A holiday recap
Sunday, September 05th, 2010 | Author:

On the last day of term I set out my ambitions for the school holiday. I thought it only right that I be brave and share my progress with you too. Below I have reposted my targets and then in italics I have made notes about how well (or badly) I think I did!

*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.  Website is complete and can be found here. I’m happy with it, people have seen it and say they like the look of it so that’s a good start! I am particularly happy with the links pages using weblist.me These will be very useful when sharing commonly used websites with the children.

*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. Blogs are setup. I used one domain (here) and then each class has a blog coming off of the main domain. WordPress MU took a lot of fiddling and playing with. I thought it could do things it couldn’t but I’m now happy with it. I spent a bit of time going through and adding spam filters, setting them all up to start identical and ensure settings are correct. They also all tweet automatically. For each blog I needed a different email address, so there are 11 class email accounts all re-directing into 1 account to save me time! Next step is to provide staff with guides to change template, post messages and approve comments.

*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. I started researching policies and began working on them. Then I found other more fun things to do! I have written an ICT action plan that I am happy with. It uses the ICT Mark framework as a starting point and incorporates some of the ideas I have for the school. This week I’ll try to marry it up with the school’s development plan.

*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. Due to the VLE not updating until the end of the holiday, this will be waiting a few weeks. I intend to start trialling it in KS1 around October half-term.

*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! I set up feedly on the recommendation of @chrisrat, I just need to continue the habit of reading them more often!

*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. Carry on…nothing to see here…my favourites are still a mess…

*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. I have a blog post and email ready to help promote this. I have also extended our Delicious network to include other people’s accounts and included RSS/update feeds of these in the shared area below.

*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. I didn’t get as much added in here as I would have liked. I will be trying to do this over the next few weeks to ensure that the area gets as much content as possible.

*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 primary 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?? I wrote the shorter article based around ukedchat and that should be appearing in the Naace newsletter sometime in September.

*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. I did most of it, still a couple of hours more to do.

*Top Secret Project. This is really exciting, but I can’t share anything until next week. Sorry!! This was the Primary ICT Group being run by Vital. @Colport and I are responsible for organising it and leading the discussions in this group. It’s gone well so far and we have quite a few members. As school starts again, we will be promoting it further, creating more springboards and starting weekly online chats too. More info here.

Other stuff

*I managed to make it to #tmbev and having a great time, despite the huge drive back afterwards!

*I have planned the first month’s ICT lessons for years 3/4 and 5/6 and the first lesson for 1/2 as well.

*I made to Google Teacher Academy and the Naace Thinktank in London

*Setup a Google domain, but have only been using the calendar so far. This feeds directly into our new website

*Had a VERY relaxing holiday where I didn’t think about work at all!

I hope you’ve all had a productive/relaxing summer and you’re looking forward to the new term. Maybe you’ve gone back already. I’m writing this on Sunday night, my lunch is made and my alarm clock is set for the morning. Tomorrow, I’ll be a teacher again after two years of being a consultant. Scary? Yes. Exciting? You bet!