Wednesday 29 December 2010

Livescribe Pencast of Sir Ken Robinson

brought to you by Livescribe

I've just listened to this Livescribe recording of Sir Ken Robinson talking at the Creativity World Forum in November. It was recorded by Shannon, one of the educators from Canada we met at the conference, using her Livescribe smartpen.

This is a fascinating device that allows you to record and keep notes simultaneously, then publish them to the internet. It's certainly not cheap but I like the fact that analogue note making can be connected to a search-able, digital parallel recording that can be published and shared with others. I also like the way the 'Pencast' is interactive when viewed in full screen mode. Presumably the cost of these pens will eventually come down, making them more accessible to the average student and teacher.

Monday 27 December 2010

Manifesto for a Creative Tallis

Thanks to Ms Keville and Ms Piwko we have begun the process of re-thinking our Manifesto for a Creative Tallis. The original manifesto, which has been shared with the whole staff body and was ratified by the Leadership Team, has helped to put creative learning at the centre of the school's learning and teaching vision. It is sent out to all new prospective members of staff and a question related specifically to creative learning features in all new job interviews. In our discussions at the start of this year, we felt that the manifesto needed to be revisited. It was perhaps a bit long and not very memorable. It needed a refresh and, possibly, some serious reflection on making the ambitious statements a reality.

Here are Ms Piwko and Ms Keville's initial thoughts, presented in suitably diagrammatic form:

Here is the first draft of the new statements:

We encourage:
  • all learners to become inquisitive, imaginative and innovative
  • all learners to take risks, accept challenges and learn from mistakes
  • everybody to reflect on their learning experiences
We support our students to become:
  • resourceful and active learners
  • effective collaborators and communicators
  • independent learners/thinkers
We believe:
  • in the exchange of skills and knowledge between students and staff
  • that the use of new technologies is a crucial part of learning in the 21st century
We value:
  • our students' talents, skills and interests and provide opportunities to develop them further
  • feedback and ideas from students about their learning experiences
  • effective communication about creative learning with parents, carers and members of the local community
We discussed this proposal at our extraordinary meeting before the Christmas holiday and decided to make the following revisions:

(Section 1: We ENCOURAGE……)
  • ‘all learners to become curious, imaginative and innovative ( the word curious has replaced inquisitive in the statement )
(Section 2: We SUPPORT……..)
  • Resourceful, active and independent learners
  • Effective collaborators and communicators
  • Co-creators of the curriculum (this statement has been added as we discussed the importance of students creating the curriculum/ learning experiences with teachers)
(Section 3: We BELIEVE……)
  • in the exchange of skills and knowledge between students and staff.
  • that skills should be transferable
  • new technologies are a crucial part of learning
We talked about the possibility of employing a graphic designer to help us re-present these statements in a more visually stimulating form, perhaps even creating an interactive web based resource that would allow the viewer to explore some of the implications of each statement with examples of successful creative learning, ideas for further research and short video clips of discussions with students, staff members, parents/carers, experts etc.

Whilst browsing in a book shop this evening I discovered a new book by one of my favourite artists, Keri Smith. It's called 'Mess' and describes itself as a 'Manual of Accidents and Mistakes'. This prompted me to check out her excellent website and Flickr account, where I discovered the following manifesto:

Here is the text in full:

The Rebel's Manifesto:

1. Do the opposite of what you were taught in school.
2. Care not for the opinions of others. They are based on their own thoughts and fears.
3. Study the work of other rebels. Steal things from them. Research with fury.
4. Forget about the competition. They are on a different path than you. Trends are for suckers.
5. "There's nothing we really need to do that isn't dangerous." John Cage. Do the things that scare you on a regular basis.
6. Make a mess.
7. Embrace your darkside. Your so called "dark qualities" (or labels) are a source of great power. Find a way to incorporate them into your work. Feature them. pay particular attention to what makes you angry.
8. Exercise your voice. Put your thoughts out into the world even if it scares the shit out of you (see number 5).
9. Expand your horizons. Leave home. Visit other places/cultures. Wander aimlessly.
10. Never limit your play-time. Even if your brain is telling you otherwise. All of your best stuff comes from it if you allow yourself to remain open to the unknown.
11. Question everything.
13. Follow your heart.

I love this for several reasons. The language is quite informal and includes some direct challenges. It's quite irreverent and funny. It feels exciting and surprising. Number 12 is missing. I wonder if we can learn anything from existing manifestos?

As promised I will begin to do some research about potential sources of funding to employ a designer to help us re-present our Manifesto. In the meantime, I wonder if we ought to give some thought to the next document needed to make the statements in our manifesto more of a reality in school - an implementation strategy.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

hey guys im joe and im really excited to start being and working with the creative tallis ARG group cant wait to meet everyone and start welll.......being creative :)

Creative Tallis Welcomes Three New Members

Joe and Will have joined the Creativity ARG, and mighty pleased we are to have them! We are so fortunate to have had such fantastic student involvement, but many of our current group are in the year 12 and 13, so its good to know that the next generation of innovators are getting involved. We warmed up with a quick game of exquisite corpses (see photo) and Will and Joe got sorted with the permissions they needed to add posts to this blog.

Sunday 12 December 2010

Learning Score

I've just renewed my version of Learning Score. I haven't really got to grips with it properly but have decided to plan my lessons using it from now on. I like the idea that I can share my thinking about lessons and learning both with students (via the interactive whiteboard) and colleagues. I like the musical analogy and the visual simplicity of the interface. I also like the fact that web links and media can be embedded inside the score so there's less hopping about between tabs in the browser. I think this might be a really great way of making the art of lesson planning more explicit and engaging students in constructing their own learning experiences.

