The sun will soon be rising on 2010 and I just wanted to look back at a hugely eventful year for me personally. Here are some of the things that have been memorable.
Last Christmas we spent our holidays in Australia. It was an amazing trip for me and I would dearly love to return to that part of the world, perhaps on a more permanent basis. When we arrived in Sydney our apartment was not going to be open until later in the day. We had landed about 8am and the prospects of entertaining a 2 year old with all of our luggage still in tow was going to be tricky. But to our rescue came Judy O’Connell and Dean Groom, both of whom I had known from our various online networks but had never met before. Judy kindly picked us up from the airport and we went back to her house where we were able to unwind for a little bit. Dean picked us up later and took us on to our apartment in Manly. I am so grateful for that amazing gesture of kindness – it got our trip off to a great start and illustrates the trust that can be developed through online connections.
The TeachMeet community has had an incredible 2009 and I have been fortunate enough to have been to five events in person. The BETT show TeachMeet began the year and I was just amazed by the scale of things and the huge interest from the commercial sector. In May Stuart Sutherland and I organised and ran the first TeachMeet in the Midlands, hosted by the National College for School Leadership. It was incredible to be part of the full organisation and we are hoping to hold another in 2010. I was delighted to be invited to do a mini-note at TeachMeet North East London and also to organise TeachMeet Channel 4 to bookend their education conference. In September I was able to return to the Scottish Learning Festival and another TeachMeet held in the BBC Scotland building. Along with popping into various Flashmeetings I also attended Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw’s hugely successful EdTechRoundup TeachMeet which was held online. This added another amazing dimension to this incredible professional development event. With Stuart Ridout, I am currently organising TeachMeet Bett 2010 as well as TeachMeet Takeover – it looks like it should kick off another inspiring year of grass roots professional development.
When you get an invitation from royalty to a conference in another country you can be excused for being a little sceptical. But the inaugural World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in Qatar was no joke. I was delighted to be included in only 1000 of the invited delegates from all over the world. A handful of edubloggers were invited but not many actually attended. It was a privilege to represent primary school teachers from the UK and be part of the wider discussions. Although the word “innovation” was in the conference name, little was done to “walk the walk” in terms of the communication processes used. That said, I blogged and tweeted my way through the event to encourage remarks and comment from a wider audience. I hope that if there is a 2010 event that more will be done to encourage delegates to share what they experience with a world audience.
This time next year I will have spent a term in a new job! After a bit of grumbling I stumbled upon a Deputy Head Teacher job that I believed would be a great opportunity. I spent the return flight from Qatar writing the letter, which got me an interview. The day and a half interview was a great challenge and I was thrilled to be offered the job. I will be starting as Deputy Head Teacher in the Summer term. I have been in my current post for about 8 years and I have been through some great times, but it has long been time for me to move on and face a new challenge. As part of the interview I asked readers of this blog and followers on Twitter to help with some testimonials. I printed them off and found a moment in the formal interview to hand them out to the panel – it was an amazing set of references and I have no doubt helped secure the job. Thankyou to everyone who contributed to the 20,000 character job reference.
During 2009 I continued my involvement with multi-touch technology in the classroom. At BETT in January I met with representatives from SMART and organised an early trial of the SMART Table in my classroom. After working with it I felt it’s capacity to impact on learning was limited. Sadly the trial was abruptly ended, in my opinion due to an honest and frank account of my experiences I blogged about. Although critical of the SMART Table I was committed to helping SMART improve and develop it as it would directly benefit the wider multi-touch educational technology field. But, alas, they prevented that by taking it away and they did it, in my opinion, to limit the damage caused by my negative posts. I am now a member of the SynergyNet steering group at Durham University who are developing a multi-touch learning project, and met in November of this year for the first time. The developments at Durham are really exciting: multi-touch classrooms, networked tables able to pass media between them and a general focus on the pedagogies that underpin multi-touch enhanced learning.
This academic year we have been doing shorter half-termly topics in Year 5. We have found that although shorter, they are more focused. The first one was Sealife. Built around and inspired by the Nintendo Wii game Endless Ocean. It was a pleasure to work with the children during the 7 weeks as we explored, discovered and learned together. Using an open ended game to drive a topic was amazing to work with and the children were completely engaged and enjoyed every moment.
Maths Maps has been a long time in the making. Years ago I made some Google Earth resources that used the satellite imagery to structure maths activities. With the development of Google Maps and the ability to now collaborate on a map as if it is a document, such as a Google Document, I have been able to realise what I had always imagined with these resources. Each Maths Map is a maths topic with activities located on real life objects visible in the satellite imagery layer of Google Maps. In total the 3 current maps have been viewed 85,000 times, but more importantly the idea has inspired other teachers to begin using Google Maps to produce engaging content for their learners.
This year I finally made the switch to a self hosted blog. With the nudging of Doug Belshaw I bought some space and installed WordPress, transferred everything from my old blog and have been really happy here in my new home. The most obvious advantage is the personalisation that you can achieve with your own space. There is no limit or other person choosing what you can add or not. You are free to be as creative with your space as you are with what you write. I was pleased to have been nominated by my peers for 6 different Edublog Awards categories this year, thankyou to all those who wrote such kind words in their nomination posts.
I just tweeted about a couple of updates to two different “Interesting Ways” presentations. The IWB resource was started in November 2007 and now there are about 30 different crowd-sourced resources with a huge amount of shared expertise. I prefer not to be too tool-centric, nor do I like the formulaic “100 Awesome things to do with a Cabbage” sort of posts that have littered education blogging recently. In my opinion what sets the Interesting Ways resources apart is that (a) they all begin at zero, they are put out there not as a perfectly formed multiple of 10 lists and (b) they are built by everyone, the crowd, educators explaining and sharing their experiences. They are authored by the community and I feel lucky to be in the position to keep encouraging them along.
A memorable year in lots of different ways and Christmas at home this year has been made really special as my 3 year old son’s excitement has built to a feverish crescendo. I have been able to share in some of that too. I wonder what 2010 will bring? I am looking forward to it already. I wish you all the best for 2010 and hope you continue to join me.