#TMDorset

Teachmeet Virgin

Back in November, Ollie Bray, one time fellow geographer at Plymouth University, sent out a tweet to me about a TeachMeet taking place down on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, TeachMeet Dorset. I had heard of TeachMeet but have never had the pleasure or nerves (!) to attend.

Well, after a few minutes of deliberating I decided if I was going to go to any TeachMeet my first one had to be within the county I teach. I signed up on the TeachMeet website and bravely decided I would present too. I had a couple of weeks to work out what I was going to present to other teachers from Dorset. I contacted the organiser of the TeachMeet Dorset, Gary Spracklen of Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) and South West Teacher of the Year, to volunteer my services as a speaker.

TeachMeet Virgin

After a night of thinking I came up with the idea of 25 Ideas in 7 Minutes. A fool hardy challenge but all I could feel was excitement! TeachMeet was something I have wanted to be involved in for a long time. I couldn’t wait to get there. I persuaded my good friend Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School to attend so I at least had one member of the audience I would know!

So what is a TeachMeet? TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. These events are often organised to coincide with other educational events like the Scottish Learning Festival and the British Educational Technology and Training Show BETT.

Teachmmeet 1

Participants volunteer (via the TeachMeet website) to demonstrate good practice they’ve delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee.

I really like the idea that you are limited to only speaking for seven minutes which is a great way to keep things moving and interesting.

TeachMeet Dorset was a brilliant event. I had no reason to be nervous or worried. Everyone was lovely and wanted to develop as educators. It was great to hear lots of expert advice and ideas shared in a lovely informal environment. Gary Spraklen was an energetic speaker who did a fantastic task of organising the event who made everyone welcome.

But that wasn’t the end of the story…on May 16th I organised the next TeachMeet Dorset at Gillingham School in North Dorset. Unfortunately, I hadn’t considered the fact that this was the worst time to organise a TeachMeet with all the exams taking place (a note for next time!) Nonetheless it was a great success with several teachers from all across the county and even one speaker coming down from London for the event. I have to thank all the people that came and the speakers for all their ideas that they shared. TeachMeets are fantastic and I hope they continue to grow as a ‘free’ CPD opportunity for teachers.

The next TeachMeet Dorset will be taking place at Downlands Community School, Blandford on October 11th (thank you to Alan Frame, Headteacher for organising this) – I hope to see some of you there! Look out for #TMDorset on twitter or tweet me your interest at @tiddtalk

Well Done OB!

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Well done OB!

My good friend, Ollie Bray, has achieved his life long dream of becoming a Head Teacher at Kingussie School in Scotland. I have known Ollie since our university days in Plymouth and he was always driven to succeed. He is one of the UK’s leading educators on new technologies within the classroom. His blog, olliebray.com, is always high on my list of blogs to read. It is a fantastic achievement for all the hard work he has been doing over the last twelve years. I remember sitting in a pub in Plymouth, back in 1999, asking him about his future plans. Teaching was firmly on the agenda after his year working in the Cairngorms as an outdoor instructor. From that conversation I started to seriously consider teaching as a future career choice (its all your fault Ollie!)

I am really looking forward to hearing about Ollie’s adventures and futures successes! Well done Ollie – it’s a fantastic achievement!

Mini Motivators

Mini 1

Back in November 2012, Ollie Bray tweeted me a link and planted a seed (!) to go and present at TeachMeet Dorset down on the Isle of Portland. The TeachMeet was being organised by Gary Spracklen of IPACA. I duly made the long journey down on a cold wet evening taking my good friend Nick Hargreaves of Radipole School for company. A seed was indeed planted as I came back to school the next day talking enthusiastically to Mark Lavis, my Deputy Headteacher and fellow geographer, about the evening. In February, Gillingham School hosted its own inhouse training day where Heads of Department were given five minutes to share good practice. I had the task of Mini Motivators and I thought I would share my ideas with you.

Post – it Notes

Mini Motivators

I am an addict for using post-it notes in my lessons! I find them a great resource as a starter or plenary to find out what my students understand, know or what to ask. The example above is from my Year 7 class who had the question, ‘What do you know about earthquakes?’, nothing more or less. They had two minutes to write down their ideas and come up and stick their note on the board. It also gives them a chance to get out of their seats as well.

I love reading out their answers – they know than you think! I have been using it a lot with my GCSE classes for keywords and connectives for exam questions on what they need to include in an answer.

