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Showing posts from March, 2010

Mission:Explore has landed!

Very excited to say that the Geography Collective's new book - Mission:Explore has arrived! Come and have a chat to me if you'd like to know more. It's essential reading for the young and young at heart :-)

Life in a 21st Century school – what our pupils think

A while ago now I read The Fourth Way . In it, I found a passage that I really identified with.  Sometimes, the focus is on technology and not learning, but a 21st Century school should also develop virtues such as compassion, courage, sacrifice, long-term commitment, service and perseverance. During our work facilitated by a 21st Century Learning Alliance Fellowship, we have been asking pupils what they’d like at school.  One, somewhat surprising, wish was that the new school combined technology and traditional methods.  These included outdoor learning opportunities, physical books and a library and arts space. It was clear from our findings (which asked the opinions of around 10% of the school’s population) that young people do not want technology for the sake of it.  They also want to be able to have a control over the technology that they do use.  The rationale for this was that often teachers use tools that do not stretch their thinking. This also links to some evidence pre

I want to break free! Expanding geography’s influence.

This time next week I should be packed ready for the Geographical Association’s Annual Conference in Derby.  I’m involved in a few sessions, one of which is the title of this post. From the conference programme : 17.20-18.10 - I want to break free! Expanding geography's influence. Workshop 22 - KS3-4 This session will explore ways in which geography can encourage informed participation outside of the classroom. A range of practical examples will be shared including: engaging with Building Schools of the Future and the built environment; developing creative approaches to encouraging climate change action; and citizenship through geography. The session could easily have been called ‘To infinity and beyond the classroom.’ Maybe see you there? Classroom photo from Flickr user johnmuk Buzz Lightyear photo from Flickr user Walt Jabsco

Learning needs learning spaces

This is the fourth post covering some reflections on the recent Innovative Education Forum in Berlin last week. This post will talk centre around a school visit. Some of the best learning at the IEF took place outside of the formal sessions.  The school visit was very illuminating as it illustrated the fact that the problems that I face most days are not unique.  That fact is comforting and very very scary in equal measure. Comforting because I’m not alone. Very very scary as the message from events like IEF_2010 and the reality of school don’t seem to match up.  (This assumption is based upon lots of school visits in the UK) I’m going to talk about some of the aspects of the school I visited (which was very similar in terms of technology set up) and some possible lessons. 1. Blocking is not a UK problem – we need to move beyond this view of internet use and safety. 2. We are all interconnected.  This school had just completed a read-a-thon for Haiti. The school

Teachers need to see what other teachers are up to.

This is the third in a series of post reflecting upon the International Education Forum in Berlin last week.  This time, I am going to reflect upon the opportunity to meet the best resource there: other teachers. I have been to similar events to the IEF and one feature stood out: a lack of teachers.  This wasn’t the case in Berlin and Microsoft and the organising team need to be applauded for that. When working with trainee and newly qualified teachers I always emphasise the observation of other teachers. I have also tried to encourage peer observation and team teaching (to varying degrees of success).  My team are encouraged to watch me use a bit of kit, lesson idea before they jump in, or I’ll give them a hand.  The point is that some areas of teaching have become fossilised.  This has been caused by two linked items. The first is the culture of staying within the classroom – teachers are often isolated for most of the day from other adults and school structures often do not al

‘I’ve got no idea how to use Sketchup, so how can my pupils use it?’

This post follows on my reflections about #IEF_2010 .  It’s a post that illustrates the point that innovative teachers are not alone in the world, and far from mad!  Often, an innovative teacher will feel like a mad person in a room shouting at the rain.  Meeting other ‘mad people’ from around the world makes one feel less mad, especially when it comes from some of the speakers below.  But first a story… Google Sketchup is a tool that allows users to create 3D buildings and models. These can then be embedded in Google Earth.  I first learned about the programme via Noel Jenkins , but thought I couldn’t possibly use it with classes as I knew very little about it. Then  thought ‘What if?’ What if I took the risk.  So, I put Sketchup on a number of machines in school, and told pupils that it was there but had no clue how to use it. The result?  Some great work using the tool. I’ve also always preferred to dive straight into complicated topics, even assessments, without much build up

Are you ready for MISSION:EXPLORE?

MISSION:EXPLORE is on it's way. Next week in fact. We at the Geography Collective are very excited and are hoping that it will lead to lots of adventures in the big outside. We are even more excited as money for each book sold will mean that books can be given to children who can't afford their own. Check out this preview for more information :-)

The Dr Pepper view v's Guerilla Innovation

I'm just sitting at Berlin airport after the 2010 Innovative Education Forum. I know that this phrase is often over used, but I found the event inspiring. The main reason for this was that the focus was firmly on innovation in learning, rather than innovation with technology. I plan to post a few ideas in the next few days. This post is about some of the reflections that I have had over the past few hours. First of all though, many congratulations to Jan Webb and Simon Horleston. You can read about their excellent projects over on Partners in Learning . Over the event it struck me that it's our role, both as a school leaders and as an innovators, to help our teams to overcome the Dr Pepper question. I think that many barriers stand in the way of change because people start with asking 'What's the worst that could happen?' This approach means that often, change is seen as too risky. So have can educational leaders stop people from asking the Dr Pepper que

