Tuesday 25 May 2010

Not meeting, but learning

Jon and I had a very interesting visitor from Hong Kong today. Paul Clark visited us from South Island School in Hong Kong to talk to us about our approach to creativity at Thomas Tallis. The South Island School website is really interesting and demonstrates the ways in which the school is keen to offer a creative learning experience to its students, especially the ways in which it uses ICT creatively.

Another really interesting thing that came out of the meeting was the school's attitude to training. From what I can understand the week is book-ended by two two-hour training and development sessions for staff. At first this seems like a lot of time, and may be an impossible thing to fit into a teacher's busy week, but then, I started to count up the hours of meetings that take place during the week and realised that this often exceeds the four hours a week that the Hong Kong school uses for developing staff skills. What would happen if instead of having meetings we had skills sessions where people work together to develop their ability to innovate, solve problems and be creative? Could lots of things that take up meeting time be shared in a way that doesn't require large groups of people to sit and listen to one other person speak or deliver? If people were better at developing skills would we need so many meetings? If people were enjoying developing skills alongside other colleagues would that have more of an impact on attainment than using the same amount of time in meetings? Finally why couldn't students be involved in these skills sessions?

Another really exciting thing about South Island School is that each student has their own MacBook and they are required to have it with them throughout the school day. Presumably this allows them to use the laptop when appropriate for the task that they're working on, so students can use their initiative to work flexibly with the different tools available to them. That sounds like a fantastic idea.


Wednesday 19 May 2010



A cool way to show collaborations don't you think?


I've just had an interesting Skype video chat with Michael Dubois, the A+ regional coordinator in Oklahoma. He's responsible for setting up the partnerships with our three schools. We're going to try another Skype call at the next meeting on Monday 14th June but possibly on a bigger screen!

An Exciting Opportunity

Young Londoners (aged 15-25) – who live in one of the 5 Olympic host boroughs can now apply to join the CREATE Programmers group – working towards the delivery of an exciting Olympics focused event for young people at the View Tube, Stratford on 17 July 2010.

The event will be young people led, and is a day long exploration and celebration of how young people can engage in London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The CREATE Programmers is a group of inspirational young people from the 5 Olympic boroughs, whose mission is to produce culturally diverse projects by highlighting the amazing opportunities that exists for young people in London through collaboration with local communities, businesses and individuals.

They aspire to make real connections around the Olympic moment and to use its legacy in east London to make life changing possibilities a reality.

A New Direction is the key strategic body for connecting young Londoners with the city's creative and cultural energy. In collaboration with the A New Direction programme team, the course will be led by an experienced professional with expertise in events management and production. Participants will have access to industry and cultural professionals (Press and PR, Olympics Host Boroughs Unit, CREATE Festival) and will work over six weeks towards the delivery of an Olympics facing event at the View Tube on 17 July 2010.

What does being a CREATE Programmer offer:

Project management of an event on 17 July 2010
Responding to a professional brief
Arts Award accreditation
Blogging and engaging with other social media and documenting
Visiting cultural events, gigs, exhibitions as part of the CREATE festival (http://www.createlondon.org)
Team work and collaboration with young filmmakers, photographers, and journalists
Support for a pathway into further training, study and employment
How to apply:

Please read through the job description and person specification, which tells you what we are looking for and what kind of commitment is required.

Complete the application form downloadable from www.anewdirection.org.uk and email to create@anewdirection.org.uk with subject header ‘CREATE Programmer’.
Closing deadline for applications is 17.00 on Thursday 27 May 2010.

