This was shot in the Autumn of 2012, a season of rain, thunder and floods. We asked the gardener to tell us about what he likes and dislikes and on some of his philosophical thoughts; he gave us plenty to think about. I too wish I had someone to do my weeding for me, although I only garden when i am dragged, screaming outside.
With experience and maturity, the need for meticulous planning disappears. Someone who knows what they are doing can tell just by walking around and looking what their plans for the day should be. In our world though, the planning is sometimes taken to be more important than the work itself.
Many thanks to good mate Doug for pointing me to this Radio 4 documentary which you can catch up with on the BBC Radio iPlayer (go to BBC iPlayer radio and search for “Analysis – The School of hard Facts” just in case this link doesn’t work out.)
The programme goes into the work of E.D. Hirsch, who developed the concept of ‘cultural literacy and core knowledge’ that our current education secretary thinks is the best thing since sliced bread. It’s a fascinating prgramme, see how long you can go without loosing your temper…
This video was used to provoke debate in staff development sessions. It asks a very simple question about learning, school, examinations and life. Do you ever step off the straight? The film always provokes some good discussion, and a lot of comment, particularly about the cyclists breathing!
Please feel free to use the film in your own staff development sessions, here are some questions and prompts to get things going.
1) In this school, what is the straight? Just how much is set down and formally required? Just how flexible is the curriculum?
2) The cyclist clearly has a sense of adventure as a lot of risks are taken and there is a lot of potential danger. What are the risks in stepping off the straight in this school? Is there really, truly, any danger?
3) Who would you need to speak to about stepping off the straight? Is it right that you have autonomy in your classroom and the freedom to do what you want without clearing it with anyone? Head of year? Head of department? Headteacher? What would the headteacher say anyway?
4) Why do you think the film is called “The Straight” and not “The Straight and Narrow”?
5) How do you measure it? Everything is measured in school so how do you measure a journey where you are not sure where you are going? What would OFSTED say? How do you show the value of using your own initiative?
6) You may know of some alternative approaches to education that value ‘the journey’ more than ‘the destination’. Why do we not value these approaches more in this country?
Lessons are often won or lost in the first five minutes of the class, so having some winning ideas, great plans, strategies and resources at your fingertips is important for successful teaching.
Nothing turns learners off more other than doing yet another word-search. They might be fine, but they should not be your only idea. Relate it to the learning, keep it fresh and simple and see where you end up.
Let us know what you use and what you think doesn’t, through the comments box below…
It is a hard time to keep positive. You can easily get the feeling that no one likes the direction education is going in this country, no one thinks teaching is the profession it once was, no one thinks free schools are the future. But the holidays are here, the British Summer is just around the corner and the Jubilympics is just about to kick off. Yay!
I’ve spoken many times about how IT needs to revitalise the curriculum and the teachers themselves, and I thought I would share this link with you to let you see just what can happen when innovation and creativity are allowed to get on with it. I know it’s for a major US IT company who are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you focus on the potential for learning it has lots of interesting stuff. I love the Greene County video (bottom left), congratulations to them for getting their progression turned around, and for the way they pronounce “niche”.
So in this country we are banning phones, locking down computers, slashing budgets, getting in a pickle about what “rigour” actually is and demotivating an entire workforce. Don’t let them get away with it.
We’ve posted about the rather wonderful book exploring motivation “Drive” by Daniel Pink in Briefing 21. Well, here’s an opportunity to hear Dan himself in the rather wonderful RSA animate series. This explains such a lot. It helps with class management. It helps with why we teach at all. It explains why Barclays Bank did what it did and it explains why it won’t get fixed all that quickly.
This could be the best 10 minutes of the day.
Incidentally, hope you don’t mind the break from videos. Stu and I are just so busy at the moment we’re suffering from a lack of editing time…
Oh, and by the way, always make a back-up. Before you pass anything onto learners back up the disk to your laptop and keep it safe just in case something unfortunate happens… need I say more…
Another thing to consider is the syntax you might use when naming files. For example you might have the name of the learners but also a code which points to the class, task or project. One thing you don’t need in the title of course is the date, amazing how many times you see that. File names can be quite long if you want, usually up to 255 characters so enough for several names but consider initials or short names just to keep titles to 1 line on the desktop.
How long do you keep them? 1 term, a year? Do you burn them off onto a CD or DVD? Do the school have a policy on it? Photos are the property of the school so should be covered by procedures and processes somewhere.
As promised some short clips from the Mini Maker Faire held in Derby yesterday. Despite the rain it was excellent and pretty well packed. Lots of great things to see not least the venue itself, Derby Silk Mill, some say, the oldest factory in the world… some say. It’s a place full of great stuff, well worth a class trip out for science, art, geography and probably everything else as well.
As you can see there was lots going on, The Dalek was great – apparently he answered to the name of “Jim” – and the ‘Portal’ themed crazy golf was popular. Check out Anna Krystyna Casey and Angel Eden for loveliness and Nottingham Hackspace for awesomeness.
Got some good suggestions for games to play as part of your teaching? Your subject specific websites might be a good place to look if you are short of ideas, but maybe you should look at developing your own. Start by reading Game Frame and see where that takes you. Ken Robinson is also good on this.
Our final celebration for the year, back to normal service next week!
Is there anything we’re not covering that you would like us to? We’ve explored a few things and had to jettison them because they were just impractical but on the whole we’re up for just about anything. We’d like to do more interviews but trying to get people to talk on camera is a problem. We would also have liked to bring examiners to you, but again, there is a certain amount of sensitivity to examiners talking to media companies at the moment.
We’ve been asked for paper versions of the posts as not everyone is comfortable in viewing video and we’ll be bringing something to you in the next few months which will hopefully help there. In the mean time do please subscribe, tweet, Facebook and youTube us and we’ll see you soon.