Tag Archives: community

Liked: Caught in the Study Web⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Liked Caught in the Study Web (every.to)
Exploring Gen Z’s Ambitious and Anxiety-Fuelled Pursuit of Straight A’s Across YouTube, TikTok, Discord, and Twitter

Caught in the Study Web – Cybernaut – Every

Much of Study Web parallels more adult and professional spaces that have emerged in the last decade—revered influencers, a bend towards materialism, and inspiration over analysis.

Really interesting post, strangely l’ve listened to some of the ‘music’ videos as background in my classroom of much younger learners.

Study Web is the space students have constructed for themselves in response to the irl system that just isn’t working. Unable to find a place or person to turn to with their academic and career anxieties, they find internet strangers—strange kin—to speak to, or simply share the same space with, online. Lacking the intrinsic inspiration to study for hours each day, online advice and group accountability provide a solution. Feeling isolated, virtual study partners create a sense of fellowship.

During lockdown I occasionally gave my class time to complete a short piece of work. Turning off my screen and playing some music, often the lofi type mentioned in the article. I wonder if having longer ‘working together’ sessions would have been helpful? Did anyone else try this sort of thing with primary pupils?

Coincidently one year ago I noted: Our Magic Box A poem written by my class in teams w hen I gave them some 5 minute intervals to write.

Link via Waxy.org

Work, learning and community in the 21st century⤴

from @ The IDL Network

Jobs in the 21st century are becoming project-driven and problem-driven rather than subject-driven, requiring teamwork that involves the collaborative engagement of specialists and generalists. Employers increasingly seek to employ those with breadth of knowledge and skills, including communication, interpersonal and technical skills, and the capacity to analyse problems from different perspectives. Subject-specific knowledge is no … Continue reading "Work, learning and community in the 21st century"

Curate not create⤴

from @ Mr Bailey Digital Learning

For me the last term like many teaching has been sitting at a computer working from home. I found that this has required more community support than ever. I posted about collaboration and community in May, but felt there was more to say about the approach going forwards.

After the change in emphasis at the end of June it is unclear exactly what school will look like in August but whatever it looks like curation and community will remain important.

This blog was started to share my experience of using blended and flipped learning approaches and I have learnt much over the past six years that I have been an MIEExpert (Microsoft innovative educator expert).  This past year I also became a physics teacher coach with the Institute of Physics Scotland, supporting the teaching of physics in my local area and across Scotland during since April.

When remote learning started the IOPS coaches saw the need to further improve the curation of resources.  The IOPs physics coaches team led by Stuart Farmer (Education Manager, Scotland) consist of myself, Allan Reid, Brian Redman, David Vincent, Drew Burrett, Jennie Hargreaves, Malcolm Thomson, Martyn Crawshaw, Matthew Burke, Murat Gullan and Tim Browett.

The physics teacher community have always been good at sharing resources and have Talk Physics to upload documents and an active email discussion group called SPUTNIK. (To sign up to SPUNIK please contact Drew Burrett).  Much has been made of the difference between remote and face to face teaching, I would argue good learning and teaching is the same in either situation, a good summary of good teaching can be found in the evidence based education report.

There are of course challenges in remote learning, many teachers and their students had little IT equipment at home and little experience in using Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom.  The Scottish MIEExpert and the IOPs team have provided support to their schools, LA and across Scotland with how to videos and webinars for educators, parents, and pupils to help.      I am pleased to have helped leading sessions attended by almost 200 teachers on Teams, Forms and Sway. This blog has had 11,000 views and the videos on my YouTube channel have been more than 22,000.  I have also contributed to the posts and 5,000 views on the Scottish MIEExpert blog .  

The IOPs team have carried out over 20 online sessions and received excellent reviews of their online CLPL sessions with a rating of 4.8 out of 5.  Recordings and details of the presentations from many of the IOPs online webinar session can be found on Talk Physics.

