Archive for the Category ◊ General Thoughts ◊

The Half-Way Point
Thursday, February 20th, 2014 | Author:

This half-term has been a bit different to usual. Yes there are days out and yes, the nieces have come to visit, but I have also been into school, not for planning, but for completely redesigning my classroom. This post will also be an update on the classroom tour post I shared in September.

I have a massive classroom. It echoes, it’s just huge. The plan was to redecorate and build a small office/workroom space at the back for interventions, so I held off making changes for the first term but as this work isn’t going to happen now, I could get in and change things. Also, I wanted to reflect on what has worked and what needs to be improved.

Literacy – As blogged about here, we focus on a different sentence every week. In practice this actually becomes a “sentence of the literacy unit” but that doesn’t sound as cool. So what I have done is to make a board showcasing different sentences. Some are examples of complex sentences, e.g. embedded clauses and some are taken from Alan Peat’s book. The idea is to have examples to share with the children but also to have space for children to share their own too. Example sentences will also be in their toolkits on their tables so that they can see them while they are working.

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Maths – Before, I had a working wall and a whiteboard for Maths. The whiteboard didn’t really work and soon became used for other things as I needed somewhere to write notices for the children and also put up learning objectives, the date and other similar information. I love the A4 whiteboards that we have. These are not the chunky ones for using on the carpet, these are flimsy ones that snap very easily (one broke yesterday when I dropped it onto the carpet!) but they are perfect for blu-tacking to the wall and writing on. For my Maths board, these will have questions based around the maths we are doing. I try to differentiate them but the more-able will always try and answer every question anyway. there is also space available for me to stick up paper to show methods or ideas as we go along. The main thing for me is to make their toolkits on their table better so that once we have taught something in Literacy, Maths or Spellings, it comes down from the wall and into their toolkit to be replaced by new learning on the wall.

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The Science wall has more whiteboards stuck to it with questions about our topic. I could print the questions and stick them on but these whiteboards are fab for quickly changing ideas. I have also left space for children to stick post-its with their own questions too.

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A big change in my room is that my dry-wipe whiteboard has been moved. There are various reasons it hasn’t been moved until now, but having it at the front of the room will help. The behaviour chart is also now at the front, next to me while I teach. One issue that I had is that when the children move up or down the chart, I had to break from the teaching and request that the child moved their name. This meant that the flow stopped and sometimes there could be problems if a child didn’t want to move their name…so by having it at the front, I can move names without discussion if needs be and continue with the lesson.

Another change is that I now have a board for “Building Learning Power” which is something we are trying to start in school.  It is about picking up the learning behaviours and making children aware of what they need to do to be better learners. My wife suggested making it Lego-themed and singing “Everything is awesome, everything is cool when you’re part of a team” to show how working together can achieved great results. I have a few children who want to improve, but want it on their terms. They want to work on their own and don’t want others to help. I want to break this down and make them want to learn and succeed together. So learning behaviour is going to be a big push this term.

One idea that I found in the book Inspirational Teachers, Inspirational Learners is the idea of having marbles in a jar not to represent “good” behaviour but to represent learning behaviour instead. So “Well done Timmy, you have shown great resilience today” which then leads to a marble (or for me, ping-pong ball) going into the jar. The whole class will need to work together to focus on the behaviours we are trying to learn about. I want to make this very explicit to them so that we can discuss what is meant by resilience or perseverance. It’ll be interesting as some of the children find persevering very difficult indeed at the moment!

It’s odd to think that half of the year has gone already and I’m still figuring out what to do. I am doing OK so far but I want to get better and I hope that the re-arranged classroom will give y children the chance to succeed even more than they have done so far.


Looking back at 2013 #nurture1314
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013 | Author:

To be honest, 2013 was never going to top 2012 was it? Last year I got married, turned 30 and released my first book. 2013 would’ve had to be very special to come close. Although it didn’t have anything as huge as those events, it was a year of change for sure. So, in no particular order, here are 13 memories of the year.

