Posts Tagged With: Bowling Park

Making a Difference

‘Have a growth mind-set’. ‘You can if you think you can’. ‘Go the extra mile’. It is often talked about but what does it look like in context within schools?

In one example, at Bowling Park Primary School, the whole school promotes a ‘can do’ ethos, which is embedded through the ‘Going the Extra Mile’ or ‘GEM’ approach. Talking about future aspirations with children encourages them to push themselves, work hard and rise to challenges. This ties in very neatly with Dweck’s research about Growth mind-set.

The other week, I joined in a very thought provoking #aussieED chat about research:
* What is meant by the word research?
* Who carries it out?
* Is it really useful?

There seemed to be a difference of opinion in that some people said that research is done over a period of time and is a collection of a range of data. However, @mairinglenn made a good point about ‘drawing theory from our practice’. Whilst all points were valid and research is not solely restricted to a school environment, it does seem that ‘research’ can be collected on a daily basis when working with a class of children.

@Hywel_Roberts talks about ‘accidental learning’. “Some of the best learning takes place when, rather than imposing on young people a pre-determined curriculum, you find the stimulus that is relevant and engaging for them and build from there.” (Hywel Roberts
The other day at Queensway Primary School in Leeds, I had the pleasure of witnessing this first hand.
During a maths session, a group of Y1 children had chosen to work in the sand tray. The task was to pick numbered lollipop sticks out of the sand and compose number sentences.
However, much to the excitement of the children, a problem had arisen; there was a hole in the sand tray!

Despite observations of teachers taking place and the temptation to hush them away quickly before it caused a fuss, staff allowed the children to continue their exploration of the problem.

The level of engagement and interaction between the four children at that time was a prime example of accidental learning. Children took turns, collaborated and suggested ideas: “We need tape!”. They went through the problem solving process, measuring Sellotape to cover the crack, moving the sand away to stop the constant flow pouring onto the floor and swept the sand after borrowing the brush from Y2.
Even then, they weren’t finished as one little girl said, “We need to test it!” They put lots of sand back over the crack once the tape had been applied and refined their ideas by deciding that they would add more tape as there was still a small leak.

What had started as one thing very quickly evolved into something else, entirely child-led and with real purpose.

I was lucky enough to attend the @EducationShow in Birmingham this weekend with a fellow professional, Suzi Hunt. Special mention to @nightzookeeper as their creative writing month has generated lots of excitement for young writers, ensuring that learning continues to be almost ‘accidental’. Keep up the great work!
As I meandered up and down the aisles, collecting flyers and learning about educational products and services, it dawned on me just how many educators were prepared to give up their Saturday with a view to improving their own practice and development. All this to try to make a positive difference to the lives of the children in their respective schools!
Ideas were shared at the Teach Meet (#tmedshow15) too. Great ideas came from @gazneedle about art across the curriculum, Claire Lotriet about #proudofmyselfie and @charliedean about how she use the fabulous @classdojo for parental engagement.

Unfortunately, I missed Guy Claxton at the event on Friday. However, what he said is what I continue to see in many learners, young and wise; “School is a place where kids pick up attitudes about learning”. So let’s ensure that we model a ‘can do’ approach and inspire the future generation. After all, it all goes to show that with the right mind-set and attitude, we have the power to do anything…

Steve Jobs

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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‘!  

Categories: About me, Education and learning, Technology, Travels, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Princesses, Superheroes and the Bat Poo

Another month has passed by and the Spring Term is flying by! I had planned to write about various weekend events I have attended such as Start Up London and BETT 2013 but I thought something light-hearted for a Sunday evening was more appropriate.
It doesn’t seem like two seconds since I walked back into my classroom after the Christmas break and even in amongst snow days, we have found new games and apps to use on the I-pads. In addition, the children have thought about what they think imagination means.

Our Spring topic is ‘Let’s Imagine’ and all the children have expressed their ideas via paintings, drawings, writing and discussion. Last year, you may recall how the class of 2012’s imagination led them on a dragon hunt. This year has led to key groups being identified and classroom provision enhanced accordingly:

* Castles, dragons and princesses
* Superheroes
* Monsters

That’s not to say that monsters are exclusive to boys and princesses to girls, indeed a number of boys have donned the mermaid tail and made crowns. That said, this year’s class are more divided on the gender front than last year’s class.

I have to say that my boys in particular haven’t stopped talking since they came back and the topic has proved a powerful tool for all areas of learning. Let me explain how it is working in literacy alone.

Whilst it is important for the boys in my class to explain to the girls why Batman is better than Princess Superhero, this is only the half of it!

I had a lovely moment the other day when the class had discussed transforming the role play area into a cave (for monsters and superheroes of course). After we had gathered the materials and began construction one afternoon, the inevitable time came to go home and I (the humble facilitator) was asked to finish it over night so they could play in it first thing the following morning.

Needless to say, I spent an hour after school with duct tape and string, ensuring it was child-proof until it was ‘finished’…phew!

The very next morning, I opened the door, the children bounded past me and raced to the role play area. As I watched, smiling to myself and proud of my achievements, you can imagine the disappointment I felt when two of the boys from the Superhero Group complained, “That’s not a bat cave, it’s a bear cave maybe.” “Yeah, where’s Batman’s motorbike?”

Aghast for a moment, despite the other children’s delight that it was ready to play in, I did what any teacher would do and replied as follows:

“Well put it in writing with a detailed plan of exactly what you had in mind and we will negotiate a change.”

Of course, without further ado, both boys trotted off respectfully to get a pen and some paper and did just that!

It all shows that by following the children’s own interests, treating them as responsible citizens and independent learners, even the most boisterous boys will write!

By the end of this exciting week, it was my PPA time out of class and the cover teacher went in. I returned at home time to blue paint splattered all over my art display and clay all over the floor in the now infamous ‘cave’. When I was informed about what had happened, I couldn’t help but laugh.
You see, the culprits of the mess had a perfectly justifiable reason as ‘the blue is what colour Batman has in his house and the clay is the BAT POO!’

Who says creativity is dying in schools?

I wonder where our imagination will take us this week…

For the latest exciting news from Bowling Park Primary, visit

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