What is Social Enterprise

I attended my first logging conference, the first day was an “unconference”, affectionately called “moosecamp”. This is modeled on the popular “barcamp” which is usually a day comprised of computer geeks, who initiate informal conversations on topics of technical interests (and there is usually some of beer). I was particularly interested in Sharepoint, and it was suggested that we also attend the session on Social Enterprise first as the topics are related. The majority of the conversations circled around company culture and how it related to collaborative culture when the software was introduced. Why use collaborative software?

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Turning 30 and beyond

I keep expecting some kind of philosophical epiphany to strike me… but it hasn’t. Mostly, I just look ahead to the rest of my life coming and think that by the time I hit 35, I will probably be in a completely different existence… babies, maybe even a mortgage (but I’m probably not ready for that kind of responsibility yet… the mortgage, I mean).

There are brown smudges of god knows what on my monitor. This house is disgusting.

Continue reading Turning 30 and beyond

One year

Occasionally when I’m driving to and fro (as I do a lot for work these days), I get a half-baked idea in my head about something that would make a good blog update. Unfortunately I don’t ever remember these things, and whenever I’m actually sitting at a computer I’m usually feeling too guilty about my pages-long to-do list to come up with an update.

So now, because I am taking a self-enforced “lunch break” and I’m just finishing up my fries & Coke, I thought I’d write a long, rambling update with no specific topic or importance. You can’t even call this a stream-of-consciousness update because the “conscious” part is highly debatable.

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Spaced Learning Method

I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic couple of days in Newcastle this week – with two impressive school buildings featuring alongside the Angel of the North, the SAGE building and the Tyne bridges in my visual memories of the trip. It’s not easy to describe Monkseaton and St Robert of Newminster – I’m afraid I was so interested in what was going on inside the buildings that I didn’t take any pictures! But each building had been carefully designed – no hidden corners, lots of curves, impressions of space, breakout areas and lots of natural light.

But school buildings are only the packaging for the learning that is going on inside. Monkseaton are using a method called Spaced Learning, which builds gaps into a lesson by including something physical, something distracting and unrelated to what is being learnt, so that process of letting the learning sink in can take place.  It’s not something to use in every lesson – after all, we all know that variety is the spice of life and learning – but it certainly seems to be having an impact on the learning that is going on. It makes a lot of sense to me, as often it’s when I’m doing something mundane and physical – usually vacuuming or ironing(!) – that something I have been reading or learning or thinking about really sinks in to my consciousness so I can make sense of it. Continue reading Spaced Learning Method

Digital Dialogue – developing ideas

Communication takes so many different forms, but increasingly it is taking place online. The impact of digital dialogue is enormous – just look at the burgeoning networks that are being established on Twitter.

At the success of Facebook. If there was any doubt about the potential impact of digital dialogue, we only have to look at the social and political impact of online communication in recent weeks throughout the Middle East. Just look at how our teenagers organise their lives and identify with others through their online communications.

The internet has evolved from an information source, an online “encyclopedia”, to a tool for social dialogue, shared game-playing, collaboration. And it’s the dialogue that takes place that seems to be having the impact. Continue reading Digital Dialogue – developing ideas

Is sharing important in learning?

I’ve been at the Partners in Learning European Forum this week.

It has been as interesting and inspiring as the previous Partners in Learning events I’ve been to – looking at the event and the projects through more experienced eyes and not as a competitor was a huge privilege. To see teachers sharing ideas, what’s going on in their classes, experiences and passions is an amazing thing – but begs the question why so many other teachers aren’t as open to sharing as these individuals. Hence the Shakespeare paraphrase that makes this blog post title.  I suppose one of the reasons that I think sharing is important can be summed up by another (paraphrased) Shakespeare quote:

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy  classroom.”

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TEDxLondon – The education revolution

There was a call for revolution at the Roundhouse in London.  Not the
sort of revolution that we have seen that involves civil unrest. Something much
more constructive and lasting – a way forward for education.  A way that gets
back to the basics of education – something that can have an impact on our
society, our economy, that values our culture and the cultures of others, that
is personal and personalised. If the bare minimum that is needed for theatre is
an actor and someone to watch (Peter Brooks via Sir Ken Robinson) and only things that enhance the theatre should be added in, then the bare minimum for education is the relationship between a teacher and a learner. I’d go even further than Sir Ken and suggest that teacher needn’t be “me” in a classroom – it could be another child, a friend, a parent, an aunt, an outside expert.  But I completely agree (and have often been heard to say!) that learning is dependent on relationships. Continue reading TEDxLondon – The education revolution

How Creative Is Your Teaching?

Does it frequently involve artwork? Does it involve drama? Does it involve music? Does it involve some practical activity?

Or does it involve making choices about a tech tool to use? Problem solving? Open ended tasks? Self-directed learning? Collaboration? Peer feedback?

I can be creative – I have spent many hours following a knitting or cross-stitch pattern. I have followed dressmaking patterns. I can follow a piece of music when playing my guitar or singing. But I think that is a different sort of creativity to the creativity I use in class. Continue reading How Creative Is Your Teaching?

Making a Difference as a Teacher

Just over a year ago, I met the most amazing and inspiring lady.  She originally comes from Burundi, but now lives with her husband and (now grown up) children in our area, having come to the country as a student. She worked for a long time as a teacher before becoming a social worker. She has a warm heart and generous spirit as you will tell from what I have to say!

Her family stayed in Burundi when she came over here, but unfortunately most of them were victims of the genocide that happened there.  The details are too horrific to include here, but her father (a Christian pastor in the area) saw all the events, though he was left for dead by their attackers after watching his wife and other family members being killed.  I can’t begin to describe how moving their story is, how dreadful were the circumstances that drove tribe to fight tribe. But that isn’t what this story is about anyway. It’s about what happened when Grace returned to Burundi for a visit. Continue reading Making a Difference as a Teacher