Socrative

Mini Motivators

Socrative is fun interactive game using mobile phones – I can hear the groans and panic from some corners. I do believe mobile phones will become common place in teaching. There are so many great ideas and opportunities that can be ultilised with a mobile phone and it would be foolish to discount them as a teaching resource. I use them quite a bit with my A ‘Level classes and they really enjoy the interactive opportunities it delivers.

I have been trialling a brilliant smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This particular one is called Socrative. I have to admit it is a fantastic resource for all teachers of all subjects.

Socrative is very easy to use and takes only two minutes to set yourself up on it. You can import exercises and games or create your own. The only details they require are that you are a teacher, your school name and your email address.

The apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Teachers login through their device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students simply login with their device and interact real time with the content. The quizzes range from multiple choice questions, true or false responses or shoprt answers. The class gets instant answers and explanations on what they have inputed.

Student responses are visually represented for multiple choice, true/false and Short Answer questions. For pre-planned activities a teacher can view reports online as a google spreadsheet or as an emailed Excel file.

As they leave you could check on on your students’ understanding as they are able to leave a message on what they have learnt today and what they need to learn. Gather responses on their comfort with the material as well as answers to questions you create in real time or prepare before class.

The best thing about Socrative is that there is no exchange of personal information (such as mobile numbers) between the class or the teacher. When the class log in via the web address below, which is different to the teachers, the only thing they need is the room number, such as 12345, the quiz will start on their mobile phone. The results will appear on their mobile phone instantly, and the teacher can see the whole class response (not individuals).

To sign up http://m.socrative.com/lecturer/#register

For teacher login http://m.socrative.com/lecturer/#lecturerLogin

For student login http://m.socrative.com/student/#joinRoom

I would thoroughly recommend looking at Socrative, it would be a brilliant starter or plenary. Plus, you might want to check with your Headteacher and the whole school policy on mobile phones!

Twitter

Mini Motivators

I am a huge fan of Twitter as an education resource. For me it is the best CPD available. I haven’t ventured into using it my classes yet with my classes, but I know lots of you that do! I do use the concept of twitter for some of my plenaries where they have to write an answer or sum up their learning in 140 characters – harder than you think!

Random Name Generator

Mini Motivators

When I asked questions in class I always got the same students putting their hands up. I decided this had to stop, so I now use a random name generator. There are loads out there on the web for ‘free’. This one for example is from Teach-ICT.com.

Taboo

Mini Motivators

Using games in learning is great way to engage all students. Taboo is great for getting students to describe and think about key terms, people or case studies. They might not be able to use certain terms or words. They might have to guess what’s written on the post-it note. There are lots of opportunities with taboo. As you can see from the photo you can have lots of fun with your work colleagues too!

TeachMeet Virgin

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Teachmeet Virgin

As promised, I am keeping you up-to-date with the going ons in my life as a teacher. Back in November, Ollie Bray, one time fellow geographer at Plymouth University, sent out a tweet to me about a TeachMeet taking place down on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, TeachMeet Dorset. I had heard of TeachMeet but have never had the pleasure or nerves (!) to attend.

TeachMeet Virgin

Well, after a few minutes of deliberating I decided if I was going to go to any TeachMeet my first one had to be within the county I teach. I signed up on the TeachMeet website and bravely decided I would present too. I had a couple of weeks to work out what I was going to present to other teachers from Dorset. I contacted the organiser of the TeachMeet Dorset, Gary Spracklen of Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) and South West Teacher of the Year, to volunteer my services as a speaker.

After a night of thinking I came up with the idea of 25 Ideas in 7 Minutes. A fool hardy challenge but all I could feel was excitement! TeachMeet was something I have wanted to be involved in for a long time. I couldn’t wait to get there. I persuaded my good friend Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School to attend so I at least had one member of the audience I would know!

So what is a TeachMeet? TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. These events are often organised to coincide with other educational events like the Scottish Learning Festival and the British Educational Technology and Training Show BETT.

Teachmmeet 1

Participants volunteer (via the TeachMeet website) to demonstrate good practice they’ve delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee.

I really like the idea that you are limited to only speaking for seven minutes which is a great way to keep things moving and interesting.

TeachMeet Dorset was a brilliant event. I had no reason to be nervous or worried. Everyone was lovely and wanted to develop as educators. It was great to hear lots of expert advice and ideas shared in a lovely informal environment. Gary Spraklen was an energetic speaker who did a fantastic task of organising the event who made everyone welcome.

