Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ideas for an F1 unit.

This is a collection of ideas from Me, Alan Parkinson that have stemmed from a great tweet from  

Friday, 26 August 2011

Buddhist Learning thinking

This is a collection of thinking in a Buddhist way and how this thinking could apply to learning. I got the inspiration from a programme I watched on the BBC iplayer called;

'Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World'

This is a series of notes taken on my iPhone as I watched the programme. It is a series of things to think about from a Buddhist spiritual perspective for various ways of learning. I am currently really exploring my mind for one reason or another and am going through a real creativity patch I actually put it down to this way of thinking and am going to stick with it for a while and see where the journey takes me. I wouldn't call myself a religious person or a spiritual person but perhaps a reflective person.

Take it point by point rather than as an overall methodology as the flow could be better!

The main aim is to Empower individual learning, collaboration, reflection, and passing on learning to others to enlighten all.

Buddha created a radical change of thinking. Mark out YOUR path to follow for self revelation . Make it a rigourous quest to avoid complacency and stale state.

Meditate - think deep on a problem. Enlightenment state don't move from a problem until you have created or thought of a possible solution or range of solutions.

Sit under a tree to reflect. Have a different location to mix thinking up so it is free from the classroom. Go back to that spot to remind you that you came up with an idea to physiologically train the mind that this is a thinking spot where successes are born. Let students discover physical places that work for them. Let them explore. My place is virtual I find I am most creative on twitter between 6pm-3am (a big window to fuel my insomnia)

3 jewels of life:

An idol - Try to have a trio found this most manageable I have a learning Trio currently of David Didau, Alex Quigley and Zoe Elder who I find have had most impact on my teaching and learning.

They could equally be themed so Geographers for me would come from this list everyday of the week as my go to for inspiration. (The Geography Collective Dan Raven-Ellison, Tony Cassidy, Alan Parkinson, David Rogers, Richard Allaway I'll come back to this....

It is important everyone is Responsible for their own learning. As a teacher I am not 'The Saviour' be critical and highlight this to students! They are someone to gain curiosity from, to ask for guidance of where to find help i.e resources, peers etc.

Create self evaluation learning plans. Be True to self of strengths and weaknesses for all in class.

Personal morality - Many Buddhist temples have faces as focal points.
Eyes - teacher role to watch/assess not do.
Ears - to listen. I want students to come up with strategies as a community to answer them.

3 jewels again....
1. Buddha founder - The Big Picture
2. Community - Learning community
3. Preaching - Spread Learning to peers, community the World. - twitter, blog, website, youtube, teachmeets, staff briefing/news, display

Journey paths to enlightenment: 

I wrote these all down and found it really helped. I recently had some help on how to cope with my loss using CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and am writing a lot of things down and finding it has untangled a lot of my thinking webs that I have in the past got trapped in.

Chanting - repeating strategies to gain enlightenment to one self's learning and progress.
Earth, water, wind, fire, space, mind into a plan. Is awareness that universe is ideal

Earth - solid aspects to own learning in geography and T&L. (Geography - using description, explanation, investigation, opinion and interdependence across various scales incorporating human interaction with the physical world at the forefront of my learning for geography. T&L - using solo, critique, questioning, collaboration.)

Water - what learning flows well for individuals?

Wind - what blows over you? What do you struggle to grasp / sense?

Fire - what frustrates you most about your learning? Key weakness target.

Space - goal - aspects of awe to you.

Key behaviours:

Sangha - focus on learning (during lessons stay focussed to gain wisdom.
Dharma - teachings. According to understanding to do what you do practically without doing any harm. To try to gain 'Purity of thought' understanding whilst not restricting others and aiding others as we're all the salt of knowledge.
Karma - emphasis on consequence of actions. How we think and act. Twisted we should think and act (create) to bring about a consequence/product- to evaluate review.

My room in the past has been messy and still is to an extend I am working very hard on creating an 'awe of class should be full of wisdom and have decadence properties / respected by all who enter'. A place people are proud of and want to enter. So that it hopefully produces positive Karma. So My walls are filling up with breathtaking pieces of learning from students who have taken time and pride in their work.

