Tag Archives: motivation

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 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

2013-2014

I have been accepted on the West Lothian Leadership Programme for 2013-14. I applied as I am interested in learning more about and debating leadership roles within school and I also wish to see if this is a role I would like to take in school (UPS or otherwise).

The course looks quite interesting and looks the sort of course where the more time that is devoted to it, the more the participants get out of it. I have needed to choose a project to develop over the year, and have chosen to develop the role of digital leaders in school and beyond (by setting up the Scottish Digital Leaders Network).

A major part of the course is a Professional Learning Plan, and I intend to develop mine by using this blog, and tagging each part with Leadership and PLP for ease of my finding it!

If you are interested in the course, here is the course outline.

Colourful Reflections (38/365)

Learning Spaces.

An area I wanted to develop this term in class was my use of displays. I feel ‘traditional’ primary school displays are not a natural strength of mine, and I’ve always wondered about the effectiveness of the display in effecting children’s learning. I’m open to any researched ideas about the effects if you’d like to post in the comments or e-mail me I’d be grateful.

In March time I came across No Tosh’s posts on learning spaces and was really interested in some of the ideas in the post. I was particularly interested in the learning wall idea, and set about creating one in my class using plastic wallets to display the children’s work in a respectful manner as well as allowing the much needed fluidity for the display’s success.

We launched our topic in April, Beavers – back after 400 years, and I explained the ideas to the children, and waited…and waited…and waited. Well this week we had a bit of a breakthrough. A couple of children brought work in on Tuesday, a couple more on Wednesday and today I had a child asking to stay in through lunchtime to create her work for the display. I have to say I am delighted that the idea seems to be taking off. I hope to have more work to add to the display coming in thick and fast now.

How does it compare to ‘traditional’ displays? Well, the children are very interested by what is on the display and clearly as work is beginning to come in they are motivated by what they see and want to copy, build on and develop their peers work. Could this happen on a ‘traditional’ display? Well yes it could, but my experience (and/or lack of artistic eye) means through my career it hasn’t happened as much as I’d have liked, and certainly not as much as the time and physical resources used in a display should have impacted. It is certainly something I will be using again next school year and I hope it will have the same motivational effect.

Here is the work the children have created to date.

 

 

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.

Questions?

I really like the idea of using open ended questions as a starter for lessons and often use the Thunks website from Independent Thinking. I found a new site which I called Thought Questions  which has questions in a similar vein although the questions on there are often a bit deeper. They could certainly lead to good ‘citizenship’ and PSHE discussions. There are also some lovely images which go with each question.

I am going to use the images from the site to create an interactive thinking display in my room. The questions will be in the middle of the display and the children will  add their answers/ideas on post-it notes around the display.

Have a look at the site and see what you think.

Apple Smoking In The Darkness

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 2013 – Week 8.

Here’s what’s been going on this week.

  • Our cluster was privileged enough to have Sir John Jones speak to us at our staff meeting on Friday. It’s the 3rd time I’ve hear SJJ speak, twice in person and once on a video link. I find him to be funny and inspiring which is a good combination for a teacher to have and something which we should all aspire to. Among the things he said which made me think were his ideas about Rock Thinkers and Water Thinkers and the idea that we can’t keep on doing what we’re doing (even when it what we do is brilliant). I thought of British Cycling who are always changing things up to maintain their success, but also companies like Kodak who were at the pinnacle of the photography market, had digital photography available, but rather than develop that stayed with their traditions of film photography for too long, they didn’t go backwards in the digital age, they just got overtaken by the ‘water thinkers’ who moved more rapidly than them. I will post more of the ideas from SJJ here in the coming days.
  • Minecraft – wow. Our digital leaders are trying to create their own minecraft club and are doing a fantastic job. It will be great when it’s up and running. They are so creative with their ideas for their club, creating challenges, creating simple wiki websites with links to good sites on and despairing of my general uselessness at the game. The children in our school (and everywhere else in the known universe) are desperate to play minecraft, to create their own worlds, objects, towns, cities, homes with it. It’s something us teachers should begin trying to use to develop deeper learning, the children would be delighted.
  • We had maths training on measurement delivered by the excellent John Sexton. The session was on measure and one of the key messages I took away was the need to allow more time for practical measurement activities. These concrete experiences are what the children will use to support them in their measurement learning when the context is more challenging. It’s not good enough firing up the worksheet of conversions and so-called ‘real-life’ problems and hoping. If you want examples of amazing maths problems look at Dan Meyer’s brilliant work.
  • I attended our parent council meeting (and volunteered to run a family quiz at school) on Tuesday evening. It makes for a late night but it’s good to hear about what our children tell their parents about school life and how positive they are about it. The parent council also do a brilliant job in supporting the school through raising money and our profile in the community.
  • Pupil council at school are doing brilliant work (with little help from me as ever!!) on developing diamond time, organizing comic relief events, reviewing school meals (answering questions pupils have about school dinners). They are true independent learners and thinkers and are dealing brilliantly with the responsibilities and frustrations that real life contains. I am incredibly proud of their work.
  • I made another video – I hate it, you hate it, we all hate videoing ourselves but… making a quick video (don’t worry about your hair, your clothes, fancy editting etc) can get across an idea in 2 minutes that might take 30 minutes to blog.
  • On a ukulele front I discovered Richard G’s ukulele song book which has some great tunes to strum!
  • I discovered that Sky Sports is available for £4.99 a month on iPad – thus allowing me to keep up with all things cricket without a) paying for a full subscription and b) hogging our TV.
  • Finally the baseball season is nearly here which means I am back in charge of my fantasy baseball teams. Great fun, lots of geeky stats, lots of banter a good stress buster.
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