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.

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Here we go again…

Well, here we are again, another term and another year down in sunny Dorset at Gillingham School. This will be my thrid year at Gillingham School, and I am starting to feel that the changes we started two years ago are starting to ripple through the school. As a very succesful department we have seen our GCSE and A Level results once again show us we have brilliant students who are thriving in Geography. This has not been easy by any means. We could rest on out laurels but that it not the ‘Gillingham Way’ nor the ‘Geography Way’. So as a department we have outlined five target areas we want to develop as the year progresses;

  • Teaching & Learning

The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning once again within Geography. We are proud of Geography’s achievements over the years but we do not want to be complacent and we must focus on our own teaching and how the students learn. As a Department we want to teach the best we can and we are looking at our lessons and seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We must make our teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills.

  • Key Stage 3

With the new curriculum at Key Stage 4 and 5, Key Stage 3 must be a priority in the upcoming year. We do seem to be on a continuous cycle of rewriting, but we must not forget 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. The current Schemes of Work are good but are sometimes too long in length and do not always motivate and enthuse the students as much as we would like. 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. The topics we have discussed so far have been using some of the current  lessons and new ideas we are developing.

  • Technology

Geography has prided itself on using technology where possible to improve our lessons and the student experience. This needs to be further developed to further enhance our learning and the students. We would like to see additional Smart Boards across a further two classrooms in the next 1-3 years. This will enable us to develop materials (using Boardworks) to increase motivation across all Key Stages.

With the new syllabus changes at GCSE and A level a key skill that needs to be developed is the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS must be developed within the Department across all year groups. A member of the Department will require training and facilitate this into our schemes of work.

  • AFL

AFL is a very important skill and is an area where we could develop within Geography. As teachers we are sometimes too controlling and we must put the onus back on the students for them to achieve. Investigating methods and ways of implementing this into our schemes of work must be one of our priorities. This will encourage student learning and raising achievement across all year groups. AFL will also help improve the student’s knowledge of using a mark scheme and what to include in a good
answer. This will reduce our marking and in the long term our workload.

  • Reflective Teaching

As teachers we must be more reflective of our own practice and make amendments where we need to. We must utilise our strengths and work on our areas of development. Observations are vitally important to watch other teachers and how students learn. This would be ideally done within the Department and with other Departments once a term where possible. This should therefore improve our own teaching and benefit the students .Working with other colleagues will help develop cross curricular opportunities to raise achievement throughout the school.

Geography Revolution

The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning within Geography. We are proud of Geography’s achievements over the years at Gillingham School but we do not want to be complacent. We must focus on our own teaching and how the students learn. As a Department we want to teach the best we can and we are looking at Key Stage 3 lessons seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We must 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

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
  • 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
  • Brecon Beacons

 

With the new curriculum at Key Stage 4 and 5, Key Stage 3 is a priority this year. 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. 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. I will keep you all posted how our plans, successes and failures go as the year goes on. 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!

Outstanding Teaching

Discovery is the new way of learning

Last week I had the pleasure and opportunity to attend an Outstanding Teaching course run by Osiris Educational. The course itself was put together and led by Andy Griffith, a highly acclaimed writer, trainer and teacher who specialises in Learning to Learn, thinking skills, creativity and learning. He is also the director of MALIT Ltd, a Merseyside-based education training company which aims to help teachers and schools to raise the quality of teaching and learning through high quality INSET, training and consultancy.

The course aims were to:

  • understand how outstanding teaching works
  • the new Ofsted criteria
  • raise standards of learning
  • increase teacher confidence
  • improve pupil enjoyment and engagement in lessons
  • develop independent learners
  • challenge learners
  • leave a sustainable impact across the school

Teaching can be a very lonely and difficult profession. Like the Lone Ranger though, you fight back and try to engage your classes. Teaching is a brilliant challenge for anyone. I always feel that I have never cracked the profession of being a teacher and I am always striving to improve. Courses are essential for any teacher and in these difficult financial times they are sometimes forgotten about.

It was a very interesting and thought-provoking course where we were reminded that teaching is a craft where we creatively use different techniques to help people learn. Andy Griffith used a variety of techniques to show us how to engage a wide variety of personalities. I found the ideas that Andy had put together extremely stimulating as I am currently with my department rewriting our Key Stage 3 curriculum. Many of these techniques will be coming in very handy as the summer term goes on. From a personal point of view I found that Andy encouraged us to bring the fun back into teaching. We do seem to be on a rollercoaster of exams and reports and the system has forgotten that learning is fun. I came away from the day with lots of great resources and inspiring ideas, a day worthwhile attending.

I was pleased to see that I was not alone in the merits of the 30:70 lesson plan split, where the lessons are more controlled by the students where we play more of a conductor role. It is also our strength and weakness as teachers that we talk too much in the classroom. We must try to put the onus of learning back on the students where they are discovering information and knowledge. Q. Is the struggle to discover knowledge or listening to your teacher the most effective teaching method?

Overall it was a brilliant day and a course I thoroughly recommend to any aspiring teacher. Thanks Andy and I look forward to catching up with you in the future!

Education Blog Award Winners

 

And the winner is…?

Yes, today we find out who are the winners of the UK Education Blog Awards. The awards are split between four categories;

Last month we found out who were the ten shortlisted blogs for each category from over three hundred nominated. I was extremely proud to be nominated and then shortlisted for two awards; Most Influential Blog of the Year and Teacher Blog of the Year.

Thank you to Scholastic Education, Creative Blogs and Primary Blogger for sponsoring the awards this year.

Every edublogger has been blogging away in anticipation. But who has won? Click here to find out! Well done to all the education bloggers in the blogosphere – keep up the good work!

The Final Countdown

I have recently found out that I have been shortlisted for two Education Blog Awards; Teacher Blog of the Year and Most Influential Blog. These awards have been set up to award blogging in schools in the UK.

Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for my blog for these two awards. As a fairly new blogger (since January 2010), I am extremely pleased with being shortlisted. My blog is now being judged by five judges; John Davitt, Paula Hubbard, Ollie Bray, Margaret Vaas and Tim Rylands. The blog winners will be announced on 1st Junegood luck to all the bloggers who have been shortlisted!

Teaching Challenge (5/5)

As teachers we must be more reflective of our own practice and make amendments where we need to. We must utilise our strengths and work on our areas of development. Observations are vitally important to watch other teachers and how students learn. This would be ideally done within the department and with other departments once a term where possible. This should therefore improve our own teaching and benefit the students. Working with other colleagues will help develop cross curricular opportunities to raise achievement throughout the school.