Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Teachmeet’

Top of the World

Firstly – an apology for the recent lack of blog posts! I can safely say that it’s been a little bit busy!! Not so long ago I was in Newcastle at the Northern Grid conference; talking about ICT and inclusion. Then last week I had a whirlwind trip to London to pick up a TES Award where I got to put on a posh frock and chat to a lot of great people, including the famous Mr Thorne of ‘Mr Thorne Does Phonics‘ fame. It was a fantastic event and everybody I came across was really lovely, so I’ve got to say a big thank you to the TES team – you guys rock! Anyway, apart from the great excitement of the TES awards I had a few things that were going on just before and then just after: namely TeachMeet ThinkBig and Reflect and Share. Here’s a short report on each.

TeachMeet ThinkBig was small but perfectly formed. Due to the change of date we managed to clash with a few other things that were on but we managed to have a great time in any case. It was fairly amazing that anyone got to take part – our network crashed at 10am that morning and was still not working properly at 3pm. We managed it though and, thanks to the team at NGFL Cymru, it got streamed as well. Because we were in a fairly informal setting we managed to forget about the camera and have quite long discussions among ourselves – I’m sorry if this spoilt anyone’s viewing pleasure but there were a few newbies there and lots of questions were asked in between presentations. We had a number of virtual presentation from some great people I’ve got to know through Twitter, including this one from Mike McSharry (which had all of the attendees scribbling notes furiously), a couple from Alessio Bernardelli (including this one on using mind mapping properly) and a fantastic presentation on thinking skills in science from Claire Lotriet (there were many more great vidoes and I will add details to the wiki soon). We also had some interesting live presentations from Dave Stacey, who had some interesting ideas on how to use a text book, and Rosemary Davies, who shared a load of free web tools and talked about using Edmodo as a learning platform. I also gave a few presentations, mainly showing people a few things they may not have seen. One included a new variation of the old traffic light fans (I’ll talk about this at a later date in full) and later on I demonstrated 2Connect and explained why it’s such a great program for developing mind mapping in younger pupils or those with ALN. I also shared a few ideas that I’ve posted on here that I felt linked in with other presentations, especially ones that allowed for a bit of creativity or supported what was said in the presentations. In fact I probably talked way too much…(and that’s hardly ever the case).

Of course the Reflect and Share session, which took place on Wednesday, was quite different, This involved Year 6 pupils sharing their ideas about their learning and resources and activities they thought were worthwhile and eahc child involved made their own presentation or gave a demo to the staff who attended. We had presentation on a whole range of activities including developing problem solving skills by using Machinarium, using unusual images to inspire poetry, movement in art (inspired by work on Jackson Pollock), developing writing skills using Myst, using Wordle and other word based ideas and creating music using Incredibox and Isle of Tune (which I’ve talked about here). I don’t want to miss any presentations out here (pupils were brilliant and every presentation had something to offer) so the others were about the use of ebooks in the classroom (highlighting the books we have from Rising Stars), using Purple Mash at home and in class (everyone seems constantly amazed by how much content is available through it), using BlockCAD lego to link to DT, Prezi, Primary Pad and Primary Wall (this included live demos – staff were very impressed), our school library, how after school clubs have helped pupils improve skills, using Class Pet in class and at home (especially the maths activities), learning logs and Pivot Stick Figure. I was really proud of all of the pupils who took part (twenty one in all) but what I felt was truly fantastic was the way they had obviously taken on board things I had shown them or introduced them to and then taken it in their own direction. Hopefully it’s the sort of event that will take off in other areas – it was certainly worthwhile!

It’s a Celebration!

I’m really feeling on top of the world today! I returned home from work to find the blog has made the shortlist in the Education Blog Awards! I am absolutely flabbergasted and would like to send out a heartfelt thanks to everyone who voted – you’ve made my day. I’m also feeling rather pleased about a couple of things I’m organising during July, and I’m hoping you will be too.

