Dear companies new to Twitter

Living together - 187/365(This is a thinly-veiled rant, aimed mainly at some Education companies, but others are I’m sure just as guilty.)

Hello, and welcome to the wonderful world of Twitter. Products are recommended and shared, ideas bandied about, thoughts sought and opinions freely given (sometimes, too freely). In Educational terms, Twitter is a brilliant source of almost hourly inspiration, support, ideas and guidance.

I really want you to enjoy your time on Twitter, and get the most out of it! To do so, here are my dos and don’ts. Feel free to follow them or ignore them.

DO join in the conversations. Twitter is a bit like a party – you can listen to others talking, start a conversation yourself, or join one politely. Standing in the corner of a party just saying things that are about your company normally make the rest of us want to avoid you!

DON’T Send the same message to everyone on a list you have made. This is called spam and is actually really annoying. I might even take a photo of your spam and retweet it! Have a look at our twitter biogs and think to yourselves “would this be relevant to them?”, “have I introduced myself to them properly yet?” or even (and this may be a shocker) “How would I react if I was sent this message out of the blue?”

DO Share your expertise, your innocence and your knowledge first, not your amazing deals and product-plugs. You entered your market because of these reasons, so share what you know, what you’ve picked up and also what you don’t know. The Twitter crowd is 99.6% friendly, helpful and keen to expand their horizons too!

DON’T Bomb hashtag chats. It is really annoying.

DO Be human. Tell us who you are, what you like, your views on things. Be a person and have a personality. Present tweets are really easy to spot and end up being as welcome as takeaway menus through the letterbox.

DON’T Ignore tweets sent directly to you. It’s also really annoying. Someone spent time sending you something, at least have the courtesy of saying thank you, or clicking the ‘favorite’ (sic) icon.

DO Retweet your interests! You’ll gain followers and also the respect of others.

Summary

We love companies, and couldn’t manage without them. Make your tweets the same, and you’ll be heroes in our eyes. Just look at the respect that BrainpopUK or Dragonfly get online.

Top image: Sergio Alvarez via Compfight

Which other Educational companies do you think get Twitter right? Let me know below and I’ll add them to this blogpost!

Rotational Writing

UPDATE: The generous @Stephenconnor7 read this blog and tried it out with his own class, and the brilliant results are here! Have a read of his work, then find out what he did back on this page!

I’ve been experimenting recently with silo collaboration; that is, collaborating without direct contact. This has been done before by me in terms of rotational marking, where my class sit in a circle around desks, and have a minute to read and add one improvement to a piece of work before passing it on. This has worked brilliantly for me, and was highlighted by the ease to which two new pupils fitted in with this aspect of our class culture – everybody shares, everyone can improve.

I took this one stage further last week by trialling some rotational writing. The children chose a genre of writing, then wrote down a simple spine plot (both these concepts had previously been taught). I divided them into genre groups, and then Sitting in these groups, they begin their first sentence of their story. They then passed their paper and plot to the person on their left, and added a new sentence. They carried this on, in the heat, with a quiet concentration, for over fifty minutes. Every so often, their own story would arrive back to them, and hey would read through it, adding or changing words/phrases.

What resulted was a rich set of stories from the children, as well as some really satisfying collaborative work without any of the usual gripes. The quality of the writing was better than normal (generally), and there was also a lot more attention to plot structure than I normally observe. In fact, there was so little for me to do, they were so much in ‘flow’ that I joined in and started writing my own story!

I’m reminded when thinking about this about how we sometimes need a jolt in our linear thoughts to make new connections, in the way that you might solve a crossword with someone else. By encouraging the children to write together separately, they had heir own story extended, their own writing critiqued and also read other children’s writing.

Note: Pupils are aged 9. We worked outside in outdoor classroom, but had to move twice, and at one point Reception came out and started picnicking right next to us. My class barely noticed.

