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Teaching and Learning Toolkit
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My toolkit contains tips, tricks, ideas, strategies, suggestions, resources and information for teachers across all subjects, ages and phases of education!

The toolkit is a central location for teaching and learning related posts laid out in a simple to use and interpret fashion. The information is short and snappy and links to what is needed are always provided.

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You can search for a post using a particular keyword or you can filter the posts based on their tags. Such as literacy, group work, independent learning and so on.

The toolkit is designed to allow teachers to become more creative, more inventive and most importantly allows them to save time by using some of the effective ideas that have been shared. The posts usually contain images showing the activity in action and provide links to further reading if relevant.

Currently the toolkit contains over 215 activities that have been tried and tested by teachers. I know they are effective because the activities I post are ones that are being used in classrooms. Ones that have been used and been successful with the students I teach.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 15.14.17

To date the toolkit has had over 550,000 views and is used worldwide! Many posts are currently being edited/updated to include the variations educators have made having seen the original idea from the toolkit.

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The principle behind the toolkit is to create more agile teachers who want to liven up the learning of their students. The toolkit is also a central hub to share important information such as the changes in Special Needs provision in the UK and so on. Some ideas you will love, some you will think about, others you may not agree with at all. That’s the beauty of the toolkit- it is guaranteed to cater for some of everybody’s teaching methods. If an activity doesn’t sit well with you, simply ignore it and try another? :)

If you would like to guest post and share an activity that you have used in your lessons on the toolkit then please email me on aal@cheney.oxon.sch.uk over 30 teachers have written a guest post to date.

Get in touch… @ASTSupportAAli

P.S-

The toolkit was recently featured on BBC News show BBC Click in the #Webscape section as a fantastic tool for educators worldwide.

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The toolkit is also linked to many websites/blogs.

You can help spread the world by sharing posts on twitter, facebook and google +.

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www.cheneyagilitytoolkit.blogspot.com

or

www.bit.ly/agilitytoolkit

Jamie’s Flipped: (almost) a year with a flipped classroom
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There are lots of different ideas about Flipping your classroom, see this TED talk for more. But essentially you provide your learners with resources and videos to allow them to ‘learn’ the material as homework and then build on this with skills in your classroom. Starting in September 2013, and as part of my MSc research, I have implemented my own interpretation of a flipped classroom with really interesting results. This post is a brief into to the research behind the flipped classroom and then I discuss how I have implemented it and the power of blogging to engage students outside of the classroom.

Flipped learning? Flipping mad?

Flipped learning is “…a form of blended learning that encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing” where the instructor provides “an opportunity for academics to provide more personal feedback and assistance to students, but also to receive feedback from their students about the activities that they are undertaking and what they don’t yet understand.” (Wiley and Gardner, 2013).

flippedgraphic(web1100px)_0

Several papers have reported on the impact of ‘flipped learning’ on undergraduate psychology courses and suggested that there is a positive impact of this on students’ attitudes toward the class and instructors as well as on students’ performance in the class (Wilson, 2013). There are far too many technological changes to how we are teaching and learning to list here, but they all suggest that same fundamental question: How do students learn best? (Halpern, 2013) and the possibility the flipped learning could be a step forward should be considered.

Using videos to support students’ learning has attracted the attention of a large number of researchers (Young and Asensio, 2002) and a key concept within the idea of flipped learning is the use of new technologies to support learning; or as some would label: blended learning (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). To successfully implement the flipped classroom approach, a change is needed to the existing traditional teaching approach. These changes have been conceptualised by Hamdan et.al. (2013) into four important elements referred to as four Pillars of F-L-I-P. These four pillars stand for Flexible Environment, Learning Culture, Intentional Content, and Professional Educator.

An interesting comment from Wilson’s (2013) action research where she attempted to flip her classroom is that she suggests that what she implemented was not totally a flipped classroom:

Although I have attempted to ‘‘flip’’ my classroom, what I have achieved is really a half- or three-quarters flip. I have removed much, but not all, lecture content from the course. (pg. 197)

This raises the idea that a flipped classroom is a binary entity – it is either flipped with no teacher delivery of knowledge or it is not. This I disagree with. Flipped teaching is just another tool which teachers should embed into their lessons when and where appropriate. Especially at post-16 level it would be difficult (impossible?) to completely flip ones lessons and expect all learners to assimilate all of the knowledge of A Level  outside of the class.

The Power of Blogging

For the best part of a decade I have been using blogs to stretch my students and have given several lectures, INSETS or workshops on the topic. This started with PsychBLOG in 2007 where I hoped to provide wider reading and current research for my students – now a site getting ~25,000 views a month. Moving on our department has had a blog and posted notes and extra tasks for the last four years with great success.

