Thursday 20 December 2007

Positive Feedback for the OLPC

I have long been following the OLPC programme. I see many parallels between the OLPC vision and my own for IHS. So it was interesting to read this article and the bbc artilcle, particularly the digital distraction part.

I particularly love the Audio Slideshow

What do others think in light of the Asus Eee (In Scotland the 'Wee') PC and the Samsung Q1?

Where does this leave education in the west? Are about to be leapfrogged as we have been with Mobile phone use?

Tuesday 18 December 2007

Palau - Borneo

Islay High has been working with with World Challenge for a number of years.

In the capable hands of Deputy Head Teacher (DHT) pupils have gained amazing experiences in Costa Rica, Ecuador (Pics and Blog) and Malawi (Blog).

Next summer expedition is slightly different. Its going to be a 2 centre adventure. First is the the island state of Palau. The second is Borneo.

The 20 pupils who will go this adventure will have to plan, fund raise, negotiate, develop team work, and so much more. The experiences they will gain will stay with them the rest of their lives.

I have asked for them to Blog not just the trip itself but also the training and development of team before the trip.

They will post as soon as we have the blog setup.

Wednesday 12 December 2007


Last Friday. myself and my colleague, Sandy Smith, were at a training course, Learn2Learn, run by Alastair Smith and Mark Lovatt.

They were demonstrating the Learn2Learn approach they have been using at the Cramlington Community High school in Northumberland.

Our reason for looking at this programme is the next part of our school development.

So far we have developed the curriculum with the introduction of Vocational Education, removal of the Age and Stage restrictions and the introduction of Project Afternoons.

We have developed the leadership of staff and Pupils

We have developed the use of ICT. (See the rest of the Blog)

We are now a Stage 3 Excellence as a Health Promoting School.

We feel that we are ready to introduce the basis for true independent learners and actively teach our first years, from next year, how to learn for themselves.

It sounds so obvious but this not done at the moment.

I have some personal reflections about this topic.

When I started at University I was 26. I had trained as an electronics technician, helped run a volunteer workshops on Iona, worked has a service engineer and ended up a service director but nothing had prepared me for University. I didn't understand the processes and systems. I didn't know the language being used and felt too insecure to ask. I didn't know how I learned and didn't know how to reflect on my learning to allow me to understand.

The result, as you can imagine, was that I barely cleared the hoops I was being asked to jump through.

The second example is a recent one, the Handheld Learning Conference. I didn't understand the process. From my paper, which I took to be a proposal of what I was wanting to talk about, to my presentation itself which was too much of a 'pitch' and not enough information. I didn't know the 'Rules' and the way things work.

Getting to understand the rules of academic writing is something I am fighting with at the moment.

So giving pupils the tools of learning is not only required but essential if we expect them to grow and thrive on a world in which the only constant is change.

One of the reason for using the Alite programme is that they have developed a load of software tools and and profiling apps. Therefore we can use the ICT infrastructure as tools to work with the pupils.

We are going to commit to this fully as we see it as the solid foundation for future develop. That means 3 periods per week.

Do you think this will take away from the subjects? Does anyone have any experience of this, or other programmes?


Friday 30 November 2007

Different world - Same issues

The view from the primary school windows of the International School of Monaco (ISM)






I am blogging from ISM. And yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.

I am here for 3 days in the school. They have very kindly brought myself and my wife over. The purpose of the visit is to consult on the introduction of effective ICT.

Several questions had to be asked about 'effective ICT' before coming out. Effective for whom? Methodologies of Learning & Teaching? The ethos and values of the curriculum.

I am going to start with the curriculum. I was not familiar with the International Baccalaureate curriculum but my research has shown a great similarity in ethos with the Curruculum for Excellence (ACfE) being developed in Scotland. The desire to develop a values based ethos driven curriculum is vital in any system. If its driven purely on an exam based outcome then it will produce highly 'qualified' individuals with no ability to change/adapt or to work with others. The IBO has reflective learners as one of its core values.

The school itself is in an office block. The early years is on one floor in one part of the building. The Primary and middle school are in another floor of the same building. The high school in another part of the block entered by another door. The lunch room is entered directly from the street and is basically a shop front.

Every teaching area  has Promethean boards but the classes are so small that the teachers struggle to get these used let alone used effectively. Promethean are coming in during January to deliver initial training.

On the first afternoon I gave a talk to all staff who were available and interested. I had about 15. I had hoped to skype with Meach in Georgia but usual thing happened. Its was against the ICT rules to use skype. They were willing to try and change it though but we didn't have time.

