Monthly Archives: April 2013

Antidote …

An intriguing day- last night comments from he that is not here (see Life … Post) that raised hackles. An evening of apathy but twitter companionship. A poor night, disrupted sleep, a migraine attempting to start, exhaustion, low – morning to sleep and regather. It started with foetal ball and tears, then sleep, then wakefulness.

Then to school and beyond, teach, rest, arrive early for parents evening – gather waiters from queue outside hall 14;45 and we’ve started. Scheduled evening 3 hours, 36 possible 5min. appointments. But I teach four classes, so I was fully booked within three days over a week ago. So did I do all 36 appointments? No I managed 46 appointments in 220 minutes.

I left feeling Truly alive and happy – my antidote – sharing with parents how their children are doing.


What do you do? ASD, ADHD, Psychotic episodes, substances, lies, anger, accusations…just some of the last 4 days of parenting. Apologies normal blogs will resume at some point as I have so much good stuff but it’s being buried at the moment.

Too open, brutally honest ? Maybe but welcome to my life, our life, pressures, oh and then there’s work but I like my teaching. I want to be there. I don’t want to be curled up in a ball but it would be so easy, pull back, withdraw, hide.

I have friends on Twitter with who I share a propensity for depression #BD. we support each other, look out, check up on, ring, tweet, mail to help each other. For me one of the most powerful groups to come out of my tweeting but not one you can easily stand up in front of the staff at a workshop and say. Yes, mock me for tweeting but you don’t know what it’s like being in my head at times. I take anti-depressants I’ve given up on the whole I’m going to come off them crusade because there are too many rocky paths, too many glitches, they are my stabilisers, my buoyancy aid. This weekend their support was tested and as well as my great partner they helped.

What is this small post about? It’s a cry, a bleat, a blip. It’s the reason career plans stalled and withered. It’s a cause for my need to meet inspiring people online and in person. I have so much to offer but be patient because sometimes there’s a great big wall in the way that I have to get over, around, under, through before I can be.

Just remember, life is a one time opportunity, warts and all.

If you’ve read to here, thank you.

Sologlobalchat – the first one – 13.04.13. WORK IN PROGRESS

On Saturday (13 April)morning at 11am a group of teachers gathered to chat together about a shared interest – Solo Taxonomy.

The following participated:

Individual Twitter handle Location Specialism

Brendan Jones @joneseytheteachr Australia PE

Chris Harte @charte Australia

Andy Knill @aknill UK Geography, ICT

Steve Mouldey @GeoMouldey N. Zealand Geography

Diane Farrell @fardef Australia Mathematics

Georgia Constanti @georgiac Australia k-6

Alice Leung @aliceleung Australia Science

Helen Rogerson @hrogerson UK Science

Lucie Golton @LGolton UK Science

Sonya Vanschaijik @vanschaijik N.Zealand

Emma Watts @emmerw N.Zealand Primary

Julia Breen @Jbreeno1 N.Zealand PE/Health

Jamie Warner-Lynn @deadshelley UK English

Graeme Eyre @gceyre UK Geography

sa_78 @sa_78 UK PE

myfot @thisismyfot UK History/Sociology

Amjad Ali @ASTsupportAAli UK Law, AST T & L

Andy Sammons @amsammons UK English

Tom Phillips @TomPhillipsPE UK PE

Claire Power @Miss_Power85 UK Geography

Fred Domingo @fredgdomingo Australia Science

Katharine Hutchinson @kjhutchinson UK Geography

Mrs M Atherton @mrsmdatherton UK English

Ross McGill @TeacherToolkit UK AHT

Debbie and Mel @TeacherTweaks UK English

Alice has posted this already.

Stretch your brain? Chat to many? Be a contributor?

Are you up to a challenge? @ukedchatorganise a weekly chat at 8pm every Thursday on Twitter for anyone to debate that week’s topic. @ukedchat and @ICTMagic lead ukedchat and are always welcoming to new volunteers to host a chat. They will ask you for a number of questions to discuss so the poll can be started after the previous weeks chat. 24 hours before “your” chat the poll results will be announced.

