Education Blog Awards 2012

Yes, it is that time of year again for the Education Blog Awards! Last year I was extremely lucky and proud to have been of nominated and shortlisted for two blog awards; Best Teacher Blog and Most Influential Blog. This year I have been nominated for Best Teacher Blog and Most Influential Blog – thank you!

Every year the number of nominated blogs increases. For me though, it is reading about what is happening in schools and colleges across the world. There are so many amazing and innovative ideas that are taking place. There is plenty of food for thought out there by all the education bloggers! This year the awards are sponsored by Child Education, Primary Blogger and Just2Easy.

If you would like to vote for me or anyone else please click here.

Thank you and good luck to all my fellow bloggers!

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Teaching & Twitter

1

For the past six months I have become a fan of Twitter (@tiddtalk). It has enabled me to network very freely with other like minded teachers and educators around the world. This can enable you to spread information very quickly on what is happening now or a particular moment. It is an excellent resource to spread information especially if you have updated your blog and are looking for instant readership. It is a great use of technology and is something I have found to be a great source of learning and enjoyment.

Two weeks ago the BBC reported that Scottish teachers are being warned that their use of social networking sites could put their careers at risk. The Scottish Secondary Teachers Association believes teachers can reveal too much personal information on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The full article can be found here.

The General Teaching Council of Scotland is preparing new guidelines on social networking sites. This follows a number of recent cases brought before the GTC’s regulatory body.

Jim Docherty, assistant secretary of the SSTA, told BBC Scotland that teachers should follow his advice: “First thing is don’t bother telling anybody else about your social life. Secondly, never make any comment about your work, about your employer, about teaching issues in general. There is always a possibility it will be misinterpreted.”

I totally agree with these sentiments. We have to be very careful with what we write and who we share this information with. As long as we are professional and think before we tweet we should not fear this medium of sharing information and knowledge. Twitter is here to stay and is the future of learning. Using technology in the right way can only improve our lessons and sharing of ideas.

The Courier Mail of Australia have written a very interesting article today on Twitter being used in the classroom. Research from Southern Cross University has found strong benefits for the use of Twitter by students too embarrassed or uncomfortable to ask teachers questions in the time-honoured raised-hand method.

Southern Cross business lecturer Jeremy Novak, along with Central Queensland University’s Dr Michael Cowling, studied the use of Twitter among university students as a method for asking questions and gaining feedback without having to stand the stares and scrutiny of fellow students.

The positive feedback from students, particularly international students, has convinced the research team the use of Twitter technology could also be embraced by classrooms at high school and even primary school level.

“Twitter is another exciting teaching aide that is highly under-utilised by lecturers and teachers in the education sector,” Mr Novak said. The full article can be found here.

I would really like to hear from other educators who are using twitter in their classrooms. I do think social networking sites can be used correctly in schools and can enhance the students learning and interaction. School portals and virtual learning zones are the just the beginining and we need to embrace the technology that is out there in our schools.

Schools could have their own Twitter accounts, for example, where parents and students could follow what upcoming events the school would be holding i.e. parents evenings, fetes, school productions etc.  Please follow me via twitter @tiddtalk.

Please complete the poll below – I would really like to read/hear your comments and experiences of Twitter.

Winter Review: Busy term…again!

The past term has flown at such an accelerated rate .– I have found that every year seems to go faster and faster – no slowing down in the world of geography! At Gillingham School we always endeavor to do the best for our students and are always willing to try out new ideas to improve their knowledge and independent learning.

  • Key Stage 3

We have looked at all our Key Stage 3 lessons seeing where we can make improvements and implementing 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, seen below, 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

Year
7

Year
8

Year
9

  • Rainforest
  • Mapwork
  • Hazards 1 – volcanoes & earthquakes
  • Crime
  • Olympics
  • Tribes & Cultures
  • Population
  • Geographical research
  • Deserts
  • Shanty towns
  • Rivers
  • Feeding the world
  • Hazards 2 – extreme weather
  • Energy
  • Ice Age
  • Geographical research
  • Hazards        3 – tsunami
  • Why is Africa disconnected?
  • Climate change
  • Chindia
  • Coral reefs
  • Waste
  • Coasts
  • Geographical research
  • Stourhead
  • School based fieldwork
  • Disaster Management Day
  • School based fieldwork
  •  Brecon Beacons
  •  School based fieldwork

We must not forget that 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.

  • Barcelona Fieldtrip

The Barcelona AS Geography Fieldtrip took place between Monday 28th November – Friday 2nd December. The students gained a great deal from this fieldwork and the experiences and lessons learned from it are now examined in a unit worth 40% of their final AS grade. In total we took 57 Year 12 students who worked brilliantly throughout the five days out there – well done to all of you!

The trip focused on two topics – Extreme Weather and Rebranding. For extreme weather we looked at a dry river valley that experiences flash flooding in the Riera de Ribes region outside Sitges, thirty minutes south of Barcelona. For the past three years I have never seen any rain in this region but three weeks before we left they did have an extreme flash flood go through the area.

For rebranding we looked at two locations; El Ravel in Barcelona and the Priorat region. El Ravel is an area that is being rebranded with some flagship projects; the Rambla del El Ravel, the Barcelo 4* hotel, the Museum of Contemporary Arts and the university. Our student were investigating whether or not these flagship development projects had been a success of not.

The Priorat region is 120km south of Barcelona, a place depopulation due to tourism and an economic downturn in agriculture has afflicted the area. In recent years the region has been a world known wine growing part of Spain where many international wine awards have been won. Once again our students where looking at the success of this project on a poor area of Spain.