When considering remote learning, aspects of direct instruction can be replaced asynchronously by videos and narrated lessons.  Many teachers across Scotland have been creating and sharing how to create these using PowerPoint recorder, Loom, Flipgrid etc.  I myself have made over 60 videos during lockdown for my students.  To replace questioning and provide instant and delayed feedback Microsoft/Google Forms quizzes have been used.  More challenging has been replicating the discussion and collaboration remotely particularly for digitally shy learners, with some using Teams, OneNote or Flipgrid for this.  Successful learning remotely had to get digital accessibility, instruction clarity and teacher clarity right often by taking the learners point of view to check and consider the pedagogy.  To facilitate this the IOPS team created a spreadsheet to link resources for each part of a lesson, introduction, activity, practice, assessment, consolidation for each of the learning outcomes within all the senior phase courses.

With practical work and the observations, contradictions and analysis that leads to an important part of physics, the IOPs team were keen to share how experiments can be designed so they can be completed at home.

For assessment Google Forms and Microsoft Forms can be used.  The Microsoft Forms quizzes have been curated in Wakelets with over 150 so far shared from teachers across Scotland.  The quizzes are linked in the spreadsheet but can also be found here:
AH Physics: https://wke.lt/w/s/oA4U2b 
Higher Physics: wke.lt/w/s/4IXUni
N5 Physics:
wke.lt/w/s/TjmEk8

My belief and that of the IOPs team is our role is curation of resources from across Scotland, saving time in teachers reinventing the wheel.  This allows teachers to have more focus on the pedagogy and worry less about the what have I got and how do I do that.  This approach has been shared with other science disciplines in the recent senior phase webinars organised by Education Scotland and taken up as good practice.

Moving ahead to blended learning these resources will be crucial and we hope that teachers across Scotland will contribute their resources for the benefit of all.

The spreadsheet resources for sciences can be found at:
Physics: http://shorturl.at/kruL2
Chemistry: http://shorturl.at/aiAQ7
Biology: http://shorturl.at/hiDJV

Collaboration and community⤴

from @ Mr Bailey Digital Learning

This post follows a challenging week for myself, I reached out to a colleague sharing these challenges and received the comment from a colleague that I should feel proud of the leadership, compassion and support that I am offering teachers, pupils and parents during these challenging times and that my help and advice guidance have been invaluable to them and many others.

This has led me to reflect on two of the communities that I am proud to be a leading part of.  These are the Microsoft Educator community in Scotland and the Institute of Physics physics teacher community.

The vast majority of members of both these communities are like myself classroom teachers.

Microsoft Educator Community

I have been a user of digital technology for many years and joined the Microsoft Educator Community and became a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert (MIEExpert) for the first time 6 years ago.

Being part of this community has been invaluable at these times for the transfer of knowledge and sharing of information that takes place on a daily basis.  It is heart-warming to be able to ask questions and get answers from other teachers by sharing our expertise amongst the other 90 staff we are in turn able to support others within our school and local authority.  We have a weekly Teams call to discuss ideas, share practice and solve problems.

I have shared my previous and current experience with my colleagues in school and across the local authority, despite my job role being just a physics teacher.  This has led me to achieving trainer status due to the number of hours and level of support provided.

 I have created Glow help Teams for pupils and for staff and created videos to show both how to do things within Teams.  Videos on my YouTube channel include:

Colleagues, pupils and parents have shared their thanks for my help and assistance.

Physics community

In addition to being part of the MIEExpert community I am also part of the physics teacher community as a physics teacher coach for the Institute of Physics Scotland.

We have been holding webinars and meetings to support physics teachers.  Helping their wellbeing and providing support to build capacity in use of digital skills and advice on how to plan effective digital lessons.  These have been running for a couple of week very successfully with each meeting having at least 50 attendances showing that there is a need for this support.  Topics in the staff meeting included SQA estimates as well as other support.

On Tuesday we held a 90 minute workshop on using Microsoft tools and had over 80 attendees.  The presenters were all Scottish classroom teachers  from across the country:

Mr Burrett, Stewarton Academy, East Ayreshire
Mr Beattie, Inverclyde Academy, Inverclyde
Mrs Clarke, Queen Anne High School, Fife (Biology/science)
Mr McCord, Firrhill High School, Edinburgh

A Wakelet of resources was shared with colleagues with tips and advice.

