My Digital Leaders article!!!

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

My Digital Leaders article!!!

Hooray, very pleased to see my article on Digital Leaders out in the March edition of Primary Teacher Update this month!! Even got my title on the front cover.
Very keen to spread the word about Digital Leaders as a way of increasing potential and attainment of ICT in schools.
My next project for my doctorate is to convert this VERY SAME article- which is written in an informal style for practitioners- into an academic research piece for submission to an academic journal. What an exciting project! Also thinking about exploring pupil voice, through the roles of DLs, as the thread for my PhD thesis…. felling very inspired today! Any comments welcome!
You can read the article via the primaryteacherupdate website but you will need to pay to view.

The iPad Revolution!

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The iPad Revolution!

My latest article, ‘IPAD REVOLUTION’, all about using iPads for extra-curricular activities at school, has just come out in Innovate my School Magazine!
If you fancy running a fresh club next term, why not read my article via http://www.innovatemyschool.com/magazine.html or click the photo for a link.
Please message me if you want some advice or help in setting up a club for your pupils using iPads 🙂
My article covers 3 pages in the magazine, pages 16/17/18. Feedback welcome 🙂

Student-led learning?

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

I have just been reading a very interesting blog by Sarah Findlater, Assistant Principal at a London school. I found her blog from a link after reading The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook (see my earlier blog post about this great book!)

Findlater debates the value of student-led learning- and I was very pleased to see she noted her next challenge was to start employing ‘Digital leaders’ at her school!! Teaching in a traditional, independent girls’ school, it is always a battle splitting my lessons between the old-fashioned rote teaching that parents expect, and the creative, wild, hands-on learning that I love to provide.

Findlater sums this up perfectly in this paragraph of her blog, which I therefore thought I’d share with you:

‘I suppose the key question we need to ask ourselves is – what do we want our students to be when they leave us? What do we want our legacy to be? Some may say that the choice we need to make is simple. Option one – educated, independent, resilient, passionate, resourceful and curious beings. Option two – educated vessels full of facts with little clue what to do with them, bar regurgitate them in an exam. Perhaps it is not as simple as all that but we do need to consider what we are creating and if we are happy with it. Our challenge is to hold tight to our moral purpose when we teach in times of constant change.’ (Findlater, 2013).

Food for thought, surely!

The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook!

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The Lazy Teacher's Handbook!

Wow, what a read I think this will be. I have just finished reading the PDF of free sample pages of The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook (available via lazyteacher.co.uk) after being recommended this by a fellow teacher, and am shortly about to head to Amazon to stick this in my basket! The blurb reads: ‘If you want your students to learn more and you to work less, this book provides you with all
the arguments and evidence you need to become a lazy, but outstanding, teacher. Gathered
over ten years in the classroom, the tried-and-tested techniques shift the emphasis away from
the teaching and onto the learning making your life so much easier in the process.’
The pages I have just enjoyed shared some fantastic creative techniques to really get pupils thinking, such as ‘Arrest me!’, ‘choose a number’ and ‘Just a minute’. Intrigued? Well if you are a teacher of any age range, I strongly suggest googling this book, reading the preview, and you too might be purchasing this very soon!!! Comments welcome… Book Club, anyone?

Give a child a computer….

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

and they can learn how to operate it themselves, and learn from it!

If you’ve ever seen a young child with an iPad (*casting my mind back to my two year old son this morning*) you may have seen the incredible way that he or she works out exactly what to press in order to move the character or play the video onscreen.

The great way that tablets, and smart phones to a lesser extent, lend themselves to young, independent users, is of course the non-requirement for keyboard or mouse skills, and designers of preschool Apps do generally not use display many words when creating a visually appealing game.

Today, I have been reading about the ‘Hole in the Wall’ programme and ‘minimally invasive education’, which was tested by Professor Mitra in 1999, in Delhi.

Minimally Invasive Education in school professes there are many reasons why children may have difficulty learning, especially when the learning is imposed and the subject is something the student is not interested in, a frequent occurrence in modern schools. Schools also label children as “learning disabled” and place them in special education even if the child does not have a learning disability, because the schools have failed to teach the children basic skills. Minimally Invasive Education in school asserts there are many ways to study and learn. It argues that learning is a process you do, not a process that is done to you.

