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That is NOT cool

| December 5, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Thats not cooltnc_logoThat’s not Cool is an interesting site, dealing, as it does, with slightly older students, and their experience of internet, and mobile, etiquette, or the lack of it.

Your mobile phone, and online profile are all digital extensions of who you are. When someone you’re with pressures or disrespects you in those places, that’s not cool. Draw your digital line about what is, or is not, okay in relationships.


| November 29, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


Kompoze is one for those of you who …compose… from time to time, but are short on people to play with, to bring that music alive. Create songs with a bass player in Birminham, a drummer in Dortmund, and a guitarist in Goa…or from across the street?

Wavepad (great tool)

| November 25, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

WavePad is free audio editing software that can be used across many platforms*. The tablet version has the big advantage of not limiting your recording size (apart from the free space left on your device *Windows and Mac iPad, & Android.

Kenilworth Consortium of Schools, Warwickshire

| November 18, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


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 | Add Your Thoughts 


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 | Add Your Thoughts 


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 | Add Your Thoughts 

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.


David Ross Educational Trust, Hull ~ Day 2

| November 1, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

wold-academyDay Two at Wold Academy, today with the children and staff.Magic

Today, we explored how “technology” can expand and enhance aspects of the curriculum. We had with a joint exploration of some of the visual literacy ideas that games can inspire.

Doing a bit of magic!

Many of the principles, behind the things we do, around using elements of tech to inspire, engage and motivate chidren, apply right the way through the age ranges in schools. As you might say ~ “From the little snotty ~ to the big spotty”.

We can often be surprised by how inventive, and imaginative, our younger students can be, and need to remember that it is woven in to their way of thinking. Even very small children use such things as simile, and metaphor. “Mr Rylands, Look! Look at the water, it’s like a dancing window!”

Sometimes, because of schemes of work, and external curriculum plans, it can be almost as if we have to overlook some of those skills, and “put it back in” ~ “at the right time”. Surprises are never far though.

When using computer games as a stimulus for writing, there are so many different genres that can flow from the images and experiences. With some of the more realistic experiences of high quality adventure games, descriptive narrative is perhaps the most natural first focus, due to the engaging nature of the landscapes.

However, a huge variety of writing styles can be inspired by our magical journeys through these worlds.

And, what remarkable thinking was shown today. We even had a balanced argument with a couple of, amazingly brave, soul. In front of sixty other people in the room, their opinion, about our proposed route, was portrayed so clearly. A little bit of “seeing the other side”, or admitting that there is another direction the lesson, and our travels, could take, showed an acceptance of the need for “balance”.

But, to conclude with a final, strong, persuasive argument, and one that we hadn’t heard up until this point, showed great style.

David Ross Educational Trust, Hull ~ Day 1

| October 31, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


wold-1472727518530_pastedimageMore magical fun, this time with the folk from the Northern Cluster of the David Ross Educational Trust hosted by Wold Academy in Hull. The schools: Wold Academy, Endyke Academy, Ainthorpe Primary, Fairfield Community Primary, Edward Heneage Academy, Thomas Hinderwell Academy and The Quay School. 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 huge. 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 the classroom, taking 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.

Thank you to Guy Shearer, Head of IT and Data, with the David Ross Education Trust, “Broadening Horizons” and to Steve Millington the network technician.

NAPE Computing & EDTECH Conference 2016, Oxford

| October 20, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 


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.


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.

Music Theory .net

| October 17, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Music, by Ricci Adams, is a site I have referred to before but Ricci keeps adding new material and extending the range of lessons and activities.

Music is often the first site you come to if you do a search for “Music Theory”, and it deserves to be there.

Lessons, Trainers, and Utilities. The site is available in British English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Swedish, and Serbian. Not bad eh for a free site eh?

From the basics of staves and clefs, progressing through to some quite complex aspects of musical notation.

Each lesson is illustrated in a step-by-step Flash animation so this could be useful to a member of staff in a session, or to pupils as reinforcement of a section of study. These can all be progressed through at your own pace. One great feature is a pop-up keyboard, so that you can “play along” with the lessons or experiment on your own.

This keyboard (when accessed from the site itself) could be used beyond the website as it remains in a, resizable, pop-up window.

Very, very useful, in many contexts.

There are also instrument trainers. The brass trainer, for example, asks you to hold down computer keys that correspond to the valves on a trumpet, French horn, trombone (which asks for slide position), tuba, and euphonium!

With Music, Ricci Adams continues to have reason to blow his own trumpet!