Blogging software is becoming more advanced with each  day and now it takes nothing more than a few clicks to create your own part of the internet. There are really an infinite number of uses for blogs within the field of education: writing and collating new and relevant news for your students, giving students a summary of what was covered in that past week, leaving homework assignments, and so many others. Not only can you write your blog posts but students, other teachers and colleagues can comment on your writing and start discussions about what was raised.

There are many kinds of blogging software but the two most popular ones are WordPress and google’s Blogger. Both of these sites allow you to set up your own blog online and post articles or general musings through a web-based interface allowing access wherever you have the Internet. If used well blogs can provide to be a central part of teaching and independent learning, however, general rules of web etiquette still apply and all users need to be aware of this.

With this in mind, I decided that a blog would make an excellent platform for my flipped classroom

Jamie’s Flipped…

I’ve written before about flipped classrooms and how you can flip your classroom with Resourcd. This year I have partially flipped my classroom with one flipped task each week for students to complete over the weekend before their first session of the week – you can see it at jamiesflipped.co.uk or @jamiesflipped. I talked a little about my experiences of my flipped classroom at a ‘teachmeet‘ back in October (notes and video here)

My approach to flipped learning involved giving students a ‘task’ each week to compete which introduced the topic for the next week. This flipped task involved reading a chapter (a few pages) from their course reader, watching a video clip and completing a quick multiple-choice quiz (see the gallery for screenshots).

One reason the flipped experiment was so successful was the addition of the quiz each week. This ensured that I could monitor the completion of the tasks. It is also good to stand by the classroom door and know before the students arrive who has not completed their homework task. After a few weeks the students knew there was no escaping it.

As well as the flipped tasks, each week I would publish the work that was going to be completed in class, the powerpoint and extension tasks on Jamie’s Flipped. I was surprised how many students actually read the articles, watched the videos or completed the extra tasks. Many commenting that they would do them on the bus on the way into college or while sat watching television.

At the first consultation evening of the year I canvased opinion as to my new approach and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive with students stating that they liked the format of the tasks, it was more ‘fun’ than usual homework, and that they found the lessons easier as they had an underlying knowledge about what was going to be covered. More than this it gave me more time in class to complete tasks and develop my students understanding of the content and experiment with other activities that I would not usually have had time for.

My experience of ‘flipping’ my classroom this year has been a really positive one and it is something that I will continue to develop and use in future years. As well as all the benefits of the flipped classroom my students know that all of their resources, homework and guidance is going to be ‘on flipped’. They know where to go if they miss a lesson to get the resources, and where to get extension exercises from when revising. It has required an investment of time – but nothing horrific – and now that I have the lessons for this year, as with everything in teaching, I can adapt and reuse these next year.

Flipping great!

EDIT

I have had loads of emails and tweets from people that would like to flip their classroom but don’t know where to start.

Here is a short (~15 minute) video that I have made that will take you from nothing to having a blog with your first flipped task containing text for your students to read, a document for them to download, a video for them to watch from youtube and a quiz to check their progress.

Here are links that I mention in the screen-cast:

resourcd.com – teacher resource sharing site
resourcdblogs.com – where it all takes place
wordpress.com / blogger.com / edublogs.com – other sites you can set up a blog
If you are considering flipped learning or just giving your students a different type of homework once in a while then this could be an excellent opportunity to experiment.

I could have spent hours talking about wordpress and all the ins-and-outs of it – so it might feel a little rushed. The best thing you can do it set yourself up a blog and spend an hour experimenting and seeing what you can achieve.

Let me know how you get on

Post original written on jamiedavies.co.

Ofsted Prep: How 5 good habits can lead to excellent teaching and learning
Habits

I recently had an observation with my line manager. I used to dread observations, especially when being judged by an expert teacher. I think the thing that even the most experienced teachers fear is an Ofsted inspection. Having received positive feedback for my recent lesson observation, I looked back on what I did and realised that most of it was automated, I do these things every lesson without thinking.

I came to learn about these techniques through our head of CPD (@HFletcherWood) whose numerous techniques come from the books of Doug Lemov and also talks and inset by Dylan William (See Youtube for a taster). By automating these good habits, we can free ourselves (literally and mentally) to address student’s queries more effectively. Since the beginning of the year, I have managed to automate 5 techniques which have had a huge impact on my teaching:

1) Start the class with a “Do Now”

This should have a low threshold for entry and plenty of room for growth. My example was simply to state what you like/dislike about the following posters and to suggest improvements.

