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Digital Literacy - Making sense of a complex world online

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Though hollowed out by 'stage fright' for most of the day I last night deliverd a formal, observed 90 minute online class to a group of students. To get my head in order I successfully used the UCL Learning Designer; I have been learning how to use this on the UCL FutureLearn Massive Open Online Course which has been running for the last two weeks and end this week.

Summary and Pie Chart Introducing a 90 minute online class on Digital Literacy

This is one the Learning Designs I created > Digital Literacy  

The session was recorded. Though I'll need some breathing space before I revisit it. I will also have formal feedback from the person who observed.

I have to wonder why I put myself through this kind of thing! I guess I wanted to wake up my sleepy soul and have succceeded in doing so. 15 minute before I would have (I had the line in my head) "Eat Shit". This is somewhat exaggerated - I would have made excuses. I would have preferred to have been going on stage to deliver Hamlet in a thong.

But I settled in quickly. I am not delivering a TED lecture.

The pacing was about right. Introduce this, show about of that, seeking their point of view. And I purposively kept the Tec low key (despite the subject). This is not the place for me to show off my skills - it is all about them.

My insight into teaching and learning could not be greater. As I realised a decade ago, even 20 years ago when I first did an OU Module on Open and Distance Learning - the theory has to complement practice, not be something that is done in isolation. Who does? How could I think I can study education without doing it myself? You can't learnt to dance only by reading books - you can only acquire an appreciation. But you can be an art critic without being able to paint? 

I've attached my rationale and a 'running order' with timings for the lesson I delivered. The timings were spot on - more or less. We took a 10 minute break an hour in which I readily accommodate and just added 10 minutes to the plan and continued accordingly. 

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Too busy to blog

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Age 13 I started a Five Year Diary. Very quickly you feel you have to write something each day. I did. A few cryptic notes. Decades later I blog. For a while it was a blog a day. These days I scramble notes together across the day. Thinking about it I could readily blog three or more times a day: I don't. 

Too busy to blog does not mean I am not at least regularly noting things down. It just takes a click to Recent Documents or search in my notes to find out. I do this to keep a record of things I may forget. 

This morning I went into my 'study' (tiny broom cupboard of a space) and saw a page of notes I had put down in the middle of the night. I forget the thoughts or that I'd written them down - but am glad that I did as it forms the spine for a talk I have to deliver on employability in 10 days time.

Meanwhile my focus is on three things: observating online sessions delivered by others and writing up a report, preparing and delivering my own online sessions and getting my head around the Learning Designer from UCL's Knowledge Lab featured in their Blended Online Learning FutureLearn MOOC. 

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Keen

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Eager to get some time in doing this 'teaching online' thing I took a group of 'Adult Learners' this afternoon on use of Social Media. I used the Learning Design tool from UCL Knowledgelab - just an electronic planner which automates some of the processes, things I have done here with sets of cards or shared in online in 'swimming lanes' or what not.

Learning Design layout

The laugh is that we did the above for nearly two hours. It took a good 15 to 20 minutes just to get my 'students' in the same place and after that I wanted to give each person a thorough chance to reveal their interest and experience for everyone's benefit. I skipped one or two things as a result, but nonetheless gave time to the links I put up. These breaks to check a few links were always limited to just 3 minutes. The discussion afterwards could easily last 15 to 20 minutes as I gave feedback to each response and there were 7 in the 'Class'. Not a regular college class. 

I find the above of value nonetheless and if I use it for an observed class next week at least I will have practiced it.

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It all starts here >

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Habits are hard to change. 

11 years on I still feel that by putting content here I will be able to find it next week, next year and my AI doppleganger will be able to feed off it to and give the impression that I am still posting content at the age of 105 when in fact I will be totally occupied with my role as the 'Bastard Duke Norm of Williamdy' down the road at Battle to recall the conquest of these islands by the quas-civilised third generation Vikings from France. 

I'm engrossed in the UCL FutureLearn Diana Laurillard Blended Learnning MOOC. I need this stuff because I've eleted to work on the front line. I'd like to feel like i'm the urologic surgeon at Guys hospital who is working in A&E support because of Covid - I am the 'bookman' wannabe academic who has taken his head out of his books to teach. 

