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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The road is long

Today I realised how long the road is ahead of us. I also realised how few there are of us to undertake the tasks.

The ICT Steering Group meeting today was in Oban, where we had a presentation from the RM/LTS/SSDN team. I feel reassured that our LA link is Neil Stewart, who was formerly with Edinburgh City. ICT & Education really is a small world.

Every time I attend a SSDN meeting I am so enthused by the scope of the project but alarmed by the scale of it. I only hope we are able to do it justice, but the cynic in me is worried. When NGfL was implemented in the Authority, there was practically a dedicated team of 6. Now we face a project of much greater magnitude, but with staff with already full remits.

My apologies to the few Masterclass who joined us for the VC at 4 as I really wasn’t worth a button. Could you tell John and I had had a meeting before it that raised more questions than answers? The philosopher in me used to prefer it that way!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Publicising NQ Online

This afternoon I visited the RE Subject Development day. It was quite a strange experience as I don’t teach RE anymore, but it was nice to see familiar faces.

The reason for the visit was to publicise the use of the NQ online website. We have had Development Officers from LTS attend some of our subject development days but RE was one that they couldn’t manage to attend, so Elliot Morrison invited me along to talk about the resources that are available online. Great opportunity, so thanks for this Elliot.

Two points of note – 1. In a small subject area, your local network is so important. When you teach a subject in a school and often you are the only teacher of that subject, it is great to have a day when you meet with your colleagues from neighbouring schools to talk through how they teach certain things, or just to bounce ideas off. 2. Breeze is going to potentially change everything.

But do you know what? Unless we start becoming more comfortable with sharing, then we will never move forwards. By being comfortable in our close circle of colleagues, perhaps we will be more inclined to share. It is quicker to change something for our own purposes, than to start from scratch. How we break down the Scottish attitude of ‘not being good enough’ I have no idea however.

If you are teaching any subject in secondary you need to use the NQ online website. Sign up for the email bulletin – then you don’t even have to keep visiting the site to check for updates – you are automatically informed of them by email – could this be any easier? What are you waiting for?

My apologies to Lorna for the journey on the way up – I know I talk far too much about education – I guess that means I really care about it?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mumble Jumble

Today was one of those marathon days that no-one in their right mind would realistically contemplate. I had high hopes of making it to three schools today, but those hopes faded as I watched the 10am ferry from Tayinloan head out for Gigha without me on it. This set my timings off for the day. My apologies to the staff at Drumlemble for not making it to see them before the twilight in St. Kierans – but as they were there for the twilight, hopefully I was able to answer the questions?

The twilight concerned using an interactive whiteboard. This was third time lucky for this one, as I had to move the first one because of a ‘yufty’, and the second attempt I had to cancel owing to the whole frozen shoulder incident.

About 20 staff representing almost every school in the area were present. I’m told that everyone found it a most useful experience. I often worry about the ‘show and tell’ nature of these events, and I know that I talk far too much.

Great to have Marlyn there at the session. She is the local Masterclass member, and has recently started using a Promethean board, which she brought with her for the session. I know I speak from being one step removed from the classroom, but Marlyn speaks with direct knowledge, which is so valuable.

So today started at 7am, and finished at 9pm. Despite how encouraging speaking with staff from so many schools today has been, it was still a long, tiring day.

For those of you that are following the pictures (except those of you in East Renfrewshire!), this one is an interactive overlay for a plasma screen. Haven't had the chance to try one (yet!), so if anyone is feeling generous...? I'd only like to try it...? You'd get it right back...?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Re-inventing the wheel

Day two of Macromedia.

Today was spent with Dreamweaver, designing a website for a client. For this task we were split into pairs, each having to design a 4 page portfolio site for the other, according to their design brief. Very early on in the day I remembered why I had not pursued a mediocre career in design! Most of the day was spent on this task, with various tutorials throughout the day on aspects on Dreamweaver. Eternally grateful for the guidance on CSS, as up until today, I don’t think I’d really understood it.

At the end of the day we had to report back, and I was last – which I hate with a passion. I suppose someone has to be last however. As with everything digital, you always wished you had had more time.

We were given to take away with us a huge folder full of notes that Anuja and two of her colleagues had quite clearly spent an incredible amount of time creating. Wonderful curriculum based activities to learn some of the skills of Studio 8. How do schools get access to these resources? - By getting a school site license for Studio 8. I now have a mission.

