Archive for March, 2014

Success at East London Consortium

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Success at East London Consortium

This morning I could not have been prouder of my four year 6 Digital Leaders who carried out their first public speaking at the ELC!! The girls created their own Prezi presentation independently all about their experiences of the DL scheme at our school, and spoke confidently and clearly. It was lovely to fuel the passion for ICT that these girls have, and they (and I!) also relished the opportunity to hear from other girls and teachers at our senior school about the positive impact iPads have had on their learning. Feeling very inspired! It has really made me keen to find more occasions for the pupils I teach to share their knowledge in order to encourage best practice in ICT!

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Two things I really, really want in my life!

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Two things I really, really want in my life!

1. More robots! After the successful (slightly painful and hair-tearing-outty) construction of the 12 Lego WeDo alligator robots with my Year 6s last week, I am keen to get programming in our next lesson. As much as I like these alligators, I want something more adventurous and open-ended to build with my pupils… Lego Mindstorms are on my wishlist! Also hoping to run a Robot Workshop in the Summer term- watch this space/ blog to see how it goes!

2. AURASMA!! I have been reading a lot about augmented reality and how it can enhance primary school learning….. especially through the App Aurasma. Hoping to get cracking with this in the summer term too! Just need to get Aurasma installed on our school iPads and figure out the best ways to increase the potential of learning and sharing in my school.

If you have any tips or recommendations on robots/ augmented reality, please get in touch!
❤ Will make these two goals reality at some point!! ❤

10 Ways to Encourage Students to Take Responsibility for their Own Learning

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

10 Ways to Encourage Students to Take Responsibility for their Own Learning

I was talking to another Learning Support Adviser at my university job today about the differences between teaching children in a school, and supporting adults studying a university course.

The discussion led to my reflection on how best to equip both school-age children and adult learners to take responsibility for their own learning; ultimately, don’t all learners, regardless of age, desire the same outcome?

I found these 10 ways to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning courtesy of Ed, a teacher, on his blog ‘What Ed Said’ and thought I would share… I think Point 3 would be a particular challenge for me sometimes!!! Points 7 and 8 nicely tie-in with my philosophy of teaching, and I am intrigued by Point 10! Please read and let me know what you think…

‘1. Don’t make all the decisions

Allow choice. Encourage students to make decisions about how they learn best. Create opportunities for them to pursue their own interests and practise skills in a variety of ways. Cater for different learning styles. Don’t expect everyone to respond in the same way. Integrate technology to encourage creative expression of learning.

2. Don’t play guess what’s in my head

Ask open-ended questions, with plenty of possible answers which lead to further questions.   Acknowledge all responses equally. Use Thinking Routines to provide a framework for students to engage with new learning by making connections, thinking critically and exploring possibilities.

3. Talk less

Minimise standing out front and talking at them.  Don’t have rows of learners facing the front of the class.  Arrange the seats so that students can communicate, think together, share ideas and construct meaning by discussing and collaborating. Every exchange doesn’t need to go through the teacher or get the teacher’s approval, encourage students to respond directly to each other.

4. Model behaviors and attitudes that promote learning.

Talk about your own learning. Be an inquirer. Make your thinking process explicit. Be an active participant in the learning community. Model and encourage enthusiasm, open-mindedness, curiosity and reflection.  Show that you value initiative above compliance.

5. Ask for feedback

Get your students to write down what they learned, whether they enjoyed a particular learning experience, what helped their learning, what hindered their learning and what might help them next time. Use a Thinking Routine like ‘Connect, extend, challenge’. Take notice of what they write and build learning experiences based on it.

6. Test less

Record student thinking and track development over time. Provide opportunities for applying learning in a variety of ways. Create meaningful assessment tasks that  allow transfer of learning to other contexts. Have students publish expressions of their learning on the internet for an authentic audience. Place as much value on process and progress as on the final product.

7.  Encourage goal setting and reflection.

Help students to define goals for their learning. Provide opportunities for ongoing self-evaluation and reflection. Provide constructive, specific feedback.   Student blogs are great tools for reflecting on learning and responding to their peers.

