Once again this year I am attending Limmud Conference at Warwick University and again I am giving a number of sessions. (More about Limmud conference later on).

One of my sessions it titled e-Tools, e-Learning, and e-Communication for e-veryone happening at 19:00-20:10 GMT on Tuesday (28th December)

In this session I will be presenting various online tools and case studies to give people ideas on how to use e-tools for learning, teaching, networking and communicating.

I would love to get some participation from people online, live on the night or via this voicethread. If you have a tool you could talk about or a case study to share please let me know by adding your name to this Google Doc.

I will be broadcasting the session via Flashmeeting so all can join in

If you want to contribute but can’t make it live on the evening please leave us a comment on this voicethread.

Nb in case you are wondering, like all the presenters at Limmud I am volunteering to be there, and like most of the presenters I am a paying participant!

About Limmud Conference: Limmud conference is an annual conference of Jewish learning which attracts about 2500 people. It attracts an incredibly diverse range of people with sessions on anything and everything. You can view the full conference programme on their website.

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.

I’m running a session at 9.30am on Tuesday morning (29th December) on E-tools, E-learning and E-Communication for everyone and I need your help!

The session is being run at Limmud conference, an amazing and diverse Jewish learning conference. I’m hoping to share with people at the conference some great online tools they can use in their lives. I don’t know who will turn up at the session but as well as interested individuals there will no doubt be teachers, educators, rabbis and communal leaders.

There’s two ways you can help
1. Fill in this short online Google Form
http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?cfg=true&formkey=dHgxalRwazdEWG5YOURMWXg5QWJpenc6MA

The results will be available to view at
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AoTf6qWZwPKXdHgxalRwazdEWG5YOURMWXg5QWJpenc&hl=en

2. Join our flashmeeting at 9.30am, pop in and say hello and share a bit of your knowledge to a captive audience!
http://flashmeeting.e2bn.net/fm/cb4639-8214

3. Tweet me your favourite e-tool – send a tweet to @nstone and I’ll collate them together.

Many thanks and I look forward to seeing people online tomorrow morning!

Often good things come at once. Sometimes they come at the same time and you can’t make them all – but yesterday the all worked out fine and I had a busy but fantastic day that I had to share on my blog!

On a normal day I’m in school all day, teaching classes, preparing for them or doing work around my e-learning responsibilities. Most of my CPD nowadays I tend to do in my own time, via twitter, online groups such as edtechroundup or evening meetings like Mirandamods. Occasionally I get to go to a course, in the daytime – a real old fashioned Inset!

This Thursday was one of those days – I headed over to the institute of education for a morning session on mentoring. This was the third installment of this course aimed at people like me who are mentoring participants in the graduate teacher programme (a method of teacher training in the UK). The course was useful and we learnt about different methods of mentoring most of which was new to me. By the time we had finished it was too late to head back into school so I’d arranged to try and teach my A-level computing class online.

I headed over to the British Library, a wonderful place to work, and it has free Wi-Fi. I sat myself down in the cafe and waited to see if any of my class would join me in an online flashmeeting. Almost on the dot the first students arrived – 3 joined from home and 3 from the school library. We had a 40 minute online lesson and it went okay. The main problem was the other fascinated year 13 students in the school library who kept on coming over to see what was going on. One even joined the lesson. Aside from these disruptions we actually got some work done. I talked the students through database normalisation using a hefty powerpoint presentation. It was hard working out if students were listening, participating or learning. I gauged this by asking questions and getting students to summarise what I had been saying. Based on the answers obviously something had got through! I did get a few strange looks from people in the library cafe.

No sooner had the online lesson finished when I got a skype call from Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano also known as @langwitches . Her 6th grade class interviewed me as part of their project on Jewish communities around the world. I’ve tried to help set them up with different friends of mine on different countries. Apparently Silvia has managed to cover every continent even Antartica! The girl who interviewed me asked great questions and I really enjoyed our 10 minute chat and meeting some of Silvia’s students. I’m very jealous of their project and look forward to seeing the results!

After an hour to kill in the British Library (which flies by when you have work to do) I headed over to the Moorgate offices of Oracle UK where I listened and joined in with the Owers Lecture 2009. The title of the lecture was “Can we reverse the decline of schools’ computing especially with girls”. The two main speakers were Kate Sims and Stephen Heppell who gave plenty of food for though. This was carried on through an audience discussion (we’d by then reformed into a circle) where we heard many points of view. I hope some of the lecture will soon be shared online by the people that were recording it. It’s well worth watching and I will add a link here if it arrives.

Overall a fantastic day – I like to think my school gets value for money when I pop out for an inset!

I’m currently at the Mirandamod Conference on “Teachers as Bloggers” – click here for the “Teachers as Bloggers” page with information and also links to communal mindmaps that are being created.

We’ve been discussing blogging all day. One point of many that resonated was how long it can take to write a blog post. So I’m taking a few minutes to see if I can write a quick post about something that has impressed me – and I’m going to go a little off topic. The conversation about blogging has been superb, the collaborative mindmap has been great fun but I’m so impressed as to how well the videoconferencing is working.

In the room at the IOE we’re all sitting around a table and at one end of a room is a projector showing a display of a flashmeeting videoconference. Currently there are 19 people joined to the flashmeeting and they are very much participants not just online but in the room. We’ve 10 in the face to face meeting and 19 online. Having attended so many presentations and conferences where the technology doesn’t work it’s great to have a solution that just works!

Credit to flashmeeting and credit to Leon Cych for doing the filming here. It’s time to get some videoconferencing working in my school.

  • ps – I got this blog written in about 15 minutes, result or rushed?

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.

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.