I ask myself again why so much time in education is spent in repetition? Macromedia have obviously produced top quality teaching resources, yet there must be numerous teachers around the world writing their own – myself included. When will we ever learn to stop re-inventing the wheel?

Totally unrelated, but Ian Sorenson gave me a DVD of ‘Lucas Back In Anger’ today to watch. Ian is undoubtedly one of the funniest people on the planet, and it was very amusing to see their take on Star Wars. Just where does a production company go after the Clyde Auditorium?

For those of you who follow the pictures, then the wheel comes from the accompanying training materials some of us were sad enough to work through to learn how to use Flash - now aren't you glad you now know that?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

If you come to Scotland, be sure to visit Elgin?

You think you are doing quite well, you have almost come to terms with applications that at first glance you were nearly sick with worry over and then everything gets put back into perspective.

Today was day one of a two day course in Scotsys with Macromedia looking at Digital Design. First of all, my heartfelt thanks to Anne Forrest at Scotsys for inviting me to this course. I know that I am quite comfortable with the basics of Fireworks, Dreamweaver and Flash, but as all of this is self taught, it is great to have this confirmed by an expert from the company.

Our tutor was Anuja Dharkar, Education Curriculum Manager for Macromedia. She had come to Scotland from California to have discussions with the SQA about closer ties between Macromedia and Scottish education. Whilst here, she was working with centres involved in the DIVA project and representatives from local authorities. Islay High school are taking part in the DIVA project with Macromedia this session. In my humble opinion, this has got to be the way forward. What it offers is the chance for students to get SQA qualifications and at the same time receive industry standard certification, and few could doubt Macromedia’s currency in this market.

It was good to have such an able tutor, who on the one hand conveyed the ease of use of the applications, whilst on the other calmly hinting at the size, scope and scale of these hugely powerful web production tools.

At dinner in the evening, discussion came around to our plans here for the use of Breeze which I am sure will be discussed further – watch this space!
Today’s title stems from discussion at dinner – whilst in Scotland our course tutor is going to visit some of the sites of our great land with friends who are joining her from the states. As you would expect, all research was done online, and where else would you visit in this beautiful land beyond Glasgow and Edinburgh… Elgin? You’ve got to wonder about the web presence of our country!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Things you never expect to do in a bedroom

Made the mistake of going into the office before setting off for today’s meeting in Inveraray. Whilst this meant I was up to date with correspondence, it did mean I was cutting it fine for getting to the meeting on time.

I arrived at the Secondary ICT Coordinators Meeting with only moments to spare, and walked into ‘the stables’ only to find that it wasn’t my meeting in progress. After asking hotel staff where my meeting was in fact taking place I was re-directed to one of the bedrooms in the hotel, where sure enough, our meeting was taking place. Quite a surreal experience, and I can’t help but wonder what they did with the beds?

Anyway, we had a huge discussion on SEEMIS, an even bigger discussion on the ‘Acceptable Use Policy’ and then a very quick fill-in by me on curricular activities. At each meeting I am more and more convinced that I am not spending enough of my time out in schools, with teachers, looking at ICT in teaching and learning. I am also more and more convinced that we have far too many meetings where this very subject ought to be the absolute focus of events, but gets buried under a mountain of bureaucracy. One of our HTs once said to me that we are chronically over-managed – I know exactly what they mean. We seem to spend more time generating and completing forms than actually educating.

I suppose the problem is that the bureaucracy is important, as it is how we reach consensus and develop new ideas for progress. Oh well…

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Getting Online...

I spent almost all of today in Rhu Primary school. Rhu have been taking part in a project with Learning & Teaching Scotland called ‘Scottish Schools Get Online’. On Friday of this week, there is a national conference at which the school are speaking, so I was spending some time with them today to offer some assistance in whatever way I could.

First of all, the staff deserve a huge round of applause. They have already achieved a great deal in such a short period of time. It is refreshing to see the classes offering ideas and material to go online, and the work Doreen and others have done is to be commended – I know it has been a lot of work.

They have been using a product called ‘Take to the web’ to create their site. I must admit, when I first saw this, I was really concerned at how much it might stifle creativity, and I balk at any web authoring tool that forces the uninitiated to write in html, but if I have learnt anything today, it is that give people the tools they will get on with the job.

Getting online will be difficult for many. No matter which way you look at it, it is really time consuming.

The hardest thing of all for our staff to come to terms with regarding the web is the change in focus having a website will create in school. All of a sudden, there is another means of displaying the work undertaken by pupils.

