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Where the Sun Shines #PedagooLondon
Image by @JennaLucas81Image by @JennaLucas81

A write-up of my keynote at Pedagoo London 2015. Summer Turner (@ragazza_inglese)

I am really honoured to be the final speaker today. Much like many of the people who have spoken today, I have a big place in my heart for Pedagoo and so it means a lot to me that Helene asked me to end this day.

Phil Stock spoke eloquently at the start of today about the power of this type of CPD and he also spoke about leaking roofs. Weirdly I had this metaphor in my mind about the two. I’ve always felt Teaching found me – walking into a classroom for the first time since leaving school and watching a commanding female teacher weave a magic spell over her pupils with literature – I remember feeling that I had found my home. Yet two years later, worn from an onslaught of behaviour management and an ill-balanced workload, it began to feel like the roof of my home was leaking. Seeping through were the negative images and words whether from politicians, the media or most sadly other teachers. And then my colleague, Chris Waugh, encouraged me to explore the world of Twitter. I was already online but unsure what I was doing (hence the silly Twitter handle) or what I wanted to say but with guidance I began to cut a path for myself. The next step was a TeachMeet – this one at Tom Sherrington’s previous school KEGS. Suddenly I felt that: yes the roof of my home had holes but the sun was shining! Being in a room surrounded by teachers determined to be better, to do better by their pupils was amazing but even more so was the generosity of spirit which I found there and which I find today. There is no keener example of that than Helene, who organised today, she is the embodiment of this generosity: someone who gives so much of their time to helping others in the teaching community find a voice, someone who works tirelessly to provide a space for this meeting of minds. For that I would like to thank her most deeply.

Today there has been some great sharing of ideas but, perhaps more importantly, there has been disagreement. One of the themes that has come out today is the importance of teacher autonomy. In the London Nautical English Department session they discussed the importance of this in terms of their approach to curriculum and assessment. Teachers are empowered by their ability to make choice and to therefore have a sense of autonomy. This prompted a debate about how how autonomous teachers should be – where is the role of leadership and whole school ethos?Recently bloggers such as Kris Boulton have started a discussion about whether teachers should have any say in curriculum design at all. Phil Stock provided an example of something which perhaps bridges this gap with his workshop on on collaborative teaching cycles in which there was a suggestion about the value of a framework provided by leaders but with some autonomy at department level. It’s clear there is a healthy debate to be had here, one which I have certainly begun in my own mind!

Another point of friction came through the discussion of assessment – including a continued argument about the importance of progress measures. In her session on assessment without levels Hayley Earl talked about the fear that schools have about developing a new system and called for leaders to be brave and to have conviction. It’s a concern to me that we are still discussing progress measures when we should be focused on valuable assessment systems which are driven by curriculum and by the desire to work out what our pupils know and how to help them make genuine improvement. I concur with Hayley that fear is the one thing that is holding us back. I’m not sure if it’s a hang up from previous criticisms levelled at teachers or from the accountability system and Ofsted but fear is the one thing that is going to stop us from making the change that we believe in. Fear is also what leads to some of the stupidity that still goes on in schools and results in people thinking that they can go to a PixL conference and pick up some hot trick that will make their school outstanding. There’s still this terrible culture of trends in teaching based on little to no evidence and usually ending up reducing the complex questions of education into a motivational laminated poster. If your thinking can end up in three words on a poster, I would suggest you need to think again. I think what all of the sessions shared was the importance of ethos, values and courage of conviction.

The reason this isn’t seen across school is I think a consequence of a fear of “the struggle”. We constantly encourage our pupils to embrace risk and struggle and that point between challenge and failure – yet half the time we run a mile from it ourselves. We run from the feeling that comes when you have to think about something complex and have to navigate the difficulties. Yet sitting in sessions today hearing ideas that I disagree with forces me to consider and refine my ideas. How do you know what you really believe until it is challenged?

These challenges are easier to face here because we are not alone. A number of people have talked today about the feeling teachers have of being ‘on their own’. It’s much less terrifying to take risks when you know you have this community and it also means you don’t always have to re-invent the wheel; I think we can put pressure on ourselves to always be original and be our own island of inspirational teaching. But it’s not cheating to work together, to collaborate, to use other’s ideas – with suitable credit of course. And that is just another reason why today has been so worthwhile. I lead on Teaching and Learning and after Phil’s session today I do feel a bit like he’s taken a year’s worth of thinking and work off my shoulders. Even in the divisions and differences and arguments that ensue as part of the profession we are truly united by the passion we have to do the right thing by our pupils – to provide them with the best education. Determining what that is demands argument but this can be achieved positively.

In my first ever blog post I demanded that we all face the education world with this unrelenting positivity. I now realise that what I wanted was for us to be positive activists. As the years have gone on, this positive activism has been realised through the grassroots movement from events such as Pedgaoo, ResearchEd, Headteachers Roundtable, TeachMeets, Twitter, blogging and more. We have seen curriculum, assessment, teacher training, behaviour management and even Ofsted be shaped by those within the profession. What is happening here is not only CPD it is this meeting of minds; a collaboration of ideas and an active pursual of change from the profession itself. It is the very best of what we are about.

