Welcome to BETT 2015

Following my visit last year, I knew BETT was the sort of event I wanted to go to every year, if I possibly could. It’s just something so relevant and current within teaching right now and, particularly being a Computing specialist when I graduate, I knew it was something I had to do again.

After battling the usual mundane money issues and realising there isn’t really a “cheap” way around it (after all, it’s London) we booked our Megabus and sorted out our Premier Inn (which was right in the middle of Westfield shopping centre – extremely dangerous). I travelled up with my coursemate Becca (@Becca_Smallshaw) on the Thursday and we enjoyed a good browse around the entire shopping centre. It’s always been said to work hard, play hard after all…

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Megabus-sing it up..
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Chilling in our hotel room (clearly very excited)

Friday was the main event though and we arrived just after BETT had opened.

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Here we are walking into BETT. Nothing like a BETT selfie to start the day.

We had planned in advance some talks we wanted to attend and the first was over in the Bett Futures zone, which I absolutely loved. It made me think if it was the sort of things I would be using once I had graduated which, although seems like a long time away, is actually a LOT closer than it seems..

We listened to @KiraOConnor ‘s talk on Twitter tips for teachers. Twitter is, I believe, an often wasted tool in a lot of schools. I think this is because it is often misunderstood and the scope of what it can be used for not acknowledged. So this talk was incredibly useful, even for people who already support its implementation within schools. An interesting fact I took from the talk included “40% of Twitter users are listeners”, meaning 40% of account holders don’t tweet themselves at all, they just follow and read others. I found this a higher percentage than expected. Kira also provided lots of tips on how to use Twitter in the classroom to an educational benefit. Some ideas are in the photo below:

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A particular favourite is the “breaking news” one. I think it’s SO important that children (or anyone!) has an awareness of what is happening in their world.

Following this talk, we had a general wander around the millions (slight exaggeration) of stalls. It’s quite overwhelming at first, makes me not sure where to look! We talked to a few people who explained their products and picked up a few freebies. I’d just like to put it out there though, I think we were the only two people in the room who hadn’t wrestled for a “frog” bag (regular BETT attenders, you know what I mean). We stopped and chatted to a company promoting a product called Clicker6 which I really liked. It was a tool to help children with their reading and writing, speaking back what they had typed and prompting them to check their spellings. I’m a real promoter of good spelling and speech and I think it could work well, particularly with EAL children.

Next was to the Lego stand to look at their new products because, quite frankly, who doesn’t love a bit of Lego!? We spoke to a lady who showed us Lego Story Starter. It allowed children to create their own physical story settings using the Lego, which could be difficult for children who find it hard to visualise stories. The element of play would probably appeal to most children and could help engage them in writing their stories, particularly boys who tend to struggle with this. Lego were also promoting kits in Numeracy and Computing.

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The LEGO stand

We attended a talk by Miles Berry (@mberry) titled “How to teach Primary Computing” which was obviously a vital one for me. He spoke about a range of theories which link to the new Computing curriculum, whilst also providing practical suggestions. He suggested some expectations from Ofsted of what outstanding Computing teaching looks like (which is always handy to know, especially right before a placement!)

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Miles Berry about to deliver his talk

Another highlight had to be the visual wall though, just as it was last year. People can write quotes, thoughts or feelings on a post it note and these amazing artists transcribe this onto a massive wall, in both text and images. I’ve included some of my favourites below:

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Particularly liked the DLR drawing

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I do love a little BeeBot

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After an hour and half of constant refreshing of my email over dinner (we were waiting to hear where we going to be placed in the summer!) we attended the TeachMeet. After going last year, we were really keen to do so again. We picked up some interesting ideas for the classroom and it’s great to be in a room with lots of other teachers, sharing tips and thoughts on new ideas.

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Us in the TeachMeet!

I gained so much from BETT this year, but it was soon time to go home (on the Megabus Gold – HIGHLY recommend!) You can’t explore BETT fully in one day but we tried our best and I feel we covered a LOT of ground. If I had to choose one main thing I learnt from this years’ BETT, it would have to be the importance of letting children explore and create their own learning, but that it’s also ok to actually TEACH them too. Somewhere in the middle could be good. Guided discovery, maybe?

See you next year, BETT…

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Going home…

People mentioned in this post:

@Becca_Smallshaw

@KiraOConnor

@mberry

Website links to mentioned products:

Clicker 6: http://www.cricksoft.com/uk/products/clicker/home.aspx

Lego Story Starter: https://education.lego.com/en-gb/preschool-and-school/lower-primary/6plus-storystarter/introducing-storystarter

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