Thursday 30 June 2011

Learning to Learn

I've just been reading about St. paul's Convent School in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. I was particularly interested in their approach to meta cognition and learning to learn and the integrated use of iPod Touches. Here's an extract from the article on the Futurelab website:

Learning to learn and the 16 habits of mind

All pupils in their first two years at the secondary school undertake a Learning to Learn course. They also are trained (by the older students in F6 - aged 16) in Professor Arthur Costa’s 16 habits of mind. Prof Costa maintains that a critical attribute of intelligence is not only having information but also knowing how to act on it . The 16 habits of mind (such as persistence, thinking flexibly, remaining open to continual learning) contribute to this intelligence. For more detail on how the school has implemented these 16 Habits of Mind across the curriculum see the video at

The 16 Habits of Mind are listed below:
1. Persisting
2. Managing impulsivity
3. Listening with understanding and empathy
4. Thinking flexibly
5. Thinking about thinking (meta-cognition)
6. Striving for accuracy
7. Questioning and posing problems
8. Applying past knowledge to new situations
9. Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
10. Gathering data through all senses
11. Creating, imagining, innovating
12. Responding with wonderment and awe
13. Taking responsible risks
14. Finding humour
15. Thinking interdependently
16. Remaining open to continuous learning

Technology provides additional learning opportunities and enables the girls to showcase their work

The school’s learning portal enables the students to log in and access additional activities, for example additional videos and audio recordings and accompanying exercises to test their English comprehension. The students showing me round the school had made frequent use of these materials. I was shown active class discussion areas, not only featuring questions on homework logistics but also intense discussion on the role of school, the responsibilities of parents and what students need to learn to prepare them for life. Sister Margaret described how extensive use is made of ipod touches to enable students to revise topics and practice Putonghua (spoken Chinese). Technology allows the school to extend learning opportunities beyond the school day and the school term.

There is clearly lots to learn from schools in other parts of the world as well as those nearer to home. I was also struck by the headteacher's reminder of the multiple ways in which we can demonstrate and celebrate our unique talents and intelligences:

Sister Margaret points out the 100 different pursuits of the children painted on the screen to emphasise that everyone is good at something and the key is finding out what and building upon it.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Thrashed at chess by the ghost of Marcel Duchamp

As you can see I've just been thrashed in a game of online chess. I'm rubbish at chess so it was not a big surprise that it took my opponent just a couple of minutes to rub my nose in it. However, I didn't feel too bad about it since it's not everyday you get to play with the ghost of a famous artist. Marcel Duchamp is one the founders of conceptual art and perhaps one of the twentieth century's mots creative minds. He gave up making art to become a chess master. He obviously saw many parallels between the kind of conceptual strategies he used to create challenging new art works (some of which redefined how we think about art) and the game of chess.

The creator of this website has apparently designed the computer opponent to play in the style of Marcel Duchamp. I think this is an idea that Duchamp himself would have found highly amusing.

Saturday 25 June 2011

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

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The first day of performances at the Greenwich + Docklands Festival with Tangled Feet. I am so proud of our wonderful students (mostly from Year 8) who are taking part. I can't wait for the performances at Tallis on Tuesday.

Let's Talk to Learners

I came across this video on another blog today. Isn't it amazing how we're still discussing the merits of 'progressive' versus 'traditional' forms of learning. I was particularly interested in the recommended attributes for a 'progressive teacher':

Will we ever get beyond the politicisation of learning and the old duality of progressives and traditionalists? There are clearly many effective ways to learn and not all approaches will suit all learners. I've been in several discussions recently with young learners where they have expressed very clearly what works for them and made sensible and ambitious suggestions for improving education. Why don't we put aside our ideological positions for a bit and invest a little more time in talking to young people about learning?

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Billy the sports photojournalist

I've just received a great message from Billy, esteemed and long standing member of the Action Research Group. You'll remember that Billy won a competition on Flickr which enabled him to work as an official photographer at the Youth Olympic games in Singapore last year. It now appears that he has been invited to be one of the official photojournalists at the 2012 games:

I got an exciting email today confirming that I'll be getting press accreditation for London 2012 next year, as well as photographing the young hopefuls in the lead up (training) and qualifying to take part in the Games.

