#tmtakeover11 help required!

Due to mechanical error (printer breaking down), and local company error (not printing enough and running out of time) I could really do with some help to print the TeachMeet Takeover 2011 flyer.

The PDF is in my dropbox here.  I have managed to get 200 done, but I would think that every stand hosting would need a similar number.  Could I ask that everyone who can, prints as many as they can and brings them along to BETT?  The format is very simple, double sided A4 folded to A5.  If you can’t help, let me know and I will find another way around it!

While I am handing links out, here is the link to the PowerPoint with the TeachMeet Takeover logo on, for display on stands…

On both links, it is easier to right click, and ‘save target as…’

Thank you!

Scholastic at BETT 2011 – smile, we dare you!

TeachMeet Takeover from 2010...2011 will be amazing!

Image courtesy of the most fabulous Ian Usher http://chrisr.at/hWLtZw

Righto, BETT is around the corner (literally for some, a train ride for others), and Scholastic are gearing up, pulling out all of the stops (that’s enough tired old clichés, Ed) to ensure you have the best BETT ever! Oh, and if you can’t make it, don’t worry, you can still take part!

Last year the Scholastic stand was pretty good, but we realised that a tweak there, a polish here would really make the stand sparkle, and that is just what we have planned for you this year. The watch-word is ‘fun’. If you leave the stand and you aren’t smiling, we will chase you down the aisles until you do! 🙂

So, here are the things that we are planning:

Come and meet Anthony Browne!

Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate will be coming to the Scholastic stand (G40) to launch Read & Respond Engage. We are quite rightly incredibly proud of Read & Respond Engage. It manages to retain the wonderful feel of Read & Respond (using high-quality children’s books such as Gorilla) with some amazing new features that only the web can offer. Anthony will be with us on Saturday, and we are very excited!!

A prize draw, every 30 minutes, every day!

Now, some people (we won’t name names, you know who you are) took advantage of my good nature and suggested this quite ridiculous idea. I said yes, they have me on tape, I have been committed. We are looking to hand over some pretty amazing prizes – come along on the day to find out exactly what you have to do to get one!

A QR treasure hunt to win an iPad!

A lovely mashup of QR codes, treasure hunts and in a weird sort of way, orienteering – whichever way you look at it , there is an iPad to be won at the end!! If you can’t make it to the show, and you still want to join in, we have a virtual treasure hunt as well…more details to be posted on the first day of the show for this!

More amazing new stuff?!

Oh yes, a stunning new interactive primary science scheme. A maths reading scheme for KS1 with more ebooks than you can shake a stick at. More Class PET (this time with mental maths and homework); more Story Stage, a new look Child Education and We Are Writers has been shortlisted for a BETT award!

TeachMeet Takeover

We are hosting Teach Meet Takeover on our stand – two per day from Thursday to Saturday, and the line-up this year looks really good. Take a look at the TeachMeet schedule here for more info!

And there’s more!!!

Get your portrait done on our stand with our resident charicature artist (on stand all week), charge your phones, have a play with Story Stage on the smart table, graffiti on our doodle wall, eat our chocolate, sit on our sofas…and if we can make it work hack into our wifi for free and watch everything you like on the live stream!

I’m exhausted before we have started!

Learning Logs

Homework…what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, if you listen to Kirstie Allsopp who has started a campaign against it on Twitter last week.  Well, there are other options (other than not giving it at all), one of them is to use a learning log (or learning journal).

As I am not a teacher, I used the resident expert (Janette) to describe what a learning log is, and how she uses them at school.  After the popularity of the school council post, hopefully you will find this as useful!

What is a learning log?

A learning log is a great way of getting the children in your class to show you what they have learned that week. It is homework,  but completely child led and designed to be fun!  You need to get each child an A4 book, so when opened they have a lot of space to work.

How do they work?

