I feel this one far more than 40 or 50. 60 feels like the end of term, like the turning the corner having dragged my way around the 400m on my hands and knees. No. It hasn't been that bad. I have my health, marriage, children, mortgage paid, friends, projects, work.
Each generation creates its own perspective on what has gone before; mine is birth, 30, 60 and death. Think of the profile of a marquee - up to the first mast (30), the long stretch across to the second mast (60) then the drop back to earth. The angle of ascent and descent can vary; I still don't know if it will be precipitous. I feel that I could knock in another mast to take me up to 70. This would require a change of scene - or would it. Maybe just greater focus on the things that matter: the environment, people's health and well being ...
Scriptwriting beckons - again. I wrote my first in 1984 called 'The French Test' about a young female French teacher on secondment to an all male school in the north east of England. There have been many others since: science fiction, history series ... and for a couple of years I had an agent. But a short film for Channel 4 and an option on a script was all that materialised.
The Jed Mecurio Master Class from the BBC has inspired me once again. Its a series of 28 videos of him talking - its hard to call it teaching or a class, more a podcast with a face. But there you go. For me teaching requires activity and interaction with the tutor, teaching team and fellow students - like the creative writing course from the Open University via FutureLearn which is brilliant.
That and about to turn 60 is an opportunity to reflect. I find myself asking the same question I asked when I was 13: what am I going to do when I grow up. I used to roll a set of dice and say 'if I get a double 6 I'll be an actor' - I believed it sometimes, just as when I said, 'Sally loves me if I get a double 6' - she didn't, and neither did I.
All this and 'Normal People' has me returning to multiple efforts to write about teen love, but also a story that has been festering for a very long time called 'The Girl in the Garden' in which a runaway from a nearby Children's Home hides away in the extensive wooded grounds of a all male boarding school. Does she end up dead and buried in a garden that wins the 'gardening cup' that year? I still haven't decided. I rather think 'they' should meet again ...
Stomping along with Lingvist and French > 125 hours learning over 4 years (or is that 5) my vocabulary up from 370 words to 4,800+ My pronunciation fluent, my written French improving.
I'm busy being a Digital Editor - all things First World War 1900 to 1923 or thereabouts. I'll be covering the years 1850 to 1949 in due course ... and the entire 20th century! That war has a long shadow.
Otherwise Town Council stuff and Green Party.
Swim Teaching and Coaching.
And Life Drawing twice a month. Got to keep my hand in.
That and Lingvist for my French most days.
The only thing I put on a New Year's Resolution list 5 years ago that I have not done is pick up and play the guitar, or sail much or ski at all.
Oh, well, you can't have everything.
My later father-in-law was an inspiration. I did not know him as a student - I didn't study Philosophy at Oxford. I got to know the family through his children a few years after graduating - and then married his eldest daughter.
His death on 22nd June has had us reflecting on life now that 'we' are now the oldest in the family. It is our turn. I see life now as nothing more prosaic then the conveyor-belt from 'The Generation Game' with a series of events and people passing you by. At some point there is nothing left, you lean in to see what's coming next and in turn you are gathered up and dropped over the edge.
If I life as long as Zbyszek (also known as ZAP) then I have close to 26 years to go - 27 years if I live as long as my maternal grandfather, 3 years my paternal grandfather, 12 years my later father ... we'll see.
ZAP remained busy despite being blind and wearing a hearing aid - he had his son as carer, Alexa and a rotation of young Polish helpers with whom he spent the last years and months corresponding with former students from Oxford and the School for Leaders, Warsaw or posting content on his website pelczynski.org. His books and papers are going to a couple of academic libraries.
Applying for two related though different positions, one in a college as the Digital Learning Manager the other in an national charity as the Online Learning Manager - both offer opportunities, both see my having complementary and overlapping skills, with a gap or two perhaps in my experience and skillsets to fill.
First interview on Friday, second interview on Tuesday so a busy few days doing what is expected these days to occupy a 1 1/2 hour interview process made up of presentations, tasks and interview.
I'm determined that whatever I do takes advantage of what I have learnt at the Open University otherwise it rather negates my having completed the MA ODE. I do rather think at times that an FE, practical skills in learning tools choices, design and outcomes would be of more value to get a foot through the door than the PGCE / Graduate level theorising that comes with the MA ODE.
We humans have not changed, so all this tech coming along is not going to change that. The approaches that work are those that play to our nature. I am fed up of seeing EdTech people treating EdTech as something you grab from the shelf in the proverbial sweet shop.
The answer is in the learning, not the tools - by understanding the students, knowledge of the curriculum and working within your means. Shoehorning approaches into a class, or pushing inappropriately complex solutions on a teacher is wrong, They/we do not have time to master one platform after another, or another ... nor do we want an outsider parachuting in with their answer which too often is a fancy interactive thing that took days to produce, that students can do in minutes. What is the point in that? Has that investment in time and staff costs been well spent? Never.
Would a surgeon in a hospital stand back when a junior administrator with not medical qualifications comes in with a tech tool they say is the answer to everything. It is rarely the answer to anything and causes more problems than solutions.
My first year as a PGCE students is coming to a close as I deliver a 150+ page Module 3 document which tracks my learning experiences of the last year. Revisiting so much It staggers me how much I have done and how much I have learnt. I have gone from over-thinking, over-writing and over-working content like a web agency producer putting up a website for an audience, to being a collaborator and facilitator in a class (or remote). We learn together. I know the subject, I theme it, prep-things, know my learning aims and outcomes, trigger responses, get them all involved, say less and do more.
Can stand alone digital do this? At great expense in a gamified environment perhaps, but not when your resources stretch to the Smart TV, some chromebooks and most valuable of all - some marker pens and a whiteboard.
Just as I put my head down after a short, very early in the morning splurge of activity (I have a habit of doing an hour to 90 minutes from around 3:30am most mornings) I had an idea. One of those ideas which says to be either 'business opportunity' or 'story'. Today it is of the business kind.
Can I now develop something from scratch, again, and this time (for the third time), believe I can make it happen and run with it for at least three years to get it on its feet?
It is all about the business relationship between an educational institution and its digital learning team. Do you have a print room, or purchase in those services as required?
Meanwhile, I promise in due course to feed some of the 150 pages of my module 3 in here. To write it I've picked out some jottings from here. But I also keep a 'day diary' - a sheet or a few paragraphs just noting emails in/dealt with, meetings. Also, which proved very useful and feasible during remote teaching is the vast gallery of screenshots I have - these reminded me of the number of Google Meets and Zoom Calls I have taken part in, or led and provides ample evidence of the learning journey I have been on and the learning curves I have travelled.
Despite loathing slides I did a 'death my power point' microteach - you do what others do and fail like them, if all you have ever seen is failing teaching. And then I replaced this with the equally deplorable 'death by mind map' - all text and my workings again. All I wanted to do was a TED lecture style, no slides talk. These days I go for TEDx with a few supporting slides and video, and a great deal of interaction where the students research, think through and share and make their understanding rather than me telling them what is what.
Note to self:
JFV Ed-Tel blog. I kept this for my first two years at GBMET - private mostly, day to day activities and practices.
Day Diary. I call it this but it is a weekly document which can run to 100+ pages where I note down events, emails, link, and add screenshots so that I can back-up my Teflon brain.
Reflections on e-leanring. The external WordPress version of this ... just as Mindbursts.com was before it (and still is)
Google Photos: Weekly sets of screenshots 'dumped' into a monthly gallery.
Pulling together what might be a 60 to 100 page document evidencing my learning to teach experiences of the last year this blog, has, as alwys, been invaluable. I want something on 'engagement' I find it here via the tags or search. I have multiple notes from a variety of sources: books, papers and video. I can then reflect on what is said and quote it.
11 years in the making. I ought to duplicate it offsite but don't - not much. Why repeat myself unless there is a risk of losing this.
Is something of an understatement.
Since I last wrote I have received a redundancy/restructuring notification. In this shake up my job has gone. I can apply for a marginally more senioir role ... in competition with others. I'm well suited to this, but not the ideal candidate. Or I could take a 40% cut in salary (far fewer hours and term time only) ... and again, I am well suited to the role, but not ideal.
This leaves me open to other opportunities around the college, potentially teaching (I am submitting my end of First Year PGCE module today), or coaching - using my range of subject expertise.
Meanwhile I have 20 hours of work to hold on to: 12-14 hours as a digital editor and about 6 hours teaching/coaching swimmers. Not much, but this is at least all year long.
While I approach 60, here I am still wondering what I should be doing with my life. I itch to write, to blog, to podcast, to get back into production, to head up a team creating branched learning (storylines that split in multiple directions).
And I am still an active Green Party Councillor with more important local elections in two years time after some spectacular local wins at the county level the other week - 4 Green seats gained from Zero from the Conservatives.
Now what? All this and a DNA test from Ancestry says I am 58% Scottish, 23% Northern England and West European ... with 7% Irish and bits of Iceland and Spain thrown in for good measure. I'd love to see how my wife comes out: her paternal grandmother left Ukraine for Poland to escape the Bolsheviks, her paternal grandfather was Polish; on her maternal side she is all Maltese (though her mother was brought up entirely in Italy, then Britain).
Who cares? Netflix continues to please. Currently caught in 'White Lines' which I missed first time round.
And teaching has been magic. How many classes start with the trailers for Men in Black and Men in Black International and then challenge the students to identify the standards, values and morals of MIB agents and how these have changed 1969 to 2019. They got all the first three films of the franchcise for homework. We meet again at the end of next week: sexisim, elitism, secret societies, shoot first ask questions later, torture of informants, bribery, corruption and racism against certain alien cultures.
This 'early adopter' can be something of a laggard or skeptic. This 'innovator' can be late to the game - or refuse to take any notice at all. I dismissed TXT when a school chum mentioned his company producing the tech for this back in the 1990s. I dismissed consultants in 2000 who said there was money to be made online in gambling.
