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Creative Thinking @ PedagooPrimary

On Saturday morning I joined a room full of enthusiastic primary teachers for the long awaited #PedagooPrimary, a chance for primary teachers to get together and share thoughts, ideas and strategies… and chat, laugh and generally be enthusiastic about education.

This was my third teachmeet experience, last year I attended #PedagooGlasgow and pedagoo@PL which were incredibly uplifting, inspiring events, this time, I thought I’d be brave and lead a learning conversation.  That’s part of the brilliance of Pedagoo, it is about teachers sharing things they do, things they enjoy, things that have had an impact in their setting.  It is a very inclusive community that makes you feel like you have something to contribute.

My conversation was focused on ‘Creative Thinking’

If we aim to develop a passion for lifelong learning then children’s first experiences of education need to inspire curiosity, introduce interesting problems and encourage creativity. I also think it’s essential that we as teachers get the chance to be inspired, solve problems and be creative as much as possible, it is difficult to pass on a passion for learning if we are uninspired.  It is however, unrealistic to think that we can be producing fabulously creative and inspiring opportunities all day everyday, and at times it is easy to feel caught in the flow of routines and demands that exist in every school.  My conversation aimed to encourage others to find one little thing everyday that makes you think creatively and makes you and your pupils smile.

I shared a number of experiences and projects that we have developed at my school @grandtullyps . Grandtully is ‘A Wee School With Big Ideas’ and I see my role as supporting the pupils (P1-7) to develop their ‘Big ideas’ so they become a reality and a lot of the time in order to do that I need to stand back.  This is not easy! as a self confessed ‘ideas’ person with a strong inclination to control it’s really, really hard not to dominate but to let them explore, create and learn from their mistakes.  However, once you start you’ll never go back.  The process of working together with the pupils, listening, watching and providing well thought through guidance (that’s essential!) has allowed us to develop some really creative (and extremely enjoyable) learning experiences.

Macro Fun

A friend of mine purchased a little clip on macro lens for her iPhone so I had to have one too…. and then I realised its school potential!  After we had spent some time exploring the classroom carpet (uurrrghhh) pupil’s shoes and eyeballs…. we ventured outdoors but something odd happened… we had shrunk.  Younger pupils (P1-3) linked this to ‘In the Garden’ the Oxford Reading Tree story and then wrote their own magic key adventure, while older pupils (P5-7) developed their ‘exciting sentence’ writing using their images as a stimulus.  (If you search for iPhone Macro lens on Amazon you should be able to pick one up for about £5-£6)

IMG_9677 IMG_9678 IMG_9679 IMG_9680 IMG_9681

Ten Pieces Project

We were keen to take part in the BBC Ten Pieces project this year.  Pupils listened to and watched a short film introducing 10 pieces of classical music, we then developed creative responses to each piece.  Pupils came up with a whole range of ideas for how we could respond, we then linked them to experiences and outcomes which became our planning for the term.  Holst’s ‘Mars’ inspired a science topic on Space, we visited Dundee Science Museum, watched the Eclipse (good timing!) and pupils wanted to write some space themed stories too. P1-3 pupils looked through a range of picture books before deciding on a Lauren Child style collage approach, while P5-7 listened to podcasts of NASA astronauts before creating characters for their own suspense filled graphic novel.

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Finding an audience for our work is very important, so we shared our books at our community showcase.

For our response to Stravinsky’s Firebird we were lucky enough to work with Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre https://www.clydebuiltpuppet.co.uk.  Each pupil wanted to create their own bird and then P5-7 created a ‘Mega Bird’  they had to work together as a team to fly it.  Check out the flying skills via BBC Ten Pieces site. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02p4n7r  P5-7 also created a bit of a storm in response to Britten. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02p6ktt .

It’s hard not to smile standing in a field, listening to Stravinsky, watching pupils flying a giant bird.

Happy Creating.

@ciaracreative @grandtullyps

 

 

Pedagoo Primary: Supporting ITE students and NQTs
May 13, 2015
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One of the learning conversations in round 2 of Pedagoo Primary was entitled: Developing Partnerships to Support ITE students/NQTs: could we do it better? This conversation was led by Caroline Breyley, HT in a small school in Shetland and Associate Tutor for the University for the Highlands & Islands and Rebekah Hutton, an NQT teaching in Fife.

Listen to the learning conversation led by Caroline and Rebekah below:

Pedagoo Primary: Using blogs and social media in the classroom

Mary Jalland is a P1 teacher at Westquarter Primary School in Falkirk.

Ellie is the class mascot for P1 at Westquarter PS

Ellie is the class mascot for P1 at Westquarter PS

This learning conversation at Pedagoo Primary was all about how the use of a class blog and social media on a daily basis can enrich the children’s learning and build relationships with parents and the community.

