Monthly Archives: September 2012

E-Safety Messages delivered as part of Safe Highlander⤴

from @ Highland E-Safety

As reported in the John O’Groat Journal 

 
Fujitsu’s Alistair Millar with pupils at the Safe Highlander event.

Fujitsu’s Alistair Millar with pupils at the Safe Highlander event.
 

SCHOOL pupils from across the far north learned about the dangers of online stalking as part of an internet safety programme that has been rolled out across the Highlands. Over 300 primary seven pupils took part in Caithness Safe Highlander which was held at Wick Assembly Rooms as part of a community safety and crime prevention project.IT firm Fujitsu provided an internet safety set to highlight some of the dangers of providing personal information online. The exercise, called Becky’s Room, gave pupils a short amount of time to discover as much personal information about the fictional Becky as they could from looking around her mock bedroom. The pupils were then shown Becky’s online social network profile which provided information from her personal posts and photos which were left open for public viewing.

The pupils were asked to think about the risks Becky could encounter as a result of this information being widely available. Alastair Millar, Fujitsu service manager on the Highland Council project, said during previous internet safety sessions Fujitsu staff discovered over 90 per cent of 2500 primary seven pupils taking part had at least one social network account, while some had several.

They also found that competitions among friends to accumulate the most online “friends” meant they were giving vital access and information to many people they did not know.

“The pupils in Caithness demonstrated a similar degree of experience of social networking sites and were able to give examples of incidents that had occurred with friends and family,” he said.

“These sites can be a useful way for young people to communicate with their friends and others but it is important they are aware of the potential dangers so they can be used safely.”

The advice is part of Fujitsu’s community benefits programme which is an offshoot of its £66 million programme to upgrade and manage Highland Council’s corporate and schools computer networks. The programme helps tackle challenging issues of community safety and crime prevention by making young people more aware of personal safety, helping them to avoid becoming victims of crime and understand how to react to emergency situations.

Wick councillor Gail Ross, who opened the event, recognised the importance of teaching young children how to use the internet safely. “As a mother, I feel very strongly about keeping our youngsters safe. With the use of social media on the rise and the access children have to the internet, it is particularly important to ensure they have the knowledge about the possible dangers to be found online.”


New film about domestic abuse by young people⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Voice Against Violence (VAV) have made a brilliant new film to tackle domestic abuse called One Voice at a Time – Tackling domestic abuse through the voice of the young.

In the film they talk about how domestic abuse affected them. They tell education and other professionals how important it is to understand what helps. They also explain why they ‘went to the top’ to make changes that will improve things for others.

VAV is a group of eight young people who have experienced domestic abuse. They worked for over two years to encourage the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to stop domestic abuse from happening in Scotland.

VAV members want to make sure that if you are experiencing domestic abuse you get the help you need. They say:

‘Don’t believe people don’t care and don’t give up hope – there’s so much good support out there’

Have a look at the film and all the great advice and information on the VAV website.

 

CfE : Using the E & Os⤴

from @ If You Don't Like Change…

As I mentioned, I was delivering a workshop at the Pedagoo TMSLFringe last Saturday. Here is a variation on what I said — not least because it was different each time, and I received lots of great ideas and suggestions and questions from those kind enough to come and listen!

I took as my topic how I’m moving towards getting the learners to use the Curriculum Experiences and Outcomes for Literacy & English (and if you think that’s a mouthful, you should see the new URLs on the Education Website!). While the focus was based on my own classwork in English, many of the ideas I’ve been trying out have potential for other subject areas — not least because as you will see with my closing example, opening up the means of exemplifying what has been learned can lead to cross-curricular fertilisation that can be immensely rewarding.

Giving The Learners Ownership

Slide 01

As I said on the day, I take my starting point as being the need to give the learners ownership of their own learning. This means handing over the E&Os as soon as possible and is based on the following simple and obvious thought…

Slide 02

I sometimes feel that we as a profession have spent too long agonising over the E&Os — yet they do not exist for us. They are the property and right of the learner. Our role is to introduce, explain and exemplify them, and quite simply bring them to life for the learner. So, as I see it, the E&Os are simply the rules of the game…

Slide 03

As such, we need to teach the learners the rules so they can ‘play’ the game. (And yes, I am well aware of the potentially negative connotations of ‘playing the game’ — but no cynicism is intended or should be implied! ;) )

So…

What Do I Do?

In simple terms, I have changed the nature of the tasks I set… and this permeates my whole approach.

