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


Check out this excellent site about the fine art of doodling. Great fun!

Friday 30 October 2009


I recently discovered this (like so many other recent discoveries) via Twitter. Doodlebuzz is a mixture of drawing, typography and news. Rather than a conventional online news feed, Doodlebuzz allows you to select a topic, then doodle a shape. This creates a drawing depicting a string of related news items. You can then continue to draw lines stretching from topics you are interested in exploring further. This creates another string of news items. You can continue the process ad infinitum. What I love about this is that the journey from one item to the next need not be linear. You could start with one word or phrase and this may lead to another that is seemingly unrelated but is, in fact, connected tangentially. I also like the way the designer has captured the process of making the application, posting videos on Vimeo and photos from his sketchbook on Flickr.

I had a conversation with Mr Hawes today where we discussed the idea of an extended learning project entitled "Make it better!" that would encourage teams of students (and teams of teachers) to collaborate on creating an idea for something that would improve the quality of our lives. This could be anything from a product or service to an activity or concept. The point would be to explore the process of learning together using an enquiry cycle: do some research, have an idea, refine it, make something, reflect on it. Something like Doodlebuzz would make a great example of how people get on and do this kind of learning in the real world every day.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

Une nuit avec JR

This film is one of many you can find online that features the work of the French Photo Graffer, JR. His extended project entitled "28 Millimetres" is an exploration of wall-based gaffiti art using photography. He has worked all over the world, challenging stereotypes through the exhibition of massive portraits in public spaces. You can find out more about the work here.

I wonder if it would be possible to do something similar at Tallis? There are plenty of walls and a brand new hoarding that could provide an amazing canvas on which to project images like this. What are your thoughts? If we did attempt something on this scale, what issues could we address and whose portraits would be included?

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Urban Curators

I've just stumbled across this interesting article about a project in the States entitled "Urban Curators". Here's the article in full:

"The goal of the Urban Curators project is to engage the public in the celebration of the decaying urban environment, recog- nizing its inherent aesthetic qualities as well as the important role that it plays within our cultural habitat. The project achieves its goal by elevating common, overlooked objects and spaces within the city of Providence, Rhode Island to the level of high art.

The project achieves this elevation by literally hanging gold, gallery-style frames in derelict spaces within the city, framing objects and views that are of aesthetic or cultural value. By utilizing frames that one might expect to find in an art museum or gallery, viewers are forced to make connections between the urban landscape and the museum environment. Viewers are likewise encouraged to reconsider their prior conceptions of beauty and worth, understanding that the spontaneity of decay offers an alternative aesthetic to excessive design.

Humans have for centuries sought after the grandeur of ruins that were once the glory of ancient cultures, recognizing them as windows into the lives of past civilizations. The Urban Curators project proposes that we should likewise cherish those ruins that reflect modern-day consumerism and industr- ialization, realizing them as vehicles by which we can gain insight into our own society.

The frames themselves are hung with double-sided hardware tape and are easily removed without harm to the spaces in which they are placed. While this is a necessary component of the project, it likewise means that each frame will hang only temporarily. Due to the transient nature of the project, its success requires time and effort from not only the Urban Curators team, but from the community as a whole. While the project was originally born by six Rhode Island School of Design students, it cannot continue without input and participation from others. We hope that the community will interact with the project – finding our frames, removing them, relocating them, and installing their own."
I wonder if this is something we could attempt at Tallis? Maybe we could ask folks to donate old frames they have lying about at home. The we could install these frames around the site on some of the distressed surfaces, conferring upon them the status of art. We could even create gallery labels like the ones used by the Urban Designers complete with spurious titles, dates and media. What do you think? Do any of you have any other ideas like this?

Sunday 25 October 2009

Faking It

Check out the series of Faking It programmes on 4oD. I'm a big fan of this particular episode about a country squire turned graffiti artist. It exemplifies all that is best about the series.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Games Based Learning

I had a very enjoyable afternoon at the Games Based Learning event hosted by Stuart Swann at the Abbey Wood City Learning Centre. Stuart made the point that games had played a vital role in learning ever since learning began, but that using modern gaming devices and technology tended to be viewed with a degree of suspicion. I think it would great for Tallis to find ways of challenging some of the existing attitudes to gaming and to explore how gaming might support learning.

