IDEAS, PRACTICES & PERSONAL INSIGHTS
STEM

STEM (23)

The UK government has committed to investing £3.5 million in technology to support schools to adopt the new IT curriculum in 2015. While this technology investment is undoubtedly welcomed, the rapid advancement of connected classrooms and e-learning has left many teachers struggling to keep up.

As a commentator recently said on Radio 4, “never let a good crisis go to waste!” With change being the only constant in education, I took the relative peace of a moonlit dog walk in Sheffield’s beautiful Meersbrook Park (which featured in X+Y and Four Lions!) to contemplate the challenges and opportunities available to Science teachers and leaders over the coming years.

I teach Computing. This means that, at least twice per day I get asked this question:

“Are we going on the computers today Sir?”

As an NQT, I was flattered by this, thinking that it displayed an enthusiasm for the subject. However I soon learned that it was, in the wise words of Admiral Ackbar, a trap.

This is a list of 30 recommended STEM-oriented Twitter feeds. Note: this is by no means a ‘best-of’, and the order is unimportant. The list is comprised of suggestions from the public and our own choices.

Do you remember the excitement of going on a school trip? You’d rush home to give your parents a paper permission slip, gleefully hand it to your teacher the following day and then spend the rest of the week looking forward to venturing out of the school gates with your classmates.

As part of their Art curriculum, Furzedown Primary School in south west London has been running workshops on architectural design. This is to help the children’s knowledge and understanding of materials, structure, colour and aesthetics, and how they can be applied physically into built assemblies. Architectural design is not a subject normally taught in schools before college, but it is a subject that is very relevant to everyone. We all live in the built environment which is heavily managed with lots of design interventions. Individually and collectively these affect us directly, so why not bring architectural design into the classroom?

Teaching Science at Primary level can sometimes be a difficult endeavour. The combination of time restrictions and what can be very dry learning objectives can lead both pupils and teachers to disengage with the subject.

Tremendously fantastic editor James Cain wanted me to make sure that this article was "a different beast" from my previous Halloween article. My instincts would not allow me to title this article anything other than what it is. With Halloween 2015 fresh in our minds, my intention is to highlight some suitably authentic ways to incorporate the occasion into the classroom. These are things I have seen, some I have done, and some things I would like to do. I do not see any of these thoughts being limited to one grade level or group of grade levels since as a teacher flexibility is not only key but also a necessity. I also want to highlight why I feel that using Halloween in school and in the classroom is a good idea.

I have always been keen to promote departmental work with an international theme, and was delighted last summer to be involved in a project linking my school with students in Ecuador. The venture was set up by Neil Emery, who has has organised two previous projects in Ecuador, visiting tribal groups and delivering technology workshops to pupils at local community schools. Further details of his achievements are detailed on his own IMS article.

As I approached the fourth year in which I had delivered a sustainability-based project for my secondary school students, there was one issue that troubled me; how could I make the project itself more sustainable? Why do I use so much paper in making my students more aware of the issue of sustainability? This year, the project was to research, design, and build, a sustainable home suitable for the Finnish Tundra. The students were all in Y8 (or Grade 7) and have the benefit of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy at our school.

 

Up and down the country, ICT teachers are nervously preparing themselves to make the transition from into teaching a subject which is known as ‘Computer Science’. What school leaders must realise when making this change is that Computer Science is a world apart from ICT. Teachers will need time to re-examine the pedagogy they use to ensure they deliver Computer Science lessons that are factually correct – and most importantly – craft classes that engage all learners in the room.

What is the main purpose of studying the arts at school you might wonder? What are the benefits of studying the arts to a school-leaver? All the products that we see around us, live with, use, live in etc have been designed. We visit art galleries, outdoor installations of art (eg the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red poppy installation at the Tower of London last year) that have all been created by art college graduates. Many people engage in educational activities in galleries, museums, care centres etc.

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