One again I would like to congratulate the students for their hard work and dedication this term – and especially to Andy, Lizzy, Mike, Adam and Emma who helped run the trip.

  • A’ Level Geography Blog

In the past week my fellow geographer, Adam Bettiss, has developed and put together two blogs for our A’Level classes; one focusing on the Year 13 unit of Life on the Margins and a case study blog for our Year 12 students. The great thing with both is that the students have control of what goes on the blog from their findings. This has been a great success and introduced students and staff (!) to the world of blogging – great stuff!

There has of course been the general day-to-day teaching which is where the real learning takes place – I have thoroughly enjoyed this term and the great work that the Geography Department have produced, well done to you all and have a fantastic Christmas.

Teaching with Movies

With the Christmas holidays approaching and the cold nights by the fire, I was going through my DVD library at home and it got me thinking about the importance and usefulness of films in education. I do use films in my lessons as I find the footage and content can convey a message that can help a students understanding.

Back in January 2010 I wrote about this very issue on my blog and for Sec-Ed in April 2009.

I have always been using documentaries and footage from DVDs and videos in my lessons but I had not realised what films could offer. It got my mind racing on different aspects of films that could be shown to pupils within different subject areas. I soon realised that films could enhance and develop a pupils learning and encourage them to be life long learners.

Films can enhance a lesson and excite a young mind with their powerful and thought-provoking subject matter. My good friend from my Southampton University days, Dr. Pietari Kaapa of the  University of Helsinki, has stated that, ‘cinema as both a popular form of entertainment and a means of artistic and political expression, is a crucial area of classroom teaching. The pedagogical potential of film provides an immediate and invigorating addition to established lesson plans, while the history of the medium and its contextual socio-cultural relevance function as sources of study in their own right.’

As a Geography Teacher I have used a wide variety of different films to help show and back up key terminology or sometimes complex geographical features. The world today has created a generation of young people with very active minds. The days of a teacher in a classroom talking for 50 minutes are long gone and would not generate much enthusiasm from today’s young learners. Interaction and variety is what is needed to engage learners and film is one medium that can grip a young person’s attention. Film can enthuse and generate much debate and help a learner.

Pupils are requested to use and take part in different types of media within their learning from the National Curriculum. Films like music should be encouraged to be used within the classroom. My good friend and former flatmate, Nick Hargreaves, of Radipole Primary School in Weymouth, Dorset, believes that ‘films are a really valid text as much as books. With the National Curriculum we have to look at various types of media within a child’s learning and film is one way.’

‘Films are not always easy to understand and it does take time sometimes for a young learner to fully understand the complexities of a film like the music changing in relation to the mood of the film.’ As we are aware there are three types of learners; visual, auditory and kinesthetic. A film is one medium that incorporates all three learning styles and can hold the attention and pass on knowledge and understanding to all three main learning styles.  Nick Hargreaves says ‘film takes into account how a learner learns…it attracts the three main types of learners and engages all of them in one sitting. It reaches out to all target levels especially boys’.

I remember reading Great Expectations at school and found watching the David Lean adaption a much-needed guiding hand when it came to revising for the GCSE. A film may not always be true or correct, but in the right hands, us as teachers, we can filter out the bad and use the great pieces of film there is out there waiting to be used. I would really like to know what films you use in the classroom – do you have a ‘Top Ten Movie List’? Please send in your comments via the comment box below or by twitter @tiddtalk – I look forward to reading your choices!

Tidd News II

I have found this half-term has flown by at an incredible rate. Our students at Gillingham School have worked tirelessly with so many achieiving top grades. Personally, it has been my aim this year to make our geography lessons as fun as possible. I hope my classes are enjoying my lessons as much as I am. We have completely re-written Key Stage 3 with a bigger emphasis on the ‘fun factor’.

With this in mind my brilliant (and inspiritional) Year 13 class have been taking their learning to the extreme. Everyone of them in the class are pushing for the highest grade they can obtain and are working at a very high level which I hope they are proud of. With this in mind another edition of Tidd News has been produced. Our ever expanding films of geography will be a great geography revision resource with a touch of humour. Thank you to Olly Cooper, Alex Ross and Will Horner for all their hard work producing these films!

School Zone

I have found a brilliant competition that many of you innovative teachers out there might want to enter.

Innov8 is an open innovation competition sponsored by Pearson, the world´s leading learning company. Innov8 is for learners, educators, games and app developers, innovators and anyone with a vision for how technology can open up new opportunities for learning. So, if you have a great idea for a learning application and want to win up to £6,000 to see your idea come alive then innov8 is for you.

Five entrants will win £1,000 to develop a pitch for their idea by working with the innov8 panel made up of young people, educationalists and innovators. The winner will be chosen by a mixture of votes from the panel and votes collected via the innov8 website and at the innov8 booth on the Pearson stand at BETT 2012. The winner will win an additional £5,000 to work in collaboration with Pearson to see their idea come to fruition. Click here for more information.

Maybe my idea of the virtual teacher might finally come to fruition…

Plus on a personal note, can anyone guess out there where this photo was taken in the world? Please leave a comment below or by twitter (tiddtalk) with your guesses.

Visionary of Apple Dies

Steve Jobs, the ‘visionary’ and co-founder of Apple sadly died last night. I think we can all say he was a great innovator who saw the way technology was moving long before many of his competitors did. His ideas and vision have been a great help to education and the way we see the world. His products have been brilliant for the world of teaching and learning.

In his own words he said; ‘that’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.’

Steve Jobs was born out of wedlock, put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world. What’s your excuse? Thanks Steve for all you did.