Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category
This is the final of ten posts that develop some of the ideas I mentioned in my presentation at TMClevedon
This still sounds wrong somehow, doesn’t it – surely we should be encouraging success in our schools, not failure?
Well, yes…. But, if we praise success above all else we can help develop a climate where people are too afraid to even try. Then we get ourselves into all kinds of problems.
As the work of Carol Dweck on others has shown, a growth mindset is one of the most powerful things we can encourage in our students. And we can’t encourage it if we’re not willing to engage with it ourselves. (Have a look at this video if you want a quick but high quality explanation of the difference between growth and fixed mindsets)
I’ve never been overly concerned about making a bit of a prat of myself (as anyone who’s witnessed my dancing in our infamous leavers videos can testify), but if you wanted me to put my finger on a point at which I really started to change my teaching, it was the point at which I stopped trying to be the font of all knowledge and openly accepted that I didn’t know everything.
We started trying things together, my classes and me. Projects that we only had a vague idea about where they were going to end up. Blank revision wikis that could easily have stayed that way. And by learning alongside the students in the room ( that includes learning when things didn’t go according to plan – and talking about them, not sweeping them under the carpet) that, I suspect, is where the good stuff is.
This is the ninth of ten posts that build on my talk at TMClevedon last month
I’ve written before about Project Based Learning and the lightbulb that went on in my head when I first read about it. Like any idea it’s easy to do badly, and as David Didau pointed out, we must ensure that genuine learning takes place here (certainly the effective size from Hattie’s study doesn’t look brilliant).
But I firmly believe that as the world changes, so must the structure of schools, and I’ll take this over hour long blocks of regurgitation any day.
Beware of anyone telling you project based learning is a panacea – it isn’t. Beware of anyone trying to sell you a PBL ‘solution’ – I don’t think one exists. But where PBL can be powerful is in it’s deployment of student interests, passions and interests to let them lead the learning and go beyond what you thought might have been possible. It may also prove to help secondary schools better build on the work done in primaries, rather than ignore it.
It’s a conversation, not a package, it’s a process rather than a checklist. But it’s one I really do suggest you invest some time in exploring.
This is the eighth of the ‘ten things’ I discussed in my talk at TMClevedon
This was one I’d read about but wasn’t much taken with, until I saw the Classroom Experiment. And what I saw in those classrooms, with one or two students dominating, suddenly looked dangerously like my classroom. So, I’m going back to no hands up, both with lolly sticks and (hopefullly, before too long) with mini-whiteboards.
This is the seventh of the ‘ten things’ I discussed in my talk at TMClevedon
One of the most shocking things for me from the ‘Inside the Black Box’ research was the impact that adding a grade to a piece of work had. Not only did it lead to 0% increase, it also reduced the improvement that came from detailed feedback down to 0% as students focussed on the grade and nothing else. This idea of gradeless work became a key part of the second episode of the Classroom Experiment with Dylan Wiliam coming up against all the counter arguments imaginable.
In the end though I’m convinced. Grades simply encourage a race, with some people switching off once their position in the pack has been validated, and others switching off completely. As the work of Carol Dweck and others has suggested, a growth mindset, a race with yourself, is a much more positive one and one I’m keen to encourage by ditching the grades – completely at KS3 and in at least 50% of the work at KS4 and 5.
This is the sixth of the ‘ten things’ I discussed in my talk at TMClevedon
Part of the effective feedback loop means that not only do students know what they’re doing well / not so well, but where they are in terms of their learning and how they can take the next step. One of the key parts of this is sharing effective success criteria. It took me longer than I care to admit to get my head around that first bit, but if you get meaningful success criteria then students have a clearer idea about what they need to do, self and peer assessment becomes more effective and teacher marking can be more clearly focussed and therefore have a greater impact.
In fact, success criteria don’t have to come from you. Increasinly I’ve asked students ‘what do think a good one of these will look like’? We’ve discussed ideas – with me pushing back with more questions when necessary (where do children learn that ‘colourful’ is an indication of a good piece of work?!) I type them up as we go, usually with Word open on the projector. Then that list can be printed out and stuck in to books / files at the start of next lesson – their success criteria, ready to be referred to though out the piece of work
It’s funny how fast things move on. If I was doing this now, I might mention the idea of effective feedback / feedforward. It’s had a lot of attention since the Hattie research, and I’d probably point you in the direction of either of these blog posts.
This is the fifth of the ‘ten things’ I discussed in my talk at TMClevedon
One of the ways in which technology allows us to do genuinely different things (as opposed to a digital version of the same thing) is in the way that we can collaborate. If you ask my Mum the best piece of technology in the last 20 years and she’ll probably tell you that it’s either the text message or Skype. It let’s her see her Grandchildren (and children for that matter) without having to be in the same physical location. If it’s unblocked in your school, Skype can provide a great way of bringing experts from around the world into your classroom.
Another form of collaboration is the ability for multiple users to be able to edit the same document at the same times, regardless of whether they’re sat next to each other, or on the other side of the world. We’re a Google Apps school, so we’ve got access to both Google Docs and Google Sites that are allowing an ever greater collocation between staff (for example of preparing or sharing schemes of work), between students (now a group slideshow really is, rather than just the Powerpoint that the most contentious one put together) and even between staff and students.
If if you don’t have access to Google stuff, sites like wikispaces allow teachers to create spaces for students to work together to create something themselves under supervision. This, combined with the opportunity to present the work to a genuine audience can lead to great new learning opportunities that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago.
It has never been easier to make videos and then get them online. I’m going to cover a few quick ideas.
