PLTS resources created through fabulous collaboration

(Taken from an original post on a PLTS Action Research Blog)

These resources are under development with the PLTS team at the moment….it goes something like this…

(1) Have an idea

(2) Ask, “I wonder if…?” within earshot of team members

(3) Prototype gets developed

(4) Prototype is tested and refined both in terms of its design and its application to task

(5) Prototype becomes a real resource

We are a great team!

The resources are designed to stimulate QUALITY LEARNING CONVERSATIONS, using the language and concepts of the PLTS. We’ll let you know how are ‘field trials’ go.

The dice are designed as one per PLTS, in two versions, one set is to be used reflectively with the prompt of ‘Have you…’ and the other set is to set PLTS targets ‘Try to…’. They are made out of wood and are, in themselves, things of beauty! The swatch cards are for teachers to refer to when they are observing learning, to support the integration of PLTS language and the cards are for learners to use to reflect and develop the PLTS as a shared language for learning. We’ll be road-testing them all with our project teams of Confident Communicators on Thursday, when we’re holding the Presentation Day for the project. The day is being run alongside an LA AfL teacher conference, and the teachers will attend some of the presentations as a CPD workshop to have a go at observing the PLTS in action using ‘Observing Learning’ techniques we’re developing.


Creative Behaviours

The time when I am able to work from home is precious. It gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in readings, resources and videos that push my thinking forward. It also allows me the time to develop my creative behaviours. I’ve just started ploughing my way through an overly-long reference list I have compiled over the past two months from my Personal Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter and I’m now exhausted in the best possible way! There’s some amazingly inspirational thinking around and all of it is only a click away, especially now I have my PLN up and growing.

I’ve just watched Gregg Fraley @greggfraley speaking at TEDx hosted by NASA and whilst I listened, I doodled…only to find that one of his key recommendations was to purchase and use a notebook. How good did THAT make me feel?!

Watch and enjoy…my sketches are below (ordinarily, I wouldn’t have included them, but on removing the “YARDSTICK OF COMPARISON”, I found that they are perfectly valid forms of my self expression – thanks, Gregg!).

The wonders of

I’m at the explore & play stage with Prezi ( at the moment as I keep getting intimidated by some outstanding work in the ‘showcase’ section. Sometimes inspiration has the opposite effect, don’t you think? Anyway, not one to give up too easily (well, not at all, if the truth be told and this is a place of truth, after all) I shall keep going and learning. In the meantime, you may see a few more of Prezi examples cropping up on this blog. I love this one – all about metaphor…enjoy!

Creative collaboration

Over the past 18 months, I have been involved in one of the most powerful projects in my career to date. At first glance, the role of facilitating a group of educators as they explore questions related to creative learning may not appear so very innovative. On closer inspection, however, any enquiring eye will discover a powerful and very real example of teachers and teaching assistants collaborating to build a purposeful and safe learning community. The result of which is having a powerful and sustainable impact on learning opportunities for children and on the professional confidence of all the adults involved.

I have learnt so much about the importance and value of investing time and space to provide quality regular opportunities for educators to reflect on, develop and evaluate their practice. At times it has felt so slow in comparison to the frenetic nature of everyday school life that I have worried that we’re not achieving anything. I have been acutely aware of my responsibility to demonstrate concrete outcomes (the production of ‘stuff’) in order to justify teachers’ time out of the classroom and away from their classes, but I haven’t known what ‘stuff’ we could present. Instead, I have focused relentlessly on documenting the conversations, discussions and reflections of the group members. I have subjected them all to their own documentations including writing, video and digital photography and insisted that they provide their own sources of evidence of impact throughout the meetings. They have kept their own learning logs, recording ideas they pick up from each other and things they have tried with their own classes and other colleagues back in school. I have set homework for them and required them to take a ‘Creativity Pledge’ at each meeting to state what they had done, the impact of this, their next steps and some possible outcomes. It has been rigorous for all involved, but this approach has, without doubt, sustained a purposeful, thoughtful and very very safe learning community.

