Monday, 23 January 2017


Having read various blogs on the subject, I thought it was pertinent to share this link to a FREE Platinum subscription to @twinklresources Twinkl 

I run a class blog and we all sign up to our blog rules each September- they are

Keep safe – don’t reveal any personal information.

Write in good English – including grammar and punctuation.

Be polite – Don’t post anything that could hurt anyone.

Always show respect – be positive if you are going to comment.

Remember that a blog is public- anybody can read it- so be sure to make sure you always do your very best .

All posts and comments are checked before they are published.

I often talk to my class about the importance of being kind to each other- as Year 6s they are super confident being the oldest in the school, but before long they will be the little ones again in the secondary school where the friendships made at primary school are so important for those first few days in particular.

There are so many things we have to teach to our children, but in my opinion kindness is one of the most important. What a wonderful world we would live in if everyone was kind :)

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year. 2017. To blog or not to blog? To Tweet or not to Tweet?

As I scroll through my timeline I see a wealth of teachers pledging to blog more regularly, weekly or otherwise. I feel slightly in awe of them and wonder how they manage to find the time to write so regularly and look over at my own blog and berate myself for my lack of posts.

It’s easy to feel disheartened when there are so many great blogs out there (see for a list of top education blogs around the world) and ( Teacher Toolkit’s list- the most followed education blog in the UK)

BUT , and this is the important thing, IT DOESN’T MATTER if you blog weekly, monthly, randomly (or not at all!) What matters is that you do what works for you. I have a blog to reflect upon things that I have done and it is so interesting reading past posts and looking at how I have made changes or improvements to my teaching.  Unless I have something to say that hasn’’t already been said, I don’t tend to blog. So I don’t make lists of educators to follow or influential blogs but like to think that some of what I write will strike a chord with others and perhaps give them food for thought.

When I take part in forums on twitter (my favourites are #PrimaryRocks on Mondays 8-9pm, #ASEchat Mondays 8-9 pm #uikedchat on Thursdays 8-9pm and #SLTchat on Sundays 8-8.30pm ) It’s easy to think that this is where it is all happening- and a lot does happen in them for certain. I have met some amazing people as a result of twitter and had opportunities that I may not have come across otherwise.  And lots of those people aren’t on any lists but have so much to share and I am delighted to have the privilege to have met many of them as well as to interact online with them.

However, it is worth keeping in mind that the vast majority of teachers aren’t even on twitter; and that many of those who are don’t use it regularly. I have run several workshops about the benefits of using twitter which have resulted in teachers joining, but most of the teachers I work with don’t use it at all.

Here’s my list of why you should use twitter- I’d love to know yours.

1)      Fabulous networking tool (especially if you teach in a small school)
2)      Great way to share ideas and resources
3)      A sounding board where you know people will give their opinions
4)      Fast way to hear about policy changes (saves trawling through the almost-impossible-to-navigate website)
5)      Ability to communicate with educators across the country and beyond
6)       Quick access to some excellent blogs about education
7)      Great way to keep positive through the changes

Why do I think teachers don’t use twitter?
1)      privacy issues- accounts can be made private, but this is an understandable issue for many
2)      spam spam spam- I don’t find this too much of a problem- I just block and report
3)      time- always an issue. Twitter is so different to facebook insofar as you can’t possibly ‘catch up’ on what has happened since you last logged on- hashtags are a fab tool to search for interests and it’s a case of going with what is happening at the time.
4)      Negativity/arguments  It can be all to easy to limit one’s followers and following to those who always agree with you/have the same outlooks . it can also be easy to get drawn into some , shall we say, scratchy discussions. For me, I follow a range of tweeters and don’t generally get involved in scratchy discussions- but it is always interesting to see a range of ideas and points of view. If someone doesn’t want to follow me, or I don’t want to follow someone then so be it- I don’t waste time worrying about it. I stick to positive tweets and sharing good practice which has worked well for me so far .

