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Simon Ross

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  1. I've been unable to reach Spartacus all night

    John, sorry to hear your website has been hacked. I live in fear of such an event. All the best for a speedy recovery! Simon
  2. I would like to add my support for Richard. I met him in May 2006 in Toulouse and found him to be a knowledgeable and inspirational teacher. My involvement with the E-Help project, of which he is such an important part, has been one the most beneficial of my career. I am deeply shocked by what I understand of his dismissal. The actions of IST management will undoubtedly damage their students' education and diminish the reputation of the institution across Europe.
  3. Developing Interactive Teaching Styles using an IWB

    A very interesting post John, if slightly away from the original thread You seem to be arguing that there is no biological differences in children's ability to learn, and secondly that the only thing influencing their intelligence/success is social class. Schools in your post serve only to oppress and indoctrinate. Should we all just pack it in and man the barricades? S
  4. Developing Interactive Teaching Styles using an IWB

    I agree that this is how they can be used, but as you suggest, this might not actually be how they are used. Clearly there is that need for good CPD. Nevertheless, big educational publishers have slightly different priorities. In this way, the latest Heinemann stuff comes with easiteach which is either a) a way of providing cross platform resources a way of protecting the publisher's work from easy adaptation, and sharing or maybe c) a bit of both. I suppose its the electronic equivalent of those textbooks which go out of their way to use patterns and shades which make photocopying impossible!
  5. Developing Interactive Teaching Styles using an IWB

    One interesting aspect to this is the way that publishing companies are now moving into interactive whiteboard lesson provision. Whole sets of lesson resources and materials are being provided. Some observations on much of it: 1) There is frequently an overuse of text and image 'information' slides; 2) There is an assumption that IWBs are more interesting than they are, thus everything that can possibly be put on the board is; 3) There is a strong emphasis on 1 hour, teacher led, highly packaged blobs of learning rather than some of the more longer term, independent learning opportunities highlighted by John; 4) And perhaps, teachers are again being reduced to transmitters, presenters who deliver centrally controlled lessons.
  6. "Beyond the History classroom"

    Cheers for the comments John. I agree that there has been collaborative work on the web since it started. However, I would suggest there was a period around 2000, after the web had become mainstream and the big media companies had moved in, that this element was being sidelined. This is not to say that it ceased to exist, but in the last couple of years blogs, podcasts and wikis have facilitated a "shift in emphasis": a reinvigoration of the web as a collaborative space. Similarly you are right to note that very often history teachers have been using the web in a spirit of collaboration and information sharing. I referenced a couple of published examples, and your East Grinstead encyclopaedia is clearly another. You go on to say: I would agree that forums are just as collaborative as any wiki, and quite possibily more so that a single blog or podcast. I would disagree that most traditional html websites are. The point here is not that people have never collaborated before, electronically or otherwise. Rather, I am suggesting the prevalence of blogs, podcasts and wikis on the web means that we should use them because they offer a great opportunity to engage students in dialogue about history because: 1) They are designed for the average Joe and are generally straight forward and easy to use; 2) They can offer more than just a space to talk, but a hybrid website/discussion; 3) They connect with the media world in which our students live.
  7. "Beyond the History classroom"

