No real chance to talk about the second S1
induction day yesterday apart from to say that I thought the programme of
activities provided for the students was excellent, and the pupils themselves
seem to have got a lot out of the two days.
As always out Outdoor
Education Service did a fantastic job of helping to facilitate the Outdoor Education Team Building aspect of Day
Two. I have to say that the weather was a little damp but our new S1 smiled all
the way through as they made new friends and tackled ‘Chrystal Maze’ style problems. I managed to get around and snap
most of the activities with a camera and guess I will have to get into school
early tomorrow to set get a display up.
One of the things that I have always found that makes this
sort of activity a success is the use of S6 students to facilitate the problems
for the younger pupils. I think that this gives them a real sense of achievement
and responsibility. Our S6 helpers from yesterday were fantastic and I really think we need to find more way to
get pupils involved in developing this type of leadership.
I also thought that I would give Animoto a quick go after so many people have
blogged about in the last few days. After I up-loaded the photographs the above
took me about 2 minutes to make and I am more than impressed with the results.
This type of technology is moving on so quickly I’m starting
to wonder where it will go next and how on earth I will keep up!
Great news from the Google Lat / Long Blog that, ‘a new feature on Google Maps that allows
you to add maps to your blog or website just by copying and pasting a snippet
of HTML. And once you embed the map, it has all the same functionality of the
Google Maps you know and love; it's clickable, draggable, and zoomable.
Adding a map to your website or blog is now as easy as embedding a YouTube
video. No programming skills are required, and there's no need to sign up for a
Maps API key’
Here’s the ‘Google
My Map’ that I made of our Loch Shiel Canoe
Trip this summer. The great thing about this particular ‘my map’ is that it
contains some of my photos from
Flickr and also one of my videos of the trip from Google
Just think of the
possibilities for students being able to use this resource for fieldwork and
producing guided walks. Then think about how simply they will be able to embed their
work in to their learning logs / web pages to achieve some really impressive
Lots of people have been talking about Blog Action Day on-line. I think it’s an
interesting idea and perhaps something that you could link into a school
project on the environment. The final result could be a detailed post on the
environment coinciding with the October the 15th deadline.
'S1 Students take part in active learning as part of their induction'
First day back with the students of MGS today and the school
is already a buzz of excitement and complete chaos (mostly caused by me). We
have 21 new members of staff including Newly Qualified Teachers starting and I
managed to get round most of them today to see how they were getting on. So far
feedback has been very positive. One of the other things that we are doing
differently this year is running two induction days for our new intake of S1
The general feeling last year was that the S1 took a lot
longer to settle into the school than normal. As a management team we felt that
part of the reason for this was because they didn’t know what was expected of
them and we (as a school) had not made our expectations clear. To try and stop
this happen again and as one of the first steps to help build our
school learning community we have put together a two day induction for the
During the two days pupils will go to some classes but they
will also get and opportunity to spend more time than normal with their head of
house and guidance teacher. Other activities include library tours, information
on CATs testing, sessions on dealing with dilemmas, introduction to the library
and a chance to get their IT usernames and passwords and some basic advice for
staying safe on-line. Ronnie Summers, our headteacher, also spoke to new S1 in
four smaller groups, rather than the normal year group. Although activities like
this are time consuming I believe the whole experience comes across as being
more meaningful. Smaller groups allow more time for questions, jokes, stories
and is all together more personable which will hopefully foster the sense of
community that we are trying to create.
Tomorrow, I will be working with the whole year group on
some Outdoor Education Problem Solving Activities. Bill Stephen from our Outdoor
Education Service is co-ordinating the activities and I am looking forward to
seeing how our pupils get on. I have embedded the Outdoor Education Programme
below if anyone is interested.
More bad weather this weekend caused me to dig out a couple
of education computer games that I hadn’t had a chance to look at yet. The main
one that I played with was Big Brain
Academy: Wii Degree, for the Nintendo Wii. I am a big fan of Big Brain Academy for the Nintendo
DS and was equally impressed with the Wii Version. The thing that I like about
it the best is that you can have eight different players sharing one Wii
remote. This would be great for a school (now we just have to get one!) as
extra Wii remotes are quite expensive. Also because each task only last about
60 seconds it is unlikely that the other seven participants would get board of
waiting. The controls take a big of getting used to, but I am sure that children
would pick this up a lot quicker than me.
Like the DS version of the game Wii Degree gives you an opportunity
to practice 20 exercises or go straight for your Wii Degree, which is a random
exercise from each of the memorise, analyse, compute, identify and visualise. I
still think that there is real potential in using this software to improve students
cognitive ability, patience and thinking skills.
A You Tube clip of a game review is below, or you can find
more information about the game on the Nintendo Wii website.
After a bit of searching (well a couple of clicks!) after
picking up the link to the Commoncarft del.icio.us
tutorial. I also stumbled upon these other tutorials that are available on
YouTube. I think they are all pretty good.
The first is Social
Networking in Plain English
‘This video is for
people who wonder why social networking web sites are so popular. We think one
reason is because they help solve a real-world problem. We'll let the video
explain how it works.’
The next is Wiki’s in
‘We made this video
because wiki web sites are easy to use, but hard to describe.’