I hope that the findings that the research group produce provide a way forward for all schools to support innovative developments in teaching and learning and take 21st century learning by the scruff of the neck once and for all. This is an 18 month snapshot and there will, I know, be much, much more to follow…

IDEO Education Animated Films: Living Climate Change

So now I’ve explored the IDEO Living Climate Change site ( a little more and found the education section. Here are a couple of great animated films that could be used to stimulate thinking and discussion about the lives we live now and the possible futures we could have. I personally love the idea of having a curriculum subject called, “Consequences” (referred to in the second film, “A Little Brighter”). Much more to explore…

A little dimmer

A Little Bit Dimmer from IDEO on Vimeo.

A little brighter

A Little Bit Brighter from IDEO on Vimeo.

IDEO imagine the future of play

I love the way IDEO think. Some of their projects have clear opportunities with which educators can connect. More importantly, the questions that IDEO raise and use to inform their thinking are incredibly powerful. I’m involved in a ‘Future Researcher’ project with Year 8 students at the moment. I wonder how they would use this and the films that IDEO say are yet to come in their projects….

(From the IDEO website

As part of Living Climate Change, IDEO imagines a future shaped by electric power dependency – where schoolyard play offsets the cost of fossil fuel and kids take an active part in their powering their world. Tune into IDEO next week, when we’ll envision a brighter future. For more scenarios, click through to Living Climate Change, a place to discuss the most defining design challenge of our time.

<p>Escape from IDEO on Vimeo.</p>

Teacher Voice

I’m just returning from an excellent day with two secondary schools and their feeder primaries exploring ‘Gifted & Talented’ together for a whole day. This resulted in over 200 teachers coming together to think, discuss, share and plan for the last day of an exhausting, snow affected term. My role was to deliver the keynote and then I had the privilege of working with the teachers throughout the day as an on-site consultant. In truth, this role was simple…watch, listen, observe, answer questions (usually with further questions, such is my way) and then listen again as they developed their concrete plans for provision. The departments from the two schools either worked together for the whole day or worked for concentrated sessions on their own and then joined each other to compare and share their planning.

Doing this kind of work around the country reaffirms my firm conviction that commitment, passion and enthusiasm is very much alive and well in teaching. I wish the media would spend some time listening to this. I wish politicians would spend some time seeking it out and watching it.

We rightly develop strategies to ensure that learner voice is amplified in our schools and that young people have an authentic say in how they learn. I wonder whether, particularly at this time in the political calendar in the UK, it is time for us to develop similar strategies for teacher voice? We need to invest in the creation of a culture of reflection and learning conversations between teachers. There needs to be deliberately constructed, systemic collaborative learning opportunities for schools to come together in their entirety to share their values and develop their practice.

The day ended with everybody back in the main hall. Action plans for every department had been completed and evaluations submitted. 

An inspirational day. And, as ever, much more to think about for me.

Happy Term Break!

Making learning sticky (inspired by ‘Made to Stick’

After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Tipping Point’ a few years ago, a group of us started to talk about ‘making learning sticky’. It was around the time that Mick Waters, then Head of Curriculum at what is now QCDA, was talking about ‘Making Learning Irresistible’. Since then, we have used this concept as the focus for many discussions around learner motivation, pedagogy and use of new technologies and Web 2.0.

Yesterday, I was following up a number of references to books from the world beyond education and ‘Made to Stick’ was one of them. The website is interesting, particularly the way in which the Heath brothers make links between communicating an effective an powerful marketing message in the commercial and business sectors and how the education sector constantly strives to engage students in their own learning.

To be honest, this is right up my street, all this connectivity stuff. I think there needs to be a lot more cross-over between what we know in education about organisational change, motivation and learning and how business, industry and the public sector address these issues. Anyway, I really like this pdf and I’m now working on translating it into ‘education-speak’ for future work. The book ‘Made to Stick is available on Amazon. (Click in the centre of the box to read in full screen).