Yesterday Kidsmeet Blackpool took place at Hawes Side Primary School and I thought that people would be interested to hear about it.
The explanation of a Kidsmeet on the official site is
KidsMeet is a concept developed from the success ofÂ TeachMeet. KidsMeet events provide children with the opportunity to speak about their learning in a positive environment. This is in the form of a 5 – 7 minute group presentation to be given by children, for children. Content can focus on the effect that their teacher’s innovative practice has had on their learning, an element of their learning that has gone really well or simply something they would like to share with other children and teachers that has made a difference to them or changed their approach to learning.
I was honoured to be asked by the organisers to compere the event and to do the difficult part of being the only speaker there over the age of 11. I travelled over on the morning of the event driving the 320 miles from drought stricken Lincolnshire to the North West of England thinking through everything I would need to keep the large audience of children attending happy and also planning of ways not to let them work out that they were better with computers than me!!!
The event took place in the huge hall at the school and it soon became clear that the whole space was going to filled with children by 2pm when we were due to start. At this stage it should be pointed that not only should the organisers be praised for their efforts but it was clear that schools had worked wonders in getting permissions and car spaces to bring children from schools in Blackpool, Fleetwood, Maghull, Preston and even Bradford. Those who made it happen should be celebrated.
The event was opened with a welcome from Michael Shepherd, Headteacher of Hawes Side Primary who was being watched on a live stream by all of the classes in his school. He was followed by Peter Richardson who gave everyone watching details of where they would be able to keep contact with the event online.
It then fell to me to get the event started which I did by inviting the pupils of the host school to talk to us about the ways in which they used ICT to bring their curriculum to life. I loved the way in which they talked about their experiences live blogging during their recent residential in York. The thing which struck me, talking to their teacher, was the positive impact for parents who loved being able to keep contact with what their children were doing whilst away. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the teachers who had accompanied them and she made it clear just how easy it had been and how many positive comments she had received from parents afterwards.
Next up were Green Park Primary School in Maghull, Liverpool who showed how their use of Google Apps had allowed them to research, create and share their work in a various topics – my personal favourite was the use of images and text around the Second World War. By the end of this presentation it was clear that Kidsmeet certainly had great potential as we had brought two schools together which wouldn’t otherwise work together. We also had a position where the pupils were potentially influencing practice in other schools.
Our first virtual sharing came next as we linked by Skype with the pupils of Robin Hood Primary School in Birmingham sharing the work which they had done using Alan Peat’s Exciting Sentence ideas. I have to admit that I did feel like one of the presenters on Eurovision as we nervously waited to see if the connection was strong enough to give us video connection! Once we got through we were treated to a brief explanation of what we were going to see and then videos made by the children whilst they were creating their sentences.
My personal view of this presentation was that it was good to see children using film to record an early stage in the writing process and even more rarely using film to record a skills session. One of the key issues holding back Lower Key Stage 2 writers is the ability to play with sentence structures and manipulate them with understanding. An idea to steal!
So how do you follow a virtual presentation on Skype without it being a damp squib? We played our joker card and invited the pupils of Walton-le-Dale Primary school, Preston up to the front with the warning that those at the back would not be able to see them. The reason for this is that Peter Richardson had brought four Year 1 children with him to demonstrate just how easy and useful they find Aviary to help them manipulateÂ images and create soudtracks.
The confidence displayed by the children belied their nerves before the start of the event and this reflects very well on the support they were given. However, it was incredibly impressive to see year 1 children taking it in turns to “drive” the computer whilst the others presented. My personal favourite was, during the demo of the music function, the call to “Hit it, Jenson” as he played the soundtrack!!! I asked the assembled children whether they had been access to such applications when they were in Year 1 and there was a resounding no – whereas virtually every hand went up when I asked who blogged. This pointed to the importance of events such as Teachmeet and Kidsmeet in sharing practice across the country and also how quickly technology is changing and helping us develop our young learners.
Here is the comment I left on their blog which can be found here and has some amazing shots of the day.
I have to say that the four children were a complete credit to their school not only in their presentation but also in their behaviour throughout the whole event. They were the only Key Stage One children attending and they watched everyone else’s slots with real interest.
The children presented their use of Aviary with such confidence despite the fact that they were in a huge hall and having to use a handheld microphone. What I found superb was the fact that the one of the children “drove” the computer whilst the others presented from the front.
I have already told three schools about the software just because of their presentation.
