Why the KS1 and KS2 interim TA frameworks would have failed me

I am not an anti-test person. I used to love tests as a child. Yes I was “that” kid. I excelled in school through my primary years. I could read, write and do maths before I started so was always given workbooks for the year groups above mine. I asked for extra homework and was the proper geek with her hand in the air constantly. (Nowadays I even love data and have done a professional run down of the changes to assessment and tests for Key Stages 1 and 2 in my work blog. This blog is my personal rant though!)

I was top of the class in everything academic. Apart from one area. Handwriting. I had appalling handwriting. I now have passable handwriting which becomes appalling the longer I have to write for.

I could not possibly, under the new interim teacher assessment frameworks, be put in the “Working in Greater Depth” category. I do have a phsyical disability though. But it is not physical enough apparently and, therefore, I am not allowed a scribe or an electronic aid. I am blind in one eye. It’s one of those disabilities which is not really a disability. Mostly noone notices it. Many friends who have known me for years do not know about it. It affects me daily but mostly in ways I compensate for naturally as I have had it since birth. I bump into things. A lot. I have bruises on my left side all the time.

It didn’t stop me progressing through life and being employed (although I have been turned down for interviews based on my hand written cover letters). I do not get any benefits for it. I don’t even get my glasses for free or discounted. I had one teacher and one teacher only, in the whole of my schooling, who didn’t care about it. Every other teacher wrote it on my report every year. I quote “must improve her handwriting.” Well gee thanks that is very helpful. As soon as I get my depth perception sorted I will be all over that!

My mum had to come into school at least once in every school year to remind my teachers about it. Usually after yet another PE teacher had allowed a stray ball to smack me in the head and then yell at me “WHY DIDN’T YOU GET OUT OF THE WAY???!!!”   …Ermmm gosh Miss I don’t know? Maybe I couldn’t see the ball flying at me, at great speed, on my blind side? A little heads-up would have been lovely instead of the egg now forming on my skull.

All that aside though. Noone had to actually down grade me for it. Apart from my secondary school German teacher who relished in telling me I got every question right but she only gave me  B- because…you know…handwriting. (Not once when living in German-speaking Switzerland did anyone mention my handwriting while I did the shopping and ordering for my chalet btw)

With the new interim frameworks (and I have watched the test webinars for Ks1 and KS2 for clarification) I would never be able to work in greater depth. Apparently my handwriting could potentially hold me back. Now at KS2 I was definitely legible. So maybe I could scrape in. But at the age of 7, when I would have been subject to the Key Stage 1 frameworks, I wore a patch over my “good” eye to try and make my “bad” eye see (it didn’t work – sorry for the spoiler) so I was not even writing legibly at all times. I would have no “consistent evidence” for my teacher to use to back me up. I would have been at the bottom of the class instead of the top. Due to a disability which apparently does not count.

I understand the progress measure. I understand the value added. I know that if I am put into a higher grade in Key Stage 1 it puts me at a “disadvantage” in showing progress against my peers at Key Stage 2. But you see all I would have heard as a seven year old is “you didn’t do well enough” and that is not going to inspire me further. If the only thing I cannot do is something I know I will never be able to do, and through no fault of my own, then what would be the point of working as hard as I did? Why learn grammar better than the rest of the class? Why excel in punctuation? Why take as many extra spellings home as the teacher will allow? I can never get the top grade anyway.

I started writing this as Jodie the 36 year old and ended it as a very sad, despondent 7 year old.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Why I am excited about Project Literacy

Back in 2007 I started, as an NQT, with my first ever class of Year 3 children. They ranged from a P3 to a 4c in literacy. I know I am dating myself already with the mention of levels!

At times it was a struggle to give them all a voice. I had no teaching assistant and we did not vertically set for literacy so I was on my own trying to give all children the chance to progress in a vast subject.

One girl in particular stood out for me and emphasised my plight (and hers). She was a tremendously gifted speaker. She was keen, bright, enthusiastic and in literacy her whole face would light up during the carpet time part of the lesson. Her input was enlightening and her poetry, in particular, showed real promise and was often full of ideas that were far better than my examples – straight off the top of her head.

