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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

One's World War - Ready for launch!

I have been waiting eagerly for the launch of this fascinating project from the Alan Peat team!

One's World War is a project that will last a number of years and will chronicle the diary of a soldier throughout World War 1.

Alan Peat acquired the diary a few years ago and alongside Simon Matthews has been putting this project together for over a year.

The diary belongs to a gentleman called George Beale–Browne, a Gloucestershire man who, at the start of the war, was a Lieutenant in the 61st Company of the Advance Service Corps (1st Army). By the end of the war he was a Major commanding a G.H.Q. Supply column. What is unique about the diary is that it reads as a continuous narrative looking at all the different aspects of war from someone who lived through it.

To bring the diary alive, the team have put together the website, each month the website will feature a free podcast which runs alongside a digital magazine. The digital magazine is available through different subscriptions options, such as a monthly £6 subscription, 6 monthly at £30 or yearly subscription of £50.

I was able to have a sneak peak of the first issue and it is stunning. The design aspect from Simon is incredible, well on par with the fantastic design he did on Mat Sullivan's Developing writing through Comics book.

The digital magazine is a great resource for teachers. Packed with information, which links to the corresponding month and podcast from the diary. Lesson plans aimed at Primary level written by some inspirational teachers. Both Alan Peat and Mat Sullivan provide lessons for the first issue. Then there are links to books, websites, apps will be very useful in the classroom. This description doesn't do justice to the wealth of information provided in the magazine!

What I love about this project is that it is a great mix of something historical and important told through exciting, engaging and modern storytelling tools.

I feel both schools and teachers will find tonnes of useful ideas, resources and inspiration. Subscription is available from July 10th with the first issue being published on August 4th, which will be exactly 100 years to the date of the first diary entry.

So make sure you subscribe before the end of the school year to avoid missing the first issue!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

It is nearly summer!

It is nearly the end of the year and where we you would expect everything to be winding down, it seems to be the most busiest time of the year for many teachers! Sports days, Year 6 productions and reports are just some of the things that creep up on us this time of year! This doesn't mean that teachers aren't looking forward to the imminent break! This is perfectly reflected in this little treat for our Year 6 from the staff at Davyhulme Primary School.

A fantastic way to show that we don't take ourselves too seriously, have hidden talents and are willing to go to "embarrassing" lengths to entertain and put smiles on our children's faces!!

Please feel free to share, like and tweet! Even grab staff from your school, have a go at your own and share the #summerjoy!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their incredible support this year. Looking back to this time last year when I decided to drop to part time and be a part time trainer/consultant, I could have never imagined this year would have been so successful! That has only happened due to the wonderful support of everyone who has viewed the blog, followed me on twitter and booked me into their school. I am looking forward to a lovely break in the summer with some exciting projects lined up for next year!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Poetry in the New Curriculum

Never before has Poetry had such a big focus than in the New Primary Curriculum. Learning poetry by heart, reciting and performing poems is prevalent throughout the new Literacy curriculum:

Year 2 POS -
"..continuing to build up a repertoire of poems learnt by heart, appreciating these and reciting some, with appropriate intonation to make the meaning clear."
Year 4 POS - 
"...preparing poems and play scripts to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone, volume and action
recognising some different forms of poetry."
 Year 6 POS - 
"...learning a wider range of poetry by heart."

Something that we have been doing for the past 3 years at Davyhulme Primary School is a whole school Choral Poetry competition. The idea is that the children learn and perform a poem with winners for EYFS, Year 2, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2.

The competition runs in an X Factor style, where the judges (Head, Deputy and yours truly,) give feedback after each performance. Paying particular attention to the arrangement, use of props, use of voice for effect, movement, volume and creativity.

The children love this competition and the performances are outstanding.  Now we will be able to link this to most of the poetry focused objectives. Here is this year's competition:

As a school that loves to promote and share children's work through our blog and social media pages, it gives us access to contact the poets who wrote the poems performed by the children. Not all the poets were on twitter, but the ones who were ALL replied and left some inspiring messages for the children.

When shared with the classes, the impact is fantastic! For the children knowing their hard work has been seen and appreciated by the professionals who created them is simply... Awesome!

There are some fantastic poets and authors who I have contacted and they have left a comment for children here are some we received from this year's poetry competition.