Anyway, believe me. I at least will run around like a Medusa eyeing down anything that might help. This does:

  • Learning through acquisition > listening to the teacher, watching a video, demo, reading a book, a website.
  • Learning through inquiry > going to the teacher, library or internet to find something out. 

And the more active learning processes.

  • Learning through discussion > asking questions or answering questions, exchanging ideas. Listening, responding, articulating, arguing …
  • Learning through practice > teachers set up task goals, to  generate an action, interpret feedback.
  • Learning through collaboration > working together on a project to produce a shared output.
  • Learning through production > creating something for the teacher to evaluate.

However, what I do in an observed or demonstration class will surely differ to what I may deliver over a week or term? And differ again when it is done online? I have seen and taken part in excellent online asynchronous provision - I have also suffered awful classes too - maybe even delivered some myself.

Going anywhere? Not yet, never entirely.

I come here to get down a first draft which rarely gets reworked elswere - so at least I've captured it. I do keep a weekly review though, a single doc where I chuck in everything that week, which for me is usally just four days, but with evenings (and nights) thrown in can equate to a heck of a lot of input.

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This week

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Views around the South Downs during a January 2021 hoar frost

This week could run to 73 pages of A4 with screenshots. It is a Google Doc I keep. Actually, that's just for the four days Tuesday to Friday. 

Teachers will be 'live' with students teaching online next week. All are on a quick learning curve both technically and culturally. The cultural shift is nudging towards greater communication, networking and collaboration. Teachers need to stop being soloists and work as an ensemble - or as they do at the OU in an orchestra with the conductor the Chair who lead the unit craetion, not the tutor 'delivery' any part of the unit syncrhonously and being the 'face' of a course for a particular intake. 

We are exposed and challenged as teachers and students and so learning a lot. More than ever before it matters to take notes! I feel at times like the last person on the planet to take notes with ink on paper, as well as digitally in mindmaps, or like this, supported with audio and video recordings. I don't go back through it all, but I do go back through much of it. I will even have some of it transcribed electronically so that I can verify what was said, by whom and get the wording right. 

It leaves a lot undone. A hoar frost the other day and I took loads of photos on an extensive walk around the edges of Lewes onto the South Downs. I've not posted a single one, though I have at lost gone through them. 

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Just Notes

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My day notes from WC 4 Jan with screenshots run to 117 pages. This is six days work as I included Saturday. Sunday I am offline and devices reading. I go through 'Torchbearers of Democracy' by Chad Williams.

In the past I might cut and paste my notes here, tag them and leave them 'private'. It is this that has made this singular space such a valuable resource as I have added e-learning related content hear consistently for over 10 years. 

Maybe I have. A synthesis of my favourite bits does make it onto Reflections on E-Learning on Wordpress.




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Getting any sleep?

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With Trump eager to create turmoil I'm up early to bare witness to the demoacry fighting back. I think of Donald Trump and I'm reminded of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Both men had a ludicrous sense of their brilliance and leadership abilities. The former nudged Europe into world war. Where is Trump taking it?

The night before I'd watched David Attenborough on iPlayer, saw the Greta Thunberg documentary then fell asleep only to wake as the yacht I was taking across the Atlantic hit one large wave too many and capsized.

I need to find a way to turn my brain off at 10:00pm and not permit it to splutter back into consciousness before 4:00am the next day - or preferably 6:00am (at least).

I am trying yoga and light exercise. For the second time, it happens with each lockdown, I have jiggered my left leg. First time round it was the knees, now it is the achilles heel. What did I do? I went on a walk sad 

So, promising not to post here excessively anymore I might direct you to a proper blog post in my other place > Reflections On E-Learning where I used a series of interviewes on The World at One (BBC Radio 4 on 5 January) where, as they do morning day and night, at some point, bring up education and what a fudging mess that has been made of it. 'Students wanting to study ...' 

Could The OU, overnight, do for Secondary Education what it is has done for HE over the last 50 years + ? Not a big ask. But what is needed now are courses that can be completed remoteley (at a distance as we used to say) and are gain accredited assessment and certification at the end. Roll on home schooling. 