What I also heard today was a plurality of voices. Even within the education community we can sometimes be self-limiting in terms of who we listen to. This is a problem, which we need to address. And I’m going throw in the F word now – FEMINISM. (Not a swear word but sometimes it feels like one.) 74% of the profession are women – yet think about the biggest voices in education when it comes to blogging, Tweeting and conferences. How many of them are women? How many women here today probably didn’t ask a question or make a comment out of insecurity or ‘imposter syndrome’. If we are taking charge of our profession then we need to take charge as a whole group together. We need to follow the example of Helene and work to allow a multitude of voices to be heard. In that space lies our power.

I recently re-read the book ‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ and there is a moment at the end of the book where the protagonist Charlie reflects on his journey over the time he has been writing. He says:

I don’t know if I will have the time to write anymore letters because I might

be too busy trying to participate. So, if this does end up being the last letter I just wanted you to know that I was in bad place before I started high school and you helped me. Even if you didn’t know what I was talking about or know someone who’s gone through it you made me not feel alone, because I know there are people who say all these things don’t happen, and there are people who forget what it’s like to be sixteen when they turn seventeen.

I know these will all be stories some day and our pictures will become old photographs and we will all become someone’s mom and dad.

But right now, these moments aren’t stories this is happening, I am here and I am looking at her, and she is so beautiful…I can see it.

This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story, you are alive.

And you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder, when you were listening to that song, on that drive with the people you love most in this world.

And in the moment, I swear, we are infinite.

In the moment, I swear, we are infinite.

It’s that I feel when I am surrounded by my profession at events such as these; it is standing up and seeing the lights and it is beautiful. And everyone, every teacher, should feel this. So I urge you all to become positive activists for our profession, to contribute to the multitude of voices and to allow our passion to unite us. Together, we are infinite.

Reflections on #PedagooLondon
July 10, 2015
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I am quite shy and meeting new people is something that I find difficult. I was excited about coming to Pedagoo London but as I sat in a nearby park before it started I did have a moment of panic wondering what on earth I was doing. As I browsed twitter I saw a post from @aknill with a picture of his current view – I realised that we were in the same park and tweeted back. Within a few minutes he had found me and we walked to the IOE together – thanks Andy, it made things a lot less scary to not go in on my own.

Thanks also to @hgaldinoshea for organising the event. It was lovely to finally meet @KDWScience and @rondelle10_b – both of whom I’ve shared many ideas with over the last year or so. It was also good to make connections with other people. I am glad that I attended.

Phil Stock @joeybagstock kicked things off by asking if we were ”Mugs, martyrs or fools” to be doing CPD at the weekend. When I’ve told friends and sometimes colleagues about what I was doing at the weekend they have usually responded with ‘why’? For me it isn’t because I think that the CPD I’ve had at school wasn’t right (some of it was very good) but the reason I came to Pedagoo London is because I’m interested in teaching and learning and I wanted to meet some of the people that I connect with regularly via twitter.  A member of my SLT asked me if I’d gone to the event because I was after a new job – it’s not that either!

The first session that I attended was by Dawn Cox @MissDCox looking at life without levels. This is something that is being developed at school at the moment and so it seemed like a sensible choice. Dawn shared the model that she has developed for RE and talked about being aware of what we were trying to assess- are we trying to measure things that can’t be measured? Dawn had identified the key skills that were needed and how these would be developed – something that I have been thinking about for my own subject. I also liked the idea of using no stakes multiple choice questions where one of the options is ‘I don’t know’.

Next I went to Looking for Literacy by @KDWScience. I found myself nodding in agreement as Karen talked about the problems that students have with literacy. One of the important things that I took away from this session is that literacy isn’t just about writing. Sometimes when I am thinking about ways to improve the literacy of my students I think only about writing and how I can support them to do this better. Karen talked about speaking, listening, understanding, reading AND writing – and this is something that I need to think about more when I am planning for my classes.

Karen spoke about targeting ‘Sloppy speech’ and the importance of getting students to not only use the right terminology but to speak in full sentences etc.

”If you can speak it, you can write it. ”

How many times have students said that they know what the question is about, they just don’t know how to write it. By getting students to verbalise their answers, they will be better prepared to write them down. This is definitely something that I could do more of. As an undergraduate student I clearly remember one of my lecturers telling us that he had banned the use of ”woolly words” in our essays (stuff, lots, non specific language) and I do model this with students – asking them (or others) to clarify what they mean using relevant terminology – but perhaps I could do this more often to help students to develop their writing. Definitely something to work on.

The thing that struck me most about ‘A recipe for deep learning’ by @cristahazell and @candidagould  was the passion with which they talked about learning. Listening to someone who clearly loves what they do reminds me of what I love about my job and why I want to do it better. They talked about preparing our students for life beyond our classroom and apart from the sweets (that went down well) we were able to take away some resources too and suggestions for further reading – very helpful. The session was an active one and we were encouraged to discuss factors affecting deep learning with the people that we were sat with and also to reflect on what we do well and what we can do better.

Michael Smyth @tlamjs took us on a whirlwind tour of some simple but effective ideas to improve teaching and learning. I found this session really helpful and came away with loads of ideas that I can use in my classroom. The concept behind the session was about making small changes that can have a big impact. I really liked the ‘Randomness’ – I’ve used a random generator to pick students before but we were shown other examples – keywords, command words, exam questions – possibilities are endless. Another idea I really liked was ‘Patience’ – not just waiting for an answer but also waiting once they have answered as they might elaborate on their answer if  you don’t respond straight away. I look forward to trying out some of the ideas. One thing I have been trying (and failing) to forget about this session was the image of the jaffa cake man!

