#camped14 activities and notes to remember

Camped14 was brilliant this weekend (23- 26 May 2014 at Cliffe House near Huddersfield). Before I forget, here are the events I took part in:


  • Go Bananas! Run by my husband, Richard Badge, this was a hands on workshop to extract DNA from bananas. Full instructions on how to do this at school (or at home!) are available on the GENIE website (GENIE is part of the University of Leicester and is based in the genetics dept where Richard works). We had a raft of very successful scientists take part and they made some excellent DNA – some of the best we’ve seen when doing this workshop. We decided that working in the Cliffe House classroom with the door open and a view of the pouring rain must definitely be the right sort of conditions for DNA precipitation!


  • Animation workshop – run by animate to educate (

    ). A chance to play and make a a stop motion film using Zu3D http://www.zu3d.com/. Ellie really enjoyed this one, and so did I. The software was easy to use. The ideas for making simple stages to film on, great use of props (MacDonald’s toys, plasticine, sparkly rocks) and the ability to add text and speech bubbles meant that you could achieve a great movie really quickly. Definitely one to look at when I get back to school.

  • Photo orienteering run by Katherine who works at Cliffe House (lucky lady, it was such a beautiful and inspiring place! Her classroom was perfect – lab benches combined with stunning sculptures and Harry Potter wands). In pairs and threes, we took laminated photos of places around the grounds and looked for a symbol painted on the objects or nearby, noted it down and went back for another photo. Simple to set up, great for finding our way around the place and we all felt we knew the grounds really well once we’d finished!


  • Walking – several of us went for a lovely walk around the edge of the village. It was good to blow the cobwebs away and one of those important spaces to talk and think.
  • Choral singing – something I never thought I’d do, but under the brilliant instruction of Ceri Williams, we had a go at becoming a crowd-sourced instrument using the pentatonic scale (Bobbie McFerrin style) . Huge fun (even if it wasn’t that tuneful!).
  • Catherine Elliott at short notice (read – Catherine had planned to show us how to play ultimate frisbee but the Yorkshire weather put paid to that) gave a great workshop with some ideas on teaching Computational Thinking. We looked at sorting algorithms using coloured blocks to introduce language such as IF and ELSE, and a bubble sort using children and adults on a bench getting in to height order. We did a quick sort using animals and who would win in a fight (if you are interested, a gorilla beats a donkey in a fight but not a lion). We also looked at writing algorithms for drawing a spiral (something I’d just touched on with my class last week using logo!).
  • Cat on yer head – a fabulous game to teach children about game design hosted by Dawn Hallybone and Tony Parkin. Tricky to describe, hopefully, Tony will write it up and I think Alex videoed us (should be very funny to watch!). Another one I’ll definitely be trying at school.



#camped14 An extended teachmeet with space to think

Science at camped14

I was still a PGCE student when I persuaded the family to go to #camped12. Learning and sharing in a field, it was a fantastic experience that at the whole family really enjoyed. They took no persuading to go to the second #camped, and for me it was even better than the first. Apart from the fantastic range of activities, beautiful and inspiring venue and the gathering of some amazing people and their families, the best part about camped14 for me was the space in between the sessions.

It may have only been a 4 week half term, but moving schools has had a huge impact on me. Going back to family camping after a 2 year break (PGCE and NQT years took their toll on my energy levels!) meant concentrating on the basics – getting the tent up quickly to avoid the worst of the rain, slowing down and taking time out to just sit a while and wait for the kettle to boil on the gas stove, stopping to talk to my daughters and husband. Camped provided the space to talk through the changes I’ve experienced in the past two years with colleagues and mull over some of the challenges still ahead was invaluable. The wisdom and practical experience of twitter friends has given me a raft of strategies, ideas and practical tips to get me started as an effective Computing Lead in my new school. I already know that that space to chat, ask questions, think aloud and reflect will impact on my practise. Of course, it helped that the whole weekend was huge fun, with belly laughs, good food and fabulous music too!