Online Roundup #goodbyeClouds

umbrella... shadow... rainbow... field of wheat...Here is this week’s Online Roundup! These are all things I have heard about or seen online this week. Have you found something online you’d like me to link to? Let me know! (Bernat Casero via Compfight)

Writing

The brilliant HelpMeWrite website asks you for a blog or writing idea, and then allows others to vote and encourage you to write it! Speaking of great writing, there is some fantastic essays, some serious, some funny, on the website Medium. Both these sites are for adults, but there is no reason why they couldn’t inspire similar ideas in class too.

We used rotational marking in class this week during poetry – everyone writes, then you rotate the books around (one minute each) and everyone adds something. Combining this with our exploration of poetry using the Japanese Wabi-Sabi concept of ‘nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect’, the children asked to stay in during break to finish!

Maths

Traffic Jam maths. Obviously. (via @alexbellos)

Saturday CPD

Wahoo! Everyone loves a bit of weekend improvement, right? Of course they do – and this day from Edssential looks fantastic in October in Southampton. I’m going, and will happily drive anyone from my school, or within the TN18 postcode who needs a lift (haven’t told my wife yet, please don’t mention it to her….).

Meetings

How to end every meeting. Doesn’t this sound good?

Reflections

This is how I teach by Sue Cowley. A lovely reflective piece. The best part about this job is the honour of working with the children, and I think this captures this really well.

Dai Barnes has a really interesting series going called This is how I work. There is a really diverse mix of styles, but the two key themes appear to be poor sleep and Apple products. Connected?

Learning Theories in one handy (giant) .pdf. Like an enormous (terrifying) board game. Pictionary Piaget. (via @COLFESmedia)

Testing

This post from @alfiekohn was interesting about tests helping to recall facts, as was this paper I found on David Didau’s website about the benefits of small, incremental tests (and no, I’m not stalking @LearningSpy, honestly). In a recent discussion with staff at school, it was really refreshing to be assured by our go-to, which is ‘how will this change ultimately benefit the children?’.

 

Online Roundup #stunningDusk

Pigeon Point / Sky Whale...Here is this week’s Online Roundup! These are all things I have heard about or seen online this week. Have you found something online you’d like me to link to? Let me know! (Image by Dave via Compfight)

Papercraft

This link for foldables comes from @SiaranML from her talk at #TMClevedon. HUGE potential for lots of different things in class.

 

English

The Phonics Screening Check is rearing its head again, and this is a link to @OliverQuinlan’s blogpost on data revealed last year. It seems that the results weren’t as you might ordinarily expect….

A service to turn a script into a storyboard from Amazon! Link via the writer John Naughton, on twitter as @jjn1.

 

Technology

This blogpost on why EdTech startups don’t succeed is written with a US perspective, but is really interesting. Honest! (via @oliverquinlan)

 

Pedagogy

I was lucky enough to be invited to,among other things, give a set of workshops about Marking to final year teaching students at Plymouth University by @ethinking. I wrote this up as a blogpost, which has had an incredible response. If you have missed it, here is a link to it: Marking is Broken.

A great link here I swiped from @LearningSpy on, essentially, How we learn versus how we think we learn from UCLA.

@TeachterTweaks keeps a really good (far more slick than this) bulletin together right here. Lots of lovely things included, including the clever idea of having levelled errors!

Einstein said that thing about fish climbing trees, did he? Erm, no he didn’t.

 

Monkeys

How cool are these Monkeys?! I want one!!!!  @tonhenzley has one in his classroom as a mascot. We have an ostrich with a santahat.

#Nurture2013 – Mid-term Review

Below is my review of how my 13 aims for this year are panning out My notes, and score are in italics below. Feedback/advice/support/sarcasm always welcome.