The session was recorded and details can be found on the Talk Physics website. 

Feedback from the session was really positive and satisfying.  Two that sum up completely positive comments are:

  • This sort of event is invaluable to folks like me who are at the beginning of the journey with this stuff. Thanks so much
  • An excellent session. Presenters were clear, concise and very well prepared. Questions were answered quickly and helpfully. There was a real sense of community surrounding the proceedings. The team is to be congratulated for having the vision to step outside of the Physics environment to bring in experts regardless of their subject and for opening the session to scientists of all denominations. Once again Physics is leading the way. Well done.

The following day other colleagues in the IOPs physics coaching team gave a session for those using Google classroom tools.

Mr Lawrie, George Watson’s college, Edinburgh
Mr Crawshaw, Millburn Academy, Inverness
Mr Burke, Lochaber, Fort William
Mr Browett, Aberdeen

 The Wakelet of resources for this Google Classroom webinar are here.  The session was recorded and details can be found on the Talk Physics website. 

Helping educational partners

Today I have been helping our regional partner from Skills Development Scotland understand how they can use the Teams digital platform to provide careers advice and information to across Tayside.

Are you research informed?⤴

from @ Becoming Educated

Theres been a groundswell in the past decade of teachers becoming more research informed. This has been evident in the creation of organisations such as pedagoo and researchEd. Pedagoo is a large community of teachers which aims to support and encourage teachers working collaboratively to improve teaching and learning. They have organised grassroots events called TeachMeets where teachers can go along in their own time and share best practice in the form of learner conversations where they discuss pedagogical approaches and what works for them in their context. It has grown from a simple idea to connect Teachers to what it is today. If you are on twitter I would highly recommend reading through and perhaps sharing your own #pedagoofriday, which was created for teachers to share their highlights. It is a great read on a Friday evening.

ResearchEd is another growing grassroots organisation. It was created by chance in 2013 by Tom Bennett and is now growing to have events worldwide. Their mission to explore work works and raise research literacy through bringing people together has been a key to the event growing. I have just purchased my ticket for their event held in Glasgow in February 2020, I can’t wait to hear some excellent people speak about their research and how this will then translate into my own classroom.

For a while now I have been wondering how much of what I do in my teaching practice is because someone somewhere said it would be good to try and how much of what I do is backed by meaningful research so I have engaged with organisations like Pedagoo & ResearchEd to help get some answers to my question. Is what I do day to day what actually works for improving the outcomes for young people? So I have sought to become research informed but what does this mean to be a research informed practitioner?

As Mark Enser wrote in 2017, teachers should engage with research to tackle through all the misinformation that we are given, but what is the misinformation and how do we know? An example of this is that of Learning Styles, this was used for a number of years to help differentiate in classrooms for Audio, Visual & Kinaesthetic learners but this has since been debunked by research. Do you still use learning styles? it is maybe worth looking at the research to see for yourself, after all in a profession like Teaching shouldn’t we be at the cutting edge of research if we really want to be efficient, effective and high performing in our classrooms.

How do we become research informed practitioners? our time is precious and also limited with workload being a key feature of almost every discussion in education. Earlier this year the OECD published ‘Education at a Glance’ and they highlighted that teachers in Scotland have the biggest teacher contact time with young people in the developed world. So time really is an issue for most and with so many priorities (marking, meetings, SQA deadlines, coursework, reporting) it is difficult to find the right amount of time to sift through research, so are there easy ways to engage with research that are quick, easily digestible and can translate into making an effective change in my practice.

A quick and easy way to engage with research is by joining twitter. The online community of teachers sharing their practice, offering up research, practitioner enquiry and simply asking challenging questions of one another is growing daily. If you join twitter I can offer up some useful tips that can get you started.

