itwitterPoint

OK, so as normal, I’m over-excited about a new find! I was lucky enough to attend Pelecon at the University of Plymouth last week and I saw Leigh Graves Wolf @gravesie talk. She was using some fab live twitter feedback PowerPoint slides. You can find it all here: http://www.sapweb20.com/blog/powerpoint-twitter-tools/

I have been using it in my French lessons in place of mini-whiteboards to get live feedback on how well the learners are picking up the Grammar points in KS4 lessons. Normally I am loath to say that technology is a replacement for something as I believe it is more about opening up new possibilities but with this it is possible to save the progress of the learners to review with them. Mini-whiteboards just get rubbed off.

As I led the learning in the lesson I encouraged the learners to tweet using a hashtag. Using the powerPoint from SAP meant that I could view all the hashtags on one screen in real time. The result was electric! The learners were incredibly keen to see their name in lights, and were keen to know when they could do it again.

I used ipads in the lesson but some students used their own devices too. Here is a short video of it in action, kindly filmed by Ben and Kelly, two of our IT technicians. The video mentions ipads a lot but I think the really exciting bit is that it uses ipads, twitter and PowerPoint all together.

 

itwitterPoint

 

This technology obviously lends itself to accumulating ideas too. Jude Hollyman, the Headteacher’s PA at our school has a lot of involvement in our events at the school and we are currently looking at improving our already very successful year 6 information evenings. She suggested that we asked the learners to tell us what makes the school great. We used itwitterPoint for it and she was able to sit at her computer and follow the hashtag. She felt enthused and excited to be able to link to the students in this way.

The possibilities for this are endless. I think it’s really exciting, give it a go!

Cre8agame

cre8agame logo

Today, I think, was one of the most satisfying days of my career to date!

I have been working with a group of year 8 boys since November on a Microsoft Project. As regular readers of my blog will know I was lucky enough to go to the Microsoft Partners In Learning Global Forum in Washington DC last year to represent our school. Our school is a Partner School. We are hoping to become a Mentor School.

As part of being a Pathfinder School the year 8 boys are creating a project.

They have decided to share their passion for Kodu and creativity by setting up their own website inviting people within a closed community (using ELGG ) to come up with stories. The learners blog their stories onto the website and then the team create a version of their story as a game. Awesome!

P1130520Where it starts to get really exciting is that they then invite these people to get involved in making Kodu games themselves. They hope to spread the love of creativity and Kodu virally. Please help them and retweet this blog. Below are some videos of the team launching the website http://cre8agame.saltash.net in a lesson today. The learners loved it. Sorry about the sound, the rest of the class were in groups talking about their ideas in what seems to be the echoiest room in the world!!!!!

Make no mistake, this is STUDENT EMPOWERMENT, students teaching students to teach students. The look on their faces as they realised how excited all the learners were was something I will remember forever. A huge “Well done!” to them!

Zondle

I know that Dan Roberts @chickensaltash has already covered this in one of his fantastic blog posts in the guise of one of his weekly web wonders but I have to add my twopenneth worth too!

A colleague from school called Gwenn showed me how her class was using Zondle. https://www.zondle.com

If you haven’t heard of it, Zondle is a website that you can load multiple questions into. When the learners get the answer right they get to play a short online game. To put it bluntly, the learners LOVE it!!

At the moment I am only using questions that other teachers have uploaded but will be creating some of my own this weekend.

The very best thing about Zondle, for me, is the leaderboard. As the learners access Zondle through a code that the teacher gives them that is specific to their class, it is possible to follow their progress through the leaderboard while they play at home! I found the embed code for the leaderboard and entered it into a textbox on this blog. You can find the current leaderboard on the right hand side of this blog if you scroll down a bit.

I have found that the learners are really inspired by this site. It is also very easy to keep track of who is doing their homework as it also gives you marksheets!

One learner in my year 9 class had 65% this week in class. I set the class Zondle as homework and I watched the leaderboard in the evening. He played 5 times and on the last go got 100%. If that doesn’t show progression I don’t know what does!!!

Where do YOU stand in the classroom?

image

This is a rough plan of my classroom. Click the picture to see the image.

The idea is that I can get round to every student to discuss their work and it also means that the classroom and the students are the foci rather than the class teacher.

A few years ago I used to have the students in rows. I didn’t find this nearly as successful to be honest. I found it very hard to stay in touch with what they were doing during the lessons.

As a side-effect of moving the desks around I noticed that my behaviour strategies changed completely. I am now able to move around the classroom and deliver information while standing directly in front of whomever I wish. It also means that, as their work is instantly accessible, it is very easy to make sure that whoever needs help gets it. This means I can keep an eye on who is on task much more easily.

So my questions is, where do you stand and how does it affect you and your classes?

Bring Your Grownup to School Day!

This is a guest blog post by Emma Metters from saltash.net community school. She is one of the most innovative thinkers and educators I know. I will post some of the photographs of what they produced as soon as I get them. The output and outcomes of this day were simply awesome!

