Posted by: Bill Lord | January 15, 2011

New Web Address

This blog has now moved to


Please join me there!!!

Posted by: Bill Lord | January 2, 2011


On Thursday 6th January I will be hosting the first #UKEDCHAT discussion of 2011. I asked Colin Hill (@Colport) if it would be acceptable to forego the traditional poll and set a question to be discussed.

Colin agreed and so we will be discussing the question  “In the current climate should schools be seeking to promote collaborative in-school CPD instead of external courses?”

This is not intended to be an attack on those companies who are lining up to provide a wider range of CPD for schools in the absence of organisations such as the National Strategies, QCDA and BECTA as well as the restriction in budgets for other organisations. It was selected as I am interested in how prepared colleagues are for the new world of education with what knowledge we have of how it will be.

I am not seeking to define which approaches to CPD schools should take or which forms of in school collaborative classroom-based CPD are the most effective however to aid discussion I have provided a series of links to information on different forms of CCCPD.

This is all in the context of the White Paper

Page 73
7.4. Our aim should be to create a school system which is more effectively self-improving. The introduction of new providers to the system, and the ability of parents, teachers and others to establish new schools is an important part of this, in bringing innovation and galvanising others to improve, especially in areas where parents are significantly dissatisfied. It is also important that we design the
system in a way which allows the most effective practice to spread more quickly and the best schools and leaders to take greater responsibility and extend their reach.

7.5 We will:
● Make clear that schools have responsibility for improvement. We will end the approach of trying to control improvement from the centre and make it easier for schools to learn from one another.
● Make sure that every school has access to the support it needs throughNational and Local Leaders of Education, Teaching Schools and leading teachers, or by working in partnership with a strong school.
● Encourage local authorities and schools to bring forward applications to the new Education Endowment Fund – funding for innovative projects to drive school improvement and to raise the attainment of deprived children in underperforming schools – and create a new collaboration incentive.
● Make sure that schools have access to evidence on best practice, high-quality materials and improvement services which they can choose to use.
● Support underperforming schools such as those below the new floor standards, and ensure that those which are seriously failing, or unable to improve their results, are transformed through conversion to Academy status.

Lesson Study

Teachers TV video extract on using lesson study to improve writing.

Improving practice and progression through Lesson Study (Document for Primary school leaders)

Coaching and mentoring

Teachers TVvideo extract on active observation as part of coaching and mentoring in a secondary setting

The difference between coaching and mentoring


The impact of collaborative CPD in the classroom (Research  commisioned by the GTC for England)

Posted by: Bill Lord | January 1, 2011


A Happy New Year to all of my regular visitors and any newcomers to my blog. It will be a year which, I suspect, will see a change in the style and tone of my postings.

So here we are into the second decade of the 21st century and a time of real change within English education and within my professional life which means that I do need to thnk very carefully about where I hope to be in a year’s time.

I approach the end of my contract at the end of March which means that I am potentially going to be redundant for the first time since coming out of university in the early 1990s. This could be lead to interesting times in the Summer as I am actively seeking a Headship and this is likely to lead to an appointment for September. I am determined to see this as nothing other than an opportunity and have registered myself for Supply cover, applied to support LA interim support in school and have started looking at how I can use some of my skills on a consultancy basis in this period in between employment.

In addition to all of this we find ourselves in the national position where the White Paper has been released but the true implications and depth of policy has not become apparent. This will become clearer over the year particularly in terms of the new Primary curriculum, the teaching of phonics, funding for schools in the light of the Pupil Premium, Academisation and the use of technology in Primary.

So it is in this context that I set my goals for 2011.

1) In 2010 I set about addressing years of being overweight and lost over just under four stone to get to 15 stone. This year I will maintain  my weight at 14 1/2 stones.  I am hoping that a return to school will aid this as I lost 6 pounds in the first week the last time I moved from advisory work to teaching!

2) Blogging – I am determined to become more consistent in my blogging on this site. I am slightly restricted in some of the things I post as, at present, I steer clear of discussing policy on this site and so it can sometimes become a bit of a collection of tips for teachers. That said, the blog posts on Space, the Second World War and booklists are highly popular. I hope to continue developing posts based around a theme and have decided to set up a posterous account for a 365 project based around a different book every day.

3)  Reading – over the last few years I have developed a wonderful addiction to reading quality children’s books and hope to continue this over the next 12 months particularly with some wonderful news books on the edge of release.

4) Use of Web 2.0 – I have gained so much from my personal use of Web 2.0 applications over the last year and in particular through my involvement with the @giraffeclass project and the use of Voicethread as part of national training back in January. I will seek to use Web 2.0 applications in my new school to benefit children’s learning. I will also seek to support my own children at home to use them to aid their work and homework.

