Subscribe for free April 2014 Issue 4
Why do we teach and who is it for?
The top 100 UK educational blog as voted for by you
Designing Classrooms for the introverted
Making learning Grammar fun for SPaG
Issue 4: April 2014 Discussion & Guides
Pedagogy & Skills
4 Why Do You Teach? A discussion article from Andy Knill about why we teach and who is it for
6 Cut The Chat-Have Some Fun Ideas from Andy Lewis about how to make Level classes more fun.
10 100 Top UK Educational Blogs Our list of the best blogs as voted for by the UKedchat community.
13 Making SPaG Fun A look at games and activities to make grammar lessons more interesting.
26 Overview Of The Oppi Festival An introduction the this amazing Finnish educational festival
18 Evaluative Essay Writing Prompts An infographic lighting alternative ways to prompt and assess an essay by Rachel Jones
28 Speaking Up for Introverts Discussion about education for introverts
Regular Features 17 StickMen without Arms Great teaching ideas from StickMen without arms by David Moody
20 Can Teachers Be Creative Jo Debens asked do teacher have the chance to be creative and explores ways to be creative in your own class 32 Analogue & Digital Differentiation Mark Anderson explores ways to enhance the differentiation of your class to better cater for your students
30 Pedagogy in Pictures Ideas from Tina Watson & Amjad Ali 38 Educational Events
36 Bookshelf Learning Through a Lens
Andy Knill @aknill Andy Lewis @iTeachRE Martin Burrett @ICTmagic David Moody @teacherbubble Rachel Jones @rlj1981 Jo DeBens @geodebs Tina Watson @tinawatsonteach Amjad Ali @astsupportaali Mark Anderson @ICTEvangelist
The publishers accepts no responsibility for any claims made in any advertisement appearing in this publication. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, the publishers accept no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Many images have been source under a Commercial Creative Commons License. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0 Cover Photo Credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ File:Ready_for_final_exam_at_Norwegian_University_of_Science_an d_Technology.jpg by Milford used under Commercial Creative Commons License
From the Editor This can be a tricky time of year in schools. The exam season is just around the corner, and while the Easter holidays offer some respite for both teachers and pupils, you can help be think ‘I hope they are revising.’ In this issue we offer lots of ideas to keep revision and ‘learning for assessment’ as fun as possible. Andy Knill shares is own prospective about why he continues to teach, despite some of the negative things that come with the job in the modern climate. Andy Lewis offers a range of ideas and activities to help A-Level students learn and revise. On page 10 we announce the top UK educational blogs, as nominated and voted for by the UKedchat community. We were overwhelmed by the response, with over two thousand votes in all. There is enough
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pedagogical gold held in these 100 blogs to last a life time. I explore a host of language games to help keep children enthused when learning grammar and SPaG.
Jo Debens shares her insights into how teachers can continue to be creative, despite the outside pressures. We showcase the highlight of the amazing Oppi festival and discuss how to adapt your teaching for introverted pupils. Finally, Mark Anderson discusses different forms of differentiation to help you students success and flurish Martin Burrett Editor @ICTmagic @UKedmag firstname.lastname@example.org
Why do you teach? Isn’t it obvious? By Andy Knill This thought has gone through my head on numerous occasions during my career. This year is my 26th year full time, so something must motivate me, but is it what I read so much about online and in the news media? In recent months documentation, email correspondence, Twitter feeds, edchats, and blog posts have a common theme...Ofsted. Preparing for, Mocksteds or your inspectorate of choice, Advisors, templates, progress, do this, do that, don’t do this ... It seems as if my job is led by this organisation that I do not belong to or subscribe to. Is this what teaching has become? A homage to a visit that may be two days or less of a teaching career. In discussing this with a colleague I worked out that in my career I have been affected for about one half term. At Easter I will have taught 77 terms or 154 half terms. So 1/154 as a percentage of my teaching time means that no, I am not in teaching for the Ofsted experience. It will happen to schools I work in but it is but a tiny fraction of a time I spend working with young people. So if I am not teaching to please Ofsted, what am I doing it for? I teach because I like working with young people. I like their new ideas, their willingness to learn. I enjoy sharing my enthusiasm for lifelong learning with them, be it my geography lessons or discussing the latest technology releases. I push myself to
guide them to use and master new skills, look about them, to notice their world and be involved in it. Surely a school that works for its pupils, helps them to progress in their learning and helps them to grow as people is doing what we all aspire to for our own children, as well as our charges. A school that is actively involved in its community, and meets the needs for its young people is a “good” school. Data, paperwork, gradings ...all have their purposes, but they are not our 99%, they are extras. Naive maybe, but I just want to teach. Am I wrong to do that? This is my opinion, it’s not research based, just a teacher sharing their ideas – What do you think? Share your ideas with UKEdMag, write a piece, we all have something to say and someone else will enjoy it – find your audience.
Image Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/apple-education-school-knowledge256261/ by Pixabay used under Commercial Creative Commons License
Andy Knill is a Secondary Geography teacher in Essex. You can find him on Twitter @aknill and @globalsolo. He blogs at mishmashlearning.wordpress.com
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Cut the Chat… By Andy Lewis There is a great tendency to look at the sheer volume of content at A-Level and decide that the following 18 months is going to be an information slog. You inputting a vast amount of, often difficult and complex, material and your students taking it in. I am now in my third year of A-Level teaching (eight years of teaching in total) and I finally feel that I am beginning to let go a little bit and engage in some fun, but worthwhile, activities which are helping my students to both learn and enjoy the lessons. In this article, I intend to share a few ideas that could work in any lesson, at any age, but that I have found particularly helpful in engaging 6th formers. I can’t claim any ownership over them and have picked up many of the ideas from TeachMeets or via Twitter. I’ve written them in the ‘this is what I did’ style. Speed Dating As the class arrived I gave students an EdExcel Developments AO2 question and told them to get planning... as expected, groans and complaints: ‘The religious experience argument merely indicates the probability of God and this is of little value to a religious believer.’ Discuss. They had 5 minutes to plan an outline to this question while I set up the room. Admittedly this is a reasonably hard question and I could see a number of students who had just set up a basic 'strengths/weaknesses' table which wouldn't allow them to rise to the demands of the question. Most ran out of ideas around the 4 minute mark. I then arranged them into two groups with a timer; they sat in two rows, facing one another. One student instantly said, "This is like speed dating!".
and have some fun I then gave them a series of questions to talk about, carefully helping to develop understanding of this question and then reach some kind of conclusion: • What is religious experience? (1min) • What types of religious experience are there? (1min) • What conditions may lead to a religious experience taking place? (1min) • What does "probability of God" mean? (1min) • Is religious experience of value? (1min 30secs) • Is religious experience of little value? (1min 15secs) • What are your conclusions? (1min 15secs) As you can see I altered timings and had each question appear on the board as it was covered. The timer and one side of 'the dates' moved after each go. At the end I sent them back to their desks and told them to get writing... You could hear a pin drop as they furiously wrote away for the next ten minutes! I had to stop them writing as it was end of the lesson but they had plenty more than before the activity, yet essentially I had not imparted any new information to them.