And the last is RSS
in Plain English
‘We made this video
for our friends (and yours) that haven't yet felt the power of our friend the
RSS reader. We want to convert people... if you know someone who would love RSS
and hasn't yet tried it, point them here for 3.5 minutes of RSS in Plain
‘We now have two named tropical storms in the Atlantic (Dean
and Erin), a tropical storm in the East Pacific (Flossie) - near Hawaii, and a typhoon in
the west Pacific (Sepat) . One of Google Earth's most powerful features is the
ability to pull in real-time information from other sites and overlay the
information for visualization (thanks to the network
If you want a direct link to the live hurricane tracking check
out Hurricane tracker which
shows global storms movement, images, strength and direction.
Being able to get this real time weather data is just
fantastic and with the improved network speed of the Wide Area Network in East Lothian let’s hope that more and more teachers start
to use this fantastic free resource.
Alan and Ian have both commented that I hadn’t
ever got round to finishing my series of posts about the Scottish Leadership
Summer School – slave drivers!. So tonight I dragged out my lap top to see how
far I had got writing up day 4 and 5 of the conference. Day 4 was complete (I
just obviously had never got round to posting it!) and Day 5 is half finished. I’ll
post Day 5 ASAP, but below you will find a duplication of my summary of Day 4
that I have just posted over on the CPD
Scottish International Summer School, Day 4: Leadership
Support and Challenge
Judith McClure was the forth person to take up the position as Chair at the International Summer School. Judith is the current Convenor of the Scottish Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (SELMAS). In her opening address Judith picked up on some of the emerging key themes of the conference including the importance of building relationships, emotional intelligence and allowing time to think. She even managed to slot in a quick advertisement for the forthcoming SELMAS Conference in September.
The morning was taken up by an activity led by Graeme Finnie around the theme of coaching. We were asked to use group coaching to see if we could think of ways to develop leadership capacity through coaching and mentoring. I have written about coaching before and do believe that it is a powerful way to support leadership at all levels. However from the various conversations that emerged from the morning discussions it seemed that there was still a bit confusion in terminology as to what the differences were between coaching, mentoring, life coaching and counselling. Although we may never reach a true consensus or exact definition of what each of these things are for. I do believe that there is some work to be done in really helping Scottish teachers and leaders understand what we mean by ‘coaching’ in an educational sense.
Here’s what I think:
Mentoring is normally provided by to another person or group of people who have an expertise in the subject that the person is being mentored in. As well as reflection mentoring is also about giving advice based on the experience of the mentor.
Coaching does not have to be provided by a subject expert. Instead the coach has been training in questioning techniques. They are skilled in getting the participant to come up with their own answers by providing structured questioning to allow the person to have some really focused thinking time.
With this definition in mind and one of the recurring themes of the conference being that all leaders need more time to think. I think that coaching could be one way to push forward this aspect of the leadership agenda.
I also think that it is important that we differentiate between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ coaching if there are such terms? School leaders may already be using informal coaching in schools because it is really just structured questioning. However, I think formal coaching is different. During a formal coaching session a coach will guide the participant in order for them to find their own solution to a particular problem or obstacle. The coach will also help the participant set their own goals to help them overcome or review the problem. Coaching is powerful and important to school leaders because most of the time our minds are filled with more than one task and sometimes it is difficult to prioritise or tackle these tasks in any sensible order. I also believe that coaching can be immensely valuable when helping school leaders plan strategically. All to often school leaders get tied down with the day to day running of the school / authority and do not give enough time to strategic ‘blue sky’ thinking or a clear vision for the school. Working with a skilled coach can provide a way to give some quality time to both of these issues.
One final point, I believe that coaching is here to stay and I hope that there are some plans to engage the ITE Universities in the coaching process. To me this seems a useful way to push forward and develop a coaching model. 3580 students will enter ITE next year and I think that if they all new what coaching was (a clear definition) and if they had all had an opportunity to be coached and perhaps even benefited from being a peer coach then this would be a huge step forward and 3580 less people to convince about the merits of coaching when they enter the profession full time.
After Lunch the conference received a presentation from Graham Donaldson, Senior Chief Inspector, HMIe and Eamon Stack, Chief Inspector, Department of Education and Science, Eire. It was interesting to hear a little bit about the inspection model in Eire and to hear Graham Donaldson’s speak about school leadership. One big
difference between the Scottish and Eire systems is that there is no
Local Authority Education structure in Eire. Schools report directly back to the
centre. After their presentations both Graham and Eamon received a
number of questions from the delegation about the advantages and
disadvantages of both systems and the inspection process in general.
The final presentation of the day was from Norman Drummond on the Columba 1400 experience. After a motivational introduction from Norman staff and students from Lossiemouth High School and Cumnock Academy took the lead and spoke to the conference about their own Columba 1400
experience. I have always been enthusiastic about outdoor learning and
the power of the outdoors to develop leaders, aid reflection and
empower people. The presentation provided me with even more evidence to
support my theory. The audience listened to two groups of young adults
explain to them how the Columba experience had changed their lives. The
audience also had an opportunity to take part in some Columba
activities and to find out how the schools had gone on to develop their
own sustainable leadership programmes. This presentation was an
excellent end to the day and for many the highlight of the week.