Alien cake

June 28, 2014 - Leave a Response

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One Ben 10 Chromastone birthday cake – done. As ordered, sir. Hope you like it! X

Musical transport

June 27, 2014 - Leave a Response

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For the past three weeks in Design & Technology club, the children’s challenge has been to design and make a scooter. Of course, Dylan decided he wanted to make one that was also a stringed instrument. Apparently it took most of the first session to explain it to the teacher, and convince her that it WOULD fulfil the brief and be a scooter.
It actually looks a bit like a Segway…

Efficiency, identity and purpose

May 12, 2014 - One Response

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This blog post is a little different to the usual ones I post here. It’s about a subject that I’ve been struggling to gather my thoughts around in a coherent manner, so I thought I’d attempt to do so here. I’d be very interested in any comments from anyone which could help me to clarify my thinking!

It’s about the technological revolution we’re facing and adaptation.
It’s about efficiency and waste.
But most of all, it’s about identity and purpose – two things we need to feel sure of, in order to stay in the game. Both as individuals and as organisations.

Given the various roles and responsibilities I currently have going on in my life, I’m the sort of person who hates to be interrupted by a sales call at home. I get very little time at home and I have a very tight budget. (So please STOP trying to sell me things I have no need of: I have no dog to buy insurance for; no lawn which needs making greener; I already have double glazing and I can’t afford a bathroom refit!)

At work I’m increasingly being told that I must collate content to represent every possible angle of our area of research, so that our Content Management System can spew it all out online via numerous locations on the website – in case the user can’t find their way around. This content needs to fit into various different sized boxes, contain varying numbers of characters and must also be maintained on an ongoing basis. In two completely separate areas.

I understand how important it is to present ourselves in a professional manner online, but I have to admit, with only a finite number of hours in the working day, and with a background in graphic comms & network marketing, I’m a little confused. Don’t get me wrong, the opportunity to add content somewhere central is good – after all, one of the objectives of my role is to help raise awareness of our research. We have some great stuff going on – reducing food waste, flexible working, women leaders, safety leadership, the list goes on. I recently witnessed the presentation of a group of students where they presented their rocket engine project – demonstrating how the whole is worth much more than the sum of its parts – real team working (they just need to expand on the safety element to satisfy their audience).

I spend my time at home talking with my son about how he needs to get technology to work for him – not to be controlled by gadgets and tech. To create, not just to consume. I remember my old lecturer at the University of Reading saying: “DO NOT be restricted by what technology currently has to offer. Decide what you want to achieve first and only THEN involve technology.” We weren’t even allowed near the computers for the first year of our 4-year undergrad Typography & Graphic Communication degree course.

I currently volunteer for a youth organisation and have been using their web / mobile app tool with great interest over the past year – it acts as a programme planner, register for attendance, contact database, alerts to badges due (now sponsored by various large organisations) and links to online payments for subs and special events. It’s used by a global network of leaders as well as members and parents. They have a new system launching soon – a development programme fed into by various volunteers to learn from, and improve yet further, the current offering.

Also over the last year I’ve spent some time volunteering for a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations – as they undergo a huge task to revitalise their educational programme. My role (along with a couple of hundred others from each region around the globe), has been to visit other clubs, observe and gather information and to respond to surveys and online questions. The result is that the organisation has decided to stop ‘bolting things on’, and is at the start of a journey to develop a Virtual Learning Environment, built around the needs of the individual member. It will act as storage for digital assets, will integrate with social media and will link members up to possible virtual mentors through a formal programme. It will also provide links to useful tools – for budgeting, event planning and the like. There’s much to consider with this approach – not least the requirement for ongoing improvement and maintenance, given the short shelf life of tech products, but I believe decisions have been made based on good, solid evidence.

I realise I’ve started to ramble a bit and may have lost most of you! For anyone who’s left still reading – thanks for bearing with me. My point is this – should we not be focusing on technological solutions which add value to the individual learning experience FIRST, and then see how shiny pictures and text could fit around it, as a public layer? Some time ago (a couple of years now), I sat and listened to a couple of our PhD Researchers (now alumni) about what they’d like to see as part of a possible ‘digital network’. I have a visual of it (surprise, surprise)!

It was exciting stuff; full of efficiency, identity and purpose.

Please do comment – it would be very helpful to hear your views and any similar or different opinions or experiences you may have had or are having. Where should time be spent?

Turkey Day – All Change!

April 24, 2014 - Leave a Response

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D: I love it when it’s a country name day! When it’s a country name day and we’re all dressed up in the colours and decorated, that means we’re swapping classes and we only learn about one thing. But then in the afternoon we stop because we run out of teachers.
Mr T goes onto Google Earth and shows us where the country is. And then we go to Mrs W and she usually has some of that country food. We have to write on the list whether we like it or not.
Then in Mrs D’s class, we usually do some of that type of country dancing – so we’ll be doing some Turkey dancing.

Me: Sounds great. Turkey dancing – is it like Chicken dancing? Like this?

D: Ha yes! A turkey on a phone, dancing! Do you know what I used to think phones were for? I used to think they were just for talking. But, now I get to use your old one, now I know there’s more than one thing you do on them!

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Visualising a Day: 11th April 2014

April 12, 2014 - Leave a Response

Yesterday I spent the day in London. So much to see and such little time!
Here’s how it went…

Chocolate with Wings for Mothering Sunday

March 30, 2014 - Leave a Response

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On last weekend’s shopping trip Dylan wanted to get me something for Mother’s Day, so I set the budget and closed my eyes whilst he hunted for something and hid it in the trolley, telling the check-out person at the end to hide it too!
I’ve just retrieved ‘the chocolates’ from the bookshelf in Dylan’s room, as instructed. Surprise! <3

Even sheep need fun

March 23, 2014 - Leave a Response

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We cycled past this spirited bunch on the Stony Stratford Riverside Walk again yesterday and they were still taking it in turns to climb up onto the log and survey their peers from a different perspective before leaping off – with a great big BAAAAA!

3 mile cycle ride for Sport Relief

March 22, 2014 - Leave a Response

Dylan wanted to get involved and do something for Sport Relief this weekend, so we decided to sponsor each other to do a 3 mile cycle ride.

Including the odd pause for a chocolate power pellet and to rehydrate… and a half time break at the park… we completed our challenge in about an hour and a half!

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Tricky Triceratops

February 25, 2014 - Leave a Response

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This one proved a little frustrating for D – particularly the toes and the collar, which then led on to a rotated head. I didn’t like my own toes all that much either. Nevertheless, we explored tone, shadow and scaly, wrinkly skin quite well together.

Preparing for Palaeontology?

February 23, 2014 - Leave a Response

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D: I’m going to read EVERYTHING there is about dinosaurs – if it says anything about ‘dinosaurs’ I’m going to read it!
Me: Do you want to be a Palaeontologist?
D: What’s that?
Me: Someone who finds out all about dinosaurs and prehistoric times.
D: Yes! That’s what I want to be! I want to be a Palaeontologist. Can you book me onto a lesson PLEEEASE mum? Can you find some training for kids to be Palaeontologists and if it’s not too much money can you book me on? I REALLY want to do that.
Me: I’ll look into it…
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Poster by Chart Media, purchased at Stony Stratford Library

So far, we’ve visited the Natural History Museum (last Oct), D has excavated 6 dinos from a block of plaster, helped a T-Rex to fly and watched the BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs series twice over. He’s now deeply into some library books on the subject.

…Anyone know of any low cost, local Kid’s Palaeontology sessions?!

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