Tag-Archive for ◊ twitter ◊

PGCE Guide (useful for anyone!)
Thursday, August 12th, 2010 | Author:

I love Twitter. You may have gathered that if you are a regular reader! One of the huge powers of using Twitter is to crowd source. This involves someone chucking out an idea, letting others add to it, watching it develop into a monster and then bringing it all together into something useful.

One way this has been done is by creating books. This has been done before with #movemeon, where teachers were asked to send ideas (in 140 characters or less) for how to move on their classroom practice. This is a fantastic read and it covers a wide-range of different suggestions. This can be found here.

The latest book is called pgcetips. This is the brainchild of a guy called @tomhenzley who has just finished his PGCE and is about to embark into the world of teaching. He asked for people to share their thoughts and tips to help other trainee students get started. This is a great idea and the book is available here: http://bit.ly/pgceguide. On that page is a link to download it or buy it as a paper copy.

Best thing about downloading these books?

They’re free.

Doesn’t cost anything.

CPD that is easy to read and free? Why aren’t you checking them out already?

An idea that grew and grew
Saturday, July 24th, 2010 | Author:

I blogged a couple of weeks back about my new vision for our VLE. This has been implemented across 400+ primary schools here in Hampshire and I have been working away on the shared area recently trying to populate it with content and useful resources. One thing that has worked really well is the use of Delicious.

Now as you may know, Delicious is a great way of storing websites for use anywhere, it certainly beats the old way of just storing them on your browser on your home PC. I started a county-wide account a few months back, and this has gone down very well with people I’ve shown it to. The next step is to share it with a wider audience. That’s where the RSS feed comes in.

I started by using the RSS reader in Studywiz to ‘collect’ all websites that were tagged with a certain word and put this RSS feed into that area in the shared group. For example, http://delicious.com/hampshirebookmarks/football has all of our websites that are tagged with ‘football’. This page has an RSS feed and our VLE can take this and display a list of the sites. Nice :-)

One problem is that I don’t have many websites on the county Delicious account yet, I need more. I know that Parkfield have LOADS of websites, so I start doing the same for those. Very nice indeed :-)

I was content to leave it at that until I saw a tweet from @primarypete_ where he mentioned networks.

He said: (I’m) changing way I use Delicious. Out with google reader of new links. In with big network of educator users to search: http://bit.ly/b0aTbe

This got me thinking. Could I build a network of teachers too? Obviously I’d borrow some that Pete had, so I did. Within a few minutes I had a few responses to my tweet asking for help and then via Delicious I found more. I now have a network of 10 within about 2 minutes. That’s 10 schools/people that are sharing websites with me. So now back to the VLE, I’m now collecting the RSS feeds of my network’s websites instead of individual schools. This should make it much easier for teachers to find useful websites!

Couple of downsides though. When you are searching through your network’s tags, it doesn’t show them as a drop-down menu. So I need to check food_chains, food-chains and foodchains to make sure I have them all.

Also, I’ve found that lots of people neglect the comment/description box. So I have a list of websites but you have to visit some to understand what they are.

So what started as a way of sharing websites, has now grown into a massive library of websites found by teachers and shared with others. Fantastic!

Our network can be found here: http://delicious.com/network/hampshirebookmarks

So, does your VLE have an RSS reader? Could you share your links with staff that way?

Category: Learning Platforms  | Tags: ,  | 2 Comments
Holidays are coming…
Friday, July 23rd, 2010 | Author:

So, the holidays are here, time for us teachers to sit around on our backsides for 6 weeks. Fantastic. Or maybe not, do you know any teachers that relax for the whole 6 weeks? Me neither!

This holiday will be a strange one and busy one. I’m moving back into school, into a role that is still being defined and it’s also the first summer holiday as a home owner so there’s bound to be house-y things to do as well. Add in seeing friends, going on holiday and the small matter of GTAUK next week and it will fill up quite quickly! But what else will I be up to?

*School Website. This is one of my first priorities. My new school has a website, it’s ok, but it seems quite complicated to add things to it and usually this is just in the form of newsletters. I will be moving to a much simpler system which means that we can get a few people, and some children, adding content to the site.I also want to make it sustainable so will be making videos of how to use the website so staff can keep it up.

