#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.


Getting used to G+

Google Plus mobile page

I’ve been on Google Plus since whenever Alan sent me an invite and we were looking for Social Media networks to replace the ailing FriendFeed we had been using with students. I always think it is worth bagging a username, and I know that Alan usually needs someone to talk to on any new social media network 😉 and to be honest, I love to play with suff.

It has taken me a very, very, long time to get used to G+. The main problems I have had with it have been the ones that are obvious with any new Social Media:

  • no audience that is unique to G+ or doing something different there that they are not already doing on Facebook/ twitter
  • initially, no notification system that attracted my attention, also not helped by not having any ‘stuff’ to be notified about. Email notification drove me mad and I don’t use a desktop browser enough these days to pick up the black google bar notification.
  • lack of a decent mobile interface.

I’ve kept dipping in and out, especially as the undergraduates that I used to mentor on Social Media projects with Alan moved from FriendFeed to Google+. I could see the point, and the benefits (no character limit, richer discussions, in-post video/ rich links out), but the mobile interface, notification and audience didn’t change, so it just didn’t have stickiness for me.

Finally, over this last month I have made a concerted effort to re-engage after finding the iPhone app. The interface isn’t perfect (no rich or embedded links when posting) but they have sorted out two major issues, notification and resharing/ +1. I’ve started to change the people I follow and made several revelatory discoveries, like being able to flip between the streams from each circle to filter out noise when I come to catch up at the end of the school day. I’m starting to discover different information from different people than those on my twitter network. It is starting to click. Alan is usually right in the end.

Jo Badge - Google+

Reflections on TeachMeet for Special Educational Needs #TMSEN12

Helping to organise a TeachMeet whilst trying to do a PGCE course is a bit bonkers, but then there is never a good time to anything in life, is there? Josie Fraser did the real work, and I was there to keep the publicity going, to nag her when she needed it 😉 and co-host.

I’ve been to two other TeachMeets and followed others online, and have always found them so inspirational. Following the tweets after the event, it has been a real pleasure to see people making connections with each other and continuing to to discuss the ideas they heard about and thinking about applying them in their own classrooms. Tony Hirst had a quick look at the community around the #tmsen12 tag we used for the event, which looks as though there was a potentially enormous community able to join in and share the practices we heard about.

Gephi visualisation of the community around #tmsen12
Flickr: psychemedia CC BY 2.0

I’ve heard from several teachers and students who have been inspired to join twitter, and the great community of educators it holds (if that was you, you might want to have a look at my quick guide about how to get the best out of twitter).

We did two things differently at this TeachMeet, the first was to hold a Critical Debate with invited speakers, which seemed to work really well and added a deeper, strategic tone to the wonderful practical resources and ideas that were shared. The second was that we committed to producing a micro-site with a selection of resources, videos, voxpops and tweets from the day. This will be produced in the next few weeks and should serve as a last reference to the collective knowledge and wisdom we pooled together during the day. One of the main reasons that TeachMeets work is due to their informal nature, but that means that often the great ideas they produce are not shared beyond the participants (real or virtual), liveblogs like those produced by Oliver Quinlan are another great way to keep a record that can be reshared at a later date. To give you a flavour of the day, I’ve used storify to collate some of the links and photos shared on twitter.


Blogging, tweeting and being a #PGCE student

This post forms part of a blogging carnival organised by Danny Nicholson. I haven’t taken part in a blog carnival, but I really liked the idea (and seems a good way to thank Danny for the inspiration I get from his whiteboard blog).

I am a primary PGCE student. Before I started my transformation into a teacher, I worked in educational technology, particularly the field of plagiarism detection. I started blogging for my EdTech work and due to the reflective nature of teacher training seemed natural to carry on. I had thought I would put my weekly course reflections here, but in fact I’ve discovered that much of my reflection as a trainee feels distinctly personal and so I’ve been selective in what I have shared publicly. My experiences as a learner (see the perils of electronic note taking as an example) have had quite an effect on me. The course has made me consider the nature of learning and how uncomfortable it can be to recognise that you don’t understand something.

