Category Archives: mobile policy

Celebrating European Day of Languages 2013

Room 18 for languages day

So Thursday was the European Day of Languages and I wanted to make sure that Geography supported the events going on in school. The MFL department had been busy making and displaying different flags and bits of information about other countries around the school, every department was meant to be meeting and greeting kids with a chosen language for the day, and we even had a more varied multicultural menu in the dining room for the day which was delicious. Naturally this is all geography really, so we needed to get involved.

I decided to draw on the work of Sam Atkins, and the work he produced last year for the mobile@priory project with his upside down map of the world linking to a lesson with EAL (English as Additional Language) – this project can be seen on the mobile@priory ‘cookbook’ here. The lesson slideshow for this week is below:

This is how I ran the lesson, the others may have done differently.

Slide 1) students were greeted at the door with the Icelandic for ‘welcome to Geography’ and had to guess what the phrase meant

Slide 2) I took a suggestions poll for how many languages the students thought were spoken at Priory. The answer is over 37. We then had a quick discussion about their surprise at this, and that 300 languages are spoken in London. Then students discussed in table groups how many languages they could speak fluently or conversationally, and which languages these were. I asked them to decide if there were any patterns to where these languages came from, i.e. are they from a predominant continent / group of countries, from a similar cultural background, etc,. Geography is all about people in the world, and about patterns, so we really hyped this up.

Slide 3) Priory is a Rights Respecting School, with the Level 1 award and working towards Level 2. We routinely link to the Unicef charter in lesson and it’s part of everyday conversation in school, so this came as no surprise to the kids. Article 30 states that each has the right to ‘use your own language’ – so we had a quick chat about this and what it means, linking to responsibility for attempting to learn other languages in order to make communications easier (they were well aware of reputation the English have; the classic example of going abroad and then assuming everyone will speak English and if they don’t we just speak louder English and use gestures!).

upside down world mapSlide 4) The main part of the lesson using the upside down map of the world superimposed over the school site map. I introduced students who hadn’t seen it before (I ran this lesson with year 7-9) and explained how to worked, we did some simple orientation exercises and practised some grid refs to acquaint them.

Slides 5-7) Students worked in pairs for the challenge. Each had a copy of the map, and a copy of the table sheet to complete. They could use an atlas, or a Win8 device, or their mobile to complete the enquiry. There were two versions to the challenge: years 7 & 8 used the first table, and I just wanted them to spend the time becoming familiar with comparing resources (i.e. which is quicker / more accurate / simpler to use – a device or an atlas), to become comfortable with locating places and finding information out about them – basic geographic skills; whereas year 9 had the second grid which links to their current topic on Development, so I wanted them researching whether a place qualified as an MEDC or LEDC and to source date to prove it, I told them I was pushing for GCSE skills of using evidence to support answers, of linking to fact, of comparing resources, etc,.

Slide 8) bit of a plenary pit stop, discussed some of their answers and talked about the reliability of data and which resource was best to use for the purpose of the enquiry (interestingly, most preferred a paper atlas for locating countries and found that using the internet was more time consuming for this, though they did pick up that the data in the atlas will be out of date too quickly and so they chose to use more up-to-date information from places such as CIA factbook, etc,.)

languages day activitySlide 9) discussion time, linking back to the original Rights, Respect, Responsibility and the Article 30. We talked about the implications of language in terms of school signage (all in English – if there are even any signs at all!), about problems and fears navigating, about language barriers in class, barriers to learning, the right to an education, etc,. I was thoroughly impressed with their suggestions and their ability to empathise, with how they could consider sensitive issues.

Slide 10) translation = What have you learnt? Asking them to guess first.

Slide 11) an exit plenary was a simple ‘what have you learnt’. Students had to demonstrate an increased awareness of languages and places across the world, to be able to express links to the Unicef charter and to language – education barriers. With some classes I did this as a simple ‘3 things I have learnt’ written activity, for others I went through the register and each had to articulate something, one class I asked for a simple 3 facts about the ‘countries visited on the map’, and with 9a1 I wanted 100 words to explain the links between language and the right to learn and to development. A myriad of activities would work, but basically each student had to earn their ‘visa’ stamp in order to leave the room – in this case they got their work stamped with a ‘mobile@priory’ or ‘guerilla geography’ stamp. They do love stamps 🙂

Slide 12) means Goodbye in Icelandic! One group in 9a1 stayed behind afterwards chatting to me and arguing with each other about how they felt the image represented a divided and diverging world, just like Iceland, that the gap between rich & poor was getting bigger and that education and language barriers they felt were one of the main reasons for this. Quite impressed. Each week that group seems to have a debate about something – I just light the fire and enjoy! Love it.

