Grainne Hamilton is running a session around - Cities of Learning, this is a new place-based approach to enhancing lifelong learning through digitally connecting individuals to learning, employment and civic opportunities across a city. This session will introduce the approach and enable participants to define what a Glasgow City of Learning could look like. Grainne is a star in the vocational sphere across the UK . Grainne's session is on Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 10:00 to 11:30
While Dr Doug Belshaw's track record around educational innovation is amazing - and he continues to amaze - his employers include Mozilla and he is currently a consultant for Moodle.Net . His session is all around working in the open - The Theory and Practice (mainly practice) of Working Openly on Friday June 22nd 10.00 - 11.30 am
The sessions are free simply add your details to relevant list here
You will also get opportunity to see around the splendid surroundings of City of Glasgow College.
I hope some of the educational innovators from across Glasgow and beyond can join us
I was watching spring watch out of the corner of my eye as I did some prep last night. There was an article about making your own Wildlife cam. It looks a lot simpler than others I’ve seen and used a Raspberry Pi Zero. The BBC site had a link to My Naturewatch where you can get instructions.
This looked like something my class would enjoy using. My zero is busy taking gifs of the clouds (>70000 to date Gif Cam), so I decided to try to use a Raspberry PI 3 instead.
The instructions were really good, simple and worked first time! No soldering involved. You don’t need a monitor for the PI or any logging on through ssh in the terminal. All you need is a PI, a camera module for the PI and a power supply. I used a £2.99 phone charger. You need a plastic box and an old plastic bottle too. This is bargain basement stuff.
The way it works is the then the pi starts up it becomes a network. You connect to this with a computer or other device. You are then on that network and not the Internet. I forgot about this when showing the class and couldn’t project from an iPad;-) You then open a browser and connect to a local website on the PI. There you can start the camera and view or download the pictures.
It was raining fairly heavily this morning so we waited till about 10:15 before putting the camera out on the playground with a handful of peanuts in front of it. After 15 minutes we collected it and had a look at the photos. I am impressed. We need to think a bit about placing the camera, perhaps finding somewhere with smaller birds but the camera worked a treat.
I think this is a really useful tool for the classroom. I hope we can use it to catch some butterflies on sunnier days too. I have had a few failures with hardware Raspberry PI projects. I prefer software ones but this is certainly the most impressive for the least about of work I’ve tried. I’d recommend it highly.
In the early morning the quad is quiet, with maybe a crow hopping across the grass or a cleaner scurrying about between the buildings.
Later in the day it is busier – students eating lunch on sunny days, academics sitting on benches chatting, tourists marveling in the architecture and taking photos of each other.
What sights has this tree seen? What happy memories do people hold of being in this place? Graduations, weddings, exams, meetings. School children on day trips, alumni back for nostalgic visits, those that work here – like me – wandering out to catch our breath and pause for a moment.
Metacognition has been identified as a key skill for learners by many different authorities and researchers, but like many other key skills, has not been taught in any systematic way in many schools, with teachers seeming to assume that this is another skill that develops over time, with more knowledge and experience. For some it does, for many it doesn't. Skills need to be taught and developed over time, so that all individuals have the opportunity to utilise them to best support their learning. The development of metacognition, and metacognitive awareness is no different. If we don't explicitly model and teach the skills all learners will need, we disadvantage even further many of those learners.
As I stated earlier, the case for the development and teaching of metacognition has been made by many researchers. John Hattie includes this in his 'top ten, high-impact, evidence-based strategies' for all learners to adopt. In the EEF report referred to it states that 'evidence suggests that the use of metacognitive strategies... can be the equivalent of and additional 7 months progress, when used well.' Ron Ritchhart and colleagues at Harvard Graduate School of Education wrote 'to the extent that students can develop an awareness of thinking processes, they become more independent learners, capable of directing and managing their own cognitive actions' in 2011. On the Education Scotland National Improvement Hub it states that 'metacognition and self-regulation approaches have consistently high levels of impact.'
Understanding that the support for metacognitive and self-regulatory approaches can have big positive impacts for learners, is but the first step in their introduction and development in the classroom. I would suggest that it is important that all learners have that understanding and expectation at the outset, so that they are clear as to the goals that can be achieved. Next, everyone needs to be clear about what we mean by the term 'metacognition'. The EEF report itself recognises that many teachers, and school leaders, have a very sketchy, at best, understanding. If you ask most teachers, many will reply 'its about thinking about thinking' with little clear understanding of what that actually means, or how to teach it.
