Punctuating what seems like a very long term was a well planned opportunity for schools in both Westbury and Warminster to merge and become inspired. Held at Kingdown School in Warminster (and very hosted at that), the final day of the term was an INSET crammed full of interesting and inspiring workshops but to start was a keynote speaker, who, until that day I had not heard of, but from that day I will not forget! Alison Peacock is the headteacher of Wroxham Primary School in Potters Bar, and has taken her school from failing to outstanding by arguing that grouping by ability actually holds children back. Alison and her staff have removed the limiting beliefs about fixed abilities and fixed futures and has instead become a listening school. Listening to her speak resonated with many of my beliefs about children. She spoke with passion and humour especially with her encounters with the current Education Secretary! A video was shown about all the great things that were happening at her school, including the double decker bus that is a library in the playground! But more poignantly were the children who spoke with great authority about their learning, challenge and love of school. Included in the video was an exuberant teacher called Mr Davy who enthused me, and what’s more he was the teacher leading my final workshop – couldn’t wait (especially as others had seen him earlier in the day and were singing his praises!) What a great start to the day.
My first workshop was ‘Challenging learners in Maths’ ran by two secondary teachers from our local secondary school, Matravers. Many useful ideas were demonstrated that could be adapted in any year group classroom, such as the ‘So what…’ cards giving a statement such as ‘1 pair of socks cost £1.50’, the children would then think of questions like ‘How much would it cost to buy socks for a spider?’ etc etc. Good for talking maths and collaboration. Another idea was having laminated hexagons where the first one said ‘Multiples’ and then the children have to think of other maths areas that link. These are then written on separate hexagons with the aim of creating a flower but more importantly understanding the different connections.
The second workshop was ‘Inspiring independent learning’ with Alison Peacock who has just written a book called ‘Creating learning without limits’ following research completed at her school. She spoke of key dispositions such as empathy, generosity, emotional stability, inventiveness, openness, persistence, questioning and humility. In pairs we then recalled a time when we had encountered these dispositions and how we dealt with them. An interesting reflective process although I would have loved to hear more about how she changed her school around continuing on from her fantastic keynote.
Finally, the workshop I had been really looking forward to ‘Good to outstanding’ by Steve Davy a teacher from Wroxham Primary School. Steve spoke with enthusiasm and an obvious love of his subject when he described the thematic and creative approach to learning that he instils in his classroom. His frenetic approach was hard to keep up with at times but the amount of content he packed in to 45 minutes was astounding! Peppered with humour and anecdotes and the odd request for Ritalin only made his presentation more endearing. Lots of ideas how to incorporate grammar into all year groups were provided and I can’t wait to bring them into my classroom too!
Overall a very inspiring and creative day that provided not only great workshops but also the golden opportunity to share professional dialogue with other colleagues. I hope we have further opportunities to work as a broader cluster as it is a valuable way to congregate and learn.
On a roll now so creating the second post of the evening – better late than never! A couple of weeks ago as a celebration event to signify the end of the Inpsire Create Teach project ran by Wiltshire ICT team, a conference was held at Center Parcs, Longleat.
The keynote speakers were both entertaining and informative and set the scene for what was going to be a fab day for all involved. We were the first cohort of the project which is now involved with cohort 2 and as we had completed the project were asked to present seminars of a topic of our choosing but realting to the project. I anticipated that many would select a journey approach and I was keen to do something a little different but just as relevant. For me, the most important dawn awakening was to surpass the motivational and engagement pull of technology (specifically the iPads we were using) and concentrate on the pedagogical underpinning that I believed was necessary to ensure deeper and more meaningful learning. My Prezi was called iPadagogy – integrating iPads tomake learning relevant, ,meaningful and contextual. It is below for you to peruse and enjoy (hopefully!) The conference itself was great, opportunities to be with like minded people who wanted to share and help each other is always a brillliant incentive. The event was and has always been very well orgainsed and was a real pleasure to be part of.
Playing a bit of catchup – have had this post in draft for the longest time and have now found some time to finally post it!