Will I go to another TeachMeet? Yes! TeachMeets are an amzing opportunity to develop and share ideas. Later this year I shall be going to TeachMeet Pompey on 6th March. This event is organised by Dave Rogers, a brillaint geography teacher down in Portsmouth. I am very excited about attending my second TeachMeet so soon!

Would I organise a TeachMeet? Yes! Myself and Gary Spracklen have started talking about bringing TeachMeet to North Dorset to my school – a seed has been planted and I’m really looking forward to seeing it at Gillingham School!

TeachMeet Virgin

@tiddtalk on Twitter

After many months of deliberating I have joined Twitter. I have been in two minds about Twitter for a long time trying to see its value in today’s society. Two weeks ago I took the plunge and I have so far been very impressed.

Twitter is brilliant for networking – linking up with fellow practitioners across the globe. This can enable you to spread information very quickly on what is happening now or a particular moment. It is an excellent resource to spread information especially if you have updated your blog and are looking for instant readership.

My good friend Ollie Bray, National Adviser for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning & Teaching Scotland (LTS),  is a huge fan and has been a major persuading factor in me joining Twitter. It is a useful tool for when you are looking for ideas or wanting to pick someone’s brain – and it doesn’t have to be someone you know.

Paul Ainsworth, a Vice Principle of a school in Leicestershire, wrote a brilliant article on the day I joined Twitter in Sec-Ed. It was very thought provoking and backed up my decision to join Twitter, thanks Paul! Paul explained that Twitter is a virtual staffroom where upon you can draw information and advice from a wide pool of practitioners across the globe. This is a very useful tool as we do need to share knowledge and advice. I recommend anyone thinking about joining a social networking site to read this article.

My Twitter account username is @tiddtalk – join me sharing information about education and geography. PLS RT

The Final Countdown

I have recently found out that I have been shortlisted for two Education Blog Awards; Teacher Blog of the Year and Most Influential Blog. These awards have been set up to award blogging in schools in the UK.

Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for my blog for these two awards. As a fairly new blogger (since January 2010), I am extremely pleased with being shortlisted. My blog is now being judged by five judges; John Davitt, Paula Hubbard, Ollie Bray, Margaret Vaas and Tim Rylands. The blog winners will be announced on 1st Junegood luck to all the bloggers who have been shortlisted!

Education Blog Awards 2011

It is with great pleasure to announce that nominations and votes are open for the Education Blog Awards for 2011. I am very pleased to say that I have been nominated and have received votes from the readers out there in the blogosphere! Thank you!

Why do I write a blog? Since I started writing my blog in January 2010, I have learnt and shared new ideas from many different teachers. I really enjoy sharing ideas with other practitioners and learning a new technique or way of doing something. Sometimes we are left to our own devices and perhaps we should be talking and sharing resources on a more regular basis.

For the last few years I have found blogs a great source to further my understanding and learn new skills as a teacher. I have always said that a teacher never stops learning. Just like our students we as teaching practitioners are constantly learning new techniques on improving our methods we use in the classroom. This is part of the reason why I love teaching, it is never dull and is a challenge I relish on a daily basis.

Out on the ‘Blogosphere’ are some brilliant writers who share their teaching experiences, daily routines, ideas, schemes of work, lessons…you name it and teachers are writing about it! Reading about someone else’s experience can create and add to your armoury of activities. Some of the best writers out there are Ollie Bray, Dave Rogers and Alan Parkinson who I wholly recommend on reading. It is also a great opportunity to network with other teachers around the world.

If you would like to vote for a blog – please follow the link here on at the top right hand corner which will take you to the Education Blog Awards website to cast your vote. Good luck to all the bloggers out there!

Tricks of the trade

Today I have an article printed in Sec-Ed. Sec-Ed is the UK’s only free national education paper that is sent to every school every week. I am a massive fan of this paper and love to read the stories and articles that appear every week. I have been lucky to have had some articles printed by Sec-Ed over the last two years. The article was based on the idea of ‘what tools does a teacher need?’ This was quite tricky as we all have different ideas but I hope you get the idea!

I really enjoy sharing ideas with other practitioners and learning a new technique or way of doing something. Sometimes we are left to our own devices and perhaps we should be talking and sharing resources more often.

The main tools I focused on were;

  • Blogs
  • Working as a team
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Enjoy your lessons
  • Assessment for Learning (Afl)
  • Reflective teaching

The full article can be accessed here. I hope you enjoy the read! Many thanks to Pete Henshaw, Editor of Sec-Ed, once again for printing my article – cheers!

