I took 27 motivated Year 8s today into town to do some Mission explore inspired geography. I cheated a bit really by asking year 8 teachers to nominate 5 girls a class on the criteria “Who has been working really well in your lessons over the last couple of months?”, so we had some even better than usual pupils with us. Then I cheated some more by repeating a day i had run with year 10. and that was a cheat in itself because I had stolen the idea from guerrilla geography specialists – www.missionexplore.net and their great idea for a guerrilla geography day on gender representation.
So really I have nothing to tell you about top tips for field trips or geography teaching.
Then, even better I got the pupils to do all the work. I sent them off for and hour and a half to collect photos and video clips of how men and women are represented in our town centre. We walked back to school and then I said they had 2 and a half hours to turn their images and clips into videos using the ipads. And then I left them to it. Here is what they produced in no particular order …… If you want to leave any comment on their video to encourage them further , that would be lovely…….
He didnt mention mine, the complete and utter bastard © Viyvyan of the Young Ones
And I wrote about him last week
This is another ‘learnt from my own children’ simple thing …
I came home this evening and asked my son how is maths lesson went and if had asked his teacher that question about how to work out the area of a circle. He said he had and that his teacher had told him “we are going to do it in a lesson soon.”
I asked him “Do you want me teach it to you now, so that you can be ahead of the others?”
He replied “No I want to be the same as everyone else.”
So the simple thing is that not all children want to be better than others. Which I guess is like adults too. ( see my previous post about striving for an outstanding OFSTED grade for a start).
This is not necessarily a bad thing. There are other things in life than striving to get the highest mark in class.
In the recent January Maths GCSE exams foundation pupils had to get 17 more marks out of 200 than they did last Summer to a get a grade ‘C’. So if they apply for a college place in a few years time and their next door neighbour, 18 months older with exactly the same Maths ability, is also applying it is likely the elder boy will get the place as this year’s student will have a lower GCSE grade. This whole situation was better explained that I could manage by William Stewart in the TES this week
Yet at the same time the schools are under ever increasing pressure to get more of their pupils the magic 5 A* – C (Including English and Maths). It is like the government is both turning up the heat and pushing down on the saucepan lid at the same time. I mean, we may squeeze out some more ‘C’ grades in the short term, but sooner or later the pot will explode. This is not a sustainable situation. Schools have a choice; head teachers have an important decision to make. Do they continue to play the game to curry favour with their overseers? Or do they come clean and take the honest and truthful path by bravely stepping away from the present day preoccupation with data, predicted grades, FFT and headline figures?
I am not a member of SLT and am no longer a governor, so that dilemma is not mine. But I can tell you what it looks like from the classroom. This Year’s Year 11 are already more dead on their feet than I have ever seen, they are more concerned, stressed and pale looking than before – and its only April. They have been entered early to Maths in January. If they get their predicted grades then they stop studying that subject, and if they didnt they can take the exam again.
For English there is another wheeze that the Guardian’s Secret Teacher pointed out. I am not an English teacher, so please read it to get a proper grasp of what is going on. But the short of it is that someone has found out that one exam board syllabus is easier to get a grade ‘C’ at so it is worth entering your ‘D’ grade students into that one.
Now I bet you that if you asked a head teacher in a school that was trying one or other (or possibly even both) of these schemes, then they would tell you that they are only doing the best for themselves. Others might question whether that headline figure of 5 A* – C including English and Maths might have something to do with it. After all with a higher figure, schools will have a better chance of either delaying an OFSTED inspection or getting a higher grade in one. so why wouldn’t you consider it?
One problem with this approach is that it is undermining the importance of other subjects that are not English and Maths. Teachers of these subjects are feeling less valued and presumably pupils are looking at the subjects in the same way.
But that is not my point. I want to know what effect this is all having on these 15 and 16 year olds. If English is so important, what are the A, B, E, F and G students thinking as they see some of their peers getting extra time and help in this key subject? If Maths is so crucial to their futures, why is not worth the whole year group re-taking? Pupils know what is going on, they can see that a GAME IS BEING PLAYED HERE.
And it is being played with them. Secret teacher is right, they are being reduced to statistics. They don’t count as actual people. Teachers have been moaning at Michael Gove for this. But how can schools claim the moral high ground, when the pressures pupils are increasingly under play second fiddle to getting the right set of results for only of their pupils? This isn’t playing fair or clean; it is playing the system.