Reflect and Share is about giving pupils a chance to speak about the lessons and resources they have loved using within there classrooms. The children involved will be sharing their thoughts on learning with teachers in an effort to let the teachers know what they children think really works well. Although the final date is not set this is an event I’m really looking forward to organising and I’m hoping to get a few goodies for all the children who are willing to present as I think it could be a little bit nerve racking . Here’s hoping it goes well…

I’m also looking forward to organising my second TeachMeet as the first one was a really enjoyable affair with fantastic presenters and supportive sponsors. This time the event will be in term time (it’s so hard to sort one out in the holidays with everyone going away) and will be focusing on developing thinking skills and creating independent learners. As soon as I’ve got everything in place I will add it to the TeachMeet site but I have to say I’m feeling pretty enthused already and I hope people will enjoy contributing and being involved – I can’t do it without you.

Finally, I’m pretty sure you all know how proud I am of being Welsh and one event I’m really excited about attending is TMSwansea . It’s going to be a great opportunity to pick up new ideas and share some of my own, and I’m really looking forward to catching up with some fellow Welsh educators. In fact, with that in mind, I’m fortunate to be attending what I feel could be a really ground breaking event for Welsh educators on Friday – to discuss the development of #addcym. Inspired by Colin Hill ,and his great organising and vision surrounding the #ukedchat discussions, I’m now involved with a group of other ‘Welshies’ in developing something similar for Wales. That said, we’re quite happy for people from elsewhere to join in so if you’re on Twitter between 8pm and 9pm on a Sunday evening do look out for the #addcym hashtag – we’d love for you to vote in the poll and join in with the discussion – the more the merrier! There are exciting times ahead in the world of Education and I, for one, intend to be a part of it. And I’m hoping you’ll join me for the ride.

Fun with Science

It’s been a bit of a busy week for me: I’ve done quite a bit of travelling and I can’t complain. On Tuesday I was invited to present at a Science and ICT day in Cardiff, and what a fab day it turned out to be. In addition to catching up with some fine folk I got to fine out about all the great stuff currently available on the NGFL Cymru website (thanks to Alessio Bernadelli) and I got to share some ideas. I started by sharing a few great places online: some that can be used to help with lesson plans, some which had great activities and some which had some interesting web 2.0 tools that could be used in science (you can download the list here). I love sharing ideas and I think there’s something for everyone on the list but that was not the end of my contribution.

I spent a bit of time showing everyone how to create Multimodal PowerPoint and how they could be used in science. There’s a short video tutorial above. You can download an additional help sheet, with links to additional online tutorials, here. It’s safe to say it was quite a day for PowerPoint as Alessio had already showcased a great PowerPoint macro he had used. But I always think that PowerPoint is one of those universal programs that most educators use, although they may not realise how much it can do. Needless to say the teachers of Cardiff left with a few additional ideas on how they might use it!

A great deal of focus during the morning session was on thinking skills and how you can embed them easily within the classroom. Alessio had already shown some great ideas and I talked about learning logs and how they could be linked to science to develop metacognition skills. I had talked about them at a previous TeachMeet, and the host of the Cardiff Science and ICT day (the fabulous Karen Jones) encouraged me to share the idea on Tuesday. Hopefully there’ll be some Learning Logs popping up around Cardiff in the next few weeks!

I was back in Cardiff on Thursday for the first ever TeachMeet Cardiff – another great TeachMeet event. There were some great ideas shared (as per usual at such things) and I especially enjoyed Ceri Williams presentation on dyslexia friendly classrooms: simple ideas that we could all implement easily. I, incase you were wondering, talked about the wonderful free Andrea Mosaic and Google Maps.  TeachMeets are fast becoming the best CPD there is available: many at Cardiff had not attended one before and everyone went away enthused and inspired. Karen did a great job at keeping things ticking along and Alessio held the fort at the technical end. As a proud Welsh person it’s great to see the capital city suddenly become such a hotbed of collaboration. Long may it continue!

London Calling!

So the BETT Show has been and gone and it seemed like it was all over in a flash! There was much to take in and admire but there was also an opportunity to look around and think ‘How are schools going to afford all this amazing stuff (are you listening Microsoft 365)?’. That’s not to say everything I saw was amazing mind you: much of the hardware on offer looked very impressive, but is there really a place for 3d technology (plus other new, yet misplaced, innovations) in the classroom? I’d take some convincing on that one…

 

The awe inspiring Kevin McLaughlin works TMTakeover

Much of the BETT experience for me was about sharing ideas with other like minded educationalists and I feel this was, by far, the most successful element of BETT. Thanks to great people like Dave SmithIan Addison and Ian Usher (plus a whole host of others – apologies for not including you all) events like Collabor8 4 ChangeTeachMeet Takeover and TeachMeet BETT 2011 were unbelievably inspiring, welcoming, inclusive and well organised. They were also well attended and supported, suggesting that these are the sorts of ‘events’ the people that matter (i.e. those actively involved in education) want to be part of: I hope others are taking note.

