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Stuart Sutherland and John Sutton ran this discussion about the impact of blogging and other technology on parental engagement. The Ferry Lane blogs were showcased for their good practice, both for their innovative approaches to communication and the quality of work being produced. Click here for the article.

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under: Blog development, education policy, Ferry Lane

brainpop article

Posted by: | January 21, 2011 | 3 Comments |

A recent article written for Brainpop.co.uk about the impact of blogging on children at Ferry Lane Primary School. Sharon wrote the bulk of the article (she is 10). Click the image below to read the article.

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under: Blog development, Ferry Lane, Uncategorized

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under: Blog development

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under: Blog development, Chorlton Park

General election in Year 2.

Posted by: | April 15, 2010 | No Comment |

The videos are quite slow to load today, so please click on the one you would like to play, then click again and wait a minute for it to buffer. If you click play once more, it should work better.

Today we talked about what an election was. Some of us knew that there was going to be a general election in this country on May 6th, and that it was a chance for adults to decide on who should run our country.

Then we ran our own election in the class! It helped us all to understand what it was all about. This is what we did:

First of all we chose three party candidates who believed in different things. Here is what they believed in:

Party A thought that people should be able to make money for themselves and their families. It Allowed rich people to keep most of their money.

Party B thought that people who make plenty of money should give lots away to help others. They wanted to spend lots of money on schools and hospitals.

Party C thought that we should put lots of our money into making the world “greener” and less polluted. They thought that was the most important thing to sort out.

Next we all chose who we wanted to vote for. Iqra and Leo, our officers were very strict about how we voted. They threw away any that weren’t clear or had names written on them. We had to secretly put a cross underneath the party we had chosen and put our voting slips in a special box:
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Next Iqra and Leo counted the votes. This is what they did:

After that, we talked about who we had voted for and tried to give reasons for our choices. Here are some of our reasons:

Who would you have voted for and why? In the end, Party B was elected in 2JS. Do you think they made the right choice?

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under: Chorlton Park

I’ve been thinking about what a new primary ICT curriculum would look like if you started from scratch. What would you teach? How would you make the curriculum future-proof (or at least last a few years) whilst still remaining relevant to new developments?

Clearly APP would form the basis for the objectives, starting with the three strands already implemented in the KS3 documents:

  1. Planning, developing and evaluating
  2. Handling data, sequencing instructions and modelling
  3. Finding, using and communicating information

So what would your planning look like? Can people describe projects that they are working on which might sit easily into this sort of framework? For my contribution I would use the Jack and the Beanstalk project we have just completed in Year 2. In this project the children spent half a term researching and re-telling the story, designing 3d storyboards which they then photographed and assembled into a film along with their own voice-recordings, transitions and title music. The finished product, a short film was then evaluated and assessed against their initial brief. The whole project seems to sit well with the above strands of the APP assessment in KS3. Medium term planning to follow.

Can other readers of this blog suggest their own interesting projects which might be used by other teachers?

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under: education policy
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Visitor numbers going up…

Posted by: | February 9, 2010 | 1 Comment |


The Year 2 blog stats are going up all the time. So far today we have had 400 individual visitors, the highest ever. Whilst this is great, the number of comments are down (outside school hours). I’m beginning to think about reasons for this, and wonder what other people think. Is it just that visitors are using links and games from the site (which is great if true), that they are not finding anything of interest to comment on (which is not so good) or for some other reason.

Answers on a postcard please!

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under: Blog development, Chorlton Park
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The theme at  November’s  SSAT conference in Birmingham was “21st Century Schooling: The Globalised Challenge”. There were many highlights, especially George Alagiah making an insightful and passionate keynote about the “Bottom Billion” – the economically worst off in the world. However, I was struck by the overwhelmingly corporate message which came across from the majority of other speakers. Sponsors of the conference included HSBC, Rolls-Royce, Toshiba and BT, and the multinationals plying their trade in state education was welcomed in a way that I felt went completely unchallenged.

To illustrate this point, have a look at the “Global Fellows” videos from the conference. Here highly articulate, entertaining and bright 18 year olds discuss their work placements in developing countries with companies such as KPMG and Shell. The tone is enthusiastic and competitive, but there is no mention of the real impact of these multinational corporations on the developing world. By choosing these young people as keynote speakers at the conference, the message from SSAT and ultimately the government was that global business is what all our children should aspire to. There was no space to consider the ethics of these companies, no time to comment on whether the global impact that oil companies are having was a positive  one or not, no scope to consider whether we actually want these corporations in our classrooms.

