A Wonderful Afternoon!

This afternoon I met up with KimP and her HeadTeacher, Gail. We had a lovely afternoon together …. and there are plans to meet up again during their short visit to Scotland.

More posts pending 🙂


Meanwhile here’s a flavour of our lunch together today. The champagne was planned ‘virtually’ a while ago when Kim helped me with my M.Ed by agreeing to be my ‘critical friend’. I can’t thank her enough for her effort in keeping me focussed when I really struggled at the ‘last lap’ as I out of steam 🙂


 We visited the Falkirk Wheel after lunch.




CPD and Twitter

This week I delivered training on Internet Safety and wasn’t sure how to make it interesting! While playing around on Twitter, however, I noticed an entry by Neil Winton linking to this great resource.

Thanks Neil 🙂

I also caught site of Tom Barratt’s link to a slideshare presentation that gave (what I think anyway) a powerful message:


Digital Reputation

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: groom dean)


The quote by Will Richardson on slide 16 led me to talk about the importance of giving primary school age children their own online space in the form of a blog or wiki so that they can learn how to ‘act and present themselves’ in an safe manner when they ‘branch out’ and create their own personal space on bebo, Facebook etc. Early years teachers can begin by allowing them to post on a class blog.

….But what about direct benefits to learning and teaching? Writing this post led me to reflect on a section of the findings of my Chartered Teacher dissertation. I wrote:

” Taking part in this case study has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own teaching. Some of the findings from the research were unexpected. I set out to investigate if the strategies I had put in place would lead to the creation of an online learning community. I was not prepared for the effect this would have on the offline environment of the classroom and for the changes to the content and delivery of the curriculum. Giving the children the freedom to use their online spaces as they wished allowed a deeper insight to their persona. An online community did develop, but that was on the periphery. The sharing of thoughts, opinions, ideas and personal likes and dislikes began as online blog posts. These were then developed in the offline classroom setting, giving rise to opportunities to increase motivation by modifying the programme of study to one that was more ‘child led’.”



GLOW and Twitter 




This week, I met up with Katie Barrowman, Jaye Richards and Sinclair McKenzie on GLOW messenger because of incidental comments left on Twitter. This impromptu meeting also led to me taking part in my first GLOW video conference session, and I have to admit that it was good fun and Katie was able to talk me through some of the applications available (saved me reading through the instructions!) We even tried out GLOW chat – and it worked well, too. On GLOW so far I’ve embedded a voki, uploaded a document and an mp3 file … I’ve even set up my own GLOW group! I’m beginning to see the potential 🙂
I wonder what tips I’ll pick up from Twitter this week 🙂      






A Thank You Post!

I’ve been given the Key to GLOW


Thanks to Katie for the helpful e-mail attachment …… and to Con for the homework 🙂


I’ll do my best!


Thanks also to Jaye and Ollie who promised that I could pay a visit to their schools to see the good work they’re doing – can’t back down now that I’ve made the invitation public 🙂



Thank you also to John and to Robert for allowing me to use their good practice in my ‘Active Math’ CPD presentation today …. the teachers who attended were suitably impresssed 🙂

John provided ideas for using ComicLife to help P6 stage pupils understand ‘shape properties’ and was very impressed by the motivational aspect of giving them a camera and a new resource.

 Robert used Go!Animate and wrote on his blog:


The pupils are enjoying learning how to make animations. Enjoyment is sometimes a bit thin on the ground in maths for some of these students, despite my efforts to jolly things up, so I’m delighted to see them turning up early to the computer lessons, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

The pupils are experiencing success. Some students who find maths very challenging seem to see maths as being either babyish (their definition of the maths they can do) or impossible.  This project has enabled them to experience success at learning how to create animations, a task they consider to be cool enough to be worth mastering.
Pupils are learning from each other as they explore the functionality of goanimate. It has been delightful to see the pupils helping each other out as they learn.  I’m hearing things like “Paul [fake name] – how do you add that explosion?” or  “that’s cool, but the frame is a bit quick – here’s how you can slow it down a bit.”  These positive interactions have  definitely improved the atmosphere back in the maths classroom.
Pupils are actively considering real life applications of numeracy. I presented the students with a simple challenge once they had developed some basic skills with goanimate:  create an animation that shows how you use maths in real life.  I made it clear that animations without mathematical content would not do.  This led to some interesting discussions, and some great animations.
 I amended their resources so that they could also be available offline. I’ve uploaded my offline versions to photobucket – apologies if I’ve done them an injustice (sorry about the change of music, Robert, haven’t yet mastered how to capture both video and audio using smartnotebook recorder so had to substitute!).