@mike_gunn started his session with thumb wars! I don’t think I’ve ever done this before but it was great fun. Mike talked about why we should flip learning, the challenges and issues and also shared some resources. Students at my school are not allowed to use their phones in school but I still found the session useful as there were ideas that I could use to help with setting homework. Lots for me to think about and explore.

Summer Turner @ragazza_inglese summed up the day and talked about positive activism – how we have the power to make changes happen in our classroom and in our schools and that we should be brave.

There were also some lovely reflections at the #teacher5aday exhibition set up by @MartynReah. A lovely day, I left feeling inspired to try new ideas and it was lovely to put faces to twitter names and to make new connections.

This was originally posted on my blog keepcalmandweargoggles.wordpress.com

My thoughts and reflections… #PedagooLondon
July 9, 2015
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Saturday was a wonderful non-stop carousel of enthusiasm and inspiration. I had not attended a Pedagoo event, nor even a teachmeet, before and it looks like I will now be making up for lost time! What follows below is a brief chronological summary of my Pedagoo experience.

Pre-Pedagoo

As the eighth floor of the Institute of Education was slowly filling up I found myself agog at the fact that so many of the teachers I follow on Twitter were in the room. One of my happiest moments was spotting the batman socks of a certain well-known tweeter!

Welcome

Phil Stock gave a very welcoming speech and channelled Andy Lewis’ question of whether we were “Mugs, Martyrs of Fools” to be giving up a day to take part in CPD on the weekend. The question he put to us was “what is missing in our schools for this to be the case?” However, his positive summary that we can and are growing CPD from the inside out clearly resonated. Who could question the need to put student learning firmly at the forefront of our training?

Session 1

I am currently part of a working party to look at redesigning the marking and assessment at my school, so it was logical to attend Dawn Cox’s “Assessment without levels.” Indeed this topic is very much en vogue and I have read many recent blogs with great curiosity. During this session I was very interested in the development of Dawn’s assessment system for Religious Education. Two ideas I particularly liked were:

  1. The concept of students working back from a definition of a command word (e.g. explain) to the actual command word itself.
  2. No stakes multiple choice question testing where one option is always “I don’t know” to see exactly what a student doesn’t know.

Two simple yet highly effective strategies to help students engage with the assessment process. I will be interested to hear how it progresses as it is rolled out next year, particularly the no stakes testing.

Session 2

For the same reason as above I chose to attend another session based on assessment, this time Chris Curtis’ “The link between planning, progress and marking.” He started his talk by asking whether books actually tell the story of how a student is taught and of their learning. This again is a key topic in the days of work scrutiny and book checks. His use of the magician mastery and leaping up the ladder analogies were spot on and ones I will be using with staff and students alike. As part of an activity during the session I wrote down two very prosaic sentences on London and then managed to self-mark using a very clever grid of 15 targets to improve my work; unlike the famous Paul Daniels quote I liked this idea a lot!

Session 3

The ever enthusiastic dynamic duo of Crista Hazell and Candida Gould were up next with their “Recipe for Deep Learning.” This was a fun session, but also one that made me question many of my core educational beliefs; although not specifically about this session Hélène Galdin-O’Shea put it brilliantly in her tweet “I guess when you are struggling to agree with some of what you hear, it helps you figure out exactly why you do.” During Crista and Candida’s presentation they had a slide with a scale from the seemingly interchangeable Nicky Morgan / Michael Gove Tory Secretary of State for Education to Sir Ken Robinson. Perhaps my difficulty in digesting the mention of “Shift Happens”, “jobs that don’t exists” and “digital natives” would put me squarely at one particular end of that spectrum? However, that is not the point and I took many fine ideas from this session. Indeed it was a celebration of enthusiasm, hard work and, above all, passion for the job. Whilst listening to both Candida and Crista speak the sheer love they have for student learning come across loud and clear. PS – many thanks for the sweets!

Session 4

This was the session I was delivering, ostentatiously called “The one hundred one percents.” This topic is very close to my heart and was essentially a whistle-stop tour of ideas, gimmicks and thoughts to get the best out of teaching and learning. Since its first outing in March I have tweaked, changed and (I think!) improved the session. It was very enjoyable running the session and I am hugely grateful to Hélène for inviting me to do so and the wonderful people who actually came to listen; I do hope they took away a few ideas and look forward to hearing how they get on.

Session 5

Grassroots Leaders and Research-Focused TLCs was next on my list from Athena Pitsillis and Keven Bartle. I particularly liked the idea of pedagogy leaders as “brokers” between SLT and teachers and this made me think how it felt to be in such a position. My initial thoughts of it being akin to metamorphic rock were allayed as the session progressed. One thing that struck me is the sheer volume of leaders that this approach develops, in some schools such opportunities are few and far between. This reminded me of the Multiplier Effect and echoed the theme that all teachers are leaders. Finally it was also inspiring to hear Keven talk about how they have broken down barriers between teaching and support staff; as a teacher that relies on two excellent technicians I heartily agree that we should be doing more to develop the roles of support staff within schools.

