Monthly Archives: February 2012

Little Fluffy Clouds and literacy⤴

from @ Odblog

Following on from the cloud homework we completed with S3 recently, I wanted to see if it aided the understanding of the passage of a depression. We spent the start of the period talking about the unusually warm weather and decided we must be in the warm sector of the depression (confirmed by the met office synoptic chart). We had a little go at predicting the weather before I randomly distributed some of the clouds that the class had observed.
With these, the class worked in pairs to create a cloud 'profile'. I compared it to a celebrity/ football magazine which has a movie star/ player factfile. For this exercise, we thought about location (in relation to weather fronts), distinguishing characteristics, travel plans and temperament. Although some of the class stayed safe and did very formulaic profiles (perhaps a failing of mine in terms of promoting the aims of the activity fully), some were very creative.
Some examples of really good characterisations might include the nimbostratus cloud which was "slightly overweight", "laying low" and "sweating profusely", an excellent description of the low cloud and persistent rainfall at the warm front. We also had obese cumulonimbus clouds, the "tallest in their class" with "anger management issues" and other such descriptive accounts.
I liked this exercise, but would give it more prominence than 15 minutes at the end of the lesson. It has a lot of scope if given a fuller introduction to further develop both subject and general literacy while placing subject knowledge in a different context. I wonder if something like this would be valid assessment of learning in the new qualifications?


Little Fluffy Clouds and literacy⤴

from @ Odblog

Following on from the cloud homework we completed with S3 recently, I wanted to see if it aided the understanding of the passage of a depression. We spent the start of the period talking about the unusually warm weather and decided we must be in the warm sector of the depression (confirmed by the met office synoptic chart). We had a little go at predicting the weather before I randomly distributed some of the clouds that the class had observed.
With these, the class worked in pairs to create a cloud 'profile'. I compared it to a celebrity/ football magazine which has a movie star/ player factfile. For this exercise, we thought about location (in relation to weather fronts), distinguishing characteristics, travel plans and temperament. Although some of the class stayed safe and did very formulaic profiles (perhaps a failing of mine in terms of promoting the aims of the activity fully), some were very creative.
Some examples of really good characterisations might include the nimbostratus cloud which was "slightly overweight", "laying low" and "sweating profusely", an excellent description of the low cloud and persistent rainfall at the warm front. We also had obese cumulonimbus clouds, the "tallest in their class" with "anger management issues" and other such descriptive accounts.
I liked this exercise, but would give it more prominence than 15 minutes at the end of the lesson. It has a lot of scope if given a fuller introduction to further develop both subject and general literacy while placing subject knowledge in a different context. I wonder if something like this would be valid assessment of learning in the new qualifications?


Homework Help Website⤴

from @ wexucate.com

In a March we are hosting a numeracy showcase for parents to come and experience some of the ways their children are taught maths.  One of my colleagues suggested that we gave the parents a handout with a list of websites the children could use at home to help reinforce their learning.  However being handed a sheet full of very long URL’s to type in, is not very inspiring or practical.  So I suggested that I could create a website that would contain all these links which would mean that the parents would only need 1 URL.  So over the last week I have created a Homework Help website using wix (please note this is a flash website and so will not work on IPhones or IPads).  What was great was that I was able to make the folders I had already created with weblinks in Edmodo public.  So all I had to do with this website was create links to these, simple!  What’s even better is that I have a couple of pupils in my class that have issues remembering their passwords to our VLE so I can tell them just to use this website and it means they don’t need to waste any time logging in.

Please feel free to share the website URL with your friends and colleagues and if you have any suggestions for improvements to the site or websites I should include then please let me know on the feedback page.

www.hwh.me.uk


Get Connected For The Win!⤴

from @ Learning Stuff About Stuff

Curriculum for Excellence clearly  demands a richer, deeper assessment of learning than can be delivered by giving a percentage mark on a written test.

I have been exploring the implications of this fact over the last few years, as we all have in Scottish education.  This post isn't really about the issue of assessment under Curriculum for Excellence, though.  It is about the way that being a Connected Teacher has facilitated my exploration.

Last week, I came across a review "Evidence Based Teaching" by Geoff Petty in my Google Plus stream.  I follow hundreds of maths teachers on Google Plus (very few of them from the UK yet) and they provide me with a rich stream of new ideas about maths education.

I bought Geoff Petty's book, and was very interested in the potential of Biggs's SOLO Taxonomy as a framework to assess learning in mathematics more meaningfully.

I searched on Google, but couldn't find anything specifically relating to the use of the SOLO taxonomy for learning in maths.  Having hit a dead end, I filed away SOLO in my head under "one of these days I'll have a look at this".

Yesterday, I was looking through the #pedagoofriday tweets and saw this:
#PedagooFriday used #solotaxonomy for first time with Y13 text transformations. Got them thinking about meta narrative & literary theory.