  • Use your own name or a professional name depending on whether you want to make your profile private or not
  • Choose education as a topic to follow
  • Follow as much people as you’d like (you can always unfollow them). I would recommend the following to start with: @teachertoolkit, @teacherhead, @researched, @UKedreschat, @AceThatTest, @DavidDidau & @ImpactWales
  • You can follow hashtags (#) to join in or just follow along with a conversation: I would recommend the following to get started with: #pedagoofriday, #LrnSciChat, #2ndaryrocks, #PrimaryRocks, #NQTChat, #ScotEdChat & #UkEdChat

There is also an excellent guide by Erin Miller to getting started with twitter here.

Another way to become more research informed is by reading books. I love to read and have really built a good habit of reading. I set a target of 10 pages a day minimum for an education book to help me master my craft. If you like to read there are a plethora of excellent books out there that can make an impact on your teaching practice. So much so that it is worth a blog post on its own. However to get started I would recommend the following books.

  • The Learning Rainforest by Tom Sherrington
  • Just Great Teaching by @TeacherToolkit, Ross Morrison McGill
  • Teach Like Nobody is Watching by Mark Enser
  • Oops! Helping Children Accidentally Learn by Hywel Roberts

If you want to go further with books and book recommendations I would encourage you to read this blog by @87History Kate Jones on her Love to Teach blog.

There are a range of websites out there that are run by educational researchers. These sites are filled with strategies and research that are proven to work in classrooms. The best websites for me are the following.

A final recommendation to becoming research informed is to engage with your own action research. This can be as big or as small as you would like. Some local authorities in Scotland offer practitioner enquire courses which helps you focus on one or two things to investigate and improve in your classroom. It is important with any research you do that you prioritise the impact on young people. A basic structure to conducting action research in your classrooms can be found here in a blog post by @TeacherToolkit. He breaks it down simply for the reader and things of action research in as four point.

  1. Ask – what do you want to investigate? What types of evidence can you gather?
  2. Investigate – What types of evidence are available? How do we best investigate our practice without impacting too much on workload
  3. Innovate – What tentative claims can you make once you have tried new ideas and gathered evidence? What is working and what isn’t? Is the evidence reliable?
  4. Reflect – What did you learn about your practice? What do yo now know? What can you celebrate and share with your colleagues.

Ross articulates it much better than I do in his own blog. I would recommend you read that if you are interested in action research.

Becoming a research informed teacher isn’t as time consuming as you think and starting with as little as 15-30 minutes a day will build your knowledge quickly. Whatever you read or see it is important to consider whether it will work in your context and if you would be willing to put the time into investigating whether it works for you. Collaborating with colleagues is an excellent way to do this and some schools have some excellent examples of working groups and book clubs. I have recently been reading ‘Research-Informed Practice’ by Jennifer Ludgate and it would be an excellent addition to your own and your schools CPD Library.

I hope you do engage with research as I believe that in doing so we can only become more effective and efficient teachers who become masters of our craft, which will improve outcomes for our young people as the better we become as teachers the better it will be for the students in our classes.

 

 

RE: Re: Something Weird is Happening on Twitter Right Now⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Replied to Re: Something Weird is Happening on Twitter Right Now by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Read Write Collect)
Even better Bill is if we had such conversations from the comfort of our own backyard using bridgy and webmenbtions, rather than someone else’s playground?

An interesting Rabbit hole, Arron is replying to Something Weird is Happening on Twitter Right Now by Bill Ferriter who quotes this Dean Shareski tweet. The twitter thread discuses using twitter for conversation rather than promotion/retweeting/liking. 

This is the problem micro.blog set out to solve. So far I think it has done so, I’ve had some very good conversations there. There are not likes and retweets on micro.blog. These are mentioned negatively on the thread Dean sparked. Micro.blog make it as easy to post and comment as twitter.

Someone on micro.blog mentioned the other day that blogging superstars joined but didn’t stick (or words to that effect). Lack of reposts and visible likes makes the platform a bit more democratic.

The only thing I miss on micro.blog is the communities that exists on twitter. If there was a micro.blog for educators that would be very interesting.  I’ve some thoughts on how this could happen, but finding it slightly hard to make them into an intelligible post.

Don’t kill the messenger⤴

from

It’s no surprise to find that Jeremy Hunt is talking rubbish again this week. In a Guardian article we hear that he is proposing a universal social media limit for every child. Sound good? Maybe – except that there’s no evidence to suggest that this policy is necessary.