▲ The whole world as a stage — It’s easy to fall into a monologue as a teacher. Encourage a dialogue within your class.
Silent Debates This time the question I posed to the class was: "Are religious experiences of any use in discussing God's existence?" (12mins) I then gave the teams the rules: 1. Once the debate starts, there is no talking or conferring. 2. You are either arguing YES they are of use or NO they are not of use. 3. Everyone must write at least twice. 4. Only one person may write at a time. 5. Think carefully before you write. 6. Try to keep it logical! I split the class into two 'teams', each given a separate side of the argument. They had 10 minutes to prepare. One team had the red and pink pens, the other green and blue. We then all gathered around the table, with 9 sheets of A3 stuck together; the question was in the middle.
笆ｲ Piecing it together窶年otes from the silent debates. Really something to shout about.
Each team nominated their first scribe and we took it in turns as they got the hang of it. After a few goes each, they were allowed to both be writing at the same time. After about 8 minutes, we upped it to two people from each team. For the last 2 minutes we had a free for all to get the last bits of information down. Throughout, there was absolute silence The arguments started off all coming from the middle, in a random kind of way. However as they got more into it, the flow developed with people 'silently arguing' and bursting to get back to the table to write. All students were fully engaged, even the weaker students found themselves able to add to comments or scholars to other students posts. The students really enjoyed it. On an Edmodo poll giving the choice of role playing, speed dating or this, they all (bar one!) choose this. The students keep asking, "when are we doing it again?"
Online Quiz If you want to do a short knowledge test, putting the questions on Socrative.com and letting them answer on their mobile phones is a sure-fire way of livening up a test!
Role Play The topic of “Atheism and Critiques of Religion” has 5 strong scholars: Dawkins, Marx, Durkheim, Freud and Jung. Using Google Image search, a colour printer and laminator I made some impressive masks. We sat around in a circle and the masks were distributed. Students were told they were now in role and were not allowed to step out of character. Various sentence starters were given and students gave their arguments. In the pairs, some were instructed to step out of character. For example, one pupil was told to be Dawkins and the other a Christian scientist. The students passionately argued their theories - one pair nearly came to blows! This came after a unit that had been self taught and students said that this exercise was fun, helped them grow in confidence and made them realise they did know it! Essay on a Postcard Essay planning can rarely be labelled as a fun activity. However, simple changes like doing it on a postcard can make it far more fun. The students find a gimmick fun, and trying to condense an essay to the really vital points is a useful exercise.
All other images were provided by Andy Lewis and Martin Burrett
Conclusions With all these activities, it is only possible once students already 'know their stuff' on the topic. Now a pre-warning of “Next lesson is a silent debate” prompts students into revision. I have found these to be an excellent way to build confidence, share understanding, develop evaluation skills and ensure full engagement in the lesson. They encourage the ‘flipped learning’ model, give responsibility to the students to ensure secure understanding and help them enjoy their A-Level lessons. Someone once said, “If it works for Y7, it’ll no doubt work for Y13”, they weren’t wrong.
▲ Alter-egos—Andy talks about using masks to help students get into character at Teachmeet LondonBus in March
Andy Lewis is currently Assistant Subject Leader in RE at a Catholic secondary school in Essex. Find him on Twitter @iTeachRE and his blog MrLewisRE.co.uk Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/visual_dichotomy/3623619145/ by visual_dichotomy used under Commercial Creative Commons License
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QR codes for Paired Reading @jobadge
Critique & Perfection @iTeachRE
Fab sites for your class @ICTmagic
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Top 100 UK Educational Blogs As nominated and voted for by the UKedchat community. One hundred places the find wonderful ideas, including old favourites and newly discovered gems from every kind of educator. The list is in alphabetical order http://4a2013.lowerplace.net by @4aLowerplace http://9picsaday.blogspot.co.uk by @Jobaker9 http://acaseforbooks.com by @acaseforbooks http://alexbellars.wordpress.com by @bellaale http://benwaldram.wordpress.com by @MrWaldram http://bettermaths.org.uk by @bettermaths http://bex-trex2teaching.blogspot.co.uk by @BexNobes http://blog.geoffbarton.co.uk by @RealGeoffBarton http://blog.mrthomasmaths.com by @dmthomas90 http://calamityteacher.blogspot.co.uk by @calamityteacher http://carryonlearning.blogspot.co.uk by @shelibb http://catalystforlearning.wordpress.com by @TaffTykeC http://cavmaths.wordpress.com by @srcav http://cheneyagilitytoolkit.blogspot.com by @astsupportaali http://cherrylkd.wordpress.com by @cherrylkd http://chocotzar.wordpress.com by @chocotzar http://classroomtm.co.uk by @mrlockyer http://clerktogovernors.co.uk
http://createinnovateexplore.com by @rlj1981 http://creativestarlearning.co.uk/blog by @CreativeSTAR http://davidrogers.org.uk by @daviderogers http://debrakidd.wordpress.com by @debrakidd http://debsgf.wordpress.com by @Debsgf http://digitalclassrooms.co.uk by @bekblayton http://digitalleadernetwork.co.uk by @DigitalLeaderUK http://dontwasteyourtime.co.uk by @hopkinsdavid http://educationechochamber.wordpress.com by @TheEchoChamber2 http://edulike.blogspot.co.uk by @murphiegirl http://engagedlearning.co.uk/?page_id=10 by @davidpriceobe http://excitededucator.com by @missedutton http://ezekiels.co.uk/eylan by @eylanezekiel http://frogphilp.com/blog by @frogphilp http://fromgoodtooutstanding.com/blog by @fg2o http://geogdebens.wordpress.com by @PriorySouthsea http://governingmatters.wordpress.com by @5N_Afzal http://headguruteacher.com by @headguruteacher
http://heartoftheschool.edublogs.org by @HeartOTSchool
http://mathematicalmagpie.blogspot.co.uk by @chk_ing
http://huntingenglish.com by @huntingenglish
http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk by @michaelrosenyes
http://ianaddison.net by @ianaddison
http://michaelt1979.wordpress.com by @michaelt1979
http://ictevangelist.com by @ictevangelist
http://michaeltmerrick.blogspot.co.uk by @Michael_Merrick
http://ishouldbemarking.wordpress.com by @mwclarkson
http://milesberry.net By @mberry
http://jodebens.com by @geodebs
http://mishmashlearning.wordpress.com by @aknill
http://johndavidblake.org by @johndavidblake
http://mjbromleyblog.wordpress.com by @mj_bromley
http://johntomsett.com by @johntomsett
http://morethanmaths.com/teacher by @MoreThanMaths
http://justmaths.co.uk/blog by @just_Maths
http://mrbunkeredu.wordpress.com by @Mr_Bunker_edu
http://jwpblog.wordpress.com/author/jwpblog by @mrpeel
http://mrmcenaney.wordpress.com by @MrMcEnaney
http://lab13network.wordpress.com by @Lab_13Irchester
http://mrsgowersclasses.wordpress.com by @monkswalkmusic
http://lauramcinerney.com by @miss_mcinerney
http://mypad.northampton.ac.uk/ richardrosebangalore by Richard Rose Bangalore
http://oliverquinlan.com/blog by @oliverquinlan
http://learningspy.co.uk by @LearningSpy
http://onbeingagovernor.wordpress.com by @clare_collins
http://lifelongloveofliteracy.wordpress.com by @carbev
