Tag Archives: tmlovelibraries

Thought Bombing

Good times in Edinburgh #tmlovelibraries Manglish session

Good times in Edinburgh #tmlovelibraries Manglish session

#tmlovelibraries, which took place in Edinburgh last weekend, gave my positivity stores a huge boost! Thank you to the brilliant @fkelly for organising such a great day, and for inviting me to be a part of it. Manglish was the topic of my workshop, an approach to cross curricular collaboration; Manglish about avoiding missed opportunities and empowering teachers of all disciplines to include purposeful reading, writing, Mathematics and communication in their lessons.

As I am still working on the book version of the workshop, I will avoid writing about the ins and outs of Manglish and instead share with you one simple idea for encouraging effective communication. This idea seemed to go down very well both in Edinburgh and at the recent #TMeng in Leeds so I thought it might be well worth sharing.

Thought Bombing

Below is a generic example of an exercise that you could base your own ideas for thought bombing on. This example could be translated into introducing characters from novels or poems (English); exploring the lives and decisions of historical figures (History); looking at cause and consequence (PHSE); Exploring bodily functions (Biology). The list goes on. The idea is that pupils are given a small amount of information to get them hooked and then the thought bombs are thrown in to blow their minds.

image for stim

This opening question must be thought provoking enough to get pupils talking, providing  just enough information to get them interested and to generate discussion but also holding back enough back to make the bombing worthwhile. If you were to give too much away at this stage, a decision could be made very quickly and no further discussion may be necessary. In the above exercise, pupils are asked to discuss each character and note down their reasons for or against saving or sentencing each one. They were asked to agree on a survivor; Marni is usually top of the list to begin with as she is young and has her whole life ahead of her… before the first thought bomb is thrown that is.

What is it?

The thought bomb is a plastic ball, the kind that you find in children’s ball pools. It has a small hole cut in the bottom, has been painted black and a little glitter has been sprinkled on just for added beauty. Inside the bomb, I roll up slips of paper with new knowledge about the given situation. For example, inside one thought bomb for the above idea, the paper reads: “Marni is a convicted killer.” And in another, we are told of Roberta’s charity work and of how she fosters children with disabilities. This new information makes the pupils go “Ooooooo” and changes the situation entirely, as now they have much more to take into account when making their decision. The thought bomb has exploded current understanding and forces pupils look at the situation from a different point of view.

Earlier example of thought bombing when teaching An Inspector Calls

Earlier example of thought bombing when teaching An Inspector Calls

Thought bombing is about gaining pupils’ interest and their own ideas, allowing them the freedom to explore. If you are introducing a topic such as the life of King Henry VIII, which requires pupils to know key facts, you are still introducing the key facts through the thought bombs but you are encouraging pupils to explore their own interpretation of events. How do they as individuals feel about the topic being discussed? How would they have solved problems differently to historical figures or characters? Thought bombing allows them to engage with the topic on a personal level but still allows you to introduce the key information required to cover your topic. Thought bombs are fun! Yes, they get thrown around the room (this is actively encouraged) but pupils are engaged in relevant discussions, thinking critically, communicating their own ideas and gaining valuable new knowledge in the process. 

#TMLoveLibraries – if Carlsberg ran CPD…

This weekend I attended my first ever TeachMeet, #TMLoveLibraries which was held in the Edinburgh Central Library. The format to this TeachMeet was different from the traditional approach in that rather than a collection of serial presentations, there were a number of smaller group workshops running in parallel dotted all around the venue. For me, this approach gave a much better opportunity for dialogue and discussion.


My afternoon began by leading a couple of  40 minute discussion sessions after which I was able to attend two further sessions. Into the evening we changed venue to The Canon’s Gait pub where we were each given a 2 minute slot to share an aspect of good practice (much easier after a few beers, although probably much less coherent!).


