Sunday 20 December 2009

Argument Map

I've been playing with aMap, a web 2.0 tool that enables you to construct a reasoned argument and then challenge your friends to contribute to the debate. It's pretty easy to use and could easily be set up as a home learning assignment. You can create an argument for up to 30 people and generate a Flash based animated widget for your website or blog. You can also invite argumentative types by email. Click the link above to take part in this argument about the importance of creativity to 21st century learning. Why not experiment with an opposing view to the one I expect you have? What's more important than creativity in education? Is creative learning the best way to attain exam success?

You can also buy printed examples of particular argument maps. There's nothing like a good old fashioned argument during the festive period I say!

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Thanks to everyone involved in the Action Research Group for a wonderful year of creative problem solving. I hope you have a great break and return refreshed and invigorated for further innovations in the New Year.

Monday 14 December 2009

Nicholas Serota from the Tate with headteacher Rob Thomas at Thomas Tallis School

Corridors of power … the Tate's Nicholas Serota with headteacher Rob Thomas at Thomas Tallis School, south London. Photograph: Martin Godwin

A moving assembly – then a scream in year 13's art class

Tate director Nicholas Serota takes charge of Thomas Tallis school, London

Nicholas Serota is sitting on a small plastic chair in a school hall, facing a sea of expectant 11 and 12-year-olds in blue sweatshirts. The director of Britain's Tate galleries is stepping out of his comfort zone – becoming, for one day, the headmaster of Thomas Tallis school in south-east London. Assembly begins and he listens intently as teachers from Ghana, St Lucia and Malaysia tell poignant stories about their childhoods as immigrants to Britain. "It was," he says later, "incredibly moving."

If the 1,670 pupils at Thomas Tallis – a specialist arts college in a deprived area of London that's just been christened a "national school of creativity" by Arts Council England – are surprised to find one of the country's top curators in charge for the day, they don't show it. This may be because their usual headmaster, Rob Thomas, is hovering in the background, showing Serota the ropes.

The men are taking part in a series of job swaps organised between headteachers and arts leaders by the Culture and Learning Consortium (an umbrella group of arts funders). Earlier this year, it published a report saying cultural organisations, such as galleries and theatre companies, should work more closely with schools, in order to get more creativity on the curriculum. Serota is here to see how he can make this happen.

Strolling through the narrow corridors, he pauses at some brightly coloured collages on the theme of the 2012 Olympics: the pupils were divided into 57 groups, each representing a country, and had to put together a bid to host the games for that nation. Many children chose countries their families originally came from. Serota has reason to pay attention – he's on the board for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. "It makes me conscious," he says, "of the tensions that exist in people's identity. Are they going to be cheering when a gold medal goes to someone who's ostensibly British, or are they going to be really thinking about Jamaica, or Bangladesh?"

Next on the timetable is a year 13 art class. Fascinated, Serota moves around the room, stopping to ask one student, who is painting a woman screaming in agony, if he's familiar with Francis Bacon; and to see if another, creating a photomontage of a street scene, knows the work of Jeff Wall. The answer, in both cases, is no. The whole experience, says Serota, is a bit like entering an artist's studio: "You go in and you're looking at something you've never seen in your life before. You have to tune in really quickly."

A meeting with the pupil-led Creativity Action Research Group, set up to explore how teachers and students can make lessons more creative, follows. Serota works hard at drawing out the quieter students. "Like in Tate meetings," he says, "sometimes the quiet ones have the best ideas." Then, after tea and biscuits in the crowded staff room, and a tense meeting with a pupil about behavioural issues, he's interviewed by Tallis TV, the school's very own TV station, and drops in on a year 8 lesson in internet technology. "We did not," he says, "have anything quite like this at my old school."

Serota is not called on to issue any detentions and, when the bell rings at the end of his command, he seems to have enjoyed himself. "The great thing about teaching," he says, "is stimulating young people's curiosity. It reminds me of some of the best moments I have – working with younger curators who haven't had it all beaten out of them." Has going back to school taught him anything? "I need to get out of my office and into the gallery. I need to get to know my staff better." Laura Barnett

'We think this is boring. So go crazy. Show us what you can do'

Rob Thomas, headmaster of Thomas Tallis school, takes over the Tate

In a small meeting room overlooking Tate Britain's elegant entrance, a team are unfolding a guide to the organisation's vast website. Made of several dozen pieces of paper held together precariously by sticky tape, it looks a lot like a school project – the sort of thing that Rob Thomas, headmaster of Thomas Tallis, is very familiar with. And he wouldn't give this one good marks. "It looked quite funny," he says later. "Our pupils would be a bit more advanced than that."