(These were) my 13 things to aspire to in 2013

1. Less iPhoneage

I’m addicted. I admit it. I’m going to try this year and plug it in to charge more often, AWAY from where I am. It’s just so useful….!
Still addicted, although I’m having serious thoughts as to a stunt phone, with just numbers, for the weekends. I survived a whole 24 hours without it (accidentally of course) in May, so here’s hoping…
Score: 2/10 Must try harder.
 

2. Oscartention

The hours that I work mean that I don’t see much of Oscar, my youngest. A glimpse in the morning at weekdays is mostly it. This Christmas holiday I have realised more than ever how strong our bond is, and how that will break when I go back to work. I am going to try hard to spend a little more time with him at the weekends.
Going well. There are of course demands with having seven children, but Oscar’s personality is growing daily, which oddly makes it easier to bond with him. He is currently at the stage of repeating everything he says, which is great as a Dad, and for those who do know me in person, is enormous (guilty) fun.
Score: 8/10 Will be higher when he goes to bed later. I must of course try to get home earlier sometimes…

3. Writing projects

I have two writing projects that should hopefully launch this year. After interest in something I wrote in late 2010 came to nothing, I am loathe to say in public what these writing projects are – but I will of course if they get off the ground!
Still on the hard drive. Building up material, but it is slooooow work. I’d rather have something complete to redraft, as I need the discipline. I am happy to reveal more now though – one is a book you would find in the Popular Psychology section of Waterstones (one of my favourite sections!), and another is a book of advice I am building up, from a certain perspective. Other things just keep getting in the way…! Having had books published in the past, I know it isn’t beyond me, but I was sans children then.
Score: 3/10 Start writing again!

5. Vegetable plots

Mixed success these last few years, I have written a game plan for my vegetable boxes (5 beasties!) that I built last year. Hopefully, it will be a good harvest, and not just leek/courgette themed like 2012!
All five boxes are active, although I have a glut of Mustard salad and no chillies to speak of! Boo. Sad to admit, but I find them quite therapeutic to look after and gather my thoughts with; a vast quantity of produce would be the icing on the cake though.
Score: 7/10 Weed more. Find a book which identifies weed seedlings (weedlings?).

6. Chickens

After three years, we said a sad goodbye to Mr. Dustbin-Lorry, one of the original four chickens, and the last to survive. The coop needs revitalising, and I am planning to clear the end of the garden so we can see more of the field, so no chickens for the moment. Hopefully more by the end of the year.
Will stick to that. No chicken back here yet, unless you count the cooked one we bought today. Good work by me on giving a generous deadline here.
Score: N/A Coward.

7. Streamlining paperwork

Love it or loathe it, there’s a heck of a lot of paperwork in schools these days .I’m going to try my level best to get as much of our shared paperwork on the Cloud as I can manage this year, and at the moment I’m favouring Dropbox, although there are certain rights issues I want to resolve first.
Well, how funny! I’d forgotten all about this one! I have actually got better at streaming my paperwork, which just needs lawn care (regular maintenance and organisation). As for Dropbox, my tiny idea for a shared one has really taken off, and now there are over 10 Teaching Dropboxes running now, with about 800 individuals subscribing to them! Join us!
Score: 8/10 School good, Home, musty try harder.

8. Less ideas, more doing

I am filled with ideas, and find it hard to actually ‘do’ so many of them. I’m going to try harder to start less this year and complete more. Or find good ‘finishers’ to work with. Speaking of which…
Nope. Still the same. If anything, worse. At least I’ve found a better way of organising my ideas (iphone/Notesy/Mailbox/GDocs). I have however decided that this is good thing! This is a part of me that Kate Perry can’t take away from me.
Score: N/A Coward. Again.

