Leicester University NQT Conference – Challenging the most able

Presentation at Leicester University NQT Conference, January 2017

Presentation at Leicester University NQT conference on 18 January 2017. I was asked to speak about challenging more able pupils, but of course, bent the topic around to using ICT to challenge children.

#Nurture16/17 Getting my IT mojo back and looking after my staff.

Having written two Nurture posts in one calendar year, I managed to not write one at all on 2015-2016. My last school’s year was pretty hectic, my first full year as a phase leader, we gained over 230 children from Easter 2015 to October 2016. When I joined the school there was a 7 year plan in place to grow from a 2 to 3 form entry school, but local circumstances and our Head’s strong moral purpose that all children deserve a good education meant it all happened rather more quickly than we anticipated! Needless to say, taking on a phase leader role whilst still in class full time was hard work and I was fortunate to undertake an NPQML qualification along with another colleague in Foundation who was also new to her phase leader role. This helped enormously, gave us ideas to support us and the time to support each other. 

So looking right back to Nurture 2015 post, my 5 wishes for 2015 were: 

1. Start class blogging in my new school. I can’t believe how much I have missed having an online space for my class to share their work!

2. Continue to develop our CAS regional hub. We had a super launch, but the challenge this year is to embed the network and deepen the connections we started.

3. Begin my journey to becoming a Master Teacher of Computing through CAS.

4. Finish the couch to 5K programme for running and try to join at least one Park Run. Make running part of my week and keep it as a permanent form of exercise.

5. Continue to strive for some semblance of work/life balance. I’m much better than I was, but there is always room for improvement!

Taking into account the meassive changes in priorities that happened in the past 2 years, I’m pleasantly surprised that I’ve achieved many of these. The CAS hub is going strong, and now I have two other members of staff working with me on it, I became a Master Teacher of Computing and delivered training to my own staff and other schools, I completed couch to 5 K and I definitely have improved my work life balance. 

The main wish that didn’t get a look in was class blogging but something had to give! 

Looking ahead for 2016, I liked David Roger’s areas of focus: interest, practice and purpose.

#interest

I am in the very fortunate position of being a phase leader without a class responsibility this year. Given our massive and sudden expansion, our head invested in us as middle leaders to help smooth the transition to a bigger school and develop a wider spread of leadership responsibilities. After all, as LKS2 lead,  I now manage 7 teachers and 4 TAs, which is almost the same size of staff that was in the first school I worked in! It has been a brilliant opportunity and I have now have an amazing overview of all the children and staff in my phase. I have taught every class as I provide the majority of the covered needed in the phase and mentored an NQT. The downside has been that I haven’t been able to carve out as much time as I would like for computing and in particular the use of IT across the curriculum. I feel like I’ve lost my IT mojo but over the holidays I’ve realised it’s up to me to take the opportunity and get inspired! I have re-engaged with Twitter, by changing my client back to Echofon which pushes notifications and so I’ve been pulled back in. I’ve had a good clear out and cut down he number of people I follow and consequently my interest has grown and I’ve regained some of the joy that I know Twitter can provide. 

So I aim to:

  • Engage in Twitter and blog at least once a month
  • Attend BETT, the BETT Teachmeet and #camped17 (I’m assuming there will be one – if not I’ll be making sure I connect with the fab educators and families that usually attend as they are an amazing source of wisdom, silliness and inspiration)
  • We have an opportunity to replace our ICT suite with mobile devices which has set my tech brain spinning again…

#practice

My individual teaching practice has changed radically as I cover classes rather than have my own class responsbility. However, I did prepare assessments and the data returns for one of our classes last term so I haven’t missed out on everything! I have gained a wealth of experience by teaching a wider range of classes and this is something I want to develop further. 

So I aim to

  • Mentor is the NQT in my phase and develop my modelling skills
  • Run a lesson study looking at the use of technology across the curriculum with a focus on supporting our EAL learners.

#purpose

The moral purpose of providing a broad curriculum for all children in our school is very strong. We have a strong focus on the well-being of staff and I feel that this is increasingly important when demands from changing political agendas continually move the goal posts. 

