Jump to content
The Education Forum

Neal Watkin

Members
  • Content Count

    12
  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Neal Watkin

  • Rank
    Member
  • Birthday 12/05/1974

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
    http://

Profile Information

  • Interests
    Writing, Reading, Movies, Football (life long Walsall FC fan)
  1. Thanks for your comments Terry. I firmly believe that ICT has moved on and education is well behind. In an age when some students have the internet and video facilities on their mobile phones, schools are still building ICT suites and computer rooms. The doors are locked and the keys guarded by a technician as if the Holy Grail is across the threshold. If we want to create independent learners, we need to disband ICT rooms and distribute the PCs around the teaching rooms. We need to give students the choice about when and how they use ICT and see it as normal as reaching for a dictionary or ruler. If we had classrooms equipped with PCs and set problems to solve, students would be able to debate with each other what should be done with the technology. Communication, as a wise PGCE tutor once told me, is the forgotten skill in the National Curriculum, and yet it is the only one that appears in concepts and processes of all subject areas. Liberating technology and putting it in the hands of a small group of students would foster debate and force students to prioritise, as well as establish roles. It would make them think about appropriate use of ICT and make them focus on its strengths and weaknesses.
  2. "How can we as teachers create similar situation to the “Billy Casper effect” in the classroom? I would like to finish off by looking at one practical example of how it could be done" Have always agreed with this principle and believe it to work exceeding well. The lesson that John outlines above is similar to a project I ran with a colleague and the outcomes were incredible. It was called 'Living through War' and involved students preparing sections of an exhibition to inform others about the various elements of the Home Front. Once it was completed, we invited other classes and a primary school group to come and view the exhibition and talk to the visitors. The exhibition was a success and students learned so much about the topic, mainly by independently researching and then instructing others. In the end of year test students scored highly on the Living through War section and less well on the other two. It was not the most recently studied topic and so we put the results down to the techniques employed. Also, my Year 7 group produced some excellent oral presentations so I got them to create packs for teachers and students to help them improve their presentation work. In groups of five they produced resources for the other History staff. They decided to make Powerpoints, posters, place mats, videos, prompt cards and screen savers. Each group spent time with a member of staff and explained what they had done and how their resources could be used. The enthusiasm from students was high and it unleashed lots of creativity.
  3. David, This is an interesting viewpoint and very logical. However, it leaves one very vital step out of the equation. New tools and technologies are not created by teachers and are not developed with teachers as their core audience. Flash, for example, was put together to assist web designers in their work. Therefore, it is up to teachers to spot the potential in these applications and exploit them for their own ends. In the grand scheme of things, Flash is new and we are just starting to unlock its potential. It will only be when usage among teachers increases that we can say with exactly what Flash can do. I have seen some fantastic categorisation activities and source analysis work done with Flash, but I know that is capable of much more. I am currently trying to develop a thinking skills activity that has visual outcomes for looking at change and continuity over time. I know what I want to do, but I am not sure if I can achieve it. We need to experiment in order to find out what is possible. Someone needs to pioneer this - but the more pioneers we have the better.
  4. True, the exam system imposes limitations on the both teachers and students - although I am hoping that this will be lessened with the introduction of 'Hybrid History' in 2008. My biggest disappointment of the last few years has been the changes made to the personal study at A level. Initially, it was a chance for students to do exactly what you were describing happens at University: forming their own questions and research methods. I can recall a few exceptional titles from my first years of teaching... 'Was the term POW universially accepted in World War II?' 'Have National Celebrations become more international in 20th Century?' Neither of these would be suitable under the new criteria since the scope is big and they are not measurable against the published markscheme. However, I can still see ways of getting around this. I might be a little idealistic, but I have faith in the processes of History. I see no problem in setting historical problems and allowing pupils to run with them and see what occurs. This does eat into the time available, but I believe that the skills gained from such approaches, if properly ecvaluated and discussed, will ensure pupils can cope with any exam situation. Therefore, I begin the Year 12 course on Inter-warBritish History by allowing students to work on a project entitled 'The Conservative Party 1918-1939'. They have to construct the questions and choose the media, but I do insist that they produce a series of satricial cartoons. They are not examined on this as such (questions are more specific and usually related to a single issue), but I want them to be independent learners. I am open at the begining of the course and say that A level has to be about more than getting the grades.
