The next Primary TeachMeet organised by the #teachmeetchester team will be on Thursday 13th March 2014 5.00 - 6.30pm at the University of Chester Warrington Campus, Crab Lane WA2 0DB. The venue is near Junction 21 of the M6 and easily accessible from all parts of the north west.
Further information and a sign-up form is available here: http://teachmeet.pbworks.com/w/page/70319015/TMWarrington
Download and print out the poster for your staff room notice board here: https://www.box.com/s/tbmawurego6re5ubcm7b
It's been a busy few weeks, so this is my first opportunity to jot down a few thoughts on #TeachMeetEP on 26th September at the University Church of England Academy (UCEA) in Ellesmere Port - many thanks to UCAT and the staff at UCEA who welcomed us and supported the event. Firstly, the lessons learned:
On to the positives! There were six very different and thought-provoking presentations at #TeachMeetEP which fitted just about perfectly into the 1.5 hour time slot. My highlights were Si Poole's XBox presentation on the the big screen in UCEA's theatre, Dean Paton's engaging and entertaining tour of place names and Martin Little's fresh angle on fractions - apologies for not mentioning everyone; your contributions were much appreciated, but these three are the ones which spring straight to mind a month after the event. Resources and images from the evening are on http://chesterictproject.weebly.com/teachmeet.html as well as three extra presentations from contributors who could not attend in person. And Finally - the next #teachmeetchester TeachMeet will be at the University of Chester campus in Warrington on 13th March 2014 - details here ....
I have just created a new page on this site devoted to programming in primary schools. It includes links to general resources, software, online tools and apps. Hopefully, it will be a useful source of ideas and information in preparation for the Computing curriculum in 2014. Please let me know if there are obvious resources I have missed!
Can't say the NSA/PRISM security services surveillance controversy has got me very hot under the collar. Maybe its just that I struggle to get excited about Big Brother-esque snooping, when privacy is something of a redundant concept these days - CCTV is everywhere in the UK, even in Welsh forests!
Though phone tapping is another issue, I have always taken it for granted that electronic communication is a public forum. Though I must admit I have broken my own rule a few times in the heat of the moment, I would never send an email or put a post on Twitter or Facebook that I wouldn't be happy for the whole world to see (including MI5 and Mr Gove). Which is why I am taken aback by those who very obviously perceive that these are private means of communication - they are not!SXC.hu
Only the other day, I had a very reputable company requesting that I send financial details via email (I didn't). Last night's BBC Question Time audience (made up entirely of 16 and 17 year old 'digital natives') were getting very exercised by the idea that the security services might take a look at their Facebook accounts! If they genuinely think that social media is a secure means of communication, then our e-safety education is seriously flawed. And maybe it is? Perhaps the emphasis on caution, secure passwords and restrained profiles gives the impression that social media and digital communication can be private and safe if we do the right things. Yes, being e-safe is important in terms of avoiding contact by undesirables or those outside your social circle, but it doesn't mean that posts and images are private. Whether it be for the greater good or not, the state has the potential to see everything posted online, so we need to get over it ...
Some news for teachers in the Cheshire/Wirral area and beyond: the next Primary TeachMeet, organised by the #teachmeetchester team, will be on Thursday 26th September at the University Church of England Academy (UCEA) in Ellesmere Port. TeachMeetEP is aimed at primary teachers (though all teachers and trainees are very welcome), but we have the opportunity to use the state-of-the-art facilities at UCEA - also, a great chance to look around this innovative new building!
If you are new to the TeachMeet idea, then this short video explains what they are all about. We already have some really interesting presentations set up, but are on the look out for more. Although TeachMeets are usually about technology for learning, you don't have to show and tell about ICT - come along and share any good idea for enhancing learning in primary schools!
TeachMeetEP will run from 4.30 - 6.00pm (with registration and refreshments available from 4.00pm) and there is plenty of free parking.
You can sign up and find more information here: http://teachmeet.pbworks.com/w/page/66917919/TeachMeetEP
Please email email@example.com if you have any questions or comments. For news and views about TeachMeet Ellesmere Port, follow @TeachMeetEP on Twitter.
Bil Gates recalls his last conversations with Steve Jobs - follow the links here from Macworld.
I have been using Delicious to compile a set of links and resources to help in planning a more Computing-focused curriculum in primary schools. I am adding stuff regularly, so please re-visit - the link is https://delicious.com/tonypickford/programming
If the proposed new National Curriculum for England was designed to get a reaction, then it has been a very effective document. The fact that the ICT (sorry, Computing) proposals have proved to be one of the least contentious aspects, gives some indication of the reactions to much of the rest of the document. Without exploring the fine details of the controversy and debate (this gives a flavour for just one curriculum area), the responses have been sparked by a paradigm shift in curriculum requirements from the usual mix of processes, skills and factual knowledge to an approach entirely dominated by facts to be imparted. Though radical and informed by a deficit view of children's knowledge and capabilities, the approach is grounded in a fairly logical set of propositions. Whether it be simple reading comprehension or informed participation in a democratic society, all children (and adults) need to be culturally literate - imbued with a shared cultural knowledge across language, literature, humanities, arts and sciences. If all receive this body of incontestable factual information, then inequalities caused by different social and/or economic backgrounds will be addressed. The arguments supporting the approach are appealing, especially for politicians looking for simple solutions or academics out to make a name for themselves. Where the approach falls apart or, to be more kind, raises questions is in its implementation (and of course, the very idea of incontestable information) - delivery of a huge amount of knowledge across a relatively few years of schooling will mean that even young children will have to receive a diet of complex facts and very challenging concepts. Look at the key stage one requirements across the new National Curriculum to see what I mean - or better still, take a look at the Core Knowledge Sequence UK, developed by Civitas, which carries the approach to its logical conclusions.
It was when looking at the latter curriculum that I was struck by what is missing. Core Knowledge, or at least its UK form, appears to make only a few references to technology - Tim Berners-Lee gets a mention in Y6 science and data handling features in mathematics - but, there is little sense that cultural literacy in the 21st Century might include technological or digital literacy. Surely, an approach to curriculum making that values factual knowledge would expect informed 21st Century citizens to know something about the technology that surrounds them and underpins the functioning of society? If facts are all important, then a warning about the status of facts on Wikipedia might be useful? If Time-Berners Lee gets a mention, then what about Ted Nelson or Douglas Engelbart or Alan Turing? Shouldn't we know what happens across networks when we click the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button on Google? Or is cultural literacy actually about the past rather than the present?
And the title of this post - of course the culturally literate will recognise it.
After a couple of days' reflection, our first TeachMeet seems to have been a positive experience for all concerned! Some really supportive comments were posted during the event and afterwards. There appears to be general agreement that the presenters and their ideas were inspiring. The turnout was OK with a good mix of teachers, students and others. So, what have I learned?