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New You Tube Channel

I have finally got myself on You Tube.

Check out my Teach-meet presentation at Bett 2014.

 

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#dojochatEU

Just finished moderating my first live web chat. Storify via @jenna_kleine

ClassDojo

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Springing into Action

This post is dedicated to the inspiring, wonderfully creative @bevevans22, who sadly passed away last month. I was fortunate enough to have met Bev on a few occasions over the past couple of years since embracing the world of Twitter and was always impressed by her warmth and creativity. For many teachers, they may not know her name, but they will have a Bev Evans resource somewhere in their classroom. Bev’s legacy can  be judged through countless downloads of the free resources she uploaded to the TES SEN site. That said,  it’s her dedication and commitment to improving the lives of children that will be remembered most.

The impact that Bev had on the world of education encourages me to continue to be creative and innovative through my own practice.
Recently, I have asked my Y1 children to demonstrate their creativity through topic lessons. In a recent music session, I introduced them to a website called ‘Incredibox‘, whereby they got to compose their own song through assembling various sounds. By using Incredibox to maintain a steady background beat, we built on it and composed a variation of a well know farm-themed song. Visit the Bowling Park Primary website to listen to the final composition and to view our iPad art based on the work of David Hockney.

As Spring is well and truly here, I thought it an appropriate moment to take time to reflect on the first months of 2014. As my theme for the year is ‘change’, I was inspired by various people at #EdShow14 in Birmingham last month. As I walked up and down the aisles, I saw so many innovative products, ideas and people, which further inspire me to make a difference in the lives of children. I enjoyed learning about the latest news from #BETT award winners @Showmyhomework, catching up with @chrisrat on the @scholastic stand and listening to the ever inspiring @stevebunce demonstrating just how easy the Computing Curriculum can be.

Bradford have had different holiday times to other authorities, which has meant that I have enjoyed this past week considering what the Summer Term might look like for children in my class. Discussions with fellow educators has led me to consider developing the idea of #DigitalLeaders and @OpenBadges. Watch this space…

Making the most of my alternative week off, I took myself down to London for some rest and relaxation, beginning my trip with a lovely catch up at South Bank for #pizzaed. Many folk attended including @mberry, @digitalmaverick, @gillbudgell, @dawnhallybone to name a few. It was here that I learned more about how Mary Farmer @ebd35 has been using technology in her school and about the insightful work that @oliverquinlan is doing at @nesta_uk. Special thanks go to @andreacarr1 for organising the event.
From one lovely evening to another, other meet-ups included a good old chat with @tonyparkin about the wonderful city of #York and @jachapman82 and her brand new blog which can be found at hiaragirlpower.blogspot.com.

And so, full of the joys of spring after a lovely break, I look ahead to this week and seeing the smiling faces of my Y1’s tomorrow morning. Let’s hope that they too have had a fantastic holiday and are ready to spring into action from 8:45am…

 

 

 

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Hour of Code

Well it would seem that I have missed out February’s post, however a busy month has left me with lots to talk about.

Firstly, what a treat to have had the half term break. I’m sure most teachers would agree that it had been a tiring start to the new year and a nice long sleep was just what was needed. During the holiday, I spent time analysing my class’ most recent phonics screening check scores (as talked about at #TMBETT14) and they had once again made progress. By continuing to use an alien theme and link to @classdojo, the children are as enthused as ever about beating their last score and making progress.

A risk assessment visit to the Deep and a parking ticket later, I found myself at the #EICE conference in Manchester. As the tag line had been ‘Education Innovation’, it seemed a good place to visit. Albeit, a seemingly smaller version of #BETT, it allowed the exhibitors more time to talk to delegates. I am greatful to @janharrison21 of @Naace for taking the time to help me with some ideas around technology and forward thinking and @timrylands for sharing yet more useful resources during his presentation. My highlight, however, was a lengthy chat with @triches about the potential for using @openbadges within school. I have started to look at this idea and I’m excited to see what happens next.