Classroom Antics

What are the tools and key things a teacher needs?

This was a question I posed last week on my blog. It is quite tricky as every teacher has different views on what they need to be successful and to help their everyday lives. So I have come up with my own list. Enjoy!

  • Blogs

For the last few years I have found blogs a great source to further my understanding and learn new skills as a teacher. I have always said that a teacher never stops learning. Just like our students we as teaching practitioners are constantly learning new techniques on improving our methods we use in the classroom. This is part of the reason why I love teaching, it is never dull and is a challenge I relish on a daily basis. Out on the ‘Blogosphere’ are some brilliant writers who share their teaching experiences, daily routines, ideas, schemes of work, lessons…you name it and teachers are writing about it! Reading about someone elses experience can create and add to your armoury of activities. Some of the best writers out there are Ollie Bray, Dave Rogers and Alan Parkinson who I wholly recommend on reading.

  •  Google Earth/Google Maps

As a geographer Google Earth and Google Maps have the best free Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software available. For students who need to include GIS in their coursework at Key Stage 4 and 5, this is the best start and easiest solution. Most students have access in some format to a computer and Google Earth/Google Maps can be used from a very early age giving them the skills and presentation techniques they need later on in their school career. Simple activities like spinning the globe round or locating places in the world from your location can make a young person make a sense of their place in the world.

  • Working as a Team

Teaching can sometimes be a lonely job, with yourself up against thirty students challenging you. It can sometimes feel you are the Lone Ranger but that is not so. Using people around you can make your life much easier especially when you need help or guidance. For a young teacher this is possibly the best tip I can pass on…talk to those around you. I have worked in some great Departments where working together and sharing ideas/work loads makes everybody feel important and better about themselves. The success of a Department should improve too with more minds working together then one. The work – life balance is very important and should never be forgotten! 

  • Thinking Outside the Box

Being innovative and brave within a classroom can bring enjoyment, success and respect. I admit not every idea I have tried has worked but those that do can enhance the student’s experience of your subject. Trialling new ideas improve your lessons and enjoyment as a teacher. It is not always easy trying out new ideas. It is very easy to stay in the comfort zone but without trying out new ideas we do not develop ourselves as teachers and will not improve.

  • Enjoy your lessons

As teachers we work long hours and spend many lessons preparing and planning work. We have the aim of teaching the National Curriculum and working with our students on achieving their personal best and gaining the grades they deserve. But…we must enjoy our working life. There are many pressures in the education industry and targets to achieve. Teaching in my opinion is the greatest role in life that someone can do. To actually see the look of wonder and understanding on someone’s face is something that cannot be bought. To pass on knowledge and see where it takes a young person in life is amazing. To actually help young people in life choose a path in the life with your encouragement and guidance is breathtaking. There is much to enjoy from teaching, just don’t forget the positives!

The Apple Revolution

Over the last twelve months I have read and reviewed the merits of the Apple iPhone. Yesterday, after several hours (!) of decision making I finally gave in and signed up. Already I have seen the benefits this could potentially bring to my teaching and the students learning.

Apple themselves state that ‘technology shapes the way students interact with the world. So it only makes sense to teach them with the tools and media they’re already using. Creating digital content is truly simple, web research is quick and secure, and virtual collaboration is safe for young learners.’

The applications that the iPhone can offer is changing daily with an ever increasing amount of choice. Many education blogs have been written about the positive and negative factors mobile phones can offer education. Ollie Bray, National Adviser for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), has been backing the use of mobile technology for some time in Scotland and has written several blogs and articles on this very subject. Back in January Dave Rogers, Curriculum Leader for Geography at the Priory School in Portsmouth, wrote a great blog about all the features the iPhone offers education. He clearly explains each app and its merits in teaching.

I Education Apps Review (IEAR) is a dedicated website for educational bloggers who contribute reviews of current educational apps available in the iTunes store. This is a great way to find out which apps are available for your subject area and what works for you.

The technology available to us as teachers is immense and is changing at a rate faster than we are able to keep up with. Students and pupils are far and away ahead of us as teachers when it comes to technology. As a teacher we are forever changing our teaching methods and resources. Mobile phones could help enrich a subject and make it more widely available for all students to participate. They have so much potential for the classroom. Mobile phones will enhance a pupils/students learning. They will give students skills that they will use in the wider world. They will bring benefits that will develop our own teaching. I am very much looking forward to working with my new piece of technology and improving my teaching.