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Running-based Learning Along The Pennine Way
Ultimate ultrarunner?Ultimate ultrarunner?

Going The Extra Miles For Sport Relief

Think like an athlete: Focus on what you want

Think like an athlete: Focus on what you want

This is an account of a unique pilot project designed and delivered by Andy Mouncey to a selection of schools in the north of England. Andy is not a teacher – he is a record-setting endurance athlete who is a professional speaker and trainer across sport, business and education. A list of participating schools, reaction and film clicks can be found www.bigandscaryrunning.com This account was written by Andy not long after Sport Relief day earlier this year:

Unless you were the TV personality Davina McCall, most people ran a mile for Sport Relief back in March. What Miss McCall didn’t know as she called into Edale primary school during her Edinburgh to London fund-raising triathlon was that pupils, staff and parents were also near the end of their own endurance challenge laid down by me some five months previously:

  • Run 268 miles – the equivalent length of The Pennine Way (TPW) – with the final mile as the Sport Relief Mile
  • Raise money for Sport Relief
  • Record their experiences in a training diary

In return I would teach them how to think and behave like an endurance athlete so that they could:

  • Raise aspirations and learn to persevere through setbacks
  • Develop a goal-orientated mindset
  • Experience the challenge and pride of working together to help others
Running a loooong way for Sport Relief

Running a loooong way for Sport Relief

Skills they could use to make any future challenge – like sitting exams or moving school – seem simple, straightforward and compelling.

It just so happens that Edale primary school sits directly opposite the end of The Pennine Way national trail. This is important because the catalyst for this challenge was my attempt to complete The Spine Race, Britain’s most brutal ultramarathon in which runners have seven days to cover the full length of TPW most walkers take three weeks to complete. The catch? The race takes place in January in winter and I had already failed once – only getting as far as 105 miles in 2013. For Edale primary school there was another hurdle; with a total number of 13 pupils there were not very many children to share the miles around. Step up mums, dads and members of staff…

By the time race day arrived in January I had recruited 13 schools along or close to TPW and 1600 pupils to my ‘Cracking The Spine’ challenge. I had visited all those schools three times which made for an awful lot of new friends. Pupils could watch the race in real-time online and send messages via social media because all the runners wore tracking devices. Despite the combined will of 1600 children urging me on I dropped out of the race at 160 miles having battled creeping hypothermia for most of three days. My visits back to the schools after the race were ‘interesting’ to say the least!

To the staff, however, my failure to finish for a second time was an unexpected bonus because it challenged some of the key messages children see and hear via the media:

Success is easy, quick, and it’s something that someone else gives you

Inspiration

Inspiration

I – who they had got to know as someone who did some mad stuff and was really quite like them as well – had just made personal a lesson that we all come to sooner or later:

‘(Meaningful) success isn’t easy, it rarely happens in a straight line or when you want it, and it’s something YOU need to work at. So when it does happen – as it will if you practice the skills of perseverance – it is a life-enhancing experience.’

I will be back at The Spine Race in January 2015.

I have to because I am also making a film of the whole project and every film needs an end. There is also 1600 children who want to see me finish the job. ‘Cracking The Spine’ will be an improved version available to schools from September. A first grant has just been awarded by Big Lottery Awards For All scheme and other grant funding routes for participating schools are opening up.

Outcomes from the pilot? Money raised £7,200.  All the schools reached their 268 mile target and many clocked up much more. Total miles run stands at 4572.

One secondary school pupil ran the full 268 miles on his own, one primary school pupil covered 100 miles and raised £1000, four families from one primary school clocked up over 300 miles per family, and a group of secondary school girls made a film about their weekend runs.

Running diaries

Running diaries

There was race week themed lessons plans and related learning on history, geology, physiology, maths, creative writing and speaking, science, and technology.

I was formally adopted as a Learning Hero role model, there are at least three school running clubs now set up, and many schools formalized the project into learning menus and creative curriculum design. As many of the schools were rural and relatively isolated it was, said many of the staff, just a relief to have something brand new and exciting for everyone to get involved in during the dark wet winter months.

