Monthly Archives: March 2016

It was a treat and a privilege to represent CESI at the annual NAACE conference on March 24th.  This year there was a NaaceMeet held for the first time, and it proved as successful as did the first CESImeet fadó fadó in Dublin. Hopefully it will become a NAACE fixture.

This NaaceMeet was a relaxed round table affair. Drew Buddie had appointed a “table 10” in memory of Bianca Ní Ghrógáin who’d presented at the conference last year, and who’s presence at table 10 had added so much fun and joy to the gala dinner. I spent a lovely evening at this #Table10 in the company of Dughall McCormack, Jo Badge, Zoe Philpott, Jacinta Diamond, Donna Vaughan, Sarah Profit Ransay, Dylan McCarthy and Serena Davies.

Thanks folks – as ever, the best “take away” from a ‘meet is the new and deepened friendship gained. This meet also was a sort of “metameet” – a lot of the evening became call and response (the throw-it-about microphone really worked here) on the subject of TeachMeet itself. (disclosure – it may have been prompted by my “presentation on a napkin”). This could and should be part of any and every TeachMeet…and judging by the very late night conversations during the apres-meet I’m not alone in that opinion.

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The conference day itself was a good day. I legged it early to a workshop wherein I could get eyes and hands the new BBC Micro:bit with Yvonne Walker from CAS. It was a very short workshop, but the perfectly manicured Donna and I got our little “HELLO” marquee message to run successfully.

I loved the lively and argument-provoking afternoon panel discussion entitled Will VR Kill the Video Star? It was convened and chaired by Drew Buddie, with provocateur Donald Clark of Plan B, data driven choreographer Genevieve Smith-Nunes and Ada.Ada.Ada performer Zoe Philpott. The only down side to this inspired session was that it ended (in real life only, of course!).

Having heard Serena Davies speak at #tmBETT16, and met her for real at #naacemeet Table 10, it was terrrific to see her receive a NAACE Impact award. Go, Serena!

Refreshments all day were ubiqitous, plentiful, and very good quality. I had the loveliest lunchtime conversation with Martin Bailey of Animate2Educate – reminding all conference convenors that the best times for attendees can be in-between times.

NAACE-badgeThe other session that stood out for me was the final one of the day – an informative and energising 30 minutes with Matt Rogers and Sharon Ashley on open digital badges. We’d discussed this at the ‘meet on the previous evening (how long ago that now seemed!), when I’d been delighted to boast that CESI had badged both #tmcesi and #cesicon last month. This session was fun, we got to partake in a live badge claiming cycle, there and then, at the conference. Not your average graveyard shift – well done Matt and Sharon, you both deserve a “keep your nerve” badge.

I was pleased to be present at the NAACE AGM when Donna Vaughan from Northern Ireland was elected to the board of NAACE. On behalf of CESI and myself, best wishes to Donna in this venture.

ps – despite “the week that was in it”, I had to explain, THREE times in 24 hours, that Ireland is NOT part of the UK…sigh, sigh, sigh.





It is very appropriate that one of the quotes on the walls of the new “Steam Room” in Lacken NS, is from the Principal Kevin Foley. Twitter teachers all over the world, esp #edchatie folk, will recognise it…


This vision of Kevin’s has been translated into action by teacher Tony Riley, who has worked 24/7, and a really lovely learning space has been tucked in under the roof of the school. It is a space to be used by both students, teachers, and the community for creative learning.

The opening celebration on March 16th was great fun – after the students patiently listened to us adults speechifying for a while, they led the adults upstairs and taught them – government minister, clergy and all; it was a treat to be involved.

And we all made it into the local paper, the Anglo Celt!


For the curious, here’s a dizzy whizz around the room before the crowds arrived:


Mark your calendar now for October 15-23 2016. That will be Code Week EU. The team of volunteers Ambassadors, sponsored by the European Commission, met in Brussels this week to begin planning.

It was my first meeting with this vibrant team, and it didn’t disappoint. It was a matter of great pride for me to hear the high praise heaped on my predecessor Julie Cullen by all who’d worked with her. The support received from Government here in Ireland was the envy of many of the other countries present – in particular the ongoing support of former Minister, Ciaran Cannon TD.