  5. I would like to add another personal experience to this thread - one mentioned in Toulouse. Brad (a Year 7 student at my school) was in danger of being moved down a set because he was not displaying the necessary progression to remain in a top set. There was a huge gap between his verbal and literary responses. Regrettably, teachers still put the largest emphasis on producing it on paper and so Brad was under fire. The real isue was that Brad was disorganised and not systematic enough when it came to producing answers. His responses were brief, under-explored and unimaginative. Tuition was not making a difference to his academic achievements. However, Brad got into Flash in a big way. So much so that he would produce an animation every evening - he has his own portfloio of work already. Brad was now started to plan and explain, he was able to follow points through to their logical conclusuion and he was able to think in a multi-causal way. This transformation was not a miracle produced by Flash, but it did contribute quite heavily to it. This, I believe, is for two reasons: Flash engages pupils through a language they appreciate and understand Flash encourages higher order thinking Language - specifically the language pupils use - is considered too infrequently in education. Brad understands 'layers' and 'tweens' in a way he did not get 'concluding comments' and 'evaluation'. However, Flash allowedhis thinking to develop and cognitively moved him on. Creating complex animations is no different to establishing a multi-strand narrative on the ancient civilisations, they require the same type of skills and thought processes. For some pupils, Flash allows them to create the kind of learning they like, in a language they prefer and via a media they appreciate. The key selling point of Flash is that it is complex and that it does require thought and patience - isn't that what we want education to be about?
  6. Anders, Good to hear from you. I would completely agree with you and face a similar problem. As a subject leader I was constantly involved in a struggle to keep History lessons in history rooms. The learning environment is vital - a teacher needs to have stability and more importantly, so do the pupils. Accomodation is a valuable commodity, but so are teachers and allowing them to do their task effectively is important too. Even if I get limited access to the room with six computers, I believe it is the right way forward. I want pupils to engage with ICT in a critical way, this often means looking at when ICT is NOT appropriate to use. Having one machine for a group of five students makes them focus on what is the best way to achieve a task - via computer, or elsewhere. A spin off of this approach has been an increased use of the library by students, since they recognise that if basic information is needed in a hurry, then a library is easier and more effective than the internet. It has also broadened the use of ICT within the classroom, with pupils experimenting with mobile phones and pocket cams to create visual effects. As I pointed out in the seminar, it is the skills inherent in the technology that are important and not the technology itself. I find that having separate computer suites encourages the latter and limits the choices of some pupils. For example, I have one student who is top level gamer, but givnthe freedom to chose and he will always pick to hand produce his work - it is just the way he prefers it.
  7. Sorry for the delay in replying John. You raise an important point here. I have recently been experimenting with my Year 7 class and getting them to design their own assessments - nothing at all to do with National Curriculum Levels or school tracking. The results have been staggering, especially in the area you highlight. Pupil interaction has increased and I can observe sophisticated questions being asked among themselves. However, I would like to point out that it has taken a lot of groundwork to get to this point (e.g. metacognition in plenaries, structured peer asessment, explicit skills teaching). Pupils still need asssistance to become sophisticated learners and their is still a need for teachers to inspire and give them new outlets and opprtunities. I agree that the traditional model of teaching needs to be looked at, but careful planning and monitoring of progress are still essential. Maybe the profession needs to see independently engaged students as the goal and work towards this (gradually shedding those traditional approaches as the pupils get nearer to this). I would be interested to read your thoughts.
  8. Using ICT to STRENGTHEN INDEPENDENT LEARNING The Rules of Engagement… The Rationale for the presentation is that… • ICT makes for good engagement. Engagement is essential for good learning • ICT has the potential to promote independent learning HOWEVER… • Tasks have to be carefully constructed in order to create the correct circumstances ICT is an essential tool in the modern classroom; it can engage pupils on a number of levels and make the job of the teacher considerably easier. However, the use of ICT does not necessarily ensure good learning. There could even be a situation where the class is quiet and engrossed in their computer/web-based activity, but getting no lasting benefit from the activity. All activities, ICT or not, should challenge pupils thinking at a high level and try to make them better learners. It is impossible to separate engagement, from getting pupils to think at a high level and making them into independent learners - they