    The web is changing The web is changing; we are now in the age of the ‘read write’ web or ‘web 2.0’. There is a shift in emphasis towards the web being an interactive space where knowledge is shared, argued over, and added to dialectically. Unlike the “information silos” of the past, the latest generation of web services, such as blogs, podcasts, and wikis, are built through collaboration and information sharing. In my presentation I tried to explain how my colleagues and I have been using these services to extend and improve their students’ learning of history. What is ICT in the history classroom for? Christine Counsell in the editorial to Teaching History 101 suggested that teachers must ask “what is ICT in the history classroom for?”. As a number of contributors to that edition stressed, the use of ICT needs to be driven by history: ‘ICT is the tool, and not the master’ as Atkin put it. Counsell suggested that the benefit of ICT is not just in motivation, or ‘speeding up’ of tasks. Rather, she suggested that ICT should be used to clear the way (reducing some effort) for students to engage in higher level thinking (increasing effort). For some time, history teachers have been using the internet to encourage students to engage in discussions about history. Wilson and Scott wrote in 2003 about a role play looking at appeasement which had been conducted through e-mails between two classes at different schools. This, they suggested, was primarily “a speaking and listening activity” with the technology providing “spontaneity” and a “sense of reality”. At the same time, Thomas and Cole were using online message boards as a place to encourage their sixth form students to engage in historical debates. For a broad range of students their work allowed “real engagement, and…genuine pleasure in learning’ to develop. What is ICT beyond the history classroom for? I suggested that the question that we needed to ask had now changed: we should be thinking about what ICT can offer beyond the history classroom. I warned the associates and members that as soon as a teacher thinks about this question, there is an explosion of buzz words from senior management as they see the opportunity for distance learning and franchises. Neither my seminar, nor this article really considered the wider debate about this. Indeed, I suggested that there was no need to as there was a strong history rationale for using these new technologies. ICT, I argued, now offers a great opportunity to engage students in meaningful dialogue about history in, and beyond, the history classroom. What is podcasting and how can I do it? In this section of my presentation I explained what a podcast was: an audio file on the web, that can be subscribed to so that it downloads automatically onto computers, portable music players and phones. I hopefully showed that it was relatively straight forward to record and edit these files using a free program such as ‘audacity’. These files could be placed on the web as a useful resource. I explained that to enable people to subscribe it was necessary to have a blog (with rss feed). I explained thtat at www.ilovehistory.co.uk I used a wordpress blog with the podcast feed being created by a website called www.feedburner.com I also recommended reading Doug Belshaw’s detailed guide at http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk/index.php/...dcasting-part1/ Problems and possibilities Finally, I suggested that although I was proud of what I had achieved in a short space of time at www.ilovehistory.co.uk, it was ultimately very limited. Having argued for this new technology as a means for engaging students in dialogue I had produced a very didactic, teacher expert, pupil passive resource. I recognized this problem, and linked it to similar problems with the use of teacher led class blogs, which frequently just reinforce this traditional model. I suggested that the solution lay in: Student created podcasts which are then published as the students prepare for their final exams; Student created podcasts which are then published as the students prepare for their final exams; Student created podcasts which are then published as the students prepare for their final exams; The use of comment functions to allow students to comment on and assess each others work; Class wikis, to involve the students in independent research, shared work, and possibly awareness of interpretations. One thing I didn’t mention, as it was very much preaching to the converted, was the use of these new technologies by teachers. It has been suggested that “interactions are perhaps the single most important element” in informing professional practice. Away from the knockabout banter of the TES forums, there are real opportunities for European teachers to engage in meaningful dialogue with a global network of educators. The wonderful discussions that I had at Toulouse, and on the forums before and after it are a testament to that. In this way, for both pupils and teachers, these technologies are offering new opportunities for discussion in, and beyond, the history classroom. ______________________ 1 Taken from ‘Wikipedia’ at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0 on 6/04/06 2 Ibid. 3 Christine Counsell Editorial Teaching History 101 (2000) Historical Association, London p2 4 Alf Wilkinson ‘Computer’s don’t bite! Your first tentative steps in using ICT in the history classroom’ Teaching History 101 (2000) Historical Association, London p.17 – 23; Dave Atkin ‘How do I improve my use of ICT? Put history first!’ Teaching History 99 (2000) Historical Association, London 42 – 49; Jayne Prior and Peter D. John ‘From anecdote to argument: using the word processor to connect knowledge and opinion through revelatory writing’ Teaching History 101 (2000) Historical Association, London p.31-34 5 Op cit. 6 Maggie Wilson and Heather Scott “’You be Britain and I’ll be Germany…’ Inter-school e-mailing in Year 9” Teaching History 110 (2003) Historical Association, London p32-35 7 Denise Thompson and Nathan J. S. Cole ‘Keeping the kids on message… one school’s attempt at helping sixth form students to engage in historical debate using ICT’ Teaching History 113 (2003) Historical Association, London 38 - 43 8 Simon Letman ‘Engaging with each other: how interactions between teachers inform professional practice’ Teaching History 118 (2005) Historical Association, London 13 – 16 9 Excellent examples of this include www.schoolhistory.co.uk/forum and the http://educationforum.ipbhost.com education forum.
  8. e-Help expenses

    I drove to and from Gatwick. Is there a standard mileage rate? Cheers, S
  9. Using ICT to promote Independent Learning

    John, you're getting me in to trouble. All fired up from the experience of Toulouse I went to an AS standardisation meeting yesterday. At lunch my team leader asked me what I thought of the merits of AS examinations. Well! The table went silent, before quickly turning to a discussion of the weather. Anyhoo, thanks Neal for your interesting presentation. I took some practical things away from it, such as ppt hyperlinking, action settings, and capitvate. I also thought it was good, with both yours and Johannes' presentations to see teachers trying to make visually attractive resources with the appropriate but interesting use of colour, fonts, images, animations. The way our resources look is, I believe, too often overlooked. On a wider level, it was also reassuring for me to see the parallels with my presentation in your justification for using ICT. However, I think you are making a very important point which I hadn't really thought enough about: This is an interesting challenge and one which I'm grateful to you for raising.
  10. Developing Interactive Teaching Styles using an IWB