Incredibly easily.  I give each pupil a slip of paper to glue into their learning log, which has some of the learning objectives that we will have covered in the week.  The older the child, the less scaffolding you have to give them (ie, for the youngest you may have to give them some sample activities they could do).  They are then asked to spend about an hour a week recording what they have done at school – either in one go, or spread out over the week.  They can do whatever they want to show what they have learned – they can use computers, artwork, anything they like.  The only rule is that I want to be amazed by the work they hand in.

Are they meant to be done alone?

Not at all, it is brilliant if other people can help out. Working together with a parent will help reinforce their learning.

What was the best example of a learning log that you have seen?

Some of the best ones I have seen is where the child takes the role of the teacher, and teaches other people what they have learned this week.  Especially in maths where the methods they use at school may be different to the methods their parents are used to.

Do you give any other homework?

The only other homework I give is to ask children to read every night or if your school sends home spellings.

How did you learn about learning logs?

In my last school, I worked with Jez Smith who is amazingly creative…all I know, I learned from him!

I have saved some examples of the learning objective slips into dropbox, but as I haven’t got approval, I can’t give you examples of the children’s work 😦  Fear not though, as part of my in-depth research for this post, I found this site  Learning Logs Online which has some great examples!

Learning Log slip examples (some of which include Pohl’s Thinking Keys):


Dropbox: the easiest way to get people using web2 tools

Number two in my series of desktop apps that I use – this time Dropbox.

Dropbox is the simplest concept in the world, so simple that quite often people don’t think about it – they just get on with it – and as I discussed in my Evernote post, it is all about workflow.  Dropbox fits into my workflow as if it has always been there.  If you, like me, like evangelising about the myriad of tools you use online, this is the tool to start with. Right, here is the Elevator Pitch (or Granny Pitch as I like to call it!).

How  many memory sticks do you have? Where are they all? Have  you had to go and invest in an external hard drive to carry all your stuff around because memory sticks aren’t big enough to hold everything? Rather than having to put the memory stick into the computer, why not save the file to a folder that saves your work to a space on the web, which you can access at any time?  Well, why not take a look at Dropbox?  It allows you to save files to the web, backup projects, synchronise files with other computers all with security and privacy?  And, you get all of that for free! Tempted? Click on any of the Dropbox links to take a look!

OK – pitch over, how do I use it?  I use it in three ways:

Like a memory stick

Just like a memory stick, you save your file to a folder on your computer (generally called My Dropbox).  In that folder, you have the option of saving it to a public folder or somewhere only you can see.  The vast majority of things are saved to the private area, and I have about nine different folders, and a gazillion files in there – just like your normal file structure!

For file synchronising between two computers

I use a laptop for work, and we have a laptop at home. Making sure that files are available on both machines at all times, is important.  A good example of how this has worked in practice was when Jet was looking for a new job. She would write an application, and I could open it to check it while she worked on another.

For sharing with the world

If you save an item to the public folder and right-click on it, you can copy the ‘public link’ which then allows you to share it in whatever way you want to.  I did this at BETT quite a bit as I had saved the TeachMeet Takeover flyer and presentation there for other people to save down and use.

So, the file is shared on your computer, the home computer and online, which means  you can access your file whenever you have a web connection. The best bit is that it is all free – I haven’t upgraded my account (you can, up to 100GB) but I haven’t the need as yet!

Have fun!

I promised thoughts on #tmfuture: here they are

Since the original posts were put up, and the initial gut reaction that I put on Ewan’s post on the 24th, I have been reading posts and thinking abut them quite a bit.  I think that many people have gone over the finer parts of the post, I have therefore tried to pitch this more generally. I know that TeachMeet has much more of a history than I have with it, reading Iain Hallahan’s blog post, it seems I have come across TM very late – and I am very jealous of those who have been with it since the beginning!  Here is a short history of how I came across it!

I have been on Twitter for ages, and after a while found a fantastic group of teachers – it was at that point that I started to see reference to TM.  I loved the concept of teachers talking to teachers about great stuff that they do in the classroom, and it was at the start of November that I put a comment on the Teach Meet home page offering the Scholastic stand at BETT for TeachMeet Takeover.  After Tom Barrett wrote his post on it, I followed up with one of my own to answer some of the questions about commercialism.