I spent the rest of my time speaking to staff about the use of technology in classes and to get an idea of where they stood.

I must say I am impressed by the level of commitment and desire to be open to these ideas. They had fears, which is a good thing, but were prepared to listen and ask wonderful questions.

The staff now need to reflect on where this can be used within their subject area but then that's the same for every teacher in the world, isn't it?

Friday 23 November 2007

"Its really cool to talk across an ocean"

The Monroe Islay connection has been developing. Last Friday I spent 45 mins delivering a class on how to use Google Sketchup. We had some connection problems but we got their in the end.

I have recently found an online video of our first session. Its great to see what they saw, at least a little.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

SQH Leadership

I have been working towards the first Unit if my Scottish Qualification for Headship (SQH) or the Post Graduate Diploma in School Leadership & Management, to give it its full title.

The first unit has been looking at the role of a head teacher and what the Standard of Headship is, as defined by the GTC, then checking where I am in relation to that standard. The Assessment is in the form of a 5000 word essay defining the context, Leadership, change,The Standard and the comparing myself to the standard via 360 feedback from colleagues and self reflection.

I am looking for your help.

Can you, no matter what your role in education (and we ALL have a role in education), answer some questions.

1. What do you see as the role of a Head Teacher/Principal?

2. Define the word 'Leadership'.

So not much ;-)

Tuesday 6 November 2007


I have just come across a Wiki called edtechroundup which is setup around the idea of people in education giving real examples of where it is being used.

It has regular online meetings, though I have still to attend one.

I have always been much more interested in Wiki's than Blogs (Haven't I Andrew?). I like the collaborative aspect and I see a much more positively productive outcome. (He say's while on his own soapbox blog)


Saturday 3 November 2007

Monroe Islay connection

On Friday afternoon we had the start of a new Sketchup project. The idea is that each group will become the eyes and ears for the other group. On Islay we will be looking at the 'Round Church' in Bowmore. They will take pics, video and scan in plans for the other school to draw in Google Sketchup. The project is specified in a Google doc here.

Myself and 'Meach the Teach' setup a Skype chat between 2 classes. I have 7 pupils from S3 (All Male unfortunately), Banks - Stephens Middle School have 12 in their group.

A huge thank you Keith Hamon on Monroe County School District for his simple comment on Ewan McIntosh's Blog which has started this whole thing.

Thursday 1 November 2007

Hand Held Learning 2007

I would like to point people to the HHL07 site


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Tuesday 30 October 2007

OneNote by Jing

Thank you to Andrew Brown for pointing me to Jing.

I used this to create a quick screencast of the basic use of OneNote.

Update: The screencast embed is proving to be uncooperative so I have replaced it with a link

Wednesday 24 October 2007

What the Wiki!

Over the last 3 weeks I have been helping develop the beginnings of a Wiki based around the use of the Samsung Q1 UMPC in Education. This is growing quickly but it need more people involved even if its to ask about what different people are doing with the technology.

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Monday 22 October 2007

Sorry I have been quiet but........

its not because I have been on holiday (which I have been), its not because I have been chilling at home (which I have been). I really should blame Graham Martin-Brown from handheld Learning_B6B2008.jpg.

Why is it his fault? Well one of the last actions of the conference was an excellent prize draw. Lots of great prizes were given out to those people who stayed to 5pm on a Friday. The prizes went from Apple Ipods, Samsung Q1Ultra and camera's were amongst the prizes but the best was the Nintendo Wii sport, which I won. Digital Katie immediately started sending hate texts which should have been in green text colour.

I have never been particularly interested in console's or computer games. The occasional game of solitaire or Hexic Deluxe but I have never considered buying a games console.

But myself and Caroline, my wife, are hooked. We have been playing everyday. We have been testing our fitness, Caroline's Wii age is Granny level older than me (She made me change that), I am below my actually age. In fact we are so hooked that we have ordered another controller.

I had been considering giving this to the school but.............. NO WAY! They might be able to borrow it but only if I get the first go on the big screen in the Gym.

I now believe that Derek Robertson does have the best job in the world!

Wednesday 17 October 2007

Revolution? Reformation

I have come to the conclusion that we are in the middle of a Revolution. This is not a surprise or even a radical statement,  lots of people think that but I am thinking of a particular type of revolution. A Reformation.

The Reformation was thought to have started with Martin Luther's 95 Thesis. In a very simplistic way it was the removal of knowledge/power from the existing holders and freeing it to the people who had the skills to access it. Bibles printed so that it could be read by those who could read.