I'm not going to make money from podcasting. And though I've blogged since 1999 I do have a tendency to jump about a lot: a life journal, education, the first world war, swim teaching and coaching, life drawing, photography, sailing, skiing - its all up there (and much more besides hidden when I went through my Henry Miller / Norman Mailer phase.
But podcasting has a professional angle to it. A lot of people love them and swear by them, even if I don't. I've listened to the odd audiobook and I've selected out the occasional episode of a podcast to download so that I could supervise its transcription. This is new though. I have to script, record, produce, publish and promote a podcast ... and once I feel comfortable doing so, I'm thinking six to 12 episodes, then I can teach others too.
The understanding is that students who are Dyslexic or simply struggle with reading find the spoken word more appealing. In education the tutor/teacher can producer a podcast briefing of key classes, a student or group of students could produce a podcast for project work or tutor or student could browse then curate podcasts on a theme close to their heart. Like blogs, there is a podcast on everything. I am certainly not the first to put something out on swimming, whether as a swim teacher or coach.
I am wearing my swim hat for this one.
Produced on Adobe Audition the first episode has gone out as SwimJV or Swim Swim Swim on AnchorFM. I think! I may have delayed publishing until 1st May which could explain why it isn't 'out there yet'. I have a couple of days to do a couple more.
Here is Episode One > Swim JV
I teach three times a week, six sessions. I work with across all our club grades from Grade 1 to 7. Grade 1 can swim - we are not a learn to swim club. They can swim a length at a time, hopefully a bit more. They have some basics of front crawl, back crawl but struggle with breaststroke and cannot be expected to do butterfly beyond a dolphin kick. We'll get them to push and glide, do somersaults and handstands but they won't be able to dive or tumble turn. At Grade 7 they are being readied for a competitive squad, so can swim all strokes well, have all the skills and should go on to five or more years training. Club Competitive swimmers tend to get identified around Grade 4 or 5 when they are still 8 or 9 years old and moved on to a Development Squad.
Inside the Black Box by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam (1998)
My intention with this notes is to qualifiy what I am picking out from what I learn as I go along. ASo watch out, I'll be back several times to adjust what I've put here with examples and reflection.
Raising stands of learning that are achieved through school education. (p.1)
System engineer = black box and inputs to deliver outputs.
What is happening
Some things counter-productive
Something policy-makers can do?
Teaching and learning have to be interactive (p.2)
Feedback to modify the activities
Effect size 0.4 = one grade at GCSE
Improved formative assessment helps the (so-called) low attempt more than the rest.
Frequent assessment feedback helps both groups enhance their learning (Fuchs et al, 1997) Effects of Task Focused Goals on Low Achieving Students. (p.5)
Actively involved (p.5)
Requires guidance on how work can be improved.
Advice not grades are needed (p.6)
Personal improvement is more important than setting one against another with grades.
Vs. students getting into the habit of ‘just getting by’. (p.8)
NOTE :> The ultimate use of assessment information which is elicited in order to improve learning is the pupil.
Vs. - ‘the overall result’ (with grades/gold stars) ‘is to enhance the frequency and the extent of under-achievement’.
A culture of success
A belief that all can achieve
NOTE:> Feedback to any pupil should be about the particular qualities of his or her work, with advice on what he or she can do to improve, and should avoid with other pupils.
Formative assessment is enhanced through self- and peer- assessment.
Pupils are honest in assessing themselves and others.
Their own assessments become an object of discussion with their teachers and with one another. (p.10)
The desired goal
A way to close the gap (Sadler, 1989) Formative Assessment and the design of instructional systems (Instructional science) 18 pp 119-144
NOTE : > For formative assessment to be productive, pupils should be trained in self-assessment so that they can understand the main purpose of their learning and thereby grasp what they need to do to achieve.
Careful scrutiny of the main components of a teaching plan. As the argument develops it becomes clear that instruction and formative assessment are indivisible.
NOTE : > Opportunities for pupils to express their understanding should be designed into any piece of teaching for this will initiate the interaction whereby formative assessment aids learning. (p.11)
The dialogue between pupils and a teacher should be thoughtful, reflective, focused to evoke and explore understanding, and conducted so that all pupils have an opportunity to think and to express their ideas.
Untapped potential not fixed IQ (p.14)
To take new practices on board what teachers ‘need is a variety of living examples of implementation, by teachers with whom they can identify and from whom they can both desire conviction and confidence that they can do better, and see concrete examples of what doing better means in practice. (p.16)
Drawing > Median > via swimming and making a jigsaw > full time in the West for creativity.
Facts or thinking
Understanding & Using Educational Theories
Karl Aubrey & Alison Riley (2nd Edition) London, Sage (2019)
Aubrey. K & Riley. A (2019) Understanding & Using Educational Theories: (2nd Edition) London, Sage
- Benjamin Bloom: Learning through taxonomies
- Albert Bandura. Learning through observation.
- David Kolb: Experiential Learning Theory
- Guy Claxton: Learning Power
- Dylan Wiliam: Assessment for Learning
- Carol Dweck: Mindsets and Motivation
+ Three new chapters which follow the same format as the same edition:
- Albert Bandura
- Dylan Wiliam
- Carol Dweck
Teaching … 'a complex and messy phenomenon, with a multitude of contrasting facets to take into account which need a reflective and professional approach, involving ‘not just knowing what you do and how to do it. It is also about why you do it’. (p xiii Wiliams, 2008) (p.2)
Behaviourism, constructivism, and humanism.
There are three main psychological schools of thought which are of relevance to education and learning theory: behaviourism, constructivism, and humanism.
Learning is simply a matter of stimulus and response (Wallace, 2008:32) (p.2)
The constructivists believe that meaningful knowledge and understanding are actively constructed by learners … which builds on what they already know, causing them to change and adapt and invent ideas’. (Wallace, 2008:61)
The humanism school of thought argues that education should focus on the needs of the individual learner, and that what is important are the aspects of personal and emotional growth. (p.3)
Humanists contend that the purpose of schools is to ‘meet the needs of the individual learner not the other way around’. (Petty, 1998:8)
John Dewey contended that learning should focus on practical life experiences and social interaction c/p8
For genuine learning to take place learners needed to make independent evaluations based on their interests.
Facilitating learning by encouraging and channelling individual curiosity and motivation so that they can develop intellectually.
Learning as a cycle of experience where lessons are planned and executed based on observation and reflection from their own and their learners’ previous experiences and interests (Woods, 2008)
Wanted schools to accept pupils from different classes, cultures and abilities, schools would lay the foundations for building notions of democracy for children.
Opportunistic for action experience (p.11)
Skills and processes to solve problems.
Hegel - learning, developing through creative and active experience.
Kolb - active experience the groundwork for starting knowledge building process (Elkjaer, 2009)
Subject- Specific Facts and the Basis of Theory are necessary for learning to be created and built; it cannot take place just by active experience.
Plowden Report (1967)
2014 National Curriculum in England was a return to a subject-based approach (p.16)
England-results driven environment teachers as facilitator and co-collaborator calls into question the role of the teacher and their responsibility in terms of achievement and attainment of the learner.
Get your students to think like real scientists or historians. (p.16)
Like a sports coach it is the students who do the practice, provide the effort and create the gains.
Dewey - his standpoint on inclusivity came from him witnessing the damage done by privilege and elitism.
The teachers have to know the child very well. (p.18)
The teachers must be knowledgeable of cultural inheritance.
Identify the problem.
- Tap into thor individual needs.
- Respond to their needs.
NOTE :> Intrinsic motivation (Roopnanine and Johnson, 2005)
- Constructors of their own knowledge.
- Making meaning from experiences.
Vygotsky - social interactions are essential for learning to take place. (p.46)
Earlier physical and intellectual maturity (p.47)
Less formality - children learning in groups + some are more knowledgeable.
@ Secondary - activity which involves abstract reasoning, allowing pupils to demonstrate their concrete thinking.
Adaptation - learning through adjusting to new information and experiences, and can proceed through either assimilation or accommodation.
Lev Vygotsky - (p58)
Social background and construction of … knowledge … which is in tune with the culture within which they mature (Keenon, 2002)
Scaffolding - assistance.
C5 Skipper (p.77)
Vs extrinsic motivation to moderate behaviour.
‘Learning students to find their own pleasure and satisfaction in learning activity proper’. (Richelle, 1993:173)
‘Feedback should be given instantaneously given in order that children are aware of where they went wrong and can rectify this immediately’. (p.79)
C6 Benjamin Bloom
Six hierarchical levels from simple to more complex
The cognitive domain taxonomy
- Characterising by value or value concept
The psychomotor domain taxonomy
- Reflex moments
- Perceptual abilities
- Physical abilities
A valuable aid for the planning of lessons, assessments and programmes of study (p.90)
What’s their level of ability at the start of the assignment?
Counter early disappointments.
Modify teaching and learning resources to the individual needs and interests of the student (Husen, 2001)
Develop talent (Bloom, 1976)
Most disadvantaged children … spend less time in direct interaction with their parents than middle-class children do.
Mavlow : Food, Shelter, Safety
Teaching and assessment so they can all achieve in an already crowded curriculum. (p.93)
Mastery learning in practice takes a huge amount of time and groundwork to prepare resources, plan sessions, organise the classroom environment and give summative feedback to learners (O'Donnell, 2007)
The terms are used to set learning objectives in short-term planning for lessons and medium/long schemes of work. (p94)
Learning objectives (Petty 1998: 347)
Cognitive : reproductive tasks or reasoning tasks.
Reproduction tasks: knowledge, comprehension, application.
Require low cognitive effort (p.95)
Analysis, synthesis and evaluation - involve a deeper learning experience for a student.
