Category Archives: CPD

#TMWealdGeog

 logoSo today marks the first specialist Geography TeachMeet in Kent (that we know of). Back in January when I moved back, I sent out some tweets asking if Kent really did much in the way of TMs…or had much of a Geography network presence…and the silence was met eventually by @AdamsGeog and @MrsHumanities who kindly agreed to help me sort out something new and exciting (hopefully!) for the area.

After a planning session in a pub on a wet February half term day, the days and months have sped by until we are now here. I’m really grateful to Chris and Victoria for holding the organisation together while I was busy with my poorly dad, and to Skinners’ School for hosting us and providing refreshments. We are also lucky enough to have some lovely goodies courtesy of sponsors: the ever amazing Discover the World, NightZooKeeper, Sage Publishing, iRevise & Travel Places for such exciting things as £200 travel vouchers, branded polar buffs, lovely books, website subscriptions, resources, games, etc.

So – the event kicks off at 5pm (meet from 430) and we have representatives from all exam boards (barring AQA who disappointingly declined to represent). There will be a few nano presentations (which will be hosted on here for your delight after the event) and then breakout planning sessions in specification groups with a specialist to facilitate.

We really hope this event is successful and enjoyable, particularly in this climate of curriculum change and uncertainty on assessment style. Personally I’m just looking forward to a night of being a geographer, rather than an AHT leading Maths! Can’t wait to write back here later sharing all the great ideas I hear.

Follow the event on #TMWealdGeog on twitter and via myself @GeoDebs, or @AdamsGeog or @MrsHumanities

 

#TMRGS presentations – Geography TeachMeets really are awesome

RGS So last night saw the very first TeachMeet hosted by the home of Geography, the Royal Geographical Society in London. The event was organised by the amazing Claire Brown from the RGS, Steve Brace (Head of Education), sorted by David Rogers and a tiny bit of effort myself.

What an evening! Geographers really are an awesome bunch. It was a later start than usual to allow for travel, but the enthusiasm in the room and in the virtual room from Twitter was palpable. We missed the company of other illustrious Geographers like @aknill and @robgeog, but did get a wannabe geographer from @Miss_J_Hart. And thank you to Richard Allaway for sponsoring refreshments!

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I’ve got the fun job of sharing the presentations from all the amazing presenters that night. In true TeachMeet style these were 6minute snapshots into truly professional teachers’ work and their presentations won’t be the same as hearing them speak, so for questions I suggest getting in touch! The great thing was seeing such a wide range, and each presenter kept coming back to the need to have carefully thought out sequences of learning, building curiosity and developing rigour and skills, but also making everyday lessons memorable. There was also the challenge by David, to remember that Geographers change the world!

So here’s a rough idea of who did what!

  1. We kicked off with Steve Brace defending the importance of Geography, and how statistically speaking geographers still are more employable and that the skills of GCSE and A Level v highly valued by universities and employers alike. Did you know that 10% of all PLC revenue is based on data from the OS…and geographers?! Slideshare link to presentation.
  2. The adventurous Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop from Digital Explorer shared the beautiful resources of D:E. including citizenship materials so critical to current key global issues such as refugee crises such as My Voice, My School. He also reminded us of the stunning Catlin Seaview Survey resources, e.g. virtual dives (Oh, and he’s a historian that is now working for geoscientific research!) His slideshare link here
  3. The wonderful Liz Pattison shared a range of differentiation ideas, including lead learners, learning grids (always love a learning grid!), silent debates, use of SOLO.Her slideshare presentation here
  4. Deborah Syme talked about underachievement and barriers to learning, through ‘executive dysfunction’, and potential smart solutions to these. Slideshare link
  5. Andrew Boardman shared his use of ActivInspire software for verbal feedback through sound recording and screen capture for students to keep coming back to. Loved that he emphasised the need to ‘talk like a geographer’ – so critical for success. Link: tinyurl.com/qxuheao
  6. Richard Maurice shared ideas for developing more challenge and use of better questioning. The 5Ws are not enough, we need better deeper questioning. I also liked his suggestions for subverting the #5minlessonplan by getting kids to use it as a structure for note taking / forming and answering Qs. His presentation here
  7. Rachel Hawke shared lots of ideas for encouraging creativity and curiosity, plus great use of SPAG model for proof reading – CUPS: capitalise, understanding (do your sentences make sense), punctuation, spelling. In fact, by 10pm @dukkhaboy had already created his own style version of this and was preparing to use in class next day – and he was only following on twitter! #TMRGS making an immediate impact. Slideshare link
  8. Deborah Gostling spoke about making real world links to architecture and urban design, through tricky projects such as redesigning Cairo. Building rigour and knowledge while using Google Earth and CAD software to add challenge Slideshare link
  9. Rupert Littlewood talked about making favelas and creative hands on learning – always love a bit of model making and really getting the feel of things. Slideshare link
  10. Anna Forshaw gave loads of practical ideas and suggested activities for embedding DME skills and problem solving activities Slideshare link
  11. Ewan Laurie shared some fab ideas for ‘hijacking Geography’ and getting it taking over school. Love the idea of the Pop-up classroom, or teaching something for ten minutes in the corridor at lunch, letting geography take over the school.Slideshare link

My own presentation got a little distracted on Monday night when I stumbled across some tweets claiming that Geography is ‘confused’ or ‘not a subject’. The controversy! Some were claiming that because Geography is diverse, this is a weakness and makes it confused. It’s the same story as has been heard before, but it does frustrat me that this is seen as a weakness, and also that people don’t appreciate that other subjects are equally diverse – it just goes unhidden. There is no one History: there’s a vast difference between ancient and modern history, and I’ve yet to meet a Historian that likes every era. There is no one English: pit a medieval romantic literature lover against 21st century science fiction lover and there are sparks – the skills employed to decipher the different English types vary as well as the content, and the language itself has clearly evolved. There is no one Music! I could go on. And as with all these other varied subjects, it is not a weakness to be a diverse hybrid. There is always something to hold it all together – and in our case it is the way that Geography marries together the world of hard scientific fact and process, with human interaction and reaction, through skilful application. That is the strength. We don’t study for the sake of it, we problem solve. We don’t learn skills to sit in a room and stare at them, we go out and fix issues. There were some great responses to support Geography’s corner from @RobGeog @RJCGeog @Jennnnnn_x as well 🙂

