Posts Tagged ‘Wales’

Yet another mind map to help you making sense of the Guide for Schools: Part 2 of the NSP (Phase 2). This map deals with the content of the NSP Toolkit aimed at supporting school in the implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) in Wales. You can use the HD image below as it is in presentations, or download the iMindMap version to edit it from this Biggerplate page, or just navigate through the map via this online viewer. Whatever you do with it, please acknowledge the source, Alessio Bernardelli (@asober). Let me know if you find this useful.

NSP Toolkit

This is another mind map you might find useful when thinking about what will happen in phase 2 of the National Support Programme for the implementation of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework in Wales. You can use the HD image below as it is in presentations, or download the iMindMap version to edit it from this Biggerplate page, or just navigate through the map via this online viewer. Whatever you do with it, please acknowledge the source, Alessio Bernardelli (@asober). Let me know if you find this useful.

Stages of Phase 2

I am preparing for the 2nd Cluster Meetings in my role of NSP Partner and I am going through part 2 of the Guide for Schools and since I understand things better when I mind map them, here is a mind map of the Phases Activity diagram on page 38 of the document. I hope you will find it useful.

You can download the iMindMap version of the image below from this Biggerplate page, or navigate the Mind Map in this web view.

Phases Activities

You might have noticed from the changes in my profiles across the social media world that my role is changing and that I have been appointed as a National Support Programme Partner in Wales by CfBT. I will work with them four days a week and developing as an independent consultant for one day a week, so if you are looking for CPD training in your school give me a shout 😉

But back to the focus of this post. When I was preparing for my interview I was trying to get a clear picture in my mind of what the National Support Programme offers and what the role of the NSP Partners involve. If you have come across me before, you probably know that the process of getting a clear mental picture of things to me means only one thing – Mind Mapping :-). So, I made two Mind Maps that really helped me organise my thoughts around these issues. I have added the images of these two Mind Maps below, but if you are an iMindMap user, click on each image and you will be taken to the Biggerplate page where the maps are stored and where you’ll be able to download them and use with iMindMap.

The National Support Programme

National Support Programme

The role of the NSP Partner

NSP Partner Role

I hope you will find these tools useful. Please leave a comment below as feedback.

It was great to moderate the Twitter #addcym chat tonight as the topic that was picked was one I am really passionate about, i.e. Peer Coaching! We also had the privilege to have Les Foltos (@lfoltos), a World leader in Peer Coaching, joining the chat for a while and Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach) who gave some real experiential insights on the process of Peer Coaching as well as offering to run the course for teachers, and we hope to be able to take him up on that one 🙂

Another late contributor was Gavin Smart (@gavinsmart) who promised a link to his school’s video on the Peer Coaching GROW model.

There were so many contributions tonight that I am bound to omit something, so I will just give a list of the main points (according to my understanding of the chat) as bullet points!

– Some asked if the Peer Coaching process should be formal, or informal and there seemed to be a general consensus that Peer Coaching should encourage relationships of trust and non-judgemental support

– Some felt strongly that Peer Coaching shouldn’t be tied to Performance Management in order to remove the “fear” of failure and judgement. The main reasons behind this view seem to spring from the need to let the individual teacher identify targets according to their needs and interests. A set of targets prescribed from the top differs from coaching because it does not encourage reflective practice some felt!

– This led to the view that Peer Coaching should be a bottom up process, initiated by the Coachee and facilitated by the Coach. Some also identified the need to have the full commitment of SLT in terms of time and funds allocation in order to make Peer Coaching genuinely effective. Some believed that without SLT full commitment to Peer Coaching only the enthusiasts will take the lead and this would not bring whole school improvement, but only pockets of good practice!

– A good model was given by Gavin Smart’s School (Priory Community School) where “Half of all staff attend the GROW program during twilight inset at PCSA focusing on using coaching with students and staff” suggesting that a large percentage of CPD dedicated time is committed to Peer Coaching!

