational tools to inspire the uninspired learner.

Whilst what we do is sometimes subtitled as “Tech To Inspire… writing”, if you look at the pictures of any event, you will notice that children are not often at computers. We are really using the ICT in an “invisible” way to inspire speaking, listening, writing, behaviour management, and so much more.

We then balance that with a HUGE amount of technical things with the staff, who can, with the extra time, and developed contact they have with their classes, apply to great effect, back at school.

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

Other workshops included:

–       Making the most of your data – Using your management information systems to help close the gap for all learners

–       Technologies that make an impact – Getting hands-on with new technologies that will help to improve outcomes

–       The Outstanding School – The role of technology

 

Coming up ~ “Tools to Tell a Tale” at Oxford Brookes University Festival

| April 30, 2016 | 0 Comments 

“TOOLS TO TELL A TALE” Baldy-Locks-and-the-3-Hares-300x98

Improving reading and writing through tech      

Book online here!

 

NAPEA one-day course presented by three key gures in primary education: Pie Corbett, David Mitchell and Tim Rylands. in conjunction with NAPE.

“Be part of an evolving story alongside children from around the world, investigating a wondrous collection of digital and analog gems for bringing learning alive.

Join us, as we travel across dangerous terrain, through swamp-infested landscapes, and to the top of crumbling towers, all through the power of inventive technologies. Be a part of a live writing master-class, with children from Skye to Sydney, responding to this creative challenge.An intriguing, imaginative and exciting experience, for those joining the journey, leaving everyone with copious practical ideas, approaches and technical tools to take back and use in their own teaching, with children of all ages, and abilities.”

Delegates will:

  • discover a vast range of ways to use tech to enhance literacy
  • explore methods of engaging interest, and developing communication
  • be introduced to the power of blogging
  • experience a Coveritlive collaborative writing session
  • investigate shared writing in conjunction with powerful, accessible technology
  • be part of creating a story that travels around the world, and is built upon by children across the globe.

“This one-day workshop will help inject the creativity back into your classroom, mixing digital methods with traditional writing strategies, and will provide you with a host of practical and simple ideas to apply in your KS2 and KS3 literacy lessons. The talented trio have a proven impact on standards, achievement and enjoyment – making this day a must for any English teacher”.

Pie David and Tim

Tools to Tell a Tale Event with Pie Corbett, David Mitchell, Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild, Wednesday May 25th, Main Auditorium Hall, School of Education Harcourt Hill Campus Oxford OX2 9AT.

Book online here!

Alternatively, print booking your booking form, fill in and post with a cheque, or invoice details, from this link.

The Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance, Wiltshire ~ Day 2

| April 15, 2016 | 0 Comments 

Corsham Primay School

Following yesterday’s INSET for the Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance  today is a lessons day at Corsham Primary School. A morning with two Y5 classes and one Y2 class of pupils in the afternoon with teachers and TAs attending the sessions followed by an after school session with any staff who wish to come along and find out more about these sessions.. Many thanks again to James Passmore, Deputy Head of Corsham Primary, for coordinating today’s sessions.



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!

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.

Instead of letting on that you have a learning objective, already in the appropriate box (and written in bold, so that the inspector doesn’t miss it on your planning!) it can be an effective spur to action, can’t it, if we “suddenly make the idea up, on the spur of the moment” ;-D

And, it is not about the technology. You could do what we did today about a big book, an artefact, or even a blank piece of paper.

The Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance, Wiltshire ~ Day 1

| April 14, 2016 | 5 Comments 

The Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance

Today, we explored some of the potential for imaginative, inventive and INNOVATIVE, “creative” use of technology, to bring our learning environments alive with the Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance at Springfields Community Centre, Corsham, with delegates from Corsham Primary School, Malmesbury Primary School, University of Gloucestershire, Sea Mills Primary School, Headley Park Primary School, Emlea Infants School, St Michael’s CE Primary School and Wallscourt Farm Academy.

Many thanks to James Passmore, Deputy Head of Corsham Primary, for coordinating our visit and sharing his thoughts here for the blog:

Corsham Primary School is a large academy primary school based in North Wiltshire, and prides itself as being a centre of excellence in the community constantly striving to improve. It has a dedicated team of leaders, teachers and support staff who work exceptionally well together, all focussed on improving outcomes for the 630 pupils at the school. Corsham Primary has a long history of working collaboratively and supporting other schools, and is proud to be the lead school in Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance.

