Author Archives: Robert Drummond


0530 on a Saturday morning is difficult, cold and after another long night of the ashes, very miserable. However, I was off to a Pedagoo event, packed with exciting speakers, thoughtful teachers, inspiring individuals and I was pretty confident that my chosen Saturday CPD event was going to be brilliant. It was…

The first thing that blew me away (after registering with the very welcoming pupils of the school) was the amazing building. It was bright, clean, tidy and very much the type of modern building I come to expect when I go ‘somewhere nice’. Just as our children know when they are being shortchanged as regards use of windows XP on old PC’s, they know it when they walk into a dingy building which is in desperate need of a paint job. Michael Gove said that the building and environment of a school makes no difference. I drive past these buildings at Fettes and Stewart’s Melville on the way to my school every day. Clearly, environment makes a difference.

The other thing about the building I loved was the use of images of Joseph Swan children working, often with ideas about how they work, or slogans/quotations about respect, reading etc behind them. That is something I will try and create in the next couple of weeks if energies allow as it looks so good and inspires.

Whilst having my complimentary tea and danish pastry (which would contravene the bring your own tea and biscuits policy of many councils) I set about reading my welcome pack. I loved the Happy Mondays leaflet which contained loads of great, ready to use, ideas for enhancing and reinforcing learning in the classroom. The Happy Mondays reference is because the teachers at Joseph Swan receive and e-mail every Monday, with a new idea or resource in it from their SMT. I love that idea!

MY first session of the day was in the Reading Room (and what an amazing space that is…) with David Hodgson. David talked about how we learn and how we can use techniques in the classroom to help children learn and remember how they learned things. As a primary teacher I get asked lots of questions from the children and my most frequent answer to them is good question. I don’t believe in throwing the knowledge confetti about for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m not convinced the children will remember it whilst they walk back to their desks and secondly I (or A.N.Other teacher) will not always be there for them when they have a question or want to learn something. The things we did in his session were all practical examples of an NLP approach, and I was so impressed I bought his book for my Kindle this morning. He used this pupil feelings graphic in his session too which I find a useful tool to have by my desk in the class room. Something David said which rang a bell was that we should ensure our children ‘Have a get out clause for children when they don’t learn’. This is vital, so often our children get way more stressed than we ever do about a wrong answer. We need them to take risks, get it wrong, change it and get it wrong again, smiling all the time! That is a successful learner right there.

The next session was with Rachel Orr who is HT at Holy Trinity Rosehill Her workshop was about developing writing through Primary Learning and specifically using Pie Corbett’s talk for writing work. I had worked on a Pie Corbett workshop for writing day before (January 2007??) and it was amazing. I’ve bought a few of his books and love his approach to writing. There is a lot of material on the internet too to supplement his written work. I also liked the punctuation sounds and actions which children are to use when they are talking and can then reinforce the assessment process in class. Rachel has used Pie’s work in two differing schools now and shared with us examples of the successes her young writers had, and these examples cal be seen on her school blogs. Rachel gave us a disk with loads of fantastic resources on, many her own work (the learning keys are a great idea!).

During lunch I met some great folk including @spiceweasel77 who is doing some brilliantly exciting things with his class!

After lunch it was on to Hywel Roberts session. Hywel spoke passionately and humourously about creating contexts in the curriculum, allowing the children to view the learning they are given through their own filters and engaging children in their learning. I made loads of notes during Hywel’s session and later tweeted many of them. Here’s the quotations I tweeted:

‘It’s our job to get the World thinking.’

‘We need to dig learning holes for our children to fall into.’

‘we are the people who make sense of the curriculum we are given. ‘

‘Have a what’s great 2 mins at the start of staff meetings’

‘we need to induct our kids into learning’

‘all of these things are just doing the job we’ve been asked to do. That we’re paid for. ‘

I’ve got Hywel’s book and it’s a great read. I need to do more of this in my classes. It’s great stuff. I was incredibly impressed with Hywel and the way he works in schools.

