Optimus National Gifted & Talented Conference

I’ve been speaking at the Optimus National G&T Conference today and I’ve had a great day meeting lots of enthusiastic teachers eager to develop quality teaching & learning opportunities for all learners in their schools. Optimus are great conference organisers, it must also be noted.

7th November 2010: I’ve now taken the pdf documents down as I’m busy creating and adapting new versions. Once they’re ready, I’ll put them up for your perusal and further comment. If you want to get hold of any of my resources, just drop me a line and I’ll try my best to help out.

I’m writing the Full On Learning book at the moment, so everything I write and create is now subject to copyright, hence I have to be watchful about what I can make available. This is weird for me as I’m used to putting everything up for sharing. Sorry about this!

Happy learning.


“If everyone could educate, we could educate everyone”.

First thing this morning, I was uploading a file to my @DropBox account and noticed that they were hiring. Out of interest, I had a look at what working at a company like DropBox might entail, and saw this:


How cool! It describes how it offers a working environment that appeals specifically to to the way in which they want their employees to think and live.

How might we define the ‘benefits’ of learning to reflect the type of mindsets we want our learners to develop, I wonder? Could we write a Job Description for a learner that truly reflects the skills and dispositions we are seeking to draw out of them? And how would this same rule apply to educators? I would have loved ‘sense of fun, play and exploration’ to have been listed under ‘essentials’ in my job description when I was starting out in the classroom. That’s certainly that type of learning environment I always sought to establish when I was teaching. I would like to think that I still express this quality as ‘essential’ now I work with teachers and teaching assistants.

It chimed with the work I’ve been doing recently that incorporates the concepts of Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE into an educational pedagogy. In particular, his TED Talk and RSAnimate talk about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. I’ll be posting about this very soon, with some very simple ‘think-resources’ that I’m testing out, but take a look at the talk(s) and see what you think.

I then came across this TEDx Talk by John Werner and MacCalvin Romain from Boston TEDx and was reminded of the @theRSAorg   RSA Area Based Curriculum Projects; something I would love to start developing with schools in my own work. As I continued to listen to the talk, however, an alarm bell went off. I love the sentiment of ‘if everybody could educate, we could educate everyone’ but ONLY if they are supported to share their thinking through the channel of an effective pedagogy. In this way, we would create a truly collaborative environment of learning:

1.Teachers and students would learn about their subject as it is applied in a wider and applied context
2. Industry would learn from educators about how to the develop skills, gifts and dispositions found within in their workforce
3. Industry would gain an insight into the perspective of young people, their next generation of consumers, participants, employees and leaders.
4. Young people would have access to mentors, role-models and indutry-trained and experienced practitioners
5. Schools and colleges would connect with local business and employers to form a community hub

All of this would ensure that they schools can offer the best possible ways in which students can access the curriculum, in addition to the offer of an enhanced curriculum in itself. 

Not only that, but it then makes me think of how powerful would it be if we, as educators, shared our own expertise about how humans learn and develop with those who run businesses, laboratories and retail outlets. I wonder what impact that might have on the way in which the workplace is organised, how we encourage innovation and how organisations can nurture the capacities of not just our children and young people but those who are already in the workplace, seeking fulfilment in what they do, how they act and how they contribute to the future economies and communities which we are preparing for our young people to enter. How this might support the development of life-wide (rather than life-long) learning?

Some random musings for a Tuesday morning, at least.

The Power of Twitter (ONCE AGAIN)

Thanks to Jamie Portman for his cracking endorsement of the power of Twitter found here: http://www.jamieportman.com/blog.

Jamie has been part of my personal learning network for a long time now. I’ve been through the lurking stage with him right through to mentions, DMs and emails to share resources with him (which reminds me that I have some more for him I MUST send – sorry for the delay, Jamie!). Next, I really hope I’m going to be able to visit and see the amazing work of Jamie, his staff and students since a fire ripped through the school buildings at Campsmount, Doncaster in December last year.

Please do follow Jamie on Twitter @jamieportman – he’s got some great follows and followers and is leading some very innovative, pragmatic learning in his school.

The real power of Twitter is all that I’ve said, but It’s also enough to bring me out of my self-enforced silence during my holiday in an attempt to SWITCH OFF. I try really hard to relax and clear my head when I take time off but to be honest, it doesn’t really work.
Just today I have been reading “Over-schooled but Under-educated” by John Abbott. I continue to lurk on Twitter during my ‘silent holiday’ (I’m not supposed to be interacting in this ‘switch-off’ mode) and this afternoon, I have researched a number of educational readings…I’m currently checking out a range of different teaching models including the Autonomous Learner Model and the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model (http://www.edtech.vt.edu/edtech/id/models/cog.html) with which I’m undertaking some action research in our ‘Confident Communicators’ Project’ (see previous post) at the moment and will be talking about at a number of conferences in the next few months.
I’ve also done some work on my book plus I’ve downloaded Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA (www.thersa.org), which has been added to the RSA Animate series – check it out if you’re interested in finding out about intrinsic motivation, with some powerful scientific evidence to support the case…it brilliantly enriches the TED talk (www.TED.com) he gives around the same issues.

I also went on a four mile walk this morning along Monmouth Beach, Lyme Regis and saw some spectacular fossils and the other side of the day involved a final circuit of the harbour and the Cobb. ‘Switching off’, it would seem, is very subjective…

I {heart} Futurelab

This is a great thought-piece that we will be using for our ‘Confident Communicators’ Project. The teams of Year 8 students have been challenged to research the future and this film will help stimulate their thinking and discussions. Thank you, Futurelab! I highly recommend their work – why not make yourself a cup of tea and set aside a chunk of time to explore their work if you haven’t been there before OR been there for a while.

Confident Communicators Project Is Go!

I’m just recovering from an amazing day at Bath University where we launched our collaborative schools’ research project. I work with a wonderful, dedicated team who are making all of this innovative learning a reality.

The ‘Confident Comminicators’ project is designed to work on several levels:

1. Develop learners’ self confidence through their communication and collaboration skills.

2. Provide a learner-led research project which will run over the next five months.

3. Create opportunities for teachers to adopt the role of facilitator and observer of learning, using strategies adapted from EYFS practice.

4. Allow learners to work in teams to ‘research the future’.

5. Raise aspirations of learners & teachers.

6. Use podcasting to develop ‘quality learning conversations’.

What a day! A special word of thanks (tinged with buckets of awe) for the ‘glue’ of the day, Mr Jeremy Stockwell (follow on Twitter @jeremystockwell). He absolutely pinned down the essence of the day in what, how and why he said & did what he did.

Suffice to say, I now know how to breathe and, as one teacher reflected on how tired she was at the end of the day (the students were similarly exhausted!), “…it’s great to be tired in a different way.”

Indeed it is. More on the project as it develops.