Tag Archives: teacher

Teamship

Recently I have been lent a book by Alastair Campbell called ‘Winners’. It basically breaks down different winners in history and the characteristics that they have. That’s a very simplified version of what this great book covers. Of course, different winners have different styles but it identifies winning strategies which can be applied to a number of different contexts, including in education.

He refers to Teamship and how if leaders can build a team goal or vision which all team members are dedicated to, no matter their role, then there will be success. One example he gave was a pit stop crew. A race can be won or lost in the pit stop. If the pit stop crew lose a fraction of a second in changing a tyre or making a slight modification, then it can throw the entire race for the team. As such, a clear structure and set roles are vital in this team. They have a clear objective – complete your task in the quickest time possible – win the race. The same could be said in a school team. No matter the roles or responsibilities of each team member, if they have the same vision (maybe provide the best education experience possible) and fulfil their roles for that common goal then that team can succeed.
Out of interest, I googled the quickest ever recorded pit stop that Alastair Campbell made reference to. 1.9 seconds! You have to watch extremely carefully to see that they actually do something to the car! Watch it here:

Alastair Campbell also makes reference to another experience which I had heard before but is excellent on this topic. It is also debated whether this story is true or not but it teaches a valuable lesson. Reportedly, John F Kennedy visited NASA on a regular basis during the race to the moon. They were working against other countries to be the first to do so. The intensity of this race was highly pressurised. During one trip he came across a cleaner, and asked him what his job at NASA was. The cleaner replied “My Job is to put a man on the moon, Sir.”

We can learn a lot from this response. Clearly this man was not literally engineering a rocket ship to take a man to the moon. However, he had caught the vision. He knew he was art of a great organisation that had this significant goal. He knew he was part of the organisation. He knew he had an important job – to make the working environment in this organisation clean so the people working there could complete their roles efficiently and comfortably. Teamship is about recognising the goal and get the team there.

Cleaner in NASA

10 points to Gryffindor! by @Mroberts90Matt

A brand new year, a brand new start. In our school we have a new Senior Leadership Team with a new Head and Deputy. It has been great so far and I’m personally happy with how things are going in the classroom. My class (predominately boys) are responding really well to our Behaviour Management system (Class Dojo – would recommend) and my TA and I are very well organised at present.

As with new beginnings there will be new initiatives school-wide. In our school we have now adopted a House System. When this was first suggested by our new Head, I couldn’t help thinking of the popular story ‘Harry Potter’ and the houses that were in the school, Hogwarts. I pictured myself in a robe taking house points off some meddlesome children who were lurking around our Forbidden Corridor where a great, big machine waits to gobble up small children (otherwise known as the photocopier).

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Not one to dwell on sterotypes for too long, I have embraced this new idea with relative optimism. In fact, I more than embraced it, I wrapped my arms around it as I volunteered to be one of six Head of Houses! As far as I understand my role is to motivate and inspire the children in Dunham House to be their very best and aim to win the House Cup. I also have to give an assembly once a half term – slightly scary as it was my first assembly but it went well.

My impressions so far of the house system? I’m actually quite impressed by the impact that it’s had in such a short time. This was especially clear after the House Assemblies. When we returned to the classroom the class were so engaged and ready to learn. Last Friday the first weekly winners of the House Trophy were announced and children from Year 1-Year 6 celebrated their victory which was a brilliant sight (our house was 5 points behind in 2nd but it was still good!) I think like most new things it will take time to see the extent of this new system.

As it turns out, it is possible to look at an example where the House system seems to be making a difference. In the current TV series ‘Educating Cardiff’, it is there for all national television viewing audiences to see. We are introduced to four houses in the Welsh high school which seems to work in a similar fashion, a Head of House with a student House Captain and competing to win the most House Points. There does seem to be more of a pastoral role involved too which hasn’t entered our House System (I’m not sure if that is the end goal or if that is more for a high school system).

Does your school have a House System? If not, are there any other ways that your school builds links between Year Groups? Would it be something you would like your school to try out?