The conversation ended with some comments about internet safety beyond the classroom. Listen to the discussion below.

Visit the class blog or tweet Ellie and the class.

You can find Blue Ellie getting all scientific on twitter too.

A Professional Development: #Pedagooprimary

Yesterday I travelled some eighty or so miles to Edinburgh to take part in a professional development event for teachers, organised by teachers. Yesterday was Saturday and almost forty teachers had signed up and travelled from as far as Shetland off the north Coast of Scotland to take part. It’s worth noting that there were other similar events happening elsewhere in Scotland yesterday but perhaps the uniqueness of this one was that it was organised and attended by teachers working in schools and because it’s what they wanted to do. No-one had told us we needed to attend, we weren’t being directed by others. We were there because, we wanted to learn, we wanted to collaborate and we wanted to contribute to the learning ‘conversations’. We weren’t sponsored, there were no keynotes and nobody was trying to sell us anything. The agenda was loose and various people had volunteered to lead conversations and to share experiences and practices. No-one was being paid to be there and there were no travelling expenses being met. In short, we were there because we wanted to be.

As we arrived at the venue, the buzz and excitement built as we met up with people we either knew already, virtual friends from Twitter, or met new ones for the first time. Our master of ceremonies was Aileen Kelly who had helped put the whole event together under the Pedgoo umbrella. Pedagoo have organised many such Teachmeets in the past, but it was felt these were heavily Secondary focused and attended, so it was decided to try and promote and develop a more Primary focused event to encourage more primary teachers to get involved.

The event had been loosely organised around a series of learning ‘conversations’. Each of these lasted half an hour and was led by someone who was willing to share and discuss some element of their successful practice in school. The first series of conversations featured outdoor learning, using superheroes to develop mindsets in early years, connecting learning through technology, 1+2 primary language teaching and making sense of practitioner enquiry. The biggest frustration was not being able to sit in on all of these. I was leading the discussion on practitioner enquiry and was able to share my own thoughts and experiences, whilst hopefully helping others to make sense of, and understand this better themselves, as an approach to professional and school development. I would have so liked to have been part of the other conversations as well, especially after hearing the positive reactions of other participants who had took part in these, but will have to content myself to hearing some parts of these as they become available on the pedagoo.org website soon.

The second round of conversations featured our superheroes to develop mindsets again, developing partnerships to support ITE students and NQTs, a look at the new-look GLOW digital network for schools, and one which looked at how we could encourage children to talk more to develop their learning in the early years. Again, a rich range of learning conversations and I took part in the one looking at the development of talk with Aileen Kelly, @aileendunbar. This work had arisen out of Aileen’s work in her school and her successful study for a Masters degree at Stirling University. She was able to explain how her work was underpinned by the work of Vygotsky and Barnes, as well as others, who recognised the importance of dialogue to learning, but also how often schools can stifle this in the learners. I have been looking at the work of Rupert Wegeriff and others to promote more dialogical approaches in classrooms, and Aileen’s work linked closely to this. Aileen said perhaps we should move away from asking so many questions and instead use carefully thought about comments to stimulate talk in our learners.

The final round of conversations looked at how we could better support pupils with English as an additional language in our schools and classrooms, developing creative thinking in learners, inspiring literacy at early level, using Blogs and social media in the classroom and how we might use Twitter in the classroom and as a professional development tool. I took part in the discussion on developing creativity with Ciara Gibson @ciaracreative who teaches a P1 to P7 class. We were all blown away with the level of creativity Ciara had been able to develop in all her children and the simple techniques she had used to facilitate this. Key was often the ability to step back and observe the learning develop and not wanting to control too much by the teacher. If only we could develop this confidence in all our teachers, and headteachers? She demonstrated some wonderful creative work produced by her pupils from the use of a simple macro-lense on an iPad, bought for £5 off Amazon, to take photos and stimulate writing.

Like any well structured learning experience, we had started the whole day with an introduction to the learning ahead and shared some recent successes with everyone. We finished with an opportunity to consider one thing we would take away from the day, and to identify what our next steps might be in attending further Pedagoo events and Teachmeets, and how we might share our thoughts and experiences. For myself, I am determined to attend more events like this and to contribute whenever I can, I may even try to organise one in the Borders where I work. I took so much from the day, and hopefully contributed as well. But perhaps the most important thing was the buzz, the excitement and the positivity generated by committed and professional educationalists when they came together for a common purpose, and an agenda they were in control of. I feel we all left invigorated by the experience, with lots to think about and with practical ideas to consider for how we might develop and improve our own practice. What a great way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon?

So,thank you to the Pedagoo team for coming up with the concept and the idea, and a big thank you to the main organisers, Lynne Jones @MissJ0nes, Aileen Kelly @aileendunbar, David Gilmour @dgilmour, and Robert Drummond @robertd1981.

