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Showing posts from October, 2013

#GeoEdChat: How do you assess the development of geographic skills?

This post is the Think Piece for tomorrow’s and is reposted here #GeoEdChat that I’ll be moderating.  Hope to ‘see’ you there tomorrow from 8pm UK Time.How do you assess the development of geographic skills?Before you start, my aim with this post is to provoke and ask more questions. I’m not an expert, and I don’t even have a beard….We all work within the confines of formal examination systems, but how do you develop geographical skills as well as knowledge and understanding? If you choose to develop skills, which skills are developed? What are the informed by? Why those skills? How do you identify and measure skill progression? How are these skills taught – in isolation or embedded within a geographical context? These questions go to the heart of what it is that makes a good geographer. In my view, the teaching of irrelevant or poorly defined skills or skills constrained toward examination technique only, are responsible for much of the bad geography lessons I have seen over the past…

40 days into the senior leadership adventure

‘But I'll be free for what I believe and I won't sell my soul just to
Achieve my goal.’
Amy McDonaldI spotted the video above on Ollie Bray’s twitter feed a little while ago.  It sums up how I’m feeling at the end of the first half term of being a new Assistant Headteacher in a new school.  I know how to ride a bike, and have even hammered down a few scary descents, but I’m a novice compared to this.  However, I’m getting up to speed.  It reminds me of becoming a trainee teacher, then an NQT, then a Head of Department.  At the beginning, I thought I knew everything about education because I went to school.  Then I knew everything about school because I worked in one a while.  It’s a different perspective at each level and I wonder if It’s ever possible to see the full picture.This is a continuation of this post written 28 days into the new role.  I’m still a novice, but I’m getting there.  A few more things to share, it’s mainly for me to look back on but may be of use to …

The biggest threat to education? The ‘Outstanding chasers.’ (edited)

This week a post written a while back comparing teachers to priests and urging us not to lose our faith was (re)discovered.  Together with this post about monitoring, conversations and a recent glut of blog posts recently examining school’s observation systems, I’ve come to the conclusion that the biggest threat to quality pedagogy are the schools and teachers who chase the ‘Outstanding’ tag.I remember a lesson that I observed once.  There was a tricky character or two within the classroom.  Indeed, there were a couple of the highest tariff students in the school at the time.  There was a little disruption, but everyone had been making progress over time.  The lesson was ‘Good’ according to the criteria.  I was asked in the feedback, could the lesson have been made Outstanding by removing the child from the classroom.  This scared me as it missed the point.  It was a ‘no notice’ observation, which does put on the pressure, but I made the point that if that lesson was the typical diet …

#ukstorm2013 Creating a shared teaching resource about our Storm experiences.

In 2009, I created and shared this map using UMapper.  In the lead up to the storm predicted to hit the UK, I've created another map to share our stories before, during and after the experience.  This time I’m using Google’s MyMaps as it seems a little less clunky to use. This will be used in classes.  For example, you may be living in an area that isn’t affected, and students can use satellite and weather information to figure out why.Anyone can add to the map:Click here to visit the map.Sign in to Google – you should be able to edit it (tweet me if you can’t)Select the correct layer (Before, during or after the storm). I'm not 100% sure how this works for other people.Navigate to your location (I suggest you don’t select your actual house).Leave your story. Links to images / videos would be great.That’s it! I hope!That’s it.

Thought shrapnel: #TLT13 review. Bedrock, mantras and roots

I forget where I first picked up the term ‘thought shrapnel,’ I think it may have been Doug Belshaw.  Putting that aside, the first Teaching and Learning Takeover yesterday was full of thought grenades.  It was the perfect antidote to seven weeks of a new school and role.  This isn’t a cry for help, I’m big enough and ugly enough to be ok, but I’ve been feeling a bit lost this term. Being a net learner rather than contributor is not my usual gear.  For that purpose, it was fantastic to bump into old and new friends.  It’s really true, when people you respect tell you the same thing, the message sinks in.  The event, for me, was like finding that elusive gold at the end of the rainbow.  I came away from Southampton University with a mind like this:I can for the first time, see a clear path though the trees.  Thing is, it was already in my head – I just needed help to find it.Although there was a little bit too much gratuitous Gove and Daily Mail bashing for my taste, I left #TLT13 insp…

This is how I work

Developing the beautiful struggle–assessment and progress in education–workshop from #TLT13

Developing the beautiful struggle. Progress and Assessment in Education #TLT13 workshopfrom David Rogers Having just got through the door from #TLT13, there is a lot to think about.  Here is my presentation and notes from my session on assessment and progress.  As a bit of background, you may wish to read this post about the abolition of levels and this one about the beautiful struggle for knowledge.Teachers are experts at tracking progress and assessment.  The government would have us wait for advice from expert panels, but Key Stage 3 should be informed by the formal exam systems or GCSE and A’Level.The Year 7 students who have started this year will take their GCSE examinations, assuming that they still exist, in 2018.  That’s five years away.  Consider what has happened in the past five years.  This means that we must do more as teachers than say ‘these important exams in five years time.’ The images are from some History department homework and illustrates what our Year 7s find im…

#WorthingTeachUp 2–Thursday 5th December, 7pm at the Mulberry in Goring.