So if we are are freeing knowledge from the high priests of knowledge, much to their annoyance and fear, then what would our 95 thesis of today be?

1. All have the right to connectivity with equality?????


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Just do it

Its been a very busy term. I am only just beginning to realise how stressed I have been (Sorry to those around me). Since getting back home on Saturday morning from the HHL Conference I have done a lot of sleeping. Its the mid term holiday here in Scotland this week. Myself and Caroline decided not go anywhere but stay at home and enjoy where we live. I am starting to feel like my old self again. I am now starting to reflect on what we are doing in Islay High.

I am not sure if its because we have been working towards this for a, relatively, long time but I am constantly surprised by the reaction of people who hear what we are doing. Even people who have been involved in technology in Education are surprised. In fact as I talked to all the amazing people at the conference. I felt like I was telling them something they already know and I would pull back. Preaching to the converted I suppose. Its only during the conversation that I would expand on what we are doing and they would be visibly surprised and I would then be surprised by that reaction. The question I now have is why are they surprised?

The evidence which I have heard and read both at the conference and long before that has shown that use of technology in education is a very positive thing. In fact technology has always been adopted into education, so long as its appropriate. After all pencil and paper is just another technology. My S1 learn a definition of technology as being 'Anything made by humans to solve a problem'.

I see what we are doing has a 'normal' next step in the use of technology. Pupils moving from paper technology to electronic technology. Pupils accessing the materials they need to achieve what they need to achieve while being guided/mentored by peers or staff. I still think think that use of the appropriate 'tool' is a vital part of learning. One of the most important tools is the human relationships.

One question that everyone asks is,'How do you get teachers onside?'. This is the point in which I am most proud of our little school. Never has anyone said what we are doing is the wrong thing. They have questioned, quite rightly, aspects or processes but never the why. The staff in Islay have taken on the task of rethinking the way they teach and the way technology impacts on that and then simply gotten on with it. Admittedly they knew it was coming and could not ignore it but have turned up for voluntary 'drop in' training sessions and asked about How can I use it.

I suppose the point I am trying to make here is that technology has already moved and continues to move on at a huge pace. Teachers know it. Parents know it. Now the whole community needs to move on.

To quote my own paper to the HHL Conference,'Just do it!'

Monday 15 October 2007

Hand Held Learning 07

Its been a busy week.

I was in Bristol last weekend becoming the proud God Parent to Ewan.

I was then in London from Wednesday to friday at the Hand Held Learning Conf.

This is the largest Hand held Learning/Mobile education Conference in the world.

I am not particularly experienced in how conferences work and get a bit confused between a Plenary and Keynotes, workshops and breakouts. Also I have never written a paper to speak a conference before.

Mine was ......... "short and to the point", Graham Brown-Martin, Organiser. When I read the rest (Large PDF Download) I could see what he meant.

I was the last speaker. My topic was, 'Drop the Pilot'. To see and hear it go here. I was not particularly happy with my presentation. I was thrown by a technical hitch at the beginning and felt I never really got into the talk.

 The conference was excellent. I met so many people who were passionate about putting learning technology into the hands of the learners. I heard about the growing amount of evidence that what we are doing on Islay is the right thing. I had loads of verbal feedback and some amazing chats with so many inspirational people.

On the Thursday I was also very kindly invited to the Final awards of the Channel Network Awards at the London Hilton. Lanway, our supplier, had been nominated for their work with us. We didn't win but the scale of the event was enough to make me realise that the work we are doing is catching attention in various industries.

Monday 1 October 2007

Teething Problems

Its been a busy couple of weeks. I have mopped up the last of the pupils who were off and needed training.

I have spent my own subjects periods getting S1 and S2 up to speed with using the technology (More about this later). I have been going round individual faculties talking bout best ways of using the UMPC's and identifying any problems.

Something which has come up was that we didn't have enough Access Points in one part of the school.

This meant that when Maths, English and History classes were all signing onto the network, the network in that part of the school ground to a halt. It also caused some of the UMPC's to fail to complete their login scripts. Causing one of our network drives not to show. Three extra access points later and things have calmed down, but we are still occasionally  getting a lost network drive.

I have identified Network Drive Manager as a possible solution to lost network drives.

Does anyone have anyone have another solution? Preferably free

Sunday 23 September 2007

Teachmeet 07

Exciting/Frustration is my personal description of teachmeet.

First of all Teachmeet is an unconference, this time it was a fringe event of the SLF. That means its an open forum for people to share their ideas (7 min max). All of which were very exciting.

Now to explain the frustration part.

