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Showing posts from September, 2012

Simple but effective ideas: using Google Docs to keep track of data

However you cut it, data is here to stay and an important part of supporting learning.  Before you read much further you should read or revisit our approach to monitoring at Priory Geography .  Tracking students is about supporting students, not about Ofsted.  One of the problems faced by Heads of Department is how to keep track of what is going on across a department.  This is where our use of Google Docs comes in.  As each data collection phase finishes, I identify those young people who aren’t making sufficient progress.  What is important to note here is that the expected (or predicted grade) is a professional judgement by the teacher. All I do is add the name into the document and then the team enter any intervention strategies.  At GCSE this overview allows me to get involved at an early stage.

Vote for the @GeoCollective in the Learning Outside the Classroom Awards.

It’s great to see that the Geography Collective have been shortlisted for a Learning Outside the Classroom Award.  As a member of the group, a mountain leader and a geographer, getting students outside has always been a priority – even if it’s on the school site. Head here to cast your vote .

Handheld technology, BYOD, @socrative .

I’ve never spent any money on interactive whiteboards or class voting systems.  Although I see the merit in both, I just feel that a tie in to certain technology isn’t the best choice and that money is better spent in supporting creative and innovative practices. I saw socrative demonstrated at #TMPompey by Alex Bellars .  Priory School’s DiGITAL LEADERS used the website during their staff Inset session and I finally got around to playing around with the tools with Year 10 last week.  I should point out the groundwork that has allowed us to explore the use of such technology, mainly employing pupils’ own devices.  I remember being at a meeting at GSMA last year where somebody argued that it was about the device and not the behaviour.  Priory Geography’s use of a patchwork of mobile devices has proven this to be false.  It is about the behaviour.  The device used doesn’t really matter.  I am always aware of the political reasons to tie schools into a particular set of devices

Simple but effective ideas: Feedback 5

It’s clear that if students understand what they need to do in order to improve, they are more likely to achieve.  Furthermore, accurate assessment and marking is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of improvement pupil outcomes.  One challenge is how to set individual(ish) targets.  Although I don’t advocate every doing anything purely to satisfy Ofsted (or Gove for the matter, quite the opposite at times ), the need for students to respond constructively to the teachers comments is a focus in the new frameworks. The question is how?  At Priory Geography we developed a simple Feedback 5 session.  We mark our books every five lessons, using tailored target sheets to comment on what we have been looking for and what the pupil did well (this mirrors out school’s marking policy). The first activity in the lesson after marking is Feedback 5.  Students have five minutes to respond to comments, ask questions (especially with my questionable handwriting) and, most importantly, s

Simple but effective ideas: blind drawing

Year 10 continue their adventures looking at coastal processes at the moment.  The parts I really enjoy involve the interaction between people and the geomorphic processes, but before really unpicking that young people really need to have a thorough grasp of the physical processes. In an attempt to teach Constructive and Destructive waves in a slightly different way (in other words avoid the copy and complete / maps from memory activities that I have used in previous years) I tried something a little different this week. Get students in pairs. Issue each pair with a mini-whiteboard and a pen. Each pair needs to have one person with their back to the class whiteboard while the other faces it. Reveal the diagram. The person with their back to the board must draw the diagram without looking, using the directions, descriptions and ideas from their partner who can see the diagram. Swap roles and reveal the next type of wave. This was a last minute thing on m

New eBook by @olliebray : Exciting Learning: Using Technology to Improve Education

I’ve known Ollie Bray for a while now and he’s the one that inspired me to start blogging.  Like myself, he’s also been involved with the lovely people over at Microsoft’s Partners in Learning .  His latest adventure is the eBook embedded below.  What I love about OIlie’s approach is that the learning inspires the use of technology and not the other way around.  I’ve borrowed many of Ollie’s ideas to enhance my own teaching, and there are a few nuggets here as well as a powerful philosophy for using technology in schools. Microsoft: Exciting Learning eBook from Microsoft Education UK

@DTW_Schools Hardangerfjord Study Aid

Discover the World have released another Study Aid.  I contributed to the Hardangerfjord Study Aid, which is also tied to a GA backed competition for young people, the Outstanding Geography Student Award .   You can find them via a free sign up here together with a Cold Environments Pack and the Award Winning Eyjafjallajökull Volcano pack. It’s also worth checking out the Photo a Day feature . Photo thanks to Jo Debens

Simple but effective ideas: Gapminder

The best uses of technology are those that are simple but powerful.  Year 9 are exploring development issues at the moment and this is a brief description of learning activities used this week with two mixed ability classes.  The learning objectives were to be able to predict, describe and explain relationships between various development indicators.  The only resources used were exercise books, pens, some post-it notes and gapminder projected onto a standard, non'-tech whiteboard. 1. Display the graph above as students come in.  I told them nothing about it, but highlighted the position of the United Kingdom.  Students wrote their name on a post-it and drew a box any size they wanted to.  Each placed their note on the whiteboard to predict where the United Kingdom would end up in 2011.  Hit play and allow students to identify trends and World War 1. 2. Who was closest? Get students to complete the sentence: ‘As GDP per Capita increases, life expectancy _____________.’

