It’s time for BETT again. Despite the tightening belts in UK education it’s still the place to be for everything edtech. Some go to see specific products and services, some to collect free pens, some to network and some to just see what’s new.

For those that want to network, learn and be inspired there are a number of fringe events going on that I would recommend.

In order of date rather than importance and starting with the Learning Without Frontiers Fringe Events rather than the BETT ones…

Sunday 9th January
Mirandamod Unconference LWF, 15:00-17:30, “Why do I need a school now I use mobile technology? …and why do I need a teacher when I have the Internet?”
Teachmeet LWF, 17:30-19:30

Wednesday 12th January
MirandaMod 15:30 -17:00 Which Web 2.0 tools develop teaching and learning effectively?
TedXOrenda at BETT

Thursday 13th January
MirandaMod 15:30 -17:00 How can teachers get the most in the classroom from today’s ICT tools?
Collabor8 4 Change at BETT 18:00

Friday 14th January
MirandaMod 15:30 -17:00 How can digital technologies … be implemented to increase achievement for all?
Teachmeet at BETT 18:00

Everyday at BETT
Teachmeet Takeover at BETT, 12th-15th January

I’m yet to decide how many I can make but regrettably it will only be 2 or 3. They are all slightly different, I won’t explain each format or event, take a look at their webpages to find out more. If you go and see me there please say hi!

Thanks to all the organisers of Teachmeet Moodle. It was a well spent 5 hours or so! I have a few reflections, some on the great Moodling I saw, and some on the Teachmeet format.

Moodle Reflections:

There were some superb presentations on the day – many of which are linked to on the Teachmeet Moodle wiki http://teachmeetmoodle.pbworks.com/TeachMeetMoodle – James Michie has also summarised and linked to some of the presentations on his Blog http://jamesmichie.blogspot.com/2010/07/teachmeet-moodle.html

My top highlights were:

James Michie‘s  comprehensive but fast paced 72 slide presentation on Moodle in his school. It gave so many great example.

Gideon Williams fantastic presentation on Moodle plugins at his school

Helen Morgan’s presentation on how visuals can improve learning and participation – blindingly obvious,  so simple to implement and proven good practice.

Dai Barnes presentation on quizzes in Music (with embedded music)

and Miles Berry on how he now uses Moodle in teacher training

But of the above I have to again mention Gideon Williams – it was the second time I have met him and both his style of presentation (lighthearted!) and amazing moodling were fantastic. If you want to see a great school Moodle I don’t think there is a better example than that of Perins School

Teachmeet Reflections:

I’ve lost count of how many Teachmeet’s I’ve now attended – probably around 10 now including one I organised at the Computing at School Hubs Conference. There is always discussion about how they should be structured and this one again was very different and I think very good.  Here’s a few points of note about the structure on the day.

We started with a speednetworking session – everyone was given a table to fill in names, e-mail and expertise of other people and we went round to a whistle meeting person after person for a few minutes until we were told to move on. It was a great and simple way to network and get a good atmosphere in the room (especially as we has started at 10.30 am and there was little of the beer in the room that facilitates the networking in many teachmeets!)

We had one commercial presentation at the start – from the sponsors SchoolsICT – I think this was received well by the audience partly because they didn’t think to protest. But also because of the ethos of many Moodlers that if you are developing something to enhance Moodle then you are a good person. Personally, I thought it was a shame to start with this presentation, but I have no problem with a presentation from a sponsor – though there is an obvious red line when it becomes a sales pitch (this one wasn’t).

Time Limits were not kept to – I think some flexibility with time limits is good, some great presentation take a little more than the 7 minute teachmeet limit. But some timekeeping is necessary and Nano presentations become pointless if other presentations are allowed to go on and on. Short presentations also keep the audience attentive!

Video presentations – One pre-recorded screencast was shown – I don’t really think this is necessary as we schlepped all the way in we could have just watched the presentation in our own time. Live video presentations are another thing.

Overall, it was a very good teachmeet, it had a great friendly, informal and collaborative atmosphere. I think that’s what happens when you bring two great communities, teachmeet and moodle together.

There’s a great run of Teachmeets on at the moment – where I am just North of London there have been about 4 or 5 within an hour’s drive of here in the last month.

If you’ve not been to a Teachmeet try one out, they are great opportunities for learning, entertainment and networking and the best ones have an equal mix of each. To read about my Teachmeet Experiences you can take a look at all of my posts tagged Teachmeet.

