#BrewEd101

I think we did a post like this before but I can’t find it so here’s the quickest guide to setting up and running a #BrewEd…

1) Are your values in line?

#BrewEd is about debate and about breaking down silos. It’s about listening to people you wouldn’t usually hear from, whether that’s because they’re from a different sector of education or maybe because they have a different political or pedagogical philosophy. We look to be challenged. We don’t do sponsorship and we don’t do product placement. No one makes a profit. Rule of thumb: if there’s a goody bag on the seat it’s not in the spirit of #BrewEd as Ed and Daryn set it up all those years ago.

2) Find a decent place that will have you.

You’re probably looking for a back room or a function room, maybe with its own bar. You might prefer to run your event in a cafe instead – while the conviviality of the pub is part of the DNA of #BrewEd we do acknowledge that not everyone feels confident in a pub. There has been at least one alcohol free #BrewEd and it was very successful indeed. You don’t want to pay too much for your venue as that’ll bump your ticket sales way up. Will they do a deal so you can offer a drink on arrival? Make sure they can cater for your group – maybe people will order food on arrival if you ask, that makes things easier for a pub with a small kitchen.

3)When?

Up to you. So far they’ve been on a Saturday from about 10:30 to about 4:30. You can check if there’s already a #BrewEd running that day but, honestly, if you’re more than an hour’s travel from the next nearest event it won’t make much difference unless there’s someone very particular you hope will agree to speak. If you want to do one after work on a Wednesday go ahead – we’ll be interested to hear how it goes as a whole day on a weekend is genuinely a very big ask for a lot of people.

4) Contributors

Ideally we’d like people to be excited to come to a #BrewEd because they know it’ll be a fun and provoking day – not for the supposed twitter celebrity status of one or other of the contributors. We certainly want to ensure that every #BrewEd has voices from a range of sectors. If you’ve already secured two speakers from mainstream schooling why not approach someone who works in a PRU, or a special school. If you’ve got someone who teaches in an initial teacher training institution why not get an NQT to speak too. Remember it’s about breaking down silos and you’ll be ok.

It’s not always easy to figure out how to get a diverse range of voices. As teachers we tend to mostly have people from our own sectors in our networks – Primary people know primary people – researchers know researchers and so on. One interesting way to challenge this is to look at the list of speakers at https://www.bameednetwork.com/speakers/   and see if any are based near you or might like to come along. Searching the hashtags #WomenEd, #LGBTedUK and @DisabilityEdUk will throw up lots of names of people who might be able to come and speak. Don’t be afraid to ask around – in our experience people are generally pleased to be asked and if they can’t help out they’ll usually put you in touch with someone who can.

5) What should they speak on?

Something they’re passionate about. Something that maybe isn’t clear cut. Something that will have a good chance of sparking a debate. Because we are hoping to attract a cross sector crowd, we are not looking for tips and tricks. Attendees aren’t looking to go home with a new teaching strategy they can try out in the classroom on Monday morning, much more they are looking for an idea which might challenge or change their professionalism long term.

6) How do you build in discussion?

A rough rule of thumb is that you want to leave as much time for debate as for presentation. So for each ‘slot’ I suggest half the time is presentation and half is discussion. This can work a few ways. If you give someone a half hour slot they could run that whole slot in a workshop style for half an hour – Jean-Louis Dutaut of Flip The System does this really well – another presenter might give a tight fifteen minute presentation then field comments and questions for the remainder of the slot. Often whoever is MCing the day can do a great job by running the discussion after a speaker has given their presentation. So long as you agree what model is going to work with each presenter before they speak any of these can work well. Other ways might work too – so if you’re organising with a team you could divvy up the discussion facilitation.

7) What does a typical programme look like?

There has been a range of programme models but one that has worked for me a few times now looks like this.

10:30 venue open to participants, welcome drinks available.

11:25 Brief welcome from organiser/organising team

11:30 to 1:00 Three half hour presentation/discussion slots

1:00 to 1:45 Lunch

1:45 to 2:30 Longer slot

2:30 to 3:15 Pub Quiz

3:15 to 4:00 Panel (usually everyone who has presented and is still there plus a couple of interesting people from the audience.

4:00 Rounding off, Thankyous, prizes if you’re into that sort of thing, the rucksack of shite.

8) Pub Quiz?

yes, pub quiz. It’s fun, it breaks down barriers, people bond over pursuit of a shared goal, people have to get together to make a team so they talk to people they might not have talked to, it makes it feel less like work…. all sorts of reasons. Don’t make it too hard, you want most teams to get most questions right.