I have to say that TeachMeet Takeover was wonderful for me.  It added a huge amount to BETT, and I really hope that people thought that the stands behaved themselves (I do!). The interaction that teachers had with each other, and how the chemistry on stand changed when there was a Takeover made it the best BETT so far.  I met some really lovely people that I had been speaking to on Twitter, and strengthened some friendships. It also really made me rethink the way that I do exhibitions.  We used to broadcast, now I am hoping we can engage.

As a result of all of this, I have been a great evangelist for TeachMeet, any teacher that I talk to I mention it (and if only to answer the saturation point, by far the majority of them haven’t heard of it before).  I have then gone on to sponsor three more TMs, TeachMeet Hampshire, TeachMeet Blackpool and TeachMeet East with offers open to more.  These sponsorships are not for me to go to the events and flog my wares, they are great for me to meet teachers and talk to them about what excites them in the classroom.  Don’t get me wrong, it puts Scholastic in a good light as well, but isn’t that the point of any sponsorship?

The point in the above?  TeachMeet can change the way you think, I have seen the change in people who have been to a TeachMeet for the first time and they not just willing to listen but will actively go and seek new ideas.  It has changed me, by far for the better and again I thank you.

As the people who posted the original comments will know, a lot of the thoughts that were posted are shared with some of the sponsors.  Anything that makes it easier to run a TeachMeet is needed; the people running these events are incredibly busy people, and not all specialists in event organisation or marketing.  Therefore any help with any aspects of the above would be useful – templated emails or flyers would be hugely helpful. A user friendly website which allows for easy sign up for attendees is essential as is advice for setting up bank-accounts. To be honest, the people best to answer what is needed for the organisers, are the organisers, and I believe they have done so in their own posts and blog comments.

I would add a note of caution. I am not sure how extreme it is considered the centralisation should be, but the merest hint can sometimes have unexpected consequences. I would say from a lot of experience that allowing people to have ownership and control over what they will consider to be ‘their event’ will make it a better, more vibrant, more energetic event.  If they think that there is some figure at a notional ‘head-office’ that will be looking over their shoulder will more than likely add restraint and caution – and as soon as you do that you have lost the essence you were trying to capture in the first place.  People will know if things have gone too far in commercialism, or the hosting and will self-moderate. There is already a tremendous support network who will nudge if something looks wrong, and will do so in their own lovely way!

One of my biggest concerns about the proposal – if I read it right, is that all sponsorship will go into one pot, some of which will go toward UK TeachMeets, and more to international events. It may be that the decision is taken to take on a sponsor such as TED did with Cisco, in which case a lot of what I have said will be largely irrelevant, but will that really be a boost to the aims and goals of TeachMeet?  I would argue not.

TeachMeet Hampshire

Last night I had the pleasure of attending TeachMeet Hampshire.  It was the first of the TeachMeet events that I have attended outside of BETT, and it was just as inspirational – if not slightly moreso.  Let me explain.

TeachMeet BETT had a great vibe and buzz about it, and one that has stayed with me since.  I have tried in everything I do at work to ensure that we stick to the same strong principles that I left that TeachMeet with – that we should at all times ensure that we have top quality product, that is affordable and above all else inspires teachers and children.  TeachMeet BETT and TeachMeet Takeover has also inspired me personally to use and evangelise about a stack of the web2 tools that are used to such amazing effect in classrooms up and down the country.  I am now much more productive at work, more confident to use tech with Beth, and for that I am ever grateful.  One thing that did come across at BETT was that a lot of the people in the room had been to a TeachMeet before. I may be wrong, but that was the perception I had.