I won’t explain the format here as it does so on the Teachmeet website – but I wanted to share my excitement for Teachmeet Moodle tomorrow and reflect a little on Teachmeet Fishbowl.

Teachmeet Moodle is the first Moodle Centric Teachmeet and is bringing together a great looking list of Moodle users – http://teachmeetmoodle.pbworks.com/TeachMeetMoodle - I have become a big fan of Moodle over the last few years, it’s one of the many tools we use in our school (A VLE on its own doesn’t do everything!) And many of my Teachmeet presentations have covered work we have done in Moodle. The sad part with Moodle and VLEs is that Teachers’ work is often locked behind passworded areas of the site – this is usually quite right as I don’t want strangers joining my class of Year 7 pupils – but it is a shame that we don’t find the time to make open copies of our course for other teachers to peruse. It’s not even that I want to download and use courses from other teachers (though sometimes I do!) but it’s getting that inspiration and seeing how other people use the same bit of software but for a very different purpose.

I shall try and report back tomorrow or over the weekend on what I learned from the Teachmeet.

A fortnight ago I attended my first Teachmeet Fishbowl in Oxfordshire. It was an interesting evening and an interesting format – it is important that the Teachmeet model doesn’t remain static though I would call the Fishbowl more of a brainstorming session – there were no presenters but a group of people sitting round a table working out a solution to a problem along with interjections from the audience and a few brave people switching in and out of the table. By the time the third session/fishbowl had started boundaries had dropped and there was no longer a real inner table and outer circle but just one big melding of minds with everyone in the circle chipping in. For me the Fishbowl was not a revolutionary format – but it is a structured way of getting people to collaborate informally (is that an Oxymoron?). It was fun, it was reasonably effective and it was fast paced and fun. We certainly came up with a large variety of ideas. As a technique I could see it working if you had a specific problem to solve and I guess the biggest problem we had is that the issues we were discussing were not issues that we had brought up ourself. The evening was also rather Primary focused with only three Secondary teachers present, but this in itself was a learning experience – there should be much more collaboration between Primary and Secondary teachers both in terms of pedagogy, school transition and subjects knowledge – we all have something to gain. 

Thanks to all those who organised and are organising or sponsoring these Teachmeets and I look forward to many more.

If you are lucky enough to be going and haven’t already made plans for your evening(s), I’d like to draw your attention to some events that might prove a welcome and invigorating contrast to the hurly-burly of the exhibition floor.

On Wednesday 13th Jan at 6pm there will be a free TEDx event with a stimulating line-up of inspirational speakers from diverse backgrounds. TEDxOrenda at BETT is an individually organised TED event that epitomises the tradition of TED as a vehicle for ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’.
More details of the TEDxOrenda event can be found here: http://www.think-bank.com/tedx/
The event is FREE and tickets are available from here: http://tedxorenda.eventbrite.com/

On Thursday 14th Jan there will be a free AmplifiED event, again from 6pm. AmplifiED follows a Barcamp, unconference model and is essentially a participatory event that involves table discussion around topics and themes. In this case, the topics for discussion will be education-based and possibly provoked by the BETT show itself.
More details of the AmplifiED event can be found here: http://www.whiteboardblog.co.uk/2010/01/amplified-2010-bett/
The event is FREE and tickets are available from here: http://amplified10.eventbrite.com/

On Friday 15th at 6pm a Teachmeet will take place. For those unfamiliar with the Teachmeet format, it is an event that consists of short (2min or 7 min) presentations given by practitioners. These presentations are about great ideas and what works well in the classroom.
More details of the Teachmeet event can be found here: http://teachmeet.pbworks.com/TeachMeet-BETT-2010-Friday-Session
The event is FREE and although there are no formal ticketing arrangements, you are encouraged to sign up to the wiki (above).

If you are going to be at BETT, do consider spending an evening or two/three at the above event(s). Whether you can attend any, some or all, I am sure it will add considerable value to your visit.

If you are not planning on going to BETT or if you can’t make it to any of the evening events, keep an eye on the links above for archives, livestreams, twitcams, flashmeetings, etc.

(Thanks to Dughall McCormick for putting the above message together and distributing)

Hope to see many people there!

