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Parklands Primary, Leeds ~ Day 1

| January 13, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Parklands Primary

Fantastic indeed, to be at Parklands Primary in Leeds joined by staff from Grimes Dyke Primary and from Manston Primary, for a 2 day visit. Our first day spent with the Y5, Y6 and Y2 pupils and their teachers, followed by a twilight with all the staff and colleagues from the visiting school.

A massive THANK YOU to Head Teacher Chris Dyson:

Chris DysonParklands Primary School (Seacroft Leeds) were all set to ‘Boldly’ go on a writing adventure to inspire the love of writing. The scene was set; a cold, grey winters morning at Parklands Primary School, Leeds. …. the lights were dimmed at 915 am as 64 excited, nervous, apprehensive Y5 Y6 pupils, their teachers and teaching assistants walked into the magical, mystery world that was known as Tomanha. The eerie music made the hairs on the children’s necks stand to attention like needles on a cactus plant. Something strange was to occur, something mystical, something suspicious perhaps…..

The children sat in awe and wonder as a strange image rose from the front of the stage and greeted the pupils. The image shuffled to the front of the stage, his hairless head reflected the light from a strange light source as his face, his eyes and his smile told of a hidden secret that he seemed desperate to share with the children. If anyone could put this man’s pain to ease, it was the children of Parklands Primary School. The strange man was desperate to share what he had seen, what he had experienced and what he had found out from his old friend Atrus. He needed someone he could trust, he needed someone who would not let him down, he needed some razor sharp writers who would help him with his quest and to be entrusted with his prized and sacred journal……… After his travels around the world, to places such as Hong Kong; Vietnam; Arizona; Sweden; Dubai and Ireland, the man known simply as Tim Rylands had arrived at Parklands Primary School, hoping and pleading that these children would have the answers to the questions that he had been seeking for so long all over the world!

Parklands Primary School is proud to welcome the one, the only, the King of Inspirational Writing – Tim Rylands. For every Lone Ranger, there is a Tonto. For every Ant, there is a Dec. For every Dean, there is a Torville….. For Tim, he has the brilliant Sarah….

Parklands Primary school is a larger than average, 1.5 form-entry maintained school, located in Seacroft, an urban area in the east of Leeds. Our brilliant, beautiful children need opportunities to shine. They need experiences to inspire and challenge……. They need Tim Rylands……

Let us baldly go into a world full of suspense and intrigue …….. Let the writing begin!

Thoughts from James Haddock – Year 5 Teacher – Parklands Primary School, ably assisted (and worth a mention in despatches) by my three Lieutenants: Riley, Reece & Lauwureance; by Charli from down the way and Olivia the Sylph of synonyms.

SurvivedStanding here, the four walls of the classroom were closing in on us. Claustrophobia took a tight grip on our hearts; ignoring this the roll call was taken and relief flooded through us as we saw how many of us had survived the night. Some of us stole furtive glances up into the void of the ceiling, ears straining to hear the tip tap of footfalls as the mysterious animals crept and frolicked within our space. Fear was replaced by a sense of anticipation that spread like spring blossoms through our serried ranks. We were to meet someone…someone that could finally give us the key we needed to unlock our hidden talents. Help us to escape to the meaninglessness of life without simile, metaphor and the solid foundation of a well-constructed sentence.

PrisonWe departed our prison, moving like panthers down the straight, partially lit corridor. None of us knew what to expect. Eyes bright with anticipation the young ones looked towards their leader. Their looks implored him to tell them more, but his shrug, nonchalant yet stern like a modern day Chevalier quietened their questioning looks. A raised eye brow and the crease of a smile, playing like fairy dust, around his visage showed admittance that he knew as much as them. What was to await them? Would they receive the answers that had eluded them for so long? For the time being, as they dispersed throughout the cavernous room, that was to be home for the next two hours, these questions would remain unanswered, skulking like Victorian urchins in the shadowy corners of the room.
CharactersThe man positioned himself at the head of one of the provided tables. He was surrounded by three of his most treasured Lieutenants. He felt confidence flow through him, these fine boys would not let him down, come Hell or High Water. A girl joined them, from one of their neighbouring clans admittedly, but a doughty literary warrior nonetheless. She was welcomed amongst them. But what was this? A pale figure strode towards the table. Confident. Pride in her abilities showed through her every facet. A conjuror of words, a sylph of synonyms; the high priestess of homophones. She had selected our table. We were honoured indeed. Nervous glances were exchanged.

The VillageWe looked into the distance surveying the vista that stretched towards the towering volcano that glowered like an angry giant on the horizon. A hush descended like dusk in winter, covering the room with a blanket of silence. The object of our morning come into view, his voice soft and lilting as he recommended us to listen to the wind (was it wind?) smell the smoke (was it smoke?) that snaked lazily up from a distant chimney and look downwards towards a glistening and glimmering pool of water (was it water?) that moved like silk beneath our feet.

