Tag Archives: BETT

#BETT2015 Creative GCSE presentation

So this weekend I visited the BETT exhibition and TeachMeet. I haven’t been to #tmbett for a couple of years and had remembered it as being overwhelmingly big, impersonal and too rushed. Friday’s TM was, however, a good event. The atmosphere was buoyant and cheerful, there was jovial conversation between everyone there, the presentations were light but meaningful, and I even learned a few things from them. Huzzah! And of course @lisibo made some amazing cakes 😉 So thank you to the likes of Ian Addison and Dawn Hallybone for arranging it all.

On the Saturday I spent some time on the RM Stand with @ukedchat for a live chat with Andy Knill about our favourite apps in education, particularly in Geography and this will appear on the site later in the week. It’s always good to talk about what we use and how as it forces you to more critically evaluate the purpose of something. Do I use Twitter in the classroom for real benefit or because it is trendy? Are apps / sites / tech used wisely? Does what I do encourage engagement and achievement or is it just a gimmick? Having to rationalise and reason what I do and why is quite invigorating; a good reminder to myself if nothing else.

I also enjoyed some time on the Microsoft Education stand catching up with folks. Minecraft seemed to be the most popular part of the show with Ray Chambers doing a grand job explaining how he’s used it in class. This is something I’m starting to play around with myself. I can see the benefits of encouraging collaboration, and obviously learning coding, and have seen some very low ability children voluntarily create whole landscapes and then be able to talk about them and this lead to a greater depth of verbal and written literacy as a result. Something to consider anyway.

I was really honoured to be given the opportunity to present at BETT myself, in the Learn Live Secondary area. I was pretty nervous beforehand but had a lovely audience who smiled at appropriate moments and even forgave me when I threw the remote clicker around 😉

Below is the presentation I shared, and a rough transcript of what it was about.

Slide 1 – Self explanatory!

Slide 2 – Just showing some of the main thoughts or concerns that teachers have been sharing about the new GCSEs. The focus of my talk was to hopefully encourage that there is still room to be creative, and that we as educators have a responsibility to be developing more skills in all students through any means, not just for the exams culture.

Slide 3 – Linking to Google Teacher Academy and the fact that no matter what country we came from, what phase we are, or what subject we teach, there is still a consistency that teachers (and students) are risk averse. We live in a bubble where we are aiming for a mysterious outside world that is reliant on getting certain grades, and while I’m not disputing this or down-playing it I believe that teachers have a responsibility to bend and break the frameworks in order to develop other skills. Tech is all well and good but at the end of the day students sit exams with a pen and paper. And passing a written test is all great but in the workplace you need to problem solve, collaborate, deal with failures. And being able to build relationships, communicate, play, is all part of growing up too. So (to quote David Rogers) we have a duty to subvert the statutory, in order to create what should be mandatory.

Slide 4 – We need to build time for messy learning in. It helps to break up the stress – for everyone concerned!

Slide 5 – BETT is full of shiny new electronic tech, but there is plenty of fun to be had with good old fashioned tech as well.

Slide 6-7 – Jigsaws. Blank ones available on eBay (other retailers also available!). Students can make revision mindmaps, diagrams, Q+A patterns and then play together. In one of my favourite examples I’ve seen a ‘jeopardy’ style jigsaw with the questions and answers mixed up.

Slide 8 – Snakes and Ladders. Decision making. Students have to create ‘chance’ or ‘event’ cards before hand, e.g. ‘earthquake strikes Haiti’ or ‘international aid sent to Japan’. When they land on a snake or a ladder they take one of the chance/event cards. If it is something positive then they can go up, if negative then they have to go down.

Slide 9 – Artefacts. Get hands on and messy! In Geography I’ve used bags of sediment from a river and keywords then students have to sort them into the correct order for a river profile. Or using food to make models, like coastal cake craft or model coral polyps. Getting hands on builds picture and muscle memory, helps to visualise, and makes abstract concepts more manageable.

Slide 10-11 – Scrabble. I’ve used in Geography and in my Numeracy intervention sessions. I was surprised at how much kids like it! Keyword building and points make prizes. Speed scrabble to make as many words as possible on a particular topic, e.g. hazards.

Slide 12-13 – Musical Chairs. I’ve mentioned these before at my TLAB session as a revision tool. Again this is just another method for Q+A but does work. Students take part in having to create the questions as well as the answers, and the musical but is just for fun but surprisingly makes them feel very under pressure.

