In the summer term we take our Foundation Unit to Sherwood Pines, a Forestry England site here in Nottinghamshire. As the name suggests, it’s a large woodland with tall pine trees and a great outdoor education team and facilities for all ages. During the day we did all of the outdoor education activities you could think of in a forest: mini beast hunts, woodland art (Andy Goldsworthy), story trails (The Gruffalo) and for the purpose of this blog post, photography.
For the past 7 years our Executive Head Teacher has been the lead link between our schools here in Nottingham (Burton Joyce and Cropwell Bishop) and St. Francis Xavier school in Goa, India. For 2 weeks each year, Phil spends time at the school working with the staff and students of the schools. The project is funding by The British Council and supported by Nottingham Forest Football Club also.
Last year, Phil’s visit supported the launch of our school blogs and kick started Skype Classroom projects. This year, he set out to make a multi-touch book on a single iPad and create a collaborative text about the two localities. My first attempt at creating a teacher authored textbook using iBooksAuthor came about at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) institute in San Diego (2014), and with a group of Early Years ADEs we authored a book about Rancho Cuyamaca. I shared this project with Phil and it shaped our vision for this project.
Toward the end of the summer term 2014, I presented at the Nottinghamshire County Council ICT Subject Leader’s network. The focus of my presentation was on the successes of our school blogs and social media presence, and the road ahead. The network meeting had a wider theme of e-safety and I discussed how a blogging system and social media presence that is embedded in a school models acceptable use of the internet to pupils on a daily basis. You can read more about the launch of our school blogs and social media tools here. There are parents who regularly tweet and use Instagram with us, which models acceptable use at home.
Earlier this month I blogged about the upcoming International Dot Day on September 15th. The day finally arrived today and it has been fantastic!
A lot of preparation went in to the day. We actually began Dot Day on the Thursday before. Our children got to know the text well before the day came, and we had finished our individual dots by close of play on Friday. For the actual day, we enhanced our continuous provision areas with dotty resources which the children had access to indoors and outdoors all day long – an exciting blog post about this has been published on Alistair Bryce-Clegg’s blog here.
As I prepare to return to school for the new academic year and welcome my new Foundation class to our school, I can’t help but feel excited. Usually September focuses on establishing routines, settling in to school life and base-line assessments, but this year will be slightly different for us.
My Early Years group of Apple Distinguished Educators in America are already a few weeks in to their school year and we are about to embark on a year of collaboration and projects between our classes. The first of these projects, which is a great ‘getting to know you’ exercise for my own class but also for all of our classes, is called ‘International Dot Day’.
This year I applied to attend the Apple Distinguished Educator Global Institute, held in San Diego. My application was successful and I joined 9 other UK Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) on a trip to America which would change my life. Not only would this be a week to meet ADEs from 31 countries, it would be a chance to become a learner again, change perspectives, develop new skills and collaborate on a projects for the next school year.
When starting my new school in September, the mission was to turn the school around and promote the great things that happen inside our school. We are half way through the school year now and the work that we done so far has been incredible. Rapid progress is being made and the school feels like a completely different place than it did when I went to look around nearly a year ago.
We are very proud of what we have achieved so far.
Back in November I shared my vision for developing class blogs with head teachers and deputies at a school leadership conference in Nottinghamshire. My presentation was all about what could be achieved by blogging- I had only just started when I ran this workshop. I explained the upcoming requirements of the new computing curriculum and that e-safety and responsible internet use needs to be taught from Year 1. I suggested that blogs embeds this in the school ethos and regular blogging promotes responsible online behaviour.
This week everything fell in to place neatly, and the impact blogs have had on our learning environment and parental involvement has been phenomenal. It has only been 5 days.
Today was such an exciting day.
Over the half term I organised a Skype call with a K class at Avenues School in New York City.
It was the first time that I had planned a video call with any class, let alone Foundation children, and I didn’t know what to expect at all.
