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Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.

Tag: Neal Watkin

Using new technologies to enhance teaching and learning in History

Using New Technologies book coverA brief update to publicise a book that I have contributed to and edited by Professor Terry Hadyn of UEA. Using New Technologies to Enhance Teaching and Learning in History (Routledge) is now available in paperback and a ebook friendly version will be available within the month.

I recall a few years ago being told by someone very prominent in the History teaching community that ‘ICT had been done’ and did not require any more thought. This book indicates that the judicious use of technology is still an issue to be grappled with especially as the thoughtful use of technology stems from careful thinking about subject knowledge, skills and literacy.

The ebook version will have links which will be constantly updated and may come with additional chapters. My contribution includes how iPads can be used to enhance History teaching and also the use of iBooks Author. I hope you find it useful and let me know if you have any questions.

Contents are below:

Professor Terry Hadyn What does it mean to be good at ICT as a history teacher and We Need to talk about PowerPoint),

Neal Watkin The history utility belt: getting learners to express themselves digitally

Ali Messer History Wikis

Arthur Chapman Using discussion forums to support historical learning

Dan Lyndon Using blogs and podcasts in the history classroom

Richard Jones-Nerzic Documentary film making in the history classroom

John Simkin Making the most of the Spartacus Educational website

Ben Walsh Signature pedagogies, assumptions and assassins: ICT and motivation in the history classroom

Johannes Ahrenfelt Immersive learning in the history classroom: how social media can help meet the expectations of a new generation of learners

Alf Wilkinson What can you do with an interactive whiteboard?

Nick Dennis and Doug Belshaw Tools for the tech savvy history teacher

Janos Blasszauer History webquests

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The Teaching, Learning & Assessment Conference on March 16th, 2013 at Berkhamsted has been a pleasure to organise. Helped by Neal Watkin, Dai Barnes and Laura Knight as a Steering Group and the workshop leaders giving their time freely, we have been able to create something which is focussed on learning and improving the craft of teaching.

I freely admit that the model for the conference comes from the Schools History Project national conference held in June/July every year. To be part of that conference is inspiring; excellent teachers freely giving up their time to share with the purpose of improving the quality of teaching for all.

Aware of the financial burdens schools are under, we deliberately picked a Saturday for the event. This would remove cover costs for people attending and also allow us to get as many great teachers sharing their experience without feeling they were sacrificing the progress of their students on a school day.

We were also very mindful about keeping the costs as low as possible. From the beginning, it was never intended to be a profit making exercise. As a result, it has been agreed that £40 for entry is about right as it will cover costs.

The price covers talks by Alistair Smith, Professor Bill Lucas and Dr Bill Rankin. In their own right, each one is an excellent speaker and you would be very fortunate to hear just one of them at a conference priced five times the amount we have settled for. Each speaker was invited specifically because they have a deep appreciation of the learning process and the practicalities that need to be considered if students are to progress.

The price also includes three workshops by excellent teachers and I would urge you all to break out of your subject areas for at least one session so you can benefit from the talent and wisdom of people who are ambitious for their students and who work very hard to improve their own professional learning.

The price also includes breakfast, lunch, refreshments and other resources for you to take away on the day. We are still working on elements and further announcements will come appear on the conference website next week where tickets can also be bought (there will be limited numbers).

I do hope that you will be able to join in this celebration of collaboration, learning, teachers and teaching next March.


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Conference Update #4 – Workshop leaders

A brief update on workshop leaders. I am incredibly pleased that colleagues from the state, independent, HE sectors and outside institutions around the country have given up their time and expertise freely to share at the conference. Without your generosity and desire to improve, it would be a poor event and I want to thank you all.

