Monthly Archives: February 2011

A school with no bell

 Gomer School

Photo by Philven licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Writing this post reminded me of the song “Pub with no beer”. Think of a pub and you think of beer, think of a bakery and you think of bread, think of a school and I’m sure a few people would mention bell as their answer.

Yet, my school has decided to abandon the school bell to signify time periods throughout the day.

The following passage is taken from the staff handbook:

The school will adopt a no bells policy and not use the traditional bells to announce the start or end of school or recess and lunch breaks. We are working towards establishing a calm, positive learning environment where we encourage chuildren to accept responsibility for time managmenet and self discipline. Children move calmly towards their classrooms at the start of the day and at the end of break times, as opposed to the mad rush that can happen in schools when music starts and the bell rings. By not having a bell we are also demonstrating respect for our community, many of whom are shift workers or stay-at-home mums with small children who do not need to be irritated by the regular unplesant noise of a clanging bell. We are determined to establish a culture that is in the best interests of our children and our community. Bells are an unnecessary relic from the past that have no place in our beautiful, modern school.

I will admit I was skeptical at first; how on earth were over 400 students going to make it back to their rooms on time without any signal that they were required there ? However, in the interest of innovation and willing to explore new ideas, I supported the idea.

So, at the end of each session the teacher would simply allow students to exit. Each of our classrooms has an external door that opens out onto our school yard.  At the end of recess and lunch, the yard duty teacher would simply remind students that there was five minutes left till classes started and it might be good to start moving back to their rooms. This leads to a calm, orderly movement of people through the school back to their rooms.

No longer is there the mad dash of junior school students who bolt across the playground in a bid to be the first ones in line. I also haven’t encountered any students arriving back at class with issues that “happened when the bell went.”

The concept of no bells is one that has taken some getting used to. I’ve noticed when I haven’t been teaching how easy to be working through a task and be totally unaware of what time it is.  As a staff we have also noticed the need for synchronised clocks throughout the building. This task has been taken care of by our maintenance staff but it doesn’t take long before they become out of synch again. (I’m hoping we can find a technological solution to this problem – The phones in classrooms all have a time display so I can see this being a solution to this problem)

Does your school operate without bells ? How have you found the experience ?

Create a wow factor with Web 2.0

This post is in response to Activity #6 in the Edublogs Kick Start Your Blog Teacher Challenge.

Wow ! The post for this challenge featured a huge list Web 2.0 resources to use and consider embedding into blog posts. Here’s my road test and feedback after using a few of them.

Answer Garden

Didn’t need to sign up to create
Creator can setup password to moderate replies, but requires an e-mail address to do so.
Easy to use

Possible Uses:
– Good for work on adjectives eg: Describe this character, this event etc… How do you feel about… ?
– Brainstorming about keyword\topic – What do you think of when you hear the word…. ?


– Need to create an account (Only require e-mail address to retrieve forgotton password)
– At first I found this a little hard to use. Realised that by leaving mouse over the textbox you get more options.



Possible Uses:
– Have used concept mapping in the past with Senior Students (Grade 5\6 – ages 10-12) when watching Behind the News as a way of recording and displaying information.


– Had to create username and password

I must have used this one before, but I couldn’t remember my username and password. A few attempts and I was in, This was fun  and I spent far too long playing with this one.



Possible Uses:
– Pictures to support blog posts (I know the blog What Ed Said uses images created from this site extensivly in blog posts)
– Literacy activities: Create a procedure in the form of a comic.



Possible Uses:
– Have used this in the past to create tuning in videos for students prior to exploring a concept or idea. Did some work with our numeracy coach last year in creating videos to look at problem solving in maths. Check out Rhonda and Barry and their dog food challenge.
– Students create short videos to explain their learning.

Google Forms

I had seen this used before and had filled in forms for others, but only recently discovered\worked out how to set this up for myself. Previously when completing surveys, I had used the free version of Survey Monkey which limits the number of questions you can ask using your free acount. Google Forms (to my knowledge) doesn’t restrict the amount of data you can collect.

I have created an “Getting to know you” survey for students to complete when I start back at school this year to assess what they have done previously in ICT, what interests them and what they would like to explore in our lessons.

Completing this challenge though did remind me though of a recent conversation on Twitter. with regards to web 2.0 sites that were once free require you to pay for using their services once their popularity increases. As a teacher who struggles to promote Web 2.0 tools to others I work with, to only have a site be shut down or charge for services that were once free makes it that extra step harder to convince others to get on board.