So this led into my presentation: that not only is Geography not confused, but actually the 4 key strands that hold it together as ‘awesome geography’ are essential. The talk was a variation on the #GAConf15 theme: Shakespeare was a Geographer, so was Pythagoras. Looking at embedding whole school priorities of literacy and numeracy through simple Geography activities in different year groups. My main point is that since we are all responsible for teaching these components, and since we should do anyway as it empowers students to become more successful Geographers let alone having great skills, we should make sure we use the same language as our Maths and English departments. I was responsible for numeracy across school last year, and each department (or faculty for smaller areas like Hums) has a lead teacher for literacy and numeracy who takes part in regular reviews and auditing the curriculum of every area in school. We met as a full staff on Tuesday, and going through the list of key skills for Maths and English as a Geography team we could easily say ‘Yes!’ or ‘Tick, Tick’ to every kind of skill since we are so literacy and numeracy heavy. The weakness at the minute, is that we do not use the same language as our specialists in schools. I don’t often say to a class ‘oh that’s a homophone, be careful on the spelling’ or ‘great use of compound sentences’ or ‘don’t forget your factoring operation’…it’s not my natural patter. But it needs to be. Having a uniformity of language in the classroom for core concepts will develop transparency for students, and encourage the idea that these skills are actually pretty important in a range of different environments and situations. Otherwise, how often do you hear ‘yeah but when will I need to do that in the real world’?!

If you’ve made it this far and want to read a brief kind of summary of what I said for each slide, here you go:

My presentation notes:

Slide 1: The controversy! Twitter debate on Monday evening. Some claiming that because Geography is diverse, this is a weakness and makes it confused. Great responses to support Geography’s corner from @RobGeog  @RJCGeog @Jennnnnn_x

Is Geography confused, or is it a brilliant blend of science and art that is held together by that essential application.

Slide 2: The strengths of Geography are clear within the new national framework – there are 4 strands to being a great geographer: those of knowing, thinking, studying, and applying like a geographer. Value of skills and knowledge combined but with the life-skills essential component of having to apply those, to problem solve. Synthesis and making relational links is the key to Geographical genius.  And what makes Geography strong, is how we meet whole school issues of literacy and numeracy, as well as building whole child skills.

Slide 3: So meeting whole school aims of literacy and numeracy – because if we do, we not only support the wider school community but we will empower children to get power results in geography and across the board. Particularly with more rigorous examination systems, content, and emphasis on skills we need to be building these skills from day 1 in year 7.

Slide 4: So Shakespeare. 21/38 plays were set in the Mediterranean…yet he never really left London, apart from a brief trip to the Netherlands. So it was entirely based on geographical imaginations. Imagination is key part to our subject, and to curiosity. Many of our students, particularly our disadvantaged students, may not leave their own areas either – so we need to encourage imagination.

Slide 5: Use Shakespeare quotes / DARTS text analysis to talk about describing places. Encouraging the idea of speaking like a geographer. Analyse text for context, introduction to places, to listen to silently and picture, descriptive mapping, and for picking out use of literacy techniques e.g. synonyms, compound sentences, rhyming couplets, metaphor, etc.

Slide 6: Read the text (perhaps excluding some bits that are too obvious!) and kids have to guess what the feature is being described. Then turn into modern descriptive text.

Hamlet piece- read it to them, and tell them it was written in Denmark and finished in 1599. Ask them to figure out what the features was that was north-north west from Denmark and sulphurous (Hekla in Iceland that erupted in 1597)

Slide 7: Compare descriptive text of geographic features through the ages. What are the similarities and differences? How does the language, and the understanding of science, change over time?

Slide 8: Use text to describe climate as Shakespeare recorded the Little Ice Age

Slide 9: BUT – since he didn’t visit locations, there were misconceptions! So give children the text and then get them to prove what is real vs unreal, fact and fiction

Slide 10: Example of differentiated activity with class

Slide 11: Where does our subject meet maths? Everywhere! The key thing is to be liaising with our maths departments and ensuring we teach at similar times, but most importantly that we all use the same language and teach skills in the same way. E.g. Science and Maths teach line graphs differently, do we? Are we using the language of everyday maths classrooms in our classrooms? Because we certainly do plenty of data analysis and graphicacy, just need to hit the terminology to make it explicit to learners.

Slide 12: Using Google Earth polygons to identify shape patterns of landmasses – just simple shape work but builds confidence with using Google Earth tools. Can also use alongside measuring tools and estimating area, discussing different types of shape and calculating area from them.

Slide 13: Create layered data presentation, e.g. climate mapping: base layer for temperature, tracing overlay for precipitation – then analyse. Helps with learning locations and climate patterns, as well as analysis skills. Or proportional mapping for tourist locations. Key is using different methods to learn locations, become confident with features of the UK, and having to do numeracy skills.

Slide 14: Use your school for urban steps. Calculate the number of steps required to climb the equivalent of different mountains indoors. Have to measure each step, multiply it up, divide by number of kids, etc. Make it a House competition challenge.

Slide 15: Links to STEM. Produce equipment. From simple weather equipment to earthquake sensors. This example was a beautiful cloud cover measuring Oktas device. Student had to scale it all up, measuring and calculate, etc.

Slide 16: Geocaching – measuring distance, direction and bearings.

Slide 17: Make graphs 3D and tactile. Brings to life population pyramids and statistics, easier (especially for lower ability) to analyse and interpret the data.

Slide 18: Use numbers and ask students to discuss, interpret, tell a story with them.

Answer in this case: it’s all to do with elderly dependency

Slide 19: Transform one kind of data presentation into another form of graph – have to recalculate, compare, translate. This is from the London National Park statistics on the amount of green space in the city. Analyse the patterns.

Slide 20: Because it all comes down to skills. Skills web based on GCSE criteria. Geography ticks off so many skills and really builds literacy and numeracy, so make it explicit!

Slide 21: And at the end of the day, it is worth the challenge!

The next bit of Geographical TeachMeet fun will be at the GA conference in Manchester at Easter. Check the conference pack for more details, the GA website, and follow #GAConf16 

Performance Management – hammer down or enjoy the process?

Picture1We are mid-way through the academic year. Wahoooooooo! I’ll just pause a moment and let you check your calendars, synchronise watches, create a countdown (as if you haven’t already :-p), panic slightly about Year 11 time, and generally just breathe it in. (Please don’t gloat if you are in an independent school and only have about 10 weeks left before your 3 months holiday :-p

Today was my mid-way performance management review with my line manager. I’m always slightly apprehensive about such things because it’s difficult to know how others perceive both you as a person and your professional attributes and abilities. My line manager is very professional, thorough, and provided me with a lovely glowing review which I hadn’t expected (of course I’m dead easy to manage, perfect at my job, tick every box and therefore there was no other choice than to be so glowing…I jest).