5) Athletics – In 2010 I took the unusual step of joining my children’s athletics club and taking part in several matches in Veteran throwing events – I am going to try to become the longest throwing in my division of over 40s in hammer and shotput this year. Although this will be aided by the fact that the holder for the last ten years has moved up to the over 50s! I love taking part in veteran throwing events as I accepted already as part of the gang and they are very forgiving of my inadequacies. It is also important for me to continue to put myself in a position of learning and out of my comfort zone.

6) Networking – 2010 has been my second year of tweeting and through it I have met some wonderful people both virtually and in person. In August my wife and I managed to break both of our cars a week before going on holiday. Amazingly two people who I only knew through Twitter made the offer of loaning me their car to ensure that we were still able to go. As well as this I have met with people to plan work,  have attended Teachmeets, have spoken at events as a result of discussions on Twitter and have found inspiration from people doing amazing things. In 2011 I will seek to be as useful to others as my PLN has been to me.

7)  Still have the dog by my side – on top of family one of the constants has been my dog who will often sit on my lap during office time. He is a source of great joy and I just hope as he enters his 14th year that he continues to be at my side during my adventures.

It will be interesting to see what this year brings.


Posted by: Bill Lord | December 23, 2010

Book trust cuts

In the last twenty four hours the government has announced that they will no longer be funding the charity Booktrust for its bookgifting schemes which promote reading by providing free books to children in England.

The schemes which will lose funding are:

  • Bookstart, under which every baby in the UK receives a free pack of books – programmes in England will be affected
  • Booktime, which provides further packs for children as they start primary school
  • Booked Up, which enables all year 7 pupils in England to choose a free book.

You can read reports on the cuts from the BBC here and The Guardian here.

This appears to be a very cynical decision as there aren’t many babies, 3 and 7 year olds who will remember this when they are old enough to vote. It is one of those cuts which doesn’t get much publicity and which civil servants try to hide. I posted about it on a non educational forum I frequent and the reaction varied between anger through “It’s all Gordon Brown’s fault” to “It’s very sad but something has to be cut”. On a wider angle the reaction has included Former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen who said that he was “absolutely appalled and utterly enraged” by the news.

Alan Gibbons – a wonderful author and campaigner for library services wrote a fantastic blog post on this yesterday.  A quote which sticks with me is one he cites from Michael Rosen “Reading for pleasure can easily sound like some kind of wishy-washy, soft option, while instructional stuff like learning-to-read through ‘synthetic phonics’ and endless worksheets requiring children to answer questions about the facts in short passages, sound to some tough and purposeful. In actual fact, as the PIRLS research of 2006 has shown, children who read for pleasure achieve better school performance than those that don’t.”

I am urgently trying to find the UNESCO report which states that the one thing which unites all successful world leaders, businessmen is the fact that they were all voracious readers for pleasure. If I look at most of my friends they are people who read for interest and for pleasure and this gives us a different perspective on life. It simply appears to me that it is a selfish act for those who are able to read and to provide a literate environment for their own children to pull up the drawbridge to the magical kingdom of reading to those who are not from similar backgrounds.

It is our duty to hold a magnifying glass up to this decision which is to remove funding of £13 million at a time when other areas are being maintained and our country has agreed to bailout the Irish nation. The argument for this was that by supporting the Irish we would secure a better future for our citizens. Surely we are risking the future of our children if we do not invest their love of literature and this is exactly what the Book Trust funding for Book Giving ensures.

I work with schools where children do not see a book when they are at home and are not surrounded by the wonders of text. We could sit back and insist that it is the responsibility of the parents to provide this or we could fight these cuts and try to break the cycle in these families. On a financial basis surely it is better to support children to become readers from the youngest age than to have to invest in expensive intervention for children who are falling behind. Taking this one step further one only has to look at the correlation between low reading age and prison records – recently it was claimed that 85% of the male adult prison population has a reading ability commensurate with a Level 1A (an average ability 6 year old child) – if this is true then surely investing in something like Book giving is a sensible economic decision irrespective of one’s views on reading.

I emailed Alan Gibbons this morning to inform him of the #ukedchat tonight about the cuts – this was organised only this morning directly in response to news of the decision and to allow people on Twitter to discuss it and to think about how they could support the campaign to fight it. Alan is a literary hero of mine and it was wonderful to receive his response.  He urges people now to write to the media and to their MPs.

It is clear from the way in which in the cuts have been reported show that the Schools Sports Partnership campaigners had the advantage of the forthcoming Olympics to provide the embarrassment factor which means that we will need to work even harder to get our message across. If Michael Gove believes that knowing poetry is like having an iPod in your head and that all schools should immerse children in great literature then it is up to us to persuade him that he is robbing children of the opportunity to learn the power of literature about which he talks so eloquently.

Please spread the word that we need as many expressions of dismay in the media and with elected representatives as possible.
Posted by: Bill Lord | November 10, 2010

Space the final frontier

CC Malenkov in Exile

I was speaking at a CPD session and chatted with a teacher about her forthcoming topic which she was calling “Space – the final frontier” which she was going to work on with her mixed Year Five and Six class. I put a few ideas together whilst we were chatting and made a request on Twitter to my PLN.