Bloom’s taxonomies five teachers a framework to check that their planning and teaching help progress children’s learning. (p.95)
As pupils gain knowledge of their subject, their behaviour and awareness develop, which allows them to use and value the skills attained. (Huddleston and Unwin, 2002)
REF: Bloom, B., Hastings, J. and Madans, G. (eds) Formative and Summative Evaluation of Student Learning. New York. McGraw-Hill.
C7 Malcolm S.Knowles
Contextualising Adult Learning - building on existing experiences.,
Internal gratification from the learning process or the desire to pass exams (p.105)
- Role of experience
- Readiness to learn
- Orientation for learning
- Internal motivation
- Need to know
Classroom layout withdraws vulnerability predisposes the learner to believe that the delivery style will be one of knowledge transition and possibly reinforce their preconceptions of what constitutes a learning environment. (p.110)
Chairs in circles = collaboration or like the AA to ‘share’.
Away from subject-centeredness to one of problem-centredness.
REF: Knowles, M.S. (1950) Informal Adult Education. New York. Assoc. Press.
C8 Jerome Bruner
‘A Spiral Curriculum’ initial presentation, revisited later on to reinforce understanding and give added vigour.
Three ways children convert experiences: through action, imagery and symbols. (p.118)
Structure of learning and how to make it central to teaching.
Readiness for learning.
Intuitive and analytical thinking.
Motives for learning.
Enactive mode: children do things for themselves.
Iconic mode: comprehend images
Symbolic mode: understand abstract language
REF: Bruner - ‘A scaffold to support the efforts of the learner to construct his or her own understanding’ (Olson, 2007:45)
Olson - margins of a complex task to mastery (2007:46)
Blights of poverty, racism and the inequities of social life. (p.127)
C9 Albert Bandura
> observation of cues by others.
Motivation to perform an action
‘Most of the behaviours that people display are learned either deliberately through the influence of example’. (Bandura, 1971:5) (p.139)
Pupils achieving success bring others with them.
Behaviour is learned through observing others as rewards for that behaviour. (p.145)
REF: Bandura. A (1977) Social Learning Theory
C10 Urie Bronfenbrenner
Human development was influenced by the social structure that the individual was part of.
People learn from one another:
C11 Paulo Freire Oppression
Dialogue based on mutual respect curiosity (p.166)
Students keep journals and read out what they write to each other. (p.175)
Interests, cultures, history of 17 year olds.
C12 Donald Schön (1987:31)
- Recalling events
- Evaluating the experience
- Integrating new knowledge
Make a list of the theories and values that you believe underpin your work in your own setting, then ask a colleague to observe you in practice.
Each student has a fascinating story to tell. (p.91)
REF: Boud,. D Keogh, R and Walker, D (eds) 1985
Turning experience into learning.
C13 David Kolb (p.196)
Experiential Learning Theory
What, how and why you do a thing
People learn best when they are engaged in first-hand experiences which can later be reflected as through thinking about the details of the experience alongside the feelings and perceptions which emerged during the experience (Hankin et al, 2001) (p.198)
- Concrete experience
- Reflective observation
- Abstract conceptualisation
- Active experimentation
Fig.13.1 Kolb’s Learning Cycle
REF: Moon, J (1999) Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. London. Kogan Page.
REF: Scön. D (1983) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in practice.
C14 Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger
Learners not passive receivers of knowledge
Wenger’s communities of practice
- Communities of practice
- Mutual engagement
- Joint enterprise
- Shared repertoire
NB. Excessive power interactions hinder admissions and participation.
Blogs offer an informal method of writing and give a write the option to air an individual commentary (Rai, 2008:96)
Change layout of the classroom
C15 Guy Claxton
Building student confidence and character.
Process not content
Competence not comprehension
Engagement not ability
Habits of thinking
Reciprocating the behaviour of those they know and trust such as family members and carers.
If children have positive and reasoned experiences which are modelled by these significant others they are more likely to have the emotional intelligence to enable them to work under pressure. (p.231)
Experience in childhood at home and at school is particularly important because these early belief systems whether functional or dysfunctional can be carried through into people’s lives as adults (Claxton, 2002 :122) (p.231)
Teachers need to ‘split-screen’ to retain a dual focus on the content of the lesson and the learning dispositions that are currently being expanded’. (p.237)
Keep your notes / workings
Keep a blog
Teachers as fallible, inquisitive not know it alls (p.238)
REF: Claxton G & Lucas, B (2004) Being Creative: Essential steps to revitalize your work and life. London. BBC Books.
REF: Gabbert. I. (2002) Essential Motivation in the Classroom. London.
C16 Dylan Wiliam (p.244)
The need for students to assess themselves and understand how to improve.
Students should be involved in the choice of tasks.
Assess each others work
Comments which would help pupils improve.
By requiring all pupils to respond to questions also increases inclusivity in the classroom (p.253)
Peer assessment was found to be ‘motivating force for pupils, with pupils applying more care to their work knowing that their peers would be assessing it.’ (p.255)
Pupils should be ‘beneficiaries’ rather than victims of testing’. (p.256)
C17 Carol Dweck
Fixed mindset or growth mindset
Dweck promotes the idea that knowing about how the brain works can foster a love of learning and enhance resilience (Pound, 2009)
Praise that celebrates perseverance, effort, study, hard work and the use of learning strategies (Dweck, 2012) (p.267) Brainology
Real learning comes from a lot of hard work (Matthews and Folsom, 2009:22)
“You really tried hard, that was a good way to do it.”
This is my teaching bible. These are my notes. Somewhat cryptic but I have my favs. These are quote ready so that as I write or reflect on my practice I have the right words and person to hand. Where I have picked out the full reference to a book it is because I plan to dig further - to get that book if I don't have it already.
I have truly found this process transformative. All kinds of teaching in the widest sense of the word have improved - we humans are by default teachers and learners. How else have we got to where we are? Writing a blog on a distance learning website rather then sniffing about in the bushes all day for something to eat.
Classical Learning Theories (p.1)
- Behaviourism - react to stimuli
- Cognitivism - individuals create, rather than receive knowledge
- Humanism - the individual and the nature of learning
Being Socratic (p.9)
Never be afraid to make mistakes
Try to avoid giving out too many answers
Have the clase share their wisdom
It is in a learner’s nature to behave in the manner that they do.
Examine, interpret, self-expansive and develop self-belief.
Tips for the Class:
Set high expectations
Recognise tasks completed
Look for answers themselves
A few early wins
Nature (p14) vs Nurture
Biologists - Behaviourists
What is personal to the student matters
What a student currently believes is important
Learning is an active process
Learners should be provided with quality experiences that engage and build their existing experiences.
Shared thinking and reflection should be the cornerstone of teaching.
Education to understand who you are and your version of reality
It's a mistake when you blame it on fate and not on yourself
Build on the language, experience and skills of the learner.
Story of Jane Elliot teaching segregation to white kids by separating them by eye colour. (p.24)
Action - Reflection - Action (p.24)
Get a rich picture of the learner’s perspective
Have students open up about things that could be affecting their learning
Thorndike Skinner Englebaum
Edison 1% inspiration / 99% perspiration (p.29)
Spell out the rules and regulations relating to how you want people to respond and the penalties for infringing them. (p.30)
People don’t apply their learning unless they have a reason to do so.
Ask the individual what experience they have of the subject matter.
Fish around and play detective
Set out objectives (what they will be able to do!)
Stimulate prior learning
Gagné Nine Levels (p.38-39)
Get their attention
What they will be able to do
Test prior knowledge
Support with examples
Understanding through use
- Direct instruction model
- Differentiate learner’s ability
- Clear steps.
- Gradual steps
Learning is relatable
Encourage people to have a personal interest in the subject matter
Design experiences that lead to independent learning
Research the student’s interests
Show its relevance to the modern/current world and their lives
Interacting relationships from failure through reflecting perception to insight
Encourage new ideas (p.47)
- Use techniques
- Reassure learners
- Evaluate want went wrong
- Keep on trying to find out
- Allow not to be bound by emphasis on ‘delivering the content’.
MKO > Most Knowledgeable Other
ZPD > Zone of Proximal Development
Like ‘flow’ and Mehaly Csikszentmihalyi
- Build interest in the subject
- Break the task into smaller sub tasks
- Stage of cognitive development
- Take an active, mentoring role
- Learn from peers
- Learn from mistakes
- The process of learning as well as the outcome
- Respect limitations
Try to cater for all your learner’s needs - some flourish in a group, others on their own. (p.51)
Children are copycats.
Link new concepts with existing understanding and knowledge
New materials should not be introduced unless it can be integrated into what is already known.
- Personal participation
- Actively in the process of knowledge acquisition
- Design sessions that help the individual
- Discover the relationships between bits of information
Give the students the information, but have them organise it to solve a problem.
- Find out (assess)
Section 1.4 Humanism
People have a natural potential for learning
Most significant learning takes place when the individual can see that the subject matter is relevant to them.
Adult learners are more concerned with learning in order to complete tasks or solve problems than just learning subjects.
Who are you to define when or if I have become an adult?
Facilitating the process of individuals arriving at their own solutions.
- Be true to yourself
- Consider issues from the other person’s standpoint
- Accept others for what they are
Set the mood/climate
Agreement on outcomes
A range of resources
Find out what they learnt
You can’t teach anyone anything unless they want to.
(You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink) JV
- Experience of life
- Critical reflection
- Rational discourse
(What you learn at home/family or immediate community) JV
Summary of Part I (p.92)
Behaviorist theory relates to reactive
Learning and is underpinned by conditioning and reinforcement
Humanist theory is about reflective learning dependent on experience and self-efficacy.
NOTE :> Test learners’ prior knowledge of skills at the start of every lesson.
Express less objectives in terms of what the learner will know or be able to do at the end of the lesson. (p.93)
Give constant feedback on performance throughout the lesson.