She would give example after example, eagerly passing on skills and knowledge to other classmates around her day after day. So we would eagerly all stand up and move to sit at the tables to write down our amazing ideas. And off she would go, face glowing. She would sit down, pick up a pencil. And stop. And stare. And stare. And nothing would happen. Her face would gradually darken and frown as she met with the frustration of not having the skill to write down her ideas.

My heart went out to her day after day. Her classmates would try and help. But as soon as she held a pencil it was as if the connection from the brain was broken and her beautiful poetry flew away, no longer tied to her like like a floating balloon.

So one day I brought a dictaphone to class. We did a literacy lesson on storytelling and I asked her to record her story into the dictaphone. No writing. No pencil. No blank paper.

The words flowed from her freely and her face was aglow with excitement. We played it back to the class in the plenary and she was delighted. The class erupted into applause at the end.

The next day we did the same again but this time I asked her to play it back to herself a sentence at a time and write it down. So she did and this time ended the day with a piece of work for the display board – and something I could mark to prove to the “powers that be” that her talent was indeed as amazing as I thought despite her previous low test scores and lack of written evidence.

And that is where www.gettingintoliteracy.com started. I started using podcasting with pupils who found the pencil-to-paper relationship tricky. Then we moved on to making films – children would draw pictures to go with their story, podcast the script then put the two together in Windows Movie Maker to create a video to be proud of and these finished articles would go on YouTube – sharing their excellent work.

Podcasting and film making were by no means INSTEAD of writing. But for these children they were giving them an outlet for their ideas and an incentive to help them with writing down the words from their head! It started with speaking and then writing and moved on to them writing scripts in advance and then producing more professional films from their scripts.

Since working in school I have gone on to work as a consultant sharing these techniques with other schools around the UK – showing how technology can be a tool to improve literacy (and every other subject but that’s another story!) rather than the shiny tech being the end goal in itself. All of these projects are cheap and easy so there is no school in the UK who could not afford to do them. However there are many schools around the world who cannot even afford this basic technology, or who have no wifi access to enable them to podcast, blog or any of the other tools synonymous with digital literacy nowadays in the UK. There are also still millions of children with no free access to school at all.

I now work for Pearson and in my role as Champion Schools Coordinator see great ideas shared from schools across the country and beyond. In my new role I have left this website and blog woefully neglected as it has not always meshed well with my day to day role.

However, last week John Fallon launched Project Literacy and I got all excited again! You can read his blog post for yourself here to find out about why Pearson are backing this five year project to ensure that everyone in the world has a level of literacy which will enable them to reach their goals and aspirations – and find the talents such as the young poet I taught back in 2007.

You can set your own challenges for Project Literacy here and have your say in what projects are funded around the world and add goals for the team.

Whilst I am not one of the team working on Project Literacy myself I have decided to do my bit by reviving this website and blog and writing all the ideas I have been thinking of for the last two years – hopefully that somebody, somewhere will be able to use them to make a difference to someone else, somewhere!

I also recommend that you support http://www.sendmyfriend.org/ whose mission is to “support every child’s right to go to school” around the world and who do this not through collecting money (although funds always help too) but by raising awareness and keeping this message at the forefront of the minds of the world leaders who can make this happen. Get your school signed up and involved to ensure every child in the world has access to free education.

And start challenging Project Literacy so that the next five years are a roaring success!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


I don’t normally write product reviews on my blog but this one I had to as it speaks right to my techy geekiness and my love of social media.

I have recently started using the HTCOne as my main phone. I was really excited about getting it as my two main uses of a phone are 1) the internet and 2) the camera. The main reason I have never gone to “the dark side” of Apple is the lack of a decent camera.

So to get a phone with a fab camera – including the Zoe camera function which I now cannot do without – and such a gorgeous screen for using for the internet was a bit of a find.

