About me

Nothing Toulouse and all to gain via Agent4Change

Hello all,

I’ve been rather busy since last year writing yet more articles and oh…moving to London to start a new job.

During the Easter holidays 2015, I decided that I needed a new challenge. A few job searches on TES later and my dream job appeared right in front of me; Class Teacher and Computing Subject Leader. The only thing was that it was based in Redbridge, London. This was one of those sink or swim moments. Do I apply and, heaven forbid, actually get the job or do I stay where I am, nice am comfortable in West Yorkshire?

Having visit ed London on numerous occasions for various conferences and meetings during my own time, I had fallen in love with the idea of living in the Big Smoke but never actually had the guts to do anything more than talk about it. I also wanted to take on more responsibility at work and the very title of the job I had found seemed to have been telling me something. I spent a good two days writing my application and researching information about the school and local and as I press ‘submit application’ on the email to the Head, a sense of excitement came over me.
Living 200 miles away had meant that I hadn’t been able to do the usual visit to the school before applying which had niggled me enough to call the school and arrange an appointment to speak with Mrs Buxton, the then Head of Redbridge Primary (@RedbridgePS). Upon having a quick chat with her and after putting the phone down, I knew how much I wanted to work there.
Sure enough, an interview followed and after having only left the building for 20 minutes, the call came to offer me the job. My excitement was in overdrive until the moment at the motorway services where I called my mum and it dawned on me…I’m moving to London!

A busy Summer of house hunting and moving ensued and my excitement wavered a little when lugging boxes and making 8 round trips from North to South. Luckily, I had help and had soon moved in with another teacher as introduced to by the lovely Dawn Hallybone (@dawnhallybone).

A year on, and with new Leadership, I am still as keen to learn as ever and on the 3rd and 4th of November this year, I traveled to Toulouse for an education conference arranged by Russel Tarr (@russeltarr). More than 250 delegates from 14 countries came to the International School of Toulouse for the ‘Practical Pedagogies’ event. With so much on show and so much to learn, it was an excellent event with lots to feedback to my own staff and plenty to share via social media too. My most recent article about it can be found on Merlin John’s (@merlinjohn) Agent4Change website.

Eighteen months on from that initial decision to change something, I look forward to what’s to come as there truly is nothing to lose and all to gain…

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#TMBETT2014 – Loving the Alien

I attended my first #BETT show in 2012 and have been each year since. Upon my first visit, when it was hosted at Olympia, I found it to be a daunting experience with very little understanding of what it was except “just another trade show’. By my second visit, I had entered the world of Twitter and had formed links with teachers and technologists alike. What a pleasure it was then to arrive on Friday evening to the #BettArena and meet up with fellow professionals, some known to me and some new. This time, however, was somewhat different. This time, I felt that I was ready to sign up to present at the Teach Meet event (#TMBETT2014) on Friday night.

Having bagged a ticket back in November and having never presented at any Teach Meet before, I thought why not? However, as the day approached, I found the nerves creeping in. What a comfort it was then to see smiling faces including @dawnhallybone, @andreacarr1, @dughall, @joga5,  @tonyparkin, @bevevans22, @nightzookeeper and @sarah_wright1 in the arena, wishing me well and calming my nerves.

The scariest thing about #TMBETT14 was not that it was hosted in the London Excel Centre (@excellondon). Not the fact that 650 tickets had been sold and @MrMichaelShaw from #TES handing out T-shirts saying ‘The largest TeachMeet in the world’! Not even the fact that I would be using technology, which could go wrong at any point. Nope, the scariest thing was that my presentation was about real children and the real learning that takes place in my classroom as part of each individual’s life journey.

* Would I do the children justice by sharing their achievements (thoroughly safe-guarded of course)?

* Would I be able to give @classdojo the credit they deserved for their wonderful behaviour management tool?

* Would the audience members find any of it useful and take it back to their own schools to share with colleagues and children alike?

All of these questions raced through my head as I nervously waited to see if my name would be called through the random selection process as created by @russeltarr through @classtools.