Slide 04

In a sense, I suppose I haven’t really changed the task as much as I could, but what I have done is consciously moved away from the old tasks I used to set — the ones that involved me teaching with a specific outcome in mind from the first lesson (usually an essay), and being disappointed when the learners didn’t just hand me back the notes I’d given them in the form of an essay. I now try to set tasks that have more of a potential for research and discovery, and that allow the learner to demonstrate his or her learning in the way s/he thinks most appropriate… It’s not as difficult as it sounds at this stage… the real fun comes later!

The key difference is this…

Slide 05

I genuinely have done everything I can to stop agonising about the assessment. My focus is on what is or can be learned… and even in this aspect, I am trying to stop myself from pointing the learners in specific directions. For me, this is where my skill and knowledge as a teacher come into play. My role is as a guide, or mentor, or critical friend, and absolutely not as a sage on the stage. This is not to say that I abandon the learners… quite the reverse… but it does mean I have to advise a direction for studying, and sometimes standing aside and letting the learner get it wrong, while being ready to help him or her reflect on why things didn’t work out. This is a challenging position to take, but I find it immensely rewarding. In short…

Slide 06

I cannot stress this enough… by all means, point learners in particular directions, encourage them by providing them with relevant resources, metaphorically hold their hands as they make the inevitable mistakes (or ‘Management Learning Points’ as an old boss of mine used to call them), but I also try to support them to draw on their existing skills and knowledge as they prepare to gather what they have learned into a format they can share…

Slide 07

If I ask for an essay, I’ll get an essay… and I’ll be really disappointed if it doesn’t do what I expect (see point above)… yet I cannot think when I last shared what I had learned by writing an essay. I am also struck by how limiting the essay as a format is for some things. I recall being told that I wasn’t allowed to include diagrams or pictures in an essay because — essentially — “it just wasn’t done”. Yet I am just as visually literate as I am with words, and more importantly, most of us are. It appears perverse to me to place artificial barriers on the sharing of learning, yet that is pretty much what we do all the time. As I said in my workshop, I keep coming back to The Barometer Problem. This is the possibly apocryphal story about Niels Bohr being asked to measure the height of a skyscraper using only a barometer. Rather than giving the expected ‘right’ answer, he gave several solutions all designed to illustrate his frustrations at his professors:

…teaching him how to think … rather than teaching him the structure of the subject.

If we ask closed questions, we get predictably dissatisfying closed answers. If we allow the learner to choose his or her own means of demonstrating what has been learned, we can be amazed and inspired… but this requires a great leap of faith but by shifting the focus from assessment to learning, we give ourselves and our learners something better…

Slide 08

We are given the freedom to learn, but for many there is an inevitable element of fear associated with this but we need to persevere. Remember, we too need to be ‘confident individuals’!

So to attempt to sum up my new approach, I am moving from…

Slide 09

I am much more receptive to receiving evidence of learning in formats that are non-traditional. Since adopting this approach, I have received presentations, essays, talks, songs (in response to WW1 poetry), posters, ‘graphic’ novels, and videos… and each of these have been looked at and reflected on against the E&Os… and you know what? They have come up pretty well. And this has given me the confidence to have faith in what I am teaching and also to use the E&Os with the learners to demonstrate evidence of good learning.

One More Thing

There is one other aspect of the work my classes are doing now that I want to share. I am emphasising one thing above all others…

Slide 10

I think it essential that pupils be proud of their work. They need to find something that they can take ownership of and that is evidence of something they have done well or better than they have before. This requires reflection and honesty on the part of the learner, and this is also where referring to the E&Os can be invaluable… when a learner sees something s/he has done referred to as an outcome it is a confirmation for him or her that their work has value and worth. Interestingly, pride can come form the simplest of things like correctly using paragraphs where previously there were none…

As I ask (challenge?) my classes, “What are you proud of in your work?”… and if the answer is nothing, “Then why are you bothering?”

Pulling it together

So… enough talking… what does this look like when it works? The best example generated by one of my learners so far came as the result of an open task that I set my S2 class. I simply asked the the question: What Is Beauty? Obviously, there was a little more to it than that, but you can see the whole preamble I gave the class on their blog (click HERE to find it).

A surprising number of the class gave me traditional essays. Some gave me presentations. And then one of the class handed me a DVD with the following presentation on it:

If you don’t want to watch the whole video, skip to 6:43 and see her conclusion. This is the section that the real David Cameron was talking about when he summed up the day last Saturday. I think it is one of the most moving and impressive pieces of homework I’ll ever be handed. But I am gradually realising that as I become more confident in finding evidence using the E&Os, and more importantly, as the learners do too, work like Eilidh’s is likely to be the norm rather than the truly exceptional.