A quick look at the #solotaxonomy hashtag led me to this tweet:

I got in touch with @docker_hoops (David Doherty) and he sent me a stack of resources that he'd been given by Pam Hook - all specifically relating to the use of SOLO in the assessment of learning in maths. These resources were developed in New Zealand.

Magic!

Map tig and cloud appreciation⤴

from @ Odblog

While I wait on possibly the most frustrating laptop in the world to reopen (nicely shut down while I was working on video clips), thought I would blog two ideas I've developed a bit this week. The first is a way to illustrate globalisation through communication. We had been discussing our take on what globalisation meant in the S2 rotation and the idea that the way we communicate can shrink distance came up. I decided to try to incorporate this idea into a piece of homework which also established the links we all have to other places. I used scribblemaps and introduced the idea of mapping where our favourite possessions, our most memorable holiday destinations or our far flung Facebook friends came from on this. The exercise would be completed on the map by an individual who would then 'send to a friend' for further editing adding their own input. This had to be shared by at least 4 people. No face to face discussions were allowed except for the initial class discussion. Any communication would have to be by text, email, messenger, Skype etc It will be interesting to see if we can facilitate 'faceless' collaboration, which would ve excellent in demonstrating the 'information economy'. Hopefully, more to come.
The other exercise I'm quite intrigued by involved setting 'cloud homework' after looking at the passage of an Atlantic depression I'm Britain. It was a very simple piece of work involving students cloud spotting at the time of their pleasing over the weekend. They had to record the time, date and cloud type using the Cloud Appreciation Society guide. I'm intending randomly redistributing these 'clouds' as a tag and asking students to place them on a depression as a starter or plenary. Simple idea, but hopefully it  connects students with the topic by actually absorbing what is around them.



Shared Responsibility⤴

from @ Odblog

It seems incredible to someone who found it difficult to study even at University level that Study Skills are introduced in the lower secondary now. However, when discussing a lesson that my PLP (Personal Learning Planning) class were involved in today with a colleague, I think he is right in saying the earlier the better, because its not really about exams, its about taking responsibility for learning.
We had been discussing Study Skills and thought it would be interesting to take some familiar and less familiar techniques to revise the same block of text. It was a silly news story from the day about an accidental gunshot incident which resulted in some embarrasment for the person committing the crime. To indicate some of the variety of techniques, we had mindmaps, wordmats, mnemonics, audio memos, creating questions alongside reading notes and summary cards. The vital element here was that no one was working alone, which students had confirmed that they commonly do.
I left the exercise with the thought of coming back to it the following week. One thing led to another and, with Higher prelims interrupting my time with this class, I had to postpone. Two weeks and a half term later, I feared the worst for any retention. How wrong I was!
I was informed today that a 29 year old male, whose name escapes me, but not the class, had been practising with his girlfriends fathers gun for a forthcoming camping trip. This was in Loch Earn. Two men were on a nearby boat, Kyle Walker and Thomas Gilmour according to the class. A shot was fired by accident and hit the hull of the boat they were on. The perpetrator deeply regretted his actions but Sherrif Brown was not impressed and fined him £600! I couldn't believe how much had stuck and it was noticeable how confidence grew among the group as contributions were offered. I think the class were quite chuffed with themselves. I asked them if they thought they had been taught the content well. At first, a few nodded and then the realisation came that I had only facilitated their learning through my involvement in steering the groups. They had shown themselves to be successful learners despite no teacher led work and despite all taking different paths to recount a story. This led us into a discussion about whose responsibility it is to ensure achievement in academic pursuits. While teachers can clearly make a difference and have a huge responsibility to those that we teach, it was evident from the exercise that perhaps the person with most influence and, via this, the greatest responsibilities for learning are the students themselves. More than this, that responsibility is apparently best brokered when divided amongst the peer group.

Posted via email from Mr O'D's class posterous

Eportfolios⤴

from @ wexucate.com

I’ve decided to write this post about Eportfolios because even though I’ve been using them with my class for quite a while, I am constantly asked for advice on how to set them up. This post will hopefully help those people with any questions they have. If you think I’ve missed any important information out or have addition questions please feel free to comment at the bottom of this post.

What are Eportfolios?

Basically an eportfolio is an online digital space that pupils can use to reflect on learning, record wider achievement and teachers can use as an assessment tool.
Why did I start using Eportfolios?
Currently the school I work in uses a Learning Log as a way for the children to share their targets and reflect on their learning. This learning log is a folder which contains sheets of paper which the children fill in. I’d been finding that completing these logs was becoming very time consuming and very uninspiring for the pupils. At that point I had just not long completed my Glow (Scottish Schools VLE) training and decided to use this as a place to house our eportfolios.

How do you create an Eportfolio in Glow?