The first teachmeet was in Edinburgh as a fringe event to eLive. I was able to go as I was speaking in Glasgow the next day and I decided that I had better have a clear head.

The second one was at last year SETT (Old name for SLF) I said I wanted to speak and was quite excited about talking but their simply wasn't time.

The third one was at this years eLive conference. I was all ready to go and my authority was prepared to pay for the travel but then lots of things came up at school and I decided not go.

I was so keen to talk this year that I had my name up as soon as the wiki was setup.

It was obviously not meant to be.......

Ewan produced a totally fair and random fruit machine to select the speakers........ the Bu*****!

It is obviously not meant to be as my name, along with several others, didn't come up.

Having said that, it really was an excellent event. I was particularly  impress with Andy Black and his energetic presentation. It was wonderful to meet Krysia at last. She has a much fuller description of the evening.

Maybe the frustration comes from missing out on the food, company and drinks later on. I wasn't feeling great and ended up at the doctor's on the Thursday afternoon with a sinuses infection.

So maybe I will get some time sometime to present. I just hope I have something worth talking about.

Google Sketchup Seminar

As I said in my last entry I was expecting small numbers for my seminar at the Scottish Learning Festival and I planned to turn this an advantage.

I hope I managed this. Certainly the small numbers seemed very positive at the end. I said I would place some useful links for Sketchup for the small band of 10 who came and were made to work.

Useful links:

Sketchup Home -

Sketchup Download -

Sketchup Blog -

Video Tutorials -

Self Paced tutorials -

Education offers from Google -

3D Warehouse to download pre made models -

Google Earth home -

I hope those who were at the session found it useful.

Those who asked about the project with Monroe County Ga. I will ask Keith Hamon if he minds if we publish the details here.

Here is the published doc

Wednesday 19 September 2007


I am sitting in the tower that is the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow. It took a wee while to get here.

The small plane had to circle for quite a while ( the normally takes 30mins it over an hour) before getting into Glasgow Airport because another plane had got 'stuck' on the grass.

The reason I am here is that I am speaking at the Scottish Learning Festival. I got my list of participants on Friday for the 2 talks. As I suspected previously, being on at the same time a Stephen Heppell has had an effect on the numbers.

I have decided that I will turn the small numbers to my advantage. I plan to drag them from the the very back row and bring them in close. I will gave a background to the Google Sketchup project we did this year and show some work and how we approached it.

Then I would like to have a discussion with them to where they could see it being used. I hope that this will turn the disadvantage of have 10 people into an advantage of getting them involved and not just watching.

The second talk is at 9-30am on Thursday. I am delivering this one with the head teacher, Dr E Cunningham has very healthy numbers. I have spent today recording some of the other people who have been involved with our School of Ambition project.

Sunday 16 September 2007

BBC - The politics Show II

As I said on Thursday, the BBC were over filming on Friday for today's Politics Show.

I am just home from lunch with my in-laws (They are visiting from Newcastle and I couldn't change nor want too change the arrangements)

Several people have stopped me and said the 5 min piece came across very well.

It should be available on the Politics Show (Scotland) web site later today but I would be very interested in opinions (Negative as well as positive) or questions raised by the piece.

PS Just had this written article sent to me.

Thursday 13 September 2007

Ups and Downs

Prompted by Andrew Brown, I have decided to say what I am doing at SETT SLF.

Well I am speaking twice his year.

The first talk I suspect will be one of the quietest of the Wednesday. Its not because it will be boring (Honest!) but because its on at the same time as Stephen Heppell's keynote. I am so disappointed with missing him and wonder what people will choose my talk over Stephen Heppell. We shall see.

The second talk is early (9-30) on the Thursday I am speaking with Dr Elizabeth Cunningham(The Headie) abut what we have been doing as School of Ambition.

Apart from the official stuff I am going to go into the wild with Channel 4 and , of course, teachmeet07. This year I am determined to speak rather than just drink and shout abuse as I did last year.

I will be making merry later on with other teachmeeters. Just wish me luck to make it to early semniar on the Thursday.

BBC- The Politics Show

politics show

Tomorrow we are being filmed for 'The Politics Show' (Scottish Version).

They are coming over to look at the ICT and the use of it as well as the other changes we have introduced in the school over the last few years.

I will come back and give more details after the event.

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Chaos Theory II

Its been a busy week. We have been rolling out the UMPC's to all the pupils. A small number of 3rd years have still to get them but I have been trying avoid Certificated classes and when I am free they aren't. When they are free I am teaching. (I have a full timetable myself this year).