The idea of the plans is to give the teacher resources to deliver a cross curricular topic which is an extension of the traditional earth, moon and sun topic. I have sought to provide a mixture of texts, quality films, websites which can develop an exploration of space with a less traditional approach.

My first suggestion for a text is the wonderful M.P. Robertson’s ‘Seven Ways to catch the Moon‘ in which a young girl tries to catch the moon using tactics such as riding a shooting star. We suggested that the book could be used as a stimulus for Design Technology work which could be a stimulus for talk and writing. The children could design and build their own ways of catching the moon (this could be extended to testing them out if all of the models were built to the same scale.)

Other books which could be used are:
The Sea of Tranquility which is written by Mark Haddon (author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time) and illustrated by the incredible artist, Christian Birmingham (who has also produced illustrations of Wombat goes Walkabout, Windhover and other books).

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel which is actually the fantasy story of an airship which is hijacked by pirates. Although not about space travel it would work wonderfully as an ongoing text to be read to the class for pleasure and could be combined with Airman by Eoin Colfer.

Films to use

I thought of two short films to use which could be used to fire up the topic firstly the BFI film Baboon on the Moon the animated film by Christophe Duriez which is available on the collection of films to be used in the class, Starting Stories. It is available from the BFI education department but may be a little young for some classes. Details here.

My other suggestion is the lovely film, Rocketman,

which starts with a little girl opening up her favourite pop-up book and then moves into an animation which brings it to life. Again this book could be used as a direct stimulus for literacy but could also lead to exciting cross curricular work including building pop up books, making stop animation films or developing diagetic and non diagetic sound to accompany the film.

One of my Twitter PLN Carl James made the excellent suggestion of using Star Wars as a way into the topic and to fire children up. He wondered whether it would be better to use the animated version Clone Wars. Personally I think that this is an excellent idea as they are well constructed stories as well as being visually engaging.

It did occur to me that another possibility could be The Lego Star Wars animations. Lego is a wonderful construction system which could engage reluctant learners. Lego Star Wars


NASA Education website

Next I thought about other ways of engaging young learners and remembered some I did a few years ago using the education section of the NASA website. There are some excellent resources which we used including their resources supporting work on the Moon and Mars.

I then received a tweet from Neil Adam reminding of the twitter streams written by NASA astronauts which would definitely bring going into space to real life for the children.

It is important when using Twitter in class to ensure that children are fully aware of e-safety implications and to have a discussion with school management before allowing children to view it. Schools should not be squeamish about using this social networking site as long as it done with full awareness of how to ensure that the children are trained in its use.

Astro Mike

Astro Mike is Mike Massimino an engineer and NASA astronaut who is is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, including the historic final Hubble Space Telescope  repair mission.

Mike keeps his followers up to date with his work as an Astronaut.

Other tweeps to follow are the Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) The National Space Center is “the lead center for space shuttle and International Space Station activities, and is home of the Mission Control Center and NASA astronaut corps.” The tweets are contributed to by interns in the astronaut corps and other Space centres as well as Johnson. It is regularly updated and will often include hyperlinks to further information.

The NASA_Astronauts twitter stream is a place to access all of the tweets by all NASA astronauts. This is well worth accessing as it contains such a mix of information and insight.

The Moon

What shape is the Moon?

I researched several websites and was lucky enough to have some suggestions from Tom Sale and Dawn Hallybone for which I am really grateful. These included some brilliant resources for study of the moon including What Shape is the Moon? from BGFL. Another such site is Sun, Earth and Moon from Simple Science.

The resource is one of those which has been developed to support knowledge acquisition of science facts around the QCA schemes of work. This is something of which we need to be aware but I also thought that teachers would already have many of these so thought of things which might be slightly different or promote work in a different way.

We choose the moon

The first site I was recommended was We choose the Moon which came from Ian Pratt who tweets as @sciencelabman. It is a visually engaging site which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Lunar Landings and is divided into 11 different stages using animations, archival photos, simulations, video and audio from mission control. The user can use the mission tracker to move through the mission at their own pace.

This set me to thinking that we were assuming that children would accept the moon landings without question but there may well be children who were aware of the claims that the moon landings were a hoax. This is something which has entered popular culture through the internet and films such as Capricorn One.

This set me to thinking that we were assuming that children would accept the moon landings without question but there may well be children who were aware of the claims that the moon landings were a hoax. This is something which has entered popular culture through the internet and films such as Capricorn One. So we present the children with the challenge of proving or disproving that the moon landings actually took place. They could think about the points made by conspiracy theorists and use images to prove or counter them. IWB software will massively support this.

The points made by people claiming that the landings never took place are explore on the How Stuff Works website They take each point and rebuff them.

