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.
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)
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.
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.