14 02 2013

Its been an emotional week, anticipation, anxiety, joy, stress, anger, appreciation, happiness, to name but a few, but which ones have i ridden on the crest of and have any drowned me?

This week i had an interview to change direction, moving from managing a curriculum area (ICT) to managing the children. All sorts of emotions have run through my head, but at the end of he day, surprise, happiness, relief, excitement are in abundance. (Phew!)

And talking about riding along on the crest of a wave, an art lesson on movement…. Waves!



#fun – secret agent style!

8 02 2013

Tonight it was hard to leave school, i was having so much fun, and all related to the project I was not looking forward to teaching. I reckon if i can make it fun for me, I am more likely to enthuse those I am teaching.

Fun, for me, is a major consideration when planning lessons, second only to the learning intention/ target. We have all attended training/courses and which did we remember most? Which did we participate most in? Which made a lasting impression, which encouraged us to do our best? the ones which were carefully planned to meet the learning target in a FUN way.

So back to this afternoon… I have a team work project to deliver, where children have to collaborate and present information about a specific country. 21 hours of research. What it needed was a spin… A reason for being, and a fun one at that… Luckily i work with. Team of talented and creative likeminded teachers and we collaborated and came up with a plan… Mission 4367, where children are invited by James bond to help them research their country in a top secret mission in which agent lives across the world are in danger. I have downloaded ‘morfo’ on my ipad, grabbed a picture of 007 and animated him recording the initial briefing. Top secret dossiers have been created, secret agent cards are ready for laminating and a flipchart created for ‘retired agents’ (aka teachers) to model the learning and reinforce instructions.

All I need now are 23 willing agent volunteers! Roll on next half term!



1 02 2013

A special treat for technowellies readers today, a blog about ….. Wellies! Or rather the drawing of them. Many of you will have fathomed that our current topic is ‘weather’. For art, i decided to utilise my stash of outgrown wellies for a still life lesson. Grouping the wellies in threes of varying patterns, sizes and colours, the children set to work using pencil, pen or pastel. Their target for the lesson was to use line to create an accurate picture of the wellington boots.

All was going well for the first twenty minutes, until one bright spark ( and he is a bright spark) asked another child why they were drawing boots. The other child replied that it was because of our weather topic and that boots were useful in rain. A second child piped in and said it was because Mrs Lydon must have lots of wellies so it was an easy thing for her to get together. My bright spark was having none of these answers though, and posed the question, “but why do we have to draw anything at all?” At this point I realised two things. Firstly ‘sparky’ was not enjoying the task as much as I was and secondly my target was not appropriate. Why had I decided to ask the children to sketch wellies? What was the point of using one hour of our precious learning time?

I stepped in at this point and joined the discussion. I talked about the need for close observation in other walks of life, how they were recording the weather by observing closely what they could see, not what they thought they could see…how they were editing their stories using close observation, trying to read what they had written and not what they thought they had written…. how they checked their maths by looking carefully at their actual answers, not what they thought they had answered.

Luckily this seemed to satisfy the children, who resettled, refocused and closely observed what they really saw, and not what they thought they could see. And as for the results, well, you can see for yourself….


# purpose

24 01 2013

“What is the purpose?” Is a question i seem to be asking more and more every day as a class teacher. As Head of ICT I feel I know exactly what the purpose is , but as a class teacher, the permutations are much wider.. An easy activity with less real purpose so I can hear readers or a great activity that i cant move forward enough as I hear readers? An easy activity to build confidence or a tricky one to deepen learning… So many decisions to make!

As my first year back as a classroom teacher for a few years, it is interesting to see my beliefs and understanding change. Today I trained a new member of staff how to use activinspire. She had used activprimary in the past, but Inspire and the new wonderful features needed explaining. And On reflection, I feel my training was quite different now I am back with a class full time. Still the same tools were discussed, still the same activities described and given as examples, but a subtle change of emphasis has taken place, away from the teacher ‘wow’ing others by using tools, to the whiteboard being almost unnoticeable as the teacher concentrates on the main focus of the day… Children’s learning. No longer were the tricks the ‘highlight’ of the training, but the more subtle tools were taking centre stage in my training such ad changing the toolbar and adding personal resources.

The purpose has changed. Now. Want my whiteboard to blend into the background, to become secondary to the learning rather than the focus, an invisible tool rather than the shiny new one.
Many of the materials i worked through were the same ( the manual i have written and the ten minute tasks which are really popular with staff) just the purpose of the whiteboard itself had changed, but to try and make my whiteboard invisible, because I love it, was nit something I had expected…

Purpose, it’s all about purpose.


22 01 2013

Today I went solo, probably prematurely, as i haven’t quite managed to read past the first few chapters of my new book,but I was so excited, and my ‘snow lesson’ ( despite Edinburgh being the last place in the UK NOT to be snowy) leant itself so well.

So rather than the research and present content,( rather shallow learning) we researched, put ideas, information and learnt concepts into hexagons and connected our thoughts, and then presented our learning. ( probably nothing approaching abstract relational, but nevertheless deeper learning than it would have been.

I enjoyed my role as Devils Advocate, questioning children’s ideas and concepts, forcing them to re jig and reconnect and rearrange . Other children picked up on this role too, so that when sent to question other groups they were quick to try and spot links and connections that they thought the others had missed. All in all, a fun and constructive 2 hours for my class, the test will be tomorrow when I ask the what they gave learnt!






15 01 2013

Today was a dream day for a primary school teacher teaching weather!

It was cold enough for children to demonstrate their knowledge of condensation when breathing, a variety of cloud types were visible to identify out of the window, and to topi it all, rain, sun, sleet, snow all in one lesson.

All that was needed was wind! Well I could sort that one! Even the children were a little surprised when I showed them a balloon and told them I was going to make wind in the classroom! Certainly a raised eyebrow from the other adult in the room!

An hour layer they had watched vidoes, created diagrams, acted out how wind is made, talked, discussed, questioned… and everyone could describe how low and high pressure and heat from the sun made air move, known as wind. Result! No doldrums in my class today. ( and it was o much fun too!) My pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Time to get out the bubble mix tomorrow!


11 01 2013

Talk has definitely been the theme of today, right from the first ‘chat’ of the day in the car park whilst unpacking my marking from the boot of my car. More talk as I install a visualiser on the way to my classroom, and yet more talk as the class excitedly ask one member about his birthday.

Talk fascinates me, some talk too much, some not enough, some control exactly what they say, others seem to have no control. The task today was to take a ‘Just so story’ summarise it to 100 words or less and then present to the class. The different styles the class used was fascinating, as were their presentation styles. As usual some totally blew me away. The group which took the story about how the camel got his hump, managed to turn the story into a very short and very funny play! Genius!

MORE Talk as I run through maths plans, reading levels, art resources, ICT equipment with colleagues, ‘talk’ as I catch up with friends from other parts of he school, ‘talk’ about the future technology school might deploy. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk….

I have to admit i find talk easy, but in my drawer i have the stuck in the following quote stuck by Steven Covey…, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Like most people, I still do this from time to time…today in my rush and excitement I know i have done this too much… Bad move- two ears, one mouth for a reason! Understanding is so important, whoever i am talking with. And reflecting on today, the most important moments were the listening ones, where I remembered to really focus on the message the talker was sending…Maybe my next blog post should be #listen.