Although he and his pupils do visit Tate Britain and Tate Modern, Thomas knows he can't rival Nicholas Serota's art expertise. So, for his first appointment as Tate director for a day, he's sticking to what he knows: bringing in his own pupils to help Tate make its website, well, funkier. They begin with the site's pages on The Kiss by Rodin. "The problem," says Sharna Jackson, Tate Kids editor, "is that these are just boring. Go crazy. Show us what you can do." The kids promptly pull the pages apart, demanding a comment forum, colours that feel less "angry" and "sad", as well as a 360-degree, Matrix-style view of Rodin's sculpture.

Meanwhile, Serota talks Thomas through one of his job's less enviable moments. In September, police urged that a part of Richard Prince's exhibit, featuring a photograph of a naked, 10-year-old Brooke Shields, be removed from Tate Modern's Pop Life exhibition. The gallery did so, a decision that earned it an unfavourable and, in Serota's view, irritatingly inaccurate newspaper article. Thomas recognises this kind of fire-fighting. "A lot of the issues I face around student well-being involve negotiating with the police and social services. Like Nick, I need to be skilled in diplomacy."

Thomas takes a taxi to Tate Modern. First stop is the cavernous Turbine Hall, dominated by How It Is, a 13-metre-high steel container by Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. Thomas follows Serota inside it, groping blindly in the dark. "It just got blacker and blacker," he says afterwards, somewhat relieved. It reminds him of Eye for an I, an installation made by his A-level pupils. "You went into a box, with letterbox-size slits around the wall, through which you could see students' eyes, expressing different emotions. Like this, it was about going into the unknown."

Lunch takes place in the seventh-floor restaurant. The stunning view across the river to St Paul's is, Thomas admits, nicer than the one from his school canteen. Summing up his day, he says: "I could see that Nick and the Tate really want to engage younger people, when traditionally that hasn't been the case. They make an effort to listen, which is what we do at school. It's about mutual respect. Once you build that, it works both ways." LB

Creative Communities Annual Report 2008-9

Sunday 13 December 2009

Collaborative Learning

I've been playing around with a couple of new collaborative Web 2.0 online tools today. Stixy is a bit like Wallwisher but maybe even more useful. Revizr is a great way to collaborate with other folks on editing a document. It's different to Etherpad since you, the author, retain control of the work but you can allow numerous others to help you mark it up. I'm attempting to use both these tools with colleagues at the moment so can report back later about how effective they are.

An interesting news report on using iphone/ipods in education

Creative Learning SSC Group Research

Creative Learning SSC Group Research

What follows is the collated feedback from Faculty Meetings in response to a request from the Senior Staff Conference Creativity Group to define creativity and describe what it might look like in the context of particular subject disciplines within the school. The group is attempting to identify good practice with respect to creative learning strategies for wider dissemination. This is seen to be the first step towards promoting a more cross-curricular approach to creative learning in the longer term. The English and Humanities faculties were unfortunately unable to provide us with a response due to competing demands on their time.


Creativity is doing something different in approaches to teaching e.g. using a selection of VAK strategies in lessons. Creative approaches to learning should be engaging, help students to learn and be vocational


What does creativity look like in Media?

Creativity in Media includes:

· Working independently using a variety of media processes and techniques to create an outcome

· Learning through discovery and experimentation with media technology, processes and techniques

· Reflecting/evaluating critically on the learning and creation processes, and their outcomes

· Working collaboratively to generate ideas and solutions

· Working within given parameters/constraints such as time, method, available technology, client brief

· Acknowledging existing levels of skill, knowledge or understanding and establishing what new learning is necessary and how to access that in order to achieve goals

· Learning from ‘mistakes’ and reassessing strategies used – therefore developing resilience

· Developing their own expertise and interests within the subject area

· Challenging accepted perceptions and encouraging students to approach things differently

What creativity looks like in learning:

· Students using their own ideas and inspirations as a vehicle for their learning

· Students learning through a process of research, experimentation, documentation of process, creation and evaluation/reflection

· Students being encouraged to take risks, learn through ‘mistakes’ and develop resilience

· It transcends the walls of the classroom – via visits, valuing the existing personal interests and expertise of students and engaging students with learning as a continuous process

· Students thinking critically about their own work and the work of others, including professionals

· Students solving problems independently, or through collaboration alongside the teacher as facilitator

· It looks fun, purposeful, engaging, enjoyable

· Students exhibiting, performing, publishing and sharing work in order to receive feedback from wider audiences


The act of producing new ideas, approaches and actions.

Students working independently, developing new skills to enable a better understanding of the creative aspects of music. Discovering creative aspects outside of the musical sphere; words, mathematics, history, art etc...

What does it look like within the planning, delivery and outcomes of lessons?


How do we plan for creativity? We have to plan our lessons so that the students are constantly questioned and challenged. Questioning is the key to the students ownership of their knowledge and by challenging them we develop the resilience needed for a healthy creative environment in music.


