Does your school still do Study Plus? Ours doesn’t apparently since we don’t have the money to have 15 pupils with one TA and one teacher in the room together to help them get their GCSE grade C’s in English and Maths. So this year there is a group of pupils starting their GCSEs with a unit called ‘Study Plus’ which isn’t actually study plus. And this is beginning in January because our pupils are now starting KS4 in January of Y9.
There are two of us who are going to be responsible for these 51 pupils. Put basically these are the pupils who have not, for whatever reason, chosen to do a language. This means they are predominantly the less able pupils of the year group, but just looking at maths one of them is predicted and A and 5 a B grade, so the spread of ability is wide.
So far, so statistical. The real difference about this is that no curriculum has been given to us to teach. The Head has said that we should choose something that inspires us. She thinks a qualification at the end would be a good idea for some of the group. The deputy thinks that the last thing they need is another set of exams.
SO WE CAN DO ANYTHING WE WANT.
This is fantastic, we can choose our topics our learning styles our methods of teaching, we can go at our own pace.
This is frightening; how do we measure progress, how do we convince the girls we aren’t just filling their time or that they aren’t a sink group?
This is a story and about INSPIRATION and NETWORKING
I am a teacher. I like signing up for free stuff. My CPD purse holder at school is the same and so when I asked to go on a full day course she wasn’t really listening. When I said it was free she started paying attention. So I filled in the planned absence form, got it signed, set the cover the day before and battled through some packed and ugly rush hour traffic to attend the evening meeting before and the main event (#itmeet and #mspiluk2011 as twitter called them).
Firstly I have to say that I am not sure this will be a structured piece of writing. Since I met SO MANY people with great things to share and I had the time and opportunity to speak to so many of them too, I will probably not include them all letalone put it all in a logical order.
I arrived at the #itmeet not knowing anyone there. Within 5 minutes I was talking to one of this year’s award winners; I hadn’t realised there were 9 more in the room. As a build up for the next day the meeting was a great success, the food was delicious (I can highly recommend the Royal Tandoori in central Reading) and the informal chat exciting. But the best thing was that I started meeting inspiring and approachable teachers. People doing the same job as me under the same time and money constraints, under the same curriculum and SLT pressures as I face every day. Yet they had all produced some excellent ideas that were working in their classrooms. They weren’t trying to sell me something or force some brand idea on me it was simply outstanding practice being done in ordinary schools for typical students by hard working and talented teachers; the inspiration was starting.
And so was the networking. Over the next 24 hours I was to meet people I was already in twitter contact with and I was to meet many many more who I am now following and who are also following me I am sure that this facet will be the one that does my professional practice the best in the long run. It is a whole other post to describe the effects twitter has had on my teaching and thinking and indeed many others have already written more intelligently than I could about it.
So for now I will talk about the inspiration
the first person I talked to at the #itmeet was Glyn Rogers one of the 10uk award winners. And he was a geographer with a great idea using photosynth. He set up a 3D picture of his room packed full of clues to a mystery about Global warming for KS3. From the outset I was meeting people doing incredible stuff in their classroom. You can access his photo at the bottom of this school web page
Then I listened to Dave Rogers (@DavidERogers)talk about the mobile school policy he had got his pupils to write. I really liked the guerilla nature to this policy writing (more on Guerillas in a bit) . He has kindly posted his presentation here
Then I also got to listen and talk to Julia Skinner (@theheadsoffice) . Her 100 word challenge (#100wc on twitter) is already developing into a big hit and I can see me using it with a Y10 group later in 2012
Even more exciting was two student teachers from Plymouth. To hear such thoughtful practitioners talk so well about blogging and networking through twitter was an inspiration. The older ones in the crowd (yes me) were all commenting on how we felt the profession was safe in the hands of young professionals like this. Please check their new blogs out here and here. you can follow them on twitter too (@trainieteacher and @kforeilly)
And ALL this before the actual day itself at microsoft!!
The key speakers (@olliebray @ian_livingstone and @alexbellos) were all good but i wasnt there to hear key speakers i was there to hear AND SPEAK TO) teachers. Therefore I made sure I spoke to some of the other award winners during the day and went to workshops that would hopefully result in me having something else to help my students learn
And I certainly found that!!
First I spoke to Emma Dawson (@squiggle7) who did some fab things with www.missionexplore.net with her Y4′s. now this is just what I wanted to hear, because I signed up to this website and promised i would do something with them, but never quite got round to doing it; you know term time pressure, reports, marking, SLT lesson inspections, meetings, all that sort of thing all got in the way. But Emma had side stepped this sort of thing and because she has done it I now have the motviation to do the same myself. Her blog is here I also went to @ravenellison and @geoblogs @missionexplore presentation where I met @tonyparkin. we had a great chat after all about guerrilla education and how to spread the word. I hope I can help gents I hope I can.
I also talked to one of the many Saltash community (@boothmank) who is doing some excellent stuff inspiring ICT in History. She blogs here Please look up her work with H.I.T squad I really liked the ‘motivating pupils’ part of this work. Though for Geography it loses something in the translation (GIT squad anyone?) I also listened with great interest to the social network in schools thoughts of the deputy head @chickensaltash especially as I am trying to get my geography department facebook page up and active at the moment. And in the spirit of the day I was able to chat to Mr. Chicken after and ask him where to go next.
