Tag Archives: ideas

Time for some brainstorming!

This morning, I met with Emily Hastings from Acting Up! (see https://www.facebook.com/EmilyHastingsActingUp/ and http://www.actinguptheatre.co.uk/
for further details) to brainstorm ways in which we might collaborate in the near future.

I am keen to work with the Education Performance and Inclusion Team at Gloucestershire County Council to establish a Geography/Humanities Subject Leaders’ Network for primary schools (as they already have operating for English, mathematics and science) and run three different workshops over the course of the next academic year.  I would hope that these days contain a strong element of interactivity since I feel that this approach gives teachers more confidence to replicate the suggested activities in the classroom.  It is essential that creativity/innovation features highly too; several schools need to embrace fresh ideas to re-ignite teaching and learning within their establishments and inspire and engage youngsters.  ‘Taking learning outside the classroom’, ‘integrating geography/history with the arts’ and ‘promoting enquiry-based learning’ would be ideal themes to explore throughout 2017-2018.  Not only do I have plenty of projects/examples to showcase/share with delegates, but I am also able to draw upon other people’s expertise, such as Emily for drama, Sarah Shaw for dance and Kathryn Minchew for D&T (food).  Enticing the Teaching School at The Crypt School , where I will be teaching two days a week from September 2017, to host such workshops might be my next challenge; we could all benefit from pooling contacts and the associated publicity, I feel sure.

Over coffee, Emily and I discussed opportunities to work together in the near future and gave each other plenty of food for thought.  It was great for both of us to have someone very like-minded to bounce ideas off.  Back to the drawing board now and a few leads to pursue … watch this space to see how things evolve.  Exciting times ahead, hopefully!

 

C&T, Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays

Fortunately, the hot and sunny weather at the weekend decided to hold out a little longer for my meeting at Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays with Paul and Max from C&T (http://www.candt.org/).  I first came into contact with both Paul and Max when presenting at a conference at the University of Worcester a few weeks ago.  They had been invited along as their offices were opposite the organiser’s, Professor Maggie Andrews, and it was hoped to be an opportunity for them to do a spot of networking, which they certainly did!  C&T is all about humanising technology through creativity, drama and digital culture.  Over the last ten years, they have been continuously developing new ideas, placing digital technologies at the heart of drama and giving young people the skills and confidence to know that they can make a creative contribution to their community and the world around them.

After an initial chat, I took Max and Paul on a brief tour of the Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays, pointing out key features, recounting any historical links that I was aware of, identifying developments currently taking place and discussing issues.  The Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays did look wonderful this morning and they truly are an asset to our city.  There is still much potential to be exploited, however, as can be seen from the plans for the Baker’s Quay and neighbouring Blackfriars.  It is amazing how much you take for granted too.  For instance, I have often walked past the large, iconic sculpture, known as The Candle, in the main basin of the Gloucester Docks, but could not tell you much about it or when and why it was placed there.

Later, over a coffee, we considered where we might go from here.  Max and Paul have a meeting concerning a nationwide WW1 project scheduled for Friday; there may be a chance for a Gloucester school/schools to be involved in this too.  Besides, Paul has a few ex-students that are now based within the area and with whom he hopes to renew contact; it may be that they wish to collaborate on a project or have additional links that are worth exploring.  It was agreed that either Max or Paul will be in touch at some stage over the next fortnight once some firmer decisions have been made.  Fingers crossed, as the Gloucester Docks/Gloucester Quays would be an ideal location for a project with so much history and heritage attached to it and I have a couple of schools already in mind who would relish the opportunity to participate in such a cross-curricular and hugely innovative initiative.

Twilight staff training: Abbeymead Primary School, Gloucester

My task this afternoon was to deliver a twilight training session centred upon ‘taking learning outside the classroom’ for all staff at Abbeymead Primary School on the outskirts of the city of Gloucester.  Fortunately, the weather was fine and dry, so we were able to spend some time outside replicating a few of my suggested activities … this does not always happen when fieldwork is planned, believe you me!

