We are in boom times for children’s and YA literature, it seems, and more and more publishers are publishing books that are engaging for struggling readers to get them more motivated to read. I’ve often found it easier to ‘rev up’ the reading of those that have low literacy levels than to excite the interest of the ‘can read, won’t read’ crowd. It seems amazing, and a little incomprehensible, to me that young people who are able to access the fantastic imaginations of fab authors don’t show any inclination to do so - do they not realise that they could be fighting with ninjas in Chris Bradford’s books or travelling through magical realms with Garth Nix’s Lirael?
Summative assessment is a dead duck. We all know this. Aside from a final examination, all of the assessment we do these days should be formative. It should enable the student to improve. Yet still we use written tests which give students a score, a grade or percentage. Now, of course a student can self-reflect on why they got the grade they did or the teacher can go through the test paper explaining errors but to do this on an individual, rather than whole-class basis is almost impossible. How then does a teacher give rich and detailed feedback to their students without it being a huge increase in workload? The answer is diagnostic testing, a technique which allows formative feedback to be generated from summative feedback.
Working in an inner city school, History is often seen to be very irrelevant to students and therefore boring. I remember my first ever A level lesson with my Year 12s in 2015, I asked them individually ‘Why have you chosen to study History?’ The common answer was “to study Civil Rights”. The problem was that Civil Rights was part of the A2 course, which meant that they would had to wait a whole year to be taught that particular module. Therefore teaching the Tudors to a class that just wanted to learn only about black history was hard. As a result I had to ask myself: ‘How can I engage them in a topic that seems boring and irrelevant to their lives?’
What is "Big" History? For me, it’s anything that captures the imagination, enthuses or even sparks inspiration for students in a History lesson. More so, when I think "big", I think outlandish, memorable and relevant. I've done all of these in various shapes or forms;they have worked well, and I’d love to hear yours too (please comment at the foot of the article!).
In school, crafting needn’t be limited to the art classes; in fact, it can be a really great way to engage students with subjects in a different style. Shaking learning styles up is often very stimulating - a nice break from the norm - and art can be used to supplement learning in almost every other subject on the curriculum. Here are some ideas for injecting some creativity into Geography classes.
Given all of the research on retrieval practice and spacing, I knew I wanted to continually review previously learned concepts with my Math 2b class. At the same time, I was stressed to cover all course content in the given term, and the students were always asking for more small group instruction. I have been looking for ways to solve all of these needs by integrating technology in an effective way.
While today’s young people (Millennials and Generation Z) are very much just like the ones that preceded them - rebellious, searching for meaning, keen to understand the world and their place in it - they are at the same time completely different than any generation before them. The near limitless ability to consume information, organise with others, and communicate one’s thoughts makes this group very particular, to say the least.
“The more you read, the more things you will know,
the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
That time of year is upon us, where our whole school approach to literacy takes a decidedly exciting turn. For two whole weeks, the children are encouraged to become pioneers in their own literacy journey; a fortnight where children are encouraged to truly see the importance of literacy in our culture and embrace texts they might not encounter through every day reading, writing and listening tasks.
People sometimes mistake the concept of pupil engagement for frivolous, time-wasting fun. In fact, in any school staff room it’s likely that there will be at least one colleague shaking their head sadly and muttering the word “Edutainment” when particular classroom approaches are mentioned. The thing is, sometimes that cynicism is entirely reasonable; sometimes a wariness about “play” in the classroom is absolutely warranted. Why? Because there is an overwhelmingly important distinction between inspiring intrigue and engagement in a topic or skill, and simply sugar-coating the work with a meaningless, superficial “fun” activity.
One of the best things about being a teacher is the ability to make children cry.
Before you get out the flaming torches and pitchforks, I don’t mean that in the way you might assume. That sort of attitude has no place in modern teaching. Rather, the thing that I enjoy is when something you do as a teacher, a lesson, an activity, or an experience, causes your pupils to have an emotional experience.
The integration of edtech into the everyday school environment has resulted in a diverse range of technologies being present in any one classroom – never mind across an entire school. More recently we’ve seen a steady move away from IWBs towards a variety of technology that encompasses personal devices such as tablets and smartphones, through to front-of-classroom teaching technologies, with a strong shift towards interactive flat panels.
The winter season always puts me in a reflective mood. Musing the years past, present times and the future in a Dickensian fashion. There's six lessons I'd like to share from this year which mean a lot to me. Much like those three ghosts, the past, the present and the future has a lot to teach us too.