Resolutions Part II – RQT Version by @Mroberts90Matt

As I sit in school on the 2nd INSET day we have (thank goodness) I browsed back through my posts on Teacher Voice and saw a post created near the start of last year called NQT Resolutions. Not one to miss out on building on something that was successful, I’ve decided to pen the sequel – RQT Resolutions.

It probably gets tiring seeing post after post about ‘resolutions’ at this time of the academic year but resolutions are an important concept in the development of an excellent teacher. Unfortunately this does not mean if you design and implement resolutions you will be an excellent teacher, but I do think it gives you a much better chance at this. In terms of what my resolutions will be, I have looked at my NQT goals for guidance as there is no point to the resolutions made last year if I don’t build on/improve them. Obviously, the RQT Year is a lot different to the NQT Year and my goals will reflect those contrasts. In sharing these, I hope that other RQT’s that have graduated to having an ‘R’ rather than an ‘N’ might get some ideas, find their thoughts confirmed to them or they were not planning to make goals but now decide to do so.

1. Keep my home-work life balanced

Now, if you did take a moment to have a peek at my NQT Resolutions you will have noticed that this resolution is exactly the same as my first NQT resolution, and it may well be the first on my list every year in my career. My family are the most important thing to me. I will certainly not be trading them for a successful career in teaching – I would change jobs before that happened. Obviously it can be done but it will require time management and careful a selection of priorities. I look around at some of the staff in my school who have families of their own and wonder how they can manage to do what they do! Now, at this stage at the precipice of my RQT Year, my wife and I have a 3 year old son and a soon-to-be 1 year old daughter – so it is busy times in the Roberts household! Yet, as long as I keep this goal foremost in mind I know it will be fine – it was last year (if not a little rocky in places)!

2. Get more involved

This leads on from one of my goals last year. As an NQT I got clear advice from many teachers to not volunteer myself for extra responsibilities (and this turned out to be sound advice). However, as I move to being a ‘proper'(ish RQT) teacher, I recognise that I will need to do a little more to support the life of the school. I’ve already volunteered my services for a couple of things so I’ll see how they go but it is something that I think will be beneficial. Today I volunteered my services as a Head of House, for a new House system the new Leadership want to try. It will involve me leading an assembly once a half term, or organise it, and take on more responsibility – looking forward to that! I’ve also volunteered to be a NQT Mentor if needed – I’m very aware I might not have some of the experience needed for that but the request was posted and I thought well, why not make my willingness heard? We’ll see with that one.

3. Lead a Curriculum Area

I guess this one stems from number 2 but I feel it deserves it’s own heading. Obviously with casting off the shell of an NQT I’ll be expected (or at least I WILL want) to take on the responsibility of leading a curriculum. I’ll personally want to make sure this happens to benefit my career progression and development. As far as what curriculum area I don’t know – I think that’s up in the air for now with the new Leadership anyway but we have meetings next week so I’ll hope for what I want to do…

4. Begin a Twitter account for the school

This is a bold new world for our school. We have had a Twitter account but no one has used it yet. Our new Head has used Twitter at his previous school and is keen for it to happen in ours – fantastic! So I would like to try and make that happen more to give the school a more global audience. Also, it will give the children in the school more enthusiasm to show off their learning, so I’ll need to try to gather things from around other classes also!

5. Improve children’s progress in Reading

With being in Year 6 – I can’t help myself looking at results. As a school we had some pretty great things happen – the SPAG was fantastic, Writing was where it should have been, Maths was not as good a last year but better than expected. To be fair, Reading results were excellent too but I feel in my class (and my analysis shows it) some children did not achieve what they could have, despite reaching the national expected level. Therefore, I want to try and develop my teaching of Reading so that my class this year progress better across all abilities. I’m going to be working with the Head of Literacy in Year 6 this year who is brilliant with stimulating reading in her class so I’ll be able to learn from her experience.

Well there you have it – a humble RQT’s resolutions to make their second year of teaching as productive and effective as their first – hopefully a lot more plain sailing too but we all know how this profession works…

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/90549040@N08/8258748688″>believe</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

Green for GO! by @Mroberts90Matt

As the eagle eye of you may have noticed – I have not written a blog post for quite a while, most of the holidays in fact. I decided to take step back from EDUCATION for a few weeks, just so my family knows I still exist – you know, those people who I love the most in the world.

