Tag Archives: tmslfringe12

Blogging and e-portfolios – My workshop at #tmslFringe2012

I first turned to Blogging about three years ago when the Writing Folio was introduced at NQ level in English. English teachers had been calling for a creative writing element to be returned to the final exam grade – it had  previously been an internal assessment at pass or fail – and, while a Folio was certainly not what we wanted that’s what we got. I wanted to avoid the usual pile of paper, written for an audience of one, so turned to Blogging. I wasn’t tech savvy at all. I used Glow blogs, not because they were the best option; they were the only option. Looking back now I’m glad I did. My senior classes were a bit unsure. They still felt that they were writing for an audience of one and when I opened the blog up for peer comments they initially reverted to insult and mockery. As teenagers tend to do as a default position. However, after we discussed ways to peer assess something started to happen. I began to see posts at 11pm, 2.30 am. 11.30am (when they were avoiding Maths in the library!- and the blog began to take shape.

Throughout that year I also had S1 blogging about their reading; S2 blogging about Inanimate Alice and S3 and S4 blogging reflectively about their learning. Some took to it more keenly than others; some still wanted to write on paper. No problem. What blogging did for me was to understand more the importance of audience. Writing for an audience of one is tedious and counterproductive.

What I had at the end of the year was the makings of what I thought could develop into e-portfolios. How can we achieve that?

So why blog in the classroom. It certainly helped my students to become more reflective learners. When we emphasise the word ‘Publish’ in class as an alternative to Write, they do see a bigger picture and take more care to ensure work is accurate. It allows students to showcase their writing – and more and provide instant connections between parents and school. It allows students to celebrate achievement through a collection of their work. And not just ‘Best Work’ . If done properly a blog can display improvements through early written drafts to final pieces.

If we are to seriously see a 3-18 curriculum as a viable and workable option then Blogs/ e-portfolios need to be our way forward. We can all trace the development of the child throughout their school career with out having to wait to be sent work from previous teacher, previous school. And maybe, just maybe, if we trust learners to use ICT responsibly in schools they may well be allowed to establish real online identities with our assistance rather than doing it themselves under a cloak of anonymity and hidden from adults. Our current policies are doing more damage than good. And arguably not protecting them at all.
Although I used Glow as it was all that was available to me there are other platforms available for this kind of work. Some swear by edmodo – @funky_penguin and @nwinton for a kick off – and that is the one thing I will try when I return to school this week. However I also use threering.com , and app which allows me collect evidence of assessment in photographic form as well as video and podcast. Think of the possibilities.

I am not doing anything new or particularly original in my class. This is not new technology. It may changing; it may be developing and improving; but is already out there. And generally for free.

We teachers have only one thing at our disposal and that is our ability to teach the best we can. It is up to us to develop the best lessons for our students to take our teaching foreword. E-portfolios seem to be a great way of celebrating the achievements of our classes as well as providing great assessment material. Let us return to our schools and develop great series of lessons, with blogs and edmodo and three ring or whatever you want to use – and go and knock on doors to get permission to get Blogging started. Knock those doors down if you have to. We have an opportunity here to set real change in motion. Let others say no if they want to. But don’t assume that they will.


Click here for some Blogging Links to get you started

David Cameron closes #TMSLFringe12

Still not convinced that emerging teacher agency, through Pedagoo and elsewhere, is key to Curriculum for Excellence?

Even you weren’t able to get along to the TeachMeet Scottish Learning Fringe event, grab a coffee and watch this inspirational closing talk from David Cameron @realdcameron.


Pedagurus, getting involved, evolving

Good morning!

I am clearly on the high from yesterday’s fringe meet and full of questions and ideas for the future. This post started as an email to admin but then I questioned myself why? I would like to hear from all of the Pedagoo community so make it a blog post!

Do we have local pedagurus yet? If so, who is involved in Fife? I know that the idea of having more localised ‘branches’ was banded about during the reflections time yesterday and I’d like to become more involved.

I have organised 2 teachmeets before and been involved in many more but the format has been, and I believe, needs to evolve. With Olivia, I am planning another teachmeet event for next Spring but after yesterday I am now questioning whether we should attempt to reinvent the traditional teachmeet into something like a ‘Pedagather’ – a teachmeet spin off.

What do you think?


Synthesis…..but no photos……

Well, that was an interesting day. I volunteered to post the feedback from the last session today for groups 5 and 6 so here I am. We were a bit light on the ground so we joined together to make a composite! I thought this would be a good place to start and would make me write my first ever pedagoo post so here goes.

