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Topic planning

I thought I'd do a bit of cloud-sourcing, ask my PLN to help me with some planning ideas that I've got milling around my head.

The topic is, rather morbidly, DEATH, and I was hoping that some people could help me with enough ideas to last a term. Please have a look at the topic web below. It is in its infancy & will develop over time, but feel free to add ideas to it, I'll upload them as soon as I can.

Thanks in advance!


Read some of the Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Moby & Me - How an orange robot helped my class' imagination to soar.

Beginnings
I’ve always liked using the web to find tools that help my class to learn – even if at first the learning takes a back seat to the playing!
I first discovered BrainPOP at BETT in 2010; where a fellow teacher, Tom Sale, was exalting its merits on their stand as a BrainPOPer. If I’m honest, there was a lot I didn’t understand or chose to ignore at first. I spoke to Chris & Eylan, two fanastically enthusiastic people, who convinced me to go home and trial it. I left BETT that day dazzled by the array of talented teachers that BrainPOP had invited onto their stand to simply talk about the impact it had had on their respective classes. With their testimonials & Chris’ sales pitch, I vowed to use it straight away.
I went back to my school, walked into the finance manager’s office to find there was no budget left until April (the school was in the final phase of rolling out laptops across all classes & with a school of 570 kids, there wasn’t much left). I also had the di…

Reflections on TMX

I had a great time tonight at TeachMeet X, organised by Jan Webb (@janwebb21) Helen Morgan (@NellMog) & Zoe Ross (@zoeross19). The presentations were great. All informative, all of benefit.

This didn't feel like a course tonight. It felt like one of those staff meetings where everyone actually listens & actively engages. I was up near the end of the night and, to be honest, was feeling outclassed by the brilliant presentations that I had watched over the course of the evening.

The redoubtable Peter Richardson (@primarypete_) kicked off proceedings with 4 tools to use in school. I specifically liked the way he used posterous to create a weekend diary for his class teddy. Very good way of embedding awareness of technology & also a good way to reinforce to other adults that children simply accept that this is how to communicate these days (even with Year 1s)

He was followed by a plethora of great presentations, Ian Addison's (@ianaddison) Voki presentation showed how …

New Starts

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.  ~Anatole FranceWow. A deep quote for the start of a new year. I think that this year more than any it is time to leave behind a part of my teaching self. As a result of this, I have purposely removed previous planning or ideas from my teaching and am starting from scratch as of now.


Change isn't something that you undertake painlessly, but the outcomes will be worth the graft. I am in the process of changing from teacher to middle leader and there are elements of my personality & style that will have to take a back seat - especially when it comes to voicing my opinions (which those of you who know me will realise I have no problem with!).


I think that, for the last few days, I have been trying to fit in what I used to do at my old school, with what I must do at my new school. Big Mistake Number One. 


What I will be…

In loco parentis - via a webcam?

He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.  ~Harold Wilson.This afternoon I started to join in to #edchat on Twitter. The conversation was heavily leaning towards the emergence of online learning and it's potential impact on education in the future.
A lot of people were voicing the new regime of online or virtual learning, against the more conservative, traditional view. This got me thinking about jumping on the bandwagon before the path has been thought out. I am of the opinion that the best changes often happen slowly, affording seamless transitions between sections. This, in itself, is a great management technique, although there is, on occasion, the need to rip out bad practice quickly and noisily.
But I digress, as usual. Where was I? Change.
Because things are the way they are,things will not stay the way they are.Bertold BrechtTrust a playwright to sum things up so well. I welcome change, but I do not …

Quant Je Puis - To the best of my ability

It’s funny how quickly 5 years passes in the blink of an eye. On Friday, I’ll leave Hawes Side Primary School, in Blackpool, the school that I started my teaching career at. It’ll be strange, starting at a new school – with different coloured uniform for a start off! There’ll be new expectations, roles and colleagues too. Like anyone would, I worry that I won’t be what they are expecting; some strange unknown quantity who’ll park in the wrong car parking space and usetheir cup to make a brew at break time. I worry about my way of thinking in regard to education. Has it been rigidly shaped by the organisation I work for, or is it flexible; able to settle over the unfamiliar new routines with aplomb?
I am fortunate, too, to have created some fantastic links with people in different schools and authorities with whom I can talk to. I believe that communication is a pivotal to staff development as anything & affording ourselves opportunities for professional dialogue is a priority that…