Anyway, this one is a short post sharing a thought I’ve had that is not original but I would like to try out in the classroom, then I’m hoping normal service will be resumed from next week.

Ever since I guest published on Teacher Toolkit just over a year ago about self assessment I’ve been trying to think of ways that I can integrate the principles of self-assessment into my teaching and learning without detracting time from the lesson and, at the same time, making it useful to inform my teaching in my Year 6 class. I’ve tried a few things over my NQT Year and toward the end of my ITT which have had benefits but also downfalls. As we go into a new school year, I have read that if a teacher does not do anything new or differently, they are not progressing. So this is what I’m thinking of doing…

I’m pretty sure most educators would know what I’m thinking about when they see the above picture. What I want to try is to have each child have a green, yellow and red paper cup in front of them and, during the activity in the session, the pupils display whichever ‘colour’ they feel they are at in their learning – green they are confident and may even want a challenge, yellow they are going ok but want to work on it a little more and red they are struggling with the learning going on and want a little support. In my mind, this is a marvellous idea…

Yet, in the back of my mind, I know there must be something that will make this a hindrance. Maybe the cups will be a distraction on the desk? Clearly there would have to be some sort of agreement between myself and the students to ensure that the cups are not misused, lost or damaged (they cost money you know, shall I send the bill to your parents etc). Maybe they could sign their cups at the start of the year, Starbucks-style, so they would have some ownership over the cups?

I’m sure there are probably other downfalls that I might not have noticed – has anyone had experience of using this self-assessment tool? Has it worked incredibly well? Any tips on how to make it work really well? Anyone think that this is a horrible idea that has no hope in working? Would love to hear your thoughts!…

A Word to Newly Qualified Teachers by @Mroberts90Matt

Context

Almost a year ago to this day I published a blog post to New Educational Bloggers and Tweachers giving them tips and things I wished I knew at the start of my time interacting with many of the world’s best educators. Now, I have come to end of the first year of my career in teaching. I am officially no longer an NQT. It has certainly been the hardest life of my year. This was because of a number of things in my personal life as well as professional life but all these events have caused me to think about what I wished I knew at the start of this year to make it even more effective.

As with the post last year, this will not be an exhaustive list of things NQT’s need to know (ideas from others would be much appreciated), but these are ideas that I wish I had known or had made sure I remembered that would make my NQT year a bit easier.

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Things I wish I knew

1. Start as you mean to go on…and then go on!

I found it easy to start strong with a focus on learning and firm but fair behaviour management. However, I quickly realised it was all to easy to let that slip. In the hustle and bustle of day to day teaching and learning, it can become easy to let small things (or as Ofsted have called it recently ‘low-level disruption’) slide as at the time it seems tedious to have to deal with. However, if low level disruption is not dealt with every time, learning will be disrupted further down the line. Therefore, it will be vital to make sure that does not change.

However, I learnt that this point does not apply just to behaviour management. When I started in September I had a number of what I felt (and what turned out to be) engaging teaching and learning strategies. However, when I reach November, those same strategies did not produce the same level of engagement and learning potential. It is important to start searching out and implementing engaging teaching strategies but it is then still important to keep up with searching and implementing new teaching strategies (another reason why Twitter is such a valuable CPD tool). It is not as easy as it sounds, but will make the ride in the classroom easier for you and the students you teach.

2. Things will work out – just do what you know to do

Sometimes the tasks that you have in front of you can seem overwhelming – educating a class of 30+ children and ensuring that they make progress in a number of subject areas is just the start! Of course, I personally had to deal with the SATs, a residential trip and other things. As a result (understandably) I got a little worked up over a few things. However, I wish I knew this fact – as long as I continue doing what I was trained to do (provide quality first teaching) then things will eventually come through. Take each step at a time and you will pull through with good results. I found things didn’t go so well when I got myself worked up about the large task at hand and lost the focus on what I needed to do there and then. Not easy to do but worth it.