A Week of CPD







Last week was the busiest ever for CPD. Some sessions went without a hitch, others were more troublesome! In fact, there were so many disasters at the start of the week that, by the time Thursday’s Go!Animate course came around, I was prepared for every eventuality!

The two pictures above give a flavour of the more successful Go!Animate session.

 The decision to bring along some of the Primary 5 pupils who had been trialling the success of using Go!Animate to improve literacy skills was made after reflecting on the success I experienced when I gave my first CPD course as a class teacher.

I had been asked to do this to introduce other class teachers to the idea of setting up a class blog. I posted my thoughts about the decision to bring along some of my own pupils to give their perspective on things and I’ve revisited those posts, one of which can be found here.

At the time, Maryam reflected in her own blog how weird it felt for her to experience a reversion of roles 🙂


 “Yesterday Me,Anna,Sophie,Darcie,Rebecca and Ainsley had went to this place in Camelon to teach teachers who to use blogs.It was really fun! Though it was a little weird teaching teachers.But anyway it was still fun.

First we had went to the little café place.We had a scone,some biscuits and tea.The scones rocked!We got to put jam on them or butter.The tea was REALLY hot and my tongue went firey red.Aghhh!

Then we had went back upstairs and we waited for all the teachers to come.Then when they had all came we started our presantations.Anna and Sophie went first.Then me and Darcie but we had sort of made a muck up of it!Then after we had went around helping the teachers.


I’ve never helped a teacher and it was a bit emmbarrasing going up to them and saying, ”Do you need any help?”I had helped a few people but the computers there are a bit slow and they keep canceling things so it was a bit hard.Then after the teachers had went back and we got everything back in Mrs Vass’s Car.Mrs Brown had took some people and dropped them off at there homes.Mrs Vass took me,Anna,Rebecca and Darcie.It was really funny!

I can’t wait till next week if we are going back!”

One of the CPD sessions this week was also designed to introduce teachers to Blogging ….. but It did not go well! The internet was VERY slow during the session and everyone soon became discouraged. As well as that, I was torn in all directions, trying to help the 15 or so participants. How I regretted not having brought along some extra Primary School age experts to offer some professional advice 🙂

Other CPD courses during the week had various little glitches, and by the time it came to delivering the Go!Animate one, I had put plans in place to cover all unforseen events! If the internet was to go down, then I had made arrangements for offline viewing of the benefits of using the freely available resource. My invited guests ‘experts’ provided first hand evidence of how it impacted positively on their ability to use direct speech in their writing  (I can’t find the link they used now – typical!). The group who came along produced this animation.

I’m also indebted to Cassie for helping me to make sure that the CPD session went smoothly. She offered to introduce her Primary 5 class to Go!Animate and evaluate its effect.

 If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew that it actually did have a positive impact on children’s motivation to learn, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable ‘selling’ the idea to colleagues 🙂

Here’s a flavour of the successful CPD session!


Reflection on CPD Days

Today and yesterday were our in-service days. For class teachers that usually means two days of some sort of CPD. In my present post, however, it consisted of both attending CPD courses delivered by others – and delivering CPD courses to others.

A CPD course delivered by others – Monday:

The first course I attended was some CPD about CPD  🙂

It was delivered by Con Morris and Katie Barrowman two people I’ve only known virtually until yesterday. It was a very thought-provoking course, presented in an active and fun way. The chocolate orange was not won by anyone and a member of the Falkirk audience reminded Con that he’d promised to share it with everyone if no-one managed to get 2 correct answers to his question. (I was second last in the semi-circle, and was very pleased that there was a couple of slices left by the time Katie had made her way around the grateful recipients! )

We had all been asked to write down two forms of CPD that we knew of …. the ‘usual’ face to face type of twighlight session was not allowed to be one of them. Con spun the ‘random generator thing’ (I’ve seen Ewan use it in Teachmeet sessions – didn’t know it was from the classtools site), and if you had written that down then that was counted as you being half way to winning the chocolate orange all to yourself.

Although lots of people had managed to get one CPD option correct, no-one managed to get two. The whole exercise just brought it home to people the wide variety of activities that come under the umbrella of CPD.

……. Now for my embarrassing confession – I didn’t write down any of the generated answers!! In my defence, however, I took the ‘face-to-face’ type of CPD ban literally and tried to think of non ‘face-to-face’ activities only. What did I write down? ‘Reading educational blogs’ and ‘more recently, twittering’.

When the ‘generator thing’ came up with ‘other’, and Con asked if anyone had written something under that category, I almost admitted to my choice but was beaten to the post by someone at the other side of the room who admitted to writing down ‘going to the theatre’. Con’s reply was great (can’t remember his words exactly – but in summary it was something like ‘it’s ok to take time out to refresh’).

