Too busy being inspiring

‘Inspiration’ ~ noun.

Creativity, enthusiasm, genius, imagination, influence, motivation, muse, spur, stimulus.

With the publication of the latest (March 2015) statutory guidance for Careers guidance & inspiration in schools it becomes more and more obvious that schools can no longer rely on a brief careers interview in Y11 to fulfil their duty in this regard. Indeed the inclusion of the word inspiration in the title is a very broad hint that the “duty” of the past will no longer be sufficient.

Who wouldn’t rather be inspiring than merely fulfil their obligations?

For all but a lucky few extremely well resourced & staffed schools, this will mean that it cannot be the role of just one person or department, but rather involve ALL staff, SLT, and even dragging local business people off the street. Well, inviting them in, anyway.

My previous blog on this subject http://dhsbteaching.org.uk/2015/01/20/careers-in-the-classroom/ encouraged the start of subject teacher involvement; here are a few hopefully more specific ways you can engage, and inspire.

Firstly, most subject teachers will also have some kind of pastoral responsibility as a form tutor, house leader or similar, and in this role will have to deal with many everyday catastrophes and quandaries. This should naturally extend itself into career guidance, albeit of a general nature, and also referrals to a specialist as appropriate. I often get requests for careers interviews from HoH for a student who is not necessarily wanting specific advice but may be generally unfocussed and in need of suggestions and possibilities. Many teachers are parents of teenage children, too, bringing their experience of all the coexisting confrontation and communication breakdowns…

Teachers will often have had careers experiences of their own before coming to teaching, and will certainly have gone through the trials and tribulations of choosing a degree subject and a university. At my school I regularly update a spreadsheet of subject/specialism and university/college which is shared with Y12 – if one of them is considering a particular place this immediately gives them a new source of guidance. We also have as a warm up activity for Y10 a powerpoint of “previous lives” – which member of staff used to work at the Foreign Office?  Who was a cheese expert and also a parachute instructor? (That wasn’t me, although the cheese sounds good…)

Probably even more relevant in this age when we are told that most of us will enjoy several separate “careers” rather than the old job for life scenario.

Teachers also need to introduce links to the business world within their subjects; easier in some than others, I know, but do-able for all. Why not challenge each Head of Department to arrange at least one employer visit/workplace trip over the year, and report back. Immediate evidence of real world engagement and not too heavy a burden for anyone.

I recently took a group of students to a local building development, just for a couple of hours, and they were fascinated to hear real people (as opposed to teachers) telling them of the range of opportunities, the rewards available, and the employability skills needed, which leads us neatly to my final point.

As well as subject specific links such as the use of scientific processes in forensic medicine or development of new pasty products for a food manufacturer (both of which we have undertaken with local employers over the past couple of years) there are also those generic employability skills such as communication and team work that can be cross curricular. We are developing, with other local secondary schools, an Employability Passport – a kind of in-house D of E award – to realise, recognise and reward some of these skills, which will have the backing of local employers, council and universities. If a student can act as a leader whilst overseeing a school production, or fulfil peer mentoring duties with younger students for a year, these activities are surely as valuable as a grade at GCSE?

These four elements will need, as I have stated previously, to be given the full backing of senior leaders. They are those ultimately responsible for the fulfilment of the statutory duty, after all.

The teachers? They are too busy being inspiring!

inspiration

Sue Moreton

@suemoreton1

Edtech Revision Special – Catch of the Day 2

COTD 2

This one is for students, teachers, mums, dads, brothers, sisters & friends; because let’s face it, the exam period can be a family affair! A time when we can all collaborate to help you get the most out of your exams as possible.

This EdTech revision special is concentrating on technology that could help you revise, identify weaknesses and develop your subject knowledge. Some of the technologies have been discussed in previous DHSB Teaching Blog posts but we are hoping to identify key areas in which they can be used to help you revise. All of the tools discussed are free and easy to use so please explore and see what works best for you.

Kahoot

Due to the feedback Kahoot is a great tool for teachers and classes to identify specific subject areas which the class on the whole need to work on together and also individual areas in which students may need to work on in their own time. Building up to exams Kahoots quizzes can be used to firstly cover whole subjects to identify the weaker areas and as they progress through the weeks the quizzes can become more specific, hopefully becoming even more and more specific as the key weak areas are worked on during lessons and in the students own time until students have worked through the whole curriculum forming a solid base of all round subject knowledge. This will equip students with the best possible chances going into exams knowing that we have built on the whole curriculum, developing depth of knowledge in the weaker areas identified by Kahoots continuous feedback.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use Kahoot:

Kahoot Demo

StudyBlue

StudyBlue is based on flash card learning, you create ‘Term’ front side and ‘Definition’ reverse sides of cards online using your notes, more recently they have created a function which suggests in the side panel similar peoples publicly viewable cards which relate to your own to make it easier to create a more wholesome subject content flash card set or even quicker for the terms you are currently using. The technology lets you then take the Cards as a quiz or in the standard flash card way anywhere that you have a web browser or access to their app. After you are finished learning it gives you feedback of your score, tells you what you got wrong and what you got right and you can then choose to retake the whole flash card set or only the ones that you got wrong; if you don’t have time to retake the flash cards again right now you can set a reminder for when you are free and that can be sent via the app, text, email or facebook. StudyBlue sorts the flash cards into associated classes that you create, this enables you to keep track of what you have done and also share with your classmates, collaborate and really make the most out of it.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use StudyBlue:

StudyBlue Demo

Flippity

Flippity is similar to StudyBlue but is really another option of and using a different platform which students may prefer. Flippity isn’t as flash as StudyBlue but at DHSB we use Google Apps and the integration of Google Sheets with Flippity to create your flash cards, quizzes and certificates is very streamlined with what we are doing here. Which means this may be an easier option for students & teachers to transfer their notes, create quizzes & certificates in Flippity due to the familiarity of Google Sheets and sometimes keeping things simple and familiar at what can be a stressful time is a positive thing. I really like the game show style quizzes in Flippity and think the collaboration and good competition in the classroom can enhance learning and retention of information as well as being a good tool for identifying weak areas for individuals or the whole group.

Flippity uses creates links for your work which you can store in another spreadsheet in Google to keep track of what is what and with the URL link you can share what you have created with anyone anywhere making this another great collaborative tool; you can share and compare your notes with all of your friends.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use Flippity:

Flippity Demo

Tackk

Tackk lets you create an online page full of information and all types of media, whether it be audio, video, pictures or links. This lets students get creative and use different ways to create their own online learning space of which they can access on any device with a  web browser. I think to create a Tackk for each subject or even sub section of a subject as a summary of what you have learnt and how you have learnt it would be a great tool for reflecting on when revising, everyone learns in different ways and I believe the combination of different medias would really have a positive effect on firstly learning the knowledge and secondly retaining it in different ways so that in an examination it will be easier to recall. You can leave your Tackk as public and also share with anyone that you like so for collaboration this is another great tool, you can also use the community to search and find other peoples Tackks for subjects that are of interest to you so explore and have fun.

Here is a quick demo video of how to use Tackk:

Tackk Demo

Daniel Shahin @danielshahin
Educational Technologist

Keep calm but have fun with Kahoot

I have been guilty of treating my sixth form to a diet of lectures followed by open book paper test questions for a fortnight (to make sure that we finish the syllabus before the holiday and  to free-up time for coaching in exam questions and technique afterwards!)

It has allowed me time to emphasise the essentials, add context and also allowed me more time to keep up with marking their work but it  has limited my engagement with the class and if I’m honest: their engagement with their learning. We were working hard but the work was supervisory not awfully formative nor particularly memorable. How surprised were they when having finished another hour long speed delivery through evolution, I asked them to “take a break and return for a quiz” .” A test you mean Miss” , they groaned. How delighted they were when they returned to complete a Kahoot!

Kahoot

(Students search Google for Kahoot.it, then enter the game code to play. The timed questions and answers are displayed on the whiteboard and they answer by keying in the correct colour choice icon that appears on their own screen)

Yes it was a sequence of test questions but they had instant feedback, we could move at a good pace, we could explore misconceptions where mistakes were being made ( an analysis appears after each question stating the highest 6 scorers and presenting a bar chart of class results)and I could save these as an excel file and examine them later.It was fun, lots of fun! In fact it was so much fun, that the class pleaded for more and we used a public Quiz that was shared on Biochemistry before they left. (I’d usually prefer to check all quizes through first of course!)

Here  I am at home two days later, and I can see who needs help with discontinuous variation  so I’ll speak with them individually  before we move on, on Tuesday.

Far from ‘fun’ being a luxury of learning at this point in the course;learning together was essentially fun!

Thanks 12C

Sharon Davidson @sharondavidson1

Assistant Headteacher

Nicky Morgan @Nickymorgan01 Education the Conservative way

One of the main questions she is asked in her focus groups with teachers is about assessment without levels.

As a result she has commissioned an independent committee to help develop good practice with this.

In the next 5 years there won’t be big changes but time spend on establishing and allowing the recent changes to take root and develop.

Want to increase the number of children taking the ebacc

What we haven’t achieved is excellence everywhere:

Some coastal schools are not performing this is not acceptable and deeply unfair. The priority for the next conservative party is to ensure that the best teachers work everywhere and that young people will compete with all globally.

No system can be better than the teachers that teach in it and the leaders that lead it

We want to grow teaching schools and NLE’s

We want to establish the new Headteacher standards focused on exceptional not acceptable

We want to remove bureaucracy for teachers and Headteachers, that is why we developed the workload challenge survey.

We still need to improve the accountability systems such as Ofsted

We want to empower parents and the community more than we currently do, we want to unlock the data from Ofsted

We have given £5 million to CPD recently and will support the claim your college campaign

We will support the national fair funding agreement

Every time I visit a school I am inspired by everyone, we will always be grateful of what you do day to day but also delivering our plan for education.

Question: How will you improve funding?

