- Know what Continue reading
Yacapaca delivers criterion-referenced assessments. This makes it very useful for doing things like predicting exam grades, because exams are based on tightly-standardised criteria. A Grade C is the same in Barnsley as it is in Basingstoke. At the upper secondary stage (KS4 in England) we have been able to support a wide spectrum of qualifications, and given teachers a reliable tool with which to measure progression.
The English National Curriculum levels have allowed us to do the same at Key Stage 3. The levels are sufficiently well defined that we have been able to Continue reading
I’m very pleased to have had as many as 140 responses to the survey. The answers to the multiple choice questions were fairly predictable:
As always, the insights were to be found in the comments. Some teachers see no benefit whatever to mobile
…everything you can do on a iPad or Android device can be done on a PC.
whilst others are looking into an exciting future, even if they don’t yet know in detail how to manifest it
Less didactic teaching – more project based, providing resources, more group work, personalised learning, learners making choices about when they take assessments, learners choosing the materials that suit them best…
and of course many simply express uncertainty.
It seems most teachers at the start of the process are asking themselves the question “Can I (or how can I) run the existing system more efficiently with this new tool?”
Those further down the track are starting to discover that usage evolves under its own logic, if you let it
My sixth form students already use their own devices,initially the biggest change I found that when asked a question they unsure on they turned to Google, but they altered as they settled in to the use in the classroom, attempting to answer first and then googling to see who was right, it was nice to see the development from reliance on the device to using it to support the knowledge they had. (It wasn’t an easy path though!)
What I hope to see if we run the same survey next year is that a few have moved beyond the current framework, and instead are looking outside education for inspiration. Apps and services like Foursquare, Google Goggles and Ease into 5k use a mobile devices’ sensors and capabilities to deliver experiences that are simply not possible in any other way. None of these three are particularly intended as educational apps, but each has potential. More importantly, they inspire us to look beyond classroom and curriculum, and into a new way to develop the minds of our young charges.
The idea behind ‘flipping the classroom’ is to video your didactic presentations and have the students watch them at home via YouTube or similar. It’s a great idea: research has shown that video leads to greater recall because students can pause, rewind, etc over bits they did not get the first time.
What can be flipped?
Here is my list of things students can now do at home, including the traditional ones
* didactic presentations
* practice exercises
* tests and low-stakes assessments
* educational computer games
* and probably much more
In tertiary education, these are now routinely getting packaged up into MOOCs – Massively Open Online Courses that have been shown to be highly effective and highly engaging. Because they have many game-like aspects, they should work even better with secondary-aged students.
So what’s left?
With the students doing all this at home, you can now knock out a lot of teacher activities that are no longer necessary
* patrol and control
* taking the register
* handing out/taking in worksheets, books, etc
Now the difficult question for someone whose mortgage is paid through teaching. What’s left? Sitting in the staffroom drinking Maxwell House?
A better use of resources.
Actually, I am quite convinced that this is the wrong question. Instead, let’s ask “What else?” Freed from the drudgery of classroom routine, how can you apply yourself to developing the young minds in your charge beyond what could have been done in the past?
What would a flipped school look like?
What I’m going to propose is a variation on the Oxbridge tutorial system. Oxbridge separate teaching into “lectures” (that can now be flipped) and “tutoring” (Oxford) or “supervision” (Cambridge). Tutoring is done in small groups of 2-3 students with one tutor, and has the key aim of developing the students’ ability to think. The tutor’s role is to challenge and to guide the discussion, whilst the students work out the answers collectively.
Organising this with just your own class is difficult: if you are tutoring 6 students, what do the other 24 do? It works best if organised on a whole-school basis. Let’s do the sums.
- Teacher:student ratio 1:20. Including support staff this goes up to 1:15 or higher; I’ll take 1:18 to make tidier sums.
- Tutor:student ratio required 1:3
- If out of every 18 students 3 are in a tutor group, 15 will not be. Each student therefore spends 1/6 of his or her time in a tutor group, and 5/6 “flipped”.
Wow, that’s an hour a day of small-group tutoring. What’s that going to do for your GCSE results?
Doing this requires a complete reorganisation of the school, and that is precisely what I am calling for. Create open learning spaces where students can study individually as they would at home – or extend the ‘study leave’ idea and allow them to study at home if that if that works for them. Chop classrooms up into tutoring spaces organised for discussion, not presentation. Give staff intensive un-learning of redundant didactic habits so they can develop their tutoring skills. And, as a by-product, watch job satisfaction soar.
So what are you waiting for. It’s still three weeks to the start of term in England. Get your sledge hammer, and go start remodelling classrooms!
This article has been getting a lot of comment in various forums. If you have not read it already, it’s well worth your time. For the last two decades now, the English educational system has been slavishly remodelled along American lines – despite the manifest failure of that country’s school system.
Meanwhile the Finns, following an overtly Socialist agenda, find themselves topping the coveted PISA rankings as an accidental byproduct of their drive for educational equality.
What frustrates me is that 20 years ago we were perfectly positioned to go exactly the same way as Finland:
- Trust teachers to teach
- Pay teachers what they are worth
- Don’t interfere
But we didn’t and the rest is history. Or rather not history, because the present government is actually extending the destructive policies of its predecessors.