Politicians – pfff. Not worth wasting typing time on. But there’s an undercurrent here (of course) about controlling the masses, and I suspect Hunt and his cronies are trying to attempt to control our non-state-controlled means of communication. Of course social media can be misused, but the frequent dissing of social media, and the emphasis on studies purporting to show how social media is bad for us, in one way or another, just annoy me. Social media is so important to me – it’s how I communicate, participate, and learn. I was reminded of this earlier when Verena asked the following question:

Like anything else, it depends how it’s used. But don’t kill the messenger if you find others using it badly. For some of us, it is our community, our affinity space, our home.

St Mary’s Primary School (North Ayrshire): Work-based learning opportunities through community partnerships⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

St Mary’s Primary School, finalist at the Scottish Education Awards 2017, has developed a systematic approach to career education weaving work-based learning opportunities across the curriculum.  This includes an assisted work placement programme for all P7 students with local business across a wide range of sectors from science and technology, IT and the hospitality sector.    The programme is now running in its second year.   Headteacher Mary Hume says:  “We have built excellent relationships within the town evidenced by the fact that they are willing to work with our pupils again this year but moreover, we have been able to diversify and offer more choice to our pupils.”

One of their partnerships allows pupils to shadow interpreters at Conentrix (IBM) dealing with complex issues of cyber security.  The partnership also extents to staff visiting the school to supporting the 1+2 languages agenda at St Mary’s.

This initiative sits within the wider career education programme the school offers all learners across the curriculum.  Parents and employers are co-designing and delivering exciting project work that enhances leanrers’s skills for learning, life and work.

If you want to hear more about this approach why not attend Mary Hume’s seminar at the SLF 2017 on Wednesday, 20 September @ 2pm (Baisdale2).

 

 

#TMGlasgow a Delight⤴

from @ John's World Wide Wall Display

tmglasgow

Last night I went along to TeachMeet Glasgow.

As Athole wrote:

Why unplugged? We want everyone to be prepared with something to share. And not to worry too much about the tech and their PPT slides.

from: TeachMeet Glasgow (unplugged) – TeachMeet Scotland

He referenced the original ScotEduBloggers meetup (the grandparent of TeachMeet) as a indication of casualness and said:

However, clearly with a better balance of men, women and youth!

More about the idea behind on Athole’s post: TeachMeet Glasgow (unplugged) in six steps which I’ve read a few time now and enjoyed each read:

We may be talking about ‘the tech’ but can we challenge ourselves not to hide in front of our PPT slides, tablets and media? The face to face interaction bit is crucial.

Also, we need more people to take up the mantle of organising informal teacher events, whether they be TeachMeets, Pedagoos or something else. These can be in pubs, coffee shops, schools or someone’s living room. I’m not sure the example of large chat show style events with TV production values are really within everyone’s grasp.

But that’s just my opinion. There really are no rules.

As Radio Edutalk was busy I borrowed the #DS106 Radio airwaves to broadcast live. Seemed to get a few listeners. I’ve not tried to do anything with the audio as the piano and bar buzz was quite loud.

I made a quick #tmglasgow (with images, tweets) Storify that doesn’t give a complete picture (I removed the swimsuit girls that hopped onto the hashtag).

As was pointed out at the meet, I am old enough to have been at the first TM (grey headed even then). I’ve disliked some of the directions that TM has gone, this one felt that it was on a great path. There was a quite a few folk I’ve met at TMs over the years but there were many I had not. A lot of these ‘newcommers’ brought a buzz of younger energy in the room. Athole managed not only to unplug TM but to give it a bit of a reboot too.

The Featured image on this post is a montage of some of the photos tweeted during the event. Since twitter does not support licenses I am assuming I can use them. I’ve credited each to the account that posted it…

A Profound Shift in Relationships⤴

from @ Fearghal Kelly

The new version of How good is our school? has come out and it makes for interesting reading. There are a few shifts of emphasis which I welcome, but I also like the new layout. The more detailed level five illustrations are helpful, and the omission of the other level illustrations is a good move also I think. I also like the short and sharp descriptions of effective practice and the challenge questions for each QI. I think this will prove a useful tool for self-evaluation at all levels.

