Big Think contains a vast amount of articles and videos of some of the most intriguing thinking around. A forum of knowledge and ideas from some great brains, including Ruby Wax, (of course!) on Neuroplasticity and how “You’re the Architect of Your Own Brain”. Some complex issues, but worth an explore to stretch our own thoughts. Try out some of the playlists, for some fascinating views on the world around, and within, us. Not for everyone, but a fascinating collection of concepts. Think Big with Big Think.
Onwards. Onwards. Onwards we sped, to Stratford Upon Avon, for the Oxfordshire Headteachers Conference 2015.
“It is today that we create the world of the future”. Eleanor Roosevelt.
Our world is experiencing change at an exponential rate. For our students to thrive in a world that cannot be predicted, education needs to keep pace. What skills and experiences do we need to be equipping them with in order for them to successfully meet the demands of the future?
We had great fun opening, and closing, the event.
As well as the keynote speakers, the conference had a wide range of practical workshops to choose from. A “Matters of the Moment” feature gave an opportunity to discuss and share ideas about current themes that might be being thought about in isolation in individual schools.
The title of this conference was “Visions of Learning”.
The aim was for delegates to leave feeling refreshed and inspired to go back to school remembering what a great job we all do, with eyes open to alternative ways of preparing our students for the future. To quote Marcel Proust; “The challenge of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes but having new eyes”.
Presentations over the two days came from Hardeep Singh Kohli, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Tait Coles, Christopher Shaw, Lizzy Lewis, Martin Shaw, Marcus Pickover and Michael Pearse, David Blunkett, and Richard Gerver
Our workshop, took folks on a series of mystical voyages, wandering in the world of words. Through the day, we splattered people with a vast amount of powerful, and useful, tech, but entreated them to take one thing, or one at a time, introducing them slowly, and methodically, to their colleagues, over weeks perhaps, as their own … to confirm that they really are a super hero.
Camila Batmanghelidjh, a leader in the world of supporting young people with special needs, followed our opening keynote with a session entitled Vacuum cleaning polluted minds. She looked at how imagination plays an important part not only in what children produce but also in how schools promote learning. Camila explored the theories of mind which prohibit the participation of vulnerable children in education and those which enhance it. She gave delegates a framework they can use to manage the challenges generated by children who have unique needs.
Tait Coles, Vice Principal Of Learning and Innovation at Dixons City Academy in Bradford, has alternative approaches to enthusing pupils towards higher attainment. Tait shared thoughts on “the inequality of education, and how schools are the sorting mechanism for our society, and the majority of students who benefit least from this sorting process are those who come from different backgrounds and cultures than those who already have power. How, as leaders, can we develop a culture of true emancipatory education for our schools”
A big thank you to Philip Marples, the conference manager, and Alison Young, Marketing and Communications Manager at Cranford House School, for organising our involvement in this superb event, and to Lynn Knapp, the Conference Chair.
David Blunkett, previously Minister for Education in the Blair Government will be speaking on Friday morning, followed by Richard Gerver. A fascinating collection of different perspectives on Visions of Learning.
And the elephant in the room!
Following an INSET Day at Ynysowen Community Primary in February, and a previous visit back in 2012, we are, today, carrying out some experiments exploring the next steps in using tech to bring learning even more alive.
A big thank you to Simone Roden head teacher of Ynysowen, for inviting us back and exploring with us.
Today, we changed gear, notched up a few paces and plummeted towards certain… … …brilliance, with two groups of children.
With the first group, whilst wandering wandering through one of the landscapes in Myst 3 Exile, we stumbled upon a mysterious contraption. Behind a creaking wooden door, we found a lever that helped us rise high above the shining golden seas around us.
Eventually, after a bit of investigation, we discovered that if we pressed an intriguing blue button, we could enter the icy globe created, and take a remarkable tumble down this metal and wooden rollercoaster to …who knew where?!
Really good fun with some children coming up with short poetic phrases to express the feelings of excitement, fear and elation before, during and after a “virtual” rollercoaster ride and recorded their experience using using Do Ink Greenscreening.