From what I have seen and heard, the pupils love working on this project. We need to have the pupils involved. I have seen far too many school websites where the pupils have hardly even been consulted. Pupils need to take ownership of the school website.

Want to see what they have achieved? Click here to visit the site. Don’t forget, it’s a work in progress, as all websites should be.

This evening was a twilight session on using the web – I’ve now given myself a deadline to have the ‘Web Literacy’ section of my site finished. Roll on Christmas!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Removing Fear

Three times now over the last two years I have lost control momentarily of my car – all three of which owing to terrible, adverse weather conditions. It is a very disconcerting experience, as the dashboard springs to life with warning lights once the onboard computer realises it is no longer in control of the motion of the vehicle. The car manufacturer calls this the ‘Dynamic Stability Control’ which if you stop and think about it is quite a worrying inclusion – as in actual fact, you are never really in control of the vehicle at all. All you are doing is steering. I drive the car in blissful ignorance however, as I unwittingly trust the constant calculations of the onboard computer.

Today I had a great conversation with Graham Dickie, one of the Masterclass members in Argyll & Bute. One of the topics of discussion was how to engage with members of staff that are fearful of technology. I know Graham is very interested in methodology that may help to tackle this situation.

How do we cure the fear of so many to use technology in the classroom? How do we make some teachers leap the digital divide between those that use technology and those that don’t?

Alan November describes a digital divide very well – the students that we teach have always grown up in a world of digital technology – he calls them digital natives. Those that remember a time before digital technology he calls digital immigrants. How do digital immigrants cross the divide? By being fearless learners. It is easy to say this, but let’s think about it – what’s the worst thing that could happen? We make a mistake? In these instances, there is an ‘undo’ button.

How we become fearless learners, and how we learn how to trust are the real questions. Every so often, there will be moments when the computer will cause us to worry – it is in these moments that we need the confidence to know how to make the right decisions.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Vote now...

Today I joined an S1 class in Hermitage Academy for a maths lesson. Margaret Ferguson has been trying out an ACTIVote set for me with some of her classes, and today I got to see it in action. Or almost in action.

The class were brilliant, and Margaret is an excellent teacher. A good thing too, as now seems to be a recurring issue with Promethean technology in this blog it didn’t work as seamlessly as I would have hoped. Quite an admin task to get the class assigned to devices in the first place as some pupils were off, but once this was sorted out the pupils worked really well with them – what let things down was the Promethean software. The flipchart with the questions in it wouldn’t stop advancing at one point, and the pre-prepared content for Maths was inaccurate.

Aside from the problems, what did I think? The voting devices are a great idea, but I worry about whether they are a gimmick or not. The ability to see how pupils have answered immediately is fantastic, and you would otherwise never have access to this data, but creating questions is a very time consuming task for teachers that are far too busy already. Bearing in mind their price, I’m not sure at the moment they are what our schools need – unless it is a school that is already well served with technology anyway. That said, the pupils loved them, so the impact on their motivation is significant.

I keep struggling with this issue though – the Promethean software is brilliant, and when the technology works it is first class. You’ve got to wonder how many ‘second’ chances I give this though – plug in a SMART Board and it works first time.

Thanks Margaret – strange though it was being back in my old school, and even more nerve-wracking to be answering maths questions, today was a good day.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Could we have 'two day' in-service courses?

I was right to be concerned. Having a website is a huge commitment for any school. Managing and updating a website is a time consuming activity. Gathering resources is an activity for everyone in the school, but the hardest thing about having a website will be changing attitudes.

At the moment, aside from the obvious intellectual development of our students, the majority of work undertaken by pupils in school will either end up marked by the teacher, assessed by their peers, or on display on the classroom (or corridor) walls. Having a website adds another tier onto this list, but it is a broad tier. Displaying pupils work on a website shares achievement far beyond the classroom walls. Using blogs, people can comment on the work. Whilst that may be a scary or problematic issue, it opens up a whole chapter on motivation – were I a pupil today, I would be far more motivated to work for the web than I would be to work for the teacher. Not all pupils would be like this, but as teachers it is our job to utilise as many means as possible to assist the intellectual and social development of our pupils.

In all of this we should never forget there is still a digital divide – not everyone has a computer, let alone internet access.

The folks who attended the Dreamweaver course today really enjoyed it – BUT – it is far too much to achieve on one day. Most of the day was spent thinking about what a website is, why a school would want one, who would be involved in its production and maintenance and how it would be structured. Without addressing these fundamental questions, it isn’t even worth switching the computer on in the first place. Only then did we sit down in the afternoon to look at Dreamweaver, which meant little time to look at what is a huge program. Next year, it clearly needs to be run over two days – day one being ‘what is a website’ and ‘what would I put in it’, and day two being ‘how do I make it’.