Finally, my last session was about using enquiry based learning in maths. Stephanie Thirtle took this session, she is a maths teacher at Joseph Swan. (I’d love The Girl to have her as a maths teacher, lessons would be so interesting!)
We did some enquiry based openers which really got us thinking and she talked about the approach of letting the children work things out for themselves, rather than an I teach then you do model. I love the work things out idea and think the way she’s bringing it to maths in a high school works really well. Much of the rationale for enquiry based learning was on her presentation and clearly showed examples of enquiry based learning which we could use as one-off lessons or develop for a maths topic. Such things investigating square numbers, straight line graphs using algebra, and one which P7 will be seeing soon – 12 Days of Christmas maths.
Her room displays were wonderful and I snapped many of them on my phone and you can see them here. I particularly liked that ways she put maths into context making it real for the children.
That chimed so well with the session from Hywel previously.

I came away with my head full of wonderful ideas and a bag full of goodies!
So, what next…well before Christmas I will make some posters of children and their ideas about learning to go up in school and I will also make some musical posters for the music room.

After Christmas I will take loads more of these ideas and run with them. It’ll be different, fun and learning will happen.

My Journey to the Scottish Digital Leaders Network.

On Wednesday 25th September, I presented at the SLF teachmeet on the topic of the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. Here is that presentation


2 years ago I taught ICT across the school as RCCT cover…it nearly killed me. Not the ICT bit, I loved it for enabling children to do fantastic creative work, and powerpoints, the way they could discover things, share things and be enthused and curious about learning. Parts of it were like an advert for the teacher training agency.

What nearly killed me was the day to day problems which got in the way. Flash updates, word templates not working, no access to colour printers, flash updates, using IE 6, aspects of filtering, flash updates, java…you get the picture. It really got in the way of me extending the children’s learning in ICT. As part of my ICT role I spent two days at a NAACE conference in Crewe where I met some amazing people and was introduced to the idea of Digital Leaders.


Rather than me try to define a digital leader, I thought I’d share with you a child’s own view of the role, taken from an Edmodo post…on a Sunday afternoon.


And then rather than get you to read loads more, made a quick wordle which highlights helping, technology, responsible, and for some reason curtain.


Digital leaders are a group of children in school which help with ICT in loads of different ways. They have expertise in ICT, are responsible and are given positions with real influence and real responsibility in your school. They exist in every school.

Last year I decided to turn our ICT group at Uphall into a Digital Leaders group. Something I felt would go beyond an after school group and something where I wanted the children to have more of a leading role.

So, having decided to give digital leaders a go, we asked them to apply online and we interviewed them and selected our first 13 digital leaders.This interview and application process is an important part of the digital leaders ethos in my opinion. It helps create a standard and expectation for the children, parents and staff and it is a process our children took very seriously and were brilliant at. I was fortunate enough to have my headteacher involved in the process which added loads to the process.


Over the year they made videos, created a resource website to help replace education city’s maths games, taught numerous children how to do many things, helped install firefox, used webmaker tools and finally the P7’s wrote the interview questions for this year’s cohort. Much of this work we shared on our blog space.


This was great, but what they desperately wanted was to meet other digital leaders, online and in real life for meetups and beyond…and I had some ideas I thought they could develop too!

Slide5Many of these ideas also involve taking digital leaders beyond our school and meeting up with similar groups.

So I thought I would try and set up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. The network exists currently on Google + and we have an edmodo group. I am happy for the resources and network to reside anywhere where we can easily do the things we want to do, so we’re not tied to any medium. These are the things you’ll find there.


One of the really exciting things going on this year is the badges for DL-ers from digital me. Digital me help young people gain skills and confidence through new technology and work alongside groups such as Nesta and Mozilla to develop young people’s skills. The badges look brilliant, and there you can view the prototype designs in the G+ group.


What I would like you to do, is, having seen this, consider whether Digital Leaders is something you could start at your school. If it is please drop me an e-mail and I’ll organise you joining the network and hopefully we can support you and share ideas and solutions.

If it’s something you’re already doing under a different name, it would be great if you’d consider joining the network and making connections with people, I really think your children would enjoy the opportunities of working with other people.

Obviously, any questions please get in touch via e-mail, twitter or the comments below.

That was my presentation and slides and I’ve been really pleased with the feedback so far. There are a few hoops to go through to get into a google + group. You need a google account and you need to have activated your G+ account. I went for G+ as it offers webmeet capacity across the UK and beyond, which sadly Glow doesn’t yet and Skype calling seems unavailable in many schools.

The Edmodo group for Scottish Digital Leaders is here. You need to drop me an e-mail or DM for the code.

Digital Leaders @ Uphall Primary School.

