Tag Archives: Education

New Skills, New Questions.

I read this article and it got me thinking about school, learning, young people today etc.

The article discusses how skills are learned, how creating neural pathways link and create stronger pathways and how a good way to develop these skills is by not using help guides, asking other people etc but puzzling it out for yourself.

My experience is that children are the masters at that. They use tech, never read an instruction manual, dive in and work it out. Only if they are really stuck do they ever seek help from a youtube video, social media friends or maybe sometimes…their parents.

How does that learning model compare to schools?

How many lessons does the same children sit through where there is an input (or teach) first and then a series of activities ‘designed’ to develop this skills/learning?

How does the waiting for help (if required) compare to the immediacy of youtube or other web based help technologies?

How does the ‘blocking’ of lessons sometimes days apart hold back the development of skills in those areas, when the best way to develop the skills is everyday practice?

Do we connect enough of our learning together? I think primaries do, but there is always talk of splitting back into more subject based learning and less topic/project learning? Why? Where is the evidence for success in this approach?

The role of failure is key to learning in this way, yet if our children do not have enough ‘self-esteem chips’ as Richard Gerver brilliantly calls them our children will not be able to enjoy the freedom to fail. Do schools do enough to balance out the differential between the haves and have-nots of self-esteem? If not, why?

Which countries ARE getting it right and how are they doing it? Our young people are going to develop more and more skills in these ways, are our schools going to support them in that or hold them back?

296747265_eef6c2e32cSkills Drop Off – by Squacco

 

5 Words to describe my class.

If you had to choose five words to describe your class, what would they be? -Dave Burgess
I found this idea and quotation here and thought it was a fantastic idea for teachers, but also a great idea to start the new school year off with a new class.
Messy.
Interactive.
Inquisitive.
Energetic,
Happy.
I wonder what words my class from last year would come up with?
Henti Smith fmgbain
Inquisitive Fascincation – Henti Smith

Badger, badger, badger, badger.

There’s a lot of work going on at the moment about using badges for crediting skills, experience in education and the workplace. I came across this template for designing your own badges and shared it last night in the #dlchat. People in the chat seemed to like it, so I thought it might be worth posting it here also. Getting my Digital Leaders becoming badge creators and awarders is an aim for my Digital Leader project next year, as it has multiple benefits. I hope they’re keen to be badgers.

Final-badge-canvasadsmall2

What I want for my school.

Having decided what I want for education and children, I would like my school to be the place that delivers those things-

 

A school where children look forward to the day ahead.

 

A school where children are valued, and the children know it.

 

A school where the priorities are the needs of the children, the needs of the children and the needs of the children.

 

A school where the staff recognise the huge impact they can make in changing lives.

Some of these ideals would be delivered through the staff working in the school, others would be people from outside the school delivering these ideals.

 

Something I would love to improve is the quality of the buildings we make our children learn in, and their upkeep. In September of last year we were lucky enough to visit citizen M. Everyone (adults and the children we visited with) agreed that it was a fantastic space with wonderful seats, whiteboard walls you can write on, air conditioned work rooms, lots of glass for viewing other areas. These spaces have been designed by architects with the user in mind. School buildings are rarely like this. Chairs are uncomfortable , lighting is poor quality strip lighting, books are sometimes old, technology is often outdated (McDonalds and buses have open wifi before schools!!). When work in schools is completed it is rarely done to a standard we would wish for our own homes, and the main (only?) factor to be considered is cost, not user satisfaction. I wonder how many teachers in schools have thought about approaching a worker in school to ask about doing some work for them out of school?

These ideals sound very distant and a bit of a pipe-dream. If weren’t for the fact that I drive past 4 such schools every morning on my commute I might think so too.

 6008113604_e209af91bdSchool by Krzysztof Pacholak

Thoughts on using Technology in schools.

I came across this via zite which I use to find and share a load of good reading, infographics and ideas. This pretty much sums up my thoughts about using Technology in schools, and is what we should be aiming for when embedding ICT across the curriculum.

As it says at the bottom, it’s a tool not an outcome.

technology

What I want for my pupils and Scottish Education.

My Professional learning plan for the West Lothian Leadership course begins with a section of self-evaluation. The first part of that is thinking about and noting down thoughts about what we want for Scottish Education, our schools, ourselves and our pupils.