Pickwick Learning is a growing alliance of 30 schools, a chain of nurseries, three universities and several businesses and charities, based across five local authority areas. It has recruited exceptional specialist leaders of education who provide school to school support services, undertakes educational research and identifies networking opportunities. Pickwick Learning offers a wide range of professional development opportunities and seized the chance to work with Tim and Sarah to showcase some of the extraordinary work they do helping to excite and engage writers across the world.

The Pickwick Learning Teaching School Alliance


Education can sometimes be a little slow in its uptake of new technologies.

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: children still wading through printed text books, step-by-step, and completing units set by teachers, in, and out of, the classroom?

How much ICT has impacted upon, and benefited this part of the education process, is still debatable.

Is there a chance that ICT can still be thought of as “When students go to the computers”, or “When they get to do some typing”.

Students might take notes in an electronic fashion. They might study, and research, through the internet, then use a word processor to write up that research. They may, even, produce a PowerPoint slideshow, and potentially email it to a teacher, before it is shown to a class.

On a basic level, very little has changed.

Chipping Norton Partnership, Oxfordshire

| April 11, 2016 | 1 Comment 

Chipping Norton Partnership

A great way to start the Summer Term: Inset for The Chipping Norton Partnership of schools at Middle Barton School. Thank you to headteacher Jane Tailby for inviting us and coordinating today’s INSET.

‘Having seen Tim present at the Headteacher’s Conference in March 2015,  are now delighted to be hosting Tim Rylands for the staff of the local Chipping Norton Partnership of schools’ INSET day on Monday 11th April.

Schools participating in this training day include: Middle Barton Primary School, Enstone Primary School, Great Tew Primary School, Great Rollright Primary School, Kingham Primary School, Hook Norton Primary School, St.Mary’s C of E Primary School, Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School and Chipping Norton School.

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.

Spring Lane Primary, Northampton ~ Day 1

| March 14, 2016 | 4 Comments 

Spring Lane Primary

Spring Lane PrimaryThe first of our two days at Spring Lane Primary. A school situated in the centre of Northampton town, serving with respect a diverse and vibrant community. Thanks go to Headteacher Alex Owens for inviting us, her staff and her colleagues from neighbouring schools and the Collaborative Academies Trust: St Barnabas Church of England School, Lumbertubs Primary, Willowdown Primary Academy, Priorswood Primary, Wellesley Park Primary, Manor Court Primary, Willow Brook Primary and Woolavington Village Primary.

Thank you to Gary Avery, Assistant Headteacher, for coordinating our visit, and for his thoughts here:

We are looking for ways to inspire our children to go ‘beyond’ what they think they are capable of, to develop imagination and creativity. Our teachers do a fantastic job but we think something different, innovative and that taps directly into the things our children are interested in will provide the spark for rapid progress. We have complete confidence that our staff will be able to integrate the new ideas and then add to them so that we end up with something that is perfectly adapted for our children.

Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School, Dublin

| February 29, 2016 | 2 Comments 

Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School

A wonderful opportunity to spend a day with the pupils and staff at Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School.

A huge THANK YOU to Susan Nic Réamoinn, Junior Infant Teacher for coordinating today’s sessions and to Tomaś Ó Dúlaing, Priomhoide of Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School for accommodating us and making us so welcome.

The VillageA full morning with 50+ 10/11 years olds, with their teachers, exploring a ‘Village’ setting in Myst 4: Revelation. Talk. speculation, sharing, thinking and taking ownership of this place, brought it from the virtual, into reality. Similes, and silences, enabled their ideas to flourish and take shape, forming images in our imaginations – gorgeous! We met characters, children up for tackling new ideas and risk-taking, found themselves becoming confident in their roles, expanding on fictional happenings with great detail and flare.

PlantIn our afternoon, we adventured with with the 6/7 year olds and teachers, adventuring through their creations, notions and persuasions, as we wandered through caves, climbed trees and became intrepid explorers.

The children in this group wondered, and enthused, about strange objects as we investigated Edanna, the helix plants and the birds inhabiting this beautiful world, talking and writing with passion and interest – WELL DONE.