Teachmeet Cardiff

I was lucky enough to be able to go along to Thursday night’s Teachmeet in Cardiff, which showed again the versatility of the idea as applied to a twilight session.

There were a few difference to the Teachmeets I’d done before. The random name generator had done it’s work ahead of the meeting, and instead of a projected backchannel (usually Twitterfall or something similar) the second screen had a giant countdown clock looming over the presenters! The backchannel had instead been moved to laptops which were placed on each table running a moderated chat system which incorporated tweets, information about the speakers and votes. All of these combined to create a slightly more formal setting than I’d seen before, but it seemed to suit the event quite well.

It was interesting how few of the audience were on Twitter, and this may have accounted for how little activity there was on the back channel. I suspect this is likely to be a growing feature of Teachmeets as the idea spreads and one of the challenges for the organisers will be how to harness the audience in way that many of them will not be used to, but does encourage the really useful contact and dialogue that has been such an important part of Teachmeets in the past.

The whole thing was streamed via the NGFL Livestream channel, and is available to view again. I think (although I missed the beginning so I’m not 100% sure) that the presentation slides were being streamed directly, rather than relying on a webcam as has been the case with some in the past.

There were some excellent presentations, here are a few of the notes I scribbled down:

I missed the first couple of presentations, but just after I arrived Ceri Williams (@cerirwilliams) talked about some easy ways to help pupils with dyslexia, including:

  • Use colour coding for different paragraphs or lines to help students easily locate the relevant section
  • Using coloured backgrounds to help students read more easily, and on screen use a deep grey rather than a black as this also helps to reduce glare.

The next presenters talked about using Flipcameras to record students working in PE lessons, and the massive impact it has had on their ability to self-evaluate and improve, as well as providing a useful method for collecting portfolio evidence

Gareth Ritter (@ritzertech) talked about using a podcast station as a hosting platform for students to create videos to help other students learn, and Simon Johns talked aboout using Wallwisher to collaborate between his year 4 class and a school in Hampton.

I talked for 2 minutes about why I would rather have a flipchart than an interative whiteboard and Bev Evans introduced us to the excellent Andrea Mosac site. Karen Newby-Jones talked about using ‘Sticks of fate’ and the problems that can be encountered with them. She pointed out that it’s important to build wait time in after the question to ensure that all pupils are thinking before selecting who will answer. She provided her random selection ppt here, although I think I still prefer the classtools.net one!

Linsey & Kate from the Bishop of Llandaff school talked about ways of incorporating technology into their Art and D&T lessons and Meryl Evans talked about the use of Internet TV to create a ‘real audience’ for year 4. One interesting point she made was that their initial attempts at using parents as an audience wasn’t as successful as using other classes as the audience. It created less pressure and stress but provided both inspiration to the other classes and a desire to build on what the others had done.

Glen Gilcrest talked about his application of Dan Meyer’s ideas about pysdocontext to science lessons, and his problems with a lot of the so called ‘research’ which takes place in schools. It was certainly (for me) the most thought provoking of the evening, and I well worth 7 minutes of your time here (it starts here and finishes off here). Not sure I agreed with everything he said, but it certainly challenged my thinking both in terms of how we set up problems in an individual class, and then how we scale that up.

Bev Evans gave another great idea, using Google Maps to create story trails, which have some great applications not just for creative writing, but across the curriculum and I’m planning on trying out in history before too long

At that point my notes stop as I was supposed to do my next presentation but the slides weren’t working, so I missed Ceri’s second presentation and Karen talking about polls before finally getting up and ad-libbing my seven minutes on handing over the curriculum.

One presentation I was looking forward to which had been on the wiki was by Adrian Jones from St Pauls about his use of Chess in school, which he’d removed as he hadn’t thought it was techy enough. Moving forward it seems to me at least that we need to remember that these events should be first and foremost about practical pedagogy which may or may not involve ICT, and we maybe need to find a better way of conveying that message to would-be presenters.

All in all an excellent evening, and my thanks to everyone involved in organising it, especially Karen and Alessio.

You can read the NGFL Cymru account of the evening on their blog!

3 thoughts on “Teachmeet Cardiff

  1. Great post Dave, and thanks for your superb contributions to the evening.

    You have identified some of the challenges we faced. We knew few attendees were on twitter which is why we used Coveritlive which I’d say was managed as opposed to moderated (nothing was put on hold or barred). The archive is here http://bit.ly/guc4D8 Unfortunately we just didn’t get the volume of responses I’d hoped, perhaps it was just too new for some people? I think they’d contribute more next time, at least that’s the feedback I’ve had! It was a shame the batteries died too! We didn’t have a great many tweets from a wider audience either ( the usual tm crew?) even though we were streaming. Were they watching #tmbpool4 instead?

    The giant clock was not supposed to be a feature! It was intended that we’d have visible tweets or somesuch on there but unfortunately the council wouldn’t unblock twitter and we only had that decision at 4:55! The other difference about pre ordaining the order was really due to wanting to stream efficiently. We hadn’t told anyone the order so it could have still been a surprise if the big screen hadn’t kept displaying the folders in a certain order!

    All in all I agree it was a bit different to other TMs and I would have preferred not to go at quite such a pace and allow some more time for reflection. I did however want to make sure on this occasion that everyone who had volunteered actually had a chance.

    So, I’ve learnt lots and know things I’d change for next time but we’ve had terrific feedback and I think it might just be the lever for change we’d hoped for…

    Thanks again, Karen

  2. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for the insight! I think you’re right about the idea of a back channel taking time to take off – it will be interesting to see how it develops over the next few Teachmeets. If the county block things like Twitter then I suppose there’s less of a chance for that kind of culture to take off.

    It’s good to see people experimenting with the format and trying out new ideas. Thanks again for your efforts in putting it on, and I look forward to seeing the next one!

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