We had a go at listing some descriptive words collected from their memories of rollercoaster rides.
Next, we took them on a ride from Myst III:Exile. Personification, poetry, punchy, personal and powerful! The difference was quite remarkable. Now, their ideas really caught the sensations of such an adrenaline rush.
We then recorded, at pace, into GarageBand alongside the film.
The ride is a place we often use, with children and adults, to stimulate musical sound effects or soundtracks. It had a superb effect on creative, descriptive thought too.
We recorded our thoughts, and emotions, in short, pithy, phrases ~ plummeting in poetry …and beyond.
With the second group of younger children, we went on a virtual spiral plant ride, explored the path towards it and investigated a beautiful bird and its chick, again using Do Ink Greenscreening to ‘actually’ be there.
Here’s one for those who benefit from a little relaxed, industrious ambience behind their thinking. Brew up a virtual cuppa, with Coffitivity, and get creating. Relaxed chatter, that could enhance your thinking. Research has shown that moderate ambient noise helps enhance creative thinking! Stream the sounds of a coffee shop at work! Add your favourite tunes, sit back and go for it.
What fun. A whiz along to Alderman Davies Church in Wales Primary School, St. Davids Street, Neath, West Glamorgan, South Wales, for a combination of sessions with the children, and working alongside the staff.
We started the day with the KS2 pupils, then the afternoon with the KS1 and finished with a twilight. We were joined by colleagues from Gnoll Primary School, Wellfield Avenue, Neath.
Thank you to Head Teacher ColletteMatchett, and to Leader of Literacy, at Alderman Davies, Rhiann Duford, for organising our visit, and sharing these thoughts:
Alderman Davies Church in Wales Primary School is situated in the centre of Neath town, South Wales. We currently have 455 pupils ranging from 3-11 years.
We are currently working with the Gnoll Primary School on a project titled ‘Lift as you climb’. This project aims to develop ways in which oracy can be used a vehicle to raise standards in writing. Our schools are working closely together in order to develop strategies and tools to support teachers to achieve this.
We feel very blessed as a school to have an up to date range of ICT. Every class has a large interactive screen, whether it is a smart board or a c-touch television. We have over 120 iPads spread across Nursery to Year 5 and all of our Year 6 pupils have one iPad each which they use daily to enhance their learning.
We have two lap top trolleys which hold ten lap tops each. These are used for the teaching of ICT are also used to support our ALN pupils.
All pupils at Alderman Davies have access to the hwb and hwb+ learning platforms and our school is proud to be one of the top twenty users across Wales. Weekly homework is shared and regular discussions are set so that the children further explore concepts they have learnt at school. The Thinking Child is used as a basis for homework. Older children are also developing the use of the survey and blogging tools.
We have also appointed a group of Year 6 pupils who are our ‘Digital Leaders’. They support pupils and teachers in the use of IT across school.
We are very excited to work with Tim and Sarah!
And further thanks for this information from the colleauges from Gnoll Primary School:
Gnoll Primary & Alderman Davies Church in Wales School, Neath
We are two local schools that are collaborating to promote the use of oracy to enhance extended writing. Through discussion and analysis of data, a project entitled ‘Lift as you Climb’ was created. The project’s aim is for the two schools to support each other in areas of development. We believe that sharing skills, ideas and good practise between the schools will have an extremely beneficial impact on the learners.
Gnoll Primary is a primary school in Neath compromising of 330 pupils. Currently, Key Stage 2 use film as a stimulus for writing at least once a term, and it has had an extremely positive impact on the improvement of literacy levels. Both staff and pupils thoroughly enjoy the excitement and challenges that learning through a film stimulus provide.
However we are looking to widen the way that we approach literacy, with a particular focus on the engagement of boys. Therefore staff and pupils of the school are excited to work with Tim and his team and to explore the possibilities of using technology in literacy.
WikiSpaces enables a simple place to generate a members~only website, where your users could have discussions, debate, share documents, and so much more. Designed for education user, there is also a special ‘classroom’ element with a focus on collaborative writing.
If you’re looking to provide wikis to an entire school, area, or even university, you may want to try Wikispaces Campus.
