Category Archives: Professional

Effective “Egyptians” Education⤴

from @ The Pedagogy Princess

Today’s first input for my Developing Effectiveness in Learning and Teaching module gave me a lot to think about and reflect on. I have to say that interdisciplinary learning is not something that I myself thought about when I was in school, however I remember my school days quite clearly. Now I think back to […]

Pedagogy for acquiring an additional language⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

https://schoolsonline.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/primary_languages_starter_pack.pdf

 

This resource, although it does not refer directly to Gaelic (Learners), has some useful information on second language acquisition. It may also be useful when planning the deployment of Language Assistants.

SLF 2017: DYW seminars – all presentations⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the SLF this year by providing seminar inputs on the topic of DYW or those who attended the sessions as a delegates.

Catch up on some of the inspirational messages around career education and diverse learner pathways by accessing the following presentations:

You also find more information about some of the presenting schools here:

 

Amazing Things – the guide to youth awards⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The 4th edition of Amazing Things – the guide to youth awards in Scotland has been launched by the Awards Network to coincide with the 2017 Scottish Learning Festival. Featuring 26 youth award providers and more than double the number of youth awards than the previous edition, it is packed with information that will help young people, educators and employers to learn more about youth awards and how they contribute to young people’s learning, life and work skills development.

Commenting on Amazing Things, Graeme Logan, Chief Inspector of Education, encourages ‘everyone who works with young people – in schools, youth work settings, further education or in the workplace to make best use of this excellent resource’.
In his Foreword to Amazing Things, John Swinney MSP, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, highlights the important contribution that youth awards make to raising attainment and to developing key skills valued by employers. Hugh Aitken CBE, CBI Scotland Director, echoes these remarks, commending youth awards for helping young people develop a ‘can do attitude – exactly what we (employers) want to see in the workforce’.
A keynote contribution from Jim Thewliss, General Secretary of School Leaders Scotland, notes how youth awards have developed ‘from curriculum enhancements to fundamental building blocks’.
And from young people themselves:
Graeme – “Gaining my award is an amazing achievement. I have learned so many new skills, met so many new friends and this has boosted my confidence”
Stephanie – “From self-management to making the most of new opportunities (my award) has given me the chance to grow as a person”
Amazing Things features 48 award programmes, many providing multiple levels of progression and almost half delivering formal qualifications. Find out about key award elements, age ranges, distinctive features, skills and competences and links to other awards.
Copies of Amazing Things 4 can be ordered by contacting office@youthscotland.org.uk or downloaded from the Awards Network website.

Is it time to make the ‘hidden curriculum’ more visible and valued?⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

It has been recognised for some time now that there are two curriculums at play in any school or learning setting. Firstly, there is the formal curriculum and structures that shape the learning activities and experiences of the learners, which are common to schools and establishments across any system, as well systems themselves. These may include curricular areas, teaching strategies employed, school structures and the formal rules created by schools. The second however, is not so visible but is at play constantly across schools and systems. This is what has been described as the 'hidden curriculum'. This is the practices, experiences, attitudes, behaviours and biases that permeate any school, or system, and which send out messages to learners and families about what a school, or a system, really thinks is important as it brings true values, principles and ethics out into the open.

Having been a primary school leader for almost twenty years, I came to recognise the power and the importance of this hidden curriculum to everything we do in our schools. In my experience, school leaders, teachers, support staff, and others, spend a lot of their conscious time and energies dealing with aspects of this hidden curriculum as they understand its power and importance in eventually helping learners engage and succeed with more formal curriculum structures and learning. What concerned myself and others was that the time we spent prioritising, and taking action, within this hidden curriculum was rarely recognised or valued by others from outside who sought to assess or measure the effectiveness of our efforts.

It is a lot easier to see and try to measure progress in aspects of the overt formal curriculum than it is for the hidden one. We can put in place structures, systems and assessments which purport to measure and show progress with the formal curriculum a lot easier, even though those in the profession might challenge the validity of many of these claims, than it is to measure or recognise the work and progress schools and their staff are making within hidden, but vital, aspects of their activities. This, of course, is if you even recognise or value the importance of such activity.

