This Is How I Work for Teachers

Inspired by a similar category of posts on LifeHacker (re-posted on Doug Belshaw’s excellent What I Learned This Week) and What’s In Your Bag on The Verge, I thought it might be an interesting idea to do a version of this for teachers. So, I started off with questions asked by LifeHacker and added a few more teaching specific questions that might interest readers. There is an emphasis on technology but all tips and tricks learned are welcome to share with whomever might sign up for a weekly update. For now, these posts will be a category on my blog which you can subscribe to without my other posts should you wish to. If the posts are well received it may be moved elsewhere.

The first post is by Nick Dennis who recently organised the fabulous Teaching, Learning & Assessment conference at his school, Berkhamsted.

 

Marking work electronically in Frog

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As part of ICT in Subjects, my department is working with the Music department to create scratch games and/or animations with music and sound effects composed in CuBase.

First lesson is to recreate the famous pong game in scratch. So, I set a Frog assignment (Quick Issue Work) to all five classes so 125 pupils could hand in their file to be scored out of 3 [0 = no file; 1 = struggled; 2 = complete with errors; 3 = complete] plus a comment.

froglogo

Below is a video of the marking process of one file. Frog is not very good at this yet. I wonder if Frog4OS will be any better at this. Frog4 runs on any device because it is coded in HTML5, and so will remove limitations on usage – people expect a VLE to work properly on any device (maybe not handhelds) or in any modern browser. Frog3 is guaranteed to work only on Windows running IE.

The marking does work but there are a lot of clicks involved. In Moodle, all the grades and files and comments would be accessible from one page which makes the process much faster and allows easy copy and pasting of comments. Also, you cannot release (return to pupil) marks for pupils that have done their work before the deadline. I made a big mistake as shown in the video – knew it as I did it: d’oh! – by assigning the same assignment to all five classes. This means we will not to be able to release the marks until all pupils have submitted.

Anyway, if interested, watch the video and please let me know about your experiences of marking work in Frog3 or Frog4.

 

Jim is on the right - obviously. Old iPhones are old.

The Lazy Teacher comes to my school

Jim is on the right – obviously. Old iPhones are old.

Jim Smith was booked into our school by a Senior Teacher, Natalie Shaw. Another colleague (@cgasiorek) enjoyed participating in one of Jim Smith’s lazy teaching sessions last year. I read his book The Lazy Teacher over the summer. Packed full of good tips to lighten your workflow by engaging your teaching mind. Jim brings lots of classroom tricks to the table, not all new whizz-bangers, but all focused on putting pupil energy at the centre of learning. The tricks are clever ways of awakening the minds in the room. Find the pedagogy – the methods – that suit a particular bunch of learners and use them. I do not have his slides to reference from the whistle-stop tour of his content, but I really liked the ASDA reference he made, whereby you work out what you want the pupils to be doing before you work out what you – the teacher – are going to do. Content comes last, getting broken into the activities you have decided are going to work for that class at that time. Seems simple but it’s easy to forget as we drive hard through SOWs and POSs like they are bad weather.

We started with firework warnings: do not do the firework planning because the pupils won’t go off with a whizz, bang and crackle in a shower of coloured light. I thought of a colleague who was disappointed about a CSI style lesson he had spent all weekend prepping only to be met with a lesson that fell short of his expectations. I thought of my own attempts to build SOLO taxonomy into my lessons only to be left wondering why the pupils were not singing it’s praises. I thought lazy teaching has a got a point.

Other than Jim’s energy, I liked a bingo idea he mentioned toward the end. Give pupils a bingo sheet where they match different pedagogies – learning/thinking games/activities/stimulants – and call house when they get them all matched. What a neat trick for monitoring teaching and learning without the paperwork. Could there be a better tour of the school? A thumbnail sketch of what a pupil spends their time doing in lessons.

