Last term I decided over breakfast that I needed to do something to make my Year 7 scheme of work on celebrations start off on a more interesting note. I concluded that simply greeting my class at the door and saying “we’re going to be studying religious and non-religious celebrations for the next six lessons” didn’t truly seem to grab my audience, and so I went about thinking of a more interesting way to introduce the topic. By the time I had arrived at school I had decided on a way to ‘parachute’ my students into an engaging lesson. I grabbed myself two student volunteers on the way into the building (whom I bribed with the promise of Maltesers...) to help set up my classroom.
Innovate My School agony aunt and TechnoTeaching co-author Nicole Ponsford takes a look at the challenges facing teachers today.
Many people are thinking about Easter eggs and sprucing up their garden furniture at this point of the year. However, for us in the teaching world, things aren’t quite as sunny. It is, after all, the peak of the interview season (for September ‘15 starts), the time when it hits you that the exam timetable is a bit too close for comfort and if you haven't had your inspection yet, you know that you are running on borrowed time (mainly due to all of the last minute LT requests for data).
Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy (OBA), a school for 11 - 18 year olds situated in Runcorn, has been singled out by Ofsted as a fine example. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Cheshire-based Academy works with “disadvantaged” pupils to bring the best education possible to the area. Ofsted will be sharing their findings of the OBA inspection with schools across the UK.
When James [Cain, Editor] contacted me and asked me to write a blog post about how I use Star Wars in the classroom, my first reaction went from, “this is awesome” to “uh… what am I going to write about?”. You see, I am an Advanced Placement (AP) World History teacher in Rocklin, CA, and although my classroom is littered with posters, toys and miscellaneous Star Wars gifts from students throughout the years, I questioned if I was qualified to write a post about Star Wars and my teaching.
Collaborative learning is on the up. All around us there are blog posts from excellent teachers, research from expert academics and articles from around the world, but so far something has been missing. We know the benefits of true collaboration and ideas on how to encourage it in the classroom, but do we know how we can assess the tasks themselves? Setting the right task is key for encouraging effective collaborative learning.
If I had one resource I had to keep, a sort of desert island resource, it would be sticky notes. I’ve spent the last year or so coming to this conclusion, and it’s a brave one since I also love my mini whiteboards, yet when I think about the possibilities and uses, Post-its win. This led me to present recently at TM Sheffield, where I found a lot of fellow admirers and we started to swap ideas. I had told a white lie in the title of my presentation, ‘101 uses of sticky notes’ though I’m sure given enough time I could come up with that many. So instead, below is more aptly titled ‘The Power of Post-its’, some ideas to spark your imagination for the classroom.
Remember the first time you stepped into the classroom of an experienced teacher to observe their lesson? Did they make everything seem so easy? Were you swept along with the rest of the class in the energy of the lesson? Or bored to tears because you didn’t know what you were looking for; keen to get on with teaching your own class? If you have student teachers in your school, this is likely to reflect part of their school experience. Described in Lortie’s seminal Schoolteacher (1975), teacher training is an “apprenticeship of observation”; learning through observing others is an integral part of all Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in the UK.
When it comes to education, it seems that everyone has their own idea about which methods work best in the classroom. Should they be put into mixed groups or streamed by ability? Should we block-schedule lessons? A new website called the Toolkit can help us find the answers to those questions based on evidence, rather than opinion.