Rockin’ All Over the World

In my lessons I always plan to include a variety of activities, different learning approaches and trialling out new ideas to help the students’ understanding and enjoyment of the subject. Music can entice a young person’s mind and start to make them think. Thinking skills are vital in education. Young people need to develop their thinking skills. Music works on many levels and can attract many different types of learners. It can spark their interest or reinforce their learning and make them more inquisitive. Music appeals to the auditory learner. Sections, lines or quotes could all be used to help a young person gain an understanding of a story, case study or theory. It is also a great cross-curricular way of working with another department. For example, your music department might be teaching South American music whilst in geography you teach Brazil. Simple, but effective!

I remember one of my geography teachers playing Dire Straits’ ‘Telegraph Road’ to us to help us with settlement change. As a guitarist I love Dire Straits and was immediately hooked by the lesson. My geography teacher at the time, Mr. Leach, started to explain the song lyrics. We listened again and wrote down what we heard and applied it to our topic we were studying – settlement.  He had used it as a lesson starter on settlement change. This was my first introduction into the use of music within geography. Thank you Mr Leach!

What would be your top ten music starters be? 

My Top Ten Geography Music Starters

  • Telegraph Road – Dire Straits (Settlement)
  • Paradise City – Gun ‘N’ Roses (City Change)
  • Why does it always rain on me – Travis (Weather)
  • Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash (Plate-tectonics)
  • Rocks – Primal Scream (Geology)
  • The Sea – Morcheeba (Coasts)
  • Starsky & Hutch Theme – The James Taylor Quartet (Crime)
  • Mas Que Nada – Tamba Trio (Brazil)
  • Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles (General Geography)
  • The End of the World as we know it – REM (Climate Change)
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Fairtrade Fortnight 2010

Fairtrade Fortnight will be taking place during 22nd February to 7th March. For this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight they are asking the nation to join The Big Swap. For two whole weeks you will be asked to swap your usual stuff for Fairtrade stuff.

Swapping your usual stuff for Fairtrade stuff is a fantastic small step to making the world a fairer place. It means that you get to show your support for developing world producers through what you buy. For more information follow the link to the Fairtrade Fortnight website.

Proud to be a teacher!

Q. What do the following people have in common; Mark Knopfler, Chris Tarrant, Sheryl Crow, Nick Hornby, Frank Skinner, Stuart Maconie, Jim Bowen, Alan Bleasdale, Ian Drury and Sting?

A. They have all worked as teachers. 

What is it that drives us to become teachers? I say ‘us’ as we are different…I don’t mean to offend anybody but there is a certain type of person who becomes a teacher. I love teaching…it is simple as that. It’s not just a job I go to Monday to Friday but a way of life. Teaching has given me the chance to inspire and encourage a young persons mind to love the art of learning. But it isn’t a role that everyone will enjoy. There are of course disadvantages to teaching, so why do it?

Teaching is a popular profession for many graduates. Last year 38,918 (TDA Training Profile 2008) people completed a 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. Friends will know that I sometimes refer teaching to stand-up comedy. You have thirty pupils sitting in front of you expecting to learn. It is up to us to take it upon ourselves and show our worth. We need to work collectively together to make education great. We sometimes get too much bad press and the papers gloss over the successes and achievements that teaching has bought to so many thousands of pupils and students. We must praise each other in this very sacred profession.

Nicholas Hargreaves of Radipole School, Weymouth backs this up by saying, ‘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 achieve 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 facilitators 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.

Teaching in my opinion is the greatest role in life that someone can do. To actually see the look of wonder and understanding on someone’s face is something that cannot be bought. To pass on knowledge and see where it takes a young person in life is amazing. To actually help young people in life choose a path in the life with your encouragement and guidance is breathtaking.  

Russell Wait, of 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. Only recently the government announced the newly planned PGCE changes where graduates can complete the course in six months. 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.

When former pupils come into my school and remember certain times, events or even lessons, I am proud. Proud to be a teacher, proud to have had a positive effect on somebody’s life, proud to have taken on this honoured to have helped a young person. We have a wide pool of teachers with much experience. Working together we have helped create a career choice for many young professionals. Even Paul McCartney was planning to become a teacher if his band ‘The Beatles’ didn’t make it. Teaching is the best profession and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! As Batman once said, ‘it isn’t what you say that defines you but what you do’ (Batman Begins, 2005).