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Too Black, Too White

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Ely Green's 1970 autobiography 'Too Black, Too Green' is a unique and astonshing read. I have read it through twice, all 637 pages and I am about to start again. It is so densely packed with episodes, insights and human stories - in particular, survival in situations of extreme danger when as a young African-American of mixed origins (German and African) he so closely avoids death through mobbing, lynching, police or AEF Marine brutality and court martial. 

I won't pain you with my 3,000 words here, but my full review can be found on my external blog 'Reflections on E-learning' > http://bit.ly/TooBlackTooWhite 

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Back at College (remotely)

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Day one we get a breifing from the head and vice-principal via Meet in which our position within current Government guidelines are shared. We look forward to the New Year and the multitple challenges our insitution will face.

Meanwhile I am looking at materials that could be used by tutors to help them progress with their teaching online. I'm unimpressed which what is offered. Each college/institution is unique - some more unique than others, so trying to provide training that is aimed at a different cohort, with different needs and using a different platform for teaching will help no one and irritate everyone.

Meanwhile I have today to decide whether to sign away £1,700 and take a Masters level module in Instructional Design with the University of Illinois. I'd be more tempted if I could spare the money.]

Meanwhile, I tentatively press on with migratting content by various categories to me external e-learning dedicated blog 'Reflections on E-Learning'.


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Feeling fragmented ...

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Uncertainty has me clutching at something I can control - I work from home more often than not, whatever happens. Whatever happens this might mean some union support to apply to work from home in order to make what has become common place over these last nine months. 

My reading has got out of hand; I blame Amazon. I engage with one publication and a entire set of other tasty offerings are put before me. Once was a time that 'getting lost down a rabbit hole' took hours, even days, as you read an article, chased up a reference and waited for the book to be retrieved from the stacks ... or took a trip across town to find the journal burried in another library.

David Attenborough's 'A Life on our planet' is been my Christmas reading. And for others I bougth it for. I want it in the hands of hundreds. I wonder how we might post a copy through every door in Lewes. Would the coucil go for that? Not a Green council, not all those trees however sustainable the source. Yet the message is a relevant for a town of 17,000 as it is for the nation and the globe: we must change our behaviours. 

Then there is the incredible biography by Ely Green, 'Too Black, Too White' which after two close readings with notes I am about to review. I stumbled upon this during my research into the African American soldier's experience in the First World War.

And much more besides.

Today Amazon are offering discounts of 20% or more on Kindle publications. How can I not be caught in this snare? 

We Return Fighting edited by Kinshasha Holman Conwill

Thomas Paine's Rights of Man by Christopher Hitchnes

The Words of Thomas Paine 

And

100 Great Black Britons



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Zoom

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I've subscribed to Zoom. I may only ever have used Google Meet, but I need the platform anyone can join with ease. I just took my first 90 minute 'class' in the hot seat. There ware only five of us and the pace was leisurely. It was an introduction to social media, indicating how we should see ourselves as 'visitors' or 'residents' and wearing a 'personal' or 'instiutional' hat (Dave White). 

I then shared a solar system of we website or blog with the plantes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube spinning around it.

I've got the 90 minutes to go back over. There is still one straggler who hasn't made iether of the two prevous sessions. 

The more practice I get the better: there's be plent of this next term with both staff and students I do not doubt. 

Meanwhile 'Reflections On E-Learning' is taking shapre on Wordpress. I am trying to pull together themese from this blog and began with 'communities of practice' as it is something I will be developing with my colleagues in the New Year. One or two are already interacting on LinkedIn so that is the place to start a group.

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Immerse too deeply and drown

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Dec 2020, 08:05

When in doubt, start another blog, add something else to the 'to do' list, find a different App to organise your life, then feel too scrambled and take a walk.

A two week break should be that - not an opportunity to make up lost time. A large stack of books begs me to read them, but some long abandoned DIY tasks clammer. Putting up pictures intstead of ticking off another chapter read feels like an achievement.

Yet I make time to run the first in seven online sessions on using social media. And take delivery of a Green Screen.