I had a little play with a Nintendo DSI and was amazed to find it had cameras, a web browser, an audio recorder as well as lots of capacity for games - in a word a lovely portable device that could be put to good use in all sorts of contexts. By the by, I had a go at Nintendo Scrabble and used all seven tiles to make the word erudite (put the e on the end of car to make care), but to say more about that might be seen as bragging.

My gaming experience is a bit out of date (anyone remember Binatone tennis?), so I would be really keen to get some gamers involved in investigating how we might put this technology to good use. So if you had 16 Ninetendo DSIs or A selection of Wi stuff what would you use it for, and what benefit would there be from using it?



Creative Tallis Action Research Group


20th October 2009

Present: RO, JN, KH, HW, MST, TWT, Raihan, Billy, Shannon, Abbey

1. JN informed group of the invitation to be part of the "Inspired by London" event (A New Direction). See below for information.
JN to discuss possibility of the group attending the event with Mrs. Richards. JN and HW to organise forms, letters etc.

2. JN described the activities of the SSC Creativity Group. We discussed the relationship between us and them and what we would like them to do to support our work in developing cross-curricular approaches to creative learning. MST suggested that we adopt the format of "Faking It" to create a series of teacher swap events that could be documented like the series. Everyone thought that this was a great idea because it would:
  • remind teachers of what it's like to be a learner
  • potentially involve the whole school and get away from the idea that creativity is all about the arts
  • could engage both teachers and anciliary staff - office, site, kitchen etc.
  • demonstrate the value of inter-disciplinary learning and transferable skills
  • build confidence and celebrate risk-taking
  • provide opportunities for reflection about the process of learning something new
  • engage students in a surprising way
There is an obvious link to the recent Head Swap event involving Mr Thomas and Sir
Nick Serota and a previous Teacher Swap project sponsored by the Helen Storey Foundation. We all felt that it was important to involve all members of staff, not just teachers. Could we use a training day for staff to meet their swap partners and plan an activity?
Action: JN to approach SSC Creativity Group to discuss this idea and gain their support in helping to promote it to LT and the rest of the staff.

3. How do we promote the Manifesto for a Creative Tallis? KH suggested that we produce a handy guide for staff about how to incorporate creative learning strategies in their lessons. JN wondered if a core group of students could help create this resource in partnership with a graphic designer and/or writer.
Action: further discussion needed at our next meeting.

4. Discussion about establishing a student commissioning group. What would be their role? How would they be supported? JN suggested that they might apply to be on the group, that they would be in charge of a budget, learn about project management, write briefs, commission practitioners (including MST, our artist in residence) and evaluate impacts. MST agreed to help set the group up in collaboration with RO.
Action: MST and RO to present ideas for establishing the group at the next meeting.

Meeting ended: 4:45pm
Date of next meeting: Tuesday 10th November in Room 208


An exciting opportunity

Hi folks
I received this very exciting email from Steve Moffitt at A New Direction this afternoon. I thought I'd share it with you in advance of our meeting to see if you'd like to be involved:

Dear Jon,

Hi there - I hope you are well and things at Tallis are going from strength to strength.

I am writing to see if we could work with a small group of young people from Thomas Tallis as part of A New Direction’s launch event “Inspired by London” at Delfina on November 16. (

We would like to involve a small group (5 - 10 students) to work with Visual Artist Clare Burnett on the realisation of a 3 dimensional model of the London skyline. The idea would be the students would meet with Clare briefly at school to plan and discuss their ideas and then work with her on site at the venue on Monday 16 to construct the sculpture/ model. The materials will be wood (batons) and the large scale piece will be completed at 7pm as part of the event. Ideally it will be quite abstract, self supporting and in some way represents buildings from the London skyline. My initial thoughts are that it is quite skeletal, quite large and can be lit to create shadows projected on to a wall.

If you are up for this and you feel there is a particular group of young people (or individuals) who would benefit from this (or dare I say it even enjoy it) and could be released as a part of school time to participate I am happy to go with either gifted and talented students, visual arts students, keen young people - from whatever year group you felt was appropriate.

