Daily Archives: February 8, 2017

TeachMeet BETT details 2017 on the UK wiki page

TeachMeet is now a fixture in the Excel Arena on the Friday night of the BETT show. This year chief curator Drew Buddie invited Nathalie Scott and Amjad Ali to compere, and once more Martin Burret was the watchful tech supervisor and saviour (think of a Michael McIntyre [a silent version] / Marcel Marceau mash up – that’s the one!). ‘Action’ Jackson, his guitar and his enthusiasm were on stage also, getting us off our butts and mixing about.
This year the applications to speak were graded in favour of rookies and those who missed out last year – fair move, Drew! Bill Lord gave us a group challenge, via google docs, to get us thinking and chatting during the break.

My top takeaway from the presentations were Rowena Beedel’s idea using a Come Dine With Me format for peer assessment in biology revision (she had me at enzymes), and Louise Stone’s school radio run by digital leaders in a school for infants. She had me at school radio run by digital leaders in a school for infants. 

[ Can I hang a thought out here – is is just me, or is there a sort of ‘Excel ennui’ developing? The past few BETTs I’ve been increasingly underwhelmed with the Excel Arena as a venue for a TeachMeet – there is large expanse of anxiety-inducing distance between the stage and the bleachers where most of the audience likes to lounge about. It is Friday night, folk are tired but happy, and straight rows of straight backed seats just don’t call out ‘sit here’ to everyone. All those empty blue chairs must look scary from the presenters’ vantage point also. I long for the round wedding tables of the Olympia venue. It might be just me, but I’d fancy a switch back, if it could be done at no cost, to a venue where we could sit at tables with each other and have the chats.]

Which is exactly what we did when we left the Arena and headed across to Tapa Tapa for the social part of the evening – props to Dawn Hallybone for organising this for us, and to Lucas Moffitt of Knewton for hosting. It was a lovely venue with great company (and top notch tapas – who’d have thought zucchini could be sliced to such translucent thinness?). The exchange between us Irish teachers who’d travelled over, and our UK counterparts, was as good as ever. (And yes, you can all build and ark, sail over and live here with us.)

Thanks to Drew, Martin, Nathalie, Amjad, ‘Action’, Bill and Dawn for your voluntary work on behalf of your fellow teachers. See you all  in 2018. 💘 TeachMeet

This year, BETT was all about the small things – simple projects that students can get stuck straight into, small bots, small enterprises. All small but lovely. The Microsoft hosted maker space was full of free-form projects like the articulated hand made from straws but coded in Arduino; Pi corner gets more inspirational every year; the BBC microbit activities; Ozobots, Chickbots, floor bots of every shape and size (and price) all caught the eye.
labtocat-be5eee0434960a8f73e54910df8e87b8a5a3b2d651c0b301670c04a9cc26a70fThe Git Hub Education stand was eye-catching and excellent, staffed with enthusiastic and helpful youngsters, who team-tagged all day presenting introductory tutorials in their tiny cool ‘schoolroom’ booth. Any teacher launching in to teaching CS next September in Ireland, get yourself and your students signed up immediately.
The Google stand was mobbed, mainly with people inquiring about Chromebooks, and with enthusiasts (mea culpa) having a go with the new $10 stylus.

The other fab section was that with the small educational software stands, many run by sole traders or tiny business. I went to find Pobble (I’d met founder Simon at Practical Pedagogies in November), and I was not disappointed – this is a super idea for getting children’s writing out to audience that will give them meaningful feedback. Primary teachers – have a look.
The other stand I could’t miss was the Entreprenaws app for teaching children about business, fronted with enthusiasm and grace by Irishman Dylan McCarthy. Although I haven’t a business oriented bone in my none, he had me making and selling smoothies to puppies within minutes – maybe I’ll be rich yet. Dylan is a truly great ambassador for Ireland in the UK education system.


The Excel centre didn’t seem as annoyingly noisy this year; and though it wasn’t terrific, the wifi was better than last year’s debacle. As ever, the highlight of the visit to BETT is meeting friends from near and far. Where else would you see a Friday morning entrance greeting like this one from Lisa Stevens?

Thanks to the “BETT Fellowship” of CESI & ICTEDU travellers – Pamela, Adrienne, Hassan and John – for the wonderful company, at the conference, on the tube and DLR, around the city. (Remaining sterling coins already stashed for next year; first one to spot the cheap flights to the East End, shout out!).

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