Sunday, 23 June 2013

TeachMeet East 2013

Yesterday I was lucky enough to attend my third TeachMeet. For those of you who haven't come across the idea of a TeachMeet before, it is an opportunity for educators to gather together informally to share ideas and good practice to enhance the learning experience within the classroom. Organised by +Tim Handley and Sarah Prentice, and backed up by a great team, it was held at Bluebell Primary School in Norwich and was a day full of inspiration and ideas. A special thank you to Martin aka ICTmagic for his help at setting up the internet on my Chromebook.

For this TeachMeet there were two parts to the day, first a Hands On series of sessions and secondly the main session where people present on a variety of topics of either 5 minutes or 7 minutes in length. With over 30 something presentations there was an awful lot to take in and this blog post aims to be a quick summary of just a few of the ideas that I am looking forward to exploring more and trying out in my classroom.

Digital Storytelling

This was referenced several times through the day and it was the session that my mind kept returning to. It was a super presentation by Paul Parslow-Williams, currently working in the UEA Education department, who shared some of the digital storytelling projects he has been working on. I came away with lots of ideas for using maps to tell a story, both the children's hand drawn ones and those using Google maps etc. I also have a few projects to explore including Kate Pullinger's Ebb and Flow Project and Stefano Tambellini's Writing Maps Project. Paul also gave some great tips for creating an interactive map in Powerpoint, reminding us that Powerpoint can still be a useful tool.

Google Sites and Google Apps for Education

Several people referenced the above throughout the day and although I use Google a lot for my personal life (you should hear what Mr Dotty calls me!) I have not used much in the classroom apart from the obvious things like maps. After sessions by peeople like +Mark Allen aka EdintheClouds I really do want to finally get myself using Google Sites etc and have decided that this will be one of my summer PD projects.


This website had completely bypassed me so thank you to SheliBB who blogs at Carry On Learning for sharing this website. Hackasaurus is a great way to mash up websites (and get an insight into HTML) to create interesting resources for use in the classroom. It is really easy to use and will definitely get the kids engaged! Check out here and this video by Ian Addison for a short introduction.

Creating Character by Adam Parkhouse

Adam shared some fantastic ideas for creating more well rounded characters in writing where you use dice to decide on the features of your character (sound familiar?!) and he also linked to Paul Parslow-William's comments on using maps. I liked his idea of having a large map on the wall, the children creating a character (with described features on the back) and the children physically moving the character around the map. He also shared the idea of asking questions of the characters, for example What is the most recent thing you have lost? It really gets the children to delve more into their character. I will definitely be implementing Adam's ideas soon and when I do I will blog about it to show what it looks like in the classroom.

Other things to explore

I have heard so much about Scratch and yet never tried it so it was nice to get an introduction from James Abela. I now have this list of sites to explore, play and learn from!

Scratch- James Abela

Mr ICTmagic shared this presentation filled with some fantastic links to resources that will be good to use in the classroom, go check them out!

JenniH68 shared what she has been doing with reading in her class and school as well as her blog, Reading for Pleasure Not Gove. It was nice to see what other schools are doing and see the similarities with things I have set up in school such as our Borrow a Book scheme. She also shared some lovely videos to inspire writing. I will try and find the videos she used and add in links but the message is they are a fantastic resource for inspiring writing!

Jeni Smith (a blast from the past from my PGCE at UEA!) shared some great paper folding ideas to help think about landscapes. It also gave me an idea for how I can use it in our geography topic this term.

Lucy Abel shared some of the things she has been doing on her PGCE placements and I loved her simple ideas for teaching decimals- looking at food packaging! Lucy gave a real reminder of the need for reak contexts and practical applications of learning.

As well as her fabulous door Becki Jennings also shared some more great videos to inspire writing.

Image taken from here

I promise you that this is only a brief snapshot of what was covered that day! Some super presentations and ideas to get you thinking! Also there was a gorgeous BBQ, sweets AND cake! I also attended the Teach Eat afterwards where I ate far too much and got to continue having fantastic conversations with people.

So to everyone who attended TeachMeet East 2013- thank you and I look forward to the next one!


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chick Week

When I first started at my school a few years ago I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of some ageing chickens that the school had hatched from eggs and seen through to old age. Sadly they went to chicken heaven throughout that first year I was at the school. In that year I saw the children take responsibility for looking after the chickens, feeding them, collecting the eggs, going immediately to our HT when they spotted any issues and cleaning out their coop. The children were super at telling the difference between them and patiently told me over and over which was which! So it was with great excitement my Head told us a few months ago that we would be getting a new batch of eggs for hatching which would be delivered after the summer half term. The staff decided that the first week back would be a week devoted to the chicks! Myself and the Year 3 teacher had a lovely time planning for our thematic week and I thought I would share a selection of our learning from the week.

Designing a Chicken Coop

Chickens need a safe place to live and roam and so we started off looking at our existing home for the chickens, discussing the design and the materials used. We then used some images I had found on Pinterest to look at other, more creative, examples of chicken coops. The children did really well discussing the practicalities of the different coops. We then designed our coops and I let the children have a little freedom in their designs. What resulted was a mixture of 'normal' coops and some a little more original (and slightly less realistic!) 

We then completed some descriptions about our coops, thinking about vocabulary to describe the features and also used it as an opportunity to work on our VCOP. I was so pleased with what they produced that we decided to put up a display!