http://outstandingcareers.co.uk/careersdefender-blog by @CareersDefender
http://lisibo.com by @lisibo
http://pedagoo.org by @pedagoo
http://literacyshed.com by @redgierob
http://peteyeomans.me by @ethinking
http://livinggeography.blogspot.co.uk by @GeoBlogs
http://primary-ideas.blogspot.co.uk by @primaryideas
http://magicalmaths.org by @magicalmaths
http://magpiethat.com by @magpie_that
http://reflectivemaths.wordpress.com by @reflectivemaths
http://releasing-the-magic.blogspot.co.uk by @chrisedwardsesq
http://teachertoolkit.me by @TeacherToolkit
http://richardspencer1979.blogspot.co.uk by @richspencer1979
http://teachingofscience.wordpress.com by @teachingofsci
http://sandagogy.co.uk/learning/index.php?q=blog by @Sandagogy
http://teenlibrarian.co.uk by @mattlibrarian
http://schooldirecttraineeblog.wordpress.com by @SchoolTrainee
http://theheadsoffice.co.uk by @theheadsoffice
http://showmyhomeworkblog.com by @showmyhomework
http://themodernmiss.wordpress.com by @TheModernMiss1
http://simonhaughton.co.uk by @simonhaughton
http://theprimaryhead.com by @theprimaryhead
http://speechbloguk.com by @Speechbloguk
http://thereeddiaries.blogspot.co.uk by @reedyreedles
http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.uk by @stevewheeler
http://theteachingnut.blogspot.co.uk by @diankenny
http://stjosephstbede.wordpress.com by @StJosephStBede
http://thisismyclassroom.wordpress.com by @MrNickHart
http://tabletsforschools.org.uk/category/blog by @T4STweets
http://totallyrewired.wordpress.com by @Chri5rowell
http://takenoheedofher.blogspot.co.uk by @Gwenelope
http://whiteboardblog.co.uk by @dannynic
http://talkingdonkeyre.blogspot.co.uk by @iteachre
http://wilsonwaffling.co.uk by @iwilsonysj
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En Key Stage
Making the SPaG Test a Little More Fun Name Like many 30-somethings who passed through primary school in the 1980s, lessons on grammar were noticeable missing from my early education. Tense was something you felt before tucking in to the school dinner meat loaf and the only clause I knew about was the one that visited at Christmas. My first real introduction to grammar was through secondary MFL lessons. Things have changed a great deal in the intervening years, and now grammar, along with spelling and punctuation, is taking centre stage in the form of the Key Stage Two SPaG test. I think that giving these three areas need 'some' prominence along with treasuring the creative, imaginative magic that flows through children's writing, but this new obsession with grammar and the creation of the SPaG test for primary children is something altogether different. To bring some fun and, dare I say it, enjoyment into the grammar learning process I have drawn upon the EAL skills and games I used while teaching English to non-native speakers and some of my techie enthusiasm. This is for my own sanity as much as the children’s. While spelling and punctuation are also important, I will be focusing on making grammar more engaging.
Martin Burrett Smuggler As most primary school teachers will tell you, children learn better when participating in games. The first activity I would like to introduce I like to call ‘smuggler’. This can be played as a whole class, but there are better levels of pupil participation if it is played in small groups. The children are given some grammatically incorrect phrases. One child must talk on a topic and smuggle as many mistakes past the other members of the group to gain points, while the ‘listeners’ must spot them. Any false-positives give an additional point to the smuggler. I have also tried this with short passages of prepared text where I try to smuggle mistakes past the class, but it is much more fun when the children are involved. Toss the Hoop ... or your soft object of choice. Set up 4 coloured cones or areas to throw into and assign a word class to each cone/ area. For each ‘hit’ the children are given a word from a pile of, verbs, nouns, adjectives or adverbs, depending on the colour. The team then must build a sentence with those words and they can add other words on a limited number of whiteboards. The trick is to keep the words fresh so the children are constantly making new patterns. A twist
Word Folds This is a twist on the ‘draw a head, body, legs’ game. Write around eight to twelve different world classes, such as noun or verb, down the right side on the page, one for each fold. Setting up the sheet can take a little practice if you want to make a reasonably workable sentence and it is a good idea to have a sentence in your head when you are choosing the order. Then the children write a word from a particular word class without peeping. You may wish to add you own lexical words, such as pronouns. This should generate a (hopefully funny) sentence. But they are often not grammatically correct and the children must then correct them.
▲ Follow the rules—except there are exceptions. Grammar is a reflection of a living, evolving language. Is grammar there to tame it or simply explain it?
on this is to write words on Jenga pieces (covered first in idea paint if you can) and see how tall your children can make a single width sentence tower before it falls over. Online Quizzes There are lots of sites you could use and many different ways you could administer these. I’ve used socrative.com, infuselearning.com and getkahoot.com to make self marking grammatical quizzes online. But the site that has really stood out for me has been Zondle. This site allows you to write a set of questions, but the children are able to answer those questions through more than fifty games. Each child has their own login in. It a wonderful resource for making multiple choice assessment test. Because it is online, the children can use Zondle on any device with a web connection, whether at home or at school. I’ve used it to create cloze text sentences, ‘spot the odd one out’ questions, and questions to identify word classes. See one bank of questions I have made at http://zondle.com/cdl.aspx?qp=65980
Scribbling sentences I saw an arty meme where people were scribbling words out in books to make scribble poetry (see March issue) and you can do the same for making sentences for grammar practice. Simply scribble out the words that you don’t want to leave the words you do. To do this successfully takes a keen eye and careful reading of the text. Not only will the children practice for the SPaG test, but you will also have some great art work to display. Bobbing/fishing for Words Another way to randomise the words for a sentence is to bob for words, like you might bob for apples. I have found that this works well with small cake cases, as they float and
▲ Learning grammar has a reputation for being boring and needed to studied from old, dusty, slightly moldy books, but it doesn’t have to be that way
you can write on them. Have towels on standby. Alternatively, if you want your pupils’ chins to remain dry, you can use a hole-punch to make a hole and make a fishing rod from string and a paper clip. Once they have collected a selection of words, the children make their sentence. One word sentences This game has been stolen from Radio 4’s ‘I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue’. Students must keep a sentence going by adding one word each. This can be played in pairs or groups and can be played orally or written. You will by writing/saying the last word and stumping your opponent. I’ve only scratched the surface of the games that could be played to make learning grammar a little more fun. But my biggest piece of advice is to raid the toolbox of you friendly neighbourhood MFL teacher as our language colleagues would have been making this sort of thing fun for years.