A couple of Saturdays ago now, I presented at the brilliant #tmlovelibraries at Edinburgh Central Library.

My presentation/discussion was about using Digital Leaders, from set up to the end of their 1st year at Uphall Primary School.

Digital leaders are an idea I picked up at NAACE hothouse last year in Crewe. The idea was shared there by @shellibb, @chrismayoh and @largerama.

The basic idea is that you have a group of children who have a keen interest in computing in any form and who are happy to develop their interest and taken on responsibilites around the school which had previously been done by adults (or adult!). They will also get to review new pieces of software, try out some new apps in school, act as experts in the classroom, run CPD for teachers and other pupils, represent the school at digital events and teachmeets.

The recruitment of Digital Leaders (DL) at Uphall was by an initial online application using google forms . Once this had been completed we interviewed all of the applicants, giving them the questions prior to interview.

We decided to offer all of our interviewees the chance to be a digital leader, which meant our first group was 14 children from P4 up to P7. Some schools use P6 and P7 and let P7 lead the way, having cut their teeth in P6. I guess it’s up to the feeling of the teachers involved. I liked having the full range, and there has certainly been no time when the P4 child has been out of his depth…far from it.

Once selected we began holding our DL meetings. (Thursday afterschool). Initially I led the way with our meetings sharing some desktop apps and web based programs with them – things like screenr to make screencasts, wordpress for blogging and moved into Scratch and the mozilla webmaker tools. The children began to bring in their own devices and share their blogs, apps, creations etc with each other. The DL Thursday evenings soon had a good buzz! I encouraged the children to share their work on our own DL blog and on the Digital Leader Network Blog. The DL’s were excited by this and enjoyed using Edmodo groups to share ideas too.

As the year progressed the DL’s began to find the things that really interested them. The initial interest in blogging waned and a love of making movies and minecraft took over. I was happy for them to use their tools in the direction they wanted to go and much video was created and many, many minecraft worlds!

In the last few weeks I have felt there has been a return to wanting me to provide some stimulus for them to use, so we have gone back to mozilla’s webmaker tools (which have developed since we first used them) and done some work with them. Our final few weeks have been taken up with developing ideas for next years DLers, creating the interview questions, creating logos and posters for the DL interview process and some badges for ICT skills across the school. I’ve also taken the opportunity to discuss where the DL-ers might want to go next year.

I feel the meetups for the DL have been successful, with a mix of teacher led and child led activities and opportunity for children to spend their time and develop ideas as they wished to some extent.

Support in school is a key area for DL work (and should be a time and hassle saver for teachers and schools). Our DL’s have supported staff in many ways. Creating powerpoints for assembly, teaching teachers how to use certain apps on their iPads, having a go at podcasting, creating video for transitions events in school, setting up, operating and putting away AV equipment for assemblies and the like.

The digital leaders came up with a series of ideas for next year. These include interacting more with other digital leaders (which is why I’m trying to create a digital leader network for Scotland), speaking at more events, running a junior digital leaders group in school (p2 and p3).

Personally I have made a commitment to developing the digital leader in school and beyond as part of my Leadership course application for West Lothian Council’s course. As such I’ll be blogging more about the digital leaders role over the year and how the network develops. I will share those posts (if there is an interest) on this site, as well as my own.

If you wish to start your own digitial leader group, wish to contribute to the Scottish digital leaders network, or just want to to ask any more questions, feel free to get in touch.

Beermeet Lothians 2

We scheduled the second of the BeermeetLothians for this coming Thursday, 29th November (also known as Pay Day in WL!!).

Unfortunately in the excitement of being ill at the start of the week I forgot to post about it earlier.

As yet I haven’t booked a space for us anywhere, but I’m willing to do so once we get an idea of numbers. Due to the short notice, however I wondered if we should just check…

1) Whether we want to go ahead this month on the topic of Motivation.

2) Whether we would  prefer to try a virtual gathering for this month – maybe on Google+ hangout or on a twitter conversation (#BML)

3) Leave for the end of November and aim for Thursday 13th December instead.

Apologies and thanks,



Beermeetlothians- What happened.