I want to create this positive mindset in the room of excellence and not mess - It shows I don't care, take pride in my room, myself so why should the students? This is a huge push in my marginal gains for my learning in my classroom. No stone will go unturned to bring about excellence in my classroom from myself and my students. This I believe will lead to greater resilience of learners in my room. I am bringing this about hugely at the minute with my language of choice in describing tasks and expectations. The minimum is just not good enough. 

Allow for creativity. Artistic (This is a figure of speech it could be presented from any of the multiple intelligences) work for students to take time and pride and aim for the look at what we have created. Sharing moment that brings me so much pride and love of the job. It happened so many times yesterday from students who normally come into my room and say I can't or give me behaviour gripes. Perhaps the task wasn't outstanding but the learning was breathtaking to me and more importantly to the student who shared.

Large scale (interpret as you might) be big on creativity - take it to next level don't think small think of something that will make people sit up, observe and listen and act.

Aim to reach enlightenment samsara.

Go through cycles of learning like - TEEP or the 7e's that Hayley Thompson introduced me to as a planning strategy, until for that specific learning objective you gain enlightenment and can be reborn to focus on the next learning objective. So allow students to escape Samsara. We shouldn't think ok that lesson is over now, next lesson we are learning this, here are the next set of objectives when students haven't achieved their last set of objectives! This will only create frustration and student behaviour of 'I can't do it' because the goals are 'too big' in the time frame for them to achieve and so they gain a defeatist attitude. We keep hearing it but PERSONALISATION of learning really is key. This could be targeted for specific students. But don't make them too easy, allow for that strive, that challenge that is achievable but only through real drive and ambition.

Samsara can also be thought of to examine the daily life around us. To review the passions, desires and destructions of everyday life. And reflect how these conflicts can come to Nirvana - peace.

This has been key to me. I have been so angry lately from those who I have told or have read about my past. I have been working on this hugely and I am making massive strides with it. A direct correlation with myself being more at peace with myself that my teaching is going to new and improved places. Mainly due to the great learning I am reading on twitter, blogs and books people mention.

The main message I would like you all to take away from this post is to:


The next bit will be ramble as I try and form it in my mind so bare with it:)

Cambodian Buddhism is to take a more human face. Be humble reflect look at different views / opinions, have different temples - seeds for thought. Reflect on destruction around us the fragile nature of the world around us reflected in the temples that are crumbling empty now like areas that are affected by war, natural disasters, poverty etc and see the liberation that occurs in the time after.

Areas that are good to meditate according to Parli Cannon:

'Mountain, hill side, open field, forest cave, root of tree' - this highlights as geographers we have to explore visit to meditate allow the human mind to explore and to transcend the world around us and not be happy to just read about these things.

Also from Ankor Wat explore drama (re-enact scenes, role-plays, future) the dramatic lives that exist around us and not to limit where we examine. Apply on a monumental scale. - pass on experiences to parents, friends, other schools the community, other countries through blogging etc. So the Power and wisdom of what we learn / experience is available to all.

Zen - Qualities are not just unique to me. Explore - Discover - Share - Teach - Coach - Pre-structural - Multi-Structural - Relational - Extended Abstract by seeing how others take the learning.

I hope this helps your thinking:)

Buddhist Learning Concept

Seven Wonders if the Buddhist World

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The power of the hashtag in twitter #

During my insomniac phase after a general anaesthetic I thought I should add to my blogs:)

This evening at 2:00am I was browsing through my PLN (personal learning network - the tweets of those that I've chosen to follow) tweets when it struck me as to how I gain ideas fastest on twitter and how in the future I will focus on these simple strategies to enhance and accelerate my learning of facts, resources, ideas, programs/programmes, key dates and most importantly specifics related to hashtag groups.

I first became aware of hashtags from one of the 1st people in education that I followed @susanbanister she added in a message containing the hashtag #ukedchat. I clicked on the message and found that the hashtag was hyperlinked. So I clicked on it. What I discovered was that it took me to a list of tweets that people had made relating to #ukedchat or educational issues.