This was my second opportunity to share my love of ICT with people that continue to inspire me. I was asked to present a seminar on ‘Digital Leaders’ for which I was only too happy to oblige. My presentation was entitled ‘Developing Primary Pupils as innovative leaders of ICT’. I have had the privilege of being part of a fabulous project where the local authority has asked for bids for £5000. I had to create an action plan showing what I was going to spend it on and how it would raise standards. During this project I found there was a distinct buzz on Twitter about the use of pupil led learning or Digital Leaders. I have written more about my journey of enrolling and working alongside them in previous posts but it really excited me how children could expand their pupil voice and impact on teaching their peers and teachers alike. I have had lots of requests for my Prezi which you can see below – I have used the editable format to allow anyone who may find it useful to adapt and change to suit themselves. I hope it inspires others to travel the same journey – definitely worth the time and effort.
Keep seeing lots of lovely ideas on the web, or images that you want to reference later, but forget where you saw it? Well if you are not already hooked on Pinterest – you soon will be! It’s a very clever little content sharing service that allows members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their own pinboards. You can name your boards (a sort of mini filing system really) and you can also share your great ‘pins’ via the usual social networking features in Twitter and Facebook. You can create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies or you can. browse other pinboards for images, ‘re-pin’ images to your own pinboards. I love the simplicity of it and find it an invaluable resource of just about anything and everything. Click the ‘My Pinterest’ button on the top right of my blog to see my boards or click http://pinterest.com/nickynewbury/
It has been very successful with parents and children alike. What homework projects do you give to your children?
A little while ago I wanted to rethink homework for my class. I wanted them to have more ownership of how they presented their learning and a bigger choice of activities depending on their preferred subjects. This seemed quite a daunting task at first until I stumbled on examples of using Bloom’s Taxonomy as a matrix for activities pertinent to our topic. The choice was there, the style of presentation was left to the children thereby giving more ownership of their learning. The only two requests were that each child completed a literacy and a numeracy task and the total points score of the tasks totalled 20 points or more.
They had six weeks to complete the homework, some came in sooner, some complete much more than twenty points of tasks, some took enormous ride in bringing in and talking about what they had done. More importantly, deeper learning had been established!! Gone were the weekly sheets and tasks that were not as inspiring as they needed to be due to the weekly nature of them. Gone was the restrictive way of presenting or writing the homework. If the final exhibition of their learning was anything to go by then quality, substance, analytical, evaluative and meaningful learning had taken place and long may it continue!!!
This term is a focus on Charlie and the chocolate factory – both term’s matrix is below for you to see. I’d be interested in your views…
I originally intended to write my first post of 2013 with a reflective tone to all that has happened in 2012. Sitting here has made me reconsider, not that 2012 lacked highlights – far from it! But, to me, what is now important is looking forward to the future and all the new and exciting challenges that may come my way.
A week ago, I became a very proud grandmother to Noah – a real thrill which opens a new chapter of adventure for me and my family.
After school today I had the absolute privilege of watching Tim Rylands in action. I have been lucky to see him many times previously and he never fails to disappoint or inspire me to want to be a better teacher or to try new things to encourage children to be the best they can be – that is indeed a great talent, which I fully recognise and appreciate.
Ten days into the new year and already I feel excited by the future. This is my ninth year of teaching and I continue to learn new things which is important to me. I am always determined to do the best for the children I teach by constantly striving to be the best teacher I can be by learning new technologies, conducting class based action research, engaging in personal research, sharing ideas and resources, constantly adapting my teaching practice to reflect knowledge gained and continuing to search for new and exciting ways to engage and motivate children.
It’s all too easy to reflect and become complacent, reflective practice is essential, and goes without saying but the need to draw a line and move forward is vital for me and I plan to do exactly that. Setting personal targets and goals are on my agenda. Today has been a good day!
