Monthly Archives: October 2014

An Exchange is as good as a rest!⤴

from @ Learning is the Work




Have you ever wondered what it would be like to teach in a different school environment, or even gain a taster of working at a promoted level?  If so, then the new Teacher Exchange Programme might be the initiative you have been waiting for.  The Scheme has been agreed by LNCT and is open for teachers in West Dunbartonshire Council  and is open now for applications of interest.

The main aim of the scheme is to support professional development,  giving you the safety net of a structured development opportunity for a set time before returning to your substantive post with, hopefully, enhanced skills and knowledge to add to your CV. Exchanges may be agreed where there are suitable exchange partners and a clear development opportunity can be seen.  They can last as long as 1 term to 1 full academic session, depending on the circumstances of the exchange.

Further information on this exciting new professional learning initiative can be found on the following link – LNCT AGreement No 13 Teacher Exchange Programme -  This guidance document also provides you with information on how to submit an application to participate in the exchange scheme, and  we look forward to receiving some interest in this scheme.  If you want an informal chat about the exchange programme please contact either myself, or Matthew Boyle on 01389 737371 (Linda McAlister) or 01389 737310 (Matthew Boyle).


Flattening Adobe forms made in FormsCentral⤴

from @ ICT & Education

I quite like FormsCentral. It’s a very easy way for me to keep track of the data I collect from the interactive PDF forms I’ve created. The problem arises if you want to send someone a flattened copy of the document without the submit button. Yes, you can go into FormsCentral and get it to create the document but this can (sometimes) cause fonts and font sizes to go … squiffy, shall we say.

So here’s an alternative using Adobe Acrobat XI. You can’t do this from Acrobat Reader. Sorry.

  1. Create an optimised copy of the document.
    File -> Save As Other…
    Choose Optimised PDF…
  2. A message pops up saying
    This document restricts some Acrobat features to allow for extended features in Adobe Reader. To create a copy of the document that is not restricted (and has no extended features in Adobe Reader), click Save a Copy”
  3. Click Save a Copy
    Save the file somewhere you can find it!
  4. Open the newly-created copy
  5. Repeat step 1
    This time, you won’t get the message and you’ll go to a menu.

    1. Make sure Fonts and Transparency are unchecked.
    2. For Discard Objects, make sure only Flatten form fields is checked
    3. For Discard User Data, make sure Discard hidden layer content and flatten visible layers is checked
  6. Save the file
    You can save over the current file.

Your created file will retain the fonts and font sizes, will not have a submit button and will be flattened.

Halloween Fun!⤴


The Afternoon Group had a Halloween Party today.  We had broomsticks (breadsticks) and magic wands (carrot sticks) for snack.  We came to nursery dressed up, danced to spooky music, went guising round the whole school, sang our pumpkin song to all the classes, and dooked for apples! Here is some video of us singing the ‘Hairy […]

Normandy Landing⤴

from @ blethers

From heroic effort to the pathos
of the broken dead, a child’s toy
abandoned in the road, is only
a single step into randomness.
Why this one, who leapt so fearless
in the surf, why was he
destroyed and swallowed in the 
red tide, he and not the next
who followed and prevailed?
These men at once machine and 
vulnerable flesh cut off
from life and love and being young
now lie in rows too numberless for thought -
no randomness allowed in this, the 
garden of the lost. No laughter now, 
no language to describe
the lives that made them friend or foe, 
but the differentiated dead
are still beneath the plaque or cross
of those who held and those who came
and we now walk these quiet parks
and think upon the unlived years.
I am the child you never had, 
my son, and weep a mother’s tears.

© C.M.M

I wrote this in the garden of the Chatêau de Molay after our visit to Omaha Beach. The hideous futility of training, travelling halfway across the world from some deep Western state of America to die the moment the landing craft dropped its ramp - all that made a deep impression, as did the serried ranks of graves on the cliffs above the shore.

Struggling to read a web page? Try Ivona mini reader⤴



Many students have difficulty reading text. If they are using a computer they can have support to do this using Ivona MiniReader.

Ivona MiniReader is a free simple text reader which adds a floating toolbar on the screen and can read out text from almost any program – Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, web pages etc.. MiniReader can use the free Scottish voice Heather and Stuart and most other voices on your computer.

This should be in the Applications Folder on all school computers: PCs, Thin Clients, laptops and netbooks.  If it is not, please log a call with to request it. It can be installed remotely.

Remind students to bring in headphones!

Lets Make Things! – Using Technology to Innovate in STEM: Circuit Scribe (@Electroninks)⤴

from @

Exciting Learning - STEM

Just over a year ago a wrote a series of posts titled ‘Lets Make Things! - Using Technology to Innovate in STEM’. The series came out of the frustration that schools are increasingly unimaginative about thier core revenue spends when it comes to ICT and Technology in general. At the time I talked about Lego, 3D PrintingCubelets, MaKey MaKey, Games Design, Big Shot Camera, DIY Cell Phone, Raspberry Pi and lots of other things. I plan to add to this serise over time.

Recently, I came across Circuit Scribe from the NoTosh Learning Facebook Page. I was instantly taken by the idea and can see a real place for technology like this in the science and / or technology classroom. Circuit Scribe allows you to draw circuits (yes, draw circuits!). There is no shaking, no squeezing, no goop, no smell, no waiting for ink to dry. Circuit Scribe draws smooth lines with conductive silver ink and allows you to create functioning circuits instantly. 

You can Invent Circuits Instantly and Circuit Scribe is for Makers of all ages and skill sets.

STEM Education: Circuit Scribe was made for project based learning.  Young people and those young at heart can build circuits and switches in their notebooks and use those concepts to get creative!