Plenary

The final official part of PedagooLondon was Summer Turner’s summary of the day. This was particularly apposite as she called for more autonomy and empowerment in what we do as well as encouraging debate to help allow opinions to form. Summer also echoed Hélène’s sentiments when she said “how do you know what you really believe until it is challenged?” But I will remember this final talk as embodying the collaborative nature of the event as we look to maintain the positive activism.

Teacher5aday

There was also time to see Martyn Reah’s collection of #teacher5aday ideas in an exhibition on the seventh floor. Not only were there some great thoughts and reflections but this also distilled just how connected we can be and was a lovely way to leave PedagooLondon.

The Marquis of Cornwallis

This led nicely to a nearby pub where I was lucky enough to meet some extraordinary teachers, chatting for hours and reflecting on the day. Certainly I hope to return in a year’s time to PedagooLondon16, but until then I will be keeping in contact and trying to get to as many events as possible.

Thank you to all who were involved in organising such a fantastic day!

Reluctance vs. Positive Wizards
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Every remarkable leader throughout our history had a powerful message behind their choice of words, “We must fight them on the beaches…” ~ Winston Churchill, “I have a dream” ~ Martin Luther King and “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” ~ Steve Jobs

It was those motivational speeches that rallied the troops, empowered the marginalised and inspired a generation…

We use powerful phrases all the time in education to teach our subjects, convey models of behaviour and to ignite the passion for learning. But have you ever heard of rallying your positive wizards to overcome reluctance?

As educators we regularly encounter reluctance in our classrooms or when attempting to launch new initiatives. Often the wave of sighs and rolling eyes dents our own enthusiasm, makes us question the validity of our ideas or shakes our ability to inspire our learners. Reluctance in its most basic stubborn form, “I don’t want to”, requires a framework of skills and a suite of motivational phrases to overcome the negative force which refuses to engage. This is the precise moment that you need to channel all of your energies into identifying the positive wizards among your pupils, teaching staff and leaders. Positive wizards are those people willing to embrace new ideas, have a thirst for learning and who are willing to champion your cause.

Julia Skinner, former Headteacher and now founder of the 100 Word Challenge has used positive wizards to champion the most reluctant of learners and most stubborn of staff. And when the conversation is beyond the magical sway of her positive wizards her cunning plans have enticed and achieved resolution.

On episode 24 of the Inspiration 4 Teachers Podcast Show Julia and I discuss how to overcome reluctance and engage not only learners, but teachers, leaders and governors.

Episode take-aways:

  • Deciphering reluctance to engage
  • Identifying positive wizards and using them to your advantage
  • Building relationships and effective communication

If you enjoyed this article please tweet the knowledge forward and share with your community!

INSPIRATION 4 TEACHERS

BRINGING YOU INTERVIEWS WITH INSPIRING PEOPLE WHO ARE CHANGING THE FACE OF EDUCATION!

 

Everyone has a voice #PedagooLondon
Lecture

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting London, not to take photos of architecture, nor to experience the pomp and circumstance of our great British institution. Interestingly, despite the fact that one of the biggest tennis tournaments was taking place in London, I wasn’t anywhere near Wimbledon either. I was a delegate at Pedgaoo London, a TeachMeet organised by Hélène Galdin-O’shea (@hgaldinoshea) that I hadn’t been aware of until quite recently and, honestly, if my ATW (@hayleyearl) hadn’t been presenting there (which now makes her the Most Amazing Teacher Wife!) I wouldn’t have attended nor would I be blogging tonight (sorry Hélène). However, I cannot express my delight in attending and my gratitude towards Hélène for organising the event, supported by Kevin Bartle @kevbartle, to the many speakers and to the delegates also, many of whom I have started to follow and extend my own professional network.

Whilst my ATW was nervous about speaking to her peers, I housed my own anxieties: I would be in a room with delegates with extensive levels of knowledge and experience compared to my 7 years as a TA, Unqualified Teacher and Student, how could I participate in the anticipated discussions? Listening to Phil Stock (@joeybagstock) and then Chris Waugh (@edutronic_net), I was filled with awe; these two guys could hold an audience with musings of wisdom, and evidence of practice that I hope to achieve one day in my career. Maybe I had a right to be nervous, these people were eminently worthy of their podium position at the front of one of the IoE’s classrooms, what could I offer in discussion?

However, these fears were somewhat alleviated when I entered the room and realised that everyone was there for the same reason, to learn, share and develop professionally, a common expectation. What’s more, when I shared opinions, I found I was not alone, nor were they dismissed, people were interested in my thoughts and could relate and, dare I say, agree.

The day was a resounding success for everyone involved, for my ATW with her new-found desire to speak publicly (see www.musingsofateacher.wordpress.com) but selfishly, for me too. I’m lucky enough to have lots of CPD opportunities, formerly as a Schools Direct student, now as an NQT and as a Teacher at a forward thinking, staff investing school. Notwithstanding the existing opportunities, I cannot advocate enough the professional and personal rewards available from attending TeachMeets. The TeachMeets don’t have to be as big as Pedgaoo London or Northern Rocks (which will be in the diary next year!): try to meet locally in cluster schools to discuss progress and experiences. Meeting with colleagues of various levels of seniority, form varying backgrounds (primary and secondary) and with different levels of experience is an invaluable form of CPD. I’d even go as far as saying that I would happily organise PedagooGlos if enough are interested (will book ATW first!)