▲ Linguistic mistakes often make us chuckle and there are whole sections of the web dedicated to showing the best ones, but can be hugely embarrassing and even damaging to those who make them. Image credit: http://www.artfile.ru/i.php?i=530376 used under Commercial Creative Commons License http://thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/07/12/ punctuation-mistakes-to-make-you-laugh-or-cringe/ used under Commercial Creative Commons License
The best sites from
View thousand more at ictmagic.wikispaces.com http://bbc.co.uk/iwonder This is a superb site from the BBC with interesting questions to inspire awe and wonder. There are videos and other media which attempt to answer questions on history, science and much more.
http://www.classdojo.com A superb online class management system. Award points for good behaviour and working hard. Take points away for late homework and being unkind. You can set your own headings to customise for your class. You can even update it using your Android/Apple apps or mobile device's web browser. It's one of the best sites that I have shared.
http://www.isleoftune.com A unique way of making music! Build an island town like in Sim City. Each object creates a sound as a car goes by. Great fun.
http://crowdmics.com An amazing crowd microphone app for Apple/Android. Connect your audience to the stage mics so everyone can be heard where ever they are. Free for up to 20 users.
http://gifmaker.me This site offers a simple way to make animated GIF images. Just upload your images, choose the speed and size and then download. Easy!
Check out the UKedchat Educational Apps directory for the best apps for teaching and learning.
StickMen without Arms Art & ideas by David Moody See more @teacherbubble
Can Teachers be Creative? By Jo Debens Can teachers be creative, particularly at GCSE level, without losing integrity? This is the question that often faces teachers. That dilemma between being innovative, engaging, active and enjoyable, balanced against standards, academic rigour, making progress and ensuring excellent student outcomes. I write from the point of view of a secondary teacher and Head of Geography, in a school of a challenging context and where accountability, the 'O' word, and teaching quality are phrases banded around every day. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and with hugely varied needs. Many find learning difficult, many lack social and life skills, many find themselves unmotivated and lacking ambition to engage with either their education or their future, whilst others are pushing themselves and their ability in a relentless drive for success. Catering for all this is the challenge and also the fun part of the job! I sometimes think that teaching GCSE becomes too focused on core knowledge and rote memory, at the expense of deep learning and experience. Whether this is due to a lack of curriculum time, the demands of the exam syllabus, the government or school management, there can sometimes be a tendency to 'teach them what they need to know to pass the exam'. But I would rather children had deeper learning, that they figured things out for themselves, and that we created a culture of lifelong curiosity and love of learning. It is our role to take 'required information' for exams and to empower students to make connections that are useful. So I like to think that my teaching, and my department, has a healthy mix of creative and innovative teaching balanced with more traditional styles. Keep it varied, like a diet. I'm not saying we always do something 'all
singing all dancing', and there is a time and place for every kind of teaching and learning. So I'd like to share some of my favourite activities. This is mostly from the point of view of GCSE Geography, but can easily be used at other key stages and adapted for other subjects. Messy learning: Messy Rivers - The idea is based on enquiry. Many of my students found it hard to visualise the stages of a river moving from upper to lower course, and how the relief, river profile and sediment changed along the way. So I collected a variety of sediment of different sizes to simulate this. Students worked in groups and were presented with an A2 piece of paper and felt pens, some laminated keywords (e.g. processes such as attrition, landforms such as waterfalls, etc.), and a bag of sediment (including sand, silt, shingle, larger pebbles, sticks, and a laminated picture of some boulders and larger material - I wasn't going to give this!). Then I simply asked them to use their knowledge and produce a sketched and annotated river profile with keywords and sediment lined up in the correct places. It worked very well and the students really gained a good grasp of how the river system changes. It became clearer and more
logical that, of course, the smaller material would travel further since it was lighter. Click! Lightbulb moment. Providing real world (or classroom-based pseudo-real) examples often makes otherwise abstract ideas much easier to explain and understand. Let them eat cake - This is an idea lots of Geographers will know from Tony Cassidy. The classic model is for a teacher to use walnut or angel cake or some other layered cake. You break it apart in stages to demonstrate the formation of a wave cut platform. What I do in my activity is a little bit of background work on processes, then give the students a kit to work with: Poster paper, mini whiteboards and some pens, miniature layer cakes, a variety of sweets such as skittles and jelly tots, anything really. In groups the students have to produce a step by step explanation model or video of the formation of a wave cut platform. Some kids went as far as to collect cups of water and simulate throwing water and jelly tots at the cake base and they found this made it really clear about how corrosion could weaken the base of headlands, just like water makes a cake soggy. It does become messy, and naturally I give them fresh, clean sweets to eat as a treat after. Building models, whether edible or not, is a great way to gasp difficult ideas. Then they write a timed exam question along the lines of 'with the aid of a diagram explain....'. All my activities usually end in some kind or formal exam skill. Rigour and academic progress still lies at the heart of what we are doing.
Balloon Q&A - There are a myriad of different uses for balloons. One idea I have used is to blow up the balloon and ask the students to write a question on it with felt pens and then throw it to someone else in the room who then has to write the answer. This person then has to write another question and throw to someone else. The challenge is to keep going and keep the balloon off the floor the whole time. The competitive element is very motivating.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is our role to take 'required information' for exams and to empower students to make connections that are useful.â&#x20AC;? You can also use balloons to demonstrate many features and ideas about the Earth. I have used it to show the curvature of the Earth by asking students to try to draw a world map around the balloon and discussing how this distorts from what they would normally draw. I have also used them for making complex interlinked mind maps on a topic or for revision - students have to make links that go right the way round the balloon. And you can use them for prompting role play or empathy by drawing different faces (happy, sad, etc) on the balloons during a discussion or debate. Then when a student is given the balloon they have to take on that role, or empathise - like playing devil's advocate and trying to challenge otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s viewpoints.
Paper planes - Now I'm sure we've all seen a child make a paper plane in class at some point? So why not use this skill? I've done this in two ways. Firstly, a student writes a question or statement or fact on a piece of paper and then folds into a plane. Throw to another child who has to unfold and add their answer or a follow-on statement (could be like consequences as well). Keep going as long as possible. Alternatively, I have found it worked nicely with case study practise. Each student writes a case study answer for any topic you wish. They fold this into a paper plane. The students have three coloured pens and the paper plane is thrown to a student who has a red pen. The student has to highlight all of the uses of fact and place specific evidence in the answer. Then re-fold it and throw to the next student, who highlights in green any time that a point is developed (point and explain). They re-fold once more and throw again to another who highlights in yellow all of the use of key geographical terminology. Finally, the plane is thrown to one last student who reads it, reviews all of the highlighted sections, and then scores and grades the case study and gives a final comment and target for improvement. So it is a multi-layered assessment for learning activity. Plus it's fun! You could also link to de Bono's hats or Bloom's taxonomy should you wish.