You live and learn.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I speak too quickly

Every so often, I get to take central in-service courses. Owing to a cancellation, I have two in a row this week. Most unusual, as the courses are normally taken by Masterclass, but sometimes I have to take them as either I can’t free anyone from school to take them, or there is not the skill level to take them hence the role of tutor falling to me. I don’t mean this as a criticism of Masterclass in any way – rather it is a financial observation on how some schools have spent their devolved budget.

Today was a real introductory course, which I must admit I was very reluctant to put on the calendar. Ask the initiated about ‘Using a digital still camera’, and they would wonder what was covered after the first 30 minutes in a day long course. Last year, I wrote one course covering using a camera and editing images, but it proved far too much for the one day, so this session John wished it to be split. At the time I was quite concerned, as whilst I could easily imagine a day spent editing images, I couldn’t imagine spending a day just learning how to use a camera.

Glad to say that I was wrong.

Using technology all comes down to confidence.

By having a day to look at something relatively simple meant that all those present left comfortable and confident in their knowledge. The best bit of the day I think was looking at curricular application of using a digital camera with the participants. Without this focus, the day would have actually been irrelevant. Of course ‘Comic Life’ was a great help here, but even simple things like sequencing, odd-one-out, and storyboarding make using a camera directly relevant to our teaching.

The feedback was good, so the people there seemed to enjoy it and said they found it useful. I speak too quickly though – no-one said this in evaluation sheets, but I am really aware of it.
Tomorrow is Dreamweaver. I have never been as concerned about a course as I am about this one. I’m not sure if schools realise what a colossal commitment having a website actually is, and I worry about it being another ‘tick box’ for Head Teachers, but I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wisest is he who knows he doesn't know

If there is one thing I have no time for, it’s a lack of manners. If someone is addressing a room full of people, then it is courteous to listen to them. I find it somewhat amusing that those who complain most about behaviour are the last to show respect yet expect respect to be shown to them. I also struggle with members of staff that do not want to try new teaching methods, when as a teacher I was always of the opinion that I wanted to learn anything that could help me engage the disaffected.

Sometimes it will take time to learn something new, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Sometimes the best teachers are pupils – we just have to be prepared to let go. Sometimes it’s best to start with a small idea and build upon it, than to give up at the first hurdle.

Some days are better than others.

For those of you following these ongoing ramblings, it took about 7 hours to finish the Dreamweaver notes, and I am indebted to Pat for printing them today. Thanks, yet again!

Monday, November 07, 2005

'D' is for Dreamweaver

Can we start the clock please? Having now finished the introduction to Dreamweaver notes for PC, I’m about to put all pictures into the Mac version of exactly the same notes. I’ve only got this evening and tomorrow morning to do this, as I need them printed tomorrow afternoon to be in time for the course on Thursday. Oh, and I have a course on Wednesday on an entirely different subject. And who says this job isn’t taking over my whole life?

Today John and I went to visit Campbeltown Grammar school to see how things have improved on the ICT front since their proportionate inspection earlier this session. A huge change, which the Depute Rector, Masterclasser, and ICT group should be praised for. What we need is good dialogue about the use of their newly distributed equipment in the curriculum. I wonder how many staff are aware of the HGIOS document concerning the integration of ICT in the curriculum? This is a great starting point for staff thinking about how and where to use ICT.

Now, cut, copy, paste...

Friday, November 04, 2005

It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission

‘Day two’ of the Biennial Head Teachers conference in Oban.

Our speaker for the day was Professor John MacBeath from Cambridge, England. I have heard John speak on a few occasions now and I must say I always look forward to it. There are a few people I have heard or read in education over the last couple of years that seem to be hitting the nail right on the head at the moment, and John is definitely one of them. My thanks to him for allowing us to share his presentation on my homepage.

Before I begin, I must say I struggle with the whole notion of distributed leadership. This is not because of the environment that I come from, but rather my understanding of the role and function of a team in achieving a shared vision.

Over the last two years the book that has influenced my thinking most with regard to management has been ‘First break all the rules’ by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. In it, they talk about the importance of realising the ‘talents’ of your employees, and playing these as strengths. They also point out that the best managers in the world constantly break the ‘golden rule’ and play favourites – why? It is all about productivity. How much of your time as a manager is spent with your least able staff members? Does this improve the productivity of your organisation?

