#borderbites is a hashtag inhabited by group of friends. The ‘bites’ bit refers to the fact we love to eat together, and share experiences of good food. The ‘border’ bit is a loose geographic reference – Cavan-Monaghan, Cavan-Meath, Cavan-Leitrim. We are (usually) @magsamond, @caramcdermott, @cfoxcavan, @maudmonaghan, @doogarry and @foodborn, joined whenever possible by @tierneymajella and @jmlhayes. As the group more or less evolved via Twitter, we were happy to help out with social media coverage at this year’s Taste Of Cavan two day festival. Have a look at the resulting contributions to the original TOC accounts on Twitter and Facebook,  with new uploads to Instagram, Vine, and most fun of all, live updates with Cara on Snapchat.

IMHO, the Taste of Cavan is getting better every year, and truly is a credit to Cavan County.
Council officer Majella Tierney coordinates a team that seems to involve everyone from the CEO right through the entire County Council staff and beyond to a team of willing volunteers. Looking around over the two days of the event, I spotted a librarian directing traffic, a draughtsman sorting trash bins, a Director of Services on roadie duty helping stall holders getting set up, a road engineer fielding phone inquires…it was visibly and literally ‘all hands on deck’, and all done with a smile.

#TasteOfCavan has become a ‘don’t miss it’ local annual event. It is a great value family day out, with something for everyone – foods and drinks to taste, demos to watch, hands-on workshops, paint for faces (great fun with patient Ulster Bank staff making small folk very happy), experiments to try, farm animals to visit – name it and ToC has got it.

blogToC2blogToC3blogToC1

It is really tough to choose favourites, but here’s a baker’s dozen of my own highlights:

  1. Best family fun – the County Cavan Museum space – especially the spinning wheel, butter churning, and pride of place went to the 1916 photo booth (which was very popular with all who dressed up and came away with a period family picture for the mantlepiece. See below.) It has to be said – our museum curator Savina Donohoe is a National Treasure!
  2. Best food stand – Ciste Milis. Don’t just take my word for it – this won the Overall Award of ToC as well as the Best in Bakery award. It won on every level for me – proprietor Alan, aided by youngsters Oisin (11) and Liam (9) were amazing vendors, and their product, a selection of hand pressed shallow tarts, is top notch. Watch out for them.
  3. Best taste of any food product – the BlackBerry & Fig Balsamic Wild Wood vinegar by Fiontáin in Mayo. WOW!
  4. Best coffee – the late evening espresso from J&B Hope. Lifesaver.
  5. Best Chef demo – this was a tough category – but my top spot was chef Eddie Atwell preparing lunch without a stove – an eel from Lough Neagh cooked with a blowtorch, salad foraged from around his kitchen at St Kyran’s in Virginia, and dessert which included fudge made from…pineappleweed.
  6. Best suspense & fun – the inaugural Home Chef competition that was woven through the day. Six women and two men, all amateurs, brave enough to cook in front of an audience. A great idea by Neven Maguire. Well done to both winner Megan (salmon / cous cous / pesto) and runner-up Margaret (Corleggy goat cheese / zucchini frittata / spuds roast in home reared & rendered pig fat).
  7. Best Art / Craft – Jackie O’Neill’s embroidery-hooped mixed media canvasses, especially the Japanese collection.
  8. Best Inspiration – the Cavan County Council Pallet Garden area, which was beautifully presented. [It would have been even better if someone had been there all the time to give advice and explain how it was developed – let’s have that next year, please!]
  9. Best Groove – the event was enlivened every time the Cavan Big Band members took to the stand in the Ulster Bank Chill Zone.
  10. Best Transport – the “train” taking people in and out of town all day. Ding Ding.
  11. Best Science – Stem Aware investgative activities at the Cavan-Monaghan Science Week stand.
  12. Best Voluntarism – Cavan Cuan group, friends of Irish Cancer Society  – well done to Martina Lee Boyle and Co.
  13. Best Unexpected Beauty Advice – to keep skin smooth, use a mixture of natural yogurt and turmeric! Thanks for this goes to visiting inspirational guru of spices, Anjula Devi, who not only talks the talk but walks the walk. And who has now shared the secret of her eternal youth.