Fabulous presentations came from @stevebunce, telling us that Thomas was alone and @ideas_factory who asked us to be the purple cow. After 2 hours of presentations, 8:30pm ticked by and my nerves had died right down. By this point, I had given up on my name being called and was composing my graceful tweet of disappointment, whilst telling myself that there was always next year. It was a surprise then when co-host @iusher was calling my name. As the big screen had temporally stopped working, I was dazed by the sound of my name being called and uncertain if it was even the right ‘Catherine’ that he was calling. Phone in hand and notes left behind on my seat, I made my way to the front where the stage was, where I confirmed that it was indeed going to be my turn.

Waiting at the side of the stage with @katerussel, who was co-hosting  the event, I began to compose myself and collect my thoughts. After an interesting presentation from @oliverquinlan, I stood up to the podium with no notes, a phone with no battery and a lot of faces staring at me, awaiting my first sentence. It was reassuring to see smiles round the room, people nodding along and it was here that I felt proud to share the work of the children back home in Bradford. My presentation was about phonics called ‘Loving the Alien’ and with the tagline, ‘How to Make the Y1 Phonics Screening Check More …Errr… Human!’ The link can be found HERE.

#TMBETT14 Blog image LTA

It was only after stepping off the stage (and leaving my phone on it) that I truly then calmed down. Lovely comments came flooding in via Twitter on my Nexus from many people who congratulated me on no longer being a ‘Teach Meet Presentation Virgin‘ and I even got to meet some of my ‘Twitter Heroes’ @ICTmagic and @triches.

What was really lovely, was the subsequent messages I had from teachers who have already shared with their staff in their schools. One practitioner told me how her school use Class Dojo all the time but she never thought of linking it to phonics and was going to do so from now on!
I guess I can address my concerns about it being useful then?

My third and final concern about giving the credit to Class Dojo was relieved when they also tweeted;

tweet classdojo

All in all, a wonderful event and special thank should go to @digitalmaverick and everyone who organised everything.

Finally, I am already looking forward to the next Teach Meet, wherever that may be and #BETT15 but for now and in the words of a well known song, keep ‘Loving the Alien‘!  

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2014 – Time for a Change

Happy New Year to one and all. It really does not seem a whole year since I was writing my new year post for 2013 – How time flies!
As we enter 2014, people across the land will no doubt be making resolutions to change old habits, seeking new experiences or trying to make a difference. My personal resolution is to write a blog post at least once a month but time will tell.

Talking about change, yesterday I had my hair cut and coloured for the first time in a long while and I do genuinely feel happier. How is it that a new look or change of image can improve one’s self esteem and confidence? And yet it is only my own physical appearance that has changed. Perhaps it is like wearing a mask, whereby if people don’t know it’s me, it’s alright to make mistakes or have an opinion.

This got me thinking about how, as teachers, we often ‘don’ a mask and take on the role of Mr or Ms So and So. It would be impossible to stay 100% alert and maintain the high levels of energy outside of school hours spent with children and so it seems inevitable that I am destined to living the life of a chameleon!
What about the children and their self esteem and confidence? I doubt a hair cut will solely help develop these crucial life skills and it is this thought that inspires me to play my role in the life of a young person, knowing that 100% effort is worth it for that very reason.

So what else might this year be like?
Well the most recent news is all about the stormy weather and climate change (there’s that word again).
No doubt the next 12 months will have its up and downs for everyone. It is during the high tides and rough seas that family and friends truly play a part. I have come to appreciate this so much more throughout 2013 and hope to give more back this year.

Considering family and friends, the 21st December 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of the Lockerbie disaster. No doubt a time of reflection for many and a time to hold the family and friends of the victims in mind. I had the privilege of visiting the Lockerbie memorial last week as part of a mini break to the Scottish borders. This is one part of history that cannot be changed but it did make me thankful for the gifts of love and forgiveness I do have from those closest to me.

