#Shedheads in Room 13

At Greenfield Arts we have 5 very talented and extremely creative #shedhead artists in residence until the end of 2014. As well as using all of the very clever digital equipment in our Shed Space, they have been using Room 13, on occasion, as a place to be creative, collaborate and explore ideas.

20140517-151209.jpgImage courtesy of #shedhead1 Nicola Parkin

It’s a pleasure to have them working with us.

Our chief #shedhead is in the process of developing 2 community projects and 1 school project which will see more of our community able to access our facilities and realise some of their own curiosity & creativity.


As part of that programme, groups will be using Room 13 and SOLE to explore ideas, before generating exciting new designs and products.

Engine Head guest post

The Engine Heads are getting the message out there with this great image designed by our friend Dan Walls.


Image courtesy of Dan Walls illuminationwallart

Guest post from one of the Engine Heads – Sam

“Room 13 is an absolutely great room to learn in as it brings the outdoors indoors which I think is really clever. I love learning in an environment like this. It has grass on the PCs which is a great idea as it makes it blend in and it also hides the wires and tower inside. I also like having the Xbox one in the room with Skype because we can video call people in different countries and learn about their culture. Overall the room is enjoyable and very fun to use.

It is easier to work without teachers there because we can talk amongst ourselves about work and other things. When we are in classrooms we can feel pressured to do the work with the teacher telling us what to do which makes it harder. The teachers who have been in the room with us try and ask us different questions now but it does depend on the teacher.

The engine heads want to find ways to make it easier to learn and more fun to learn. ”

A few words from another Engine Head – Ryan

“Hi and I am an engine head and in room 13 I have been doing sole sessions in this room. This is a great room for things like English because when I had English we shared all our ideas in front of the room. If you are on the computers with 4/5 other people there are chairs or a bench around it so we can share loads of ideas and then at the end you’re full of ideas from other people!”

The Engine Heads

Engine: definition
“A machine with moving parts that converts power into motion.”

Meet our “Engine Heads”
The self named group includes Josh, Emily, Max, Sam, Lucy R, Lucy M, Milly and Ryan but they are keen to collect comments from classmates and for others to take part.



The ‘Engine Heads’ are lovely young people who are driving things forward and revving things up in Room 13!

The group recently met with Sugata and are now putting some of their great ideas into action.

They are planning a SOLE question for a teachers session which they are going to run and they are putting together a short presentation about their experiences in Room 13 to share with the rest of the school.

The ‘Engine Heads’ are in grid position and are raring to go…

Lovely things are blossoming!


Room 13 is blossoming.

Young people are making marvellous things happen in Room 13. We have some particularly enthusiastic young people who are regularly using the space. The cool, self named, Room 13 ‘engineheads’ have big plans! Ryan, an ‘engine head’ in Y8, left me a note on my desk the other morning that said “Are traditional teaching techniques the most effective for today’s schools?” Powerful stuff. Big questions. More from them shortly…

Does red go with black?

…This is one of the many SOLE questions that were explored this week.


Here is a sample of a few others…

What makes ant colonies and bee hives so effective and how can this be applied to sport?

If artists depicted WW1 and WW2 what would be different?

Why does it rain a lot in some places but very little in others?

What makes coca cola’s branding so effective and why?

How did Romans count numbers?

What makes the world go round?

….what shall we ask next???

Professor Sugata Mitra visits Greenfield


It’s been an absolute pleasure to have worked with classes of our amazing students today, fantastic Greenfield staff, wonderful visitors/colleagues and all in the company of the inspiring Professor Sugata Mitra. What’s not to love?!

Room 13 was filled with curious questions and not to mention a visit from our talented friend Ben from Capture Films, who did just what his company name suggests, and captured it all on film! Can’t wait to see the footage once it’s been edited. Watch this space.

As well as a number of fab SOLEs, today was a great chance to talk with Sugata about the whole TED prize winning “School in the Cloud” (SiTC) project. We caught up on the work of our partners across the globe in India and had some good conversation about our research so far and other potential research that may be needed.

Super. Some smashing SOLEs session!
I’m excited about next week…!

SOLE Searching

A guest post by a teacher from Greenfield who used Room13 for the 1st time.

” How would I balance what I believe to be the principles of SOLE with my need to be in control?

I didn’t know what my year 7s were going to discover from their enquiry but I did know what I wanted them to grasp about being self organised learners in a space which was new to them and full of wonderfully exciting things to use. Hence, when we entered the room I simply asked them to stand still, look around and tell me what they noticed. Along with being ‘wowed’ by grass, rabbits and wonderful resources they noted how tidy and special the room felt. It made a real impact on them.

Two minutes after entering the room they were into their self selected groups with their nominated ‘supervisors’ and a deputy ensuring all settled swiftly to work. I was amazed! The working noise level was calm and the movement around the room looked purposeful.

With just one involvement from me, a reminder to the supervisor that it was soon time to share findings, the groups self organised their feedback. They took turns to speak, instinctively moving closer to the presenters to listen. They listened in silence without anyone asking for silence. Their presentations showed considerable thought about the question.

So far so good (I might even say brilliant, but I’m biased, I know) but what about a tidy end without me being a controlling teacher? All I did was quietly ask them to stand back and look at what they noticed. They thought about their feelings when they first came in and without me saying anymore the room was returned to its wonderful ‘wow’ state , ready for the next enquiry.”


“What is going to be the future of learning?”

That is the question Professor Sugata Mitra asked at the beginning of his TED talk, “Build a School in the Cloud”, a little over a year ago in February 2013.


We here at Greenfield in Newton Aycliffe UK, alongside 6 other areas chosen by Professor Mitra to be ‘School in the Cloud’ TED supported areas (Killingworth UK, Phaltan India, Gocharan India, Korakati India, Chandrakona India and Kalkaji India) have all embarked on an exciting journey together to explore that question.


Exactly a year after Sugata posed that question and following lots of planning, building, blood, sweat and tears Room 13 ‘School in the Cloud’ space was launched. It was Thursday 13th February 2014 to be precise. Almost 3 months ago now and we have used that time, which has been bloomin’ busy, to test the space and support staff, students and the wider community to become more familiar with SOLEs (self organised learning environments) and a different way of working.

We are now in a strong position to begin to understand how working in a different way and how having a space that promotes curiosity and learning, but is nothing like a classroom, is affecting learning in our Greenfield Community and beyond!

There have been over 110 hours of SOLE activity since we launched Room13 and over 330 people using the space for SOLE!

That’s not too shabby for under 3 months of operation…but what does any of that mean?

There are lots of questions we want to ask, lots of things we want to find out but for now we are ready to start capturing more detail about what affect this is having upon learning (and teaching!)

The next three things we’re going to try are:
1. Recording some professional conversations with staff and students
2. Analysing the data we have been collecting each half term and link this to leadership monitoring, data and mentoring opportunities
3. Analysing existing school data and evaluate the impact the work of SOLE is having on those who have had exposure on a number of occasions

The future is exciting and full of questions…

Every cloud….


So we’ve been persevering through a stormy IT period this week. Unfortunately there have been a few general internet troubles but it hasn’t stopped us from making sure some great SOLES sessions still happen.

Highlights this week include Science groups looking at chemical properties with a question about fish and chips, a tutor group developing their own project about what lies beneath the surface and an English group have been trying to understand why Shakespeare is still relevant after 400 years.

It was great to see one of the year 7 groups completely organise their own feedback without the teacher involved at all and share some great learning, very powerful self organising experience.

Next week we have some SOLEs primary visits , more planning for Sugata’s visit and a meeting with some young people who are helping run Room 13!