Slide 14-15 – Paper Planes. Ever had a problem with these in school?! More often than not the most dangerous thing in the classroom for disruption is the humble pencil/pen and paper. But these can be harnessed. For example, a student writes a question or statement on a piece of paper, turns it into a paper plane and throws to someone else to ask it. Or the case study option: student answers a case study question in full then throws to three other students who in turn, with different colour pens, highlight ‘key words’, ‘place specific fact’, and ‘developed points’ before the last person gives a final score and a comment then returns it.

Slide 16-18. Keyword twister and Jenga. You can see these explained on another post here.

Slide 19 – Lego. Good for construction and for numeracy! I’ve used with making models of settlements or earthquake proof buildings, but also in numeracy. For example, you allocate different lego piece shapes or colours with a numeric value then students have 2 minutes to make the shape of an animal or a building, then at the end of the time have to calculate the value of their shape. Highest value wins.

Slide 20-21 – Board Games. Make your own version of classic games. The aim of Pointless is you ask questions on a topic and students have to get the most obscure answer possible (so if you ask the whole class then students who have unique answers will win) – the lowest points win. 5 Second Rule: literally a naming / stating game. You are given a category (e.g. name 3 river landforms) and have only 5 seconds to name all three. Articulate is a describing game based on key terms, definitions, case studies and similar to Taboo there are words you cannot say. And Charades is the same but acting out!

Slides 22-23 – Balloons. Students write questions on a balloon, blow it up (with a pump!) and throw to someone else to answer. Use soft felt pens so it doesn’t burst!

Slide 25-26 – Using OneDrive for collaborative revision. OneDrive is available as part of Office 365 or you can get a free Microsoft account to create documents online and store in the cloud. You can share these documents and collaborate live with others even if they do not have an Office account. In school, Year 10 and Year 11 have a shared folder with past papers, model answers, example lesson ppts and more importantly collaborative revision work. For example, year 10 were working on Settlement and at the end of the unit worked in groups to complete a OneNote notebook with different sections of the topic so that they can all share.

Slide 27-30 – Triptico. Has a free version or paid version. A web based app that can be downloaded and includes various tools from timers to photo selectors or quiz makers.

Slide 31 – Fotobabble. Available on any platform and web-based. Take a photo on a device, then record audio over the photo for up to a minute. Great for revision ‘speaking flash cards’. These can then be shared with others via email. Also good for virtual fieldwork!

Slide 32 – Photosynth. Another photo tool, this one from Microsoft and linked to Bing maps. You can stitch and create amazing 360 panoramas using a guided photo app, then when it is stitched you can zoom in and out of areas. Good for virtual fieldwork and as a prompt for revising landforms, places, processes, etc,.

Slide 33 – Minecraft. I’m only just starting to dabble with this. I’m not a coder or anything like that but students came to me a few weeks ago asking if they could use Minecraft for their homework. I said yes and they brought in a video tour of their landscape that was a real access-point to their own verbal literacy. They could articulate what they had created, the landforms and features, why they had chosen then. And they had collaborated to do this. The website minecraft.edu has various resources and tutorials available that other teachers have shared, and there is a programming book available from Microsoft Education via Partners in Learning. The minecraft.edu site has resources such as example worlds like the Tropical Rainforest challenge that guides students through challenges and concepts such as resource management, tribal conflict, land use, deforestation, etc,.

Slide 34-35. Microsoft Partners in Learning free tools reminder. Join the network and find free resources, software and case studies of what other teachers are trying.

Slide 36 – Google Forms. Use this tool to make simple quizzes, or get students to create them for each other. Really only takes minutes and share-able.

So there we go. Basically just different random ways of asking questions or knowledge checking, but it all helps to break up the normal routine. Plus having time constraints or ‘competitive pressure’ like that found in games situations helps with learning how to cope with exam pressure and stress. So, don’t be risk averse, just have a go. And if it doesn’t work? No matter, learn to fail and then get over it. Build some ‘bounce-back-ability’.

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C.S.Lewis

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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 www.saferinternet.org.uk . 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)      http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ – 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)      http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/ – With tips, resources and guidelines. Also well worth following @UK_SIC on twitter for the latest developments and links to websites / video.

3)      http://daviderogers.blogspot.co.uk – 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)      http://www.olliebray.com/ – 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’.


Learn Live session @ Bett 2013

Bett 2013As mentioned in the previous post, I attended Bett 2013 last week and was lucky enough to co-present a Learn Live session with David Rogers (see his write up here). The session was ‘Empowering young people in order to create a mobile device policy that brings about a pedagogic revolution’ – and referred to the work that David led and I supported with introducing and developing the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mobile@priory policy for our school.

You can see the slides for the session below, but it is mostly just images so if it needs explaining then email me for more info!