On the subject of Scotland, the mini break I mentioned was my first ever visit over the border! Isn’t it funny how such beauty and hospitality can be found without having to travel thousands of miles to find it? I have been guilty in the past of jetting off to Canada and the USA without realising what’s in my own back yard. That said, I hope 2014 will rack up some miles and with a trip to Cologne, Germany in May, I am sure I will manage it.

I hope to cross borders of my own this year in whatever form they may come and perhaps it’s about a change of mind-set rather than anything drastic. Perhaps, it’s a change of routine, eating more, sleeping more and driving less. Maybe, just maybe, it’s about facing up to problems and tackling them head on instead of running away but most of all I sense my theme for 2014 is…CHANGE!

Does change mean improvement? I doubt that very much as change can be a bad thing but by using what’s gone before, learning from mistakes and tackling problems head on, I hope 2014 will be a success!

I leave you with a well known catchphrase that undoubtedly seems to sum things up;

“And now for something completely different!”
John Cleese, Monty Python

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Blogging for Learning and #Mozfest

I think it is fair to say that my New Year’s resolution will be to write more frequently on this blog.

In fairness, I have spent the last 8 weeks soley focusing on my new role as a Y1 teacher. Whilst the aged is not too disimilar from my previous 3 years in Reception, the change in daily routine and way of working has kept me busy. I have spent a lot of time writing the Year 1 page on the school blog, which can be viewed at www.bowlingparkprimary.net .

I have worked on showing the children how to access the blog and how to write comments. Some children have really taken this on board and write comments often, however, there are still many more children to encourage. I aim to double the amount of children’s comments by the next school holiday by making even more use of online resources such as images to describe, links to phonics sounds or play online games. My particular favourites, when getting the children excited about learning, are Zondle and Oxford Owl.

Oxford Owl

zondle LOGO

 

I have started to use Zondle to build games for children to practice their skills in maths and literacy. The feedback from children in my class so far has been positive and I have had children asking if they can ‘stay in at playtime to do blog homework’.  Starting this week, I want to promote the use of the Oxford Owl website too as there are free eBooks and maths resources on there. I hope to reach out to more parents this way and will be offering advice and support for them when helping their child online. Watch this space…

Keen as I am to learn more about the way in which technology is evolving and how we can access it, I attended MozFest last weekend.

mozfest There were multiple workshops taking place throughout the weekend including; build the web, making the web physical, games, badges and much more.
   Having generally walked around, trying to get the best from all sessions, I found myself getting involved with a project about Girls in Tech. It was fabulous to collaborate on a project  and record notes in the ‘Mopad’ alongside @amirightfolks, @kimxtom, @MissPhilbin, @priynag and @chadsansing (Sorry if I missed anyone).
Click here to see what the group created.

Later in the afternoon, I attended the amazing ‘Maker Party’. Swamped with children and technologist alike, it was fantastic to see various projects in operation and learn a few things myself.
Some fabulous things included;

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All in all, I have enjoyed a relaxing and productive Half Term holiday and have come away with lots of ideas about how to make next half term even better!

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Reflections and Onward Journeys

It is fair to say that I have been utterly useless at writing blog posts since February. However, what with an Ofsted visit, iPad app hunting, Teach Meet attending, learning how to use my camera, developing blog ideas and now holiday planning, I may well allow myself to feel better for my lack of upkeep here.

Now it is the summer and another academic year has come to an end. I have said goodbye to colleagues and indeed friends from school, including @chrismayoh, as they embark on the next stage of their own journeys. Without further ado, I decided that there’s no better time to reflect upon this past 12 months and look at what I personally hope to achieve in next twelve.

Having now completed five years as a fully qualified teacher, two in Y2 and three in Reception, I am now due to start in a Y1 class in September. Having enthusiastically accepted the challenge of a new year group, new children and a new building to work in, I thought I would write a post which reflects on what I have learned in my first half-decade ‘on the job’.