To begin with, we based ourselves in a classroom.  Here, I outlined the aims and format of the session, before promoting the importance of fieldwork.  I shared some research conducted by a group of primary Head Teachers on behalf of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), which listed the ‘hallmarks’ of an ‘outstanding curriculum’, many of which have strong connections to a powerful geography curriculum.  It also helped to signal the ways in which geography can contribute to the aims and values of the whole school and the personal development of every pupil within it.  We accessed the National Curriculum programmes of study for geography at Key Stages 1 and 2 and ‘zoomed in’ on the sections entitled ‘geographical skills and fieldwork’.  Next, I projected the Geographical Association’s (GA) ‘framework’, which exemplifies progression very clearly and includes age-related expectations in geography, as well as communicating their thoughts regarding fieldwork.  I briefly talked through the enquiry approach, which is fundamental in geography.  I referred to the updated Ofsted handbook and the direct implications that this has for geography, along with a recent geography survey visits report and a couple of outstanding school case studies.  These items were added to a folder on the school’s network in case teachers wished to delve into them more deeply at a later date.

With time at a premium this afternoon, I was keen to move on.  My prime aim was to showcase quick, cheap and easy activities that could be conducted beyond the four walls of the classroom and the achievements of similar schools locally, many of which have been supported by funding from the Frederick Soddy Trust.  Examples included:

  • ‘geographical glasses’;
  • ‘secret street detectives’, with case study material from Calton Primary School in Gloucester;
  • Andrea Mosaic;
  • emotional mapping with Quikmaps;
  • den building;
  • journey sticks;
  • The Geography Collective and Mission:Explore;
  • ‘Go the Extra Mile’ competition run by the Frederick Soddy Trust and the Geographical Association, with an ‘abridged version’ from Hempsted C of E Primary School in Gloucester;
  • Digimap, including reference to a Year 2 geography day for pupils based at The Christian Adventure Centre at Viney Hill in the Forest of Dean.

Geographical glasses.

Younger/SEND pupils could use images instead of text, making this an accessible activity for all.

Developing good observational skills.

After providing an overview of the application process for a Frederick Soddy Trust School Award to unlock the potential of the local environment for fieldwork, I decided to take staff outside and challenge them to a few ‘missions’ from the original Mission:Explore book.  The aim was to demonstrate how they too could easily take learning outside the classroom, even if there was only half an hour to spare.  The teachers appeared to really enjoy this, as can be seen from the photographs below:

Mission 19: Collect A to Z.

Great teamwork!

Proposing to be the gifted and talented group … not content with just collecting one image to represent each of their designated letters of the alphabet!

Making use of technology outside the classroom.

Discovering other ways to use their outdoor learning area.

Mission 26: Swatch nature.

A perfect colour match!

We came inside ten minutes before the end of the session for the ‘plenary’.  Each member of staff was handed a set of footprints.  They were asked to use the footprints to record their next steps once they left the room, starting from the big toes and working outwards.  Each step could be as simple or as complex as they wished.  Later, participants were asked how far they managed to reach and many voiced their ideas/thoughts in the short discussion that pursued.

Finally, each member of staff was given a blank postcard.  They were invited to sum up today’s twilight training session in five words/a sentence or two.  It was suggested that they might take the WWW/EBI approach, although this was by no means compulsory.  They could add their name and position or remain anonymous.  Instant feedback such as this is really useful for me when planning future CPD sessions, in addition to giving SLT some indication of any further support that might be appreciated or required.

‘Very informative and fabulous.  Thank you.’

‘Lots of simple, practical, yet inspiring ideas for excellent teaching and learning in geography.  Thank you.’

‘Interactive; helpful; interesting; pacey; creative.’

‘Valuable; helpful; interesting; useful; resourceful.’

‘Practical outdoor ideas for children.’

‘Range of ‘cheap’ tasks.  Practical. ‘Outside the box’ missions.  Revisiting geography. A stronger focus on Upper KS2 depth, perhaps?’

‘Explorative work outdoors with technology!’

‘Informative; eye-opening; practical.’

‘I enjoyed the practical activities.’

‘Great ideas for getting children into geography.’

‘Fun; hands-on; informative.’

I sincerely hope that teachers now feel far more confident about taking learning outside the classroom and look forward to hearing about, and seeing evidence of, their mini adventures shortly!