Going to Newcastle
Friday, July 08th, 2011 | Author:

Last week (edit: two weeks ago, I forgot to publish this post sooner…oops) I was lucky enough to be invited to present two workshops at the Northern Grid Conference. When I was first asked I couldn’t believe it but when I saw the quality of presenters I was even more surprised that my name had been included. The presenter list included people like Dan Roberts (@chickensaltash), Russell Prue (@russellprue), Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) and Bill Lord (@joga5). The way that the conference was organised was fantastic and Simon Finch (@simfin) picked some people that he liked listening to from Twitter. It was a top cast of presenters and Simon did very well picking them.

The day started with a keynote from Russell and although I don’t agree with everything he says, that isn’t the point. I don’t think we are supposed to agree with him on everything. I think what Russell does (very well), is to get us thinking and asking ourselves questions. Why do we do things this way? What could we do to improve it? Could we be responsible for change?

It is great to see examples of people making videos on Youtube and then being signed up to launch their own cosmetic range or videos for other people. It is an exciting prospect and just shows how much the world is changing. Are we really preparing our children for this new world? Or are we still doing the same things that we’ve always done?

One of Russell’s messages is about unblocking. Pupils should be able to access Youtube and we should not only allow but encourage the safe use of mobile phones and Facebook. This is a bit difficult for us as we are a primary school. We have been thinking about whether to start using Facebook or not for parents but wouldn’t even think about it for children. Although it would be mentioned in e-safety sessions with pupils and parents. Mobiles are also a different prospect in primary. I think although some of year 5/6 might have phones, they tend to be hand-me-downs that wouldn’t be capable of some of the things that would be useful in class. Also we have to remember that it is a huge cultural change for staff to allow personal devices in class. It might come one day, but we’re definitely not there yet.

One thing that I loved from Russell’s presentation was the DK video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Weq_sHxghcg which although I’d seen before, it is always worth watching.

Straight after Russell, Jan Webb (@janwebb21) and I had our first presentation. Following Russell is a tough prospect but it was made even harder when people like Dan, Bill, Dughall McCormick (@dughall) and Bev Evans (@bevevans22) chose to attend our workshop too. It’s a great feeling when people that I consider experts choose to attend our workshop!

I shared my presentation here, although presentation is probably the wrong word. It was a selection of links that I have played with and found useful recently. These included KS1 tools, creativity and art packages as well as presentation tools too. I wanted to make sure that anyone attending got at least one tool from the session that they could go away and use later on. Some obviously got more than 1, but at least if they had something new, I had done my job. A few people commented that Jan and I complemented each other very well, my fast scatter-gun approach with her calm, laidback style.

The rest of the day was a mixture of seeing presentations from Dan Roberts, missing presentations from Martin Waller, Bill, Bev Evans, David Rogers and others and chatting to some great people including @nellmog, @helendaykin and the Brainpop team. All in all it was a fantastic day and I will say it again, I felt honoured to be invited and it was a true pleasure from start to finish. Roll on next year…

PS: I must also say a huge thank you to John Sayers @johnsayers who picked me up from the airport despite me never meeting him before. I’m sure my e-safety lessons would tell me now to meet people I don’t know from the internet but it worked out fine 🙂