Monthly Archives: March 2011

2011
03/30

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Teaching

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Enfin! Pupil blogging!

Finally! I've managed to get some pupils blogging 🙂

Early days, mind, and they're only really doing it because I'm telling them to, but it's a starting point.

Most of the posts are of the "we did this, I thought it was [fun/bleurgh]" variety, but Rome wasn't blogged in a day. I'm going to be coming back to the site time and again as we carry on through the year, getting the pupils to try and think about their ICT lessons and to put their thoughts down to try and build up some communication between them; to get them to realise that theey aren't alone – if something is tricky for them, it probably will have been for others – but how did anyone deal with it? Can they (will they) take time to help each other out?

One stand-out post, for me, was this beauty from a Y9 rejoicing in the cognomen on "Mr Cow Snuggler" (don't ask why – I didn't dare ask, myself). I've been using it as an example of how to start successfully thinking about their own work in other groups… here's hoping it spawns more than a series of clones.

I'm hoping it gets them thinking.

2011
03/19

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Teaching

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Cross-curricular developments

Just a quick putting down of ideas…

As a primary teacher, we were always being encouraged to think "cross-curricular" with our planning. So we did, and the children (mostly) seemed to enjoy it – literacy tied in with science for explanations or non-chronological reports. Science tied in with history, when we studied rocks as part of a topic on castles. The possibilities are endless, when you're in charge of a single class all day , every day.

In secondary, the position changes ever so slightly, of course. I only see each child for 1 hour a week and, most often, other subjects already have their units planned. We're lucky in our school (I don't have much other secondary experience to compare with) in that we have a number of "ILID" days where teachers are being encouraged to head down that cross-curricular route and to plan a day when pupils get to explore much more in the way of "joined-up" subjects (bleurgh… I hate that phrase!). I've already put down thoughts about how that can work out here.

But… I wanted (and hoped for) more. So I've been talking to the English and also the Design and Technology departments and trying to think of ways to build this sort of thing into our normal, everyday, teaching. First stop is English, where I've pitched the idea of using our (newly created) year blogs to publish their writing for feedback (not just from within, hopefully) alongside my own wanting to get them describing their thinking (selfish, I know, but it seems the natural way to be able to assess them at level 6 and upwards if they've already gone through the process of justifying their decisions in a blog post) in ICT. Next, also in English, I've mooted the idea of trying to develop a full unit of work using Inform 7 (like we did in the ILID day) where English take care of the creative writing and possible story outcomes and I take care of the interactive fiction development. And finally, in Technology, we've been thinking about the skills and experience the children would need for certain projects and how I could be demonstrating/using those skills in ICT before they'll need them elsewhere, so as to be able to make better use of their workshop lesson times.

Plus I've been managing to keep an eye on various sites being promoted on my Twitter feeds and passing the more interesting applications on to the relevant departments – I'm meeting with the head of MFL on Tuesday afternoon to have a play with tools like Voki and VoiceThread (have I missed any?) and see what she, a self-proclaimed-technophobe thinks.

The responses all seem to be positive – it's going to be an exciting finish to an already exhilarating year 🙂

Bring it!

2011
03/05

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Teaching

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While you were sleeping…

Had an LA subject leader network meeting on Friday. There was some excellent discussion about a number of things (some of which don’t affect me in KS3), like “Functional Skills” which don’t really crop up in my school (although “Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills” do) and some sad news regarding the way in which LA consultancy is now going to be organised.

But the main point I wanted to mull over, in the open, was the for-want-of-a-better-word-for-it… prevailing attitude. The deal had always been that, even though the consultancy team was being scaled back, they could organise these network meetings provided that we all chipped in and put forward some kind of idea of a talk that we could give on something we’d been doing in school.

So, first off, in a group of 16 or so ICT subject leaders (not just teachers… although, come to think of it, I’m not a subject leader so there may be others in the same boat) there were 3 people who were willing to come forward. Actually, make that 6 as 2 had already spoken on the work they’d been doing to introduce APP in their schools and another gent got a different slot as he had a specific target and audience (more on this onem in a second). But, in essence, 30% of people had something they could/would share? Really?

Putting that aside, the talks were mostly rather interesting – obviously aside from mine, but that goes without saying 😉 – one on how to introduce annotating, another on how he’s been introducing a “facade” pattern to get his staff to use APP and SIMs. The one stand-out talk for me, however, was the one on e-safety using Facebook as an example – obviously not really using Facebook in a classroom, as that might be dangerous, to actually allow us to give pupils access to the very thing they keep using in an unsafe manner at home, y’know? – and it was a genius example. The short unit (couple of lessons, I would imagine, if you took your time but the learning… oh the learning!) was essentially based on the idea that teenagers don’t listen, so no matter how many beautifully-shot educational videos you showed them on the dangers of social networking sites and how you really ought to think about what you post… they don’t listen.

So instead, he let them prove to themselves how dangerous it was. He mocked-up a Facebook page (which he told them he’d had to save locally as he couldn’t acces FB in school) and then slowly, gently, nudged them through how to work, effectively, stalk someone from the very small nuggets of information that people just don’t think about when they post. Like, what school they were at. And, what clubs they went to. And, what gigs they were going to. And… before the children realised it… they had a pretty good idea of where/when to find this person, where they lived (which they could find on Google) and even which window was theirs! Genius, I tell you! Of course, as ever, some weren’t happy. But personally, as I say, genius!

And then came the slump… as we tried to think about the next SLNM and how to share all these fab ideas and web-sites, the inevitable “I wouldn’t know how to find these out” or “as if I have time to do all this” came through. So I gritted my teeth. I bit my tongue. And I just made sure to swap email addresses with those that plainly *could* make the time and *do* know how to go about finding this out.

And yes, I’ll go to the next one and happily swap all the information I can. But I can’t help feeling a little disappointed that those attitudes are still prevalent in teachers whose very job is supposed to be to enthuse and inspire learners into making better use of technology.