The seven habits of highly effective teachers:
Creative in their use of materials
Competent in their knowledge of the subject
Caring towards learners
Communicative in the way they support learners to believe in themselves
Confident and having a high sense of value of self and others
Considerate in the way they approach learners
Calm in being able to understand and manage difficult situations
- Be Creative
- Solve problems
- Use knowledge productively
- Use knowledge meaningfully
- Increase their desire to want to learn
Inspiration - spontaneous
Clarification - intentions
Evaluation - SWOT
Distillation - evaluation and chose
Incubation - reflection
Perspiration - effort
Earn the respect of your learners by showing an interest in them as individuals.
Purkey (p.108) = Engagement
Teachers need to communicate effectively and invite students to participate in learning
Respect, care, trust, optimism.
Berne (p.110) = Confidence
High Self - confidence and high confidence in learners results in a harmonious situation in the classroom which will be characterised by constructive and cooperative relationships.
Dealing with conflict - focus on the issue not the person (p.115)
Learning Styles - the Debate
Coffield et al. (2004)
Should we be using learning styles?
Honey and Mumford (1986)
Manual of Learning Styles
The ‘idiosyncratic’ way in which an individual acquires, processes, comprehends and retains information. (p.117)
Neil Fleming - VARK (p.120)
(I disagree with this nonsense JV)
Peter Honey and Alan Mumford (p.124-125)
- Activists - learn by doing
- Reflectors - stand back
- Theorists - think it through
- Pragmatists - problem solving
Don’t teach in a way that caters for only one style of teaching (p.127)
Briggs-Myers & Cook-Briggs (p.127-129)
Myers & Briggs
- Extrovert - Introvert
- Sensor - Intuitor
- Thinkers - Feelers
- Judges - Perceivers
Not having to deal with routine and uninspiring tasks.
Understand that in a group of learners there will be a range of different personalities.
Don’t prepare learning materials that cater for only one personality type.
The key to effective teaching is variety and flexibility in order to accommodate any way of thinking and learning styles, systematically varying your teaching and assessment methods to reach any learner.
REF: Sternberg, R.J. 13 Thinking / Learning Styles
The thinking you do to get others to do something.
Something that happens, inside people that gets them to do something.
Do students accept:
- They need to learn
- They have the potential to learn
- Learning as a priority
- Classroom facilities
- Student input
- Knowledge/enthusiasm for the subject
- Approachable but professional
- Set realistic challenges
- Positive and helpful
Encourage your learners to believe in themselves (p.137)
X/Y Teachers / Students (p.138-139)
Don’t let the people (learner/student) who crave power undermine your authority. (p.141)
Curzon’s Fourteen Point Plan
Show the learner how each lesson objective dovetails with long term learning intentions as set out in the course aims and scheme of work.
Set challenging but achievable tasks - aim for one level above.
Make learning materials interesting and meaningful.
Problems to solve (p.143)
REF: Curzon, L.B. (2013) Teaching in Further Education (7th) London: Continuum
Carol Dweck (p.144-145)
Most people are at either end of a spectrum.
Fixed mindsets 40% - Growth mindset 40%
- Intelligence is not fixed and can be developed through hard work and the accumulation of knowledge and understanding.
- Potential full potential can only be reached through constant learning.
- Validation: show the learner that they can become whoever they wish and should never try to justify themselves to others.
- Challenge: get them to welcome the challenge and be willing to take reasonable risks to overcome this and improve. (p.144)
- Learning: get them to value learning for what it will do for them.
Dweck argues growth mindset learners are motivated by inner desires to improve rather than by external stimuli. In this respect, none of the above interventions will work unless the learner is intrinsically motivated to want them to work.
How to motivate your learners to have a growth mindset (p.145)
- Praise effort as much as praise results.
- Success comes from hard work not the individual.
- Failure is the result of lack of effort only.
- Use analogies, metaphors, and role models to demonstrate just what can be achieved through hard work and effort.
Get students to reflect on the effort they put in to achieve the results they got.
Convince learners that every setback is a challenge and should be viewed as an opportunity.
NOTE :> "You really tried hard there."
Encourage the use of self-assessment and peer assessment.
REF: Dweck, C.S (2012) Mindset: How you fulfil your potential. London: Robinson.
Section 2.3 Behaviour Management
Classroom rules are in the interests of learners and teachers (p.148)
Involve learners in setting the ground rules (p.149)
Some good ideas here on managing classroom behaviour. (p.151)
Kainin, J.S. (1970)
Discipline and Group Management in Classrooms. New York: Holt, Reinhart & Wilson
Working and long-term memory (p.154)
Memory is the residue of thought.
Encourage learners to think about a subject in a way they find interesting will enhance their capacity to remember the subject. (p.154)
Critical thinking requires background knowledge.
Learning is impossible without practice - practice reinforces basic skills and protects against forgetting
NOTE :> Learning styles are futile: effective teaching focuses on the content of the lesson, not differences in the learners’ preferred style of learning.
- Case studies
Don’t overload your learners (p.155)
Test your learners prior knowledge of the subject and build on what they already know as a way of helping them to understand new material.
NOTE :> Knowledge is power: whatever system your organisation has in place for dealing with disciplinary matters, make sure you fully understand it.
If you are uncertain about what is allowed, learning will sense it and exploit it.
REF: Cowley, S (2014) Getting the Buggers to Behave (5th Edn) London: Bloomsbury Education.
Psychopaths and how to deal with them. (p.158)
Section 2:5 Coaching and Mentoring
Teachers are ( ) trained professionals who work with people on developing their understanding of an issue. (p.161)
Coaches: to develop specific skills.
Mentoring: a relationship of mutual trust.
(p.162) see diagram
Whitmore : the ultimate goal of the coach is as a facilitator who helps the person select the best options.
Bob Bates (p.166)
Clarify the role
Organise goals and objectives
Act with conviction
Confirm that expectations are met
Have a strategy for setbacks
Inspire creative thinking
Never be afraid of failure
Get to know the person
In order for people to find a reason to work as a member of a team, they need a common purpose and sense of identity.
- Forming > Storming (p.174-175)
- Performing > Adjourning
NOTE :> Francis Buckley
And team teaching (p.178)
Teaching people to be competent is good but supporting them to be creative is where the added value is. (p.181)
Part 4: Planning, Delivering and Assessing Learning (p.255)
Some teachers will be given pre-set curricula and lesson plans and have little scope for variation from these. Others will be given a blank sheet of paper and total freedom in planning lessons.
All the learning experiences which are planned and delivered. (p.257)
Ralph Tyler - a behaviourist approach. (p.259)
- Formulate objectives (p.261)
- Select content
- Select teaching methods
- Delivering teaching
- Measuring outcomes
Hilda Taba (p.262)
= learning objectives
‘Grassroots’ - developed by teachers.
Daryl Wheeler (p.266)
Rational Objective Model - teacher-centred
Diagnose learner needs
- Learning outcomes as behavioural changes
- Content taking account of desired behavioural changes
- Learning experiences and content interrelated
- Evaluation to inform diagnosis of learners needs
NOTE :> Place the interests of your learners first by diagnosing their needs.
Always express your outcomes in terms of what change in behaviours you expect from your learners as a result of the learning experience.
Jerome Bruner (p.272)
Any subject can be taught effectively in some form to learners at any stage of their development.
A logical progression from simplistic ideas to complicated ideas.
Philip Jackson (p.224)
Recall is the highest form of intellectual achievement.
Lesson Planning (p.279)
NOTE :> Why lesson plans are important: structure, logic, objectives, assessment - an aid for the teacher.
Understanding the meaning
Putting ideas into action
Interpreting and assessing practice
Developing new approaches
Assessing how well the new approaches are working
Attract learner’s attention (p.285)
REF: Bloom, B. and Krachwork/ D (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. London: Longman
- Focus - is it clear and explicit
- Content - based on existing knowledge
- Context - Is this appropriate
- Is there scope for social interaction and for activity?
- Is there variety and choice?
George Doran (p.290)
- Time bound
Make sure you can describe in a clear and unambiguous manner, what learners will be able to do by the end of the session.
Tell the learners how their progress will be monitored.
‘By the end of the session, you will be able to … “ (p.292)
Delivering learning (p.295)
If teaching is a methodical, carefully planned delivery based on research and well-structured approached ( > then self-paced digital is the future) JV
If teaching (and being taught) is a performance where the teacher (more like a standup) responds to their audience’s reaction and relies on instincts and creativity ( > then it is 1 to 1 and classroom based).
Science or art? (p.295)
- Behaviourist - directing learners
- Cognitivist - transferring knowledge
- Neurologist - process info
- Humanist - guide
John Hattie (p.296) Visible learning
Evaluate the effect of teaching on learners
Assessment is feedback about impact
Ian Reece and Stephen Walker
- Verbal praise - for effort
- Feedback - timely
- Arousal - baffle/perplex
- Unexpected - mix it up
- Familiar - know them
Usual Context (p.300)
Games and simulation
REF: Reece, I and Walker, S (2007)
Teaching, Training and Learning (6th Ed)
Sunderland: Business Education Publishers.
Sayer and Adey (p.301)
If teachers give the answers learners remember the facts. If learners develop the answers themselves, they will understand.Talking to learn. Robin Alexander (p.305)
(Isn’t this an Oxbridge tutorial being described?) JV
Carol Tomlinson (pp.304-307)
Any group of learners will differ in their motivation to learn, their knowledge of the subject and their preferred styles of learning.
Learners respond best when they are pushed slightly beyond the level where they as individuals can work without assistance.
Learners need to see the connection between what’s being taught and their own interests.
Each learner should have the opportunity to explore the subject in terms of what they want to get out of the subject.
Learners learn better in a classroom environment where they feel significant and respected.
Section 4:4 Assessment and Feedback
- Inductive - are they right for the course?
- Formative - ongoing throughout
- Summative - at the end of every lesson
- Deductive - at the end of the course
REF: Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam (p.310-311)
- Active involvement
- Feedback based on clear learning intentions
- Methodologies flexible to feedback
- Learners able to self-assess and assess others
For formative assessment to be effective teachers need to get inside their learner’s heads and to connect with their thinking and feelings.
