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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

One's World War - Ready for launch!

I have been waiting eagerly for the launch of this fascinating project from the Alan Peat team!

One's World War is a project that will last a number of years and will chronicle the diary of a soldier throughout World War 1.

Alan Peat acquired the diary a few years ago and alongside Simon Matthews has been putting this project together for over a year.

The diary belongs to a gentleman called George Beale–Browne, a Gloucestershire man who, at the start of the war, was a Lieutenant in the 61st Company of the Advance Service Corps (1st Army). By the end of the war he was a Major commanding a G.H.Q. Supply column. What is unique about the diary is that it reads as a continuous narrative looking at all the different aspects of war from someone who lived through it.

To bring the diary alive, the team have put together the website, each month the website will feature a free podcast which runs alongside a digital magazine. The digital magazine is available through different subscriptions options, such as a monthly £6 subscription, 6 monthly at £30 or yearly subscription of £50.

I was able to have a sneak peak of the first issue and it is stunning. The design aspect from Simon is incredible, well on par with the fantastic design he did on Mat Sullivan's Developing writing through Comics book.

The digital magazine is a great resource for teachers. Packed with information, which links to the corresponding month and podcast from the diary. Lesson plans aimed at Primary level written by some inspirational teachers. Both Alan Peat and Mat Sullivan provide lessons for the first issue. Then there are links to books, websites, apps will be very useful in the classroom. This description doesn't do justice to the wealth of information provided in the magazine!

What I love about this project is that it is a great mix of something historical and important told through exciting, engaging and modern storytelling tools.

I feel both schools and teachers will find tonnes of useful ideas, resources and inspiration. Subscription is available from July 10th with the first issue being published on August 4th, which will be exactly 100 years to the date of the first diary entry.

So make sure you subscribe before the end of the school year to avoid missing the first issue!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

It is nearly summer!

It is nearly the end of the year and where we you would expect everything to be winding down, it seems to be the most busiest time of the year for many teachers! Sports days, Year 6 productions and reports are just some of the things that creep up on us this time of year! This doesn't mean that teachers aren't looking forward to the imminent break! This is perfectly reflected in this little treat for our Year 6 from the staff at Davyhulme Primary School.

A fantastic way to show that we don't take ourselves too seriously, have hidden talents and are willing to go to "embarrassing" lengths to entertain and put smiles on our children's faces!!

Please feel free to share, like and tweet! Even grab staff from your school, have a go at your own and share the #summerjoy!

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their incredible support this year. Looking back to this time last year when I decided to drop to part time and be a part time trainer/consultant, I could have never imagined this year would have been so successful! That has only happened due to the wonderful support of everyone who has viewed the blog, followed me on twitter and booked me into their school. I am looking forward to a lovely break in the summer with some exciting projects lined up for next year!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Poetry in the New Curriculum

Never before has Poetry had such a big focus than in the New Primary Curriculum. Learning poetry by heart, reciting and performing poems is prevalent throughout the new Literacy curriculum:

Year 2 POS -
"..continuing to build up a repertoire of poems learnt by heart, appreciating these and reciting some, with appropriate intonation to make the meaning clear."
Year 4 POS - 
"...preparing poems and play scripts to read aloud and to perform, showing understanding through intonation, tone, volume and action
recognising some different forms of poetry."
 Year 6 POS - 
"...learning a wider range of poetry by heart."

Something that we have been doing for the past 3 years at Davyhulme Primary School is a whole school Choral Poetry competition. The idea is that the children learn and perform a poem with winners for EYFS, Year 2, Lower KS2 and Upper KS2.

The competition runs in an X Factor style, where the judges (Head, Deputy and yours truly,) give feedback after each performance. Paying particular attention to the arrangement, use of props, use of voice for effect, movement, volume and creativity.

The children love this competition and the performances are outstanding.  Now we will be able to link this to most of the poetry focused objectives. Here is this year's competition:

As a school that loves to promote and share children's work through our blog and social media pages, it gives us access to contact the poets who wrote the poems performed by the children. Not all the poets were on twitter, but the ones who were ALL replied and left some inspiring messages for the children.

When shared with the classes, the impact is fantastic! For the children knowing their hard work has been seen and appreciated by the professionals who created them is simply... Awesome!

There are some fantastic poets and authors who I have contacted and they have left a comment for children here are some we received from this year's poetry competition.