Revision Games: Revision doesn't have to be boring! Get active. Revision Bunting - I thought this might only appeal to the more creative and artistic students, or to girls perhaps more than boys - but I've found all students have enjoyed this. I place a series of topics into a hat on pieces of paper. Students pull them out at random and that is now their topic to produce a piece of revision bunting about it, e.g. meanders, earthquakes, Hurricane Katrina, etc. They can then produce any style or shape of bunting they wish, but I emphasise the fact that what they produce is for others to foster a sense of corporate responsibility. The bunting is then strung across the room and displayed as a revision aid, plus I take photos and upload to the GCSE blog (geogdebens.wordpress.com) or Facebook account so students can access at home. Jigsaws - You can get blank jigsaws online very cheaply and then students can produce their own. I've had them produce two different styles. Firstly, a traditional jigsaw where the pattern is perhaps the structure of the earth and convection cells, or a case study mindmap on the Iceland eruption. The second is like Jigsaw Jeopardy. Students produce a jigsaw where each jig has an answer on it and on the underneath there is the question. Players of the game have to guess the question based on the answer (e.g. 2010) they have seen (e.g. In what year did Eyjafjallajokull erupt?) and then complete the jigsaw as normal. The idea behind both jigsaw activities is that students can learn by producing the jigsaw in the first place and secondly by then swapping and playing the game with someone else and assessing each other. â&#x2014;&#x201E; Connecting the piecesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Students design their own jigsaw puzzles with questions and answers
Jenga - Non-branded versions also allowed. You can use wooden or plastic Jenga in all sorts of ways. For example, you could place stickers at the end of the Jenga pieces with keywords on them and play a definitions game. You should repeat the words on a few pieces so that it is fair, otherwise the game can end very quickly. Play in teams with multiple sets on the go at once and challenge groups to build the tallest tower. Either the teacher, or one member of each group, can act as quiz master. You read out a definition or question and the player in each team has to find the Jenga piece with the right answer, pull it out and place on top of the stack as usual. Students take turns to be the one taking the piece and defining. Alternatively, if you have coloured Jenga or coloured stickers at the end of each bit, then these colours can represent different skills or questions in order to revise cases studies or a topic. Categories may include factual information, give a place name, describe a process, or key words. Every time a student pulls a piece out they must give a statement or answer that corresponds to the category that their colour represents. Again, this could link to Bloom's or de Bono should you wish. You can save yourself a lot of hard work and help your students think deeper about their topic by getting them to produce the Jenga quizzes for themselves. Twister - Play the game as usual, but have a quizmaster with a list of questions and answers. Spin the spinner which corresponds to a type of question and then every time a player lands on a new spot they must answer that question. If they get it wrong, the spinner is spun again and they must move to another spot until correct or they fall over. Team challenge. Alternatively, each spot can correlate to a different points value. You can then have differentiated questions with different points values, for example, linking to C - B - A grades.
Musical Chairs - This game is great for active revision quizzing. I've tried it in two ways. In the first method students each have to write down a fact / key term / draw an image about a particular topic on scraps of paper or mini whiteboards. You then set up the musical chairs circle and these scraps of paper or whiteboards are placed on each chair. As you play the music students move around and should be checking the information on each chair as they go. You then remove a chair with its associated information and when the music stops, the person left standing has to give the answer / definition for the piece of information or question you read out. Then repeat. Those students who have lost their seat then get to play quiz master to the others or can act as a buddy to help others out if they get stuck on their question. If they get the question right they get a reward. In the second method I would stick an exam question on the back of each chair so students can't see it. Each student has a mini whiteboard or paper. As the music plays they shuffle round to a new destination and when the music stops they must answer the question on that chair. No chairs are removed in this version, they just accumulate points for getting correct answers.
â&#x2013;˛ A new twist on a classic gameâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;students answer questions to earn their spot Image credit: All images were either provided by Jo Debens or by the UKED Magazine team
Love literacy: Poetry, songs & 'Dear Diary' letters - I'm sure we've all tried creative writing in some form or other to get extended writing into play, or to make a topic more accessible. So you have probably tried all of these, but I mention these because they work! Giving students the choice of how to make notes in a creative writing format really seems to engage a different part of the brain and help them to make connections. For example, after my students completed the Messy Rivers activity I asked them to write a Dear Diary entry about the journey of a pebble down river. The stories they came up with were incredible. For example, starting from the genesis of this pebble from a huge boulder that had suffered hydraulic action and how terrible it was that this pebble had been separated from its family... down the river being buffeted by currents, hit by debris to get its edges knocked off by attrition, so that it had battle scars and wounds after being dragged along river beds and thrown against banks. Eventually this was deposited, like an unwanted cast off, miles away from its family and friends in some unknown land. Dramatic and emotional stuff! But they had to include key terms and had to describe the changes as it went. It worked superbly and reenforced their understanding. Anthropomorphising the pebble enabled the students to empathise
with a piece of rock. I've also had students turning processes into poetry and song, for example, turning Matt Cardle's 'When we collide' song into 'When plates collide they come together, diverging plates will always pull apart...'. All good. The master case study 3-step flow chart model - My students often struggle with the idea of extended writing for case study and decision making essays, so I've been getting them into the habit of creating a three stop flow chart model to outline their thoughts. The idea being that in the exam they will look at the question, plan out their flow chart, and then use this to write the essay. You can see the flow chart example in the picture, but it essentially follows the Point, Evidence, Explain route of three flows, which then leads into a final link box. This is then repeated three times because a full mark case study should be three well developed points. I just ask them to do this at the start of every practice case study or essay question we do now so it becomes more routine. Learning grids & VCOP - Learning grids are great tools for prompting extended writing in a more random way. Simply create a grid (could be any size, I usually do 4x4 or 6x6) and populate with keywords or fact or pointers that students should include in a piece of extended writing on that topic. For example, for the sustainable decision making exam I populated it with terms such as 'sustainable, stakeholder, refer to data, give a contrasting view, positive comment, negative comment, use connectives, conclude, economic' and the list could go on. Give students the grid and two dice, so they can get two numbers for a coordinate, e.g. 3,4. They then find the correct box on the grid at 3,4 which may have the phrase 'refer to data'. They would mark this and treat it as a command that they must do in their writing. I usually get them to repeat this 4 times to get 4 different criteria they must meet. Then they write the essay. You can also use it in reverse as a AfL activity
where students mark on the grid what criteria they think they have met, and then when you mark it you can check how accurate they were. Then this leads to you being able to have a discussion about what 'data' really means if they seem unclear about the criteria. VCOP is a support scaffold often used in primary schools to support students with vocabulary and prompts. You can create this in any format. The idea is to have boxes to represent vocabulary, connectives, openers (sentence starters) and punctuation reminders. You can have generic or subject specific vocabulary and openers as needed. Then just give them out as needed. SOLO structure for AfL - I've only recently started playing around with SOLO (See More on SOLO in the January 2013 issue of UKED Magazine) and have never been a big fan of any one particular taxonomy as a one stop solution, but I do like parts of this. The idea is that it guides students through from more basic knowledge and understanding to more complex ideas and concepts. I have adapted the phrases to suit my needs. For example, prestructural to me becomes 'unsure', unistructural becomes 'one idea', multistructural becomes 'many ideas', relational becomes 'linked ideas' and extended abstract becomes 'interlinked ideas'. I've used this for AfL or to revise a topic. For example, give the students a grid following the structure and ask them to fill in what they can for a particular topic. You can then identify weaknesses and remind students that this links to a certain grade criteria. SOLO hexagons are very nice for planning essays or for practising making interlinks between factors. You could ask your students to write down the causes and effects of, say, the Brisbane flood on as many hexagons as possible, colour code and you can link into causes and effects based on hard evidence. Then ask them to shuffle these up, and then to try to make links between them in
order that every hexagon is touching the sides of multiple other hexagons. The beauty of the hexagon is it has six sides and can be tessellated to create as many links as required. Student aiming for higher grades should be able to make these complex interlinkages. Once you've created the hexagon pattern you can then use this as a template structure for planning an essay on a case study, or a piece of extended writing. Just remind them to use connectives!