 

2) Positive framing (Catching them when they’re good)

By using positive framing; only announcing names of people who were doing the right thing, it encourages those who are slow to start. “I can see James has started jotting down some ideas…I can see Megan has put one point for improvement”. Within 30 seconds, everyone is settled, they all have opinions and are scribbling away. This is the most challenging class in the school. Those who looked like they had finished were asked to suggest improvements to the posters or think of general rules to make the posters better.

Compare that to negative framing where you call out people’s names for being slow to start, “Ryan, you’ve been in here 5 minutes and you still haven’t got out a pen…Janet, why are you walking around?”. This type of framing adds a negative vibe to the lesson and may also lead to confrontation.

3) No hands up and no opt out

Asking only students who put their hands up is probably one of the worst habits you can get into according to Dylan William. The shyer students never get to contribute, those who are feeling a bit lazy will simply opt out and those with their hands up will get frustrated when you don’t pick them. Using nametags or lollipop sticks on the other hand keeps the class on their toes.


Source: goddividedbyzero.blogspot.com 

In combination with Doug Lemov’s “No opt out”, it ensures that all students will contribute when asked to give an answer. If a student answers “I don’t know”, you can respond with “I know you don’t know, I just want to know what you think”. Every student has something in their head. If they’re still hesitant, simply reinforcing that there is no right or wrong answer will build their confidence and even the shyest students will usually contribute an answer.

Extra tip: There are times when the question is so difficult that there is a good 30-40% of students who do not know the answer and do not even know where to start to think. In these situations, it is a good idea to do a “Think-Pair-Share”. A think pair share with a written outcome means you can quickly see if the majority now have an answer to give or if you need to go from pairs to fours to widen the pool further.

4) Student routines

All the aforementioned are teacher routines. As a Computing teacher, you will appreciate that we have one big distraction in front of every student, their own screen. For some teachers, they dread laptops or a lesson in the Computer lab as it just leads to students going on Facebook. Social networks aren’t even blocked in our school, but a student has never gone on a social network in any of our classes as far as I can recall simply because the consequences are so severe. Some teachers also find it difficult to get students attention. I would recommend asking students to close their laptop screens to 45 degrees on a countdown of 3-2-1. Some people call this “pacman screens”, I’ve heard of teachers literally holding up a hand in the shape of a pacman which seems quite novel and efficient. I just call it “45″-efficiency in routines is important!


Source: itnews.com.au

By having routines for handing out folders, getting students’ attention, you make your life as a teacher much easier. Expectations are clear and students do not need to think about their actions, they just do it and in turn you’re making their lives easier. By having clear consequences for not following the routines, most students are quick to latch on.

5) Ending with an exit ticket

Ending with an Exit ticket is the quickest way to find out what students have learnt in your lesson. No student can leave the room before giving you their exit ticket. With these little slips (No smaller than a Post-It Note and no bigger than A5) you can quickly spot misconceptions and it also helps plan the start of your next lesson. It’s one of the most efficient forms of assessment. Some teachers sort these exit tickets into piles, one for those who will be rewarded with housepoints next lesson, one which is the average pile and the last pile is the one where students simply “did not get it”. The last group can also be pulled up for a quick lunchtime mastery/catchup session before your next lesson with the class. As mentioned earlier, these piles go directly to inform your planning. Very quickly you can plan for the top and the bottom.

Closing thoughts

When you get the dreaded Ofsted call, remember that there is no way that any teacher can change their teaching style for one lesson observation without seeming un-natural about it. The kids spot it, your observer spots it and you just end up running around the classroom sweating whilst trying to do a load of things you’ve never done before. Yes, I’ve been there loads of times, in fact probably for every single observation in my first 6 years of teaching! It took a school culture which does not believe in “performing for observations” or “pulling out an outstanding lesson with lots of gimmickery” which really changed my practice. The most important lesson I’ve learnt this year (mainly from my amazing head of CPD), is that in order to be excellent, you have to practice (and practise) excellence everyday. As your good habits become automated, you end up freeing up some of your mental capacity and therefore you are able to do even more for your students.

Paperless. Well, almost…
February 2, 2014
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Image by flickr.com/photos/featheredtarImage by flickr.com/photos/featheredtar

“It is important to remember that educational software, is only one tool in the learning process. Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement.” – Keith Krueger

I wonder to what extent we agree with this quote from Krueger? Most definitely for me, technology and ICT has a huge role in enhancing learning and teaching within our classrooms. In my opinion, it should be an integral part of lessons, meaningfully delivered by great teachers and not something added on, to tick a box. ICT can, most definitely, enhance lessons for pupils but can it also help teachers to work smarter?