Simile“Those leaves look like they’re struggling to break free from those trees.” he whispered towards us, his voice undulating and flowing like oil into our ears. “Are they…are they really struggling to break free?” The gathered troop looked at each, all unsure, what did he want us to say? We shook our heads nervously and looked around for guidance. There was none. His eyebrows raised, almost concurring, at our shaking heads and a grin almost cracked his face in two. “But it doesn’t stop us from saying does it!?” No we thought, it doesn’t. The spell was cast the blanket was lifted and the room erupted into life. We magiced similes and metaphors out of thin air and sent them spiralling giddily around the room. We listened and responded with shouts of “Aaar….Simile Timbers!” and “Rark….Metaphor” while contorting our faces into almost Woosteresque naivety. The talk…the words flowed like fine wine. All of us to a man (or woman) contributed and not one of us felt the fear. The fear of talk, the shadow that had haunted us for so long. Our guest from down the corridor raised her voice, silence…the floor was hers She delivered her lines like a Shakespearean. Loud and confident. A smile on her face as she realised she’d done it. The man, at the head of the table, could not have been prouder.
WritingWe talked longer and longer delving around the Kingdom that we found ourselves in. Casting thoughts and feelings about with reckless entusiasm we relished in the sounds of our own voices, not wanting to let go. But stop it did. The time for talk was over. It was truly time for those individuals to prove their mettle. They all reached out and grasped their pens and pencils, feverishly ripping open their books (some of them did not even write a date or learning objective!!) and they started. To. Write. All of them. Grownups. Young ones and all those in-between and above. The quiet fell like the frontage of a house onto Buster Keaton.

There was no sound, but if you listened carefully a scratching faint at first, but raising…the sound of pen connecting with paper…There were no complaints – no one exclaimed they couldn’t do it, no one asked for help, they just wrote. When it was time to hear these musings, what things they had written. Carefully crafted similes mixed with the sights and sounds (and smells) of this unfamiliar land we had entered. Nuggets of the finest descriptomite dripped from every page, oozed from every line, exuded from every pen-tip. However, what hung onto every mouth were not similes, but smiles! Smiles as broad as they were long and long as they were broad. Smiles that lit up the room, showing off not only the whites of teeth but the joy of just writing.
CelebratingSo it had ended, the troop had returned to their natural environment. Prowling back up the corridor confidently, like Lions, voices soaring like swallows they swarmed home. The trick, the man thought to himself, is to keep this going…
…and that I think is the point. To keep it going. To allow children to be excited about writing and the process of writing. To talk about what they will write and give them purpose and reason in their creations. To allow their characters to come to life and for them to give birth to settings that are as real and as integral to their stories as possible.

To slow them down and describe every fairies wing beat and pixies breath, every detectives’ decision and every villains motive, every pirates promise and every cabin boys heroics…to allow them to forget (for that writing moment) what a fronted adverbial is, but to use them with wild abandon in their writing. Writing is a beautiful art, one that if we are taught well stays with us for a lifetime. It can sometimes be forgotten, but thank you Tim and Sarah for allowing me to remember…

A massive THANK YOU to James and his team for these reflections.

Biblionasium

| January 5, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Biblionasium

BiblioNasium is a reading-centric, “safe, social network for children aged between 6 and 13”. Particpants can log their reading, play games, complete reading challenges and earn rewards within a safe social network built especially for them, connecting kids in an encouraging community of friends, family and their educators. BiblioNasium excites, engages and encourages a love of the written word.

Children’s safety online is a top concern. BiblioNasium does not allow children 13 years of age or younger to have an account until a parent, legal guardian or an educator creates one for them.

“Our aim is to help children, parents & teachers to find “just right” books for the children’s school & pleasure reading.”

joinOnly approved friends and a child’s registered educator can see a child’s name and school. Other signed-in users can see a child’s anonymous username, books, and other non-personal information. People who are not signed in to BiblioNasium are unable to see any information on the site. No users can see your information or that of your child without your authorization.

A with any social element, care is always needed, but they assure “The website is free and safe for children to use.”

On an adult only basis, this coud be a fun, and useful, way of encountering new, and appropriate books organised in interesting ways.

Wallingford Partnership of Schools, Oxfordshire ~ Day 2

| January 5, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Wallingford Partnership Day 2

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

Sat in amoungst

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picasion ~Animated GIF Maker

| January 4, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

It can be useful to create animated gifs when you want to get a few pictures in to one space and want to avoid flash or HTML5 programming. This could be on web page, or even in a presentation.

Picasion is a simple starter to this process. Upload a series of images and, hey presto, there’s your gif.

We found it useful when making graphics for the Musicals page on this site. “A load of Rubbish!”

Wallingford Partnership of Schools, Oxfordshire ~ Day 1

| January 4, 2016 | Add Your Thoughts 

Wallingford Partnership of Schools

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life ~ Live It ~ First Aid for Children

| December 9, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Life. Live it. First Aid education for Children from the British Red Cross is a really well designed and useful site, full of life saving information for use with children.

This site aims to give all 5 – 11 year olds the confidence and skills to help in an emergency and to help save lives.