After the success of #WorthingTeachUp 1, I’m proposing that we do the same on the 5th December.  The teach up is an informal pub gathering with optional pub food.  The Mulberry has plenty of parking nearby.  As it’s the Christmas season, I thought it may be nice to also run a Secret Santa with a £10 spend limit.Everyone is welcome so please do spread the word.  I’ll book a table this time as the Christmas season can be a bit busy.  Just fill in the form below and leave a comment or tweet me with questions. See you there.Loading...

Questions I’m grappling with. Just who should be delivering CPD?

Sometimes, it’s hard to see the answers.  Thinking generates more questions.  These posts will lay out a problem I’m grappling with and trying to get my head around so don’t expect fully formed thoughts!Lots of people gave me lots of grief about making changes when head of geography and when I led CPD for the school.  I didn’t much care for the criticism, especially when the impact was measurable.  Especially when pupil outcomes were raised.  Of course, constructive criticism is always welcome and needed in order to shape ideas and policies.  I am left wondering though about the credibility of CPD.I’ve spoken at lots of places, but all I have really done is tell stories.  A narrative of what worked well in my context by doing particular things in a particular way.  Linked to some evidence of impact.  This is important as there’s no guarantee that it will work.  This is where those engaged with CPD need to reflect, consider the evidence of impact and adapt resources for their own conte…

Don’t panic! Revisiting the ‘revolutionary’ ‘new’ National Curriculum that isn’t the death of geography.

I wrote a response to the National Curriculum consultation back in February relating to Geography.  Since then the final draft has been released. I wonder how many have read it?  The overwhelming first response when I mention the new curriculum to people is either one of two things. The first is a spot of Gove bashing.  The second is something along the lines of how glaciation is beyond the minds of young people and how dull it is.  Those same people have loved teaching about slums, skyscrapers and volcanoes, all of which all British students have first hand experience of in abundance.  Oh, hang on….  These are just excuses not to get on with the task of subverting the new national curriculum for the good of young people.  Such arguments also devalue the skill and passion of teachers who are, I believe, completely able to teach anything.  I’ve been teaching ox-bow lake formation for 10 years and no student has asked to be excused, or ended up not understanding it despite never actuall…

Nomination for Award for Outstanding Contribution to LOtC

I believe that quality learning that happens outside a classroom can make a huge difference.  Some time ago, I found that some lovely person had nominated me for a Learning Outside the Classroom Award.  This post is really a thank you to them. I’m nominated in the ‘LOtC Innovator’ category, and you can read the nominations here. If you like, you can vote.  I’m just chuffed to be nominated and I enjoyed reading through all of the great practice happening outside the classroom.

28 days later–A month into being a novice senior leader

Thursday marked my 28th day in SLT, so it seems like a good moment to look back and reflect.  It’s not about zombies at all though.  I guess this is a post about first impressions and not-fully-formed ideas and may be useful to those considering the move to senior leadership.  It’s been an interesting month, with the Great North Run and my first mountain marathon.It’s interesting being a novice again.My priority has been to establish myself in the classroom and with the staff.  The move from a situation where I knew the systems, young people and staff of one school to being in an almost alien environment.  Yes, there are students, staff and lessons just like every school, but there is a new language of acronyms, behaviour routines and protocols to negotiate.  It’s like being in Iceland, or even Russia: there’s people, buildings and stuff moving around, but you have no idea how to order a beer or a decent coffee.  There’s also line management of unfamiliar subject areas and a list of w…

Simple teaching idea: Using Gapminder to structure research [@gapminder]

At the moment I’m teaching development to Year 9.  I’m without the kit required to produce the RSA Style Animations but still wanted to allow students to explore a country in depth, specifically working out reasons for it’s position in the LDC-MEDC continuum.  So, armed with access to an ICT suite (something I haven’t had to worry about for five years) I decided to use Gapminder to start the process.  Follow these steps:Students select a country to look at. Tick the Box.Take the country back to 1800, ensure that the ‘Trails’ box is ticked and press ‘Play.’Watch the pattern. Grab the screen and import into PowerPoint. Annotate the trail, picking up key changes in the GDP and Life Expectancy.I found that this provides a really useful guide to targeting the research – so some quick work on valid search terms allowed the classes to quickly find useful information and data.  Furthermore, time spent on pointless research because of a poor country choice is minimised. For example, the USA do…

The first #worthingteachup was a success.

Teachmeets are one useful form of CPD.  I’ll be at Teachmeet Sussex this coming Thursday and I’m currently working on plans to hold the next Teachmeet Portsmouth on an aircraft carrier.  However, sometimes it’s just nice to talk and not listen.  Or run around shooting people with lasers.  It’s also nice to have a local (ish) support network that meets face-to-face. With this in mind, I suggested the first #worthingteachup.  No agenda, a pub, no pressure, no plan, no egos, eat if you like, drink what you like.This led to ten teachers meeting up in the Mulberry in Goring on Thursday for a natter and plenty of laughs.  Certainly, I’ve picked up some advice on health and safety and am now aware how to eat a giant hanging chicken kebab!  I’ve also met a parent of a girl in my son’s reception class and enjoyed an ale or two on a school night.  The plan now is to meet once every half term in the same location (until they kick us out…).  Thank you to those that came along, making this an enjo…