In the following months I explored many of these and now as you will all be aware who use them there is virtually a hashtag group list on anything and everything from sport like #bbcf1 (formula 1) to #NQT (tips for mainly inquisitive / nervous / struggling NQTs looking for drive/focus/clarity) to #geography #geographyteacher (self explanatory). To educators meeting for a curry #curryNE5 or for conferences or teachmeets #bmobile.

Now to my initial point over the coming weeks I'm going to stay more focussed on how I use twitter as I have woffled on recently after I've had a knee op and procrastinated. So my strategy for me and others to try perhaps.

1. I'm a geography teacher and I've found that some of the best practitioners in my subject of geography add the hashtag #geography or #geographyteacher to their subject specific tweets. By clicking on the hashtag hyperlink I see hundreds if not thousands of useful geography comments. Some can be broad and so some subdivide these using more specific hashtags.

2. One you see useful tweets click on the person and read their other tweets 99/100 they will have something else if not lots of things that you find useful from a link to a useful website, to a program to try, to a tv programme that is on that is useful for a certain unit if work. They could give pointers. This I have had incredible help with from @geoblogs @tonycassidy @aknill @davidErodgers @mrgeog @vausekatie @victoriaellis to name a few

3. Check the tweets of the RTs that people send out. These are often useful ideas/resources or people they respect as accelerating their learning opportunities/potential and can quickly increase those that you follow and accelerate your learning potential.

3b. They can often be a joke that can lighten the mood for you bs actually clear your thoughts so you can re focus when getting bogged down.

4. search for specific hashtags by typing a useful phrase or topic and 80% of the time I have found something useful trying that method if I'm hunting for something specific.

5. Once you've gathered a respectable PLN and you are part of a large number of people's PLNs you can go about creating your own hashtag. This is often done by those organising events and the hashtag quickly expands like wildfire due to RTs or by people saying they will attend or setting down key aims, focuses etc. E.g #ukedchat or one started arcs conference this morning tweeted to me by my good twitter friend @aknill #ifip11 for a conference in Kenya. This highlights how you can very quickly gain access to inspiring ideas happening all over the world in your specific search field controlled by the hashtag used or created. E.g. #ukedchat is effective as it is specific and easy to understand UK education chat/information.

6. Find links to similar hashtags like #geography and #geographyteacher or like I found tonight #NQT and #ntchat . This will quadruple if not more the specific search targets that a tweeter is aiming to gain information on. Similar to when we see #edchat #ukedchat etc and specific chats related to subject like #mathchat which i discovered from the person sat in front of me at a teachmeet in Newcastle @ColinTGraham and other maths tweeters like @bucharesttutor or #mfl or #ELTchat which I discovered from @Isilboy and @DaveDodgson

7. People power - when you search specific hashtags you will notice certain people pop up a lot. These people will become synonymous therefore for certain topics, issues which if you are lucky they might have in a bio if them in their profile homepage but like I say with the hashtags you visit you will figure this out for yourself. This means you will quickly figure out experts in certain fields and so you can tweet them for help or you can search their recent tweets if something caught your eye and who they were in conversation with as 9/10 that person will have something useful as well.

8. Using the search option (the magnifying glass symbol in twitter) this is an excellent tool if you know the person who you want to find just type the name into the search bar and hopefully they show up.
At times i have wondered how has this person found that tweet i made and teplied to it when they dont follow me and it isnt spam???? I recently tweeted about my knee and the fact i am suppose to wear DVT stockings to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis. This morning i got a tweet from a support group asking how i am recovering? So i was bamboozled for a minute or two so i thought how on earth that eas days ago!?! Then the penny dropped they must have searched DVT and found my tweet. I searched and wa la it was there.
Another searching strategy can be where you click on the search option tab to search all tweets that include that name. You might have a task to come to a judgement on the public opinion of David Cameron following recent events. You could then enter the name into twitter search all tweets and come to a judgement of positive and negative with some examples to back up your judgement.
You could use it to search a topic or find out recent information on an issue or event and how through time perceptions changed or events got better or worse? I used this for a flash flood lesson. Brief as twitter journalists your task for the geography gaggle is to report on Flash flooding. Here is some areas the students took it as I asked for categories to be created and for students to work as sub teams to extend the research for our paper. They searched twitter for the most recent tweeted event, analyse the tweets for severity e.g area flooded (effects has it caused other issues secondary effects), deaths, mapped it, has flash flooding occurred there before? has there been mention of emergency services and rescues (responses) and examined weather reports to try and predict could anywhere else be at risk? Then write a timeline of events based on twitter feed, create using ICT a picture prezi portrait if pictures news articles are attached to tweets add to location on a map. Students were then set a homework:)where they searched for other flash flood events that occurred near to them using twitter as a search engine by refining the search or if they couldn't find anything extend the lesson project by finding a flash flood in a different location.

