Teaching is Cool!

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Teaching is Cool!

‘It isn’t what you say that defines you but what you do’

These are the wise words of Batman that every aspirational teacher should know.

Teaching is a popular profession for many graduates. Last year over 16, 000 people completed a secondary PGCE. The number of graduates completing PGCE’s has steadily risen over the last few years. It is a role that people find exciting, challenging and extremely stimulating. It is a profession where we are able to move people forward in their aspirations and assist their learning.

Unfortunately, I was sad to read last year that the number of teacher training places at universities and colleges is to be cut by one fifth. The Coalition wants more teachers to learn their skills on the job in schools rather than in training colleges. Now I agree that we should have more on the job training – it’s where I learnt my skills and it was where I did most of my learning– but fewer teachers and training opportunities? Universities and teaching colleges offer fantastic teaching expertise and facilities that should be further funded. This maybe in response to subject demand but I am sure we will need teachers in the future and these cuts maybe putting off hundreds of potential brilliant teachers.

Teaching is Cool!

Nicholas Hargreaves of Radipole School, Weymouth says, ‘teaching is a wonderful career choice for anyone. From a young age several teachers and friends helped and encouraged me to aspire to become a teacher. To provide young minds with the knowledge, skills and passion to take control of their lives and become the experts of tomorrow. Personally it has given me the chance to inspire young people with my knowledge and expertise. Working with a group of like-minded teachers and young people is extremely inspirational. It is a role I have always been determined to succeed in and work hard for.’

The role teachers’ play in their local community is also central to a student’s development. Schools’ and communities must work collaboratively together for an area to benefit. Economic investment is a necessity with schools. Schools are the training ground for our future generations and they need to be at the forefront of technology for our young learners with the very best facilities for them to achieve their potential. The local community and schools’ must be incorporated into working together to create an ethos of self belief and to achieving their personal best. The community must be involved in their local schools creating community centres, so local people can benefit from the facilities and technology a school has. A community that sees the benefit of an education can help generate our leaders of tomorrow but they must work in partnership with the local schools. We as teachers are the facilitator of this role and can help enrich a wide variety of lives in the process. Working with the local community to enhance the school ethos and help an area develop.

Russell Wait, Curriculum Leader of Global Studies at Cove School, Hampshire; ‘I was inspired by my secondary school Headteacher who encouraged me from the tender age of 12 to reach my aspirations and goals. I find that teaching is an ever-changing occupation that keeps you on your toes. To teach the future generation of Britain with a passionate voice can create change and can only be a benefit for the country’.

Many professionals from industry are turning to a career in teaching because of the many benefits the role brings. They bring with them a vast range of experiences from industry that can only enhance the profession. Experience from outside the classroom and shared with the students is vital. Young people do need to have role models and even though they sometimes might not want to admit it, teachers are a very important one. It is very clear that many people want to train as teachers but cannot afford to take a whole year off for training. With the recent credit crisis it is understandable, but it does show that people do want to be teachers.

With this in mind, young people choosing to become a teacher may not get a job at the end of their training. If the government get their way we will all be working till at least sixty-eight – where is the opportunity for the young, fresh and talented teachers? We need teachers, inspirational teachers with new ideas and outlooks. Choose teaching – be a teacher!

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New KS3 NC

New KS3 NC

Before Michael Gove made his ‘big’ announcement regarding the National Curriculum changes we had been looking at how we were going to improve geography at Gillingham School at Key Stage 3. For the last year our primary target for improvement has revolved around teaching & learning within Geography. We have spent the last year looking at our Key Stage 3 lessons seeing where we can make improvements and implement new teaching strategies. We have been trying to make the teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills. This is being developed from KS3 onwards and carried on into KS4 and KS5.

The curriculum map we have designed is set in a specific way. Most importantly it allows students to follow a natural progression building up skills and using them in a number of different ways. The progression also leads through to Key Stage 5. We are aiming to promote progression in a number of ways;

  • Depth of knowledge
  • Breadth of study
  • Complexity of concepts
  • Independent learning and research
  • An increase in spatial scale

Progression is mainly achieved through deeper understanding and increasing complexity of tasks. There is also a broadening of the breadth of study. More explicitly we are looking at increasing spatial scale, increasing awareness of society, economy and the environment. Work is currently being undertaken to ensure that there is smooth progression from KS2 to KS3 and also from KS4 to KS 5.