Therefore I had a delegation stop me in the corridor at lunchtime today, voicing their concern. They were desperate to get going with the UMPC's. The place I was going at lunchtime was the school library to run a drop in surgery on any problems or questions the pupils may have. I had 35 turn up. 4 had a problem the rest had questions.

I am planning to run these sessions on a Tuesday and a Thursday and I am sure the numbers will ease off, I hope. 

I have also had one example of the opposite from a pupil who has said to me, "I am bored with this".

I am glad that the group were putting pressure on me to get them out and I am delighted that such a large number want to learn more in their own time . It showed that the pupils, on the whole, want them and can see a point. Now I just need to make sure that the point they see is an educational one. I will leave you to come back with a definition of 'Educational use'

Thursday 6 September 2007

teaching Scout | pushing boundaries

I have been following Krysia and Stuart Meldrum's probationer NQT Blogs.

They are both reflective and keen to learn. On 'Teaching Scout' she is asking for advice.

Does anyone have any pearls of wisdom? I would be interested in them as well.

Maybe the walk will be less lonely

teaching Scout | pushing boundaries

Tuesday 4 September 2007


Some funny, (though I am not sure about how Dr Elizabeth Cunningham (Head Teacher) feel about being drawn as Grounds Keeper Willie),


from the suppliers press.

Some amazing from the last 24hrs of the Blog on Google Analytics

The reaction of the pupils has been hugely positive from those who have theirs so far and hugely jealous from those (The Majority) who have still to get theirs.

I will take another week to get them all out and then the real evaluation will begin.

Monday 3 September 2007

Starting to Roll out UMPC's


Period 5 today we starting rolling out the UMPC's to the 6th year pupils.

I have spent the last few weeks delivering training in their use with all year groups and developing an Acceptable Use Policy in conjunction with the pupils.

S5 tomorrow......

Thursday 16 August 2007

Summer? What Summer?

I feel like its been a long time since my last update. The reason for this is its because its been a long since my last update.

This is not because I have been away and lounging on a beach but because we have been getting everything together for the new term.

I am not going to update everything in one go but here is the trailer for my next few posts.

Still to finish off:

Now I have written it down it seems not much but I know how much work has been done by the support staff.

We also have 5 NQT's, 1 full time member of staff, and 2 members of staff who are returning from maternity leave. I have spent a lot of time with them in a support role.

The 2 returning members of staff have stated they think they have returned to the wrong school. I think that was a complement.

Tuesday 26 June 2007


I would like to point everyone to this Blog on the BBC island Blogging site.

It is the 3rd in the IHS's world experiences. Happening every 2 years.

Previous groups have gone to Costa Rica, and Ecuador. The Ecuador group blogged about their experiences but this time the group are much more aware of what it means.

The group are heading to Malawi - Ileachs are people from Islay,btw. It will a great adventure and a lifetime experience.

Please go and voice your support and follow their adventures.

Live Writer

I have been using Live Writer Beta 1 for quite a while now. Its an app which allows me to write my Blog offline (Very handy when I have over 2 hours on a ferry to get to the mainland).

I have recently noticed that the Beta 2 was released (OK a month ago, I am slow). It is a significant upgrade with lots of additions and it looks very different too.

The main improvement that I have noticed is the much better integration of plugins. I have downloaded 2 already. Insert video means I no longer have to change the view to HTML to embed the video.

Ink Blog

Google Sketchup of Islay House Square

We have been using Google Sketchup for quite a while now. Here is an example of some of the work.


Video: Islay House Square in Sketchup

The work is all the S1 pupils from one class. The pupils split themselves into groups. They decided on what they needed to do. They got the plans of the square and shared the work out amongst them. They worked out the sizes from the scale on the plans (1:400). They asked if they could go and visit to take photo's of the elevations. Transferred the images over onto the PC's and started to edit them-They wanted to remove the people and the cars they didn't want. They took the images and used them the create the textures.

6 of the year went to the Young Engineers Conference in Glasgow last Friday and while their they took the different models of the various buildings and placed them into a single model and created the animation. They then exported the animation as an AVI file and made the video in MovieMaker.

All this before they get a hold of the UMPC's!

What do you think?

PS I am giving presentation on this at SFL (SETT)

Sunday 24 June 2007

Promethean's interactive whiteboard gets multi-input upgrade

OK This might convince me about interactive whiteboards......... at least a little but I have still major reserves.

Though Catherine from Bowmore PS Pre 5 unit has completely won me over with the use of boards by the pupils lower down the school system


Filed under: Misc. Gadgets

Source: Promethean's interactive whiteboard gets multi-input upgrade
Originally published on 24/06/2007 12:03 by Joshua Topolsky


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Friday 15 June 2007

Scottish Education Awards

A huge congratulations to the Bowmore Primary Pre 5 Unit for winning the Scottish School Award for ICT. Catherine MacMillan does loads of amazing things with her pupils.

