Archive for the ‘Pedagogy’ Category

Watch this as a little reminder of how you learnt and what you may include in your future lessons and classroom activities.


Since coming to the UK just over a year ago I have had the fortune of spending much of that time deconstructing years of teaching practice (my own) and forming potential ideas for the years to come from the new things I am seeing and learning. As I have thought about teaching I have been particularly interested in working out how I have functioned, am involved in and how I wish to form involvement in students understanding of terms, concepts and the learning experience that are provided for them. One aspect of particular interest to me has been how students develop knowledge and understanding of what is said, discussed and delivered to them verbally. How do they hear, recognise and remember?

Setting the teacher in me aside you might ask, why is this important? Firstly I am Australian, speak with a reasonable Australian accent, am teaching students in a school in England and need to be easily understood by students of an extensive range of language backgrounds. Several times in lessons I have been asked, “do we sound, like, so English to you?” and mostly my answer is “No, not really. In this room there’s 30 different accents that all sound different to me”. But beyond this surface level accent is the underlying need to have clear diction in the way you talk and present if you wish to be understood. This is heightened by the need to be able to get subject contextual language, the topical lexicon if you like, to make clear and simple sense to my students. As any teacher can argue, there are times it can be hard to make even the simplest concepts make simple common sense, but more about this later.

Secondly, I believe in the value of language and speech. I feel that these skills are one of the most underestimated life skills we can develop. Language is powerful and provides people with the ability to articulate and explain. It allows for collaboration and the sharing or further development of skills and knowledge. It provides us with ways to offer insight and feedback. Yet I also believe that it is not only about the development of higher order language, “Posh Talk” as I have been informed over here. We have to value the communication that occurs between friends and families, between people in the streets and in different generational or regional dialects. This includes the colloquialisms of different ages too.

So how does all this relate to my earlier statement that I am interested in how students develop knowledge and understanding through verbal discourse? How in turn can this lead to increasing their grasp and development of language skills? What have I learnt or done to help this?

For me the answer is simple. I have developed my skills to talk in parallel, to explain concepts in a mixture of both high language and casual talk, to break the complicated down into the simplest possible forms and finally, to use as many bad analogies and examples as possible to reinforce facts with verbal visuals. This mixture is completed by the students. It is the students that are required to redefine the concepts we learn about. They are the ones who have to make sense of it all and explain back. They are the ones who realise that they have to articulate their thoughts and knowledge in both posh talk and normal language. The students have to engage in, and own the development of their own verbal vocabulary. They are the ones who have to master the written response. It is in this moment that the talk moves from parallel explanation to dualistic dialogue. Now is when the students are learning and teaching back. They are developing skills that accommodate their daily need as well as the requirements of formality. They contribute back into lessons and enhance the learning of others by delivering their own explanations to enhance and enrich the content taught. It is also the point at which the teacher becomes the learner.  Recognising the value of listening and noting the ways the students describe and explain is critical. This has become the keystone of how I have tried to develop my skills and understanding of contemporary language. Even when I have had to consider it from an international perspective.

I recently read an interesting article on the topic of signs that a teacher is making a difference. As I read the article I was struck at how much I agreed with the points raised and how I have often been rendered speechless when many of these have happened to me. I have extracted the 20 major points raised from the article and re-ordered them below. If you wish to read the original article, which I recommend, please click this link to the original by Saga Briggs.

  1. You’ve let your passions (and interests) show through in your lessons.
  2. Your students are asking questions, not just giving answers. (This is the reward of creating curiosity)
  3. You’ve tried new things. (with mixed success)
  4. You’ve improvised. (and taught to suit the change of lesson flow)
  5. Your shy students start participating more often without being prompted. (They come to you with questions and ideas)
  6. You have used your authoritative role for inspiration, not intimidation. (The students feel empowered to share and collaborate)
  7. You have listened as often as you have lectured. Another lesson in authority. (An important element of Academic Care)
  8. You’ve been told by a student that, because of something you showed them, they enjoy learning outside of class (and looked up their own interests and shared them with you).
  9. A student you’ve encouraged creates something new with her talents. (Then they share it with you)
  10. You have taken a personal interest in your students. (More Academic Care)
  11. You’ve made your students laugh. (This should go for your colleagues too)
  12. You have cared–and shown that you cared. (Students appreciate a teacher being human. This is important when considering the practice of Academic Care)
  13. Your student asks you for a letter of reference. (For more than an application to further study)
  14. You’ve made students understand the personal relevance of what they’re learning. (And helped them to develop a love for how to learn)
  15. You have helped a student choose a career. (well at-least listened to their questions, thoughts, interests and concerns)
  16. One of your students becomes an educator.
  17. A parent approaches you with kind words. (Always floors me as often comes at unexpected times)
  18. Your students visit you when they don’t have to. (Even after a few years out of school)
  19. You can be a mentor when you need to be.
  20. You practice strength and patience. (Arguably the most important life skill for an educator)

There are many more points that I could add to this list. Maybe you add some more of your own?

