IDEAS, PRACTICES & PERSONAL INSIGHTS
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Classroom (302)

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.”
Dr Seuss

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.

The most superficial study of the causes of World War One illustrates that rampant nationalism played an important role in the tragedy that unfolded one hundred years ago in the summer of 1914. Schools have a particular responsibility to ensure that any study of the Great War highlights how national pride is one short step away from national prejudice, which in turn precludes empathy and predisposes countries towards military conflict. This is particularly important for my own students at the International School of Toulouse. The national mix of my current IGCSE and IB history students is British, German, Austrian, French, Indian, Canadian, Spanish, Australian, American and Russian. With this in mind I make a particular effort to ensure that my five-day school trip to the Somme and Ypres, Belgium promotes internationalism rather than a narrow sense of nationalistic pride in the involvement of one country.

This article is about how simple dances can be used to improve student learning about complex cellular processes. The dances are easy to follow and bring complicated topics to life. They help students learn about processes and terminology which they might otherwise find difficult, dry or hard to remember. The dances afford a multisensory approach to learning; they are a fusion of art and science and a blend of fun and serious biology.

As teachers we are notoriously hard on ourselves. It’s a common trait amongst the profession. After all, how often do you hear a colleague say they are “really good” at something? More often than not they will be playing down what a great job they do, often in challenging and changeable circumstances. This feeling of “can I really get it right again this year?” often creeps into the consciousness towards the end of the summer term and can lead to sleepless nights during the summer break.

I am constantly fascinated to read new reports on how music is so good for us all! I love to read about how music helps all sorts of aspects of our lives – from improving our coordination to developing our memory, to helping us to relax and lower our blood pressure to encouraging our imagination and creativity, to help us focus and to improve our literacy and numeracy. Music is such a crucial, essential part of learning, not just for youngsters, but actually for us all.

Although I’m quite handy when it comes to pub quizzes, geography has always been a bit of a blind spot. So when the initial email came in from the Learning Adventure Resources Network, I wasn’t exactly sure where Malaysia was. My only immediate reference point was the Willis Hall play (and film) The Long, the Short and the Tall, which didn’t seem entirely appropriate – but a quick look at the atlas showed that I’d instinctively placed the country in the right part of the world (good start) – even if I’d been a little confused as to its physical relationships with its neighbours.

In 2014 the new Primary curriculum brought lots of interesting changes. One of the biggest changes was adding evolution and inheritance into the Key Stage 2 programme of study. While this new topic has raised some concerns from teachers, there are lots of fun and engaging ways to introduce children to evolution and inheritance.

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