Image sourec: http://freelancefolder.com/my-freelance-journey-12-things-ive-learned-along-the-way/

Things to take forward…

  • The basics: Having started out in a school teaching Year 2, my NQT year was more about learning the ropes and getting to grips with things that were not taught at university, including teaching phonics! I subsequently moved schools and have never looked back as I have had the opportunities and support to develop my skills.
  • Linking ideas and frameworks: Thinking back to previous blog posts, it is over a year since I attended the Early Years Conference to learn about the revised framework. As EYFS practitioners have got to grips with it this year and adapted their work based on their own interpretations, it is now the turn of Year One teachers to link the revised EY framework to APP sheets throughout the Autumn term. I hope to help fellow colleagues with understanding how this fits together and how to identify next steps for learners so that we can hit the ground running and maximise progress throughout the year.
  • A different approach:  I believe that my experience of teaching in Reception also puts me in good stead for the transition into Year One. Having got the hang of an approach which firmly puts children at the centre of learning and allows them to lead the curriculum has ensured that I have taken on the role of facilitator not dictator. This coupled with my Y2 experience and subsequent knowledge of where the children need to be by next July should help.
  • The development of my own philosophy for education: I am truly inspired by many fellow educators from far and wide. I have mentioned many of them on my blog site before. Each one is unique and every practitioner has their own philosophy for education.Today, I came across a quote from a well known source, which really sums up my own thoughts on this;

“Logic will get u from A 2 B. Imagination will take u everywhere.”
Einstein

Image source: http://ieeet.com/2013/06/13/3d-vector-arts-imagination-wallpapers/
With Mr Gove’s continual revamp of the National Curriculum, it will be interesting to see what will happen in relation to Einstein’s words. One thing that’s certain is that there will always be the good, the bad and the frustrating sides to any job but I believe that teaching really is a vocation.

I leave this post on a personal note…
Whilst a little nervous, I am looking forward to the challenge in the new academic year and I endeavor to use 5 years of teaching experience well.  I hope that that this time next year, the children are not only ready for Year Two but even more prepared for their onward learning journey, equipped with ‘real life’ skills for ‘lifelong’ learning.

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Inspiring a Future Generation

As half term draws to a close, I find myself once again in London having had a lovely break.

The holiday has given me chance to reflect on recent trips to the capital over the last few weeks:

What can I take back to the classroom?
What can I take forward into my career?
What does it all mean anyway?

SWLondonEdu

SUWedu_Banner

The end of January led me to Google Campus to attend a Start Up weekend with its focus on education (#SwLondonEdu). This was hosted by @nightzookeeper and sponsored by the likes of OCR, Technology Strategy Board, Macmillan and many others. Click here to read all about it.

The general idea was that educators, developers, coders and business minds would come together to form teams and embark on a grueling 54 hour task of attempting to create a ‘start up’ business idea for use in education. I teamed up with @ideasfactory @kateho, Matt, @brynll and @buzzburman to try to create a phonics app aimed across all key stages and appeal to older children. By Sunday evening, myself and Julian (@ideasfactory) were ready to pitch @Robophon to the judges and potential investors.

I personally had chosen to attend the event to be involved in the process of working on something that might benefit children in schools in the future and to meet other people trying to do the same. See this great post from Julian S Wood which explains more:
http://ideasfactory.me/edtech-start-up-weekend/

The event was won by @mrlockyer‘s @useedu the ‘one stop inspiration station’ and it was nice to see @chrismayoh‘s team as runners up with @wordwarsedu – more at http://learningtobebetter.com/swlondonedu/swlondonedu-january-2013/

The event ran smoothly with thanks to many people including @oliverquinlan @clogish and @EddStockwell. Special thanks go to mentors who took the time to support our group, @BuzzBurman @Bartoneducation @jodielopez @dick_taylor and the quality feedback from @DeputyMitchell and @joga5.

Reflection

I learned that people have fantastic ideas but without an audience and team to move the idea forwards, that’s all it is, an idea.
So perhaps then, it is a vision rather than an idea that can make a difference to the children of today who become the adults of the future.