Story Cubes - These are great for adding variety into writing. You can either make paper story cubes yourself or you can print them off online. Alternatively, you can get big foam filled plastic dice with plastic pockets so you can slot whatever piece of paper into that you want. For example, I wanted year 7 to write about Iceland, so I placed pictures, some facts about sustainability, some Icelandic poetry lyrics, etc into the different sides of the cube and then students had to roll it three times and whatever side was face up each time it landed they had to include in their writing. You can also get story dice apps on mobile devices if you wish.
Jo Debens is a secondary geography teacher in Portsmouth. You can see more activities and more information on her blog, jodebens.com. You can find Jo on Twitter @geodebs.
Helsinki 2014 Oppi is a old Finnish word which means knowledge, experience and wisdom. There was plenty of this present at the Oppi festival over the two days of 11-12th April 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. But there was much more besides. The Oppi festival has drawn front line educators, decision makers and experts from all over the world to descent on this beautiful Scandinavian city. Big international educational event are not uncommon. What was perhaps a little unorthodox was the ambition to make this very large festival feel like a home grown event, with a friendly, informal atmosphere where ideas could be shared and discussed. Oppi had a organic touch to it. A melting pot where entrepreneurs, innovators, politicians and teachers talk, discuss and even argue on the various educational policies and possibilities we see around the world and over the horizon. But why choose Finland, a country famed for its success at providing educational opportunities for its young people? As Simon Breakspear said, “When things are going well, that the time to disrupt the Simon Breakspear inspiring everyone system.” Dr Pak Tee Ng in conversation with Oliver Quinlan as he takes to the stage at Oppi
Simon was hosting the event and urged the attendees to take education to the next level through discussion over the next two days. He went on to say that relationships is the ‘killer app’ in education. “Innovative and creative learners equipped with modern technological tools means that the age of average is over,” he concluded. Krista Kiuru, the Finnish Minister of Education and science spoke about some of the successes, but also the failures and possible problems with this world renowned education system. She spoke frankly about the disengagement divide All eyes are on Finland for educational answers, but Finland continues to look forward to the future.
which troubles many parts of the world, including Finland. She concluded by saying, “The best thing we can leave behind for the next generation is a good education system.” The inspiring Pasi Sahlberg, visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, spoke at length about the need to give kids a tailored, individualised education formed largely by self discovery and curiosity. But he went on to warn that technology is not a silver bullet, pointing out that Finland uses far less educational technology then comparatively advanced nations.
Pasi Sahlberg talking passionately individualised learning at Oppi
One of the highlights was a session presented by Dr Pak Tee Ng, Associate Professor at the National Institute of Education in Singapore. He explained the background to this tiny nation’s education system and spoke passionately about why each country must find its own answers to the education question, routed in that countries culture and allowing children to lead the way in their own learning. See full coverage of the Oppi Festival by clicking here and click here to view our photo stream. Krista Kiuru, Finnish Minister of Education, sharing her thoughts on educational successes and where to go next
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Gavin Dykes in conversation with students, Laura and Elsa
Speaking Up for the Introverted UKED Magazine / UKEDchat Exclusive Feature “Sshh. Quiet please. Just for a minute. Some of us need time and space to think. Some of us hate the thought of having to speak to groups of people. Brainstorming? No…just NO!” Welcome to the world of the introvert - a personality strength which many people stifle, hide, or are too embarrassed to admit to. It can be seen as a sign of weakness, but many of the traits of extroverts have become celebrated in many Western societies (mainly shout about and advocated by extroverts), with the behaviours and ideas witnessed in business dripping down into the educational stratosphere. A lot of attention has been given to the subject of introverts, mainly thanks to the American writer Susan Cain, whose book “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking” highlighted the vast divergence between the two personality attributes.
Why western societies celebrate the mannerisms of extroverts is not fully understood, especially when you look at successful and famous personalities who display introverted characteristics, such as: JK Rowling; Bill Gates; Christina Aguilera; Albert Einstein; Steve Wozniak; Emma Watson; Keanu Reeves, to name just a few. Celebrating the qualities of introverts in education can be a challenge. Can a teacher be an introvert? When do the traits of introverts start to appear with children? What are the signs that educators should look out for to identify the extroverts/introverts in their classroom? Is it really possible to group/label students under such categories? Let’s take a closer look at these issues. Looking at the table, as a teacher you need many of these attributes, but most colleagues go into ‘show’ mode when they are teaching,
Recognising the personality traits Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved and introspective, having to expend energy in social settings. On the other hand, extroverts gain energy from social interaction. Other main contrasts include being:
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being a false representation of who they actually are. This is not a bad attribute, but a skill needed to engage, enthuse and energise pupils. There will be many of the attributes in the table, on both sides, which resonate with you. There are few people who are 100% extrovert or introvert, but you may identify some of the features in your own personality. Some teachers enjoy the peace and quiet of their own classroom at lunch time, rather than the noise and buzz of the staffroom – this is not a bad point, just recognition of a reflective, thoughtful colleague. Despite many beliefs, the traits of introverts are not, and should not be viewed as negative.