I am so proud.

Monday 11 June 2007

Leadership Training

Last Friday we had the pleasure to have Geoff Moss and Elizabeth Floyer  from Behaviour & Learning Management in school for our summer inservice day.

Geoff had been over on the same inservice day last year to move us on in Assertive Discipline. This was a very enjoyable and enlightening course which has helped embed assertive discipline across the school.

This time Geoff and Elizabeth were doing a 1 day course to introduce Situational Leadership.

This was aimed at giving all staff a common language of leadership and mentoring. This will give the staff a common reference when talking to each other. So they know what is meant when sharing professionally. When someone is learning a skill each phase is called a Directions

It describes a cycle of learning which happens to us all. The example I used when finding an example where I was a learner was learning to ride a bike

D1 - Before you learn a new skill - That is easy to do, anybody can do that!

D2 - While learning a new skill - This isn't as easy as I first thought. Leave those stabilsers on!

D3 - Learned the new skill but still not sure - What do you mean you have let go of the saddle Dad!!!!

D4 - New skill is embedded - How come they find riding a bike so hard!!! I never did.

Each of these need a different form of Leadership or Mentoring but only for that particular skill. The person is not a Phase only the learning.

S1 - Very directed - Look where you are going. Keep the legs moving, Don't move the handle bars so much

S2 - Directed but with much more encouragement to keep the learner going - That's it! Little less on the brakes.

S3 - Communicating with the learner - How does that feel. You want me to let go? Well I already have let go.

S4 - Delegating. - Off you go. I know you can do it.

Its interesting when I think about various situations in ICT Training where I am a S4 leader and perhaps the individuals are D3 or worse when I am an S1 leader and they are D4.

I suspect I will be referring to this model a lot over the coming year.


Life's a Beach

I have been in full training for the Islay Beach Rugby tournament.

Then at the 2nd last training session, on the 5th June, I damaged my right knee.

After a trip to the Hospital in Glasgow (Yes, that's what we have to do is travel by plane to see a specialist) to be diagnosed with........."Hmmm, it looks like a sore knee". After a little more consultation with the consultant it was concluded that I had stretched the Quadricep tendon.

I had to rest it for 6 weeks............. So out of the beach rugby was I.

It'll be a lesson to us all......... training is dangerous and should be avoided.

I decided that I could lay my body on the line by eating, drinking and making merry.

The day itself was a great one. Possibly too hot (At least for Scotland) at 23C, for any form of physical activity.

We had 18 male teams and 3 female teams arrive. The competition was fierce and fully committed. Hillhead had to withdraw in the second round, due to too many injuries. From what I saw it was too many drinks but that could be a misrepresentation of the facts.

The overall winners for the 4th year in a row, was Melrose Rugby Club. Well done to them. And well done to Loch Lomond for doing so well against them in the final.

Islay 1's won the next level tournament beating my old club, Cartha in the final.

Cambuslang, Green machine won the 3rd level Quaich.

A particular thank you to Jim Stevenson from the SRU. Who not only played for 2 teams but also managed to dress smartly to present the winners. Iain "Mighty Mouse" McLaughlin, whose wife originates from Islay, was on hand to present the home team with their trophy.

Of course, that was only the day event. The evening entertainment was spectacular with over 400 people squeezing into the village hall to enjoy great camaraderie, great laughs and great company.

A huge thank you to all who came, saw and drank. Never have so few had so much sunburn.

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Sunday 3 June 2007

Other Changes - Leadership

From Blog Pics

 We have been developing a distributive leadership model within the school.

To quote Dr Liz Cunningham, HeadTeacher,

"Headship is fixed, Leadership is fluid".

What this means it me is that if you have an idea be prepared to lead it or don't say anything at all.

I really should define what I mean by Distributive Leadership as opposed to Distributed leadership.

Distributive Leadership is about the school community taking responibility. They look at where the school is going and then come up with the idea's which will help deliver it.

Distributed Leadership is about the management having the idea's and delegating that leadership responsiblity to someone.

Those are, of course, the extreme examples but I think its important to acknowedge the difference. The giving of responsibility without the giving of power gives no ownership.

This is the key. Ownership of the whole schoolcommunity by the whole school community. So long as they want to part of it that is.


CPD Development and my left shoe

Last Tuesday I was at a CPD development meeting at the Lighthouse in Glasgow.