Recently I have had the need to reflect upon and to deconstruct my teaching. Yes, I have been teaching for a while and, No I don’t intend to leave the profession. But why have I had a need to think backwards in some people’s views?

The reason lies in the fact that since January of this year, 2013, I have been teaching in a different country from where I trained and gained many years of experience. This has meant that I have had to learn about new ways that teachers are accredited, how they are observed and how important, in some situations, performance management is. The last part of the reason is that I have also recently chosen to work through mentoring a Trainee Teacher through their PGCE year in their quest to become an accredited and qualified teacher here in the UK. For all my Aus colleagues this is halfway between being a University Practicum student and the first year of the being a New Scheme Teacher with the NSW Institute of Teachers. So what is the point of this I hear you thinking……


(Source: TES)

The purpose of this post is come back to one of the oldest things I remember being forced to learn about when I was at University, Bloom’s Taxonomy. At first I wondered ‘what is the use of this?’, later I tried to remember what it was so I could add some depth to student understanding, and now I stealthily use it as an underpinning of most lessons and question sequences. I have had the fortune of being a teacher through the times from pre-digital learning to now, a time of digital understanding and citizenship. This in turn has brought with it many guises of Bloom’s Taxonomy through to include the Digital Bloom.

I have included a link to a very good poster that shows the basic elements of the taxonomy from TES (click on the image at the top). This poster is excellent in that it includes the levels of thinking required, keywords and some questioning examples. It does unfortunately not include one of the recent developments of Bloom’s, Creativity. All of the elements of the original and many of the more recent versions are important to understand and to be able to use when it comes to teaching. As I have been finding, it is a principle which is a part of the International language of education. It is one that I have grown to believe in, borrow from and teach with. I try to refer others back to it as a support block and it is an important of any experienced teachers’ toolkit. It can be built into any pedagogical approach or model and is something that I hope you take time to work with and to understand.

After many versions of this overview I am nearly there with where next year will look like for the lucky students of our Key Stage 3, Years 7-9. We are trying to take a project-based approach to the teaching of skills, concepts and practices, whilst embedding theoretical content. The new Sequences of work will be developed from the following key Drivers; Computer Science, Digital Literacy, Digital Citizenship and Project Development and Creativity. I have started to develop a project booklet that shows mapping against the newly released UK National Curriculum and brief overviews of each project area. I am happy to share the developments as they are completed. Any comments welcome.

A colleague recently came and spoke to me with what she called “my crazy idea”. In its essence the idea was something I instantly thought “awesome let’s give this a go” and encompassed some interdepartmental collaboration, cross-curricular work and the promotion of my favourite thing, creativity.

The general idea is for students to write the text for a graphic novel in English, create artworks based on the novel in Art and use IT as a tool to create an online Graphic Novel. As a result I have started looking up online resources and tools for helping to make this idea a reality. Not there yet, but working on it.

Well, I have started on the redesign and development of the Scope and Sequence of work for Key Stage 3, UK Years 7, 8 and 9 (Aus Years 7 and 8 equiv). Some of the things I wish to enhance are the transparency of the marking and feedback for the students, the students’ ability to identify and develop to the needs of a brief (rather than be prescriptive and teacher driven) and to include skills that will enable the students to be better equipped for the future Computer Science flavour that is coming to the UK/British curriculum. Some of these areas, particularly assessment, I am interested in and have spent much time previously developing tools and concepts to assist. I am also working to trial some of the preliminary development of units of work in the current term, before the new year in September, with the help of my colleagues within the Computing Department.

Below is the first assessment task I have developed as part of a Sequence of Work (Unit in Aus terms) for Year 9. Here the students have been taught about and have developed skills in the use of Adobe Flash CS3. They have also had a brief introduction to the control that using computer code can give. I have designed this task to include a basic brief-based approach, clearly specified objectives and a marking system that will be easily understood by the students. The task, by both its instruction and adaptability, allows for students of a large range of abilities (differentiation) and includes both individual and collaborative work. It is finished with a peer evaluation and review. The allocated time for this task is tight (I would usually like to allow another two lessons) but due to the length of the current half-term remaining this is a constraint we have to work to.

Have a look and let me know what you think.