Although I do feel competent (most days), and can be feisty about ‘doing the right thing’, I do crave that reassurance. Not in a ‘there there’ cotton wool kind of way. I also like to know how else to improve as this job is never a done deal (blessing or curse?). But as much as I enjoy freedom and it being assumed that I’m ‘transforming’ the department (with help from a great team of course but a work in progress) I do still have that little girl inside that needs to hear from someone else. I’m more of a carrot than stick person I suppose. Yet despite liking to hear positives, I also find it quite hard to accept. I tend to turn the compliment into a joke, or suggest something more needing to be done. Is this a teacher thing generally? I come across educators pretty often who are actually shy, praise-resistant, lacking confidence – and they (like me) maintain a professional facade the rest of the time, putting on our ‘game face’. I’ve often said that teaching is acting. In normal life (is there such a thing?) I don’t like making all the decisions, or being bossy, or having a plan. Our personas at school are maybe quite different to at home.

Anyway, this post wasn’t for self-congratulation but reflection about the process. We had PM twilight today and an activity akin to speed dating with pairs sharing targets, progress and ‘proud moments’ from their PM year so far. It wasn’t to be an embarrassment, but to be an honest reflection and mutual encouragement. It’s great to hear what others are doing! To see what collective aims we all have and how we fit into that whole school jigsaw. Performance management can, and should, be a celebration. Sure we are always going to have new targets, and the bar will keep rising, and we can always improve, but part of that process is celebrating what is going well. After all, isn’t that what we do with students? WWW/EBI? I remember one GCSE results day when Geog results had risen and I was feeling cheered but having a senior colleague immediately say ‘yes it’s ok, but it’s not where it should be’. Granted that was true, and we couldn’t be complacent, but there is a time to just enjoy the moment before stepping into the fray again. We needed to take some time to celebrate the progress so far, rather than immediately moving on to the next thing. It would be demoralising otherwise.

So take time, make PM positive.

#BETT2015 Creative GCSE presentation

So this weekend I visited the BETT exhibition and TeachMeet. I haven’t been to #tmbett for a couple of years and had remembered it as being overwhelmingly big, impersonal and too rushed. Friday’s TM was, however, a good event. The atmosphere was buoyant and cheerful, there was jovial conversation between everyone there, the presentations were light but meaningful, and I even learned a few things from them. Huzzah! And of course @lisibo made some amazing cakes 😉 So thank you to the likes of Ian Addison and Dawn Hallybone for arranging it all.

On the Saturday I spent some time on the RM Stand with @ukedchat for a live chat with Andy Knill about our favourite apps in education, particularly in Geography and this will appear on the site later in the week. It’s always good to talk about what we use and how as it forces you to more critically evaluate the purpose of something. Do I use Twitter in the classroom for real benefit or because it is trendy? Are apps / sites / tech used wisely? Does what I do encourage engagement and achievement or is it just a gimmick? Having to rationalise and reason what I do and why is quite invigorating; a good reminder to myself if nothing else.

I also enjoyed some time on the Microsoft Education stand catching up with folks. Minecraft seemed to be the most popular part of the show with Ray Chambers doing a grand job explaining how he’s used it in class. This is something I’m starting to play around with myself. I can see the benefits of encouraging collaboration, and obviously learning coding, and have seen some very low ability children voluntarily create whole landscapes and then be able to talk about them and this lead to a greater depth of verbal and written literacy as a result. Something to consider anyway.

I was really honoured to be given the opportunity to present at BETT myself, in the Learn Live Secondary area. I was pretty nervous beforehand but had a lovely audience who smiled at appropriate moments and even forgave me when I threw the remote clicker around 😉

Below is the presentation I shared, and a rough transcript of what it was about.

Slide 1 – Self explanatory!

Slide 2 – Just showing some of the main thoughts or concerns that teachers have been sharing about the new GCSEs. The focus of my talk was to hopefully encourage that there is still room to be creative, and that we as educators have a responsibility to be developing more skills in all students through any means, not just for the exams culture.

Slide 3 – Linking to Google Teacher Academy and the fact that no matter what country we came from, what phase we are, or what subject we teach, there is still a consistency that teachers (and students) are risk averse. We live in a bubble where we are aiming for a mysterious outside world that is reliant on getting certain grades, and while I’m not disputing this or down-playing it I believe that teachers have a responsibility to bend and break the frameworks in order to develop other skills. Tech is all well and good but at the end of the day students sit exams with a pen and paper. And passing a written test is all great but in the workplace you need to problem solve, collaborate, deal with failures. And being able to build relationships, communicate, play, is all part of growing up too. So (to quote David Rogers) we have a duty to subvert the statutory, in order to create what should be mandatory.

Slide 4 – We need to build time for messy learning in. It helps to break up the stress – for everyone concerned!

Slide 5 – BETT is full of shiny new electronic tech, but there is plenty of fun to be had with good old fashioned tech as well.

Slide 6-7 – Jigsaws. Blank ones available on eBay (other retailers also available!). Students can make revision mindmaps, diagrams, Q+A patterns and then play together. In one of my favourite examples I’ve seen a ‘jeopardy’ style jigsaw with the questions and answers mixed up.

Slide 8 – Snakes and Ladders. Decision making. Students have to create ‘chance’ or ‘event’ cards before hand, e.g. ‘earthquake strikes Haiti’ or ‘international aid sent to Japan’. When they land on a snake or a ladder they take one of the chance/event cards. If it is something positive then they can go up, if negative then they have to go down.

Slide 9 – Artefacts. Get hands on and messy! In Geography I’ve used bags of sediment from a river and keywords then students have to sort them into the correct order for a river profile. Or using food to make models, like coastal cake craft or model coral polyps. Getting hands on builds picture and muscle memory, helps to visualise, and makes abstract concepts more manageable.

Slide 10-11 – Scrabble. I’ve used in Geography and in my Numeracy intervention sessions. I was surprised at how much kids like it! Keyword building and points make prizes. Speed scrabble to make as many words as possible on a particular topic, e.g. hazards.

Slide 12-13 – Musical Chairs. I’ve mentioned these before at my TLAB session as a revision tool. Again this is just another method for Q+A but does work. Students take part in having to create the questions as well as the answers, and the musical but is just for fun but surprisingly makes them feel very under pressure.