The call was an incredible experience and surprised me on so many levels. I was amazed at how confident the children were (both my class and the Eagles class at Avenues). They very quickly understood the concept of the link and listened so attentively to the speakers so that they could answer the questions.
Following the success of Tom Barrett’s TeachMeets for the Midlands and Nottingham, I am pleased to be hosting a follow up TeachMeet event for Nottingham and the East Midlands.
Tom Barrett has been working hard to secure a new home for TeachMeet Nottingham, and has found a venue at The University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus (Learning Sciences Research Institute). Tom’s vision for TeachMeet Nottingham is a smaller scale, more manageable event which doesn’t rely on sponsorship or equipment hire. This partnership with LSRI is perfect, and the venue is resourced with state of the art facilities, such as the capability to stream online coverage of the event.
Pete and I are very excited about organising this event and we look forward to welcoming as many teachers and students as possible on the night. If you are a TeachMeet regular, we are challenging you to bring a TeachMeet Newbie with you. This will help to promote TeachMeet as an alternative to Continual Professional Development. Those of you will be attending for the first time will be overwhelmed by the variety of resources, ideas and strategies shared by real teachers in classrooms around the Midlands.
We advise you to bring your smart phone, iPad, tablet, NetBook or laptop along in order to record all of the ideas shared. TeachMeets are rapid and topics move fast with the 7 minute and 2 minute presentations from attendees, so be ready to take lots of notes. If you are on Twitter, you can follow our TeachMeet hashtag before, during and after the event (#tmnott). As the event is streamed live online, you can interact with viewers from around the world and also those in the room with you! Lots of interesting discussion occurs during and after the event so will want to be involved in this, it’s when the best learning happens!
Both Pete and myself understand that in our profession there is a blurred line between work/life balance, and we are aware that this event takes place on a Friday night until 9pm. Please, don’t let this put you off! TeachMeets are now are crucial aspect of our continual professional development and with challenges faced with budgets and workload in school, it is essential that we build our own professional learning networks so that best practises can be shared outside of our Local Authorities and schools.
“After attending, and being inspired at, a number of TeachMeets over the past year, I’ve decided to take part in the organising and running of TeachMeet Nottingham. TeachMeet offers ‘those in the field’ chance to share and evaluate ideas with like minded people in a friendly and relaxed environment. The content of peoples’ presentations are so varied that there will always be something relevant to your own practice. I’ve never left a TeachMeet without my head being filled with ideas and resources to try out with my class.”
Peter Bevington (@PeteBevington)
Tom Barrett also started the first TeachMeet 100 at the last TeachMeet Nottingham. We will continue this format of sharing. During the event you will be asked to write down simple ideas, advice or resources which have been successful to you as a teacher. This can be anything you have enjoyed using in your class! These will be gathered on post-it notes and displayed in the room for us all to share at the end (it’s like Twitter, but with paper and pen!)
Using Twitter has become one of the most valuable tools I use for planning and learning. I have ‘met’ so many inspirational teachers through Twitter who have impacted on my classroom by debating educational issues with me, providing other strategies for teaching and through commenting on my Class Blog.
Teachers on Twitter have given me confidence in my NQT year when I’ve had those moments that start with a thought like ‘Am I doing this right…?’.
What has also been brillliant about Twitter and networking is it’s usefulness in promoting TeachMeet. Before and after a TeachMeet, teachers on Twitter share their ideas and reflections. TeachMeet has also allowed me to meet up with the teachers who I tweet with.
Twitter has also filled that gap that university and teacher training left behind. I have missed those conversations with lecturers and other students about what they are doing in school. Twitter has provided me with even richer debates and discussions through #ukedchat. There are so many people who I could have added to the ‘Folks to Follow First’ text on the poster, there just isn’t enough space!
(@ideas_factory, @peter_obrien1, @kvnmcl, @johnmclear, @NoTosh should all be on the poster too)
For me, the question isn’t ‘Why do I need to be on Twitter?’. It’s more like ‘Why are you not on Twitter?’.
Sent from my iPad