There was much more said by me and those in my workshops on the day, but this post is already too long! Please use the comments to ask or suggest. Learning is a communal thing, so please add your voice here or on Pedagoo!


ACTS members to gain access to education research resource⤴

from @ Association of Chartered Teachers Scotland

Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that the ACTS committee has agreed a 12-month deal with The College of Teachers at the Institute of Education in London, to provide ACTS members with free access to the education research resource, EBSCO Education Research Complete (click here for information).

It will be for individual ACTS members to decide whether they complete, or give permission to the ACTS committee to complete on their behalf, The College of Teacher’s pre-access registration process.

I can confirm that present ACTS members, and those who renew their ACTS membership for 2013, will not be required to make any payment for this 12-month access to EBSCO Education Research Complete.

I would like to thank Matthew Martin, CEO of The College of Teachers; and Tony Luby, ACTS committee member, for their work in securing this innovative arrangement.

I intend to issue full details to members on Friday, 12th October regarding registration and how to begin using the resource.

Please contact me if you have a query.

David Noble, ACTS Chair

The Chartered Teacher Scheme – An Open Letter (Conclusion)⤴

from @ Shugod's Blog

The Replacement?

My belief in the authenticity of future professional development for the teaching profession (a viewpoint that will invariably be shared by my collegiate) is filled with uncertainty and doubt.  I welcome change – disruption is essential for any thriving professional body.  But change must herald reward for professional development, enhanced practice, and must be accredited with an academic institution.

Future moves to create a ‘Maters-Level Profession’, whilst welcomed and applauded by this author, will undoubtedly meet with suspicion and fingers will (rightly) point at the tatters in which the Chartered Teacher Scheme now lies; conjecture from a teaching force – currently facing a multi-facteted onslaught towards their pay and conditions as well as their pension, and the many pressures associated with new curriculum structures –  as to a similar dismantling exercise being undertaken within a short number of years would be justified, evincing that the recent short-term decision failed to concentrate on the positives, and to re-negotiate the C.T. Scheme instead of cutting costs.

Conclusion

The CT Pay Scale helped to bear the financial burden costs each academic course of study.  As of a couple of weeks ago, I have been forced to inform my course provider (at very short notice) that I would be unable to continue with the scheme of professional development that I undertook in ‘good faith’ four or more years ago (my long-term plan), but which now lacks the very financial model that supported and enabled myself and other committed colleagues to pursue what was for us the gateway to achieving the status of enhanced professional.


TMSLFringe — Through The Camera Eye⤴

from @ If You Don't Like Change…

The first Pedagoo organised Scottish Learning Fringe TeachMeet has ended, but I for one hope that it will have a widespread impact. Judging by the immediate feedback, that’s not such a daft hope.

The Earn Valley was showing off something rotten at 7 in the morning.

I was up at the crack of dawn last Saturday morning to travel down to Glasgow for the #TMSLFringe. This first attempt at a Pedagoo un-conference was something I had long been looking forward to… with equal measures of excitement (at meeting people and sharing ideas) and nervousness (what if no-one comes and it’s a disaster). As it turned out, I had no need to be nervous!

The venue was SocietyM and was — quite simply — magnificent. Idiosyncratic and welcoming, and more than one person there was heard to ask: what if a classroom was like this? What I wouldn’t give to take a class (or two) down there for a day and see what we could produce in a modern and funky environment. (If anyone fancies sponsoring me to do this, my email is scottishteacher@gmail.com!).

Having arrived a little before 9, I had a chance to catch up with Ian, Fearghal, and Kenny for a few minutes before the participants began to filter in. I think it fair to say that we were more than a little apprehensive with regards the day… what if no-one came? What if it was a disaster? What if…

Once people began arriving en masse, the venue came into its own. Lots of space, lots of interesting artefacts on the walls, lots of conversation starters…

I managed to snatch a quick chat with Joe Wilson who, for the day, was most definitely not from the SQA! As ever, I was struck by just how switched on and enthusiastic he is… and this set the tone for the rest of the day. Without exception, this was a day for the enthusiasts… as someone said to me later, Pedagoo is like a staffroom for the optimists… how true!

The Real Leather Jacket

At pretty close to the scheduled 10am, Fearghal started us off by thanking ELT Consultants and Wesleyan who were responsible for finding and funding the venue. Then it was over to the Real David Cameron to set the scene. I wish I could remember all he said, but I was panicking at the reality of having to present about how I’m approaching the E&Os and apart from the memorable references to his leather jacket, will need to leave it to others to report his words. ;)

My three sessions appear to have been well received, and I’ll write up what I was saying next!

Lunch was fine, though the space age coffee machine managed to tax the abilities of many… put it down as a new Experience and Outcome!