3. Seek advice from others

Wherever you begin your employment as a teacher, you will be working with other members of staff. That is a constant variable which you can rely on. As such, you will meet many different characters and styles amongst the teaching staff. One thing I wish I knew was how willing many teachers are to help out. I think that, as a profession, we are increasingly being pressured from many sides, we recognise that when we can support one of our own it will be greatly appreciated. Of course, not all teachers will be as willing to help out, but you will very quickly learn who to ask for what kind of support. That support could be a life saver for you – and of course it is a requirement in the Teachers Standards.

So, do actively take the time to seek support or even just opinions from others. As a got further into my NQT Year I found that the afternoons I’d be in school would be spent less on marking (partly because I had gotten used to balancing the practice out and more efficient, as well as SATs prep reducing the amount of marking in books) and more on discussions with other members of staff. These moments were really helpful and I was left kicking myself at how I hadn’t done that sooner. As this went on I found that not only was I receiving more support but other members of staff started to come to me for advice and support. I was able to have a number of interesting opportunities for dialogue with the Maths Coordinator and she began to share pieces of learning from her class and asked me what I would have done a little differently. I found these exchanges to be really thought-provoking and it also improved my practice. You must do this!

4. Use the holidays well

..By this I do not mean spend every moment planning, assessing, evaluating schemes of work. In fact, quite the opposite. I managed to pass my NQT year with doingh (a bit) less at the holidays than I thought I would have to. You must use these times off effectively, yes get done any pressing work that needs to be done, but also take the chance to RELAX. My wife and I went away without the kids for a few days at the May Half Term (between the SATs and a residential trip and end-of-year production). I’m sure if I didn’t get that real little break in between I would have had a mental breakdown having to coordinate moody Year 6’s to perform after being tested the most they had in their lives.

(I also got my reports done in those holidays – only an hour or so a day spread out but it worked. I actually was one of the few that got my reports in a couple of days before the deadline – it can be done!)

5. Never let work overtake home life

This final but simple point does kind of link in to the previous. Hopefully your school is led by human beings who appreciate you have a life outside the workplace. I guess I’m in an unusual position to other NQT’s but during the year my wife and I had our second child and that child ended up in hospital for a week with bronchiolitis. They nearly lost her in the ambulance…My school were an amazing support. They never questioned the fact I had to be there with our little daughter, there was never a tough question as to when I’d be able to get back in and when I returned after the horrendous week everyone was eager to find out how she was doing. It would have easy to say I couldn’t afford the time to miss much work and not been there for my wife, daughter and poor 2 year old son who was confused why everyone was so worried and absent despite explaining what we could to him. It would have been wrong too. Never let what goes on at work impact on home life (again, much easier said than done and I often didn’t follow this advice) and then the things at work will fall into place.

Your thoughts

I would love it if any other recently passed NQT’s have any more pieces of advice to give to upcoming NQT’s. It would also be marvellous for this article to get to upcoming NQTs as most probably don’t read educational blogs or Tweet as a Teacher. What advice do you wish you knew before your NQT year?

We Asked Nicky… by @Mroberts90Matt

Today I stumbled across an event that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed up until half an hour before it!

A chance to ask questions to and hear instant feedback from the Secretary of State for Education! I’m in! And in I was…

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45 minutes later and what had we learnt? Well, I’ll try to give my rundown of what I learnt – I’m sure many people will have picked out other things so this will not be an exhaustive list:

1. Teacher Recruitment has been recognised as a need

This was helped by the fact that just before this went live, a study was revealed that teacher training applications have dropped by 12%. I think that there are some pretty obvious answers that could be given to go towards solving this issue – all falling under making teaching more appealing or attractive – but at least it has been noted and something will be done to entice and inspire more people to become excellent teachers.

