Magnificent Minecrafting

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In Year 6 we create our own topic plans based on curriculum coverage. This term we are looking at environmental aspects of the world including geographical planning and being Eco-friendly. One of the chosen activities by the children was to create Eco schools on Minecraft – the ‘in’ gaming sensation of the moment. We talked about the Biomes available and how these would affect our building of an Eco-school, as well as different ways to create renewable and sustainable living. The children put themselves into groups of four, surprisingly they chose to work with very different peer groups to their normal friendship groups. With two iPads per group they were encouraged to collaborate, share and swap. They made notes on the choices of buildings they made which will be written up in the near future when their sites are more detailed.
We have begun using the 3d printer to create figures for each child, minecraft designs being perfect because of their cubist shapes.
Once the children had worked on their schools for two – three hours I asked them to take screenshots and annotate them on Skitch explaining what each area identified. They are still working on these but here are some of the shots of their work on display.

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You may notice the small 3d skeleton next to one of the skins. Fabulous!

Minecraft inspires children and when I shared some of this work in assembly and asked who played Minecraft, practically the whole school shot their hand up. By using it in school not only are the children totally engaged but they can see how educational it can be. Many of my class have asked if they can create their own at home. Now that’s what I call homework!!

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My Passage to India – part 1

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My head is swimming, more work/life balance is tipsy, my lists have lists. I wake in the night, every night and think of something I need to remember – I really should write them down. I have reminders on my phone, iPad, in my diaries and in my doodle book!
My kids know all about the different projects I am doing both in home life and school.
“When is your TeachMeet mum?”
“6th February at Gaywood School.” Tmwn.wordpress.com if you’re interested!

“Where are you celebrating your birthday, Mum?”
Etc. etc.

As a result I was thrilled that they were with me when I received the following email, as part of my project with British Council Connecting Classrooms:

Dear Partnership Coordinator,

First and foremost, please accept our sincere apologies for the time it has taken to inform you of this outcome. We fully appreciate you will have plans which have been put on hold and apologise for any adverse effect this delay may have had. As you may know we have moved our processes to an brand new online system and with all new endeavours, we encountered some issues which impacted directly on our planned activity deadlines. The issues which have impacted on this application round have been logged and rectified.

I am delighted to confirm that your application for a Connecting Classrooms grant has been successful.

A grant of £1500 has been awarded to each school within the partnership to enable the delivery and development of the global themed activities proposed in your application.

Gob-smacked were the exact words I used I believe. I had completed the application some time in October and hadn’t felt entirely confident that the link school and myself really knew what we were doing as we were both new to the project. Such a long time since then I had kind of assumed we hadn’t done it. But we had! Now I could go back to a country I had grown up in, spent my primary school years in, kept in a special place in my heart, albeit in a new area. Even better, I am taking my teaching assistant and very close friend, Jackie with me. For me, watching her experience the sublime sensations that coat every single one of her senses for the first time will be pure magic. I am so excited about taking her to markets, beaches, temples and rivers.

We are heading to Kerala, the people of Kerala are Malayali, and call their state ‘God’s own country.’ I have not been, but know from family and friends that it is one of the most beautiful places in the world. More than 25% of our school cohort and their families come from Kerala, so I know the people are good, kind, generous and spiritual. They will be thrilled when they hear we are going to their homeland and I am sure we will be inundated with offers of accommodation and advice.

I am so looking forward to meeting Mary, my link teacher, and all the students as we work on our joint projects together. I am excited about sharing our little, pretty and historic town with her when she comes, and again I am sure she will have many people reaching out with open arms to welcome her.

What can I take with me from the children here? Enthusiasm, questions, gifts of stories, photos and ideas for collaboration. What can I do while I am away? Blog daily, skype our school, and possibly others, visit other less fortunate schools and share my experience. Learn from the teachers on the sub-continent. What will I bring home with me? I hope a reminder of how lucky we are to be able to have such experiences, a sense of humility at how huge and varied the world is in so many ways and yet so small that we can be connected by this technology. Photos, experiences and loads of new ideas.