The afternoon was given over to reflection on the day, and what we could do next. Our discussion was shaped by the following questions:

  • What have you learned today that you could use on Monday?
  • What have you learned today that you could use a year from now?
  • What can we (Pedagoo) to to support this?

There are plenty of other posts about this and rather than rehash them here, I suggest you go and read Claire’s “Learning How To Learn“, Ann’s “Workshop 9 — Thoughts“, Kenny’s “Workshop 8 — Feedback” or Ruth’s brilliant “Pedagoo — Inception” moment!

There are also write ups of the various sessions from the presenters to be read on the Pedagoo site itself… which leads me to my final point: if you like what you see on Pedagoo, join in! The real strength of the day was not the fact that it happened, it was the realisation that we are a community of educators who learn better together, who improve through speaking and sharing with others, and who care deeply and passionately that we need to do the best we can for those we are privileged to teach. A personal highlight came when, after 5 hours of the most extraordinary CPD imaginable, David Cameron drew us back together and charged us with continuing to spread the word and to continue building what we have begun…

Saturday was the first Pedagoo Fringe meeting… I think it fair to say, it won’t be the last. I hope to see you at the next one! ;)


TMSLFringe — Through The Camera Eye⤴

from @ If You Don't Like Change…

The first Pedagoo organised Scottish Learning Fringe TeachMeet has ended, but I for one hope that it will have a widespread impact. Judging by the immediate feedback, that’s not such a daft hope.

The Earn Valley was showing off something rotten at 7 in the morning.

I was up at the crack of dawn last Saturday morning to travel down to Glasgow for the #TMSLFringe. This first attempt at a Pedagoo un-conference was something I had long been looking forward to… with equal measures of excitement (at meeting people and sharing ideas) and nervousness (what if no-one comes and it’s a disaster). As it turned out, I had no need to be nervous!

The venue was SocietyM and was — quite simply — magnificent. Idiosyncratic and welcoming, and more than one person there was heard to ask: what if a classroom was like this? What I wouldn’t give to take a class (or two) down there for a day and see what we could produce in a modern and funky environment. (If anyone fancies sponsoring me to do this, my email is scottishteacher@gmail.com!).

Having arrived a little before 9, I had a chance to catch up with Ian, Fearghal, and Kenny for a few minutes before the participants began to filter in. I think it fair to say that we were more than a little apprehensive with regards the day… what if no-one came? What if it was a disaster? What if…

Once people began arriving en masse, the venue came into its own. Lots of space, lots of interesting artefacts on the walls, lots of conversation starters…

I managed to snatch a quick chat with Joe Wilson who, for the day, was most definitely not from the SQA! As ever, I was struck by just how switched on and enthusiastic he is… and this set the tone for the rest of the day. Without exception, this was a day for the enthusiasts… as someone said to me later, Pedagoo is like a staffroom for the optimists… how true!

The Real Leather Jacket

At pretty close to the scheduled 10am, Fearghal started us off by thanking ELT Consultants and Wesleyan who were responsible for finding and funding the venue. Then it was over to the Real David Cameron to set the scene. I wish I could remember all he said, but I was panicking at the reality of having to present about how I’m approaching the E&Os and apart from the memorable references to his leather jacket, will need to leave it to others to report his words. ;)

My three sessions appear to have been well received, and I’ll write up what I was saying next!

Lunch was fine, though the space age coffee machine managed to tax the abilities of many… put it down as a new Experience and Outcome!

The afternoon was given over to reflection on the day, and what we could do next. Our discussion was shaped by the following questions:

  • What have you learned today that you could use on Monday?
  • What have you learned today that you could use a year from now?
  • What can we (Pedagoo) to to support this?

There are plenty of other posts about this and rather than rehash them here, I suggest you go and read Claire’s “Learning How To Learn“, Ann’s “Workshop 9 — Thoughts“, Kenny’s “Workshop 8 — Feedback” or Ruth’s brilliant “Pedagoo — Inception” moment!

There are also write ups of the various sessions from the presenters to be read on the Pedagoo site itself… which leads me to my final point: if you like what you see on Pedagoo, join in! The real strength of the day was not the fact that it happened, it was the realisation that we are a community of educators who learn better together, who improve through speaking and sharing with others, and who care deeply and passionately that we need to do the best we can for those we are privileged to teach. A personal highlight came when, after 5 hours of the most extraordinary CPD imaginable, David Cameron drew us back together and charged us with continuing to spread the word and to continue building what we have begun…

Saturday was the first Pedagoo Fringe meeting… I think it fair to say, it won’t be the last. I hope to see you at the next one! ;)