See you at #TasteOfCavan 2017.

PS – There was even time to indulge in a little historical cosplay – here we have some of the #borderbites brigade ‘on duty’ at the ‘GPO’ at the County Museum stand.

GPO6

Front row L to R: Cmdt. Cara ‘Curly’ McDermott, Sgt. Joanne ‘Jolly’ Hayes, Capt. Margaret ‘Honky’ Griffin.
Back row L to R: Maj. Mags ‘Markievicz’ Amond, Gen. Marie ‘Smiley’ McKenna, Brig. Catherine ‘Fixit’ Fox.
(Missing In Action – Gen. Majella ‘Superwoman’ Tierney and Col. Mairéad ‘Potter’ Quinn.)

 

 

 

Reflection on our group’s work from Tuesday afternoon to Thursday midday >>>

Adam, Derrick, Gabe, Gabrielle, Joaquin, Lesley, Mags, ans Simona – USA, Italy, Ireland and Mexico. We’ve been looking at tech tools for teaching, learning and assessment, and discussing the possibilities of integration them in the cooperative learning class environment. Emphasis on the relationships stuff to trump the tech stuff at all times.

We checked to see if the tech can run alongside the protocols of cooperative group. Are they incompatible as chalk and cheese, or made for each other like cheese and crackers?

Some of the tech tools seem to designed and built more for competition than for collaborative work; some are more suitable for individual use than for paired or group work; and on and on… and so we need to decide how to share ideas on this. To be continued. Online.

Tools examined so far have included lots of Google apps, PearDeck, GoFormative, Prezi, EdPuzzle, Quizlet, Screencastify, GifCam, Wideo.co, Explain Everything, Screencastify, Quizziz, Triventi, Newsela, Birdbrain Science – there were more, but my brain imploded! 

We also discussed the fact that in most schools in the USA, broadband / wifi flows like electricity and air, so they can depend on a chose tech pathway through today’s lesson will not be interrupted. <<<<<Makes me wonder when we in the Olde Worlde will catch up in this regard – better keep our pencils sharpened in the meantime.>>>>>

Cooperative Learning principles – using tech – can both happen together?

(Disclaimer of protest – this is an assignment set by evil teachers Adam and Derrick! In my world its almost bedtime. the other posts will be at https://padlet.com/aroubitchek/CoopTechSummer2016 )

We had a morning of trial and error trying out various apps – inc. Quizlet, Edpuzzle, Prezi and Peardeck. Each member of the group tried something from their curriculum. I chose Peardeck because I’d never heard of it. Basically, teacher builds a lesson with pre-formed stops for student interaction. The same prepared set looks different on teachers and student screens. https://www.peardeck.com/ (free and premium versions – free is fine).

Liked a lot – Students answers can be viewed, changed and saved. Student log on is very easy (but must be thru a Gmail account). A lot of group interaction can by built in. Liked less – not as intuitive to use as other new apps I’ve met recently; however, the positive affordances I’ve seen so far make me want to do some more with this. I was able to drop a prepared set of slides into it and make them into a far more dynamic resource. Gabrielle use it to gather reactions to a short movie clip.

I loved Joaq’s use of Quizlet, in a class for EFL, to get students constructing their sentences properly. Quizlet randomy sorted us into teams – loved that. I found I new very little about Superhero actors at the start, but much more at the end. This has terrific potential for embedding positive interdependence and social skills.