  1. There are no stars in the background
  2. There is a rock in one of the images which appears to have the letter C imprinted on it
  3. There are shadows of differing lengths
  4. The American flag appears to flap in the breeze
  5. Technology was not sufficiently developed to keep the astronauts alive on the moon
  6. The landing module weighed 17 tons but left no impression in the sand whilst the astronauts left footprints behind
  7. The moons brought back from the moon are identical to those collected in Antarctica
  8. When the landing module took off from the moon there weren’t any visible flames.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter whether you or the children believe whether the moon landings were real or faked as long as it provides the stimulus for a lively debate.

The children could use a range of images to annotate with evidence to prove their point. This could lead to the work being presented in a range of ways from simple word documents, homemade books, posters, annotated images, film presentations using Photostory, MovieMaker or similar applications.

Resources to support this could include this article on the conspiracy from the Daily Telegraph and this from The National Geographic debunking ‘myths ‘.

There could also be some mileage in looking at some of the testimonies cited on conspiracy sites to share with children. They could be used as a prompt for discussions or for writing.

One example is taken from the site UFOs-aliens

The residents of Honeysuckle Creek, Australia, actually saw a different broadcast to the rest of the World. Just shortly before Armstrong stepped onto the Moons surface, a change could be seen where the picture goes from a stark black to a brighter picture. Honeysuckle Creek stayed with the picture and although the voice transmissions were broadcast from Goldstone, the actual film footage was broadcast from Australia. As Una watched Armstrong walking on the surface of the Moon she spotted a Coke bottle that was kicked in the right hand side of the picture. This was in the early hours of the morning and she phoned her friends to see if they had seen the same thing, unfortunately they had missed it but were going to watch the rebroadcast the next day. Needless to say, the footage had been edited and the offending Coke bottle had been cut out of the film. But several other viewers had seen the bottle and many articles appeared in The West Australian newspaper.

Imagesto support this work

Taken from
If anyone is not aware of Panoramas then they should check it out. It is an online collection of 360 degree panoramic photographs of many different places and events some including audio. I have used several as a stimulus for writing with classes. Julian Wood (@ideas_factory) made me aware of their panoramic photographs of the Apollo lunar landings. The children can move the images and pan round a full circle and can select from each of the Apollo Lunar landing missions. Here are some examples:

Apollo 11 – Lunar landing module with audio

Apollo 14 with audio

Apollo 17 – astronaut walking on the moon



I returned to less controversial thoughts after this and thought about activities which could fire up the children’s excitement. In my last job we looked to get the Year 6s (all 100 of them) involved in something which would be enjoyable, slightly competitive and bring about learning in the weeks after their SAT tests and a colleague talked about a school which had built rockets with the children. This was brilliant as the children researched the best design, the best angle to use and then had to adjust their thoughts as they saw competitor rockets fare better or worse than they had thought!

Boing Boing image (

The rockets work by half filling a 2 litre bottle with water and then using a foot pump to push air into it until the air pressure is so great that the rocket takes off. Sinclair MacKenzie (@mrmackenzie) recommended rokits which are available from

I tweeted about this and received messages from Dawn Hallybone, Nicky Newbury and Jen Martindale who all taught me about the wonders of building rockets out of camera fil canisters, a small amount of water and alka seltzers. This is new to me so I found this link to Cool Science which shows you how to do it. It really does look fantastic!!

UltimatelyI would love to see children making rockets like the image on the left.


I also found these websites which could be very useful.

NGfL Earth and Beyond

The Solar System

BBC Explore the Solar System site

Google Sky

The wonderful NASA collection of images of planets is well worth visiting.

NASA Planet image collection

Stellarium – Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. You will need to download on to your laptop or PC.



Launch of the Space Shuttle from inside the cockpit (I love the high fives t 50 miles above the earth!)

A space shuttle landing

NASA’s first ever space walk

Today (16th November 2010) Brainpop shared this photo from their twitter account (@brainpop_uk)

Tracy Caldwell Dyson

Posted by: Bill Lord | November 3, 2010

Music to support environmental themes.

This is my final blog post to support my presentation at the Growing Greener Futures conference which was titled “How to make Book Soup”.

I have already listed books and short film clips  which could be used to support the teaching of environmental themes and in this post I will cover a small number of pieces of  music which could be used to evoke a sense of the outdoors in children’s minds. This is a limited list which hopefully will provide a starting point for discussions.

The music varies between classical, folk and a score written by the band British Sea Power for the 1934 film Man of Arran.

I would also recommend the lovely site which has  range of ambient music to reflect different places like beaches, the rainforest and even nighttime.


Glosoli Sigur Ros
Pastoral Symphony (Second Movement) Beethoven
Morning from the Peer Gynt Suite Greig
Northern Sky Nick Drake
Fingal’s Cave Mendelsohn
North Marine Drive Ben Watt
Man of Arran British Sea Power
Posted by: Bill Lord | November 2, 2010

Authors to know

Today I worked with another group of teachers about firing up the teaching of reading. Here are some of my musings on the matter. Many of you may have read the post ‘Promoting Reading’ which includes much of this and most of the books are similar but I have added some new authors in the last two weeks.