There has been a quote going around  for some time now that says something like 'we have to deal with the Maslov stuff before we can deal with the Bloom stuff.' I think this attributable to Katheryn Craig, but similar feelings have been expressed by others. This statement points to our need to address basic human needs in our learners, as identified by Abraham Maslov in one hierarchy, before we can address the learning and intellectual development identified in another by Benjamin Bloom. No matter what you think about either of these models of human development and behaviours, I do believe this linking of them both points towards a fundamental point of prioritisation for schools and their learners. When they have learners, who have not had, or are not having, those basic human needs addressed, or when they have been disrupted by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), attention has to be focused on these areas before we can hope to make any inroads and progress with the more formal curricular aspects of our work.

I see such a recognition as a staging point between the formal and informal, or hidden, curriculums, because when we are faced with learners who have not had their basic needs met, we have to be quite overt in helping and supporting them, before addressing their learning and intellectual needs. This then becomes part of the visible curriculum and activity of any school and many educators, though the time spent on addressing such issues is still not recognised, or valued, by many, especially those outside of the system. We are very much still focused on supporting the development of the whole child, and not just aspects, especially those most easy to test or measure. We deal with the complexity of this challenge daily and understand the challenge to show this to those not directly involved, or who lack understanding.

The hidden curriculum is much more than this though. It is contained within the culture that pervades each classroom, school and system, and it is sending out messages to learners continually. A lot of it is premeditated and thought about by educators, as a deliberate attempt to bring expressed values and ethics to life. But, there is also the unconscious thinking and biases that we might not recognise ourselves, but which our learners, and their families certainly do. The only way to deal with and think about these is to be aware that they exist, recognise their power, and to determine to reflect on and change when these when they are brought to light. If they are unconscious, you will not be aware of them until someone points them out or tells you they have experienced them. We all have them.

Taking a considered and informed decision as an individual educator, or as a school or system, to promote certain values and ethics, then to make them real, means you have to give these attention in all your actions, measuring all you do against these, as well as prioritising them ahead of other agendas. When you do this, it may deflect you from the more formal curriculum and practices that are so highly valued and easily measured. In my view, time spent in such areas and activity, is time well spent, especially in the early years of education, but whenever necessary, if we are to equip our young learners to succeed in their holistic development, and their ability to contribute as successful learners, responsible citizens, with sound physical, mental and social well-being.

If we are to be driven by our values in education, and I believe we should, then these are what drive our actions as well as our thinking. Your values are what you do, not what you say you do. You may express the desire to be fair and honest in your school values, but if some members of your school community fail to feel that is how you have been with them, then you have an issue to be addressed. It may be an individual issue or it may be a systemic one,

All of this takes time and is reflected in daily actions of individuals within and across schools. Relationships are key in school performance and time has to be spent maintaining and developing these at all levels for a school to achieve all that it can, for all its learners. In my experience, most schools recognise this and their days are filled with interactions and activities essential to the protection and development of a school's culture and ethos, upon which everything else stands or falls.

My main point in this post is that we know all this is going on every day, and this can be more demanding for some schools in areas of challenge or high deprivation, so how come all this deep and important work is hardly recognised or valued in many schools, until it is also reflected in percentages and grades? Important though attainment and exam results are, they are not the only determiners of a successful and achieving education, or life. My fear, and I have seen it expressed by others recently also, is that we are losing sight of the vital work happening in schools and systems every day, when we lose sight of the individuals in it and begin to view them as data-points. Data is made up of figures, percentages, percentiles, test scores and can be very useful to schools when used to inform actions, but our work and education is bigger than just this. Society, politicians and system leaders have to value the work going on that is not easily measured or quantified, but is vital in building positive relationships and equipping young learners to contribute meaningfully to society and their lives. I like the quote from the Character Education Frameworks of the Jubilee Centre at Birmingham University, and Character Scotland that states, 'we should help prepare students for the tests of life, rather than a life of tests.'

If we narrow our focus to only attainment agendas, then we lose many learners along the way, failing them, our schools and our systems. We should celebrate the fact that in schools every day people are going out of their way to work with and understand individual learners and their families, so as to better be able to support and help them, not just in their learning, but in becoming well-rounded, healthy human-beings able to succeed in lots of different ways. They are considering deeply what they do, how they think and the ways they impact on all those learner and families, determined to help and support to help them develop their own values and thinking.

There are still some who look to direct and impose their view of what a successful life looks like onto learners, then who make judgements about families and life-styles, not recognising the barriers and difficulties they create by doing so, never mind the fallibilities in their personal models. But, I like to think such establishments, and individuals, are in the minority, as most take a more empathetic and understanding stance which recognises their own imperfections rather than looking to find them in the learners and families they are supposed to serve.