Clarify with your learners what the planned learning outcomes are.
Agree milestones where feedback will be given.
Encourage a culture of self-assessment and peer-assessment in the class.
If the purpose of the lesson is to learn how to make an omelette then don’t engage learners in debate about what came first, the chicken or the egg. (p.313)
REF: Jim Gould and Jodi Roffey-Barentsen (pp.318-319)
A six stage model for giving feedback.
Listen to what the learner has to say about their performance
Confirm that you have listened to and understood what the learner had to say
Inform the learner of the thinking behind your assessment of their performance
Focus on specific points in the performance.
Summarise the points that have been discussed
Agree what action the learner needs to take to improve performance.
QQ: “What did you feel you did well?”
To gauge their level of self-awareness (p.318)
Shute uses the analogy of feedback as being likened to a good murder, in that a learner needs a MOTIVE (a desire for it),opportunity (can do something with it) and means (the ability to use it effectively). (p.320)
Focus feedback on the task not the learner.
Provide feedback immediately after a learner has attempted a task.
“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one who must walk through it.”
REF: Shute, V.J. (2008) Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research 78(1) 153-189
Section 4.5 Evaluating Teaching and Learning
Measure the quality of teaching relative to fitness for purpose: will the teaching do what the learners want it to do?
Reflection on action
After the event > review, describe, analyse and evaluate.
Reflection in action
Thinking-while-doing - on your feet about what to do next.
NOTE :> ‘Reflecting-in-action’ - is at the core of the ‘professional artistry’, where practitioners develop the talent to ‘think-on-their-feet’ and improvise.
Stephen Brookfield (p.328-329)
See practice through four complementary lenses or what I would call their 'point of view' (POV)
- Autobiographical lens (pov)
- Learner’s lens (pov)
- Colleagues (pov)
- Theoretical literature (pov)
Brookfield, S (1995)
Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
I may not have been 'poolside' teaching swimmers these last five months, but I have been studying the practicalities of teaching. Those around me may notice no difference, but I know it and the swimmers will know it too. I am a better swimming teacher.
Swim England does not so much teach how to be a swimming, so much as the subject 'swimming'. I see now that teaching how to teach, and teaching the subject of swimming are different things and perhaps should be covered separately.
How I have changed thanks to the PGCE and a lot of reading
Differentiation. I no longer have a lane of Grade 3, Grade 5 or Grade 7 swimmers. Thanks to lockdown I have six, not nine individuals (this helps). They are kids first, swimmers second. Each brings their own personality, expectations, parental and sibling 'baggage'.
Teach the swimmer not the lane. The Grade criteria are no longer a gate that all must pass through together as soon as possible, rather they are a set of objectives that as many as possible will pass through - in their own time and in their own way. May aim is to get as many to the line and even a long way beyond. Being swimming, not a maths or biology class, if a swimmer achieves and is exceeding all the criteria for the Grade we may well move them up that week - no one is held back. It is too depressing for the swimmer to be demonstrated so we avoid that at all costs too.
Play to their strengths. Feedback is instant and is about what is working and what needs fixing and why. Depending on what needs doing the group can be addressed, or I can do it one by one. I praise the effort, not where the swimmer stands in the lane. The swimmer at the back who struggles but is trying is supported with praise as much as, if not more, than the swimmer who is finding it less of a challenge.
Clear explanation and demonstration. They can get it right, with my clear demonstration (sometimes supported with a video clip on an iPad). Don't begrudge the swimmer who asks questions, who appears not to have been listening or not to have understood a drill or command. The context is a bitch: the acoustics awful and the distractions many.
I've done a lot of this of late: reading hefty tomes on education. It makes the pragmatism and evidence based practices of Dylan Wiliam all the more important. Here goes for Kolb. There are a few quotes worth citing and no doubt some theories I might, with your asssitance, get my head around.
Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development
- David A. Kolb (1984)
- New Jersey, USA
- Prentice Hall PTR
- Towards competence
- Working knowledge
- Pertinent jobs
C1. Adaptation and learning - this is the unique human skill
And why something like Covid-19 is a catastrophe and a catalyst for change
‘Learning is no longer ‘for the kids’ but a central lifelong task essential for personal development and career success.
- Field placements
- Work/Study Assignments
- Structured exercises
- Role Play
Gaming simulations (Kolb, 1984)
- T Levels
- Learning Model Cos
Online selling (2021)
E.G. Digital literacy reflection ‘adults’ learning interests are embedded in their personal histories, in their visions of who they are in the world and what they can do and want to do.’ Rita Weathersby (1978, p.19)
NOTE : > For these adults learning methods that combine work and study, theory and practice provide a more productive arena for learning. (Kolb, 1984, p.6)
Tension/Controversy conflict - brings about discussion and learning (p.10)
In and off the moment i.e. living it.
Being detached enough to see this process and context for what it is.
Vitality and creativity
C2 The Process of Experiential Learning
The central role of that experience plays in the learning process (p.20)
Here-and-now concrete experience - observations and reflection - formation of abstract concepts and generalisations > testing implications
The Lewinian Model (p.21)
Dewey’s Model more detailed
Knowledge obtained partly by recollection and partly from the information, advice, and warming of those who observed.
Piaget’s model and stages (p.23)
0-2 years concrete/active sensory-motor stage
Feeling, touching, handling, goal-orientated behaviour.
2-6 years - beginning to reflective orientation internalising actions and converting them to images.
7-11 years - logic of classes and relations. The child increases his independence.
Jerome Bruner ‘Toward a Theory of Instruction’ - makes the point that the purpose of education is to stimulate inquiry and skill in the process of knowledge getting, not to memorise a body of knowledge.
Implant new ideas (p.28)
Dispose of or modify old ones
Resistance to new ideas
Bring out examine and test the learner’s belief and themes
Integration and substitution
See this for elements to include in a lesson/sessions
C3 Structural Foundation of the Learning Process
A four-stage cycle: (p.40)
- Concrete experience
- Reflective observation
- Abstract conceptualisation
- Active experimentation
How people do things regardless of it being the best approach.
Overtime, individuals develop unique possibilities - processing structures that the dialectic tensions between the pretension and transformation dimension and consistently resolved in a characteristic fashion. (p.76)
As a result of our heredity equipment, our particular past life experience, and the demands of our present environment, most people develop learning styles that emphasize some learning abilities over others. (p.76)
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
A job choice/success
A major function of education is to shape students’ attitudes and orientations toward learning.
Thirst for knowledge
Not ‘learning styles’ so much as ‘lifestyle’ choice and approaches.
NOTE :> Learning styles are conceived not as fixed personality traits but as possibility-processing structures from unique individual programming of the basic but flexible structure of human learning
Transactions with the world (pp 95-96)
C5 The Structure of Knowledge
Knowledge does not exist solely in books, mathematical formulas or philosophical systems, it requires active learners to interact with, interpret, and elaborate these symbols. (p.121)
Learning style is shaped by what is being taught, the faculty where it is taught and those teaching. Learners adapt to fit what is deemed necessary for the task with engineering, for example adapting compared to social science or the humanities.
Concrete - abstract
Archive - reflective
In his 1955 Lithograph entitled ‘lberations’ M.C. Esher captures the essence of the three stages of experiential learning:
Integrate Development (p.160)
Learning and Development in HE
Utilise the tools of social knowledge
Meet social needs
Unique capabilities of the whole person toward creativity, wisdom and integrity.
Different learning environments required for different subjects and outcomes - the learner adopts. (p.198)
Schedules adjust to the learners needs
Define problems for investigation
Collect relevant info
Research a question
Solved problem with a right or best solution
Teacher as taskmaster
A practical problem with not right or best answer
Students need to adopt the best learning approach required by a specific task - it is the successful learning of the task that dictates the learning approach or ‘style’ required NOT the students. (p.200)
Best suited to:
TEachers as friendly helpers
Activities orientated toward applying skills to real-life problems
Autonomous vs theoretical reading
Teachers provide expert explanations
Not task-orientated situations
Not group exercises
Small group discussions
Projects, peer feedback
Applying skills to particular problems vs lectures, task masters evaluations right/wrong
Approaches that individualise the learning process to meet the students’ goals, learning style, pace, and life situation, will pay off handsomely in increased learning (p.202)
Teachers as coaches or managers of the learning process are not dispensers of information.
Growth and creativity objectives
With experiential learning and once in work students take on the full range of learning approaches based on the environment and needs of what has to be learnt (p.207)
Lifelong Learning and Integrative Development
‘We seek to grow and develop because we must do so to survive - as individuals and as a world community. If there is a touch of aggressive selfishness in our search for integrity, it can perhaps be understood as a response to the sometimes overwhelming pressures on us to conform, submit, and comply, to be the object rather than the subject of our life history’. (p.209)
We are a ‘teaching species’ as well as a ‘learning species’. (p.211)
ME > Opportunities for creativity/role innovation (Schein, 1972) - the extent to which a career offers continuing challenges and opportunities for changing roles and job functions.
Fact > Value
Relevance > Meaning
Courage, justice, love, wisdom
William. D (2017) Embedded Formative Assessment: (Strategies for Classroom Assessment That Drives Student Engagement and Learning) (The New Art and Science of Teaching) : Second Edition. Bloomington, USA. Solution Tree Press.
Dylan Wiliam is to formative assessment what Chris Witty is to Covid
I’m getting used to Dylan Wiliam - I think of him as the David Walliams of Education, the Will-I-Am of Formative Assessment.
I’ve been pointed at his webinars, sat through a keynote or two, read the book and the read pamphlet ‘Inside the Black Box: raising standards from classroom assessment’ which he produced with Paul Black in 1998 and established his reputation.
In my first pass of note taking I had over 60 quotes and ideas here, not all from Dylan William. With some editing I’ve got this down to 19 ‘Top Tips’ which are all set out ready to quote.
