Thursday, November 4, 2010

learning and progress evaluation

one alternative to 'watching the teacher' in lesson observation, based largely on student feedback

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How we try to 'do' professional development

I thought it was about time to ask what people think of our teacher professional development programme. We want to move away from homogenous PD and believe it should be from Beginning Teachers (pre-service) to headship! It takes several forms (and it's for teachers and all support staff):

+ staff can apply for any short external PD they've noticed and, if their line manager approves it and not too many folks are out of school, they get the course paid for
+ there is a weekly in house programme (15:30 - 16:30) on generic issues such as 'use your voice', multimedia, behaviour, ICT/VLE .... these are for anyone and 14 of them with a reflective essay/short literature review leads to a qualification accredited by the College of Teachers
+ teachers can apply to become Chartered London Teachers - professional reflections from these are shared on our VLE
+just starting a paired coaching/mentoring programme (has been running a few weeks)
+ after tonight's #eltchat on Twitter, I am going to have an open house session for anyone to present or lead a learning convrsation on a topic of their choice - tea/coffee provided, will ask if I can video and podcast on our school VLE, would also like to share with other schools via Skype
+ a series of whole staff days and twilight sessions - some with outside speakers
+ NQTs engage in action research and share with staff - often leading to changes in school policy

All of this is linked to staff meetings with their line managers and also to lesson observations - these have a twist as our current pro forma is designed to measure the impact of the lesson on the students, rather than observing 'what the teacher does'.

Please do comment - would love to hear what happens at your school and whether or not you could help us improve more. We are having a celebration of teachers and support staff who have gained qualifications this past twelve months, at the end of November.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

dialogic teaching

This is just an over excited note --- must think more about it, any comments would help please!

Have been wondering how to get the idea of dialogic teaching ino Key Stage 4 Maths lessons (ages 14-16). I have started to use video podcasts made by the students and also collaborative documenst on our school VLE. How could I begin to develop extended dialogue between students? Maybe I need to start with me and one student --- BUT what are the other students doing whilst this is happening? They need a directed task.

Enter @KnikiDavies on Twitter and her blog post

She outlines the following roles for students:
Facilitator – makes sure everyone is on task. Keeps things moving.

Understanding co-ordinator – checks everyone understands what is going on. Asks questions to make sure everyone is clear about the methods used.

Resource manager – responsible for fetching equipment and asking questions of the teacher. Nothing is provided to the children – if they think they need whiteboards, calculators, compasses, cubes, they have to get them!

Reporter/Recorder - keeps track of the group’s thinking and working out and feeds back at the end.

Yes, definitely some ideas for me here...... thanks Mrs Davies!

also ref Robin Alexander 'Towards Dialogic Teaching' 2004

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Creative Maths Classrooms

This is a slightly different kind of post. Prompted by this week's #ukedchat on Twitter, I wanted to ask if anyone would like to post their ideas specifically about Creative Maths Clasrooms here or on Twitter (maybe you could send them to me @Janshs and use the hashtag #creativemathsclassrooms ?). I don't intend to collate them or anything, well not at the moment anyway. I just thought it might be a fun thing for Maths colleagues to share.

Maybe you could also post good websites/resources/people to follow on Twitter?

So here goes with a few things that I like to do whenever I can.

Learning Journals
I try to set aside time in lessons to get students to note down the things they've learned at how they are going to remember them. I give them a lot of guidance to start with, less as we go on, and also refer to it frequently. I have noticed that those who really get into it tend to exceed their target grades but of course this may just be because they are 'good' students in other ways as well!

Neuroscience in the classroom
Based on a Teachers' TV idea I saw ages ago. Present information but emphasise the students should not write anything down at this stage. Have a break doing something weird like balancing ping pong balls on their noses, go outside and see how many times you can pat a tennis ball back and forth in a minutes, build a tower of playing cards. Then present info again and get them to do learning journal or similar. Another break then a short test. Great for revising before exams.

Works for almost every subject I should think. Get students to tell a partner everything the lnow about, say, angle facts. Then they join with another pair and so on.

Maths hat
Write a number or keyword on the board. A volunteer does not see it but asks class yes no questions u ntil they get it.