A day of laughter, and learning, with the children of Langafel, and invited guests. Some inventive, and creative, opportunities, exploring the world of mysterious, and magical, numbers and words.
A big thank you to Muhammad Daniel of 3P Learning, for organising our visit, and to Ruth Sivarajah, Deputy Headteacher at Langafel CE Primary School, for enabling the whole day.
Then an afternoon with Year 2 pupils and their teachers.
Muhammad shared the following thoughts:
‘We’re excited to be working with Tim, Sarah and Langafel school on the 4th March. Tim’s work inspires the love of learning that is our motto: our aim is to create software that children love to use. We’ve worked with Ruth Sivarajah and Langafel on innovative maths-focused events and find the same approach at the heart of what they do on a daily basis. This day is about bringing people together to learn: students and teachers from six schools across Kent and London will explore how technology can inspire creativity, imagination and most of all – be fun! From digital to analogue, and beyond…’
In this goal driven age, 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.
We need to inspire young people and fire 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 neglected. This digital world, when mixed with the analogue, brings such potential for communication.
Technology is not the only answer… but, it does open up some remarkable opportunities, to extend teaching and learning styles.
We are already looking forward to coming back, and doing more, soon. Watch this (s)pace.
Do you ever have that problem where your children need to visit an internet address (URL) but they are unable to accurately type out the URL in the browser address bar? Do you spend twenty minutes trying to get your children to the website before you even start your teaching? Well, we may have the solution for you.
Before I found out about 3×3 links, I used a Word document as a workaround, in a shared folder on the Students Pool, that the children would navigate to, and press ctrl+ right mouse click to go to the link I had saved for them.
But this is quite confusing for the little ones, for lower Key Stage 1.
So here is our whole school solution to easy navigation to websites, for every lesson.
3×3 links is a webpage which can be embedded on to your school site. This means that it can stand alone as a webpage, or your school website can host it as its own page. This is useful for when you need children to access links from home that you are using in school; all they need to do is go to your school website. For example, check ours out HERE
This is set as the children’s homepage for when they go on the internet at school – it goes straight to the school 3×3 links embedded page.
What you can see are nine ‘buttons’. These can either be links or folders. Clicking on, say, my Year 5/6 class button, (below) you are taken to their set of links:
As you can see, there is a home button to return to the previous screen, and eight other buttons which can be links or folders. On the image above, you can see two of mine are common links (Sumdog and Purple Mash) that the children use often. The others are further subfolders for subjects. This gives you scope to say, “Right children, go to the Year 5/6 Literacy folder and follow the link for adverbs” or something similar.
Before each lesson you can change and edit links which will be appropriate for what the children need to access.
All the children do is click, click and perhaps click again. It’s clicking easy!
So, what do you need to do to sort this out? Well, register with a Google account (Gmail, Googlemail etc.) at http://www.3x3links.com/ . You can then create your links page, changing folder icons to preset ones or you can upload your own that are relevant to the folder or link. For more popular websites, the button automatically draws a logo if there is one (like Sumdog or Purple Mash in the images above).
I would advise editing in the grid view as this is more visually in line with what it will look like when finished.
You can send out invites so that other teachers (with Google accounts) can access and edit the page.
For those people who need to embed their page on another website, you can access the code from the Personal Links tab on the Options page:
And there we have it, your very own host of buttons that your children can click without having to type!
Creative English writing resource Night Zookeeper have launched a free global writing initiative on their website called World Creative Writing Month.
The aim of the competition is to inspire children to write more stories at home. Pupils are challenged to invent their own magical animals and then are given a series of creative writing prompts about them. The stories they write about their animals can appear within an online newspaper called the Night News and also can be assessed against National Curriculum or Common Core objects in a Teacher admin site.
Schools from every continent have signed up, no doubt hoping to win some fabulous prizes. To register to take part, simply visit the World Creative Writing Month competition page of the Night Zookeeper website.
As a teacher, you will be able to measure the impact on your pupils writing here.
You can learn how other schools have taken to Night Zookeeper in their case studies section.