Diary from Slovakia day 1

Helen and I arrived late last night. We negotiated the bus journey to the main railway station. The bus was really busy even at 10.30 at night, but very cheap and perfectly to time (€0.90 c for 60 minutes travel). Our hotel is comfortable and clean, very similar to basic university accommodation in the UK.

Monday 16 April
We had the day to ourselves as the rest of the students were not arriving until this afternoon. We managed a great breakfast of chocolate filled freshly made pancakes in the all the day cafeteria attached to the hotel, for the princely sum of €1. It looks like there are two sections to the hotel, a part that is student accommodation and a part that is hotel accommodation. It is functional but rather concrete and there are some rather interesting colour combinations circa 1982 (this turquoise and red, dark green and red).

It was pretty wet, cold and windy, but we braved the weather to walk into the old city, about half an hour a way. This gave is a chance to get our bearings and work out which tram to get on the way back! We soon found the heart of the old city, which is beautiful, tall buildings in pastel colours with patterned roof tiles, balconies and gilding. There a statues and fountains everywhere. I had remembered that hot chocolate was quite a treat here from the last time I visited (a brief weekend several years ago), so we ventured into a cafe and had a ‘dark hot chocolate’. It was fabulous, full of grated chocolate, in a tall glass topped with whipped cream.

The old city was pretty deserted apart from groups of tourists being lead by guides talking into what looked like a walkie talkie. We soon realised that the tourists had wireless (or blue tooth?) headsets in and could hear the guide individually. Very neat!

We found our way over the modern bridge across the Danube to a big shopping centre (Aurpark) for a wander and some warmth. There was also free wifi much to my delight. It was interesting to note the contrast between the old and new, and how run down and concrete the buildings are near to hotel compared to the beautiful baroque city centre.

Food in cafes was very cheap, but in the supermarket seemed similar prices to home. Clothes and shoes were definitely the same as at more if not more expensive – though that didn’t stop Helen getting the bargain of the century – a pair of running shoes in the sale for €2!








University of Leicester Primary PGCE ICT specialist day #lupgceict

On 16th April I will be in Bratislava, but that won’t stop me presenting to our ICT Specialist day on our PGCE course.

I’ve made a short video with some of the things I learned at Google Teacher Academy last week.

The sites demonstrated in the video are:

  1. Safe Mode in Youtube (removes comments from all videos)
  2. Google Art Project  (now with collections from 150 museums, stunning quality down to the brush strokes!)
  3. Google search by reading age (filter your search results by basic/intermediate/ advanced reading age)
  4. Much more on Google Search from Catlin Tucker (fellow GTAUK attendee)
  5. Creating a google form for an online survey (The Big Breakfast survey: http://bit.ly/JoBadgeGoogle ). See how the spreadsheet updated .  Some suggestions of how to use them in the classroom.

Other stuff that might be useful….

Great YouTube playlists:

video credits

Video was made using Screenr (free screencasting direct from your web browser) and iMovie.

Audio: Tryad ‘all the same’http://tryad.bandcamp.com/album/instrumentals CC BY-SA 3.0

Plus my Google Teacher Academy Application video

Reflections on google teacher academy UK 2012 #gtauk

It was an amazing and jam packed two days. I’ve tweeted and bookmarked and blogged on G+ but I felt I needed to take some time to pull together the stand out moments from Google Teacher UK 2012 for me.

The community – sitting in a room full of incredibly inspiring and talented educators cannot be under estimated. While the Brits in the room winced at the whooping and cheering, I’m sure we all felt just as excited and privileged to become part of this community, we just don’t like to shout about it 😉 I know that I will rely on the help of those I’ve met in the last few days, and I know that I will help them too. Connections to people are incredibly important. I feel I have made some invaluable connections to people that will sustain my teaching career for a long time to come.

The tools – I’ve picked up so many tips and tricks that it is going to take me months to digest and think about how I can make best use of them all. I have bookmarked as much as I can on delicious and will steadily work back through them when I can.

The kit – I used a Chromebook borrowed from google to blog and tweet and take notes. I was really impressed with it, fast start up, easy to use and once I had got used to the fact that there was no storage on it (still not sure where screenshots and files went from the ‘file shelf’ that popped up when I downloaded or saved stuff) it was a great workhorse. Chrome was central to that, being able to access all the bookmarks, settings, extensions, etc immediately. They were all set up there waiting once I had signed in to the chromebook and it was a massive boost to my productivity. What’s more I know that when I go back home all the stuff I’ve added over the last two days, will be there ready and waiting for me on chrome on my iMac. Working on the chrome book made me realise that 90% of my work is now online, so I really should pay more attention to the workhorse behind that, my browser.

The philosophy – the tone of the meeting was undeniably American in it’s positivity (whoops and all), but the genuine passion and enthusiasm for everyone to do their best for the children or other educators that they are working with was truly inspiring. We can be particularly rubbish in the UK about celebrating our successes and having a ‘can do’ attitude, we love to be the cynical one in the back, disrupting the backchannel, but I was grateful to be in a room where is it was cool to be a geek and cool to love teaching. Personalising learning was a huge theme across many presentations and discussions, and I’ll give that a whoop any day!

The mission – taking this knowledge and these personal connections forward and back to my own community of teachers and students is going to be difficult but an essential part of the programme. We were given some amazing stats about the number of people and children we can influence as Google Certified Teachers, I’m thinking carefully about my GCT action plan and how best I can share what I have learned and begin to build some communities of practice in my local area and amongst the my peers in the PGCE cohort at Leicester University. I know I need to start with some practical tips that will give quick success and some of the tips I’ve learned about YouTube may be the starting point.