But worse, if all the pupils know that some are being entered for an exam as it is easier to get a ‘C’ grade in that syllabus, then how can we hold ourselves and our school up as a paragon of virtue? And what are we telling our young people about how to get on in life? Is success at something so vital that all rules must be bent and loop holes exploited? Is the only way to get on in life to sneak your way to where you want to be? Does doing your best include not getting caught at cheating?
The way it looks to me is that we are educating children to see the world as somewhere where your own success is more vital than how you achieve it, that winning at all costs isn’t such a bad way of living. We are creating a generation of people who wont mind pulling a fast one on someone else to get what they want. It is up to schools, to teachers, to governors and to head teachers to take a moral stance. Otherwise we are not doing our job properly.
I might a bit slow on this one. Maybe better read people have already commented on the link between George Orwell and Michael Gove. They both seem to have been greatly affected by going to to a lesser known Public school. The latter though has a more positive view on his experience and now wants to base the new National Curriculum on his education where the former has a less rosy view of his experiences. I have found these words from an essay Orwell wrote in the early 1940s entitled “Such, such were the Joys” It is easily to be found online at a few sites and you can also download a pdf copy of it if you wish. The excerpt I have copied below I took from this site I am not an expert so I hope the wording is all correct.
When I read it I could not but think of the debates I have seen taking place about all the curriculum but history in particular and so I copy it here with no added comment.
“Over a period of two or three years the scholarship boys were crammed with learning as cynically as a goose is crammed for Christmas. And with what learning! This business of making a gifted boy’s career depend on a competitive examination, taken when he is only twelve or thirteen is an evil thing at best, but there do appear to be preparatory schools which send scholars to Eton, Winchester, etc. without teaching them to see everything in terms of marks. At St Cyprian’s the whole process was frankly a preparation for a sort of confidence trick. Your job was to learn exactly those things that would give an examiner the impression that you knew more than you did know, and as far as possible to avoid burdening your brain with anything else. Subjects which lacked examination-value, such as geography, were almost completely neglected, mathematics was also neglected if you were a ‘classical’, science was not taught in any form — indeed it was so despised that even an interest in natural history was discouraged — and even the books you were encouraged to read in your spare time were chosen with one eye on the ‘English paper’. Latin and Greek, the main scholarship subjects, were what counted, but even these were deliberately taught in a flashy, unsound way. We never, for example, read right through even a single book of a Greek or Latin author: we merely read short passages which were picked out because they were the kind of thing likely to be set as an ‘unseen translation’. During the last year or so before we went up for our scholarships, most of our time was spent in simply working our way through the scholarship papers of previous years. Sambo had sheaves of these in his possession, from every one of the major public schools. But the greatest outrage of all was the teaching of history.
There was in those days a piece of nonsense called the Harrow History Prize, an annual competition for which many preparatory schools entered. It was a tradition for St Cyprian’s to win it every year, as well we might, for we had mugged up every paper that had been set since the competition started, and the supply of possible questions was not inexhaustible. They were the kind of stupid question that is answered by rapping out a name of quotation. Who plundered the Begams? Who was beheaded in an open boat? Who caught the Whigs bathing and ran away with their clothes? Almost all our historical teaching ran on this level. History was a series of unrelated, unintelligible but — in some way that was never explained to us — important facts with resounding phrases tied to them. Disraeli brought peace with honour. Clive was astonished at his moderation. Pitt called in the New World to redress the balance of the Old. And the dates, and the mnemonic devices. (Did you know, for example, that the initial letters of ‘A black Negress was my aunt: there’s her house behind the barn’ are also the initial letters of the battles in the Wars of the Roses?) Flip, who ‘took’ the higher forms in history, revelled in this kind of thing. I recall positive orgies of dates, with the keener boys leaping up and down in their places in their eagerness to shout out the right answers, and at the same time not feeling the faintest interest in the meaning of the mysterious events they were naming.
‘Massacre of St Bartholomew!’
‘Death of Aurangzeeb!’
‘Treaty of Utrecht!’
‘Boston Tea Party!’
‘Oo, Mum, please, Mum—’
‘Please, Mum, please Mum! Let me tell him, Mum!’
‘Field of the Cloth of Gold!’
If you want to write a scheme of work ….. you have run out of ideas and your creative juices are as arid as the soil in the plant pot you left in your classroom over the Summer holidays …..
If your concentration is worse than a Year 10′s on a Friday afternoon …..
If your motivation is lower than a HMV assistant, well then I can give you some good news….
