Sharing ideas and all things ICT… I am a Y2 teacher, AHT, ICT subject leader and mum

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

http://www.cfbt.com/lincs/primary,nursery,specialeduc/mathematics/planning/crosscurricularmaths.aspx

http://motivate.maths.org/content/resources

http://nrich.maths.org/thismonth/all/2010/06

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!

Myself and two Year 6 members of the Primary Leadership Team spent an enjoyable time interviewing applicants for the roles of Digital Leaders at our school on Friday.  I have to be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect as this was a completely new process for me.  With their applications in front of us, we (I say we but the Y6’s did nearly all of the interviewing – I just videoed their responses) proceeded to ask the questions we had agreed upon.

Firstly, I was really surprised at just how serious the applicants took the whole proceedings – it obviously meant a lot to each and every one of them.  I’ve uploaded a few videos of the successful applicants – they are all very excited about the prospects that lie ahead.  In fact one boy who’s birthday it was the next day said that it was the best birthday present ever!!!

Daniel

Bethany Pt 1

Bethany Pt 2

Finn

Louis Pt 1

Louis Pt 2

Monday’s deadline has arrived and the ever increasing pile of applications needs sorting.  I’m looking for many qualities in my Digital Leaders.  Over the past few weeks I  have looked at many excellent blogs of teachers and educators who have begun their DL journey and very kindly posted examples of the job description, application and interview forms etc.  Blogs such as:

http://greenfields-dls.blogspot.co.uk/

http://mrsmeeks.posterous.com/digital-leader-resources-59850

http://ianaddison.net/?s=digital+leaders

http://www.kristianstill.co.uk/wordpress/2011/09/10/digital-leaders-deliver/

The very helpful Chris Mayoh http://mrmayoh.bowlingparkprimary.net/tag/digital-leaders/

And the brilliant Sheli Blackburn http://www.digitalleadernetwork.co.uk/

These and others have given me the guidance and encouragement to set up our own DL’s in school.  I have tweaked, merged and added to their documents to make them relevant for my school setting.  Kristian Stilll has very kindly allowed me to adapt his fantastic logo to that which has our school colours too – thank you!  See below for the selection of documents I am using to get this project of the ground (I’ve left them as word docs to allow editing, should anyone want to use them).

WL Digital leaders poster

WL Digital Leaders Job Sheet (1)

WL Digital leaders interview questions

WL Digital leader spec and JD

WL Digital Leader contract.docx

WL Digital Leader application form

WL Digital_Leaders_letter_to_parents

The next stage is to sift through the 52 applications for the interview process.  Looking at their answers, I envisage the job not to be an easy one.

I’ve heard about the  many virtues of having inspired children as Digital Leaders (DL) from fellow tweeters and teaching blogs over the past 6 months and was really keen to get on board.  I wanted to do the research prior to implementing it at my school in order for it to have the maximum impact possible.

On Monday I put up posters around the school advertising vacancies for DL.  Qualities required were given, benefits to apllicants were given and brief descriptions of role were given.  I planned to take the KS2 assembly to do my best pitch!  Ideally I would want 8 children from the current years 3,4 and 5.

Today was the assembly, 240 children sitting agog (not  because I was taking an assembly!!) but because they had all seen the posters and were keen to find out more.  I did my spiel and talked in full about what I had planned and how excited I was about this project.  Reciprocal learning was the message – of course I didn’t use that phrase but ultimately that’s what it is.   I explained the role in more detail, talking about commitment, collaboration, teamwork, patience and fun!

My final message was that an application form needed to be completed and returned to me by next Monday.  I would be giving out the forms at lunch time, outside my room.  Lunch time duly arrived and no 5, not 10 BUT 77 children were gathered outside my classroom.  All eagerly awaiting my arrival (I was on PPA) to collect the application forms.

By the end of lunch time, 39 forms had been returned.  I’m anticipating that many children wanted a little longer to fully consider their reasons for applying…

I am completely gob-smacked by the level of excitement and keenness to be part of an exciting project that will be the beginning of our journey together.  The next step is to shortlist (once the deadline has arrived) and interview the applicants – I can’t wait!

Original DL logo used and adapted with kind permission from http://www.kristianstill.co.uk

Over the past few years I have been a great advocate of class based action research projects.  They allow me to focus on a particular aspect of eduation whereby I am given time to apply and reflect on my own teaching practice with the aim to improve it.  At the end of March, I submitted a bid for £5000 that would pay for 15 iPads.  My proposal was based on our needs at our school.  The expected outcomes of buying and using the iPads in the classrom would be:

  • Transform teaching and learning by changing the current classroom culture and embedding creative use of ICT
  • Make the classroom teaching and learning more interactive and creative in facilitating learning
  • Facilitate more personalised learning that is strongly linked to learners needs
  • Raise expectations and reduce the gap for lower performers
  • Raise standards in reading and writing for all
  • Close the digital divide and improve standards for all children
  • Motivate and engage reluctant readers and writers
  • Provide a platform for developing speaking and listening skills which in turn impact positively on reading and writing skills
  • Utilising emerging technologies in the classroom and exploring potential impact in supporting learning
  • Develop and embed effective inclusion strategies for children with SEND
  • Initiate an ICT cluster group to share good outcomes and practice
  • Develop role of Digital Leaders
  • Organise a Teachmeet/Kidsmeet

My baseline assessment is  to target a  cohort (unsure which year group at this point as not sure where I’ll be in September) in order to track, monitor and assess achievement and impact throughout the project.  Writing and reading levels will be used as a baseline and ambitious targets set with a specific focus on targeting those children who are underachieving.  Alongside this we would interview children on their attitudes to learning and engagement in this as well as parental observations on this.  This would then be re-assessed at the end of the project.  Interim data and performance indicators will be used to monitor the impact of ICT on learners.

Initial implementation of the iPads would be to provide a contextual hub for learning from which the children would utilise technology to develop language skills by accessing modelled apps, games and research.  Reluctant writers and readers would be engaged and motivated by seeing, hearing and exploring good language with a view to communicate learning by sharing and having an audience.  This could be achieved by provision and access to iPads and the wealth of opportunities they offer.  The focus will be on talk for reading and writing and there are a number of apps and functions on the ipads which will support and enhance this.

By developing the use of ICT in one year group we will be able to use action research to target successful strategies to support learning in reading and writing through the development of language skills.  This can then be disseminated to other classes and enhance the work of the school in raising standards.

Having a bank of iPads offers flexibility of learning as they could be rotated class to class or timetabled for use in class or in small groups across the school.  The iPads will give us provision and access to all children across the school through a range of exciting opportunities.  Other pockets of underachievement could then also be addressed using this medium.

As an aside, we have a number of children with SEND and believe Ipads will provide an additional focus for continued inclusion and enhanced learning.  IPads would be instrumental in providing visual learning, helping with therapy and turn taking.  These devices would also help non-verbal children communicate more effectively.  These children are less likely in some instances to have access to ICT at home so we will be able to reduce the gap for them in their successful use of digital resources as part of learning.

I’m always looking for ways to improve learning and maintain motivation and engagement for the children I teach.  This project is an exciting one which I cannot wait to get underway.  I hope to post my progress throughout this project and share my findings.