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Leading from the classroom #STEPConf

The ever magnificent David Cameron asked me to come along and speak at #STEPConf yesterday. My brief was to share the Pedagoo journey to inform a discussion on the following question:

How can teachers work together to influence developments in Scottish education?

I used the prezi above to structure the presentation and discussion. I had left the prezi unfinished and added in the outcomes from the group discussion which were as follows…

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It was a really fruitful discussion, and as usual I wish I’d left more time for it. What we were beginning to get to was that in order to have influence we need to first cultivate a culture of openness and sharing amongst the profession, which is an organic process and will take time. Along with that, policy makers need to be open to listening to teachers’ ideas and make the time and space for genuine partnership working between practitioners and decision makers.

I would suggest that one of the primary purposes of Pedagoo thus far has been to foster and grow a culture of sharing and to do so in a focused way which provides a collective voice which policy makers can then engage with. Yesterday has inspired me to consider how we could make more and better use of our Pedagoo community in Scotland to further support teachers to share and have wide-ranging impact…

“Activist professionalism is not for the faint hearted. It requires risk taking and working collectively and strategically with others. Like any form of action, it demands conviction and strategy. However, the benefits outweigh the demands. The activist professional creates new spaces for action and debate, and in so doing improves the learning opportunities for all of those who are recipients or providers of education.” Sachs, 2000

The Continuing Ankle Saga


I don’t normally post this sort of thing on my blog…but I feel I need to this time. It’s of particular interest to anyone who might be considering inviting me to something over the next wee while and I have to refuse.

Ten years ago I fell off a cliff on holiday. There, I’ve said it. It’s true. I was very lucky at the time as I landed on my legs (particularly the left one) and not my back. However, this impact has resulted in an arthritic ankle which was causing me more and more pain. I thought I’d resolved that two years ago by having it fused, but if you’ve seen me recently you will have noticed that I still walk with a cane as it’s still quite sore.

I found out the other week that the reason for this is that the next joint down in my ankle is now arthritic. It is deteriorating and the pain will eventually reach a point when it too will need fused. It’s not clear when this will happen but I’m guessing it will be within the next year.

So, why am I telling you all this now? Well, if you’re a regular to this blog you will have read my post about Own Learning…I’m going to have to reign this in and basically be very careful regarding which projects I take on for the foreseeable. The keen eyed amongst you may have noticed that I’ve removed the link to Own Learning from the sidebar of this blog and from my twitter bio.

If you want to work with me, please do still free to get in touch. But please understand why I might want to meet you online, or why I might even need to say no. I really won’t want to say no, I’m not good at doing that, but I need to get better at it and I hope you’ll understand.


What literature has had the biggest impact on your practice? #gtcsPL

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As a member of the GTCS Research Engagement Group, I’m facilitating this week’s slow twitter chat with the hashtag #gtcspl.

Slow twitter chat? What’s that? Well, discussing educational literature is complex, and rightly so, so rather than trying to cram our chats into an hour, we’re hoping to encourage folk to join in over the course of a week. This is the third such chat and taking the week-long approach has really worked for allowing the conversation to develop, as well as giving lots of busy teachers the chance to join in over the course of the week.

So for my week I’ve chosen to ask the question…

What literature has had the biggest impact on your practice?

I’m hoping this will kick off with lots of sharing of great articles and books (some of which will hopefully be available through EBSCO) but I’m hoping to encourage folk to go further and also share what impact it had, why and how they know. We’ll see how we get on.

So, get your thinking caps on folks and join in all week!


Here are the storifies (sp?) capturing the tweets from the week:

It was suggested that we compile all the books suggested in the first three days of the chat into one list on the fourth day and then vote on a top ten on the last day. You can see both of these lists below. We ended up with a top 12 instead of a top 10 due to a tie.

Wireless Projecting


I’m in the ridiculously fortunate position of having been given 20 chromebooks a few years ago, 17 of which are still working. I was also given a wireless network to make them work, which has been fab. It occurred to me recently however that with these two ingredients it might just be possible for me to add a chromecast to my network and get some wireless projecting happening. So, one of my colleagues who has a chromecast took one of the chromebooks home and gave it a go on his TV…and, it worked!

So, I set about trying to work out how to connect an HDMI chromecast to a projector which doesn’t have HDMI…a tonne of cables later, and lo and behold, it works!


What I hadn’t quite anticipated is that not only can I now project wirelessly…anyone who is on the network can! So, if a student has something worth sharing with the whole class, they can just cast it straight up onto the screen from their desk. I’m only just beginning to get to grips with the implications of this technology for learning and teaching…but I thought I’d share what I’d done to at least have got it working – something I really wasn’t expecting to occur when I started playing around with this!

In case anyone else is thinking of doing something similar, here’s what I’ve had to buy to make it all work…

Leaders of Learning

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My S1 class are very fortunate to currently be involved in Children in Scotland’s Leaders of Learning project. Phase one of this project involved Children in Scotland consulting with children and young people on their learning which culminated in this report. In the current phase of the project Children in Scotland are working with various schools on some of the key themes which arose through phase one. My class are working on the following theme with Linda Young and others from Children in Scotland:

Children and young people want a more active role in planning around their learning

Following an introductory session the project began with an ice-breaker spaghetti/marshmallow tower challenge which was fantastic for getting the class talking to our new visitors to the class, and also was very effective for getting them thinking about and sharing the skills and attitudes they’d used to complete the challenge.

In the introductory session the pupils were asked to think of something which they could teach others. The second half of session one saw them work in threes to teach these skills. These ranged from dancing, maths, keepie-uppies and the clarinet. In their threes they arranged themselves into a teacher, a learner and an observer. The role of the observer was to make notes on what both the teacher and learner were doing to make the ‘lesson’ effective. I was really amazed by how well the observers were able to complete their task and their feedback was really excellent.

From this task we then began work on planning a lesson together. The class helped me to plan which lesson we would do, what the learning intentions and success criteria would be and how they would know if they’d met these success criteria. Linda then went on to inform the class they would not only be learners in this lesson, but they would also be acting as observers. She then asked them what questions they might have on an observer feedback form, in about ten minutes they came up with the following:


I thought that this was an astonishing response. We agreed that this was too many questions for one form, so the class decided to split them over two forms with half the class completing one and the other half completing the other. You can see their completed forms here.

The next stages of the project will involve the class researching the rest of their learning in school to find out when they have a say in their learning and then they’re going to work on producing something to share the outcomes of the project.

Yet again, this class has already demonstrated that when given the opportunity young people can consistently astonish you with what they’re capable of…we really need to be finding ways of providing them many more opportunities to do so.