It was very nice to receive a tweet this morning from Chris Ratcliffe (@chrisrat) to tell me I had been nominated for the Education Blog Awards 2011 in the category, “Teacher Blog of the Year” Twitter Update

Thanks to whoever nominated me, it’s the first time I’ve ever been nominated for anything like this.

I started my blog a few years back when Drew Buddie aka @digitalmaverick told me that the process and progress of the VLE I was developing at school was something that would be really useful to share with others. As time has gone on my posts have diversified a little and I am no longer involved in the VLE I started writing about. But there is plenty more to come and many blog posts that are half writen. Take a look at the contents link to see the archive.

I hope some of my blog posts are useful to other people, like most teachers who blog, I do it to share and reflect, but it is exciting when the stats hit the roof. This has only happened twice to me: once for my guide to Twitter post earlier this year which for a week was clocking 100 visits a day, and once when I published my MA research on “What gets kids on a VLE“.

If you enjoy what you read feel free to click the button below and vote for me or visit

But if you don’t click don’t feel bad. I’m up against 40 other blogs many of whom I am big fans of, as a whole they are a fantastic compendium of teachers’ experiences and achievements.

Vote for me as Teacher Blog of the Year

Our biology staff recently refurbished our school pond which had  been lying empty of  both water and life for many years.

School pond in the snow

School Pond in the snow

About 2 months ago a pair of handsome ducks decided to take up residence at the pond. As you can imagine this was rather an exciting event both for the students and staff at the school. The staffroom became a staff  bird hide and the benches near the pond a focal point for students. Many a parentally prepared sandwich ended in a ducks stomach. Everyone started thinking of names for the ducks and insisted their name was the correct one – I spotted a chance for the VLE to offer a bit of pupil voice and democracy.

I set up a “Duck Group” on our VLE Rickypedia (a moodle course named duck group) with a forum to suggest names, a forum to share duck trivia and advice and a database to share photos. I posted a news story on the front page of the VLE to encourage people to nominate names for ducks and ask for any volunteers to help. Students immediately started nominating names, a few gave suggestions (with links and references) on how to care for ducks and what to feed them (some say not at all and some say sparingly and not bread). One volunteer, a talented Year 7 student called Owen, came forward and I gave him control of the duck group.

School Ducks

Before long students had nominated around 20 names for a vote and Owen had totally revamped the duck group adding great graphics, a spot the ducks forum to report news of their locations and a duck survey using google forms. At the end of term we closed the nominations and Owen set up a poll (I sent him a link to a YouTube video showing how to set up a poll and he did the rest). The poll opened and a few weeks and 150 votes later we closed the poll.

I must say I was a little disappointed by the choice of name but the students had spoken and the result was even more surprising than the general election – the winning pair of names was “Green Head” and “The Other One” followed by Donald and Daisy and Gavin and Stacey!

I shall leave you with a recent photo of the ducks and the wonderful graphic created by Owen to celebrate the winners.

Ducks in Pond

Ducks in Pond

Ducks and Students

Ducks and Students

Duck Winners

Duck Winners

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:
The event is FREE and tickets are available from here:

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:
The event is FREE and tickets are available from here:

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:
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!

Limmud E-tools session notes

Posted on December 29th, 2009 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Just a quick post to say that the presentation I used is below and if you want to see the link to the suggested tools from the kind people in my twitter network you can see them here.

Thanks to Paul Bogush for inspiring this blog post. In fact credit where it’s due all I’ve done is copied and pasted the original, translated it into the UK English and edited and added a little with some UK cultural references. Paul also referenced some other great blogs in his post including this one comparing theme parks to schools

Although I though the original post was very funny it also makes some superb points about education and education systems and really got my brain thinking. Please do add more ideas in the comments.

If Cinemas were like schools…

Everyone would sit in alphabetical order.

If you talked during the film it would stop until you were quiet.

If you carried on talking during the film you would get sent out for 5 minutes but then come in again.

Some films would make you watch in silence while others would let you talk.

If you laughed at the car crash you would have to leave and talk to a counsellor.

There would be IEPs in place for the guys so that they could sit through an entire chick flick.

There would be no sweets or fizzy drinks allowed.

Popcorn could be served at the interval but neither salt nor sugar could be added.

If a cinema wasn’t pulling in the punters it would be reopened with private money in a plush new building as an Academy cinema.

Films would be differentiated to appeal to a range of styles of students.

Films would clearly display the objectives of the film at the start and summarise them at the end.

Directors would have to cross reference their films to the national curriculum.

If you showed up to the movie late you would be given a detention.

If you tried to leave early the manager would haul you back in.

If your mobile phone goes off the staff will confiscate it.

You would have to pause the movie and write in your book about what you had seen so far.