Finally, from this weekend’s experience, never underestimate the value of your own knowledge too: everyone has an opinion, everyone has experience, everyone deserves a voice.

A Marriage? Challenge Based Learning and Collaborative Group Learning
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When designing a Curriculum which,

fully activates the processes across the Socialised-Learning Continuum, supports the application of the principles within each process stage of the Socialised-Learning Continuum and facilitates the application of a Collaborative Group Learning Pedagogy,

it is my belief that, in both its structural and applied (pedagogy) forms, it must be Collaborative, Connected, Challenging, Authentic in nature and driven by Concepts and Problems. Above all the Curriculum must be learner-centric and a educational route towards a Liberated Learning capacity.

A number of Curriculum approaches exist globally. Many would fundamentally fail to achieve the goals outlined above either due to their structural constraints but more likely due to their underpinning philosophies being at odds with the philosophies of liberation inherent in the vision of education these articles collectively champion.  Many, with reorientation, offer tried and proven approaches which align well with the ultimate aims of Collaborative Group Learning. Such Curriculum are epitomised by the International Middle Years Curriculum, the International Baccalaureate, High Tech Highs Project Based Learning (being applied here in London at School21) and Expeditionary Learning (which I recently observed in action at XP School in Doncaster).

In this article I want to present and discuss Apple’s (yes as in the IT Giant) Challenge Based Learning (CBL) as a model for Curriculum which I feel could help engineer and facilitate the processes, goals and aims discussed in this collection of articles.

I have drawn extensively from the Challenge Based Learning community to construct this article. 


What is Challenge Based Learning?

Challenge Based Learning is a collaborative learning experience in which teachers and students work together to learn about compelling issues, propose solutions to real problems, and take action. The approach asks students to reflect on their learning and the impact of their actions and publish their solutions to a worldwide audience.

As is highlighted in this opening statement, CBL promotes a process and structure of learning in tune with those of CGL.

It is clear that CBL seeks to mirror the 21st century workplace and it does this by promoting a Curriculum which make sure participants:

  1. Work in collaborative groups
  2. Authentically use technology commonly found in the workplace
  3. Tackle real-world problems using a multidisciplinary approach
  4. Develop practical solutions to these problems
  5. Implement and evaluate the solutions in conjunction with authentic audiences

The promotion of collaborative groups naturally reflects something I hold dear. However the CBL community have no stedfast rules to how these collaborative groups are constructed and seem to allow groups to reform from Challenge to Challenge. I believe this approach limits the effectiveness of CBL and CBL would be enhanced by applying the principles of CGL outlined within these articles (6, sustained, heterogeneous).

A real-world problem can stimulate increased interest, heightens engagement and gives value to the learning. Above all it makes learning authentic taking it out of the silo of a classroom and giving the development of KUS practical application, which is of course the reality of the ‘adult world’. An authenticity which prepares todays learners for tomorrows demands on so many levels.

Multidisciplinary approaches, facilitated by the a real-world problem, again promotes authenticity. The ‘real world’ is not a closed system where we apply KUS from just one discipline to solve problems of life, it is an open system where the messy ‘real world’ requires a messy application of KUS from so many disciplines to traverse the obstacles of life in its broadest sense. As such a Curriculum should model this very real way of learning and application and only through such a multidisciplinary approach can this be truly achieved.

I really like how CBL furthers this by ensuring every student produces, applies and evaluates a solution to the posed problem. A number of Curriculum will feature 1,2,3 but not go as far as 4 and 5. The creation of a solution, again mirroring the ‘real world’, makes education more than just knowledge consumption and regurgitation. Knowledge generation, solutions of practical worth, gives increased value to this Curriculum. Blending CGL and CBL has the potential of creating diverse solutions from diverse thinking, thinking made stronger through the application of CGL principles of group construction.

The community draw attention to the need to

  1. Connect standards-based subject matter to 21st century content and skills; thus requiring considerate mapping of subject Knowledge, Understanding and Skills across the Curriculum.
  2. Recognise that the teacher’s role is that of project manager, mentor; and, as I see it ultimately a resource.
  3. Let students determine the direction of their research and solution; thus fostering a capacity for Liberated Learning. 
  4. Enable students to have the opportunity to act on their solutions; giving the overall endeavour authenticity and moving education from knowledge consumption to knowledge generation. 

As I have written in a previous article new Curriculum approaches and pedagogies which seek to facilitate Collaborative learning processes require teachers to think and work differently. The CBL community recognise this highlighting that the task of the teacher in this new capacity is to work with students to take multidisciplinary standards-based content, connect it to what is happening in the world today, and translate it into an experience in which students make a difference in their community; a community which I feel scales up from local through regional, national to the  global. Accomplishing this goal necessitates teachers to give students structure, support, checkpoints, and the right tools to get their work done successfully, while allowing them enough freedom to be self-directed, creative, and inspired. Naturally the extent of ‘freedom’ should increase over time and as learners develop in competence with power moving from teacher to the learner; liberation.