This is my presentation for Teachmeet Edtechroundup Edition #TMETRU09

For more information on Teachmeet visit www.teachmeet.org.uk for more info on Edtechroundup visit http://edtechroundup.wikispaces.com/

You can see info (and some recordings) of my previous Teachmeet contributions here

Both are fantastic CPD communities and opportunities and it’s great to see the two concepts joined together for an evening.

A few ways teachers and students use our VLE (Edtechroundup Teachmeet)

Please see my video presentation below. I used Screenr to record the screencast which limited me to 5 minutes hence the rush at the end. In the video I show different ways our VLE is used.

1. Student blogs – most are just for fun but we’re hoping to have students writing regular book reviews and sports reports in future.

2. As a document/resource repository for lesson or home resources. Many people decry this use as a waste of a VLE. Okay it doesn’t use all of the features and isn’t very interactive or collaborative but is a great place to start and has obvious benefit for teachers of allowing students to access work from home. Especially useful for revision time.

3. For discussion forums – Great for reflection, discussions or just setting open questions. When students post their response the whole class can see it, learn from it and comment on it. When they do it in their exercise books it’s just between them and the teacher.

4. For extracurricular clubs

5. Making students a teacher in their own course – they can then share their notes with classmates and build a collaborative resource to help with revision.

Look forward to hearing your comments and feedback as well as ideas of things you do with your classes.

TeachMeet Midlands

Posted on May 15th, 2009 in conferences | No Comments »

Teachmeet Midlands is just starting. I’ve put my name down to speak about google apps but I’m much more excited to see what everyone else has to offer. This is probably the swishest teachmeet venue I’ve been to (NCSL) . If you’re around come along – we’ve a few tables free still!

 On my table is Doug Belshaw, Laura Walker, Dughall McCormack, Toby Barkworth-Night & Stuart Rideout – I’ll link to their blogs and twitters soon!

 Anyway I got picked first and talked a little about google sites and docs. I shall blog some more about it here in the week.

This was presented at Teachmeet Havering 2009…

Every Summer before GCSE exams you get a couple of weeks when you need to be revising. Students minds are not filled with thoughts of exam preparation but thoughts of leaving school (some for good) and the days get longer and warmer. It can be a very hard time for lessons to be productive even though it’s arguably the most important time of year. Last year one of my year 11 classes had a number of students blessed with musical talent. The idea of creating revision songs popped into my head. I asked a couple of students to bring in their guitars next lesson and I brought in some lyrics (see Data Capture song below). 20 minutes later two guys Aden and Sean put together a tune – we got our cheap microphone headset up, loaded up audacity and recorded this…

Data Capture Song


Data Capture Song Lyrics (pdf)

You could use any programme to record but we used Audicity which is free and simple. Jose Picardo gives a great introduction to podcasting and audacity here, I’ve used his explanation for staff training.

As I said we didn’t use any special hardware – just a £1 headset microphone and PC. After this I had a request from the students for a revision song that fitted to Fields of Gold . I sat down at home and wrote the following lyrics which the 2 guys then recorded.

Fields of Data

Fields of Data Lyrics (pdf)

It’s easy, fun, and a great way to revise. Of course you could use songs for all ages and subjects not just for revision. If you’ve any good examples do leave them in the comments.

Finally in my enthusiasm I bought www.revisionsongs.com but haven’t had time to do anything with it. If anyone would like to collaborate or take it over for a good cause let me know – it would be amazing to have a youtube style website of revision songs for students.

Addendum: Thanks to Anthony Evans from Redbridge who has posted a video of my presentation on his blog – you can watch it below.

Teachmeet North East London was different from any other teachmeet I’d been to but still invigorating, educational and fun!

A short blog post from me about 3 interesting issues raised. I also wanted to share what I thought were the outstanding presentations I heard.

But first a bit of self publicity – I presented on using Audacity to record revision songs – you can read about it on this separate post.

3 Issues Raised from Presentations:

  1. How do people use delicious in school? (Or other similar sites) I just don’t get how people set it up or use it. I use delicious but the power for me is the in browser tag button. Please share your tips! (This was mentioned by Tom Barrett in his talk as his school has delicious set as their homepage)
  2. Using Instant Messenger in the classroom. Undoubtedly a fun, attractive and powerful tool but how do you get students to use it without being silly and offensive. Is it just a matter of waiting until the novelty wears off or is it careful training?(Again brought up by Tom’s talk)
  3. Making school ICT lessons and use more exciting. Student Edith spoke about how she learns stuff in ICT lessons that she already knows how to do. I very much agree that much is uninspiring but many of my students are not as advanced and savvy as the rest and even the most savvy don’t know how to do an IF statement in a spreadsheet until I show them. What is the right balance? Is there a set of core skills students need in ICT? Is the attractive stuff all bells and whistles or is there as much substance.

