I went to my very first real life Teachmeet at the weekend, in the form of Teachmeet East in Norwich, organised by Tim Handley and Sarah Brownsword. It was a bit of a trek for me but well worth it for a first timer as Tim and Sarah had put so much effort in that it was a real success and I came away buzzing with lots of ideas and met lots of fantastic new people (oh, and also got lots of free goodies in my goody bag!).
The afternoon kicked off with Anthony Evans from 2 Simple with a presentation entitled: Teach a man to fish. In it he discussed the need for paper, space and collaboration in order for real ideas to happen, and also mentioned their fantastic new tool Purplemash which I need to sort out how to log on to!
Then came Andrea Carr from Rising Stars talking about the importance of blogging because it provides a worldwide audience. We were shown several class blogs already in existence, such as this one, and I’m definitely inspired to get my new Year 4 class blogging in September, once I’ve worked out the logistics. She also pointed us in the direction of a WordPress guide made by Ian Addison at bit.ly/wordpressguide (this will download a doc) for those new to WordPress (which I am!).
After that, Sarah Brownsword talked about how she had used Inanimate Alice, a digital story in four parts, with her year 6 class. This looks really good for inspiring older children and she had lots of excellent ideas for using it in the classroom, such as examining the characters and settings, and some excellent examples from her class writing/making the next episode in PowerPoint. For other ideas she also pointed us in the direction of aliceandfriends.wikispaces.com .
Following on from Sarah, Tim took to the stage to talk about the power of images. He was involved in some work with the National Gallery’s Take One Picture project, which he discusses on his blog here and here, and then moved on to talk about using images in other subjects such as Science, English and History. Unfortunately, Tim’s talk was cut short by the camel. I would love to have seen the rest of his presentation as it had some really good ideas that I might steal 😉
Next up was Marilyn Brocklehurst who got through an impressive 60 books in 6 minutes (or thereabouts). Shamefully on my part I’ve read one of them – think I better get myself to the library this summer!! For the full list of recommended books have a look here.
Sara Stanley then came on to talk about Philosophy for Children. This is something that I’ve always wanted to use in class but never really managed to find out much about. She talked about how you can use picture books to base the questions on but the idea I really liked, and will be using in my classroom in some form next year, was the choices board. She discussed how the children need to develop the skills of choosing, not always between good and bad but sometimes between bad and bad – which is the lesser of the two evils? I can see lots of excellent discussion coming from this kind of enquiry.
Paul Parslow-Williams and David Beaven then spoke to us about children using control technology. This includes Beebots/Roamers/Logo etc. This is something I’m not very confident with but have to get to grips with because I’m teaching it next year! Better get practising!
Mark Purves did an excellent interactive presentation on Languages and Sing Up, getting us all up and singing! I’ve recently signed up to Sing Up and it looks like a fantastic resource. Apparently they’re currently only funded until next March though, which is a shame, so see if you can get on one of their free courses while their still going.
Sarah Brownsword did a second presentation on using wallwisher in the classroom, with suggestions such as getting children to do their homework on it, collecting data and using it to collect Twitter feedback. She also pointed everyone in the direction of Tom Barrett’s excellent * Interesting ways to use… collection, of which there is a * interesting ways to use wallwisher in the classroom.
We had a virtual presentation from Bill Lord about how his year 1 class @giraffeclass have been tweeting. The tweeting then led on to using twitpic and audioboo. It’s so amazing to see kids as young as 5 and 6 communicating like that!
Next up, Tim again. This time he talked about sock monkeys. I LOVE the idea of sock monkeys and want to know where I can get them from as I’m not sure I can make them! (Might try making one and see how badly it fails!) The premise is that there are monkeys for different things: maths, writing, science, art etc. The monkeys go home with a book in which the children can do whatever they choose as long as it’s to do with the subject of the monkey. If this can work with year 5 I definitely want to try it with my year 4 class next year!
Jeni Smith tallked about a project called Writing Together which is a national project for teachers. She gave us a small piece of card and one minute to write anything on it. Wow, was it hard! We then had to share what we wrote with our tables. I think this is a cool little activity that could be used as a starter in class. She is running this project in Norwich from the autumn; shame I’m not nearer or that there’s one near me as it sounds like good fun.
Following Jeni was Steve Warburton who talked about some of the many tools available for teachers including: Toggl.com, wallwisher, surveymonkey, Basecamp, Linkbunch and wordle. The ones I don’t currently use are on my list to investigate! Steve also did a very short presentation leaving us with the question about decisions to ponder – how is this going to be used in the classroom?
Then Bev Evans did a very moving video presentation about inclusion/exclusion. It was very thought-provoking and definitely made me think about how we do label children and make excuses for them, changing our expectations depending on how we perceive them.
Nikki Davies came on to talk about NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. Again, I love this idea and am trying to think about how to make it feasible with my class next year. I think it’s great that you get a copy of your book at the end – definite motivation! You can even design your own front cover.
Jim Maloney gave a video presentation on how they use Learning Logs at Hawes Side Primary. We already use these, with some success, at my current school although they don’t use them at my new school so this is something I’ll definitely be pushing for and may ‘pilot’ with my class to show the impact.
For the final real-time presentation, Chris Ratcliffe from scholastic gave his presentation: Bad Handwriting/Timeline of a Geek, an overview of his internet journey from Skype, through many more that I didn’t manage to write down through to Foursquare and others.
To end with we watched Ian Addison’s video presentation about the use of Voki. I love how easy they are to make and really must remember to use them more often! I really wish they didn’t have a lower age limit as they would be fantastic to use in lots of lessons, especially primary languages. I will keep holding out for an educational version (hopefully free!).
So, that was that. The afternoon was over. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Teach Eat due to having to trek back home but I really enjoyed my day out and would definitely go to another one. Who knows, I may even be persuaded to hold my own at some point.