I’ve already written a #nurture1415 blog post on my personal blog but felt that it was important to review 2014 in a purely professional context. It’s hard to keep track of everything that has happened over the course of the past twelve months but I hope that this post brings the highlights together.
It’s important for me to point out that I am first and foremost a classroom teacher and that this role takes up the majority of my professional and work life. Classroom teaching is always the biggest priority for me but I have been really fortunate to be involved in lots of other educational initiatives.
This year I was offered the post of Curriculum Leader for E-Learning and Computing at my current school. This role includes senior leadership and management responsibility so I now work as part of the SLMT too. It’s a great role and I’m really excited that I’m able to further develop our e-learning strategy and approaches across the whole school. The biggest success we have had this year is the launch of our own learning platform at htrschool.net which is a seamless mix of WordPress and Google Apps for Education. This system integrates a whole school portal as well as separate areas of pupils, staff and governors offering quick access to documents and calendars. We’ve also integrated home access to services such as Education City, Espresso and Purplemash into the system and have embedded all class blogs too (which remain public). The system uses a one-login system so Google Apps manages the login to GAFE and Wordpress – one username and one password for everything. This means that all of our school community have quick access to all of their online services. We have a badge system integrated too with the ability to export to the Mozilla Backpack so we are looking to launch this in 2015. We’re really thankful to RenoovoDesign for their handwork behind the scenes with the technical aspects of htrschool.net too.
We’ve also been thinking carefully about how we map out and teach the new computing curriculum in line with the new National Curriculum. We still teach ICT/E-Learning skills across the curriculum but have specific curriculum time for computing from Year 1 to Year 6.
On a class-based level we had great success with our Expedition Everest project where my children learnt about Mount Everest through open-ended research and project work. They were in contact with an Everest explorer to support them in writing accurate newspaper reports and also interviewed Tori James, the first Welsh woman and youngest British woman to successfully reach the summit of Mount Everest. They also Skyped an adventure cameraman who reached the summit of Everest and worked with US-based author Gail Terp to write exciting fiction stories. You can read more about the project in this blog post.
My class also became very heavily involved in the Online Field Trips offered by Tesco as part of their Eat Happy Project. After being initially hesitant, we took part in an online visit to the Wensleydale Cheese Factory and I saw the huge potential of the project. Later in the year I was invited by the managers of the Eat Happy Project to speak at a BIMA event in London alongside directors from Zone Limited and Tesco about connecting with classrooms. I’m really pleased that the attendees picked up my key messages from the day. You can read a write up of the day from Zone Limited here.
I was also invited to speak at the Maximising the Potential for Interactions Online conference in Manchester. I spoke mainly to a public sector audience including the police force about the ways in which children are using digital technologies and how education needs to adapt to this. In May I was invited to speak to teachers and trainee teachers in Greenwich about using thematic based learning to promote literacy and also ran the ICT training for SCITT students based in Stockton. In October I had the pleasure of presenting at the Digitally Confident Conference in Gateshead alongside my brilliant headteacher Rachel Orr – it was great to share our journey towards being a digital school.
One of the biggest surprises of 2014 as being invited to speak at the Better Tools, Better Learning II Conference in Riga, Latvia in September. This was operated by the European Educational Publishers Group (EEPG) and I was truly honoured to share the work from my classroom at this event. After getting over the initial shock of having an interpreter, the conference went really well and I really enjoyed the panel discussion. I also had the opportunity to spend time in schools in Latvia and explore the remarkable cities and landscapes.
In 2014 I also had my third book chapter published. The chapter explores the changing nature of literacy in society with specific reference to the use of blogging in the classroom to promote new literacies.
2014 was a brilliant year and I’m not sure what 2015 will bring but I look forward to many more learning adventures in the classroom and online.
Thank you to everybody who has played a part in making 2014 such a great year!