History resource champions Squaducation have launched a competition aimed at inspiring the historians of the future. My EPIC Era 2016 is a new History competition for schools and pupils throughout the UK, and is being spearheaded by veteran soldier, actor and educator Kevin Hicks. Pupils are being asked to name their favourite era in history and tell the competition judges all about it. Their entries can be written, drawn, crafted, performed or filmed. My EPIC Era 2016 will be open for entries until 31st March 2016.
Spontaneity and risk-taking are qualities that we actively encourage students to develop when learning. It’s a meme that can be an exciting element in the classroom, and can heighten engagement. It enables students to think differently and instantly, altering pre-conceived perceptions about how to tackle a challenge and develops thinking skills. However, as one of the key influencers in the classroom, do we always practice what we preach? If we want students to be savvy in spur-of-the-moment situations, we should try to explore opportunities which dare us to do the same and model this trait.
In true Scottish storytelling fashion, there is a tale, which may or may not be true, that tells of when Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence was in its infancy, in the middle of the first decade of the millennium. The tale was that - along with the areas of Literacy, Numeracy and Health & Wellbeing – ICT was to be a responsibility of all practitioners. This would mean that every Scottish educator would be required to explicitly take ownership of supporting and tracking the digital skills of the learners in their care. Then sadly, the story goes, for some reason ICT was quietly removed from the ‘responsibility of all category’ and subsumed under the banner of technologies.
Withington Girls School in Manchester have addressed ambitions of improving their pupils’ written work by undertaking a bespoke inset day. The session, based around the theme of Supporting the Needs of Advanced Learners of EAL, was run by Beaumont Training & Consultancy Ltd and concentrated on how inferences constitute a problem for EAL (English as an additional language) pupils. It also addressed the question of whether or not the school’s teachers should think that it is only the EAL pupils who struggle with texts in this way.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re at least a bit techy. You might be a newbie in your first or second year of teaching: a newbie who wants to learn from other like-minded educators all over the world. Or maybe you’re a knowledgable teacher: you’re at the top of your game in many ways, but your New Year’s resolution is to take on new challenges—ones that will step up your teaching. Or perhaps you’re several years into your career: you’re an excellent teacher who is committed to lifelong learning.
To set the scene for my thoughts, I first want to share with you that one of my pet peeves in the learning environment is the use of PowerPoint presentation software. Not that there is anything wrong with PowerPoint software – it can be an incredibly powerful tool when used in the right environment. But when used as a lecture tool in schools, attempting to provide students with information on a particular subject, it can become a cold, one-way communication tool.
An engaged student will demonstrate four traits when learning: they’ll stick with a problem, they engage fully, they experiment on their own, they return to the problem if necessary. So how do you make classrooms come alive with thriving, engaged learners? Perhaps look to the world of popular rap and icons like Jay Z, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams.
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.