On the homescreen of the HTCOne is the new BlinkFeed. This feeds onto the homescreen all the latest updates from a choice of social media and news websites. I started using mine with Facebook and Twitter plus a couple of newspapers.

I personally found it a bit messy though as Tweets do not lay in order as such as it picks the “highlights” so then I switched to just having a variety of news feeds from papers. And now I LOVE IT. I never read the papers normally and Twitter is usually the main way I get the news. So having a feed of news items on my homepage has actually made me start reading the news more often. As well as sites like The Guardian and The Independent I have TechCrunch for my geek updates which is a bit of levity in amongst the politics!

It got me wondering too. How could we harness this for students at school? How could BlinkFeed be replicated onto school IT systems to give snapshots of the outside world? Maybe with Fronter there could be a news room with loads of RSS feeds laid out in a funky way to give students a way to pick and choose the news that interests them?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My letter to Sainsburys

I am sending this to Sainsbury’s tonight. I have been a happy customer for many years and still believe they are generally a good company but last night they appalled me…


Yesterday I had a delivery booked for 7-8pm.
As the snow came down hard and fast all day in my area and I struggled home slipping around while walking along the pavements and across roads I fully expected to have a phone call from Sainsbury’s to tell me that you could not deliver that night but would I mind having my delivery the next day.

However to my surprise the only call I got was my driver apologising for a fifteen minute delay as he had to dig himself out of the snow twice on his first deliveries.

I would love to say I am writing to congratulate you on such amazing customer service no matter what the weather. But actually I am appalled that a driver’s safety was at risk just so I could have my loaf of bread and veg on time.

Are we living in such a day and age of competition that you value your staff so little over your customers? I would have happily received my delivery later in exchange for knowing your staff were all safe. I am sure you would have had some complaints from less agreeable customers but I hate to think you would not tolerate a little abuse over the phone rather than have a police call and say your driver veered off course into a tree on his way home – as did happen in Essex last night and a driver was killed. My driver lived out in Essex too but still had 5 more deliveries to make after me – each one taking him further from his home and family.

I suggest you pay as much attention to your staff’s happiness and safety as you do to your customer’s in future.

I would like you to pass on my thanks and appreciation to the driver for his effort and completely unnecessary apologies and pass my disdain to your bosses in charge of making him go out in such atrocious conditions.

When my shopping comes above a person’s life I will let you know. In the meantime please protect your staff at all costs.

Kind regards
Jodie Lopez

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A new job and all the excitement

I have kept you all waiting long enough for this announcement but I am now going to tell you about my new job role.

The reason I have kept it quiet is because I am still awaiting final confirmation, references to be returned and be satisfactory, medical to be passed etc etc so my job is still under probation right now but hopefully by stating that I won’t now jinx things too much!!

So anyway…

…the job…


*drum roll*

I will be working for Pearson… as…

Training Consultant/Champion Schools Coordinator (Learning Platforms)

That’s a long job title but it is a job of two halves.

Part 1) I will be one of the education team members delivering training and support for schools, primarily for Fronter.

Part 2) I will be the Champion Schools Coordinator driving forward the network of outstanding examples of Fronter use and supporting schools in connecting both within and around the Learning Platforms.

Those of you who have known me for a few years or from school will not be at all surprised that I will be so involved with Fronter now. I have always loved using Fronter in my schools, as ICT Coordinator and as a class teacher, to drive forward learning, collaboration and communication amongst other things. I have long been making little Fronter help videos on the side and posting them on You Tube to help others so it this is my perfect job role really!

Luckily my involvement on the school side of Fronter means there are not quite as many new faces as there would be at a totally new company but I will be spending some time settling in to the fantastic Education Team and getting myself up to speed with all the fab new changes and advances Fronter has made since I was in school.

I am really looking forward to visiting schools all over the country and finding out about the fantastic work they are doing in their schools. I cannot wait to find wonderful, innovative examples to share with everyone on Twitter and at networking events.

As you all know I love social media and will be continuing to use that geeky enthusiasm to build the network of schools using Fronter and other Pearson tools as well as connecting still as a teacher and learner myself.