I will use any learning opportunity to read and share new books and I found two super picture books we used throughout the week. Firstly 'Chicken Dance' by Tammi Sauer and Dan Santat. This was a super book about two chicken sharing their talents along with a range of other farmyard superstars. A visit by Elvis Poultry completes this enjoyable tale and as much as I tried to get the children doing their own chicken dance they were very reluctant! Instead we created some music to accompany the different talent acts and watched this super video from the publishers!

The second picture book we looked at was 'Interrupting Chicken' by David Ezra Stein. Poor Papa is desperate to tell his daughter a bedtime story but she won't stop interrupting! This video featuring the author and illustrator, David Ezra Stein, in a interesting insight into illustrating a picture book.

We used this book to create our own writing. The children enjoyed writing their own story and just as they were writing the resolution to the story their partner took over and finished the story! We have put this into a class book.

I would recommend both of these picture books, even if you are not having a theme week! I would suggest KS1 and lower KS2 for both but I think Year 5 and 6 would enjoy them too. 'Interrupting Chicken' is a good text to use to look at traditional tales as well. The third book we used was a non-fiction text that I used to launch our science work on eggs and the life cycle of chicks. 'Where do Chicks Come From?' was geared slightly more to KS1 but was actually a good explanation for lower KS2 as well and was a good opportunity to look at technical vocabulary.

Storytelling Eggs

I couldn't resist ordering these plastic eggs and realised they would be perfect for some storytelling work I wanted to do. This year I have spent a lot of time looking at creating stories with my class to move them away from the 'two friends went to the park, had fun and went home' type of story. We have spent time this year thinking about stories in different settings so I decided to focus on a farm. The children had to draw little pictures of settings, characters, objects etc that would be found on the farm that they could pick out of the egg and use to form a story. We had done similar before so it was a lovely recap. Once the children had made their picture prompts we went outside into the gorgeous sunshine and in pairs they told each other stories. It was a lovely end to the session! They then took them home to create stories with parents. 

This is a little snapshot of our 'Chick Week'. The most important thing though was the excitement that spread through the school with news spreading like wildfire that a crack had appeared, a chick had hatched and that feathers were appearing. Even as a fully grown adult I was excited by the chicks arrival and will forever remember being present for our final chick hatching. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Instagram knows how much I loved it! And anyone passing through our KS2 library (their temporary home) and seeing a row of Year 5 boys sat transfixed, will know the power those little balls of fluff have over the children. We are keeping the four girls that hatched and I promise to share regular updates!

Thanks for reading!

Kelly Dotty

Monday, 3 June 2013

My Bookish Week- 3rd June 2013

Hello and happy Monday! Once a week I plan to share the previous weeks book related bits both in and out of the classroom.

Book Links

This past week was half term and so I managed to get some great reading and internet playing research done.

Firstly the fantastic Bill Lord (Joga5 on Twitter) shared a link to a google map called ‘World of Books.’ On it people have recorded pins of locations to be found in children’s books. It is a fantastic resource and one I will use regularly and aim to add to as much as I can.

I also loved this video shared by Mr Schu from Mr Schu reads about the power of reading. One I will definitely be sharing with my class, especially to ‘B’ who loves Captain Underpants!

Zoe Toft from Playing by the Book also reminded me of the Picture Book Plays website. Also if you love children’s books and haven’t seen Zoe’s website yet go and check it out!

I also enjoyed this article detailing Michael Morpurgo’s thoughts on not patronising young readers.

In his last blog post as the Booktrust writer in residence Matt Haig discusses how to make books more popular.

Books Read

I also managed to read some books! Just lately I have been terrible at reading about 5 books at once which means I am not finishing ANYTHING! However half term perseverance (and some picture books) has meant I have some books on my ‘read’ pile.

Three of the books are picture books for a Chicks project we are doing the first week back. Come back later in the week for a blog post detailing what we did. I am so excited!
‘Chicken Dance’ by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Dan Santat.
‘Interrupting Chicken’ by David Ezra Stein.
‘Where do Chicks come from?’ by Amy E. Sklansky and illustrated by Pam Paparone.

I also read ‘Madame Pamplemousse and her Incredible Edibles’ by Rupert Kingfisher. This I picked up during the week after some vouchers were burning a hole in my purse. I hadn’t heard of it before and I chose it as I liked the idea of a book set in Paris and it being about food. At 138 pages it was a nice quick read.

From the blurb- When Madeline is sent on an errand by her horrid uncle, she discovers, by chance, a shop owned by Madame Pamplemousse. It sells the strangest, the rarest, the most delicious, the most extraordinary and the most incredible edibles in the whole world. And when Madeline’s uncle wishes to steal the most incredible edible of all. Madeline, Madame Pamplemousse and Camembert the cat have a good reason to join forces and create some truly remarkable magic.

I would say the story would appeal to KS2 readers, especially with its touches of magic and sweet illustrations. It would promote good book talk on the themes of greed and doing the right thing. I also love some of the ingredient descriptions, Salt-Cured Raptor Tails anyone?

I also finally read ‘Krindlekrax’ by Philip Ridley. This had been on my to read list for ages. I have to be honest that after the first few chapters I was not really enjoying it but then suddenly that all changed and I couldn’t put it down!

Books Reading

I am currently reading ‘The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making’ by Catherynne M. Valente. This had been on my wishlist for a while and I am excited to finally be reading it. Have you read it? What are your thoughts?

Books that have entered the house

I visited the library and came home with this lovely stack of books to read.

What have you read lately? Feel free to leave a comment to share your recent reads!