I’m not sure I liked all that Jim said. He talked about making yourself better than your colleagues with the aim of being the one teacher all those pupils remembered in years to come. If I understood this correctly, it’s not for me. I am a fan of variety in a school, for example, I don’t want all teachers using the same technology in every lesson. I am not bothered if some teachers never want to use it. We are all different and *vive la difference*.

Teachers seemed impressed with Jim’s INSET. Inspired. They saw the benefits of lazy teaching. [NB: it was fast and furious; it was twilight, after school on the first day back after half term]. However, I heard a couple of mentions of it making people *feel* like they were not good enough. Jim did not say anything of the sort – the opposite in fact. Nevertheless, take a very busy teacher working very hard and show them something that makes them feel like what they’re doing is not enough, and you’ve got a situation you have to handle – I know this all too well from delivering ICT INSET over the years. But the teachers I work with are great people! The effort and energy they have put into the Frog training we have done this year is immense. I wonder what everyone will make of lazy teaching. I wonder if some of the ideas will jump into tomorrow’s lessons or bleed into the daily fabric.

It is a leap of faith to start incorporating other peoples ideas into your workflow. You feel like you’re falling into the wilderness from your familiar routine. I am inspired by many teachers whose work I read about on their blogs. This takes time; I like to take ownership of a technique before I adopt it. But maybe this is me being too slow? I wrote this blogpost because Mark Anderson nudged me to. Maybe we need to find a way of nudging each other.

Bingo anyone?

Danny's Google+ post where I saw the freebies

FREE Google Play Books! But your Wallet is Required

Danny's Google+ post where I saw the freebies

Popped over to Google+ for a quick hello to that stream. Saw this cool little share from Danny Silva who works for CUE and was one of the lead learners at GTAUK10 where I earned my Google stripes.

I wondered what CK-12 was so clicked through – looked legit (which it is). So, I re-shared his post. I tweeted it. All good…

And then I actually clicked all the way through to get a copy of one of the free titles. They were free because CK-12 is a non-profit shared under creative commons licence.

Intro to the basic algebra book

But to get here, I had to make sure my Google Wallet is active. It didn’t cost me anything but my bank details had to be up-to-date. Am I being cynical or is this Google Play FREE book share a teaser to get your Google Wallet in good order? Or to get users into Google Play?

After the wallet: on Android or Web?

BTW: the book is 610 pages long (who studies basic algebra for 610p?) and one of many free titles in Maths and Science. If you want to browse them please don’t let me stand in your way – after all they cost you nowt! Links to iPad and Kindle versions here. Possibly no wallet required…

 

learning objective arrow

ICT in Subjects: Lesson Planning and Learning Objectives

learning objective arrow 

Where you going with that arrow in your hand?

The idea of team teaching with lots of my colleagues is intimidating. Daunting. Exciting (we have a lovely staff at Bennies). Sometimes there will be natural friendly banter and repartie, but at other times this won’t come so easily and the potential to offend someone is a risk. Some will be vulnerable, shy, nervous and maybe even unhappy to participate.

To minimise this potential, the lesson planning has to be clear and simple and awesome. So, I have started to address this on the planning site. An extract from the site:

What I like so far I found on James Michie’s blogpost on learning objectives. This engages in conversation with David Didau, the Learning Spy, who has written posts on Creativity, Analysis and Comparison, Using Learning Continuums, Zooming In and Zooming Out, and 40 Ways to Introduce Learning Objectives (now 50). I found these posts very helpful in focussing me on how I might set lessons out and provide access for all.

I really like the simple approach of setting a learning objective for the whole class but having differentiated learning activities for pupils to do. I’m looking to establish a format that I can use in every lesson, mirrored on the VLE, in all subjects. Something solid that people can rely on but can be used flexibly and creatively (not just *stuck* on the board at the beginning of the lesson).

These posts are a great read for any teacher. What I applied to my department needs to be re-thought and ready for the planning stages, accessible to pupils and teachers, and able to be taught by me or my fellow ICT teacher. I am short of time. If you know of any great articles or research that might help inform this structure and process, I would love to hear about them. Full credit will be given here and on the site. Comments welcome as ever.