Low-Cost High Quality Electronics: You can build a circuit with nothing but a coin battery, paper clip, and LED, or build out complex circuits with multiple components. 

Flexible Electronics: Draw your circuits, cut them out, and stuff them into your inventions - instant robot guts. 

Goodbye Breadboard: Breadboards add a level of abstraction and annoyance to circuit building.  With Circuit Scribe you can draw exactly what you want, no wires or breadboard required.

Open-Source Hardware: You can use Circuit Scribe with Arduino, Makey Makey, and many other electronic platforms.

Well, what do you think? Cool or what!


Why I Blog And Tweet⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

As I write this I am currently engaging in a Twitter chat with educators from all over the world. The theme of the current chat is about how important is research to teachers, and whether teachers need, or should, engage with research. The hash tag for this chat is #gtcsPL so feel free to join in as this will be happening over the rest of this week, till Friday. This chat is exploring a new 'slow' format and that is why we have been encouraging people to drop in and out of the conversation over the course of five days. Being involved, the chat has felt anything but 'slow' as there has been so much interest and engagement as people have shared their views and challenged each other on many of those views.

This is a perfect example of why I love Twitter. It provides me with opportunities to discuss and converse around issues to do with my day job, Headteacher, and education, both of which I remain passionate about. There was a time when our only opportunity to collaborate was within our own establishments and own areas, and that wasn't always easy. We might get the opportunity to go to the odd conference or course that would allow us engage with others from further afield. We could always read, and I have always done this, but we lacked opportunities to speak directly to the writers of those books, or the publishers of research. Not any more. Now, through the use of social media, such as Twitter, we are now able to engage directly with these same people and discuss their writing and research. We can now speak to teachers, leaders, academics and other educationalists at a national and international level, all from the comfort of our favourite chair or any other convenient space. I have even joined in discussions whilst sat in my car waiting for my wife to finish shopping. All of this engagement helps me to develop my own thinking and understanding and this has an impact on my practice, and enables me to better lead my schools so that we produce better outcomes for all our learners.

I meet lots of colleagues who ask me how I find the time to Tweet. My response is always the same. If you want to keep developing, if you want to keep improving, if you want to keep up to date and current, if you want to collaborate, if you want be involved in wider professional dialogue and if you want to extend your professional learning network, so that it has no bounds and if you want to do this at no cost except in the time spent, then how can you not find the time? Every engagement I have on Twitter is an opportunity to grow and learn, as well as helping others to do the same. And it's fun too! I have learnt so much from people I engage with on Twitter and they have helped me develop as a teacher, a leader and a learner. Being on Twitter has allowed me the opportunity to try out new thoughts and ideas, without having to wait to meet up physically with people, but as soon as I have had the germ of an idea. This allows me to test out my thinking and, most people, are helpful and want to support and encourage. One of the greatest joys is when you finally meet up with people you have been talking virtually to for a period of time. They always seem surprised by my accent, for some reason!

Some people Tweet direct from conferences or meetings and many of these now have hash tags as they seek people to tweet live as the conferences and meetings are happening in real time. This is a fantastic way to hear key messages being delivered at conferences and meetings that you haven't been able to access because of location or cost. I have tried this myself, but found it quite hard to listen to what is going on and tweet at the same time. I much prefer to take notes at such events then tweet about them, or blog, soon after. Either way, this helps me to engage with and remember the main messages I have heard and allows me an opportunity to find out what other people think about these. Like Michael Fullan and others, I really believe that collaboration is the key to school and system development. Twitter provides us with another means of collaborating with as wide a network as you wish. If you are not tweeting now, find time and give it a go. You could start with #gtcsPL

I also Blog. Of course you will know this if you are reading this. The reasons why I blog, and I make time to do so, are similar to my reasons for being on Twitter. I want to engage with others. I want to develop and clarify my thinking. I want to collaborate with others. I want to explore issues around teaching, education and leadership. Yes, I can and do take part in conversations around all of this within my schools, within my area and even at a national level. But the more people you engage with, and the wider that engagement, the more likely you are to be able to achieve the aims above. I don't want to be parochial in my outlook, I want to explore thinking, research, evidence and experiences from educators all over the world. Blogging, as well as Tweeeting, allows me to do this. I have always written in order to help develop my own thinking. Blogging is an extension of this. I also like to think I am contributing to the debate on leadership and education and I am, hopefully, helping and supporting others on their own personal journey of professional development and growth. I want to contribute at a local level, at a national level and now at an international level. Readers of this blog are located all over the world and I am honoured that I have regular readers in lots of countries and am hopefully helping them, even if it just to think, 'I don't agree with that' or 'that's not what I would do.'

If I am asked again why I Tweet? Or why I Blog? My answer is going to be "I can't afford not to' I owe to my pupils, my colleagues, my employers and to all the wonderful people I have met and worked with to share our experiences and our learning so that I keep growing and developing and help other to do the same.

Google Drive for Education: Unlimited Storage Arriving⤴


In case you haven’t heard: In the coming months, Google Drive for Education will be upgraded to provide unlimited storage: Store as many Google Drive files, Gmail messages, and Google+ photos as you need. Individual file sizes up to 5TB will be supported. Source:  

Early Learning & Getting Ready for School – early years’ practitioners’ event⤴


Early Learning & Getting Ready for School – early years’ practitioners’ event – last chance to book your place! Friday 7 November 2014 1pm – 3.30pm Fisherrow Community Centre This event is part of a festival of learning and sharing about how we achieve the best possible start for all children. The Early Development Instrument […]