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

  • Rainforest
  • Map work*
  • Tribes & Cultures
  • Crime
  • Hazards 1 – volcanoes & earthquakes*
  • Olympic Legacy
  • Population
  • Rivers*
  • Feeding the World
  • Ice Age
  • Energy
  • Antarctica research*
  • Hazards 2 – extreme weather
  • Deserts
  • Why is Africa disconnected?*
  • Coral Reefs
  • Sustainability
  • Hazards 3 – tsunami
  • Climate change*
  • Coasts
  • China
  • Stourhead
  • Buy a rainforest
  • Disaster Management Day
  • World Food Day
  • Fairtrade Fortnight
  • Brecon Beacons
  • Oxfam Unwrapped
  • World AIDS Day

*Levelled assessed piece of work

KS3 is the building blocks of a successful education. Key Stage 3 can be sometimes be forgotten about in this world of examinations at KS4 and 5. The young students at KS3 need the skills and knowledge to help them in their later geography education. We are currently devising seven topics containing eight lessons for each year group. This would enable free time for us to look at world events that take place i.e. Geography Awareness Week, Fairtrade Fortnight, Japanese earthquake etc. This new format and the topics decided upon can be seen in the table above.

We are entering a very exciting time at Gillingham School where we are creating an innovative and inspirational curriculum for our students. There have been some rollercoaster moments but none which were unexpected. My department has been working really hard on these lessons and I am 100% happy with what has been planned so far – well done team, you have been brilliant!

#TMDorset

Teachmeet Virgin

Back in November, Ollie Bray, one time fellow geographer at Plymouth University, sent out a tweet to me about a TeachMeet taking place down on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, TeachMeet Dorset. I had heard of TeachMeet but have never had the pleasure or nerves (!) to attend.

Well, after a few minutes of deliberating I decided if I was going to go to any TeachMeet my first one had to be within the county I teach. I signed up on the TeachMeet website and bravely decided I would present too. I had a couple of weeks to work out what I was going to present to other teachers from Dorset. I contacted the organiser of the TeachMeet Dorset, Gary Spracklen of Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) and South West Teacher of the Year, to volunteer my services as a speaker.

TeachMeet Virgin

After a night of thinking I came up with the idea of 25 Ideas in 7 Minutes. A fool hardy challenge but all I could feel was excitement! TeachMeet was something I have wanted to be involved in for a long time. I couldn’t wait to get there. I persuaded my good friend Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School to attend so I at least had one member of the audience I would know!

So what is a TeachMeet? TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. These events are often organised to coincide with other educational events like the Scottish Learning Festival and the British Educational Technology and Training Show BETT.

Teachmmeet 1

Participants volunteer (via the TeachMeet website) to demonstrate good practice they’ve delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee.

I really like the idea that you are limited to only speaking for seven minutes which is a great way to keep things moving and interesting.

TeachMeet Dorset was a brilliant event. I had no reason to be nervous or worried. Everyone was lovely and wanted to develop as educators. It was great to hear lots of expert advice and ideas shared in a lovely informal environment. Gary Spraklen was an energetic speaker who did a fantastic task of organising the event who made everyone welcome.

But that wasn’t the end of the story…on May 16th I organised the next TeachMeet Dorset at Gillingham School in North Dorset. Unfortunately, I hadn’t considered the fact that this was the worst time to organise a TeachMeet with all the exams taking place (a note for next time!) Nonetheless it was a great success with several teachers from all across the county and even one speaker coming down from London for the event. I have to thank all the people that came and the speakers for all their ideas that they shared. TeachMeets are fantastic and I hope they continue to grow as a ‘free’ CPD opportunity for teachers.

The next TeachMeet Dorset will be taking place at Downlands Community School, Blandford on October 11th (thank you to Alan Frame, Headteacher for organising this) – I hope to see some of you there! Look out for #TMDorset on twitter or tweet me your interest at @tiddtalk

School’s Out!

School's Out!

It’s 14.00 on Wednesday 24th July and school is officially out!

At this moment in time I shall be making my way to the car, wheel spinning out of the school car park, to catch a flight to Amsterdam for a few days to celebrate the start of the holidays. Not a bad way to start the 5 1/2 week summer holiday!

I shall also be going to a music festival and spending a huge chunk of the holiday in France. As always I shall be out running as usual keeping up regular weekly miles – 500 miles this year already!

I shall be updating my blog during the holidays with education musings and thoughts! With the results coming out next month and the Department for Education changes there is a lot to be getting on with and to discuss. Have a great holiday everyone : )

geogonthespot

geogonthespot

Former colleague and NQT Amber Moore has recently started her own blog on the adventures of being a Geography NQT. The new blog is entitled geogonthespot! Amber recently returned to Gillingham School, after completing her PGCE at Plymouth University, to observe some KS5 lessons and help out on our Stourhead Orienteering Year 7 fieldtrip.

Amber will be completing her NQT year at Avon Valley School in Wiltshire. You can view her blog here or follow her on twitter @AmberKatja

Good luck with your NQT year Amber!

Well Done OB!

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Well done OB!