I’m also really pleased to note that digital learning, practitioner enquiry and creativity are writ large throughout the document, however the focus of this post is on something else which leaps out from HGIOS4 to me.

Here’s what I mean…

1.2 LEADERSHIP OF LEARNING

  • We provide a wide range of opportunities and support to ensure children and young people can take responsibility for their own learning, successes and achievements. Our learners are developing the necessary resilience and confidence to enable them to make decisions about their own learning and to lead others’ learning.

2.2 CURRICULUM

  • Our curriculum is grounded in our commitment to securing children’s rights and wellbeing.

2.3 LEARNING, TEACHING AND ASSESSMENT

  • Learners exercise choice, including the appropriate use of digital technology, and take increasing responsibility as they become more independent in their learning. They understand the purpose of their learning and have opportunities to lead the learning.
  • Learners are fully involved in planning learning

2.4 PERSONALISED SUPPORT

  • Children and young people are at the centre of all planning, as active participants in their learning and development.

3.1 ENSURING WELLBEING, EQUALITY AND INCLUSION

  • We ensure children and young people are active participants in discussions and decisions which may affect their lives.

3.3 CREATIVITY AND EMPLOYABILITY

  • They are motivated to explore and challenge assumptions. Children and young people take ownership of their own learning and thinking. They are imaginative, open- minded, confident risk-takers, and appreciate issues from different perspectives. They can ask questions, make connections across disciplines, envisage what might be possible and not possible, explore ideas, identify problems and seek and justify solutions.
  • They feel supported to make suitable, realistic and informed choices based on their skills, strengths and preferences. They are supported to develop an international mind-set equipping them for the rapidly changing and increasingly globalised world.

How good is our school? 4th Edition

It’s clear to me, that meaningfully involving learners in the learning and teaching process is going to become a bigger and bigger element of school self-evaluation and inspection process. Now, this isn’t exactly news. Back in 2009, when I first read Building the Curriculum 3, it was this shift which I identified as being the biggest challenge to my own practice. Back then, I jumped straight into giving it a go:

Since 2009, I’ve spent a fair bit of time reading and enquiring into this change to my approach to learning and teaching and I have become increasingly convinced that it is the way forward, however I have also concluded that it is not an easy change to make. Here is just a selection of the posts I’ve written on this blog about all this:

Every time I’ve tried this approach, it has been fantastic for both the learners and me. Everyone is more engaged, the learning is richer, deeper and more relevant. So why haven’t I done it more? Partly this is due to having been out of the classroom for 18 months on secondment and two extended periods of absence due to illness, but it’s also because it’s not easy, and is it any wonder?

I’ve just begun a course in Childhood Studies and Childhood Psychology through the OU and there’s an interesting section in the textbook on the issues surrounding the participation aspect of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 12 states that:

Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously. This right applies at all times.

If the six hours of learning in classrooms which young people undertake each day isn’t a matter which affects them, I’m not sure what is. However, as my OU textbook states in relation to this:

Participation rights have been particularly contested because they represent a profound shift in relationships between adults and children, and challenge conceptualisations of children as unknowing, passive and needing adults to act in their best interests…participation rights have been seen as threatening and upsetting to the status quo. (Farmington-Flint & Montgomery, 2015)

As well as this, there’s also Dylan Wiliam’s point that asking a teacher to change their teaching practice is like asking a golfer to change their golf swing, it’s not simple!

Asking teachers to make wholesale changes in their practice is a little like asking a golfer to change her swing during a tournament. Teachers have to maintain the fluency of their classroom routines, while at the same time disrupting them.

Now, I’m not saying that no-one is doing this already. But I don’t think many teachers are doing it particularly well in the Secondary phase in particular. I have heard of a few noble attempts, but for the reasons outlined above, many of these attempts don’t become a sustained and meaningful change in practice. Quite often they’re tokenistic and are doomed to fail as the teachers are only doing it because they think they should. Or, they have limited impact because although students are asked for their input, this is then largely ignored as the teacher then has to proceed with the preplanned teaching and assessment.