So listen out for the call to take part, and be ready!

Watch #codeEU, and follow @CodeWeekEU.


You can all practice your deep bows and curtsies. (Or would that be curtseys?) Open the phone on a wet Thursday afternoon to find…

Screenshot 2016-03-13 at 22.15.04.png

15 wonderful women working to change the face of tech

… as and if that one wasn’t enough, along comes…

Women Invent: 100 women in tech whose names you need to know

No pressure…

What a welcome we got from organisers Hassan Dabbbagh, Caroline Harrison, and Vivian Cuddy in Mayo Education Centre on Friday evening March 4th, for TeachMeet Mayo! Thanks also to Director Paul Butler and Caretaker Kevin Kerrigan for their genial hospitality all evening.


Almost 50 educators – who travelled from all four provinces, which doesn’t often happen at regional TMs – piled into the lovely oval room for a terrific evening. Hassan was a fab Fear a’Tí, and the flow of the evening was smooth and comfortable. And to cap it all, we had TeachMeet royalty present – yes, John Davitt brought to original flying camel.

This is what the evening’s lottery gave us…

  • Opening presentation from John Davitt (pictured below), on the Learning Event Generator (LEG), and Learning Score – soon to be renamed (you heard it here first, everyone).
  • Chris Reina on updating your PC without too much pain
  • Pam O Brien on the work of the Youth Media Team
  • Seán Gallagher (PDST Tech in Ed team leader) on leveraging the image enhancing power of your mobile phone
  • Caroline Harrison on Plickers, which she demonstrated with great panache
  • Mary Jo Bell on the monster matching project, and we all had a go, crayons and all – see here
  • Helen Clarke on learning styles
  • Mags Amond on, see exhibit A, the Breaking News generator, above
  • James Cunningham  on the Key Words keyring he uses with his students – an ingenious idea which caught everyone’s attention
  • Iseult Mangan and the senior students of Cloghans Hill NS hosted “KidsMeet”, showcasing a variety of activities presented by the students. I especially liked the QR code PE activity – how else would I have ended up doing 10 jumping jacks with @pamelaaobrien on a Friday night?

(( That last is the latest step in the great Irish TeachMeet suite evolution – from the original CESImeet we have branched to TeachMeet, PrincipalMeet, ResearchMeet, and now KidsMeet. What’s next, I wonder? )).


Two TeachMeet veterans – John and the Camel



QR PE !!



Teaching the teachers during the KidsMeet breakout session

The TeachEat in the Connaught Inn afterwards was very pleasant – we had food, fun, song, magic tricks and the chats until home time (don’t ask, we won’t tell).

There is often talk of the ‘Mayo curse’ in GAA circles and in the media. Well, there’s only blessings and no curse in Mayo education circles. Thank you Hassan (and ALL the Mayo Dabbaghs), Caroline, Vivian and Paul for a fab TeachMeet in Castlebar, and to all the teaching colleagues who turned out to share. [Share and Care. Again!].

More details, and the reactions of the attendees, can be read in the Twitter feeds at

and see Hassan’s picture stream on Flickr



How lucky to have been able to

  • set out with Sarah Neild at (don’t ask) o’clock on a leap year Monday morning to set up in the halla of Griffeen Valley Educate Together National School. Thanks to caretaker Brendan, and to CESI’s Susan Nic Réamoinn for all the preparation
  • experience the joy in the Monday morning back to school greetings in the school hallway between Príomhoide Tomás and his students and their parents
  • sit among the children and watch and listen as Tim Rylands wove his magic, conjuring the storytelling giant in each child, modelling ‘light touch’ classroom management as he went along.
  • see both Mr Walker and Mr Wheeler, not to mention the “pausing cup” being so deftly used by Tim as he rolled along
  • never actually find out the answer to “what IS that smell?”, and not minding!

How lucky.

The pictures taken by Hassan Dabbagh captured the mood really well.

Thanks to very many people, the #cesicon weekend (Feb 26/27/28) was very special this year.