Slide 14-15 – Paper Planes. Ever had a problem with these in school?! More often than not the most dangerous thing in the classroom for disruption is the humble pencil/pen and paper. But these can be harnessed. For example, a student writes a question or statement on a piece of paper, turns it into a paper plane and throws to someone else to ask it. Or the case study option: student answers a case study question in full then throws to three other students who in turn, with different colour pens, highlight ‘key words’, ‘place specific fact’, and ‘developed points’ before the last person gives a final score and a comment then returns it.

Slide 16-18. Keyword twister and Jenga. You can see these explained on another post here.

Slide 19 – Lego. Good for construction and for numeracy! I’ve used with making models of settlements or earthquake proof buildings, but also in numeracy. For example, you allocate different lego piece shapes or colours with a numeric value then students have 2 minutes to make the shape of an animal or a building, then at the end of the time have to calculate the value of their shape. Highest value wins.

Slide 20-21 – Board Games. Make your own version of classic games. The aim of Pointless is you ask questions on a topic and students have to get the most obscure answer possible (so if you ask the whole class then students who have unique answers will win) – the lowest points win. 5 Second Rule: literally a naming / stating game. You are given a category (e.g. name 3 river landforms) and have only 5 seconds to name all three. Articulate is a describing game based on key terms, definitions, case studies and similar to Taboo there are words you cannot say. And Charades is the same but acting out!

Slides 22-23 – Balloons. Students write questions on a balloon, blow it up (with a pump!) and throw to someone else to answer. Use soft felt pens so it doesn’t burst!

Slide 25-26 – Using OneDrive for collaborative revision. OneDrive is available as part of Office 365 or you can get a free Microsoft account to create documents online and store in the cloud. You can share these documents and collaborate live with others even if they do not have an Office account. In school, Year 10 and Year 11 have a shared folder with past papers, model answers, example lesson ppts and more importantly collaborative revision work. For example, year 10 were working on Settlement and at the end of the unit worked in groups to complete a OneNote notebook with different sections of the topic so that they can all share.

Slide 27-30 – Triptico. Has a free version or paid version. A web based app that can be downloaded and includes various tools from timers to photo selectors or quiz makers.

Slide 31 – Fotobabble. Available on any platform and web-based. Take a photo on a device, then record audio over the photo for up to a minute. Great for revision ‘speaking flash cards’. These can then be shared with others via email. Also good for virtual fieldwork!

Slide 32 – Photosynth. Another photo tool, this one from Microsoft and linked to Bing maps. You can stitch and create amazing 360 panoramas using a guided photo app, then when it is stitched you can zoom in and out of areas. Good for virtual fieldwork and as a prompt for revising landforms, places, processes, etc,.

Slide 33 – Minecraft. I’m only just starting to dabble with this. I’m not a coder or anything like that but students came to me a few weeks ago asking if they could use Minecraft for their homework. I said yes and they brought in a video tour of their landscape that was a real access-point to their own verbal literacy. They could articulate what they had created, the landforms and features, why they had chosen then. And they had collaborated to do this. The website minecraft.edu has various resources and tutorials available that other teachers have shared, and there is a programming book available from Microsoft Education via Partners in Learning. The minecraft.edu site has resources such as example worlds like the Tropical Rainforest challenge that guides students through challenges and concepts such as resource management, tribal conflict, land use, deforestation, etc,.

Slide 34-35. Microsoft Partners in Learning free tools reminder. Join the network and find free resources, software and case studies of what other teachers are trying.

Slide 36 – Google Forms. Use this tool to make simple quizzes, or get students to create them for each other. Really only takes minutes and share-able.

So there we go. Basically just different random ways of asking questions or knowledge checking, but it all helps to break up the normal routine. Plus having time constraints or ‘competitive pressure’ like that found in games situations helps with learning how to cope with exam pressure and stress. So, don’t be risk averse, just have a go. And if it doesn’t work? No matter, learn to fail and then get over it. Build some ‘bounce-back-ability’.

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C.S.Lewis

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RGS #Explore2014 workshop

2014-11-16 09.57.49 2014-11-16 10.00.48 If you were part of the Education workshop today, or if you were not but are interested in information on getting fieldwork and expeditions into school, then here is a summary of what was shared by the panel.

Jamie Buchanon-Dunlop shared how you can use the online resources of Digital Explorer such as Skype conversations with real explorers and you can see his presentation on the website.

Mark Ilott shared how you can train and prepare for expeditions and field trips using your expertise and knowledge, and with help of his website www.training-expertise.co.uk

Josie Beynon from Roedean School shared the benefits and logistics of sharing your expedition and fieldwork using film and written journalism.

2014-11-16 11.19.21

Phil Avery of Bohunt Academy Trust shared how to build international links and share the benefit of expeditions with the school, and in particular how to sell it to senior leaders. He highlighted the importance of it being student led, and of students taking charge not only in the build up and planning to the trip, but also in the follow up back in school. And how the actual preparation, such as fund raising, can almost be more beneficial to their development and confidence long term than the trip itself.

I felt like a little bit of a fraud being invited since I’m not a ‘risky expedition’ leader, I’m a teacher, but I shared how you might build fieldwork into the curriculum and how you can benefit the whole school. Otherwise, you run the risk that you take 40 kids on a trip and it becomes a one off event, not sustainable or beneficial to the other 1000 back in school! So change your curriculum to build in fieldwork links, get students creating resources while you are away, have them lead lessons or assemblies on return, and use virtual fieldwork as well. So resources from Digital Explorer or Discover the World are awesome for this, e.g. Discover-Geography and use Google Connected Classrooms, create tours, use social media to connect to overseas scientists or charity workers. There are also various really useful fieldwork apps / sites to use (thank you to the Twitterati for your suggestions too!)

The links are within this PowerPoint.

And Jamie’s for D:E is here.

Thank you so much to everyone in the audience for some fantastic questions and discussion, and for the glowing feedback. Good luck and explore! Don’t forget we are all ‘citizen scientists’!

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Reflecting on #GTAUK 2014

Well I should have done this sooner, but as ever life has taken over! Google Teacher Academy #gtauk 2014 was two weeks ago, and was thoroughly enjoyable though equally challenging. Led by No Tosh and Ewan McIntosh the purpose of the event, as outlined in the previous post, was not to be a ‘tools training’ session but a ‘moonshot making’ hotpot of educators from all over the globe coming together to share ideas, delve deeply into problems, and try to find solutions. It was mind blowing in many ways!