This idea of trying to make a difference is at the front of my mind daily. By definition of being a teacher, this seems to be ‘stating the obvious’ but the world of education is changing constantly with influences from areas of politics, technological advances and society to name a few.

* What if I am part of inspiring a future world leader, doctor or scientist by being their influence at 5 years old?
* What can I learn from the children I work with?
* How can I facilitate learning and encourage ambition?

Now would seem an appropriate time to think of my own ‘heroes’ past and present.

* My Year 3 teacher Mr Tandy for making learning fun. Please look at my previous post ‘The Greatest Teacher?’ for my personal thoughts on this.
* My current principal for believing in me and giving me a chance to work in a challenging school with huge rewards when you see the impact school can have.
* My family for supporting me with my decisions and being there when things don’t quite work out.

This past year since using Twitter as a tool for CPD, I have uncovered a wealth of ‘heroes’ who are fellow people with the same passion and goal to inspire the future generation.

BETT 2013

bett 13

After a 4 hour drive from Bradford to London I caught the end of arguably the biggest ‘Teach Meet’ ever at #TMBETT13. The @excellondon was a great venue and it was lovely to meet some of the most inspiring educators all within the same room. Some I had met before at #CampEd12, the London Festival of Education, #bMobLe and others I know solely through conversations on Twitter. The list included:
@helendaykin @susanbanister @dughall @penny_patterson @stevebunce @morethanmaths @joga5 @bellaale @dawnhallybone @johnbishop713
Each individual has a passion for inspiring children and trying to make that difference in their own inimitable ways.

One such example of this came from Stephen Lockyer (@mrlockyer) and Ben Waldram (@MrWaldram) who promoted the idea of #BATTT (Bring a Teacher to Twitter). I have a separate post on this HERE.

My personal highlights from the #BETT13 event itself came from @timrylands whose #backtotheirfuture talk was inspirational and useful in that he revealed a whole host of free resources for use in school! www.timrylands.com

Who said BETT was just a trade show?

(Read Bryn Llewellyn’s post for reflections about this.)

Another highlight was finding new resources for use with children, including:

* Teach Your Monster To Read website for free games (@monsterscanread)
* Zondle for choosing or creating quizzes which can then be played though a variety of games platforms. (@zondle)
* Frog (@frogtrade)
* iamlearning (@I_AM_LEARNING)

adult-child-hold-hands

All in all, I have found these events thought provoking, informative and challenging. I have come away having learnt something new whilst at the same time I have questioned and reviewed various things about my own practice and CPD.

* How can I use resources more creatively?
* Are there other ways to get the boys in my class to write beyond what they are currently doing?
* What other ways can I share and collaborate ideas and tools?

However, despite all this, the key message I will take forwards with me is…

Be inspired today and you will inspire the future.

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What’s it all a-BATTT?

#BATTT stands for Bring A Teacher To Twitter and is the fantastic idea of Stephen Lockyer and Ben Waldram. That’s @mrlockyer and @mrwaldram for Twitter folk.

However, if you are reading this and thinking ‘what on earth is she talking about’ then don’t panic as this post aims to provide a useful guide to Twitter and what you can benefit from it.
If you are already on Twitter, please feel free to add useful comments, links and view this as one teacher’s account of the BATTT campaign.

The aims of BATTT were simple and people already established on Twitter were asked to follow simple rules to help the ‘new-to-Twitter-teacher’ find their feet and then let them loose. Now with BATTT going global, the world truly is your oyster!

battt-pledge

If this appeals to you, follow these simple rules or look at the links below to get ideas…then get tweeting! If you have any questions or need a bit of help, feel free to leave a comment on here and I will get back to you. Alternatively, register an account on Twitter and follow @batttuk.

My guide to starting out on Twitter

1. Make a decision what you want to gain from signing up to Twitter

* If you want to talk about what you had for tea, that’s fine but perhaps don’t expect people who want to talk education and things other than your fish and chips to follow you back.