The conference seemed to focus entirely on the short-term fiscal requirements of a more globalized world. In order for our young people to compete globally they will need to develop language skills, a competitive edge, an understanding of ICT etc. There was no consideration of the impact of this type of world on our children or the children in the countries where these teenagers had visited. It is of course true that children being educated in India are learning languages and ICT, but they are cheaper to employ too, and that is the real reason that the big companies source so much of their labour there…

As a primary school teacher, I find all of this quite difficult to swallow. I DO want my children to think about their global impact. I DO want my class to know about economics and about how their globalized world works, and I DO want them to be employable, but I also don’t think that Shell, KPMG or Rolls-Royce are necessarily the right people to help them gain that understanding. Whilst I understand that my children need to compete for jobs when they graduate, I do not think that the model of globalization which is extolled by these big companies is the one I would choose to teach to.

So how do we teach our children to be global citizens? How should they acquire the skills they will need for the jobs that we are (constantly) told have not been invented yet?

One way that we have tried to develop in our children a better understanding of  the world around them is through using blogs. My class blog has become a pivotal part of my daily teaching in many ways, but one of the most powerful aspects of this technology is to connect my class with the whole world in a largely non-commercial and democratic manner. In its simplest form, my children know what is happening across the world. Children and adults from all over the planet tell my children about events that are taking place where they live. On a deeper level, there are constant opportunities for my children to learn about the economics and opportunities available to  people in other parts of the world. A quick look at our Clustrmap from last year will show you who has been visiting from which countries – why is this? Language? ICT access? Political censorship? My children want to know where The Lebanon is, and why only 1 person has visited our blog from there, when we have had so many from the USA. It was Jimmy Carter who said “Globalization, as defined by rich people like us, is a very nice thing… you are talking about the Internet, you are talking about cell phones, you are talking about computers. This doesn’t affect two-thirds of the people of the world.”

My children want to know about the world. They are learning the skills they need to communicate with others as Global Citizens, and they are having to be creative and resourceful in order to answer their own questions. They are actively involved in their education, writing their own posts and asking questions about the world around them which are answered by people all over the planet.

If, as seems likely, the conservatives are voted in at the next election, the links between global industry and education are surely likely to increase. Budgets will be cut and the temptation to accept sponsorship and private money in education will become harder to resist. I believe that it is crucial that our children grow up not just with the ability to earn money and feed the economy, but also with free-will and a perspective on the world which allows them to be compassionate, critical and truly creative.

“Globalization is a fact of life. But I believe we have underestimated its fragility.” – Kofi Annan

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under: Blog development, education policy
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Blogging with parents

Posted by: | January 18, 2010 | No Comment |

For some time now, I have run blogging clubs for children at Chorlton Park. These have been popular and helpful in getting our kids to engage and learn using the blogs. However, lots of children wanted to do the things we did in school back home. This was harder as the children were often more able than their parents, and the parents had questions and concerns about the blogs. As a result, I have changed the format of these clubs.

Each year group from Year 2 to Year 5 will now get half a term of blogging after school on a Tuesday. I will teach parents with their children how to blog. When I canvased opinion, parents wanted to know about esafety (surprise surprise!), about basic blogging, and some wanted to know more technical things such as how to embed video and photo content. This is a wide range of skills. Perhaps more than I can teach in half a term with only half an hour each week.

As a result, I decided to make a series of video tutorials which covered the range of skills that the parents wanted to learn. I will teach esafety explicitly, and make it a condition of their attendance (important if they are then to learn how to embed video or photo content) I will teach them how to leave a comment, and then let them explore for themselves with the help of their children and the tutorials.

Another reason for changing the format of the club is to ensure that the blogs are continued when I leave Chorlton Park. I have asked a teacher from each year group to come and teach the club with me. It will provide a time and space for them to work alongside the parents and children on making their particular yeargroup blog active and engaging, and hopefully boost confidence in the staff.

I would be really interested in hearing people’s thoughts on this. Have I missed out any critical things to teach? What are your favourite ways of teaching esafety stuff? Do you have interesting resources to share? Do you already do something similar? Please leave a comment and let me know.

The tutorials are embedded below. Please use them in your blogs if you find them useful, but a link to the Year 2 blog and a credit would be much appreciated.

Leaving a comment on a WordPress blog from jacksloan on Vimeo.

Writing a post on a WordPress blog from jacksloan on Vimeo.

Adding a link in a WordPress blog post from jacksloan on Vimeo.

Embedding a photograph, picture or drawing into a WordPress blog post from jacksloan on Vimeo.

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under: Blog development, Chorlton Park
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Voicethread is a brilliant tool for commenting collaboratively. It is very easy to use, and children can comment using text, a microphone or even a webcam. This presentation will help you to get started.

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under: Blog development, Chorlton Park, Voicethread
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