Just showing off really – Year 8 Guerrilla Geography

I took 27 motivated Year 8s today into town to do some Mission explore inspired geography. I cheated a bit really by asking year 8 teachers to nominate 5 girls a class on the criteria “Who has been working really well in your lessons over the last couple of months?”, so we had some even better than usual pupils with us. Then I cheated some more by repeating a day i had run with year 10. and that was a cheat in itself because I had stolen the idea from guerrilla geography specialists – www.missionexplore.net  and their great idea for a guerrilla geography day  on gender representation.

So really I have nothing to tell you about top tips for field trips or geography teaching.

Then, even better I got the pupils to do all the work. I sent them off for and hour and a half to collect photos and video clips of how men and women are represented in our town centre. We walked back to school and then I said they had 2 and a half hours to turn their images and clips into videos using the ipads. And then I left them to it. Here is what they produced in no particular order …… If you want to leave any comment on their video to encourage them further , that would be lovely…….





my first ever Teachmeet

I have been meaning to go to one for ages, but you know, pressures of work, young family, tiredness, football on the telly that night…..

So I was  pleased with myself and high on anticipation as I drove along the M27 to the 2nd ever TMPompey, held 100 yards from HMS Victory at Action Stations. There were over a 100 there and quite a few 2 and 7 minute presentations lined up. I was wary of all these keen young teachers (maybe I should be SLT or a “stuck in my way” kinda teacher at this stage of my career) with their new snazzy ideas, because I recall when I first joined twitter and made the mistake of thinking I should be trying every new idea and philosophy going. I just ended up tired and didn’t see anything through (apart from there is still a dose of SOLO in my lesson). Would tonight be the same?

Well no. There was no superiority going down. There didn’t seem to be any hierarchy. The order of presentations was decided by one of those random name generators I have never got round to using in class and so there wasn’t a support-and-headline act type feel to the evening.

No one mentioned the ‘O’ word. This was simply teachers sharing stuff they were enthusiastic about and would recommend for others. People spoke and showed. the aim was collaboration and sharing; not trying to outdo and compete with others. This, more than the ideas themselves, is what I found refreshing and rewarding about the session. Too often we have allowed ourselves to over-worry about getting a higher % of A* to C passes than last year, than the rest of the department, than that other department, than the school across town. Teaching shouldn’t work like that. Learning isn’t measurable, it is too ‘messy’ (description stolen from Tait Coles) and comparisons and tables and competitions are meaningless anyway.

This approach and philosophy is what i would love to see more of. Where good practice is shared, not to gain more outstanding lesson observations and tick the boxes on your appraisal form about pass rates, but instead because a good idea shared develops exponential powers over a good idea withheld. Maybe next time I might even find one of mine I could pass around…….

South West Digital Educators Conference Plymouth


I am proud to be presenting one of the workshops on 3rd July.

IF YOU HAVE ANY COMMENTS ON MY PRESENTATION I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE IT. it is the first I’ve I have done nothing like that.

i am attaching here the information sheet and the powerpoint presentation from my workshop should you wish to refer back to either of them

Information sheet – addresses etc

Plymouth presentation

The instructions given to pupils on the day itself are on my other blog and can be found by clicking here

Microsoft Partners in Learning (Reading) 2011

This is a story and about INSPIRATION and NETWORKING

I am a teacher. I like signing up for free stuff. My CPD purse holder at school is the same and so when I asked to go on a full day course she wasn’t really listening. When I said it was free she started paying attention. So  I filled in the planned absence form, got it signed, set the cover the day before and battled through some packed and ugly rush hour traffic to attend the evening meeting before and the main event (#itmeet and #mspiluk2011 as twitter called them).

Firstly I have to say that I am not sure this will be a structured piece of writing. Since I met SO MANY people with great things to share and I had the time and opportunity to speak to so many of them too, I will probably not include them all letalone put it all in a logical order.