– Another interesting thought that was raised was whether the Coaches should be the “Experts” or ordinary teachers. This divided the discussion a bit into those who see the need to have technology savvy Coaches that are always ready to offer support and solve problems and those who believed that an “Expert” could be too threatening for some Coachee and inhibit their process. In particular, some were concerned about the potential danger that “it’s too easy to get the coachee to do what you do, rather that letting them identify their own needs”. I believe behind these reflections there is the fundamental question to be asked: “What is the role of a Peer Coach?” Les offered some truly refreshing and useful insight on this point by saying about Coaches: “Not expert with answers. Raise questions, provide support encourage teachers to solve issues. ” I am inclined to agree with this view, because if the Coach plays just the part of the expert and if they have a solution to the problems the Coachee is facing always ready, who are they encouraging the Coachee to engage in reflective practice? And without reflective practice how can the Coachee make real progress and learn to walk on their own?

– Latching on to the last point someone suggested that it is important that the Coach becomes the Coachee at some point in the Peer Coaching process. In this way the circle is closed and the “Expert” complex can be avoided.

– Some other really valuable contributions included the idea of Coaching Learners and having Learners Peer Coaching each other and/or Peer Coaching teachers. I see that idea similar to the many examples of Digital Leaders that are beginning to surface in many schools these days. Some felt that some teachers would resist the idea very strongly and feel quite uneasy about it!

I hope I have given a good account of the discussion, but feel free to correct me and add things I have missed out. Please continue the discussion in this Forum Thread on TES.

Topic – Reporting: What do you tell parents and when?

I had the really nice role of moderating the #addcym discussion group on Twitter tonight. If you don’t know what #addcym is, you should try to spare the hour between 8-9 on a Tuesday evening and search for the hash tag #addcym on twitter! To join the discussion keep following the hash tag and, if you want to contribute, simply send a tweet with #addcym somewhere in you 140 letters tweet. In this way, everyone else who is following the discussion can connect with what you are saying! #addcym is the Welsh discussion group for Education and we would love to see more people joining in and sharing their views and experiences with other Educators to form their PLN (Personal Learning Network). Many on #addcym have never met in person, but many others have and connect with each other through a wide range of tools, e.g. Twitter, Emails, TeachMeets, face to face meetings, collaborative projects, etc… So I am not saying that the Twitter hash tag is the only way you can connect with other Educators and create your PLN, but that Twitter is an enabler that could help you getting started and link with a wider community than your department, or school, or LEA, etc… In fact, quite a few people who took part to #addcym tonight have a PLN that stretches beyond Wales and U.K. and are part of a worldwide PLN and for many Twitter was not how these PLNs started.

On #addcym we are trying to discuss about topics that are relevant to Education in Wales, so if you are interested in some of these topics, join in. You can even vote the topic you would like to discuss with the weekly Tweet Poll, that gives you a choice of different topics to choose from.

Sorry for the digression, but I thought you would find it helpful to have a bit of an introduction to the concepts of Twitter, hash tags and #addcym, if you have not use these tools before. But this post is supposed to be about a summary of the #addcym discussion from tonight, so read below to find out what came up!

The main points from the discussion were:

– More personal comments are needed and we should get rid of statements banks, reports software, mail merging, etc… some thought those are useful as long as you spend time personalizing the reports.

– Too often reports are impersonal and full of ticks and comments on academic progress alone, with reference to levels and the curriculum, which for some parents can have little meaning. So, comments on how to help child improve skills and performance would be more helpful for parents, i.e. know how they can support their child.

– Not enough parent involvement in feedback on reports and pupils’ work is not celebrated enough. Some thought we should have more opportunities to send pupils’ work at home so parents can support and encourage their children. Some suggested that blogging and other ways of making pupils’ work available online could be a good way to engage parents. Parents’ who comment on Blog posts from their children’s class Blogs seem to have a positive effect on their child’s motivation! Other forms of sharing pupils’ work online suggested were broadcasting work live, or recorded. Getting pupils to present their work to the parents in a sort of Open Evening was another suggestion!

