A Night on Bare Mountain

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on October 2, 2014

With the BBC’s Ten Pieces project about to kick off on Monday I’ve been motivated to come back to a piece I first shared with kids in my first teaching post in Glasgow in 1978. Mussorgsky’s ‘Night on Bare Mountain’ is deservedly part of the ‘Ten Pieces’ that kids will enjoy. Locally, we’ve got hundreds of kids from around 10 schools attending the Odeon in Dumfries for the BBC ‘Ten Pieces’ film. I hope Mussorgsky will forgive me for this digital arrangement of his music, I’ve certainly had fun putting it together!

 

Mood Indigo

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, New Music, New Music Compositions | Posted on September 28, 2014

Collaboration on a piece of work is for me, always going to result in something much better than if the work is done in splendid isolation. That’s the case for almost any task.

I composed a piece of music initially with the title ‘Scotland Decides’. I’ve shared this music with a few folks and been encouraged by the response. John Maxwell Geddes and Eddie McGuire, both Scottish composers of great note (unintended pun, sorry!) have given me very positive feedback. Legendary record producer of ‘Tubular Bells’ Tom Newman has given me very specific suggested changes which I’ve already taken on board. And Emerson Lake & Palmer sleeve artist and designer William Neal has asked if this piece be linked directly with an art work he’s been working on entitled ‘Mood Indigo’. I’m so delighted these folks have given me such generous, helpful feedback which can only enhance my work. Thanks guys, here’s the piece now called ‘Mood Indigo’.

USA/Scotland exchange visit April 2014

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, International Education, Leadership for Learning | Posted on April 15, 2014

Last week students in Northern Valley Schools, New Jersey welcomed 24 students and 4 staff from Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. Families of students in Demarest and Old Tappan schools kindly hosted young people from Castle Douglas and Dalbeattie for the week of 5-12 April. This was our reciprocal visit to the USA following the American students’ visit to Dumfries & Galloway in April 2013.

SATURDAY

We had a good flight on United Airlines from Glasgow to Newark Liberty International Airport on Saturday 5th April. It was a very pleasant surprise to be met by Northern Valley friends greeting us warmly at the airport. From there we headed for Demarest High School to meet all host families. In the evening we went to the Ice Skating Rink at the Palisades Centre.

SUNDAY

Sunday was a day for host families to spend some quality time with the new arrivals. Our students were involved in a wide range of activities with their hosts. The weather was superb today and I was delighted to take part in a game of golf at River Vale Country Club.

A beautiful day for a game of golf!

A beautiful day for a game of golf!

Later that afternoon our chaperone group enjoy a traditional thanksgiving-style meal at Steve and Elaine O’Neill’s house.

Fiona and Chris enjoying the sunshine!

Fiona and Chris enjoying the sunshine!

Elaine & Steve hosted us for a delicious thanksgiving style meal.

Elaine & Steve hosted us for a delicious thanksgiving style meal.

Kay, Evan and April on Sunday afternoon.

Kay, Evan and April on Sunday afternoon.

 

Claudia, Susan and Nancy

Claudia, Susan and Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY

Today we all meet up at Demarest at 7.45am and take a private coach to New York City. Highlight of the day is a boat trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island. In the afternoon we visit the Reflecting Pools commemorating those lost in the World Trade Center tragedy.

Standing at 1776 feet, the Freedom Tower

Standing at 1776 feet, the Freedom Tower

Fiona on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty

Fiona on Liberty Island at the Statue of Liberty

 

Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center site

Reflecting Pool at the World Trade Center site

TUESDAY

Today we have a very full and exciting day, starting in Central Park at the ‘Imagine’ commemoration for John Lennon.

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York remembering John Lennon

Strawberry Fields in Central Park, New York remembering John Lennon

We then head for the Museum of Natural History and then an opportunity for shopping at Times Square.

At the Museum of Natural History

At the Museum of Natural History

Our dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner features our waiters and waitresses also starring as Broadway singers in their own right!

Waiters and waitresses take their chance to sing on Broadway!

Waiters and waitresses take their chance to sing on Broadway!

After our meal we head to the Broadway show, ”Wicked”, which is for many of our group a highlight of the week. A truly excellent show.

Everyone enjoyed the show!

Everyone enjoyed the show!

 

 

IMG_9437Wednesday

Today, we all go to school, either at Old Tappan or Demarest. It’s very interesting to visit a range of classes in a New Jersey school. The schools are very well equipped with technology and other resources. In the evening, all the chaperones enjoyed a lovely meal at Claudia and Evan Cooper’s house. Claudia’s cooking is wonderful. I even took a picture of breakfast!

Strawberrys, pancakes and bacon….mmm….

Strawberrys, pancakes and bacon….mmm….

Thursday

Today our group takes on the challenge of the Project Adventure ropes course. Everyone has their own challenges and successes on this, with beautiful weather today helping all to enjoy the outdoor activities. In the evening we have a formal reception at Old Tappan with a few speeches and exchanges of gifts.