In the first place I felt honoured to be selected for the event bearing in mind that I don’t feel I have proven myself yet or stepped out of any shadows or footsteps. In the build up I was admittedly pretty nervous – I’m never that good at meeting people for the first time and don’t naturally ‘talk the talk’ or spout pedagogy. I’m just average Jo 😉 But we were in very safe hands.

I should say that since we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement for this it might be one of those cases where ‘I can tell you, but then I’ll have to kill you’ kind of things…but I’m not going to be breaking any giant Google secrets for you, or explaining how you can break into the amazing cafeteria (the food was amazing by the way). Sorry about that!

Day 1 was introductions and getting briefed on what we were in for. We had the loan of a Samsung Chromebook for the two days which was a really enjoyable device to use – quick, clean, intuitive, and a good size screen and keyboard. Very tempted. Ewan and the mentors and Googlers made it clear from the outset that this was to be pedagogy focused, on solving real issues in schools not on tech. Which I liked. And that it was to lead to something sustainable and tangible, not just your typical CPD event where you go back to school and forget you ever attended. Which I also like.

We were introduced the No Tosh system of ‘design thinking’, akin to project management for problem solving and creation. In our teams we were coming up with issues that schools face that can lead to a ‘moonshoot’ – so not a simple issue, but something that can be broad in scope and require more ‘out of box thinking’ (not that we were allowed to use such cliches). The structure for guiding this design thinking was excellent, with delegates being guided through a series of steps from discussing education issues, whittling down to our ‘moonshot’, then coming up with as many ideas as physically possible and ‘ideation’ and then actually trying to create a prototype to share. Throughout all of this we had input from mentors, other GTA participants, Googlers and designers to give suggestions and share how this works in practise. You can see the whole process and structure in Ewan’s book and on the No Tosh website. We were challenged to not think small scale but to think 10x – that we should be aiming to change the world, and reminded that if we are dissatisfied with something then that should be our driving force to change it. Don’t just be the person who complains but never tries anything else.

We were reminded that although the tools used in daily life have changed leaps and bounds in the last 50 years, classrooms have not. Anything we do should be focused on empowering the student, the teacher and the school. Always keep your target audience in mind and do for greater good.

Day two saw us mostly working in groups to try to prototype our suggested solutions. My group was led by Dai Barnes (of the barefoot running fame) and was a good mix of educators from UK and USA, and across all phases and subjects. It was really interesting to see that despite their being a variety of schools represented in the arena when it came down to it there were only really three main issues that groups chose to tackle: those of risk, curiosity, and collaboration. Our team decided to work on this moonshot question:

“How might we build a culture of confidence where everyone embraces risk, uncertainty and fear, in order to develop courageous individuals?”

By this we meant that teachers often feel nervous or afraid of taking a risk and trying something different, for fear that if it goes wrong they may be judged, lose face, or not help students to make progress. SLT may not encourage risk taking for fear of results (which are, at the end of the day, the important thing!) taking a hit. And more and more I’m seeing students who are nervous of taking a risk, of being independent, of being curious, because they have been drilled for so long to think a certain way, to expect a certain result, to be given answers, and are feeling so pressured about results themselves that they are worried about failing. So how can we encourage a culture where failure is acceptable (even celebrated perhaps), and where we feel supported enough to embrace something new even if it might go wrong?

Our prototype as a group was essentially a website (or a school display if you were in a more analogue environment) that is for showcasing, suggesting and celebrating risk taking. This is all in progress and no doubt will change immensely, but we needed to come up with something that would be user friendly enough in most schools. So the idea is:

– website (or a risk box if going for non-digital) that has suggestions for ‘risks to take’ (think risk / chance cards like you get in board games) that are written by teachers and students that each can take, e.g. ‘no pens lesson’, ‘give your answers in a different language’, ‘don’t use the internet for 24hours’, ‘flip classroom’, etc,.

– website (or display board / life tv) then showcases examples of teachers and students having a go to celebrate. It can be tied into a reward system in school for students so they get house points for trying, whereas students can nominate a ‘teacher of the week’ or something to celebrate teachers who have tried something new.

– the website can connect classrooms globally, so you can see examples of what students and teachers are doing worldwide not just in your school

– tools like Hangouts/connected classrooms can be used to link schools up across the world to share their stories and celebrate trying something new

– create a RAG type app that suggests activities to do

– it can be run by digital leaders in school with teacher moderation if wanted

Anyway, as I said, it is a work in progress based on only a very very brief time of planning. Having said that, my headteacher is happy to trial this linked to our new school website in the next couple of months so even if it just encourages a bit more risk and curiosity in one school that is still something.

The whole two days were exhausting, but stimulating and exciting. We made good partnerships with others and got to work with people from across the world who were like-minded and all wanted to change the world. My takeaway from it? That we should replace fear, with curiosity. And that we should have a healthy disregard for the impossible. I hope I can keep that mindset going through the year.

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Looking ahead to Google Teacher Academy

So this week I am off to the Google Teacher Academy UK #gtauk for two days of educational geekery, sharing, learning and problem solving.

If you want to see my terribly cheesy and not brilliantly made application video it is here:

GTA application video

The event is being organised by Ewan Mcintosh of No Tosh and there is a focus on this being not a one-off event but a sustainable CPD opportunity where educators / technologists / innovators get together and try to thrash out some of the problems faced by teachers and learners in schools, to come up with solutions, and to then go back to our schools and trial these, adapt, improve and keep working with our teams and mentors.

I am excited and nervous in equal measure! I always find it hard meeting new people, and generally feel very inadequate when hearing stories of what other very innovative and inspiring people are doing. As I have only recently changed schools I feel it is difficult to share stories of success since I’ve not had an impact yet: other than ruffling some feathers and changing the decor of the rooms 🙂 But I’m hopeful that I will have something useful to say and something to share, and can’t wait to hear what people are up to worldwide when facing the same issues and same goals.

Part of the pre-work was a set of three immersion tasks, that required us to delve deeper and look carefully at our learning environment. We had to sketch out an area, interview others (staff/student/parent/other) about how they and we felt about the place (positive and negative), and create and ideas & bug list.

Being in a new school made me wonder whether the problems I have been experiencing are real or if it is just a case of getting to grips with a new vibe and way of doing things. Equally when you first start somewhere as a fresh pair of eyes perhaps it is easier to assess things and suggest change. The process of conversations with others has been really interesting, and not just in the school itself.