*Setting up blogs for every class. I think this will be done using WordPress MU. I’m tempted to setup a new domain and then create class blogs from there so everyone follows the same naming convention. Going to a school with a name as popular as St Johns means a lot of domain names are already taken! I’m not sure yet how I will start using the blogs and how I will convince staff they are useful, but we shall see. I am working in 7 out of 11 classes so I think I’ll start it when I’m in their class. Once it is popular with children, I’ll bring staff onboard.

*Policies and stuff. As mentioned before I will be writing policies and AUPs and action plans this holiday too. I know I should probably wait until September, but I want to get the majority of it ready while I have time.

*VLE. We will be launching our VLE slowly next term, again with the classes I teach and then gradually throughout the school, hoping to have it in place by Spring. I want to make sure I get this right after spending two years telling teachers how to do it! Every school is different though so I need to think about my staff and make sure that I do things in a way that makes sense.

*Reading Blogs. I am awful at reading other people’s blogs. I read posts when they appear on Twitter if the title catches my eye, but generally, I’m awful at it. I have setup Google Reader, but never really used it properly. I have 500+ posts to read and it’s just silly. So one job this Summer is to find a way of keeping up with it and managaing the information that comes through. It might be Google Reader, in which case, I’ll make sure I;m better at reading them each week!

*Twitter Favourites/Delicious. I use Twitter a lot (you may have noticed). Often I use it on my phone and some links don’t work properly or I haven’t got time to read something so I favourite the tweet instead or send the link to my Delicious account. This means I have 100′s of tweets that I need to work through and I probably should tidy up my delicious account a bit too. I want to start September productively and continue it on too.

*Hampshire Delicious. We set up a county-wide Delicious a little while ago and I have added some links to it, but it stands at around 240. I want to make this much bigger and maybe look at linking with people who already have decent accounts set up to see if I can improve ours. I also need to begin publicising it to schools.

*VLE Shared area. I talked about this just 2/3 weeks ago, but now I have shown it to around 70 teachers. They love it. I have been overwhelmed with the response to it so far and I am very pleased. Currently we have around 30 areas/topics that people have been busy adding content to. I have setup RSS feeds from Delicious and I have also been linking activities from Brain Pop and Purple Mash. I need to finish this off and then start adding from other sites such as iboard and BBC Class Clips. Two other things I want to do are adding games and CPD. The games folder will be a collection of online games that students (and teachers) can play that encourage thinking activities. I will share some of these later, but Physics Games is a good place to start. I also want to put a staff development area as well which will contain RSS feeds/embedded pages of blogs from a wide-range of subjects relevant to the primary phase as well as videos from TED Talks and others that might be useful. Our VLE would be a great place for CPD and I want to push this side of it a bit more.

*Articles for Naace. I was discussing Naace with a few people, including the always excellent Miles Berry, and I was suggesting that there seemed to be a distinct lack of content and voice from the primry teachers. There are lots of secondary and consultants that are willing to share and be heard, but where are the primaries. Following some interesting discussions with Miles and others, I am now writing two articles for Naace. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learnt in there somewhere??

*Clearing out my old email. As I leave the consultancy role, I need to make sure I have saved everything useful, cleared it all out and moved properly to my new email instead.

*Top Secret Project. This is really exciting, but I can’t share anything until next week. Sorry!!

It sounds like a lot, but some of those jobs will take half a day, so it isn’t that bad really. I think sharing my to-do list will be useful because I can reflect on this when I return in September and see how much of this I achieved and how many other things got added to the list throughout the holidays!

Enjoy your break everyone, you’ve worked hard and you deserve it.

Back to Uni
Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 | Author:

This morning I went to Winchester University. It’s the 4th time I’ve been there in the past two years and I love it. It makes me feel nervous and I think that can only be a good thing!

The main reason for visiting is to show the county VLE, Studywiz. This is in 420 of our primary schools and both groups today are at the stage of looking for jobs in schools, so it makes sense to show them the VLE that they will be finding when they get into the wider world of teaching. Now obviously, 2 hours isn’t enough to cover the whole VLE, but we give a 45minute tour, discuss what it can and can’t do and the ways in which it is being used in Hampshire. Reaction was very positive, mainly as I showed the simple side of it. Sharing links with children, embedding Google maps and using discussions. Easy activities that involve little more than copying and pasting, but have huge potential.The pleasing thing for me was that some of the students had been on placement in schools and had heard of the great things the VLE can do. That meant our hard work was paying off!!

