When I see my students engaged in a frenzy of note taking I get a warm feeling inside. Sure, it can be mildly frustrating to pause my lesson to allow students to catch up on their note taking, but there are few things worse than being engaged in a presentation and not seeing anyone scribbling down what I am saying. A lack of note taking sends a signal to me that my lecture is boring, that the material I find so interesting is of little interest to my students. When such moments arise I cajole my seemingly less than enthused pupils on the importance of taking notes and there is always one who, with a knowing look, taps their temple and says, “my notes are all up here”.
Surely this can’t be right. Can a student who doesn’t take notes really hope to learn as much as one who does? Continue reading →
When the half-term holidays come around I find myself looking forward to doing some hiking and hillwalking, however far too often the only mountain I saw during a break was a mountain of marking. This was typical for me – and I suspect, most teachers. We often spend our so-called free time catching up on marking and I was doing lots of it! As most people would be thinking of what to pack in their suitcase, I was printing off screeds of essays to take with me to the countryside. It’s not a good start to a holiday.
Over the years, I have struggled to reach the goal of work-life balance and I would point to the amount of marking I had as being the biggest obstacle preventing me from reaching this eldorado.
Keen to resolve this, I have sought new approaches to marking. Last year, I took a step back to reevaluate my practice and found a new, more sustainable path more in step with the practice of formative assessment.Continue reading →
It’s autumn again and you’ll often find me spending my weekends unwinding from a week in the classroom by going for long walks in the forest with my dog. Over the years I have taught him a number of tricks. Some took longer to learn than others. It took a concerted effort on both our parts before he mastered the adorable ‘high five’ but fetch is a game he learned very quickly and he delights in bringing back a ball or stick for me to throw again. It has become part of our weekend routine and a morning walk is not complete without a quick game of fetch. This is not dissimilar to how I work with my students during the week – though they are not quite as effusive in showing delight when I play fetch with them.Continue reading →
This week I reviewed a presentation with my mentor students on the dangers of social media. This presentation builds upon the ideas espoused by Dr Cal Newport of Georgetown University. In his blog, Study Hacks, Dr Newport writes about “how to perform productive, valuable and meaningful work in an increasingly distracted digital age”. His book, Deep Work, refers to studying for focussed chunks of time without distractions such as email and social media.
In brief, Dr Newport concludes that social media reduces our capacity for attention, leads to loneliness and isolation, and causes a state of continuous latent anxiety. Continue reading →
According to one study, in English schools, teachers ask a question every 46 seconds. The average time a teacher allows between posing a question and accepting an answer is less than a second.
Imagine what this frequency of questioning must feel like to students. I would imagine such lessons would feel akin to an interrogation. While this may be concerning, consider what type of questions are being asked? Continue reading →
Last week I had the privilege of traveling to Toulouse and the Practical Pedagogies conference arranged by Russel Tarr and IST.
I had been alerted to the conference by a colleague who follows Russel’s Active History feed on Twitter and thought the Tech Tools workshops would be right up my street – how right she was! Continue reading →