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Some teaching and learning tools to assist the revolution!
September 23, 2011
4

Over the last few weeks, I have been creating a series of films for Scottish Book Trust around emerging technologies for teaching and learning. Although unable to attend, or contribute to, the recent #edupic11 discussions, I hope the films below will add something to the debate: how to engage teachers in the creative uses of technologies in their every day teaching practice. The films are designed to give confidence, the sine qua non of any education revolution. The deeper the engagement, the more profound the change. I hope the Pedagoo community will appreciate having these films together in one place here. They can also be found on Vimeo and on YouTube.

 
Wallwisher

Wallwisher – a great way to bring together learning content from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

 
Bubbl.us

Bubbl.us – the online mind mapping tool from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

 
Prezi

How to use Prezi, an exciting presentation tool! from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

 
Twitter – Part 1

Twitter: Miss Brodie’s Adventures in Twitterland! (Part 1) from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

 
Twitter – Part 2

Twitter: Miss Brodie’s Adventures in Twitterland! (Part 2) from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

 
Twitter – Part 3

Twitter: Miss Brodie’s Adventures in Twitterland! (Part 3) from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

 
Animoto

Animoto from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

More to follow …
 

Getting to know the E’s and O’s

I know, I know. The experiences and outcomes have been around for ages now. Surely we’re long past getting to know them? In my experience however, this simply isn’t the case. Many of us seem to have taken something from them first time through, but now that we’re approaching the blunt end of assessment and reporting we’re beginning to wonder if we got them right.

Through our work with Myra Young, we’re being encouraged to take another look at the experiences and outcomes – this time starting with the purpose. This can often lead to a quite different approach to planning. Rather than looking at the experiences and outcomes and jumping straight to the activities we’d carry out, we think first about what the purposes of the outcomes are in terms of learning, how this could be evidenced and what the success criteria are.

On our inservice days next week at my new school, we’re lucky enough to be receiving CPD from teachers at Cramlington Learning Village with a view to planning our lessons using the accelerated learning cycle. But first I’m going to suggest that we need to ensure we understand the curriculum before jumping into detailed collaborative planning of lessons based on the learning cycle.

This can be illustrated with one of our science experiences and outcomes. Whilst in the past this might have led to us planning a series of lessons covering all the various organs of the systems we feel we need to ‘cover’, a fresh look at the purpose of the learning outlined in the curriculum brings a different emphasis and therefore quite different lessons.

We often complain the experiences and outcomes are vague and complex (which they are…but do we really want a version of the National Curriculum instead?) but if they are how can we expect to be fully familiar with them already? As difficult as it is to accept from the perspective of development work (which is going to get worse when the new NQs start arriving), the reality is that our understanding of the curriculum is going to evolve over time and I’m doing my best to try to keep my mind open to that…

Cross-posted on Fearghal Kelly’s thoughts

EdFutScot Open Meeting – Minutes
May 10, 2011
24

The following are some notes I made during the first Education Futures : Scotland open meeting tonight. You can watch it back here. A huge thank you to everyone who attended and contributed!