Consultancy and me - part 2

Well, the nerves have cleared now and the day is done.
The morning started off well at a fantastic, newly built school called Murton Community Primary School (or 'The Ribbon' as it's known locally). Their resources are phenomenal. Loads of iMacs, Dell notebooks & plasma screens instead of whiteboards.
I started off with twitter, displaying the fantastic response from my PLN and their tips as to why you should use twitter. The staff were all geared up to signing up, when twitter reported being 'over capacity'.. grrr! Still, most people said they would go away and sign up. A fantastic response about the generosity with which the people I know on twitter share. Thank you, for convincing others of how beneficial it can be.
We then looked at primarypad. A great piece of kit, I'm sure you'll all agree. I went down the road of explaining that technology - however fancy - needs to be used in the correct context, in a structured and beneficial way. There's n…

Consultancy and me

Tomorrow I am working with a group of teachers at Murton Primary School, Co. Durham, who are coming to learn about engaging through technology. It's a big leap for me as I've never really done any sort of teacher training before.
The usual questions leap to mind. Will I be any good? Will they get anything out of it? That sort of thing. I also think of the cost of getting me here, accomodation, day rates, supply cover for the teachers attending. It starts to make me nervous. Am I really able to provide good value for money?
In my worrying, I turn to the content of my day's work: I'm introducing Twitter as a way of creating additional communication for students in the classroom and also for teachers to expand their professional learning network.
I'm looking at PrimaryPad and the impact it can have when used correctly.
After that, I'm talking about storybird & voicethread. Two fantastic tools that can be used in creative and effective ways - and that can be li…

New(ish) technologies I like vol.1

Right, this week I've been having a play with some different things that I can use in classroom situations. I've interested in storytelling at the moment and affording children an opportunity to share their work.
1. Storybird
This is by no means new, but I've found it really useful for a range of topics and year groups. It's ability to pitch at specific age ranges is great for focusing upper juniors into writing for an audience.

The pictures are emotive and the vast selection of topics ensures individuality in the finished product. It's really easy to make an account &  the kids get loads of enjoyment out of it.

2. Zooburst
I've only had a quick play on this, but the possibilities of this for classroom use are quite varied.
To sign up for an account, you simply fill in a quick form and Craig, who I think created it, emails you back within a day.
The bit I like is that you can use your own pictures or photos so, combine this with a visualiser or a class came…

TeachMeet Blackpool June 16th 2010

Before I go into detail of the event itself, I'd like to thank everyone that turned up - physically or virtually. It was really great to see you all.
Tom and I had such a blast in January that we thought it'd be a good idea to run another TeachMeet. Well, that was the beginning of a whole horde of silly ideas we had. But do you know what? They were the best type of silly ideas. They were silly ideas that worked.
Last Wednesday, just shy of 140 teachers descended on our school. They came both locally, nationally & internationally. In fact, one teacher from Germany was so impressed that he's gone back already plotting his own take on it. I'll admit now, I don't really remember much about the event, which is why it's taken me so long to actually post on it - I've had to read other people's blogs and go, "oh yeah, that was good." or "I presented...really?" This post isn't going to be a generic recap of the event, however. I'l…

TM Future? No, vive le TeachMeet Evolution

I've been reading various posts about the proposed future of TeachMeet & its events and I worry that the very act of regulating it, will cause people to shy away from a movement that I have got a tremendous amount of information, ideas & enjoyment out of.
I came across TeachMeets last year, and since then have been to 4, organised 2 & caught up on more than 3 others online. I have used ideas and implemented them into my teaching - and shared them with colleagues who have subsequently implemented them themselves!
I can't pretend to know the origins of TMs, but I know what I perceive them to be now. I perceive TeachMeets to be a refreshing alternative to formal CPD. We live and work in an increasingly informal environment, where we take learning opportunities when they arrive, rather than following prescribed textbook activities - at least most of us, anyway.
Over the last few years, CPD has changed for teachers in schools in the UK. With the inclusion of PPA time, s…

People in glass houses...