In the EEF report an attempt is made to clarify what it is we are actually talking about. Metacognition and self-regulation in learning are closely linked. You can't self-regulate your learning, and become independent in your learning, if you don't understand yourself as a learner, and the strategies you employ when you are learning new things. 'Self-regulation is about the extent to which learners are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and the strategies they use to learn.' Metacognition forms one of the three key elements of self-regulated learning, the others being cognition and motivation. All three are key for independent learning. 'Metacognition is about how learners monitor and purposefully direct their learning'. Learners need to understand and be taught a range of strategies and approaches that they may employ when faced with any learning, cognition, and then need the motivation to consider and deploy the most effective ones when new learning is presented.
If we are clearer about the benefits of metacognitive teaching, and we better understand what that means, the next question is how do teachers go about developing metacognitive capacities in their learners? The EEF report is keen to dispel any notion that the development of metacognition can be left till pupils are older, and argues, rightly in my view, that the development of metacognitive understandings should start with younger learners too. The report gives a seven step systematic progression to the development of metacognition.
The first step is for teachers to develop their own understanding, knowledge and skills about metacognition in order to better support their young learners. Hopefully, the first part of this post has helped with that, but I would refer you to the full report and to Ron Ritchhart's work for a more detailed and deeper understanding. They suggest that teachers adopt and model a plan, monitor, then evaluate framework, and explicitly teach this to their learners, as an on-going cycle of approach to their learning. The explicit teaching of this model is step two. In this we begin to teach and discuss the specific metacognitive strategies being employed by the teacher and the students. The report suggests, and I concur with, that this should be incorporated into real-life learning situations across the curriculum, rather than as a discrete add on. The teacher will begin to introduce metacognitive questioning to draw out, and make visible, the strategies known and being used. They suggest some metacognitive elements that teachers should look to incorporate into their lessons, including the activation of prior learning, explicit strategy instruction, modelling of a learned strategy, memorisation of a strategy, guided practice, independent practice and structured reflection.
In step three, the teachers should look to model their own thinking to help their pupils develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills. They can talk through their own thinking and encourage learners to ask questions about why they chose certain strategies over others. This is the teacher scaffolding new learning, with the aim to reduce this over time to encourage the learners to become more independent and confident. The fourth step requires the teacher to set a level of challenge that is appropriate for the learners. The aim of this challenge is to develop the learner's self-regulation as well as metacognition. The level of challenge should be such that it promotes motivation whilst taking note of cognitive load theory, by breaking down otherwise complex tasks for the learners. In step five, the teacher should seek to create a dialogical learning culture, where learners are supported and encouraged to develop metacognitive talk in the classroom. Having adopted this myself, I understand how this takes time and requires the slowing down of learning in some areas. But the benefits for learners, far outweigh the apparent 'costs'.
Step six requires teachers to explicitly teach learners how to effectively manage and organise their learning, to help them become independent learners. Here we should teach cognitive strategies that have been shown to work by cognitive science and research. We could help them with memory strategies such as practice tests, spaced practice, elaborative interrogation of learning, self-explanation, interleaved-practice and so on. In this way we are developing cognition, motivation and metacognition that will all help our learners become more independent in understanding and managing their learning. The final step, number seven, is directed more at the management and leadership of schools, who need to ensure that teachers have the opportunity for high-level collaborative professional development that allows them to keep up-dating their knowledge and skills around metacognition. Providing they are supporting and giving teachers the opportunities they need to keep growing and developing their understandings, the report strongly recommends that SMTs then 'expect' these strategies to be implemented by teachers. A strong, but not unreasonable, stance, as long as everyone is delivering on their side of such an expectation.
I think that the above gives schools a guide as to how they may really get going with developing metacognition in teachers and learners. It can soon be made systematic and continuous, then can be built on as confidence, knowledge and experience increases. There can be great benefits for our learners if we do this right, and get it right for all our learners. I have identified some of these as follows:
- Raised attainment and achievement for all learners, especially for those most disadvantaged otherwise
- The closing of gaps caused by disadvantage
- The development of independent learners earlier
- Learners who better understand themselves as learners, and how to improve
- The development of self-regulation and agency in learners
- Deep impactful change embedded in teacher practice and thinking
- Schools working collaboratively with a focus on thinking and learning
MathsBot.com – a series of free online tools which will support a teacher in teaching mathematics. These are designed to be used in a teaching situation where a teacher is using the tools directly with learners to help explain concepts, or to provide interactive activities with a class, a group or individual learners.
There are tools to support mathematics teaching at all stages whether primary school or high school. They can be used in different ways to suit the level of understanding of the learners at any stage.