This lunchtime was a family meal back home in Kent. Parents and siblings (my brother-in-law is just another older brother) plus dogs having a good catch up. My family are awesome and I owe who I am and where I am to them. What is great is that nobody takes themselves too seriously, and that we are forever ribbing each other and making jokes – including the necessary black humour required when ‘telling off’ your dad for always getting ‘top marks’ when you find out his latest cancer check up shows his scores are tripling, and not in a good way. The conversation got onto what I’d be up to at GTA and we ended up having a real deep and meaningful chat about everyone’s experience at schools. Such variety. I consider all of us well educated, well rounded, full of the ‘right kind of stuff’, with good jobs and good relationships, and yet we all had such diverse and discordant experiences of school and education.

It was really eye opening. We talked about aspirations, commitment, resilience, bullying, results, pressure, ability, teachers, etc,. I hadn’t realised that one of us had been bullied badly and hated every moment of school, and when asked what could be done to improve the school experience they couldn’t think of a way to fix it short of being one-to-one with a teacher and no other students. This person being someone whom I look up to, who is a lifelong learner, very smart, very capable, and still collecting post-grad qualifications. The phrase that struck was that ‘going to school actually interfered with the learning process’. And this will be true of so many of our students. Anyone who is slightly different, who maybe wants to do better, who is considered smarter, maybe is less sporty or just doesn’t want to get involved in other social areas of young life. Fortunately this hasn’t stopped them from wanting to succeed and from wanting to learn – but this won’t be the case for many who lack that resilience.

So what can we do in schools to make them more appealing? To improve engagement in every aspect of youthful development? How can we ensure we are bringing out the best in every child in every way, and that we are not driven by the accountability and results machine to forget other ‘softer’ aspects that are equally if not more important?

So some questions I’ve had buzzing round this week following conversations with staff, family and friends, and students:

– How can we make education a fully social and interactive experience that benefits all?
– How do we ensure all kids are reading and writing at their appropriate age?
– How can you encourage independence, especially in able children, in those who want to succeed but are nervous of independent work in case they ‘get it wrong’?
– Is leadership more about intelligence or emotion?
– How do we raise kids to be entrepreneurs whilst still valuing education and nothing thinking ‘others became millionaires after leaving school with nothing’?
-How do we get kids to sleep, exercise, eat healthy and to explore the real outdoors, rather than being up til 3 on social media and computer games?
-Is endless access to information at your fingertips a good thing for young people? How can we ensure information consumption is productive and beneficial?
-How do we encourage independent learners in an atmosphere of worry that they must pass exams, where they have been cushioned at home and school and just want to be given the answers?
-How can we make the most of the hall at break times so that it’s not a venue of depression / nerves / fear associated with exams and assembly?
-How do we ensure technology is used for more than just consumption?
-How can we break the mindset (in students and in teachers) of ‘this is your target’ when it’s tied to accountability, and break that invisible ceiling of ambition / aspiration / ability?

Some pretty big questions in there! Certainly ones to grapple with. I’m hoping the next two days will give some food for thought and some strategies for some of these. Let’s break the ceiling, stop limiting ourselves and others, and have more #moonshot thinking.

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Discover the World – Presentation on Sustainability & Tourism in the Azores

This is the presentation given today at the Discover the World Climate Change & Sustainability conference. Within the powerpoint are some weblinks so do download and click into them to see what it was about. A commentary is underneath the powerpoint. Mostly this links to the original posts I wrote about the Azores in this blog during the April 2014 teacher inspection visit so you can read there for detail. The activities are based upon the Discover Geography website that has free resources for teachers on locations such as Iceland and the Azores. The Azores resources were mostly compiled by Simon Ross when you click into the website, so credit goes to him. On the powerpoint when it says ‘e.g. Resource 24’ that is what I am referring to! In true Louis Walsh style though I have generally ‘made it my own’ by taking the suggested activities and then amending them. I also refer to Digital Explorer resources which are great for looking at oceans. Anyway, have a look and if you like an activity then try it and let me know!

Background on the Azores:

The Azores is a volcanic archipelago of 9 islands located in the mid-Atlantic on a triple junction along the Mid Atlantic Ridge. Sao Miguel is the main island and by far the most popular with 69% of all tourists staying here. This is largely due to being the only island with direct flights rather than going via Portugal. Ferries and internal island flights exist across to other smaller islands. The least popular island for tourism is Corvo, closely followed by Flores. Generally most tourism is domestic from the Portuguese mainland (56% in 2013) with Sweden, Germany, France and the UK then being the most common countries of origin. Tourism has been reasonably steady for the past decade although with troughs due to global recession. There is a seasonal variation with July and August not surprisingly being busiest. When we visited the Azores it was clear that the infrastructure is still needed to be put in place to encourage mass tourism – and that copious E.U. funding is being gleaned on every street corner. Currently the islands still retain their distinctiveness and remoteness, with only 5% of the whole chain being urbanised. For four consecutive years the Azores as won the Sustainable Tourism Award for Portugal, and won a global award this year. There are multiple UNESCO Biosphere reserves on the island, European Geopark status and Quality Coast marks, and the main industries and employers are still agriculture and increasingly services.

Slide commentary:

Slide 8 linkhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5NiTN0chj0

Slide 10: Google Earth tour file. Email / tweet me if you want a tour file. It’s not that exciting but something!

Slides 12-22: I just described a bit of background on the main locations we went to on the trip to give some context on the Azores. You can read about all these in this blog if you search. In a nutshell just commenting that there are opportunities to use the Azores to teach about eutrophication and its reversal, land use change, social conflict (ie. farmers having land reclaimed), ecology with botanical gardens, geothermal power and comparisons to Iceland (43% of all Sao Miguel island’s energy is from geothermal power, aiming for 50% across the whole chain by 2050 with the Azores being part of the Green Islands initiative, coastal geography at Ferreria, Pico mountain, whaling and the rise of whale sightseeing tourism (in 2011 48’000 tourists did whale watching, supporting 200 jobs for previously unemployed whalers and fishers), Faial island botanical reserve protecting and breeding endemic species (since only 7% of all vegetation in the Azores is currently endemic), and Capelinhos volcanic peninsular and it’s interesting behaviour. You can see the whole commentary guide in the blog or on Slideshare here.

Slide 23: http://www.discover-geography.co.uk Just submit your email address and get approved then off you go.

Slide 24: Using Resource 23. I used this as either a categorising card sort, or to get students to locate each activity on a map or on GIS, or create a travel plan and evaluate the impact of each activity.

