Posts Tagged With: learning

#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

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 .

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!

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

Sports Personality of the Year 2012, the Gold Rush and the Olympic Legacy

Can I do it? Yes I can!

Since my last post about running, I have successfully managed to run 10K  and help our school team of runners raise £758 (and counting) for Teenage Cancer Trust! Little did I think 3 months ago that I would be able to do it and yet there I was, jubilant that I had achieved the (personal) impossible dream!


Watching Sports Personality of the Year (#SP12), it came as no surprise to see that no less that 8 Olympians and 3 Paralympians were nominated for the award, creating a difficult dilemma for the voting British public.

The programme allowed me opportunity to reflect on a summer of unity and patriotism.


The London Olympic Games 2012

 Reminiscing about watching the Opening Ceremony on a big screen in GreenwichPark, I and many others had been sceptical that our ceremony would not better that of Bejing four years ago. However, to my surprise, Danny Boyle did not even attempt to better the CGI effects and precision dancing of China. Instead, rather fittingly, he gave a show of tongue-in-cheek, slap-stick, British humour…Bravo!

Naturally, one of the main talking points was that of saving our NHS; comments were made, people sniggered to themselves and a sense of unity appeared to sweep the country.

And so the games had begun!

I was optimistic enough to hope that Mark Cavendish might win the Men’s Road Race…Team GB’s first chance of a medal. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be but, on a personal note, I enjoyed the camaraderie and banter standing on Hyde Park Corner that would be ever present throughout the duration of the Games.

It was during this time that we chatted to a couple of fellow ‘Northerners’ who very kindly offered us spare tickets for the Sunday morning Hockey matches. Without any hesitation, we said ‘YES, of course’. However, it did make me feel for the thousands who were unsuccessful in obtaining ANY tickets to ANYTHING. Perhaps, a bit of luck was the only way (especially for those outside the M25).

After an early start on that first sunny Sunday morning, the hockey commenced and I was overwhelmed by the sense of occasion. I found myself surrounded by Aussie and New Zealand fans for the first match and Belgian and Netherlands fans for the second. This excitement was only added to when I found out that one of the men who gave us the tickets was himself a past Olympian and won Bronze in the Men’s Hockey GB team of 1984 in LA! With tickets to women’s basketball, women’s football, beach volleyball, sitting volleyball, Paralympics athletics finals and a couple of marathons too, I truly was a very lucky girl.

Walking around the Olympic Park itself was enough to make me beam from ear to ear all day long. Even when not in the Olympic Park, I found myself glued to TV screens in various locations including home in Bingley, Sheffield, Bradford’s City Park, Hyde Park and Victoria Park (for BT London Live). What’s more, the BT London Live events were FREE and included a whole host of live music including Blur, New Order, Scouting for Girls and my personal favourite, Newton Faulkner. People were waving Union flags, clapping and cheering, willing Team GB on (or indeed whichever country they were supporting).

People were really embracing the buzz, excitement and anticipation that seemed to be present. Entire nations were united in spirit and hope…all had Olympic Fever.


All in all, I feel honored to have witnessed a thoroughly fantastic XXX Olympiad and the Paralympic Games and feel privileged to have been part of it. The much-hyped talk of Olympic legacy included that of children across Great Britain taking the spirit of the games into their own lives. There was much discussion about the sense of fair play, team spirit, the need to try their best and aspire to be as dedicated as the athletes themselves.



Although 4 weeks of Olympic and Paralympic sporting heroism and achievement seemed to unite an entire nation, I can not help but feel a little disheartened that the proposed Olympic legacy has not been followed up as well as initially imagined. Take for example, the Premier League and the continued diving and foul play or the revelation that Lance Armstrong did in fact cheat his way to multiple victories. Is this really setting an example to school children nationwide and demonstrating ‘Olympic values’? We need to ask ourselves:

* What is the Olympic legacy supposed to be?

* How are we supposed to deliver and encourage it?

* What will the children of today aspire to be in the future when after all they ARE the future?

Mr Cameron suggested making 2 hours of PE a day a compulsory part of the school curriculum, how are we to deliver this? ‘Create more Olympians of the future’, he said. However, I don’t know many schools that have rowing and equestrian facilities to deliver this.

Surely then it is more about encouragement, nurture and celebration of the dreams and aspirations of young people. We need to instill values such as determination and hard work, teamwork, never giving up even when the chips are down, and being gracious in defeat.

Such determination in the face of adversity was demonstrated tonight as Paralympian and London 7/7 bombings survivor, Martine Wright won the Helen Rollason award at the Excel arena where many Olympic and Paralympic events had taken place in the summer.

Her story is inspirational and the way her life has changed over the last 7 years is incredible. The scenes she witnessed on that fateful day in 2005 were horrific and yet, ironically, the day after the announcement that London was successful in the bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Even in the face of adversity, she picked herself up from that life-changing experience and trained to participate in the sitting volleyball competition at the Excel Arena in the London Olympic Games 2012.

And so as Bradley Wiggins is the Sports Personality of the Year in this exceptional year for British sport, 2012, I urge us all to think of what Martine Wright said,


 “Let’s build on this legacy. Go ahead and inspire a nation.”


Categories: Education and learning, Sport | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do you think about….QUESTIONS (insert question mark here)

Since my last post, I have been a busy bee.

Firstly, and on a personal note, I was absolutely delighted to attend the match at Bramall Lane on Monday night. I watched with baited breath as Sheffield United (eventually) won the game against Stevenage 1-0. Just enough to see them go through to the League 1 play off final at Wembley on the 26th May.

Bramall Lane on Monday night vs Stevenage

School wise, this is the week where things have started to take off as regards the Reggio-based groups.
Visit to see what we have been up to. Particular highlights include one group visiting the library to do further research and a completely natural conversation between children about snails.

I particularly enjoyed mainly observing comments during Thursday night’s #ukedchat about types of questions used in schools and the impact. I feel that questions are essential within the classroom to challenge thinking and extend thoughts and ideas. I do, however, feel that the more open-ended, the better. I have changed the way I use questions this year and also used key phrases such as ‘tell me about…’ and ‘I wonder…’. They have certainly worked a treat with my Reception class.

In addition to this, I have been trying to pack for a weekend in my university city of York for a much needed catch up with friends. I am intrigued to find out how much it has changed since my last visit and I am due to find out in around 3 hours…

So with that, I better find my jeans and clean my muddy, ‘I survived CampEd12’ rucksack, and hit the road.

Have a good week and I would appreciate hearing people’s thoughts on what types of questions to use in school and the impact as it really did interest me. Hope others feel the same… 🙂

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

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