So I aim to:

  • Maintain and develop our Staff Shout Out board to encourage a culture of caring for and thanking one another in school.
  • Look after myself and remember that at the end of the day teaching is just a job.
  • Nurture my staff by leading by example – turning email off at weekends, thinking about the impact of new ideas and new work on staff before committing to them. 

I’m optimistic about the coming year after a really relaxing holiday – bring it on! 

CAS North Leicester Primary Hub meeting 28 September 2016 eSafety

Penny Patterson shares her wisdom on how to ensure your school meets the new Safeguarding requirement for online safety.

This term we decided to focus on something that many schools will be covering at this time of year, eSafety. The changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education that came into force on 5 September 2016 included more explicit duties for safeguarding with regard to online activities. We were very fortunate to have Penny Patterson (Senior Inspector Quality Assurance with responsibility for Safeguarding, Havering School Improvement Service) present by Skype for our meeting. She went well beyond the call of duty, when after discovering the M25 was closed, she had to divert and deliver the presentation using her phone from her car whilst parked at a garden centre!

Her slides highlight the new requirements succinctly and she has kindly agreed to share them:

penny-slide1
Full presentation available for download

 

Safeguarding-and-online-safety ppt file

One of the more alarming aspects of her talk was a discussion around sexting, which most of us had felt wouldn’t be an issue we would need to deal with in Primary schools. However, Penny has dealt with two cases involving children in early years and warned us to be aware of the difficulties of dealing with such cases. Unfortunately the strict legal definition of sexting includes the taking and sharing of indecent images, and if children take photographs of what is under their clothes, this can constitute sexting. Fortunately, UKIS have issued guidance on how to proceed if this happens in your school, and how it can be dealt with in a sensible and proportionate way.

Teachers were keen to know how to deal with parents on social media who were not being good role models to their children. Penny advised that they should consider if the children were involved, named or harmed by the online conversations and if they were, then to deal with this as we would with any other safeguarding incident.

We noted with interest the addition of a category of abuse of neglect for parents whose excessive use electronic devices as ‘babysitters’ and for parents who may be ignoring a child through the excessive use of technology themselves (watching their phone instead of their child crossing the road for example).

Finally, Penny gave us some good advice to make sure that we had checked that the filtering and monitoring systems we were using fulfilled the criteria recommended by the DfE (see : Guide for education settings and filtering providers about establishing ‘appropriate levels’ of filtering and monitoring)

The next meetings of the CAS North Leicester Primary hub will take place in March and May 2017. Book your free tickets online.

Everything on the Internet belongs to someone! 

It was my pleasure to run a workshop at Hampshire/ Wessex Computing Conference on 30th June 2016. Expanding on previous presentations on teaching children about Creative Commons licensing and how to be respectful online, this workshop covered attribution and how to re-use online content. 

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/159IcnZ3gf5Rt_dZAoR3t_ULblqEkIfT-YH7t1fu_A0A

Hands off, I own that! #LTaLSC16

I was delighted to present at the City of Leicester Summer conference along with my colleague, Nick Overton on Saturday 25th June 2016. We discussed how part of teaching children about being respectful online includes making them aware of who owns what and how they can re-use other people’s images.

We described how we have taught our children about Creative Commons licencing. The lesson plans are available on TES Resources (under CC-by licence of course!).

#CASconf16 Computing At School Annual Conference

As a CAS hub leader, I intended to go to the CAS annual conference last year and just didn’t make it. It’s a crazy time of year with reports, assessment deadlines and transition to think about. This year I dragged myself out of bed, feeling glum after a hard week and set off to Birmingham. However, the opening two talks set the tone for the day. So much so that I felt I could have gone home at 10.00am! 

 http://twitter.com/jobadge/status/744088242853675008
Jane Waite, Wendy MacLeod, Paul Curzon and Nic Hughes gave a brilliant whistle stop tour of primary practise packed with fabulous practical examples, embedded in pedagogy and computational thinking.  

    
They showed us a lovely model for using beebots by inviting children to create their own games to test their knowledge on any given subject using some simple challenge cards, a blank beebot squared grid. 

A lovely idea was to use Scratch blocks to re-write signs around school. I could see how this would get children to really start thinking about how algorithms are everywhere.