I’ll go back to the book if needs be for clarification. In this case it is an eBook which makes it very easy as the digital version will correlate to actual print page numbers.
This is how I learn.
It’s a slow and repetitive process: skim read a book to get the lay of the land, read it with an open notebook, then transfer the notes to a document like this. Then edit the notes and where necessary go back to the original book. Most important of all - give it a go. Over the last five weeks I’ve had a chance to apply some of the thinking to both online remote teaching and in the classroom face-to-face.
When a book strikes me as really important I am likely to have it in print and eBook - they read differently and you take different things from each.
These notes are for me to browse, refer back to and use when I next have a formal rationale or observation to write, as well as for every day reflection on the learning and e-learning experience I am currently going through.
Wiliam puts the evidence of learning above myth and has a number of bugbears.
Good teaching is difficult
It is relatively easy to think up cool stuff for students to do in classrooms, but the problem with such an activity-based approach is that too often it is not clear what the students are going to learn. (Wiliam 2017 p.94)
Wiliam disregards learning styles, ‘which have no discernible impact on student achievement at all’. (Wiliam 2017 p.11 also Adey, Fairbrother, William, Johnson, & Jones, (1999). Rather - ‘as long as teachers vary their teaching style, then it is likely that students will get some experience of being pushed beyond it’. (Wiliam 2017 p.48)
Nor is Wiliam a fan of ‘performance of a learning task’ as a predictor of long-term retention of learning (Wiliam 2017 p.47 from Bjork, R.A. (1994) Any mention of ‘neuroscience’ as the panacea annoys him. (Wiliam 2017 p.50)
There is no shortcut
Wiliam’s firm belief is that formative assessment improves performance. (Wiliam 2017 p.11) His view - ‘the use of assessment for summative purposes - grading, sorting, and ranking students - gets in the way’ of learning. (Wiliam 2017 p.56) Education is overly prescriptive with rubrics. (Wiliam p.93 in Alfied Kohn (2006)
No one can do the learning for the student who does not engage.
Our classrooms seem to be based on the principle that if teachers try really hard, they can do the learning for the learners. (Wiliam 2017 p.225)
According to Wiliam there is little evidence that the following ‘tricks’ have any impact of student achievement:
Image use for text learning
Rereading (Wiliam 2017 p.225)
Wiliam sets out five key stages of formative assessment :
Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and success criteria.
Eliciting evidence of learning
Providing feedback that moves learning forward
Activating learners as instructional resources for one another
Activating learners as owner of their own learning
The Assessment Reform Group puts it this way. Assessment to improve learning requires five elements to be in place (cited Broadfoot et al., 1999) (Wiliam 2017 p.61)
Providing effective feedback to students
Actively involving students in their own learning
Adjusting teaching to take into account the assessment results
Recognising the profound influence assessment has on student’s motivation and self-esteem, both of which are crucial influences on learning.
Needing students to be able to assess themselves and understand how to improve.
I like Wiliam’s thinking that ‘good instruction creates desirable difficulties’ - that we learn and retain knowledge through struggling with it. (Wiliam, 2017 p.11) I know from personal experience that the greater the struggle I am willing to endure, the deeper and the longer lasting my learning. It is when I can face the struggle … that I struggle. Good instruction creates what he describes as ‘desirable difficulties’ (Wiliam, 2017 p.47) quoting Bjork (1994, p.193).
Pedagogy Over Curriculum
‘A bad curriculum well taught is usually a better experience for students than a good curriculum badly taught’. (Wiliam, 2017 p.11) I rather think we can apply this to many situations, for example, that pedagogy comes first - not EdTech.
Formative Assessment above all else
The Wiliam mantra is that, ‘attention to minute-by-minute and day-to-day formative assessment is likely to have the biggest impact on student outcomes’. (Wiliam 2017 p.42) He defines formative assessment as ‘the process used by teachers and students to recognise and respond to student learning in order to enhance that learning, during the learning’. (Wiliam 2017 p.59). Formative assessment, according to Bloom (1969) is a kind of evaluation - ‘a brief test used by teachers and students as aids in the learning process. (Wiliam, 2017 p.53 in Bloom (1969) It is ‘the process used by teachers and students to recognise and respond to student learning in order to enhance that learning, during the learning. (Cowie & Bell, 1999 p.32) It is ‘assessment carried out during the instructional process for the purpose of improving teaching or learning’. (Wiliam 2017 p.59 in Shepard et al., 2005 p.275)
I like this : ‘Frequent, interactive assessment of students’ progress and understanding to identify learning needs and adjust appropriately.’ (Wiliam 2017 p.59 from Looney 2005)
And if you need more ways to think of it, try this: ‘assessment, for learning tells ‘us’ ‘what progress each student is making toward meeting each standard while the learning is happening - when there’s still time to be helpful (Wiliam 2017 p.62 from Looney 2005 (pp1-2) Stiggins (2005)
All kinds of formative assessment are not equal
(Wiliam 2017 p.62)
‘The evidence is clear that the shorter the assessment - interpretation - action cycle becomes the greater the impact on student achievement’. (Wiliam, 2016). He continues, ‘short-cycle formative assessment has to be the priority for schools and teachers, because the impact on students is greater. (Wiliam p.75)
‘ … regular use of minute-by-minute and day-to-day classroom formative assessment can substantially improve student achievement’. (Wiliam 2017 p.81)
Design backwards from the learning outcome
(Wiliam 2017 p.81 from Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (2000)
Three issues in the development of learning intentions and success criteria that may be useful to think about. (Wiliam p.95)
Task-specific versus generic scoring rubrics.
Product-focused versus process-focused criteria
Official versus student-friendly language
NOTE :> By being specific about what we want, we focus the students learning too much. ‘He who never made a mistake, never made a discover’ (Wiliam 2017 p.95 quoting Samuel Smiles (1862 p.275)
There are a number of techniques which appealed when I read about them and I have used them. These are techniques to help students understand and achieve learning intentions. (Wiliam 2017 p.104 from Clarke (2001)
This is simple, these phrases work
WALT ‘We are learning to … ‘
WILF ‘What I’m looking for … ‘
TIB ‘This is because … ‘
Student Engagement Techniques
The teacher asks a question, selects a student to answer the question and then responds to the student’s answer, which is generally some kind of evaluation of what the student said. (Wiliam 2017 p.124) Teacher-Led classroom discussion.
Try some of these:
All student response systems
Discussion vs. diagnostic questions
Pose a question, pick a student at random
5 seconds - pause
Bounce-what do you think (Wiliam 2017 p.129)
App or Lollipop sticks (Wiliam 2017 p.129)
These techniques are used to ensure that all students realise that all are expected to tke part and that it is ok to make mistakes. If someone does not provide a response then come back to them and tell them “OK, I’ll come back to you”. (Wiliam 2017 p.132)
Then seek Response 2 and 3 and then return to the person who gave no response and ask them which reply they liked the best and ask them why.
‘Engagement and responsiveness - are at the heart of effective formative assessment’. (Wiliam 2017 p.142)
Managing Challenging Behaviour
To change the behaviour criticise the behaviour not the student. (Wiliam 2017 p.171)
It is quality rather than the quantity of praise that is most important - teacher praise is far more effective if it is infrequent, credible, contingent, specific, and genuine. (Brophy, 1981 in Wiliam 2017 p.171)
The use of feedback improves performance when it is focussed on what needs to be done to improve, and particularly when it gives specific details about how to improve. (Wiliam 2017 p.180)
“It's up to me, and I can do something about it”. (Wiliam 2017 p.183)
When students have to struggled in the learning task, the quality of their performance on this task reduces, but the amount of learning that takes placed increases (Wiliam 2017 p.190)
Feedback functions formatively only if the learner uses the information feedback to him or her to improve performance. If educators intend the information fed back to the learner to be helpful but the learner cannot use it to improve his or her performance, it is not formative.
Motivation is not a cause but a consequence of achievement (In Wiliam 20176 p.234) from Garon-Carrier et al., 2016)
Like sports coaching, teaching takes time to master
It takes years for even the most capable of coach to break down a long learning journey from where the student is right now - to where he or she needs to be. (Wiliam 2017 p.193)
Feedback should cause thinking
Feedback for Future Action. (Wiliam 2017 p.194)
To be effective, feedback needs to direct attention to what's next, rather than focusing on how well or poorly the student did on the work, and this rarely happens in the typical classroom.
The response from the student to feedback should be ‘cognitive rather than emotional’ (Wiliam 2017 p.205) In other words, feedback should cause thinking by creating desirable difficulties.
Peer tutoring can be more effective than one-on-one tutorial instruction from a teacher. This is because of the ‘change in power relationships’. (Wiliam 2017 p.209)
And regarding students online not using their webcams he believed you can see how a student is really taking it by seeing their faces (Wiliam 2017 p.209)
Put students in a group towards the end of the class so that they can discuss then report back on what has been taught.
Two Techniques that work
(Wiliam 2017 p230)
These received high ratings because they were effective with learners of different ages and abilities and were shown to boost students’ performance across many kinds of tasks, and there was plenty of evidence that they worked in educational contexts.
If students complete a practice test and get immediate feedback on their answers, students will get the benefit of the hypercorrection effect for those questions where they were correct. (Wiliam 2017 p.231)
Students are more motivated to reach goals that are specific, are within reach, and offer some degree of challenge. (Wiliam 2017 p.236 in Bandura, 1986)
When the goals seem out of reach students may give up on increasing competence and instead avoid harm, by focusing on lower-level goals they know they can reach or avoiding failing altogether by disengaging from the task. (Wiliam 2017 p.236)
Think ‘how am I going to teach this and what are the pupils going to learn?’ (Wiliam 2017 p.79)
Having an in-depth understanding of the curriculum may be of more benefit to student progress than advanced study of a subject on the part of the teacher.