Blogging at Google Teacher Academy #gtauk


Google Teacher Academy, UK 4 April 2012. 

It seemed appropriate to try to use Google+ to ‘blog’ my time at the Google Teacher Academy, so I’ve devised a strategy (only time will tell if it will work!):

  • set up a dedicated G+ page for my notes and posts from the event. I’m planning to start one post per agenda ‘item’.
  • I will be using a laptop (hopefully a Chromebook) on loan from Google so I’ve set up my Chrome account with the bookmarks I need (G+ page, my own G+ account)
  • installed two Chrome extensions (silverbird and extended share for G+) so that I can follow the twitter stream and the #gtauk tag and post my G+ updates to twitter. (Silver bird does a great job, you can even add a hashtag search and have the results feed into a ‘unified’ tab of all incoming tweets, all hovering nicely over your browser).
  • changed the settings on my iPad2 and iPod touch to upload photos automatically to my G+ account using the G+ app (in fact once this setting is turned on, the photos upload without you taking them from within the app). These are private until I choose to share them. The main downside I can see here is that they are uploaded to my profile account, not the page.
  • set up a search on the #gtauk on G+ and saved it to my page and profile.
  • make use of delicious / packrati.us to bookmark any useful sites via twitter using ‘#bm’ in the tweet (auto bookmarks any other hashtags in the tweet, so hopefully should end up with them all under a #gtauk tag on delicious).

Simples 😉

(how long go you give me before my head explodes tomorrow?!)


Backchannel and notes for #GTAUK : how to get the best from G+?


I’m beginning to think about the Google Teacher Academy next week and how best to try to take notes, keep a record of useful information and share what we are learning with the outside world. I thought I might have a go at using Google+ to serve these purposes, but I haven’t used it in this way before and would like some advice from anyone that has. My main query is thinking about getting back to the information I’ve recorded later (I haven’t investigated or tested what happens to old posts, I know on twitter they are pretty hard to find after a day or so, what happens to old G+ content?). I’m very aware that there will be a twitter community that might want to follow the events of the day, so perhaps I can set up some scheduled tweets to draw people over to the G+ hashtag? Would a link to a G+ hashtag search work and be dynamic?

What about other archiving? There is a coveritlive session set up by Simon, would that pull G+ tags?

I’ll be working on a Mac Book with either Chrome or Firefox (found the iPad app doesn’t have enough features to use it all day, plus works only in portrait mode and keyboard is hopeless for touch typing in portrait)

Any advice, tips and tricks appreciated 🙂

Update 31/3/12

Plenty of comments over on G+ and I’ve set up a G+ page to see if that is way to collate stuff.

#CampEd12 educational fun in a field!

Very exicted to recieve the first installment of the CampEd12 newsletter today. I’m really looking forward to this event in May in a field near my hometown.

What is CampEd?

‘The premise of #CampEd12 (or #Shedfest as it was then known) was to hold a free learning festival held in a field. This has been inspired by LOB (Learning on the Beach), Teachmeet, LWF, Kidsmeets and other conferences. We intended that the activities would range from demonstrations, chaired discussions, joint events (hosted both by adults and children), walks and practical activities. Whilst some of the festival will be inevitably timetabled we wanted time for discussion whilst walking, playing or washing up. The key element of #CampEd12 was to provide opportunities for people, who might not otherwise have the chance to meet, to develop ideas around pedagogy, resourcing, educational development and key ideas across different age phases, subjects and sectors. It was also not intended that it would necessarily be techfest (although inevitably as many of us met online this will play some part). This festival will be attended by families and so it is important the activities will reflect this.

Finally a key part of the festival is the fact that it is designed by those who are attending – if there is something you would like to see or lead please do add it to the wiki www.camped12.wikispaces.com

Update 29 April 2012:

As my Dad is a long term volunteer at Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which runs from Oxenhope to Keighley,  my Dad will be giving us a behind the scenes tour.  It is Railway Children weekend so there will be plenty going on.

As my husband is also coming along, we have put our science brains together and thought that perhaps some good old exploding outdoor fun would be fun. There is the famous coke bottles and mentoes, or coke bottle hydraulic rockets perhaps? What else would people like to do with some scientists in a field? Answers on a postcard or comment or tweet me and we will see what we can develop.

Still can’t believe I’m going to Google Teacher Academy UK #GTAUK

After feeling very sorry for myself on Friday night (lessons I had taught on my placement just didn’t flow), I felt like I had won the lottery when I got the invitation to attend Google Teacher Academy in the UK  on 4 April 2012. I had seen some of the other 600 video applications and was fairly sure I would never make the cut, especially once I realised educators world-wide were applying. I am thrilled and rather humbled to have been chosen, and am looking forward to making the most of the opportunity and sharing my luck as widely as I can with other colleagues and twitters.

The community is beginning to self-form already, with Simon McLoughlin kicking off a google doc of attendees today, and there is already a sign up list for meeting up the evening before the big day 🙂

For the record, the application was in two parts, a written submission and a one minute video which can be about ‘Classroom innovation‘ or ‘Motivation and Learning‘. I chose classroom innovation. This was appropriate for me as a trainee, as I know I will be expected to bring fresh ideas to the profession.

I made my application video twice (this is the final version) after having lots of great feedback from some very generous people:

I can’t wait to get started! One of my aims is to build up a community of educators on G+ that I can share with and learn from.