9.  StartupEdu

I am really lucky to be attending this in January, and even luckier my wife gave me permission to ‘nerd-out’ for a whole weekend. I’m going with an idea – hopefully it’ll get some traction, but if not, I’ll look forward to contributing to other projects and ideas!
It certainly got traction – it won the prelim round and then won the final event! Although things were very positive to start with, we’ve had some major technical delays which we’ve had to tackle, but remain keen to soft-launch later this year. You can follow the progress of Useedu, which turns your boring blank whiteboard into an inspirational, topic and changing wallpaper, on Twitter.
Score: 4/10 We’re in the valley…
10. Family wedding
In July, my brother is marrying my sister-in-law. It’s legal and very very lovely. I cannot wait for this day, and am incredibly excited about it. I’m also the Best Man, so this will be in the front of my mind for the next few months at least!
Well, the Stag Do in Bristol was a success, despite many months of minor worrying about it. We all had an incredible time, all fell in love with Bristol, and have to say that this has been the closest I have been to Golf – and I survived! Just the speech to write now, which is probably the far easier pat of the deal for me!
Score: 8/10 On target.

11. Stand-up

I’m going to have a go at an open mic night. Too many people have, incredibly flatteringly, said I should try it, so this year I’m going to go for it. Stupid challenge, as I get incredibly nervous at the oddest things, but getting out of your comfort zone once in a while is a good thing, right? RIGHT?
Not done much towards this. Got a knock-back for an open mic request, and haven’t stirred since. Someone recommended a course to me, but it was too far, too long and too expensive. I have got to go for this, but everything else seems to be a higher priority at the moment. The lizard mind speaking?
Score: 2/10 Still quite cowardly.
 

12. Exercise

Having run several marathons, half marathons and races in the past, 2012 was essentially RUBBISH in the exercise stakes. Apart from my Augathon (89 miles in one month, with a daily 1 miler at least), I only ran 490 miles, not including Running Club miles. In 2013, I’m going to exercise more, eat better and enter a few more races. Hello Tunbridge Wells Half and Trailwalker 2013!
This has gone moderately well. I ran the Tunbridge Wells half (badly, 2.11), and have run intermittently ever since (although I ran a surprise 10k the day after a Barn Dance and ran it in 51 minutes). Much healthier diet. Trailwalker postponed until next year, but I have agreed to run a half marathon the week before the Big Wedding. I’m running it at the same time as my brothers, except that they will be in Surrey, and I’ll be in Edinburgh at the time. Hmmm.
 
Score: 6/10 Need to get out there more.

13 #batttuk

I’m launching #batttuk with my online 6’4 wingman @mrwaldram. More to follow, but basically it’s like ‘bring your daughter to work’ week, except it is ‘bring a teacher to twitter’.
This went really well, and we’ve started BASTTT – Bring a School to Twitter, which just follows and RTs school and class accounts. We launched as the first talk/Act at TMBETT this year,  passed 1000 followers this weekend, and our next push is next week! Going well!
Score:8/10 2,000 followers by December 31st?

Mid-Term successes for 2013 (so far)

1. Winning Startup Edu
2. Stag Do success organisation
3. Brilliant class this year, really refining my teaching
4. More specific family times
5. Teaching Dropboxes
6. Giving my first Keynote – amazing!
7. Growth in #SLTeachmeet

Marking is broken

This blogpost is a summary of a workshop I gave at Plymouth University in May 2013 at the Teaching Final Conference. The images are slidegrabs from my deck, and I’ve summarised them below. I would also add that I am in no way an expert at all in marking, and wanted to demonstrate that even after a few years of teaching, you can still refine and improve yourself. Feel free to add any tips you have found for improving marking in the comments below.

I introduced myself and explained that marking was my second least-favourite thing to do as a teacher, after displays.

 

There are five key stakeholders when it  comes to marking:

Parents – they LOVE marking – it shows their child has been taught and that the teacher has spent time working with them.

SLT – They also LOVE marking – in a time-poor environment, looking at marking is a quick snapshot system of identifying work output from staff and pupils.

Inspectors – They LOVE marking –  making a value judgement once every three years is hard enough, and marking is some of thee only tangible evidence that there has been some teaching in the previous three years.