Andy Mouncey
www.bigandscaryrunning.com
CTS FinishCertificate

Model UN and CfE
February 13, 2014
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For some time now, I’ve been dreading my first blog post. Folks like Kenny Pieper and Fearghal Kelly have been doing this stuff for years – and what would I be able to add to their rich and varied posts? Classroom practice for me comes down to personalities and aspirations. As a teacher, you’re expected to take the lead, plan the lessons, define the learning outcomes, assess progress and so on. You dominate the classroom, whether you want to or not. But this can be stifling for both the practitioner and the students – where are the opportunities for learning to be driven by student needs and wants rather than by the curriculum’s artificial clock? At the same time, you need to create an atmosphere of higher expectations – where hard work, initiative and ideas are rewarded rather than simply getting the answers right. As a control freak, how do I give up some control, but keep aspirations high? Recently, I’ve been experimenting with Model UN as a standalone activity which may be of interest to many others. We’ve started on a small scale, meeting on Tuesday lunchtimes, having attended an open afternoon at nearby Inveralmond CHS at the end of October. The group is open to any S3 and S4 students, as I have S5 and S6 students attending an Amnesty International group on Wednesday lunchtimes. But I had high hopes that Model UN could match Duke of Edinburgh as an extra-curricular development opportunity for students. And so we became Chile for a day! We attended this week’s Model UN conference at Inveralmond CHS (called MUNICH14 – nice one Andy Pender) with apprehension and no little excitement for the seven students involved. They were blown away – and so was I. The committee sessions required only a little influence from any of the teachers from more than 15 schools from all over central and eastern Scotland, and the afternoon General Assembly sessions were even more impressive: at one point, as pieces of paper shuffled between the different delegations, the whole operation – amendments, proposals, resolutions – was managed with firmness and humour by a few seniors from ICHS. The teachers sat near the back of the hall – largely spectators at their own game. Motivation and enthusiasm were palpable from all the national delegations as desperate attempts were made to form or break alliances: but at the same time, fruit and sweets were exchanged as unmistakable bribes to influence and schmooze different groups. I’m sure a few Twitter names and Facebook walls were shared too. For ‘Team Chile’, friendships were formed, confidence and fun replaced fear and embarrassment: the team are now desperate to follow up on this experience by attending a weekend conference at George Watson’s next month. And we’ll need to meet more than one lunchtime a week before then to improve our participation against school delegations from all over the world. If classroom engagement represents students fitting in with teacher expectations about what a learning experience is about, then this was closer to student empowerment. Pupils taking the lead? Tick. Raising aspirations? Tick. Teacher happy to lose control? Tick. CfE writ large? Tick.

Raising Boys Attainment or Superheroes need Super Teachers

Boys… They have it tough. The gender attainment gaps in Primary school result in a reduction of life choices and chances by the end of High School. In 2011  48% girls went to University whereas only 37% boys had the same chance.
At our INSET with Gary Wilson (www.garywilsonraisingboysachievement.co.uk) on Friday we were taken through the challenges of boyhood and the barriers to boys learning. From succumbing to the peer police (“Better to be seen not to be bothered by winning than to try and fail.”) to issues with independence; with parents who have been lured into the false impression that it’s easier to do everything for our boys rather than live with constant nagging, raised blood pressure and ranting that even the smallest of requests can result in. From low self esteem to the negative labels society puts onto boys from a very early age Gary is on a one man mission to change these negative stereotypes (once challenging British Home Stores when they advertised a boys T-shirt in their Spring Collection declaring “Lazy and proud of it!”).

So what can we do in our schools and classrooms to give boys the best opportunities to meet their potential? Gary’s main suggestions of the day were: 

- Promote breakfast – by not eating breakfast by 10.30am we have the reaction speed of a 70year old. 
- Promote a “can do” ethos  -  internal auditory is louder in boys heads.
- Positive visualisation ensures success – Imagining yourself doing well means you most probably will.
- Feed your brain! Giving children fruit and a drink prior to test helps with attainment.
- Assist neuropathways by ‘piggyback’ learning- teach someone else what you’ve learned. 
- Promote creativity- children who play instruments do better at school.
- Develop leadership capacity in boys so they get attention for the right reasons.
- Boys prefer active learning. Although there’s a need to balance approaches across learning styles make sure there’s enough active learning events in our lessons to motivate and engage so boys work to the best of their ability. 
- Superheroes! Tapping  into this genre helps to boys to make links to the real world. Staff should value play based on children’s interest whilst promoting order and boundaries. Superhero play = emotional intelligence = clear rules = structure = guidelines for success. 
- Ban setting! Setting reinforces negative stereotypes. The younger a child is ‘set’ the worst they’ll do at age 16. 
- Celebrate success by using hand written ‘I did great work’ style labels as success stickers to give parents a focus to celebrate success at home.
- Aifl- use those lolly sticks or a random name generator (http://www.classtools.net/education-games-php/fruit_machine) to ensure children are focused and expect to be included in the lesson.
- Plan the plenary! Don’t let the boys skip any part of Kolb’s learning cycle (http://www.simplypsychology.org/learning-kolb.html) in their rush to be finished.
- Focus on Fiction: it promotes emotional intelligence and 
          – exposes children to wider experiences,
          – aids understanding of what others think,
          – helps children identify with characters and their issues,
          – gives children strategies to deal with dilemmas.
-Set up Systems - When in doubt give them a system! 
- Think in the short term for long term success: Short term goals, short term targets, short term rewards = boys striving for success.
-Cut out the copying out – it has no purpose and is predominantly used as behaviour control. Out of the mouths of boys: “Teachers’ can’t be bothered to teach us when we’re copying out.”
-Make learning real and fun by giving children real audiences. Use Crazy Talk (http://www.reallusion.com/crazytalk/crazytalk_trial.asp) software to manipulate pictures and provide a purpose to writing. 
- focus on fine motor control development. Often this is an area of difficulty for boys (http://scotens.org/sen/articles/primary_reflexes.pdf) so praise for quality ideas when quality presentation is a mountain too high!
- Consider training staff to teach the children peer massage  (http://www.misascotland.org.uk/index.htm) or yoga (http://www.yogascotland.org.uk/findteacher.html). Positive touch  and relaxation helps to keep students calm, focused and motivated.