There are plenty of teachers willing to share their ideas with you and all you have to do is show proper gratitude and be prepared so share back. It really is that simple.
Here is how it worked for me. I had this Scheme of Work to write for Year 9 on flooding. I had a few ideas but not many. I was thinking causes of flooding,effects of flooding and management of flooding…. so i asked twitter and
@tonycassidy @janeyb222 @njpiercy helped me out. Then I googled some stuff and www.tes.co.uk/resources provided some ideas. Then I found a couple of bits from www.rgs.co.uk. Then I look at old scheme of work i had written and found 2 more ideas I had got from other teachers, so I dusted them down and added them in too. Finally we had used the Hurricane Sandy in Year 8 lessons earlier in the Year and it seemed a shame not to make the most of that hard work, so that was recycled too.
And hey presto! you have at least a 9 by 1 hour lesson Scheme of work written and here are the resources I have garnered and adapted for Year 9′s to learn from this term
Here are the credits:
Lesson 1 – the pop up drainage basin is pure
@tonycassidy I am late to this i think as many other people all over the internet seem to have used it. it is very easy to find.
Lesson 2 – A few ideas of my own using the Wider World David Waugh book to finish it off (well Waugh had to be there somewhere)
Lesson 3 –
@janeyb222 kindly sent me her lesson plan and i adapted it fit our school.
Lesson 4 and 5 – this is one of those I used when I taught this a few years ago. Its comes from Nuffield and can be found here
Lesson 6 and 7 – is a combination of the RGS website (link above) and me searching the TES. then when I re-discovered the stop disaster website, I checked on twitter to see if anyone else had used it and got some tips from
@tonycassidy and @dawnhallybone
Lesson 8 and 9 – Is just a few internet resources thrown together with a learning objective or two. We taught this to Y7 and y8 just after the disaster occurred
Pakistan ILT – ILT is an inschool term it stands for Independent Learning Task. But the actual task is amost a straight lift from the marvellous
And then you can also see an RMN folder. You see, I may have written, or rather compiled, a SoW but there are two of us teaching this and RMN has to teach things in her way, so not surprisingly, she adapts my plans. Since we have only just started to teach this topic, she has only altered the first lesson.
Please please feel free to use the resources in this unit. They are now yours to do with what you want. They were never mine in the first place. However, I would really like to hear of any ideas these plans give you. Do post below as a comment.
I have been meaning to go to one for ages, but you know, pressures of work, young family, tiredness, football on the telly that night…..
So I was pleased with myself and high on anticipation as I drove along the M27 to the 2nd ever TMPompey, held 100 yards from HMS Victory at Action Stations. There were over a 100 there and quite a few 2 and 7 minute presentations lined up. I was wary of all these keen young teachers (maybe I should be SLT or a “stuck in my way” kinda teacher at this stage of my career) with their new snazzy ideas, because I recall when I first joined twitter and made the mistake of thinking I should be trying every new idea and philosophy going. I just ended up tired and didn’t see anything through (apart from there is still a dose of SOLO in my lesson). Would tonight be the same?
Well no. There was no superiority going down. There didn’t seem to be any hierarchy. The order of presentations was decided by one of those random name generators I have never got round to using in class and so there wasn’t a support-and-headline act type feel to the evening.
No one mentioned the ‘O’ word. This was simply teachers sharing stuff they were enthusiastic about and would recommend for others. People spoke and showed. the aim was collaboration and sharing; not trying to outdo and compete with others. This, more than the ideas themselves, is what I found refreshing and rewarding about the session. Too often we have allowed ourselves to over-worry about getting a higher % of A* to C passes than last year, than the rest of the department, than that other department, than the school across town. Teaching shouldn’t work like that. Learning isn’t measurable, it is too ‘messy’ (description stolen from Tait Coles) and comparisons and tables and competitions are meaningless anyway.
This approach and philosophy is what i would love to see more of. Where good practice is shared, not to gain more outstanding lesson observations and tick the boxes on your appraisal form about pass rates, but instead because a good idea shared develops exponential powers over a good idea withheld. Maybe next time I might even find one of mine I could pass around…….
This really is simple. To be honest it is something I noticed rather than learnt.
My own 3 children are all at primary school. When they have a ‘mufti’ day it is called home clothes day.
I teach at a secondary school. When we have a mufti day it is called non school uniform day
Somewhere between year 6 and year 7 we have changed our language to make school seem a negative thing to be