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National Literacy Conference 2009

March 15, 2009

I was honoured to be asked to deliver a workshop session on wikis at the National Literacy Conference in Glasgow. Even better, I was able to catch up on all that is happening on the Literacy front in Scotland.

HMIe Wordle!

HMIe Wordle!

The conference opened with a talk by Mary Ritchie and Janie McManus of HMIe on Developing Capacity in Literacy. This is the second time that I have had the pleasure of hearing Mary Ritchie speak, and as before, I am struck by the very human face she gives to the Inspectorate. She cares passionately about seeing achievement rise in our pupils, but this is tempered by a healthy appreciation for the realities of teaching today. Both she and Janie gave us plenty of questions to think about with regards to classroom practice, and it was interesting to see that they used a Wordle to analyse some of the documents. I can’t stress enough just how important a tool like Wordle is for English teachers — and everyone else for that matter!

They were followed by Professor David Booth who delivered the Conference Keynote, and what a thought-provoking presentation it was too. If you don’t know David Booth, you should. His presentation is by turns entertaining, thought-provoking and inspiring. I’m not even going to try and sum up what he said because Bill Boyd, the Literacy Advisor, has already given a much fuller account of Booth’s points than I managed with my notes… mainly because as well as listening to him talk, I was also following the Keynote on GlowMeet and Twitter. I loved the GlowMeet feed… I just wonder if we’ll be seeing the facility used extensively at the 2009 Scottish Learning Festival — Ministerial address anyone?

Click to see on notes on flickr

Click to see on notes on flickr

One thing that did strike me as I was listening was the thought that the ability to connect and discuss in ‘real time’ as I was doing on GlowMeet and Twitter makes the whole experience richer… but perhaps a little too distracting! Having said that, I was also very aware that I was moving straight from the keynote to deliver my own workshops and I was still adapting some of my slides… I’ll say more on this in my next post!

The afternoon session saw me having the very real pleasure of listening to David Miller of St Ninian’s High School in East Dunbarton deliver a workshop on a cross-curricular project he has been running. This is the second time I’ve seen David talk about what he does in the classroom, and as before, I left with a host of ideas to try in my own room. He is a warm and friendly presenter who, despite having seen his DVD and notes disappear towards Edinburgh, carried on and still managed to show us a replacement DVD by the end of the session! It’s easy to see why he was named Teacher of the Year. The good news for anyone with access to Glow is that he will be presenting a Masterclass on GlowMeet on 19th March at 5pm. I think this is a fantastic innovation, and a sign of where Glow could be taking us in the future: online, interactive CPD for everyone!

So, that was my first visit to the National Literacy Conference. Highly worthwhile and rewarding on many levels. I made some great contacts, and have been asked lots of questions about using wikis… but I’ll save that for my next post!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gordon Brown permalink
    March 15, 2009 6:06 pm

    Hi Niall,
    Just a quick note to reiterate how interesting I found your presentation (and this blog)!


  2. March 16, 2009 2:43 pm

    Is that last comment from a Gordon Brown or the Gordon Brown? …

    Thought I’d let you know that one of our students emailed me to say that your session at this conference was very much appreciated. I’ve suggested that they drop by and leave a comment themselves but thought I’d comment anyway in case they get lost in cyberspace. 🙂

    Your comment about live Twittering is interesting. Increasingly I have been live blogging or wikifying (is that a word?) events I attend. I suspect I miss some things but who manages to give full and complete attention even when they are not trying to type it up as they go along. On balance I have found it more of a help than a hinderance. Apart from anything else, the availability and findability (again, is that a word?) of my notes when typed in real time and saved online makes them far more valuable to me than the bits of paper I lose or my increasingly dodgy memory.

    I found the post on How to Present While People are Twittering very helpful not just as a presenter but also in giving ideas about how I can be a more productive audience member.

  3. Gordon Brown permalink
    March 17, 2009 9:47 pm

    Is that last comment from a Gordon Brown or the Gordon Brown? …

    Yes, absolutely!

  4. Judith Schafer permalink
    March 19, 2009 6:41 pm

    So this is what a blog looks like…never posted anything other than in a mail box before… just to say I found your presentation at the literacy conference fascinating and inspiring – but I fear I lack the computer know-how to get going. I came home all fired up to set up a wikispace and ranted at my student-teacher-husband (maths) about how good this could be (I think he may be the student mentioned above). Once my S4 portfolios are out of the way I intend to have a go. Can I come back to you for help when I (inevitably) get stuck?

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