Through Gary’s work with groups of boys their top tips are:
- Choose the right time of day to teach important stuff- not when we’re excited.
- don’t criticise if you can’t read my handwriting, it’s not always the most important thing.
- be more persuasive!
- writing in small chunks is best.
- we want to write in any way we want!
- use mind mapping ideas.
- you start the story, let us kids finish it.
- give us basic ideas to get started.
- make it fun!
- use lots of props.
- find out what interests us
- use mind maps as a form of plenary/ help me share my learning with a partner.
- read to us – it helps us with our own stories and poems. 
- let us act stories out.
- give us time to think and talk.
- model writing – use visualisers to share pupil work.

All the approaches above are very much good learning and teaching and would benefit any pupil regardless of gender but with a focus on engaging boys and bridging the attainment gaps the whole class will benefit.

Other places to get Gary’s words of wisdom are:

http://www.oxfordschoolimprovement.co.uk/professional-development

YouTube:

Books:

http://www.garywilsonraisingboysachievement.co.uk/publications.htm

Creating flipcharts with P5/6 pupils
June 21, 2012
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I am only occasionally these days in front of a class and feel very lucky when I am because  there’s technology involved and fun is instantly on the agenda.  This week I was working with a class of P5/6 pupils on the topic of Olympic athletes.  They had previously done some research on the internet and each had produced a word document with some facts and had added in a photo.  This had been printed out and put up on the wall. 

That made me a bit despondent.  Part of my remit as Education ICT Officer is to help teachers embed ICT into all areas of the curriculum, to raise awareness of online, educational tools and resources as well as ensuring existing software on the school build is used to full effect. Looking at the word documents brought it home to me….I am not getting the message out to enough teachers and the pupils are missing out on the chance to build up much needed ICT skills.

We used ActivInpsire to create some flipcharts on the Olympic athlete they had previously selected.  The first 20 minutes were spent practising using the tool box and discussing which tools would be useful when presenting their work to the class.  (spotlight, screen, ticker tape, transluceny slide)  I set them a  test task to check their understanding of object layering and each pupil had to move round the class adding in something to everyone else’s flipchart.  If someone was strugggling, the pupil who showed up to add to their flipchart could then help.  I was part of the rotating group and so one of the stations ended was doing it on the interactive whiteboard.

By the end of the 90 minutes they had created great flipcharts with photos – (using the freehand camera tool), facts, quiz questions with answers hidden behind shapes/flags, embedded You Tube videos of the athletes using a TV image as the backdrop so you had to click on the On button to play the clip.

I lost 3 children at one point. They disappeared out the class to go show the next class what they were doing.  I had forgotten how alert teachers have to be 100% of the time!

By saving to their own area of the server, I was able to use the teacher’s log in to bring up the flipcharts and share with the whole class from the teacher’s laptop.  This was not a known option. It was an important thing  for peer review, discussion and to practise presentation skills.

Summer rethink on sharing information with school staff especially those less confident with ICT…..

Next year I’ll…

Thank you to all for your responses to our previous call for contributions. Fascinating stuff!

I think with the end of term rapidly approaching it would seem appropriate to follow it up with another call – next year I’ll…

What are you planning to do different next session? Why? How do you intend to do this?

Please feel free to add your contribution as a comment on this post, or on facebook, or email it to share@pedagoo.org [if you're already an editor on this site just login and click publish!]

I’ll get started this time…I intend to change the way I teach Intermediate 1 biology. I’ve already mentioned on my own blog how I’ve begun this process in these last couple of weeks and I’m going to persevere with this next term. This will involve planning my lessons using a learning cycle approach and striving to ensure that the lessons are as active and engaging as they possibly can be. I also intend to evaluate the impact of this in conjunction with my collaborative enquiry group at school.

What are you intending to change?