You would have to enter and exit the cinema in two straight lines.

The films you watched would be chosen for you.

Once a month you would have to watch a film about a culture other than your own.

Everyday you would have to watch action films first, then drama, then romances, then horror.  There would be no films allowed that crossed genre lines like romantic dramas.

Any movie over 50 minutes long would be completed the next day

Can’t watch trailers of what is upcoming until movie is over.

If you need the toilet during the film you need to raise your hand to ask permission.

Any B movie would have to be re-made until it is a hit.

If no one spoke for the entire film you would get a merit.

The opening sequence of rules would be 2 hours long.

You can’t leave the cinema with a friend to go to their house unless you have a note from your mother.

If you are sick and can’t watch a film the next day you have to watch twice as many films.

There would be no bad language in the films.

They would take out the air conditioning and install two small fans.

There would be five screens but only two projectors.

A register would be taken at the start of the film.

When the projectors break you would have to role play the characters in the movie.

If a projectionist is away a cover supervisor would run the film.

People behaving badly during a film would be sent to an isolation room with a manager of the cinema supervising them until the day is over.

The ushers would have to be certified, have 30 hours of credits, pass two tests, and practice ushering with another usher who sat through a 6 hour workshop on how to teach ushering before being hired.

People would be bused across town because watching the film with a diverse audience will bring more peace and harmony.

Every cinema in the city would be playing the same movie at the same time.

There would be no comedies shown.

You could watch movies, but not create movies.

Ushers would have PD on how to check and see if the audience is watching the movie, but none on making movies.

You are not allowed to boo, only cheer for movies.

If the males didn’t like watching movies when they get older it IS NOT because they had to learn how to watch movies by watching Beaches, An Officer and a Gentleman, Dirty Dancing, Ice Castles, and Flashdance.

One of the major tasks I will have this year implementing our new VLE is to train staff.

To get staff on board I will need as many staff  on my side as possible and one idea I had was to run a separate group of teachers not just learning to use the VLE but learning, playing and sharing other web tools. So I advertised for enthusiasts – didn’t push anyone to come (except offering cake) and we got a very nice turnout. (About 8 staff of 7 specialisms)

We started off playing with voki, next I got staff to have a play setting up blogs on posterous and we finished off with a flurry looking at voicethread, delicious and classtools. Okay this was a lot to fit in a 45 minute session – ideally we would look at a tool, examples of how it has been used in a subject and then work out how to do it. But I think I and the staff enjoyed a fast place and having fun after school rather than planning. I finished off by setting a little homework – to find a blogger of their subject and to report back on what they found. To help them get started I pointed staff towards Doug Belshaw’s list of edubloggers as well as the edubloggers directory

Overall it was a fun evening and we shall certainly have more. I hope by the time we have our next big ICT Inset we will have lots of examples that our staff can demonstrate of their ICT use in the classroom.

I will write a separate post on our plans for VLE training which I’m still working on – I would love to hear feedback and ideas on how to train 100 staff of different subjects with different specialisms and IT skills. I also wonder how my budget of £30 per staff member (which is probably quite generous for a school) compares to the amount that would be spent in industry?

Thanks to Drew Buddie for tagging me quite a while ago for the Passion Quilt Meme – it’s taken me a long while to respond but I recently came across the perfect picture to add. Actually it’s more than one so I’m not going to stick to the original rules. I’m also not going to tag anyone else to follow on the chain (I believe I’m supposed to pick 5 people) but if you would like to be picked say so in a comment and I’ll edit this post and link to your blog.

So to the post and the pictures. I was recently visiting two friends in Silverspring a suburb of Washington DC. They are both teachers but more importantly to the story new parents. Their beautiful baby is coming up to 7 months old. So the first technology bit is a website they use to buy their nappies online (or as they call them across the Atlantic diapers). With their purchase they received a free subscription to Parenting Magazine (in good old fasioned paper form). While flicking through the magazine I came across some adverts that astounded me – adverts for websites and products aimed at very young kids and parents to learn with computers. I whipped out the newly purchased camera to snap some of the adverts and they are going to find their way into some staff training this year. Why? In Secondary School we are still a long way from revolutionising learning using technology and some teachers still think it’s a fad – but with kids using technology for learning not soon after they learn to sit up surely it’s time for the naysayers to realise that learning continues to evolve.

Enjoy the pictures…
(click links or pictures for fullscreen to read the text and see the baby)

Sesame Street Media Play

media play sesame street

More Sesame Street online resources

media play sesame street p2

And a bit more sesame street

A new place to play - Sesame Street

Web 2.0 For Kids

Web Learning Platform

E-pen for reading

reading pen

The Baby of the Future?

Baby of the Future