Skip to main content

Inspirational learning starts with a blank page…


I am very fortunate to be able to work with trainee teachers and be involved with staff development from time to time.  One of the main points of our Microsoft Tools presentation at the recent Geographical Association Conference is that truly inspirational, creative, effective learning stems from starting with a blank page.  In my opinion, nothing great ever came from starting with a blank PowerPoint, Google presentation, Keynote or Prezi.  The image to the right shows some of my thinking behind Priory Geography’s first meeting in the start of this Academic year.

The main reason for this is that great learning experiences start with sound, contextualised learning objectives rather than resources.  Resource the learning rather than match learning objectives to resources.

This page, some of the planning behind the award winning volcano study pack. In fact they are the field study notes written while in Iceland.


I like using Moleskin notebooks and honestly prefer to think using them over anything electronic. The latest replacement is a rather nifty limited edition Star Wars design.


It has lots of blank pages.  Time to get creative, naughty, inspired, sorted.

photo (1)

Is it wrong that I have goose bumps thinking about it?


  1. I think it depends on the person and what motivates them. A recent colleague of mine would always prefer to work at a table with everything to hand, spread out, only using the computer when necessary. I, on the other hand, prefer to work with an iPad or computer (with appropriate tools) as I find myself organising my thoughts (and self) better this way. I worry that I may lose or destroy a physical notebook, but happier knowing that my electronic notebook (notability app) is backed up. I do now recognise that different people will work in different ways.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I think that we are in agreement that different approaches work for different people. This post is, as always, a personal reflection and opinion.

    However, I would say that I'd consider starting with a blank note taking or mondmapping app the same as starting with a physical peice of paper ;-) The main point I wished to achieve was that great learning experiences start with the tools for planning rather than the process of lesson resource creation.

    I guess I've seen too many lessons thr have activities with no clear link to learning objectives or outcomes.

    Best wishes

    David :-)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic. Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless. As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold: 1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and 2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making. The role of