All smiles at the evening reception

All smiles at the evening reception

 

 

Dr Chris Nagy, totally committed to the success of the exchange visit

Superintendent Dr Chris Nagy, a great advocate for the Northern Valley / Dumfries & Galloway partnership

 

Cool dudes

Some cool dudes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Northern Valley hosts

Our Northern Valley hosts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday

Another very full day starting at the Empire State Building with wonderful 360 views of New York and New Jersey from the top.

From the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty

From the top of the Empire State Building looking towards the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty.

 

We then go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This massive museum houses a huge range of amazing artefacts.

George Washington crossing the Delaware in December 1776

Famous painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware in December 1776 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening we all board ‘The Spirit of New Jersey’ for an evening cruise and dinner. We enjoyed fantastic views of New York from the boat and also of the illuminated Statue of Liberty.

Everyone looking forward to the evening cruise and dinner

Everyone looking forward to the evening cruise and dinner

 

 

 

Chaperone team USA/Scotland prepare to board 'The Spirit of New Jersey'

Chaperone team USA/Scotland prepare to board ‘The Spirit of New Jersey’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This has been a week we’ll never forget! Many thanks to all our friends and families in Northern Valley, New Jersey.

Great views of New York City by night from the boat

Great views of New York City by night from the boat

Professor Stephen Heppell

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, ICT, Leadership for Learning, Learning & Teaching | Posted on February 5, 2014

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Great to spend time with Stephen Heppell last week as he shared his ideas and stimulated thinking with us in Dumfries & Galloway for a couple of days regarding Dumfries Learning Town plans and the exciting new build school in Dalbeattie. Had a good chat with him as we drove (roofless, open top in January!) back up to Glasgow Airport. And just yesterday, Stephen was chairing the first meeting of an Educational Technology Action Group (Etag) as the UK Government in London (with Michael Gove) look to develop a strategy for ICT in learning for schools, Further Education and universities. No challenge too large!!

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Digital Commonwealth Launch @ Platform, Easterhouse, Glasgow

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence, ICT, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on October 27, 2013

On Friday I attended the very successful Digital Commonwealth Launch at Platform in Easterhouse, Glasgow.  The project is funded by the Big Lottery, the Media Trust and the University of the West of Scotland.

In the schools strand of the project, the aim is to involve young people in each of Scotland’s local authority areas in digital reporting of Commonwealth themes (place, people, culture, exchange) in leading up to the Queen’s Baton Relay in June 2014. Learners from 32 school clusters from targeted areas of the most socio-economic need will be offered an opportunity to participate.

IMG_0789The schools programme will promote digital literacy skills through a series of in-school training workshops, using readily available technology to help pupils tell their own stories through blogs, video, audio and social media. Participating schools will receive learning materials which can help support existing and/or new school projects.  These materials will support topics such as e-safety, copyright, active citizenship and media ethics to assist pupils in developing skills and knowledge to produce creative, appropriate and engaging content.

 

Digital Commonwealth launch

How to Change the World (on one A4 page)

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Curriculum for Excellence | Posted on August 14, 2013

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Reflections on the use of Video Conferencing and mini iPads

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Learning & Teaching, New Learning, Science, video conferencing | Posted on July 13, 2013

New Learning

Some reflections on video conferencing and the use of mobile devices (iPads) for learners. Below, Dr Heather Reid leading a training session for teachers in preparation for science lessons direct to primary schools via video conference from the Glasgow Science Centre.

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The Boy and the Bunnet – creative work with iPads in Brydekirk Primary School

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, Learning & Teaching, New Learning | Posted on July 13, 2013

The Boy and the Bunnet

5 primary schools in Dumfries & Galloway have just received class sets of mini iPads. Within days of receiving the new kit, kids started to engage in the production of a range of creative work including this example based on ‘The Boy and the Bunnet’. In Brydekirk Primary, class teacher Mr Archibald had them working collaboratively in telling a story using Scots language, artwork and movie making. Other schools in D&G have also been producing excellent work with the newly acquired iPads.

Blended Learning – the new ”essential” element – some possible questions

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, ICT, Learning & Teaching | Posted on July 13, 2013

IMG_0731In a rural context, technology has given us an opportunity to think differently.  Agree / disagree?

You can do anything you like with technology. What would you like to do? What would learners like to do?

What were the things that we couldn’t do before, that we can do now?

Is there a ‘hearts and minds’ issue to be addressed?  How do we do that?  Does it matter?

Have values in learning changed?

Should we be risk takers, and very ambitious for learners?

Do we see technology as presenting challenges or opportunities (or both)?

Using technology, what approaches can we develop to improve the provision of high quality learning in our schools?

Are we able to learn from any local (or other) examples of good practice?

What are the barriers to learning through technology? Can we overcome them? Do we want to?

 

Heading for Australia

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Posted by upbeat | Posted in Collaboration, Creativity, ICT, International Education, Learning & Teaching | Posted on July 13, 2013

sydney-opera-house-482x298All seems a bit unreal, but my case is nearly packed and I think I’ve got all the paperwork I need (train/plane tickets, accommodation arrangements) to get me to Sydney and Melbourne this coming week. I’m heading for the Rural Education Conference at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne 18/19 July and really looking forward to taking part and meeting teachers from across Victoria. Hopefully I’ll be posting some interesting blog reports (if I have time!) over the next 3 weeks.

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