One other workshop I went to was the reassuringly simple skype in the classroom one (@skypeclassroom and http://education.skype.com/) I have signed up already and will be searching out the network of 19, 000 teachers as soon as I can. And it is free
The final workshop I attended has really pleased my 10 y.o. son because I have already downloaded kodu onto my home laptop and started to create worlds in preparation for a course I am teaching in January. @geekynicki gave a great presentation and I am sure I will be using this programme in my lessons in the near future even if at the moment i only have a kodu who bumps into tress and says ‘ouch’
To me #mspiluk2011 was a real jolt to my practice. It made me think. It got me excited, engaged, and thinking. I made new teaching friends and I met many many twitter friends and I am sure I will be using many new tools to get my pupils excited, engaged and thinking in my lessons too.
I hope to meet you all again next year. This final link is for the Microsoft partners in learning website
On 1st December I am leading a CPD session within school on blogging. To be honest i am a bit nervous. I have never done this sort of thing before and my knowldge of blogging is related only to wordpress and only to me doing the blogging. I have yet to get my students blogging.
Therefore if you are reading this and have any suggestions as to what I should do (or not do) during the session I would appreciate your comments
I thought i would split the session which is only 75 minutes long into two simple parts:
- introduction: Why blog?
- Start your own blog
- er.. that’s it
I am running a second session in 7 months so i thought that those who have taken to blogging from next week’s group could all meet up again.
Part 1: Introduction
This will involve briefly looking at bloggin, referring to the list of education blogs i have gathers on the other page of this blog and seeing what i have done with www.geogteacher.wordpress.com and to a much lesser extent with this blog as well.
Then I want to look at the advantages of blogging. I met two BEd teachers from Plymouth Uni a the microsoft partners in learning forum and they presented intelligently and thoughtfully at the #itmeet the evening before on this very topic. So why re-invent the wheel? Here is their blog on the matter.
That covers what blogs are and why to blog.
Starting your own blog
Since I dont know a lot about blogging and have not taught anyone about it before I will do what any self respecting teacher would do and copy somone else’s lesson plans. So I will show the wordpress support pages on getting started and let the session flow from there.
Also because I am running the another session in June I can ask people who have taken to blogging between now and then to come back and we can compare progress.
Finally here is the content of the welcome email i sent to staff who have signed up:
Thank you very much for choosing to come to this session. My main aim is that you will leave HAVING STARTED YOUR OWN BLOG
Since the only blogging I have done is through www.wordpress.com our time will be spent around using this site. However other blogging hosts are available only not between 11.30 and 12.45 in room 9 next Thursday.
Before the session
Obviously this is completely voluntary but if you want to get a head start I would recommend
- looking at the wordpress support page and clicking on ‘getting started’
- thinking about what you would like to blog about – this could be education but of course it could be about anything
- you could even start up and register your blog before the day and write your first post
- If you just want to have a look at blogging in general you could look at the search page on wordpress and type in what you are interested in to find someone’s thoughts on the matter (you could even write a comment on their post!)
- I have collected a list of education blogs on one of my pages. Click here to look at this list
- I have run this geography blog for a while now so if you wish to see how this has developed then have a read and look at that
- Recently I have started a blog for other teachers and for my own professional development please read this if you wish and comment on any of my posts and add in your own opinions if you wish. Click here I am at the moment writing a post about this very CPD session so if its finished you could read that one
Following on from two of previous posts on differentiated learning objectives and then one on SOLO taxonomy I am now trying to link the two together. All I have done is to turn SOLO from lesson outcomes to Lesson Objectives. As I type now the lesson is not taught, but I wanted to post the ideas as they stand before reality gets in their way. This lesson is being observed by the school’s new head so I am naturally keen to get it right. One of the school’s new policies is that every lesson will have DIFFERENTIATED learning objectives in them. The group is an GCSE geography option group
Last week I took the pupils to Bath and Bath university to investigate transport problems and solutions there. This lesson was to ensure that they organise what they saw and heard so that they can see how it fits in with the syllabus and exam questions they may have to answer. To make sure all pupils have a good idea of the main points during the day on my phone using evernote and pasted them into a word doc for their reference teacher notes from field trip
Here is the powerpoint for the lesson post Bath fieldtrip lesson powerpoint Following the map starter, the 3rd slide shows how I have changed the SOLO taxonomy from outcomes into objectives. I have taken care to mention SOLO in each lesson since I first introduced it last month so the pupils should be familiar with it by now. The 4th slide is not an actual question from the AQA A GCSE exam paper but is an adapted one from another similar question on urban sustainability. I will have one more able and one less able girl in each pair. the group is a small one but has a range of FFT predicted grades from E to A.
The 5th and 6th slides are recap from a previous lesson and from the field trip. I used the GA booklet ” GCSE Toolkit: Is the Future Sussed? A study of sustainable urban living” which can be bough for about £11 here Whilst the pupils were organising their field trip notes I plan to walk around LISTENING to what they are saying and then leave post it notes when I hear phrases I think are linked to different stages of the SOLO taxonomy. I found this list of connectives which are linked to SOLO taxonomy from Darren Mead’s excellent blog . This will then lead I hope to a discussion about the language to use in exam answers.
Then to end the lesson I will ask them to redo on their own the same exam question they attempted at the start in pairs. Following some peer assessment the lesson will then conclude with a plenary reflecting on the original lesson objectives. I will mark this second attempt at the exam question for next lesson.