This leaves two stakeholders left:

Teachers – No teacher LOVES marking. When I asked the workshop attendees, none from the 90 who attended said that they liked marking. None – and this was at the start of their career!

Pupils – they don’t get the value of marking either. Very often they seek a reward, and rarely read the the comments.

This leaves us with a huge problem - the two most key stakeholders in marking – the producer (teacher) and consumer (pupil) – get the least from it. How could we change this?

The focus of attention for both parties needs to change – reverse if you like. For pupils, the top priority should be learning, then praise, then reward, in that order. I have changed my marking style to aim for this to happen as many times as possible.

For teachers, the emphasis also needs to reverse, so that planning comes first, then tracking and finally proof. The true mark of good marking is actually focussed planning.

The changed mindset needs to be ‘marking is planning’ – this statement came from David Didau (@LearningSpy)  in a session I heard him speak at , and was my one strong takeaway from the workshop he gave.

In the old system, the routine appears to be PLAN > TEACH > MARK

However, in the new system, which is simply a change of mindset, the order is: MARK > PLAN > TEACH

This is not going to upset your SLT, will improve your teaching and planning (and marking of course). I have found this to be most effective if you do the marking AT THE SAME TIME as your planning, alongside each other.

SO what are the barriers to marking? From my perspective, there are four barriers:

Time: one minute per child in a class of thirty, over four subjects , gives a volume of two hours of marking every night. Unsustainable. Some people reading this may say ‘I do this, and more, every night already’ – I would suggest that this is not normal, not sustainable and not healthy. I’m happy for you to try and prove me wrong here.

Desire: Without the purpose of benefit, there is very little desire to  mark. There are far more glamourous things you can do with your time, whereas marking sits there, mocking you in bulky piles.

Volume: Every year in the holidays, I collect up my books with the intention of working through them. Every year, I take them back into school. It just doesn’t work for me – the volume chokes me and I do ANYTHING instead.

Handwriting: As a leftie, I find writing really hard work – quite tiring and onerous. Luckily, my class have a very good reading eye, and can forgive most things. We all however have colleagues whose writing is font-worthy and apparently effortless. Us lefties can’t stand them. Or Inky pens. Or the battles of war, shown with a stained left side-of-hand.

What works best

So what works best? The best strategies I have found that worked for me involved refining a system, or several systems, efficiently  so that marking happened as quickly as possible – drive-thru marking rather than catalogue marking if you like. Hattie contends that feedback is the most powerful learning and teaching strategy for progress, and I would wholeheartedly advocate marking in a one-to-one environment as much as possible. You get through the marking, the children LOVE the attention (it is one of the most perfect forms of teaching, that gentle steering onto the right path), and it refocusses the learning journey for all.

These are some examples of things I do to stay on top of marking:

Traffic lights – I use this both in books at the end of a task, and as a marking filter – three baskets, and the children put their books in the correctly-labelled basket. This helps me avoid the easy task of marking the ‘Green’ faces, rather than the more challenging ‘red’ faces.

Yes, I use red pen. It is just as easy to write something damaging in a green pen as it is to write something positive in red pen. The ones I prefer are gel-ink red pens, as the writing flows more easily.

I use stickers.I use them judiciously and carefully, which makes them more valuable. We design them together as a class, using a brilliant company on eBay, which prints them in packs of 96, for £2.20. WHAT IS NOT TO LIKE?!

The image bottom-right is of some marking. I have made a comment and asked a question. The pupil HAS to respond – no excuses. If their response is acceptable, then they get a sticker. It’s simple, it informs planning, enhances learning and works.

I use microticks a lot – this allows pupils to identify their strengths and their weaknesses. In the top left example (where I’ve also used pupil-swapping for marking) – they have had a microtick for the right number, and the right unit of measurement. This works brilliantly for me. The children use a different colour to mark each others, to avoid any cheatage(TM).