2. Sign up and choose a Twitter name (the bit with the @ at the start)

* When choosing your Twitter name, take into account that it is for professional reasons so @teachersarerubbish is probably not the way to go. I initially chose @TaffTykeC as I am half Welsh, Half Yorkshire and C for Catherine but now I find it harder as my followers have increased and people don’t necessarily match my face with the Twitter name when meeting me. They know a ‘Catherine Steel’ and @TaffTykeC but don’t always link the two.

I recently asked people via Twitter their thoughts on changing my own account name to @catherinesteel but
James Langley (@lordlangley73) from the Innovation Centres in Bradford suggested not to as people know @TaffTykeC now but he DID encourage me to add a photo of myself as opposed to the flowers I had on there so people may recognise my face. Further feedback came from Helen Daykin (@helendaykin) “real names are easier, I don’t tweet what I wouldn’t say in public so no need for cryptic name.”

3. Add a photo

* I strongly recommend putting a photo of yourself on here so people will already recognise you if you should ever meet them in person. See Connecting the @’s to Real People for my own experience of this.

3. Write the bio on your profile

* This bit is very useful to get an idea of the person’s background and interests. I personally don’t follow anyone without a bio as it could be a spam account or simple someone who I have nothing in common with.

4. Find a friend

* Look at who your friend or colleague follows then follow some people from their list as they will have a rich bank of people to start with. My main starting point was @chrismayoh as I work with him.

* It’s worth noting at this point how frustrating it was with only 5 followers and nothing really happening. This is where ‘said friend(s)’ already on Twitter should shout out about newbies. This will help boost your followers and therefore links to fellow professionals. I remember getting to 16 followers when I began to feel better, a slog to 50 but after that it was as if I was always an established Tweeter.

5. Read the ongoing ‘tweets’ (comments) made by the people you follow and contribute if you feel you have something to say.

* Share what you know, what you are doing or the latest thing you heard about the topic being discussed. The more you comment, the more people will get to know you and they may follow you back if they think you are interesting.

6. Learn to use #hashtags.

* Hash tags are a way of grouping topic discussions together. Think of it like one big container of talk about one thing.

The more you put in, the more you get out, just as in any part of life. CPD and collaboration on Twitter is just the same.

As for #BATTT and the BATTT Pledge, I personally ‘recruited’ Carissa Patten who works alongside me in my Reception class. Already on Twitter, tweeting about random things, I persuaded her that Twitter could be used in a professional context too. As she was keen to learn and develop her role as an educator, she duly set up the account @CarissaPatten and followed her first 6 people. I am keen to see how she uses Twitter from now on and hope she gains from it as I have over the last 12 months.

More information and Twitter experiences:

Connecting the @’s to Real People
A camping event that took place in May 2012 organised by @dughall, @joga5 and @helendaykin solely through conversing on Twitter, whereby educators and their families gathered to meet up, ‘talk shop’, have fun and celebrate Twitter as a sharing platform for CPD.

@primaryideas blogpost about their journey on Twitter.

@MrMathsTeacher’s top 5 reasons for using Twitter as well as a useful link explaining what a PLN (Personal Learning Network) is.

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Happy New Year?

Piec (5)
Cztery (4)
Trzy (3)
Dwa (2)
Jeden (1)

SZCZESLIWEGO NOWEGO ROKU! (…or Happy New Year as I would usually say.)

This is how my new year 2013 began in the main square in Krakow, Poland. Having begun 2012 in London, I had thought I would like to experience New Year’s Eve in not just another country but another time zone. As Midnight approached, the locals drank champagne and then set off fireworks from the bottle before smashing it on the ground in celebration. Oh and did I mention that there was absolutely no sign of the ‘Health and Safety Police’? Fabulous!
Krakow

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Standing amidst the anticipation and excitement in sub-zero temperatures, I wondered what 2013 may hold for me. Naturally, there are certainties such as my 27th birthday in April, the F1 season starting again in March and the ‘dreaded OfSTED call’ at some point in the near future. However, what about dreams? What about aspirations? Can I really make a difference…make a change?

