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Mostly I don't blog here anymore. My main blog is over here at Acting to Improve
Still while I'm just in case anyone still subscribes to this one I thought I'd mention some good news I got today.
The Classroom Displays Blog is a finalist in the Edublogs Awards 2006 in the Best Audio and/or Visual blog category. I'm delighted to be in such good company. There's lots of interesting stuff going on in the edublogs and having a good look round the nominations is quite inspiring.

Posted at 8:53:27 pm by lmhartley
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Maman. Get yours at

Posted at 6:49:16 pm by lmhartley
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Degree Result

My Result:


There are 140 of us from Cohort 1 and the standard has been described as 'exceptional'. Wow!

Posted at 3:44:19 pm by lmhartley
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Graduateness in my context
Neil Kinnock once famously said that many of my generation were the first 'working class' to attend university. Well, not in my family, and not for many Scots. My grandfather and great-grandfather were both alumni of Glasgow University. My father never went because architecture was an indentured profession and took 7 years rather than the 3 needed for university. It was assumed by all that his training was as high if not higher than degree level. It was also assumed by all, including me, that I would attain a degree at 21.
There's a very long tradition of reverence for learning in my family. There's also a long tradition of independent thinking. (2)

Actually I'm descended from the younger sister.
Stop going on about ancestors! Concentrate!What does it mean to be a graduate?
Cardinal Newman (3) thought the graduate was a paragon, a man who could analyse and see the way clearly to the heart of any subject.....
"Carlyle said his (Newman's) brain was that 'of a medium-sized rabbit.' "(4)
Another distant ancestor from lowly origins, that was, Thomas Carlyle. Echlefechan has produced some interesting people for such a tiny hamlet (many of them graduates). He was rector (headmaster) of Annan Academy in 1820, less than a hundred years later the post was held by my great-grandfather.
This won't do at all! Stop wandering all over the place! What does graduateness mean?
OK - back to boring grey :-(
In my quest to define it I was advised to make two lists- they didn't help much:
G Graduates1
From a posting to my learning set
10 words or phrases associated with
1. undergraduate:
wears a rugby shirt
bad hair
nervous wreck at this time of year
OK not sure I'm getting much out of this exercise :-)
I plead guilty to bad hair, broke, nervous wreck and untidy, ashamed to admit I might be a bit boring too !
2. Graduate
very broke (often with cripling overdraft that they are now expected to pay off)
wears a suit or similar
unemployed or flips burgers unless it was a 'good' degree in a shortage subject
student teacher (whole subcategory requiring considerable restraint for a TA not to rant)
NQT (ditto)
clever (has certifcate to prove it!)
smug (oops, was that envy creeping in there? lol)
survivor (very important that one!!!)
(posted in my Learning set)

The conclusion they led to was that in my opinion for most graduates it's all about getting a good job.
But I've got a job and I am gainfully employed and to be brutally honest you sold me this degree on the basis that I didn't need another job because I liked the one I had. <Sigh>
Yes, well, you don't like it so much now do you? Always moaning about finding some other job aren't you? Well maybe the degree will help you do that, oh for goodness sake you've got me doing it now! Get on with the subject in hand! The word count will all be gone at this rate!! Do a bit about the way graduateness changes the way you think - come on!
Many people have said (you can't say that give a reference for goodness sake - do I have to do everything??)
X suggests that graduateness (vile word) bestows a particular level or quality of thought. It presupposes the inferiority of the thinking skills of those external to the academy. I am unconvinced of the truth of this proposition. I have a slightly strange perspective on all of this. 20 odd years ago I walked away 6 weeks from the end of a B.Ed. I'd taken my academic finals and had only final teaching practice to do. If graduateness exists was I excluded from it by those 6 weeks?
Hadn't my analytic skills already developed?
Well yes, perhaps, but we live in a time of life-long learning. So the skills I may have learned all those years ago needed to be up-dated. Like my ancient A levels they were too old to be of academic value. I had proved that I could once think to graduate level but not that I still could or did. Here's where the

'value added' might come in.
Spours and Hodgson's (1996, p. 5)
"Using the same input/output notion as in economics, value-added has been used to describe the difference between the state of knowledge or qualifications of a student on course entry and her/his state on exit. By taking the starting point of the learner into account, it is possible to consider the extent to which both a course and an institution have been responsible for any progress made. " (4)