Confirmed workshop leaders so far (additional info in brackets):

Zoe Ross (ICT, Social Media, entrepreneur )

Neal Watkin (AST, History and TEEP Trainer)

Eric Wareham (Science, SLT, TEEP Trainer

Jen Ellison (Head of Science)

John Mitchell (History)

David Rogers (Geography, Jamie’s Dream Teacher winner)

Laura Knight (Director of eLearning, HoD of MFL)

Dr Tori Herridge (Science, Natural History Museum, London)

Dai Barnes (Head of ICT)

James Michie (Head of Media and KS4 English, ICT)

Dave Stacey (History and ICT)

Chris Gibbard (Maths)

Kristian Still (PE, SLT, ICT and English)

Alex Battinson (HoD PE, Boarding)

Nathan Lowe and Flitch Green Academy (Primary, SLT, whole school use of technology)

Wren Academy (Building Learning Power, Student Voice)

Ashlyns School

Andy Kemp (Maths, SLT)

David Didau (English, SLT, Learning and Teaching)

Tait Coles (SLT, Learning and Teaching)

Sarah Capewell (SLT, Latin/Greek, Classics, mobile learning)

Bill Lord (Primary, SLT, Learning and Teaching)

Ian Yorston (Science, ICT, Computing, being unreasonable)

Adam O’Connor (History, Learning and Teaching)

Dr David James (English, Leadership, IB)

Mark Anderson (ICT)

We still have more workshops to confirm in the coming weeks so please keep checking the blog. With such an impressive array of teaching and learning talent, I am sure that you will walk away from the event with something that will sharpen your work and improve the learning in your classrooms. Combined with presentations from Alistair Smith, Professor Bill Lucas and Dr Bill Rankin, this really is a year’s worth of inset in one day!

All of this does come at a cost and I would like to reiterate that we are not making a profit on the event. Ticket prices will be announced shortly and we are working hard to keep it as affordable as possible which is helped greatly by the fact that workshop leaders are giving their time freely. The price we are aiming for is significantly cheaper to comparable inset sessions and we think it will be pleasing to all (just check how much it would be to book one of our speakers/workshop leaders for an hour). However, we do still need help. If you would like to support an event that spans sectors and key stages with a focus on inspirational teaching and grounded in helping students do their best, please get in contact.

Update: Twitter hashtag is #TLAB13

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An Ethic of Excellence – in opposition to ‘quick fixes’.

Ron Berger

As a society we seem very willing to adopt trends or ideas that seem to offer a quick solution to the ongoing problems we face. Education, with its heavy idealist bent, is no different but in the search for a ‘quick fix’ we often neglect to understand what is required to create a lasting and effective change. One educational approach, which is not really new but is in danger of being viewed as a ‘quick fix’ is Project Based Learning. The name causes quite a reaction; the word ‘project’ conjures up memories and associations of poor learning, last minute panic work and the result sitting somewhere in the corner/box/shed after a brief appearance at a ‘public’ event to demonstrate ‘good’ learning. To remedy this problem, I would urge you to read Ron Berger’s ‘An Ethic of Excellence’ where he proposes something more valuable and deeper than the poorly reasoned project attempts mentioned above. He suggests the following as essential ingredients of a successful project:

1) Projects should inspire and challenge students;
2) Projects should cover a range of learning;
3) It must solve a particular problem (genuine research);
4) It should involve models of what the work should look like
5) Multiple drafts are encouraged;
6) Critique as part of the drafting process is necessary (see Darren Mead’s blog and Neal Watkin’s video);
7) The work is publicly displayed so there is a substantive real world outcome for the learning process.

Of course, this process cannot be fully effective if it is not embedded within a wider culture of learning and Berger has demonstrated that this is possible in the schools he has worked in (such as High Tech High in San Diego) where the project is not an addition to the curriculum, it is the main thing. One of the things that struck me after reading Steve Jobs’ biography is how Berger’s process seems to be imbued in the culture of one of the world’s innovative companies (although the critique part could be brutal in Jobs’ case). The work is always challenging, involves multidisciplinary efforts to resolve particular problems, goes through numerous revisions (the description about the invention of the iPad is particularly telling in the book) and has a public audience. I’m pretty sure that if Jony Ive was asked about whether his work gives him meaning, the response would be positive.

Doing something worthwhile (designing products to be used by millions or doing a piece of work on an incredible historical story) requires the person working on the project to be inspired and challenged by what they do. Berger, and the work of his students, point to something fascinating in relation to education – an opposition to ‘quick fixes’.

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