1 – Digital Leaders – It feels like forever ago when I started working with Digital Leaders in school, but last year was the best in terms of what my small group achieved. It was the first year I had had children in my class that were Digital Leaders as previously I had been a PPA teacher so they were spread out a bit further across the school. Having them in my class meant that when they spoke and presented, they were talking about things that we were doing every day. It did mean I probably favoured the ones in my class a bit more than the others, but they were outstanding so it was hard not to choose them! The year started with a huge group of 11 going to BETT and they had a range of jobs such as being my able assistant while I demonstrated Purple Mash, taking photos of the event through to presenting for Tony Parkin. The highlight for me (sorry Tony) was Emma, Issy and Francesca presenting on the Google stand. They were Year 4 children and they were petrified. They’d practised every lunchtime for about a month and I had told them to forget all of that and just talk naturally and try not to leave quiet spaces. They started with around 70 people watching, this was Google’s stand at 10:30 on day 1 after all. Within 5 minutes there were 120-150 people and every single Google employee watching them talk about their use of Google Sites. I overheard the Googlers talking and praising them. I felt very emotional and they did themselves and the school proud. They’ll probably never go to BETT again, but it’s something they’ll remember for a long time and I feel honoured to have given them the opportunity to do that.

2 – Leaving St John’s – This year saw me leave St John’s after 3 years and move to my 4th appointment in my 9 years of teacher. I don’t know if this will ever go against me, but I think I have always moved for the right reasons. It was definitely time to leave St John’s as there were more suitable avenues opening up for me elsewhere. I will always be immensely proud of what I achieved there and over the three years we appeared on TV in the UK (BBC Click) and Brazil (Globo TV) as well as starting a blogsite that is now just short of 1,000,000 views in 3 1/2 years. I think this is outstanding and I am pleased to have been a part of it. My last class were incredible and I was truly blessed to have such hard-working, incredible children. Some still email me now or comment on my new school’s blogs. I visited St John’s a few weeks ago and they were all asking how my new job was going and thanking me for the work I’d put in with them. One said she did amazingly well in Maths recently and said it was all down to last year. I don’t know if I believe her or not, but it felt nice anyway! When I left, I got lots of lovely cards and messages from children and parents and many are now stuck up the wall around the computer I’m typing on now. Whenever it feels like there’s a lot to do, I can look up and see the message from Issy’s mum or Owen’s poem or Francesca’s artwork and it all feels completely worth it.

3 – Starting at Riders – I started looking for a new challenge around March time and it was a tough decision. I was in charge of ICT at St John’s but did I want to go down the ICT route and try out what people like David Mitchell are doing and present at conferences and work with schools as a consultant or did I want to progress in teaching and become a Year Leader? I talked to many people about it (Thanks Dawn, Julian, Dughall, Tony etc…sorry Charlie for being a pain!) and it was a tough choice. I had offers, I’ve turned things down, I could have done a range of things this year, but especially with ICT becoming more computing/coding-based, was I the person to go and talk about the changes? I’ve had interviews with people from various magazines and papers about my views and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to be in the classroom.

So the decision was made to look for Year Leader positions.  Riders Junior was well-known to me as I had attended it briefly as a child. I spent four years at the infants, one at the juniors and then asked my parents to move me as I hated it. So why go back? There were three reasons. One was the challenge and the other two were Claire (@clairemarie00) and James (@blakey09) who I knew a little through Twitter. James was great and spoke to me at length on the phone about the job and the school and as it turned out, I am now working in year 4 with him. He’s in his second year but he’s an amazing teacher and doing very well. Claire is the most hardworking Literacy Leader I have ever worked with. In the past term, she has led changes in handwriting, spelling, phonics, guided reading and Literacy lessons. We joke that she seems to lead every other staff meeting but it’s true. Luckily Year 4 are used as a sounding board and we often bounce ideas around that we’ve seen or read elsewhere.