I must master WordPress, not just toy with it.

I've not put much up to YouTube in a decade and have never done a podcast; these things await my attention. 

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Migrating content to Reflectionsonelearning.org

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 22 Dec 2020, 17:18

Reflections on E-Learning title for WordPress Blog

I've set up another external blog to carry most of my 'reflections on e-learning' content. 

Reflections on E-Learning

> https://reflectionsonelearning.org/

Most further content will be private unless it is closely related to the MAODE, OpenLearn or Open University courses.



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Learning French with Lingvist

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Screenshot of Lingvist language learning dashboard.

Use it or lose it. I try to practice my French three or four times a week. Using Lingvist I can sustain an 80% score. However if I drop to learning once a week (or less) my come back is at first poor. One day a lot of self-paced learning will be like Lingvist. Could I do this through a smart speaker too? 

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Dylan Wiliam on Improving Teacher Effectiveness

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Dec 2020, 12:57

A Chirstmas Brandy Fruit Cake

This SSAT presentation (the first of two) is as dense as the most succulent brandy Christmas cake. I cannot get through it in one sitting. I am now on the fifth helping and still have a long way to do. I have my notes, I have created a transcript, I have looked up names and added references, I have added some of his slides and made some of my own.

I am getting there.

My summary conclusion is simple - to improve effective of student learning teachers should

  • Prioritise what works in your context and make time by dropping other things.
  • Only do what is known to be effective from the research (though question the research rigourously)
  • Make time to seek ways to improve through working with fellow teachers instead of reinventing the wheel

And what Dylan Wiliam failed to mention, let alone develop:

  • Use big data. Surveilliance and monitoring of student (and teacher) performance is made readibly possible through use of digital platforms. 
  • Use A.I. Openly use smarter smart speakers and personalised A.I. that can monitor and therefore personalise and differentiate a student's learning. 



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Registered with the University of Brighton

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Mugshot of Jonathan Vernon for his University of Brighton Student Card

Here today, elswhere tomorrow. 

Yet again a PhD is in my sights for 2022. I have contacts at the University of Sussex (indeed it has been recommended), but what about The Open University? It would have to be 'at a distance' - Milton Keynes and I do not get on from my efforts 2010/2011.

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Dylan Wiliam is keeping me up at night!

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How we learn chart showing a cycle process

I'm on day 3 of a 5 day challenge to pick my way multiple times through the recent talk Dylan Wiliam gave to SSAT on Formative Assessment. I have establised that it is possible to unscamble egss. By the end of this process there will be six of them neatly placed in the door of my fridge.

It is taking time. He name drops academics with every thought of fact and I have wanted to chase down every one of these too. He fires off ideas like a catherine-wheel that once ignited has spun off its perch and is now dancing around on the floor. Oh, to get him in a room on my own for a bit of tutorial rough and tumble; I'd like to keep the sparks flying. Maybe come with some sparklers of my own.

I'll get to the end of this exercise later today. I'd be done if I hadn't decided to get to the end of Kate Clanchy first. This is a new development for me: don't have six books on the go - just a couple. Always get to the end of one of them before picking up the third. 

That said, I've got the Dylan Wiliam library for Christmas. Nothing like hearing the same ideas delivered in multiple ways and at different times, with different metaphors, connected stories and references. 

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Order History on Amaazon is a ready made diary

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Cover of Web-Based Training, a book I bought from Amazone in 1999

To my horror, curioisty had be click on Order History in Amazon (actually it  was simply to locate a book that got sent to the wrong address). To my surprise I found that Amazon has a total archive of everything ever purchased. This takes me back to 1999. I thought I'd first gone onto Amazone 2000 when I bought books for everyone. 

Web-Based Training had me thinking of moving out of 'video based training' which I had done very successfully for the best part of 13 years. I'd already produced a few interactive DVDs: something for independent financial advisers paid for by Standard Life bank in Edinburgh comes to mind.

The following March (2000) I moved to Brighton to work for Worth Media as their 'Digital Editor'. The year after, February 2001 I started the MA in Open & Distance Learning with The Open University. If only I had completed that module, if only I had overcome the challenges of Worth Media having to line up a lot of staff to make redundant and got myself out of the firing line ... if only.