Delivering key skills in music is absolutely essential to the student’s creative freedom. Without the key skills the students will be forever frustrated creatively.

Whilst following the curriculum or any of the qualifications we offer at key stage 4 and 5 we always try to bring our own experience of music making to the class room. This, we feel, brings a certain authenticity to our delivery.


At best a student will want to take music into further education and have the skills and creativity to cope with it. However, it is hoped that we would instil a general love for and an eclectic approach to music making.


Key words and phrases the faculty think are important for creativity: differentiation, flexibility, imagination, interactive, tolerance, variety of approach, thinking outside the box, open-ended


Creativity is:

· An expression of oneself

· Ideas and problem solving

· Problem solving in a variety of ways

· Using your imagination

· Being original

· Thinking ‘outside the box’

· Taking risks with your work

· Exploring at a deeper level

Creativity in Drama:

· Performance based

· Development of characters, settings, story lines

· Group work and problem solving

· Group/peer discussion

· Freedom to explore

· Opportunities for facilitating learning, rather than teacher led

· Flexibility and enjoyment of lessons


Creativity in Dance is:

· Taking given material, phrases or skills and manipulating them into something new.

· Accepting that mistakes can take you somewhere unexpected and that it is not always bad to have a mistake.

· Working in pairs or larger groupings to create work around a given theme.

· Being able to explain what was done and why/if it was effective.

How creativity looks when planning delivery and outcomes of lessons.

As dance is creative by its very nature creativity is planned through out all schemes of work. SOW follow this rough progression.

· Introduction of theme and skills.

· Practice of skills to improve technique and safety.

· Introduction of Key words (opportunity to use key words in group dialogue so that creativity can be correctly labelled and understood)

· Manipulation of skills into a dance.

· Opportunities to discuss experiment and explore.

· Performance of work to class/teacher

· Assessment and evaluation.

· If time allows further development of the dance to implement assessment targets.


Creativity in Photography includes:

· Working within given constraints e.g. a deadline, a technique or process, a conceptual framework

· Creating original solutions to a given problem/challenge (these can be original to the individual rather than on a world scale!)

· Thinking imaginatively and generating new ideas/thoughts

· Assimilating existing information and using this to create new work

· Combining materials, processes and techniques to make hybrid works

· Evaluating work to establish its value

· Embracing the role of chance in the process of making

· Working collaboratively to generate ideas with others

What creative looks like in learning:

· Students are encouraged to solve problems independently and arrive at original solutions

· Students learn through a mixture of research, practical experiment, documentation, creation and evaluation

· Students are rewarded for experimentation and encouraged to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them

· Students learn various techniques and processes but are encouraged to play with them, find new combinations, break them down and see accidents as potentially useful

· Students publish their work to a large audience online and receive feedback

· Students discuss their work and the work of others in class, arriving at value judgements. They are encouraged to think like critics.

· Students are questioned about their work by the teacher, prodded to think imaginatively and encouraged to be inventive.

· The skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation are crucial to creating original work of value.

· Students evaluate the achievements of reputable visual artists and encouraged to take inspiration from non-photographic forms of art

· Students exhibit their work in an end of year show. They are encouraged to plan an installation that makes full use of the space available and surprises the audience.

· Students visit galleries and museums throughout the course in order to expand their frame of reference and enhance their cultural awareness.


Creativity is an approach to realising an idea through creative thinking and problem-solving (cognitive). It can be a creative approach to designing or making something (physical). The extent of someone’s creativity is very much down to personal interpretation and self expression. A creative response implies that a person thinks or acts in a way that isn’t necessarily the most obvious or conventional. They think “around” the task or issue raised and try to find more alternative, unique ways of responding.

Creativity takes on many forms in art:

Initial planning and thinking skills through discussion and brainstorming in groups. Personal designing and compositions and images with some freedom of choice. Personal selection and application of media (especially at KS4 and 5). Creative manipulation of individual 2D/3D work through the use of tools. Written evaluative responses to tasks, personal interpretation and response to the work of others (contextuyal study of artists and practitioners). Experimentation with materials: test strips, practice prints, maquettes.


In design, coming up with ideas, concepts and modifications of existing product exemplars. Pushing the boundaries of a discipline that is coherent and intelligible rather than random and unconsidered. Creating new thoughts for existing ways of working and doing things. Knowing the language of the medium and articulating new possibilities. Combining different elements to come up with new solutions. When deviating from the norm doing so in an intellectually justifiable way. In food, knowing enough about how ingredients behave, their functions, and to be able to design a product and make it. Using knowledge, subject specific knowledge, and understanding to create something new/different. Creativity is also a type of energy.


Finding original and interesting ways of teaching (and assessing) topics that requires students to explore and make links between different areas, using a range of skills and resource.

Two sides to creativity - the teacher being creative in planning and delivery of lessons, and opportunities for students to be creative in lessons.

