Archive for March, 2013

Reflections on #tmbrum

Last night I attended the brilliant teachmeet at John Henry Newman Catholic College.  It was a bit of a journey from South Wales but I was really keen to hear about the work people were doing on Co construction and student leadership.  I was not disappointed.

A great range of presentations that were both inspiring and extremely informative.

Kevin Bartle (@kevbartle) opened up with his keynote on the student trojan mice.  A great concept that discusses the need to create true student leadership in the classroom and not hand over leadership from a top down approach.  The key thing I took from it was the butterfly effect idea that starting of a small idea and allowing it to spread was a lot more powerful than telling people what to do.

In order for true leadership to happen it needed to be truly student led, in the classroom and beyond.

Darren Turner then followed this with a talk about culture and climate and how to facilitate change.  the key thing here for me was that too often we use check-lists to see what we are doing or not doing and if the tick goes in the box then we feel in some way that we have done a good job.  What we miss is whether we do that thing well, does it have an impact and actually bring about a change?  It was about this point there was a bit of honking and talk of geese, all relevant but definitely a ‘had to be there’ moment.  In order for change to happen you needed lots of positive feedback, this would then encourage people to continue in the direction they are travelling and even if there is some negative energy thrown from those that resist change, at east there is a dialogue to help assist the change.  the notion of encouragement through feedback was not just to students but also staff and with any change in culture it is needed in order to keep people wanting to make the extra discretionary effort.  The end quote from a sportsman really rang true about how you create a collective movement.

“We want the players(teachers and students) to be responsible for their own games, (actions) and for the decisions they take out on the pitch, (classroom) so that when we win (reach our goals), it’s not about the Captain (Principle) or the Coach (Senior Management Team)  The more responsibility and accountability taken by the players (staff and students) the healthier it is for the team (whole school)”

We then moved into a break out session where we discussed these concepts, this was really useful to just discuss what we think about student leadership and what it looks like.  made me realsie what sort of student leadership I currently do through the use of blogs and Edmodo.

On to the main event and the presentations

David Hyner spoke about memory stacking.  ironically i remember a lot of his presentation because it was fun and silly.  It was a presentation on how we can help our memories by making things fun and silly.  Easy stuff really.  We were asked about our memory and the hitting bit was where he spoke about how education almost breeds mediocrity.

Three things will help with memory as they impact on the amigdala, scary, silly and sexy (love)  If you make the things we teach memorable ten they will be remembered.  the use of memory stacking is a fairly simple process of imagining or drawing silly images.  It does work as he proved to all of us in the hall.

Ben Stanley @trilby spoke about creating apps in the classroom, I have done a bit of this through and it is part of a current project with my Y10 BTEC class in Sport.  he demonstrated the use of app creator apps to help storyboards of what an app might look like.  Simply sketching things out and then using the app to take pictures of each page and how you would navigate around it.  Really engaging and would easily encourage creativity.

The digital leaders really stole the show for me and yet again proved that this form of student leadership shows the true potential of students.  They spoke with such passion about what they did and how being a digital leader had developed their confidence and skills.  They talked about the projects they had done from leading in the classroom, training staff, helping local primary schools and to running assemblies, as well a sthe work they had done to help set up this event.

Jon Bridgeman then selivewred a presentation on effective feedback. 80% of feedback received is from peers and 80% of that is inaccurate.  It is clear that to answer this we need to help structure the feedback to make it have impact. He discuseed Public Critique, that to give feedback effectively you follow simple rules.

Kind, make the feedback about the work not the person.

Specific, it should explain why it is good or why they like it.

Helpful, it should actually bring about a change to the outcome.

If students follow these steps (and it is useful to actually teach them using examples) then they can benefit from the peer feedback.  Jon used Austins Butterfly as an example to illustrate this.  A child who turned a fairly abstract picture of a butterfly into a quite impressive version just through peer feedback.