The meeting involved teachers and other education professionals to have a 'Think and Do Tank'. They wanted to produce ideas of approaches and methodologies of delivery which would allow them to deliver CPD

The point of the meeting was to look at what the Lighthouse is doing as far as its offerings of CPD to education and what it could do to develop this further.

We had a inputs from the various parts of the Lighthouse Organisation looking at the 6 Cities Design Festival through the Education work to the exhibition work that they do.

The second part of the morning was to look at our ideas.

I really like the way that The Lighthouse approaches idea generation and encourages creative thinking. For example, instead of introducing yourself to everyone in that awkward way, you had to introduce your left shoe. You had say why you bought the shoe, what you like about the shoe, what you would change about the shoe. In fact you are make some design evaluations about a very personal product.

I won't go into too much detail about what we suggested but needless to say online resources and use of ICT were pretty high up their and not just from me either.  


Friday 1 June 2007

A Mile stone

Today is mile stone in the project.
100 Samsung q1's arrived this morning from Lanway (Samsung's supplier). The next load of 150 will be arriving in 2 weeks. So we have a lot to do.

We are now creating an image to be installed onto these and get the serial numbers recorded.
For JKK -
Samsung Q1b, Via Processor, with the full accessory park and 2 batteries. We are standardising with XP as advised by our Local Authority, Argyll & Bute

Thursday 31 May 2007

Class Presenter and Conference XP

Video: Classroom Presenter

Once the pupils have their UMPC's (Big news on that very soon) I have been looking at how they can used within classroom. The most obvious way is that worksheets can contain more than text and still pictures. Individuals can watch a video clip or listen to a podcast o radio programme or they can read the text and watch an animation demonstrating what thy are being told.

They can record the ongoing process of their practical projects by taking stills (via a web cam) and adding text to it or record a video describing what they are doing.

One of the main ways I see is classroom collaboration. Sharing a 'whiteboard' that pupils can add notes too. The teacher can get individual

For example if you have a prepared powerpoint you can share it to all the pupils and they can make their own notes. You could have a question on the powerpoint and have the pupils feedback the answers. Assessment is for Learning and more than voting systems all in action.

Conference XP

New Timetable

Today is the start of the new Timetable.

I got my new Fundimentals in Web Design Class and we have started a wiki to record the developments as they happen

PS The colours and the mistypes are deliberate to get the class talking about what is good design. Honest!

Monday 28 May 2007

Other Changes - Vocational Education

As part of the widening out of the curriculum we have introduced Skills for Work courses (SfW).

This year it has seen the introduction of Construction Skills and Hairdressing. 

Both these courses have been running for this year.

Next year we will be introducting Rural Skills and Cosmetology (This is not looking at the cosmos as I thought but Beautician skills).

The idea is to get these courses in place as normal options within the whole school curriculum. With equal status to any other course.

Pupils are not removed from other classes to attend an FE college simply because it is not possible in our geographic position. Therefore we had to create a space within the school for this to happen.


Sunday 27 May 2007

Saturday 26 May 2007

Other Changes - Project Afternoon's

We looked at how the whole school community could take the skills and knowledge that they were learning in the classroom and apply them.

We are removing the 'Core' lessons from S3 - S4 and making Wednesday and Friday Afternoon's Project Afternoon's.

Project proposals are being developed at the moment. All staff getting ideas together and looking at how practical they would be. We have split the year into 6 week blocks. A staff member can offer a single block of 6 weeks using either one afternoon, and offer a different project the other afternoon (12 hours) or both (24 hours), a double block etc.

My proposal is setup a media group that will produce a TV News programme for the school intranet and podcasts for the internet. I plan to run this all year but I am hoing that the group producing it will change over the year.

This is how we are approaching a Curriculum for Excellence. What do you think?

Other changes - Multi-age classes

As part of the changes in the Age and Stage restrictions we have also decided to review how the classes are made up.

Traditionally subjects have been taught as a single age group but multi level in courses. Here, because the school roll being 250 (Yes, that's all the age groups form S1 - S6) we were either getting very small classes at a single level or a very wide, multilevel range.

We started to think about this and came to the conclusion that we could teach classes at a particular level and leave the age open.

Therefore when we removed the age and stage restriction we opened up classes to any age. This means that in the 1st layer classes have mainly S3 and also some 5th and 6th years.

Next year, now that the S3's have completed the first 5 courses, S3 and S4's will be selecting the same level of courses. By the end of S4 they will have completed 10 subjects before moving onto either Higher courses or more courses at the appropriate level, or a mixture of both.