Never mind. I've learnt many life lessons and as a friend says, "it isn't over yet" and as my wife says "you've still got plenty of time". 

I'm not going to direct that drama series or win an Olympic medal, but I might produce or associate produce some drama, could sail single-handed across the Channel ... even pursue an PhD in education at the University of Sussex.


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ReflectionsonE-Learning.org

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When in doubt - launch a new website. I have lost count of how many ideas I've expressed as a website domain and started up in Live Journal, Tumblr or WordPress. 'MindBursts.com' has been my go to for a decade - but has never had a commercial remit: it has been my 'mind dump' and is a blog even more than a life story and CV. Knowing that writing in a student blog like this has the hint of that 'permanent student' about it - never able to let go of his student days and ways, I have finally created the external version of this.

Reflections on E-Learning is now a .org domain.

Ideas, reviews, articles, reports, notes on talks, links to videos and so on will always begin life here. The intention is then to be more selective as the content is taken over to the external 'e-learning' site. 

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Had I listened to my Mum ...

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I would have returned to school having taken my A'levels and changed to Sciences in order to go on and study medecine. Curiosly I rediscovered my O'Level results recently as much to my frustration they were required by the University of Brighton in order to enrol on their PGCE. I have an As in Biology, as well as an As in each of Maths, English Literature and Geography. I gained Bs in English Language, Additional Maths and Physics. I didn't 'get' French or Chemistry but managed a C for each all the same. 

Years later, had I listen to my Mum, this would be 20 years ago after a hiatus with the bursting of the Web Bubble in late 2001, I would have taken a PGCE (but not in my first degree), or taken a portfolio in to show a contact (a fellow student from the 1950s University of Durham Art School then a senior lecturer) at Brighton or Sussex to take an MA in Fine Art. I did get so far as discsuing MA options. 

Had I listened to my Mum ... 

I did listen to my Father. I had wanted to change to study Law at univeristy. He told me I wouldn't enjoy it. He'd risen to be the Senior Partner of a Regional Firm, yet apparently had never wanted to be a lawyer - if he hadn't liked it how could I? 

Life can be a mess - the advice you take, the advice you don't. I wonder if you know how you are going to behave regardless of what people tell you when you ask them. 

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Five Resolutions for 2021

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 21 Dec 2020, 06:16

Every 3 weeks to a month we go for a long walk with family freinds. We try not to talk about the same things, try to pick up where we left off and expect stories to have moved on in some shape or another. And being December I ask about New Year's Resolutions simply because I think you need to be giving some of them a shot before the New Year if you are to have any chance of following them through.

My P had an interesting idea, picked up on social media and yet to trace; you should have five resolutiosn each to cover one of the following:

1) The Spiritual > for me this is the Green Party which I feel is more of a movement than a political party. 

2) The Intellectual > which has to be education given my renewed passion for learning how we learn.

3) The Sporty/Fitness one > where walking the dog and standing at my desk is not enough. I'd like to have skiing and sailing in here but do so little of either and not preparation either that they don't count. I need 'a little and often' such as the TV Yoga that eveyone at home currentl does for 20 minutes or so each day.

4) The Hobby that pays for itself > which must be the digital and social editor role at The Western Front Association. I am paid an 'honorarium' so counting hours done per week or month is faily meaningless and diminishes my contribution to hours clocked up. I do more hours and am far, far quicker at doing everything which is how I can put out 100 Tweets a month and have 10 article, 10 book reviews and more besirdes added to the website.

5) The Creative > for me this has to be life drawing. I'd like to pick up the guitar and sing/play but just don't no matter that the guitar is sitting there longing me to do something.  I don't feel I'm in the space conducive to it anymore. 


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What I don't know about teaching

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 14 Dec 2020, 06:53

Book Cover for kate Clanchy's 'Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me'.

A reivew of sorts written in several parts over 12 hours between 8:00am and 8:00pm this wet, dull, claustrophic, semi-lockdown Sunday on the Western edges of Lewes ... 

