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‘I am astounded’

img_1054Those were the words of the STEM ambassador Gareth Attwood who came to support our event today. He was unable to come first thing so joined the activity at the end of the morning. ‘How can I help them?’ he asked as he arrived. I suggested he just go and have a chat with each group to get an idea of what they were doing. So what were they doing?

They were focussing on how to be creative. That doesn’t mean they were drawing pretty pictures for fun. They had tackled a range of activities during the first part of the morning that got them thinking about creativity for a purpose and how that related to jobs that they might like to do….or not do in the future. Considering we had a mix of Y1s from Ormesby Primary and Y4s from St Benedict’s it was brilliant how they mixed in with ideas. All this prepared them for a task to design a new LEGO set using the great ‘Build to Express’ sets as a basis. Of course they were not allowed to just build. They had to create a simple business plan starting with targeting an audience, identifying a value proposition for that audience then working out their USP. Confused? They weren’t!

To show how fabulous their teamwork was I also asked them to make a short advert. I had assumed that they knew how to use iMovie but they didn’t. Was that a problem? Not really. They had a problem to solve so they overcame it. I gave them a few pointers and the results are below. I occasionally run whole days using iMovie as a great vehicle for developing wider ’employability’ skills in a creative context. A whole day using iMovie produces a very polished product; these children not only learned the basics of iMovie but also planned and produced a short movie to a brief…in 45mins. Well done to all of them. As I said before they left,  ‘If you watch it and think you could have done a bit better here or a lot better there then brilliant – because you are now learning to add quality to your work and will build it in next time’.

Passing a test is a one off event; walking around with an understanding of how to improve is effective for ever.

The Challenge is now LIVE!

So what are you waiting for? Email Andrew now for your project pack:Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 21.29.41

astogdale@lea.rac.sch.uk

  • Pupils of ANY age can enter, how adults support the challenge is the key factor
  • More than one team per school/class/group can enter
  • Work needs to be ready for exposition on 29th June at I2L
  • The Challenge is open to any school, anywhere, who wishes to take part
  • Support and guidance is available from the ‘shall we do this?’ stage to the final ‘stall’ setup, just contact Andrew
  • Creates an authentic, motivating learning experience to foster ‘effective practitioner’ skills (e.g., planning, reflection, taking feedback, finding evidence, communicating ideas etc)
  • Builds on what teacher experience and research tells us are effective ways of developing children’s skills
  • THIS PROJECT IS ABSOLUTELY FREE

The pack includes lots more detail about how important certain skills and attitudes are to being a successful pupil and then, more importantly, successful in life. The project is designed to simulate a real working challenge that happens on a daily basis in the ‘world of work’. It gives an opportunity for teachers and children to develop the sort of skills that are constantly reported in the media and identified byScreen Shot 2015-04-16 at 21.28.23 the business community (such as the First Steps CBI report) as being essential but often lacking in young people leaving education and beginning a career. The more often, and earlier, that we include a focus on these sort of skills the better we are preparing our pupils for the rest of their lives….or am I being simplistic? I can imagine the number of CVs that the average recruitment officer must get in local companies. How many will have GCSEs, A Levels, a degree….more and more people are going to university…so how do you make yourself stand out when you get that interview or work trial? Show that you don’t just pass tests but can be creative and work independently? I  will get off my soapbox now. Schools are under such pressure from the context in which they work; a context where scores on the doors reflecting passing of tests, is the main focus. In my experience most schools don’t simply subscribe to this simplistic view of children as test fodder but also seek to give them wider experiences and prepare them to be citizens. Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 10.46.15This project is an ideal focus for that aspect of their education and builds on the successful Challenge Day model (see the tab above). It is also an attempt to raise the profile of what ‘business’ wants from schools beyond what OfSTED demand as they will have a greater impact on a child’s life in the long term than what grade HMI comes up with. Schools know that literacy and numeracy (and increasingly digital literacy) are vitally important, more than any political pronouncement from any politician on any side, my belief is that developing these skills should be and could be given equal importance. By doing so they actually develop those experiences and skills that make them more motivated, knowledgeable about what their lives could be like and independent in developing their own learning.