In the first sense - from the teacher's point of view - creative lessons include different sorts of activities that require students to think and work in different ways. Standard textbook practice has a place, but other activities might include card-matching/domino type puzzles, word problems that require students to think about what's really being asked, problems that synthesise material from two different topics - in general, activities that stop students from simply learning a procedure and repeating it.

From the students' point of view, a creative lesson is one where they decide how they approach the maths being taught. I think good examples of student creativity are harder to find than examples of teacher creativity, but often group work can let students be creative - if students approach hard problems or investigations in groups, then they have a good chance of success without the teacher specifically explaining how to do the problem.

I view being creative in my lessons as using a variety of teaching techniques and allowing the students to explore/record/display their class work in a variety of ways. This can be through producing displays, discussions, recording experimental results etc. (Alternatives to ‘just book work).

I think creativity is doing something in an original way. Not just doing something the way others have before, but finding a new way to complete the task. So in theory an approach can only be creative once, then it needs modifying, updating or changing entirely.

I think we have had many creative approaches to our teaching in recent years:

  • isometric art project a few years ago, which led to parallel lines
  • the water project, South Africa project, CAME, anything we introduced to the faculty
  • using the internet to teach and set homework
  • the enrichment file for G+T kids
  • new assessment procedures such as peer and teacher evaluation forms

To still be a creative approach in the current SOW it must be an original idea, so current new ideas are:

  • emotional learning (all SG's stuff)
  • teaching via a spontaneous or random teacher not used before (we need to share these)
any new cross curricular things we do

Being able to explore ideas and express yourself in different ways/mediums

How to be creative in maths lessons - open investigations, exploring rules, patterns or relationships, exploring maths in nature, creating songs/rhymes to aid learning, playing people maths.

Creativity is a mental and social process involving the generation of new ideas, concepts or new associations of the creative mind between existing ideas and concepts. Some say it is a trait we are born with, others say it can be taught with the application of simple techniques. Creativity has been associated with the right side of the brain and more specifically with lateral thinking. Creativity is used to refer to the act of producing new ideas, whilst innovation is the process of generating and applying these ideas in a specific context.

I wonder whether it is innovation that should, more properly be included on the SOW, whilst the creativity would be at the planning stages? Further, would the very fact that we would formalise the process actually stifle a creative/innovative outcome. Discuss!

Creativity within a classroom context to me is being able to get to a point where pupils can put their personal meaning on a concept by expressing what they've learnt in an such a way that shows off their ingenuity.

I think it is when students are facilitated to think and learn in a way that is not restricted by outcomes. They have been guided to the start of a journey of discovery but the path they take is their choice. The teacher is there to support the knowledge, in some cases bring them back to the right path, and to give them the confidence to 'discover'. I felt that the old investigations used to allow students a sense of creativity but even these were reigned in by the assessment.

Creativity is new ideas and methods for teaching topics – use of additional resources, relating to outside factors. Teaching a topic in a manner that is not in your comfort zone – taking a risk. In turn allowing students to take risks in how they learn – not just “on the board – do examples” lesson after lesson. This can then be built into the lesson planning and SoW’s. Add in a creativity to SoW as it occurs. Build up a record of when, where and how it is being used.

Thinking outside the box- taking risks Shaping your emotions project

Creativity is taking something familiar and making something unfamiliar with it.

In planning lessons, changing lesson plans to be original - using alternative resources etc.

Delivery and outcomes - - Subverting the norm, eg reversing roles, using imagination and wit - adlibbing, change direction mid flow, changing targets.

I need to relate it to something specific - maths, my own experiences and then maybe to learning and teaching. The creative vibe that we generate is where all our wonderful projects come from and often are allowed to develop. I need to be even more precise.

The important thing is the gem of an idea shared. There is some brainstorming of ideas, then mulling it over for a while, then more brain storming and more sharing of knowledge and ideas. It gets bigger and bigger and sometimes needs reining in. That’s the exciting bit. Then comes the writing up/creating resources and finally the show......

Projects such as

  • Parallel lines
  • Solar system and Time
  • Stained glass windows
  • Symmetry and Dance
  • And many more

Some people seem to have natural creativity.

I enjoy introducing students to lateral thinking problems. These facilitate creativity for the students and the problem solving nature is a great workout for their wee brains!!! And mine! I think these problems allow the brain to create those all important creativity pathways.

A level students also have to learn to be creative in their approaches to solving problems. Especially those who struggle. The time they need for this is sometimes too much and we cannot give it to them sadly. They need to be able to dip into their bags of knowledge and experiment with their own ideas.

Creativity is behaviour which involves exploration, dealing with new concepts and new contexts, making connections.