I am no expert, I hosted my first chat last night on the topic of CPD. It was terrifying,exhilarating and at some point gentlemen I will offer to host again. It works your brain, I gained followers and now follow more teachers and educators. Twitter’s value was reinforced lat night, but by those who already appreciate it. Now we need to reach out to the others who deny it has a use for them. Let us encourage people to explore new ideas, new sources, new methods so that our careers, schools, pupils can progress.

My exploration analogy comes from the recent TED talk by Daniel Raven-Ellison. Watch his talk, could you explore something new?

Talking pedagogy globally

This post was submitted and approved to this morning as another way to spread the word about #sologlobalchat.

The link is: talking pedagogy globally.

Please join us or tell others about the event.


#gaconf13 part 2

Morning break and back to the balcony above the exhibition to share apps lists and refer interested parties to speak to Bob Lang about GIS. Caught up with Rob Morris (@lodgemeister) who’d spotted the tshirt earlier. Also caught up with Prffr David Lambert who’d tutored me on the MA at IoE 23 years ago.

My next workshop was Getting our geographers ready for tomorrow led by Becky, Beth and Emma from the secondary phase committee. I liked their ideas about looking forwards in activities, it matched ideas proposed by Dawn Hallybone in our Geografree Teachmeet takeover at Bett13.


Also met two guys from Essex who’d driven up that morning – possible TMEssex conscripts? Tony Cassidy introduced himself as sat at back of room so we met at last. Looking forward to his shared workshop later.

Made quite a few notes to go away with and also chatted about Solo and need to follow uplinks with Simon Renshaw. The careers cards from GA and RGS clearly have a longer term career link prior to options.

Off to lunch and found ourselves near the front1/3 of the queue which proved a great move after seeing how long the queue became later. Chat with a mix of people including meeting Richard Allaway at last. Then off to look around at least some of the exhibition and met up with Emma Rawling-Smith whose talk I hoped to attend at the end of the day.

The exhibition showed that those Icelandic tweets all week represented lots of trips on offer. Signed up to a range of information sources but I managed to limit myself to one box file of leaflets. Lots of sources I am already signed up to.

While browsing at the GA stand I spied a face that looked familiar. Could it be? So I asked are you Nigel? It was indeed – Nigel Bennett PGCE Leicester Uni 1987/88 with myself – one of a few who have kept in touch and there we were 25 years on still both teaching. Nostalgia ensued with memories of field trips to London Docklands and the Lake District. These linked to some pics I had rediscovered recently with our great tutor Patrick Bailey and the power of the chalk drawn diagrams we used to have to do to show ideas.

Fieldwork and the ranging poles.

Tutoring in field sketching – typical the physical geog/geol students taking photos of the human geographers in our territory.

The purpose of the diagram(one of my best ever) to show the group what the OS map information meant about our proposed walk up Scafell Pike the next day. That day will always live on in my memories and as Nigel said the risk assessment process today does not bear thinking about.

We set off together for the Pearson lecture by David Lambert. for two older guys we beat the lift on the stairs leaving many younger geographers in our wake. The lecture was essentially about how the GA and curriculum plans are achanging. Not for the first time in our careers. Essentially,a chance for geographers to mould what and how they teach so pupils gain a geographical core knowledge and include experiential skills as well. Time will always be a factor in this but it did clearly show how as a subject many ideas have been discussed and shared overtime putting us in a stronger position than other subjects in the curriculum.

Now for the IT based workshops with friends leading. Down the B block stairs 3 floors, over to the N block and up 4 flights of stairs ( ah this will explain weariness later). Workshop 20 App’ening geography led by Alan (@geoblogs) Parkinson and Katy Shipman. Earlier Alan had taken a pile of the apps sheets from our ICT stand and distributed the as part of this session. Some good background and resources were shared. It was interesting after spending a lot of time at Teachmeets how the baseline of app and mobile device experience in the session was lower than I had anticipated. Thanks to Alan for mentioning the overlap between the secondary committee and ICT group. I also made requests re. Teachmeet involvement (again!) and. Any Android or non Apple apps users to contact me so future GA lists could be more representative of the range of devices teachers may encounter. I encouraged people on my table to contact me so I could share geography app presentations used previously that included ideas suitable for primary and secondary use.

Suggested categories for app use – also see the apps list on the GA site ( newest list at conference not uploaded yet).