When Santa was kind enough to treat me to an iPad for Christmas, I must admit, my main motivation for choosing this particular gift was the possibilities it might provide within my Art and Design classroom and not so that I could waste hours of my personal life to Candy Crush or Netflix. My primary interest was in the use of Idoceo as a tool for tracking and monitoring, having heard so much about it from fellow art educational ‘tweeters’ south of the border. I hoped that this app might finally be what I’d been looking for in terms of a way to visually record pupil progress within Art and Design. Let’s just say I got a lot more than I bargained for…

Initially it took a wee while to get the hang of Idoceo’s functionality and the wide range of ways in which it can be used. I started by inputting all my class data for each year group, using the really helpful website tutorials as guidance. Very quickly, I was up and running and visualizing the power which this app could have in transforming learning and teaching within my classroom. On Day 1, I was keen to show off my new toy to my Higher pupils and explain how I was now able to photograph their artwork, essentially tagging this under their name within the class register. Pupils were keen to have their work photographed and it instantly helped capture their progress at a given point. This was helpful for me to later look back on and instantly see pupil improvement visually but also to aid feedback discussions with pupils on how to improve work and identifying next steps. As I became more confident, I was able to quickly work around other classes photographing their paintings, graffiti ideas boards, and recording evidence of learning. The app has allowed me to record written comments about pupil progress or to record video or audio feedback to aid discussions with pupils. I have yet to encounter how powerful this will be during parent’s evenings, however I have already found it particularly useful during a one to one meeting with a concerned parent. At the touch of the screen, I was able to easily show the parent the progress of her child’s Expressive unit and the areas identified as next steps.

I have now found myself using the Idoceo app to record attendance, homework and test scores quickly and easily. Tonight I sat and did my planning for the week within the schedule for each class, and my paper planner has literally become defunct. At last week’s staff meeting I swapped my notepad and colourful gel pens for my iPad and challenged myself to use technology instead. This actually saved me time because I was able to quickly email my notes from the meeting to absent colleagues within the department instead of then spending another 10 minutes typing up an email. I now write my daily ‘to do’ list within the app and can set reminders for specific classes. Last week, I also purchased a lightening to VGA adapter and this has further opened up the possibilities as now I can use my interactive whiteboard to project my iPad for all pupils to see. This came in handy last Thursday when I had prepared a range of visual resources to inspire pupils and added them as a note to the class pinboard within the app. I was then easily able to share this with the whole class on the projector as opposed to finding the images on iPad and then emailing them to my school account to access. My own next steps are now to uncover the possibilities for capturing all of this data and producing an overall pupil report which can be printed, saved or emailed to parents or staff in order to allow others to view and understand progress. You could say I’m converted. So much potential to not only effectively record pupil evidence and progress of learning but more than that, to allow meaningful discussion with pupils, parents and other staff in order to improve.

I’ll be the first to admit that for me it was a challenge to give up my notepad and coloured gel pens of which I am so protective off. Initially, I found myself doubling my workload by planning in more than one place; on both my iPad as well as a paper copy almost like a comfort blanket. I found it difficult to let go of my previous need to have everything written down on paper, however it really is amazing how quickly I am adapting. And once I was completely comfortable with the app’s ability to back up data to Dropbox, Googledrive or iCloud, I felt a bit more reassured. Now I feel like I truly am working smarter.

However, I suppose I’m still very much at the start of my journey towards being paperless. Whilst I can see the huge potential of an app such as this due to its ease of use and instant ability to record, track and monitor pupil progress visually, in video or audio format, I do however feel challenged by the assortment of systems we have in place for doing this. In today’s world, I think it’s vital that we are working smarter not harder, and are using systems which are integral to learning and teaching. Currently, within my department we use Seemis as a whole school tracking system, however we also have a departmental approach to tracking and monitoring as we feel the Seemis system does not work effectively or provide enough information for us as a department. Now I have found the possibilities of Idoceo, I feel that by far this is app is the most useful and effective form of tracking and monitoring for the department. But surely it cannot be productive to have three different systems in place? In addition, the obvious cost implications of using Idoceo as a department tool would require the purchase of iPads, however I am determined not to let that daunt us.

We still have lots to discuss, lots to try out and lots to learn before I believe we as a department are in a position to decide on our most effective method of tracking and monitoring. However, I do believe that whilst iDoceo is most definitely not a substitute for effective teachers, strong leadership and parental involvement as Krueger suggests, it is indeed a very effective tool in capturing effective everyday interactions with pupils. And that, in my opinion, can only be a good thing.