OK starting point of the learner is vital according to this definition. Mine would have to be
educated to degree level but without achieving the qualification. Qualifications at NVQ3/A level
So my start point was quite high. This was clear in modules in years 1 & 2 where very high grades were achieved (including 2 90% marks).
End point
Degree level qualification at a reasonably high grade but not beyond. In moving into level 3 work the marks have dipped with only 1 so far achieving an excellent (78% for Methodology Justification and Literature Review). It seems unlikely therfore that I will now acheive a First but a 2/1 should be within my capacity. Unlikely that the degree will be adequate to consider further post-graduate formal study, especially given my age.
Financial Costs incurred by institution
minimal - 1/30th or so of an LF salary per yr for 3 yrs, some paper work, provision of limited access to digital library, provision of access to FirstClass
Finanicial costs to me
1800 (hmm they may even have made a profit on me!) + books + broadband +
Value added in my context?
In the language of value added I will have made a leap to being a graduate. It is not unreasonable to assume this should provide me with improved employment prospects so long as I am able to move away from this area. (Local conditions mean relatively high graduate unemployment or graduates taking jobs well below their level - note I personally know 3 Teaching Assistants who are already graduates, 2 of them also have PGCE). The question of my age and relative lack of experience outwith the school system may also mitigate against this improvement in prospects.
Indirectly the degree has changed and continues to change aspects of my current job. It was because of my undertaking the degree that I moved into the research post. That gave me opportunities to become part of collaborative action research projects. Now I'm moving into a role where I'm working with adults some of the time (a few hours a week) in my role as well-being facilitator. I've run feedback workshops and will be co-running staff meetings. At my recent annual review I was commened on all aspects of my work but especially contribution I've made to the research network.
(posted to my learning set)

Margaret Wilson, a Coventanter who refused to recognise the Book of Common Prayer. The painting shows her chained to rocks on the Solway Firth where she and another woman were condemned to death by drowning in 1685. It is said that as the tide rose she defiantly quoted and sang from scripture,
John Everett Millais
Walker Art Gallery.
(4) Spours, K., & Hodgson, A. (1996). Value-added & raising attainment: A formative approach. A resource pack for practitioners. Poole: BP Education Service.

Posted at 4:51:20 pm by lmhartley
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Defending from attack

This adversarial process with its use of the language of battle seems oddly archaic to me and counter to the spirit of first person action research. My first instinct is that this is an expression of a patriarchal, hierarchical, academic system. The partiarchal model I'm referring to in this instance isn't gendered, but a reflection of the academic power structure. The degree is in some ways shaped to resemble post graduate research. In universities the vivat or defence is part of the process of awarding the higher degree. It often consists of a long adversarial questioning of the research undertaken during which the candidate must 'defend' their research.
"Nothing is more symbolic of the competitive climate in academe than the final oral in which committee members 'grill' candidates while they 'defend' their research. Committee members often compete among themselves, as if knowledge were combat sport, to see who can deliver the knockout blow."
(Kerlin 1998)
As part of this aping of the Ph.d. defence process I felt I was expected to toughen up and robustly defend my work against a style of critique adopted by the learning facilitator as a pose to ensure we had enough critical feedback to defend against. This was for me a totally negative experience which caused considerable emotional fallout. Writing this now part of me feels I should have been able to handle destructive criticism, to see it for the masquerade it was. It wasn't the criticism of the research I couldn't handle but rather the tone used to deliver it. I had good quality feedback from my exhibition that would have provided me with adequate points to cover for the 'defence', and my peer review partners had also provided questions. This feedback whilst critical preserved a positive tone which allowed me to consider and answer the points.
I feel quite strongly that there was a push from the learning facilitators in the learning set to encourage us to make our own peer reviews closer to the kind of thing I'd received. We resisted this, kept our criticism friendly, focussed and positive. We (Andy Roberts, Eve Thirkle and myself) have a long history of peer reviewing each other's work dating back to term one of the degree. During that term we found and agreed some guidelines for reviewing work which have simply passed into our practice(2). We were not going to abandon them now. Instead we provided each other with praise and questions in equal measure. Strong questions were posed to allow us to expand on areas where we felt the work needed further exposition, sometimes because as we already knew that more evidence existed but had not yet been included, sometimes because we wanted to highlight areas of weakness that needed to be strengthened. We did not hold back from asking powerful questions but we asked them in a way that was not destructive.
This collaborative approach changes the tone so it ceases to be a 'defence' of the research and becomes an exposition, an extension of the exhibition and allows us to explain in more depth aspect of the research.
We also explored the possibility that as external voices we might have a more objective view of each other's research. This led to Andy Roberts and I 'writing each other's conclusions'. This was a very positive thing for both of us allowing us to gain new insights into our research.
(1) Kerlin, BA.(1998) Pursuit of the Ph.D.: Is it good for your health?, Paper presented at the 4th International Multidisciplinary Qualitative Health Research Conference Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, February 19-21, 1998. available, url last accessed 5/5/06
(2) Roberts A, (2004) Peer Review Guidelines, Ultrastudents swiki "Try to strike a good balance between negative and positive comments. Too much praise and flattery can be misleading as well as nauseating but when criticising it is all important to be tactful, since in a text-only medium it is easy to interpret remarks as a personal attack even though none is intended." quoted at:Ultrastudents wiki

