IDEAS, PRACTICES & PERSONAL INSIGHTS
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How do you rev up your lessons without even starting the minibus? We’ve been trying some of the latest educational innovations with the intention of exploring their use in the classroom to enhance or improve the learning experiences of children and young adults.

In today’s climate of rising nationalism, closing borders, and increasing tension in the world, the need for education around cross-cultural awareness and understanding is greater than ever. The advent of social media and other technology means collaboration between classrooms around the world has never been easier. So how can we, as educators foster, this vital skill of global competence? The concept of global competence ‘articulates the knowledge and skills students need in the 21st century’. One approach we can take to develop this competence is through global collaborations and projects, and in this post I will explore some of the ways in which teachers can get involved to help their students become more globally-competent citizens.

For twenty years I have been involved in taking students and educators down to countries in the Global South - Mexico, the Dominican Republic and, more recently, El Salvador. I started doing these trips because one of our high school students needed a teacher to bring down a group of really motivated students. I had no idea of what I was getting myself into and on that first trip, and really saw myself as an observer rather than a teacher-leader.

Standing in the street as a costumed Suffragette throwing reasoned arguments during a ‘Votes for Women’ dramatization, I remember encountering a curious mix of responses. A melting pot of confusion (understandably, it’s not often a Suffragette march passes you by in 2013), interest and awe, but also criticism; “What are you complaining about? Women have the vote! What a pointless protest.” Accurate as it may be that British women have the right to suffrage, annual events such as International Women’s Day continue to highlight that equality for women is still a very real issue that transcends political rights, cultures, religions and geographical borders, and will forever remain an invaluable part of modern education.

Introduction: Why get out of bed in the morning?

I do not think there is such thing as a ‘motivated person’ or a ‘lazy person’ - we are just motivated by different things. Motivation is not linear. I was, and remain, motivated by learning. I love reading widely and learning more about the world in which I live. I am really not motivated by team sports, singing or marking books. There are some things that I really want to do (and see value in) but have to be persuaded to do; I want to be good at the piano and I want to run half marathons in a vaguely respectable time. I REALLY want to do these things. I have all of the equipment needed. I have peers who will practice with me and I have access to people who will give me expert feedback and teach me.

In addition to academic development, the classroom is the perfect place for children to develop their characters. Character development helps children to build key social and personal components, such as a sense of morality, self-belief, and integrity; valuable traits that will continue to help students throughout the rest of their lives. This article outlines the best activities for inspiring character development in the classroom.

We would like to share with you a brief insight into what children experience when dance is brought into education, with the following based on our own work with pupils in Bath & North East Somerset. Through dance, children are engaged in creative movement within a group setting. The focus of this work is on the wellbeing and development of the whole child, mindful of their cognitive, emotional, physical and social development.

‘Too much to do and too little time’ is a cry I often hear in schools, and yet how is it that some people have enough time and other people don’t? An ex-colleague used to say: “If you want something doing, give it to a busy person”. So is it that busy people are better with time management, or could it be that they have less to do than they are letting on?

Project-based learning (PBL) is far from a new fad - it has been around much longer than most of us would imagine. In fact, PBL has been around a lot longer than structured learning, as inevitably, PBL puts learners in the situation of needing to solve a problem, challenge or complex question, much as people have been in real-life problematic situations throughout time.

Encouraging students to take an interest in Science, technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects can often be a challenge. This is especially true when teaching is based around workbooks and theory; when students are unable to find a link between what they are being taught, the learning environment they are in and their own interests, they are more likely to disengage. With the ever-increasing technological advancements, it’s not surprising that the next generation of students are likely to enter the working world, looking for jobs that don’t even exist now. Therefore, we must strive to inspire children from a young age, in order to unveil talent and boost engagement.

The run-up to the Christmas holidays is always an exciting period: winding down school for the term and taking part in fun class activities is all part of the seasonal excitement. This time presents opportunities for all manner of activities, with crafting being a long-running favourite. Take this special time of year to explore a variety of crafting activities, and see how simply children can create lovely gifts, cards and decorations to be taken home and treasured for the holidays.

Teaching Shakespeare can be at once exhilarating and terrifying; inspirational and life-threateningly tedious. I like to think that the contradictions here echo, or at least nod, to the emotional rollercoaster that was early modern drama. When speaking to students – Secondary school and university – a common stumbling block is invariably language. Besides the archaic vocabulary – ‘hautboy’, ‘nonce’, ‘tun-dish’ and ‘fardel’ come to mind – there’s also the syntax, the distinctly Christian rhetoric, and seemingly endless concerns about marriage and death. For pupils in Secondary school these subject matters, compounded by unintuitive phrasing and words, can be a categorical turn-off.

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