The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book

So it is finally here – the iPad. My initial thoughts were not that good to be honest, but with further research and looking at different points of view I am now starting to see its merits. Firstly, I don’t think it is the nail in the coffin for the traditional book. Most people are very used to this successful formula and will probably not change. But for education purposes it could be successful and make reading more widely available.

Apple has been very clever in the sense that they have announced partnerships with Penguin, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and the Hachette Book Group. This enables Apple to set up their own in-house iBooks store like the successful iTunes that is currently available for music. Many people do find this method of shopping very appealing (especially young people).

The text could be enhanced by audio and visuals with the option of linking to the internet. This could help with many disaffected learners in the classroom.

The UK price for an iPad have not been announced but speculation has been around £400-£700 depending on the Wi-Fi scheme chosen and model. This is not cheap and I wonder if discounts would apply to schools?

Would Steve Jobs be willing for my school to trial some out?

Bill Gates Makes $10 Billion Pledge to the World

Last Friday Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, pledged to make the largest ever single charitable donation with a pledge of $10 billion (£6 billion) for vaccine work over the next decade.

Bill Gates said that he hoped the coming ten years would be the “decade of the vaccine” to reduce dramatically child mortality in the world’s poorest countries. It is calculated that his pledge could save more than 8 million lives.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said up to 7.6 million children under 5 could be saved through 2019 as a result of the donation. It also estimated that an additional 1.1 million youngsters would be saved if a malaria vaccine can be introduced by 2014. A tuberculosis vaccine would prevent even more deaths.

This is a very generous and fantastic gesture from one of the world’s richest people to help reduce child mortality in developing nations. His foundation plans on bringing innovation to health and learning to the global community. But is there more that the world could do?

Phone’s For You!

The intrusive ringing and sounds of a mobile phone maybe the future of education. This is a very bold statement for a teacher to make. In the majority of schools mobile phones are banned, but that maybe changing across the country. Mobile phones are an untouched resource that could be more of a help then a hindrance.

The technology available to us as teachers is immense and is changing at a rate faster than we are able to keep up with. Students and pupils are far and away ahead of us as teachers when it comes to technology. As a teacher we are forever changing our teaching methods and resources. Mobile phones could help enrich a subject and make it more widely available for all students to participate.

This is not a new argument; The Daily Telegraph stated on 4th September 2008 that schoolchildren should be allowed to use mobile phones in the classroom to boost education standards. The Daily Telegraph was reporting about research conducted by Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, from Nottingham University. She led a team into mobile phone research, and said: “While the eventual aim should be to lift blanket bans on phones we do not recommend immediate, whole-school change. Dr Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and her colleagues reached this conclusion after studying the consequences of allowing pupils in five secondary schools to use either their own mobile phones or the new generation of ‘smartphones’ in lessons.

“We believe that teachers, students and the wider community should work together to develop policies that will enable this powerful new learning tool to be used safely.

“We hope that, in future, mobile phone use will be as natural as using any other technology in school.”

Recently Dave Rogers wrote a great blog about all the features the iPhone offers education. Dave is the Geography Curriculum Leader at the Priory School in Portsmouth who is very enthusiastic about his subject. He clearly explains each app and its merits in teaching. For those of you who are interested in what mobile phones offer a teacher I thoroughly recommend looking at his blog.

Personally, I whole heartedly agree with this argument. They have so much potential for the classroom. Mobile phones will enhance a pupils/students learning. They will give students skills that they will use in the wider world. They will bring benefits that will deve lop our own teaching.

Mobile Learning…Ringing in the Classroom

I was particularly pleased to see that Google has released it’s Google phone last week. The market needs competition. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of Apple’s iPhone and find their app’s superb. But as we are all aware technology is changing and improving all the time. Apple released their iPhone in June 2007. What can mobile phones offer as tools in the classroom? Are mobile phones the future of the classroom?

Personally I think the answer is yes. They have their merits as a tool within the classroom, but used in the correct mature manner. I openly invite a mobile phone company to let my department trial a set of phones to see their potential. Any offers?

Is the Google Android the new phone of the future?

Is it better than the iPhone?

Is the Google Android suited for schools?

Are iPhones the future for the classroom?