This piece would effectively be representing the Creative Partnerships programme. The aim of the event is to position A New Direction as more than an organisation that delivers the Creative Partnerships programme with people who know us (and a small group of targeted individuals who we feel would benefit from getting to know us). The plan is for the first hour the audience will come into an event with a number of activities happening that they can observe, engage with and participate in. These would be:

· Creative Partnerships: An artist working with a group of young people on building a 3 dimensional model of the London skyline. This would represent the Creative Partnerships programme.
· Dance piece on the theme of London: commissioned from participants from Connecting Vibes this piece has been created as part of the IRIE and City and Islington College Dance Foundation degree
· IPC Media Schools Design Programme: An exhibition of work from this year’s programme and small group of students working with an Art Editor from IPC designing something for the event
· Story of Stratford - Westfield: A group of pupils from Colegrave Primary School working with Artist Helen Marshall on photographing the model of the Stratford City development and filming an interview with John Burton, Director of Stratford City, Westfield Shopping Towns Ltd. There will be an exhibition of work created.
· Launch of IN London: we will launch our new Interactive Network with 70 schools who will be attending the event. The network will be aimed at schools across London not currently involved in the Creative Partnerships programme. To promote and advocate for creative teaching and learning by providing opportunities to share practice, develop thinking and skills and link with other interested schools across the capital.
· London 2102 Olympic and Paralympic Games: The Welcoming the World Exhibition (a project we delivered with 19 schools and LOCOG) a set of Olympic resources to give away (including the Raising the Game report, TAG; Jane Buckler’s short story and the Olympic Literacy Resource) and a small group of young people getting people to fill in the Olympic rings we used for Raising the Game and then hanging them on nets
· International: London to Beijing - showing of the CANDI film on a large screen with head phones of your visit to Beijing last year.

At 7pm there will be a series of short speeches and then some music.

We would cover any costs for the students (lunches and travel etc) and the costs of an LSA (or cover costs for a member of staff) and make sure they get home safely etc. If you would like the finished sculpture for the new young person arts space on the Ferrier let me know we can get it driven down to Greenwich.

What do you think? Let me know when you can.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday 18 October 2009

Collaborative Individualism

Charles Leadbeater at Reboot Britain (courtesy of Documentally) on the value of social media. Make sure you watch to the end to hear a revolutionary idea about education!

Saturday 17 October 2009

Handheld Learning

I attended a conference recently about handheld learning. I heard Zenna Atkins, the Chair or Ofsted, share her vision about the future of learning and how technology is already making a big difference to the way some schools are thinking about every aspect of their organisation and practice. She presents some really interesting and challenging ideas in a no nonsense way. I know our primary interest is in creative learning, but I think we should also give some consideration to creative solutions to other tricky issues faced by school. It would be interesting to know what you think about some of the ideas in this presentation. You may also want to check out Malcolm McLaren's fascinating and irreverent talk from the same conference.

Friday 16 October 2009

Meeting on Tuesday 20 October

Hi folks
Here's the agenda for Tuesday's meeting at 3:45pm in DSC:

  1. An update from JN about the space on the Ferrier
  2. Feedback from the SSC Creativity Group
  3. Discussion about how to promote the Manifesto for a Creative Tallis
  4. Discussion about how to create a student led Commissioning Group as a School of Creativity project this year
  5. AOB
P.S. John Riches (our Creative Agent) reminded me of this project in Scotland. If you have time before Tuesday's meeting, it might be useful if you could check out the Room 13 project and the video below about Wooranna School in Australia.

Monday 12 October 2009

Tomorrow's School Today

Wooranna School in Australia has spent the last 10 years thinking very hard about the pedagogy that underpins their curriculum. They have also remodeled the learning spaces in the school to help facilitate the kind of learning that they see as essential for success in the 21st century. In this film about their experiments there is much talk of independent, resilient learners able to think creatively and collaborate successfully on deep learning projects that link a range of learning disciplines together in extended, self-directed learning journeys.

Sound familiar?

Ordinarily I wouldn't include the word "learning" four times in the same sentence but I'm making an exception in order to describe this film. I thought it might be useful to see an example of a real school where this kind of learning is happening. We often talk about these things happening at some magical point in the future at Tallis and we are in danger of perpetuating the notion that there are too many barriers in the way to get on with it now. Are there? If so, let's get on with removing them so that the young people at school now can benefit from a really contemporary, exciting, motivating and relevant curriculum.

The title of the film says it all. "Tomorrow's School Today."