Year 9 ICT – Interactive Flash

Task Title:     Interactive Story – Fractured Fairytale
Length of Task:     4 lessons (4 weeks)

Objectives:

  1. Write a story developed from a Fairytale (may be culturally derived) that has multiple endings
  2. Demonstrate Flash animation techniques
  3. Demonstrate and practise the appropriate use of symbols when creating Flash movies
  4. Create an interactive Flash application using code (ActionScript 2.0) for functionality
  5. Demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively with others

Task:

For this task you are to collaboratively write, design and develop an interactive, animated story using Adobe Flash CS3. To complete your story you are to:

  • Work with a partner to develop a story developed, from a Fairytale, with two endings
  • Write and present your groups story using Microsoft Word
  • Create a story plan by writing a script or designing an annotated storyboard that shows how your story is interactive and where the choices for the endings are made
  • Create and use a ‘container.fla’ / ‘container.swf’ file as the root of all flash files.
  • The story is to be a minimum of three (3) scenes (Flash Movies)
  • The ‘Story Introduction’ Flash movie is to be developed together, collaboratively.
  • Each member of the group is to develop their own ending of the story and link to it from the ‘Story Introduction’ movie.
  • Use ActionScript 2.0 to control the function of the Flash SWF files.
  • Use appropriate techniques and skills to create the animated sequence/s. This includes use of symbols, animation technique/s, motion guide/s and tweening.
  • Individually complete the Review document and submit it on the due date

Submission:

The task is to be developed collaboratively into the designated class folders in the Student Shared Area.

Marking Sheet:

Task Outcomes:  

5

4

3

2

1

N/A

Flash Interactive Story
Story
Flash – Animation
Flash – symbol use
Flash – Buttons, ActionScript and Interactivity
Collaboration
Personal Review
TOTAL        /20    

Marking Criteria:

Mark/s

Descriptor

5

Story – A thoughtful and interesting story is well developed, includes multiple endings, has been collaboratively developed and is presented using correct grammar and spelling.

Flash Animation – Sound use of complex and advanced animation techniques to support the telling of a story

Flash Symbol Use – Accurate use of Flash symbols in the creation of animated, static and interactive movie components

Flash Buttons, AS and Int – Fully functional and interactive story through the correct use of Buttons and ActionScript 2.0 code.

Collaboration – The task has been developed equally and in a positive, collaborative manner

Personal Review – Demonstrates extensive exploration of the developmental process of the task, reflection of self-development and constructive, thoughtful comments on the collaborative elements of the task

4

Story – A thoughtful and interesting story is well developed, includes multiple endings, has been collaboratively developed and is presented using correct grammar and spelling.

Flash Animation – Extensive use of complex and highly advanced animation techniques to create sophisticated animation sequences that tell a story

Flash Symbol Use – Accurate use of Flash symbols in the creation of animated, static and interactive movie components

Flash Buttons, AS and Int – Fully functional and interactive story through the correct use of Buttons and ActionScript 2.0 code.

Collaboration – The task has been developed equally and in a positive, collaborative manner

Personal Review – Demonstrates a thorough examination of the developmental process of the task, reflection of self-development and thoughtful comments on the collaborative elements of the task

3

Story – A thoughtful and interesting story is well developed, includes multiple endings, has been collaboratively developed and is presented using correct grammar and spelling.

Flash Animation – Sound use of complex and advanced animation techniques to support the telling of a story

Flash Symbol Use – Accurate use of Flash symbols in the creation of animated, static and interactive movie components

Flash Buttons, AS and Int – Fully functional and interactive story through the correct use of Buttons and ActionScript 2.0 code.

Collaboration – The task has been developed equally and in a positive, collaborative manner

Personal Review – Discusses the developmental process of the task, gives some reflection of self-development and makes sound comment/s on the collaborative elements of the task

2

Story – A thoughtful and interesting story has been developed, includes multiple endings, has been collaboratively developed and is presented using mostly correct grammar and spelling.

Flash Animation Basic use of animation techniques that link to most of the story concepts

Flash Symbol Use – Accurate use of Flash symbols in the creation of animated, static and interactive movie components

Flash Buttons, AS and Int – A mostly functional and interactive story through the use of Buttons and ActionScript 2.0 code.

Collaboration – The task has been developed in a mostly collaborative manner

Personal Review – A basic definition of the developmental process of the task and/or limited reflection of skill development and/or identifies collaborative elements of the task

1

Story – An outline of a story has been presented

Flash Animation – Limited use of animation techniques

Flash Symbol Use – Symbols have been created by the student/s

Flash Buttons, AS and Int– An attempted interactive story with Buttons and ActionScript 2.0 code evident.

Collaboration – The task has been developed with minor consideration of collaborative development practises

Personal Review – A limited identification of any personal skill development and/or reflection of collaboration

 N/A