Slide 13-14) extension if needed, a card sort with Icelandic and Swahili phrases for students to attempt to match up and sort.

9a1 languagesNote: while students were on task in their pairs completing the world map challenge, I asked each member to come and tell me what languages they could speak in order to complete a class wordle of languages spoken. At the very end of the lesson I would show them their wordle and ask them if they could spot any patterns from it. The premise, if you are unaware, is that the larger the word is the more common it is. Over the course of the day I was able to compare these wordles with other classes, and then we could talk about that and whether there was a pattern with languages spoken and age range. We tweeted a couple of wordles out via @priorygeography and you can see in the gallery below two of them from 7b4 and 9a1 – it was interesting for me seeing the differences in the patterns with two years difference, and very different ability classes. Some students in 7a1 Friday actually afternoon picked this up and asked whether students in lower ability classes who didn’t have English as a first language would be having their right to education taken away, whether they would be able to succeed as easily or whether language was a barrier for them. They weren’t saying it in a negative ‘they can’t speak English so must not be clever’ way, they were genuinely concerned whether these students were being catered for and whether they would be able to make progress. All interesting.

7b4 langaugesSo there you have it. I thoroughly enjoyed these lessons and ran them as floating topicality with KS3 for Thursday & Friday. I intend to link them into our schemes of work to run with in future. @priorygeography is taking part in the Global Learning Programme this year as an Expert Centre and part of this work involves considering global dimensions of language, barriers to learning, education access, human rights, etc,. so this kind of activity could be run simply in any school, perhaps then being compared. It would be interesting to see if there are patterns within the UK for how many languages are spoken by students in a school, or to perhaps link to schools in other parts of the world and see what patterns exist there? Something to think about. If you are interested in sharing about your school then let me know!

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If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
‒Nelson Mandela

Prince’s Teaching Institute – Mobile Device presentation

Prince's Teaching InstituteI’ve just completed the three day Prince’s Teaching Institute (PTI) residential subject Summer School at Homerton College in Cambridge. My mind is buzzing with the whole process and I shall spend the weekend writing pieces to reflect on it all. In the meantime, below is the presentation slides for a talk I was asked to give. It draws heavily on other similar presentations from David Rogers or both of us and was just to summarise the mobile@priory policy, the use of mobiles/technology/BYOD in learning, and to share some example activities. I’ve just added the presentation so that it is accessible to those who were there really, but if you want more information on any of the example activities shown in the slides then get in touch, or see my post on the Bett presentation here .

Cogito ergo sum (Descartes)

#kidsmeetpompey – What happens when kids are invited to hack the curriculum?

HMS WarriorLast week we hosted our first local kidsmeet’ the child version of a teachmeet. The original plan for the day can be found here. In essence, the idea was to have children from a range of secondary schools take part in a collaborative effort to hack and subvert the new curriculum and make suggestions for how to improve their learning. There was also a side focus of how to incorporate technology / ‘naughty learning’ in their lessons for the benefit of engagement and achievement.

Priory School’s Digital Leaders were involved with leading the day in a sense, sharing some of their experiences of the mobile@priory policy and the use of technology. The day was facilitated by the eminent Alan Parkinson who blogs his own thoughts here . I am hugely grateful to Alan for his hard work in leading this day, one which was a bit of a gamble and which had unknown parameters and outcomes in some senses – I believe the phrase could be ‘planned chaos’? By its very nature (as in being led by students and in their own hands) the day was difficult to plan for. Thanks also to Neil Ford and Jonathan Parrott (our PGCE student) for lending a hand. And to the teaching staff from each school who supported.

Kidsmeet took place on the HMS Warrior, a case of old tech meets new tech. It was hoped that the surroundings would be inspirational in a way – although it was a freezing March day and the wifi was unreliable so that was a difficulty (having said that, the kids (I am told) didn’t complain and worked steadfastly throughout). Alan introduced the day by discussing the absence of student voice in the creation of national curriculum policy, and within schools themselves. He explained the concept of co-construction and some aspects of investigative / creative learning through means such as Mission:Explore and mobile devices. Students then worked in groups to pull apart the new Key Stage 3 National Curriculum guidance and to identify areas of learning they felt were missing.