I will have a new “work” Twitter account – @FronterJodie –  for discussing all things Pearson and for anyone to connect with me regarding my job roles and will still be @jodieworld for all my other teacher talk and also my random jokes/sarcasm and X Factor updates. Please feel free to follow either or both and I will try not to duplicate tweets – feel free to tell me off if I do!

If you are a Fronter user then please let yourself be known to me either via this blog or Twitter – I would love to chat and connect and see how we can help and support you in your Fronter use. If you have any fantastic examples of your use of Learning Platforms please do share those with me too so that everyone can be inspired.

Anyway that is the new job in some sort of a nutshell but I am only a few days in so am sure I will update as and when I am more settled in also.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How technology changed my life

I have always been a geek. In school I was the child noone wanted to be friends with. Throughout primary and til about the age of 13 I was the one who sat at the front of the class and permanently had their hand up, waving it around and sitting up even straighter if I wasn’t asked to answer immediately

“Me, Miss, I know, Miss, MISS!”

That was me. It is me again actually but it wasn’t me for a long time between the ages of 13 and 30. And this blog is a little explanation of why.

I was top of the class at pretty much everything when growing up. My mum taught me to read and write and do maths before I started school so by the time I did I was far and away more advanced than the rest of the class. This left me to carry on my learning with books on my own while the rest of the class worked together.

As I progressed through school my bookishness continued and I continued to shine in all areas of the curriculum. Aside from two:

1) Handwriting

2) Sports involving a ball (football, tennis, volleyball etc)

Every section of my school reports throughout primary and secondary makes a reference to my handwriting. It was awful. Still is although much better after years and years of faithful practice and hard work.

It didn’t matter how great a piece of work I had written I would always get a comment on the marking about my presentation. Every. Time.

In Secondary this got even worse. I was top of the class in German and the teacher hated it. (This may have been due to me correcting her spelling a couple of times even though she was a German lady) So even though my work was correct she would give me a B and everyone else an A* and would cite my handwriting as the reason.

In PE I was shouted at frequently for not catching the ball. For the ball hitting me in the face/leg/stomach before I had even tried to grab for it. Shouted at by my peers but also by my teachers.

These two areas were the only things I couldn’t do at school. Yet they ruled my school years. Why? Because the teachers could never EVER let me off.

And you might think fair enough. Why shouldn’t a teacher tell me what I need to improve? If I was good at everything else then clearly these were my only targets, right?

Well there is one piece of information I haven’t told you yet. But a piece of information that the teachers DID know.

I am blind in my left eye. Completely. Have been since birth.

My handwriting was particularly affected because during the years when I was learning handwriting the doctors were trying to make my blind eye see. So I had to wear a patch on my “good” eye. For two and a half years I was pretty much entirely blind and feeling my way around the classroom. I was allowed to take the patch off at lunchtime otherwise I couldn’t see my food but all morning I lived in darkness but still completed all my work. I wrote over and over on the same line in my book with no idea what I was doing.

Ball sports will always be a problem. I cannot see the ball if it approaches from my left side so it will hit me in the face. Everyone else will laugh. And their laughter, not the pain, will make me cry. It always did. Because it was always accompanied by shouting from the teacher.

Now I clearly have succeeded in my life despite having awful handwriting and not being able to play ball sports. But it never, ever leaves me.

At 13 I gave up trying and became much more rebellious (nothing major I just stopped doing homework). Until then I had tried so hard to impress my teachers, to little avail, that I had alienated all the other students. I came across as a “Know it all” and a geek. I do now too. The difference is that now I don’t care.

When I was 14 I handed in some work to my biology teacher and as I handed it over to her I said “Sorry it is messy” – my default apology at this stage. She replied “It’s OK Jodie I know your content will be excellent and that is what matters.” I burst into tears. She was horrified thinking she said something wrong and I had to explain to her that she was the first teacher to tell me that for years. It was a bitter sweet realisation.

