You may be interested to see that Sir Kenneth Baker is the Chair of the Edge Foundation, there are lots of pics of him at the Six Steps for Change launch on their flickr feed http://www.flickr.com/photos/edgefoundation/ Yes, that Kenneth Baker, tory minister under Thatch, he who gave us “Baker Days”, the National Curriculum and SATs. Having said that though he also deeply understands the vocational world and is doing a great job at Edge. Some Conservatives do understand the real world, I was sorry to see John Hays go from his post in charge of FE and Skills in the last re-shuffle and worry deeply about his replacement.
He’s not my favourite Ken Baker though, that is Kenny Baker, the actor who was inside the R2-D2 costume in Star Wars.
On a similar line to Edge’s initiative is Free Education, http://free-education.org who are trying to wrestle education from the hands of the politicians and are currently fund raising and mobilising. As long as education is in the hands of people who don’t understand it we will never really make any true progress.
My experience of rehearsal rooms when I was young was that the equipment would be ropey, your ears bled afterwards and would ring for days, and that you shouted so much that your throat was ruined for at least a week. Oh, and there was always a disgusting old sofa in the room somewhere.
I think those days might thankfully be over. This means you can rehearse with headphones on and control the mix you get without ruining everyone else’s experience. And no shouting, talk through the microphones at all times. That way you need never take them off while you rehearse.
The secret is “headphone busses”, normal mixing desks will provide you with one, maybe two or three headphone outs, which have their own controllable mixing sections. This device designs that feature up front. Each headphone out, has it’s own mini-mixer section allowing individuals to set exactly what they want to hear. without changing anyone else’s mix. These individual busses, yes, that is the word, give the JamHub its USP. Each feature is colour coded as well, meaning that if you are plugged into green, your sound will be on green right the way through the unit. Once you see the colour coding, it speaks for itself, not that the manual isn’t pretty good as well.
I’m guessing that cheaper versions will crop up soon, but I would council against trying to save money on these devices and urge you to teach how to use them safely and carefully before you let anyone rip them to shreds. They are solidly built, but tape two of them together any you’ve got a frisbee. As I’ve said elsewhere before, run a little course that trains people how to use them and rewards the right to have access to the equipment in lessons, breaks and lunchtimes. Having clued up and trained learners in the classroom will repay itself in no time.
Have a look at the JamHub website here for ideas on how they can be used in the classroom and experiment yourself. I much preferred using the JamHub to my Behringer mixer for practicing and I would be very interested to hear how you do use these in the classroom.
No money has changed hands and no promises made to JamHub or its distributors, but I would like to thank Steve, Andrew and Tony for the loan of the equipment.
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…
A word crops up in here which many people have problems with. Assertive – Lots to say on assertiveness that we’ll save for later, but a crucial skill for all teachers is to be assertive.
Draw a line in your mind. At one end write the word aggressive and at the other, passive.
Aggressive is not good. If you are in any way aggressive education is not the industry for you, you should leave before you get sacked. Passive is not good. If you are in any way passive education is not the industry for you, you should leave before you get sacked.
Assertive is right in the middle. It’s features are firm but fair. Honest, truthful and clear.
…and don’t even get me started on the difference between “want” and “need”. The conversations recently have been “do I really need a laptop, should I get an iPad instead?” and I think I would walk away from that one too. iPads are just amazing things in the classroom, great to teach with, super practical, very slick and helpful. Perhaps the desktop machine is truly dead and the sensible choice is for a laptop and an iPad and we can re-claim the computer table. Perhaps we can chuck the computer desk out of the living room at last and use the space for a new radiogram.
The Windows version of the iPad looks good as well, have a search for “Windows Surface” and see what you can find.
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.
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.
O’Reilly are great supporters of the maker movement in the US and the UK as well and I’m sure they will be at the Derby Mini Maker Faire on Sunday 3rd of June. I can also highly recommend the Radar section of their website which is a great source of discussion and debate on publishing and the business side of O’Reilly publishing. I think there is lots there to occupy the mind for the future of text books, open source publishing, digital rights management and the like.
Not all schools have access to decent reprographics services and many teachers still do their own copying, binding, printing, laminating and the like. The usual response when I talk to teachers is that this is a “waste of time” which I think is wrong. If you are producing materials for the learners then it is anything but a waste of time. Reprographics services are wonderful and a sensible thing for schools to have to help keep costs under control and maintain quality. They can often do far more than copying and binding.
If you are doing your own printing, give it time. Some inspectors used to use a rule of thumb that if the handouts were awful, the teacher probably was as well. Spend some time with your word processor or DTP templates, work with colleagues to get a house style, look at the templates in apple software or on line. There’s lots of help out there.
Booklets are great and booklet printing is the best and quickest way of turing out a concert programme or pamphlet. Let’s see more of them.