You could have:

a picture round, a music round, a sequences round, a movie round, subject knowledge for the national curriculum, questions about your town or city, a fun physical challenge, crisp tasting… whatever you like.

9) What’s the rucksack of shite?

I’m afraid that @HYWEL_ROBERTS has that copyrighted. If you haven’t seen it you’ll never know.

10) Who do I need to tell?

Let Daryn know you’re running a #BrewEd so he can add your event to the master list. He might be able to help you out with a nice graphic for your event courtesy of our pal Stan Dupp but we can’t guarantee that.

11) How do I sell tickets?

We’ve used eventbrite in the past and it’s never been to much of a problem. Other ticket selling sites exist and may well be better. Charge enough to cover your costs which shouldn’t be much more than the venue hire plus the ‘free drink on entry’ usually this ends up being about a fiver a head. When  your tickets all ready to go tell Daryn and Ed and we’ll help tweet it out there. When there’s a bit of hype ahead of the launch tickets can sell out in minutes which is gratifying.

12) Any other questions just ask @MrEFinch or @darynSimon and we’ll do our best to help.

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#SummerEngines

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It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.

It’s hard to believe that it’s seventeen years since ‘Mortal Engines’, Philip Reeve’s epic, steampunk flavoured adventure first met its public. The book was a success straight away winning the Smarties Book Award and being nominated for the 2002 Whitbread award. For many of us the book has become a real ‘touchstone text’. Some of us remember eagerly lapping up each instalment of the quartet – and then the three prequels – as they came out, others treasure memories of reading the stories to our children at bedtime.

This month sees publication of ‘Night Flights’ a set of stories that flesh out the back story of Anna Fang – a key character in the series. Later this year we will finally get to see the film adaptation that Peter Jackson and his Lord of the Rings team have been working on – the footage released so far makes it look absolutely epic. I for one just cannot wait to see Reeve’s world brought to life on screen.

All of this makes the summer of 2018 a brilliant time to be reading ‘Mortal Engines’ together as a twitter reading group. Whether you have read the entire series over and over, or have resisted the temptation to get sucked into the world of Municipal Darwinism, you are welcome to join us through a month of chat, laughs, sketching, modelling and celebration as we travel with Tom and Hester on their journeys through London and beyond.

When is #SummerEngines happening?

Formally we’ll be convening from Saturday 28th July to Saturday 25th August, there’s nothing wrong with joining in and using the hashtag in the build up however and I wouldn’t be surprised if the conversation rumbles on for a while afterwards too.

Do I have to have read the books already?

No. We’ll assume that you haven’t read it yet and we’ll try not to spoiler the plot or characters for you. The book has roughly 300 pages so for the first week we’ll chat quite generally, in the second week we’ll assume you’ve read at least the first 100 pages or so (up to the end of Chapter 12), in the third week we’ll assume you’ve read about the first 200 pages (to the end of Chapter 22) and after that we’ll assume you’ve read to the end of the book. We won’t set a daily reading challenge, experience tells me most people don’t read that way. If you’re at all like me you’ll probably find that once you start the book you won’t want to put it down till it’s done.

Am I supposed to be involved every day?

Of course not, quite apart from anything I expect lots of people will be having holidays over the time #SummerEngines is running and it would be fairly tragic if you spent the whole time tapping at your phone chatting to strangers about a children’s book. Unless you really want to. Most people will drop in and drop out as the month goes on. That’s fine. Just don’t leave me all by myself ok?

What sorts of things will we do?

Every day I will tweet a thought, question, challenge, provocation or non sequitur. What you do with these is entirely up to you. I hope to have threads of discussion, threads of memories, threads that ramble way off the subject, sketches, Lego models, songs – whatever you can bring to the party is ok with me.

Does Philip Reeve know about this.

He does indeed and he seems maybe flattered and possibly a bit nonplussed by the whole thing. We won’t ‘@ him in’ as he’s got rather a lot on and we will maybe be a bit puppyish and tedious but I suspect he might drop in from time to time. Philip has offered to partipate in a twitter chat late in August. Presuming we find a time that suits to make this happen we’ll focus the chat on the character of Anna Fang as she’s been in Philip’s head recently due to the publication of ‘Flight Nights’ which explores her back story. If you enjoy Mortal Engines you might enjoy reading ‘Night Flights’ ahead of the chat. We’ll confirm a date and time for that a little closer to the time.

How do I get involved? 

If you’ve read this far you’re already involved! To stay involved follow @MrEFinch on twitter, check out the #SummerEngines and #MortalReaders hashtags to see who else is getting involved (why not give them a follow too?) and maybe get hold of the book if you don’t have it already. No one will judge if you start reading before the starting gun fires!