One poet - Ian Bland went one step further! Being so grateful that the children chose and performed one of his poems, he personally signed one of his books and sent it to the class:

I recently sat in on one of Ian's poetry sessions as part of the Literacy Shed and was really impressed as not only does Ian perform his poetry, he teaches children how to write poetry through workshops and can also provide CPD for teachers and build their confidence in teaching poetry. You can find out more here -

So as Poetry is becoming a more important part of the Literacy curriculum, how will you promote and encourage children to appreciate, enjoy and learn different poems? If you have any other ideas, please leave them as comments to this post or tweet them to me. If not, give the choral poetry competition a try, it is a fantastic way to celebrate poetry throughout the school!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Guest Blog Post - Whole School Math Duel World Cup

At Brockwell Junior School (@brockwelljunior) we are lucky enough to have 16 iPad available for classes. The problem we have been facing is trying to stop them from being a 'simple' internet browser or only using them as an extension activity. What we needed was an app and an idea (iDea what a great name for an app) that could be used across the entire school and could be incorporated into lessons. The main purpose of this was to highlight to staff the potential of the impact the iPads could have.

Enter @ICT_MrP and MathDuel (@ElliesGames). Lee wrote an incredibly useful 15lessons eBook for the World Cup. One of the lessons was about setting up a MathDuel World Cup in your maths lesson. This was a fantastic idea but we felt it could go even further. So we decided to run a whole school World Cup competition.

Each class had to complete a league of 8 matches (each match is 2 minutes long, a goal is scored when the progress bar reaches one players side and stars cascade). After a few practises a number of rules were established.
For example,
1 No touching your opponents board - yellow card
2 No setting your levels too easy - match fixing
3 You cannot play the same “team” (classmate) more than once.

Click here for a copy of the league score sheet.

The results were entered into a quick spreadsheet, which quickly identified the top two players from each class / league. This was done by awarding the usual 3 points for a win 1 for a draw and 0 for a defeat. In the event of players being level on points it would then be decided on goals scored. The top two players from each “league” (class) were then put through to the knock out stages of the tournament. 

The top 16, semi-final and quarter-final matches were played in a very similar format but these were best to 3. If there was no clear winner after 3 matches then it went to a golden goal (next goal wins the match.)

During the tournament Erik Bye from @ElliesGames contacted me asking if he could sponsor us and we jumped at the chance! In addition to this school purchased four trophies of various sizes for the four finalists.

As the excitement grew around school for the tournament we decided to televise it, as all World Cup finals are broadcast. To do this we used a USB and @ReachWildlife's live streaming service. We let the finalists battle it out in the library away from distractions and had the entire school watching LIVE on the big screen in the hall. This helped create a real World Cup atmosphere. 

After the third and fourth place matches were played our players entered the hall to rapturous applause. However this was nothing compared to the thunderous support from the spectators during the final match. The finalists could hear the cheers echoing down the corridors, providing a real “match day” environment. I have never heard such vocal support, and enjoyment, for the four number operations. When Aaron claimed the title of #MathDuelWorldChampion the cheering could be heard in an adjacent building.

#MathDuelWorldChampion - Aaron
#MathDuelWorldSecond - Amelia
#MathDuelWorldThird - Ben
#MathDuelWorldForth - Lewis

8 classes of 30 children played 8 games = 1024 games
Top 16 8 x 3 games = 24
Semi-finals 4 x 3 = 12
Quarter-finals 2 x 3 = 6
Finals 2 x 3 = 6

In total, across the whole school, approximately 1072 competitive MathDuel games were played (not including practises or friendlies). If the average game consisted of 20 questions (well below the real number I suspect) then over the duration of the tournament 21440 questions were answered.

With very little effort we managed to raise awareness of such a powerfully simple app and hopefully it will be 'played' in class long after Brazil 2014 has finished. This is a fantastic way to engage children and staff and showcase the power of the iPad. It also shows that sometimes the simple apps can often be the best. A simple app with a slight creative twist can become an incredibly exciting and rewarding learning experience. 

Ability for student to set questions to their own level
Student centred learning
Students from different year groups can compete simultaneously on the same iPad
Whole school engagement
All students can succeed
Competitive Numeracy lessons ensuring all boys focused
Maths, maths and more maths

Very few!
The noise level during the final matches may result in future tinnitus
Students cheering for one classmate (in the finals) may hurt opponents feelings
If you would like any help or advice in managing your own #MathDuelWorldCup please don't hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to share any of our resources such as spreadsheet leader boards, game score cards and world cup wall charts. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did. 


- Thank you so much to Mr Will Baker for this. A fantastic example of how a simple idea can be adapted to engage, inspire and improve children's learning. In the ebook, the lesson talks about using the app in a class, which I have done plenty of times to great effect. To see a whole school take part is wonderful and the enthusiasm, support and enjoyment from all the children is a wonderful thing to see!

Thank you again!

Friday, 27 June 2014

Loom Bands Craze

Unless you don't speak or look at your children, you will know about Loom Bands. The latest craze involves children creating different types of fashion items out of small coloured rubber bands. Even suit jackets have been put together using them!

My step son has been designing some of his own, self taught through watching youtube instructional videos.