But I also thought I’d subtley drop in some other tech too…

Firstly, I usually present using PowerPoint. It’s safe, it’s easy and it does the job. But I thought I’d give Prezi a go and they loved it. They were as interested in the content as they were the way in which it was presented. I also used a less-well known tool called Jog the Web. I blogged about this here and basically, it lets you put a list of useful sites in one place for people to work through.

I have a tendency when I’m presenting to ramble and to go off on different tangents. This makes jogging a great way of keeping me sort-of on track, but also of sharing sites I didn’t get chance to show as they could look them up later.

With the first group, they were younger, keen to store files and links on their wiki and we whizzed through a number of tools such as bubbl.us, blogging and Prezi. I also showed BBC Class Clips and other sites such as @colport’s excellent ebooks.

The second group were of part-time mature students and we had less time so we had more of a VLE discussion and talked about the use of tech in the classroom.

Overall, the sessions went well. It’s refreshing to see a University that puts technology into the hands of their trainee teachers and is keen to listen to teachers too. Each of them has a wiki that they use to keep their files and links. I haven’t yet got the course leader on to Twitter, but did manage to convince a few students to give it a look…

The next stage is for when I get back to the classroom. Hopefully I will be able to continue these presentations to the students but to also make it a two-way experience with some of the students visiting my school. That makes it very exciting because not only can they hear me waffle on about tech, but they can see it in action!

All in all, a very interesting morning, but I thought I’d share some of the things that I showed to them and ask you a few questons.

Before visiting Winchester I asked people to say hello, those tweets are here (for a few days at least)

To look at the Jog i took with the students, have a look here

Particular thanks to @markw29, @tomhenzley and @dajbelshaw. I shared your sites and your blogs and they went down very well indeedy.

Does your local University have this kind of input from teachers?

Do you think students/NQTs know enough about web 2.0?

What should Universities do with regards to tech and web 2.0?

Who do I hate the least?
Sunday, May 02nd, 2010 | Author:

I’ve got a confession to make, not one that I’m ashamed of at all, but a confession all the same. I’ve never voted before. I know that some people will be up in arms about me abusing my right or whatever, but the truth is, my parents (as far as I’m aware) have never voted either. I’ve always just been led to believe that there’s no point voting as they’re all the same and nothing really changes. I think everyone is agreed that some things need to change. Petrol is too expensive, many people would rather claim benefits than actually go and work and in schools, children are being tested to destruction.

So what’s different this time around?

Although I might be a first-time voter, I have been able to vote for the past ten years. The difference this time has been my network on Twitter. I have spent time reading websites that my network have brought to my attention and choosing to watch political programmes such as Question Time or Newsnight. I must be mad. My girlfriend certainly thinks so.

The majority of the discussions within my network on Twitter have been about the crazy ideas from Mr Gove, Shadow Children’s Secretary. One second he says that teachers should be allowed freedom to teach and the next he says that he wants children sitting in rows and reciting poems. (Here) I’ve read that article a few times and sometimes it makes me laugh and others it makes me want to cry. I don’t know the kings and queens of England and I would like to think that I’ve turned out alright. And I can Google them if necessary. How can you give teachers freedom but tell them how to arrange their classroom? Ridiculous. As for parents starting their own school…well, that again is ludicrous.

I’m not saying that education is perfect at the moment, as I write there are meetings with heads and governors about boycotting the SATs, but surely any teacher in their right mind can see that voting Tory would be catastrophic.

So does this mean voting for Lib Dem? I mean Nick is pretty good on the telly isn’t he? Obviously this isn’t a good reason to vote but it’s the reason many will choose him. I like the idea of smaller classes but without finding money for more teachers or more classrooms, it probably isn’t feasible.

So it all leaves lots of tough decisions, but I know the main thing is that because of people on my Twitter network, I am now taking an interest in politics. Now I just have to decide if that is a good thing or not!

