Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Hello and welcome to my blog

My name is Andy Gaunt (@andygfarsley), I am a relatively new Headteacher of a 1 form entry primary school in Bradford. I have been teaching 18 years and held a number of roles and subject coordination posts, but my particular strengths are PE and ICT. I decided to start writing this blog for a number of reasons
1.  I don't find writing easy and I am asking my school children to embrace blogging, so I have decided to have a go myself and see (prove) how easy it is!
2. To create a diary of our progress.
3. To create a store of ideas dovetailling future tech into our school curriculum.
4. And to share our progress with other schools embarking on the development future tech in schools.

We have been through a massive learning curve over the last 12 -18 months trying to decide WHICH, WHEN, HOW, WHERE and WHAT technology kit should we use in school. I had concerns that we were failing our children with regard to ICT, but had no idea which direction to take. Our suite was 5 years old, the PC's were failing every week and the ICT curriculum was extremely narrow and uninspiring. The guidance I needed came from an unlikely source - A headteacher conference. The conference was themed around raising aspirations! At the conference we were asked to tweet our comments.I wasn't into social networking nor did I see the benefit of the iphone - I wanted a phone to ring people! - check emails, surf the net, tweet, QR codes, geocache from a phone why? How wrong was I? Twitter - wow - supportive - helpful - wise - brilliant. I linked with @lordlangley73 from the LEA on twitter he sent a welcome tweet and the phone never stopped bleeping for 30 minutes with welcome follows from the Bradford twitterati. No going back now!

Over the next few months through twitter my contacts grew, at school we trialled podcasting and geocaching in school and generally dipped our toe in to tech to support learning. We bought into a support contract with TICB  and myself and another member of the SLT decided to attend the Bradford mobile learning conference (Bmoble). Here we heard a number of inspiring speakers and schools sharing good practice.

Through discussions with the SLT we decided to purchase a small amount of tech kit and upgrade the wireless network, so over the summer we bought 10 ipods, 10 handheld sat navs and 6 kindles.


I spent the summer playing with ipod and kindles, my children were totally absorbed in them. All the apps were either free or 69p and the 10 books totalled £10.
The kit was introduced to the staff during a staff meeting, the staff were encouraged to take them home and play with them. By October half term the staff were literally fighting over the ipods - they were never in my office.


By taking the above approach the staff became familiar and confident with the kit and began to see how to dovetail the kit into the pedagogy of their teaching. Our biggest break through was the progress an austistic year 2 child made. He struggled to communicate and access the curriculum so his support trialled a simple letter ordering app, he came to my office everyday asking for an ipod and after half a term he had progressed from ordering 2 letters to ordering 24 letter correctly.

I was asked to present with James Langley @lordlangley73 at an ICT in education show in Stockport regarding our journey into techology. It was at this conference I begun to realise the difference between ICT as a subject and as a tool to enhance and engage learning.

At this conference I met an extremely influencial speaker who helped shape my thinking about the future of tech in my school. I was still thinking that ipods etc were part of the development of ICT as a specific subject - but NO ipods etc are tools for engaging learning in schools not ICT specific. I am now of the firm belief that tech is about 3rd Millenia Learning. The icon below links to Tim's blog about me and then further links to an abundance of resources

November 2011

Purchases - 60 laptops and charging trolleys, 20 ipods and 2 ipads


The laptops have proved to be a big hit, constantly being used in classes across in small groups to full classess.
The ipods continued to be a hit and now become more embedded into the curriculum in a more meaningful manner.
I wasn't sure about the ipads, my initial feeling was I could buy 2-3 ipods for 1 ipad. So I bought 2 ipads for the SLT to trial in both an admin and curricular role.

November 2011 The Blog

With support from the Curriculum ICT team we decided to begin blogging - was created and our first attempt was on residential at Ingleborough Hall. Here is a link to our first blogging attempt.

On our return to school, a number of parents commented on enjoying comments and photos whilst their children were away. The fantastic twitter community in Bradford I had built up assisted. I sent a tweet to half a dozen of the Bradford twitterati asking for comments on the blog - 6 responded within the hour - the children really responded and loved the fact people were commenting on their activities. The power of the blog was confirmed to me on that residential and I set about sprucing up our blog, putting CPD in place and promoting the blog at every opportunity. At this point I spent many hours reading other blogs, commenting on a few and researching web2.0 tools to enhance ours.

These sites were the ones we began experimenting with. My staff really took to them trying new ideas for the blog and their general teaching.

Year 1 - recorded all the phonemes on audioboo.
Rec, Year 1 and Year 5 began embedding maths trails in QR codes.
All classes uploaded photos to photopeach to create slideshows.
Videos taken in class were uploaded to a school you tube site.
Year 6 created a prezi  called the Digital Nativity.

Jan 2012

We had spent a term playing, learning, getting used to the kit and change in pedagogy, now was the time to start proving we were doing the right thing!  So to date we had been backed by the governors and significantly upgraded our kit.
A new managed wireless network.
60 laptops in charging trolleys
30 ipod touches
6 kindles
2 ipads
12 garmin sat navs
1 Nintendo Wii
We had not spent a a huge amount on Apps or books and found most of the Wii games on ebay

Jan 2012 Blogging Launch

Following a slight revamp and a CPD session we launched our school blog to the parents and world wide web via twitter. So far the blog has been predominately used to showcase what we have achieved in school. Slideshows, videos and podcasts being the biggest slice of the posts. I wanted the blog to improve writing standards, this has been slow but  our first success was picture of the week linked to our weekly speaking and listening activities. We posted a picture on the blog and displayed in class and asked the children to comment or question regarding the picture. This example is a panorama on which the photographer of the orginal picture from South Africa commented.

Bettys Bay Beautiful Sunrise Standing Next To Ocean in Greater Cape Town The whole school were extremely excited to learn that someone from another country had taken the time and effort to comment on our blog. This then inspired some collaborative writing with a link to a Google Doc - the children followed the link, wrote a sentence or two leaving the story at a point where somelse could continue. This was the result.

Other specific writing posts that have worked well were  year 5's Who am I riddles and the whole school Olympic limerick
I started a page called The Well Done Blog on which children were sent to me to photograph, video or podcast some the great work going on in school, this was then posted to the blog and shared with parents. I believe its a great idea but I was running before I could walk! The time I was taking to share the children's work was too long and therefore lost its impact with the children and parents.
1. I was still the main person posting on the blog, staff were developing their confidence with regard to posting on the blog, so time to post became an issue.
2. I didn't promote it with the parents effectively enough.
3. I found the format wasn't as ideal as I would've liked, as it was an additional page to the blog it didn't allow individual posts, so the comments weren't matched to the media. This meant the parents didn't comment on their children's work as I had hoped would happen.

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