Every so often, you start to think about things in more detail. With me it is not a regular occurance. I have what my wife calls selective ignorance syndrome (my apologies if this actually exists - as far as I know she made it up). All the more reason why this particular wave of fresh thinking has perturbed me. Over the last few years, I have been amending my teaching based on the needs of the children I taught and my own desire to better myself and become the teacher I wanted to be. No harm in that, but I was looking inwards, seeing myself as the only one who needed my help.
Selfish. In a way, yes. What I perceived was that by furthering myself as a teacher, I would be better able to meet the needs of the learners in my care. If I had been a deeper thinker, or a more humble person, I might have considered how I could help my colleagues by looking outwards. Be that as it may, I have reached a point in my career where I feel that a strong, well-rounded collective is far more beneficial…

PhotoStory3 +5yr olds

Photostory + children = chaosA few weeks ago at TeachMeet Yorks & Humber 2010, I presented on how effective Photostory had been when used by Key Stage 2 children (7-11yrs). Ever the optimist, I decided that I would attempt to use photostory with my class (5-6yrs old). On top of this, I thought, I know, let’s link up with a year 1 class in a different school, switch children so we’ve got half each. Design, plan build and watch the photostories – all in 50 minutes.
The work was aimed to fit in with our literacy unit of information texts, and hit various other curriculum areas such as PHSE (teamwork & collaboration), Geography (locations), Speaking & Listening and others besides.
Children were to organise pictures of their school into a storyboard, looking at including either key words, a phrase or a sentence for each one. Children worked in groups of 3 to collaboratively create a photostory. The theory behind this was to incorporate discussion & compromise into the activ…

Cage Builders & Key Throwers

I was on twitter a few weeks ago and I saw a tweet, I can't remember who by, highlighting someone else's blog.@chrisguillebeau's to be exact.  You can find it here.
The article itself was ok and had some salient points, but there was a quote on it from Hafiz, a 14th century Persian poet, that mesmerised me, in fact it made me think very deeply about my teachers and me as a teacher.
It described, in far less words than I could possibly manage, the type of person I am and, more importantly, the type of person I strive to be.

I guess that everyone has a moment that makes them evaluate what they're doing with their lives. Are things turning out the way they planned? Are they serving themselves, or others? What is the purpose that drives them to succeed?
Big questions. All of which were prompted by this poem.
I looked first at the opening line, 'The small man' and thought, is this me? Have I, as a teacher, ever done this? Have I limited children's expectations o…

TeachMeet Doncaster

Educo (v)– to draw out, to lead, to raise up, to praise, to rear Online Dictionary (University of Notre Dame)
While writing this, the main thought buzzing around my head was: it is my job to create tomorrow’s teacher? If this was so, the focus then became what impact we have on the creation of the next generation of teachers.
Tomorrow’s Teacher will be the same as the teacher of today. It will require the same empathic nature that makes us able to communicate with others. It will require determination to push those who need pushing; the composure to restrict those who must be restricted; the compassion to comfort those who hope for comfort; the passion to inspire those who dream of greater things; the skills to influence those without direction; the knowledge to develop those who must be developed. In short, these things will always need doing; it is the nature of the job. What we must ask ourselves is what setting will these actions take place in? How will these skills and attributes …

Future Proof

Educo (v)– to draw out, to lead, to raise up, to praise, to rear Online Dictionary (University of Notre Dame)
While writing this, the main thought buzzing around my head was: it is my job to create tomorrow’s teacher? If this was so, the focus then became what impact we have on the creation of the next generation of teachers.
Tomorrow’s Teacher will be the same as the teacher of today. It will require the same empathic nature that makes us able to communicate with others. It will require determination to push those who need pushing; the composure to restrict those who must be restricted; the compassion to comfort those who hope for comfort; the passion to inspire those who dream of greater things; the skills to influence those without direction; the knowledge to develop those who must be developed. In short, these things will always need doing; it is the nature of the job. What we must ask ourselves is what setting will these actions take place in? How will these skills and attributes …