Below are some multiple choice surveys to give you an idea if you’re unsure of how to vote…

Survey 1

Survey 2

Survey 3

Category: General Thoughts  | Tags: ,  | One Comment
How I bullied (sorry, supported) a HT using Wordle
Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 | Author:

I’ve said it before, but Twitter truly is a wonderful place. It started a few days ago with Dianne Spencer, a head teacher from Bolton, commenting that she had written her SEF form and was pleased with her work. I suggested ‘chucking it into Wordle’.

Wordle would then enlarge the words used more often, giving a visual display of the SEF form. What words would you expect to see?How about learning? children? impact? Her Wordle is here

It looks good, but Dianne (@DianneSpencer) had problems getting to that final stage. There were lots of tweets to help get her there. So, I thought I’d share the steps to using Wordle for those that might not have used it before. It’s easy to forget about the simple steps when explaining these things to people!

First step is to copy the text. Now, in Dianne’s case she was using Word, so this just involved selecting all of the text (CTRL+A) and then copying it (CTRL+C). This could then be pasted (CTRL+V) into Wordle.net

Pressing ‘Go’ creates the Wordle. Then the fun begins. You can change the layout, font etc and play about with it. The problems then come when you want to save it. How do you take that Wordle and put it in your VLE or blog? Print Screen.

On your keyboard, usually in the top-right, you will see a Prt Scr button. Press it. If you’re on a laptop, try pressing Fn and Prt Scr. This takes a screenshot.

I then use Paint or a similar to edit the image. Open Paint, paste in the image and then crop it to just show the Wordle. Save this as a JPG image and then it can be uploaded into other places.

Wordle is great fun and there are many ways of using it. For ways of using it in the classroom, check out @markw29‘s excellent site Ideas to Inspire that brings together the Interesting Ways documents from @tombarrett.

What makes Twitter great is that once Dianne had messed around with Wordle, along came @colport to suggest Tagxedo instead. This is a bit whizzier than Wordle and has more saving options. Dianne’s Tagxedo is here

There are many other versions of Wordle floating around, and I’ve collated some of these on the Hampshire Delicious page here

I know many of you use Wordle or word clouds a lot, but for those that don’t, give it a try. I know my post will be patronising for some, but it isn’t meant to be. It’s for those that might have seen a Wordle, but never made one, or better yet, never seen it and are intrigued!

CPD provided by twits
Tuesday, March 16th, 2010 | Author:

What’s the point of Twitter? You hear about it on the news and in magazines and it seems to be something celebrities use to share information and useless facts with the world. But is there more to it?

The way that I explain it to people is that it all depends on who you follow. Think of it like the printed word. If you buy Heat or More magazines, you’ll learn about celebrity nonsense, if you read the sport section of the paper you’ll learn about Beckham’s foot injury or the further demise of Portsmouth. It’s the same with Twitter, follow celebrities and you’ll hear what they have to say, but follow teachers and a whole new world opens up.

I’ll admit that when I started, I followed people like Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) but I soon learnt to explore and find teachers instead. The best way to find people to follow is to look at the followers of someone you know. You can see who I follow and then check out these people and see if they are of interest to you as well. You will find people within Hampshire such as Phil Bagge (@baggiepr), Bruce Waelend (@htbruce) and Dave Whittle (@13scidave) and many more in the outside world too, teachers, deputies, head teachers and other various ICT folk.

To be honest, the first month or so is a bit weird. You see what looks like a few good ideas and lots of short websites and it can be overwhelming. An example is below, due to the 140 character limit, websites need to be short, but it looks confusing. Simon has referenced two websites. The first is a post on the school site saying how great the school leavers’ video was (the second link). From this one tweet, you can get an idea about letting children comment on your school website and also using a service such as vimeo to store videos. One simple tweet can encourage a number of ideas

Teachers often say to me “What if no-one listens?” or “I haven’t got anything interesting to say”. I always try to explain to teachers that someone somewhere will listen to you. As Lisa Stevens (@lisibo) said, “What seems like something simple and mundane for you could be a lightbulb moment for someone else”.

So how do you use it? There are three main ways of accessing Twitter. From the web, from your PC and from your phone. From the web, you can go to the Twitter website (www.twitter.com) and type in your messages and tweets. The downside is the constant need for refreshing the page.