Using Canva in the Classroom
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image
or “Class-pic Civilization” Sorry about the pun.

I tried using Canva.com in the classroom with my AS Classical Civilization group today. Part of what they need to learn for the exam is key quotes from each book of the Iliad, and I wanted to find a way to make the quotes more memorable. The text is written in the Greek Epic Poetry style, and not all that easy to memorize.

I decided to try using Canva.com, a new design website, which is free to use to have the students make graphic representations of the quotes. The website has great flexibility in how the backgrounds, images, text and formatting can be manipulated, as well as a large selection of free creative commons images that can be imported. It also has the facility to upload images, so the graphics you produce can look really polished and professional. You can use the templates provided, of which there are many and produce work only using content from the website. Here are some examples of my students work using the content from the website:

 

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You can also import images from your documents, or other sources if you need to produce more specific content. Here are some examples of my students doing that:

 

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There is a lot of creative freedom in the graphic you can produce here, and I think it could be used to great effect in many subjects. The plan is next lesson I will have had these printed out, and the class is going to arrange the quotes in the order they appear in the text. A nice way to make a very dense text visual, which I hope will assist in them learning the quotes.

Just a quick post, but I was really impressed with the work that they produced. What do you think, how else could you use this tool in your classroom?

 

Cross Posted from createinnovateexplore.com

Little boys lost
January 23, 2014
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Boys by flickr.com/photos/mtsofanBoys by flickr.com/photos/mtsofan

How can we help white working class boys? By Jonathan Ovenden

Only 26 per cent of white working class boys on free school meals achieve five or more GCSEs, including English and maths, when compared to the national average of 63 per cent.

I know that there is much, much more to this figure than what happens in the classroom – family background, the aspirations of parents, deprivation – but those challenges do not stop us wanting things to change.

And things can indeed change. When I was a boy at school, girls achievement was often well below boys, and yet we all know how much the expectations and achievements of girls have changed in the intervening years.

Likewise, some progress is being made with the lowest achievers today too. In December, the DfE reported that the attainment gap between lower and higher achievers had been narrowed by three per cent in maths at primary level; demonstrating that the hard work is paying off.

However, there is always room to do more, and our experience with schools is showing that certain types of technology can help, particularly with boys.

At the coal face
David Godfrey, is a principal of two schools in Northumberland, both with over 50 per cent of children on FSM. The former coal mining region is predominantly white working class and many families are third generation unemployed. He is no stranger to raising the achievement and aspirations of lower achieving boys and has given us some tips for readers of this blog to consider:

1. Reward success frequently
It doesn’t take long for a child who is finding learning a challenge to start developing a belief in failure, negative self-image and a sense of helplessness – all things that can be detrimental to their long-term success in school and beyond. As David puts it, “Boys are motivated by competition, but when they do not win, they can feel like failures.”

Online learning programmes can help as they provide regular feedback for small victories when children are studying independently, meaning boys get the sensation that they are ‘winning’. Small successes lead to confidence which in turn breeds further success.

2. Personalise learning
If the right tools are chosen, they can help tailor learning to the individual so the teacher does not have to spend hours doing so. “Personalised learning is an expectation of schools but in reality, is difficult to achieve,” explains David. “The right e-learning technology, however, can help teachers diagnose issues and then present learning materials that are relevant to that child’s exact needs.”

3. Make the content – and the delivery – relevant to boys
“Technology is a fantastic enabler. It pushes many of the buttons that motivate boys and develops many of the skills we need to encourage in lower ability learners,” says David. It also encourages independent learning, something that many hard to reach pupils struggle with. Deliver a lesson on ‘bossy’ verbs via an iPad and a student suddenly wants to learn.

Think about what topics interest boys too. Girls seem to be able to adapt to most types of content, but boys less so and so it is key that the material appeals to their likes and dislikes.

4. Home help
The advantage of using online learning materials to help raise achievement is that parents can get involved too. “Parents hold the key to a child’s achievement, so anything that offers the ability to share results or activities with parents is ideal,” says David.

By choosing online learning technologies that are suited to this hard-to-reach group, you can have an impact on their achievement that will reap rewards beyond improved results. Happier pupils, more engaged parents and even more empowered teaching staff to name but a few.

Jonathan Ovenden is a director at vision2learn who will at Bett 2014 (stand F346), if you wish to discuss these issues further.