    John wrote: "All teachers are victims of the traditional paradigm of learning. They see themselves as the “expert” who is transmitting knowledge to their students." Even if we ignore the rather strong generalisation, this statement still perturbs me, as does John's claim that teachers see ICT as a threat. Perhaps I am just at an unusual school but this doesn't reflect my admittedly anecodotal experience. Furthermore, I would argue that in many cases we are the expert. There are times in the classroom when it is useful to have the teacher in such a role - although those times should probably be less than currently takes place. In this way, teacher as expert is just one role, one activity that we can use in our lessons. And this then fits with Roy's points about using a variety of activities, and making sure that people receive appropriate CPD to be able to use IWBs effectively. At the risk of repeating my earlier post, I think that IWB supporters need to be more open about the ways in which they are/are not interactive. A part of all IWB training should focus on their limitations and potential misuse. And finally, the focus needs to be on the genuine benefits they can bring to teachers' planning and creation of varied lessons, and their role in freeing the teacher to work with the class during lessons.
  11. Developing Interactive Teaching Styles using an IWB

    Firstly, thank you Roy for the presentation and the lovely resources that you shared. I think Andy raises an interesting question. His beliefs about IWBs reinforcing traditional teaching models has been borne out in many schools where teachers have been given them, often without a desire to have them or appropriate training on how to use them, and have just used them to pad out teacher talk. Part of the problem here is that Interactive White Board is rather a misnoma. The fact that Interactive White Boards are called that leads to huge expectations for them to be, well, interactive. Thus teachers up and down the country strive to get the students using them as much as possible, which is a good thing. However, it also leads to teachers challenging their worth focussed on the interactivity: 'Well thats not very interactive is it'. This, I believe, is rather unfair. Its like criticising the tables for not being chairs; we need both to have a classroom, although Andy Schofield might disagree I would suggest that the interactivity is primarily for the teacher and that is fine. The interactive board allows a teacher to bring the clear instruction pages, large visual images, audio files, movies, games to the class quickly and easily. It then allows the teacher to interact with these things without having to huddle down in front of a computer. The fact that you can write on and move the things on screen also means you are freed from the pre-ordained structure of a previously created powerpoint. Ultimately then it is of benefit to the teacher as it reduces planning time, frees up lesson time, and allows the use of a wide range of resources quickly. Now, obviously if all you do is use the board then you're stuffed - it is not a panacea for bad teaching, and it can only ever be one tool in the classroom. However, I think this is why advocates of IWBs need to be more open about their limitations when it comes to student interactivity. Experienced teachers will not be dazzled by a large, attractive card sort on a board - they were doing it twenty years ago with laminated paper and photo enlargements. However they are, I believe, more likely to be persuaded by the fact that you can put it together so much more quickly and cheaply with the board. I've written about this issue on my site: http://www.ilovehistory.co.uk/iwb/newiwb.html
  12. Promotion of E-HELP Associate Websites

    My stomach didn't quite know what had hit it as I returned to school dinners today! Anyway, here is a bit of text for www.ilovehistory.co.uk www.ilovehistory.co.uk is designed and maintained by Simon Ross, a History teacher at Little Heath School. The site contains a GCSE revision podcast with associated games, activities and resources. The mp3 files that make up the podcast can either be downloaded individually or subscribed to through a program such as itunes. The podcast focuses on the OCR Modern World History GCSE course, looking at international relations from 1919 to 1939, the USA in the 1920s and 30s, and British Social History between 1906 and 1918. A number of additional resources for students and teachers of History can be found on the site including an expanding section on Elizabethan government and politics. All the best, Simon
  13. Thank you Richard and Les

    The 16 hour days were tough, but hey someone had to do it! Thank you all for such an amazing experience! Simon
  14. Toulouse presentations...

    My session will look broadly at new opportunities on the web including blogs and wikis. However, the focus will be on my use of podcasting. I see that Neal is also planning to look at this so I will co-ordinate with him to avoid repetition. Therefore, a provisional outline is: Beyond the History Classroom 1. The web is changing 2. What is ICT in the History classroom for? 3. What is ICT beyond the History classroom for? 4. What is podcasting and how can I do it? 5. Problems and Possibilities All the best, S
  15. Associates Going to Toulouse

    Hello people, Following a chat with John I've booked my flights with BA (£92.30 return). Just to share my flight info: Outbound : Gatwick (London), United Kingdom to Toulouse, France Flight Number : BA7951 Depart : Thu 8 June 2006 07:15 Arrive : Thu 8 June 2006 10:00 Operated By : British Airways Inbound : Toulouse, France to Gatwick (London), United Kingdom Flight Number : BA7952 Depart : Sun 11 June 2006 10:35 Arrive : Sun 11 June 2006 11:20 Hope this fits in with everyone else. All the best, Simon
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