I’ll post separately about the workshops and activities, as they are important in their own right and I need to get them noted before I forget! BUt I felt it important to note the impact that this weekend has already had on me and send a massive thanks to Dughall McCormick  and Bill Lord and everyone else that helped to put the weekend together and make it such a success. I really hope that there is another CampEd, it’s a valuable space to have in the diary for any educator.

Leicester Teachmeet #TMLD14 QR codes for paired reading

My presentation for Leicester Teachmeet on 18 March 2014 at CrownHills School, Leicester. This was based on a teachtweet video I made earlier this year. I added a little extra about teaching algorithms too.

Livestream recording of the teachmeet now available thanks to Leon @eyebeams

This was an idea that David Mitchell described that he used in school, I tried it this autumn, and it worked really well!

QR codes and paired reading

During daily guided reading with my year 4 class, which I run as a carousel of activities, my children can use the class iPad on a rota. A different pair of children each day get to use the iPad with a focussed task. During the first half term of the school year, their task was to find a book from our year 1 classroom and record themselves reading it (with good expression!) using Audioboo (a free sound recording app).  They photograph the cover of the book and publish the recording. The Audioboo recording is set to publish directly to our class blog (in Audioboo settings set to publish to your blog). We then make a QR code to link to the blog post and print out a copy. The paper QR code is stuck into the book and placed back in the year 1 classroom. The year 1 children can use their class iPad to scan the QR code and listen to the story book being read aloud.

Example – Where’s my teddy? Read by Eden and Lewis.

screenshot of blog post audioboo player

Slides on Google


Audioboo app: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/audioboo/id305204540

QR code reader app https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/qr-reader-for-iphone/id368494609?mt=8

QR stuff screenshot: http://www.qrstuff.com/

iPad image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad_Mini

Audioboo image http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8096/8545410166_5e15c53777_z.jpg


I will soon be changing schools, starting at Rushey Mead Primary school as ICT lead after Easter. I am very much looking forward to the challenge and for my interview lesson I taught a group of year 5 children how to write an algorithm. The main idea was to show that although the new ICT curriculum has a lot of technical language in it, some of it can be taught from what teachers already know how to do well. Algorithms are basically instructions. I used padlocks and a mixed set of keys to get the children to write some instructions on how to choose a key to open the padlock. They included a decision (does the key fit?) to make the change from simple instructions to become an algorithm.

I was directed (by lots of lovely people on twitter) to several great resources whilst researching the lesson:

Phil Bagge’s Code it.

A treasure trove of planning, ideas, videos and very practical help for anyone worried about the new computing curriculum. If you haven’t seen sandwich bot, you are missing a treat!

Computer science unplugged

Teaching computing without a computer. Does what it says on the tin 🙂

This started me thinking about cross curricular links, with maths and science. I’ve started to work computing language into my maths lessons, to get children to realise the connections between sorting and maths. We were playing 20 questions to guess a number (is it odd? does it have 3 digits?) and I pointed out that Google search works by a process of sorting that many of the children resorted to. They realised that if they knew it was a 3 digit number, they could ask if it was bigger than 500 and narrow down the search options quickly, by picking the mid point to ask about each time (is it bigger than 250?). Branching databases in science are another perfect opportunity to link to computing.

Association for Science Education conference and primary teachmeet #tmase @thease #aseconf

Great example of using lists of vocabulary to go and find real examples outdoors. Children use laminated vocab lists to go and find examples to take a picture with all the and put into a pic collage and label up. From @drbiol .
Natural dyes on wool (easier than cotton, no pre wash). Boiling water, fix with vinegar or salt. Could investigate different methods, quantities and materials.
Use playground to look for materials and then what is growing on them.
Top trumps for energy sources – free resources form centre for alternative technology. Compare different forms of alternative energy. centre for alternative energy

I just went around the Association for Science Education conference’s free exhibition but found plenty of ideas:
Collins had their new science curriculum materials so I had chance to be be talked through the evaluation pack (saving me reading it in detail!)
The Met office had some great resources that I hadn’t managed to of find on their website that will be useful for science and maths:
– Daily (mon to fri in term time) child friendly weather forecast
– WOW weather observations Website- upload your own weather station data and compare to other places in yeah world – fabulous for real weather data for using in the he new maths curriculum (time graphs).
make you own weather forecast kit – we are going to a do a weather forecast in French this term, so we can use these resources to help make our filmed forecasts look really professional!