Now to zoom to the most anticipated meet up of my day. In between leaving files in rooms and retrieving my bag from downstairs another 8 flights of stairs and rest! Workshop 26 Two (hundred) heads are better than one: the power of collaboration led by Alan Parkinson, Tony Cassidy and John Sayers. Three names synonymous for those of us active online with outstanding contributions over a period of time. As the room started to fill it was initially the twitter collective very clearly. The presenters divided up their time. Alan led off, then Tony with a great pound land pedagogy activity and finally the resource table that others have pictured with John. What can I say? Inspired as always by three amazing and inspiring practitioners. Ideas galore and yes John could have presented for hours. Thank you gentlemen for a memorable session. We overran so a slower departure meant that Emma’s vignettes were missed but we waited around to see her after.

John, gave me a lift into the city centre, we found the Beermeet venue and I had one drink before the train. We met up with Angus Wilson,Nigel Bennett, Bob Lang and others arriving as I left. I tried blogging on the train but honestly brain and physically drained. Thank you to the GA for a grand day out. Surrey 2014 I need to be there and how do I book up to lead a workshop? Yes I am hooked.


So, Friday 5 April. The personal treat in the family holiday a visit to The Geographical Association’s annual conference (#gaconf13). My 25th year as a geographer yet my first conference – shhh almost sacrilegious but true. I’ve joined the ICT Special Interest group last year so have a role to drop off the revised Apps list that I updated in February and printed off 150 copies.

A family holiday near a conference, very suspicious but a cottage that we liked last year and an area with plenty still to visit and do. Today was my earliest rise to be on a cold single track station for the 07.40 train.


A good ride in, as a geographer it was interesting to see where the number of passengers increased the most (Belper and Duffield). Off at Derby and then locate the shuttle buses (coach) to the University venue. Some fellow badge wearers pointed its the green coach we’d walked past. On in time and we were off. Arriving and meeting old friends in the queue to collect the conference handbooks. Then off to the balcony and deposit the apps sheets I had stored at the side of the cottage all week.

Then a chance to slow, look around, get my bearings and the meetings begin – hi to friends and colleagues met previously. Then oh look over there is … As fellow tweeters were pointed out or spotted or my t- shirt ploy worked to show who I was. I gave the first round of talks a miss to stay at the stand and talk to visitors interested in apps or GIS who I would direct to more relevant members of our little team.

A conference is a new experience for me, I’m used to Teachmeets these days where presentation are far more rapid fire.The chance of overload was very probable.

In round 2 I attend the IT workshop I’d agreed to attend as a member of the IT group. Dr Ian Cook, Mary Biddulph and a gathering of PGCE students who introduced/ reviewed/ explained the site the session was advertised as Teaching trade. I liked the site but was initially scared by the depth of information. Not KS3 or 4 friendly for many but then I discovered links to Mission Explore and the blog with examples of use.


Now here there were clear possibilities including the lego movies. I chatted with Ian about using the materials in co-construction lessons as explained by @headguruteacher on Twitter and through his blog, who I have the pleasure of hosting Teachmeet Essex with. Also where student leaders are encouraged to take learning responsibility in the classroom, as being developed at my current school. I also promoted the idea of. More geographers participating and sharing their practice at Teachmeets.


So going into Tuesday (yes insomnia moment). Been on holiday since Good Friday.

Have I switched off? Yes, but no.

Why? As a teacher I read the news while away and see the stories from the Union conferences, then 1st April and changes that will affect those that I work with of all ages.

As a geographer, I’m surrounded by human and physical geography – mainly just enjoying it for itself whilst reading about ski trips and Icelandic trips.

As a geek twitter and blogs are never far away because of mobile technology, but while I’m walking, scrambling about they are relegated as the phone takes over as my camera.

So, what are holidays all about? For me time away from the classroom. Some recharging of batteries although a desire to be outside means I’m working myself quite hard. A time for family – yes we annoy each other, irritate at times. There are the shared moments, the unexpected comments, the views to savour from hilltops, the cafes visited. By asking myself what holidays are do I start to make them more formal? Maybe. Just being seems a thing of the past. Delights abound- seeing deep snow for the first time since last years visit; burning off extra energy walking with eldest; visiting new places; trying new eateries;

Did this post have a purpose? Maybe or maybe just a release of thoughts while awake in the early hours. You decide. I have to say thankyou for holidays and the opportunity to take some time out.