Reading is an art and something which we should seek to pass onto children. It is imperative that teachers have a good understanding of which books are available for them to use and which are best. We are at a time when publishing houses are producing some wonderful books and we must ensure that this is reflected in our reading stock.

Children need to hear books being read without interruption – this is about ensuring that teachers read texts outside the literacy shared and guided reading sessions. These moments are magical and show children the power of text. As teachers we know that books can make you feel uncomfortable, warm and fuzzy, cold, shocked, surprised, emotional (I could continue) but I am not convinced that this is something that we impart to the children. To do this we need sustained periods of time where the children can sit down, shut up, stick their thumbs in their mouth, plait someone’s hair or play with their shoelaces as they listen to a wonderful book.

This is hard for teachers to bring out about due to the perception of the packed curriculum and so it is vital that all schools have a collective view on how books will be shared with children.

Teachers also need to be aware of books which is why things like the Read for Joy wiki will hopefully grow as teachers share good books but it should also be done in-house with teachers given a small amount of time in staff meetings to make others aware of books which they love. If schools are trying to place an emphasis on reading then this should include developing a reading staff. It is certainly worth reading the UKLA Research on Teachers as Readers

I read the opening to The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman to the group to show them the power of a text which is not necessarily a comfortable read.

The book is wonderful and will grab children from the terror of the opening through its use of humour, pathos and tension to a great conclusion. It is highly likely that the children will draw comparisons to the text in their literacy work so the time may well impact on their writing but they should be hearing books of this quality read to them by a range of people (if possible)

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately.
The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet.

We moved onto talking about reading comprehension and the importance of Guided Reading which can, at times, be difficult for teachers due to the sensitivities over what you do with other groups whilst you are hearing readers. Teachers do worry about the progress made by other groups but need to keep in mind the fact that guided reading is the best way of teaching, practising and applying reading skills and ensuring that children cover more than recall and inference questions.

One activity we quickly discussed to aid comprehension and certainly teachers’ assessment of children’s comprehension was to use an application like Microsoft Photostory with images from a text or children’s illustrations of a scene from a text for children to talk over. At its simplest children could be asked to recount what happens in the text – we know that children’s ability to summarise a text, events or a presentation is varied and that it is a key skill.
I know that, whilst on holiday, I asked my daughter to tell me about the Eva Ibbotson book “Journey to the River Sea” just as we walked into the Cornish town of Fowey – half an hour later we sat down next to the sea and she was about three quarters of the way through the book. She knew the book inside out but was unable to prioritise events in order to provide a brief summary of the events!

For children to be able to summarise this needs to be modelled and practised – talking about books is a great way in.

Next in our discussion we moved onto looking at a range of books which could fire up their children. I had chosen the theme of authors and illustrators who brought something different.

The Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book
The Day I Swapped my Dad for two Goldfish
The Wolves in the Walls

The Pea and the Princess

Mini Grey
The Pea and the Princess
Traction Man is here
The Adventures of the Dish and Spoon
Biscuit Bear
Traction Man meets Turbo Dog
Egg Drop

Marcia Williams
Archie’s War – my scrapbook of the First World War by Archie Albright
My Secret War Diary by Flossie Albright

Catherine Rayner
Augustus and his Smile
Harris finds his feet
Sylvia and Bird
Norris the bear who shared

The Ice Bear

Jackie Morris (Author and Illustrator)
The Ice Bear
Tell me a Dragon
Starlight Sailor (James Mayhew)
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
The Snow Leopard
How the Whale Became (Ted Hughes)
The Seal Children

Christian Birmingham (Illustrator)
Wombat goes Walkabout (Michael Morpurgo)
Windhover (Alan Brown)
The Sea of Tranquility (Mark Haddon)
The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S.Lewis)
The Night before Christmas (Clement C. Moore)

Monkey and me

Emily Gravett
Meerkat Mail
Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fear
Monkey and Me
The Rabbit Problem
Orange Pear Apple Bear

Grahame Baker-Smith
Leon and the Place Between

Iggy Peck Architect

David Roberts (Illustrator)
Pooh! Is that you, Bertie?
The Troll (Julia Donaldson)
Tyrannosaurus Drip (Julia Donaldson)
Iggy Peck Architect (Andrea Beatty)

Marcia Williams
My Secret War Diary – WWII
Archie’s War – WWI
Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare

F.E. Higgins
The Eyeball Collector
The Black Book of Secrets
The Bone Magician

V.A. Richardson
The House of Windjammer
The Moneylender’s Daughter
The Street of Knives

Paul Dowswell
The Cabinet of Curiosities
Powder Monkey

Helen Ward
Varmints (with Mark Craste)
The Tin Forest (with Wayne Anderson)
The Boat (with Ian P. Andrew)
The Dragon Machine (with Wayne Anderson)

I talked about the use of Storybird

Finally I showed them how easy Storybird is to use.