There are a number of these tools which would work particularly well in a primary classroom, perhaps used projected onto an interactive class screen and manipulated by learners under the direction of a teacher as they explore mathematical concepts together. So in the manipulatives section you’ll find a fraction wall, counters, counting stick, Cuisenaire rods, Dienes blocks, Geoboard, pentominoes, place value counters, ten frame and unit box. Then tools like Venn Diagrams can let pupils explore a whole range of different aspects whether properties of numbers (such as even/odd, 1-digit/2-digit, less-than/more-than), area of rectangles, co-ordinates. and more. The Number of the Day interactive tool can be used to display a range of random questions based on a teacher’s choice of difficulty and the range of number answers as well as difficulty level. So for quick-fire mental maths classroom activities it could be useful as a daily routine for a few minutes. Likewise there is the AfL Checkup tool which a teacher can set at whatever level of difficulty would best support and challenge learners, within choices of arithmetic, converting time units, fractions, measure, money, and more. And within each choice you can choose the aspects of these which match what is being taught and learned in the classroom at the time to consolidate and challenge learners in a fun interactive way.
There’s Manipulatives, Printables, Starter Drills, Tools, Question Generators, Puzzles and specific resources to support a maths curriculum.
This a very useful set of resources, adaptable to so many classroom situations to be used in whatever way a teacher can see will best support, challenge and motivate their learners.
The Scottish Government aims to achieve economic growth in Scotland that is inclusive. This means growth that combines increased prosperity with greater equality, creates opportunities for all, and distributes the benefits of increased prosperity fairly.
Its vision is to develop a more joined up employability system across Scotland – an employability system that does more to provide the right help for people of all ages, when they need it, and particularly for those further from the labour market, to ensure as many people as possible can benefit from the economy. This is in line with their approach to Inclusive Growth, recognising that the overall employment rate is high, we now need to ensure a greater focus on those further away from the labour market.
It is about developing a more flexible system that responds to individual and local needs – with clear roles for public, private and Third Sector. To do this we need a funding system which is flexible enough to support our ambitions, but also to adapt over time as the labour market changes.
Scottish Government recognises that there is a lot of good work going on, there are lots of people and organisations working to create better opportunities for people. The challenge we have is to develop more collective leadership across the main funders, Scottish government, UK Government, Local Government and the Third Sector.
This review will be informed by user and delivery partner feedback from those engaged with existing SG funded employability programmes, and evidence and evaluation from recent reports on the employability landscape. You are the experts and we want to hear your ideas on:
- the vision and objectives we have outlined and how we promote more collective leadership and collaboration between the different bodies involved;
- how we ensure employability programmes and services provide better support for people on their journey towards and into work – removing duplication and supporting better outcomes;
- how we ensure funding and programmes are flexible enough to meet changing labour market conditions;
- how we recognise the valuable input from different sectors and how we build, collectively, on what works for the individual;
- roles and responsibilities at national, regional and local level;
- whether there are particular types of support that are working really well and how we can do more to build on that;
- approaches to assessment and referral; and
- what success looks like and approaches to performance management.
SG welcomes your feedback on these issues. You can send submissions to: NEETpolicy@gov.scot by 29 June 2018.
The national organisations and regional networks who developed the National CLD Workforce Development Plan are not aiming to cover all the training and development that goes on in the sector but rather to focus on a few thematic areas to improve access and coverage. The plan was informed by mapping and research undertaken in 2017.
It is intended as a living document. An online version on i-develop includes event calendars that will be added to throughout the lifetime of the plan. The working group will continue to meet to review the implementation and evaluate the impact of this plan. The results from evaluation will be used to determine whether a new plan is written for 2019-20 and what form such a plan would take.
Members of the Specific Learning Difficulties Network along with colleagues from Education Scotland, Dyslexia Scotland and the CLD Standards Council have recently developed a free online learning opportunity to increase awareness of dyslexia in CLD practice. This module will launch in July 2018 on the Open University website. The module will be available to anyone within a CLD role wishing to undertake professional learning around the issue of dyslexia and will incorporate links to current practice based on practitioners experience, teaching strategies and resources. For further information please contact Lindsay MacDonald.
National charity Children in Scotland and national agency for youth work YouthLink Scotland are developing an exciting new participation project, First Minister’s Question Time (FMQT), which will launch later this year. It aims to empower children and young people, particularly those too young to have a vote or whose voices are seldom heard, to express their views, opinions and needs directly to Scotland’s leaders.
As part of planning for the first FMQT event, Children in Scotland and YouthLink Scotland will be contacting schools in June and asking young people to submit questions. An education resource linked to the project is also being developed which will be shared with schools.
If you are interested in hearing more about the project and would like to be sent further information, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with ‘FMQT project’ in the subject line.