So, what about pupils? These personality traits are evident from a young age, but in the comfort and familiarity of a primary/ elementary setting (with the same friends; same teacher; same classroom each day), it is not too easy to define children easily. Once children enter the secondary setting, the characteristics start to reveal themselves more noticeably. Moving from classroom to classroom; working with different sets of peers; different strategies of working; different teachers; new subjects. One of the (many) challenges for teachers is to recognise the signs of introverts and extroverts, and adjust your teaching to suit both. Many teachers complain of pupils who appear to be non-responsive in their class – always the last to raise their hands – the quiet ones. This is more likely a sign of teacher affirmation than a sign of disengagement. Some pupils absorb your lesson, processing the information in their own private, reflective way – which may not always be on display within the confines of the lesson. There are different ways to check for understanding, and allowing pupils to do this in a way that is comfortable for them is significant. Some of the brightest, intelligent pupils are introverts… but they are very unlikely to tell you. Celebrate this in a quiet way – they are unlikely to enjoy being the centre of attention – remember; they are extremely self-aware. Schools appear to be geared towards extroverts, while introverts are often undervalued or misunderstood. Speaking up in class, group work and "show and tells" is emphasised mainly in response to Assessment for Learning strategies, but Susan Cain cites studies which suggest that the majority of teachers think the ideal student is an extrovert, and more extroverts are groomed for leadership positions in the workplace – we refer you back to the list at the start of this article. It is easy to criticise pupils for being ‘quiet’ – how often were you warned to watch out for the quiet ones? This mistrust is because it is difficult to know what they are thinking – but
the reality is that no-one really knows what anyone is truly thinking, but the contemplative, reflective nature of such introverted characteristics should be celebrated and recognised in all educational establishments. We want students to think, evaluate, reflect and absorb their knowledge and learning – just like they promote in university education. Don’t try to change introverted characteristics – celebrate them, and allow space for the quiet, thoughtful processes which the noise of schools rarely allow. Introvert / extrovert characteristics (table) information from: http://psychology.about.com/od/trait-theories-personality/f/introversion.htm http://psychology.about.com/od/trait-theories-personality/f/extraversion.htm Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7477245@N05/7965228774/ by Luiz Fernando Reis used under Commercial Creative Commons License. https://www.flickr.com/photos/72098626@N00/3800867082 by Ed Yourdon used under Commercial Creative Commons License https://flickr.com/photos/seatbelt67/502255276 by Brian Hillegas used under Commercial Creative Commons License https://flickr.com/photos/calliope8muse/4148111399 by Calliope G used under Commercial Creative Commons License
Pedagogy in Pictures ► I am a big fan of picture books and often use them with my tutees to stimulate ideas and encourage discussion. Anthony Brown's books are a particular favourite of mine and I use his excellent 'Willy's Pictures' with primary pupils (across the year groups as this activity can be easily differentiated). I use the book in conjunction with the iPad. It is a simple EdTech activity that really exploits the tactile aspects of the iPad; namely the ability to zoom in closely to examine small details in images. Pupils are always eager to touch and explore and this activity makes the most of that natural instinct. You can adapt this activity, using it for art as a starter before moving on to drawing or painting, for literacy as a stimulus for writing about the pictures or simply for speaking and listening. @tinawatsonteach tinawatsonteach.blogspot.co.uk
► GCSE students write facts on post it notes. Then spell out their topic. You could also differentiate the task by asking the students to draw scenes or diagrams. @astsupportaali cheneyagilitytoolkit.blogspot.co.uk
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Analogue & Digital Differentiation By Mark Anderson Differentiation can take place in lots of different ways. The old classics are differentiation by outcome and differentiation by task, but these, like many methods, can rely heavily on the teacher’s input. I remember working for hour upon hours to create and adapt work for individual students. But there are many more ways to differentiate learning. Nowadays, I use a variety of more finely tuned methods and I make a use of technology to aid the process. Top and Tail Many teachers aim for the middle ground of a class. However, why not ‘top and tail’ each activity with activities and strategies to support, scaffold and extend students, depending on their abilities. To extend students who finish a task more quickly, why not get them to complete a more difficult extended digital version of the activity. Not only does this stretch them, but it can also provide useful materials to share and even use as part of a starter for the next lesson. For example, in a Geography class you may be researching something and extension activity could be a report to the UN about climate change or whatever the topic is. This would give the children the opportunity to develop literacy and use of technology, which will have wider positive impact for the student. Another favourite of mine is to use Socrative, an online real-time quiz platform. I ask students to log in as a teacher and create their own quiz questions based upon the topic being studied to reinforce their learning from the lesson. I ask them to share the SOC code with me and if time, I use the quiz as part of the lesson plenary. Don’t worry too much if they get the answers to their own questions
wrong - That’s part of the learning process and can easily be correctly by the students or by you if necessary. To scaffold the lesson for those students who might need it, why not have a QR code which links to a page with all of the key words and their definitions or even add the key words to a worksheet page. This will support students with a variety of literacy and language needs. Creating wall displays with the key words, such as the one below, is a simple thing to do with technology.
Try the free App - Moldiv for iOS, which allows you to arrange images and write on them. This example took only five minutes to create.
Other things you could do might include: • Allow students to make notes on whiteboarding apps to refer to later in the lesson. For example ExplainEverything, or ShowMe would be effective here. • Create a screencast or recording of the main part of your input for less able students to play back and refer to during the course of the lesson. You could use Camatasia, which is excellent, or Screencast-omatic to do this for free. • Allow students to make a visual representation of their learning in a video or something which better suits their abilities. If done before learning has taken place, then mind mapping tools or visual representation aids, such as Grafio or Freemind would be very useful. After learning has taken place you could make videos. Why not try the nano social network app Vine to do this. You could import these videos into ExplainEverything so that students can annotate their work. Be creative and try different work flows with apps. Try to always give students the choice of more than one task or way of expressing their learning. Timing Being mindful of timing in your lessons and how you utilise it can have a big impact on the success of your learners. Getting your timing right can really help to differentiate the learning. For example, you could differentiate the amount of time a student has to complete a task based upon their ability. Alternatively, you could give students a task a day in advance of when they are going to complete it in class to give them an opportunity to get thinking about it in advance. Flipping your lesson content could help here too by giving students the learning input of the lesson to run through in advance. This can help to get them thinking about the learning before the lesson starts.
When it comes to time, you can also think about using deadlines more wisely. As we’re focusing on differentiation, we can talk too about giving students of different abilities different deadlines for their homework. Setting ‘take away homework’ is a great way of differentiating homework ideas for students. A simple web search of the term will give you a plethora of ideas on how you can do this. Some people use templates, while some people do it via a wall display with the homework topics put in to folders for students to take a paper copy. I write a clear takeaway homework selection and add it in to Showbie where students can then access the homework. I set the homework over an extended period of time. I tell students that they must do a minimum of 3 homeworks in the 6 week term with no maximum. Each homework is pitched at a different difficulty rating. Students must complete at least one ‘hard’ homework in the homework period. I try to assess their homework when I receive it, although this is not always possible. It must all be completed before we move on to the next homework cycle. Using time as an incentive in the class can pay dividends too. In my experience, students react well to tight, specific deadlines. For a start, it means that the time they do spend is focused on the learning activity. It helps to avoid procrastination and it saves students wasting time trying to aim for perfection or adding too many features to their work which are unnecessary. You can plan your whole lesson in to short, tightly focused tasks which cumulatively take the complexity of the subject further for their learning. With the tasks being broken down into shorter chunks, you could even add a competition into the timings to get students to focus even more. Sometimes, being a little ‘crazy’ with the timings can force students to do their very best work in the ridiculously short period of time you’ve given them. For example, I have asked students to show me all of the features they were comfortable using Photoshop in 3 minutes. It produced exactly the results I
wanted - I wasn’t after some amazing graphic design. I simply wanted to know what students ‘could’ use in Photoshop, not the best piece of design. It worked very well! Engaging your learners is (nearly) always a good thing too - why not ask them how long they think they should have to complete the task. Go with that and make them stick to it. As teacher, you can intervene if they ask for too long/short and guide them, but in my experience it is a good way of getting them to engage further with their learning. Finally, to make timing really explicit I often use the theme music to countdown playing in the background in the lesson (here’s a ten minute loop of the familiar music: youtube.com/watch?v=eTlrzLl1UAI) and then when there’s 30 seconds left I play this: youtube.com/watch?v=6eTLAg0giN0#t=13s to act as a final countdown. Self Differentiation One way of empowering learners through differentiation is to defy the data on their potential capabilities. We all have data about what students minimum target grades should be to guide us as to how much progress they need to make to attain in the exam. By this definition, some students are more capable and fit into what used to be called the Gifted and Talented category. Why not try setting challenging extension activities that are open to all learners, and not just set as extension work for the more able. One a week, once a term, set a really challenging piece of work that students can opt into. Make it clear this is to stretch their understanding and abilities. You will be surprised how many students choose to self-differentiate and complete the harder work. You could obviously try setting a digital task to do this, perhaps one that gives the students a wider audience for their work. How about setting a small extension task of extra reading or watching a YouTube video, but keeping a class reward chart of who chooses to complete the work, or award points on Class Dojo. This rewards the students for choosing to try the harder tasks,
and encourages a classroom culture of high expectations. You could also reward students with digital badges and I have found credly.com and their App really useful as you can design your own badge and award it when the work is completed. Collaborative Differentiation Group work, or team work can be one of the most rewarding things for students in terms of the potential gains they can make, not only in their learning, but in developing the skills they will need for later life. However, poorly planned collaborative work can make the task fruitless and frustrating, as some learners are pushed aside, while some do not pull their weight and others display some bossy characteristics. It is key to differentiate by what role each student will have in the team. Tailor these roles to play to the strengths of each student, but also try to develop a weakness. It is no good casting a student with stage fright in the lead of your play to help develop their confidence. However, giving them a small part might well help. This may be fairly teacher intensive, but this gives the student a bespoke learning experience in which they stand a chance of actually making some very substantial progress. In terms of using technology, it is useful to
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allocate roles where students are working with some tools they are very confident with, but some that they are not so that they continue the learn new skills within the collaborative environment. Use technology to allow the skills that they have, be it in Photoshop or coding, to shine through and not only develop them as individuals, but inspire and share with other members of their team. Finally, if you’re looking to assign roles randomly, should you want to, the apps Decide Now and Tap Roulette are a great way of choosing students, as is the name picker within Class Dojo and on the brilliant classtools.net. Differentiation by Resource The very best teachers do not give the students the same resources to complete a task. In fact, really it is a pretty blasé attitude to assume that all learners will make the best possible progress using the same resources. So, the same needs to be true when using digital tools in the classroom. You should have a variety of tools available to students to match their needs. For example, some learners may work well with the demands of a text heavy website, whereas for others would benefit from the streamlined information provided by http://instagrok.com and find it a much more useful way for them to access new materials.
