Posts Tagged ‘Education’

Slam Poetry of the Streets

Posted: May 21, 2015 in Education
Tags: , ,

I try every day to give a little time to reading, watching or listening to things so that I can learn or reflect on both my personal experience or how I provide knowledge to others, my students.  Today as I was listening to the stream of TEDx Sydney I was fortunate enough to see a recording from 2013 of Omar Musa delivering a brilliant Slam Poem that made me think about and evaluate the educational value and views of people in society and schools.  I feel that it would be interesting to hear the responses of my senior students to this performance.  This would be a great stimulus piece.


I have been looking around for some new content to use for teaching the Principles of Design.  As I have viewed and read various things I stumbled across this short animated clip about 24 Elements of Design by Matt Greenwood.  Though only a stimulus piece this short animation could provide a valuable discussion tool.

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


Recently I have spent some time with my form group (tutor group) exploring the potential of future careers. Today as I was sorting emails and links I have been sent I came across this one. This is a careers based website called ‘Real Cool Futures‘ that appears to have been funded by the Eden Project here in the UK. This will be well worth a look as a fun and informative resource for students to explore the needs of future career pathways.

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?

I am always looking for new ways to get new and cool things going on in my classroom. I have also been looking at how I can get my students to not only develop Apps as programmers, but to also include concepts of Augmented Reality into their ideas. Below are two AR development options that I have read about from others. I am hoping to explore how these can be used and make use of them with students in my school. Let’s see how it goes….