Flipping Maths!
Another Flip adapted from flickr.com/photos/82684220@N00Another Flip adapted from flickr.com/photos/82684220@N00

Time after time in my classroom I run out of time. I then ask pupils to complete tasks at home that are extensions of the work done in class to stretch them and help them progress in their learning. This is the way it has always been, instruction in class, practice and then homework to consolidate, but what if this idea of what is best is turned completely on its head? You’d get pupils engaging in well thought out and prepared instruction at home, coming into class prepared to engage in activities and, most importantly, pupils get far more time working with their teacher on more conceptual and challenging work. Well… this is the idea behind the flipped classroom and I’m trying it out!

The idea for me came from speaking with a colleague who had been to a session on this at #pedagoowonderland. That one conversation was enough to have created my first screencast lesson within a week and have two of my colleagues involved too.

The principles of this approach are that the homework prior to a lesson will be that pupils watch a screencast lesson that I’ve prepared and take notes. The lesson will have a couple of built in quick questions at the end so that they have attempted something before the class. To do this, I’ve used www. screencast-o-matic.com and recorded my Promethean flipcharts. This allows me to use a familiar visual for the pupils and the ability to write over each screen as I would usually. I record my voice over this using a microphone plugged into the computer. This is our first ever attempt of a flipped lesson that I prepared and my colleague has delivered, enjoy! (The sound before about 2 minutes in is a bit dodgy, stick with it)

So what happens when they appear in class? The plan is to reflect on what they learnt form the video and discuss how we would apply it. This should give us the opportunity to engage the pupils in higher quality dialogue about the learning as they will have had time to reflect on it and absorb it. Also, it will hopefully allow us to provide more complex and conceptual tasks to do in the classroom where they are supported by their peers and the teacher.

This is what we are trying at the moment and it would be great to hear from people who have flipped their classroom or are trying it out just now as well.

Using pupil feedback to improve teaching
input

At the end of every lesson, I try to evaluate my teaching. Sometimes I manage to do this, othertimes, there’s simply not enough time. I’ve even thought about giving myself DIRT on my timetable so that it’s not just the students who are doing explicit improvement and reflection. Towards the end of a major unit however, it’s difficult to evaluate how effective your teaching has been. Of course, I could look at test results, but sometimes the test doesn’t catch everything. It may tell you that your teaching of x, y and z was ineffective but it won’t tell you why. This is where pupil feedback can help.

Laura Mcinerney once asked the daring question, “Should teachers publish the test scores of their classes” . I wondered what would happen if I published the pupil feedback of all my classes. It has certainly forced me to reflect more honestly and openly about my own practice.

You can find the original pupil survey here: http://goo.gl/W2mRPk . I have been selective with the publishing of my results, generally ignoring repeats and responses where students replies were too general and not actionable e.g. “Mr Lau was great”.

What could Mr Lau have done differently / better:

    - let us figure out what has gone wrong with our code.
    - Maybe give us more time to actually try ourselves rather than watching the board quite often. I also think it would be useful to sometimes have a quick break from python and try something else like scratch for one lesson
    - Explain coding simpler and talk a bit less so we have time to get the work done better.
    - he could have showen a demo of what he wants us to do
    - Mr lau could have simplified the technical language.
    - come round to every one
    - Maybe explain in more detail.
    - Explane more clearly
    - put more computing lessons on the time table.

Analysis and Response: Students have raised the issue that I help them too readily. Whilst a growth mindset and persistence is abundant in the majority of our students, it appears that in my teaching, I could demonstrate these learning habits more by helping students less, offering more waiting time and responding with questions rather than answers. Several students also thought that explanations could be clearer; teaching computer programming for the first time, I think this is to be expected but I will try to observe more experienced Computing teachers. Key words and language was also raised as an issue, so I think a Vocab list for each unit would be helpful. On the positive side, many students replied with “nothing” on the improvements list with the last comment of putting “more computing lessons on the time table” brightening up my day.

What would you like Mr Lau to do more of:

    - Letting us work on our own, a bit more .
    - more of prasing people
    - Demonstrate code before sending us to do work.
    - more work on your own
    - come round to more people
    - explained things and use more visual things like pictures

Analysis and Response: Firstly, Praise praise praise, it’s an invaluable currency. Secondly, many students preferred working on their own. I think I have done paired programming for several reasons, firstly because the research suggests it can be the most effective way of coding:

http://www.cs.pomona.edu/classes/cs121/supp/williams_prpgm.pdf

http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?PairProgrammingBenefits

http://www.summa-tech.com/blog/2013/05/16/pair-programming-benefits-part-1-the-good/

The second reason is because our laptop trolley rarely has a full class set of working laptops. However, I will certainly pilot more independent working and solo tasks next term.