I work as hard as I do and absorb all the information I can so that I can be as good as everyone else despite my one eye. I have always overcompensated. This meant I got promoted before others in pretty much every job I have ever had. I didn’t mean to step on anyone toes I just have a severely low opinion of myself so always strive to work hard enough that I don’t get sacked but usually ends up with me overdoing it.

So moving into teaching. And why technology changed my life.

I love computers. Computers can do what I cannot. They can present my ideas neatly. You would not have read this far if I had handwritten this.

So I have always turned to computers to do stuff for me to cover up my inadequacies.

But I have not always been allowed the safety net and comfort of a computer and am still not allowed it sometimes. Just like many children now are having mobile phones/iPads/laptops banned in the classroom and have to wait for their hour a week in the ICT suite. I had to wait for my hour every two weeks!

I got good at computers and ICT after school when I realised the power within them. But imagine if I had been allowed to word process all my work in school? Or present my ideas in a podcast or video?

When I became a teacher I made sure all my class had access to doing work both on paper and through ICT. That is why I do what I do. I did not get ICT awards and get promoted so fast because I had some big vision of innovating the world. Simply because I wanted the children I taught to never feel at school the way I did. I wanted them to all feel they belonged and to make sure they all know their strengths AND their weaknesses but also have a toolbelt of ways to overcome their weaknesses because our disabilities in life should never become our excuses, merely our triumphs.

By doing that in my classroom I did win awards and all the rest. But it is not WHY I did it. And I am partly annoyed I won anything because in this day and age EVERY teacher should be allowing their children a range of different ways of presenting themselves. Because not every disability is obvious.

Not every disability involves a statement or an IEP.

I kept my blind eye a secret for years. I was fed up of people taking the mickey out of me and of people thinking I wanted special treatment. So I didn’t even tell some of my closest friends. I let people believe I am really clumsy when I repeatedly banged into the door frame. Nowadays I would still rather turn down a friendly game of football by making a joke about being fat than by simply saying “I am blind in one eye”

But there is a huge difference in my life now. Because I will use technology to prove I am as good as others and sometimes even better. Not because I can but because I should. Because every teacher needs to know the difference a small thing such as typing rather than handwriting can have on someone’s life.

I will also leave you with one tale for all headteachers out there. This year I applied for what seemed to be my ideal job. ICT Specialist for a primary school who wanted a visionary and hard worker to transform their ICT department to be outstanding.

I applied – being Outstanding and a visionary and all. With my awards listed on my CV alongside my previous experience and dedication proven. I did not even get an interview. I asked for feedback.

“We cannot grant an interview based on the handwriting on your application letter. You should practice this for future jobs”

And I was back to being 9 years old again. Do I feel sad I didn’t get the job? No. A school who wants visionary ICT will not be worried about my handwriting and that is the only school I want to work for. But am I sad for the children of that school? Yes because they lost a candidate who can run that ICT department really well. All because of a minor disability that could be overlooked for an ICT job in 2012 don’t you think?!

I want to say here also that the teachers I had were not “bad” teachers. They were mostly actually very good teachers and I learnt a lot. What they were doing was what they THOUGHT was best. They just got it wrong. Not on purpose. Not maliciously (except maybe the German teacher ;-) ) but just because they wanted me to be better. They just didn’t realise I could not be the “better” that they wanted. I just needed a different way to be “better.”

So that is my mission. To show schools and teachers that ICT does not have to be some huge gadget- and gimmick-filled extravaganza. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It doesn’t need an ICT specialist (I have no formal ICT training under my belt and am still lagging far behind my Twitter peers in those aspects) but that tiny little changes to how they incorporate ICT into their classroom can make a HUGE difference to many children.

Oh and this post was supposed to be about how technology changed my life. Well it didn’t.  That’s the thing. It isn’t life changing. It doesn’t stop people needing me to write stuff by hand sometimes. It doesn’t stop me being awful at ball sports. But by using technology my life got a whole new focus. And by being good at using technology in class it did give me a career I love more and more every day. Plus it made paperwork it a whole lot easier!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The ultimate tool to transform learning

Wanna know what the ultimate tool to transform learning is?