As for the job, it is the toughest job I have ever had. There is a mountain of work to do and a lot of things to change but luckily the staff are determined and we will get there. It is totally different from being “just” a teacher to someone that others will look up to. It hasn’t been easy and I would rate my leadership as “requires improvement” at the moment but it will be better by the end of the year. It’s weird not being in charge of ICT though!

4  – Teachmeets – \there have been a wide range of Teachmeets this year and it started with the largest, craziest of the lot, the one at BETT. It’s crazy because it takes a lot of people to organise. I felt that this was my favourite BETT Teachmeet since my first one about 4 years ago. It was also great to introduce new people to BETT and the Teachmeet experience. While talking of crazy Teachmeets, #tmpompey must be right up there. Where else do you get a round of laser quest after your CPD? I’m very proud to say that I have been to every #tmpompey, from the humble beginnings with about 10 people in David Rogers’ classroom, through to the massive cinema room with about 25 of us to the latest one which started on HMS Victory. It’s amazing that we have these incredible facilities just around the corner and that we are using them to learn from our peers. Love it. The other stand-out Teachmeet of the year for me was #tmsussex. This was the first one organised by Ben (@iteachyearr) and Jo (@mrspteach) and it was a huge success. Lots of people attended and they did a fantastic job.

5 – #tmhants – The only Teachmeet I organised this year was with Michelle (@footiefanmiss) and this was held at St James in Emsworth. I felt proud of my children who presented and of the wide range of presentations that we had there, including a lot of practical science experiments which went way over the allotted 7 minutes! Let’s hope the next one is as much of a success!

6  – Speaking at Events – There have been two standout events this year. Both to a large audience and both made me very nervous about doing them. Only one that I think had any impact whatsoever. So we’ll start with the other one. In February I was invited to speak to the Westminster Forum about my views on the new computing curriculum. I was the only primary teacher addressing the audience and it was a bit scary. My main concern is that everything I see and hear is about coding and algorithms and “just do Scratch” which all sounds very dull and tedious to me, that’s two years of BTEC ICT at college for you. But there’s one statement in the new curriculum that I clung on to. The one about using a range of tools on a range of devices to achieve a range of goals. This kinda means do whatever you like, however you like. So my 5minute talk at Westminster was about this. It was about the necessity to include video editing, website design, art, presentations and all of those great ICT elements within a curriculum and just because it was only one bullet point in the curriculum, it didn’t mean that it only took up a small amount of time. If anything, this should be the largest amount of time because it will make the biggest impact on the children. Coding/instructions are important and would always be, and have always been, part of my ICT curriculum but they wouldn’t define it.

The other event had an even larger audience. It was as part of the Optimus ICT Conference in May and my talk was on using a range of free tools in the classroom. It was very similar to Dughall’s talk later in the day but surprisingly, we chose completely different tools to talk about. I showed a lot of tools, talked about how they have impacted learning and shared examples of children’s work. People enjoyed it and it felt good (afterwards).

7  – Running – This has been a frustrating year on the running front. I haven’t done as much as I wanted to because of work, but I will get better. I had my worst ever Great South Run and it felt rubbish to have failed. I’ve also piled on weight since getting married and need to sort it next year. After starting the whole “1000miles in 2012” thing, I want to set myself a target and I am going to give it my best!

8  – Exciting lessons – There have been some great successes and some failures this year, but it’s been a year for trying new things. The biggest failure were the lessons based on shares. The point being that each child had £1000 and bought some shares, checked them the next day and looked at profit and loss. Unfortunately it was just a bit too complicated for my Year 4 to do in a lesson and because we set for Maths, I had no additional time. Also, every share went down every day in the two weeks we tried it! Maybe the only thing they learnt was that their investment may go down. Oops. The biggest success though was with the same Maths group. We ran businesses and the children were incredible, we made cakes, smoothies, you name it and we sold a LOT. Over the course of a couple of days we raised over £150 profit and it was great to see them working together. I invested around £140 of my own money to make it work and I lent each group money, which they then paid back or used to buy more ingredients as they needed to. Each group then decided where to send the money with around £30 going to 4 charites and £30 being lent to worthy causes on Kiva. It was also the year that I took my Wii into class and launched Endless Ocean. The children loved it and you can read more about my adventures with games-based learning on the blog post. Thanks to Dawn and Pete for inspiration!

