Blended learning 16-19
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Use Podcasts There are loads of free Podcasts available for all sorts of subjects. The BBC have several as do iTunes.
Create a Blo g Create a teac her’s blog fo r your class get them to , or create their own. There lots of free are blogging sit es. Make gr responsible oups for updating regularly with ‘what’s in th e news?’
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Who’s doing what? some current projects from across schools
Using Technology Supported Self-Study
eoffrey’s A Level geography class are all required to take AS geology as a self-study module in Yr 12. All the materials and assignments are on the school’s VLE. The students have tutorials in three’s every half term and a residential weekend in October. One of the physics teachers now offers a voluntary AS astronomy course in the same way. The school has also begun to offer VLE support to students embarking on the Extended Project Qualification. There are online guides to research techniques, referencing, exemplar materials and support from their mentors, who can see drafts and answer queries in between timetabled tutorials. Students are comfortable using the VLE as all sixth form courses use it to deliver their courses in a ‘blended learning approach’. Each faculty has a ‘branded’ section of the VLE and a consistent approach to structuring courses.
English Set Texts
oel produced a course on his school’s VLE to encourage analytical thinking about his set text ’Tis a pity she’s a whore. He set up a unit on each act of the play, with one or two forums focused on different angles, such as the religious context of the play, or its characters or its use of imagery. The students were asked to read the text and follow the activities over the Christmas holidays. They were also directed to a Wikipedia summary and cast list. He found the students actively followed and contributed to the forums and shared their ’family trees’. He used the forum posts as ’fuel’ for subsequent lessons, picking up points for discussions. The teacher chose to pilot use of the VLE with the sixth form as they would be more ‘amenable’. Initially students were given clear guidance as to how to post to the forums. The students preferred to hand in their work online and get feedback digitally.
lison got her geography students to create weekly Wikis about certain topics. Each student is expected to contribute some new knowledge about the topic. The result was a bank of information created by the students. Alison could check the Wiki who had contributed what and give appropriate feedback.. She also expected all the students to complete a ‘personal reflective journal’ each week. This would outline the readings and other work the student had done, as well as anything else e.g. Television programmes watched. Alison’s focus on improving her teaching and the students’ learning meant she could see the potential in her students working more collaboratively and using new ways to communicate. She used her VLE course for student activities, rather than putting up an endless stream of her ‘content.’.
esigning a blended learning course will comprise three basic stages. Firstly establishing clear learning goals for the topic. Second designing activities to help students meet the learning goals. Lastly the activities need to be sorted into online and face to face
6 FormStudy News for teachers—an occasional issue
Supporting Independent Learning with ICT
great deal of research has been carried out since the Curriculum 2000 reforms brought in modularization and Key Skills transforming the A level scene. Much of the research has reported that while breadth of study has increased slightly, Key Skills have all but disappeared and ‘the reform is a tedious and uninspiring curriculum that encourages instrumentalism and game-playing to maximize qualification outcome rather than experimentation, creativity and preparation for lifelong learning’. Schools have been very effective in achieving good examination results for their students. The result has been a widening of the ‘transfer gap’ between schools and HE. Sixth forms are accused of not creating ‘self-
regulating’ independent learners, but dependent, ‘spoon-fed’ individuals who find it hard to survive in the world of HE. There is a growing literature and research base on the use of technology to support the idea of independent learning.
In schools much of the hype and training in the use of Learning Platforms has concentrated on the ‘gizmos and toys’ rather than in using appropriate tools to support a planned and progressive change in pedagogy to shift the onus from over-extended teachers to students. The wealth of research and the availability of ‘free’ tools can combine to allow forward looking schools to develop learning communities within their sixth forms that not only help students achieve high grades at A level, but prepare them for study at higher levels. CPD in the pedagogical use of these tools should be the priority of schools wanting to get the most out of their technology and exploit the resulting flexibility in timetabling, consortium teaching etc.
What do I really want students to learn?
“Sometimes I think we lose sight of students’ capabilities. Of course they like to be spoon fed, its easier .. for them and us .. but they need to learn how to feed themselves and they aren’t going to learn that unless we put a plate of food in front on them and give them a spoon. Those of you who have kids know what happens next and it isn't pretty, but is there another way to learn to eat?”
How can I ensure that student do the reading before the class? What lower-level activities can students complete before the class? What higher-level activities can be accomplished during the class? Which activities require a mark?
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Sixth Form Learning no. 1