My personal learning network is massively important to the way I learn. The people I follow provide support, inspiration, encouragement and challenge me to reflect on my learning. Serendipitous discovery through twitter is an amazing way to find out things you didn’t know you needed to know (like this fabulous list of blog post prompts for teachers from Alec Couros @courosa). My PLN give me feedback on my understanding and interpretation of everything from teaching theorists to assessment for learning. I have shared reliance on twitter with my fellow students.  I am organising a TeachMeet  with Josie Fraser, which I never would have dreamt was possible whilst I was still a PGCE student.


I’ve been thinking about using different online tools with children in my next teaching placement. One idea is a to use Scoop.it! as way of curating sources of information and posing questions for children to hunt for the answers from the links. I’ve started with some ideas for the Terrible Tudors, I’d love to hear how other people are using Scoop.it! in the classroom.

Google Teacher Academy UK #GTAUK application – how is this for starters?

When I was making the decision to become a teacher, I started to follow some teachers on twitter. Several that inspired me went on to be the first UK Google Certified Teachers, and following their tweets during and after the event was amazing. It wasn’t necessarily the incredible amount of ground they seemed to cover in the sessions, or the innovative approaches to teaching they presented (though of course they were amazing), but watching the community around #GTA form that for me was the key of the event. Here, a group of teachers were given the tools to collaborate and an experience to bind them together which has resulted in a strong core to the UK twitter teacher community that has driven dissemination and innovation nationwide.

So, when the chance to apply for the second Google Teacher Academy in the UK came up, I started working on how I could show that I was worthy of joining a group of educators passionate about working with children and other teachers with technology. I am still a trainee teacher, but I know that being part of the GTA will enhance my professional practice to another level that I could not achieve alone.

The application is in two parts, a written submission (in progress!) 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.

Seeking feedback from my peers and reflecting and acting on their advice has always been an important part of any work that I have done. I would therefore really value any comments or suggestions you might have on my application before I submit it (I may need to re-record the audio, I’ve realised some of my words are not very clear and I think I sound rather boring!).

UPDATE 4 Feb 2012: following lots of helpful feedback, I’ve made some changes to my application video, and republished it here:

Is special needs education your passion? Then come and share your ideas with other at TeachMeet SEN! #TMSEN12


I’m delighted to announce, after a rather long gestation, the launch of TeachMeet SEN (Special Needs Education) which will take place on Saturday 28 January, 2012 in Leicester. Following an inspirational TeachMeet East Midlands earlier this year, Josie Fraser and I hatched a plan for a special needs focused teach meet on our journey back to Leicester. Josie has done a great job securing an amazing venue (Phoenix Square) and we are really looking forward to getting the new year started with a bang with TeachMeet SEN.

TeachMeet SEN will focus on engaging, amazing and effective examples of practice from school leaders, teachers and learning support staff working with children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Learners with SEN are a significant and diverse group, and we expect the first SEN focused TeachMeet to be an exciting one – reflecting the creativity, enthusiasm and the wide range of knowledge and approaches of practitioners.  Come along – learn something new, share your successes, and meet professionals who share your passion and interests. The event is open to people from all sectors with an interest in this area. Practitioners are invited to sign up to contribute either a micro (7 minute) or nano (2 minute) presentation – and share with us the ideas, tools, techs and practices that have made a real difference to learners with SEN.

TeachMeet SEN  offers brilliant opportunity to start the year with a bang – present your practice, tips, favorite tools & resources and network with colleagues.

TeachMeet is an informal, free meeting, providing space and structure for educators to share practice, innovation, insight and approaches. Participants are all encouraged to think about what they could bring to the event, and to volunteer to share practice that works. Everyone is welcome to sign up to contribute either a micro (7 minute) or nano (2 minute) presentation – and share with us the ideas, tools, techs and practices that have made a real difference to learners with SEN.

Full details, FREE registration and sign up to give a micro or nano presentation.