It is full of quizzes, activities, discussion, drama, films, practical activities, drawing and ‘how to’ videos along with full lesson plans and supporting worksheets.

This is part of the British Red Cross’ campaign to bring first aid to young people through learning inside and outside school.

Life. Live it. is a free, comprehensive and yet easy-to-use teaching resource.

Life. Live it helps fulfill some of the requirements of the current programmes of study across all key stages for Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) education, but doesn’t require any previous knowledge of first aid for either teacher or pupil.

Web Cam Toy – like an online Photobooth

| November 20, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

A web cam, and the old Mac Photobooth, and it’s amazing what you could distort your face in to!

With Neave Interactive’s Web cam Toy, you can manipulate live images in some remarkable ways, and on-line. There are over 50 fun digital effects, and filters, to use with your web camera.

Like Bouncy Balls, this would be great as an experience on a large screen, in a “special” school setting, too.

Phoenix Integrated Primary, Cookstown, Northern Ireland

| November 20, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Phoenix IPS

A massive THANK YOU to Heather Watson, Principal of Phoenix Integrated Primary, for being up for organising a training day, with colleagues from around the area.

Heather WatsonPhoenix Integrated Primary School is situated in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland. A young, growing school with 215 pupils focused on providing high quality learning experiences for every child. Passionate about CPD for all staff, we seized the opportunity to work with Tim and Sarah welcomed 50 teachers from 30 schools to join us for a day of inspiration.

What an awesome day! Fast paced but fun, Tim and Sarah engaged the audience from the moment they started. Everyone was enthralled and inspired as they guided us through an exciting journey of how technology can open up a whole new dimension of learning for children. Every teacher needs a day like today; time out to reflect and recharge their creative energy. In the words of Tim Brighouse, ‘teaching can sometimes be an incredibly lonely job. It can stifle creativity’. At Phoenix we have a reputation of inviting teachers from other schools to learn together. By opening doors and creating meaningful opportunities to connect with each other we hope to reignite that spark of creativity, creating a supportive professional community. Looking forward to the next step – what to do with all the wonderful ideas? We can’t wait to see them come alive in our classrooms and hope Tim and Sarah will come back to visit us again soon (…and come to Donegal with us for a ‘wee’ road trip!)

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

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

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

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

Thank you to folk from St. Colum’s Primary School, Termoncanice Primary School, St Patrick’s Primary School, Donaghmore, Mount St. Michael’s Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, Maghera, Spires Integrated Primary School, Enniskillen Integrated Primary School, Windsor Hill Primary School, Roe Valley Integrated Primary School, Ballysally Primary School, Killowen Primary School, St Colmcille’s Primary School, Claudy, Kilmoyle Primary School, Holy Trinity Primary School, Christ the Redeemer Primary School, St. Columba’s Primary School, Kilrea, Cairnshill Primary School, Portadown Integrated Primary School, Millburn Primary School, St Dympna’s Primary School, Dromore, Carryduff Primary School, Castledawson Primary School, Lough View Integrated Primary School, Oakwood Integrated Primary School, Drumlins Integrated Primary School, St Colmcilles Primary School, Omagh, Harmony Hill Primary School, Millennium Integrated Primary School, Hazelwood Integrated Primary School, Cookstown Primary School and Drumlish Primary School.

Scrible ~ the web alive

| November 19, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Investigate, collate, notate, annotate, accentuate, and cogitate (’til it’s late) with Scrible

Useful for students, or teachers, conducting research.

To use scrible, add the scrible Toolbar to your browser as either a bookmarklet or browser add-on (a.k.a. extension or plug-in).

(A bookmarklet is a bookmarked link that, when clicked, adds functionality to your browser. When the scrible Bookmarklet is clicked, it loads the scrible Toolbar atop the current webpage you’re viewing).

Annotate web pages in multiple colors & styles
Save web research online & access it from anywhere
Use simple keywords to search full text of saved research
Use tags to quickly and easily organize research by topic
Easily share annotated web research with others via email

Websudoku ~ Sudoku online

| November 18, 2015

I have to admit that I am more of a words man than a numbers chap. (I took two maths tests recently, and failed three!)However, over the summer holiday, my daughter Ellie and my sister Kathleen got me in to their present obsession: Sudoku

Here is an online version that you might be able to use on a whiteboard with a whole class: websudoku

I did the Times sudoku in just three, yes, THREE …um…days!

What do you love .com ?

| November 17, 2015 | Add Your Thoughts 

Interesting listening to

What Do You Love is a simple search box, similar to the one on Google’s homepage, but it finds results from more than 20 different Google services, including Maps, Google Translate, YouTube, Trends, and Groups.

Expand each section by clicking on the icon in the lower right corner. If you need even more results, you can always click the button in the upper right corner of the box and go directly to the chosen tool.

In a search for Mumbai, we get to find lots of sections of information in different formats.

If nothing else, What Do You Love is a reminder of some of the tools that Google has to offer. There are “other ways of searching”.

What Do YOU Love?