The CBL community reflect on the evolution of the teacher role: Early on—when you introduce Challenge Based Learning to your students and set up the challenge—you are actively guiding the process by making decisions, communicating information, teaching skills, and answering questions about how the process works and what is expected of your students. In the middle stages, students take charge of planning and researching their own work and you serve primarily as a mentor working alongside the students, helping them through the rough spots and keeping them on track. In the later stages, students are deeply engaged in their own work while you monitor the mastery of required knowledge and skills through appropriate assessments. Finally, you will transition into the role of product manager supporting the students as they implement, evaluate, and publish their solutions and results.

I have reflected on this evolution within my Socialised-Learning Continuum approach where the shifting role of teacher, power, control and self-regulation is facilitated at each process stage from the Group towards the Liberated.

What are the Procedural Processes of Challenge Based Learning?

Challenge Based Learning begins with a Big Idea and cascades to the following:

  • the essential question;
  • the challenge;
  • guiding questions, activities, and resources;
  • determining and articulating the solution;
  • implementing the solution;
  • evaluating the results;
  • publishing the solution and sharing it with the world.

The Big Idea exists at a Conceptual level, for example Resolution, Conflict, Justice, and is then explored via the negotiation of a relevant Challenge, which is presented initially as a Driving Question and a community focused problem to be investigated. Such a question needs to be complex, requiring Foundational and Non-foundational knowledge to be drawn upon alongside a synthesis of skills from a  diverse range of subject disciplines.

Reflection, documentation and informative-formative assessment are an important part of the process at every stage as they reinforce learning, an importantly inform next steps and provide evidence of learning (collected and recorded in some form of portfolio). Self, Peer and teacher assessment should be applied throughout to facilitate the above.

Due to the CBL emphasis on exploring topics from many angles and through the lens of multiple disciplines teachers from different disciplines should work together. This not only enhances multidisciplinary approaches, provides the right level of discipline expertise/support while respecting and modelling the CGL approach of working in groups. To facilitate this form of teacher collaboration it is not just the Challenge and problem which need to be multidisciplinary but also we need to recognise the need for physical multidisciplinarity. Timetabling of staff, the design of teaching spaces, the application of technology, providing time for collaborative planning, evaluation and assessment, all need to be planned to enable this important aspect of CBL. Any school wishing to implement something akin to CBL must recognise and tackle these challenges.

Throughout the challenge the students, collaboratively and individually, must be provided with the opportunity to create a variety of products or, as I prefer, artefacts, which include:

  • a challenge proposal video,
  • a set of guiding questions,
  • research plans and results,
  • solutions with beta testing plans and evaluation parameters,
  • a solution video,
  • student journals, and
  • individual reflection videos.

Such artefacts provide evidence of thinking and the means to formatively and summatively assess learning as a process and its outcome. Also through portfolios it provides the evidence of progress for all stakeholders. The quantity and depth of products will depend on where the students enter the process and the length of the challenge. I believe that it is important that at the beginning of the challenge, teachers and students should work together to define the products and determine how they will be assessed, co-creating criteria guided by existing standards. This potentially increases understanding of requirements, buy-in and authenticity, when defined as personalisation.

Assessment, which I believe should be as feedback and feedforward, should be scheduled and should be regular. While CBL puts much of the responsibility in the hands of students, this is one area where the role of teacher is vital; mentoring, monitoring and managing. Examples of some prompts the CBL community use during these checkpoints are:

  • What part of the process are you working on this week?
  • What new knowledge or skills have you acquired this week?
  • What has been your biggest success this week?
  • What has been your biggest challenge this week?
  • How is your group doing as a team?
  • What are your top priorities for next week?

Summative assessment should take a variety of forms to meet the needs of the particular situation. With CBL a summative ‘event’ is built in with the completion and implementation of the solution. The solution will be tested in the real world and students will receive immediate and direct feedback, not just from peers and teacher but also from the authentic audience of that solution.

The Solution, Implementation, Evaluation Stage of Challenge Based Learning.

Using the research findings, gathered throughout the activities of the Challenge, students identify and consider a range of supported solutions before selecting the one that will be implemented. This key element of CBL is what makes it unique to other zeitgeist Curriculum. The solution they choose may involve

informing and/or convincing family, peers, or community members about the need for change;

specific actions that can be taken to address their challenge on an ongoing basis;

school or community improvement projects;

and other activities.

I think it is important to encourage the students to be creative in designing and carrying out their solutions and to document their activities. Naturally the desired levels of complexity present within the solution would be increased with the development of a learners KUS competency.

After identifying their solutions, the students will implement them, measure outcomes, reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and determine whether they made progress in addressing the challenge. When implementation is complete, students share their work with the rest of the world. I think this stage is a real strength of CBL. Quantitively and qualitatively evaluating the solution, ‘doing science’, with others gives the final outcome real value to the community while taking ‘real world’ learning to an increased level of complexity; a level most don’t experience until Postgraduate research.

Throughout the project students document their experience using audio, video, and photography. Near the culmination of the challenge, students build their solution video and record their reflections. The three-to-five minute solution video should include a description of the challenge, a brief description of the learning process, the solution, and the results of the implementation.

Students are encouraged to keep individual written, audio, or video journals throughout the process. As a culminating event, students can be provided a series of prompts for final reflections about what they learned about the subject matter and the process.