My good friend, Ollie Bray, has achieved his life long dream of becoming a Head Teacher at Kingussie School in Scotland. I have known Ollie since our university days in Plymouth and he was always driven to succeed. He is one of the UK’s leading educators on new technologies within the classroom. His blog, olliebray.com, is always high on my list of blogs to read. It is a fantastic achievement for all the hard work he has been doing over the last twelve years. I remember sitting in a pub in Plymouth, back in 1999, asking him about his future plans. Teaching was firmly on the agenda after his year working in the Cairngorms as an outdoor instructor. From that conversation I started to seriously consider teaching as a future career choice (its all your fault Ollie!)

I am really looking forward to hearing about Ollie’s adventures and futures successes! Well done Ollie – it’s a fantastic achievement!

Mini Motivators

Mini 1

Back in November 2012, Ollie Bray tweeted me a link and planted a seed (!) to go and present at TeachMeet Dorset down on the Isle of Portland. The TeachMeet was being organised by Gary Spracklen of IPACA. I duly made the long journey down on a cold wet evening taking my good friend Nick Hargreaves of Radipole School for company. A seed was indeed planted as I came back to school the next day talking enthusiastically to Mark Lavis, my Deputy Headteacher and fellow geographer, about the evening. In February, Gillingham School hosted its own inhouse training day where Heads of Department were given five minutes to share good practice. I had the task of Mini Motivators and I thought I would share my ideas with you.

Post – it Notes

Mini Motivators

I am an addict for using post-it notes in my lessons! I find them a great resource as a starter or plenary to find out what my students understand, know or what to ask. The example above is from my Year 7 class who had the question, ‘What do you know about earthquakes?’, nothing more or less. They had two minutes to write down their ideas and come up and stick their note on the board. It also gives them a chance to get out of their seats as well.

I love reading out their answers – they know than you think! I have been using it a lot with my GCSE classes for keywords and connectives for exam questions on what they need to include in an answer.

Socrative

Mini Motivators

Socrative is fun interactive game using mobile phones – I can hear the groans and panic from some corners. I do believe mobile phones will become common place in teaching. There are so many great ideas and opportunities that can be ultilised with a mobile phone and it would be foolish to discount them as a teaching resource. I use them quite a bit with my A ‘Level classes and they really enjoy the interactive opportunities it delivers.

I have been trialling a brilliant smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets. This particular one is called Socrative. I have to admit it is a fantastic resource for all teachers of all subjects.

Socrative is very easy to use and takes only two minutes to set yourself up on it. You can import exercises and games or create your own. The only details they require are that you are a teacher, your school name and your email address.

The apps are super simple and take seconds to login. Teachers login through their device and select an activity which controls the flow of questions and games. Students simply login with their device and interact real time with the content. The quizzes range from multiple choice questions, true or false responses or shoprt answers. The class gets instant answers and explanations on what they have inputed.

Student responses are visually represented for multiple choice, true/false and Short Answer questions. For pre-planned activities a teacher can view reports online as a google spreadsheet or as an emailed Excel file.

As they leave you could check on on your students’ understanding as they are able to leave a message on what they have learnt today and what they need to learn. Gather responses on their comfort with the material as well as answers to questions you create in real time or prepare before class.

The best thing about Socrative is that there is no exchange of personal information (such as mobile numbers) between the class or the teacher. When the class log in via the web address below, which is different to the teachers, the only thing they need is the room number, such as 12345, the quiz will start on their mobile phone. The results will appear on their mobile phone instantly, and the teacher can see the whole class response (not individuals).

To sign up http://m.socrative.com/lecturer/#register

For teacher login http://m.socrative.com/lecturer/#lecturerLogin

For student login http://m.socrative.com/student/#joinRoom

I would thoroughly recommend looking at Socrative, it would be a brilliant starter or plenary. Plus, you might want to check with your Headteacher and the whole school policy on mobile phones!

Twitter

Mini Motivators

I am a huge fan of Twitter as an education resource. For me it is the best CPD available. I haven’t ventured into using it my classes yet with my classes, but I know lots of you that do! I do use the concept of twitter for some of my plenaries where they have to write an answer or sum up their learning in 140 characters – harder than you think!

Random Name Generator

Mini Motivators

When I asked questions in class I always got the same students putting their hands up. I decided this had to stop, so I now use a random name generator. There are loads out there on the web for ‘free’. This one for example is from Teach-ICT.com.

Taboo

Mini Motivators

Using games in learning is great way to engage all students. Taboo is great for getting students to describe and think about key terms, people or case studies. They might not be able to use certain terms or words. They might have to guess what’s written on the post-it note. There are lots of opportunities with taboo. As you can see from the photo you can have lots of fun with your work colleagues too!