9  – Essentials CPD – Following on from the book last year, I was asked by Rising Stars to put together an online course called Essentials CPD which gave users the chance to work through a range of tools and ideas for use within the classroom. This took a LOT of work to put together and it seems to have gone down quite well. It has also been accredited by a University so completing it will also earn points towards a Masters! That all seems odd for something I wrote in my spare room…

10  – Google Apps – This year I have continued to use Google Apps and train others in a variety of schools across the country. I have trained students in Manchester to be administrators for their domains and I have continued to work with C-Learning to deliver course to teachers. The highlight was the most recent course which took place at a little school called Eton. So I think I can now put “Taught at Eton College” on my CV. Even if it was just for a day.

11  – Visitors to School – Withing the first half term at Riders we had a visit from Julia Skinner who came in to school to work with children on the 100 Word Challenge. This was their first experience of it and they had never blogged before but it has now become part of their weekly routine. They love it! Russell Prue also visited a little while ago and it was extremely interesting to see the children out of their comfort zone. He asked them to say a few words each but some really struggled. This highlighted the need for explicit Speaking and Listening aspects to the new curriculum in our year group. Something we are now looking to develop.

12  – On top of the world- Not the scariest thing I’ve ever done (see: parachuting or laser-eye surgery) but still a great day out. This year I climbed onto the O2. It’s just a steep walk but the views from the top are incredible and it is well worth doing. Unfortunately I had to do it alone as there is no way Charlie was going to go that high up, so she watched from the safety of the ground.

13  – Additions to the family – No, not babies. Although as a newly-wed, people do keep asking. This year saw us adopt a stray cat for a couple of weeks before he ran away again, maybe he likes the open road or something? Then once we had bought all of the cat paraphernalia but didn’t have a cat to use it, it made sense to do something about it and a few weeks ago we became parents to Spencer and Morgan, a pair of male ginger kittens with a love of trees, baubles and  other Christmas-related objects! Next for us is teaching them that are arms are not to be used as scratching posts. It does look like I’ve been in a fight at the moment.

It’s been a good year, but there’s still things to improve. Can I think of 14 things for next year? I doubt it. So here are my targets for the year ahead:

1 – Spend more time with my wife. I’m lucky because she’s a teacher so she knows what it’s like, but I know I must be a pain to live with. There’s always more to do and it can always be done better. I want to spend a lot more time together next year and I am planning my workload so that this can happen.

2 – Cooking – We were given a few cookbooks this Christmas and then bought a few ourselves and in the past week have already made a few curries from scratch (including the chapattis!) so we want to continue doing this. We spent over an hour in the kitchen together preparing for a meal the other day and it was lovely. More of that will happen!

3 – Getting fit – As mentioned above, I am not the fittest person and I am not far off the heaviest weight I have ever been (that was around September 2013) and I want to lose two stone to get me around 13stone. I think I can do it, I did it with a lot of work pre-wedding, so it might be possible. I did have a personal trainer then though!

4 – Running – Along with the one above, I need to run more. I have a few events lined up and I want to do a 10k in under 50minutes (PB is 51:30) and I want to do a 1/2 marathon in under 2 hours (PB is 2hours 4mins). These times were both two years ago when I was at a good weight and a better level of fitness! I also want to do the Great South Run in under 90 minutes which would be 10 minutes off of my PB. Gulp.

5 – Teaching – I need to be a better class teacher. I am good, I know that but I want to be better. I want to make sure my children are enthused with their learning and I want to make sure that we give them the best that I can.

6 – Planning – I want my lessons to be better planned and more engaging. I am fine with most areas but I need to work on making aspects such as spellings just as engaging for the children. Not sure how that will happen, but it is a target to aim for!