– Many thought that comments on reports should include social and pastoral aspects of the child’s life in school as well as academic progress and the first should be a responsibility of the classroom teacher and not only the Form Tutor, or the Head of Year (in a Secondary setting).

– A well established and confident School Council can make a real difference and voice their views very well and maturely. That could be used to gain feedback from learners on what they want reports to include. Some would like to see an “Unschoolcouncil”, where learners who are often not given the opportunity to voice their concerns are listened to. Also, feedback from parents should be taken into consideration.

– In Secondary schools often reports are disjointed and teachers from different departments haven’t got much opportunity to discuss the overall progress of a learner (both from a pastoral and academic point).

The above is a fairly poor summary of the many contributions we had tonight and my best attempt at summarizing clusters of tweets in single bullet points. But I think in conclusion we could say that it sounds like more involvement from parents and learners was felt as a need in reporting by many tonight and that less impersonal comments, but real personal knowledge of the child and their achievement would be enough to justify less reports per year, i.e. quality, not quantity is what parents would appreciate more. That applies to written reports, because maintaining a good relationship with parents is also very important! I am sure I have left something out, so if you can think of something else I should have added, please add it as a comment to the Blog post.

At last I have found some time to check Prezi out, and it’s even better when you can use this time to fit it in with your job. As a Field Officer at NGfL Cymru, I am trying to develop resources that give opportunities to learners and educators to explore the latest technology and its applications in sound Learning and Teaching. So, I could not leave Prezi out, especially after all the feedback I had received before I started using it myself! However, I wanted to find a use that was not just different from another way of presenting (which in my opinion is not the point and certainly not what would make Prezi stand above PowerPoint, because we’ll soon have death by Prezi if we are not careful),  but that would have real educational value and that would be an advantage to anyone using Prezi in this way!

To cut a long story short, I was wondering what it would be like to mind map with Prezi, and by mind mapping I mean following the mind mapping rules set up by Tony Buzan (the creator of Mind Mapping himself). One of the greatest advantages of Prezi in drawing mind maps is the ability to embed videos in your Prezi mind maps, something we haven’t seen before (at least I haven’t in other mind mapping software). Also, assigning a path to your mind map allows you to show and share your thought process very clearly. In this way using a Prezi mind maps could become a very effective presentation tool, but also a revision tool for your students who will need less assistance from the author of the mind map, because the sequence of events and areas of focus is decided by the path set by the author themselves! However, if a learner prefers to go at their own pace and stroll around your mind map their way, they can still do this by zooming in and out with the scroll on your mouse. You can also set the Prezi to be public and with the option to be copied by people who bump into them! So, your students could copy your Prezi mind map in their Prezi accounts and edit it to make it more suitable to their learning style, or simply add to it. Why not starting a template Prezi mind map and let the learners complete it? Then, you could share the contributions from different pupils in the class and complete your draft as a collaborative mind map created with each learner’s contributions, which is a very useful and highly effective mind mapping technique!

Click here, or on the image below to see my first Prezi Mind Map on the Kinetic Theory.

As I have posted in this previous article I am on a secondment with NGfL Cymru (National Grid for Learning, Wales) this year and we work in close partnership with eChalk. Dr Iestyn Jones (Managing Director of eChalk Ltd) was proudly announcing his latest tool, the eChalk Circuit Builder.

When he told NGfL Cymru this tool was finally completed he used these words “I think it’s a world beater – for a web based resource in any event”, and I certainly agree with him. I really think this is the Ultimate Circuit Builder, because of it’s simplicity and its powerful functionality. It will be available free of charge as a “taster to try” to everyone for a limited time from the eChalk homepage So, don’t let this opportunity pass you by, have a try before it is moved in the members’ area! Before you use it have a look at the video tutorial (which can be opened directly when you launch the resource). The video will show the real potential of this fantastic tool and you will be amazed by what this application can do!




After this initial trial period the resource will be moved also in the NGfL Cymru area on eChalk. This means that all schools in Wales will be able to access it, like all the other resources (all subjects). Please, remember that this applies only when you are physically inside a school in Wales and using the school network!