We want to get on with this as soon as possible, the £390 million pounds investment is a start. We still live in economically challenging times. We need to eliminate our debt as a country, we have a spending review in the summer and I will make the case to make progress on the national fair funding formula.

Question: Would you support an independent curriculum review?

We don’t necessarily want to see more changes to the curriculum, it will take around 9 years for these changes to work through. Not convinced, good to have independent advice but they should be elected etc to this.

Question: There are severe problems with the recruitment of teachers, what steps will you take to solve this recruitment crisis?

I understand these concerns, part of this is about the recovering economy. We need to develop several strategies, start earlier when people are in school and university. We need to make it easier for those on a break to more easily return to work, school direct, incentivising with better pay.

Question: How will you ensure that more women become Headteachers?

Often it is usually women who take time out of work for children etc, how can we support them to return and develop at leadership level. Identifying talented candidates etc.

David Laws @DavidlawsMP – Education the Liberal Democrats way

David gave high praise to John Dunford in his role as Pupil Premium Champion

Liberal democrats are proud of the protection of school budgets, pupil premium, universal free school meals, progress 8 etc.

Still the biggest challenge is breaking link between attainment and disadvantaged background

The attainment gap in English and Maths is narrowing

Two thirds of disadvantaged children are still failing to achieve the benchmarks

5 key priorities for the liberal democrats are:

  1. Money – we will protect the education budget. The 16-19 cuts have hit schools so we will extend 16-19 budgets and protect them. They also promise to deliver the fair funding formula.
  2. Investment in the Early Years – Extend early years to 2 year olds as they have started. They will triple the pupil premium in Early years. Extend QTS to early years.
  3. Teachers – Develop, reward and attract high quality teachers. Reduce workload of teachers. For example supporting the development of a Royal College of Teaching.
  4. Develop a school led system – We believe it is the best way to improve outcomes. We need a middle tier to support and challenge schools. Many LA’s don’t have the skills to do this. We would give Ofsted the power to inspect academy chains. The school led system must work in every area of the country and this is a struggle in the areas that most need it. They propose to develop a national level of leadership to develop system leadership everywhere.
  5. Getting politics out of education – It will always have a role however David said that his experience of government is that too much change effects schools and students. Politically driven change should be underpinned with research not on the whim of a politician.

Sean Harford @harfordsean – National Director of School Policy Ofsted

Sean Talked about the declining number of trainees entering the profession, provide a real challenge to school improvement.

Continual policy shifts are destabilising the education system, Ofsted would support an independent body to advise the DfE.

Headship is a great job but often tough especially with personnel issues, Sean likened it to the role of an Ofsted inspector, this was met with some groans from the audience.

He then Talked about the need for consistency in inspections

Inspections will never be an exact science nor should they but we need to get it right.

A new report states that 8/10 leaders surveyed say that inspections have helped the school improve

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-leaders-views-on-the-impact-of-inspection

How will they achieve this? In two ways

Increase additional inspectors from serving practitioners – 70% from September will be existing practitioners from good and outstanding schools.

Introducing a new common inspection framework from September 2015

3 key factors will ensure a school remains Good:

1. Do they have firm grasp of strengths
2. Do they have a good improvement plan
3. Does the school have the right culture to improve?

Tristram Hunt @TristramHuntMP – Education the Labour way #ASCL2015

The first part of Tristram’s speech was focused on technology and how brilliant it is and how it will basically save education. I think it is a fantastic tool however I think it isn’t necessarily appropriate in every situation and also we need more evidence still on the impact that it can have on education in the classroom and wider. The rest of this post is a live scribe of his talk.

Technological and economic challenges are adding pressure to the education system
For example 35% of existing British jobs could disappear to automation in the next couple of decades
The energy provided by the digital revolution creates exciting opportunities for young people.
Social media has sent a shockwave through education with regarding #Claimyourcollege
Change in education must come from the bottom up, give school leaders the freedom

It shouldn’t be the self-improving school system but the self-innovative improving system
The conundrum of education policy is how do we deliver the basics whilst creating opportunities for innovation and creativity?

The current free schools programme has lacked creativity – not focused on improving standards, innovation & value for money but focused on the ones that could open quickly.
We can’t afford to be wasting money on new schools in places that there are already good places.
The strength of leadership and the quality of teaching are the most important things in the new chapter of educational reform.

Funding will be to increase with inflation with Labour.
Over time the disparity of funding needs to be made equitable, hinting at supporting a fair funding formula.

Question: When will Labour deliver a fair funding agreement?

There is a need to address this and make things more equitable, other services such as mental health, social services has been stripped back which has put more pressure on schools. However no answer on timing.

Question: Would labour accept the offer to set up an independent committee to review curriculum every 5 years?

Primary and GCSE curriculum will stay to help stability, progress 8 will stay, support the moves for Ofsted and will consult on how to improve this.

Labour don’t think the A level reforms are appropriate – labour blaming the government for changing A levels too quickly and should have waited. They would keep the new changes till September 2017 would move back to AS and A level system.

Overall some popular statements of intent however can they deliver?

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