I adore post-its, and try to get the pupils to respond to each other where possible. In the example, children were responding to dilemmas they had experienced. This made the work relevant, not something I had conjured up, or magpied from TES Resources or Primary Resources. The children wrote two dilemmas (one easy, one tricky) and put them on the board, then you had to respond to someone else’s dilemma. Lovely lovely work.

I like group work. Copied for everyone, this reduces marking and encourages Spindle Theory (a healthy competitiveness among learners). A Lot of Secondary teachers will complain about group work, but I think it is how it is built-in from a Primary age. In this task, the children had produced an advert, and I got the children to to critique them, putting their comments on a post-it.

The last example, bottom right, shows some rotated marking from the pupils which works incredibly well. All the children wrote an opening extract about an Island (based on Michael Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom), then we sat in a horseshoe, and passed the books around, with one minute only to find something, just one thing, to improve or change. The result? After 15 minutes, a brilliant critique of each others’ work, 15 tips or improvements, a heightened understanding of everyone’s writing, and equal time for all. By participating myself, I was able to mark as I went on – making this probably the most beneficial and most-marked work all year!

I use plastic folders to hold my school books. If I have marked the books, I turn them around so the spine faces inward. It is a pathetic yet effective reward strategy for me to see how much I have marked. Chip away.

I try where possible now to plan as close as possible (in both time and space) to my marking, so one feeds the other. This is essential in changing the emphasis of marking.

Dates – many marking policies insist on the long date in English, the short date in everything else. Here is a challenge for that policy – time the length of time it takes for the class to write the long date, multiply that time by the number of lessons in a year, and justify that time to me as an effective learning activity. You can’t? Thought not. The primary purpose of the date is tracking (NOT spelling), so make it as simple as possible. Get the pupils busy learning, not dating.

This was my last slide before questions (Uploading it has somehow added some messy lines, sorry). I finished by stating that:

Focussed marking means good planning, leading to great teaching which creates outrageous outcomes – for all!

A note about the slides: For this deck, I took a punt and made a slide story – this is advocated as a style from Nancy Duarte’s fantastic Slide:Ology book, and is where each slide is a part of a bigger picture. This takes a careful level of planning, but is easy to do, and you can use the oldest version of PowerPoint to do it in too! I think the overall effect, with all the slides actually forming part of the last slide may have been wasted on my audience, but it gave me a good structure to hang my ideas on, and was a ‘smile inside’ for anyone who spotted it! Image credits for doc can be found at: http://bit.ly/14uMYw4

Update: Amazing response – clearly something resonated here! Here is the Slideshare with all the slides on it, for those wanting to see all 17 of them! It also links to the A-Z of Teaching and my Desire Paths talk (51 slides, gives you a general idea but not full context).

Online Roundup #lateLight

Marina Park SunsetHere is this week’s Online Roundup!These are all things I have heard about or seen online this week. Have you found something online you’d like me to link to? Let me know! (Image by Creative Commons License Cynthia Lou via Compfight)

Email

If you feel overwhelmed by your email, have a look at Mailstrom. It looks at your emails, and puts them into different categories to help you better organise them. It’s free, though I don’t know how they’d manage to charge for it. Also has a handy ‘unsubscribe’ button too!

Art/Tech

Have a play with Recursive drawing. This is incredibly simple yet quite clever at the same time. Could it be used for extension activities in ICT, Art, Science, Maths? Yes.

Similarly, Arqspin on the iPad allows you to capture, then spin, a 3D design object. (via @ewanmcintosh)

Got a Kindle? This could be worth exploring – Kindleframe – a way of changing your Kindle to make it useful for more than just books (warning, requires a bit of tinkery-pokery)

Factoid

SILENT and LISTEN have the same letters! (@GoogleFacts)

The psychology of menus (from @Guardian, via @natkin) – this appeals to my interest in choice options for pupils, and how they respond to decisions. Not educational per se, but very interesting.