One poet - Ian Bland went one step further! Being so grateful that the children chose and performed one of his poems, he personally signed one of his books and sent it to the class:

I recently sat in on one of Ian's poetry sessions as part of the Literacy Shed and was really impressed as not only does Ian perform his poetry, he teaches children how to write poetry through workshops and can also provide CPD for teachers and build their confidence in teaching poetry. You can find out more here -

So as Poetry is becoming a more important part of the Literacy curriculum, how will you promote and encourage children to appreciate, enjoy and learn different poems? If you have any other ideas, please leave them as comments to this post or tweet them to me. If not, give the choral poetry competition a try, it is a fantastic way to celebrate poetry throughout the school!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Guest Blog Post - Whole School Math Duel World Cup

At Brockwell Junior School (@brockwelljunior) we are lucky enough to have 16 iPad available for classes. The problem we have been facing is trying to stop them from being a 'simple' internet browser or only using them as an extension activity. What we needed was an app and an idea (iDea what a great name for an app) that could be used across the entire school and could be incorporated into lessons. The main purpose of this was to highlight to staff the potential of the impact the iPads could have.

Enter @ICT_MrP and MathDuel (@ElliesGames). Lee wrote an incredibly useful 15lessons eBook for the World Cup. One of the lessons was about setting up a MathDuel World Cup in your maths lesson. This was a fantastic idea but we felt it could go even further. So we decided to run a whole school World Cup competition.

Each class had to complete a league of 8 matches (each match is 2 minutes long, a goal is scored when the progress bar reaches one players side and stars cascade). After a few practises a number of rules were established.
For example,
1 No touching your opponents board - yellow card
2 No setting your levels too easy - match fixing
3 You cannot play the same “team” (classmate) more than once.

Click here for a copy of the league score sheet.

The results were entered into a quick spreadsheet, which quickly identified the top two players from each class / league. This was done by awarding the usual 3 points for a win 1 for a draw and 0 for a defeat. In the event of players being level on points it would then be decided on goals scored. The top two players from each “league” (class) were then put through to the knock out stages of the tournament. 

The top 16, semi-final and quarter-final matches were played in a very similar format but these were best to 3. If there was no clear winner after 3 matches then it went to a golden goal (next goal wins the match.)

During the tournament Erik Bye from @ElliesGames contacted me asking if he could sponsor us and we jumped at the chance! In addition to this school purchased four trophies of various sizes for the four finalists.

As the excitement grew around school for the tournament we decided to televise it, as all World Cup finals are broadcast. To do this we used a USB and @ReachWildlife's live streaming service. We let the finalists battle it out in the library away from distractions and had the entire school watching LIVE on the big screen in the hall. This helped create a real World Cup atmosphere. 

After the third and fourth place matches were played our players entered the hall to rapturous applause. However this was nothing compared to the thunderous support from the spectators during the final match. The finalists could hear the cheers echoing down the corridors, providing a real “match day” environment. I have never heard such vocal support, and enjoyment, for the four number operations. When Aaron claimed the title of #MathDuelWorldChampion the cheering could be heard in an adjacent building.

#MathDuelWorldChampion - Aaron
#MathDuelWorldSecond - Amelia
#MathDuelWorldThird - Ben
#MathDuelWorldForth - Lewis

8 classes of 30 children played 8 games = 1024 games
Top 16 8 x 3 games = 24
Semi-finals 4 x 3 = 12
Quarter-finals 2 x 3 = 6
Finals 2 x 3 = 6

In total, across the whole school, approximately 1072 competitive MathDuel games were played (not including practises or friendlies). If the average game consisted of 20 questions (well below the real number I suspect) then over the duration of the tournament 21440 questions were answered.

With very little effort we managed to raise awareness of such a powerfully simple app and hopefully it will be 'played' in class long after Brazil 2014 has finished. This is a fantastic way to engage children and staff and showcase the power of the iPad. It also shows that sometimes the simple apps can often be the best. A simple app with a slight creative twist can become an incredibly exciting and rewarding learning experience. 

Ability for student to set questions to their own level
Student centred learning
Students from different year groups can compete simultaneously on the same iPad
Whole school engagement
All students can succeed
Competitive Numeracy lessons ensuring all boys focused
Maths, maths and more maths

Very few!
The noise level during the final matches may result in future tinnitus
Students cheering for one classmate (in the finals) may hurt opponents feelings
If you would like any help or advice in managing your own #MathDuelWorldCup please don't hesitate to get in touch. We would be more than happy to share any of our resources such as spreadsheet leader boards, game score cards and world cup wall charts. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did. 


- Thank you so much to Mr Will Baker for this. A fantastic example of how a simple idea can be adapted to engage, inspire and improve children's learning. In the ebook, the lesson talks about using the app in a class, which I have done plenty of times to great effect. To see a whole school take part is wonderful and the enthusiasm, support and enjoyment from all the children is a wonderful thing to see!

Thank you again!