We had our first pedagoolothiansbeermeet yesterday evening at the Jolly Judge pub in Edinburgh’s old town.
A small group of us met up (it was an interesting game playing spot the teacher as a new person entered the bar) and had by all accounts a good couple of hours of teaching talk in the bar.
We discussed briefly who we were and what we were using in the classroom and how we found it impacted on the children we teach. As ever with a beermeet/pedagoo event it was honest chat with people happy to discuss what they found challenging and frustrating as well as what they found inspiring and awesome. (For my money this trust between pedagooers is a massive strength of the pedagoo community)
Some of the things we discussed were blogging, class dojo, games based learning, digital leaders and hopefully my fellow pedagoobeermeetlothianers will add other topics we discussed in comments below.
We decided on a date for our next meeting of Thursday 29th November (or pay day as it’s known in West Lothian) and the same time – 7 pm and venue. We thought we might bring a general topic to discuss, that being engagement and motivation, but we don’t want people to feel stressed by that – if you feel you have not much to bring to that topic, firstly you’re reading the pedagoo blog so you totally are engaging and motivating your classes (or you’re going to spam the comments section) and secondly it’s fine to come along and listen (we even engaged a non teacher from Slovakia in the chat last night, it was so interesting!!).
So, to summarise in our plenary, it was a great night with loads of great ideas to impact on our classes and we’d love you to come along to our next meeting. 29th November, 7pm. Jolly Judge pub.
Hope to see you there!

Having fun in Glasgow!

I was part of the Uphall Contingent who presented at Teachmeet Scottish Learning Fringe yesterday and would like to share our fab experiences from the day.

The Venue. Citizen M was an amazing place full of fantastic artifacts, seating and spaces. Our office space for working in was perfect. There was a blackboard wall on one side, a whiteboard wall on the other side and our young presenters soon got cracking annotating the walls. Whilst venue is not everything, being in such a fantastic place seemed to give everyone a lift and I’m sure helped lead to such a successful day.

The organisation. This too was wonderful. Nice and relaxed but really well organised. It put our contingent at ease straight away.

The presentations. Our presentation was about the blogging journey in our school. We discussed the reasons behind our blogging – raising self-esteem and aspiration, and how blogging helped us achieve these aims.

We discussed how we set up our blogs and the add-ins and widgets we used, the permission levels we used and how we promoted our blogs via twitter.

Finally – and this as the best bit in our opinion, we had two of our star bloggers guiding our audience through the school blog. The children who came with us (really we came with them!) were amazing. They explained the blog brilliantly.

Below is a summary of what we discussed on the day. If you’d like any more details , drop us an email or a tweet!



We were delighted to be presenting at the Pedagoo organised SLF Fringe in September and we had a great time and got some fantastic feedback from the people who came to see us.

If you were unable to visit our workshop, or if you are interested in why your school should blog, this blog post should give you a flavour of blogging at Uphall.

Why Blog?

It is fair to say that in the past schools have felt the need to have a web presence ‘because other schools have’.

Blogging is as far removed from that philosophy as you can get. Blogging is about raising attainment by providing real audience, motivation and self-esteem with our young writers.
Blogging also provides evidence of progression in writing when done regularly as well as creating strong community links, both local, national and international.
Ultimately blogging is about having the child at the centre of a web presence, whether at pupil, class or school level. There are many example of the impact of blogging around the internet have a look at the results of a google search.

Since starting our blogging journey at Uphall, we have seen an increase in pupil motivation and interaction with each other’s work, we have seen our commenting skills develop and we have seen children begin writing for our blog ‘unprompted’ at home and in school.

We have had to date over 58000 visitors from over 20 countries and have used our blog to share our learning, set questions for our pupils to answer, supplement children’s work, live blog in lesssons (great for class discussions) and help peer assess work.

Aspects of our blog.

Our blog has a landing page from where you can navigate to our class blogs (each class has it’s own blog, as does nursery and our learning support teacher. We also have pages for our achievements in the community (which we encourage our parents to help us contribute to), pupil voice page where our pupil council, eco-committee and health committee post as well as an open pupil suggestions page. We post photographs of our Pupils of the Week and Headteacher’s award winners on their own pages and the Headteacher has her own blog. Finally, our most popular page is the Well Done Page. This is a record of children who are sent to our headteacher @fiona_macphail have their work photographed or recorded. It is immensely popular with our children and their parents and has lead to raised expectations of work, motivation and self-esteem. It has had 27,000 visits to date!

One of the most popular aspects of our class blogs is the quadblogging projects we have done. Quadblogging is an idea from @deputymitchell and is explained brilliantly on his site along with how to sign up your class for a quad.