8. Don’t over plan.

If you know exactly where the lesson is leading and what you want the kids to think, then you‘re controlling the learning. Plan a strong provocation that will ‘invite the students in’ and get them excited to explore the topic further. But don’t  plan in too much detail where it will go from there.

9.  Focus on learning, not work.

Make sure you and your students know the reason for every learning experience. Don’t give ‘busy work’. Avoid worksheets where possible. Don’t start by planning activities, start with the ‘why‘ and then develop learning experiences which will support independent learning.  Include appropriate tech tools to support the learning.

10.  Organise student led conferences

Rather than reporting to parents about their children’s learning, have student led 3-way conferences, with teacher and parents. The student talks about her strengths and weaknesses, how her learning has progressed and areas for improvement. She can share the process and the product of her learning.’ courtesy of What Ed Said, blog.

My Digital Leaders article!!!

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

My Digital Leaders article!!!

Hooray, very pleased to see my article on Digital Leaders out in the March edition of Primary Teacher Update this month!! Even got my title on the front cover.
Very keen to spread the word about Digital Leaders as a way of increasing potential and attainment of ICT in schools.
My next project for my doctorate is to convert this VERY SAME article- which is written in an informal style for practitioners- into an academic research piece for submission to an academic journal. What an exciting project! Also thinking about exploring pupil voice, through the roles of DLs, as the thread for my PhD thesis…. felling very inspired today! Any comments welcome!
You can read the article via the primaryteacherupdate website but you will need to pay to view.

The iPad Revolution!

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The iPad Revolution!

My latest article, ‘IPAD REVOLUTION’, all about using iPads for extra-curricular activities at school, has just come out in Innovate my School Magazine!
If you fancy running a fresh club next term, why not read my article via http://www.innovatemyschool.com/magazine.html or click the photo for a link.
Please message me if you want some advice or help in setting up a club for your pupils using iPads 🙂
My article covers 3 pages in the magazine, pages 16/17/18. Feedback welcome 🙂

Student-led learning?

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

I have just been reading a very interesting blog by Sarah Findlater, Assistant Principal at a London school. I found her blog from a link after reading The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook (see my earlier blog post about this great book!)

Findlater debates the value of student-led learning- and I was very pleased to see she noted her next challenge was to start employing ‘Digital leaders’ at her school!! Teaching in a traditional, independent girls’ school, it is always a battle splitting my lessons between the old-fashioned rote teaching that parents expect, and the creative, wild, hands-on learning that I love to provide.

Findlater sums this up perfectly in this paragraph of her blog, which I therefore thought I’d share with you:

‘I suppose the key question we need to ask ourselves is – what do we want our students to be when they leave us? What do we want our legacy to be? Some may say that the choice we need to make is simple. Option one – educated, independent, resilient, passionate, resourceful and curious beings. Option two – educated vessels full of facts with little clue what to do with them, bar regurgitate them in an exam. Perhaps it is not as simple as all that but we do need to consider what we are creating and if we are happy with it. Our challenge is to hold tight to our moral purpose when we teach in times of constant change.’ (Findlater, 2013).

Food for thought, surely!

The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook!

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

The Lazy Teacher's Handbook!

Wow, what a read I think this will be. I have just finished reading the PDF of free sample pages of The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook (available via lazyteacher.co.uk) after being recommended this by a fellow teacher, and am shortly about to head to Amazon to stick this in my basket! The blurb reads: ‘If you want your students to learn more and you to work less, this book provides you with all
the arguments and evidence you need to become a lazy, but outstanding, teacher. Gathered
over ten years in the classroom, the tried-and-tested techniques shift the emphasis away from
the teaching and onto the learning making your life so much easier in the process.’
The pages I have just enjoyed shared some fantastic creative techniques to really get pupils thinking, such as ‘Arrest me!’, ‘choose a number’ and ‘Just a minute’. Intrigued? Well if you are a teacher of any age range, I strongly suggest googling this book, reading the preview, and you too might be purchasing this very soon!!! Comments welcome… Book Club, anyone?