It was discussing them with him that I realised the potential of using this craze as a focus in the classroom.

I asked them to explain what they were? How to make one? The enthusiasm he responded with got me thinking about how I could harness that in class.

I am sure many schools may have banned these accessories and can understand why, however for this to work you may need to arrange a day or afternoon where you allow children to create and make some fashion accessories. You can pick up a set of the bands from Amazon for £2. Using loom bands could be a great DT lesson, either making bracelets or other objects -

To give children time to make something like this, will have them hooked and is an another example of the Camouflage Learning approach.

And it is the way you can then use this enthusiasm in different curriculum areas to get some great work from the children. For example:

Numeracy - 

Work out how many bands are used to create a ring. Then work out how many would be needed to make rings for one hand, two hands, two children, ten children or even a whole class.

Work out how many bands are used to make a bracelet. Work out how many would be needed for 5 bracelets, 10, 20 100 etc.

Link colours to ratio and proportion - if a bracelet was made from 40 blue and 30 green bands, how many bracelets can be made from 120 green bands? How many blue bands would then be needed?

Look at percentages - if I use 50 bands and 20 of them are blue what % are blue?

You could also look at cost per band. If you can buy 2000 for £2 you can work out how much 10 bands would cost and apply this cost to price up bracelets. Children could then look at profit gain if you were to sell the bracelets.

This could potentially become an enterprise project. Children could choose a charity and set themselves a £100 target for fundraising through making and selling loom band creations.

Literacy - 

With children being the experts on loom bands, the teacher can really focus on embedding text features when asking children to write about them. You could for example write:

  • A set of instructions for how to create a bracelet using Loom Bands.
  • An explanation text all about Loom Bands.
  • A letter to the Headteacher why they shouldn't be banned.
  • A persuasive advert why people should buy their designs.
  • Discussion text - Are loom bands good for children? Should loom bands be allowed in school?
With children who are obsessed and interested in a topic, they will be more inclined to write about it with passion.

Give it a go and please share any examples of work you produce with your children!

UPDATE Here are some examples of different classes using Loom Bands as a stimulus -

Farsley Fairfield 

More from Farsley Fairfield

AccessArt Competition

The Numeracy Shed

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Frog Conference - ICC Birmingham - #Frog14

Today, I was lucky enough to be invited to present at the Frog Conference 2014 at the ICC in Birmingham. An incredible venue and some great speakers sharing some fantastic ideas. I presented a 45 minute presentation looking at ways in which I have used iPads to enhance the Literacy curriculum. Through blogging and using different apps, I shared examples of work that demonstrated how iPads can make learning real, relevant and interesting for children today. I have been offering training through Frog for about a year and have written a guide to Camouflage learning which is available through their website.

I was lucky to meet the inspirational Tim Rylands and Sarah Nield who finished the conference with their amazing keynote full of incredible ideas and free tools for teachers to use for an array of different lessons. It was great to hear their feedback on my session and thank Sarah for taking some pictures which I have shared below. You can read about their view on the conference here.

I was astounded at the amount of positive tweets I received after my session, so thank you to everyone who attended and contacted me afterwards, also a MASSIVE thank you to Frog for hosting and providing a fantastic day!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Introducing the #go2team

Yesterday, I travelled to meet Alan Peat, where I was introduced to other teachers he currently is working with on a number of projects.  Although not a exclusive group, the individuals were chosen as we each offer something different, but all have the same approach similar to Alan's philosophy of improving standards in the classroom with ideas that work!

I have been working as part of Alan Peat Ltd for nearly a year and the support and guidance both Alan and Julie have given me has been invaluable. I am very grateful to be working for and with them. My input to the #go2team is the training I provide in schools, clusters and conferences focusing on using technology to improve and enhance learning.

On Friday, I had my first conference at the Village hotel in Dudley - "Alan Peat presents USING TECHNOLOGY TO DELIVER THE NEW PRIMARY & LITERACY CURRICULUM."

It was an incredible day with a room full of enthusiastic and eager teachers. The feedback I received was fantastic and I want to thank all who attended for their comments.