Those who can: teach

There was, naturally, a Geography focus, but the idea was to look not just at the content but also skills / learning styles / fieldwork / etc., that might be missing in the work of Her Majesty’s finest. After all, those who can;teach, those who can’t; make policy 😉

The day involved a crowd of 50+ students aged 13-15, from five local secondary schools, with their staff. This made logistics problematic in terms of crowding, and next time we need to think more about venue for practicality. The students worked independently in their groups with minimal teacher/professional input, the idea being to generate topics they would like to study and suggesting how to go about it. Basically planning out potential schemes of work.  Ideas were tweeted out and blogged to the school website as part of the BBC School Report day as well. During the day, students were able to record their progress and feelings through video reports and blogging, they also conducted interviews with the professionals there to gauge their reactions to proposed curriculum changes, the use of technology, and student voice. You can see some of their reports here . It was interesting how our students made the link between the activity and our involvement in being a Rights Respecting School – that co-construction, access to media, etc, are all part of the Unicef Rights of the Child, particularly Articles 12 (views of the child), 13 (freedom of expression) & 17 (access to media) – full details in the charter.

Alan’s blog shows the full list of kidsmeet suggestions, I’ll just pick out a few of my favourites here:

  • Creating ‘Applas’ – an atlas app to think, find, learn (a future topic for our future kids hack day I think)
  • The Wonderful World we Live In – accentuating the positives of Geography (students identified that sometimes the topics we teach can be a bit doom and gloom, the world is going down kind of thing and that we need a positive enthusiastic approach to celebrate what is wonderful)
  • Game-ography – games based learning, incorporating games such as Minecraft / Fifa / Kodu to look into climate, biomes, migration, development, etc,.
  • Iconic Places – virtual visits through Skype and Celebrity Geographers

I’m definitely keen to look more into these topics. The essential thing with a student voice / co-construction activity is for it to not be a one-off token gesture at inclusion. So each school that took part has a responsibility to provide follow-up sessions in school with their group, and to trial the lessons suggested and then seek feedback from students and adapt as necessary. It is a process of evolution that must rely on student involvement and scaling up to include whole year groups. For us in @priorygeography, we will be working to recruit KS3 Curriculum Hackers in the summer term and then develop their ideas.

In summary then:

What went well: kids were well behaved and focused even in difficult circumstances, in their words “we were happy because we felt empowered”, there were some great ideas that can be more tightly focused and explored in school to trial lessons, skills such as teamwork / collaboration / investigation, etc., were developed.  

Next time: would be better to share expectations / conduct prep work in advance in every school, arrange for mixed school groups from the start to encourage more sharing of skills and experiences, provide some ‘student friendly speak’ curriculum guidelines / SoWs / lesson plans to help students to access the terminology, have better access to wifi!

This was the first, but will not be the last kidsmeet. Next time will be better 🙂 Thanks to Sam and David for putting up with me that week, I probably owe a few cakes.

I’ll finish with the kind words of Alan :

“This was yet another excellent event conceived and organised by Priory Geography. If Carlsberg made Geography departments….”

BBC News School Report 2013–live from Action Stations

logoI have mentioned in previous posts how we have a good history at Priory School of successful School News Report days. And how this year we were aiming to be bigger and better. There were quite a few different activities going on for the live day on 21st March, including the Kidsmeet which I’ll write about separately.

I’ve led School Report for 5 years now and am always impressed with the support from the BBC. This year was even better in terms of input as we had a mentor Hannah Johns from HQ who came to share her experiences of journalism with the group in preparation, and we also had our local BBC reporter Dominic Blake who supported with pre-recording and radio.

School Report for us was again based at Action Stations at the Historic Dockyard, with the support of the Learning Manager Phil Wright. This space has the advantage of being off-site so less distraction or disturbance, its own independent press office, access to exhibits / personnel for interviews and research, a large conference room and quiet ‘green room’, and helpful staff for technical support. However, there are some challenges with access to internet/wifi, pupils needing escorting everywhere (it is an open public area and still a military space), and there also being another local school doing School Report there with 100 students spread out whereas we prefer smaller groups.