It’s you. That’s right, you. YOU! Right there.

That’s it.

You can transform learning in your classroom/home/university lectures/your own head WHENEVER AND HOWEVER YOU WANT.

You can change it daily. You can change it hourly. You can change it mid lesson. However you want.

Just think back. How did you like learning at school? What are you passionate about? What got you passionate about teaching in the first place? Then do it. Try it.

If you even clicked on this blog title you are already looking further than you need to. And if you have read this far you really need to turn off the computer and just think about what you love to do.

Your passion alone can transform. No technology. No special schemes. No bought-in experts. Only you.

You can pick up tips, sure. You can use technology to do something different, yes.

But the only thing that will ever TRULY TRULY and DEEPLY transform learning…is you.

So do it. And be proud.

And if you got this far then you don’t believe me or you think this is a load of sensation and I will make an exciting, insightful, academic-related, quote-based and hit-the-nail-on-the-head point in a minute.

Well I won’t

The End.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ups and Downs of Freelancing

Last night I asked my husband if it was alright if I go out for an evening next week (asking in the courtesy sense not in the “please let me out of the house” sense) and his response was “Are you going out on a work related thing or are you actually going out to have fun?”

I was a bit taken aback by this question but on reflection he has a point. Lately nearly all of my going out has involved work-related outings. They are all fun things – why would I spend an evening doing something I don’t like?! But they are all work-related. Either just because they are people I know from Twitter and conferences or because they are people I know from schools and businesses I work with. Many are events rater than traditional nights out. Games Based Learning forums, TeachMeet-type events, informal meetings with potential clients etc etc.

Since going freelance at Easter I have been wallowing in the pride of not having marking and planning to do in the evenings like I did when class-based. But it seems I have allowed too much work into my evenings in other ways. I don’t mind this at all. But I think I may have become a bore to anyone who doesn’t work in education!

I think mainly it is finances and guilt that make me anxious to never miss an event. Financially I am, of course, worse off as I am new to freelancing and losing my regular (very decent) teacher wage. Every penny counts now. Every meeting counts. Every networking event counts.

Also, though, I think my guilt has caused me to tell my husband that every evening/weekend event is possible work. I tell him the stories of the evening that relate to work rather than the ones where we were all just drinking and laughing about stories of being students etc. I do this because I want him to feel proud that I am working hard for us. I know he worries about money now that I do not have a regular wage. He has been unbelievably supportive about my career change and actually tried to get me to do it sooner. But I was the main wage earner so it is a concern. I do still make enough money in theory but now I am stuck in a series of invoicing circles where I have no idea when or how I will be paid. Will it be next week Next month? In two months? By BACS? By cheque?

I can no longer rely on money to arrive at a certain time. So I am conscious of every moment that involves spending money. Can I afford to pay for a restaurant lunch with a potential client? What if they then do not become a client and I am just left with a bill for lunch out when I had perfectly good packets of noodles at home?

So those are the main cons of freelancing so far.

However on the plus side:

I am happier than I have been for a long time and really feel like I am doing the right thing – for me, for my husband, for my future children, for schools and for my own mission of showing ICT in primary as something which doesn’t have to cost the earth (this mission is why I cannot charge what some freelancers do as it becomes counter-productive!)

I am meeting people who have been involved in my networking but who are now developing into friends who I feel I can count on for chats and advice for everything – even the non-educational stuff!

I am having a lot of fun. It might not seem so to my husband (must make sure I tell him the fun stories too) but I am loving every second.

I feel I am making a difference. I felt this before in school, of course, but now it feels more like it is less selfish. That may seem odd to those who think consultants are out for money over education but to me it is definitely the other way round. I could have stayed in a well-paid, secure job with my holidays (I have to work through summer to keep us afloat – finding that work is especially hard!) but I chose to do what I do because (and this may sound egotistical) I feel I have something valuable to offer schools. I think that, although there are many many many great people doing fantastic things with ICT in Primary (I know loads of them, luckily) there are still many schools who need help to ensure their students are getting fair access to the 21st Century learning stuff.

