Nick Dennis's Blog

Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

Category: London History Network

Coming up…

Now that term has started, it is time to dust off the blog for the new academic year. To kick things off, below is a list of things that are helping the working process, I am working on and events coming up…

  1. 4Matrix – Results analysis software with the emphasis on tackling in-school variation. Really pleased with the product so far and hope they can include options for independent schools/Sixth Form analysis.
  2. Due – task reminder app on iPhone and iPad. Very handy when you need to note something down quickly. This app has quickly become one of my favourites.
  3. Xobni for Outlook – I run Windows 7 on a Mac Mini and this makes Outlook ‘bearable’ (copyright Doug Belshaw). Especially after using the Mac version of Outlook.
  4. Planbook for iPad/Mac – great teacher planner.
  5. Felsted MIS – really pleased with the development this year and if I say so myself, the grade book is a thing of beauty. If you visit the school, we will be happy to show you how it works.
  6. Visit from Belgrano Day School, Buenos Aires 15th September – I had a great time visiting this school in the summer and look forward to returning their great hospitality. Steak not included.
  7. Mobile Learning: Now and the Future event, 28th September – one day conference with Steve Molyneux and some guy called Doug Belshaw.)
  8. Meeting with the GSMA about a potential mobile learning project…
  9. Apple Regional Training Centre at Felsted 20th October – sign up coming soon. We will be looking at ePub books for iPad amongst other things. Get in touch if you want to come to the Tatler and Financial Times cited event.
  10. London History Network at the National Archives, Kew 21st October – premier event for History teachers in (and around) London. Ben Walsh, textbook author and researcher, will give the keynote and we will also be hosting a TeachMeet session.
  11.  Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence. Read it. Now.

Also working with Square Code on a few things. Welcome back to the new term!

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London History Network 21st October at the National Archives

Esther and Jenny relaxing after the Network event in January

Esther and Jenny relaxing after the Network event in January

Despite being on a different continent, History is always on my mind and with that, I am pleased to announce that the next meeting of the London History Network will be held at the National Archives, Kew. Textbook author and speaker Ben Walsh will be providing the Keynote address and there will also be a TeachMeet session. The previous meeting at the Department for Education was a huge success so register quickly – space is very limited!

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SHP Reflections


Ian Dawson holding court

As usual, it has taken me some time to process this year’s Schools History Project conference in all its glory. Held over a July weekend at Trinity and All Saints, Leeds, the conference is the premier event in the country for History teachers. Packed with workshops by innovative practitioners, I always walk away with ideas and challenges for the forthcoming year. My personal workshop highlight this year was seeing Johannes Ahrenfelt and Neal Watkin in action. Their session covered making the subject relevant to learners today but with a deep appreciation of pedagogy. I was particularly inspired by the work Neal is doing in school – more to come in a future post…


Neal Watkin at work

Neal Watkin at work

As always, I ended up missing some workshops due to scheduling and hearing the conversations about how great the workshops were did not make me feel any better! One interesting plenary session that I was able to see was the work of the Black and Asian Studies Association in conjunction with Dan Lyndon and Martin Spafford. The use of academic research in schools is so exciting and as we are rewriting our schemes of work/learning, I hope to get my hands on some of the showcased material.

I did not run a workshop this year but helped organise the second TeachMeet SHP edition at the conference. Last year we had around 30 delegates attend. We were given a much larger room this year and I was very pleased to see that the presenters drew a large crowd!


TeachMeet SHP edition


Once again, I must thank Don Cumming, Mark Stacey, Esther Arnott, Lesley Ann McDermott, Terry Haydn, Neal Watkin, Nichola Boughey, Sally Thorne and Julie Wright for giving such great presentations and putting up with me snapping away on my camera. I hope that for next year’s conference I will not have to twist the arms of people I know and I must give a special mention to Julie Wright for ‘walking the talk’ about a growth mindset and getting up and giving a presentation about Carol Dweck’s work in the context of the History classroom. I also need to thank Pearson for kindly providing sponsorship for the event and  Michael Riley for having the wisdom to see what a TeachMeet could do despite my very poor explanation of the format. I believe that the forthcoming London History Network event in October will also have a TeachMeet session so if you would like to come along, please sign up on the website!

One of the best things about the conference is the collegiate atmosphere cemented by many a conversation and Ian Dawson’s saturday evening extravaganza. Unfortunately, not everyone can make it to Leeds so I was very pleased to hear that the ‘SHP Family’ will be making a day excursion to London on the 26th November to hold an event in the British Library. If you would like to come along and gain some of the best CPD ever, please check the SHP website, Twitter feed and Facebook page.

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How to improve your history teaching in under three hours

One of the most positive things in my early history teaching career was going to the Schools History Project Conference and learning from experienced and supportive practitioners like Ian Dawson, Christine Counsell, Dan Lyndon and residents from the History Teachers’ Dicussion Forum. Being able to ask the leading lights in my field questions on everything from curriculum issues to classroom tips helped me enormously as did the conversations in the pub afterwards.

Esther Arnott and a few other history teachers (myself included) are organising a free event for history teachers in London so they can also benefit from a positive supportive atmosphere and share ideas and resources. Based at the Department for Education on the 28th January (Friday) from 5pm-7.30pm, the agenda looks like this:

Opening address: Sue John – Headteacher, Lampton School
Keynote: Richard McFahn (Humanities Adviser, West Sussex) and Neil Bateson on enquiry-led learning
Meet the chief examiners – controlled assessment
TeachMeet – sharing ideas

If this appeals, please go to the site and register your interest. We already have around 30 teachers making their way to the event to learn, share and improve their teaching and the learning of their students. A pretty effective use of three hours and it will certainly improve what you do. Did I mention that it was free? 🙂

Look forward to seeing you there.

UPDATE: London History Network poster attached. Please distribute to any interested parties.

Image: Pedro Guridi @ Flickr

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