Tim Rylands – an inspiration

It was with great sadness that we learnt that Tim Rylands passed away last Monday. Tim was an amazing inspiration to many educationalists and children, he was full of creative ideas and resources involving computing that made learning fun and effective. His presentations at events and his sessions in the classroom were not to be missed, his blog was full of fantastic resources. As I travel around schools I am always coming across teachers who have been inspired by him and have benefited from his sharing of wisdom and knowledge.

Below is an example of Tim in action at TEDxThessaloniki.

Imagination and knowledge

I was at an ICT conference yesterday and during a talk on the proposed new curriculum for computing I was reminded of something Einstein said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

iPad Apps – Epic Citadel

epic-citadel1Many of you may already be aware of Tim Rylands, “an extremely gifted and inspirational teacher, with a love of the creative potential of technology and an excellent rapport with his pupils”. Tim really inspires pupils to be creative through the use of technology and you can see an example of one of his presentations on his website.

Tim is a great fan of using virtual worlds to inspire creative story telling and one of these worlds is Epic Citadel. This is available free on the iPad and you can see Tim’s use of it about 5 minutes into the Learning Without Frontiers presentation. The tools that the children used to make their presentations are also relatively cheap and really inspire children to learn.

If you are interested in using this sort of technology in the classroom but you are not quite sure where to start then why not contact me?

Fifty things to do before you’re 11 3/4

50thingsOne of my first blog posts on this site was about how little contact children have with nature these days and the impact it can have on their health and wellbeing. Last night the Country File TV program on BBC referred to the National Trust’s campaign to encourage children to get out of doors, they have published a list of “Fifty things to do before you’re 11¾”, a quick Google this morning brought up the list on the CBBC Newsround site along with a video report and the site that the National Trust have set up for their campaign.

The list is quite exciting and the activities would lend themselves to all sorts of classroom activities as well including literacy and numeracy. I’m sure that with a little imagination teachers would be able to tick off some of their required boxes whilst the children are happily ticking off some of their 50 boxes!

Of course, one of the big questions is, which ones have you been able to tick off, either before you were 11¾ or since then?

Me, I’ve got a couple to do still – where’s my GPS?

Well Done! Blogging about your successes

David Mitchell, deputy head at Heathfield CPS in Bolton, found that of the children being sent to him, for every child sent for a positive reason there were 10 for negative reasons. In an attempt to change this he set up a “Well done – Show Mr Mitchell” blog. Pupils were told that the next time they were sent to him he wanted it to be for a good reason so that he could put them on the “Well Done” blog. The result? The “well done blog” has changed this around to one negative for every 10 positive!


I’m a great fan of David Mitchell, also know as DeputyMitchell due to his Twitter tag. If you get the chance to hear him promote his kids at a conference or TeachMeet I think you will be inspired.

Half-farmer, half-x 半农半X

For those who are interested I thought I might expand a little on this concept. I first came across it in the Resurgence magazine in a Letter from Japan. The author was reporting on a change in attitude by a number of young Japanese who were moving away from consumerismimage.

Now I am not so young now (middle aged I suppose but it is only my knees and my children that tell me this) and I am not Japanese but the whole concept of half-farmer, half-x appealed to me. I suppose part of me has always wanted to live a sort of “Good Life” and the children have sometimes referred to my wife and I as Barbara and Tom! But either it has seemed impractical or I haven’t been brave enough to make such a huge change. The change in my employment situation has given us the opportunity to re-think how we are living and a lot of the reading I am doing at present challenges me to make a change.

So what is “half-farmer, half-x”?

It is a concept, or perhaps I should say lifestyle, that came from Naoki Shiomi in Japan about 1995. There is a good article by him on the “Japan for Sustainability” website. The main idea is that you spend some of your time growing some or all of your own food and some of your time working at something that you are passionate about to earn some money for your other needs. It doesn’t have to be half and half, and it’s unlikely to lead to self-sufficiency in food unless you are very fortunate but it does lead to a different style of life. In the short time that we have been trying to live this lifestyle I have found that I am more relaxed, less stressed, that I read more, I have more creative thoughts, I feel more in touch with nature around me and, hopefully, I am a nicer person to be with!

It has been suggested that people joining in the movement should be referred to as TransFarmers ….. transforming themselves, the earth and the world. This could be an interesting way to introduce it to pupils in schools!

Since this is supposed to be my work related blog, if you want to read more of my thoughts on life, the universe and everything then drop in on my other blog. If you want to chat about this concept, or about anything related to it, do please contact me.

bMobLe–Keynote 1–Andy Hutt


Andy is an ex-teacher (not that he has ever stopped teaching) and works directly with schools and educational providers to support a more creative, efficient and effective use of ICT.  He spoke on Creating Creativity and gave us “Reasons to be Cheerful”. He asked “Is Creativity a good thing?” and “Are you a Creator or a Consumer?” He even suggested that whenever we talk about creativity in the classroom Sir Ken Robinson is an elephant in the room – or more likely, a sumo in the room!

Here is the video for his presentation, you may want to move about 20 minutes into the video in order to skip the introduction


Watch live streaming video from bmoble at livestream.com


Web link to video – http://livestre.am/P6X7

Andy has a blog at http://eduhutt.wordpress.com/ and a website at http://www.learningpotential.co.uk

bMobLe 2011

Yesterday was the third bMobLe conference in Bradford. bMobLe stands for Bradford Mobile Learning and focuses on “the effective use of new and existing mobile technologies to engage learners, accelerate achievement and stimulate creativity.” This theme this year was “Creating Creativity” and although at one or two times speakers seemed to be focussing on creativity for creativity’s sake most of what was talked about would engage most learners and accelerate achievement.


The bMobLe conference is well worth going to, not just for the inspirational real life examples of how to use mobile technology in the classroom but also for the networking with other educationalists, the chance to chat with pupils who are using this technology, the exhibition and workshops. I know that there are a lot of other events happening at this time of year but if you are interested in the use of mobile technology in education, make sure you book a place for next year! In the next few blogs I’ll write about some of the things that impressed me.

bMobLe is at www.bmoble.co.uk

TeachMeet Leeds 2011

TeachMeet Leeds 2011

Jon Farley and I are organising a TeachMeet in Leeds on May 12th at 6pm at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in the Congreve Room. A TeachMeet gives teachers the opportunity to share the inspirational ideas that they have tried out in the classroom and found to have helped their children learn. They are usually fun events as well as educational and we are planning to have a raffle, quiz questions with prizes as well as the presentations by teachers. Jon and I had a good planning meeting last night (down at pub!) and we are very excited about the event. We have some good sponsors who are paying for the venue, catering or prizes or supplying equipment for the evening.All we need now is teachers with their inspirational ideas. So, if you have something that has worked well for you in the classroom involving ICT in some way then why not put together a two or seven minute presentation? You can use whatever presentation format you want including PowerPoint, keynoteprezislide rocket,280 slides, you could just talk, show something from the web, hold up a poster or you could sing a song (well we are in the Playhouse!) or do something different? Classroom practice, cpd, course planning… pretty much anything you think can help others. The important thing is that you get your message across.

If you want to know more or to book to come then go to the TeachMeet Leeds 2011 pages or contact me.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow – New Year thoughts

Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision.

But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day.

(A quotation that is quoted in “Dangerous Love” by Ben Okri)