Tom Warrander @TheHGPig then presented on his work around classroommedics and the great stuff he was doing. He has a website where there is a whole host of information about science and medicine that can be used to help motivate, inspire and inform students about loads of different things.  I will definitely be using the ideas around sports hall science.

All in it was a great evening with some truly inspirational presentations.  It is really nice to see people with the same educational philosophy as I have and hear what they are doing about it in their schools.  The idea that education is more than just chasing the sheep grades B A A*(my favourite animal reference from the night amongst the goose and butterfly) that we are meant to be developing the whole child not just getting them qualifications like a conveyor belt.


Started up a lunch time club today to specifically look at numeracy through sport. I have been really thinking about how I can make an impact on this as it is an area in our school that needs attention. The maths dept do a fantastic job in delivering the curriculum but teachers of all subjects can really help with the application.
Over the last month or so I have tried to create some numeracy in PE resources to help this and have tried things in my lessons with good results (not saying I have taught them anything new about maths but hopefully given them an opportunity to see the relevance).
On the back of a quite successful session with my BTEC students teaching layups in basketball but also using percentages to get them to track their progress, I decided to branch out a little and set up a club to enable me to impact on students that I don’t teach.
This Friday saw the launch of my numeracy in PE club, small beginnings but all part of the marginal gains that might help on the long run. Only a handful of students showed up and the session was all about free throws on basketball. They were given the challenge which was to get as many shots in out of 10 attempts. Once complete they had to work out their percentage (I must admit that though this sounds easy it was not a simple task for some). Once the initial round was over they were told they could try again but in order to get a score on the leader board they needed to work out their average, again, not a straight forward task for some.

This will be continued for a few weeks to really embed the numeracy so they can simply work them out, obviously they should improve their free throws as well (and me too!)
Obviously the more attempts they take the working out changes too.
The general feeling in the group was really good, they were happy to try working out the maths and we spent some time discussing why it was important in basketball to know percentages. That coaches would select players based on stats and players used stats to set targets to improve. Hopefully the awareness of the importance of numeracy will build from this

The idea is to build the number of students up that are attending and to change the challenges but keep sport as the central theme, possibly changing sports to attract different students.

A few weeks ago @ictevangelist put out a tweet to compile a list of useful apps that teachers were using.  He used Padlet as the tool to collect all of the information.

After adding to it I got thinking about how it could be used in teaching to help students with sharing ideas.  This led into a Post 16 meeting where we discussed lots of ideas to help in delivering outstanding sessions.  One of these ideas was a table-cloth where students wrote down their learning and added to it over a period of time to track learning.

Being a bit of a self-confessed geek I instantly thought that this great idea could be made digital, especially as I rarely teach in the same classroom in succession.

So 2 + 2 equaled using Padlet to create the sane thing in a portable, sharable version.

So today I tried it out with my Y11 session, I created a simple wall with some instructions on it for the students to follow.  Shared this via Edmodo so they all had a link to it and so it could be accessed anytime.

The outcome was really positive, I displayed my iPad screen on to the projector and as students accessed the wall and added their points it quickly grew to a whole page of thoughts and ideas that in turn led to some really good discussion.

The idea now is to refer back to this as we move through the topic to check our learning and to track our progress.  The students can also use it as a revision tool as the wall builds.

Other uses that I plan are for using as a ‘stuck’ board, students to post questions on if they are finding a topic difficult.  Anyone in the group can then post an answer to their question.  This concept being based on an idea from @MissJLud

Setting up a wall is really easy.  Sign up for an account and then add a new wall.  you can add a title and description by selecting the settings tool on the right.  You can change the background to the wall and then you are away.  In the settings tab there is a link option where you can get the URL address for the wall which can then be shared however you see fit.  Personally i use Edmodo as it is how we share other work in my groups but twitter or simple email will work just as well.  To add a post, students just double-click anywhere on the wall.  They need to add their name and a subject, then their text.  There are also options to add links to the internet or files from your own system.  The other great thing about it is that it does work really well on different platforms.  Students today used iPhones, iPads and Android devices to contribute.

Try it out, it’s really simple and FREE


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