All that I describe above, is happening in every school, across every day and every year. It strikes me that it seems that it is only the people who are directly involved in this process, who truly recognise it's happening and the impact it has. It is time others, including politicians, media and commentators, took notice and valued all that happens in our schools to help support young people find their way and place in society, so they are able to help re-shape that for the benefit off all in the future. This is not just about attainment and data, it is about people and life their fullest sense, and we ignore it at our peril.

Why it’s Important to Know an Octopus Can Walk on Land⤴

from

We have an achievement gap in the UK, which is based not on ability but on background: children from wealthier backgrounds do better in our system.  It’s a simple thing to say – and a very difficult thing to solve.

We do know some things about solving the problem, and one of them is that the solution doesn’t lie in the classroom.  Schools and staff have done a very good job in narrowing the gap – but the gains that can be made in school have, for the most part, been made.  We need to stop looking in the wrong place for the solution, and look where we can make a difference.

That means we need to be working with parents, and we need to be thinking about the home learning environment.  I don’t mean getting parents into school (remember, the answer isn’t there) and I don’t really mean getting parents to help with homework.  Both of those are good things but we’re already doing that, and we’re supporting a lot of parents – but not, perhaps, the parents who most need support.

If we want to help narrow the achievement gap, we need to help all parents know how to support learning outside of school – in the home, in the car, wherever they are with their children.

With younger children, that can mean letting parents know how important it is to read stories over, and over and over again, to support early literacy; how important stirring a cake and sprinkling decorations can be for developing the muscles that will help the child write, how important noticing print and numbers in daily life, and talking about them, are for being school ready.  Even with teenagers, we know that fifteen minutes of conversation a week with parents, about social media, TV shows or movies, is correlated to how engaged those young people are with reading. 

It’s about letting parents know how important they are to their children’s learning, and working with them to support that learning.

Of course, that means a sea change: schools, and their staff, have to realise how important learning outside the home is, and work to support it.  That’s a new idea for a lot of people in schools, and we need to think carefully about how we do it.


And that brings me to the octopus in the title.
 In David Attenborough’s series, The Hunt, he showed us that an octopus could drag itself out of the water and across land to the next rock pool.  How many thousands – perhaps millions – of parents were answering questions about how far an octopus could go on land, the next morning on the way to school?  That’s a prime example of the home learning environment, and it’s the sort of thing we can all support – and that we need to support, if we want to give all of our young people the best chance at life.

The History in Castles⤴

from @ The Pedagogy Princess

This week I have been lucky enough to have visited not one but TWO castles, have been learning about history teaching in lectures and have frankly loved every second of it. I went to visit family for the weekend in Northumberland and with them knowing how much I love history, going round the castles seemed […]

Augmented Reality in the Wild⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

I’ve been using the PeakFinder app for a month or two now. It is a nice app for showing what hills are in view. Basically it give a ‘live’ wireframe of hilsl from your location or anywhere you like. All the features are listed PeakFinder App.

Today I opened the app and it must have been updated, because it gave me a message saying:

Augmented reality
For a long time many of you have asked for an option to combine the image of the camera with the panorama drawing. l’ve finally implemented this feature in this newest version and so PeakFinder now also supports true augmented reality.

This is quite amazing, and in my tests it works a treat.

I think this is the first AR I’ve seen that makes be think this could really be useful and soon. It is not much of a stretch to imagine a botany app that can recognise flowers.

What is cool about peakfinder is that the data is loaded so that you do not need a connection to use the application.

Micro.blog 1.1 and a test⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

[Micro.blog 1.1 is out](http://www.manton.org/2017/09/micro-blog-ios-1-1.html) and is a lovely application. I really like mobile apps that are elegantly simple.

Even if you don’t use micro.blog it is worth watching the [screencast](http://www.manton.org/2017/09/micro-blog-ios-1-1.html)

Using the micro.blog app for a few months has made me think about blogging from both technical and philosophical (not really sure if that is the right word) points of view.

The one of the main new feature of the app is support for longer posts and this leads to this test.

My own blog has developed layers of ‘cruft’ over the years and I’ve made a fair tangle in trying to separate [micro/status posts](http://johnjohnston.info/blog/type/status/) from longer ones.

I’ve now added a function or two to my blog which will look for a particular piece of text ‘wwwd’ with colons around it. If it finds it the posts format should be changed to standard and the category wwwd added. This should mean I can post longer posts, like this one, to the front page of my blog from the micro.blog app. Here goes…