It was also a great surprise to everyone that Katie (I think she might have been the one who did this?) had taken the time to set us all up with a temporary Glow account and we all got to have a contemplative look at it – although I’m sure that there are more advantages available when you’re a fully paid up member 🙂

A CPD course delivered to others – Tuesday

Today it was my turn to deliver a course.

In the morning, I helped some staff in a school become familiar with their new Schools-Online website.
The afternoon session, however, was the highlight of my day! I was working with some teachers whose job it is to teach French to Primary 6 and 7 stage children. I introduced them to the effect that an audience can have on a class. We visited some schools that are using blogs to motivate children, and we looked at the use of freely available online tools to enrich learning and teaching.

The feedback forms they filled in made it very apparent that they were staggered by the number (and quality) of these tools. It was obvious that one of the main high spots of their CPD course was the delicious link given to me by Shirley via a recent comment on this blog – thank you for sharing, Shirley! You’ve made some teachers in Falkirk very, very happy 🙂

More on GoAnimate

I love the educational potential that GoAnimate offers. It’s not possible (at this time), however, to include animations in edublogs.

Access at work is also very erratic at the moment (hopefully bandwidth issues will be resolved in the future) and this has been quite disturbing as I’ve signed up to present a course on it – next Thursday. No matter where I host it online, the same problems will present themselves as it’s a ‘hit and miss’ situation.

But here’s where Smart Notebook comes in handy. I used the ‘recorder’ tool to capture the animation I made for Neil’s birthday surprise    (I know it’ll look a bit strange to ‘outsiders’ but all the scene backgrounds and the animations had my sons cracking up with laughter – and I had a genuine reason for sitting at the computer for ages getting used to the programme!)

The animation is now safely stored on my desktop and can be viewed offline (thanks to my colleague, Malcolm, for the tip).

Once I had recorded it, it was easy (and very quick) to upload it to a host site. I used this opportunity to compare 2 favourite host sites – photobucket and schooltube. The first video below is hosted on photobucket – the second one on schooltube.

As anyone using an edublogs blog knows, I’ll not be able to preview these videos until I’ve pressed the publish button – here goes 🙂Or ……

A Lightbulb Moment

This is just a short post to say what I’ve been up to recently.

I’ve decided that if this is really going to be a CPD blog, then I need to post more frequently in order to reflect on what I’ve been doing. I really want to keep this blog going – but I’m starting to struggle.

This morning, however, I had one of those ‘lightbulb’ moments when checking my weekly calendar.

I realised that since starting my secondment, I tend to put my energy in to planning for the week ahead rather than reflecting on the week that’s just passed.

… So from now on, I’m going to use this blog to try to truly reflect – (and try to learn from my experiences). I’ll include the highlights from each week (don’t think for one minute that I’m not working like a dog for the rest of the week – ‘cause I am!)

Last Week’s Highlights:

Monday – I had planned to visit a school to help staff to become familiar with the new Think Quest website. I’ve used in the past with pupils but after stumbling upon the new web 2.0 tools, this resource lost most of its appeal for me …. and for the pupils in my class. As it’s part of my remit, however, I felt obliged to ‘sell it’ as best I could. Prior to my visit, it transpired that there was a problem with the school’s new account with Think Quest, so I thought it best to have something else up my sleeve . I amended the presentation to include the benefits of introducing children to Blogs, wikis and all the new cooltoolsforschools stuff. The staff were blown away by what I had to share, and by the end of the session, everyone of them had set up a new class blog – I’ll keep you posted about the eventual outcome of this (will they keep them going?)

Thursday – On Thursday I went back to visit Carronshore Primary School. Class teacher, Cassie, had agreed to work with the children on the GoAnimate program after I told her that I was giving an in-service delivery on its benefits. I love this website and the potential it holds for improving literacy skills. I’d played about with it prior to visiting Carronshore and I completed this effort on Saturday …. andthis one earlier this evening ?. The children in Cassie’s class know (like me) that it makes work feel like fun! I helped them make the first scene. They chose friendship groups to work in (2, 3 – 4 children at most in each group). Each group was supplied with an A3 piece of paper divided into 6 sections. After some think/discussion time, they illustrated each scene. I then showed them how to bring their scene one to life using the GoAnimate program. They loved it – I can’t wait to see if they manage to complete scenes 2 to 6 the same way – I’ll let you know! The plan is that they then create a piece of writing based on their group effort – time will tell 🙂

More Lightbulb moments to follow 🙂

This entry was posted on November 17, 2008, in Welcome.

A Very Grand Affair !!