These solution videos, reflection videos, and any supporting documents should be shared with the world through web-based communities. It is also ideal to have a public event with all of the participants at the school or in the community to celebrate their efforts and thank those who have assisted. This could evolve into a Celebration of Learning, a wonderful learner-centric alternative to the stale Parents Evening.

The model of Curriculum presented here in the form of CBL aligns well with CGL and with minor tweaks, in particular the application of Collaborative Group construction, could be the basis of an exceptional Curriculum applied at a range of ‘academic levels’ here in the United Kingdom.

As ever keen to here peoples thoughts on this reflection.


Further information about Challenge Based Learning can be found here:

https://www.challengebasedlearning.org/pages/welcome

http://ali.apple.com/cbl/resources.shtml

https://www.challengebasedlearning.org/public/toolkit_resource/02/0e/0df4_af4e.pdf?c=f479

Framework


Cross-posted from COLLABORATIVE GROUP LEARNING

Eyes Down for Bingo!
June 18, 2015
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Using bingo cards is something I’ve done since I was an NQT and I’ve always found it to be a useful way to test pupil knowledge of characters or quotes. It’s simple enough to include a group of either on the cards and then call out a clue which the class have to decipher in order to cross off enough to get a line or full house. It’s fun and as a simple knowledge test, reliable but it can take up a lot of time both during the lesson and in the planning stages.

Recently I’ve been thinking about developing the quality of the content as well as making it more focused on pupils taking ownership of the game. Most recently with Year 9, I was hoping to embed their knowledge of the characters at the beginning of a unit on Romeo and Juliet (particularly now that they need to have a much greater depth of knowledge with the new GCSE assessment approach) and ensure that they were able to link these with key quotes in preparation for a scene analysis of theme.

Each board had a slightly different layout to ensure that the whole class didn’t match everything at once but in order to foster a more independent approach; the pupils worked in pairs with a set of coloured character cards each turning over the cards and matching them to an appropriate quote or analysis point. As you can see in the pictures, cards can be laminated and two coloured highlighters can be used too. Wipe clean and reusable!

This format is so versatile that it can be developed from Bingo to Connect Four according to the rules that you set as a teacher. It can be used as an indicator of gaps in knowledge or as a springboard to prompt further and more detailed discussion. Rather than having simply characters and quotes, the boards can be developed to include analytical statements about characters and events which pupils must discuss before ‘marking’ or blank squares can be left in order for pupils to add their own thoughts. Used as an individual or paired task, for a quick warm up, plenary or as a revision tool before the exam, it never gets old. Let’s face it, the novelty factors will always be there. After all, who doesn’t love a good game?

Cross-posted from The Ramblings of an Enthusiastic Teacher

Using a short, silent film to stimulate independent learning, discussion and writing
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I was really delighted to be asked by Pedagoo to explain how I would use this short film to enliven learning in my classroom. In this post I am mindful of how to harness the abilities of our visual learners. By using this visual text my aim is to generate extended thinking and learning and to encourage engagement with the writing process. I was inspired by David Didau’s hexagonal learning (Solo taxonomy) strategy to create genuine pupil-led independent learning and to find some evidence that this, often alchemical aspect of teaching has taken place.

Activity One
1.Watch this short film prior to showing it to your class. It lasts for 7 minutes.

2. In the classroom you might PAUSE the film mid-way when the little girl is resolute that she won’t accept the boy’s charity. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT ?– cue class writing activity… Five minutes of writing

Join in with this activity teachers !

The whole class including you writes the story. Write frantically, announcing an amnesty on spelling (just for this activity). What really matters here is that ideas are being blasted onto paper. After a strict five minutes, (set a timer) everyone must stop. Then enjoy reading all of the weird and wonderful responses this writing generates. Don’t be precious, read yours out too and accept the fact your pupils may be a little ahem… underwhelmed !

Leave it there fizzing with potential for next time. Your pupils will love this unrestricted burst of writing. Deliberately don’t be too prescriptive about using certain vocabulary banks in advance, see what your students will try, what might flow.

3. Don’t forget to read lots out even if it’s only a paragraph or two – then watch the film to see who the future script writers might be in your class !

Activity Two
Hexagonal Learning – Independent Learning using this visible thinking strategy and discussion tool.

  1. In groups of 4-5 pupils list the narrative moments in the film on hexagonal post-it notes. One event/word per post-it note. Ideally you would use lots of different colours and link the colours to the content.
  2. The pupils then list some of the themes they think may be emerging in the film.
  3. Together the group joins the hexagons up and discusses why they are placing them in a particular order.
  4. The hexagons are photographed and then using Bluetooth or other alternatives are linked to the classroom white board for all to see. Two members from each group go to the board and explain the connections they have made collectively, their decisions and the group thinking to the rest of the class. See below for an example:

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Figure 1 Hexagonal Learning using Hexagonal Post-it Notes

This activity ensures that pupils, come up with ideas, lead the discussion and make decisions and links independently.

You could also use a template, depending on your class and the ability ranges, where you direct the learning and the pupils develop the initial ideas. I would use this sort of template below, which is a PowerPoint that can be tweaked according to whatever you are teaching. I would have at least 20 prompts on the hexagons. Print and cut the hexagons out, for longevity you may also wish to laminate them. (Do this while they are still in sheet form and use the school, paper guillotine for cutting out.)

