Today we held the first kidsmeet at Hawes Side, Blackpool. The format was similar to a teachmeet with one or two differences. The schools in the most part, signed up via the wiki, presentations were limited to seven minutes (although timings weren’t too precious) and presenters were randomly selected over the course of the afternoon. What made this event different was the fantastic efforts not of teacher, but the children involved. Pupils ranging from Y1 to Y6 stood in front of a packed hall presenting their exciting and innovative approaches to learning with, and without, technology.
As adults we stood in awe of our young learners. Many presenting for the first time but so confident in their delivery, so sure about the tools and techniques they shared. It was a great sight to behold, those in attendance (children and adults) left with a whole host of new ideas to try out back at school, but confident in the knowledge that others are doing the same for what they shared was tried and tested, in the classes and homes of these primary pupils. What today did was open up huge potential for this kind of sharing, both face to face and virtually and today I’m sure, will be the first of many such events.
When discussing the day we toyed with a number of different formats and styles but we were keen to keep it as close to a teachmeet as possible and this worked really well. The children showed respect for each other’s presentations and great support for their peers going through the same emotions before, during and after their talks. The time sitting and listening was not a problem for even the youngest there as they were all fully engrossed in the experience. A primary pad was set up by @primarypete_ to enable children to converse in real time as we tweeters do at such events. Indeed there were plenty of tweets flying around the room as well and it was great to see the presenters receiving such encouragement and support from the wider world. The whole of kidsmeet was filmed and broadcast live via http://www.kidsmeet.org.uk as set up by @mister_jim and children back in classes were able to sit and watch their friends. If they had any doubt, the children knew the event was more than just those in the room when @oliverquinlan presented via skype from Robin Hood Primary in Birmingham and @ianaddison’s pupils shared their work from Hampshire. Tom Sale (@tomsale) kept the event moving along and played additional presentations during the break including one all the way from Princeton New Jersey USA! The break also gave the children time for the children to try out games consoles, enjoy the buffet and mix with their peers from other schools.
Many made long journeys to be here in person and it was fantastic to see @chrismayoh and his pupils from Bradford and @raff31 and his children from Liverpool. Schools from Preston, Blackpool and Fleetwood made shorter journeys and none came as far as two visiting principals from New South Wales in Australia who had a fantastic time at the event and were blown away by what they saw. Ross and Jenny stood up at the end to say a few words and are now keen to take the idea back to their schools on the other side of the world.
The event was compared by Bill Lord (@joga5) with humour, consideration, excitement and understanding. Bill made the children feel comfortable and confident when presenting and kept the afternoon ticking along. When there are pauses between presenters it is great to have someone who can expand on the themes and provoke discussion. Bill did just that and also gave a short keynote which was both fascinating and fun hitting the right spot with everyone in the room – not an easy task!
Kidsmeet was a huge success and one that we all want to build on in the future. The children have a taste for presenting, I don’t think they’d let us drop it now anyway! For a full list of all those in attendance check out the kidsmeet wiki. I’d like to thank them all for making the day so special. The fantastic efforts of everyone involved will no doubt ensure the event lives long in the memory of all those who came.