The story can be seen explained on David’s blog if you search for it, but basically over the last 18months he has been leading the revolution to transform Priory through enabling access to mobile devices. The policy was co-constructed by students, teachers, professionals and involved action research (in the form of mapping social spaces, conducting polls of device access, and putting chalk graffiti around school!), formulating the framework and then trialling within Geography to then spread out whole school.

My part of the story (apart from actually teaching and using devices in my own lessons) was to share the teacher’s perspective. Now clearly I am biased since I am pro-tech in general (see my Guardian posts here or here) but before anyone thinks that I am lazy and always have kids on mobiles in class let me point out that I am an advocate of learning through and by any means, but not at any cost. If you walk in to my classroom you won’t see young people 24/7 always on mobiles /tablets / some kind of high tech – you will see a range of methods and tools, appropriate for the range of students that come through the door and the range of skills they need to develop. It’s about being grounded in appropriate learning objectives. I’m not saying every lesson every child needs to be using some kind of electronic device, I’m just saying that it is another tool in the box. Something with which learners are familiar and that can boost engagement if used in the right way at the right time. It’s not always easy to use tech, and it’s not always appropriate. Just like we all have heard complaints of overuse / misuse of powerpoint or textbooks, it is not the be-all-and-end-all. Just an option. Right, now that I’ve put that caveat in!

Learn Live session audience

Basically we shared Priory’s story of introducing the mobile@priory policy. From my perspective, I was able to share how using mobile devices had led to the Olympic Geocaching work of Sam Atkins in the department – a project that saw a whole range of learners across Year 8 being out around the school site and eventually at Box Hill to choose suitable sites for geocaches, investigating Rights & Responsibilities, learning about the SSSI area of Box Hill and the Olympic road race itself. When Ofsted came they saw multiple synchronous classes out and about the school site doing this project – and they loved it. The project even got shown as part of our annual BBC News School Report and you can see it here from the official BBC News South Today report.

We also shared about ‘guerilla learning‘ – that mobile devices enable ‘naughty’ learning – doing things differently, learning outdoors, being free to make mistakes and learn from them. That utilising BYOD and mobile devices in general has allowed better home interaction during school trips and projects. For example, on residentials / sports days / BBC News Day we have live blogging (through Posterous, with a private link shared with family) to share student exploits – and parents can respond through twitter or comments (which have to be moderated & approved before being made public).

BYOD has been found to be useful for Controlled Assessment and fieldwork at GCSE level, with students using mobile phones / iPods / laptops / tablets to record information during field trips (be that images / video / sound recordings / data) and be able to manipulate this in their own time, being able to be portable, not having the worry of their research being locked in school where they cannot access it and having the benefit of it being technology that they are already familiar with, and that doesn’t have space quota limits because it is shared with 1250 other students. You can see a video here that shows student thoughts.

Geography started the trial (we already had been to be honest, having a habit of trying something first then getting permission or apologising after) and then other departments started to get involved. In the Mobile@Priory Cookbook you can see 4 examples of different projects during the trial. This includes an EAL project (we learned that there are over 37 different languages spoken at Priory, yet all signage and literature is in English) to use QR codes and mapping as a tour of the world around the school site; an MFL lesson using the Spanish Ikea site and translation tools to design and equip a house in Spanish; a Music lesson to create soundscapes around the site; and a Design Technology lesson where an unloved and worn out school bench was renovated and embellished with emblems, a hashtag and QR code for students to learn the 6Rs of recycling and links to rights and responsibilities (we are a Rights Respecting School). Interesting stuff! Read the cookbook or see David Rogers’ blog for more info.

If you have any questions on BYOD / guerilla learning / mobile devices then get in touch. Or come visit. Interestingly, since the policy was introduced we now only find that 1.6% of all negative behaviour incidents recorded are related to mobile devices. It’s all about the learning and the behaviour / relationships that enable that learning, not the device itself. Whether a device is a mobile or a pen, either can cause benefit or harm. It’s just how it is used and with what motives. Use for use sake is a mistake. Just like not using something just because it’s not been done before is a mistake. Try, fail, adapt, try again, succeed.

“She knows there’s no success like failure,
And that failure’s no success at all” [Bob Dylan]

Reflections on Bett 2013

So this week saw the annual learning technology event at ExCel London. I first went to Bett in my NQT year and remember being Bett 2013overwhelmed with the scale; in terms of the products available, the variety of specialists, and the numerous different options for CPD. This year was no different. New venue, same atmosphere. Friday was hugely busy, and it was a little fraught at times getting around and knowing where to start. For me, the most useful part of something like Bett (apart from a chance to network / catch up with people) is getting along to the seminars and hearing real stories. I gain a lot more from hearing real examples and implementation (whether low or high tech) than I do from visiting vendors. I am not being disparaging of the exhibitors at all – they know their stuff  – but I like to see or hear about practise. Maybe that’s just how I learn!