Having enjoyed exploring the city of Krakow over the weekend, New Year’s Eve had in fact been a day of reflection, contemplation and soul searching. It began with an hour bus ride to Oswiecim where the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau are situated. Greeted by the words ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (labour makes (you) free), I felt a shiver down my spine and could not even begin to empathise with the sheer horror and torture that 1.3 million people experienced here in the 1940’s. To think that a group of men could have treated fellow human beings in such an inhumane manner is both disgusting and despicable.

I read the information boards about the gassing and shootings of men, women and children and had a chilling sensation that matched that of the freezing cold temperature. I was surprised to learn that it was not just Jews but Gypsies and even Poles too who had suffered at Auschwitz and various other infamous camps across Europe.

* Was it better to have been killed instantly or being deemed ‘the fittest’ by the German Doctor on site, meaning a life of grueling work every day until your imminent death through poor living conditions, dangerous working environments or the horrendous temperatures? All this in addition to learning of your own family’s death and the grief of this.
* How can any ‘human’ do this to another?
* What hope did those children have?

It was here that I reflected on my own life and the times we live in on the eve of the New Year.
Although I have dreams of travelling, working abroad and settling down later on in life, this experience was a stark reminder of how lucky I am.

Whenever things seem stressful, at least I have a warm home, hearty meals to devour and love and support of family and friends. Being a teacher means that even work is rewarding and perhaps, just maybe, I can make a significant difference to someone’s life.

I hope that I can make a difference in 2013 and perhaps even a change in my own approach and direction but what is certain is that we should all pay heed to a well known quote;

“The one who does not remember history, is bound to live through it again.”
George Santayana

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Subject or Citizen?

As it is the school holiday and no doubt many people will be either enjoying the Diamond Jubilee celebrations or actively trying to avoid them, I thought I would reflect on some of the wonderful ideas shared at the bMobLe TeachMeet session last Wednesday, hosted by the Innovation Centres.

Whether you think having a monarchy is marvellous or indeed simply old fashioned and out of date, I see potential for giving the Royal Family a jolly good modern make-over by making use of ICT.

I do not profess to have invented new technologies and nor would I want to re-invent the wheel. However, I can share the thoughts and findings of fellow professionals also enthusiastic about ICT. 

Having left work after yet another tiring but rewarding day, I headed to the National Media Museum to meet a whole host of educationalists, some of whom had attended the conference all day and others, like me, who were dropping in for TeachMeet. 

The session began once I had said hello to a few familiar faces, some from CampEd12, some of whom I work with and others that I met in the wilds of Oxenhope.

I am sure the Queen would have watched the live stream, showcasing the event to the rest of the world, had she known how to use the new fangled thing called the Internet. 

Perhaps HRH would have enjoyed @janwebb21’s suggestion, Videolicious – a great app whereby children (and adults) can narrate a series of photos. This would be great for Reception children to sequence and retell a story or for older children to record giving instructions. 

One is certain that the Queen could make use of PicCollage. This app allows even the royalist of subjects opportunities to produce a ‘scrapbook style ‘ creation; adding text, changing backgrounds and even slapping the odd sticker or two to each page. Perfect for recording happy memories from any occasion, even say, a Jubilee?

Should she ever want to organise her thoughts, HRH could ask for help from Prince Phillip or, rather more usefully, refer to ‘i-mindmap’. It does exactly what it says on the tin.

As a sense of audience is needed when giving speeches, one might like ‘Inkle Writer’. Hot off the press that day, @stevedale introduced us to the app, where children can write a variety of story endings and the reader can therefore choose various paths, occurrences and endings to the story.

My particular favourite presentation came from @AndyGFarsley, explaining how to use an app I thought I already knew how to use. The saying, ‘you learn something new everyday’ was true when Andy demonstrated using 360 Cities on Google Earth. I learnt how to create journeys and explore the climate, landscape and surrounding area anywhere in the world. This can be pre-set as a route by the teacher, enabling a whole wealth of teaching and learning opportunities that open up including speaking and listening, problem solving and much more.