7 – Leading – I am still new at this and as Michelle says, it’s about making the right impact. We have a great team and I want them to be able to develop and grow and be amazing teachers too.

8 – Organisation – This Christmas I have setup Google Apps at Riders and over the next couple of weeks it will be introduced to staff to get us more streamlined and to make sure we all know what is happening at school. It can be difficult organizing teachers in two buildings even if there is just a car park between them!

9 – Teachmeet Hants – The next #tmhants is coming up soon and posters/flyers will be sent to most Hampshire schools next week. This will be the second time I have held one within my own school after having one at St John’s a few years back. That was a huge failure with no St John’s staff attending and only about 3 teachers from other schools coming along (Thanks Ben!). This time will be different. Claire and James have already been talking about the impact of Teachmeets so having one at Riders is bound to be a good thing.

Sponsorship time…
Thursday, September 26th, 2013 | Author:

It’s that time of year again. I will be running 10miles around Portsmouth in the Great South Run in just 31 days time. Am I ready? Not sure…but it will be fun finding out!

I have created a sponsorship page and would very much appreciate any support that you can give. I am running for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

So, maybe I have saved you a few hours writing an ICT Policy or I’ve helped you with Google Apps or you are just a wonderful, kind person. Every penny you can spare would be very much appreciated.

Thank you in advance.

Moving On
Sunday, September 01st, 2013 | Author:

This coming week sees a huge challenge and a big change in my teaching career. After three years at St John’s, I am moving to be a Year 3/4 Leader at Riders Junior School.

So why the change?

I have been teaching eight years and have worked in three different places so far. I know people I went to University with that are still in their first school but I feel that each move I have made has been a positive one. My first change took me out of the classroom to work with Hampshire IT for two years and then when that finished, I took the PPA role at St John’s. This allowed me to develop my teaching and “get back into it” after two years out. Last year I had my own class again for the first time in four years and it was the best year of my career so far. I was lucky enough to have an incredible bunch of children that worked their hardest to improve on a daily basis.

I learnt so much last year and had so many great experiences that I though I would share some:

There’s the child who hadn’t made much progress for a year or two, always had 1-1 support and didn’t enjoy writing. However he did like technology. No, he loved it. So I got him blogging, he was responsible for charging the tablet in class, he even helped tidy the ICT suite. Did this help his learning? Not directly, but it made him even more keen to come to school. Once there, and settled and in a positive mood, we were able to focus on writing. His handwriting isn’t the best, neither is mine in fact, but the content of his writing excelled this year. By teaching him a few little tricks, he was able to use them and improve no-end. Every now and again I would give him another little “tip” such as…Did you know, adverbs are the kind of words that good writers use? Now, the rest of the class were able to focus during inputs and pick these up, he wasn’t. But by building up his little tips, he made huge strides in his writing: 1A to 2B (although probably a 2A on a good day). But even without the academic progress, he enjoyed writing more and more which is something I am pleased to have helped with.

In fact, it wasn’t just him, because of my insistence that a good writer borrows (porcupines) ideas, words and phrases from others, I managed to build a class of children that were keen to experiment with their writing. There were a few key elements to this, one being the Good/Amazing/Awesome cards. I had three A4-sized whiteboards on my writing wall, each with different features on it, progressively getting “harder”. So in one lesson, it might be “Good” to use words such as and/but/so, “Amazing” to include adverbs and “awesome” to include an adverbial phrases or two. What happened very quickly was that my less-able writers could see a few ideas of how to make their writing better and they would bring work to me and say, “I think this is amazing, because I have included x/y/z, do you agree?” Some teachers have All/Most/Some but I thought that good/amazing/awesome sounded cooler and more positive. It meant that the less-able children didn’t have their learning and objectives caped, they could see what the “best” writers were doing and try to include it in their writing. Did they always do it correctly? No. But they were playing with words and ideas.