Involving the use of the imagination in order to develop ideas and strategies so that tasks can be carried out and/or questions can be answered. PE is a subject that involves a wide range of skills in a wide range of spaces. Creativity is thus very different from one area of study to the next (Gymnastics – Games)


Solving problems independently, open-ended experiments, not restricted with regard to ideas, use of a range of resources and approaches in problem-solving. Transferable skills and ideas. Abstract thinking. Use of models to explain theories.

What does it look like in science?

Investigations, case studies, Badger exercises, APP exercises at KS3 e.g. planning and implementing investigation of sugar solubility

Deaf Support Centre

Friday 4 December 2009

Tree Dressing 2009

This year's tree dressing celebrations on the Ferrier Estate had a musical theme. The Tallis Year 8 steel band played to an appreciative crowd in Telemann Square, following a lantern parade around the estate led by a jazz band. The fireworks orchestrated by Emergency Exit Arts were spectacular, as was Rosa's soup served up free for everyone from the Community Hall. Listen to the festive sounds of the band as people gathered together out of the cold.


We hope to create a website this year celebrating the sights and sounds of this special occasion. Thanks to everyone who took part, to the artists, technicians, cooks, police officers and organisers, and especially our very own Creative Communities Development Officer, Lisa Sproat, who sadly missed the event that she had worked so hard to help organise because of a dodgy tooth! Get well soon Lisa.

Xtranormal evaluation

This animated film was made in my BTEC Media class this morning in about 15 minutes. I'm trying to encourage my students to evaluate their ePortfolio websites using a variety of tools. A couple of weeks ago we recorded podcasts on my iPhone using the excellent Audioboo app. Last lesson, we videod a couple of students presenting their sites on the whiteboard at the front of the room. These films will be uploaded to YouTube and embedded in the relevant sites. One student has already made a very detailed screen cast demonstrating an advanced use of HTML and CSS.

Having discussed the kind of language they need to use to gain merits and distinctions for this unit, I am keen to enable every member of the class to demonstrate their learning using the tool most appropriate for them. Today, I told them about Xtranormal and encouraged them to present their learning as a dialogue between a fictional me and them. This is one of the films that was made, published and shared with the group during the 1 hour lesson (from a laptop on a wireless connection).

What I like about Xtranormal, apart from its simplicity and speed, is the fact that films can all be remixed. This means that students who need more of a helping hand could be given a partially finished script and asked to complete it. Or, they could choose the camera angles, expressions and soundtrack to a completed scenario. The potential applications of this tool are almost limitless. For example, I suggested to a colleague at lunch that it could be used by A level Philosophy students to present competing theories as part of their revision.

If you haven't had a play with Xtranormal yet I strongly suggest that you give it a go.

Thursday 3 December 2009

We are the people we've been waiting for

"We are the people we've been waiting for" is a new documentary about British education. It describes a crisis in education and what might be needed to avert catastrophe. It is reminiscent of "An Inconvenient Truth", the film about climate change created by Al Gore, in that it presents an imminent tragedy and offers suggestions about what can be done about it. Central to the ideas is the fact that the education system is not currently making the most of human potential and creativity. Sir Ken Robinson is one of the talking heads in the film alongside Henry Winkler (The Fonz), Germaine Greer and Richard Branson.

Here is a short extract from the film from YouTube:

You can see more extracts via the official website. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Sunday 29 November 2009

We Think

Check out this video which summarises the ideas in Charles Leadbeater's excellent book We Think. In the spirit of collaboration and shared creativity, you can download the first three chapters of the book by following the link. What implications do these ideas have for the future of learning and schools? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Friday 27 November 2009

Inspired by London

Here's a Flickr slideshow of the images from our amazing day at Delfina making the Inspired by London installation with Clare. If you have any pictures from the day, please upload them to the Flickr site:

Login -
Password - kidbrooke

Meeting with our national School of Creativity advisor

We are fortunate to be meeting our new School of Creativity advisor on Monday. His name is Julian Sefton-Green and he is a leading authority in the following fields:
  • youth, media and technology
  • regeneration, community and education policy
  • creativity, learning and arts research.
This is a great opportunity for us to gain a national perspective from Julian about creative learning in the context of our own regeneration project, our community cohesion agenda and our interest in new technologies, emerging literacies and digital media. Julian's experience of working with young people in a variety of contexts (most recently at WAC) and his research about learning and creative production beyond the classroom, will help us to frame our own thinking about curriculum reform and the transition to the new school.