▲Check out Mark’s blog for useful and insight into teaching pedagogy and digital teaching technology.
Some learners may thrive on making mind maps, and so Popplet is appropriate, but for others a different kind of visual representation may be more appropriate. This all comes down to good pedagogical practice, where you know the student and tailor the learning to the individual. What is most important in implementing excellent differentiation is to know your learners? Not only the data about them, but understanding them as individuals, as people, and giving them the opportunity to shine in whatever format that may be. Differentiation may seem time consuming for teachers, but as you integrate it into your teaching practice and by using technology, it will become a habit and part of your classroom practice. It takes time to get used to and be able to manage a classroom full of learners all doing different things. However, if well planned and facilitated by the right tools, it can be a massive step in relinquishing control of the lesson to your students, who after all, are at the heart of everything we do.
Mark Anderson is Assistant Head Teacher and directory of E-Learning at Sir Bernard Lovell School near Bristol and the author of Perfect ICT Every Lesson. ▲ Read Mark’s new ebook on the Apple Bookstore. Click the image above.
Image Credit: All images were provided by Mark Anderson
Learning Through a Lens
Author: Jane Hewitt The world of photography has become more accessible in recent times, with most of us walking around with a camera in our pockets most of the time. Concerts, museums, disasters, weather phenomenon, etc. will all be covered by someone who has a smart phone camera handy. Many of these cameras have advanced so far that the point-and-click photography culture is now threatening advanced photographic skills, whose results are just as rewarding as any art masterpiece viewable in any gallery.
▲ Click the image above to view this book on Amazon.
In her new book, ‘Learning through a lens – It’s all about photography’, teacher Jane Hewitt gives pupils the skills to understand how they can they can best take photographs, whether using smartphones, iPads or cameras, being used as creative tools that can be used every day. “Most children will have a camera on their phone, and I think banning them in schools is counter productive. We should be teaching them how to use them for their work. I’m not sure we should teach photography as a separate subject, but we should use it.” Speaking to UKEdChat, the Yorkshire based teacher celebrates this recent surge of photography, making it available to everyone. “Smartphones are making photography accessible to everybody, and if you want to take it further you can. There are stock agencies that are now using Smartphone images.” But the skills behind photography are essential, with many people not understanding the full features of their cameras. Helpfully, the book offers advice for the beginner to get to grips with such features as: shutter speed, aperture; ISO, whitebalance; metering; and an explanation of the different modes on most cameras – all helping to get a good understanding of the capabilities. “You can have all the gear, yet no idea on how to use it. You see people who have huge lenses and properly kitted out, having spent thousands of pounds, and leave their camera on automatic not knowing what the other buttons and features do, openly admitting that they don’t know how to use their camera beyond the basics. Just because you have an expensive camera doesn’t make you a photographer. You can have the cheapest camera going and produce the most amazing shot. It’s about being creative.” “To me, photography can sit across the curriculum – I have used photography to teach literacy, and have done for years with transition work using images and photography skills. I’ve used Preiser figures to build them into characters and build their homes, then taking photographs to turn them into a story. Pupils then need the photography skills, the literacy skills, the IT skills. To me, this is fun and a tool.” Photography can be a great substitute for those who have an eye, but are not confident at drawing. Indeed, Hewitt confessed, “I can’t paint; I can’t draw, which is one of the reasons why I got into photography, because I got frustrated. I maintain that anybody can take a photograph – it might not be a very good one, but you can do it and you can see the results immediately. You develop an eye, and it is like art in that way.
“I love dead flowers, street art, and texture, but my favourite photographs are from my trip to Uganda, as it was the first time I really realised the power of photography. If you look at the central image on the front cover of my book, the two children had turned a water carrier into a toy, but my favourite image was a little girl standing at a fence watching a school, which she couldn’t afford to go to.” Gaining inspiration from other people’s work is essential, and any budding photographer should explore images that resonate with them. Jane told us, “I love Steve McCurry’s portrait work – just the close-up of faces and love the expressions that he captures. But there are so many. You can see something and think that it’s amazing, such as the Slinkachu (Little People) images. Even that can be adapted, with young people using Lego figures – and there are so many different characters – this can be linked to outdoor learning, creating all sorts of things. Like I said, you can use photography as a tool. I’ve used it with Year 7’s in English when we’ve been writing about school – their school – and they are given the chance to take five pictures to sum up their school. They are evaluating; analysing; coming back with five images and it makes it so much easier than asking them to just write a passage about their school.” It’s clear that Jane Hewitt loves photography, and has inspired many educators with her work – setting up 365 day challenges; sharing her work with colleagues; supporting colleagues to develop their skills – and this passion shines through in her book. She told us, “The book has taken two years, with a lot of support from the people at Crown House Publishers. They were very sympathetic with my choice of images to include”. But, essentially, the book shows how the power of photographs and photography can be used within the curriculum to inspire, engage and enthuse pupils about the world around them. The use of smartphone cameras, and the editing apps which are easily obtainable, is making photography accessible for all. Give it a go. Learning through a lens – It’s all about photography, written by Jane Hewitt is published by Independent Thinking Press, which is a part of Crown Publishing, priced at £20.00 – Available at Amazon priced £18.39. *Prices correct at time of article publication.
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