This coming year, I want to blog more about my actual lessons and planning. The children made good progress and they seemed to love literacy and enjoy writing, something that they didn’t all admit to at the start of the year. Four children wrote comments in my leaving cards thanking me for making literacy fun and not scary any more so I must have been doing something right! Some also thanked me for our science lessons too. In an end-of-year circle time, I asked what they enjoyed this year. A few children said the obvious things like our Tudor day, school trips, visiting BETT and our curry-making lessons but a number said they enjoyed lessons more than before, which is always nice to hear!

Something else we worked on last year was our Science lessons. I very much believe that children should be able to experience practical science lessons as much as possible and this hadn’t always happened previously. So throughout the year I looked at where we could get investigations into the children’s hands. Through questioning we were able to skip past the stuff the children knew and really explore things further. For example, the curriculum said that the children needed to know about the ideal conditions for plants to grow. A quick 2minute conversation confirmed that plants needed water, light and so on. So I asked them some questions:

  • Would plants grow in milk? or orange juice? Coke? Diet coke?
  • Would they grow in playdoh instead of soil? or cotton wool?

Simple questions, but rather than repeating things they already knew, we had fun with every group doing a different experiment. For the record, Diet Coke worked quite well, but Coke didn’t. Oh and milk starts to smell after a few days! Much of that is obvious, or so I thought, but not everyone else was doing it!


Overall, I had a lot of fun this year with a great class. I’ll miss the children, the football teams and the digital leaders. The children asked me why I was leaving, why didn’t I want to stay with them? It was a tough question to answer, but I think that they understood. I needed more of a challenge. I needed a different challenge. In almost every way, Riders is completely different to St John’s but that’s what makes it fun right? A parent asked why did I want to do something that would be so much harder? My answer? How can you improve if you don’t challenge yourself?

I hope to take all of the things that I have learnt with me in my new role and I want to inspire the children to learn, to succeed and to enjoy what they are doing. I won’t have ICT to look after but we are going to start blogging this week ( It’s going to be a very meaty role with plenty going on. Ofsted are due any day and we will probably implement a range of new ideas and strategies but there is an awesome team of enthusiastic teachers that will hopefully make it a great place to be.

So here’s to the new year, a new role, a new challenge, a new school.

Train Fares
Saturday, January 19th, 2013 | Author:

Slightly left-field post only applicable to very few of you but hey….

For those travelling to BETT on the train, it is well worth looking into Group Save tickets ( Basically you need 1 adult and then three other people (adults or children) and then you just pay for two full price adult tickets. So four adults would travel for the price of two.

Then with this group, four additional children will travel for just £1 each.

Take our trip to BETT.

Group 1: Me and my wife, two children, plus four additional children at £1 each. That would normally be £185.50 but with Groupsave it comes down to £78. Bargain.

It’s well worth looking into if you are taking children anywhere and don’t have enough to claim big group discounts.

The Ideas Porcupine
Saturday, January 05th, 2013 | Author:

Teachers are often familiar with the term magpie-ing ideas. Borrowing from someone else because it is a great, shiny idea and then adapting it and using it. We use the term ‘magpie’ mostly in Literacy lessons where a child has found a great word and then we can share it with others. Before anyone comments, I do remind them to thank the person they got the idea from. I often do things in class and say that I have found it on this website or borrowed from this teacher on Twitter. It’s good practice after-all.

Anyway, in one lesson, a year 3 child named Ben heard a good word and shouted “We should porcupine it!”. Cut to baffled faces as he replied saying he knew it was an animal but couldn’t remember which animal stole ideas.

When we discussed it further, my class suggested that a magpie can only carry one idea at a time in his beak but a porcupine could hold loads on his spikes, hence the birth of the porcupine. My teaching assistant then drew me a porcupine and he now lives on the wall.

We’re not sure how he’ll be used yet, but the plan is to stick great examples of work, exciting vocabulary and any other idea on and around him to inspire others.

Oh, if you want this idea for your classroom, feel free to porcupine it. Ben would be very happy.


(edit – after a bit of discussion, it was decided that an angry magpie in the corner of this display might be a bit of fun. So @e_gran drew one here)

My 2012
Monday, December 31st, 2012 | Author:

Before looking ahead to 2013, it is probably sensible to review the year that has been already. Last year I wrote a few targets for the year ahead and it’s odd, because many of the things that have happened weren’t on the list!