This has created more space in the timetable.

The social side of mixing age groups would be a major issue in a larger schools but in a small school this almost disappears as the pupils mix naturally.

This is very much a quick summary. Please feel free ask questions

Friday 25 May 2007


I thought this was an interesting follow up to the Panorama programme

Thursday 24 May 2007

Islay Beach rugby

As some of you may know I am a keen sportsman. I manage to keep it well hidden under the strategically developed layers of fat middle age spread. I am still a playing member of Islay Rugby Club at 41.

On the 9th of June we hold our 4th Annual Beach Rugby Tournament.

This has grown over the last 4 years but has kept its character of true corinthian sporting values. So thats 3 very bad hangovers and even severe sunstroke.

This year we have 17 male teams and 4 female teams confirmed. With the defending champions, Melrose bring a particularly large support with them.

So if anyone fancies a quiet, cultural weekend of Birdwatching (Having been Inspired by BBC Spring Watch) then the weekend of the 9th June may not be the best time to visit.

PS that is me definately not handling the ball on the ground in the pic above.

The other changes - Removal of the Age and Stage Restrictions

I have realised that because I am so involved with and focused on the ICT part of the School of Ambition project that I haven't really gone into much detail on the other parts.

Over the next few entries I am going to give some more background on what the other changes are.

As you can see from the Column on the right we have several parts to our school of Ambition changes.

The one which is in the forefront of collective mind of the school at the moment is The removal of the age and Stage restrictions.

In Scotland's Education system we are coming to the final stage of our Exam diet but here this year, in IHS, it has been even more interesting and tense than usual. This is because we have had S3 as well as S4, 5 and 6 sitting their exams.

The S3 have been doing studying 5, 1 year courses 5 periods a week instead of the more usual 8, 2 year courses at 3 periods a week.

The Anecdotal outcomes have been positive. Some of the staffroom comments are:

- the S3 have learned in a deeper way because they spend 'more' time per week in a class and a small number subjects to concentrate on.

- S3 are taking the exam process much more seriously

- S4 seem to have forgotten all they were taught in S3

Of course the analysis of the results will be the true test.

Next year the present S3's will make another course choice at the same level. This means that by the end of S4 they will have sat 10 courses before making their move onto S5 and Highers or more width to their curriculum at a level which is approriate to them.

Tuesday 22 May 2007

Current tv TV 2.0

Over the last few months I have been dipping into Current TV on Sky. It shows a large range of interesting documentaries, Art work, Music videos and I decided to investigate further.

Current Tv Web Site

Over the last couple of weeks I have been exploring the site.

I have come to the conclusion that this is brilliant! It has several sections but the 2 I dip into most are

Watch and Vote

Here you can look at the viewer produced films and decide if its ready for TV. Whole discussions on what needs to be done or if the viewpoint is slanted in anyway. Getting the viewers to actually make some editorial guidance on the channel. You can make your own show and upload it for others to see. So how is this different from YouTube? Because the whole process is not overloaded by teenage boys lighting their own farts. At least not yet.

Make Video & Ads

Here you have help and advice to get you started and help you with the process.

Yes its full of film students trying to show how smart they are but you get some very thought provoking films. One of my favorites so is this.

What do you think?

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Monday 21 May 2007

Well? Did you watch it?

Panorama I mean.

What are your thoughts?

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Dell goes all Tablet

Thanks to the Guardian I see that Dell are releasing a Tablet PC. Its aimed at specialist markets ie Education, healthcare etc.

I am hoping that they will cause the Tablet PC market to shift its price point. Making the Tablet PC the challenge to traditional laptops they always have been.

Now when do they plan to produce a UMPC?

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Teachmeet07 and tough choices

Teachmeet is a gathering of like minded teacher (et al) who are interested in using technology to develop a lot of aspects of the learning and teaching process.

I missed the first one as I was speaking the next day in Glasgow and I didn't want to be too late. I made the next one at SETT 06 but we ran out of time for me to speak. Though I was happy to sit back and drink the wine.

So I was all set for next week. The school had said I could go to eLive and my authority said they would pay for the travel costs. Put my name on the Teachmeet Wiki (before I had booked for eLive actually) and then Wilfred, the french assistant, said he was having his going away party on the 23rd!!!!

Wilfred has been a star all year. Getting involved with the life of the school.

This was the tough choice going to teachmeet07 or saying goodbye to a friend. OK so it wasn't that tough a choice after all.

I have offered to make a contribution via the internet. If I get enough notice then by Marratech but I am sure that all those who are at the event will have a fantastic time.