Google Wave


Well I got my invite to Google Wave today! Have been playing arround with it and need to get a few people on it so that I can use it to its max!

Some of the key things I like.... Love the way it feels a bit like google mail! - Helps with using the site.

Also love the gadgets such as the voting panel and map panel - All things which would be good to use in a class room enviroment?

Here are some screen grabs... Anyone want an invite?- I need to work out if I have any and how to send - It would be good if some of us could collaberate togeather on somthing!


Sunday 11 October 2009

Experimenting with new technologies

I know that this debate is becoming a bit of a staple in any given newspaper, and on any given Sunday, but I think we do still need to work towards engaging with new technologies in a way that doesn't instantly brand them as disruptive and threatening to learning. I invited those students with email enabled phones to email the class blog in my Tallis Lab lesson and the content of the posts were really thoughtful and intelligent. It just seems to me that there is so much scope for some really intuitive interaction and collaboration between students and other students, and between students and staff - why not capitalise on the opportunities. You can click on the link and read the full article.

My favourite part was where the author said that there have to be opportunities for misuse in order for misuse to be challenged. He went on to make the point:

"Whatever young people bring into school there is a chance that it is misused in some way. In my day, we had ruler fights. We mustn't be Luddite about the technology that young people take for granted,"

What are your thoughts?


Creativity and the Growth MIndset

This video by Doug Belshaw is a really good summary of Carol Dweck's ideas about how to encourage learners to be enthusiastic and to value the process of learning over the product. Research seems to indicate that if you praise a student for trying hard and making progress (rather than telling them that they are naturally clever or "gifted") he or she will attempt harder things next time and develop a "growth mindset".

It seems to me that, if we want our students to develop the capacity to be more creative, we should be thinking very carefully about what and how we praise them. Praise is important, but not if it encourages them to be stuck in a fixed view of themselves, whether that is positive or negative.

It would be interesting to know how you all feel about this?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

The final frontier

Thanks to everyone who took part in today's series of meetings, especially the students who spoke so intelligently to Sir Nick Serota from the Tate. Welcome also to the new members of the Action Research Group!

Space, as the old TV saying goes, is the final frontier. The main topic of conversation at this afternoon's ARG meeting was the possibility of the school inheriting a new space external to the current school. We watched a documentary about a project called "Once Upon a School" that I have blogged about before. This involved some professional writers working collaboratively with teachers (in the States) to establish better literacy support for their communities. The key to the initial success of the project (or projects, since there are now lots in a variety of cities) was the use of a neutral space that functioned as shop (selling pirate supplies), tutoring space and office.

It may be the case that Tallis has an opportunity to use just such a space. The question is, what would be the best use of it? We had several ideas this afternoon but I'd like you to add a comment to this post with your latest thoughts. Don't worry too much about the practicalities at this stage. We need to think a bit outside the box. What does our community, in the widest sense, need educationally that it doesn't currently have? How could this space help us to experiment with new solutions to some tricky problems? How might the space be organised and what might happen in it?

I look forward to reading your amazing ideas. I will then take these ideas to the Man from Del Monte to see what he says about them.

Friday 2 October 2009

Sir Nicholas Serota comes to Tallis

Sir Nicholas Serota is coming to visit Thomas Tallis next Wednesday, and, as part of his visit, he will be coming to talk to the staff and students of the Creativity Action Research Group. To find out a bit more about our visitor you could take a look at this profile or like all good web users you could take a critical look at a wiki page that focuses on his career. Some of you might remember Sir Nicholas from the Creative Manifesto event that we attended at Tate Modern a year ago. For those of you that weren't there, his address to the staff and students showed his passion for creative learning in the widest sense of the term. He is bound to be interested in how the students in the Creativity ARG are working to promote the cause of creative learning and also how you worked as curators and commissioners in your work with the Tangled Feet theatre company.

I have emailed everybody with arrangements and plans for next week, but maybe over the weekend you could take the chance to find out about our visitor. He has been at the centre of lots of debates and controversies relating to the arts, culture, learning and creativity so you will not find it hard to find lots of interesting stuff on the web.

It will be great to have the chance to share some ideas with such an interesting and important figure. I'm sure Sir Nicholas will be just as excited at the prospect of meeting you all and finding out about your work.

Looking forward to next week,