But let’s start with the 2012 targets first…

ICT Planning – The ICT Planning website ( changed guises a few times this year but is now in a state that I am happy with and teachers are not starting to pick and choose some of the ideas from it. I’m not sure if we’re covering everything, but I’m also not sure if we need to cover it all. Some children have challenging ICT and the task is to now push forward with making sure all of them are challenged.

ICT Assessment – We have started using ICT assessment cards to track the assessment of ICT, these launched in October but again, I am fairly happy that these will be used well in the coming months.

Home Learning – I had an idea of having loads of links to different areas for times tables, reading, spelling but because of other commitments (below) this never really happened!

Digital Leaders – Well we went to BETT, we launched the Digital Leader website for the SSAT, I shared it at the Teachmeet too. But then it didn’t take off because another one came along instead, so I deleted my Digital Leader site. Oh well. These things happen I guess.

Sharing – We have shared lots, through Teachmeets, conferences and such like.

So on reflection, things have gone ok from that list. But now to the top moments of the year.


*I wrote my first book. It seems hard to believe that even though I wrote my predictions for 2012 on December 27th, I didn’t know I was going to write a book in 2012. I wasn’t approached until mid-January, had it all written and checked by April/May and a copy in my hands before the Summer holidays. Wow. It seems to have gone down well so far and people have given some very positive comments too. For those going to BETT, I will be on the Rising Stars stand sharing some tips from the book at various times. I have also been involved in another (huge) project for Rising Stars but I’m not sure if I can share that just yet….

*I got nominated for “Primary Innovative Teacher of the Year“. Again in January, this came as a huge shock and honour. Despite not winning, it was a huge privilege to be nominated alongside Sir David Mitchell of Blogging.

*I helped organise Teachmeet at BETT. This time around it was fab to see Dawn Hallybone and Miles Berry hosting while Ian, Drew and I just kept things ticking along in the background. It was also much less scary than presenting!

*Teachmeets got bigger in Hampshire! We held a Teachmeet with 60 people at Titchfield Primary School and it went very well. People seemed happy and buzzing with ideas. Next stop is to have one every half-term in different parts of the county.

*I appeared on Brazilian TV. This was as part of their piece on programming in the classroom. They came in to talk about Scratch and the work we were doing and it was a fun few hours. The children loved being on TV, even if they didn’t know what was going on because most of it was in Spanish!

*I got my own class! After two years as a PPA teacher and two before that as a consultant, I finally got the chance to have my own class and I have loved every minute of it. I have a great bunch of children with varying abilities but they are amazing and they challenge me everyday. Particular highlights include a boy with Aspergers explaining QR codes to the rest of the class, the ideas porcupine (more on that another time) or the amazing websites they made about the Tudors. I was looking at other schools and I did apply for a few jobs elsewhere, but without having class-based experience (of my own class and not covering) it was going to be difficult to move.

*Hardware – I didn’t think that we would be getting any new tablets or devices this year, but we got ourselves a Nexus (which we didn’t like) and some Playbooks (which we love). The Nexus is great, personally I love it, but for school with the lack of a camera, it proved to be disappointing. The Playbooks however are cheaper, have a camera and play Flash so they can be used for Busy Things and Purple Mash which is great.

*Our school blog reached 600,000 views! This happened just yesterday and is a huge number. I wish there was a list of most viewed blogs in the country, but we must be in the Top 20. It’s a great achievement for the children 🙂 We were also runner-up in the whole-school blog awards too!

*Writing – This year as well as writing the book I have written a few articles for Teach Primary and Springboard Stories magazines.

*I presented at a few conferences – and did my first keynote. I presented at the Hampshire ICT conference discussing Google Apps, the Future of Computing, Oxford Brookes and ReThinkingICT, all looking at the Primary ICT Curriculum, and I was one of the keynoted at the Edech conference in Blackburn where I shared a whole range of free tools to help with ICT.

