90 minutes a day

This week I collected my possessions from my old office at Hamble Community Sports College and moved into my new office at The Wellington Academy. I suspect you can imagine the emotional confusion that tasks holds. One consequence (and opportunity) of the new role, is a moderate daily commute. Approximately forty-five to fifty minutes. I plan to use this time productively; replaying the day’s events, planning the next day, week, month, year, thinking over the big picture, cutting a few kite strings and enjoying my regular podcasts (The Guardian’s Tech Weekly (30-40 mins), the BBC’s Click (20-25 mins), Slate’s Lexicon Valley’s (30 mins fortnightly, and easily the most amazing English CPD you can get for free) and the occasional and usually selected RSA lecturer – as these frequently explode my grey matter.That still left plenty of time to enjoy a few audio books and so I treated myself to an Audible membership complete with the first title free.

made to stickMy first few journeys began and finished with ‘Made to Stick’ via the Audible app (a far superior player to iTunes, even before found the ‘button free’ controls for bookmarking and twenty seconds rewind and fast forward). As you can see I am only on Chapter 4, approximately 210 minutes and thoroughly enjoying the books.

It is not that I fully subscribe to Chip and Dan’s six sticky categories, templates, or principles but ‘Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credentialed, Emotional, Stories’ would, IMHO, be a decent recipe for making your lessons more memorable and don’t most students love a powerful acronym – SUCCES.

Given that the books is about making ‘things’ more memorable, teaching and learning, leading and selling feature quite heavily. It is therefore, right up my street, and possible down yours (‘up yours’ seemed rather rude). If you are an English teacher, there are a few additional Easter eggs too, urban legends, proverbs and fables, journalese, screen writing and speeches, are all explored in the first 4 Chapters, and I expect more to follow.

To add to my positive review,  the books has a 4.7 average review (n=41) and this new teacher / review certainly raved about it. Listen here.

I’d recommend this book to any teacher – it’s probably 110% more useful than any of the text books you were told to read on your teacher training course!

Not bad for free, or little more than six quid if you want to purchase the book.

qr code

How good is a school?

Stepping in for our Principal last week I picked out a few leader comments that struck a chord.

How good is a school? How good are your middle leaders?

On making judgements about learning and teaching;

I am trying to spend more time inside classrooms rather than outside them.

Outstanding means everyone tighten up to become good; loosen up to become outstanding (and beyond?)

Lastly, I really enjoyed Dr Paul Lawrence’s presentation describing investigation of teaching standards through the staff self-assessment. Staff were asked to self assess their teaching day and submit their reflections. How else could you gather 400+ assessments in one day? My most immediate thought was that for staff to offer accurate reflections, they needed to know what Outstanding, good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory teaching looks like? That can only be a good for a teaching organisation. This data can then be compared to formal teacher observations. Interesting stuff, and I agree, why shouldn’t we trust staff self assessments, they are after all professional assessors?

qr code

Wellington Academy Visioning Day

Wellington Academy Visioning Day – it was a real privilege to facilitate an ICT visioning day with colleagues from Wellington Academy, reinventing, or at least repackaging, ICT under an Enterprise banner. Given a ‘blue sky canvas, we framed with day with three simple Sinek styled investigations. Why do we need to change or in this case reinvent the ICT curriculum? How will ICT be redefine, how will the new curriculum be structured, or as one colleague noted, ‘engage, excite and enhance’ learning? What will it look like?

There was little doubt we needed to refresh ICT, whether it be to build learning power, to underpin progress in other subjects, or simple because the availability (and mobility) of learning technology continues to redefine ‘what is possible’ in the vast majority of learning settings. Yes, I certainly agree there needs to be flexibility, there needs to be access and yes, spontaneity, creativity’s good friend.

How will it be structured? With a broad range of business, ICT and technology advocates potentially contributing to the curriculum we recommended 13 units of work. The first to be shared with the feeder schools, and then 12 half termly projects, missions, quests or challenges. The enterprise ideas then flooded onto a wiki, ipad, laptop, IWB, no flip chart. One very pertinent theme underpinned the discussion and that was that each unit could / should marry to a curriculum area, to further embed / associate learning with the wider curriculum.

Now I will need to ask Rob Wood for a copy of the list, because there were some fantastic ideas, many of which had already been explored by the colleagues around the table, Lego Mindstorm, MOSS qualifications, coding (Kodu, Scratch, Alice, Panther), but there were some fantastically innovate ideas, a recording unit that included text, audio and video linked to publishing and responding to feedback skills, Animation. Conferencing skills; skyping as expert and being skyped as an expert. Connecting with local businesses and preparing your own digital brand, including a business card, values, mission statement, tagline. Personally, I had my horizons stretched with contributions that highlighted Wellington Academy’s military context, applying command and teamwork tasks to ICT and enterprise. One area we explored was the value of LAN gaming, the title I recommend, ‘Battle for Newerth‘ a game I first watched students play back in 2009. There were many many more. Perhaps the surprise discussion centred on the whole school learning value of learning to touch type (are you for or against?). The team now have luxury of pick n mixing.

What will it look? It was not my role to define or answer this question. Rather I shared gamificationquesting. and badging and together we ran through what that might look like at Wellington Academy. I look forward to hearing how it develops.

qr code

Twitter tidy

Every once in a I spring clean my Twitter feed. Usually with a change of job focus or an addition of a new responsibility. There are a number of very useful services out there to help you review your account, but my preferred choice is Manage Flitter.

It is very quick and easy to use with a ‘quick edit’ that provides a very information summary with instance actions that can be applied. I primarily use it to identify the accounts I follow that have been inactive for at least 30 days, I then check the bio and then make a decision. It is also a great way to check all the bio’s of your follows, to make sure that your Twitter feed is keeping up with your professional focus. For example, my Twitter focus has moved from IT strategy, eLearning and ICT (middler leadership), to data for student progress and achievement and English (senior leadership). Manage Flitter offers considerable more than I have outlined, but that’s all I need. Spring clean anyone?

qr code