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 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 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


Blogging for Teachers

On 1st December I am leading a CPD session within school on blogging. To be honest i am a bit nervous. I have never done this sort of thing before and my knowldge of blogging is related only to wordpress and only to me doing the blogging. I have yet to get my students blogging.

Therefore if you are reading this and have any suggestions as to what I should do (or not do) during the session I would appreciate your comments

I thought i would split the session which is only 75 minutes long into two simple parts:

  1. introduction: Why blog?
  2. Start your own blog
  3. er.. that’s it

I am running a second session in 7 months so i thought that those who have taken to blogging from next week’s group could all meet up again.

Part 1: Introduction

This will involve briefly looking at bloggin, referring to the list of education blogs i have gathers on the other page of this blog and seeing what i have done with and to a much lesser extent with this blog as well.

Then I want to look at the advantages of blogging. I met two BEd teachers from Plymouth Uni a the microsoft partners in learning forum and they presented intelligently and thoughtfully at the #itmeet the evening before on this very topic. So why re-invent the wheel? Here is their  blog on the matter.

That covers what blogs are and why to blog.

Starting your own blog

Since I dont know a lot about blogging and have not taught anyone about it before I will do what any self respecting teacher would do and copy somone else’s lesson plans. So I will show the wordpress support pages on getting started and let the session flow from there.

Also because I am running the another session in June I can ask people who have taken to blogging between now and then to come back and we can compare progress.

Finally here is the content of the welcome email i sent to staff who have signed up:

Thank you very much for choosing to come to this session. My main aim is that you will leave HAVING STARTED YOUR OWN BLOG

Since the only blogging I have done is through our time will be spent around using this site. However other blogging hosts are available only not between 11.30 and 12.45 in room 9 next Thursday.

Before the session

Obviously this is completely voluntary but if you want to get a head start I would recommend

  • looking at the wordpress support page and clicking on ‘getting started’
  • thinking about what you would like to blog about  – this could be education but of course it could be about anything
  • you could even start up and register your blog before the day and write your first post
  • If you just want to have a look at blogging in general you could look at the search page on wordpress and type in what you are interested in to find someone’s thoughts on the matter (you could even write a comment on their post!)
  • I have collected a list of education blogs on one of my pages. Click here to look at this list
  • I have run this geography blog for a while now so if you wish to see how this has developed then have a read and look at that
  • Recently I have started a blog for other teachers and for my own professional development please read this if you wish and comment on any of my posts and add in your own opinions if you wish. Click here I am at the moment writing a post about this very CPD session so if its finished you could read that one