There is a National Eportfolio Glow group which can be found here. There you will find help sheets and videos which will take you through the set up process. However three things you will need to do before setting up eportfolios are
1. Ensure all pupils have Glow Light enabled (this can be done by clicking on pupil or staff home, scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking on Change Glow Light Settings. You must then ensure that Use Glow Light as my default home page when I next log in has been ticked)
2. Ensure that all pupils have permission to use Glow blogs (this can be done by your school ASM or by your Glow key contact)
3. Create a class or year Glow group which can be accessed by all the pupils. Either use the weblink part that already exists or create a new one for the pupils to put the URL’s of their eportfolios.
Once you have completed these 3 steps you are now ready to create your eportfolios with your pupils using the How to create an eporfolio help sheet.

What if I don’t have Glow?

The main part of the eportfolio that is created in Glow is a blog which uses wordpress. You can create your own free blog at wordpress.com. There are lots of other sites where free blogs can be created e.g. blogger, edublogs, primary blogger, etc.

How can I use eportfolios with my class?

1. Each pupil’s eportfolio has a static front page; this allows them to create an All about me page. They can create an avatar and write some text to introduce themselves.
2. All posts the pupils write must be categorised. This makes it easy for readers to find posts on a similar subject; this is especially useful for interdisciplinary learning. Our eportfolios have categories for all areas of the curriculum, achievement, attainment, targets and review of the week.
3. Pupils can use the eportfolios as a place to record any targets they set for themselves and review their learning.
4. Pupils can report about and reflect on any learning undertaken. This becomes a very useful assessment tool for the teacher as it is easy to determine the level of understanding each pupil has of the activity they have participated in.
5. Eportfolios can be used as storage for evidence of work i.e. pieces of writing can be typed up and posted. Using a site called Slideboom PowerPoint presentations can be embedded into the blog. Websites that have been used for digital literacy activities e.g. voki, animoto and GoAnimate can also be embedded.
6. Feedback – All posts that are written can receive comments. This allows teachers to give instant feedback and also allows for peer to peer assessment.
7. Eportfolios can be shared extremely easily with parents who can also comment on their child’s posts.

Using the eportfolios with my class has been very successful. The pupils really enjoy creating posts and sharing their work. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in their enthusiasm to write and in their writing skills. Often pupils will post stories that they have been writing at home.

I have been involved in providing training other teachers in my cluster in how to set up eportfolios. Our next step is to decide what information an eportfolio contains so there will be continuity when P7’s move to S1.

Below is the animoto I created using the slides of my presentation I gave on Eportfolios at the Scottish Learning Festival 2011.


Be Happy to be Good.⤴

from @ The Highland Headmaster

I am very proud of my school.

I am proud of the way it coped with an HMIe inspection when I was off on long term illness. I am proud that the inspector enjoyed the visit and recognised that the steps we needed to take, in order to improve, were ones that we had already identified and begun to action. But, I am still feeling guilty at not having been in post for it! Actually, if truth be told, I am disappointed not to have had the discussions, affirmations and critiques; the experience.

There is no doubt that Inspections have changed, and changed for the better. For my school, and the acting head teacher at least, it was a positive experience. But I have a deep unease that I cannot seem to shake, an unease with the culture of excellence.

I believe we are loosing the holistic approach to excellence to education. The oft repeated mantra, "It's all about the children." is wrong. It's not. We cannot drive eduction by focusing on the needs of the pupils alone. I would argue that you can only improve when the standard of excellence is equally applied to the needs of teachers in their planning, support, training, remit and time.  Crucially, it should be applied to the expectations.

At the present, much is expected of teaching. Excellence is expected. Local education authorities expect new planning across all the whole curriculum, expect the new approaches to be embedded, expect attendance at training initiatives and lessons learned quickly. Councillors expect schools to report more frequently and always in more detail and always expect improvements and success. Government expect 'standards' and 'results' to ever rise, and expect teachers to be supportive and engaged in all new initiatives. And head teachers are seeing their email boxes fill up with demands for completed questionnaires, statistical reports, statements, targets, plans and FOI requests. All with the same apologetic voice that still demands the quick, drop-everything-else reply!

All this is expected in an environment that is seeing reduced financial, staff and time resources. In other words, we are having staff hours reduced, budgets squeezed and removed, and more things to change, do, redo, plan, talk about, and precious little time to do it in.


Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives, recorded their dying thoughts in her blog. (http://www.inspirationandchai.com/Regrets-of-the-Dying.html) The regret of every male was, "I wish I hadn't worked so hard.All of the men she nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. The top regret of everyone was, significantly,  "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me"


If we haven't the time to do it, if we haven't the staff to do it, if we haven't the funding to do it... we should be happy to be 'good' and cease to worry about being 'excellent'.  We are professionals. We will always want to do our best: for the pupils, for the staff, for the authority, for the country. But, if life has become a constant worry about the 'nots'- not having finished..., not having done..., not having submitted..., not having tried.... - then isn't our pedagogy wrong?


It's not all about the children. Excellence is about education that seeks the best with what we've got.