Something particularly relevant to us as a Talk for Writing school is to use those principles to teach computing terminology using actions. Wendy had made a video showing her son demonstrating an action to help children remember different computing terms. I liked her suggestion that we could also think about applying the imitation, innovation and invention cycle to teaching computing. 

The main keynote by Conrad Wolfram was fascinating. He very effectively raised the question of why our maths curriculum doesn’t take account of computing and computer assisted calculations. The mantra of using real life problems for children to solve has been well rehearsed. However, he put it in the context of how computing now allows us to ask questions of messy data that we never could before. 

Ben Davies shared some super ideas for mini-activities, starters and plenaries  in his presentation. In particular, ideas for getting children to apply what they had learned from one language to another. Could children predict what an approximation of a scratch code made from shapes in PowerPoint would do? What a lovely way to test and tease out their understanding!

   

Nic Hughes used his 40 minute workshop a slot wisely by challenging  us to make a moving Crumble-controlled device. As a primary teacher, having some dedicated time to tinker is the best way for me to learn and gives me space to consider the pedagogy that is needed alongside the kit. His instructions were minimal which helped us think for ourselves.

 

Phil Bagge was awesome (as always!). He described his approach to assessing computing and made an app for assessment available. While the app looks great (utilising a matrix approach from simple/ complex to guided/independent), what grabbed me were the videos of his children talking about their computing. Phil hit the nail on the head when he said he realised that the majority of his assessment came through conversations worth his children. He took it one stage further by providing a simple way for children to reflect on their own learning using an iPad and stand to video themselves. 

Crucially, he left the children to record these videos themselves (based around key questions he gave them). This enabled the children to provide their own answers without the pressure, guidance or interference of the teacher. He described how his conversations and the children’s verbalisations could be summed up as Talk for Computing. This chimed strongly with the Pie Corbett approach to teaching English that we’ve  been using at school. A fascinating way to approach learning. 

 

A session on helping primary teachers to feel confident in teaching computing had a couple of Talk for Computing gems in too. Talk to the rubber duck (link to blog by A Colley) is a great idea for children to voice their problems out loud to a rubber duck before asking the teacher. Usually verbalising their problem leads to a realisation of the solution.

The day ended with David Malan giving us a fast paced whizz through some of the early elements of CS50, an undergraduate computer science course at Harvard University.  Surprisingly this contained many of the elements we teach in primary computing – search strategies and the famous Sandwich Bot which lead to the most hilarious mess of peanut butter, jam and bread courtesy of Phil Bagge’s reactions to imprecise instructions. 

      
    Finally it is worth saying that the conference was exceptionally well organised. The sessions were just the right length and there was plenty of time given over to lunch and coffee which gave space to network and drink lots of tea. 

    Overall I had a brilliant day, learnt loads, met some great people and felt inspired. Exactly what a conference should do! It was definitely worth getting out of bed for on a Saturday morning. 

    CAS North Leicester Primary Hub meeting 11 February 2016

    Our Spring Term meeting was focussed on Key Stage 1 and Early Years provision. Kevin McLaughlin shared some of his thoughts on how his foundation class responded some computing challenges beyond the expectations of the EYFS curriculum. 

    Kevin suggested that much of the computing curriculum aims for KS1 was part of everyday teaching in EYFS – pattern recognition (phonics), sequencing (story telling) and logic (questioning) . He has begun to explore computing without computers, focussing key computing skills. He demonstrated how his children could soon tell him about algorithms after linking them clearly to practical instructions. He had a child that could predict what shape would be made by a set of instructions to move a model crane around the floor. They took apart a computer and made their own from paper. 

    He recommended Hello Ruby, which has ideas, lessons mad practical activities for exploring computers and computing with young children. 

    Kevin’s slides are available online. 

    We then had a swap shop and shared ideas, tips and equipment that people had brought along. There was a wide range of discussion, from makey makey and book creator to a Rising Stars scheme of work and phonics apps with physical letters to put on your iPad to listen to their sounds. Time to network and talk with other teachers was time well spent and hopefully everyone came away with something new! 

    The next meeting is 25th May 2016.