It could be used for whole class or to target specific groups such as intervention groups supported by a TA or gifted and Talented to work independently. Here are some great examples from Pete Richardson.

For delegates of the meeting I would also recommend looking at these two resources below

Inanimate Alice
Finally I demonstrated the first chapter of Inanimate Alice This is the book which was demonstrated by Bill Boyd at Storytyne where he talked about his work with a group of teachers using Inanimate Alice.  It tells the story of the 8 year old Alice and her adventure in China. At present the book has four different chapters in four different locations. The text is written by an award winning author and is incredibly high quality. The text is moved through page by page which can be re-visited by clicking on the relevant icon. It is an interactive text which is divided into different frames using a wide range of modes. It used diagetic and non diagetic sound, animations, video films, exploded diagrams with a handheld mobile device as the main interaction tool between the character and the user.

The character was born digital (Alice was conceived as a digital project), it is a high quality text, has highly interactive engagement, uses trans-media engagement, covers different continents, gives potential for wide curriculum coverage and is progressively challenging – she moves from 8, 10, 11 and 13 in the fourth chapter. It is used widely in the Pacific Rim particularly in Australia but is being worldwide.

Useful links

Sarah Brownsword talked about her work using Inanimate Alice in her classroom at TMEast earlier this year.

As I often do I finished with a flag up for my blog post on the Second World War which remains one of my most read posts.

Posted by: Bill Lord | November 1, 2010

Films to support environmental themes

Yesterday I posted a blog giving a lengthy list of books I recommended during my “How to make Book Soup” session and as promised I am now following it up with the list of videos which I gave to the delegates. Tomorrow I will post a set of suggestions for music which will evoke a sense of the outdoors for children.

Bernard the Ice Bear – Wrong landing

Key Stage One – Why you shouldn’t parachute in an areas with cactus plants in it.

Big Buck Bunny

Key Stage One – A beautiful tale of a Bunny who takes on the bullies in his area


Key Stage One / Key Stage Two – The adventures of a domesticated Chameleon.


Year 5 / 6 – A space age fantasy story which could be linked to the book and film, Varmints. This could help tie a literacy sequence to cross curricular work on habitats or the environment.

Egg Hunt

Key Stage One – A wonderful animation which could be linked to the Mini Grey book, Egg Drop.

For the Birds

Key Stage One / Two – An amusing cartoon which could be also used to support PSHE work.


Key Stage One / Lower Key Stage Two – A tale of perseverance and achieving dreams – no matter what the consequences are.

Octopus in love

Key Stage Two – A hilarious story of true love with a twist at the end

Strawberry pie

Key Stage One – Good for speaking and listening activities

Twit Twit

Key Stage Two – The story of Charly a banjo player who faces a really strange obstacle: a toll right in the middle of nowhere in the desert managed by an old robot.

WWF New tiger discovery – Provocative advert about Tigers

Coasteering – This could be used for persuasive writing. (Explaining why people should take up coasteering and do it in Wales)

Arkive – Wildlife video clips – to be watched online. This web site has links to very high quality films of wildlife. The site is introduced by David Attenborough.

Wild Earth : Pandas

Whales hunting for herring – A documentary showing the intelligent ways in which whales hunt for herring

Earthquake proof bridge – National Geographic video on bridges which have been built to survive earthquakes.

Earthquake at school – Video of 1989 earthquake

Rabbit’s short tail – Native American storytelling

Wide mouthed frog – Storytelling of the great story

National Geographic – Wonderful resources to support study of habitats and animals

Tourist board videos


Jamaica Featuring Usain Bolt

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Posted by: Bill Lord | October 31, 2010

Growing Greener Futures Conference Booklist

Just before I was lucky enough to attend the Growing Greener Futures Conference in Stockton which was organised by Martin Waller. I would advise people to read Martin’s blog post on the day for further information.

I was privileged to be asked by Martin to deliver a session covering books which I called “How to make book soup”.

My proposal for the session was:

The session will consider the ingredients required for the perfect book soup. How can books add spice to your curriculum and give children a taste of the magic of reading. Bill Lord will take you on a journey of books to support work around creative learning approaches using the great outdoors and will consider themes from global, national and local perspectives. Delegates will receive a detailed booklist and will have time to browse a range of quality texts to support their work back in the classroom.

Much of the introduction was similar to recent blog posts I have put on this site recently but I did share a list of books with the delegates. I will add further posts this week with lists of films which can be accessed for free and also music which could be used in the classroom to evoke different senses associated with the outdoors.

The booklist below is huge but are ones I have read and feel could fire children up. Readers of this blog will have their own favourites which may not be on the list particularly those written by Dick King-Smith or some of those by Michael Morpurgo which I have not included. I do normally hyperlink to a website showing images of book covers when I write about them but I do trust the readers will understand why I haven’t in this case!