As Arnie might say, ‘I’ll be back!’

Cross-posted from School Leadership – A Scottish Perspective

Listen in to Pedagoo Primary’s “Feedback Fishbowl”
May 9, 2015
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@aileendunbar explains the process

Just what was in those colourful notes dropped into the Feedback Fishbowl? Listen to Aileen and Robert as they discover some surprises – and hear about a free ASN event coming up in Glasgow. Shameless plugging, but might just be what you’re looking for!

Pedagoo Primary
March 4, 2015
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There have been many Pedagoo events in Scotland. Each has been highly successful, and enjoyable. Both those presenting and those joining workshops left with heads full of new ideas, feeling inspired to make changes. In my opinion the reason these events work so well, is that all the presenters are fellow practitioners. Not only does this mean their ideas and experiences are highly relevant, but you also know that if it works in their classroom, you can make it work in your own.

The one downside to the events I have attended, has been the lack of primary colleagues presenting. The strange thing is, on my Masters course, I reckon about 75% of the cohort were primary teachers. There is clearly no lack of inspiration or ambition in the sector, so I’m not sure why Pedagoo hasn’t inspired more primary teachers to attend or present at events. Any ideas?

Whilst I have learnt how much links teaching and learning across all stages, it would be nice to look down the list of workshops and see more than a couple of primary colleagues presenting. I also believe that bringing more primary colleagues into the Pedagoo community would benefit them and the schools they teach in. In fact, I believe that if primary teachers became involved in sufficient numbers it could revolutionise the whole sector.

So, in an attempt to rectify this imbalance, a group of us (all primary teachers) are organising a one-off dedicated primary event – #PedagooPrimary. It is a one-off as we don’t want to become a seperate group, we want to introduce more people to the wonders of Pedagoo, and as I said before, we have learnt the value of sharing and learning from each other across all sectors. Pedagoo Primary will take place on the 9th of May at East Edinburgh Library.

Please help spread the word, please consider whether you could lead a learning conversation and please come along on the day – lets start that revolution.

Go to www.pedagoo.org/primary for more details and to sign up.

#pedagooprimary: plotting, planning and scheming part 1

You may have noticed that there was a flurry of tweets last week with the #pedagooprimary hashtag, kickstarted by @fkelly.

Armed with notebooks, pens and peanuts three primary tweachers met in a candle-lit alcove in the back of a pub a looooooooooong way down Leith Walk in Edinburgh on Monday evening to plot, plan and scheme a #pedagooprimary event into being.

Known to each other only on Twitter previously, Aileen Kelly (@aileendunbar), Robert Drummond (@robertd1981) and I (@MissJ0nes) quickly got down to the phase 1 planning for a professional learning event in a distinctly Pedagoo style and in a one-time only offer, with a specific primary focus mindful of the fact that:

‘Pedagoo is all about sharing classroom practice … [w]e do have loads of fantastic primary folk contributing, but the community does seem to have many more secondary teachers sharing … we’ve still to attract primary teachers in the numbers we’d like … I would like to see the rest of our future events having the open and collaborative approach we’ve taken up till now, but hopefully with more primary folk joining in having been persuaded by their participation in the #PedagooPrimary event … #PedagooPrimary should help us to broaden the conversation at our future Pedagoo events and online.’  (Fearghal Kelly, #PedagooPrimary, posted 10.08.14 http://fkelly.co.uk/2014/08/pedagooprimary/, accessed 13.08.14)

After much chat, and just ahead of that evening’s comedy gig at the pub, the Phase 1 planning meeting wrapped up and with pledges to:

  • bag a lovely free venue in Edinburgh, we do have our eyes on a particular place so fingers crossed.
  • bag that lovely free venue in Edinburgh for a Saturday in Spring 2015, most probably towards the end of April so holidays aren’t compromised and reports aren’t quite so pressing.
  • get the #pedagooprimary hashtag trending between now and then, to pique the interest of as many primary colleagues and primary student teachers as possible.
  • arrange further planning meetings (aka beermeets) in October and December to thrash out more detail and most importantly open to absolutely any primary bod who wants to lend a hand.
  • shamelessly plug to primary colleagues in school to encourage folk to offer to lead or attend workshops on the day.

The focus of Pedagoo is curriculum and classroom practice, the focus of #pedagooprimary is the primary curriculum and primary classroom practice.  Robert, Aileen and I have made a start, but from here on in the plotting, planning and scheming required to pull off a truly epic #pedagooprimary is going to need collaboration with many more primary brains out there.

Get in touch. Join us.  Be a part of #pedagooprimary: plotting, planning & scheming part 2 and beyond. Come on, you know you want to.

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