Socrative

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I have recently 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! Enjoy!

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25 Simple Teaching Ideas

KS3 Geography Overhaul

Here are 25 simple ideas you might want to do in the classroom. If you have any questions or would like to add to my next 25 ideas (to be posted later in the year), please contact me via the blog or by twitter (@tiddtalk). Enjoy!

1. Post it notes

2. Make a volcano cake

3. Country of the week – Shower curtain map

4. Tweet it – Summarise what you have learnt in 140 words or less

5. Model it with plastercine

6. Pop Up Models

7. BBC news clips

8. Thinking cards

9. Tidd News – create your own broadcast

10. Quizzes

11. Collaborative learning – passing the paper around adding more ideas

12. Create mark scheme criteria

13. Presentations

14. Board games

15. Mystery backpack – where in the world using the clues inside!

16. Draw it

17. Blog it

18. 5 W’s

19. Washing Line

20. Computer Game pitch – Dragons Den

21. Taboo

22. Living graph

23. Tidd Times

24. Emotive graph

25. Geography in the news

Free Dynamic Learning Resources

Blanka Biernat from Hodder Education recently got in contact to offer free Dynamic Learning resources that teachers can incorporate in their lessons. In my opinion anything free is a plus in education. I hope you will find these useful yourself. Below are the attached links to the activities. With our exam classes gone I am sure this will come in handy with the planning for September : )

Lesson: Exploring Geography in a Changing World 2 – ecosystem

Lesson: Exploring Geography In A Changing World 1 – Weather and Climate

Lesson: Exploring Geography in a Changing World 3 – Global Environmental

KS3 Geography Overhaul

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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*
  • Olympics
  • 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 eight 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!

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!

Teaching Pin-Up

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Well, it has been a very mixed term of many political upheavals in the world of education. From putting the blame on teachers for the riots, Rt. Hon. Michael Gove making more changes and promising more (!), to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s a of the Ofsted criteria, the pension issue and regional pay for teachers. Not all good news in the world of education and a feeling that we as teachers are not being treated as professionals by those at the top.

Now with the Easter holidays fast approaching I thought we have to be positive and be innovative in our approach to teaching and shake the Easter blues away. I thought it would be good timing to watch Sir Ken Robinson explain his future of education. This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, a world-renowned education and creativity expert. I fully appreciate that many of you will be watching this for the hundredth time but it is good…Have a great Easter!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

From Good to Great

‘I believe we need to radically improve our education system and that we need to work together to raise expectations, and close the gaps. The prize is worth having: a good or better education for all our young people, with no excuses accepted.’

Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted

This was a quote from Sir Michael Wilshaw’s first major speech as the new Chief Inspector of Ofsted. Speaking at the London Leadership Strategy ‘Good to great’ conference, he set out his ambition that all children will receive a good or better education and the steps Ofsted proposes to drive faster change. Like Marmite, educators are divided over Ofsted and its proposed changes again.

Sir Michael reiterated plans to replace the satisfactory judgement with ‘requires improvement’ and for all school inspections to be undertaken without notice.  He also announced a raising of expectations for outstanding schools and a tighter focus on the way in which headteachers are driving the quality of teaching in their schools.

These are very bold and decisive words from the new Chief Inspector of Ofsted. There is a sense of change and a throwing down of the gauntlet to many schools to improve. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t fully recognise the good work that teachers do in their every day work. We are all trying to develop, improve and make our teaching the best we can. I do think the government, Ofsted and Sir Michael do need to acknowledge that not all teachers and schools are terrible. As teachers we do seem to get a bad press and not enough support from the people who make the decisions at the top. Like praising a student, praising a teacher can work wonders. Teaching is a great profession but we have to careful we do not put too many pressures on our teachers, as we might find people leaving and causing further issues further down the line. We do not want a situation where young graduates don’t choose teaching as a career or leave after two or three years.

However, Sir Michael is right – we do need to raise standards and continue to develop our education system. Changes do need to be made but the right ones. Change for the sake of change is never any good and I do worry that perhaps some institutions will put action plans in place without thinking through the consequences.

Firstly, Sir Michael stated the structure of the school inspection framework will not change. The focus will still be on the four key areas of achievement, teaching, behaviour and safety, and leadership. Ofsted will be doing away with the word ‘satisfactory’. If a school is not yet good, it ‘requires improvement’. So there will now be four judgements – outstanding, good, requires improvement and special measures. This re-grading will focus minds and send a clear and unequivocal message to schools that decisive action is necessary to bring about improvement. Sir Michael’s national ambition should be for all schools to be good or better.

Secondly, Sir Michael stated that a good school should have at least good teaching, and an outstanding school should have outstanding teaching. Good and outstanding leadership of teaching and learning drives improvement and knows that the culture of the school and the progress of pupils depend on it. To me this makes sense as I believe a school should be based on its teaching. According to Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO in Helsinki and author of Finnish Lessons: what can the world learn about educational change in Finland?, it takes 10 000 hours practice to become a great teacher. This is about 8 to 10 years active service. Consideration must be taking into account for new teachers when inspections are taking place.

Finally, it was mooted that with the National College that ‘outstanding’ headteachers would be part of a Ofsted national service inspecting other schools. Personally, I quite like this idea as I have sometimes felt inspectors can be slightly removed from the classroom if they have not taught for several years. Teaching is a very changeable profession and is very different now to when I started ten years ago for example.

Sir Michael has outlined a very clear plan for the future in teaching. As long as we are all working together and working towards a common goal it could be a success. ‘Radical changes’ and for all schools to be good or better are Sir Michael’s plans – a no excuses culture. Lets hope Sir Michael, Ofsted and the government have thought them all through with teacher input.