*The Google Teacher Academy returned!  This time not only was I attending, but I also helped to judge a few of the entry videos and then led the best group of people possible. I was very happy with my table and we had a lot of fun indeed.

* I created blogs for other people. As well as making blogs for my own projects, I helped a few teachers create their own too. I also steered @7puzzle into having his own website ( to host his maths challenges. This has been a great resource and one we use at school a lot.

*My Digital Leaders are amazing – Firstly we took 4 DLs to BETT, they were interviewed by the legend that is Russell Prue and then they presented for Scholastic and Google. Just before going home they met Prince Andrew as well. Then just a few weeks later 3 different leaders went to Learning Without Frontiers to take part in a group presentation where they were also amazing. Then came Hampshire KidsMeet where loads of them led and presented on a range of tools and ideas before the Teachmeet last month where 2 groups showcased making websites and using Popplet. Phew.

*I ran a bit. I tried to run 1000 miles this year which was 20 miles a week. I know that Mike McSharry in particular will see this as a list of excuses,but I got injured around May and I did the man-thing of trying to run on it too early and making it worse. Then I ended up giving it 8 weeks or so of no running and finally around September it got better. But with writing the book, having my own class again and the injury, I just couldn’t manage the 1000miles. I think I probably ended up with around half of that, maybe a bit more but I did raise £420, before Gift Aid, for charity. I also completed three half-marathons and the Great South Run.

*I turned 30. In February, Charlie organised a surprise party and loads of my friends were there and it was great. 30 isn’t that scary really is it?

*Oh yeah, I got married…probably the biggest thing to happen in this crazy, amazing year was that I married my wife, Charlie. It was wonderful having friends and family together at once for a fantastic day!


I think that’s about it…I must have missed something, but that was my 2012. I feel like I am never going to be able to top that and 2013 will be a damp squib, but if that ends up being half as good as 2012, I will be happy! Thank you to everyone that has read my book, my articles, my tweets, my blog or shared anything with me. Here’s to next year!

Top 5 Posts of 2012
Friday, December 28th, 2012 | Author:

Before writing a review of 2012, which will take a bit of thought, I thought I would share the top 5 posts on this blog throughout the whole of 2012. What this top 5 does show is that all of these posts are over a year old (the BETT one is 4 days from its first birthday). This appears to be because it takes a while to build an audience. The Bett Show post is 6/7th on Google’s search page for “Bett Show Tips” and search for Digital Leaders and my tag is 4th on the results page. Another thing that the most popular posts show is that the ‘how-to/guide’ type posts seem to get more hits than the reflection-type posts. Maybe teachers are looking for people to show them how to implement these tools in their classroom.

But hey, I’m just glad that anyone finds these posts useful!

Top 5 for 2012…

1. Bett for Beginners

This will be re-produced and updated in the coming days, but for now, the 2012 BETT guide is the most popular blog post on the site. This post gives a few tips and hints to getting the most out of the annual BETT show.


2. How to Get Started with Google Apps for Education

Another post getting an update and a revamp is the guide to setting up Google Apps for Education. This has been popular since it was written and this year alone has had just under 5,000 views. I have started re-writing it to take recent changes into account and that should be due in early 2013.


3. Come and have a #ukedchat

This post is getting quite old now, but it gives a very brief overview of ukedchat, the weekly twitter discussion forum. There have probably been many more posts about it which are better and more up-to-date, but this still had 3,000 hits this year!


4. Primary Digital Leaders

Written in December 2010, this post laid out the plans for Digital Leaders in my school. This all started after a discussion with Chris Mayoh and Dawn Hallybone at a Microsoft event in November 2010. We had just seen Daniel Stucke talk about his digital leaders and we planned a few ways forward for our own schools too.


5. Manga High – an overview

With 2,500 hits this year, this post gives an insight into Manga High which used to an expensive online resource but for the past 18months or so has been free. My children love using it and it really challenges them to think quickly.