 

Anthony from 2Simple showcases PurpleMash with a bit of help from the audience

I have to say I felt very honoured (and lucky) to be invited to speak at the 2Simple software stand and be part of their team at Collabor8 4 Change. I feel the (2)simple and intuitive nature of PurpleMash, in addition to their other software  packages, are really blazing a trail and showing people how to make good software that is both accessible and inclusive for ALL pupils, including those with Special Educational or Additional Learning Needs,  from Early Years to Ks2 and beyond. While on the stand over the three days I was there I got to watch all sorts of inspiring presentations from both members of the 2Simple team, and other great educators, which gave me loads more ideas of how to use their great products in the classroom. I also looked at their new development Mash 2 Web (thanks Philip – it looks AMAZING) and had a closer look at 2Start English, which looks like it could be useful to use with a large number of pupils from different settings: not just those pupils who might need a bit of support learning English but also in the average Foundation classroom. Well done guys – and thanks for making me feel so welcome. Your stand was buzzing with excitement and anticipation throughout the event – testament to the brilliant work you do! It was also great to see so many people from SEN settings coming and having a look as I think this is an area that is not always best served by what is marketed as ‘accessible’.

 

The truly amazing Anthony Browne on the Scholastic stand

A special shout out also has to go to the ever wonderful Chris Ratcliffe (honestly – he’s fantastic) and the team on the Scholastic stand. Like 2Simple, Scholastic understand what schools need and produce products which enhance the teaching and learning experience rather than items which make the whole process more complicated. They are also very supportive of the TeachMeet idea: I managed to complete a hat trick of TM Takeovers on their stand, one of which occurred just after I’d stepped off the train.  I hope my presentations were useful – I can’t really remember what happened! Lots of other TMtakeovers took place on their stand over the four days and it was a pleasure to present and watch everything going on there. High spot, for me and many others, was the launch for Scholastic’s fantastic new literacy resource: Read and Respond Engage (well worth checking out), where I managed to meet Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne (as seen in the pic above). They’ve also got some great new science resources at Scholastic: just check out their website!!!

The legendary Dughall participates in Kevin's TMTakeover slot

In case you are wondering if this blog post is ever going to reach a conclusion I’m going to finish with a few things I loved at BETT. Apologies to anyone I leave out – there were so many great things to see: real ‘diamonds among the rough’ if you’ll pardon the expression. Here’s my top ten (not including the ones I spoke about above)…

  1. Meeting back up with great people I chat to on Twitter: the best place to build an effective PLN in my opinion. Particular mention should go to my good friend @EBD35 (we were the only attendees to the exclusive Häagen Daz TeachEat!!!!), without whom…etc…etc… but I met many other wonderful people, many for the first time, who were happy to put up with my fairly effervescent personality, willing to share ideas and supportive at the different events I was involved in. You know who you are and you’re all marvellous!
  2. Watching the fabulous Tim Rylands , and his posse, talking about the amazing Epic Citadel project and how it inspired children’s writing. That was followed up by showing and sharing great ipad apps and talking about the impact they have in the classroom. You can read all about it here!
  3. I loved the format of the Collabor8 4 Change event: it was lovely to be chatting and sharing/presenting ideas in small groups and needs to take place more often.
  4. Being at Kevin McLaughlin’s TMTakeover (see earlier photo): great ideas and a huge crowd gathered as it was so engaging. Staff on nearby stands had to stand around and wait for punters to return as he drew them in from all areas. He also admitted that he occasionally picks up the guitar in class in a Jack Black stylee…
  5. Taking part in the TeachMeet: great again to meet people and all the presentations offered something to take away. Special mention should go to Bill Lord (‘don’t throw that camel – I’m not a well man’) and the LEGENDARY’ Dughall (that’s as in ‘The Magic Roundabout’ people – please remember) McCormick, talking about how a VLE engaged pupils during closures caused by snow while, simultaneously, wearing part of a Sonic the Hedgehog costume that prevented him from being able to actually see the screen. Pure class!!!
  6. Meeting up with Welsh Tweeps and talking about future TeachMeets in Wales (amongst other things). There’s one in Cardiff very soon! It was particularly nice to meet up with Karen and Ceri – two Welsh people who are trying to get others involved in creating PLN via Twitter. Diolch yn fawr!
  7. On Friday I mentioned TMTakeover to someone I was sitting next to at the Tim Rylands seminar. On Saturday I saw them in the audience during my TMTakeover. Result!! (and thanks).
  8. Rising Stars have a great new ICT product out called Switched on ICT. The launch on their stand was packed with fabulous people including Neil Adam and Miles Berry, both of whom made me feel at ease immediately. It was also great to see Andrea Carr again, she is always busy but makes time to talk to people: is a truly lovely person.
  9. I had a lovely welcome at the Mayer-Johnson stand where I was truly impressed by their developments in communication aids (custom skins for Dynavox – what a great idea) and Boardmaker which is now easier to use and has loads of great new features and teaching tools. Also thinking about supporting pupils with SEN: I loved the SMART table but it is a bit pricey for many schools at the moment I fear. I could also see how Anithings could enhance learning in an SEN (and Foundation) setting: thanks to John Sutton for sharing.
  10. Did I mention Anthony Browne…?