A volunteer (it can be you) answers any questions on a given topic. They can 'pass'.

Using video
In pairs, one interviews the other on a certain topic. Play back to class. Great for revsions. Or try acting out - this went really well with my Year 11s on vectors, and Pythagoras - which had an accompanying rap - it's in this blog somewhere - do a search if you feel like it.

Use Voki or BrainPop from the internet.

Make lots of use of mind maps at start of a topic to see what they already know, add to it during the topic.

Story boards
A great homewor as well: students make comic strips about a certain topic.

Make use of the display in your room as a teaching aid.

Wordsearches with clues rather than just 'find the word' - great for lesson startrs, topic starters, revsion, homework

OK that's just what I've come up with for starters...

How about you?

Friday, May 28, 2010

We are the ones we've been waiting for

Had a great Year 10 lesson today based on the Hopi Elders prophecy:

You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you
must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are
things to be considered. . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?

Know your garden.
It is time to speak your truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for your leader.

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a
good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and
swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on
to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer
greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let
go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes
open, and our heads above the water.

And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in
history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For
the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.

The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary. All
that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we've been waiting for.

I asked the students to search for this an also for the speech by Barack Obama in Febuary 2008 (before he became president): as well as for Puttnam's video based on the same phrase:

They then had to write 500 words about what this meant to them and pick one or more of these ideas about how we should take opportunities to improve the world instead of moaning about it.

The responses were great and varied - from Lance Armstrong to the Welfare State to Hero Within .... I was very impressed with the work.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

things I've read lately

Go to Janshs blog for a new post about Twitter and teacher Professional Development

Saturday, January 23, 2010

If Ofsted was about praise

Following on from some Twitter chat last evening (started by @Missbrownsword regarding Gifted and Talented and linked into by @thegreatgar regarding Ofsted), I started to muse ....

It's probably virtually impossible to do all the time but when you are able to plan work geared to individual students' strengths and areas for development, we all know it goes well. Even if that isn't possible or even appropriate all the time, an ongoing 'log' (or register) of these strengths - regularly and frequently updated - must be helpful to both teacher and student. I remain to be completely convinced about learning styles but I do believe that a teacher should endeavour to present learning material in a range of styles wherever she/he can. I also believe that developing reflection can be a major (but not the only) way of promoting real learning.

In case I am sounding a little evangelical, I want to point out that I do think that some learners seem to do better with a didactic approach and that people might not become true learners until long after they leave a formal school environment - I know the penny didn't drop for me until I was in my late thirties. Then again - who knows if I might have got there sooner with a different approach of course?

What has all this got to do with Ofsted? Well, during the Twitter chat mentioned above, @thegreatgar pointed out that "g&t or sen we make them all sit the same outmoded exams which must be reformed!!!! Pen and paper exams for digital natives ?!?!?!"

I think one problem is we still try to 'catch people out' with exams, testing what they don't know rather than what they do. I don't see this changing any time soon. Earlier today on Twitter, I saw this from @jpallis001 referring to a comment from head of Harrow who said "Let us not deceive our children .. carrying their certificates around in a ­wheelbarrow" and then this "From 2013 only quals:Dips, Apprenticeships, Found Lrning, GCSE/A Level funded "

I wonder how different these qualifications will really be in judging learning?

And so to Ofsted. These school inspections still tend to be designed to 'catch us out' don't they? Have we made accurate judgements about our school - based, incidentally, on categories which we don't choose for ourselves? Have we forgotten anything - yes of course we have I expect. Have we failed to please all of the people all of the time ... ?

Wouldn't it be great if Ofsted was designed to let schools show off all the wonderful things they do and to acknowledge their areas for development? We could choose our own categories and we could be praised not only for doing well but for knowing where we can still improve.

It could all look something like this:

-- young learner builds up a portfolio of what her/his strengths and areas for development are, guided by exemplar learners (we used to call them teachers)

-- this portfolio is regularly updated and qualifications are awarded when progress is made

-- exemplar learners have the same professional development/performance management system as their charges

-- schools are rewarded and praised for what they do, not castigated for what they don't do

Ah well...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sir John Rowling

Sir John Rowling's talk at our school - has anyone else used Sir John's ideas? would love to hear how it went