Posts Tagged With: School

#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

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:

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.”

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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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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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Too Fast … but not so Furious

It seems like, and probably is, an eternity since my last post. Such is the hectic life of a teacher in the last half term of the school year. Frantically planning, assessing, writing reports, oh… and …I almost forgot…TEACHING! The demands during Summer Term 2 are always the same and just as hectic as last year. However, I am somewhat satisfied with the achievement of having ‘gotten it all finished’ and now have the chance to enjoy the last few weeks with my class. Phew!

However, I must confess, in and amongst this busy term, I have managed to have some fun too.

Ferrari Thrill

On the theme of this fast-paced term, a few Saturdays ago, I made the trip down to Silverstone for a Driving Thrill experience. What a thrill it was, driving at 130mph around the track in a Ferrari Modena with the instructor shouting “Break!” and the uncertainty of whether the car would actually avoid hurtling into the concrete wall by the pit lane. What made it all the more exciting was the fact that I was driving on the same tarmac as Lewis (Hamilton) and Jenson (Button). For the Formula One fans out there, I can now say “I drove down the Hangar Straight,” not that I had a clue which part of the circuit I was on, adrenaline pumping. Rather, I was too busy concentrating on ‘Gas’, ‘Break’, ‘Left’ and ‘Right’, in an attempt to avoid a collision!


As if that was not thrilling enough, the day was followed by a trip to Manchester City’s football ground on the Sunday evening to see Coldplay. The Etihad stadium itself was quite impressive inside and made for a fabulous atmosphere. After support acts Rita Ora and Robyn, both of whom were crowd pleasers …hey, I even knew a couple of songs from each of them…the crowd waited eagerly for the main act. I would not have said Coldplay were my favourite band, or even listed them in ‘bands I like’ but thought I’d go along as I knew some songs. I can honestly say it was the best gig I have ever been to for showmanship and audience participation. They started the show in a way which I have only ever seen bands end shows with and I was intrigued to see whether they would maintain that level of excitement throughout the show. I was not disappointed and the £50 ticket cost seemed good value for money. It even included a free souvenir wrist band, which was part of the show and looked spectacular when 60,000 of them lit up the stadium. WOW!

My Likkle Bro’s Birthday

Later this week, it was my ‘little’ brother’s 18th birthday. As he will always be my little brother, I couldn’t believe he was 18 already. How time has flown by. I swiftly cast my mind back to the day he was born. At 8 years old, I remembered having being in Wales on the day with my grandparents, their dog and my little sister. We had visited family in Wrexham and arrived home to Sheffield to find mum and dad’s car missing. Not needing to have a degree in rocket science to work it out, we drove to the hospital to find that my sister and I now had a little brother too. Ah!
His party was interesting in that I realised just how popular he is and it was even funnier to see lots of newly-turned-18 year olds guzzling down the cheap lager. Bless. As I looked around the room, I suddenly began to feel rather old and I’m only 26! Golly gosh, how much you grow up in your early 20’s.

Football, the 1960’s and Father’s Day

Having been in a football stadium for Coldplay, I thought I’d go and watch some real football the following weekend. Standing in the rain with the other spectators, I watched members of Evolve play a full game on a large Astroturf pitch for Graham @projectheroman Morgan’s birthday. Players ranged in age from 20 something – 60 something; the players showed different degrees of fitness and ability, but all resolved to endure the full 90 minutes. Silky skills could be seen from all including Des Hamilton, ex- of Newcastle United and Bradford City fame. Unfortunately, not all players were successful in avoiding injury as @brynll fractured his wrist, which gradually got more painful as the day went on and resulted in a trip to BRI hospital the next day.
Deana Morgan had clearly spent a long time making preparations and organising a fantastic birthday weekend and I was happy to attend, in my 60s Retro Gear. Whilst there, I met the ‘groovy’ and ‘with-it in-crowd’, including John Bishop, Damon Fox, Phil Wagner and the Bulletman himself, Paul Kerfoot.

Having boogied the night away, I awoke on Father’s Day with excitement as I was to visit my parent’s house. An hour later down the M1, I was able to give my card (and a hug / present) to my dad. It’s funny how commercial these things are and yet this year, it didn’t bother me as much as it was a welcome opportunity to see my family. This is a rarity these days and something I endeavour to do more of.

London: Early Years 2012 and Lilac Sky

By now the urgent need to write a class set of reports was screaming down my ear and bashing me round the head to get started. Not to worry, as I made a good start and even, optimistically, took my laptop down on the train to London for the Early Years 2012 conference. I should have realised that the chance to work would have been limited as it was a very busy two days.
Key speakers included Sarah Teather, Sue Robb and Graham Allen, with the event chaired by Dame Clare Tickell.

After an exciting week back at school learning about bats and even a trip to Hardcastle Crags in Hebden Bridge to see where bats live, I made it through to Friday and a another day of report writing. Having made good progress in this, I was treated to an invitation to the Lilac Sky teaching awards at the Barbican Centre in London.

For more information on these events, visit the post on my blog entitled ‘The Early Years 2012 Conference and Lilac Sky Education Awards’.

London: The Bank of England, Greenwich Festival and Radio 1 Hackney Weekend

I was extremely lucky enough to bag myself a ticket to the Radio 1 Hackney music festival last weekend. Having only been able to get a Sunday ticket, I spent Saturday mainly report writing but managed to squeeze in a visit to the Bank of England. As it is only open 1 day a year for tours around the bank, I thought I would pop along and see what it is like inside. I learnt about various things, dating right back to Roman times and enjoyed the guided tour.
After some much needed tea, it was off to Roman Road to see part of the Greenwich Festival. I was impressed as 5 large-scale insects paraded along the road, being followed by many people who had come to view. These insects were made from various materials and powered along by performers pedalling them down the road. Some even had smoke machines fitted, making people scream as a giant grasshopper reached up as tall as a 2 story building to peep inside the window.

A drive to the delights of Hackney Marshes, I endured the long wait to get through security and finally entered the main area. As I walked through the inevitable muddy field, I could hear the sounds of Plan B blaring out, which made me walk by and explore what else was on offer. There were 5 stages, each housing a whole host of artists, which I tended to keep checking in on to see whether I fancied hanging around to listen to or not. The many food stalls made me feel hungry and the porta-loos were adequate but not as luxurious as the ones at #camped12 back in May.

I eventually decided on listening to Jessie J, B.O.B, Azealia Banks, Tinie Tempah, Taio Cruz, Lana Del Ray, Florence and the Machine, Dizzee Rascal, David Guetta, Chase and Status and Rihanna, who also brought on stage Jay-Z….all for the booking fee of a mere £2.50. Absolute bargain!


All caught up and back to normality, I intend to make the most of the next few weeks, enjoying my current class, sorting stuff for next year’s class and Transition Day. After all the typing of reports, I have struggled to put finger to keyboard to even type this and my hands are somewhat tired. So there you have the last 4 weeks of my life as they have sped by as fast as a Ferrari, evaporated into happy memories…frantic, fun and fruitful but by no means furious.

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

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