Here's my first attempt at a Photography lesson. Interestingly, the discipline of thinking about all the elements of the lesson by dragging and dropping the various modules onto the score really helped me conceptualise the kind of learning hopefully taking place. I'll feedback about the lesson tomorrow. I plan to share the score with the students and ask them if they'd like to make any adjustments before we start.

Using google docs to share ideas

Add Image
I have just made my first contribution to Tom Barrett’s “Interesting ways to use …” series. For the full list, you can visit Tom’s blog. I think these shared google docs presentations are genius because:

* it’s a great way of sharing ideas
* all of the ideas are based on things that are really happening in the classroom, so they are pre-tested
* it creates networks of collaborators (most of whom will never meet) - it’s great to feel part of a shared project
* It’s always growing and developing - education can have a tendency to inertia, but this is always updating
* it’s a great example of how online tools can be used to make links


Saturday 11 December 2010

The vision for using ICT to support learning

I thought people might be interested to see some of the ideas that came out of the InSeT on the vision for using new technologies and ICT to support learning. It was a really positive evening and there was a tangible enthusiasm and interest for how new tools could be used as a part of a blended approach for good learning. As ever, and is entirely healthy, they were debates and differences, but the overall outcome was positive.

In addition to the teachers’ thoughts the students in the Creativity ARG created a Stixy noticeboard with their vision for what learning should look like in the near future. The Stixy was much admired by staff, and I have absolutely no doubt that it played a huge part in creating such a positive and progressive outcome.

I am also collating the responses to a survey linked to the InSeT session, and once I have chased a few more responses I will add them to the blog,


In the news

Our Oklahoma Pop Up School is still in the news thanks to various blog posts like this one from the University of Central Oklahoma. Scroll down a bit for a great picture of Billy charming visitors to our booth on the conference floor.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday 5 December 2010

Tallis Mobile

This is a slideshow we are sharing with parents and carers on Tuesday evening at the Year 7 consultation event.

We will soon be officially launching this new project designed to encourage learners in Year 7, and their families, to tell us what makes learning successful for them. We will select 15 families, based on their completion of an online application form and ensuring that the group is representative of our learning community. Each will receive an iPod Touch, complete with several applications preloaded. Students will be encouraged to communicate their experience of successful learning, using a range of strategies, both in and outside school. In addition, we will expect each family to write a blog post reflecting on each week's learning. We are interested in good learning wherever it happens to take place and whoever is responsible for initiating it.

We have set up a blog to capture these stories and a private social network (Ning) to support the participants. We anticipate organising fairly regular get-togethers where we can discuss the project, share great ideas and learn about the latest apps to support learning. We are also hoping to make some of these devices available to members of staff so that we can all contribute to understanding the ways in which mobile, handheld devices can support learning.


We have just returned from a really exciting trip to Oklahoma to present our thoughts about creative learning and the future of schools at the Creativity World Forum. Representatives from Thomas Tallis and 2 other London schools (Stormont House and Gallions) took part in a 3 month long collaboration with partner schools in Oklahoma that culminated in our presentation to 1500 delegates at the conference and the establishment of a Pop Up School.

The idea resulted from our investigation of the Pop Up phenomenon in London and beyond - dance, architecture, shops, galleries, all had appeared and disappeared as quickly during the summer of 2010. At Tallis, we had commissioned a Pop Up Gallery/Classroom for the school concourse in which we had installed The Measurement Shop in collaboration with Tangled Feet Theatre Company during our arts festival.

We were interested in the idea that school might become more of an event than a building in the future. Our Tallis Lab curriculum is concerned with exploring the benefits of Web 2.0 tools and a more project based approach to learning and we have begun to make really effective use of blogging, web design and social media. We admired the work of visionaries like Sugata Mitra and the research of Charlie Leadbeater on education innovation.

Our experience at the conference was fascinating. We established a school (of sorts) in an unofficial corner of the conference hall (Booth 100.5) and engaged delegates with a variety of tasks hosted on our #popupschool website. We used Twitcam to broadcast live from the stage during our presentation. We made films, did research, created podcasts - mostly from our new iPod Touch devices equipped with the relevant apps - iMovie, Audioboo, Tumblr etc. The younger students sang songs in the foyer (rather like a Flashmob event) or asked a series of challenging, open-ended questions. We aimed to give our students an opportunity to engage with adults as equals, co-learners and to publish their thoughts and reflections to a real audience online.

The response was very positive:

was by far my favourite thing at the RT @ the future is unwritten

One blogger even suggested that the concept of a Pop Up School could apply to music lessons.

The most valuable lesson we learned was just how easy and powerful it is to connect with other learners and learning professionals (we're not very fond of the word teacher) in far off places. Tammy Parks at Howe High School was our partner in the project and has proved to be an inspirational colleague and a leading figure in our PLNs (Personal Learning Networks). We conducted several Skype conversations with her and her students in the lead up to the conference and we were inspired by her story. Howe is literally in the middle of nowhere. It is 3 hours from the nearest town. The school is smaller than one of our year groups at Tallis and, apart from the school building, the only other significant architectural features in Howe are the convenience store and the lumber yard. Despite this, Tammy and her husband Scott (the superintendent of the school district) have created an ICT rich learning environment using state of the art equipment. The school uses a satellite truck to conduct virtual field trips. They have high quality video conferencing equipment and lead learning experiments across the United States. Their physical isolation has been a spur to innovation. In order to give their students access to 21st century learning they have harnessed the power of the internet and the skills of broadcast journalism to connect them with the rest of the world.

Oh, and we met Sir Ken Robinson too. What a trip!