Friday @ #BETT2015

So today our only plan was to go along to some kind of talk or seminar. We failed. Nothing really caught the eye in the brochure and we were having much more fun exploring the stands loading up on complimentary coffee, lollipops and popcorn.

The first highlight of today for me was a rather pleasing few minutes I spent at the Sound and Music stand learning about ‘A Minute of Listening’. It’s a fairly simple idea where you play 60 seconds of sounds and the close their eyes and listen. Afterwards there are some questions that the children can think about and discuss. This can be the basis for whole lessons or more likely a daily calm moment of reflection. This will certainly help meet the part of the music curriculum related to listening and responding to a range of music. Also, it is claimed to help the listening skills of the children. Makes sense to me. More information can be found here;  . It does sound like the sort of thing I could make myself, but it would take a bloomin’ long time and it’s just not going to happen. It’s £40 a term for the whole school.

We already use Accelerated Reader at our school and really like it, so went to investigate Accelerated Maths. As with the reading programme there are two parts to it. The assessment side, which gives levels, highlights areas for development and allows you to track and evidence progress.

The other side is the teaching bit. Pick levelled, targeted activities for each child in the class. Differentiation as many ways as you like/need. All jolly good, but a dramatic change of approach to the teaching and learning of maths across the whole school. Realistically I think we’ll just get the assessment bit for now, if budgets allow.

RMBooks is an on-line library from which you can borrow or buy books to use with your class. Have them on your screen or share with the children’s devices. Annotate the books to ask children questions  to use for guided reading or simply allow the children to follow along, or take over, during a class read.

After being excited by Fiction Express yesterday we went back and sign up for the free trail today. As an added bonus they had a couple of the authors there and we were able to chat to them further about the process of writing these episodic stories and allowing the children to be such an integral part of the creative process. Check them out: 

I have found the whole BETT experience to be a very positive one. Loads of great ideas and creative solutions to problems, even ones I didn’t know I had. The problem I had was that there is just so much to see and do. Although we were there for two days, I still felt as if I missed a lot. Another problem is that I have a fairly short attention span so struggle to focus on things when there is so much sensory stimulation all around. Flashing lights, loud music, presenters with microphones, people dressed in costumes and lots and lots of people. Despite all this I still found the trip extremely rewarding and came away with a wealth of new ideas and I am keen to return next year.

Thursday @ #BETT2015

I spent most of the first few hours at BETT walking around wide eyed. There certainly is a lot to take in. We walked around all of the exhibition hall, just to get a feel for the place. The Millgate stand certainly caught the eye, mostly because it had a dance floor, mirrorball and was offering free cocktails. This had the desired affect of drawing us in and at the price of two Mojitos each, we had a very informative chat with their consultants and a follow up visit has been arranged.

Once we got our bearings it was time for lunch, and the big hunt for somewhere to sit down at a table. This afforded the opportunity to check the map and identify which stands we wanted to see.

First up was Fiction Express. They publish e-books online in weekly episodes, pupils vote each week to decide where the plot goes next. This sounded great for whole class guided reading sessions 2 or 3 times a week. For £249+VAT a year it is something I am very interested in. 3 week free trial period here we come.

The next exhibitor to impress us was Hapara. It’s a teacher dashboard for google apps which allows us to see what each child is working on and share information and feedback more effectively. At £4 per child for the full package it makes it an interesting preposition and one we are seriously considering.

The Lego stand was very interesting. We’ve already invested in a little bit in Lego Mindstorm, but seeing it in action makes us want at least enough for a class set. Hugely engaging and versatile for across the curriculum.

Also enjoyed the Brainpop, EducationCity and  Frog stands, but we’ll have a more detailed look tomorrow. They all seem to offer things we are already getting elsewhere.

The real treat of the day for me was winning a £50 Amazon voucher from OCR for being really quick at putting some magnets on a board. Random, fun and rewarding. Pretty much like my whole day.

Over all it’s been a very good day. Tomorrow we’ll even take in some seminars and what not. Bring it on.