Oh and the top 4 presentations… In no order, Tom Barrett was great as always, Ollie Bray showed me some amazing new stuff, Edith’s presentation was superb (though last years on how students get round security in schools was possibly even better!) and the new stars that I hadn’t seen before were Anjum Razaq and Simon White of Cleveland Junior School who presented their school blog and social space for students.

Well done to all who organised TeachmeetNEL09 it was just what the Doctor ordered.

I’m looking forward to Teachmeet North East London tonight . Well partly looking forward and partly wondering how I’m going to keep my eyes open after another “one of those weeks and weekends”!

If you don’t know about Teachmeet you can read about it on their website or in my previous blog posts

 … I ran out of time to write anything more and I’m now at Teach Meet listening to Drew Buddy speak!

I’m planning on presenting tonight on creating revision songs using Audacity (or any other sound recording programme). I’ll post more here this weekend.

If you’ve not been to a Teachmeet before go! If there isn’t one near you then make your own.

Teachmeet 09 at BETT

Posted on January 17th, 2009 in conferences | 1 Comment »

Another year another BETT another Teachmeet

As Lisa Stevens said in her teachmeet talk it’s amazing how much you can learn in a year. Last year at Teachmeet the only person I vaguely knew was Drew Buddie. He introduced me to a couple of people and a few weeks later when we met again he told me to join twitter and start a blog. This year at Teachmeet I was down on the list to present, had been volunteered to run the flashmeeting and be cameraman and finally met 10-20 people that I had met online via twitter but never in person. It really is amazing how much of a network you can build up and how much you can learn in a year!

My talk didn’t get picked by the random name picker at teachmeet this year so I thought I’d write up here what I might have done.

First of all I wasn’t sure what to offer to present so I created a twitter poll on polldaddy and asked my twitter network to choose, you can see the results here

I won’t explain them all so here’s a selection that I’ll try and sum up in a few sentences each.

1. Using google sites: This is already written up on a previous post which you can read about here

2. Using audacity to make revision songs:  GCSE ICT class coming up to exams. I had a lot of musical students in the class so we wrote a couple of revision songs, got a guitar and recorded using audacity. One song was made up, the other we re-wrote the words of “fields of gold” to talk about databases! For advice on using audacity check out Jose Picardo’s blog. Nb. Audacity is a free open source audio recording and editing application.

3. Running a teachmeet style inset at school: In our January inset I organised a one hour long teachmeet style inset (Rickrolling Reflections). 10 staff members volunteered to speak and gave presentations on all kinds of things such as using drama games in class and techniques for questioning with students. We had prizes for the top 3 presentations. Despite the hall being an icy 14C it was a great hour or so.

4. China Masterclass using digital video and VLE for communication and collaboration: This is written up at length in a previous blog post here.

5. Creating cartoon strips with digital cameras: Get a class to draw a storyboard for a cartoon. Take them outside with digital cameras and get them to photograph each other acting out the scenes from the storyboard. Back in classroom take photos, put in powerpoint or other software, add speech bubbles, modify or edit photos where necessary. For extension work record audio to go with cartoon!

6. Teaching kids to fill out forms for nectar cards: I had a lesson on ICT in supermarkets and loyalty cards with a tricky year 8 class (aged 12/13). Two boys just weren’t interested and I couldn’t get them to complete any of the work. Instead I took them to the Nectar card website and got them to find out about Nectar cards. They both applied for one and in the process learnt to fill in an online form. I just assumed this would be easy but it took a while with questions like “Sir what do we put in the title box?” We also discussed who it was safe to share this information with and whether to tick the boxes allowing them to send you further mail. Both boys learn a very useful life skill. Once they had applied they learnt how the card worked, how to collect points and how much shopping they’d need to buy to get a free computer game. Great numeracy skills! I’m not sure I’d get a whole class to do this especially as you’re supposed to be 18 to get a Nectar card, but I guess that’s another life skill.