Students don't learn what we teach. (Wiliam 2017 p.77)
Teaching the goal. Driving as teaching. (Wiliam 2017 p.78)
‘When the pressure is on, most of us behave as if lecturing works but deep down inside we know it’s ineffective’. (Wiliam 2017 p.80)
The teacher’s job is not to transmit knowledge, nor to facilitate learning. It is to engineer effective learning environments for students. (Wiliam 2017 p.80)
Learners of all ages need to understand what it is that they need to learn and be able to monitor their progress toward their goal. (Wiliam 2017 p.95)
Don’t simply plan the instructional activity, but also plan how you are going to find out where the students are in their learning. You need to be clear about what we want students to learn (Wiliam 2017 p.115)
Ask questions either to cause thinkin and to provide information for the teacher about what to do next. (Wiliam 2017 p.126)
Beware - those avoiding engagement are forgoing the opportunities to increase their ability.
The most important factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows - the teachers job is to ascertain this and to teach accordingly. (Wiliam 2017 p.166)
Much of the feedback that students get has little or no effect on their learning, and some kinds of feedback are actually counterproductive. (Wiliam 2017 p.167)
Do not mix grades and comments, just stick to comments. (Wiliam 2017 p.167)
Oral feedback is best. (Wiliam 2017 p.174)
Too often feedback is counterproductive. (Wiliam 2017 p.178)
Don’t provide students with feedback unless you allow time, in class, to work on using the feedback to improve their work. (Wiliam 2017 p.195)
Feedback should be more work for them than you! (Wiliam 2017 p.195)
A simple approach to feedback. Pick out two things to praise, then express what they need to do a constructive wish. He calls the technique ‘two stars and a wish’. (Wiliam 2017 p.214)
Teachers have a crucial role to play in designing the situations in which learning takes place, but only learners create learning. Wiliam 2017 p.246)
Adey, Fairbrother, William, Johnson, & Jones, (1999) p.36 A review of learning styles and learning strategies. London. King’s College London Centre for Advanced Thinking.
Ausubel (1968) Educational psychology. A Cognitive view. New York. Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Bjork, R.A. (1994) Memory and metamemory consideration in the training of human beings. In J.Metcalfe & A.P. Shimamura (eds) Metacognition : Knowing about knowing (pp.188-205) Cambridge, MA MIT Press.
Bloom, B.S. (1969) Some theoretical issues relating to educational evaluation, In H.G. Richey & R.W. Tyler (Eds). Educational evaluation : New roles, new means, part 2 (Vol.68, pp. 26-50_ Chicago : University of Chicago Press.
Brophy, H (1981) Teacher praise: A functional analysis. Review of Educational Research, 51 (i), 5-32
Clarke, S (2001) Unlocking Formative Assessment. London, Hodder & Stoughton
Cowie, B & Bell, B (1999) A Model for formative assessment in science education. Assessment in Education : Principles, Policy and Practice. 6(1), 101-116
Looney, J (ed) (2005) Formative Assessment: improving learning in secondary classroom. Paris. Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Shepard et al., 2005 p.275 in L.Darling-Hammon & J.Bransford (Eds) preparing teaching for a changing world : what teachers should learn and be able to do (pp.215-326)
Soderstrom, N.C., & Bjork, R.A. (2015) Learning versus performance : An integrative review. Perspectives on Psychological Science 10 (2), 176-199.
Stiggins R.J. (2005) Assessment for learning defined.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2000) Understanding by design. New York. Prentice Hall.
William, D. (2016) Leadership for teacher learning . Creating a culture where all teachers improv so that all students succeed. West Palm Beach , FL, Learning Sciences International.
William, D (2017) Embedded Formative Assessment: (Strategies for Classroom Assessment That Drives Student Engagement and Learning) (The New Art and Science of Teaching) : Second Edition
How would you have answered the 2021 Census had this been 1911?
To get their attention at the start of the class and to get them thinking I showed a series of artworks by Jean-Michel Basquiat. In part this played into the final task of the module which is to create a ‘Poster’ which will be part drawing, part text, diagram and infographic but it also introduced today’s theme on mental welfare and the mind.
I used this quote from Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“I don't think about art while I work. I try to think about life.” (Basquiat, 1986)
I also pointed out that Basquiat died of a heroin overdose when he was 27 and so introduced the theme of mental well-being and the way we cope with stress.
A student suggested that as well as writing down mechanisms of coping with stress, we also included ‘how not to … ‘ to which the class put ‘alcohol’ and ‘drugs while also recognising that silence, or ‘going crazy or being aggressive was not a solution. This related back to Basquait, who we understand was “attracted to intelligence more than anything and to pain” and the Laurie Anderson quote from Radio 6 Music on an uncle who went ‘crazy in the attic’ for three years suffering from ‘shell-shock’. (Anderson 2021)
Throughout I wanted to make use of the evidence-based research of Dylan William (2017) regarding formative assessment, especially on the ‘Five Key Stages of Formative Assessment”. (Wilaim, p.11) With this in mind, the first step was ‘Clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions and success criteria’. (Wiliam, p.11)
The goal of this class was stated within the context of the end of the module task to create a poster. That by the end of this session students would understand how all the previous sessions on the hands, feet and face would fit together. I took an A3 sheet and drew up my impression of one approach for this poster: a roughly sketched human figure with head, hands and feet, with elements from each mind map added to, in turn, a hand, a foot, the face and the mind/brain. It was also suggested that the page might be split left and right between how personal hygiene protects you on one side of the page while looking at how personal hygiene protects others on the other side.
Having got them to write ‘mind’ or ‘brain’ in the centre of an A3 sheet we then recapped the set of enquiry questions we have used before: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? I took this opportunity to try the technique proposed by Wiliam (2017, p.126) he learnt from a teacher called ‘Pose-pause-pounce-bounce. Here I would Pose > a question, ‘Pause’ 3 seconds for a response, then ‘Pounce’ on someone else who would hopely provide a response and then go back to the original person to seek confirmation and clarification. In the moment, despite having these steps written out, I found I would pose a question, not give adequate pause, pick someone else who may not reply either then fall back on taking a response from someone who was ready with an answer. I then missed the chance to go back to the person to whom the question was first put. To achieve this in future I should slow down, as I still don’t know the students, I should use the floor plan, and be quite specific about marking down who is asked the first question and even use arrows to point back to them once I have moved on. This floor plan should also show the layout from the teacher’s perspective from Front to Back to make it easy to use.
I also used a phrasing technique that is also suggested in Wiliam (2017, p.104) “to help students understand and achieve learning intentions”. This is known as WALT, WILF and TIB as in “We are learning …” “What I’m looking for …” and “This is because …”. I found I use the second of these most frequently so that I could take any discussion back to the task of this session and the end of module poster assignment.
I realised after the event the value of each student having a chrome book and access to the Internet as when being taught remotely this formed an important part of the class as they were expected to do their own research, ideally looking at Medical News Today and other reliable sources of information, as well as creating a Pinterest gallery of visual ideas. The issue in class, which may have been the same when working from home, would have been to have had a surface large enough, such as a kitchen table rather than a small desk, or working from a laptop, tablet of phone so that they could do their mind map. I also realise that I naturally worked on an A3 sheet clipped to a drawing board while they were working with whatever pad of paper came to hand.
Regarding access to the Internet I should also have encouraged those who had used the App Simple Mind to continue to do so, while introducing Google Draw, Adobe Spark and Canva as additional tools they could use for the end of module assignment > a poster.
I could have prepared in advance a short introduction to the brain/mind - indeed there are surely many on YouTube that are suitable. We should be amazed at the 86 billion neurons and our capacity to think and feel - wherein lies the problem when it comes to mental wellbeing.
I repeatedly tried to bring the topic back to Mental Health and Uniformed Services looking at the topic from the perspective of your own mental health and that of others. Three clips were used. In the case of content from Twitter I talked through a short exchange on different kinds of trauma from a Clinical Psychologist and someone sharing their state of depression. I had a short piece from Radio 6 Music with Laurie Anderson talking about an uncle who spent three years ‘going crazy’ in their attic from ‘Shell Shock’.
In this way an attempt was made to get a discussion going on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for example around questions on rape, compared to anxiety and depression. We also considered how an individual copes with PTSD, anxiety and depression. A range of responses were given: talk to others, seek professional help, relax with music, a walk or playing electronic games. However, it was a struggle, now that I could see the students in front of me, to get them to take all of these opportunities to jot things down on their mind map. Time and time again with the video clips it was as if the default practice was ‘put your pens down, look at the screen’, rather than listen and take notes.
Whereas working online, 90 minutes at a time, we could take a 20 minute period to work on producing the mind map, here it was kept to 15 minutes. Here at least I could go around, see what they were doing and guide them. It was surprising how little was being done in some instances, that the repeated opportunities to add detail from the information provided were being missed.
With the one to one the opportunity came for immediate spoken feedback. Here I took note of Knowles (1980) regarding using non-judgemental feedback. Although the students are young adults, age 17 typically, I felt that an approach developed in adult-learning would be most helpful - after all these young people are in an FE college, not school.
Ample time was given to students to respond to my questions with the expectation that other students would be listening, taking notes on their mind map and contributing. I would have liked to have given a short insight into concepts such as ‘positivity’, Kolb’s spiral (Kolb, 1984 ) being ‘In The Flow’ (Cskiszentmihalyi, 1990) and motivation coming from a good coach. We did discuss mindfulness and the website Medical News Today was once again offered as a reliable, uptodate and clear source for research.
Basquiat, J-M (1986) Quoted in the New Yorker. Wikipedia (URL) (accessed 11 March 2021) Interview with writer Isabelle Graw in 1986. Jean-Michael Basquiat on How to be an Artist on website Artsy > https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-artist-jean-michel-basquiat (accessed 11 March 2021)
BBC Radio 6 Music - The First Time … Laurie Anderson talks to Matt Everitt (accessessed 14 March 2021 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000sqnr )
Cskiszentmihalyi, M. (1990) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York. Harper & Row.