I'm 60 pages in and when I open the book I still get a waft of fresh paper. I need a book like this as a reality check and reminder of who matters in all of this education malarkey - the student ! 

I'll grow to feel in control, learn quickly ways to support their learning.

I like this:

'It's a bodily experience, like learning to be a beekeeper, or an acrobat: a series of stinging humiliations and painful accidents and occasional sublime flights which leave you either crippled or change'. p.1

How can teaching online via webcam be a bodily experience? An 'out body' experience perhaps? Not helped where none of the students are present - all have their webcams turned off. 

Kate Clanchy supports my idea regarding motivation, she makes this optimistic remark about her students (she teaches in school) 'all children will behave perfectly ... if they want to know something very much, about sex or anything else, and an adult sincerely sets out to tell them.' p.15

The issue of course if neither the students not the teacher want to impart knowledge: take 'Black Lives Matter'. Not my view, but I have had others ask why it is being taught to a group of all white students - or harder, how to teach it to a class where one student is black. Should it be awkward? Would it be like teaching menstruation to a class of predominantly boys with one girl present? What if the class was entirely black but for one white kid? I think the teachers missed the point, the institution failed in selling the purpose of teaching the class and in fact should it not be the case that only those who know what they are talking about get up to teach?

A further insight into the students comes where the author sums up her experience of working (her choice) with students who had been isolated in the 'inclusion' portacabin on the other side of the playing field. These children had misbehaved so badly or so often that they were separated from the rest of the school. Kate Clanchy is a saint; she has a lot to teach us. She tells a story of how she encouraged them to write her notes and put them anonymously in a box. Those that were scrumpled up and dropped in the bin proved more revealing as it told stories of physical and mental abuse and neglect. We know that how children are raised has a profound impact on their behaviour and response to the wider world. 

'No one is bad, though many are sad, and a few are mad' she writes on page 56.

I'm reading a lot at the moment. 

In between reviewing 1 hour 42 minutes of Dylan Wiliam on 'Formative Assessment' and the need for actions in schools to be based on evidence and checking through Dave White on 'Visitors and Residents' in the digital world, I riggle my way through the rest of Kate Clanchy. 

There are no surprises that she uncovers systemic racism in poetry competitions she enters her pupils for, no surprises at how awkwardly church schools fit into secular, or rather multiracial Britain, nor how middle-class parents tend to point their kids towards middle-class and aspiration schools leaving the general population lacking in a proper understanding of the communities around them.

Very Quiet Foreign Girls is worth Googling for their poems. Like 'Dead Poets Society' this is a group of underprivileged girls, rather than privileged boys, who met to read and compose poetry. The multiracial and international mix of students is extraordianry: Khurds, Iranians, Somalians, Poles and Hungarians, Moroccan, Afghan, Indian and Pakistani with a suitable mix fo relgions across branches of Islam, as well as Hindu, Cathollic and no religion at all.

Deprivation can be a shocker: the way the children live, their poverty, how treated at home, the uniform a release from having to find anything special or different to wear, shoes in all weathers a pair of flip flops, travel to London from Essex, let alone 'abroad' a signal of something 'beyond' and out of their reach to the point of feeling like impostors to be with anyone so privileged. 

'Poverty is stronger than plumbing' Kate Clanchy writes (p.160), 'stronger than medicine, stronger than art'. 

The first taste I got of it was on benefits in London in April 1985; not an expected path for an Oxford graduate who'd been spoilt for choices at the end of the Milk Round the Year Before. Then doing odd jobs, in a flat in Willesden and joining the Tricycle Youth Theatre and being around as many black faces as white. 

I'd not lived; I'd not travelled in my own country. I've been rubbing off the public school ever since and have taken a long time to reclaim Oxford rather than simply stating that I went to 'college'. Elitism comes in many forms and I am guilty of belonging to a few of them in the past (not always by choice).

Education is national, it is the community, it ought to be a melting pot, it ought to be a leveller. It should not be the fragmented, privileged, excluding, isolating experience that it is in Britain where too many children's experience is amongst 'their own kind' geographically, and by race, religion, class and wealth. 