The very first time I led School Report I did it through curriculum time with a top year 8 class. Subsequently I led it as a voluntary extra-curricular club all taking place with after-school clubs. However this year that proved to be tricky, with so many students taking part in other clubs that it was nearly impossible to get all together at one time. I want the project to be open to all and not selective in terms of ability, but it would also be better to have use of curriculum time and make the impact wider scale. So next year I plan to have a lead-in time with all year 8 classes through a series of 2-3 lessons introducing them all to the project, then for the final live day let it be voluntary with up to 30 students taking part. I also intend to have more time preparing the technical side, with students learning more about live blogging / uploading and editing video, and producing green-screen broadcasts. This all proved to be more time consuming on the day this year than previously (although this was also due to wifi problems). I also intend to ensure more staff are trained in advance in the technical side.

So what did students report on?

All the articles and interview videos can be found on the school sitepriory blog so have an explore. You can also see the twitter feed through @priorygeography and @priorysouthsea for the day. Students researched and reported on a variety of topics including the mobile@priory policy, kidsmeet, Ralph the Penguin, Les Miserables, HMS Warrior, the new Mary Rose Museum, the Priory QR code poetry orienteering project, etc,. Various interviews were conducted, and written articles produced. Unfortunately the final news bulletin summary was not filmed due to technical and time issues which was a disappointment, but there is still a wealth of work that went into the website.

Two exciting events did take place. Firstly, Radio Solent live interview with myself and Robbie (a year 9 student whose birthday it was and who was Photo 21-03-2013 08 35 18involved in kidsmeet as a digital leader). And secondly, two of our year 8 girls (Beth & Alex) were chosen to be the anchors for the professionally filmed BBC South Today school report special section. So they appeared on two news bulletins across the South and looked incredibly professional. They got to work with real live reporters and radio/tv crews which was very exciting for them and I was hugely proud of them.

So how did it go?

The point of the day is for students to be in the lead, teachers to encourage independencePhoto 21-03-2013 11 33 42 and let go of the reins a little. This can be hard to do if you are like me and a bit of a control freak with a certain end product in mind! The day goes incredibly quickly and you need to make sure you have a supportive team of staff around you, well organised students, clear roles and accountability, a schedule and clear protocols for all to follow. Below is a link to the schedule I shared with all staff taking part for us. I’d like to say we followed to the letter, but I suppose it wouldn’t be real journalism if we had. You do need some flexibility. For example, one student did some research and discovered she could get an interview with a creative director who had been involved with the filming of the new Les Miserables movie that day if we were quick. So we needed to fit that in. I was impressed that students worked so independently and with enthusiasm all day, under huge time pressures and in an unknown environment. I only had to ask one student once to get back on task. Other students suddenly got to 12pm and realised they hadn’t even eaten, they’d been so caught up in the moment that they’d worked through the allocated break time. (Don’t worry, we did feed them!)

I was meant to be in an overseeing capacity, the plan was to be quite free so that I could visit different areas and particularly get to see the events in the synchronous kidsmeet as well. Unfortunately I found I was needed to be more hands on than I’d planned. The moral of the story being that more time is needed in advance to train students, and other staff, particularly in a technical skills sense. I will make better use of the Practice Days in future.

Photo 21-03-2013 12 41 37For myself, I am a fairly harsh self-critic. Because the day didn’t run as smoothly as I’d anticipated, and because there were technical setbacks (such as internet access), I found it hard to see the bigger picture and to get my head above the parapet long enough to appreciate all the good that was going on. As a result, I’ll be honest and say that by 1pm I was thinking I’d rather be hiding in a corner somewhere else – and even that I’d rather be in a different job! I always used to say to my granddad that ‘if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well’ and it frustrated me that it seemed like all the hard work and preparation of everyone involved was going to be lost in chaos. I really appreciated it when David Rogers turned up for a quick visit, since he was able to drop in to the different areas and give me a heads up from an outside perspective that it was actually going ok. I couldn’t see it.

What went well?

– kids engaged, enthusiastic and happy

– a range of different stories researched and reported on

– real life skills learnt, real collaboration took place

– no behaviour issues and general public/Dockyard staff commented that students were the best behaved group they had seen

– support from our teaching staff was excellent ; English teachers Kim Bell & Hannah St Ledger could not have been more helpful, enthusiastic or supportive. Couldn’t have done it without them.

