Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Using Twitter in School

I've been using twitter for school projects for a while now, pupils tweet their progress and speak to teachers and students from around the world about their projects. It's totally brilliant for giving them a sense of audience (and making them aware of just how many people can access their stuff on the internet!) and pride, whilst also being far more reflective about their work; knowledge AND skills.

However, I am really struggling to get the school to actually unblock twitter. They are worried about pupils seeing inappropriate things, chatting to friends instead of working blah blah, the usual story!

So two things really, 1 has anyone got some nice examples of how the use twitter in the classroom and 2) any suggestions on how to get my school to unblock it?!?!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Comic life and istopmotion

There is something about macs which engages students! Our pirates from yesterday are spending today making pirate films, comic strips or animations.... Who said students can't concentrate for extended periods - one project, 1 day and the students don't even want to go to break or lunch!!!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Who says Secondary Pupils aren't just big kids...

Over the next 2 days our school holds 'Activity days'. All the different teachers organise a series of 2 day events focussing on different skills and activities that pupils might not experience in an every day curriculum. Obviously this involves a lot of trips (which can be pretty pricey!) for the students so my friend, Esther and I organised a pirate day (well.... if you can't pirate on an activity day, when can you?). Instead of trips, we had a series of team events to build pupils skills and to have tons of fun!

1) Build your ship (or make it using paper origami skills)
2) become initiated with your pirate name, booklet and lots of singing (how to say YAAAAARGH and YO HO A PIRATES LIFE FOR ME).
3) Signing the pirate contract for your boat
4) Designing your skull and cross bones and agreeing tactics
5) Shipwrecked and stranded we swim the obstacle course to treasure island (obviously this was great as we soaked the kids with super water pistols and hose pipes - just before the great course in the photo!)
6) Cutlass fighting
7) a bit more singing (yo ho a pirates life for me)
8) analysis of a pirate film

1) film and edit a pirate something.... (used comic life, istop motion or imovie)
2) final count of pirate prizes
3) treasure hunt (solve the clues about the history of pirates, pirate language and pirate geography) for the box of treasure!
As you can see from the picture - all the students really enjoyed themselves and so did the teachers!! 

It reminds us how important enjoying learning and being able to relax and have fun with the students is. I think in the land of continuous target setting and constant focus on progress, the sheer enjoyment of learning can get a bit lost! We should take some tips from the primary schools and look at their fun ways of learning - our pirates are learning about crafts, history, human rights, team work, film editing, maths, building their literacy and getting great exercise over the next 2 days - and enjoying themselves as well - what could be better?!


Sunday, 18 July 2010

In memory of Kajil....

One of my students died this week. It was a total shock - just a very sad accident. It's taken me all of this week to be able to write this post, but I wanted to remember her here...

Kajil was a lively, funny, (very loud!), enthusiastic and loyal student and friend. She arrived in Year 8 and left in Year 10, and even after leaving used to write me the funniest emails describing her new school and her new friends there. She stayed in touch with many of the form and she will be remembered fondly by all of us.

She loved a good bit of drama, and my over riding memories of her will be the day she insisted I should make more of an effort with my hair, brought in her curling tongs, and proceeded to curl my hair all through extended tutor time - and then insisted on a series of pictures(!) and the last sports day she spent with us - we'd been disqualified (again!) from loads of races and the form was getting really despondent, but every time anyone tried to sit down and stop cheering, she insisted they all stand at the front and cheer louder than everyone else!

She was a wonderful young lady who made the most of every second of her life. That she will be missed by many shows how much of a difference she made to the lives of us all.

Sherri, Kajil and Fatima at Christmas...

Georgia, Divya, Hirali, Ritika, Fatima & Kajil (leaning out) cheering the form on at sports day

Goodbye Kajil. You'll never be forgotten...

Friday, 2 July 2010

Busy department?

We were writing a list of all the outside agencies we work with, the consultancy I do, our active citizenship projects and the teacher training/development work we are involved in for our local authority inspection today.... it is 9 pages long!!! Busy department!

This sparked a debate with some friends in other departments about the value of after school activities vs delivery (traditional) of the curriculum.... quite shocking that some friends still believe that traditional imparting of knowledge is more important than projects that build learning skills and encourage reflection.... back to the knowledge vs skills debate - sigh!