What would you like Mr Lau to do less of:

    - Speaking to the whole class about something a few people have got wrong.
    - work sheets
    - stop showing people what to do if they are stuck.
    - Keep on showing us the board
    - To do less talking when teaching and to pick people to come and try the code on the interactive smartboard.
    - canstant doing hardcore lessons may be sometimes we could fun lessons
    - I would like to get on with the work straight away on the and have a learning objective on the table
    - stopping the how class when only a few people need to know things
    - speaking less at the start and giving us more time to practical work time.
    - dont explan to fings at wons

Analysis and Response: Early on in my career, I had a lot of helpless handraising. This was partly to do with my teaching and partly due to the culture of the school. I decided to combat this by judging when it would be appropriate to stop the whole class. If a student asked a question that I thought the whole class could benefit from hearing the answer to, I would stop them. No teacher likes repeating themselves afterall. It appears that my students don’t like this strategy as I am stopping the majority in order to help a small minority. I therefore plan to get around this by helping Student A with their problem, then when Student B asks me for help on the same problem, I could direct them to Student A. If Student C asks the same question, the chain continues. Whilst there are clear literacy issues (perhaps distorted by the use of computers and their association with txtspk), the last student makes a point about working memory and helping students remember. This reminds me of Willingham’s work on helping students remember and learn.

Any other comments

    -stop 5 minutes early to put the computers away
    - computer science is fun
    - Thanks Mr Lau I am getting Better .
    -Nice.
    print(“Thanks Mr Lau again”)
    I think i need a new account sorry :( i will try to remeber please dont give me a detention soryy

    - It was very useful to work in partners and also rate and and have your own work rated.
    - my mum is impressed
    - Computing is such a unique subject to learn in a secondary school and I am so happy to participate in it as it is intresting, inspiring and useful if you want to have a future career in game making or something like that.
    - I have really enjoyed computer science this term I have had fun playing and exploring around laptops. Making chat bots and having challenges I have learnt a lot about computers and how they work. I am looking forward to doing more work this term and learning different things.
    - I have really enjoyed codeing i really like it some times i do it at home with my dad because he enjoys it to just like me.
    - PLEASE show us how to do spreadsheets through the medium of dance like in your old school.


Analysis and Response:
Timing is an issue for me. I need to fit in an exit ticket, house points and packing away. That’s a good 10 minutes before the end of a lesson. To close on a bright note- clearly computing is having a positive impact on many of our students. The highlight for me is the student who wrote a print command in Python in her comment!

How useful was this process for improving my teaching in general? I think it provided a great deal of stimulus for reflection and improvement. Using Google forms, I also managed to sneak in an exit ticket, which I quickly evaluated using conditional formatting.

As a result, some students will be due housepoints, whereas others will need mastery classes.

After all this analysis, hopefully I can put some of these ideas into practice and feedback on the process.

NationalModeration.co.uk – a new(ish) approach to assessment moderation

As requested by @fkelly , I’ve decided to throw a quick post together about www.nationalmoderation.co.uk – a service I created to allow Scottish teachers to share their own unit assessments for the new National Qualifications.

Essentially the creation of this website was spurred by one glaringly obvious reality – the unit assessments provided by the SQA are simply not up to scratch, and as a consequence everybody is creating their own material and hoping that it meets the standards. Ón the face of it, this may be no bad thing – if we create our own unit assessments then we can tailor them to our own courses and our own pupils, and surely that is good idea?

To give an example, I have consciously themed my entire National 5 English course around the concept of ‘Coping with Conflict’, selecting texts which can be woven together across the whole year (‘Spiritual Damage’, ‘War Photographer’, ‘The Man I Killed’ and ‘Bold Girls’) – now that I am no longer forced to use a few set NABs I have also created reading assessments which follow this theme, thus enhancing the pupils’ overall understanding of what we are studying this year (at least this is the idea).

Several months ago, however, I realised that if EVERYONE does the same thing then there will be hundreds – perhaps thousands – of unit assessments being created across the country and many of us will be replicating the work that colleagues are doing (or have already done). Frankly, we all work too hard as it is to be reinventing the wheel hundreds of times over, so a system for sharing material is essential.

Of course, Education Scotland and the SQA are providing something along these lines, but there are two reasons why I believe it would be helpful for a service which is independent of these bodies. Firstly, the websites of these organisations (especially Education Scotland) are – to be kind – not particularly user friendly, and I (like many others) don’t have the time or the willpower to fight my way through Glow to find material on a regular basis; secondly, I firmly believe that the only way for us to ever really become confident in the development and delivery of our own materials is for us to move beyond a dependence on official bodies to confirm that every little thing is up to scratch.