Ring out the old…

2010 has been a pretty good year. I survived a school inspection and our school achieved the ICT Mark. I blogged and blogged and some people actually liked it! My Twitter PLN grew to enormous proportions with everyone having something helpful and worthwhile to offer. But three events marked out my year education wise more than any of the others: BETT 2010, TMBpool and TMPembs. BETT 2010 was my first visit to BETT and it was only a flying one at that. I taught all Friday morning, jumped on a train and arrived in London just in time (well…actually a little late) for the TeachMeet. My first shock was as I entered the room: people I had never met before all waved. This is mainly because I always use a photo of myself on Twitter and had recently updated my ever changing hair colour. Still, it was a bit of a shock. Anyhoo, I met my friend and listened and watched. My only experience of a TeachMeet before this was watching one or two  online over a flash meeting but the reality was quite different and the ideas shared were amazing. In the break I managed to meet a few people I’d often chatted to a shared ideas with online: the atmosphere was friendly and supportive and I would recommend that everyone takes part in a TeeachMeet when they can – you’ll take loads away! Of course I had an additional shock at the end of the evening when Tom Barrett announced I’d be at TMTakeover the following day (later it was apparent he had the wrong Bev, but I still did it anyway).

The actual BETT exhibition was an eye opener. Huge is not the word and there are so many great people to meet and things to see (check out Ian Addison’s blog with advice for first time visitors). It needed far more time and attention than I was able to give it (something I’m rectifying this time around) but was, all in all, a really worthwhile experience – we should all go :).

The other two big events were both TeachMeets. I had decided to plan my own TeachMeet (although, really, I fell into it accidentally). What started on Twitter as a bit of fun (and then labelled TMBev) started to become a reality and TMPembs was on the cards. Obviously I needed more first hand knowledge of such events and I ended up making the trek ‘up north’ to Blackpool. A reconnaissance mission of sorts and an opportunity to have a go at presenting at an event. I had a ball and it enthused me enough to make TMPembs a reality. And what a reality it was: fabulous speakers who travelled miles to get there, a great, relaxed atmosphere and, even more surprising, over 100 people following online! Wow!

So what does 2011 bring? another visit to BETT, this time over more days and taking part in a few more great events like Collabor8 4 Change 2011TeachMeet@BETT 2011 and TMTakeover 2011 and presenting on the 2Simple software stand. I’m also looking forward to spending some time in Cardiff, where there’s going to be a TeachMeet in February, and even further ‘up north’, at the Northern Grid for Learning conference during the summer. Of course I’ve got lots of great stuff planned at school too, including taking part in  the F1 for Schools Challenge and might even get around to organising another TeachMeet. However it pans out I’m sure 2011 is oing to be a productive and busy year!

Broadcast News!