Team GB‘s cycling team is now perhaps synonomous with the Aggregation of Marginal Gains made famous by Dave Brailsford. He says, “It means taking the 1% from everything you do; finding a 1% margin for improvement in everything you do. That’s what we try to do from the mechanics upwards.” Small things like athletes taking their own pillow around the world with them to reduce infections and to ensure a good night’s sleep and washing hands more thoroughly to ensure germs are not transferred more readily. I began thinking….sometimes a rather dangerous pursuit. This combined with my current read “The art of being brilliant” by Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker led me to think how I could apply some of these psychological approaches to my role as a team leader and teacher.
As Andy Cope and Andy Whittaker say, life is full of busyness (that’s how they spelt it) and to be more effective in our roles we have to harness being happy (apparently only 2% of the population are happy at any one time) and seek to eliminate or reduce the ‘mood hooovers’ in life who are on a perpetual cycle of negativity that sucks any positivity that is present. I suspect we are all at one time or another a ‘mood hoover’, but strive to be happy. Equipped with the 2 Andy’s and Team GB’s principles, I decided to ask my team to compile a list of small things that were either time consuming, annoying or got in the way of their roles. Some items are duplicated which made the decision of trying to remove them somewhat easier. An example was having to input a photocopier code for every document you wanted to print – 17 documents equals 17 code inputs. Removal of the code therefore frees up more time – we’re on our way to begin aggregating those margins with the hope of massive gains!!!! I’m only a third of the way through this entertaining book so it must have had an impact to make me proactive before even finishing!
This may of course seem whimsical or petty, but I really believe that (along with Dave Brailsford) controlling or changing lots of small things will indeed make a HUGE difference. We are at the beginning of our journey to allow us ot be focussed on what we are good at, doing more of it and being the best we can be – whether that be teachers, team leaders, parents, spouses or friends. Was I inspired? Yes, without a doubt.
As an addendum to this post that was also recently tweeted, I was signposted by @ictevangelist (many thanks) to the fabuloUs blog of Zoe Elder @fullonlearning http://marginallearninggains.com/ – much more excellent reading ahead…
Some time ago, the idea was muted about teaching maths through stories. At the time, I wasn’t sure what this would look like other than a tenuous link to a story book that you may have in your cupbaord or book corner. More recently I have come across a super book written by the Devon Primary Maths team called Story Maths – using picture books in the primary classroom. It does exactly what it says on the tin…… Some fantastic story books and a myriad of suggestions how they can be used for the different blocks, themes and year groups. A very comprehensive collection of ideas. I bought a copy fully ready to embark onusing some of these suggestions.
Each book selected has a:
- synopsis of the story
- themes listed from the framework
- suggested activities and key questions
- suggested resources
- possible cross curricular links
- suitablility for which year groups/key stage
Updates to follow – but so far, so good.
Following a search for further ideas on how to incorporate maths across the curriculum, I came across some fab sites which did just this.
www.livingmathbooklist.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/multiplication – books link maths to literacy
Last Monday, at the Eliminating Gaps – What really works? conference, I was invited to give a workshop by my LA on using technology to engage learners and ultimately narrow those gaps in attainment and progress. This followed a very successful project ran by Wiltshire ICT and Literacy Team called Playing the Writing Game (see previous posts for more details). Basically, all participant teachers across the county found that their focus groups of 6 vulnerable grouped children make at least 2 sub levels of progress during the six month project and finished the project with a much higher engagement in literacy and using ICT. Games based learning was at the core of this project and was the subject of my workshop. It was a bit like speed dating or a Teachmeet, where we had 6 minutes to show and tell the many virtues of GBL to one group of delegates and then each group moved in a round robin so all delegates got to see all four worshops.
I had brought along my ever growing collection of Wii games, along with pith helmets, night watchman hats etc to give a real flavour of what GBL has to offer. Of course, six minutes is a tight time in which to fit in all that could and maybe should be said about collaboration, engagement, emmersion, shared learning, build community, language opportunities and so on, but I did my very best! I also signposted the http://swgamesbasedlearning.wordpress.com blog that would give even more ideas and hopefully inspire them to have a go!
The surprise of the day was just how many Headteachers, teachers etc have devices which are currently redundant in the back of the cupboard and could be put to much better use. I can’t think of a better use than hooking those reluctant children in to a world which inspires them to write, talk and communicate.
All in all, a great day!