Sunday, January 31, 2016

Investigating mathematics

This is less blog post, more list of resources that I use to teach the new maths curriculum, as well as old favourites Nrich and the brilliant reasoning in the classroom activities. Don't forget the archived misconception resources too - they are very helpful for teaching points.

Edu Dudley lots of great stuff including finding all possibilities, finding rules and describing patterns, logic problems, reasoning about numbers and the mathematical challenges booklet. 

Maths warriors  investigations


Trinity maths hub - free learning schemes  and assessments for each year group (spring mastery docs can also be found here)

Teaching for mastery assessment materials

We have also purchased the Rising Stars problem solving and reasoning books at school, which have good activities and good approaches to maths

More will be added as I remember them!

Improving working memory

I have played this app a few times, with varying degrees of success I'm ashamed to say! I think it could be a useful app for children who need to improve their working memory, attention and concentration. Ribbit frog Ribbit uses sound and visual cues, much like the old game Simon, but in a linear way. 

First you press to show you are ready. 

Then you listen to the notes, which increase or decrease in amount depending on how you are doing.

At some point when you repeat the sequence of notes, a coloured note pops out of one of the frogs' mouths, which you then have to identify at the end. 

If you get the sequence wrong, the frog falls off the log. I'm not sure how long it would keep a child entertained, but I can see how regular short bursts could improve a child's working memory and attention skills.  It's another one I will be trying in class.

Another EYFS /KS1 computing app

I have been playing with the Foos this morning and it's another nice free app for EYFS and KS1. 

It uses drag and drop blocks that scaffold learning. 

You can change the direction of your blocks by clicking on them, then select from arrows.

After you have mastered basic walking and jumping, it introduces the repeat command.

That's as far as I've got at the moment, but I can see that children will enjoy playing with it from what I have played. I will try it with my mini digital leaders next week. It requires some computational thinking, though doesn't challenge like other apps by asking children to think too much about direction. This is good for the children who find apps such as Beebot too challenging. 

 My only other criticism so far is that you don't have to be overly precise with the jumping/adding blocks. I was successful even when my code wasn't quite accurate. A nice start to early coding though.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

#DLchat as a Slow Chat

Most people who know me know how passionate I am about having digital leaders in schools and the benefits they can have. I have been known to nag folk about hosting #DLChat - and posting on the digital leader network. #DLchat and the Digital Leader Network are a collaboration between like-minded people and not owned by any one person; it's the energy shown by a great community of professionals that keeps them going. 

I'm not quite sure exactly how long #DLchat has been going, but over the past few years we have had some really successful chats on a Thursday night. Some weeks have been quieter than others and lots of regular chatters have had major commitment changes over the past few years, though remain as passionate as I am about digital leaders. A couple of years ago I asked people if we should change the chat to a different night as many people had other commitments on a Thurs. It was felt at this time that it should remain the same. I do now feel that a different format is needed, to keep the chat going and to include more people. If you check out the # each week, tweeters have shared photographs, blog posts and events with their digital leaders and more of these people might like to host if they weren't tied to a Thurs night. 

When @Bekblayton proposed that we trialled a slow chat, I thought this could be a great way of keeping the chat going, whilst involving and including more people. A slow chat happens when someone poses a question, then it is responded to throughout the week. An alternative (thanks @clcsimon) is whereby the host posts a different question each day throughout the week. We can find it by searching for #DLchat and following the threads.

So now that it is more flexible, there is no excuse! Here is the document you need to sign up for hosting! When you sign up, you can state whether it is one (or more) questions / ideas / topics for the week, or whether a new question will appear each day. It's entirely up to you!

I think that this way we will include more international digital leader advocates and we can learn from each other. It also might just tempt those who are put off by the fast pace of the chat as responses can be slower and more thought out. 

So to kick off this week's slow chat, tomorrow I will be asking: 

Q1: What are the benefits of having digital leaders? 

Q2: How have they contributed to school improvement? 

Q3: What difficulties have you encountered when supporting digital leaders?

These will hopefully appear throughout the day ... 

I'm relying on others contributions, as I am now attending an an unexpected meeting on Thursday from 6pm. But that's ok, because the slow chat can continue for a whole week! So please do join in. Don't be shy or feel you can't contribute because you haven't before - all views and ideas are welcomed! We can learn a lot from listening to one another and sharing oue good ideas. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Having just looked back at my nurture 14/15 post, it was interesting to reflect on my hopes. #DLChat has continued, my ulcers have been kept at bay, most of my closest friends remain fit and healthy and my children are doing well.