From your PC, you can install software such as TweetDeck which will collate your tweets and organise them into columns and groups for you making it much easier to use.

On your phone, you can use a number of different apps such as Tweetdeck on Android or Twitterific or Echofon on Apple iphone. This helps to keep up to date with your tweets while on the move. For me, this is when I really started using Twitter, being able to check it at break or when I had 5 minutes spare was really useful and meant I was able to access CPD anytime.

Using Twitter is simple, to tweet, simply type a message in less that 140 characters and press send. Everyone’s username begins with @ so mine is @ianaddison. So if you wanted to say hello, simply type: Hello @ianaddison, I’m on Twitter. This will then be highlighted for me to see.

If someone says something that you want to pass on, re-tweet it. This involves copying their message, but putting RT at the start. This way people know it started somewhere else, like below.

This tweet came from Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) originally, but I wanted to pass it on to others.

That’s about it really, it can be addictive, and it can be a bit overwhelming at times, but it really is the best CPD resource I’ve ever used.

Why don’t you be brave and try it for yourself? Below, I have put a few people that you might want to follow.

@ianaddison – Ian Addison < That’ll be me

@simonhaughton – Primary school ICT manager

@deputymitchell – Deputy Headteacher

@baggiepr – Phil Bagge

@primarypete_ – A teacher in Preston

@SchoolDuggery – UK Education Matters

@Joga5 – A literacy advisor from Lincoln

@dughall – ICT Advisor

@charliedeane – Year 3 teacher in Petersfield (and my wife!)

If I haven’t mentioned you, it’s not because I don’t value your tweets, it’s just that I could only put a couple of people to get newbies started!!

Category: General Thoughts  | Tags: , ,  | 5 Comments
Stop, Collaborate and Listen…
Sunday, February 28th, 2010 | Author:
Collaboration is a funny thing. As you may know, I train teachers at the moment and I would say currently, 90% of my days are used training on using the VLE. We talk about sharing and collaborating all of the time. Teachers think it sounds like a great idea, but who’s going to start it?
We are a large authority, I believe 2nd behind Kent, but collaboration across our schools isn’t great at the moment. Is it because teachers don’t want to? Is it because they don’t know how? Not sure. I tend to work with ICT teachers and people that have already been ‘won over’ by technology, so maybe my audience is a little biased, but even so, they still worry about sharing being time consuming.
Within our VLE, we do have a shared area that can house content created by teachers, but it is still very limited. If/when this takes off, it will be great, but is there a quick win I can achieve? I believe so.
Through my job, and more importantly, through Twitter, I am finding tonnes of useful websites and resources that need to be shared. Have I used all of them? Of course not, but I now know about them. Most are stored on my Delicious account for sorting later, but at least they are there. So if I find storing websites useful, maybe others will too? Imagine the power if all 440 of our primary schools shared websites amongst each other? To be honest, if 10 of them shared, it will be a good start!
So that’s where Hampshire Delicious comes in. I’ve started the account and it’s currently going through the management team to check they are on board, but if they’re not? I’ll push it anyway. It’ll be harder, but it will work for those that want it to.
The key I believe is not just in standardised tagging (KS2? Key Stage 2? KS 2?) but with the notes element. This will be extremely useful for teachers to see what the site is about rather than them having to wade through it to explore.
At the time of writing, it has 12 websites on it. 2 of those being guidance notes or a video of how to save bookmarks. By the end of the week I want 50. By then I should be ready to start launching it. Will it work? Will it change the way teachers find websites and resources? Will they see it as another thing to do? Who knows. But if I don’t try it, we’ll never know.
So…what do you think my problems will be? What will be the main benefits? Would it be something you would want to use/add to? I’ll hopefully be writing the communication to schools about it before Easter.
Just because it is a Hampshire Delicious account doesn’t mean it can’t be shared wider. The username and password is there for all to see on the guidance, so feel free to add a site or two (maybe your blog?) to it. I trust my network to use it wisely.
Why not check it out so far… www.delicious.com/hampshirebookmarks
If you want to see a huge Delicious resource, check out @simonhaughton’s account: www.delicious.com/parkfield I want to emulate this, but with notes about each site to help teachers a bit further.
ps. I sort of apologise for the Vanilla Ice-inspired title to this post, but hey…it made me smile.