Last night had all of the same – apart from the fact that I have now used (or tried to use in the case of Scratch!) a lot of the tools shown. The bit that was different was that virtually none of the people that were there had ever been to a TeachMeet before.  Schools who were so anti-tech, and could not see the point were huddled at the end to work out what to try first!  There were surprisingly more people there who were on Twitter – in itself an essential part of any CPD – and that was great to see, but during the evening, more and more people were joining up, which felt even better.

Highlights for me have to be Xtranormal.com by @kristianstill and Class Blogging by @charliedeane for the inspiration it gives to the pupils; and Malcolm Talking about Mole – classic TeachMeet humour by @primarypete_, delivering excellent CPD.  All of the presentations, bar none, were really well delivered, in the main by teachers who haven’t done anything like that before.  It really goes to show what a relaxed, friendly atmosphere does for a speaker!  Yet again, meeting people that I have only ever talked to on Twitter, was great – if  you are the sort of person who doesn’t like walking into a room of people you don’t know, then to have been speaking to them on Twitter beforehand is a great ice-breaker!

Huge thanks and appreciation have to go to the two organisers, Ian Addison and Gideon Williams – both worked incredibly hard to organise, and enthuse the audience, it couldn’t have been done without you, and will most certainly have to be repeated!

All the links can be found at bit.ly/tmhants and the photos from the night are at bit.ly/tmhantsphotos

A Short History of Classroom Resources

After a week of putting it together, the first draft of the Short History of Classroom Resources is now complete.  A week ago I asked on this blog for people to help put together a Google spreadsheet to help categorise what happened when. I had an amazing response to this, and I have to thank everyone for putting themselves out. I definitely, genuinely couldn’t have done this without you!

It isn’t finished though – looking at what we have, I can see some glaring omissions in the Hand Held column, plus the software and teacher resource areas are a bit light. However, this could change – if you want to change things, or add things in, then just edit the spreadsheet (make it clear what is new!) and I will update the prezi.

So to the presentation. It is held in Prezi, and I have set it to reuse, so feel free to download and set your own paths.  I think it works well as a (although chronological) non-linear presentation.  And as always, thoughts welcome!

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The Power of Pupil Voice: School Councils

Last night @DeputyMitchell asked on Twitter about School Councils. Now I have no experience of them, but my wife Janette has helped set up two, one in a small school in Shaw, near Oldham and one in a large school in Leicester.  So here are the answers to the questions I posed – any questions I didn’t ask, leave a comment and I will ask again!

When you set up a school council, what was the first thing you did?

We got training on it from School Councils UK.  They talked to us about how to make School Councils effective etc. They also trained some pupils.  The teachers then talked to the pupils in their class about what a School Council was and each class elected two reps (a boy and a girl). In the larger school we had to occasionally split the Council into KS1 and KS2.

How were the reps elected?

It was up to individual teachers, but I asked for volunteers from the class and each volunteer then had to prepare a short speech as to why they wanted to be a rep.  I created a ballot paper, and then we conducted a secret ballot to choose the two reps.  Before they voted, I spoke to them about voting for the best candidate rather than friends. And to keep their choices secret.  Time after time it hasn’t been the most popular or the most able child who becomes the School Council rep, and it is lovely to see the children who wouldn’t necessarily get chosen for something like that blossom.

After they were elected, what happened then?

They went to their first meeting which consisted of discussing the aims of the council.  We talked about setting up a suggestions box at the front of the classroom and other ways that ideas could be put forward. We had meetings once a fortnight during whole-school assembly.

Were any ideas taken up?

In the first School Council, one of the issues was that lunchtime was boring – so we talked about fundraising ideas for new equipment.  The money was raised and  the equipment was purchased. The same happened in the second school where the PTFA found the money. School dinners have been improved through feedback from the Council – a salad bar was introduced for example.

How did you keep the motivation going?

The staff have to be very positive about it and ensure that minutes are taken and circulated.  It has to appear that something is being done about some of the issues raised over a year to ensure the pupils stay motivated.  It is good to have at least one big project a year – this can come from either the staff or pupils.  For example, the school dinner menus, improving toilets and improving lunchtime experiences. Some classes swapped reps termly so the commitment wasn’t too great, others kept the same reps all year.