Reflections of 2015


Despite feeling like it has taken a back seat to SEN this year, I managed to deliver a keynote at a conference in March, have run a code club at East Harling and have employed mini digital leaders. Although I feel I don't have enough hours to remain at the cutting edge, I know I am still doing my bit. #DLChat continues, though it maybe needs a rethink this year.

My children

Ben came home in July and will commute for his last year at uni. This is good as I can pester him to work hard and to try and keep normal hours... We have a lot of study chats now I am a student again and it is lovely to have him home. Jake has bought a house and I am dead proud of him, even though it has left me feeling very emotional. He is moving next door to one of my best friends at primary school and although I know she will be there for him, it feels a little weird that she might see him more than I will.


One of my hopes last year was to find a yoga class. I failed with that, but have found a pilates group. The phrase 'zip it up, front bottom, back bottom' is now one of those that pops into my head at all times of the day! I have also started running. After years of being a fine weather fartlek* runner, I bumped into a friend who told me I could run without stopping, that the first km was always the hardest and that I just needed to tell myself that I could do it. The next day I ran 3km without stopping. In my jeans. This carried on 3-4 times a week for a few weeks until I bumped into the same friend who said her husband thought he had seen me out running in my jeans and they'd had a good laugh about his eyesight... I had to admit that I didn't feel confident enough at that point to put tracky bottoms on, so if anyone saw me walking they wouldn't think I was a naff runner... Looking back it seems a bit ridiculous now. My son started running with me a bit later in the year, which helped me up my pace. Despite preferring to run alone (or with Jake - but we don't talk so that doesn't count) I said yes when I was asked to join in a charity run. Realising that I wasn't that bad was a really good feeling! As I'd been out once in company, I decided to join a local running club. I've not looked back! I'm not particularly competitive, but know that keeping it up is great for my asthmatic lungs and wellbeing (I can only concentrate on my breathing and looking where I'm going whilst running so have a real brain break). I feel like I have conquered the 5km and have managed an 8km route on occasion.

* Ben is doing a sports science degree and has told me that what I refer to as fat lady's running (I know that's not PC, but I didn't coin the phrase) whereby you run for a bit, then walk (and repeat) because you don't have the stamina to keep going, could be passed off as doing it that way on purpose i.e. fartlek.

County moderation

I trained to be a county moderator last year, which proved to be very interesting. We had to offer four dates to work, then were told that the county was being inspected ... you guessed it, on one of the dates I was moderating. It was ok though as there were five moderators in that day and I was the only newbie, so I thought I might be left alone ... Nope! The inspectors plonked themselves down on my table and looked at how another moderator and I were hosting the sessions.  It was all good though as we were commended on the way we moderated work. Phew!

Social media and blogging

They have both taken a back seat this year, much like computing. I haven't had to time to blog properly and have started and not finished about 10 posts over the year. I have stepped back from twitter as well, for two reasons: it takes up too much of my time reading the posts that I think will inform my practice or following interesting threads; some of the arguments/statements on twitter were raising my hackles. I'm sick of the phonics debates. I'm sick of high profile secondary teachers slating primary teachers, then refusing to answer challenging questions because some of us are too insignificant or don't have enough 'celebrity' status to respond to.

I did set up a deputy head FB page as a place to share SLT stuff, which I will try to promote next year. I think it could be a valuable resource if we get enough people sharing. I have tried to support @SENexchange, but must do better, and have almost kept up with #dlchat.

My hopes for this year

Family and friends

Life is precious. A tragic death in the family before Christmas reminded me of that. I will continue to ensure that at least one day each weekend is spent with family and friends. I hope that I will become a nanny at some point (Nanny Pidge) though next year might be wishful thinking. I hope my lovely friend Sue gets better and that other close friends have good news about health issues in their families. I look forward to bicycle shop / prison cafe meet ups with Jenni, Becki, Rubes and Judith, seaside walks with a range of friends and lots of afternoon teas with Linda, Sal, Jo and Becca. I hope I get to more gigs next year than I did last year.

BIG weekend

I hope I get to China this year after an epic fail last year. I did manage Scotland, Munich, Whitby, Wales, countless beach trips and both days at the BIG Weekend, so musn't grumble! After climbing Snowdon last year on my birthday, I'd like to climb Scafell and Ben Nevis this year.

New SENDco award

It needs to be done. I need to stop grumbling about it! (Sorry Amanda...)

Digital leaders

I hope that we can do something innovative this year - possibly with @kevin_sait.


I want to manage to keep up with reading for pleasure in amongst the abundant SEN course reading. Our book club will continue and I have a stack of new books on my shelf to read. I got 'A Boy Called Christmas' for Christmas, but haven't started it yet ...


It's therapeutic. I need to spend more time doing it. A child in my class bought me an A5 sketch book, which will now go to the seaside with me.