I am lucky that I have got pretty regular work at the moment. It’s not full time yet and I haven’t got the right balance yet. But I hope I will.

If I don’t then I guess it is back to the drawing board. Or the Interactive White Board at least.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The world of attribution or something like it

A lot has been spoken on Twitter and blogs about giving attribution and credit to people recently. I won’t cite all the conversations – because I cannot keep track myself! And this is one of the issues I have with the whole thing too but I will come back to that.

When I first began using Twitter it was as a person who liked a few celebrities and liked to enter competitions. After a year or so I realised there was a whole network of teachers connecting and sharing ideas. I thought this was brilliant. At the time I found being an ICT Coordinator quite isolating in that within school I had noone to learn new tricks and techniques from. I was doing well on my own so it was fine but those who have connected with lots of others you will also know what I found out – that having a whole load of ideas on the table is really helpful when you are teaching a new topic etc.

So I loved being able to ask a question or bat ideas about with people on Twitter. It is this sharing and supporting which, I believe, made the Twitter teacher network grow so much and it is now bigger than I can even contemplate.

I am more than happy to share any of my ideas and for people to use them in their classroom/school. I do not expect anyone to mention me or my ideas. If someone takes that idea and does it well then that was not my doing anyway. That is their hard work and teacher skills not mine which made it a success in their classroom and their school.

If someone gives me an idea and I use it i will often and usually say where it came from – even if just to tell my students that I got the idea from “someone” on Twitter. But at the point at which they have taken that idea and done some work then the praise lays with my students for doing well with that idea.

So if someone does well with an idea that they took from someone else I have no issue and in fact, they have the right to be proud of it in their own right as they managed to make someone else’s idea their own in practice.

So I don’t always attribute when I use an idea in class. And I can only apologise for that. I sometimes take your idea – I always thank you for it and say I am going to give it a go – but I may not write your name on the bottom of the SMARTboard I make to teach it to the children, for example.

However, I am now non-school based. And I now speak at conferences and in schools about work that I do. So I am now in effect selling “myself” and “my ideas”. But of course not everything I do has come from my own ideas. Some of the things I do are my own ideas (they may have already been done by someone but where I had no knowledge of that I can only assume I had that idea independently anyway so do not attribute) but the ones where I know I took them from someone else I have to make an effort to attribute those.

It isn’t always easy. Sometimes I cannot remember exactly who it came from  so I believe by at least saying “I got the idea from a teacher on Twitter” I am, at least, not claiming this as my own independent idea.

Some are more clear – for example I have taught people about making maths videos using SMARTboard recorder by children, for children. And mostly when I speak I tell people the idea came from Eric Marcos of Mathtrain.tv who I was lucky enough to hear speak at BETT 2011. I recently forgot though. I made a video and posted it on YouTube for a TeachMeet as I couldn’t make it in person. On that video, in my nerves, I forgot to mention where the idea came from and I felt very bad about it. I didn’t make any money from that video as such but if someone finds that then finds me and hires me into school or asks me to write about it I have a duty to ensure they know that it was not my own idea, merely something I adapted for myself. I added it later to the video description when I realised my error but I still felt bad about the whole thing as people had seen the video before that happened.

I personally think we do need to attribute as much as we can. I don’t always get it right and sometimes forget. I hope as I go further into freelance I will get it right more often and will always make a note of who I heard an idea from where I can.

I make a particular effort at conferences to say where my ideas came from as it is more obvious in that scenario. But I don’t think I have always done it well on Twitter and in conversations. On Twitter the 140 characters is usually my excuse but that is not good enough. In conversation my only excuse is that I am not naturally social and every conversation in person is a little struggle in my brain. But that is not good enough either.

I am never in a million years going to claim I have any authority on anything and am sure there are people who think i do it wrong – who maybe have seen times when I don’t. I can only apologise. I am trying. Hard. I look at others and sometimes feel they don’t work so hard at it. maybe I am not seeing the times they do it right. I am sure I have no right to judge and yet I do. I am human and not a perfect one at that.