That video again

Almost 18 months on and it’s great to hear through Twitter that this video is still being used in classrooms. 

Dr John Ofsted…..

It’s been a little while since I posted about a teaching idea.  Although some would argue that’s due to not teaching much anymore, many wonder and stress what Ofsted are looking for when they pop in and talk about pupils making ‘progress.’ Often, teachers pay lip service to AfL, racing to get through the lesson plan rather than adjusting the activities in response to the needs of students.  For example, during a Year 10 lesson last week on coastal erosion, it struck me that the class hadn’t grasped the concept of different types of erosion.  They were also starting to flag at the end of a two hour lesson (and remember that this is a two hour lesson with me – not many people can put up with me for that long!)  This would have a significant negative impact on their progress, so I made an intervention. Nothing new or too spangly, just used John Davitt’s Learning Event Generator and chose four outcomes at random.  One of them was a Dear John letter which most of the class took up. 

Enhancing Fieldwork Learning 2012 #efl2012

Heading up to FSC Preston Montford today to speak about how technology can help to enhance fieldwork at secondary school.  Basically, a series of stories about what the Priory Geography team has been up to in the past 12 months. Technology enhanced fieldwork from David Rogers I started by introduction some of the challenges that secondary schools face in getting students off site and emphasising the usefulness of onsite fieldwork.  In addition, I spoke about the danger that technology has in removing young people from getting outside.  Yes, GIS and visualisation software such as Bing Maps can be very useful when investigating data and describing patters / places, but they don’t engage young people with the actual place in terms of emotion.  I used the example of the My Walks project to speak about the importance of fieldwork on different scales.  To many, fieldwork means getting young people in to the wilds, but effective fieldwork that develops geographical skills (such as

A couple of extraordinary events. But where did it come from?

One of the exciting parts of the new role is getting to work with more teachers in the early stages of their career.  That, plus a couple of extraordinary emails / conversations lately has made me stop and reflect over the last nine years of my own teaching career.  There are two points that stand out: I gave my notice in by October half term during my NQT year.  I planned to go back into outdoor instruction and though a few unplanned events, ended up completing my NQT year and getting another on in the July.  It’s a bit of a fluke that I’m still in teaching really. When I moved to Priory School after 4 years of teaching that I loved, I experienced the worst six months of my professional / working life.  The reasons are documented well on this blog. (I should add that I went looking for the challenge though ) I’m still a teacher.  I love going to work.  The reasons why?  No idea really, but probably something to do with finding awesome colleagues both within school and th

My contribution to @GuardianTeach ‘s Technology Week

The Guardian’s Teacher Network blog is having a technology focus week at the moment.  My contribution that focuses on simple ideas using technology can be found here .

What do I hope CPD will be?

The start of this school year sees a new challenge.  While I continue to lead Priory Geography, I have also taken up the role of Professional Tutor.  Basically this involves looking after the learning needs of adults, NQTs and PGCE students.  It’s very much a ‘put you money where you mouth is’ moment as I’ve often been quite vocal and critical of school based CPD in the past. The photograph at the top of this post was taken in Gibraltar during an Air Cadet summer camp.  I’ve used this here as, when a 15 year old Cadet Sergeant, I was often involved in delivering training.  The new role though will require a step back – to allow others to do the training. The presentation below was shared with staff and tries to encapsulate what we are aiming CPD to become. CPD at Priory from David Rogers We are a mixed ability group of learners CPD should be contextualised and personalised for individual teachers.  CPD should be delivered in a style that models the teaching and l

Calling all Primary Teachers: Partners in Learning Camp London

I’m a big fan of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Network and was lucky enough to travel to Berlin in 2010 as an Innovative Teacher award winner.  I’ve also attended their various summer camps and other events, all of which have provided good quality CPD at everyone’s favourite price: free. Camp London is not about walking funny around the nation’s capital, but a chance for primary school teachers to meet up and talk and create.  Having attended similar events, you’re sure to receive a warm welcome and it’s always impressive how Stu keeps the focus on learning even with people like myself and Dan Roberts doing our best to distract him. Full details of the event can be found on the Partners in Learning Blog here.

@GuardianTeach live chat on mobile devices in the classroom

Microsoft are involved over at the Guardian Teacher Network Blog this week Sponsoring Technology in Schools Week.  The use of mobile devices in the classroom is a contentious issue and certainly not a quick fix of the way to teach. I’ll be part of a panel of teachers discussing this issue and answering questions on Thursday 13th September.  Details are here .

@GuardianTeach focusing on mobile technology

This is the second academic year in which the mobile devices policy we created has been in place.  The policy focused on allowing the social use of mobile devices with the side effect of allowing teachers to explore their use within lessons. You can read up on some of the ideas in this post over on the Guardian's Teacher Network Blog.  Some of the ideas contributed are from Priory Geography’s very own Jo Debens .