As you know, from previous posts, I do enjoy a good TeachMeet. You’ll also know that many of them are quite far away from where I actually am, so I quite often watch them online and contribute virtually. In my opinion they’re an excellent way of generating ideas and meeting new people – there’s always a ‘something for everyone’, quality about each event. I try to do everything I can to encourage more people to join in and attend these events but there seems to be, unfortunately, often an element of ‘preaching to the converted’ about it. Some people have the opinion it’s all about the tech, but it doesn’t need to be. I’ve seen many presentation that doesn’t involve any technology whatsoever and is still awe inspiring. So  try and get along to one if you can – they are the place to be for CPD

For the TeachMeets I can’t get to, but still want to take part in, I’ve been creating a few videos using a great piece of screen recording software called Camtasia. I’m just using it as a way of sharing ideas, but some of the videos have been quite popular and quite a few people have been asking for links. So, earlier this week, I decided to launch my own You Tube channel for TechnoStories so that the links are all in one place. Now I’m aware that many local authorities block You Tube in schools but I thought it was still a handy way of sharing the ideas and, in any case, many of us look for ideas or inspiration when we’re at home in the evening. So there it is. Done. Videos available for you to watch at your leisure. Now I know that there are only five videos at the moment (I’m sure that number will grow soon) and that many of them have greetings and cheerios at the end (wasn’t really planning them for the masses when I made them) but I’m hoping you’ll find them useful. Just promise me one thing. If you do find them useful please pass the ideas on to others. And try and find out when there is a TeachMeet near you so you can attend and get even more inspired.

 

The Ideas Factory

There’s been a huge rise in the number of TeachMeets taking part recently, and this can only be a good thing. Last weeks saw TMGloucester, TeachMeet Holywell High School and TeachMeet Sunderland. Next week there’s TeachMeet Essex and TeachMeet X (in stoke on Trent) happening on the same night. There are also a few that are taking place after half term and I’m looking forward to taking part, one way or another.  The TeachMeet phenomenon is really gathering pace, mainly due to the use of social networks and PLNs (like Twitter and Facebook)  to let people know about such events. Additionally, the fact that these events are streamed live over the internet means you can watch and take part without the need to travel to the venue – fantastic if you live a fair distance from the actual event (which, in my case, is all the time). You’re also able to take part virtually: pre recorded video presentations, prezis or live video and skype links really embrace the use of modern technology and make such events more accessible and interesting.

I really enjoyed taking part (virtually) TeachMeet that took place at Holywell High School last week. For a start, it was great to see another TeachMeet happening in Wales, albeit too far away from me for me to actually attend. The atmosphere was great and there were some great ideas being shared: some I knew about but hadn’t tried yet (therefore making me even more determined to try them soon), some I hadn’t thought about using in the classroom (like PptPlex – a very cool piece of kit – thanks @nellmog!), some which were truly inspiring (like the power of blogging and howler monkeys from @deputymitchell!!) and some I just adored and would love to try at some stage (origami for listening skills!!!! – genius from @ColinTGraham). The whole evening was packed with great ideas and everyone was sharing their own experiences: what could be better? I had also sent a video presentation to be used (on Google Maps – and, no, it’s not an obsession) which you can look at here (there’s also a follow up available here) and had gained a few new Twitter friends by the end of the evening – fantastic!

The following evening was TeachMeet Sunderland, which had a completely different set of people presenting , which meant a whole new load of ideas were shared and discussed. There were a couple of stand out presentations for me: the pencil puppet idea was simple yet effective (thank you @dominic_mcg), @islayian’s presentation on education in his neck of the woods was really enlightening and the fantastic (and fast paced!)  presentation on esafety by pie man extraordinaire @simfin was really insightful! It also appeared that everyone was really enjoying themselves and getting involved in some interesting discussion, and that’s no bad thing.

Making connections with people is always important and the power of TeachMeet proves how necessary this is. Next week I’m going to enjoy a couple of TeachMeets from the warmth of my living room (mainly as they are to far away to get to – otherwise I’d be there) and I’m really looking forward to it. There already interesting sounding presentations listed on the wiki for both events (although, as they’re both on the same day I will take part in one and catch up on the other later). I’m really looking forward to catching Twitter’s latest television personality , Dawn Hallybone (she’s the teacher on the new Nintendo DS ads don’t you know) presenting  at TMEssex (suitably enough on the use of gaming to engage pupils) and cannot wait to see what the marvellous Bill Lord has to say about books and literacy at TMX. So, even if you’re not in the vicinity of a TeachMeet, why not join in with the live streaming like I do – you’re sure to get some great ideas to use in your classroom!