Posted at 12:09:11 pm by lmhartley
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Impact is often a slow burn

Impact - big issue for me at the moment in the Validation and Defence module. I wrote a long blog post and reflection about it over at Acting to Improve. So there I am this lunchtime when I get a message there's a TA meeting about behaviour management at 1pm. I knew there'd been a teacher meeting about it earlier in the week so no great surprise there. Ah - but then I get to the meeting and am amazed to find some research I did for my ILM2 last year being handed out and people being told that my recommendations about levels of unacceptable behaviour and clear consequences are about to become school policy, with full credit being given to yours truly for having done the ground work. I thought it had all vanished without trace. I didn't get one of my better marks for the work and had more or less written it off. It's taken a whole year, talk about a slow burn! So what are the implications of this for my current research impact?

Posted at 5:02:35 pm by lmhartley
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Workshop Reflections

My degree exhibition workshop was in school last week where staff could come and view the site whilst I supported, answered questions and gathered feedback. Scheduled to last about 30 minutes it went ran from 3pm through to 4.30 with people coming in and staying for between 20 and 40 minutes. People looked, talked, ate cake afterwards :-).
Click on the image to see a slideshow of the event.
It was very different to the pilot exhibition. I got lots of feedback, mostly positive but some critical too.
I'm going to reflect on it using Gibbs Reflective Cycle.
There was feedback from what people said in person, from my observations, from the exit survey (which worked surprisingly well collecting lots of qualitative data) and from blog comments. There's been feedback since too with learning journal observations of informal conversations and a couple of interviews.
Now I'm wondering about how best to measure impact in school after a very positive interview with my head teacher.

Posted at 6:17:29 pm by lmhartley
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Classroom Displays Blog on the TES site

The Classroom Displays blog got blogged by someone at the TES!
UK Educational Resources - TES - The Times Educational Supplement
Classroom displays by teachers around the world are now commonplace on the web. For example, go to the and you will find detailed examples of work displayed by teachers. Some of them have linked their pages to Flickr (, which is a free photo uploading service that allows you to share comments on pictures.

It's a really interesting article about the shift web 2.0 is causing in education resource production, too. So there's evidence of impact :-) Fits very neatly with my research findings.
On a less happy note some one managed to mess up the link in the article so I've em-mailed the TES to see if it can be fixed.

Posted at 1:41:40 pm by lmhartley
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My Degree Exhibition

My Degree Exhibition is now open.
Come and see my research, find out what I've been doing for the last 3 years :-) Come one, come all! But don't forget to leave me some feedback, please.
The actual f2f event will be in the ICT suite on Wednesday after school. I'm going to wander round supporting/talking to people about the research while they explore the exhibition. I've got back up cd's for them in case the internet crashes. Wish me luck :-)
I've got another version to share with the children - that should be interesting too!

Posted at 12:07:28 am by lmhartley
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Just when I give up on a goal in 43Things I have to sort it out after all! I gave up trying to learn more about Dreamweaver yesterday. All this web 2.0 stuff makes it irrelevant right? Wrong! Last night I realised that for my exhibtion I need to make anchors to definitions in the glossary page. Can't do that in VoodooPad (memo to self - moan about that on the VoodooPad list!) so I have to open up Dreamweaver and edit the two VoodooPad html export docs. Ah well - it actually took about 10 minutes to work out how and do it :-) But I was really grumpy that I had to!
So this counts as learning more about software packages, which I was convinced I wouldn't do in Module 3 as I'd sworn not to do a presentation.
I'm happy with the way the web site for the exhibition is coming on. It needs more visuals, and I'm deeply tempted to add some video/audio stuff - just to make it less boring for me if nothing else!
The plan for the exhibition is a little unusual . I'm putting it on-line as a web site on March the 6th .Then on March the 8th I'm holding an afterschool workshop in the ICT suite. After a brief introduction from me I'm going to do what I do best in there and wizz round supporting people while they explore the exhibtion. It should be fun, if a bit manic! It should give me chance to make observations, collect feedback, and generally prevent the 'it's very nice - so where's the cake?' syndrome!
There will be cake and coffee of course, but that will be in the staffroom afterwards. You can't take food and drink into the ICT suite. Sneaky? Me? lol!

Posted at 11:48:16 am by lmhartley
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