You can reach this area from this page on the NGfL Cymru website. Just click on the link at the bottom of the last paragraph (not the one in bold) when you are in your school and check out the great collection of resources you can find there!







If you are not teaching in a school in Wales, you can still subscribe for a very affordable price for your school. It really is worth it for the amount and quality of resources you get!

Please, let us (or eChalk directly, know if you spot any bugs in the Circuit Builder, so they can be put right! Your feedback is very much appreciated, as always.

Today was the first day of NGfL Cymru‘s presence at the Skills Cymru (Cardiff Millenium Stadium) and we were showing ourFree Vocational resources and our links with National Learning Network (NLN) to teachers and students. We were also engaging the children who stopped at our stand with some fun activities, like building walls with Lego bricks, folding napkins (we have learnt many fancy folds today) and building loudspeakers out of plastic and paper cups which were kindly donated to us by Starbucks and Burger King. Unfortunately, McDonalds decided not to be quite so generous and gave us no cups (I was very surprised about that, but maybe they too feel the effects of the Recession). Check out the instructional video on how to make the speakers below.

I have adapted this activity from one of the workshop the Institute of Physics does, i.e. Son of New Ideas. The link takes you to the group about this workshop on TalkPhysics. The IoP version of this loudspeaker is made with cup cake paper stuck at the back of children exercise books and it is a really nice activity, but because there is a lot of noise at the Skills Cymru event we went for a more powerful version and a bit quicker to build!

This activity is really good to get students engaged with Electromagnetic Induction, because they all have speakers and getting to know how they work and make one in few very simple steps brings the Physics to life immediately. They actually were amazed to find out that there really isn’t much more in a commercial speaker than the version they made (well there is a bit more, but the basic principle is the same). They are also finding very interesting to discover that their friends’ speaker is louder than theirs, for example, and they ask a lot of questions about why this might be! This is a good opportunity to use this activity in the classroom, as you could investigate whether the volume of the cup makes a difference in the intensity of the sound emitted, or the number of coils, the material of the cup, etc. And it is a nice opportunity to dig out your data loggers to measure the sound intensity and develop some interesting aspects of How Science Works. I hope you will have as much fun as we at NGfL Cymru are having with this nice idea.

Thanks to IoP for their ever amazing bank of resources and winning ideas!

Yesterday it was quite strange not to walk in a classroom for my first day of work. After teaching for six years I am seconded for a year to work with National Grid for Learning in Wales (NGfL Cymru) as a Field Officer. I feel excited and refreshed to be part of this valuable and interesting project!

So what is NGfL Cymru and what do we do?

NGfL Cymru is a non-profit organization funded by the Welsh Assembly Government for the development and sharing of teaching and learning resources. Membership is free to any teacher and to download most of our resources you don’t even need to be logged in. Having a membership is useful though, because it gives you access to quicker and easier ways to organise and find the resources and topics you are interested in!

One of the great things about NGfL Cymru is that almost all the resources uploaded are available both in English and Welsh and this makes NGfL Cymru a unique portal for Technology-rich Leaning in Wales. And if you teach in a school in Wales you will be glad to know about our partnership with eChalk. In fact, they have agreed to allow all schools in Wales to use their resources free of charge and without the need of subscribing to anything. So, next time you find yourself in a school in Wales have a look at the resources that are available to you via eChalk, many are very good IWB lessons starters/enders.

Well, my role will mainly be that of Content Developer, which is like a dream come true for me. I will be focussing on Physics and Science, but I am hoping to have the opportunity to coordinate projects from different schools and subjects too… Oh, didn’t you know? If you are teaching in a Welsh school you can apply for an IRF (Innovative Resource Fund) which means that you can submit the proposal for the development of an innovative learning resource and either your school will be paid to release you for the time needed to develop your creative resources, or you could be paid for the work done in your own time. That is how my relationship with NGfL started! I submitted two IRFs and eventually applied for the secondment as Field Officer, and because they were so fed up with my nagging they gave me a job I suppose 😉

Please, have a look at the NGfL Cymru resources and enjoy using them with your classes, because they are there for you!