Anyway, back to today. I didn’t do the first activity, as I now struggle so much with the fixed nature of paper. I want to be able to change things, and move things around. I also want there to be the widest possible audience for my thoughts – I wonder how many of those in attendance shared their concept maps of inter-relationships with those in their maps? I’m one of the few in attendance who had the opportunity to see their line managers’ map, and it was great to see what he produced – it reminded me of the whole host of issues that he has to deal with on a daily basis, and stopped me thinking (for a few moments, anyway!) about my own concerns.

One notion that John touched on today was our understanding of the terms ‘leader’ and ‘manager’. They are not interchangeable, but I hear them being used often as though they are. A great leader is often a terrible manager, and vice versa. Perhaps this is where my problem with distributed leadership comes from, as I am not convinced that we as a group use these terms with the same meaning in mind.

Another issue touched upon was where do we do our best thinking? It was with a wry smile that I noticed that ‘sitting at an isolated desk in a classroom of 30 individuals’ was not on the list. I was fascinated by the straw poll of ‘who works best whilst listening to music’, and I was reminded of David Thornburg’s observation about his teenage daughter who was sitting in their living room, writing something on a bit of paper, with some music playing in the background with Sky News on the TV. Although she was doing some writing, she could tell him what was happening in the news including the scrolling news banner at the bottom of the screen. – We live in a digital age, and how we receive and process information now is radically different to 10 or 20 years ago. Have we taken account of this?

We were given the lovely wee story about how ‘Google’ works – which set me wondering about how well search engines are used in our schools. On my site there is a ‘coming soon’ link to a study on web literacy that I have yet to complete. I worry about how well we are using the web, and how we can assess validity. Please keep checking the site to see when this appears – if I achieve anything important in my work in Argyll & Bute it will be this.

All of us would have appreciated some advanced information on what Gabrielle Matters had to say yesterday, but I wonder how many of us bothered to type her name, or ‘New Basics’ into a search engine before we arrived in Oban. We live in a time of information rich, and information poor – knowing how to use the internet turns us from one into the other.

It would have been fascinating to see where each of our schools sat on the cohesion/control axis, and to see where the expertise lay in schools for each of the items listed in one of our other tasks for the day.

The 'hole in the wall' experiment was fascinating - this got me thinking about constructivist learners and what Diane Lewis in Florida had to say about this. I suspect we are far too prescriptivist in our teaching, and hardly touching on constructivist.

What else did I take from today? A booklist -

Judith Harris – ‘The Nurture Assumption’
Malcolm Gladwell - ‘The Tipping Point’.
Jane Kenway and Elizabeth Bullen - ‘Consuming Children’ about the children of a digital age

I now also want to look into what a couple of other people have to say – David Perkins from Harvard, and Judith Warren-Little from Berkeley, who gave us a wonderful quote for today – that we should approach situations with “aggressive curiosity and healthy scepticism”

And my final thought – yesterday Gabrielle Matters mentioned ‘Transmogrification’ without a reference to Calvin & Hobbes, but today John MacBeath shared one of their comic strips with us. If you don’t know about Calvin & Hobbes, get yourself to a bookshop right now…

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Something under the bed is drooling...

There are days when your heart bleeds for some people. Today was one of those days.

Today I attended ‘day one’ of the Biennial Head Teachers conference in the Royal Hotel, Oban. The guest speaker for the day was Professor Gabrielle Matters, from Queensland, Australia.

Her subject was ‘New Basics’ – one of the most fascinating projects to be undertaken in education in the last decade. Begun by Allan Luke (please check out what Allan Luke has to say on the National Priorities website), the project addressed the most fundamental questions we should be tackling in education – namely what should we be teaching, how should it be taught, and how will our pupils show they have learnt?

I won’t do New Basics or Gabrielle the disservice of summing up the huge project here, but please go and read about it here - www.education.qld.gov.au/corporate/newbasics

Some of the concerns she raised are clearly global concerns, and I particularly liked the initial findings that intellectual content was low, but moral was high – “Happy little people walking around who knew nothing” – is this a concern that should resonate with us? When I was teaching Higher Philosophy I was appalled to find that good students had no understanding of a historical timeline on which to place events, and could only really tell me about National Socialism in Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s and coal mining in 19th century Scotland. Fascinating though they are, if pupils cannot contextualise this information, then we have fundamentally missed the point (– and I say this as a qualified teacher of History incidentally).

