I've just got back from a two night holiday to Pembrokeshire in Wales where I had the pleasure of staying in Pembroke Dock to attend the first ever TeachMeet Pembrokeshire - or #tmbev if you prefer – (squeezed in at the last minute between a week in Kent – where I met up with Mark and Helen Warner – and a week in the Black Forest in Germany).
It was run at the appropriately named Pembroke Dock Community School – the ‘Blue School’ – and as per previous meetings it was great to meet up with lots of other enthusiastic educators who’d also decided to give up part of their Summer (and in some cases travel hundreds of miles like @mbarrow - the brains behind Primary Homework Help - who'd travelled all the way from Kent) to take part in CPD.
The presentations showcased a wealth of fabulous teaching and learning going on in schools, with highlights including:
I, meanwhile, shared two presentations which hopefully have inspired others – one about creating online learning activities using 2DIY (with a brief look at my growing Infant Encyclopedia website) and another about different ways of presenting Internet research (with exactly two minutes in which to share 15 ways I was a little out of breath by the end!)
It was also a real delight to visit the Pembrokeshire region again since I’d not visited there for about 10 years – Pembroke Castle was very well preserved and certainly worth the £5 entry fee, and the sunset on my last night in Pembroke Dock was stunning. The Arriva train from Swansea though was certainly an ‘interesting’ journey to say the least - a particular highlight being the elderly couple sat near me who I overhead discussing the differences between emailing and sending telegrams!
I couldn’t finish this post however without thanking the brilliant Bev Evans who managed to organise the TeachMeet event with great success and who also took a few of us out for a lovely meal in what has to be one of the best pubs I’ve ever visited called the Jolly Sailor – their warm chocolate fudge cake with cream was just delicious and now comes very highly recommend!
I would definitely say that I've had a wonderful three days in Wales!
In the past few months I’ve sort of gained an interest in the television series Time Team. If you’ve not watched the programme before, each 50 minute episode basically follows a team of people over a period of three days as they attempt to discover the history behind an archaeological site in the UK. It’s been running for over 16 years, with the majority of the episodes now available to watch online for free via 4OD – covering studies of sites all the way from the Bronze Age up to WW2 (particular favourites of mine which I highly recommend you view are Mosaics, Mosaics, Mosaics - Dinnington and School Diggers, Hooke Court – Dorset).
There are two things that fascinate me about the digs shown in the programmes – the way in which they manage to relate each particular period in history to the lives of the people that lived through them (such as: the traders who sold goods along the main Roman roads, the people besieged within castles during the civil war and the men who built Britain’s first railways) and the way they manage to combine the expertise of such a wide range of people to help gather finds and interpret the sites (from the digger and archaeologist to the geophysics surveyor and landscape investigator).
Both of these are aspects of history which in my opinion are often all too easily forgotten – for example, understanding that a group of people invaded our island is one thing, but being able to appreciate the effects that this had on the society at the time and the different historical sources (both primary and secondary) which provide the evidence to support this is another. After all, history is about realising the stories behind the events.
In schools the history curriculum clearly states a need to teach investigative skills properly to children with a focus on a range of scales (national, local etc.). How can we use ICT to support this effectively? Returning back to Time Team, it is helpful to note all the different uses of technology used by the team to help them with their digs:
To teach history well you need to equip children with both knowledge of the past and the skills (and attitudes) needed to help them become successful historical investigators. Studying local history is an ideal way to make the subject relevant to them and by carrying out archaeological studies they will be provided with real experiences of actually finding out about: significant people, events and places from the past that influenced their surroudings for themselves.
Indeed, the Dit IT Project run in 2009 in Kent seems to illustrate this idea wonderfully, with their website showcasing a wealth of work produced by children who went out and investigated various historical sites with the aid of ICT to help them re-construct pictures of life in their region at different times in the past.
Go on – investigate your local history. I am sure that you’ll be fascinated by what you learn!