Slide 25: Using Resource 15 which contains key facts on the use of energy in different islands. I’ve structured the tasks using Solo language since this is now a common language in school, so students have the choice of either a Relational or Extended Abstract activity to use weblinks to compare and contrast two islands.

Slide 26: Using Resource 27 which asks about the challenges of sustainable tourism and gives information on the current issues and implications of tourism growth. I suggested creating a mock interview /  documentary based on the issues and internet research. A chance for some empathy and to consider different views (stressing the importance of a balanced argument and to ask questions and compare).

Slide 27: Using Resource 25 which has raw data on accommodation and country of origin for tourists this is a chance for some numeracy links. Students can choose from Bronze/Silver/Gold level and are encouraged to try a new skill. I would also correlate this with using the skills webs at KS3 and KS4.

Slide 28-33: Just simple photo stimulus using own images and questions. These would be a ‘Do Now’ activity in class as students enter.

Slide 35: General activities that could be used for a variety of lessons. http://www.bing.com for the every day changing image and reminding people about the free 1:25’000 OS maps layer.

Slide 36: Tell me a story. Always making explicit links to literacy. Also reading and sharing exemplar travel writing and descriptive writing.

Slide 38: Simple diamond 9 sorting activity with statements based on the DtW resources facts.

Slide 39-40: Venn sorting exercise with descriptive statements for students to categorise, sort, discuss – just emphasising that sustainability is a balance of all three.

Slide 41: Self-explanatory! Used this with KS3 classes as part of the Amazing Places unit to design a sustainable solution to different places.

Slide 42-43: Lovely links to numeracy again – we are all teachers of numeracy lol 😉 Again choice of activity of different complexity.

Slide 46-47: Using www.wordle.net or www.tagxedo.com to create word clouds based on impressions of the Azores, or using text from web research. You can then analyse the patterns and discuss these.

Slide 48: Flickr.com stimulus for a photo slideshow as your ‘Do now’ activity. Welcome to use my images if you want to.

Slide 49: Learning grids – which I’ve explained elsewhere in here so have a look.

Slide 51: Practise Decision Making Exercise just based on Azores tourism (just about the same as used for Iceland and Dubai etc.)

Slide 52: VCOP writing frame to structure writing / scaffold.

Slide 53-59: Just to explain SOLO bits briefly. Not because it’s the only tool I use or the be all and end all, but because there is some use for it to help show and guide progression sometimes through the descriptors. Slide 57 shows a template for guiding an increasingly complex answer through the stages. The sheet could be given at the start of a topic when students fill in what they can (most likely the first two boxes), then referred back to at mid point and end of topic to complete with what has been learned. Slide 59 Solo hexagons I’ve explained before but basically used to tessellate information about sustainability before writing an extended answer. The aim is to make as many connections / have as many sides touching as possible.

Slide 60: An example of how I model case study answers to practise doing 3 developed points using point, evidence, explain, link.

Slide 61: Sign up to Microsoft Partners in Learning to get free cool software like Autocollage. My year 7s used it to create a collage of distinctive features in the Azores based on the Flickr images, then they interrogated each other on their choice of image and whether something was really distinctive or not. They were fascinated by the spiral staircase on the lighthouse and the engraved whale bones bless them.

Slide 62: Get kids doing their own placemarks and tours on Google Earth then sharing with each other. Time consuming at first but worth it, especially if you want to create similar works in GCSE for skills.

Slide 63: Have a shared Pinterest board. You can invite by email in to a particular board and then can post links / images into it. Be careful in terms of it being social media so use kids school email addresses but it doesn’t give sensitive information. Can then be used to all collate resources for a project.

Slide 64: Digital Explorer another awesome website for free resources. Great for coral and polar oceans in particular with resources for all key stages, fact sheets, and even simple experiments you can do in school with buckets of water, ice cubes and food dye to show thermohaline conveyor system, impact of glacial melt, etc,. The Azores has cold coral reefs which are starting to become fragile from the impact of fishing nets and also ocean acidification, and there are resources in here that can help explain all that including some great student made videos.

Slide 65: Ocean Health Index shows global patterns of oceanic health and then specific data on 244 ocean regions. Oceans are rated and scored out of 100 based on health, fisheries, carbon storage, tourism, etc. and then ranked for their global position. The Azores is 91/244 and set to improve. You can then compare to other regions. The least healthy areas are predominantly coastal Africa, which leads on nicely to a comparison with a region in Africa and a region in Asia…ooh, did we just tick a statutory box somewhere? 😉 Also relevant for new KS4 curriculum.

Phewf. Hope something was useful in there for those that attended and any of you that made it to the bottom 😉

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it connected to the rest of the world” (John Muir)

Prince’s Teaching Institute gearing up for 2014_15 cohort!

PTI It’s been a long time since I last blogged due to moving schools and needing to find my feet. I’ve not felt that I have had anything to share in a positive sense yet while I make the heady transition, but more on that in another post I am mulling over perhaps. It’s been a wee bit mental so I’ve struggled to find time to do anything apart from breathe, but I shall do better! Hopefully!

This Saturday 18th October marks the first of the new 2014_15 year for the Prince’s Teaching Institute Subject Days for new teachers. I’ve been involved with the work of the PTI for the last year as a teacher leader for Geography (other subjects are available 😉 ). The subject days are aimed at NQTs or non-specialists in particular (the PTI also offers other training days and residentials that are subject specific or for leadership) and cover a variety of content over six Saturdays including a fieldwork day. It’s a great opportunity to receive the most up-to-date theory from current researchers or lecturers, to spend time with colleagues discussing what has been heard, and then to work with teacher leaders and peers during focused workshops based around the lecturer content.

The structure of the days usually involves two lectures, plus two workshops, a lovely lunch, and time with colleagues to chat and plan how you would use the information back in the classroom. The workshops are led by current teachers / heads of department such as myself, Graham Goldup, Andy Emms, Helen Boxley, Kate Amis, Ed Chandler, and Paul Cornish at four different locations of London, Manchester, Harrogate and Birmingham. The events are tailored to suit the individuals attending, and I’ve certainly enjoyed being at them and the conversations you have with educators of different experiences and interests and backgrounds. We’ve enjoyed lectures from the likes of Professor Iain Stewart and Simon Reeve, Hazel Barrett, Alan Kinder and Jonny Darling as well as many others. So I am really looking forward to this new year and learning more from others and being involved myself.