They were wonderful
So to finish off the first half we had three local schools: Claremont Primary (who started tweeting as a school during the event – Welcome to twitter!) talking about a range of Drama games which the children use in their class. A great presentation which required bravery demonstrating acting, word and singing games. Kincraig Primary Schools demonstrating the strategies they use to develop their writing skills and finally a great end to the session with a solo performer from Christ the King Primary School in Blackpool.Â A year 6 pupil demonstrated how Popplet allows her to organise her thinking when undertaking topic work. It was clear that this was a remarkable young lady and she spoke so clearly and eloquently about how she had been able to widen her research as a result of collating her thoughts in one easy to access area. I spoke to her father during the break and he was a one man testimoney to difference that positive use of technology can have on the learning of one pupil. He gave me several examples of how she was able to research things and then shock the whole family with her in-depth knowledge of a particular subject.
Errata – If you look at the comments below you will see that this young lady is actually a Year 5 pupil which makes her presentation all the more remarkable!
Before the break we had a virtual presentation from St John the Baptist Primary in Southampton and I did a few minutes on why Revs (a game for the BBC Micro) was the greatest game ever! The children’s reward for sitting politely through my blather was a feast of sticky buns, donuts and cakes.
In the second half we had presentations from Revo and St Nicholas Primary schools from Blackpool on their use of ICT and the applications which are firing them up as learners. Then Bowling Park Primary School from Bradford demonstrated how they use Kodu as part of their cross curricular. It is worth watching this presentation as I found it changed my views on the application. I had previously seen it advocated by teachers and found it leaving me a little cold as it didn’t press any of my buttons. I had once commented after one presentation that it was the sort of software I had to use as I would hand it over to the kids without a clue how to use it! This presentation made links for me with literacy and other curriculum areas.
We then finished offÂ 3 schools which had waited incredibly patiently – Pivot Stick Figures from Flakefleet Primary School in Fleetwood – this is not something I had ever seen before and again the independent in pupil use came through very strongly as well as the application of it. I loved their stick men in a PowerPoint!
Mereside Primary demonstrated their Digital Pencilcases which is how they describe the use of the iPod Touch in the classroom – again no teacher driving this talk and the pupils were such clear advocates of something which many will consider to be incredibly innovative yet came across as simply normal day practice.
This blogpost is from the pupils of Mereside Primary showing their presentation of ‘The digital Pencilcase’
We finished the day with Staining Primary from Blackpool who, at first sight, were telling us about how they made a film inspired by the Brainpop robot, Moby. Through a brilliantly staged argument between screen writers, actors, editors and directors were given a clear insight into the hard work put in a film making, the skills, learning stages and benefits of the work they undertook.
At the end we finished with some words from Ross and Jenny, two visiting head teachers from Sydney in Australia who reflected what all of the adults in the room were thinking and left the children in no doubt whatsoever as to how significant and special the event which they had delivered was.
So in the space of less than 3 hours children showed us we should be using the following in our classrooms:
- Green screen
- QR codes
- Google Apps
- Page plugins
- Poisson Rouge
- Videoing your own work
- Film making
- Pivot Sticks
- VLE use
- Drama activities
- Digital pencil cases
I have found that rather providing a concise and pithy breakdown of what I saw I have to include every presentation and make sure that no-one is left unmentioned.Â It is important that the organisers, Michael Shepherd, James Maloney, Tom Sale and Peter Richardson, should receive nothing but the hugest of recognition and praise for the huge amount of work they (and colleagues) undertook to ensure that this event ran so smoothly – it was one of those events which looked as though it had all been set up quickly in the morningÂ but the support from the commercial sector had obviously taken time as well ensuring that technically everything looked so effortless.
So was it a success? Yes Would I seek to replicate it? Definitely with some alterations which I think all of us were agreed upon. Ensuring that the hall (which is also a dinner hall) was available meant that the session couldn’t start until 2pm – this meant that the overrunning of the event had implications for children getting back to schools – one discussion was whether a large space which was available for the whole day would be needed to remove this tension. Personally I would go for 8-10 longer presentations and maybe two short ones from infant classes who might not be as confident as the representatives of Rowan Class. Whilst all presentations were engaging it was tough for those who were presenting last as they sat through 12 other schools and due to the time constrants some schools had been forced to leave.
Weighing these up these are a mere bagatelle and fixable things. The next step is finding further venues for this – I am aware that thre is going to be one in Birmingham and had a chat with people at the BMoble Teachmeet about one in the Yorkshire area. This is something which will flourish alongside Teachmeets which remain highly important and relevant – butI think we have found teachmeet’s sibling.