If – or, depending on your philosophical view of the amount of fluid in a glass, when – Curriculum for Excellence fulfills its potential it will be because of the incredible work of teachers, not Education Scotland, the SQA or the Education Secretary, and I hope that NationalModeration might play a small part in that development.

Basically, it works like this: teachers upload their unit assessments, other teachers moderate them by leaving comments, alterations are made as required and, eventually, gradually, standards become clearer and are met across the country.

At present the site only has English assessments but it would be great if other subjects could begin contributing materials as well (I’ll create however many subject specific pages are required in this instance). In order to sign up you must be teacher in a Scottish school (and verify this, usually by means of an official email address) – this means that the material can be kept secure, allowing us to continue to use it in our classes as our official unit assessments.

If you think that the site would be of any help to you as you continue to develop your approach to the new qualifications please do sign up – the more people are involved the more effective our approach will be.

My Journey to the Scottish Digital Leaders Network.

On Wednesday 25th September, I presented at the SLF teachmeet on the topic of the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. Here is that presentation

 

2 years ago I taught ICT across the school as RCCT cover…it nearly killed me. Not the ICT bit, I loved it for enabling children to do fantastic creative work, and powerpoints, the way they could discover things, share things and be enthused and curious about learning. Parts of it were like an advert for the teacher training agency.

What nearly killed me was the day to day problems which got in the way. Flash updates, word templates not working, no access to colour printers, flash updates, using IE 6, aspects of filtering, flash updates, java…you get the picture. It really got in the way of me extending the children’s learning in ICT. As part of my ICT role I spent two days at a NAACE conference in Crewe where I met some amazing people and was introduced to the idea of Digital Leaders.

 

Rather than me try to define a digital leader, I thought I’d share with you a child’s own view of the role, taken from an Edmodo post…on a Sunday afternoon.

Slide2

And then rather than get you to read loads more, made a quick wordle which highlights helping, technology, responsible, and for some reason curtain.

Slide3

Digital leaders are a group of children in school which help with ICT in loads of different ways. They have expertise in ICT, are responsible and are given positions with real influence and real responsibility in your school. They exist in every school.

Last year I decided to turn our ICT group at Uphall into a Digital Leaders group. Something I felt would go beyond an after school group and something where I wanted the children to have more of a leading role.

So, having decided to give digital leaders a go, we asked them to apply online and we interviewed them and selected our first 13 digital leaders.This interview and application process is an important part of the digital leaders ethos in my opinion. It helps create a standard and expectation for the children, parents and staff and it is a process our children took very seriously and were brilliant at. I was fortunate enough to have my headteacher involved in the process which added loads to the process.

 

Over the year they made videos, created a resource website to help replace education city’s maths games, taught numerous children how to do many things, helped install firefox, used webmaker tools and finally the P7′s wrote the interview questions for this year’s cohort. Much of this work we shared on our blog space.

Slide4

This was great, but what they desperately wanted was to meet other digital leaders, online and in real life for meetups and beyond…and I had some ideas I thought they could develop too!

Slide5Many of these ideas also involve taking digital leaders beyond our school and meeting up with similar groups.

So I thought I would try and set up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network. The network exists currently on Google + and we have an edmodo group. I am happy for the resources and network to reside anywhere where we can easily do the things we want to do, so we’re not tied to any medium. These are the things you’ll find there.

Slide6

One of the really exciting things going on this year is the badges for DL-ers from digital me. Digital me help young people gain skills and confidence through new technology and work alongside groups such as Nesta and Mozilla to develop young people’s skills. The badges look brilliant, and there you can view the prototype designs in the G+ group.

Slide7

What I would like you to do, is, having seen this, consider whether Digital Leaders is something you could start at your school. If it is please drop me an e-mail and I’ll organise you joining the network and hopefully we can support you and share ideas and solutions.

If it’s something you’re already doing under a different name, it would be great if you’d consider joining the network and making connections with people, I really think your children would enjoy the opportunities of working with other people.

Obviously, any questions please get in touch via e-mail, twitter or the comments below.

That was my presentation and slides and I’ve been really pleased with the feedback so far. There are a few hoops to go through to get into a google + group. You need a google account and you need to have activated your G+ account. I went for G+ as it offers webmeet capacity across the UK and beyond, which sadly Glow doesn’t yet and Skype calling seems unavailable in many schools.

The Edmodo group for Scottish Digital Leaders is here. You need to drop me an e-mail or DM for the code.