Part of the extended work of the PTI also encourages curriculum leaders to join the Schools Programme with their department. This is a scheme that involves a department self-evaluation against a range of criteria, setting of targets to aim for as part of your department development over the course of the year, the submission of an end of year report for review by teacher leader consultants, and an invitation to come to training days and share resources through the PTI website. PTI home PTI staffroom imageAdmittedly this website isn’t the most user friendly at present, but it is a work in progress and the PTI are aiming to improve their use of the site and social media over time. The programme is to be completed over the course of three years so that the actions taken are meant to be sustainable. The aim is to choose development points that are beyond your usual department development focus – a bit ‘above and beyond’, and could include whole school influence, network creation, etc. . I worked through the Schools Programme with my team at my last school and did find that the added level of accountability knowing you were working with mentors and sharing with others was a good extra incentive when plodding through the year, and added some extra clout for those discussions with SLT that needed it.

During the review sessions in the summer this year we read all the reports, moderated them and then decided whether a department would pass through to the second year at different levels of quality – similar to the GA Quality Mark in that sense. I loved hearing what was going on elsewhere – where departments were turning their results around, or changing their teaching strategies, creating local networks of change, embedding technology, etc. . Departments can also go on to the Associate Department scheme after three years so there is always something available. The scheme does cost money, but does also include the training days and mentoring throughout the year – and there is a deduction for schools with multiple departments involved. It’s certainly not the only scheme that can offer that sense of progression and structured development, but I can only speak from own experience with having enjoyed the whole process and the support available. I suppose the thing I like most is that anything offered by the PTI treats you as an intelligent professional, and I love the ‘back to uni’ type feeling where you are being fed information and taught by specialists who are currently researching that issue – it just makes you feel topped up with knowledge, enthused and ready for more. Unless I’m the only person who ever feels a little ‘dumbed down’ from just teaching to GCSE standard and not getting the thrill of the challenge of learning something hard like you did back at uni? No? 😉

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.” (Leonardo da Vinci)

TES Geography week article – resources I love to use

Below is an article that is published in TES this week as part of Geography Week, a review of resources I commonly use. All free 😉

 

Investigating a new topic and not sure where to start? Planning your curriculum changes and finding it hard to get inspiration? Or simply ploughing through exams revision and looking to liven it up? Sometimes hitting the ‘search’ button on the internet throws up so many myriad suggestions it is overwhelming, but there are a few reliable places to turn to first.

 

Discover the World: Study Guides

Discover the World have been working with specialists and teacher advisors to create free study guide resources for use with a range of ages, particularly focusing on Key Stage 3-5 but adaptable. At present the online resources are for Iceland – the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption and Solheimajökull glacier, and for Norway – Hardangerfjörd mountain plateau and tourism. These resources are very high quality, with a range of lesson-by-lesson activities and superb videos and photographs for your use. Topics that can be taught from these include tectonics and hazard management, tourism, sustainability, energy, rivers, resource management, glaciology, cold climates and human-physical interactions. The site requires registration, which is free – simply give an email address. Then you can download and adapt to suit your needs. You can also get lovely free posters to display in classrooms, plus the Discover team are really helpful to sort queries.

 

There is also a new resource bank being created atwww.discover-geography.co.uk in conjunction with the Geographical Association that will provide quality teaching aids for other locations, as well as tips on planning overseas fieldwork. This is currently under construction with resources being updated in the next few months including a new destination of the Azores (looking at tourism, sustainability, biodiversity and volcanism). Again this site is free to register – well worth checking and then referring back to in June.

 

Digital Explorer:

Digital Explorer seeks to engage young people in a range of global issues, and has a range of resources for different themes that can be used in the classroom as well as links to useful articles and competitions.

Expeditions around the world can take on real meaning for your students by personalised accounts that are shared on the site, such as the Scott Expedition or London 2 London round the world journeys. I’ve used these to look at changing environments, extreme environments, or for students to grasp the idea of interconnectedness.

 

There are lots of resources available on the site – again registration is free. They are divided up into Oceans, Culture and Tech – with Digital Explorer even providing training in GIS. They are appropriate for a range of key stages. I’ve particularly enjoyed the Coral Oceans and Frozen Oceans (which, although aimed at Primary education is easily applicable and adaptable for 11-13 year olds). There are photographs, lesson guides, Google Earth downloadable .kml files, worksheets and even experiments to try – why not investigate changing sea ice porosity and the impact of climate change on sea levels? Or be cross-curricular and investigate how art changes geographically to reflect culture, identity, diversity, and religion – perhaps comparing British culture to elsewhere.

 

Students can also take part with current expeditions and interact live. For example, in the past we had students interact with Atlantic Rising through Skype and Twitter to ask questions, share ideas and share images live with those on expedition. At present there is an expedition 360 Extremeswhich is travelling the world. They are currently in Brazil andwill carry on until 2017 – lots of time to get involved! Imagine interacting live with them to fit into your new curriculum, perhaps when they are in Russia and China?! Topical.

 

Free Microsoft Tools:

If you want more information about free Microsoft tools being used in various ways, then either check this blog or see davidrogers.org.uk as both have different examples of use in schools.

 

The Microsoft Education team have provided a range of tools that are free, as well as some that are free just for teachers. All you need is a Hotmail account, which is free. Nothing complicated. Once you get a Hotmail account, you immediately get access to various online tools through OneDrive – Microsoft’s cloud. This includes simplified online versions of Word, Excel, OneNote & Powerpoint. These versions can be used on any device whether mobile device,PC, tablet, iOS or Android as they are web-based. This also means they are continuously saved online so you cannot lose work. OneDrive gives you 10Gb of free storage, and I’ve found this really useful for sharing documents and resources with students – for example Year 8 were working on Rainforests completing a decision making exercise so I shared the resources via OneDrive with students, and then they submitted work online to me. The beauty of this is that you can give and record feedback instantly by adding you own comments.

 

I really like using OneNote with classes. You can have multiple users all logged in to the same notebook (you share this with them) and then they can edit and adapt the documentsimultaneously. You can see in my blog how I used this with my Curriculum Hackers student voice group to edit our schemes of work. The teacher can simply create a notebook, perhaps with different key questions to focus on or stimulus images or links to follow, then students edit the document using this. Then you let them lead their own learning while you provide feedback.

If you join Microsoft Partners in Learning – also for free – then you get access to a range of teacher resources, such as AutoCollage and Songsmith, which can be easily used in class. There are also teacher guides to help learn new skills.

 

Reference links:

www.discover-the-world.co.uk/school/trip/en/study-aid/

www.discover-geography.co.uk

www.digitalexplorer.com

davidrogers.org.uk 

www.pil-network.com