Anything else to say?

The idea is that the pupils entirely run the meetings, however I haven’t found primary school children able to do this completely independently.  There does need to be some adult intervention to ensure the meetings flow and to make sure the quieter voices are heard.  You need a good balance of meetings with agendas and meetings that are free flowing to ensure new ideas get heard and I would definitely recommend at least two members of staff to set it up and run it to share the burden and with the Head actively supporting it (coming to a couple of meetings, or have some reps feed back the meeting minutes to them).

Education Connections

I am trying to come up with a potted history of education resources from book to ebook, pencil to stylus – and more!  Why?  To try to get to an understanding of why we are where we are, and maybe see where we are going next!

I would love to have all the facts and figures to my fingertips – but all-knowing I am not, so if you could help I would be grateful!  I have set up a Google spreadsheet here to fill in, but would like to turn it into a Prezi eventually.  Feel free to chop and change, insert and correct. If we can get it to somewhere near comprehensive I would be delighted!

Thank you!

PS – if one exists already…let me know before we all spend a lot of time on it!

#ETRU53 – fascinating! My thoughts…

I have just listened to the Ed Teach Round-Up podcast on the way to work this morning.  Now, before anyone jumps in and corrects me, I know it is podcast 53, and to set the scene, it was snowy – and a week before BETT!

The thing I thought I would write about is that listening back, it is absolutely fascinating to hear what people thought BETT was going to be like!  What it is like from the visitor perspective (something I found myself when I visited the Focus on Imaging show); what visitors expect from stands; the perception of motivation etc.  Now, I am sure that next Monday I will hear the de-brief, and it may well match the blogs I have read, but for those 23 who were in the ETRU that snowy Sunday evening, this is (part of) what you heard:

Saturday: is it a good day to visit? And stands start packing up at noon.

If they do (and bear in mind I am stuck on one stand so they may!), I really don’t understand the motivation!  After three days on the stand, there will be tired feet, a niggle in the back of your mind that you have said this somewhere before, but to pack up when there is a day left of the show is sheer madness!  BETT costs a fortune to run. Actually ‘fortune’ doesn’t cover even half of it, so to cast aside a day is crazy!  If you thought like that, you would say that the Wednesday is pretty quiet, so not to bother with that, so a four day show is now down to two! I don’t understand the companies that go out drinking until the small hours to be back on the stand the next day. I have been there, done that, got the hangover; and you don’t do anyone any justice the next day.  From my perspective, I like the Saturday at BETT, it is slightly quieter than the manic Friday, and you get a chance to talk more to people.

BETT isn’t for teachers/practitioners

Oh I wish it was!  I really enjoyed BETT this year, and I think that is mainly down to more teachers, more engagement in things that will aid teaching (rather than soak up budget).  This year’s BETT for me was a realignment of what that show is for – products and ideas that will actively aid teaching and teachers. Not just gizmos and tech that will be an aid to the few that know how to use them effectively. If we can carry that on to future shows, then BETT will be back in the hands of teachers!

The motivation of the people who are manning/running the stands

There are plenty of different people at BETT trying to show their wares.  Some have amazing product, some not so. Most are trying to make a living!  Free is an incredibly important part of education, and free is part of a lot of the stands’ offering, but there are times when free has to turn to premium.  Ian Yorston asked me at BETT how I saw the world of paid-for resources in a world of free. My answer was that there are times when the high value, technically difficult can’t be offered up as free. Times when the demands of today can’t wait until tomorrow, and that is when premium has to exist.  So the motivation of the people on the stands is in the main to do what they are there for, to show the amazing product that is on their stand to as many people who are interested in hearing about it. If you can match an interest to an interesting product, then lovely things can happen!

It will be really fascinating to listen to the next podcast, my feeling from reading the post-BETT blogs is that BETT was slightly different this year, and some of the preconceptions did not come true. I hope so!