The first week back at school coincided with the #hourofcode week. Being keen to start coding with my Y1’s, I used our hall time to ‘program’ a simple robot – me!
Having previously shown the class @Baggiepr‘s brilliant ‘Program your teacher to make a jam sandwich‘ video, they set about trying to instruct the robot to walk from one side of the hall to the other, overcoming obstacles along the way. This was promptly followed by half an hour back in class trying to write or draw directions and ‘code’ to make an Angry Bird get the green pig. Finally, we used the demo games on the Espresso Coding website and made our own aquarium. Watch the slideshow at www.bowlingparkprimary.net!

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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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Blapp Snapp

After a long but productive first term back at school, it is my turn to write about apps that have worked in my classroom as part of @ideas_factory’s #BlappSnapp.

As our topic was entitled ‘In Our Dreams’, the literacy focus was around stories. This encompassed taking note of settings, characters and story structures with teaching points of adjectives and connectives throughout.

Within the first few weeks, children were introduced to Puppet Pals, which they very quickly began to use independently. Example at http://www.year1.bowlingparkprimary.net

Another great app for developing an understanding of sentence structure is Clicker (although a little pricey). It helped my Y1’s to see how to use capital letters and full stops without the worry of the physicality of writing it down.

In maths, we have been learning about a range of concepts, particularly around number. The Special Numbers app has been a popular choice. Strangely, ‘Brushes’ has been a way of recording work, for example number sentences, and the boys especially have got into it purely because it was on an ipad.

Finally, the whole topic came to an end and the final outcome was to produce a film of the various traditional tales we had studied.

The whole year group used ‘iMovie’ with excellent results! Each class took one story and recorded on ‘iMovie’, then an adult used Movie Maker to put the whole thing together. View it on the Bowling Park website.

I hope this is useful and I will update with more apps as I find them to be useful.

Happy Holidays everyone, much deserved I’m sure!

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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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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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You can if you think you can…

Summer holidays, a new school year and a new class have indeed kept me busy enough, so much so that it has been rather a while since my last post.

Since returning to school, I have been invited to run the Bradford 10K on 2nd December. Yes, it may be cold. Yes, I had never run a race before in my life and yes, I am actually very unfit! Little did that matter when I signed my name on the paper – well it is to raise money for charity after all. In addition, fellow colleagues (including ‘The Boss’) are running and my pride is at stake!

Without further ado, I decided that I needed to stop being lazy and ‘get fit’. Bored of the gym and unable to afford the fancy prices, I signed up for Comando-Fit or ‘Boot Camp’ as I call it. Although the idea did not appeal at first, a friend roped me in and now I am hooked! Each Thursday after work, I turn up at Roberts Park in Saltaire and don the dreaded red vest (this is for the people who class themselves as ‘unfit’). Our instructor barks orders and motivates much more than any gym session; going with a mate definitely adds to the fun. The fact that there are lots of people there who are fitter, encourages me further as the ‘Blues’ (Intermediate) and ‘Greens’ (Super Fit) do twice the amount of press ups, sit up etc…

Needless to say, ‘Boot Camp’ alone would not be enough to prepare me for my ‘couch to 10K’ transformation, so I have been going for a run each Sunday too. This in itself is no mean feat. I quickly realised that the physical side is only the half of it. Pacing my run and having the mental stamina is the real battle’. I have to keep going even when my legs hurt and my brain is telling me to stop.

I can only hope that on the day of the run itself, I will have done enough to finish the race and do myself and my school proud.

If the Bradford Run brings children and parents from school into the city centre, it will be all the more worthwhile as regards bringing the community of West Bowing into the city centre. This is especially important as Bradford has the new City Park, which is a communal area in which people can congregate and enjoy what the city has to offer. I have enjoyed many an afternoon there myself over the summer and would encourage people to visit. For more info about Bradford and the City Park see @HiddenBradford, @CityParkBD, @Bradfordmcd and @BradfordRun2012 on Twitter or www. Yorkshire.com

 

All this reflects our school motto and indeed a saying which I have begun to apply to life….

‘You can if you think you can!’

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