Microsoft Innovative Education Forum - Berlin

Very early on Monday morning I will be heading to Berlin for the 2010 Innovative Education Forum. This is because the Pirates and Social Networking project was selected to represent the UK along with three other projects. The UK Partners in Learning blog has a nice write up that summarises each project. This journey started back in November when I submitted a Virtual Classroom Tour of my idea. Thanks go to Ollie Bray and Chicken Man for the encouragement :-) Most of all, I am looking forward to seeing innovative projects from across Europe and hope to leave Berlin with a few new ideas to take into the classroom. I left the UK event full of enthusiasm and ideas. I have slightly modified the emphasis of my project for Berlin, linking to the recent 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. I also want to show that the technique is not a one trick pony! The event's Twitter hashtag is #IEF_2010 if you'd like to follow events. You can also contact me via Twi

Cross Curricular Dimensions and AfL

Here are the session resources. Some key points are to keep changes simple, by making simple changes to Schemes of Work and lessons, Cross Curricular work becomes embedded and sustainable. It's not always about working with different departments. To me AfL is just teaching and the key purpose is to allow young people to achievable and be successful. AfL is not just about marking books and setting written targets, instead it's focused on getting to know our classes and changing what we teach and how we teach it as a result. Thank you to Alan and Ollie for ideas :-) Xcurric And Af L View more presentations from David Rogers .

Reflections on subject leadership

This half term, I have been tested like never before. My motivation, ambition and direction have come under fire. Sometimes I've felt isolated, intimidated and a little insecure. However, this is a positive story, and I hope that there are some useful tips here for subject leaders. This post follows on from a previous one on subject leadership. Some of the questions that I have grappled with are: Who do I support most, the senior leadership team or my team? How far do I challenge the status quo? How can I get what I need to improve learning in my area? Do I really want to be teaching? Is this just a dead end? For inspiration, I turned to the mountain exploits. The picture at the top of this page shows a mountain side in North Wales. At first, the climb ahead may seem like an impossible task. especially as during this day there were a few novices to winter conditions in the group. But, with the right equipment, in this case ice axes and crampons, c

GA Conference 2010

Great to see from Alan that the GA Conference already has a hashtag #gaconf10. I am just beginning to think about what I'm up to at the conference, and I hope to see some of you there! One of last year's highlights was sharing the biggest naan in the world with, amongst others, Rich Allaway and the SPC Committee. I was involved in a number of sessions last year, including a workshop on different ways to use textbooks , Dan Raven-Ellison's Urban Earth session and the SPC's Doorstep Geography session coordinated by SPC member Emma. This year I will be avoiding the barn again! Thursday 8th April Association at Work - a chance for the working groups to think about, er, stuff Public Lecture, this year delivered by Richard Waite of ESRI(UK) The Marston's Brewery tour, with some bangers and mash and a chance to catch up with a few people. Friday 9th April Putting geography back on the map - a workshop presented by the SPC where I will be sharing some of the

BSF Space Explorers. Space Creators

It's been a little while since I've been on the blogging mission. Two reasons: I've been very very busy, and also ensuring that I've remained professional. More on that later! Last week, we run a 3 day workshop aimed at getting pupils involved in the Building Schools for the Future process. The workshop was run in partnership with The Geography Collective and is part of the 21st Century Learning Alliance Fellowship. During the workshop, pupils explored their views of the school and then created ideas. These ideas were very creative and they will be presented to the Leadership Team and architect team behind the new school building. It was clear from interviewing the pupils at the end of the 3 days that they had bought very little knowledge of the BSF process with them. Indeed, some considered it secretive and feared that their needs would not be considered. At the end of the workshop, all 15 young people had the confidence to articulate their

The Geography Collective - Update

Regular readers will know of my involvement with The Geography Collective. We've had quite an exciting week, becoming registered at Companies House and getting a sneak preview of the cover of MISSION:EXPLORE: The book contains over a hundred missions that are designed to allow (young) people to look at their world differently. Each mission in MISSION:EXPLORE has its foundations in Geography or other diciplines. Look out for The Geography Collective at the GA Conference this year!

Better turn it up to 11.

No idea where the time is going at the moment so my posts here are slipping a little! Just thought I'd give a little update - detailed posts to follow. The image above was taken during a trip to North Wales and reminds me that without support I'm nothing. Whether it be the support of my family, friends, colleagues or of a great big ice axe! I've been struggling against what seems an unstoppable tide of anti-learning at the moment, so thank you just for being there. Anyhow, this month I will mainly be: Supporting BBC School Report Taking part in an innovative workshop put together by members of The Geography Collective Helping to launch a new book - MISSION:EXPLORE Delivering twilight training for making cross-curricular links Marking coursework (the last batch ever?) Preparing for, and attending the European Innovative Teachers Forum in Berlin Getting ready for the annual GA Conference (I'll be bringing some 80's style with me ;) Teaching and helping develop tra