HAPPY NEW YEAR .  I’m planning to keep trying to persuade colleagues to give twitter a try- that’s my first NY resolution. Bring a friend to twitter.

Who else it up for this?

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Gopher science labs

Gopher : small , burrowing rodent .

So, what's that got to do with science?  Well, the Royal society of Biology  offers small grants to support transition between secondary and primary.

Further details Here

Now, generally secondary teachers apply for this, but I wasn't letting that stop me. I drummed up support from my local schools and applied.

Hey presto, grant received. Thank you again Royal Society.

After lots of emails we managed to fix a date and our local secondary school trained up some year 9 students to deliver a series of fun activities to year six pupils from the feeder primaries.

See some pictures Here

I will shortly be leading a staff meeting to share the experience and hopefully encourage others to apply for this wonderful opportunity.

Students teaching students.
Cross phase links.
Transition opportunity.
Fun science.

I'm still not sure what it all has to do with gophers, but it was certainly a great experience.

Why don't you go for it this year?  😉

Applications close end of this month.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Great way to start the year

I felt compelled to write this as soon as I came home; I have spent one of the most enjoyable days with my class today thanks to the BRILLIANT resources from  the ASE.
' Why you'll never catch smallpox'

My Year six class were captivated from the moment we started.
It certainly helped that the village our school is in is where Benjamin Jesty lived (see . Another session or two could follow up as to why he isn't as famous as Jenner.

There are enough activities to fill a week or a half term, but I had chosen just the 'Speckled monster' resources . At the summer PSTT conference ( see ) the resources had been introduced and the suggestion made that this would work well as a stand alone exercise.

We began with a chat about microbes and watched a cartoon about how germs from a sneeze travel ( 'That's so gross, I'm always going to keep my hands clean!' exclaimed one of my class)

We then watched the excellent film, James. Quite hard to watch at times, but sparked loads of discussion .

We used the concept cartoon to channel ideas and then embarked on the role play. I have fewer than 30 in my class so they had brought various toys in to make up numbers. Much hilarity as these were allocated as grandmothers, sons, butlers and others.

The children threw themselves into their characters and we're trying to guess who would 'get the pox'

We have recently introduced various signals across the school for behaviour management and these were indispensable as I could leave them to immerse themselves and quickly get their attention for the next part of the scenario.

Small pieces of wool were tied around little fingers of sufferers ( again much hilarity when this was a toy!)  The 'graveyard' was used to map the village and observe proceedings. Children were discussing where they thought the next victim would be, who would survive and so on. They were sceptical about the wood lice charm and agreed that they were pleased that such superstitions don't still exist. ( (Although , later in the day some of the children told me about various superstitions they had heard)

When we came to the end of the scenario there were cheers for the survivors ( funnily one of the tiniest toys that had been brought in!) and lots of talk about why that could have been.

The teacher PowerPoint was brilliant at keeping discussions on track.

We spent the whole morning on this , drew line graphs , looked at genuine case studies from Jenner's diaries and discussed how the language was different. We will spend a little time tomorrow to finish machine up the case studies.

The resources are all here :

A fabulous way to start the year off and great for team building. The resources are so accessible and totally age appropriate for my year  six class.  Curriculum constraints are such that time won't allow for a lot more , but the activities could easily be stretched out for longer . We have no internet in school at the moment , else I would have gone straight onto biography work. However, I shall return to this later in the term.  I would definitely use this to start the year off again .  Personally I like the fact this can be used as a stand alone and feel inclined to use it in the same way as it made such an impact . I can then revisit aspects as appropriate.

Check out the resources and see a different way of linking science, history, maths, English, drama, pshe.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Final day of Space Camp

Day five
Dan talked about camp opportunities for visually impaired students. Lots of wider full opportunities for disadvantaged students.

We then watched a film in the IMAX about future plans for Mars exploration ( narrated by the lovely Patrick Stewart) . After that time for gift shop.