Tests

Well, what was the reaction of the Grammar test? From a Teacher (via @MichaelRosenYes) and from a pupil (via @First_News)

Pedagogy

This App called LessonNote could be handy for reflective practice. No Angry Birds here though… (via @misterel)

I loved this talk on Leadership from @ssgill76 when I saw him speak on Tuesday at the #SLTeachmeet I attended. Hope I am making the most of the tips on offer here!

Science

This is a superb example of environmental welfare on a classroom shelf!

From @SciencePorn

Online Roundup #newGrowth

Distant CampfireHere is this week’s Online Roundup! A three day week, including an overnight Bushcraft camp with 37 little stars makes this a little late! These are all things I have heard about or seen online this week. Have you found something online you’d like me to link to? Let me know!

English

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a judge for the Radio 2 500 words competition. The final 50 short stories have now been chosen and have been recorded by actors for your listening pleasure here. Well worth dipping into!

If you are looking for vowel songs, then look no further. Issy in Reception pointed me to this video on YouTube (and 157 others by the same person!) in her brilliant weekly mailout to her class parents.

Paper

I love minibooks, and this clever little site allows you to make an eight page minibook from an A4 piece of paper in any format you like. It’s fab, analogue and pathetically exciting to write in a minibook.

A fun site that allows you to paint pictures in the style of Jackson Pollock. Artastic! (via @TeachingIdeas)

Tech

I came across OpenPlan.cc recently (but can’t remember how, annoyingly!), and believe that if it takes off, it really has the chance to be an incredibly powerful tool for teachers. The idea is simple – on a bed of basic lessons, teachers can take these, and build on them, sharing ideas and ways to develop lesson objectives, and all shared by everyone else too. The high Nerd meter really started flashing for me when I discovered that you can also mark out the pedagogical decisions for adding certain ideas – I love the idea that you can see why teachers have selected a certain activity, and how it fits into the curriculum as a whole. I promise you, I have a life….!

I love Instagram on my phone (it takes vintage-looking pictures) but the square sizing annoyed me, as I couldn’t get any pictures printed – until now. This site allows you to print square pictures with ease. (via @kirstyyounger)

Top Image: James Wheeler via Compfight

Online Roundup #MayDays

Seemingly Surreal Swallows in a Spring Snowstorm Here is this week’s Online Roundup! These are all things I have heard about or seen online this week. Have you found something online you’d like me to link to? Let me know!

 

Brilliant Blogs

Here are two blogposts from two teachers I saw speaking at #TMLondon this week. @msfindlater is a secondary teacher who has a brilliant post about different ways to mark progress, and Tom Bigglestone (@The_Tank) shared a brilliant talk about ways to run ‘deep thinking’  group dynamics. Both suited for Secondary, both with lots for Primary to learn from.

 

PR and Marketting to children. Yes, really, says @OhLottie.

 

Tech Hack

Pictures taking up too much space on your computer? Have a look at this resizer, via @mikemcsharry.

3D printers really are rushing from Star Trek to Store front – I think they’ll be relatively commonplace in five years, but until then, there’s Shapeways (via @dajbelshaw). What are they? Imagine something made of plastic, then imagine a printer printing that 3D plastic thing.

 

Literacy

UNICEF’s World Education Games resource page has some really good Visual Literacy resources in it. Via @MissJLud

 

This blogpost from @deadshelley is fantastic at creating a hook for poetry, looking at the words before the form first, and makes me want to work out how I could use this in the future. I especially like the ‘secret in an envelope’  idea.

 

Maths

I simply love the nrich website – it is filled with brilliant Investigation activities for all ages. It is a genuine inspiration, and I especially love their Low Threshold, High Ceiling activities, in which anyone can get the rules, but it can be differentiated to an incredibly high degree. If you are ever stuck for a maths activity, avoid the TES Resources/Primary Resources Workshop Emporium and head here first – you’ll be pleased you did!