1. Make videos of student work using something like Animoto as a way of showing off what students have produced
2. Create videos from your powerpoint slides. Keynote (for mac and iPad) allow you to easily do this, as does the 2010 version of Powerpoint. I’ve also heard very good things about the ‘Explain Everything’ iPad app. Even if you don’t have these, you can export your slides as jpg images and use something like MovieMaker
3. Create screencasts – these are recordings of your screen, with you providing an audio commentary. If you have a mac running 10.6 or higher you have this built in to Quicktime. If you don’t there are a number of free services that allow you to create short recordings (I’ve used screencastomatic on several occasions and been very happy with it)
4. Publish them either to a youtube or vimeo account. Youtube has more of a community attached to it, while Vimeo is more likely to be accessible by students within school.
Why would you bother? Well, for me the real benefit has been from having students being access the guide to a key assessment or important piece of work as many times as they want, and for students who missed the lesson to be able to easily catch up. It’s also reduced the number of break and lunchtimes I’ve had to run through the assignment again!
It’s never been easier to start your own blog, with a range of free tools out there. Blogger still seems to be a popular one, as is posterous which has the advantage of allowing you to blog by email. I use WordPress as a blogging platform, which has a few more bells and whistles than some of the others, and can be hosted on your own domain, should you ever decide that’s something you want to do.
It can be very hard to start. Firstly you have to overcome the ‘why would anyone want to read what I have to say’ problem. My response to that is usually – well, start by blogging for you. There’s a real value in the reflective process needed to put a blog post together (even if you wouldn’t know that from some of mine!). Secondly, think about what you would like to read. It might be quick snap shots of activities in your classroom. It might be about resources that you’ve produced. It might be about your reflections of something you’ve done, or something you’ve read about.
Secondly, it can be hard to continue. I never blog as much as I’d like, and I can go for months at a time without publishing anything. This used to cause me much anguish, and I’d end up in the ridiculous situation of waiting until I’d finished some half finished post before posting anything new. I’m much more relaxed about it now. Any blogging is an added bonus. I’ve come to terms with the pile of half finished posts that will always be on my desktop.
Thirdly it can be hard if you get no comments. It can also be hard it you get comments you don’t like! I’ve found much of the conversation goes on on twitter anyway, which can also be a good place to plug new blog posts. Ultimately, even if no one reads or comments, I’ve still gained something by blogging, both in terms of the reflection it forces me to do, and as a record of what I was doing / thinking that I can return to at a later date. Anything else is an added bonus.
So, go on. Pick a platform and start blogging. Let me know in the comments and I’ll pop by and have a read!
BONUS THOUGHT – Blogging can also be an amazingly powerful platform for students to get their work out to a wider audience. Have a look at the 100 word challenge and quadblogging as two great examples of things you can get involved in.
Back in the old days (you know, before Twitter) I read blogs from teachers around the world to get ideas. I suspect this is the fault of Doug Belshaw who I ‘knew’ through the school history.co.uk teachers forum. He started blogging, I started reading. He blogged about other people, so I started reading their blogs too.
Then twitter hit, and the blogs seemed to dry up. But in the last eighteen months there seems to have been a real growth in teacher who have got into the idea of sharing their ideas with a wider community, but for whom 140 characters is sometimes not enough.
Visiting each blog in turn can be time consuming. Luckily one of the things that make blogs different from other websites is that they have ‘RSS Feeds’. You can sign up to these using a programme like Google Reader, and every time a blog is updated, that new post is sent to your reader. There are also services like ‘feedly‘ which create a magazine style format with your feeds (caveat – this isn’t a service I’ve used myself),
I’ve posted before about the blogs I follow (see here and here), but increasingly I’m finding blogs and blog posts via Twitter (which you signed up to yesterday, right?). Many of the speakers at TMClevedon also have blogs including Mark Anderson and David Diadu.
EDITED 12.30pm to add more links
One more quick post before I try and get some sleep – because if I don’t get this written now I suspect it will join that great other pile of half written blog posts floating around various sticky notes and rattling around bits of my brain.
TMClevedon was all I was expecting and more. Professionally run (the idea of having the presentations preloaded worked really well) and with a great variety of speakers, there’s a good reason this event always draws a crowd.
I missed the very well recieved keynote from Vic Goddard, but will catch it again on the YouTube channel for the event.
Then there were a series of Seminars. I went to the one led by Mr John Wells, the Head at Clevedon who gave a whistle-stop, but very interesting potted history of the changes that have taken place in Clevedon over the last few years. A few things stood out for me including:
- The importance of this being ‘our’ school, and a sense that everything came from an agreed (rather than imposed) set of values.
- The idea of ‘lessson DNA’ which allows teachers to take the ingrediants in a traditional four part lesson, and arrange them in a way that works best for them, that lesson.
- The idea of ‘Live Observations’ was another interesting one to me – the idea that the dialouge between observer and teacher takes place during the lesson, rather than after it makes a lot of sense. I also loved the set of questions that observers would often use to help guide the feedback session.
Then it was back into the hall for the presentations.
Several ideas came through, including the importance of making the learing as ‘real’ as possible, including the idea of getting students tocreate a museum as a PBL outcome (this appeared twice – here and here), the value and power of Twitter and some really interesting stuss about technology being used to redefine learning, rather than simply do the same old thing again. I also loved this idea about using Google Drive as a means to tracking and sharing feedback with students. Some real food for thought there for the ‘elearning’ CPD sessions I’ve got running on Monday night
There were several mentions of getting students to create apps and a demo of a great Prezi which had been used to create an animated solar system
I’ll add more links as more videos appear online, and potentially some more detail when I get a minute to go through my notes, but for now, I think it’s time for bed!