 

I only got to experience some of the Digital MegaMeet in Dublin Castle, part of the 2016 Excited Digital Learning Festival. This day long TeachMeet style program of teacher led CPD was planned and curated by Frank Walsh of Excited and Adrienne Webb of CESI, with Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin as Bean a’ Tí . But what I saw, I liked. Especially as the first thing I was offered was one of these with my coffee!digitalmegameetcupcakes
It was a really good experience for our CESI tribe to showcase to the teachers taking part that we are an organisation for everyone and anyone wishing to exploit tech in their classroom. I arrived as Fred Boss was deftly dealing with a room full of people looking down into their devices while they were also listening to him guide the room thru the Twitter #edchatie timeline and what it achieves. fred-edchatieAdrienne Webb, our current Chair, then gave an overview of CESI activities. John Hegarty explained the workings and value of “the CESI list“, and used the list-generated graphic below to show the diversity of the tribe.  I outlined the history and geography of our involvement with TeachMeet to date. (AND, thanks to Aoibhinn remembering why I was the one wearing luminous orange when everyone else was in elegant white, I got my plug in for the teachers present to make sure they got signed up for Code Week EU in October!).

CESI Word Cloud

teachmeet-slide

It was fun to see it get all mashed up in cyberspace when Tanya Morrison and Cara McDermott each tweeted us a hello, from Donegal and Cavan respectively, to tell us how they were enjoying the live stream.

Tanya-livestream Cara-livestream

The comfortable room, the wonderful ‘invisible’ technical support and infrastructure, the round tables encouraging camaraderie (Go, Table 10!!!), the wide mix of activities, all made for that good atmosphere of sharing that characterises a successful TeachMeet; and showed that upscaling needn’t necessarily mean downgrading.

table10digitalmegameetUp with this sort of thing! Leanne Ní Loinsigh, Susan Nic Réamoinn, Dermot Walsh, Mags Amond, Neil Butler and Tony Sweeney say hello from Table 10!

Full list of Digital MegaMeet speakers and activities is here

The videos streamed on the day are available available here 

 

#inspirefest did *exactly* what it said on the tin: it inspired, and it celebrated.

Thank you, Ann O’Dea. And the cracking team you lead.

inspirefest-logoI admit I was a tad apprehensive at the thought of facing into sitting in an auditorium for what looked like, on checking the Inspirefest program, two long day of sequential classes in school – but that feeling evaporated quickly. For a start, the seating was super comfortable (note to self, extra leg room in Row E), the staging (inc. timekeeping) was split-second professional, the Bean a’ Tí (Ann) was genial, modest, to-the-point. Breaks were frequent and coffee was on tap, food was delicious.  And the speakers were superb. One after the other, they challenged us to think, they educated us, they made us laugh and cry and argue and wonder. It was the best set of teachers you could line up for a Thursday and Friday in any school, anywhere.

( I was less-than-fashionably late arriving, and on arrival caught was a distinct buzz of delight from those who’d had a morning of stories already from Brenda Romero, Sinead Burke, Sue Black and others; and the ‘no delay’ when asked to get back to the auditorium was a sign of happy classroom campers if ever there was one.)

And to stretch the school analogy – the extracurricular events were pretty awesome in their own right. Researchfest, curated and compered by Arlene O’Neill, gave us short sharp presentations from 8 PhD researchers in Ireland. If their research turns out as successfully as their communications did, they are all heading for huge success. We in the audience may not have understood too much of their science, but the confidence they projected made us all very happy for the future. The Festival Fringe was terrific, I loved watching Zoe Philpott interacting with the audience while telling the story of Ada Lovelace and the analytical engine. Following Ada on stage was the sublime Lisa Hannigan, making for a beautiful finish to evening despite the rain.

Throughout the two days it was very good to meet so many girlfriends from so many facets of life, introduce them to each other, and in turn meet the girlfriends of my girlfriends, some of whom will in time become my girlfriends. And it was very very good to see the younger women / girls in the tribe getting a chance to meet with and glean the wisdom of the more experienced – and vice versa. From the mouth of babes

There was so much to take in, it will take so long to ferment and process – I’ve enjoyed reading the many blog posts and exit reports this week that echo my own thoughts. Kudos to Lucy Fruggle @lfruggle for catching the best of it here in her “40 ideas” post.