  • What is it we’re trying to achieve?
  • Highlight what’s good. Positive. Possibilities. Highlight good practice. Try things in public.
  • Building a system which deliberately sets out to create positive feedback loops. Pick up, use, spread.
  • Isn’t that LTS? We’re not a corporate a voice. Classroom practice. How we are implementing it in our classrooms. Practicalities of implementing CfE.
  • On the ground and practical or a systems approach? Whole school approaches are vastly different across Scotland. Some are using inservice, others learning rounds etc. Still a dissatisfaction as to how we’re going about this – the system we as teachers are having to go through. A bitty approach. Need a systems view.
  • Are these contradictory or complimentary? Complimentary…all finding our way…isn’t this part of autonomy? But still constrained by a National framework.
  • Core business = voices of the classroom.
  • Initiative fatigue – no mugs/mouse mats etc with edubuzz.org Is CfE seen as an initiative?
  • This is about a fundamental change in the way go about teaching, not an initiative.
  • Can we change the narrative? Use “Best Education System in the World”?
  • Practitioner led/owned leading to a change in the narrative of CfE.
  • How do we reach out to more than the twitterati? Should we be attempting to do more than blog?
  • Learning Rounds - Share practice. Work with other schools. Learning Rounds style approach to the twitterati?
  • Forming/Storming/Norming/Performing – are we at the storming stage? What are the norms…?
  • Learning Rounds – look to be very effective, but still can be seen as threatening…
  • How can we make use of these ideas? Move these ideas away from National agendas – collaborative web. Not top down. We are autonomous and appreciate the potential this gives us as a profession.
  • Perhaps this is best described as a permanent, online TeachMeet?
  • Modeling the opportunities – begin to communicate beyond the Twitterati…and to parents too? Massive social campaign…on a par with clunk, click every trip?
  • Need to share real ideas of classroom practice – and the learning resulting from trying.
  • Have we made the right call by going with a collaborative wordpress blog? Could we/should we go for another format? How about this from @dgilmour?
  • WordPress = a good start. 10/40000 at this meeting though…? A big challenge ahead.
  • Need a Facebook presence too.
  • What about Glow? Glow brings advantages, but many disadvantages also.
  • Shall we get our own domain name and have the blog hosted to help avoid filters? We have had a kind offer for hosting from paulwheatley.com
  • General feeling of approval in the room. Not perfect (i.e. possibly less permanent), but probably the best compromise between wordpress.com and glow.
  • Have we made the right call with the name? Can anyone think of anything better?
  • Perhaps could be catchier…ask for suggestions on twitter.
  • LearnMeet? A TeachMeet for learners was suggested. This could be fantastic. Who’s going to take this one forward…?
Sometimes, it’s the little things
April 27, 2011
2

Cross-Posted on Fearghal Kelly’s thoughts

I’m just back in the classroom this week – phew, I’d forgotten how much of a rollercoaster teaching is! You strap yourself in and off you go…good fun though!

One of the things though which has really struck me this week so far is how much I’ve changed as a teacher in the last couple of years – but if you were observing me you might not even notice. For example, when planning for some of the lessons this week I was looking through some of the supporting PowerPoints on the server and while the were perfectly fine, I just had to make a couple of changes. Rather than starting with titles and learning intentions, I added striking relevant images to the start to get the discussion going, their brains whirring and make them inquisitive. And where there was a diagram, I tried when possible to add a picture or a video to give the slide more relevance and interest.

There’s other examples as well. When meeting each of my classes, I haven’t started by reading out the rules and telling them the consequences of their actions and so on. I’ve started by telling them a little about me, finding a little about them and carrying out an activity which required them to work in groups to share their thoughts on how they learn, what they’ve learnt, why they want to do well, why science is relevant and how they should behave and then getting them to summarise the responses – some which are fantastic.

One of my classes is revising for an exam and so with 20 minutes remaining in a lesson I told them to open their textbook to the contents page, find the topic which they found the hardest and go to that chapter. I then told them to look at the questions in the chapter and not to do any which they knew the answer to, skip those and do the ones which they had no clue about. This threw quite a few of them, but I simply explained that they were there to learn and to do so they needed to search out the things they can’t do – not the things they can do already. I’ll be honest and admit I made this up on the spot – I’ve never taken this approach to revision before.

All of these examples are tiny. I’m almost embarrassed to be writing them up and publishing them on the web as so many of you probably to do all of this and more every day. What I am proud of, and the reason I can bring myself to publishing this, is that to me these are much more than simple ‘techniques’. These are the manifestation of much of the reading I have been undertaking into learning and I am therefore convinced that the consistent application of approaches such of these, and more, will lead to better learning experiences for the pupils in my classes.

So much of Curriculum for Excellence is being undermined by the perceived expectation that lessons need to appear radically different. I disagree with this assessment of the change. For me, lessons can appear to have changed only a little to the untrained eye, but should be increasingly planned with a sound educational rationale in mind. That will take time however.

Medicine and agriculture are now both ‘evidence based’, and it is time for education to follow their example. It is no shame to follow them; it is easier to work out how a liver works or how a plant grows than how a person learns. But we do know a great deal about how people learn now, and we need to change our practice accordingly. Geoff Petty, Evidence Based Teaching