Here are my thoughts about what I would like for the pupils I teach. I’d be grateful for any comments, awkward questions etc, as that is the reason I’m posting aspects of my personal learning plan online.

 

What do I want for my pupils and Scottish Education?

 

A Google search reveals lots of articles listing the things that our young people should develop in their education to succeed in the now and the future. Feel free to have a search yourself, there’s thousands of links to interesting reads. Many of these articles contain similar skills and ideas such as critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, ability to collaborate (which I find in practice means having a lot of ‘self-esteem chips’ as Richard Gerver calls them), adaptability and more. What these lists don’t contain in 2013 is much in the way of facts and figures (knowledge) – these being at our fingertips now. (The key skills for using facts and figures tend to be knowledge of how to internet search for them, a bit of curiosity and some source checking skills).

 

I want all of the above for the children I work with – who wouldn’t. However I believe that there are three key ideas which open up the rest of the ideas, and for me these are the things I believe are vital to education, Scottish or otherwise. These ideas will also allow our children to develop as societies themselves develop over time.

 

1. I want children to be inquisitive and curious and that means they need to enjoy their learning.

 

2. I want children to ask good questions of themselves, their peers and the adults in their lives.

 

3. I want children to have loads of self-confidence. This means they can develop their collaborative work, can accept having their work held to peer review and can develop better their own work.

 

If a child leaves my class/time with me with these three things, then I think they will be well placed for their future, wherever it may go.

Death Valley National Park, California (8)Death Valley by Ken Lund

Why might sharing and publishing in the open be advantageous?

This is one of a series of blog posts from #teachtheweb course. My other posts can be found at Teacher, teach thyself.

The creator controls what of their work is seen or heard, by whom, where and when.

 

In my opinion sharing and publishing have never been easier, nor more accessible for all of us. We share photos through Instagram, Facebook and Flickr, we can share ideas through blog writing, tweeting and facebook, we can share pretty much all aspects of our daily life and it’s only going to get easier.

 

Who do we share with? Close friends, less close friends, colleagues from work or education, people from around the world. Pretty much anyone we want who has some level of open and available internet access.

 

We can also produce more formal pieces of publishing such as e-books and ‘real’ books through tools such as Lulu.

 

In my early lifetime, sharing meant meeting up with someone, sending something via the post, photocopying pieces of paper and the thought of publishing your own writing was a pipe dream – it was in the hands of newspaper editors or book publishers. They decided what was to be seen, not the user and certainly not the ‘receiver’ of the information.

 

The user can access more content than before, and more easily.

 

If I wish to find some writing about a subject it is easy. I use the web and search engines and find lots of information in a variety of forms. This is a brilliant, as work which previously I would have been excluded from accessing due to cost and geographical restrictions is know available and most often for no or minimal cost. Secondly, it’s easily searchable (whilst acknowledging google organises things in a google search initially) I can use some advanced search techniques to precisely access the materials I would like.

 

The user can choose how to acknowledge the creator.

 

If I buy a book, I have acknowledged the creator(s) up front by paying. If the work is not of a standard I desire, or if it is an incredible life changing book the acknowledgement is the same – £15.

 

I’ve also paid an amount which is set by some 3rd parties – publishers, shops as well as the creator. It’s probably fair to say that if I pay £15 for a book, the creator will not recieve £15.

 

If I am accessing something via the open web, I can choose how I acknowledge the work – I can tweet the link to the work, I can access the creator directly via a comments section, I can pay some money via paypal in some cases (I choose if and how much of course), or I can write a response myself citing the original work on my own spaces.

 

The collaboration possibilities are endless.

 

It’s a reasonable assumption that if you are spending your non work time writing/creating and sharing works for free, it is something you are passionate about. By sharing these things in the ‘open’ format, you are likely to connect to people with similar passions. The greatest working groups I have worked in are the ones where the members have shared goals or passions. The work created in these groups has been of a high quality

 

The effect of your passion being shared with liked minded individuals is a massive gain. It allows you to work together (virtually or real) to create more pieces and connect with a wider audience, it lets you see how other people with similar passions are creating and can give you hope that you’re not alone.

 

And yet…

 

There are examples of work practices being used which stop or limit openness and sharing. Some planning programs in school only allow printed copies and copies within the format of their (paid) software, meaning the work created in them cannot be shared easily. Some education intranet sites allow access only to members of their community, excluding a huge range of educators from contributing and making the process of sharing work on those intranet more laborious than it should/needs to be. It would be interesting to know what the thinking is behind these decisions being imposed as I feel the benefits of openness and sharing are huge.