So here are a few of my highlights (not in any order):

1) Sugata Mitra ‘The Kids are Alright‘ session in the arena. I’ve seen Sugata before but you can’t really get enough of him! His style, passion, wit – all combined with ground breaking work. If you haven’t heard of him before or seen him then his project Hole in the Wall is one to investigate. Listening to him say ‘with Google, anyone can pretend to be an expert‘ might make you worry for the future of our profession but the caveat is this: without guidance and focus you only pretend. He suggests that if we give children the opportunity & resources then they will seek to learn. Now this might not be true of all children for certain! There are plenty of examples of disaffected students who choose to not learn – but then maybe they haven’t been given the right resources or opportunities? For more information on his project, watch this Ted Talk . Part of the presentation involved an interview (led by the male voice of Siri FYI!) with Jordan Casey, a 12 year old self-taught app & game creator. ICT doesn’t even get taught in his school, yet he is selling tech professionally. It was certainly inspiring to hear this humble yet clearly incredibly gifted young lad talking to 700 people.

2) Microsoft Live Learn sessions. There were plenty to choose from on the Microsoft stand! Being kind of Microsoft affiliated you might think me biased, but the reason I enjoyed these was because they were REAL. I didn’t go to look at the shiny gadgets (not just for that anyway), and I wasn’t after training in how to use Win 8. What I liked was hearing from real teachers sharing how they have used Microsoft technology to empower learning. There were various examples of creative use of software – but the focus was on the fact that these are FREE to educators. Nobody was selling me a product (though I did get mocked for using an iPhone on the stand but that’s a long standing joke, apparently I’m always on my phone). I will happily recommend anyone to join Microsoft Partners in Learning and also to get looking at the Teachers Blog and following @microsofteduk .

I particularly enjoyed sessions by:

– Mandeep Atwal on ‘A New Era for Digital Learning‘  – Mandeep is an award winning teacher and always happy to share ideas, try finding her on @mandeepKatwal .

– David Rogers on ‘Using Devices to Empower Students‘ (especially since it was based on the work that we have done in our department so I could feel a warm glow knowing that secretly it’s all me and Sam really :-p ) – I’m sure there will be a write up on his blog soon so check there or harass him on @daviderogers

 – Charlotte Beckhurst on ‘Windows 8 at Hartsbrook E-ACT Free School’ – sharing the great variety of apps that she employs in primary school. Made me quite jealous to not teach so many different subjects! Especially loved the use of photos & animal sounds for literacy. @charbeckhurst

 – Kristian Still on ‘BYOD in Education’ – just generally chatting to Kristian about transforming learning was quite exciting, and the BYOD ties in with our own work. For anyone wanting to introduce BYOD policies in school I’d recommend speaking to both he and David Rogers. Follow @kristianstill or see his blog.

3) E-Safety: Motivating and enthusing young people through the use of social media by Beth Smith of Catmose College. I loved this session! Led almost entirely by the students themselves, who were so incredibly well spoken and professional – barely displaying any nerves which put me to shame (as by this point I was getting nervous of our session coming up!). The bulk of the focus was on the makingwav.es  software (available on all platforms) which seems like a fantastic opportunity for schools to engage children with safe use of social networking and blogging. The website allows students to create blogs and access each other’s work to share, but under strict moderation from staff. Students can upload work to share with others (or keep private as they wish) – provided it has been moderated and approved by teachers first. The content and access is filtered and encrypted, only shared with those to whom permission is given and with students’ details kept private behind layers of nicknames (not real names), avatars, and moderated comments. It seems from my first impression to be a great way of engaging and encouraging sharing and peer feedback on a large scale, with the benefit of teaching e-safety simultaneously and preparing young people for the future world of social media. Rather than simply banning all social media and then just hoping they don’t accidentally get into unfiltered lands of facebook/twitter/youtube it allows practise and development of skills in a safe way. Students can also earn backpack Mozilla Open Badges – being rewarded for completing certain activities which can then be kept as digital portfolios to share at future interviews for college & work, e.g. Senior Reporter journalist badges, etc,. All types of content can be uploaded; images, video, text, powerpoint, etc,. Students were beaming with pride as they shared their online work, actually choosing to go online and upload news reports or whatever they felt in their spare time! Check out the school’s work here .

All-in-all, it was a great couple of days and I thoroughly recommend booking in for Bett 2014 and maybe try to get in to teachmeet there too. It’s not about the hard sell, it really is about empowering learning – through any means. My favourite way.

HP advert quote
HP advert quote