I’ve documented much of our 1:1 tablet pilot on my blog and elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it all here, but I felt it was worth sharing the ways in which learning has changed at my school as this formed the main focus of our group discussions:

  • Learners have opportunities to become much more engaged with their learning. Interactive tools / apps, camera, web, simple apps like Skitch as a show me board, Minecraft used to build real world models etc
  • Workflow improvement with tools like Edmodo and Wikispaces. Teachers and learners are much better connected, learners can ask for help with homework outside normal timetabled hours. No paper homework planners
  • Opportunities for learners to be more reflective through blogging (aided by camera for capturing work)
  • Greater independent learning and research skills by having connectivity to web (although perhaps not as much in S1 as it would be the case in older year groups)
  • Greater responsibility
  • Not a replacement for pencil and jotters. Instead it is a tool which supports learning. The key is to find ways in which the technology can enhance learning. Although digitising existing content should be a short term aim, it’s not the long term solution (see SAMR).

In addition, it’s probably worth sharing what we have learned from the project so far:

  • The vast majority of staff say the 1:1 program has had a positive impact on learning
  • Toshiba do not make good quality tablets or provide suitable support
  • Sharing of good practice is key to the success of the project. We have set up a digital champions group to come together and discuss. We have a blog where staff can share good practice. We held a whole staff speed dating exercise where everyone had to contribute one aspect of good practice. We have an #FHS1to1 Twitter hashtag which is contributed to by staff every Friday
  • S1 is not the best cohort to launch a 1:1 project due to single period contact time in so many subjects. Better to find a year group where students have greater subject contact time.
  • If parents don’t have to make a financial contribution to the project, they may be less concerned when damage occurs
  • We are only 10 months into our 1:1 project. We have made some great progress, but there is still a long way to go. From next session we will be rolling out iPad Minis to an additional year group.

I was also fortunate enough to attend two further sessions in the afternoon. Sarah Vaughan described the work that Preston Lodge have been doing linked to Carol Dweck’s fixed and growth mindset theory. It is an area I was hoping to look at next session and it was clear from the work that Sarah and her colleagues have done so far that building a growth mindset philosophy can have a significant positive impact on learners.
The second session which I attended was on Digital Leaders and was led by Robert Drummond. This is another area that I would like to develop in my school, and it was great to hear the way in which Robert has been able to build a group of digital leaders who can support the school in so many ways (eg staff CPD, KidsMeet, technical support for each classroom, ICT clubs and so on). Plenty of excellent ideas for me to take away and consider.

In summary, a great day, two great venues, and special thanks must go to the @pedagoo team for organisng James Connolly marching band for providing such a rousing audio backdrop to my sessions.

Photo: David Gilmour vai Flickr, licenced under Creative Commons

TeachMeet Pedagoo❤Libraries #tmlovelibraries

The Pedagoo approach to TeachMeets is coming to Edinburgh!

So, you might by now have heard of our events such as tmSLFringe in Glasgow, PedagooXmasParty in Newcastle and PedagooLondon in, er, London – obviously. If you have, you might well be wondering why Pedagoo hasn’t yet run one of these TeachMeets in the spiritual home of both TeachMeet & Pedagoo – Auld Reekie. Well, it’s happening this June.

On the afternoon of Saturday 1st June we’ll gather in the Central Library on George IV Bridge to share ideas and learn from each other in a workshop format. Right now we’re looking for practicing teachers like you to sign up to lead one of these workshops. Please don’t be shy. If you’ve tried something out in your classroom that you and your students enjoyed and thought worked well…share it! People who lead a workshop unanimously agree that it is an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Once all the workshops are sorted, we’ll open the event to general registration. You can sign up to be notified of when this happens on the wiki too.

In the evening of 1st June we’ll also be having a follow up event in a local pub where everyone will have a chance to share in a very relaxed environment. More details of this to follow…but make sure it’s in your diary!

Edinburgh Central Library are fantastic partners for this event and you should totally check out their resources for learners if you haven’t already: http://yourlibrary.edinburgh.gov.uk/

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up now!
TeachMeet Pedagoo❤Libraries