So given all of this, how do we move forward? In my most recent post on this (which if you haven’t already seen you should definitely look at now) my students shared their ideas on how to go about this, so I thought I’d share my own suggestions in this post…

  • Believe that it is desirable, and possible, to involve learners in the learning process and it is worth trying. If you don’t, or are not sure, read this (free) book.
  • Try to take an enquiry approach to your change. Don’t just do it because you’re being told to by Education Scotland, your leadership team or even me, research it for yourself. As well as enhancing what you do, if you propose the change as an enquiry you are more likely to get approval from your leadership team if that is an issue for you.
  • Start small. Choose one class which you think you could work with on this to give it a try. Talk to them about it in advance and explain why you’re doing it. Some classes in the past have thought that I was just being lazy when I’ve not explained it properly! Aim to do it for just one topic and then evaluate it after that.
  • Don’t try to do everything at once. This may be new to the learners as well as you, although it may not be if they’ve experienced this at primary, which many will have in some way at some time. When I first tried it I wanted the learners to collaborate on the planning, teaching and assessment…it was all a bit much. It takes time for the class as a community to work together in this way so don’t rush it. You can involve them a little to begin with, and if it works, involve them a little more in the next topic.
  • Make use of ICT as much as you can. Digital tools are fantastic for supporting this approach to learning and teaching, use them and encourage the learners to find their own ways of using them.

Here’s a list of the sorts of things I do with a topic with a new class if that’s of use as an idea to get started:

  • As mentioned above, I explain in advance how we’re going to learn and discuss with them why we’re going to learn in this way and how best to learn in this way.
  • I don’t start with the title of the topic. In fact, I never tell the class what the topic is called in our schemes of work. I start with a hook. Challenging, interesting and relevant questions which get them thinking, discussing, debating and questioning. I then capture and rationalise these questions either on post-its, or in a Google Document.
  • I bring out the experiences and outcomes for the topics and we unpick their meaning as a class. We decide what questions we would need to be able to answer to satisfy these experiences and outcomes.
  • We then bring in their own questions from the stimulus discussion. Do these overlap with any of the questions from the experiences and outcomes? Do any of them fit in with the experiences and outcomes? Which ones don’t fit in?
  • We then decide how we’ll approach the topic. We discuss which of the experiences and outcomes we should do when and how we’ll address their questions which didn’t fit in (this is quite often a research and present task).
  • They then come up with possible names for the topic and vote on it.
  • I then use all of this to go off and modify the schemes of work to what we’ve planned together. I normally find that this can just be done by making a few tweaks to what was already there because they were made with the same experiences and outcomes that we’ve just explored as a class. In terms of any summative assessments for the topic, if these have been well written from the experiences and outcomes then they shouldn’t be a major problem either…however, I’ve sometimes found that the topic tests have been tests of the scheme of work rather than a test of the learning outcomes and in these cases I adjust the test questions so that they relate to the actual learning outcomes in the experiences and outcomes, but maintain the same structure and numbers of marks etc.
  • As you and the class become more confident you can then do the above more quickly and begin exploring learning outcomes, success criteria, assessment and evaluation…but one step at a time!

Ultimately, if we’re serious about this, we have to get away from the idea of standardised learning and standardised testing. I believe that we should have a core set of knowledge which all children should  learn, but not so much that it (more than) fills the time they have to learn it. There should be sufficient space and time in the curriculum for young people to be able to contribute to the learning and teaching process, and the flexibility in the system to support and encourage it.

What is the point in asking learners for their questions if we don’t (or can’t) then make the time to answer them and check that they understood the answers? It is for these reasons that I think we need to reduce the number of experiences and outcomes, in the third and fourth level sciences at least, and support and encourage teachers to take the time to try out the approaches I’ve described above.

This is a hard change to make and to make it well is going to take leadership and support.

Farmington-Flint, L. and Montgomery, H. (2015) An introduction to childhood studies and child psychology. Open University, Milton Keynes.