Teachmeet TV

I came across Teachmeet TV yesterday via the Pedagoo.org site (which is awesome, so check it out if you haven’t before).

Teachmeet TV sets out to ‘help anyone find and see interesting education videos and everyone can recommend a video for inclusion on the site.’

It looks like a great resource, bringing together the ideas of a range of great people in one place.

Have a look and see what you think.

 

It’s not about the tool?

It’s not about the tool is a phrase which seems to crop up a lot in education currently. It’s usually connected to ICT with someone telling us it’s not about a piece of software, hardware, operating system etc. It’s about how it’s used and the learning that takes place.

I’m not convinced.

Tools which don’t work as well as they should.

It seems this is new thinking for education authorities, and it could be argued this is an attempt to hide their incorrect decisions of the past. An example – Interactive White Boards – Why buy so many of them, at such a huge cost? Where was the debate about the most effective use of the money? And why not make them at the correct height for pupils in the classroom?

If your school has elderly laptops/PC’s then the chances are that some fabulous pieces of free, Web 2.0 type software won’t run on them due to a missing upgrade.

Many schools don’t have free choice of web browser, they’re tied to IE (which can’t always upgrade to the newest version) which means that many tools are not on the ‘menu’ to be chosen from.

High Quality Tools

Moving away from ICT and education, when I take my bike out I love the fact that it’s responsive, comfortable and it enhances the pleasure I get from being out, making me more likely to go out on it.

The creatives in our house enjoy using the best art tools they can, and they help to expand their creativity. They don’t produce a lot of art on slates – I’m sure they could but they’d soon become disillusioned as they see other artists using finer, more appropriate, more enhancing tools.

Aspiration.

If we want to develop our children’s learning, if we want to provide aspiration, if we want to develop self-esteem, if we’re really serious about it then we need to have the BEST tools available for the job. Of course we need to debate what they are, of course we need to ensure that teachers are using them as best they can (they usually are by the way).

‘Wow’ factor.

Benjamin Franklin wrote when he was 16 about Temples of Learning. For me part a Temple conjures up images of beauty, craftsmanship and inspires feelings of awe – or as my P4/5 class might put it ‘wow’.

Schools need to, and can, provide the ‘wow’ factor in so many young lives and a large part of that is in the materials available in school. Schools are already providing the ‘wow’ factor in many young lives through the quality of staff they employ, their attitudes and their commitment to the children they teach. It’s time to provide some of the tools to match.

It’s not JUST about the tool, but Government and Local Authorities, the tool is a large part of it. Do you do all that you can?

 

Weeknotes…what happened?

I did think when I began my weeknotes that it could be an ambitious thing to try and write something once a week, and sure enough as term progressed and I got more tired, I got less productive and weeknotes weren’t written.

 

So, what did I do in the last 3 to 4 weeks.

  • P4/5 and P5 had their Dr Who showcase which brought the Dr Who topic to a conclusion. The work the children put into that (which was fantastic) can be seen on our pages on the school blog. There are still a few more scratch games to post up on there too. The topic inspired 2 children to create this wonderful drama at home!
  • The digital leaders never quite completed their podcast – I think a combination of Audacity and windows XP proved insurmountable for them. We will try again using the ‘Voice record’ app on the iOS systems. This looks to be a great app and much more friendly that Audacity, although not as high-end.
  • Ukulele news… The Girl has a electro-acoustic tenor. (Envy, jealousy etc) Looks great and sounds fantastic! I’m still playing away on my Uke and am trying to finger pick a bit.
  • Cooking – I made Easter Sunday dinner for the family. Lamb Shanks from the Ruhlman’s Twenty book (which is wonderful, never made anything bad from this book) and a Quorn alternative for The Girl and me. I also made a poppy seed torte from the Guardian cook which was dreadful.
  • Comic relief day in school was very successful – well done to Pupil Council, your ideas were brilliant. Again the school blog is the place to see photos of the day.
  • I used Mailstrom to re-organise my gmail account and have achieved Inbox zero, and not gone beyond 10 e-mails in my inbox since! Great program.
  • I made it to the Easter holidays, it was a tiring term and I’m not really feeling human yet, but I made it which I am really pleased about.

 

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