#CampEd14

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I am pleased and proud. I’ve helped make a thing that is good, a thing that people like, a thing that is useful and that makes the world better. What we’ve made is an event that brings together friends, strangers and their families and mixes them together in a different kind of way. And it works. roulette uk

For those that weren’t there, #CampEd14 was an educational event which took place over a long weekend spent at a residential education centre (Cliffe House) in Yorkshire. Attendees were, on the whole, educators and their families. People mainly camped and many volunteered to run ‘sessions’ as diverse as extracting DNA from bananas to orienteering. what is the safest online gambling sites

I know that other people are already taking care of the details of the event. I would like to reflect for a moment on what I think makes it a bit different and very special:

  • The ‘gaps’: I have always said that whenever you go on a course, some training or a conference, it is the gaps in between where some of the best stuff happens; the coffee breaks, over lunch, in the bar. CampEd significantly widens those gaps. For me, this is exemplified by (amongst other things) the traditional CampEd walk. The walk lowers the pace yet further and gently moves people into meandering conversation to accompany their steps.
  • The venue: I remember the moment when I realised Cliffe House was tailor made for CampEd. It was as if (as Will Ryan would say) a dam burst in my head. Each time I thought of something CampEdish, Cliffe House had the answer.
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  • The activities: What does an outstanding lesson look like? More’s the point, what does it ‘feel’ like? How many of us educators can say that we have been in an outstanding lesson as a learner recently? Anyone at #CampEd14 can truly say that they have.
  • The people: Here we had a ‘conference’, a learning event that catered for attendees aged from a matter of months up to… well, quite a bit older… We also mixed a crowd of teachers/educators with their children and (in many cases) non-educator partners.  ‘Exit interviews’ with these non-educators suggest that the event had certainly passed the ‘spousal’ test (as Bill Lord coined it) in that they would all recommend CampEd and attend again in future.Finally, special thanks to a couple of people: Bill, who has picked me up when I’ve been flagging and who will forever be my Twitter confidante and Tony Parkin who quietly but significantly supports in so many ways – although I would have preferred him to have chosen a time other than 7.00am for his philanthropic road-building efforts in the camp-site.
    Mr Parkin in his tireless pursuit of Cliffe House Wifi

    Mr Parkin in his tireless pursuit of Cliffe House Wifi

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I’m a Kid, Get Me Out of Here!

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Friday 4th April saw a conference on outdoor learning run by Kirklees Learning Services. The conference was at Cliffe House, a residential, outdoor learning centre to which I had brought many a class of pupils and that will be host to CampEd14.There were keynote presentations by myself  and Juliet Robertson. There were also some fabulous workshops. real casinos online slots

Keynote
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Juliet’s keynote presentation was inspiring and grounded in countless case studies, research activities and practical examples, all illustrating the profound importance of learning outside the classroom. She described how for her as an educator, the outdoors evolved from being a ‘jolly nice thing’ to ‘an absolute need and necessity’. She made the point that zoos have a legal requirement to provide a certain amount of space to their primates: and yet, in comparison to that, we confine our young people in classrooms with a fraction of that space – and expect effective learning to happen. Juliet reminded us of the memorability or ‘stickiness’ that outdoor learning often has to it.
She also reassured us that risks are an essential part of outdoor learning and  to not get overly hung up on risk as unrepresentative perceptions can easily become barriers (a point later reiterated by Kirklees’ adviser for outdoor learning). She cited, by way of example, the fact that there had been not a single death of a young person in the UK from berries or mushrooms in the last 60 years.
I like the simplicity of Juliet’s approach, epitomised by her emphasis on the importance of forming circles with learners and handing the learning over to them, “Form a circle, ask them to go off and find something interesting, return to the circle and then discuss.”
For me, one of the key messages was Juliet urging us to have a go, and take a chance and a couple of quotes summed that up nicely:
“Of course you go out on a limb. That’s where all the fruit is.” Mark Twain
“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” Wayne Gretsky

Workshops
Workshop 1 Maths from Sticks and Stones – Juliet Robertson


Juliet also ran a workshop throughout the day with an emphasis on mathematical development through the use of sticks and stones.
We warmed up in a circle, varying the formation and size of the circle as we went along (feet touching, elbows touching, sticks touching, shoulders touching). With a meter-long stick each, we worked on some simple counting games involving tapping our sticks, passing them, walking in different directions around the circle with ‘switch’ and ‘Fizz-buzz’ variations. We then moved into smaller groups where we were first introduced to Juliet’s bag of tricks – a variety of natural resources for maths such as pebbles with numbers and symbols, sticks of varying length and gauge, shorter sticks with coloured tips, rope etc. Importantly, she also has an old white sheet – invaluable if you want to ‘display’ a find or something interesting. The brief for the small groups was to simply ‘do something mathematically interesting’ with a resource-set. This is both challenging and empowering and I can see how the approach can really put the learning in the hands of the learners (as well as providing a perfect assessment for learning opportunity).
Groups were then able to see what others had done and share ideas. A final ‘plus, minus, interesting’ plenary rounded us off.

Workshop 2 Bushcraft
My second workshop was with Cliffe House centre manager, Rosie Taylor. Delegates used a range of tools to firstly prepare and set a fire (without matches) before whittling skewers for marsh-mallow toasting.
Rosie emphasised the importance of careful briefing and tool-talk prior to an activity that involved bow-saws and fire. Again, the risk-assessment watch-words here are ‘supervision’ and ‘common-sense’. “For a fire this size, you definitely wouldn’t want the children to use gloves, you’d want them feeling the danger for themselves.”
Fires were set in little mini-barbecue containers and lit with cotton wool and ‘sparkers’ (no matches or lighters!).
Finally, sticks were whittled using potato peelers (good quality, wooden handles recommended here) before skewering a well-deserved mallow!

Workshop 3 Story time
My lovely next door neighbour and Cliffe House teacher, Catherine Heppenstall, ran an enthralling session on story. We gathered in a willow grotto to first listen to Catherine as she held us rapt, wrapped (herself) in story-robe and seated on her teller’s throne. She told the story of the unfortunate farmer who came a cropper upon the third sneeze of his donkey! Snip-snap-snout! Her story was out.
Catherine reminded us of the importance of oral story telling (as opposed to ‘read’ stories); how the narrative can be fluid, flexible and responsive – the hero’s hair may be flame-red one day and raven-black another.
We all know the ingredients of a good story: a setting (in place and time), a character or two (with certain dispositions), a problem etc. How wonderful then to wander the woods and pluck these elements from the trees and bushes and thread them onto a ‘story-stick’ that would later be the concrete framework from which we would tell our own stories! rtg casino canada

Workshop 4 Cob-ovens
The final workshop was facilitated by conference-organiser Andrew Heath-Beesley and would be best described as a project. Over the course of the day, delegates devoted themselves to the construction of a cob-oven atop an impressive pediment (formed of recycled bottles and clay). Clay was ‘mined’ (shovelled) from a rich source elsewhere on the Cliffe House estate and transported via wheel-barrow to the construction site.
Constructing a cob-oven is such a great cross-curricular activity. There is so much in it: collaboration, planning, design-technology, changing state (dobbing the wattle & dawb was a particularly consuming activity!), art & design. I could go on.

Keynote – Digitally Outdoors
I gave a keynote presentation about the use of technology in outdoor learning.

and finally
Juliet’s final message: ‘Leave No Child Inside’
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and, if the evaluation forms were anything to go by, we have provided some valuable CPD!
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