So now for the next step, as we wait for the money to be transferred to the school account, we are looking ahead to dates that will work for both schools. We don’t want to visit when their school is closed, nor particularly in the monsoons. We would also preferably not go before the SATs. Mary needs to consider which time will suit her best too. Much to be done, but an exciting journey to be had. We will most definitely be blogging whilst away, but I will connect back here when Mary has been and when we get back from India.

For a further information of how you could get involved look at :
http://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org

എന്നാത് ആകട്ടേ

For now.

My curriculum journey so far…

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June 2013 – My role in school begins to shift from SENCO to ‘curriculum manager’. As changes to the proposed curriculum seem to come in on a weekly basis, I begin to wonder if this role is going to drive me insane! Then I discover Michael’s work on his blog here. Suddenly it all started to fall into place, just like the jigsaw he devised. I shared this with the staff and we decided to use the jigsaw theme for our school. It is visual, bright, easy to read, represents teamwork and collaboration; and is primary friendly. Michael has been very supportive of my work and we’ve had useful discussions about how I am progressing, thanks! Do follow his blogs they are of utmost importance to the primary teacher. Here he has plans laid out for each year group: https://sites.google.com/site/primarycurriculum2014/

I had been reading various books regarding developing curriculum, and particularly enjoyed Brian Male’s book which you can find here: http://www.curriculumdesign.org.uk/
He states in his introduction:
” We need a curriculum with a strong moral purpose; a curriculum that we all came into the profession to teach.” The visuals used in his work include a tree; where the roots hold the empathy, motivation, managing feelings, self-awareness and social skills, the trunk contains the learning skills which connect the roots to the leaves – the subject. He also uses Venn diagrams and design triangles. The point I am making is that the design is ours to choose and we chose jigsaws.

“The statutory requirement on schools is to ‘teach the Programmes of Study during the Key Stage.’ It is left up to the schools to decide how to teach the Programmes of Study, and how long to spend doing so.” Brian Male,2012.

The book really opened my eyes to my new role as he states that the role of the curriculum manager is:
“To impact on the designs before they are carried out to help ensure that they are appropriate to the intended learning. To review the outcome of the experiences to see what was learned and what was not and how this needs to be fed into the next stage of design.” Brian Male, 2012

So I am mid- design, playing with my puzzles, trying them out, throwing them out and expanding on them. I am happy to share where we are so far. We have medium/long term plans for foundation subjects linked with topics. We are on the cusp of all trying half termly plans using jigsaws (giving up on wheel planning, not cost effective for us). I have had a go at Literacy plans and ‘I can’ jigsaws for writing, and the RE and Maths co-ordinators are having a go at there respective subjects. Feel free to deride, ignore or steal. None of this is my own work, I’ve just pieced the puzzle together.

Happy planning!

Overview of school plans, ‘I can’ statements, English planning, blank half-termly plans. More to follow!

Curriculum design jigsaw St Martha’s
I can writing hexagons
English planning jigsaws
Half termly plans each class Master

Soaring into 2014

Resolutely 2014

Resolutely 2014

I have been flying.

Not literally, but in my head. This holiday has been super hectic for me, with managing to squeeze in visits to three sets of parents as well as aunts and great-aunts.

At the same time I have been continually checking my twitter feed and playing with ideas for the first ever TeachMeet I will be hosting (tmwn.wordpress.com if you want to come along!)

So my flights? Well all through this I have been given boosts and I have reached some decent heights. Thanks to @rlj1981 for asking me to submit ten top tips for her collaborative iBook, this is when my feet started to leave the ground, @mrlockyer sent me gliding with his recommendation to her; @michaelt1979 recommending me on his ‘Who to follow in 2014’ blog post:http://michaelt1979.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/primary-tweeters-to-follow-in-2014/ made my wings flap and the response to that with an extra 50 follows on Twitter made me soar.

So thank you to all of you and now I know I need to keep my resolution to blog more often and keep on flying. flat,550x550,075,f