Of the 36 feedback forms completed, 34 rated the content and delivery of the training as Excellent with the other 2 rating it good. Here are some of the comments from the evaluation forms:

"Probably the best training event I have been on. My only 'criticism' is I want to go back to school and do EVERYTHING!""Fantastic amount of ideas which are easily usable, range of ages, good examples of children's work.""WOW! Amazing. Both awestruck." 
"What a fantastic day! So may ideas to use and take back. Feel so inspired, thank you." 
"Lots of practical advice!" 
"Nice real life examples." 
"Excellent ideas & suggestions." 
"A wonderful day full of relevant content delivered by a fellow classroom teacher not someone who has escaped from school life!" 
"Excellent and engaging." 
"Excellent, engaging speaker!" 
"Explanation given about the learning potential of the apps, modelling was very useful." 
"Very good, lots of useful ideas for resources and activities to use back in school." 
"Really inspiring." 
"Superb! Very useful. Excellent ideas which I will be applying at school." 
"Everything expected - great content, well presented and I have left with loads of ideas to use in the classroom." 
"A really interesting and informative day, thank you!" 
"Excellent course. Met all expectations & has provided us with lots of practical ideas that we can implement/use in school." 
"Fab! Very informative & useful." 
"I have found the ideas & tools discussed really useful and feel that I will have the confidence to try some of these in my classroom. I think it is particularly effective as you are showing your own practical experience. The day has been really inspiring." 
"Loads of ideas to take back into school. Great day!" 
"Excellent course with lots of ideas and tips for the school. Excellent examples of the work done by yourself and your school. Really find your blog useful and I am trying the ideas in school." 
"Practical ideas that I could do in class tomorrow. Great to meet requirements of new lit curriculum. Keep it up, our children are loving school!" 
"Absolutely superb, could not have wanted more! Plenty of practical activities to take back to school." 
"Excellent - very inspiring and engaging speaker."

I will be running similar conferences next term and all the details can be found HERE. 

Another inspiring teacher, who is running his first conference through Alan Peat Ltd next week, is Mat Sullivan aka @inspiredmind5. I have worked with Mat previously and his ideas are phenomenal. His upcoming conference - Improving writing through comics and exciting sentences, is SOLD OUT! It comes at the time that his first solo book - Developing writing through Comics, is released.

This book is an absolute must for any KS2 teacher whether they like comics or not. The ideas and activities suggested in this book will raise standards in the classroom and I have seen it myself when I visited Mat's school recently. Just look at his website -

Mat also co-wrote The Second book of Exciting Sentences with Alan and has a wealth of engaging and inspiring ways to make writing meaningful and enjoyable for children.

I was able to have a sneak peek of the book and I was blown away by both the content but also the incredible design and that was down to the very talented Simon Matthews.

Simon aka @SiTheDesignGuy, has been working with Alan Peat Ltd for a number of years and handles all the design on websites, books and other media. His work on the resource "Word Warriors," is fantastic and some of the design for Mat's book is stunning, just look at some of his tweets:

But it is his new project that really excites me! is a new website that will be sharing extracts from a diary of a soldier throughout the First World War. The diary will be turned into a collection of podcasts shared on the website for free. The project also provides a monthly magazine full of information, links and lesson ideas from Alan, Mat and other teachers linked to the diary. The design of the website and magazine is amazing! A school can subscribe to the project - receiving each monthly digital magazine for only £50 a year. I believe there will also be an option to pay monthly. It is well worth a look as a cross curricular topic in class, it will be very useful!

I also met Gareth Metcalfe the creator of The Maths Apprenticeship resource, I am very excited about this as I received a copy of the pack and will be using it over the next couple of weeks, so watch for the blog post to follow. From reading Gareth's blog, the product looks a great way to really challenge higher ability mathematicians - read about it here. Gareth will also be running conferences through Alan Peat Ltd, all details can be found here.

I finally was able to meet Doug Stitcher aka @therenegade78, founder of Angel Applications. He has created the Pocket Curriculum app (left) as well as a range of other useful education apps.

I have been in contact with Doug for a while now as he is working his socks off creating an app for me. I am pleased to see it is in its final stages and should be available in the next month or so. Details to follow on that one!

He has also been coding the new range of apps from Alan, both of which are great resources for teachers.

Alan's first app is an interactive guide to his Exciting Sentences approach in writing. I have been using the exciting sentences in my teaching for nearly 4/5 years and can say they have had a phenomenal impact on writing standards. Through using them as a whole school we have gone through two OUTSTANDING Ofsted reports, with strengths in Literacy with Alan's approach being a key part to the winning formula. For only £1.49 this app is such good value for money considering the impact it will have on writing in your class.

The next app, which was released today, and currently heading towards the top of the Education App charts on iTunes. Again it is another fantastic resource for teachers looking for useful ways to teach punctuation. For only £1.99 it covers every punctuation mark with an array of different ways to embed the use of each one in children's writing. As a reference guide for teachers it is another useful app to add to the collection.

I felt very fortunate to be in such great company and thank Alan for the opportunity. From the first training session I attended, led by Alan it had a massive impact on my approach to teaching. As I head towards the end of an incredible year of my career, I am thankful for the opportunity both him and Julie have given me. With some very exciting projects in the pipeline, including a joint conference and ebook between both Alan and I as well as other apps he is working on the #go2team will be something to keep a very close eye on... stay tuned.