This is the fifth in a series of ten posts about my experience last week at the 2009 Microsoft Innovative Teachers Forum in Vienna.
For me, one of the highlights of the presentations at last week at the European Innovative Teaching Awards was Dan Roberts ‘Recharge the Battery’ Keynote presentation. Dan has a uniquely laid back presentation style but comes across so passionately in his performance.
Dan is a previous Innovative
Teacher European and Worldwide Winner for his project and was also part of
the UK contingent in Vienna. Dan and I
instantly hit it off and I can’t help thinking that we both share the same
education philosophy that of often summarise as one of my presentation slides (show
below). ‘Sometimes it’s a lot easier to apologise than gain permission!’
Dan is currently Assistant Head Teacher at Saltash.net Community College. The school has specialist college status in ICT and I think the schools commitment to this is summarised in their name change. Dan was quick to point this out during his presentation and was also keen to share his own personal learning journey in a really honest and down-to-earth way.
Dan showed the Saltash.net logo and explained that all of the primary schools that feed into Saltash.net are reflected in the logo. I thought this was a great idea and something I wish I had thought of while trying to create and re-represent the Musselburgh Learning Community over the previous two years.
Next Dan moved on to talk
about his project. You see one of the unique things about Saltash.net is that it’s
an ICT college and really embraces traditional values
and one of these values is that it keeps its own livestock. This initially started
off with pigs but now also includes chickens. You can watch the pigs and
chickens live at any time via the schools
pig and egg cam! YouTube Video of the pigs below.
During his keynote Dan linked live to some of the children at Saltash.net and there was an opportunity to ask them questions about how having the animals at the school helped them with their learning. The children were real ambassador to the school and spoke clearly about how the school farm made ‘learning real’.
The chickens kept at the
school came from a project devised by the students where they wanted to learn
more about battery and non-battery farmed hens. One of the children had
suggested to Mt Roberts that they buy some rescue chickens and look after them
at the school. Dan agreed and the class purchased 6 chickens for £3 (50pence
each!) all of the chickens would have otherwise just been slaughtered.
The class then carried out investigative work on battery and non-battery farming. They worked with Dan to co-create the curriculum, decided how they wanted to learn and designed their own assessment criteria. (If this project was in Scotland it would be being held up as an example of A Curriculum for Excellence in action!).
Next we heard about ‘Stevie Cooper’ the school chicken expert. Stevie’s 12 and wasn’t always that interested in school. But he loved the chickens and started to make his own educational videos on a mobile phone talking about them. The videos were hosted on the school website and other video sharing sites. In fact Stevie’s videos were so successful that he started to accept and answer emails from members of the wider school community.
Dan wrapped up his keynote by going live back to the school to speak to the headteacher and depute head about the schools ICT strategy. They have done some impressive stuff. I whole school ICT Conference on a Saturday where over 40 staff turned up, embedding the format of the Virtual Classroom Tour as a model of continuous professional development and introducing the European Pedagogical ICT License for students.
Overall this was an impressive keynote and a school that I hope to get the opportunity to visit sometime over the next two years.