Finally, yesterday afternoon, I went to the bank of the Thames to see the Queen’s Flotilla as it sailed through the city. It looked grand and there was an overwhelming sense of pride and excitement as the crowds cheered along the way. I spent the evening at the Applecart Festival, watching comedians such as Sean Lock, Rich Hall and Josh Widdicombe and musicians including Billy Bragg, Adam Ant and Noah and the Whale. 

All events took place in the torrential rain.  Perhaps then, as suggested by others, our National Anthem should be “Long to RAIN over us, God save the Queen”?

And should Her Majesty be reading this, thank you Ma’am. I am glad to be of service…

Categories: About me, Education and learning | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What a day to be a Goalkeeper…

Well what a week of mixed emotions, thoughts and feelings.
Since last week’s post, I did indeed manage to visit York and enjoyed an evening of chat, food, drink and dancing. It felt good to be ‘home’.

School has been delightful, enjoying the sunshine with the children.
We have been very busy learning more about our chosen topics.
The Flowers and Butterflies groups went to visit a garden centre to buy seeds and flowers so they can now discover which flowers best attract butterflies. We even got to see our very own butterflies develop as they hatched out of their cocoons.
Children in the Snakes and Bats group had a visit from a lady who brought real bats into the classroom. It was incredibly exciting and we have now made our own bat pictures and decided to try and find out where they live.

Watch this space for more exciting learning… www.bowlingparkprimary.net

And now to the real mix of emotions this week….

It would have been my Grandad’s 86th birthday, had he still been around and it was exactly 9 years ago to the day that the Blades made it to another play off final and lost to Wolves. This being the same year that my grandad had died not 2 months before. It was as if the sun was him smiling down on us and the chants of “Wemberleeey….Wemberleeey….” called me south to Wembley Stadium for the League 1 Play-Off Final: Sheffield United vs Huddersfield Town. Having already watched our rivals, Sheffield Wednesday, over-take us in the league and gain automatic promotion, it was do or die in order to prevent the inevitable mickey taking back home from the blue half of the city.
I can’t help but feel that blue has been a lucky colour this season, what with Man City winning the Premiership, Chelsea winning the Champions League, Sheff Wednesday gaining automatic promotion and now Huddersfield going up too.
C’est le vie….

“We’re going to Wembley!”

A five and a half hour trip down, due to hold ups on the M1, was not enough to dampen our spirits and we got to our seats with 20 mins to spare. If nothing else, it was a day out in the glorious sunshine.
Having spent 90 nerve racking minutes biting my nails, it was to be another unbearable 30 mins extra time. They came closest several times but luckily, having made many blunders this season, our keeper picked a good day to play well and kept them out.

Just coming out of Wembley Park tube station… Wow!

By now the overwhelming feeling to pass out was only just avoided by the thought of how the players must be feeling in that sweltering heat. Penalty time and the silence of anticipation as the first penalty was taken by them…
SAVED by our dodgy keeper, Simonsen, and chants of “Seeeemo, Seeemo” rang around the 30,000 United fans.
Unfortunately we failed to score some of ours and the pressure was well and truly on as it came down to the keepers taking penalties against each other. Their keeper struck it well and scored, leaving Simonsen to score or be condemned to stay in League 1 forever (slight exaggeration)…

Inside Wembley Stadium – pre match

As he approached the ball, that ‘everything in slow motion’ feeling came over everyone at the ground and we watched the ball fly high into the top of the stand, miles over the bar…like watching the entire season fly away in one fell swoop. I guess it’s all to be expected and comes with the territory when supporting a football team.

How ironic that the goalkeeper that kept us in the game for better part of 130 minutes was the player who took the ‘stray’ kick that resulted in the inevitable second season in League One. Poor lad.

What (another) tough day to be a goalkeeper…for Sheffield United. 

Oh well, always next year…

Well done to Huddersfield Town on gaining promotion to the Championship and I can only hope they beat Sheffield Wednesday next season.

Categories: About me, Football, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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