The Friday night TeachMeet, co-hosted by Sarah Jayne Carey and Nigel Lane, was really good fun, and set the tone for the weekend – share and care. Details of all speakers and helpers are at the Irish TeachMeet Wiki, on the CESI mailing list and Hassan Dabbagh’s pics are at the CESI Flickr #tmcesi page. The crowd-sourced repoerts are at #tmcesi. The round-tabled disco-balled Regency Hotel ballroom was a terrific venue. The aprés-meet, or TeachEat, was as lively as ever on conference weekend, and there was (reportedly) good natured geekery, moon-walking and some serious codesharing until some very small hours.

On to #cesicon itself, which took place for a long Saturday in Dublin City Unversity. DCU framed the morning for us. President Brian McCraith opened the day with the announced of a ‘Bianca Ní Ghrógáin’ bursary, to be awarded to teachers excelling in creativity and research. It was fitting that we had the company of Bianca’s parents, Pauline and Gerry Grogan, at the conference to welcome this announcement. Prof Mark Brown then delivered a cracking keynote, raising an eyebrow at strategies digital and otherwise…slides are here:


Details of the day are on the CESI Conference 2016 page, at #cesicon, and visible in Hassan’s Flickr pics

The exhibitors “street” this year was central and lively and full of chat among attendees, and between attendees and vendors. Many of the vendors are now ‘frequent flyers’ and have become a welcome part of the CESI tribe.

My morning was spent with the Youth Media Team at their ‘teach the teachers’ workshop. I love seeing these students work so maturely. The fruits of their morning’s labour are on their site here. From there I went to chair a presentation by Noel King, in which he highlighted the creativity brought about by Coderdojo’s Coolest Projects. In his day job, Noel works with VSware (so he was working at as well as presenting at the conference – a first?); the presentation was about his voluntary projects. Both are of interest to many CESI folk; this mash-up represents the crossover s happening in our ever-evolving CESI universe.

After lunch I was part of ResearchMeet@RangBianca, a session designed to celebrate the spirit of Bianca, who combined the power of practice with the rigour of research. My own deep personal thanks is due to everyone who organised, attended, participated and shared. We are all richer for having been there. The addition of the BeeBot floor mat was inspired, and reminded us all why we were there.

The afternoon keynote was a special storytelling session with Tim Rylands and Sarah Neild. It was a Tim I hadn’t  seen before, a primeval Tim, allowing us to really experience what it is like to be a young learner in his class. It was very funny, and very humbling, to be there. Kudos to Sarah for a master class in subtle and powerful use of ‘invisible’ tech to knit the whole process together from the side.

Our special guests Gerry Gorgan and  Pauline Grogan, with presenters Leigh Graves Wolf and Joek Von Monfort enjoying the “Tim & Sarah show”

Having fun after the keynote and before the AGM. CESI Executives have a sense of humour to match their sense of duty. The conference 2016 working party pictured here with Keynotes Tim Rylands & Sarah Neild, and guests Pauline Grogan & Gerry Grogan. Front row – Tim Rylands, Sarah Neild, Adrienne Webb (Chair), Declan Whelan (Treasurer); 2nd row – Marie Collins (Secretary), Nigel Lane, Neil O’Sullivan, Richard Millwood, Brenda Walsh; 3rd row – Gerry Grogan, Pauline Grogan, Sarah Jayne Carey, John Hegarty, Elizabeth Oldham, Mark Glynn; 4th row – Hassan Dabbagh, Enda Donlon, Susan Nic Réamoinn, Miriam Judge, Mary Jo Bell, Mags Amond. Bianca loved this Tim-inspired pose and referred to is as “a #timfie”, so we did one in her memory.  A moment of shared joy.


Being a tourist in Dublin the next day with Tim, Sarah and Hassan was an eye-opener – I loved it, and definitely have to do that more often! I learned a lesson in negotiating outdoors and indoors with a companion using a wheelchair; the biggest obstacles are some of the other humans, the ones who just don’t “get it”. 

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Tim & Sarah on a culinary tour, and we celebrate Hassan finding his new spiritual home in Trinity!





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