On 26 January 1999, Professor Mitra’s team carved a “hole in the wall” that separated the NIIT premises from the adjoining slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi. Through this hole, a freely accessible computer was put up for use. This computer proved to be popular among the slum children. With no prior experience, the children learned to use the computer on their own. This prompted Mitra to propose the following hypothesis:The acquisition of basic computing skills by any set of children can be achieved through incidental learning provided the learners are given access to a suitable computing facility, with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal (human) guidance’.

Incredible to think that 15 years ago, Mitra was exploring the affect of independent computer technology on learning. I wonder what he would make of the integration of mobile devices into our society, and whether he would agree that young users having access to tablets is a great benefit for their education and development?

Spreading the word!

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Spreading the word!

Exciting news- I have been asked to speak at the ELC (East London Consortium) about Digital Leaders in schools! The ELC is a consortium of six girls’ schools in London (both from the independent and maintained sector) which promotes exchange of good practice and opportunity for curriculum enrichment across the schools.
The seminar is to be held at the end of March, and I am currently in negotiation with my school’s management to let me ask parental permission to take my four Year 6 Digital Leaders along too! This consortium will be a great opportunity for me- and hopefully my DLs- to spread the word about DLs in schools and hopefully encourage those ELC schools that are not already employing this initiative to do so!!

And the winner is……

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

And the winner is......

Well here is our new Digital leader logo!!!
After holding the DL competition, and receiving many entries (which really helped raise the profile of DLs at our school!) we found a winning entry, which my Year 6 Digital leaders then converted from a hand drawn image to a computer-generated one! I particularly love that the pupil who designed it thought about how we use predominantly Apple products, and fit the letters to fit the apple shape, using our school colours.
We have already put this logo up on our wiki and DL newsletter, and I am even working on creating a special part on the school website to show off our new logo! Would be very interested to hear how any of you are getting on with DLs at your place of work 🙂

Digital Leaders Display

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Digital Leaders Display

Having set up a DL wiki page and a DL newsletter, I thought it was time to start a more visual presence of our DLs at our school. It has started with this little noticeboard in my classroom. In an effort just to get something up, I asked a few of my pupils to answer four key questions (see photo) and write or illustrate their answers on an apple template. Hopefully as time goes on we will keep updating our board with future competitions, details of what our DLs have been up to, and perhaps even photos of who our DLs are, so pupils can easily identify who to go to for help with computing.

Using Scratch to teach Y6 coding

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Using Scratch to teach Y6 coding

I had a fantastic lesson today teaching Year 6, and felt inspired to share it with you. With the new computing curriculum looming on the horizon, I have been keen to integrate programming and coding into the ICT plans across the school starting this term.
The past three weeks since we returned after the Christmas break (which now seems like a distant memory) I have been showing the pupils all about scripting, sprites, and using the BRILLIANT printable Scratch code cards (free on the Scratch website) to develop their knowledge and skills.
The exciting part is that today, I felt the pupils were ready to take the next step- begin designing their own game! I created a simple planning sheet for each pupil to fill in, thinking about game setting, plot and audience, and we had a great discussion about the different models their games could follow. I can’t wait for our next lesson to get started on some scripts! If you have used Scratch and have any great ideas to share, or have any questions for me, please get in touch!

My Digital Leaders are off the ground!

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

My Digital Leaders are off the ground!

So you may have read my previous blog post (months ago) about Digital Leaders (DLs). You may already have them in your school. But the exciting news for me was that after a hard pitch to the management where I work (early December) my scheme was approved, and I was allowed to interview candidates to be DLs! It was a gruelling process sifting through the application forms, and then interviewing pupils using a short iPad task, but we managed to select four candidates per class for each class in Key Stage 2- 22 Digital leaders in total. We plan to meet once a fortnight for 30 minutes, and have our own DL wiki page, are starting a DL Newsletter (for KS2 pupils/parents)- and I even started a competition, open to all pupils at the school, to design our brand new DL logo! (see the photo for a look at our poster which is up all over the school). I have had about 20 entries so far, some sketched on paper, some produced on computer- and will be judging the winner on Wednesday! I look forward to showing you the winning design- is it sad I am already dreaming about getting my own mug printed up?… Why not try this at your school 🙂 For more info or ideas about how Digital Leaders can help improve and enhance ICT practice at your school, please message me!