An Inaugural Teach Meet

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As Kev Schofield said in his talk tonight at the very first Isle of Man Teach Meet, they don’t like change much on the Isle of Man but just like the tide change has to come in and so it did.

The 6th of February saw a new sort of CPD hit the island – Teach Meet.   Our Teach Meet took place along with many others across the UK as part of #TMUK and, even if I do say so myself it was very much a success; attended by a mix of primary, secondary, FE and outdoor ed staff it was a great evening.

Laura Williams from Castle Rushen HIgh School had nominated herself to present first.  She talked about developing skills at Y7 and 8 in her school. In CRHS they had concentrated on developing the 6 R’s  (readiness, reflectiveness, resourcefulness, remembering, resilience, relationships) which underpin the educational philosophy on the island.  The students had engaged in community projects and had also produced work about their link school in Malawi.  The project is continuing next term as the pupils complete a project on their own town of Castletown.


A quick spin of the wheel of doom, as it affectionately became know (thank you and David Mitchell also from CRHS was up next with his talk on how he is using google docs and google drive to great effect with his KS4 and 5 students.  All students upload their work to their own files and David encourages students to comment on each others work using the comment facility, this clearly allows for peer assessment but it also places the ball firmly back in the students’ court in terms of responding to and giving feedback.  For me, the most fascinating aspect of David’s talk was his use of google docs as a mark book.  I have gone paperless this year and absolutely love it, but David has taken this one step further.  He shares his mark book with his students via Google Docs, this was a lightbulb moment for me and one which I will definitely be stealing. Moreover when David marks coursework each mark in his mark book brings up the marking commentary from the exam board specification so that students can see exactly why they gained their marks – a fabulous idea!


Up next was Jonathan Brookes again from CRHS he spoke to us all about how he was getting students to engage with learning through the use of  the socrative app.  He talked the assembled  crowed through how to set up a quiz explaining how simple it was to do.  Furthermore, Socrative clearly shows teachers how much students understand at a point in a lesson – great AFL  His students clearly love using this as was demonstrated here.

Our co-host was up next Helen Almond – she spoke about closing the gap and how do we taken into account any socio economic, ethnic, gender differences that there may be amongst our students.  She posed questions asking how do we level the playing field in order that all of our students may achieve their goals?  How do we release the inner superhero in all of them?  A thought provoking talk with many more questions than answers.

Next it was ME!  I spoke about the use of Twitter as a tool in teaching.  There are very few manx teachers on twitter and I wanted to encourage more of them to join the global classroom.   I asked twitter what impact had it had on their teaching and showed some of the answers.  I also asked twitter to tweet me with the #helloiom to show how far a tweet can go and also to show how many teachers form across the world you can connect with, this work a treat as I had replies from Canada, London and Australia – thank you twitter you were very persuasive.  You can see my presentation here.

Time for some cake and a chat.  Our local supermarket, Shoprite had very generously supported our Teach Meet and had provided us with refreshments so there was cake a plenty.  As with all Teach Meets the coffee break is one of the most important and best bits of the evening, a chance to catch up with some old faces and to meet some new ones.  On the island it is very rare for secondary, primary and FE staff to all be in the same room so it was great opportunity to network.

Full of tea and cake and were off again.  Paul Melling from the Outdoor Education Service talked to us about the importance of the outdoors in education, it’s our natural learning habitat and we should be very aware of this when dealing with our students, we don’t want them to be scared of the outdoors, especially as we are blessed with such beautiful countryside on our door steps we don’t want our children to end up like this.

Tony Fallon then talked about crossing the bridge and his experience of changing schools and roles after many years and how it had opened his eyes to new ideas and methods of dealing with things.  It’s easy to become blinkered in education and I guess that’s why Teach Meets and connecting through social media like twitter become so important.  There is no bridge between Peel and Castletown but Tony certainly felt he had crossed the metaphorical one and it had clearly been a positive experience.

Karen Riley from Michael School was our only speaker from the Primary sector but what she had to say really hit home with many of us Karen spoke to us about a project that she runs mainly with Y6 but involving the whole school and the wider community at christmas time called the Nativitea cafe.  Karen and her class plan, stock and staff a working cafe for a week in December.  The learning outcomes were clear, students work with percentages, fractions, they take real orders from real customers and have to deal with real money.  Her project clearly brings the community into school and the pupils obviously love it because they are organising their next cafe experience which will take place during TT practice week it will of course be the Tea Tea Cafe!

Our last talk of the night was from Kev Schofield from St Ninan’s High School.  He showed us how he was using Explain Everything to Flip his A level classroom.  The students are apparently currently unsure about this phenomena giving rise to the quote of the night.

“They don’t like change much here do they?”

Suffice it to say that Kev has recently moved to the island from Liverpool!

He uploads his presentations to Youtube or Google docs and the students access them through there.  This gives Kev and his classes much more class time to go through problems and issue that may have arisen as a result of the students watching his videos explaining mathematical concepts and thus time in the classroom is used more effectively.

And that was that.  Our first Teach Meet was over, Twickl cups were given to our speakers.  Prizes were drawn – Tony Fallon won the books – thank you Crown house Publishing!  Goodbyes and thank yous were said along with tentative organisation for the next Teach Meet.  I think we can chalk that up to a success.

Thank you all for supporting our endeavour.

Thanks to Andy Fox and the staff of SNHS for accommodating us for the evening and for providing the tea and coffee.

Big thanks goes to my co-organiser the simply wonderful Helen Almond it has been great working with you!


Ililc3 Show & Tell – Sentence Poker

The Ililc3 show and tell was a teachmeet like no other!  Firstly you could get an beer!  Secondly the items shown and told we’re wide and varied.  Jenga, blankety blank, an apps game and singing!

I did a game that I play with my students called sentence poker, you could equally call it chance or tricked you. The way you play the game is as follows.

1. Write a sentence in target language or English (depending on which way round you are playing the game)
2. Ask students to put their hands up if they can translate the sentence.
3.Choose a student to answer. If they translate the sentence correctly everyone who had their hands up gets a point
4. If the student answers it incorrectly then everyone one with their hands up loses a point.
5. Thus, they can put their hand up even if they don’t know the answer hoping and praying that they won’t be picked because they could win a point. Hence the “poker” element!
6. The scoring can be quite tricky because students do really enjoy this game and really get into it. My students sit in groups of 4 at tables and I give them a mini whiteboard per group. Before the game begins the students write a list of their names on the mini whiteboard and take it in turns to be scorer. When you are scorer you cannot play the game. In a 4 round game each person on the table will miss a round as they will act as scorer.

Hope this all makes sense – let me know if you try it and how it goes! Any problems send me a tweet and I’ll do my best to help out 🙂