Kate Clanchy has been what has made this a weekend, not a workday; my working week extended with the Dylan Wiliam to digest (it will take three passes through my gut like a cow chewing the cud). What surprises me is when out of the blue she drops her pen and smacks into Black and Wiliam and the entire idea of Formative Assessment (WALT) with the enthusiasm of a vengeant pugilist. I like her for it. My first notes on Wiliam are to question the keynote I have just sat through as a self-serving literature review which makes a lot of poor research conducted in the States simply so that he can destroy it. More of Wiliam elsewhere - I applaud 'evidence based' responses to any problem (though not, Kate Clanchy would say) at the expense of creativity and poetry in particular. is Wiliam and his brand of formative assessment most suited to math and engineering rather than the arts? Would fine art, pottery or make up benefit from or be destroyed by formative assessment. At what point does formative assessment in the training of a competitive sailor have to give way to intuition, for the musician to play the piece their way? Is formative assessment the scales and these alone will make for a dull clone?

We get into the apostrophe in English as a defining standard for how well it is taught, or not, and taken up by Grammar Schools but not the Comprehensive - or not. It is a detail too far for me. I take her point that the simplest advice to those in doubt over the use of the apostrophe is to never use it.

From p.207 to p.217 the PostIts cover most of each page. Her attack on formative assessment is heartfelt. I need, in the parlance, to ‘unpack it’. Kate Clanchy ‘began teaching thirty years ago’ (1990s). Since when there has been ‘the inexorable rise of the thing called ‘formative assessment’, and its lumpen classroom equivalent, the WALT’. '(p.207) 

WALT stands for ‘We Are Learning To …’

They should head a trainee teacher’s lesson plan and guide any observation.

The theory goes, Kate Clanchy explains, is that they ‘interact seamlessly with the curriculum and let everyone know where they are at’. 

‘They break up the lesson into simple learning objectives that the children themselves understand’. (p.207) 

‘This is formative assessment because it forms and changes he student as well as marking them’. (p.208).

[I can only think in terms of old school essay writing for homework. Formative assessment at its most successful, for feedback and differentiation - surely? And then the five hundred year old Oxbridge tutorial were students armed with essays debating one with their tutor and mentally marking their own effort as excellent, average, mediocre or non-existent, while forming a view of their own months, even years before any summative assessment into a formal written exam]. 

‘Formative assessment does not allow for ineffable processes,’ she writes (p.210) as she expands on a case study of a student who grew into himself and developed self awareness and confidence as a result of his creative writing, something she is sure would have been stymied by WALT and overly prescriptive formative assessment. 

She has a dig at something called the ‘Black Box’ which is an idea that Black and Wiliam also developed around WALT and formative assessment; I am currently ignorant of it. She argues that often there is less need for this kind of formative assessment and a greater need for summative assessment in the form of a concluding ‘well done’. (p.210).

Then she bemoans how an English test has been reduced to using a Wikipedia entry on Titanic to compose a nonfiction essay. A task that she considers thin and limited because it starts from not much and has little opportunity to flower the way the simple experience of listening to a poem and then writing one of your own can have. (p.211).

‘In my dress,’ she writes on p.212, we never need to write another WALT. In my dreams my colleagues are trusted to choose great, rich texts to teach, and we all trust the texts to teach the children. We assess both creative and critical responses to them as their final exams’. 

Some decades later Kate Clanchy spotted this her most promising student from those days of poetry and creative english. She got up the courage to contact him by LinkedIn.

‘When we read books with you,’ he wrote, ‘the world opened up. Your lessons were I learnt who I was,’ he continued, ‘became conscious of myself, grew up. That time was important to me, a free space’. (p.217)

She goes on to provide illustrative anecdotes for dyslexia and ASD I like that as much is devoted to what those with such issues can do, rather than what they can not do. Then we cover body image, the Audrey Hepburn like nymph who gains weight so quickly and others too, another raped and a third caught up a child marriage or engagement in Pakistan.