Here is the agenda for the day:

9.50 – 10.50 Meet with Rob Thomas, Headteacher


11.10 – 12.10 Meeting with Jon Nicholls, Arts College Manager

12.10 – 1.10 Lunch with staff and students in the Creativity ARG Group (Room 208)

1.10 – 2.10 TallisLAB Staff INSET session with Soren Hawes, Creative Learning Co-Ordinator, Andrew Davids, Lead Teacher of Creative Learning, Jon Nicholls, John Riches, Creative Agent
and staff delivering the TallisLAB course

2.10 – 2.40 Feedback to Rob Thomas and Jon Nicholls

2.40 – 3.10 Further discussion with Rob Thomas (if required)

I hope many of you can make the lunch meeting in 208. Your collective contribution to our achievements as a School of Creativity have been very impressive and I am sure Julian would be interested in how we work together and your ideas for the future.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Student Commissioning Group

As the Creative Agent for Thomas Tallis’ School of Creativity, I’ve been very interested in the idea that students want to set up a Student Commissioning Group – it could be a really exciting and unique approach for the school to undertake.

In developing ideas about who to commission, you should consider:

  • What are you trying to achieve? (this should include the artistic ‘outcomes’, as well as whether there are particular individuals/groups either within or outside the school that you want to ‘target’ for participation, or whether the project is open to all?)
  • Which artists would most effectively fulfil the brief?
  • How would you go about contacting and contracting them?
  • Who within the SCG is responsible for what?
  • Who else within the school needs to be involved?
  • Timescales? Budget?
  • How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the project?

As I have many years experience in commissioning, managing and evaluating artists and arts projects, I thought that you might want to consider using me as a ‘Consultant’ for the SCG; I could attend some meetings with you to establish a brief, and/or consult via e-mail/blog throughout the project.

Also, as I am an Arts Award Trainer and Moderator, I would be able to assist you in focusing your work in order to achieve your Silver Arts Award, should you want to do it. (Indeed, the Award can, in my experience, help students to think about and structure a successful project – you can find out more here – but of course there has to be a commitment from you to undertake some extra work, so it’s up to you as to whether you want to go down this route).

I am attending the ARG on Tuesday 1st December, so if it’s OK with you I’d like to put this up as an item for discussion at that meeting.

Monday 23 November 2009

The thrilling potential of 'SixthSense' technology...

Pranav Mistry is an amazing inventor from India. He has created this device that can make real objects react with the digital world...

Must be watched! Truly Amazing!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Mr Barrett I have got glue on my laptop!

This Voicethread comes from Tom Barrett's excellent blog. I like the idea here of blended learning tools - the laptop, the glue, the colouring pencils etc. - and the ambition to have such tools available for all learners when they are relevant. I suppose this is what we're aiming to do with Tallis LAB and, hopefully, in all classes in the new school.

The other important thing to remember here is that we need to get to know the learners very well in order to be able to provide the tools that will suit them best when they need them or, to put it another way, we need to have the tools available so that they can choose the best tools with which to learn. Another implication of this approach to learning is that assignments may need to be a bit more open ended, open to interpretation and, well, just more open. Learning can be presented in so many different ways so maybe we could allow learners to choose how to tell us and each other what they have learned? When I think of Creative Learning, this is what I imagine.

I had a conversation with a colleague the other day about what he perceived to be competing agendas. He implied that the drive to raise standards, particularly at KS4, was somehow in competition with what he called the "liberalisation" of the curriculum and messages about increased opportunities for creative learning. I understood what he was saying but I think this is another good example of the way creativity and creative learning are almost willfully misinterpreted to mean soft, woolly and lacking in rigour. My view, and I believe the view taken by experts in the field, is that this is plain wrong. Creative learning requires discipline, imagination, resilience, time-management, self-control, energy and commitment. Surely these attributes are just what is needed to raise standards of learning? It seems that there is still a linguistic battle to be fought and definitions to be agreed upon but those in the standards camp are surely not suggesting that learners need to be less creative. Are they?

Perhaps we should re-visit Bloom's Taxonomy. I hear a lot about "higher order thinking" in school, especially from certain colleagues who are creativity skeptics. I'm sure they are of the opinion that creative learning is all well and good when you have the time and maybe for a couple of weeks in the year when the exams are over. I'm not sure which version of Bloom's Taxonomy they are familiar with but I've recently added a section on the latest one to the Creative Tallis site. This is what I've written:
Benjamin Bloom first published his "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives" in 1956. It attempts to classify different forms and levels of learning. Bloom identifies three domains in which this learning takes place - the cognitive, the affective and the psychomotor. The most discussed of these is the cognitive domain. The original levels within this domain were: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Educators often refer to the notion of "higher order thinking". The belief is that, once the lower order thinking skills (knowing, understanding, applying) have been acquired, higher order thinking can take place (analysis, synthesis and evaluation).

In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl proposed a revised model of Bloom's taxonomy for the cognitive domain. The illustration above provides a link to an animated resource describing this model. There are two significant changes:

1. the shift from nouns to verbs
2. the top category has changed from "evaluation" to "creating"
According to this model, the ability to create new knowledge, to create something original and of value, belongs with the higher orders of thinking.

Perhaps we should re-visit the notion of creativity as the highest order of thinking? What we also need are more concrete examples of creative thinking for the website. If you have any such examples from your experience at Tallis please let me know and I will be sure to include them on the creative learning page of the site.