The subjects I have classified the books into are:

  • Marine / Rivers
  • Countryside / environment / relationships
  • Animals
  • Food
  • Non fiction
  • Non fiction / Narrative mixed genre
  • Alphabet and Counting Books
  • Miscellaneous
Marine / Rivers
The Snail and the Whale Julia Donaldson and Alex Sheffler Picture
The Little Boat Kathy Henderson and Patrick Benson Picture
Flotsam David Weisner Picture
The Sand Horse Ann Turnbull and Michaael Foreman Picture
Dougal’s  Deep-Sea Diary Simon Bartram Picture
The Fossil Girl Catherine Brighton Picture
My Friend Whale Simon James Picture
Dear Greenpeace Simon James Picture
Starlight Sailor James Mayhew and Jackie Morris Picture
Water Boy Ros Asquith and Ian Andrew Picture
Big Blue Whale Nicola Davies and Nick Maland Picture
Think of an Eel Karen Wallace and Mike Bostock Picture
Journey to the River Sea Eva Ibbotson Novel
The Boat Helen Ward and Ian Andrew
The Seal Children Jackie Morris Picture
Storlax – the power of the deep Robert Jackson and Bubbi Morthens Novel
At the Beach (Postcards from Crabby Spit) Roland Harvey Picture
Wave Suzy Lee Picture
Shark (and other creatures) Dictionary Clint Twist Picture
Give her the River Michael Dennis Browne and Wendell Minor Picture
The Big Big Sea Martin Waddell Picture
Two Frogs Chris Wormell Picture
Countryside / environment / relationships
Bringing down the moon Jonathan Emmett and Vanessa Cabban Picture
Tales of Outer Suburbia Shaun Tan Short stories
Voices in the Park Anthony Browne Picture
Lost and Found Oliver Jeffers Picture
Give her the River Michael Dennis Browne and Wendell Minor Picture
Grandma and Grandpa’s Garden Neil Griffiths and Gabriella Buckingham Picture
Sylvia and Bird Catherine Rayner Picture
The Iron Man Ted Hughes Short novel
Bloodfever (Young Bond) Charlie Higson Novel
Airborn Kenneth Oppel Novel
The Island Armin Greder Picture
The Paperbag Prince Colin Thompson Picture
The Wheel on the School Meijert DeJong and Maurice Sendak Novel
Framed Frank Cottrell Boyce Novel
Reavers’ Ransom Emily Diamand Novel
The Flower John Light Picture
Varmints Helen Ward and Marc Craste Picture (and film)
Into the Forest Anthony Browne Picture
The Seal Oil Lamp (Eskimo folktale) Dale De Armond Short Novel
The Puddleman Raymond Briggs Graphic Novel
The Great Kapok Tree Lynne Cherry Picture
The Great Paper Caper Oliver Jefferies Picture
The Tin Forest Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson Picture
The Arrival Shaun Tan Textless Picture
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett Picture (and film)
Home in the Sky Jeannie Baker Picture
The Lost Happy Endings Carol Ann Duffy and Jane Ray Picture
How to Heal a Broken Wing Bob Graham Picture
The Ranger’s Apprentice Series John Flanagan Novels
Dinosaurs and all that Rubbish Michael Foreman Picture
Jaguar Helen Cowcher Picture
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky Chief Seattle and Susan Jeffers Picture
Oi Get Off Our Train! John Burningham Picture
One World Michael Foreman Picture
Where the Forest Meets the Sea Jeanie Baker Picture
The Tower to the Sun Colin Thompson Picture
Out of the Ashes Michael Morpurgo Picture
This is the Sea that Feeds Us Robert F Baldwin Picture
The Secret Garden Francis Hodgson Burnett Novel
Tom’s Midnight Garden Philippa Pearce Novel
The Graveyard Book Neil Gaiman Novel
My flower, your flower Melanie Walsh Picture
Storm Boy Paul Owen Lewis Picture
Way Home Libby Hathorn and Gregory Rogers Picture
The Ice Bear Jackie Morris Picture
Out of the Ashes Michael Morpurgo Novel
Farm Boy Michael Morpurgo Novel
Reaver’s Ransom Emily Diamand Novel
Baa Humbug! Mike Jolley and  Deborah Allwright Picture
Beetle Boy Lawrence David and Delphine Durand Picture
Wombat goes Walkabout Michael Morpurgo and Christian Birmingham Picture
Windhover Christian Birmingham Picture
The Rabbits John Marsden and Shaun Tan Picture
Wolves Emily Gravett Picture
Daft Bat Tony Ross and Jeanne Willis Picture
Flutter by, Butterfly Petr Horacek Picture
Owl Babies Martin Waddel and Patrick Benson Picture
All Things Bright and Beautiful Ashley Bryan Picture
Ernest Catherine Rayner Picture
Harris finds his feet Catherine Rayner Picture
All Pigs are Beautiful Dick King-Smith Picture
Walk with a Wolf Janni Howker and Sarah Fox-Davies Picture
The Emperor’s Egg Martin Jenkins Picture
Tigress Nick Dowson and Jane Chapman Picture
White Owl, Barn Owl Nicola Davies and Michael Foreman Picture