But I hope that the more I do consultancy the more people will realise that I try and give credit where I can and where I know it.
I have written articles and attributed where my ideas came from. Some of them have been my ideas and some have been from others.

My recent conversations re: attribution on twitter and elsewhere have, I fear, been misconstrued (as I am not good at articulating) as me saying I am amazing and other people are rubbish at it. This is certainly not how I feel about it in actuality but I fear I have said it all entirely wrong due to my own personal struggle with it rather than, actually, any moral standpoint.

I am in no position to judge anyone, I know that more than anyone, but the whole issue has made me think more deeply about how much I do attribute and what I need to do to improve my own practice and that, at least, I do feel is a good thing.

One thing I do know is that the whole dicussion makes me uncomfortable. There is only one reason for that. Guilt. I haven’t always done it right. So I am pledging right now to make a more concerted effort. I can only hope I do so in the forgiveness of anyone who feels I have wronged them or others in the past.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New surname New husband New job

A lot of new beginnings since Easter!

On Easter Sunday I got married to the gorgeous Vincent Lopez. You can now call me J-Lo if you wish! The wedding day went fantastically well and all ran smoothly – but what else would you expect from the girl who took 14 coaches and 1100 children and parents to Margate for the day? ;-)

After the wedding we had a week of relaxing before getting back to work.

I started my first week of freelance with a midnight keynote speaker slot in Australia. Except in Australia it was 9am and I was connecting via Skype and Elluminate. Despite a perfect technical rehearsal on the Friday before we had some audio issues Australia-side and had to conduct some of the talk via me showing screen shots and typing the words to be read out the other end! Not ideal but will be videoing the rest of the talk this week to send over for the staff. I was talking about use of Learning Platforms and my experience with Fronter. The school I was speaking to are rolling out to their secondary age students and were looking for inspiration for the teachers and other staff. I wish them all the very best with the project ongoing and will be in touch regularly to help where I can and also steal their ideas when they have got it all going!

Then I got a few hours sleep and went to a school in Essex for a supply day in Year 6. Although the supply work is a way to earn my bread and butter money until the freelance is full time I do enjoy seeing different schools, meeting new pupils and finding out how different schools organise themselves and the school. It is a bit like being a fly on the wall and I am always grateful for any tips I pick up at each school.

On Tuesday I worked from home and started to work behind the scenes on the website getting ready to launch some new free resources which should be live by the end of the month. Also my email inbox had gotten pretty busy over Easter so spent so time replying as needed.

Wednesday I was asked back to the same Year 6 class as Monday which is good. Always nice to be requested again as it means I did something right! Another lovely day with the very high level class.

On Thursday I went to a school on supply for a Year 4 and then a Year 3/4 class. After nearly getting lost on the way to the school I arrived for a nice day teaching the students.

And I rounded the week off on Friday by meeting with the lovely people at Green Schools Online who designed my gorgeous website for me and are my go-to guys for business advice and help as needed. This week I needed advice on all things tax related for working out on my own. Not exciting as such but certainly necessary.

Throughout the last few weeks offers of work have started to come in. Next week I will be off to Torquay on behalf of Fronter for a Learning Platform event. I am looking forward to catching up with Oliver Quinlan who will be talking about Google Apps.

I have started work also on my presentation for the Teacher’s Conference in Singapore where I will be leading a session on “Using ICT to Enrich, Engage and Enhance the Curriculum.” I am excited to be speaking at my first international conference and also spending some time talking to teachers from all over the world about their experiences and expertise. I will also be part of a teacher panel for a discussion on day two of the conference which should get realy interesting.

With a few consultancy days already booked and other conferences in the pipeline I am very optimistic about the future of my career. I hope I can use my experience and expertise to help many schools in the UK and overseas to implement ICT in an engaging and authentic way for their pupils and staff.

The Happy Couple

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment