A quick nano presentation at TeachMeet East on 14 July 2012, using a live demo to cover:
This is the second of two posts in which I want to reflect back on my experience as a PGCE student. (First post was about using Turnitin as student).
I started this blog whilst working as an elearning technologist to share ideas, research and my thoughts. I worked on several projects with Alan Cann (+Alan Cann) about encouraging undergraduates to reflect on their learning. Of course, once I started my PGCE, it was my turn to reflect.
After a rather demoralising week in my final placement, I wrote my weekly reflection and sent it to my visiting tutor as usual. He sent me this response:
A very professional and exemplary reflection! You will make an excellent teacher not least because of your ability and willingness to look at your practice on both a micro and macro level.I really hope you find that you can consolidate this thinking into your practice over the final week. Good luck!!
It was wonderful to have some positive feedback and it made me realise just how far I’ve come. Reflection is something that is very personal, and I had always intended that my weekly PGCE reflections would be open and all online on this blog. In the majority of cases, this hasn’t felt appropriate, and having read a great summary of what looks like an interesting paper on a typology of reflection (via Zara Hooley) it is maybe because many of my reflections as a trainee teacher fell into the confessional category ! (See Reflexive Management Learning : An Integrative Review and a Conceptual Typology in the June 2012 issue of Human Resource Development Review 11(2).)
When I look back at my early reflections, particularly those about the course rather than teaching placement, (e.g.Reflecting in public) they are much closer to a diary with the odd comment into themes running across the teaching we received. This latest reflection (with only two weeks to go on the course) is a completely different animal altogether. My weekly reflection has become the place that I analyse my teaching, its effect on the children’s learning and my wishes to change my practice and how I will implement those changes in the future.
I know that many other PGCE students have struggled with reflections and asked for exemplars to see what they should be aiming for. The response from the staff has always been that reflection is personal and so sharing exemplars would be pointless. However, amongst us we have shared reflections with one another. I know that Alan has tried to demonstrate reflection by actively modelling it online using social media, and it would have been massively helpful to have access to this sort of support and personal feedback. Twitter does provide a space to reflect with peers and get advice from more experienced colleagues, but is usually not as in-depth as is needed for a PGCE course.
I thought it would be useful to add links here to some of my public ones:
and from my fifth week in my third and final teaching placement:
This week I have settled into more of a standard routine of teaching the whole class on an 80% basis. Whilst I have developed my written planning to use weekly plans for maths and literacy, I feel that I have not has as much time or opportunity to reflect on my teaching and it’s impact on the children’s learning.
I stuck to the behaviour management system, making use of the visual representation on the board of the different levels of sanctions. I restated the rules and my expectations clearly at the beginning of the week, particularly as two boys had been away for two weeks before the half term holiday and had not been taught by me for any length of time. I quickly settled back in to using the system rigorously and noticed that by Wednesday children’s eyes were already flicking to the board and the visual representation of the system behind me whenever I called out their name to be quiet when I expected it to. However, towards the end of the week this began to slip, as I was feeling tired and constantly writing names down or calling them out was interrupting the flow of my thought when talking to the class. It wasn’t until I discussed the class motivation in my observed lesson with my tutor on Thursday that I realised I had been concentrating so hard on the behaviour system that I had forgotten that the other main element of managing behaviour is having appropriate and engaging tasks for the children to complete. As I have been moving through different topics in maths and literacy, I am still finding out a great deal about the children’s attainment and ability to work together. I have therefore not always been applying this knowledge to change the activities I have been setting during the main part of the lessons.
Having talked it through and reflected on this discussion over the last two evenings, I can see that I have grasped the classroom management techniques for reinforcing my expectations for behaviour but that I now need to combine this with more engaging tasks at appropriate levels. Combined, these should help the flow of my lessons and enable me to move forward more quickly. I had even commented to the children on Friday that the constant stopping to ask for attention was getting boring – and they agreed! This week I will review my weekly plans very carefully to ensure that the activities are well thought through, aligned to the learning objective and that I am sure of what the children will achieve and how they will carry it out. (Q31, Q25a).
For various reasons I have had less opportunity to discuss my lessons with my mentor or LSA this week. Looking back over the week, I think that this has led me to reflect less on my teaching and the children’s learning. When I have my own class next year, I realise that I will need to seek out my NQT mentor to discuss my teaching regularly. I have found that talking my lessons through, even quickly, really does help to move me forward and develop further (Q7a, Q7b, Q9).
Purpose and timing
Whilst I am often clear in my own mind about the purpose and timing of work to be completed by the children, I do not always explicitly share this with the class, particularly when planned to be carried out over several days. This leads to the children not having an overview of their work, or ownership, in that they do not know how long to spend on tasks as they are not sure when we will move onto the next piece of work. This leads in turn to children repeatedly asking me when they finish a piece of work and if they can work on various pieces at other times of the day. I will endeavour to share the bigger picture with children for my final week of lessons (Q29, Q25b).
The wider aims of my teaching
A discussion with my tutor this week and the publication of the draft primary national curriculum this week has caused me to think more deeply about the wider purpose of my teaching. It is easy to slip in to a very narrow view, particularly when working on a fixed length placement with a ‘borrowed’ class. There are several times that I have realised that with my own class there will be certain routines that I will want to establish when I have the opportunity to work with them over a longer period of time. These will include practical things such as where workbooks are stored, how they given out and collected in, how whiteboards and other classroom resources are used and accessed. I have also thought about how I would like to set a homepage on the classroom PCs that provides children with 3 or 4 quick activities that they can do to productively work on during spare time in the day (such as typing skills, or google search techniques), and how I would like to add access to podcasts of stories and audio books to my guided reading sessions.
Some of these practical elements have a wider impact, however. I tried to ban the use of rubbers when I was teaching the year 5 children in the community room during SATs. This worked while we were away from the main classroom, but I failed to continue to use it in once working with the whole class, as there were just too many rubbers (and sources of children’s own rubbers!) to deal with. In my own classroom I will not allow rubbers (and I already know that they are not permitted in the school except for art). The practical impact is for children to work more quickly, rather than spending time looking for rubbers and then reworking something they had already done. The wider philosophical aspect, however, is much more important to me. I would like to encourage a feeling in my classroom that it is a safe place to make mistakes, that in fact, mistakes and risk taking is encouraged. A place where as a teacher I can see the mistakes that children make and praise them for learning from them.
Whilst I have a clear idea about the wider principles I would like children to develop in maths over their year with me, such as reasoning, explanations and application, I am not as certain about the language skills that I would like to develop. I have so far taken a rather functional approach to teaching literacy and grammar, and not concentrated on the wider richness of language and development of a love a reading or writing. Interestingly, a similar argument is happening around the draft national curriculum proposals, and the author Michael Rosen’s blog on the topic of grammar rules this week, struck a chord with the discussion I had with my tutor this week (http://michaelrosenblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/grammar-rules-or-patterns.html). He argues that teaching grammar only by a set of rules denies the joy and pleasure of the English language. I think this is an area that I will develop more confidence in as I teach more, but I will seek some input from my NQT mentor and literacy co-ordinator on the school’s wider aims for skills development in literacy which will help to guide me initially. (Q14, Q17)
[note the 'Q14' etc. refers to the teaching standards that we need to meet as trainees. These are changing in September 2012 and some tutors have asked for them to be referenced in reflections, whilst others have explicitly asked for them to be removed]
I had signed up for Pinterest ages ago, but really couldn’t get my head round it at the time. I saw it as being pretty similar to Scoopit, and therefore pretty much about curation and collecting, bookmarking stuff to share with others. It is very visually orientated, mostly showing just pictures and generally the stuff I want to look at online is text based, so it didn’t appeal and I left it alone.
It wasn’t until Emma showed her Pinterest board where she is collecting ideas for her new classroom that the penny dropped. This is definitely a place where pictures are essential, especially for those of us, like me, with very little imagination when it comes to design, layout and colour!
Instead of trawling the web and ‘pinning’ my own stuff (the equivalent of social bookmarking), I’ve discovered that there is a critical mass of teachers (many US based) using Pinterest, so in fact you can look through the ‘discover’ section for education and find some really useful stuff. If there is something I want to save, I repin it, then take a quick look at the person who has saved it initially. This is a quick way to find new boards to follow, and I’ve pretty quickly built up a great collection of boards to follow. I really like the American ideas I am seeing, gives things a different slant, though I’d like to find a few more UK teachers to follow too.
I have also been using the ‘post to twitter’ option when repinning which helps to share what I’ve found more widely. I can always add the #bm tag to the tweet if I think I might need to save the original link to delicious as well (using packrati.us).
I just have one board so far, classroom ideas which is mostly about ideas for how to layout my classroom, displays I might want to use and a few craft activity ideas. I’m not sure if I will expand to other boards, as I will be likely to save other ideas to delicious, I guess it depends if I find another ‘visual area’ I need to work on (maybe art, design and technology activities ?).
The app is well thought out and a great way to browse ideas quickly. Shame there isn’t a full size iPad app.
I’ve been working without a laptop that connects to the whiteboard all week and today decided to make more use of my iPad instead of the laptop. The whiteboard works only as a dataprojector, and I’m limited to not having sound, as I connect the two using the VGA apple adaptor, but we managed fairly well today. I had saved two presentations I wanted to use in lessons as pictures (a save as feature in MS PowerPoint) and uploaded the photos to my iPad via iTunes and syncing.
As the iPad was out and connected to the whiteboard, I made more use of it with the children than I have done before:
- I used a photo background in doodle buddy for children to mark on the angles they could see on the structure of a roller coaster as a plenary to a lesson on using protractors and measuring angles.
- I made an impromptu visualised by having a child hold the iPad while another demonstrated how to use a protractor (a bit wobbly, but it worked!)
- I took photos of the work that children produced in a science lesson on laptops when the network went down and they could save what they had done. Displaying these back on the whiteboard made a great plenary and enabled the children to see other examples of work when we would have otherwise lost their efforts.
- I used audio to record children’s ‘radio plays’ to retell the story of the Trojan horse. I hadn’t planned to do this, but again, because the iPad was out, I realised that this would be a much better way for the children to share their work than performing it as I knew that if they stood up in front of their peers they would begin to act ‘visually’ rather than putting their thought into the ‘audio only’ context.
The main restriction with using the iPad with the whiteboard is the lack of sound output and connection. It looks like this may be possible with another cable to connect the AV. I shared the audioboos online so the children listened to them on the PCs in the classroom, but it would have been much better to listen to them as a class.
The interesting point for me about the day was that having the iPad out and in use lead to several different uses of it that were inspired in the moment, when the tool suited my need at the time. All of these things I could have done with other devices, but the iPad did a pretty good job today!
I managed to join in #ukedchat last night which was about cross-curricula planning for the Olympics. I tweet two ideas (neither of them mine!), and a few people were interested in more details, so here they are with the proper credits too!
1. Beebot Olympics (via Doug Dickinson @orunner)
This is a great idea from Doug that he suggested in our last ICT session with him. Steal the BeeBots from reception and get KS2 children working with them. The idea is to have the children to create challenges for one another (Olympic events) and then run a competition to see who can score the most points and win the gold. Suggested activities here, but I’m sure that children could come up with some of their own! Perhaps a long jump? Can you get your Beetbot to go the furthest within a set area, not going over the end line from a standing start?
Using a 6 Bot set. Divide class into 6 groups
Can be made to score points … better as a set of experiences
Activity 1 Bulls eye target
- Put a ‘bulls eye’ target out and a big stating circle
- Bot starts outside the big circle and tries to score as many points as possible in 3 mins
- It must come back the way it went and pause for 5 seconds inside the target
Activity 2 There and back
- Start line and 3 lines various distances away
- Bot programmed to get over first line
- And back over start
- Then programmed to go over second and back over start
- Then over third and back over start
Activity 3 Point and go
- A set of circles spaced around a central circle
- Team must aim Bot to PAUSE inside each circle
- Programmed one at a time
Activity 4 Maze
- Use skipping ropes to design a simple maze
- Pilot Bot through by direct programming one section at a time
Activity 5 Dice Bot
- A 20 number line
- Bot starts on arrow
- Throw die and program Bot to move to that square
- Throw die again and reprogram
- CLEAR each time
- Repeat until Bot passes 20
Activity 6 Bot Zig
- Starting circle
- 4 cones
- Bot to be programmed to zig zag around cones and run straight back
2. Maths project to design an Olympic Stadium (via @keilystrett)
This sprang from an idea that Keily has used with her year 6 class for some time to consolidate and apply maths skills. I’m teaching a mixed year 5/6 class on my final placement and just finishing off National Numeracy Strategy block D unit 3. She suggested doing some project work in the last week of my placement so I could work with some guided groups on areas that children had difficulty with earlier in the block while providing some challenge and independent work for the everyone. She asks children to design their ideal bedroom, starting with a set area for the floor space, then introducing a budget to fill the room with furniture. Over a few days, she varies the tasks by introducing sales or budget cuts (using percentages), restricts the value of some items to a maximum, asks them to decorate and work out the amount of paint or wall paper needed (using area). I thought this was a great idea and as our theme at school was the Olympics this term, I thought I could do something similar with an Olympic stadium. Here are my ideas so far for the week:
Day 1: Start the investigation: set the challenge of designing a new Olympic stadium. Limit the stadium to a particular area and/or perimeter (the size of their building plot) . Children to research what shape different stadia are and how they would work out their areas.
Day 2: Budgeting – buying equipment to go in the stadium – use calculators (Keily usually uses a few Argos or other catalogues for this, but I think I’ll need the children to look online for sports equipment specialists!)
Day 3: Budgeting – work out discounts and restrictions on various items (no single item over £x)
Day 4: Measurement/ conversions: Running track to be changed from m to km, mm, cm.
Day 5: Design a scale to measure the long jump or pole vault.
Another idea from last night was to work on angles – this could include angles for throwing games like shot put, javelin.
Any other suggestions or ideas would be most welcome! I’d like to leave it fairly open for the children to take in a direction that inspires them, so they may design football pitches, beach volley ball pitches or maybe even white water rapid courses! Who knows?
(note: Image found and created using http://johnjohnston.info/flickrCC/ which automatically adds a stamp with the attribution to any image you find)
This week, most of the class I’m teaching on my final placement went off on a residential trip. So those left behind joined with what was left of the year 4/5 class and with 33 children between two teachers, we had a chance to try a few fun things out.
I’ve wanted to use the Night Zoo Keeper project out with kids since I first heard Oliver Quinlan discussing it on twitter via his live blog of his time at Start up Weekend, London Edu, which the Night Zoo Keeper project won.
The idea is that the Night Zoo Keeper is party to all kinds of things the animals in his zoo get up to at night. They become mysterious, creative creatures. The Night Zoo Keeper says:
“Hello and welcome to my zoo. This zoo is unlike any other in the world. Here you can awaken your imagination and play under the light of stars. Together, we will answer the question: what do animals dream about? So if you want to play loads of creative games, read about amazing animals and create your very own, become a Night Zookeeper.”
I adapted the one day curriculum plans to fit into three literacy lessons over three consecutive days. The plans were really clear, easy to use and adapt to suit our children (a mixed group of year 4 to 6 children). We decided to make fill our Night Zoo with Australian animals, as this was our theme over the three days for all our work. I signed up, registered our class and got started! I’ve been following Paul from the project on twitter for a while, so it was reassuring to chat to him online and I was delighted when he even emailed me some extra resources and took the time to encourage our ideas about Australian animals. That personal touch really added something special to the project for me as a teacher, and gave me the security of knowing he was only a tweet away if I got stuck.
The children listened to the first three chapters of the story on the site, then started to brain storm their own animals using the scaffold provided by the project. The next day, they split into two groups and worked in rotation to complete a few missions on the website and to paint pictures of their animals. I took photos of them and resized them to cope with the school’s somewhat slow network, ready for uploading on the final day. The children worked in pairs to create accounts within our class area (using the group registration code I had set up) and followed the prompts to add their animal profile and mission. Some went on to write stories about their animals and upload those too from home!
I will definitely do the project again, I am teaching year 4 next year and am sure I can fit it in somewhere. It really got the children’s imaginations going, and they particularly loved the missions, as demonstrated by how well they linked their animals to the missions they created – see Jessie the snake below, who challenged everyone to a hissing competition!
Monica and Elena
Stages of education:
1. nursery 0-3 (optional and not free)
3-6 compulsory (free)
2. Primary education. 6-12 yo split into three sections, two years each
3. Secondary education 12-16, split into two main stages, two years each. Graduate with elementary Education certificate. Study 9-10 subjects if fail two or more subjects in a year they must repeat the whole year.
4. Non compulsory secondary education 16-18. Students study in one of three main bands – social sciences, science and technology or arts.
Languages taught, English, french and German. English is compulsory from primary onwards.
University entrance – take five exams over three days for entrance to university ,selectividad’. Combined with results form exams taken at end of non compulsory secondary education.
Teaching in Spain
Primary – take a teaching degree, secondary, has a focus on one subject for first degree and then masters in Education.
Need to take a final qualification for teaching.
Work 25 teaching hours €1700 per month, secondary slightly better paid and fewer hours.
Use of ICT: Few schools with interactive whiteboards. Project in Madrid to pay for new technologies now in progress.
Languages: Some bilingual schools, has native speaker support as teaching assistants.
Due to the economic crisis – there are less teachers and so they have had their hours increased, teachers have protested, but people think they have long holidays and think they work only 21 hours a week.
Monica and Elena will be English teachers and should be able to find jobs as there is a great concern and push towards bilingual schools and teaching English, but in general the system is difficult.
University of Alcalá
Funded in 1499 located about an hour from Madrid. 29k students, 2.2k staff, wide variety of degrees taught. Birthplace of Miguel Cervantes (Don Quixote), annual prize for literature is very famous in Spain.