Evaluations and post event questionnaire were next.

Opportunities that space camp has offered came next, then ablative shielding. We had to make a shield to protect an egg from five minutes of welding torch. Our team was successful.
We had a range of materials... Foil, mesh ( steel and copper) filler , card, cork, pasta sheets.

Here's our team's

Ablative shield

This was followed by graduation rehearsal!

We then listened to ....who wrote 'Rocket Boys' ( later a film based on the book, October Sky, was released) . Another example of what can be achieved if you 'Dream big!'

Graduation followed with awards for teams who had won missions and engineering challenges.

The evening closed with a meal and live band. I can count myself among the few who have danced under Saturn 5!

Have made great links with international teachers. United in our desire to make learning experiences relevant, stimulating, character building and fun, we will share how we take this collaboration forward.

Here are some other videos
Using the 1/6 chair Moon walk

Launching rockets Rocket

Mission simulator Capcom

Monday, 20 June 2016

Space Camp day four

Day four

Day begins with a simulation for a mission based in the past . Shuttle launch. We are representing Kennedy Space centre ( largest single storey building in the world , if no air con it would have its own climate with clouds!) . Also represent Houston and the Marshall operations centre. Their job was to monitor the astronauts and take once from Houston if their was a problem .
Our shuttle is called Atlantis which we will launch and dock with the ISS.
We have a training session in the morning and full mission in the afternoon. 👍
Rocket launch outside. Number 8
Following that , we did the 1/6 chair which gives an idea of what it is like to be in a low gravity environment.

We completed the mission. Our team were successful in docking and undocking the shuttle, but unfortunately crashed on landing. Oops! Houston, we have a problem

We listened to Honeywell ambassadors and completed activities on nano science.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Space Camp day three

Started with the mission. We were successful in our mission to swap a team on a lunar mission. Teams swapped and safely returned to Earth after experiments

After that we went on the space ride...scary!

Next rover and lander mission
 Have to protect an egg using materials provided. We have a budget and limited resources. Lander has to be dropped , rover transports the capsule. It will be dropped from the second floor of the building! All resources will be on the google drive.

After that we had lunch and then a trip in the cactus to the lake. There we took part in a range of activities .first was the zip wire. This was to simulate a crash landing in water. You climb a tower ( after being strapped in) and are then strapped to the zip wire. When clear to go you whizz down backwards into the lake which is a refreshing tonic to the heat. Once you have been un clipped you swim to the side where you clamber out.
The next activity was a simulated helicopter crash. Six in the dome which is plunged into the water and fills with water. The team leave via the door , one by one, and swim to a designated area. The whole team then swim to the landing area where one by one you climb into a landing net, are raised up and climb out.

Return to the centre and hear from Honeywell ambassadors. These are teachers who have previously attended space camp and share some of their activities.

First, Nadia from Romania. (11-18 physics teacher ) . She talked about activities she has carried out with her class. Also links with other schools in Europe . She has produced some resources to teach nano science. She also talked about ways that she has developed methodology in teaching to make mathematics more accessible.

Second ambassador talked about how he has used team work as his focus. Introduced a game called kahoot that can be used for multiple choice games. Discussed a range of team building games that he has used with children.

One of the main things that I have found from this experience is how similar our experiences are- assessment , funding, parental support, status of the profession. These were all shared. Interestingly there were no teachers from Finland, but this is a country recognised as having high standards and a well respected teaching profession. I would have loved to have had a conversation about this.  However, I have been privileged to speak to teachers from U.S.A. , Croatia, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Kenya, Turkey, Portugal, New Zealand, China, Romania, Germany, Canada. There are 25 countries represented in the group this week, but we are in smaller teams so I have not been able to talk to everyone! The team work, collaboration and shared passion to raise standards, to make teaching accessible and creative are something that the policy makers for the education systems in our countries could benefit from seeing.