Of the myriad thoughts I heard, three keep rattling about in my head since I got home…

  • It’s far easier to do something about it than complain about it”, from Mary Carty. This is what Mary did when she co-founded Outbox Incubator last summer
  • It’s not what you know or who you know, but who knows what you know, that matters“, from Kelly Hoey. A woman of few words, many pauses, good advice.
  • When was the last time you did something for the first time?”, from Raju Narisetti, a self-confessed ‘token man’ whose contribution proved him to be far from that.  That thought should be written on the desk of every teacher, everywhere.

Cut ‘n paste from the other ‘take aways’ I jotted down, sitting comfortably in Row E:
Judith Williams, Global Head of Diversity, Dropbox – if you’re going to be serious about inclusion, be serious about inclusion. Audit yourself and your inclusivity.

Jeanne M Sullivan, Founder, StarVest Partners – superwoman isn’t less super as she gets older – tap into her capacity.
Robin Chase, Co-founder, Zipcar – talked the talk AND walked the walk
Nilofer Merchant, Author, ‘Onlyness’ – can’t wait to read this book, could have listened to Nilofer all afternoon, please please please have her as Keynote next year
Lorna Ross, Director of Design, Mayo Clinic – LOVED everything about this session, very important message about listening to the needs of the user when designing. What a terrific role model is Lorna.
Charlotte Blease, Centre for Medical Humanities, Leeds University – scary stats about errors in the medical world.
Lisa Helen, PHD Researcher, Tyndall National Institute – Wow, what a mind bender, the needle that knows where it is. Go, Lisa!
Dónal Holland, Developer, Soft Robotics Toolkit – what a teacher he must be. This was mesmerising, I can’t wait to go to a workshop. More and more reasons to support Maker Ed in schools and dojos. This, following the sensor-needles talk from Lisa, makes for very exciting medical advances in the near future.
Claire Calmejane, Director of Innovation, Lloyds – Fintech is way outside my comfort zone, but the talk was terrific and the video was very thought provoking (and hilarious).
Elena Rossini, Film maker – The Lottie Doll story was a lovely moment in the day, and I suspect everyone n the audience will be buying Lottoe of Rinn for thoer small folk soon.
Mary Carty, Co-founder, Outbox Incubator – soooh proud to be in this audience today.
Niamh Scanlon (EU Digital Girl of the Year 2015),  Edel Browne (Co-founder, Free Feet), Vanessa Greene (Founder and Host, Echoing STEM), Elle Loughran (STEM Student and Blogger) – I loved this because it shows the future of the country is secure.
Karla O’Brien – it was like a spark of lightning went through the room. A moment in time.
Jamila Abass, Founder, M-Farm –  a fine example of how tech and connectivity, used cleverly, really can move things onwards in remote and less developed communities of the world
Panel with Sharon Vosmek, Adam Quinton, Claudia Iannazzolm, Kara Swisher – fast and furious discussion on diversity and inclusion, furious literally. Us non-venture-capitalists in Row E had to whisper “what’s GP and LP?” to those in front of us, after that we caught up quickly. Adam Quinton is another serious non-token man, and whoagh – Kara Swisher and Sharon Vosmek take NO prisoners, do they? Up with this sort of thing – we need more rip-roaring disruptive panels like this at Irish conferences.
Liz Jackson, The Inclusive Fashion & Design Collective and Carrie Hammer, Role Models Not Runway Models – both completely made us sit up and think of the world from other perspectives.
Maureen Gaffney, Psychologist and Author of ‘Flourishing’ – great mathematics with which to end the day – how many positives does it take to cancel a negative? Ouch.

And so, back to where I started – thank you, Ann O’Dea and team. I attended as a guest; I left, all the richer, as an admirer and cheerleader.

 

Happy Summer Everyone
A little reminder that we are exactly 100 days out from the start of Europe Code Week 2016 – October 15th – 23rd inc.
A good time to get active on Social Media, to encourage people to get involved, to register our events :
 
Happy Coding!
 Mags Amond, Ireland Ambassador, Code Week EU 2016
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