So why did my heart bleed today? Probably a combination of things, but for us to make any sense of New Basics, we would have had to have some sound prior knowledge of the Curriculum Organisers, Productive Pedagogies and Rich Tasks. What would have helped? Prior to the conference, some literature or at least the URL. In order for today not to be a complete waste of time, then we now need professional debate and dialogue about New Basics and what it means in context, and how we can learn from their experiences here in Argyll & Bute. I would urge all of you to look at the Queensland website.

What was positive about today? It is so refreshing to hear someone who is not afraid to point out bad news or negative results. Whilst there were many positives from New Basics, there were substantial negatives. Far better to face them, than to shove them under the carpet. In discussion in the afternoon, it was pointed out that in the majority of our primary schools we already do what amounts to ‘rich tasks’ or ‘project based learning’, so let’s not start thinking about throwing the baby out with the bath water. And let’s please not drown in ‘another initiative’.

Most importantly? Research and change has to be adequately funded. If we are to accommodate any new initiative in school, it has to be well funded and managed, not just ‘distributed’? More on this tomorrow, I suspect.

The final word for today has to be ‘transmogrified’ – I immediately thought of ‘Calvin & Hobbes’ (hence today’s title and picture), but can we concentrate on its’ meaning? Change in surprising ways.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Sandwich with your whiteboard?

Sandwiches. Tonight’s excursion started with sandwiches, so frankly everyone else that plans twilights should take note – a school day is long enough without then having to listen to an over enthusiastic, sarcastic ESO! So the Hermitage Primary staff start a twilight in a lovely social kind of way with sandwiches in the staffroom. Good one.

2 hours. With a 2 hour session, we had more than enough time to look at how the board works, (probably too much time) so we spent a fair bit of time looking at resources online. I continue my subversive quest to wean staff off a) paper and b) software. The web is full of brilliant resources which staff need to know how to find and make use of. Using the web we don’t need to print either. Evidence needn’t be A4 sized!

20+ people. OK, I suppose I should have thought about this one, but as a school it’s a big number of staff, so far too big a number to work well with only 2 boards. And the moral of this story is…

2 whiteboards. Hermitage have a board installed in a permanent location which is brilliant – more schools need to do this. They can book the room and take their class to it. I certainly hope they now do – many staff were already beginning to plan out how they were going to use it. I’d love a comment here in the next couple of days saying they have done so?! Only problem – 2 boards is not enough! We need to figure out how to best advise schools to resource this issue. Glad to hear projectors were being thought of in the meantime, whilst a rolling programme of installation is considered. Please don’t just use it to teach IT skills though – use a computer for all areas of the curriculum.

Hey Presto! What a change in the school! Newly refurbished infant classrooms which look fantastic – what a lovely environment to teach in! I know it has been a lot of work with teachers and classes moving rooms, but well done so far Hermitage – I’ll watch this space with interest.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

And all of God's people said... Amen!

There is something quite lovely about denominational schools - whenever I visit them, they just seem to ooze an ethos in a way that non-denominational schools don't even get close to. Somehow both staff and pupils seem steeped in a sense of purpose and common vision - and I mean those terms without the baggage of jargon.

Today I had a twilight in St. Andrew's Primary on the isle of Bute. The school has been through a great period of change, and tonight we were looking at using an interactive whiteboard in the classroom. I've got to tell you though - oh my goodness - I could not handle the pace if I were a member of this staff - talk about quick - a million miles per hour working through tasks and constantly asking "how do you..." and "how does it..." - absolutely brilliant. I can't put into words how fantasic it is too see staff enthusiastic about the use of technology in the classroom after what I know is a long day at school.

Also, (and this is quite magnificent) one of the staff (and I'm sorry that I can't remember your name) mentioned that you could save notebooks of pupils work electronically instead of printing them out as evidence and before I even had a chance to say something about this, another member of staff said that it would be easy to store all of them in individual folders that the parents could look at - hallelujah! - Now, if I could only convince another 92 schools of the benefits of saving rather than printing...

I was reminded of the great quality resources available on the BBC website and of the importance of giving teachers the tools they need to get on with their jobs - because do you know what? The dedicated professionals will not just run with it - they will soar. Tonight I met staff who I have no doubt would make great use of interactive technology if only they had constant access to it. What we need to do is convince the politicans that this is what they need to invest in.

Sorry for no freebies Kathleen, but hopefully I have shown you and your staff how to make better use of the technology you have. The picture for today is the staff playing with Comic Life on a SMART Board using an iSight camera - all of this with next to no input from me..