Ice Bear Nicola Davies and Gary Blythe Picture
Farley Farts Birte Muller Picture
I love animals Flora McDonnell Board
The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark Jill Tomlinson and Paul Howard Picture
Tortuga Paul Geraghty Picture
The Wonderful Journey Paul Geraghty Picture
The Great Green Forest Paul Geraghty Picture
Tadpole’s Promise Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross Picture
Howling at the Moon Michael Catchpool and Jill Newton Picture
After the Storm Nick Butterworth Picture
Windhover Alan Brown and Christian Birmingham Picture
The Secret Path Nick Butterworth Picture
The Rabbit Problem Emily Gravett (and a lot of rabbits) Picture
Honeybee’s Busy Day Richard Flower Slot book
Flutter by, Butterfly Petr Horacek Board book
What is black and white? Petr Horacek Board Book
Strawberries are red Petr Horacek Board Book
Silverfin (Young Bond Series) Charlie Higson Novel
Wolf Brother Michelle Paver Novel
The White Giraffe (+ other books in the same series) Lauren St.John Novel
Love that Dog! Sharon Creech Poetry
Old MacDonald’s Farm Eric Smith Picture
The Great Dog Bottom Swap Peter Bentley and Mei Matsuoka Picture
No room for Napoleon Adria Meserve Picture
Wanted: The Perfect Pet Fiona Roberton Picture
The 108th Sheep Ayano Imai Picture
The Great Paper Caper Oliver Jeffers Picture
FArTHER Graeme Baker-Smith Picture
Beetle Boy Lawrence David and Delphine Durand Picture
The Troll Julia Donaldson and David Roberts Picture
Growing Good Bernard Ashley and Anne Wilson Picture
Sam’s snack David Pelham Box book
War and Peas Michael Foreman Picture
Vegetable Glue Susan Chandler and Elena Odriozola Picture
Non fiction
Apple Green and Runner Bean Phyllis King Picture
Flowers Gallimard Jeunesse and Rene Mettler Picture
Amazing Bugs Richard Ferguson Pop up
My best book of Night-time Animals Belinda Weber Picture
Bloomin’ Rainforests (Horrible Geography) Anita Ganeri
Micro Monsters (extreme encounters with invisible armies) Kingdom Picture
The Cookbook for Boys (Usborne First Cookbooks) Abigail Wheatley Spiralbound
Children’s Step-by-Step Cookbook Angela Wilkes Hardback
Large as Life (101 animals actual size) Mike Kelly Picture
Ape Martin Jenkins and Vicky White Picture
Non fiction / Narrative mixed genre
Growing Frogs Vivian French Picture
Caterpillar Butterfly Vivian French and Charlotte Voake Picture
Tadpole’s Promise Tony Ross Jeanne Willis
Alphabet and Counting Books
LMNO Peas Keith Baker Hardback picture
Animalia Graeme Base Picture
The Water Hole Graeme Base Picture
Gathering (A Northwoods counting book) Betsy Bowen Picture
The Hobbit (Graphic Novel) JRR Tolkein, David Wenzel and Charles Dixon Graphic Novel
The Land of Green Ginger Noel Langley Novel
Old Macdonald’s Farm Eric Smith Hardback
Memory Bottles Beth Shoshan and Katie Pamment Picture
The Pencil Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman Picture
Duck, Death and the Tulip Wolf Erlbruch Picture
A Child’s Garden (A story of Hope) Michael Foreman Picture
Seven Ways to Catch the Moon M.P. Robertson Picture
The Once upon a Time Map Book B.G. Hennessy and Peter Joyce Map
A Balloon for Grandad Nigel Gray and Jane Ray Picture
Hey!What’s that Nasty Whiff? (Say poo to pollution) Julia Jarman and Garry Parsons Picture
The Pebble in my Pocket (A History of our earth) Meredith Hooper and Chris Coady Picture
The Once Upon a Time Map Book B G Hennessy Picture
Man on the Moon (a day in the life of Bob) Simon Bartram Picture
Posted by: Bill Lord | October 19, 2010

TMX presentation

Tonight I had to make my presentation for TMX from home as I was hit by manflu!

My virtual #TMX presentation

My presentation was about the Read for Joy wiki, the World map of Books and my general views on reading.

Ultimately I am looking to develop a sense of excitement around reading and hope that you will join in on the Read for Joy wiki.
Both are designed to be easy to access and use and just need people to share their ideas.

In terms of Read for Joy I foresee that people will simply add new books with the Twitter hashtag #readforjoy which can then be added to the wiki.

My presentation is here:

The Read for Joy wiki is here

Read for Joy

The World Map of Books





















If you would like to see some of the other presentations from the evening (and you should try to) Jim Maloney’s wonderful blog has details here








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