British model aircraft association – some wonderful resources for making model aircraft and a competition for us to enter to give some real life purpose to our fight and flight theme after half term. fly your plane



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.


SEN Tech: The Critical Agenda debate with Sal Cooke, John Galloway and Bev Evans new at SEN TeachMeet #tmsen12

Our SEN themed TeachMeet follows the traditional format – practitioners sign up to come along, or ideally – to talk and demo practice that works, in 7 minute micro presentations or 2 minute nano presentations. These are short to encourage a wide range and diversity of contribution, to make sure as many people attending as possible get the opportunity to share, and to make joining in more accessible and less scary for people who have never spoken at an event before.
Additionally, we will be hosting a strategic level debate. We are excited to announce the confirmed speakers for our SEN Tech: The Critical Agenda debate session:
Sal Cooke is Director of JISC Techdis, one of the leading UK advisory services on technologies for inclusion. Sal has overall responsibility for the strategic focus and direction of JISC Techdis as guided by funders and stakeholders, ensuring it continues to be the pragmatic voice of inclusion and accessibility and promotes the innovative use of technologies, to support users within education, business and community sectors across the UK
John Galloway is an ICT/SEN Advisor in Tower Hamlets, a consultant to a number of special schools going through BSF across London and Essex, and a freelance writer with several books and many articles to his name. He has been using computers with learners with a broad range of special needs since the mid-1980s and still gets excited by what technology can enable them to do.
Bev Evans (@bevevans22/@TES_SEN) is the new Subject Leader of SEN Resources at TES – and spends time sourcing and creating resources and guidance to help support teachers, who have pupils with SEN, within the classroom. Bev previously worked as an ICT Leader, who worked across age groups to develop the use of ICT in the classroom, and as part of a specialist team: using sign language, communication aids and inclusive technology within the classroom to help promote an inclusive environment.
She runs the resource website www.communication4all.co.uk in her spare time and also has a blog for sharing ideas in ICT http://technostories.wordpress.com
Our panelists will be setting the agenda for technologies for inclusion, and presenting and defending the issues and areas they have identified as current national priorities.
There is still time to sign up – please do consider speaking or attending. We will be finalising numbers for lunch this Friday – so please register sooner rather than later if you’d like to take part in what looks like being an excellent event


Why I’m going to TeachMeet Midlands #tmm11

I work at Leicester University promoting the use of eLearning to academic staff and students in the School of Biological Sciences, most of my research has been in the area of plagiarism and it’s electronic detection, so why am I going to TeachMeet Midlands this weekend?

Most of the people that read this blog will already know why, it’s because I’ve finally had my place on the Upper Primary PGCE course at Leicester University confirmed and I’ll be starting a new life as a trainee teacher in September. I’ve been using twitter since late 2007 and it has long been an invaluable tool. It provides access to a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom from a network of enthusiastic, passionate people that stimulate and challenge me every day. I can’t imagine being a teacher without it, so I’m starting as I mean to go on and taking the opportunity to build my teaching twitter network as soon as I can. I’ll definitely need all the support and encouragement I can get, I’ve lots of skills to bring to teaching, but I’ve even more skills to learn and put into practice. I would love to hear if you have a teacher you follow that particularly inspires you, let me know in the comments,  or via a tweet @jobadge.

I’m also coming to try and pick up some practical tips from real practitioners and start to think about what sort of teacher I would like to be. Why did you decide to come to TeachMeet Midlands?