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Dylan Wiliam on Formative Assessment

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Dec 2020, 04:06

Formative Assessment with Dylan Wiliams

Formative Assessment

This will take a considerable amount of 'unpacking'. I've been through the 1 hour + long online talk once, taken notes and grabbed a dozen slides. I will need to go back over it at least twice more. 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S0vSZ-Tv1qPiRO05MwrOeu-il1-HPc0H/view?ts=5fd36276


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40 years ago the HE journey began

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 13 Dec 2020, 14:06

A collage of photographs of Balliol College, the Sheldonian and Bodliean from December 1980

40 years ago, on the 11th and 12th of December 1980, I attended interviews at Balliol College, Oxford to study modern history. The photographs above are the ones I took and later stuck into a scrapbook. 

My mother drove me down from Newcastle to Chipping Camden to stay with her long term boyfriend; my parents had separated and then divorced ten years eariler. According to my diary my material grandparents were with us too. The cottage in the Cotswalds was tiny.

The next day my Mum drove me into Oxford and dropped me at the entrance to Balliol. I had a rucksack, an acoustic guiitar and a pair of skis. I felt like a traveller who had got lost.

I must have gone to the porter's lodge, must have been given a key to a room. I can't recall where it was - staircase 11 to 15, one they set aside for the conference season.

I had two interiews and may also have met my 'pastoral tutor'. The first interview was on the subject I was hoping to study. We discussed Henry VII and then the Reformation. We'd not talked much at the RGS during class - it had been more a case of take notes, write the essay, learn stuff and make sure its in your head by the time of the written exam.

I had plenty of time between interviews; I do not recall coming across any other students at all.

I wandered over to the Sheldonian and Bodliean and took photographs with my Minolta. I must have eaten in hall. The next morning I want to the Ashmolean Museum opposite. Then I had a second interview. Once again there were two tutors. This was a general interview. I spoke about acting at schools and the People's Theatre: the Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Dracula Spectacula! 

I took myself down to the Station for the train into London. I made my way out to Brentford Docks where my father had his London flat then. This may have been my third time ever to London and the first time travelling alone. I stayed with Dad. Did we eat out in town? Did he introduce me to his girlfriend of that moment? His view of my song writing efforts were that there were 'too many words'. I take it he didn't like my singing, my voice, my playing ... that's Dad for you.

The next afternoon I took the train from Victoria to Folkestone and got the ferry across to Calais. I made friends with a girl my age and a young couple. The crossing was rough and this girl, Paula and I loved every moment of it, even when a vending machine broke loose and slid across the deck. I had her name, but no number. We were just young people pasing through.

Across Paris with my clobber by bus; skis and guitar. And the night train from Gar du Nord. Onwards to Bourg St Maurice, to Val d'Isere, the Hotel Sofitel and a job immersed amongst French 'seasoniere' where, in a Marks &  Spencer grey suit I was the 'day porter, English speaking, snow shovelling, breakfast delivering errand boy'. 

University life at Balliol eventually began in October 1981. A close friend from those days died a month ago. Life's short - embrace it. 

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A day is a long time in e-learning!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 11 Dec 2020, 13:31


I tried to run with too much and came unstuck. A 90 minute class is long. The two 3 minutes breaks don't give them a break ... but longer we have found and they can go off and not return.

Clicking through a set of tabs prepared to show/share worked well enough, though with adjustments made each time I have taken this class (five times this week) risked my opening the wrong tab, or being unsure of the revised tab. Then wanting to use all of: Polls, Breakout Rooms and Breakout Rooms with Jamboard was a push too far.

Multiple Jam Boards open simultaneously

I set up no fewer than five Breakout Rooms and labelled each: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter. Fine, but when we went to the rooms they had only been given Viewer status and were not able to alert me to this until they returned to the 'main room'.

I tried again later once I had changed the permissions but this time did the room settings double or change again? One person was on their own in Jupiter. So had Meet shuffled the students. And it took them time to get started. In the end it looked as if only one of them or a couple of them in 'Mars' did anything at all.

Battlefield Virtual Tour demonstration one tab opened of many in the window

However, I did keep to the two breaks. I didn't play two longer video clips and found I had time in hand, so could watch all of the demonstration of the Battlefield Virtual Tour.

I learnt that in the group most were on laptops, one on a desktop and two on phones.

Whether I get any takers from Screencastify is another matter. 

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