Our group consisted of Jenni Ewan, Colleen MacGregor, Pat Phillips, Annemarie Weston, Graeme Henderson, Dean Campbell, Annette Iafrat, Julie Sutherland, Joe Wilson and Charlie Thomson. Lots of good contributions came out of the session on the 3 questions Fearghal gave us, i.e. what have you taken from today that you will use on Monday, that you will use 1 year from now and what can pedagoo do to help?

We did a round robin session on each question so that everyone was able to make a contribution. Everyone had something that they were able to take with them to use on Monday and they ranged from speaking to a head about blogging, discussing the possibilities, blogging about what happened at the teachmeet, laminating hexagons to fit ideas together (solo taxonomy), linking blogs to school websites, using Portable Apps, changing mindsets for particular S4 science classes and letting children explore ideas by taking a step back and considering how to move forward. There were ideas from everyone and although some things may not be done on Monday, (as everyone was careful to add the proviso, “it may not be Monday exactly”….) everyone was keen to jump into action.

When it came to discussing what we would be hopefully doing in a year’s time the idea of embracing the ethos of pedagoo by spreading the word and sharing practice and ideas with others was prevalent. Most people want to take ideas from today’s workshops and after coming to grips with them themselves, make sure that others in their schools and local authorities know about them. Another recurring theme was that there is lots of room for CPD and everyone wanted to look further into the ideas that came up from the workshops they were in.  Joe’s aim for the year was to try and push through some policy changes, looking at open licencing and mandating.

The exciting bit for me though was at the end of the session when we discussed what pedagoo could do to help us with this. The main ideas were really about continuing the good work that is already done by pedagoo in sharing practice and connecting teachers. A lot of people agreed though that it would be useful if we could arrange more local events as people travelled far and wide to come today and whilst it was a hugely successful, stimulating and inspiring event, days like this need to continue to happen when we all return to our own authorities. To make that possibly they need to be local  and perhaps on a smaller scale and with a mix of secondary and primary teachers. Any help that could be offered or guidance on where to start organising  a meet would be appreciated. We thought that possibly a directory of pedagoo twitter followers and their area of expertise would make it quicker and easier to find the people we would like to network with and seek out. Is this a possibility?

And relax…..I have reached the end of the first post. Hope I managed to cover the main points of our discussion but feel free to comment away! Thanks to the team at pedagoo for organising a brilliant and inspiring day.

A Blooming Good Day #tmSLFringe12

This is the first time that I have posted on the Pedagoo blog but after an inspiring day at the Fringe it seems a most appropriate thing to do.

The workshops I attended today were:

When asked why I think Pedagoo has become such a success I might say that it is due to the enthusiasm of the founders, the passion of tweachers and a minority who have been driving progression in education.  I may also reflect and consider the timing of the Pedagoo movement and how, during times of transition, people look for reassurance that they are right in their beliefs and practices.

Linking to the workshops I attended today, there is a considerable element of ‘Changing Mindsets’  in education and teachers who recognise that the principles we expect students to follow should not be a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ scenario.  Yet, ultimately, I believe that Pedagoo works because it is OURS.  We have ownership of it, we know that the content is not only based on real practioners but it is created by those practioners themselves.  Pedagoo, in my opinion, is about teachers following a Bloom’s structure and by reaching a creating stage we are demonstrating that teaching is about building new ideas, expressing opinion and being able to explain why we hold that opinion we are modelling to our students that life is about change and dealing with change.  It is not about textbooks or tests.  Teachers who are not afraid to admit to their students that they make mistakes will gain the respect of their students.  By handing over control, difficult as it may be, teachers can guide students and support them.  We are all aware that students are more likely to engage in work which they own, in the same way we engage in Pedagoo.

If teaching and learning is a jigsaw then the teachers, students, parents, support staff and wider school/ college/ university communities are the pieces and by sharing our practice we get to see the whole picture.

At the end of today we were asked to answer three questions:

  1. What have you taken from today that you could use on Monday?
  2. What have you taken from today that you could use one year from now?
  3. How can the Pedagoo community help you to achieve that?

The Reflection Groups are often my favourite part of events such as today as I love to hear what others have taken from workshops and how they will put their learning into action.  What I am not so great at is sharing my own reflections;  I need time to mull things over and consider how I can make it work for me.  A teachmeet wouldn’t be a teachmeet if I didn’t feel challenged and today was no different.  My greatest challenge was being put on the spot and being asked what I would do on Monday; with so many ideas playing bumper car in my brain it was a difficult choice!