Friday 20 November 2009


Check out the great new accessibility feature of our blog. Above this post, and every post on the blog, you should now see a "listen now" button. This service is provided by Odiogo. The text in the post is converted into a suave sounding American voice. There's also a link in the menu to the right that enables you to subscribe to the podcasts. This means you can listen on the go via services like iTunes. The main benefit for visitors to the site is that the content is now accessible for everyone.

Web Play

Web Play are an organisation that work on developing projects that link schools through drama and new technologies. Billy, Seb, Billy and myself went to visit Sydney Thornbury from Web Play to find out more. She was really interested in the idea of students having a role in managing and developing projects for other students and would like to work with Tallis and the Creativity ARG to create something for later in the year. She suggested that we collaborate with some of the primary schools in the area as a way of making links to future students and also as a way of helping students at primary schools develop their skills with new technologies. It would be great to have Tallis Students making blogs, films, podcasts and so on with Year 6 students at schools like Wingfield and Brooklands. What do we think?

Mr. Hawes

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Inspired by London

Here's a first draft of the film about yesterday's Inspired by London event. I was really tired when I got home last night but also really inspired by our team's efforts and very proud of the students from the Action Research Group who were such fantastic ambassadors for the school.

I Hope you like the film. I'll try to get hold of some the other footage this week and attempt a redraft soon. Thanks again for being such brilliant young people. Thanks also to Mr Hawes and Mr Wheeler who provided amazing support.

Monday 16 November 2009

Our first Twitdoc

This is our first ever live Twitter documentary using the excellent TwitCam service. We broadcast live to the Twitterverse from Delfina this morning as we made our sculpture inspired by the London skyline with artist Claire Burnett. It was really easy to set up and we even managed to attract the interest of four other tweeps. I'm writing this from the event about half an hour before the guests arrive. The space looks amazing, the dancers are ready, the primary school kids have arrived and our sculpture is almost ready. It's been a great day and the student members of the ARG have learned a lot about abstraction, working to a tight deadline and collaborating on a difficult brief. Here's another Twitdoc from later in the day:

Sunday 15 November 2009

Tangled Feet at the Nabokov Arts Club

"The waters were rising and the bankers were desperate to escape the flood, the only way they could go was up.... but when the money is gone all there is left is light...."

Friday 13 November 2009

Wallwisher update

I've made reference to Wallwisher in a previous post but I thought it might help to demonstrate how it works with a specific example. I decided to use Wallwisher with my sixth form photography classes. They are currently developing their Personal Investigations which require them to research, generate ideas, document the process, present them appropriately and evaluate the outcomes. Sound familiar? What I needed was:

a) a way to support them between lessons
b) a virtual notice board to post ideas
c) a resource that was available as a link on the department blog
d) a way for students to share ideas

Wallwisher has delivered all of these requirements. It's free, easy to set up and can be embedded as an interactive resource on any web page.

What I discovered today was that it's flexibility enabled students to post thoughts when they had them (at any time of day or night) and attach a relevant media file from the internet. Today, in the lesson, I asked them to refine their original thoughts, adding more precise information and defining a more specific area of study. So, for example, I had a conversation with Micah about knitting. I saw him knitting (for pleasure and relaxation) in the sixth form common room the other day. I told him that I had recently discovered a phenomenon called Guerrilla Knitting which describes radical knitters who decorate the urban environment with their work.

Fluffy graffiti! Micah did a bit more research today and found a variety of useful links online. I posted an idea to the wall for him and he responded. You can view our virtual conversation on the wall above. I hope to continue to prompt him, and others in the class, with a series of provocations over the coming weeks as they further develop their investigations.

All in all, this has proved to be a simple, elegant and free solution to a challenging problem.

Skills Swap

I've had a go at creating a poster for Skills Swap. can you tell me what you think? Is the information OK? Have I missed anything? I'm going to take some more photos of staff and younger students so this can one of a series. Any comments would be gratefully received. We're hoping to launch the first Skills Swap session soon so I hope members of the ARG will come along for tea, biscuits and skills swapping type activities.

Mr N

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Wave Invites

I know its been awhile since I posted about Wave so was not sure if people had got there Wave invites from other sources - Today my account has been given 08 so if anyone wants an invite drop a comment :D


Tuesday 10 November 2009

Meeting with Clare Burnett

Here are the notes I made during our conversation with Clare this afternoon. Thanks to everyone for coming and I look forward to working with you next Monday. make sure you get your permission slips back to Mr Hawes ASAP.

to create an abstract sculpture based on the London skyline

Delfina at London Bridge

a journey down the river, rhythms, 3D drawing, demonstrating the process of making the work, a corner space so not completely 3D, time to explore the river setting, bring sketch books to draw on site, add labels to the sculpture with people’s views, how do we feel about London and its skyline? travel to Delfina on the riverbus?