It was “back to school” at saltash.net for some parents this term! Wednesday 23rd November was “Bring Your Grown-Up To School” morning, and over 100 “grown-ups” came along to find out what being in Year 7 is all about. It wasn’t just parents and carers that were “brought to school” though, it was grandparents, aunts and older siblings as well – some of whom were ex-saltash.net pupils (and even ex-Saltash Community School pupils!) themselves.

The aim of the event was to involve parents and carers in the new ways of learning that are so important at saltash.net. Year 7s and their “grown-ups” spent the morning focusing on Cornish heroes, using all the cross-curricular skills and creative approaches to learning that are developed in the school’s Integrated Learning curriculum and the exciting termly Theme Days. “Cornish Heroes” that were championed included Bishop Trelawney, the Penlee Lifeboat Crew, Tom Bawcock (of Mousehole Cat fame), Dolly Pentreath and Richard Trevithick, as well as many others.

The morning started with the grown-ups (fortified by a good coffee) attending Year 7 assembly before moving on into their Cornish Heroes workshop groups. Working in teams, grown-ups, students and staff put their heads together to come up with a wonderful array of ideas with which to convince the judges that their Cornish Hero was the best. Each group made diverse use of their box of creative media and were able to access “banks” of library books, netbooks, flipcams and lively, wide-ranging information sheets to support them in their challenge.

By 11.00 am all the grown-ups (staff as well as visitors) were ready for the school bell and break time! Parents and carers were able to mix in a relaxed atmosphere with each other and with Year 7 tutors and staff, to discuss the morning, their experiences of saltash.net and its approaches to learning.

A showcase assembly followed which was so engaging and entertaining that it attracted many passing school staff who hadn’t otherwise been directly involved in the morning! Displays convincing the judges about the heroic status of various prominent Cornish individuals included renditions of songs (both traditional and newly composed for the occasion), pieces of drama and re-enactments (complete with props). Presentations involved the efforts and showmanship of both saltash.net students and their grown-ups, and many hinged around some truly amazing models and large-scale displays, which had all been created that morning.

The students had started the morning certain that they would be embarrassed by their grown-ups (as only grown-ups can embarrass!), but ended up unable to hide their pride in their new school and their enthusiasm for their creative, collaborative approaches to learning, their competency with new technologies and their determination to be the best at whatever challenge is set them. The visiting grown-ups left school bursting with pride in their children, but this was nothing compared to the pride that their teachers and tutors felt for their students who had demonstrated their skills and achievements so well. Going back to school has never been so rewarding!

Emma Metters

Asst Head of Year 7

A reflection on #PILGF

Well, it’s been a week since The Microsoft Partners In Learning Global Forum. I’m trying to get my head around the fact that this time last week I was on a Segway tour of Washington DC!!!

Why was I there?

I went to the forum to represent saltash.net community school. We went as a Pathfinder School. We are now part of the programme and are working towards becoming a Mentor School.

What does this mean?

We went along and shared our schools’ innovative practices in a meeting that involved over 70 schools! It was a wonderful opportunity to speak to a ballroom full of inspirational and innovative practitioners. I learnt so much and made some fantastic contacts with people from all corners of the world.

We also spent the whole week taking an active role in fascinating workshops that dealt with a huge variety of topics. These were all inclusive and interesting. I left with a head crammed full of new, exciting ideas.

I met my mentor school and my coach and a great deal of time was spent with these people, generating ideas and getting a feel for the education scene on a global scale.

Did it benefit me?

YES! I have come away from the course feeling enabled and excited. I have gained a much broader outlook on education and what innovation in the classroom actually looks like.

Will it benefit my school?

Of course! I am looking at collaboration, teamwork and the teaching environment. The findings I have and future projects that are in motion will, I hope, I have a positive impact on the school as a whole. It will also provide the support structure to keep improving and continue being an innovative school.

All said and done the experience I enjoyed has been career changing. I have never been involved in something so exciting and enjoyable. It has given me a whole new lease of life as an educator and will keep me inspired for a long time to come.a

The End of the Beginning

Well, the fantastic CPD has finished….. or has it???

 

While I have decided on areas that my Pathfinder Project will touch on (collaboration, teamwork and learnihg environments  ) I am most excited about the links I have made.

 

This week there were over 700 people attending this event and 75 schools. I have made a lot of links and met some of the most inspirational people in my career. I have signed up to online meetings and have found a great mentor school (Calderglen) to take us through the process.

 

This is quite a short blog post as I am absolutely shattered. The message I have picked up is a simple one this week. If we work together and become resilient through focused collaboration, success and inspiration come closer and closer.

I can’t wait to get back to school and get on with the project.

 

As I mentioned above, the CPD this week has been exceptional. I have to thank @chickensaltash and @issybryce10 for giving me the opportunity to go but also @innovativeteach for his endless and tireless support.