I was listening to a radio talk show from Scotland recently where teachers and parents were invited to call in with their views on distance learning. I was curious to compare my experience with those of teachers in my native land. Among the difficulties some communities have faced has been the slow or non-existent internet access. While living in Sweden, it is easy to forget how privileged I am in terms of accessing reliable, high-speed broadband internet. Indeed, Sweden compares favourably with other countries when it comes to digitalisation – only Finland ranks higher in terms of digital competitiveness in Europe. Consequently, having access to a digital device, reliable internet connection and adequate IT-skills do not pose significant problems for most teachers or students in Sweden. The concerns lie elsewhere. Continue reading
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
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
Last month saw Internationella Engleska Gymnasiet host the annual Regional Conference for schools within the IES organisation. The theme for this year’s conference was Educate, Engage, Inspire. The conference keynote speakers included C.J. Simister, David Didau (The Learning Spy) and researchED‘s Tom Bennett. A variety of workshops were held throughout the day exploring subjects such as formative assessment, classroom behaviour, and technology in education. My workshop, Engaging Students with Engaging Video, demonstrated how to get more out of videos through using EdPuzzle. Continue reading
As educators, we all know that YouTube is a wonderful resource for supplementing our lessons. From the myriad videos on TEDTalks and Khan Academy to the many posts of teachers such as Derek Muller of Veritasium and those on the popular Crash Course series, YouTube has proven itself to be invaluable as an online depository of knowledge.
We have all shared and consumed clips but have you ever considered creating your own videos? Continue reading
Last month I received a copy of Vi får det att funka! (We get it to work!) from Lärarnas Riksförbund (The National Union of Teachers in Sweden) which outlines successful teaching practice using information and communication technology (ICT). In this book, a variety of teachers from a wide range of subjects share their experiences and practical tips of using IT in school. Continue reading
A few weeks ago as the school year was coming to an end I was tearing my hair out. The National Tests in English had just finished and my organised desk was now hidden under a pile of marking.
In Sweden there is no external examination board so, while end of year exams are compiled and distributed by a central authority (Skolverket), they are administered and assessed by the schools.
This mountain of marking needed a quick turnaround in order to work with calibration of the tests and then the entering of test results on our School Soft system. What should have been a time to socialise more with students during sports day and other school related activity days became a bit of a struggle. Continue reading
This year I wanted to breathe some new life into student presentations. Students have become adept at using PowerPoint or Google Slides and I wanted to add variety and challenge their creativity by using some old tech in the classroom- the classic poster presentation. My aim was to create visually appealing poster presentations that would engage viewers and be educational but not loaded with text. Continue reading
In March last year I was lucky enough to have the opportunity of attending a workshop on formative assessment run by Dylan Wiliam. It was the chance to meet one of my key influencers within education. I had previously watched the documentary, The Classroom Experiment, where his methods were introduced to a class of pupils in England and while I had previously read about formative assessment as a student, it was this documentary that inspired me to implement a No Hands Up policy in my classroom. Continue reading