How cool is this? Further proof that if you can identify your talents, work very hard to refine them and get yourself out there to make the necessary contacts, the world is indeed your oyster. Well done Billy from your friends on the Creative Tallis ARG!

Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

I've just added this video to the new Tallis Manifesto site. It does a really great job of explaining the idea that creativity is about combining or mixing ideas together. Check out the website for the other films in the series.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Learning technologies in the new school

Yesterday was a momentous day for me, and also hopefully for learning in the new school. For the last nine months I have been working with the company who will manage the ICT service in the new school and it's fair to say it has monopolised my time, but yesterday we finally signed the contract and agreed what our new school ICT solution will be. So sorry for having been a stranger these last months!
I decided that I would have a little experiment with iPhone to share some of the key elements of what ICT in the new school will be like. You can now use Pages, Keynote and Numbers on an iPod or Phone and the presentation above was made on an iPhone. It was really easy to use, and having fewer options actually helped me work briskly and more efficiently. Once the presentation was made I shared it with directly from my phone and that created a web-hosted Keynote that I could email people. When you open the link it also allows people to leave notes and comments so that would really help a collaborative learning process. It would be even better if it created an embed code so that the presentation would play inside a blog or website. Anyway the techie element is dull stuff - the exciting thing is that using an iPod touch students will be able to share, communicate and develop their learning in a really flexible, agile and exciting way. Bring on the new school!


Friday 17 June 2011

Beau Lotto

Mr Hawes and I had the pleasure of visiting Beau Lotto at his lab in the Science Museum earlier this week. He is doing some amazing research about the science of perception and is very interested in working with students and members of staff at Tallis next academic year on a very exciting project. We need a small but beautifully formed group who will collaborate over six days with the young people and adults from other schools to create their own experiment. When the experiment has been designed they will work with a storyteller to turn their ideas into a narrative. I'll post more news about this in the very near future!

Sunday 5 June 2011


I've just discovered this great little grid by the always interesting John Davitt and couldn't resist posting it here. This is what John has to say about Freelearning (a bit like Free Running but with, you know, more learning):
Remember you are freelearning as soon as you escape the gravitational pull of the “always do” the ennui of the everyday. In addition I wanted to find space for the conviction that the ultimate resource of another, the outdoor world and new technologies of connection all have a significant part to play in building the most delightful learning opportunities. I wanted a model for thinking about learning that lets “creativity in the door and innovation through the window”
John runs Freelearning events for schools. Wouldn't it be great to get him to come to Tallis to show us in person how it works?

Friday 3 June 2011

Finish This Book

Very excited by the imminent release of Keri Smith's new book. I love a good mystery. What if more learning activities worked like this?
"This lesson doesn't exist without you".

Wednesday 1 June 2011

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air

June 24th-28th

Presented by tangled feet in collaboration with Thomas Tallis School

at The Greenwich and Docklands International Festival 2011 (

VENUE: Greenwich Park Centre, Greenwich Community College, Royal Hill, SE10 8PY

London’s story is an epic and perpetual tale of regeneration and change. Ships have sailed, bombs have fallen, tower blocks have soared and markets plummeted. The past is wiped away and new futures promised. How does a city survive when as all that is solid melts into air? What does it take to let go of the past when the future is still out of reach?

Tangled Feet tell the exhilarating and moving human story of urban regeneration in a gravity-defying piece of highly physical storytelling

June 24th 9pm
June 25th 3.45pm, 6pm
June 26th 2.30pm, 6pm

Runs approx 30 mins

FREE (no ticket required)


And at Thomas Tallis School, Kidbrooke on June 28th 7.30pm

All That is Solid Melts in Air is made with support from the Arts Council England, commissioned by GDIF and Thomas Tallis School and was made at Three Mills Studios, London. Tangled Feet are an Associate Company of The National Theatre Studio. Additional support Balfour Beaty.

Directors: Nathan Curry and Kat Joyce

Aerial Director/Designer: Al Orange
Set and Costume Design: Jo Scotcher
Original Music: Nick Gill
Production Manager: Luke Gledsdale
Assistant Director: Emma Louise Merritt
Producer: Lucy Oliver-Harrison

Antoine Marc
Mario Christofides
Leon Smith
Simon Fee
Simon Jones
Helen Ball
Sarah Calver
Susan Hingley