How do we capture the combination of industry, commerce, tourism, poverty, wealth, history, regeneration etc? How will we make the most of the lights available? Favourite places in London…

Arrive at about 10am. Put up photos, play with the wood, then do some sketching, then build in the afternoon (?) We need to be finished by 5pm. Visitors arrive at 6pm. Finished by 7pm.

Sketchbooks, coloured pens/pencils, paper straws, lollipop skills, 2 drills, elastic bands, still camera, video camera, tripod, laptop(s)

Bring an idea, artefact, story, poem about London to the event next Monday.

Sir Nicholas Serota visits Thomas Tallis School

During the recent visit by Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate galleries, to Thomas Tallis, the Tallis TV crew took the opportunity to interview him and Headteacher, Rob Thomas, about the similarities and differences in their roles. Here's a sneak preview of the interview that will form part of a future tallis TV broadcast.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Skills Swap

Skills Swap is an idea that we discussed last year. It's simple really. One night each week, students and staff meet to share their skills. That's it. This advert for Skills Swap was made using Xtranormal. It's great fun and very easy to use. I'm going to try to create some images this week to help advertise Skills Swap. Mr Hodges came up with the excellent idea of basing them on Gillian Wearing's photo series "Signs that Say What You Want Them To Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You To Say". Here's an example:

I'm going to need some volunteers to hold up a card that says:

I can .....

I would like to be able to ....

I trust I can rely on you lot! You might want to have a think about what skills you could swap and what skills you'd like to have.

Here's the second advert in the series featuring me and Ms Beauchamp. Why don't you have a play with Xtranormal. See what you can come up with...

Thursday 5 November 2009

Yes we should!

Should students be allowed to use the internet in exams?

Pupils in Denmark will soon be doing their final secondary school exams while being able to access the internet. Will this give them an unfair advantage over other students? Education chiefs says that Danish students already use the web so prolifically that they should be allowed to use it while writing tests. Denmark will be the first country in the world to allow the pupils to search the internet while being examined. The idea is to introduce it across the country by 2011. The government says the use of a calculator was heavily criticised when it was first introduced into the exam hall but is now standard practice.
Should students be allowed to use the internet in exams? Is this a good way to test knowledge? How important is the internet in education?

It would make more sense doing the exam on the computer, think how many trees it would save!

Monday 2 November 2009

Tactical Soundgarden

Check out this interesting project. Clicking on the image above will take you to a satellite map of an area in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais in South Eastern Brazil. Each of the green tags represents a sound that has been planted in a park in the city. This is essentially a sound garden. These sounds were recorded and planted using various portable devices - phones, PDAs, laptops etc. Anyone equipped with a mobile device can wander through this park and, via a WiFi connection, tune into each of these sounds.

We attempted something like this before at Tallis and we talked a little last year about the possibility of doing something like it again. I think Mr Davids has been experimenting with recording sounds and embedding them into Google Earth. A project like this would be an amazing way to capture the sounds of the existing school and replay them when we are in our new building. The site of the current school building will eventually be a grassy play area. We could, in effect, plant sounds in this area before it has even been developed for the benefit of future listeners. Given advances in mobile technology and the increasing use of them for learning, I think we can anticipate that most people in the new school will have the tools to access our recordings and hear what it was like to work in the "old building".

What do you think?

Sunday 1 November 2009


I've created this Wallwisher page which is designed to collect our ambitions for this year's activities as a School of Creativity. I've posted a few ideas that we've already discussed but it would be great to have a whole wall full of everyone's thoughts. You can post a sticky and link to another web resource if appropriate. Once we have posted our thoughts we can then use this as a basis for prioritising actions and delegating responsibilities.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

Chris Piascik from Quarter Productions on Vimeo.

A wonderful little short describing the making of a Halloween themed drawing by the amazingly talented Chris Piascik.

A Halloween themed ePortfolio

Nice work Mr Wallis. Even the Voki has been redesigned complete with dangling spider and spooky message. Very clever!

Go! Animate for revision media models 2 by SamanthaHodges

Check out this amazing animation by a sixth form Sociology student in Mr Walsh's class. Go! Animate seems like a great resource for creating engaging revision resources. This is the best one I've seen so far. Funny, sophisticated and useful.

Twitter Lists

Twitter have just created a new lists feature. I think the idea is that you can sort the people you follow into different categories fort ease of reference. I've just realised that our Creative Tallis tweets are featured in 11 separate lists about learning and teaching. If you haven't dipped your toes into the fast moving Twitter stream, I strongly recommend it. My favourite tweet this week is the following:
Hate Twitter? Don't understand why people follow antics of strangers? But you watch Eastenders? Follow antics of people who don't exist? @PaulLomax