(You will be notified by Friday 28 May 2010 if you have a place on the interview day, on Wednesday 02 June)

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Oklahoma update

I had a really interesting day yesterday but have been too busy to blog about about it until now. For starters, I met with two really interesting practitioners. Joe Walking came in to talk to us about Dance Spinner. We've agreed that one of his colleagues will come in for a week next half term to work with a group of 12 Year 7 students. They will get used to using Dance Spinner to create aleotoric choreography (dance created according to the laws of chance) which they will the perform at the Past, Present & Future events. I hope they'll also be able to show some of the process of their work during the week in unusual sites around school at break, lunch and after school. Next in was Guy Connelly from Clock Opera. He'll be in with Tangled Feet for a week but we've also offered him an extra week's residency to work with Sarah (Dance Spinner) and the year 7 students, composing aleotoric music to accompany the dance. We also want to experiment with other kinds of sound installation for the evening events at the end of the week. One special project involves creating a ghost steel band.

I spent the afternoon in Stormont House School in Hackney discussing our plans to attend the World Creativity Conference in Oklahoma next November. We will be able to take a total of 9 people to the week long event and need to decide who those will be quite soon. Our task will be to collaborate with some American students from schools that belong to the A+ network on a keynote presentation to the delegates at the conference. There are three UK schools involved - Tallis, Stormont and Gallions - each of whom are dedicated to promoting creative learning. As such, we all felt it was important to think about how we could make our presentation as interactive, engaging and challenging as possible. I remembered a presentation I saw at last year's Handheld Learning Conference from John Davitt who created a school in 30 minutes using Google Docs. Our theme seems to be something to do with regeneration (schools,communities, cities), 21st century skills and creative learning. This needs to be refined somewhat. Tallis is hosting the next group meeting on Monday 14th June at which we hope to Skype with one of our American colleagues - how exciting!

It would be great to have a few young people at this meeting so, if it doesn't disrupt your exams too much (Year 11) and if anyone else in the ARG can make the meeting at 3pm, we'd love to see you there. I'll post more information soon about the new website for the project. I'd also be grateful of any offers to help out with the Past, Present & Future events on the 15th and 16th July.

Monday 17 May 2010

Being open to new technologies

I came across this article when I found myself leafing through a discarded copy of the Evening Standard last week. I thought it was really interesting to see how somebody was so willing to investigate the potential uses of the new technology, and I really like the way that someone like David Hockney, who has been so successful, was still willing to seek new ways of working and experimenting with new tools. It then struck me that this is exactly why David Hockney has been such a significant figure. Like all successful, creative and interesting people they never stop learning and never think that there is nothing new that they can benefit from.


Sunday 16 May 2010

The Poetry Channel

Check out The Poetry Channel - a great idea nicely executed. I wonder if we could do something similar this summer? We could ask students and staff to write poems about the school and film them reading the poems in specific locations.

What do you think?

Saturday 8 May 2010

Anne-Mette, one of our colleagues in Denmark, just sent me a link to this website. It's a series of YouTube videos that feature a range of instruments playing and sounds created. The visitor can create their own mix of the various sounds, each person generating a unique composition. It kept me amused and delighted for ages!

I wonder if we could borrow this idea to create our own interactive music website for Tallis, featuring our own musicians, instruments and sounds? We could try to incorporate the sounds of the building and film each musician in a variety of recognisable Tallis locations. This might then be projected during the 'Past, Present & Future' showcase events on 15th and 16th July so that visitors can make their own soundtracks. It can also be one of the artistic legacies of the old building, continuing to be played in the new one.

What do you think?

Monday 3 May 2010

River Soundings


Bill Fontana, a leading sound artist, has spent several months gathering audio and video recordings of the river Thames from above and below ground. These have been collected together in a new installation at Somerset House in a project entitled 'River Sounding'. This Audioboo was made today with the help of my family as we explored the subterranean spaces of the building. Wouldn't it be great to create a similar exploration of our school, capturing its unique sounds and relaying them back to a visiting public during the summer festival of creativity which we're calling 'Past, Present & Future'?

What non human sounds do you most associate with Thomas Tallis School? Which parts of the building would create the most evocative set of noises? What's the difference between noise and music? What would be the best way to play these sounds back to an audience?