Pedagoo is about teachers trying things, enjoying them while they work and having the confidence to stop using those things when they reach a plateau.

Finally, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who made today what it was and what I had hoped it would be.  It’s not often that I awake early for a cpd day full of excitement!

Big Writing workshop @ #tmslfringe12

The workshop I’m am leading at #tmslfringe12 is on my experiences of using Big Writing in my classroom.  I don’t profess to be an expert as I have received no official training (cluster has arranged this for February inset).  Hopefully though people will leave with some new ideas they can use in their classroom.

Don’t worry if you weren’t able to attend because if you click here I have collated all the Big Writing resources I have found so far.

There are also resources available on Ros Wilson’s website.

Big Writing Timer

tmSLFRINGE12 EDUtalk about it

David Noble and Myself would like to invite those attending Teachmeet Scottish Learning Fringe 2012 to use EDUtalk to share there thoughts and reflections of the day.

Many pedagooista may be reflecting here and on their own blogs, but audio can be a useful way to communicate, perhaps in addition to text:

  • For the listener it brings an extra dimension of information, the sound of the voice. It can be listened to when doing something else, the dishes or driving.
  • For the recorder it can be less time consuming to get ideas down by a quick recording than it would be to write them. It is also very easy to publish.

There are more details on the whys and hows on An invite to #EDUtalk at SLF 2012 on the EDUtalk site.

There is, of course, an open invitation to anyone interested in education to contribute to EDUtalk at any time.

A Landmark Moment – Be a Part of It

As we approach Teachmeet Scottish Learning Fringe 2012, perhaps the biggest day in Pedagoo’s reasonably short history, it is a good time to take stock and reflect on how far we’ve all come. More importantly, however, it is an even better time to consider the potential we have to grow and change. So this is not so much about what pedagoo is but what it could be.

Discussing the Scottish Curriculum with some teachers recently– and I call it that because I will not longer call it Curriculum for Excellence like it was some kind of other ‘thing’ – I am reminded of the old joke about the optimist and the pessimist. The pessimist says ‘Surely things can’t get any worse,’ and the optimist replies ‘Oh yes they can.’ You get the feeling that some people have made up their minds and will never be swayed.  It would be easy to shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Oh well. What can you do?’ Well, an awful lot in my opinion.

As classrooms teachers I always think that the only powerful thing we really have is the ability to teach as best we can. We model good learning for our students and we provide the best experiences possible for them every day we are in school. However, if we truly believe that change is possible, that a new way of doing things is possible then we must step up to the plate and walk the walk. It is no longer enough to dream of change and wish things weren’t like they are now.

I don’t think any of us at Pedagoo would describe ourselves as SuperTeachers. We are not special in that regard. What we do though is provide a platform to have the conversations which you may not be having, or are able to have, in your own staff rooms. We always wanted to provide a place for those voices which may not be heard otherwise. The blog extends that voice somewhat and we hope that it will continue to develop.

Dylan Wiliam states in his book, ‘Embedded Formative Assessment’:

‘Show me a teacher who doesn’t fail every day and I’ll show you a teacher with low expectations for his/her students.’

While there may be something about that which makes us uncomfortable, he’s right of course. Our job is to have a positive impact on the learning of our students.  Undoubtedly we do. But our expectations for their learning should always be just out of their reach. More importantly we all have to truly believe that. We have to believe that our students can always keep learning as much as we learn. We must speak up about the future we want and model good teaching and learning at every opportunity.

What are our expectations for, not of, ourselves? How much can we improve, develop, grow? How often do we, as educators, think of ourselves as learners too? Where I think Pedagoo is special is that it provides a place to have those debates. This Saturday is, I think, a landmark in Scottish education. Hyperbole you may say but I don’t think so. This is a group of educators who, off their own backs – or rather off the great Fearghal Kelly’s back mostly – are organising their own education event. Devoid of free pens and leaflets, corporate frippery, the big sell. We want teachers to talk about teaching and how we can make the new curriculum work for us.

If you’re there I can’t wait to say hello. If not, then please check in to Pedagoo over the next week or two for some Blog Posts which will fill you in on what happened. I’m generally ridiculously, irritatingly optimistic about what we can achieve in Scottish education if we begin to work together. And after next Saturday, I hope to be more so. Surely things can’t get any better. Oh yes they can.