2. Nicky Morgan must not have a clue about the current climate of others’ educational views

When asked why there was not as much educational discussion in the General Election campaigns, we were told that this was probably because there was a lot of agreement on education. I am presuming this was referring to agreement amongst the political parties. I know someone who was running for Parliament for Labour in another region…this was clearly not the case. Labour do not have the same views in education, as far as I am aware with my fairly limited knowledge of politics. That one went past me…

3. Contradictions surrounding teaching as a ‘profession’ and allowing unqualified teachers

One big issue I have with the current government and their policies on education is free schools – and the main thing I have issue with free schools about is the option to employ unqualified teachers. We are being constantly told to raise standards and achievement in schools (and rightly so) but how can this be accomplished if more and more people who are unqualified to teach are teaching the nation’s upcoming generation? Nicky mentioned a few times the need to restore teaching as a profession…this will NOT happen as long as teachers do not need to be qualified – it is a major contradiction!

4. No budging on EBACC

When quizzed about EBACC and allowing the arts to have more weighting in the curriculum, this was pretty much rebuffed – the reason being that Universities are looking for the traditional academic subjects…but as was very well pointed out ‘Not everyone goes to University’. I love Maths, I can really get into English, I am fascinated by Science – but there MUST be an opportunity for a wider range of subject content. Nicky did point out that up until KS3 children should be getting a broad and balanced curriculum and then students can decide to have options in the ‘art’ subjects. Yet – as a Year 6 teacher – I know that even at the end of KS1 and KS2 (because of assessment and data) it is not as broad and balanced as it should be.

Q: Will there be any changes made as a result of this live discussion?

Probably not. I would have loved to see Nicky hear some of the comments given in and sincerely think about what could be done differently to what is currently being done (because some things do need to change) – but I was probably a little naïve for thinking that would happen in this setting. Maybe something said will spark a thought, maybe not – but something that was said promising to hear…

One of Nicky’s self-prescribed appraisal targets is to listen more.

Will this ‘listening’ be a “that’s very interesting, now let me go and do what I was doing before” or a “hmm…that’s an interesting idea, maybe we can work with that”? Hopefully it will be the latter and I for one quite enjoyed the opportunity to hear our Education Secretary speak and voice her side of things, rather than the cynicism that can be down heartening about education.

We will soon see…

Roll on Role Models by @Mroberts90Matt

This week I was able to participate in my first #NQTChat (only 2/3 of the way through the NQT Year..) The experience was one which I intend to repeat as not only did it motivate me to carry on with the holiday planning I needed to do, but also it linked me up with other NQTs who I thought were few and far between in the Twitter/blogging world.

As the evening commenced we began to share positive thoughts about the NQT year so far, including why we decided to jump onto this crazy rollercoaster of education in the first place. There were answers from various teachers but one clear message rang through:

https://twitter.com/Mroberts90Matt/status/588782251665727489?s=09

https://twitter.com/cumbrianmaths/status/588781610759233536?s=09

https://twitter.com/MissNQT/status/588780837728100352?s=09

https://twitter.com/SamSpencerKeen/status/588783066799284224?s=09

These are are just four examples but one common thread runs through them all; all these teachers’ desire to help others learn came from a personal experience where they were inspired to learn. Clearly, the impact that those teachers had on a few of the NQTs of today was so great that they decided their entire future career path based on that person – in other words they wanted to emulate them, to be like them (why else would they be inspired to follow the same career?)…

With this in mind I made this comment:

https://twitter.com/Mroberts90Matt/status/588784529030119428?s=09

Fellow educators – are you having a positive impact on the children you are teaching? If a small group of NQTs identified other teachers as their main reason they became a teacher, how many other NQTs have the same inspiration? How many of you had the same inspiration when you decided to become a teacher?

What we do day in, day out in the classroom CAN make an impact on a child’s life, for the rest of their life – not just because we are enabling learning to take place but also from the example that we give.

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photo credit: Letterpress Hero via photopin (license)

[Level] Six of the Best? by @Mroberts90Matt

I recently went on my first course that wasn’t for NQT’s – Achieving Level 6 in Reading and Writing. Expecting to go with my mind blown with what would be expected of 10-11 year old children to reach Level 6 in those areas I was not disappointed. When we discussed the poem Dulce Et Decorum Est as a possible text for a Guided Reading session with Year 6 I was amazed. Not to mention, when looking through the ‘anthology’ that was provided as possible stimuli there were texts in there that I distinctly remembered looking at in my GCSE studies! I quickly realised it was little wonder why nationally the chasm between children achieving Maths Level 6 is consistently larger than those children who achieve Level 6 in Reading or Writing. As I left the course, wide-eyed, it became clear to me that we had work to do.