 

Computing

When I told Year 6 they would be programming Apps this term, they actually gasped with excitement! If you have someone at home who is keen to start tinkering with programming, you can’t go far wrong with the MIT App Inventor. (Gmail account needed)

 

Random

Does colour affect your buying decisions? @schoolmktg links to this image (lots of US brands, but interesting concept – worth trying with children? My #rebelmind would want to find companies which didn’t fit into these neat moulds!)

Speaking of colours, one of my favourite online shops Etsy (handmade gifts) allows you to shop by colour, and the picker is quite fun too! Great to play with/find a personalised gift from.

 

Twitter Tip

This week’s twitter tip is to look at the favourites of someone’s Twitter account. If they tweet a lot about the news for example, their favourites are often related and just as interesting, plus you get to see a refined, filtered ‘feed’ of the people they follow – if you are on Twitter (and it is worthwhile, I promise!), this can be a great way to discover new people to follow.

 

Sweet

The cutest YouTube video (not one of mine either!!!) from KidPresident – this is a great way to end the week! (Shown at #TMLondon)

Top Image: Keith Williams via Compfight

Dropbox Sharing Etiquette

加油!!With the phenomenal rise of the Teaching Dropboxes have come some technical considerations and adjustments, which is good. Nothing ever ends up as you imagine it would, and making adjustments as you go is an excellent learning process (as I’ve discovered!).

Here are my tips for effective Sharing Dropbox etiquette.

1. What you do happens to everyone’s folder

With full sharing rights, whatever you do to someone’s folder happens to everyone else’s folder too. If you add a file, it goes in everyone’s folder. If you move a folder, it moves too. If you rename something, that happens too. If you delete lots of folders to make some Dropbox space, that happens to everyone too. Luckily, Dropbox has a brilliant ‘Restore’ function as well as an Events page, so you can see who has made changes (and reverse them if necessary).

 

2. Keep it small

In fact, the smaller, the better. As soon as you add images, audio or video, this bulks up everyone’s folder. @Gripweed1 has come up with a very good workaround for this, by making some of his resources available on their Google Drive, and then making a linking document to these and putting this document into the Dropbox folder. All other good ideas welcome – I’ll add them here as we go!

 

3. The Dropboxes grow and you may not know

There are people joining and adding shared dropboxes all the time, so the folders will grow without you being aware. The standard allocation of 2GB might not be enough for some users (#ICTDropbox users, take note) – so you can either upgrade (well worth it), or share the Dropbox love and persuade someone else to sign up using an affiliate link you send them.

 

4. Contribute

The only way there work is if you contribute your own original, inspirational and fresh resources. Some subjects are better than others at sharing, but I would recommend for all subjects:

  • Only add something if it isn’t there (we don’t need six variants of the same thing)
  • Try and keep the file size low
  • Leave a provenance link somewhere on the document (who you are, how to get in contact with you – they may be able to help you further)
  • Tweet about contributing! This allows people to recognise your altruism, as well as promoting the Dropbox itself. Your contribution may well prompt another person to add something they have been sitting on but are unsure about

 

5. Prune, carefully

Shared Dropboxes are an open and evolving ecloudsystem, so they may grow in odd ways. Take time out once in a while to do a little housekeeping. Stray files may need a home, it might be worth adding a new folder in one section – a little tidying so resources can be more easily found goes a long way.

 

6. Tell the owner quickly about problems

This has thankfully only happened once (so far!) but i was incredibly grateful to those people who immediately contacted me to correct the problem.

 

7. See a need, fill a need

If there is a subject not catered for yet, or a specific part of school life without a Dropbox, set one up. I am more than happy to help out, give guidance and point you in the right directions (believe me, I made some mistakes!). We can even set up a trial run, and gauge interest!

 

Other tips, suggestions and ideas are more than welcome either below, or on twitter @mrlockyer.

Top image: Creative Commons License sⓘndy° via Compfight

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