I’m Back! Hi Guys, sorry that the blog has been a little neglected lately but I promise that there are some things in the works and I’m hoping to get moving soon! I have just moved into new accommodation and have only recently got access to the internet! Woohoo!
About 2 weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bedruthan Steps Hotel near Newquay. Saltash.net run a conference for their staff every year at Bedruthan Steps Hotel. It’s absolutely remarkable to see so many teachers giving up their free time to complete training. I was very lucky to be in the company of so many innovative and inspirational educators. Saltash.net is a remarkable school and my one regret is that I still haven’t managed to arrange a visit to see it.
I arrived on the Friday night and was amazed to hear the buzz about the hotel. I was unfortunate to miss the amazing Stephen Heppell. I had heard from a number of different people about the different methods of engaging and making learning more interesting. Everyone was quick to fill me in on methods such as using whiteboard tables for ideas, shoeless reading and many more. I have visited many schools in the past but it was amazing to see how keen these educators were to try out many of these new techniques. Truly inspirational. It was nice to catch up with old friends such as Jimmy Edwards, Stuart Ball, Ben Rowey and Katie Boothman. Everyone was really welcoming and some of them happy to see that my fiancée was actually a real person and not a figment of my imagination.
Time to get up and get ready to present!
Introducing Jimmy Edwards and Ray Chambers!
Me and Jimmy were first up to present on how you can use games based learning to engage students in your lessons. We wanted to give people the opportunity to see how to use the software. It’s very good hearing people talk about how useful it can be, however it could be quite daunting to anyone new coming into it. We turned our session into a workshop to allow people to try out all of the different tools available. People were able to try out different games for the Xbox and they were able to try out the different tools used with the Kinect SDK. It was interesting to see some of the responses which had came back from our session.
We gave people the opportunity to write down their ideas on paper and talked about how you can be a part of the K-Team. If you have an idea for the Kinect or Kodu and would like to make it into a reality, then contact any one of the K-Team members.
Some good ideas mentioned are shown below:
- Phonetics – Each sound has an action
- KungFu Punctuation – Adding punctuation to text with chopping moves.
- Highlighting text
- Dance based spelling moves
- Biology – Dragging and dropping keywords
These are some amazing ideas and the K-Team members will be working to see how these could become a reality.
Whilst there were some really good ideas for the Kinect there were some good discussions going on. One person talked about the danger of making something new become the norm. I complete agree with this. I’ve seen teachers try to make lessons more engaging by sharing ideas in the past. The only problem is, every teacher goes away and uses it. If you have 5 periods of lessons with every teacher doing the same starter/plenary, it would get very repetitive for the child. It is important to mix things up for them. Everything should be used in moderation.
You can see a photo album from the Kinect Session below:
After presenting, I was lucky enough to witness the great Steve Bunce in action who’s presentation allowed everyone to become actively engaged. His presentation involved missions which engage students. You can make anything into a game. One of the missions involved all of use getting into teams to try and present something from a moment in time or a famous movie. Me and my fiancée thoroughly enjoyed working with our team and managed to create an interesting rendition of Snow White and the seven dwarfs. I have also attached my interesting drawing of a “moment in time” – Twin towers.
The missions were all about engaging education and making it into a game for them without realising. He talked about simple things such as badges for students. Students love rewards and many of them are part of clubs such as “Beavers” and “Brownies”. They love to get recognition for their accomplishments. Simple missions such as putting you pen on paper and watching where it goes on when going on a car journey make life more interesting for students. You can find many of the ideas and many of the missions by visiting Mission Explore. There is a whole bunch of resources here.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the event and picked up a lot of ideas for my own teaching practice. Although I was there to present I feel privileged to have been invited to sit with so many innovative and welcoming teachers. I can see why Saltash.net has gained it reputation for being cutting edge. Having so many teachers willing to give up their own free time to engage in extra training says a lot about a place.
Isobel Bryce – Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet more amazing people from Saltash.net and thank you for allowing me to present.
Brendan Lee – Thank you for being so brilliant and so accommodating, made sorting out arrangements that much easier!
Jimmy Edwards – Thank you for the great experience and also thank you for taking me and my fiancée out to see the sights! Polperro was lovely and thank you for your hospitality. Was brill catching up and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Dan Roberts – You’re not at Saltash.net but you’re still there in “chicken”. Thank you for arranging the opportunity to present. I look forward to your arrival back in the UK whenever it may be so that we can have a catch up.