I arrived at the #itmeet not knowing anyone there. Within 5 minutes I was talking to one of this year’s award winners; I hadn’t realised there were 9 more in the room. As a build up for the next day the meeting was a great success, the food was delicious (I can highly recommend the Royal Tandoori in central Reading) and the informal chat exciting. But the best thing was that I started meeting inspiring and approachable teachers. People doing the same job as me under the same time and money constraints, under the same curriculum and SLT pressures as I face every day. Yet they had all produced some excellent ideas that were working in their classrooms. They weren’t trying to sell me something or force some brand idea on me it was simply outstanding practice being done in ordinary schools for typical students by hard working and talented teachers; the inspiration was starting.

And so was the networking. Over the next 24 hours I was to meet people I was already in twitter contact with and I was to meet many many more who I am now following and who are also following me I am sure that this facet will be the one that does my professional practice the best in the long run. It is a  whole other post to describe the effects twitter has had on my teaching and thinking and indeed many others have already written more intelligently than I could about it.

So for now I will talk about the inspiration

the first person I talked to at the #itmeet  was Glyn Rogers one of the 10uk award winners. And he was a geographer with a great idea using photosynth. He set up a 3D picture of his room packed full of clues to a mystery about Global warming for KS3. From the outset I was meeting people doing incredible stuff in their classroom. You can access his photo at the bottom of this school web page

Then I listened to Dave Rogers (@DavidERogers)talk about the mobile school policy he had got his pupils to write. I really liked the guerilla nature to this policy writing (more on Guerillas in a bit) . He has kindly posted his presentation here

Then I also got to listen and talk to Julia Skinner (@theheadsoffice) . Her 100 word challenge (#100wc on twitter) is already developing into a big hit and I can see me using it with a Y10 group later in 2012

Even more exciting was two student teachers from Plymouth. To hear such thoughtful practitioners talk so well about blogging and networking through twitter was an inspiration. The older ones in the crowd (yes me) were all commenting on how we felt the profession was safe in the hands of young professionals like this. Please check their new blogs out here and here. you can follow them on twitter too (@trainieteacher and @kforeilly)

And ALL this before the actual day itself at microsoft!!

The key speakers (@olliebray @ian_livingstone and @alexbellos) were all good but i wasnt there to hear key speakers i was there to hear AND SPEAK TO) teachers. Therefore I made sure I spoke to some of the other award winners during the day and went to workshops that would hopefully result in me having something else to help my students learn

And I certainly found that!!

First I spoke to Emma Dawson (@squiggle7) who did some fab things with www.missionexplore.net with her Y4’s. now this is just what I wanted to hear, because I signed up to this website and promised i would do something with them, but never quite got round to doing it; you know term time pressure, reports, marking, SLT lesson inspections, meetings, all that sort of thing all got in the way. But Emma had side stepped this sort of thing and because she has done it I now have the motviation to do the same myself. Her blog is here I also went to @ravenellison and @geoblogs @missionexplore presentation where I met @tonyparkin. we had a great chat after all about guerrilla education and how to spread the word. I hope I can help gents I hope I can.

I also talked to one of the many Saltash community (@boothmank) who is doing some excellent stuff inspiring ICT in History. She blogs here Please look up her work with H.I.T squad I really liked the ‘motivating pupils’ part of this work. Though for Geography it loses something in the translation (GIT squad anyone?) I also listened with great interest to the social network in schools thoughts of  the deputy head @chickensaltash especially as I am trying to get my geography department facebook page up and active at the moment. And in the spirit of the day I was able to chat to Mr. Chicken after and ask him where to go next.

One other workshop I went to was the reassuringly simple skype in the classroom one (@skypeclassroom and http://education.skype.com/) I have signed up already and will be searching out the network of 19, 000 teachers as soon as I can. And it is free 🙂

The final workshop I attended has really pleased my 10 y.o. son because I have already downloaded kodu onto my home laptop and started to create worlds in preparation for a course I am teaching in January. @geekynicki gave a great presentation and I am sure I will be using this programme in my lessons in the near future even if at the moment i only have a kodu who bumps into tress and says ‘ouch’

To me #mspiluk2011 was a real jolt to my practice. It made me think. It got me excited, engaged, and thinking. I made new teaching friends and I met many many twitter friends and I am sure I will be using many new tools to get my pupils excited, engaged and thinking in my lessons too.

I hope to meet you all again next year. This final link is for the Microsoft partners in learning website