Ece and Charlie
Students from science education system present their view of Turkish system
Pre-school 3-5 years
Primary – 8 years, compulsory 6-14, graduate with primary
Entrance exam for secondary school at end of primary school (14)
Secondary Education is not compulsory, and lasts four years (14-18)
Focus on science for all, physics, chemistry, biology compulsory to 18
Assessment is by exam, with different types of questions and portfolio of work assessed by teachers.
Higher education can be two or four years beyond secondary. Students take national test to enter University.
National committee preparers the curriculum for teacher education, includes subject knowledge, general knowledge, pedagogical knowledge.
Primary teacher Education – 4 year course. Includes recent research, teaching practice.
Secondary training takes a year longer.
Teachers teach 50% of the time, 50% reflection and work. Teachers work 22 hours per week contact time, €1000 per month is average salary.
Wednesday, April 25rd
Grammar School of Ladislava
Videoconference – Oil spills and dispersants
We watched some sixth form students engage in a video conference with a set of experts from Comenius University on oil dispersants. The students we’re arranged in two big groups in the room, with a web camera trained on each of the groups, the university staff had a web cam in their office. They shared PowerPoint slides and videos whilst discussing their differing views and evidence on the use of dispersants (detergents) to get rid of crude oil spills in the ocean. The videoconference was conducted using Adobe Connect software. The students had an opportunity to ask questions at the end, although they told us afterwards that the university staff didn’t hear them properly and so they didn’t really answer the questions they asked them.
Whilst the use of the software was interesting, and a good case study, it did seem rather unnecessary as we knew the room that the university experts were in is about a 15 minute walk away from the school….
Tuesday, April 24nd
Grammar School Ladislava Saru
We were met by two final year students and escorted throughout the morning by them . They were very self assured, poised intelligent young women with an amazing fluency in English.
Children aged 11-19 at Grammar School. First lesson at 7.30 sometimes start with the second lesson at 8.20.
No assemblies in Slovak schools, breaks are just those 10 minutes between lessons.
20 children, 15 yo. Using smart board clickers for voting on smart board . Teacher registers all handsets at the beginning. Voting software shows students still left to vote so teacher can ask them by name to submit their answer. Teacher starts with general quiz on Scandinavian countries, flags, places, features. Answers are not shown as the quiz professes but at the end a bar chart shows how many each student got right. Looks like this was a test on previous knowledge, as handsets are put away once test is complete and move onto a new topic.
Students present PowerPoint presentations on different countries. Starting with Italy. Teacher adds additional questions, asking students in audience about the facts presented. Then students complete a work book on geography which has partially completed map of Italy, children add in new details, labelling seas, cities, islands. Children are also making their own notes in another book.
23 students 18-19 years old, revision and preparation for matriculation exam
to enter university. Biochemistry, amino acid structure, primary secondary and tertiary structure. This teacher was involved in writing the lesson plans that went with the digital content we saw yesterday. Using it in this lesson to illustrate points, show diagrams, 3D models. Uses whiteboard functions to highlight and draw on structural diagrams for further explanation. All students taking handwritten notes. A student wifi network is available.
Teacher uses a combination of demonstration, questioning and quizzes on the whiteboard to teach. All students have notes from other lessons or studying they have completed. Teachers uses one of the students scarves to demonstrate primary, secondary and tertiary structure in the thread, fringe and weave of the scarf. And shows Paganini the violinist who had a collagen mutation (fibromyalgia ?) that meant his fingers were deformed and bent but that it made it easier for him to play the violin. Shows video on how keratin structure changes application of heat and how it makes curly hair and how perming works.
meeting with head teacher
We had the opportunity to discuss education with he head teacher of he school. I asked what his biggest problem in education was and he said it was access to technology and suitable Slovak content. They also had problems with their wifi network which could not support more than a class online to connect at once. He realised that wired connections would be more effective but they needed an IT technician to run it and they were difficult to find and to fund.
He said a good teachers was one that he a good relationship with their students and did not forget what it was like to be a student themselves. They kept learning throughout their career and should not be afraid that students knew more these them. His answer really showed that respect for students was of paramount importance.
We followed a class to edulab where they had a lesson on biology using he net books and the teacher lead using the interactive whiteboard.
Visit to main building of the university in town to see he Rector office, graduation hall. Built in 1919, in art deco style. First university in Slovakia after first world war.
Telepresence demonstration. Cisco Video conferencing suite €30k. Three large screens, three cameras, set up so that mirroring is complete, we how up in same relative space to people in the other suite. met with colleague in Technicka University v kosiciach. He works on network communication systems, teach some Cisco employees by telepresence. Very natural system, even the tables in our two rooms match so that it feels like we are sitting around the same table. Can have up to four locations in one place at one time. Video of the demo.