Well I did it! I finally graduated with a Master’s Degree 🙂





Evelyn W was there too. We’ve both worked very hard over the last five years and we finally we got there!

It was ‘touch and go’ a few times for both of us, but we supported each other through the times of self doubt.


After the ceremony I met up with my sisters …… they obviously know me well!

The bottle of Champagne and the ‘sparkly’ mouse and mousemat present just about sums me up 🙂

Learning Along The Way!

This entry is inspired by Kim who commented on my last post :

‘But just think how much you will be learning along the way )……….

(thanks also to Pam for her comment!)

One of the items on my long list was to:

• Introduce the use of vodcasts (audacity and windows movie-maker) to assist enterprising education

  I should have felt at ease with this item on my ‘to do’ list because it’s something I’ve done many times with classes.

Presenting to contemporaries, however, is most definitely not within my comfort zone so I was a bit on edge this week when I stepped up to do my bit – just one slot in the 4 hour CPD session on how the use of ICT can benefit enterprising education.

I’d brought with me an Mp3 file made by some children last year when we visited the local Bookbinders (by chance I still had it somewhere on my laptop at home). We listened to this and then I then showed the difference that was made when we added pictures to the voices.

I demonstrated how to export a recording as an Mp3 file using Audacity, and then import it to Window’s movie maker along with some pictures. The ‘audience’ then created their own mini vodcast.

Despite my lack of presentation skills, I was delighted that the feedback was extremely positive. Everyone (almost instantaneously) saw the potential for using this as a tool to improve story writing.

It was definitely the highlight of my week!!

Earlier in the day, I prepared a quick reminder guide for them (I know what they produced isn’t really a vodcast …. but the potential’s there?)

… And next week’s highlights?:
• Wednesday’s Leonard Cohen concert
• Friday’s graduation ceremony :-)!!

Notes On The Journey

These are notes to myself about my ‘booked’ CPD courses (until March 2009) requiring preparation time …. time management is now at the top of my CPD agenda : )

• Supporting Nursery Staff in using the new Schools- Online websites
• Introducing the use of vodcasts (audacity and windows movie-maker) to assist enterprising education
• Supporting SMT in schools to introduce innovative ICT activities to engage pupils and parents (e.g. using flickr tools to share themed photographs of school life)
• Supporting teaching staff to become familiar with the new ‘Think Quest’ facilities – including how to set up and maintain pupils’ sites
• Supporting ancillary staff to use facilities in the new Schools-Online websites such as uploading documents (newsletters, etc.) and to access and use the calendar facility
• Familiarising myself with the benefits of the Go-Animate programme, supporting Cassie in its use, preparing suitable CPD course material to enable staff to use the program creatively to improve literacy at all levels
• Supporting schools in CPD events to improve maths teaching (specifically collaborative problem solving activities ) by making it more active and cross curricular (real life maths). Adapting my own ideas used in class previously and developing a CPD activity for Primary school teachers at all stages.
• Developing up-to date CPD materials to help teaching staff make children aware of steps to take to protect themselves when using on-line environments
• Spending time familiarising myself with Front Page in order to prepare for scheduled CPD activity for staff whose schools are using this type of website
• Preparing CPD material to introduce staff to the concept of ‘Online Storytelling’ by using activities such as windows movie maker and ‘photobucket to improve literacy
• Familiarising myself with already prepared CPD material that I’m asked to deliver as a ‘stand in’ for other team members who are unavailable
• Preparing material to deliver a requested ‘sharing of good practice’ CPD event
• Familiarising myself with Smartboard use to improve the teaching of Modern Languages (looking at existing materials and up-date them for 2008/2009 delivery)
• Preparing resources for planned Cpd courses to introduce teachers to freely available online tools (animoto, slideshare, myplick, voki,etc) and to demonstrate how they can be used creatively to improve learning in literacy and in a variety of other curricular areas.

Planned self-study activities consist of:

• Liaising with teaching staff who are already using methods I’m not familiar with – podcasting hosts, the use of hand held games in education, voting tools
• Continuing to work on improving delivery and presentation skills of previously delivered courses (e.g. blogging courses, podcasting courses)
• Attending (when possible) Smartboard courses offered by other team members
• Attending In-service Day course on CPD Find by LTS (to help with vision for VTC!)
• Attending In-service Day course on Comic Life
• Attending the BETT conference and selected presentations – as well as the associated TeachMeet event

I also plan to build in time to enable the upkeep and continued (what I think are) important changes to the Staff Area of the VTC!

This has been put on hold during October / November so that in-school visits to all primary school co-ordinators (50 schools, I think?) can take place.

It has been known to visit 3 schools in one day – a time-consuming, but valuable exercise … my opinion 🙂

Phew !!!