Knowles, M.S. (1980) The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From pedagogy to andragogy (revised and updated). Chicago, IL: Association : Revised Second Edition.
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. Reprint electronically produced by permission of Pearson Education Inc., New York (First Edition).
Medical News Today. Medical website. Accessed 11 March 2021 https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/
William.D (2017) Embedded Formative Assessment: (Strategies for Classroom Assessment That Drives Student Engagement and Learning) (The New Art and Science of Teaching) : Second Edition
Teaching is more like doing magic. An illusionist might rely on tricks and technology, but that is not what holds you attention or diverts the eye. From EdTech to the classroom is like grounding the spaceman; I am now in the thick of it, rather watching from a distance. It is a very different place. I am also finding increasingly that I would prefer to rely on my ability to hold the class rather than deferring to often to the technology - even a video might not play, or there'll be no sound. As for slides - forget it. My default use to be lots of them plotting out my every move and word. I now have none at all - none. Perhaps a holding page if a class is online. Perhaps a few supporting images that I may or may not refer to - that could as easily be single frames or in a Doc.
You can't get more accesibile than a person talking and gesticulating. In some instances someone who has a hearing impairment can lip read. You can provide the proverbial hand out - NOT a print out of your slides (if there are any) but a prose approximation of what is said. It won't capture the interplay between teacher and student - and a lot of that now matters too. You build knowledge through constant banter - smart banter known as formative assessment where you seek to winkle our a student's knowledge or lack thereof. They try to express what they think or know, and others add to this (or not) and on returning to them you find they have adjusted their view a little - or at least added to their knowledge.
I'm not doing enough of this. I don't have to be submitting it for review, but everytime I sit through a class I should pick out what I feel works (or not) and note it down.
This takes me back to my first months with the MOADE - you'd have thought I'd learnt my lesson by now. I do blog a lot. I do talk about this kind of thing to other people often. Sometimes I even record these Meets.
I have a backlogue of lessons to go over. But this is 2021, I have a Meet recording of most of them so can go over the class that way and not have to rely on my attentiveness and recollection. Indeed, you are often distracted by all kinds of things and see things quite differently later on.
What do you think it is?
Caffeine and hot chocolate.
I drink them all day. I go onto decaf in the afternoons. I wake with a headache at 4:00am
Too much screen time.
Yesterday I did my usual splurge from 4:00am to 5:30am, returned to bed for a couple more hours and was back at my desk from 8:30am. I've given up breakfast for the lockdown so would have been on the news channels and social media on an iPhone or iPad whenever I am not in front of the laptop or desk.
This is how I kid myself that I am getting some variety: desktop, an iMac and two monitors - standing room only in a miniscule 'study' or laptop, an iBook, as now on one of those trays in or on bed depending on the temperature and time of day.
The screen time yesterday ran through from 'work' to a Town Council Meeting that ran until 10:00pm at least. I ducked out at 9:30pm but was online for another hour sorting out an issue on The Western Front Association website - now fixed, but only resolved at 4:00am this morning when I figured out which box to tick to enable a set of journals to appear to our Digital Members but not the rest of the world
And I worry about my head.
What about my legs?
I joked to a colleague who had done a sea swim and ran/walked 12,300 steps last Saturday that I have gor my steps into single figures ... like six. As in six hops from the bedroom to the bathroom. Should I be surprised that anything so strenuous as a 3 hour Christmas Day walk onto the South Downs at the bottom of the road will result in achilles tendonitis?
Head, legs, body and soul
I need to think again about sailing. I mustn't give it up. I should get fit for it. And there'll be no skiing if I don't strengthen the legs.
I do stand most of the time at my desktop computer though. But this too can be a problem I am told.
I've never counted how many short online courses I have done since I graduated with the MA in Open and Distance Education in 2013. I did a further two modules of the MAODE straight up - as if to finish the set and because I couldn't let go of learning; I still can't.
Since then, if asked how many courses I had done I might have said 11 or so. Maybe I would have muttered that I'd done around 11 on FutureLearn, 6 on Coursera and a couple of other one offs, such as a course with Oxford Brookes on Teaching in Higher Education.
I have just done a tally.
Since FutureLearn launched in 2012 I have signed up for no fewer than 45 of their courses, including the first on Web Sciences from the University of Southampton. Of these I completed 17 and went the full hog and got certificates for 6.
Coursera knows how to keep the time-wasters at bay. You pay upfront! This explains why I have signed up for 8 courses and completed 7. These have been on Learning How to Learn, Photography and Search Engine Optimisation. I also did the Coursera Community Mentor course and become a mentor on the first two modules mentioned here.
I also took the 8 week Take Your Teaching Online course from OpenLearn. Do it! This one's free
Meanwhile, out in the real world, I do life drawing. Not so much in lock down. But there's some contrast. Life-drawing and learning to sail!
This is the easy bit. I'll reflect on a thing while people board the bus and the bus leaves. I'll still be there at the bus stop reflecting on things when the bus comes back the other way an hour later. If I look up around then I'll fret that I am on the wrong side of the road and am about to miss my bus.
Does that make any sense?
FutureLearn are running a course on moitvation. I ought to do it. The introductory blurb says it all:
Motivation involved value, expectancy and delay.
Value > how important your goal to me?
Expectancy > how likely am I to achieve this? Tick stuff off in small steps.
Delay > The longer it takes to achieve one of these small goals the harder it is to remain motivated.
So there we have it.
Looking at the detail there are other core reasons for there being problems:
I have come to the course late.
I want to be on the Postgrad Course on Learning Design with Illinois University.
The 'mentor' role has been thrown out of the window due to Covid-19 closures and lockdowns: my mentor was off ill with susptect Covid, the department went into a two week lockdown and then all schools and colleges closed anyway.
Meanwhile my brain is all a flutter over an idea that came to me in a dream:
What if my brain were tapped by a group studying with me - that my brain patterns could be transposed to them instanteously as a means to enhance the communication of my ideas. I reason that this would be worse, not better - that it would be lost in translation, that if the neural connections in my brain can be imagined as a shildting handprint in which each finger touches a different part of the brain, this same pattern will be a misfit even meaningless to another's brain that is wired and has changed in exceedingly different ways. We are not androids. Whatever impressions we may give on the surface (gender, age, ethnicity) we are not born and raised the same and the raw materials each person is given differs in any case.
I tried to explain this concept as a proposal for doctoral study.
Meanwhile I reflect on the dangers of being curious in the 21st century
An over indulged brain is also an easily distracted one. Any thought I have I can follow up with a search. Anything and everything thrown at me can be a stimulus to something different. I collect screenshots and record meetings as if I will some time have reason to go back over this stuff. I rarely will. I won't even label it.
I am now genuinely fearful that I cannot even keep tabs on what I do; that my actions and thoughts are so transitory to the point of being transparent - the only trace I have that I did a thing is online NOT in my brain where it never has a chance to lodge.
That or early onset Alzhiemers. Or ADHD at play.
Time to get back to ticking boxes.
A week during a Pandemic Lockdown feels like a month - at least it does to me. Every day I am faced with a new challenge. Most of the time I am OK with this, sometimes it gets me down. I am online too often and for too long - probably.
Every day starts with an hour or two or more refreshing pages of The Western Front Association (First World War History) and getting content onto social media for the day. I am played by and follow the analytics closely.
I in the listening post of EdTech: I am looking for and looking out for anything that can make a difference. I am rainding across No Man's land a few times a week too. I will try everything once or twice and if nudged by the right person I may try it more often than this. I have taken to the UCL Knowledge Lab platform 'Learning Designer' as one of the tools I use to plan lessons or a series of lessons. I've just used it for a set of four 1 hour classes on Personal Hygiene, Infectious Disease and Stress for our FE Uniformed Services Department. Inspired by a CPD talk from Scott Hayden I am going to push to use a Mind Map app. We will start with pen and paper, but migrate to the students' mind map app of choice ... I used Simple Minds, the college, via Google Webstore has a collection of others. I've used Simple Minds for a decade and can make it sing with embedded images, links to websites, Drop Downs and Pop-Ups, embedded video and all kinds of other fancy stuff.
Other news awaits.
To end the week I'm sitting through the Darwin Lecture from the Humanist Society. I have decided to become a Humanist - in this Census Year of 2021 it sounds more responsible and matches my Green and Vegan credentials - and is less flippant than declaring ourselves as Jedi Knights as we did a decade ago.
Early days but a few teaching fails online talking to a blank wall of distracted teens is slowly emerging into something that will engage them - even if they want to be off camera and mostly silent. My eclectic mix is a challenge. I don't get to know a group of students, even a particular cohort or subject specialism.
Four simple lessons learnt:
> it matters to be a 'subject matter expert' as you can talk, discuss and provide an inventive and relevant response to meet the needs or interests of the students or group at the time.
> channelled enthusiasm goes a long way, not gushing, nor over-confident, but the person at the helm with a sense of the direction to take.
> a video conference (as only the BBC will call it) i.e. Zoom (even if you're on Google Meet) can be as EdTech as it needs to be. The camera, microphone and Chat are enough to take a class and enough for most people if it is there first time. There is no need to throw in extras like slow 'death by PowerPoint', or faster 'death by PowerPoint' by making it interactive with the likes of PearDeck or Nearpod. A Google Form Quiz will do.
> where analogue meets digital. Hold something up to the camera. Prof Sir Hew Strachan couldn't be doing with 'present now' screens so during his gripping talk on the First World War he simply held up the covers of two or three books. I've taken to using a mini whiteboard while I am asking students to draw a Venn Diagram or Mind Map on whatever comes to hand. When they are done they hold it up to the screen - it works! Some go digital and use their phone or tablet, others get artistic with coloured pencils while others just doodle a thing on the back of an envelope. I can screenshot what they show me (I should have a recording of the class anyway) and for better resolution they can upload, share or email me their efforts.
This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.