Level 6 – Why the sudden interest now?

When I was in Year 6 (2000-2001) I was almost put forward for the Level 6 Maths paper – I’ll point out that not being selected for that test has not hindered my life opportunities but more on that later – but I didn’t realise until recently that Level 6 was discontinued until fairly recently. I haven’t had the chance to do research into why Level 6 was brought back but I am fully aware of the arguments to suggest why it shouldn’t have been provided for in Primary Schools. These include:

1. The children going into Secondary with a Level 6 are NOT at a Level 6

Simply put, the children who are trained to jump through the hoops of Level 6 – reading, writing or Maths – do not have the breadth of knowledge of a Level 6 learner…they have just been taught the techniques and heavily-weighted in marks topics that come up in the Level 6 paper they sit. I am of the understanding this is the complaint that secondary educators had and rightly so.

2. It adds more workload/stress to the Primary staff involved

Speaking as a Year 6 teacher, I have some experience in this. Not only are primary school teachers expected to have children reach a Level 4/5, which in itself is a task that is no mean feat for ALL children, but also to then push the other end up to heights that some children don’t reach until the end of Year 9 is taking it (quite literally) to another level. Now, before the comments flow, I am ALL for pushing children to succeed to their potential and setting high expectations for learning – but Level 6 has now become a process where children who would not naturally achieve this ‘level’ (remembering that they aren’t REALLY a Level 6) are being pushed to reach that level…which brings me succinctly onto the final point…

3. It adds more stress to the child

This is what everything in education SHOULD be about – the child. I have a child in my Year 6 class who is working at a low Level 5 currently in Maths. She’ll be a solid Level 5, no doubt. However, the Level 6 culture has taken hold. At home, she is expected to have a tutor group each week and 2-3 hours of school work EVERY night. Whilst I praise children to the high heavens when they take their learning outside of the classroom, beyond homework and our class blog, this is too much. It is not healthy. These are children. The sad thing is, despite all this extra pressure at home to attain a Level 6…this child is making the amount of progress expected, not an accelerated rate. I am aware that this is not a sole example, but many other children are put under this pressure, particularly in their final year in primary school, which they should be savouring. Would this pressure be as intense if there was no Level 6, or at least less of an emphasis from the top-down about Level 6 attainers…I doubt it!

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Six for Success?

Now, of course, after my little rant of Level 6 and the downfalls I see about it – I do see the benefits. It does remove a glass ceiling for (natural) high achievers in primary school, it does provide an outlet for AGT children to be challenged and, if the children truly are Level 6, it can provide a springboard to mastery in that subject later on in their secondary school life. These points cannot be ignored – but in my humble, NQT opinion, something HAS to change.

 

Next Steps for Six?

I wonder if there is some way to reduce the pressure (particularly on Headteachers) to boost the number of Level 6 attainers in schools. I do NOT think we should abolish Level 6 completely, yet I do think that there should be a much smaller emphasis placed upon it. Perhaps if children enter Year 6 as a solid Level 5 then maybe they should be guided toward that Level 6, rather than have children who are just behind being pushed up to make the numbers.

 

(Having said all this, levels are going out the window after this year so who knows what point this thought will have after 4 months time anyway…)!

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Teacher Voice Weekly Poll w/b 12th January 2015

Two weeks in a row!! Good start!!!

Last week’s results were not very conclusive as only two educators voted. The poll for writing LO’s is still open so please follow the link here to be forwarded there when you’re done here…

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This week is focused on a blog post I want to publish this week and will hopefully find the time. Simply, it is about the teacher reading to the class, is it worth it, is there time and the best practice in which to do it. Therefore, as I feel this has been one of the biggest barriers for me, the question is focused on whether you have time to read to your class. Of course, there is the generic response “we should MAKE time” but as a reflex response, do you really have time? I suppose this is more focused to Primary teachers but if any Secondary colleagues wish to add their vote then by all means do so!

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/gabrielap93/6186907555/”>GabrielaP93</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;