Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bouncing Back

I haven't posted for a while. Both professionally and personally I've been feeling rather down and didn't want this blog to be a place where I moaned about stuff. But now I'm feeling all bounced back and buzzing with energy and ideas. The reason? Two days in London at a massive educational trade show called BETT. I've walked miles round the exhibition halls and stayed in a hotel room where the bathroom was so small you had to sit sideways on the loo. I've no money to spend on all the flash gadgets and software on offer and haven't actually looked at many of the stands. but I've now so many ideas floating round my head that I'm not quite sure where to start. 
Highlight of the two days undoubtedly was the Teach Meet BETT 2010 on Friday night organised by Tom Barrett and Stuart Rideout. The main part of a teach meet is:

hearing stories about learning, from teachers. This is not an event to present about a product or theory – this is a chance for teachers from all types of establishments to hear ideas from each other. Real narratives of practice that make a difference. It is about being engaged and inspired by our immediate colleagues and a whole bucket load of networking to boot!
The buzz in the hall was amazing from start. The basic format is a 7 minute or 2 minute presentation by practicing teachers on things they have been doing. The ideas I will come onto shortly but something that really struck a cord was a quote by Ian Yorston 
"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw 
Must put that somewhere I can see it for next time I'm feeling beaten down.
So ideas:-
Link Bunch courtesy of Ian Yorston allows you to bunch together a whole list of URLs into a short URL and open all of them at the same time. I'm going to use this in my digital literacy project google site to encourage students to look at several sources rather than just copy and paste from the first vaguely relevant website they come across. It will also be useful for training sessions I'm just starting to put together ( again probably on a google site ). Having the attendees with all the relevant sites open at the start will save a lot of time.
Voki courtesy of Ian Addison I had seen before but his presentation got me thinking about seeing if I can embed Vokis ( talking avatars ) into the google sites, and if so get the students to put them into their sites. Must also remember to include Voki in the MFL INSET I'm planning.
On Google Sites Darren Murphy showed examples of student google sites being used as e-portfolios for the whole curriculum. He has also integrated google apps with Moodle which might be something to investigate.
Drew Buddie aka @digitalmaverick wonderfully dressed as a superhero explained how he had used google street view in an English lesson. This got me thinking about an idea I hatched during the last snow day. Having a totally silent lesson with year 8 where all communication is done online using Edmodo, Dabbleboard and Google Docs and students work collaboratively to produce something. This could be based on a creative writing exercise describing a journey through a city using Google maps. More on this when I've thought it through properly.
Dai Barnes showed a great video about using Class Tools to teach languages. Another one for the MFL Inset.
Scratch I've used in the class but Miles Berry's Finding Nemo demo showed me how to up my game
Xtranormal courtesy of Saiqa Liaqat @gvibe is a video making / editing package that I must have a play with.
Masses more I could mention - filled pages in my note book. Two things - at the next Teach Meet I go to I have to contribute and secondly we have to get a Teach Meet going here in Bristol.
Apart from the Teach Meet I also attended several seminars - there seemed to be a much better range to choose from this year. Blogging to develop reflective learning was very interesting. How some Sheffield schools are using Bright Sparks blogging platform for all year 7 students. The system allows them to build up a profile against different competencies and attach evidence as well. This can be used for personal profiles, CVs and Diploma work as well as encouraging students to be reflective in their learning. They have found that it has more of an impact than end of lesson plenaries as students have time to think about what they have learnt. If we manage to get netbooks next year and also have extended tutor time this could become a daily exercise and feed into mentoring sessions. Alternatively it could be a regular homework. Each teacher in the school could be responsible for commenting on a group of students blogs. Was also interesting that the pilot had started with using Edublogs but had found it unmanageable for large numbers of students. 
The Home Access seminar helped to clarify what was involved and why schools need to be involved. Where schools are not involved the uptake is 40/50%, where school get involved it is over 100% ( when including those who have not taken up free school dinners ). 
Next Generation Learning seminar introduced BECTA's 21st Century Teachers Framework was interesting but it's frustrating that there was nothing about it on their stand or up on the website yet. 
The seminar on Most Effective Forms of ICT CPD was rather dry but there was lots of useful information and it introduced two reports on the subject which I've added to my reading list. Waiting for a copy of the presentation to get the links as I can;t find anything on BECTA's website.
Terry Freedman's seminar on Amazing Web 2.0 projects was anything but dry. I've downloaded his draft version of the ebook he has compiled and look forward to being able to circulate the final version to colleagues when the final edits have been completed.
Finally one stand I did visit was Vital, which is a new approach to ICT CPD based on an online learning community. Hoping to get more involved in this and will write a post on it when I've had time to get my head round what is involved.
All in all not a bad couple of days. Now I need to get on and start applying some of the stuff I've learnt.