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Figure 2 Hexagon Generator Pam Hook
pamhook.com/solo-apps/hexagon-generator

Education 4-18 #PedagooHampshire
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I think it is probably a truism to say that children grow up. They start from birth, entering their specific environment with their embedded genetic code, then begin the process of making sense of the world around them. Indeed, it can be some time before, as parents, we begin to understand the infant “communication”. We put the words into the child’s mouth, long before they can articulate anything for themselves, requiring only a physical acknowledgement. The child’s early education is often unstructured, (hopefully) led by very enthusiastic and encouraging amateurs (parents), opening their eyes and ears to what is around them. Some will have attempted to engender specific areas such as counting and introduction to books. Of course, there will be a significant number who will not have had those advantages.

Education, in its formal sense, can start in pre-school, or certainly from the start of the Early Years Foundation Stage, with more specified routes into learning and the what of content. This journey lasts, now, until the child is 18. There appears to be a logic appearing that every child will progress through the same journey, with many (formal) checks on the way. The language of checking and judgement can have a significant impact on subsequent attitude and effort, both essential to sustained progress.

As part of Pedagoo Local Hampshire, I have offered to run a learning conversation on the issue of education 4-18, seeking to identify potential barriers and explore how they could be overcome. I’ve come up with a few starter questions, but please feel free to add any others.

Are barriers created at transition and transfer points?

Does professional dialogue and understanding support/ease transition?

Is the expectation of “set points” at certain ages helpful to longer term effort and success? Should we have baseline expectations?

Is the same curricular route necessary for every child?

Do we have a clear definition of progress?

Do schools do enough to engage and support parents in the process of their child’s learning?

Does it matter which end of the educational telescope you look through?

I would invite comments from colleagues to help me to think on the subject over the next few months, to better inform the discussion. Please feel free to develop thoughts through the comment thread below, or tweet me on @ChrisChivers2.

Cross-posted from Chris Chivers Thinks

#PedagooLocal TakeOver
June 6, 2015
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What are you doing on Saturday 26th September? Not got any plans? Why not organise a #PedagooLocal for your area?

Earlier this year Ciara approached us with the idea of organising a Pedagoo-style event for her local area of Perth & Kinross. This isn’t something we’ve done for a long time so we’ve resurrected the name #PedagooLocal to make it happen. The idea is that teachers can organise a small-scale Pedagoo style-event for their local area with whatever support from Pedagoo that we can muster up. So, #PedagooPerth is on, and a few others have expressed an interest in organising their own #PedagooLocal event…such as #PedagooFife.

Ciara and her colleagues in Perth have opted to hold their event on Saturday 26th September, but here’s an idea. How about we try and have lots of #PedagooLocal events all over the country on the same date? I’ve floated this idea with the #PedagooFife team and they’re up for it – so the big question is, are you?

How do you organise a #PedagooLocal event?

First of all, you need to check out the small list of conditions we’ve come with for using the name and ensure that you’re happy that your event will work within these. This just involves ensuring that your event:

  • is free to the teachers attending.
  • takes a longer format approach to sharing (i.e. primarily 30/40 minute Learning Conversations/Workshops as opposed to all 7/2 minute presentations – we’ve got nothing against TeachMeets, we’re just trying to add a bit of diversity to the mix).
  • is open to teachers from anywhere, even if primarily aimed at one particular area/local authority.

But what will organising the event actually involve? Firstly, we’re more than happy to sort out stuff like a logo, a webpage and the signup forms as on the #PedagooPerth page.  You can do this stuff yourself if you want, but we’re happy to help with this. You will obviously also need to:

  • Find a venue in your local area that you can have for free. It’ll need to have enough spaces for folk to break up into smaller groups for the learning conversations. Don’t worry too much about A/V facilities, in my opinion some of the best learning conversations occur when there are no A/V facilities and folk are forced to just sit round in a circle and talk to each other. Good places are community centres, libraries or even schools. If you can’t have the space for free you could approach a sponsor (which could even be your Local Authority) to pay for the venue and we’ll pop their logo onto the logo for the event.
  • It’s great if you can have some sort of catering, but you don’t have to have it. As you can see from the Perth event they’re going for a half-day format so they don’t even need to think about lunch.
  • You’ll need to promote the event in your local area. We’ll do shout outs from the Pedagoo social media accounts, but nothing is more effective than directly contacting folk. You’ll need to encourage some teachers you know to lead learning conversations and you’ll need email all the teachers in your local area to let them know about the event. Your Local Authority might be able to help out with this.
  • Once everyone is signed up, you’ll need to prepare the learning conversations. This is the tricky bit, but it’s normally fine for teachers who tend to enjoy organising stuff like this.
  • You’ll need to email everyone in advance of the day to let them know the plans for the day. You’ll also need some way to let folk know which learning conversations they’re in and when.
  • On the day itself, you’ll need to welcome everyone, explain the format, get it going, then relax and enjoy.

See, it’s not so hard. How cool would it be if we had #PedagooLocal events all over the place on the same day…we’d break the internet! If you’re up for #PedagooLocal TakeOver please get in touch using the form on this page: pedagoo.org/local/takeover

EDIT

There’s been a fantastic response to this idea already! I’ve started tracking the possible events on this page: pedagoo.org/local/takeover