What needs fixing?

– I need to be leading more, and managing less. Less doing, more overseeing.

– Better technical training and advance preparation for students and staff

– Reliable fast internet access

– More staff on hand so more flexibility of movement

– Whole year-group input with curriculum time as lead in to project

How do I feel with hindsight?

I need to remember that at the end of the day a group of 12-14 year old children who hadn’t worked together before, and who were completely new to journalism, managed to independently research, analyse, report, edit and broadcast a range of stories from scratch. And that is some success. They were self-motivated in a challenging environment. I still have some disappointments, and I’m always going to want better, but all I saw at the end of the day was a bunch of smiling faces from the kids. They made no complaints all day. That’s got to mean something.

I’ll finish with the ‘cheer up’ quote that my boss tweeted:

“The sky isn’t the limit, it’s just a view’”

Education Innovation Awards Nomination

This week was half term, so a relatively quiet week. But @priorygeography had some good news.

I’ve mentioned the Mobile@Priory project before and it was the inspirational project led by my head of department David Rogers that we pioneered through the Geography department. You can read more about the project on this site or his, or feel free to email / tweet any queries to either of us. The basic premise was the use of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to enable students freedom to learn anywhere, anytime and create a culture of safer and more productive use of online learning and mobile devices.

Excitingly, we found out this week that the project has been shortlisted for an Education Innovation Award . On 8-9th March the Education Innovation Conference & Exhibition takes place in Manchester – see for more details. The mobile@priory project was nominated and has now been shortlisted for the Secondary Schools ‘Innovate my School’ category. At the exhibition,there will be a showcase of those nominated projects and a winner will be chosen – so watch this space for an update after the event!

The project was a team effort that saw the department trial mobile device use first in our own lessons, then spread the word through inset and staff training workshops to encourage other subject areas to take place. It led to the creation of the mobile@priory cookbook which is freely available to others to trial and learn from some of the projects that took place at the beginning.

It is great to see the department, and especially the boss, getting some recognition for all the hard work. We may occasionally ruffle a few feathers in school, and have a little reputation for being trouble makers, but it is all with the best interests of students at heart. So it’s good to know that this project may not just have an influence for good on our own school, but students in a wider context. After all, that’s kind of why we’re here.


“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, then it’s not worth a dime.” Babe Ruth

E-safety week

I struggled with thinking what to write about today. The week that just ended was hard and emotional, with various times of me questioning everything I do and whether I am any good as a teacher. So I didn’t really feel like I could talk about anything inspirational or feel like I have something to share that I’ve tried. Instead this is more of a collection of bits I’ve stumbled upon from others.

Last week was Internet Safety Week 2013, led by . E-safety learning should be integral to all subject areas not just the domain of IT lessons, e.g. in @priorygeography lessons we introduce students to safe practise in the use of personal information and images when producing videos or writing on our trips blogs, or via BBC School Report work. We frequently refer to safety protocols and remind students of the mobile@priory policy. safer internet day

Even simple messages on school desktops like ours (image) could be useful, just little reminders along the way.

Below are some links that might be useful to anyone wanting to find out more about e-safety and where to find resources for embedding into teaching.

1) – The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre website with useful tips and tools for parents/guardians and professionals. There are resources available for teachers to aid delivery of e-safety topics.

2) – With tips, resources and guidelines. Also well worth following @UK_SIC on twitter for the latest developments and links to websites / video.

3) – Explore David Rogers’ blog for the mobile@priory story, the cookbook & draft policy. Useful for anyone wanting to set up using devices in school.

4) – Two great posts on Internet Safety Day featuring video links on cyber-bullying and child safety.

5)      YouTube E-Safety (Primary) & YouTube E-Safety (Secondary)  – E-safety videos for primary & secondary schools.

So there we go. Hope some of those are useful. For myself, this next week I need to pick myself up and get back on it. But I came across the quote below that has inspired me a little. It’s always hard coming back to reality from something big and exciting and other worldly like Bett, hearing about great stories from elsewhere and then feeling overwhelmed at not being able to change the world in your own backyard as quickly as you’d like. I’m someone that struggles with patience, and I don’t like doing half jobs. So it’s hard to prioritise and to see the wood for the trees sometimes. But ‘you need a certain amount of dark in order to see the stars’.