Want to know what the finished product might look like? Then click HERE to see the original inspiration for the event and HERE for the most recent event in KZ.

Back to the Future

Welcome back after your festive break everyone, I hope it has refreshed your enthusiasm ready for the year ahead. And what an exciting year ahead! Just looking at the diary for the next few weeks reveals a huge range of different ways in which our work and centre is supporting you, either as schools or businesses.

IMG_2078The centre itself has been using the quiet Christmas period to refurbish several of the rooms and offer new opportunities. The new flooring in the auditorium for example opens up the possibility for fitness activities, for which we have had several enquiries from providers, to safely take place on an evening. If you run evening classes that might like to take advantage of the space, please let us know and come in for a chat.

We also have a very busy training schedule being finalised. Due to the amount of work that we do actually in schools, hands on, we limit consultant led courses at the centre to just a couple a week. That means demand is oftenNew_Pasture_Lane_Y5_Y6_02 high so please book early if you want to attend any. Details of courses will appear in the Events section of this site over the next few days as well as via flyers and emails into schools. As ever, we have some particularly exciting lined up in the near future. We are delighted to invite Tim Rylands back here in February. He will be two leading distinctly different days. On the 4th February he will lead a hands on, creative day using digital tools (all tools will be available at the centre) where teachers are the students. It will examine how you structure creative, collaborative activities in a classroom through active participation. This date has limited places so be warned that it will fill up quickly, this is not the usual Tim Rylands day! The 5th February however IS the more usual maelstrom of innovative ideas, web tools (almost always free), fabulous classroom ideas and perceptive critique of the teaching and learning process. Many people in the region have benefitted from working with Tim and he is continually asked to come back. That says a lot. If you have only briefly seen him speak before you need to be here on that date! This event will also include a small exhibitors area for a handful of companies that work regularly with our schools.

The week after that is the next Challenge Day (see tabs above for previous dates) which has an ever expanding number of schools taking part. Without fail the feedback has been positive, comments tend to focus on the words ‘stimulating, engaging, creative, collaborative’. It is FREE to take part in and you don’t need any specialist equipment, please let us know if you would like to be part of it – age is not an issue!

And finally for this post….I am often asked to speak at events, or in schools, all over the world about the use of mobile devices and how that impacts on effective learning and teaching. It may sound a glamorous jet set lifestyle but the reality is sadly quite different. Although hands on, close support has been shown time and again to be the most effective way to develop, one off events are often the only way that schools can get hold of trainers. I have been concerned about this for some time. The schools local to us can usually get us in their diary within a couple of weeks, certainly a half term, for anything from 1:1 staff support, working with the students or even whole school training. Their CPD very much includes a capital ‘C’. So I have been looking at ways that I am able to combine the best of both worlds. Today was the first attempt at that.

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Fellow ADE Lewis Hall recently took up a post as an ICT manager/trainer within the ADVETI schools in the United Arab Emirates. Although he is very knowledgeable and experienced in using iPads devices in various settings himself, we hatched a plan to include me in a training day for staff who were pretty new to iPads. We felt that Skyping me in would offer staff a different perspective to just his. It was also a golden opportunity to demonstrate how Showbie works so beautifully as a way of connecting teachers and learners through materials and feedback. It meant an early start for me but nothing compared to travelling 5000 miles! After exploring the ‘learner as producer’ model that teachers find so immediately effective to develop their practice around we introduced Showbie. I can quite honestly say that Showbie usually elicits really impressive comments from staff but to run a session half way across the world with immediate handing out of work and feedback had a huge impact. Lewis emailed not long ago to thank me for the session and also included this paragraph:

At lunch time more than 3 of the staff came to see me and said that they just can’t get their head around that someone 6000miles away shared content with them, in this way it was much more powerful, it made them think that students can access outside the classroom (we know that but they don’t always ‘get it’).

I can honestly say that the experience was similar from my end…and I use it all the time!

We are going to continue support sessions on a regular basis as there are different campus’ developing the use of iPads and Lewis felt that being able to include that different aspect, a different viewpoint, helped to open the debate amongst the teachers about what would work best for them. There are several other schools around the globe already talking to me about this type of support (often in collaboration with an actual visit at some point) so if this interests you, please get in contact.