Upon encouragement from some of the members here, I have shared this post with the Pedagoo community from my own blog. I hope to bring more posts in the future as I progress through my PGDE, reflecting on my experiences in class as both an observer and a teacher. Eventually, I might even add some of my own ideas!
When it comes to identifying valuable resources, there’s little doubt that my curriculum studies tutor knows what he’s talking about. In lectures and professional workshops, we are directed to traditional theorists, scholars and researchers, who are held in high regard in our teaching community. But, hopefully it’s not just me on this one, I find they can be a bit on the dull side. Tedious. Merited just for pointing out the bleeding obvious!
Take this week for example: a lecture and a skills workshop, based around ‘Restorative Practice’. Essentially, a discussion on strategies to address misbehaviour in a constructive, productive way, rather than punishment for punishments sake. This seems painfully apparent – you can’t expect a student to meaningfully right a wrong unless they learn why it was wrong. What doesn’t come so naturally, amid all the stresses of addressing all the relevant E&O’s in lesson planning and wondering how to assess the seemingly unassessable, is retaining the ability to make lesson content imaginative and exciting. Seriously, looking at the amount of work teachers are currently putting into revising, creating and implementing a whole new curriculum, it’s a wonder there’s any time left for imagination! Then there’s Pedagoo. On my tutor’s recommendation, I have registered with here and clicked ‘follow‘ on the old twitter machine. More than that, I have joined a community of educators who are more than happy to share their ideas, experiences and worries within a supportive cohort, ready to engage with even a lowly student like me!
An article I read recently, by Eddie White, discussed his recent approach to answering some of the literacy outcomes within his maths class. It’s main development was the argument that literacy in maths is so deeply embedded in the core of the subject, it can be ‘taken as read‘. Before arriving at this conclusion, he described an exercise he implemented in reference to mathematical literacies. It struck me both in its simplicity and effectiveness. His students wrote letters to famous authors, asking how the world of mathematics and science played a role in their writing. The success of this surprised me – replies from David Attenborough, detailing the absolute need for statistics in National Geographic to monitor endangered species, and from fiction writers, who had to learn how to fly a plane to maintain realism in their plots! What I loved about this piece was the greater sense of numeracy and literacy beyond the classroom the students became privy to, perhaps even answering the old “When am I ever going to use this outside of school?” that we have all asked, or been asked, before.
One of the clear advantages of Pedagoo is the vast, combined experience of its members. All of the ideas have been carried out by teachers, in classrooms, with real student feedback. It does without the clinical, detached experiences found in research papers, and what it has instead are enriched activities, geared for the new CfE styled teaching approach (learning through experience rather than by rote), that are stimulating for students. But this isn’t all – there are many articles which, for me, are hugely useful: summaries of CPD events providing new authors and speakers to follow, teachers personal experiences implementing new learning styles or activities, as well as simplistic breakdowns of theories with practical advice on how to approach.
Gareth Surgey posted a short review of Social Constructivism, providing practical question styles which can be used and adapted as a student moves between levels in the hierarchy of skills, based on Bloom’s Taxonomy. This was a good insight for me, making a connection between the theoretical and how it relates practically in a classroom; in this case, by changing styles of questioning. In another article, Helen McCafferty addressed a comment posted on twitter about the proportion of low set Maths and English students on free school meals. To this discussion, she added information from various sources including a CPD event, which reasoned that the effect of class and upbringing on a child’s understanding of ‘rules of the classroom’ – knowing when to be quiet, raising a hand etc – put some children at an advantage from an early age with regards to engagement. This creates a knowledge and understanding gap, which widens as the student progresses through their education. This lead to the idea that changing the classroom rules and removing the expectation of raising your hand to answer a question, would in fact promote a greater equality amongst students, becoming inclusive of those who are scared to or simply too ‘cool’ to stick their hand up. This reminded me of something I observed for myself in my placement 1 school – rather than no hands, they encouraged all hands – the teacher would ask revision style questions and wait until everyone had though about it, remembered the answer and raised their hand before selecting someone to share. The success of either method I think lies in the ethos of the classroom and perhaps the patience of the teacher.
So, these have been my experiences with Pedagoo so far.. I will soon be heading out into my first 6-week block placement, so I’m sure I’ll have lots to say very shortly!