Anyway I'll leave it at 7 well 71/2 as it's my favourite number. I hope these techniques will prove useful for many new tweeters. I'm sure it is telling many how to suck eggs but it is how I use twitter to aid my expanding knowledge of subject matters to keep improving. It is where I find out about new apps, programs resources, web links that then become invaluable tools for my learning and teaching in the classroom.

Also as I'm on twitter a lot lately where I come for a friendly chat to improve my mood, take a break, socialise and have a laugh to get in good spirits. As normally that is when I'm at my best and therefore at my optimum to spread ideas in my classroom and that of others to aid the students that I teach who this all really matters about as it is them who I strive to learn more for as they are our future.

An in pain insomniac John Sayers

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Knee operation 17th August

What a day. Got to hospital at 6:50am to be told I'd be first to have an operation. Then at 7:45am I was told I had been shifted back to 4th in the list due to an emergency and would sit around till 1pm.

So I started reading my book on my iPad after a few putts on golf putt pro (set a new personal best). WHEN a nurse came through with a porter at 8:30am saying the emergency wasn't ready (screams of no, no, down the corridor), I was whisked along a number of corridors feeling like a toddler enjoying a fast push pram ride.

When I reached the anaesthetist he tried to put a needle into a vein in my right hand only to fail!
"Sorry about that:S Oh that will come out in quite a bruise tomorrow!",
'gee thanks I thought'
He eventually got it in and gave me the general anaesthetic. I got to the count of 7 before lights out and the land of nod.

When I woke up a lovely nurse called Nuha said to me in a lovely soft voice (Irish voice)
"Are you awake John? Shall I go and make you some buttery toast and a cup of tea?".
It was like I was prancing through a summer meadow, she could not have said anything sweeter if she tried:)

Waiting back on ward 3 room 2 on my own after the best toast and tea of my life, a male nurse called Steven came to see me to inform me that the physio would be along in 20 minutes to run through some exercises so that I could be discharged. He took my blood pressure, which was low and asked Nuha to make me another tea to try and increase it and bring some colour back into my Lilly White face.

After the tea of dreams take 2, my blood pressure was higher and Steven was happy.

Queue the Scottish physio. she entered the room very cautiously. I was puzzled! When I glanced at her eyes they had fear in them and she couldn't look me in the eye. So I asked her straight out.
"Are you ok pet?"
She replied, "to be honest I was worried when I saw your name on my list:("

I suddenly put 2 and 2 together and like her came up with 666 a scary number as she thought I was the renowned Geordie Gangster JOHN SAYERS! We had a laugh and a joke about it and after watching me excel on the crutches that she brought for me (years of practice with broken, feet, legs, knee ops) she left with a very large sigh of relief that felt like she was exhaling a huge breath after consuming a Narga Chilli!

Queue Steven to run through my discharge papers, procedures, medication, outpatient appointments, stitches removal appointment, bathing instructions, physio appointment, letter to my local GP nurse, letter to my GP......AND medication again (30 minutes later) I was ready to go.... "WAIT go and pass urine please!"

When I returned exhausted at having to listen to my next 6 weeks of rehabilitation Steven brought in the MOTHER of all PEE takes!!!! Oh yes and your consultant has asked for you to wear these for 6 weeks to avoid deep vein thrombosis...... A PAIR OF STOCKINGS!!!!! HONEST!

And that has been my hospital adventure for the day. Well half day as I was discharged at 12:51pm.

To finish i have to mention the incredible NHS staff who treated me. They were professional, thorough, kind, pleasant, and made my nervous day not so. TOP JOB THANK YOU:)