are all linked. The aim of all three is to create an effective learning environment. The Rules of Engagement In their recent ‘Pedagogy and Practice’ Pack the DfES stated that, “People learn best when they are interested, involved and appropriately challenged”. This is hardly a revelation, but it is easy to forget the third clause in that sentence. Some of the ICT going on in History classrooms is exciting and captures the imagination for a short time, but does not involve a level of complexity and challenge students mentally. If learning is to be effective then interest, involvement and challenge all need to be addressed. With this in mind, and the research and Vygotsky and Piaget, the DfES came up with nine rules of Engagement: 1. Activities have a clear purpose and relevance 2. New knowledge is related to old 3. Presentation is varied 4. Activities generate curiosity 5. Pupils ask questions and try new ideas 6. Pupils see their achievements and progress 7. Pupils analyse their thinking/learning 8. Pupils gain satisfaction and enjoyment from their work 9. Pupils get a positive image of themselves a learners Of these nine, ICT covers six of the points really well: • Activities have a clear purpose and relevance • Presentation is varied • Activities generate curiosity • Pupils ask questions and try new ideas • Pupils see their achievements and progress • Pupils gain satisfaction and enjoyment from their work The benefit of most widely available applications is that they automatically give you an end product, e.g. a presentation using Power Point or a movie using Movie Maker. Also, the wealth of free applications can allow you to build variety into lessons; and, if lots of packages are used, then pupils will have to figure out how they work and interact with others to create the desired results. If the end products are realised then pupils should get a sense of achievement and satisfaction form their work. This leaves three points that do not naturally appear in ICT activities: • New knowledge is related to old • Pupils analyse their thinking/learning • Pupils get a positive image of themselves a learners ICT activities can include these elements of learning, but they need to be thought about carefully and planned into any activity. We should not see this as a simple process: saving work from one lesson to the next does not constitute ‘New knowledge is related to old’. Teachers need to make review and linking points into a structured part of the lesson so that learning becomes connected. Analysis of thinking needs to tackled in a formal way – how the activity was completed and how the skills can be applied in other contexts. Independent Learning As well as fully engaging pupils with ICT, we should be trying to increase their general ability as learners. This can be easy to achieve and in some senses supports the way that applications are designed. The key is to make the principles of independent learning explicit to pupils and help them to analyse how these are enhanced through the learning. For me, independent learning involves: • Problem-solving • Inter-personal skills • Industrious activity • Self-motivation • Creativity • Being reflective The question is, how can ICT activities be used to achieve these? PowerPoint: Instruction/research Teachers make good use of PowerPoint, whether they make effective use is another matter. If we simply use PowerPoint as a means of imparting information then it will cause paralysis among the masses. However, PowerPoint does come with a number of interactive elements and with a little manipulation you can create a meaningful activity that has a clear purpose and allows for independent learning. Create a clear activity for pupils to follow: PowerPoint does not have to be passive. You can use it to create surprises and force pupils to discover information in order to complete an activity. The process of learning needs to be the same for any type of activity. We need to have a learning journey; for example, I have created a virtual battlefields tour that allows pupils to visit sites and monuments in order to complete the preparatory work for their coursework. The focus is clear and the information has to be found and carefully sorted. I have used the ‘grow/shrink’ option to help with the analysis pictures (different parts of the image can be emphasised at different times using a simple cropping and overlay technique). Also, transparent boxes can have hyperlinks attached to them to create interactive maps and diagrams. This increases the search element of the task and the idea of discovery. Using action settings will allow you to set consequences for pupils rolling over a particular section. This can create interest and surprises and to some extent create interaction, simulate research and problem-solving. PowerPoint: Peer Instruction A step forward from exciting presentations created for pupils to use, is allowing pupils the time and space to make creative PowerPoints of their own. In this way they can solve problems and reach a meaningful goal. The challenge does not have to come solely from the ICT aspect: pupils can be set the challenge of giving a lively presentation with PowerPoint as one aspect – integrating the ICT to achieve a wider objective. The opportunities for internal and external challenges make ICT a flexible option in the classroom. If you are just using PowerPoint then challenge can be created quite easily by asking pupils to work with a restricted number of slides, points or words. Another idea is to include an evaluation scale. For example, if pupils have identified and discussed five factors then ask them to assign a numerical value to each one – they should distribute 15 points over the slides, with no two slides having the same value. This will create a hierarchy and force pupils to consider the idea of significance. Another idea is to create ‘How to…’ guides. This could involve an aspect of history, or even be a structured look at how they achieved the task. For example, after completing a presentation, you could ask the group to produce a set of ICT resources for teachers to help them conduct a lesson entitled ‘How do you build an effective presentation?’ The most effective way to move skills forward is to blend ICT with Assessment for Learning strategies. As well as having pupil targets for History skills, they could have targets in Communication. This will allow them to see that the subject is a blend enquiry and development skills and finding ways to present that information effectively. These targets might be explicitly linked to ICT (e.g. Use the cropping tool to create more specific analysis of images) or they may be about more general communication concepts (e.g. Engage the audience more in your presentations). The first is an example of a scaffold approach that helps pupils to think about how ICT and communication skills can be built up. The second is more open and encourages pupils to think about a range of strategies (some ICT and some not) to help move them forward. Both have their place and should be used to maximise pupil learning. PowerPoint is a little unfashionable these days. To dismiss it as a tool misses the point of its use in the classroom. All schools have access to it and so do many pupils at home. It does not matter if there are better tools out there for delivering presentations, what we need to focus on is the skills it can give pupils in terms of the possibilities of ICT. They can then take this to other applications and investigate these for themselves. We should always keep in mind that the ICT is there to support the History and applications should only be judged in terms of whether or not they can move historical thinking forward. PowerPoint can be used to support problem-solving, and manipulated to enhance inter-personal skills (e.g. to create an interactive back-drop for dramas or role-plays), it can be used in a number of creative ways enhance presentations and provides pupils with skills that they can analyse and reapply elsewhere. Movies: Thinking Prompts Movies can be a really effective way of demonstrating a point. This can be taken a step further by introducing a theme or idea for pupils to develop or debate. The principle here is that pupils are not just passive observers, but part of a joke or mental jolt. For example, the politics of interwar Britain can be presented as the six episodes of Star Wars (as in, Stanley Baldwin is the ‘Phantom Menace’ who caused the end of the Lloyd George Coalition). This can then become an exercise in lateral thinking with students continuing a story started by the teacher, or challenging the interpretation established in the film. In this way, Movie Maker can be used to set up a learning task that makes pupils think, evaluate and be creative. In a similar way, music videos can be used to make links to individual lessons. More intelligent music acts will show an interpretation of the lyrics within their videos and so this offers two possible points for discussion: the images and the lyrics. So, when teaching Appeasement and the mindset of the British public, Radiohead’s ‘No Surprises’ makes an excellent start and end point for the lesson. Pupil Movies can be effective too. Allowing pupils access to Movie Maker at regular intervals throughout a scheme of work means they can slowly build up a audio and visual record of the work the are doing. This works on a number of levels: pupils must carefully select information, but have regular opportunity to review and edit; adding layers of complexity actually improves work, because thinking is occurring at a higher level. Movies can also be used to give pupils the space to work independently. After a session of history, getting them to report directly into camera - Big Brother diary room style – will allow pupils the chance to work without interference and still give the teacher something to assess and comment on (maybe in the form of a movie!). It can also be a stimulating end product for pupils when conducting Projects. They are useful for establishing chronologies and finding patterns. Captivate or the free programme ‘Wink’ can provide something similar. The rollovers and interactive elements can create an environment which provokes thought and allows pupils to develop their own routes through a particular problem. It can also give teachers and pupils the facilities to make interesting ‘How to…’ guides. Podcasting is an alternative to this. Pupils and teachers can get a lot from audio recordings if they learn lessons from radio. Try to include interviews, linked music, quizzes, news slots and reviews. All of this introduces an element of thinking to the production and to the listening. Conclusions Kim Cavanaugh & Debra Maupin argued, ‘Focusing on the process rather than the tools reverses that dynamic so that students are able to appreciate not only how a particular task is accomplished, but also which technology is appropriate for the assigned task—a common skill they will need when faced with real-world work requirements’. This must be the starting point of all discussions about the use of technology in the History classroom. If we add in ICT as an easy way to grab attention, then we will make little headway in turning out good quality learners. The skills we value as historians must be reflected in our use of technology, otherwise there is little to justify its inclusion. In the workplace, use of technology is fully integrated into wider systems and we should be trying to prepare pupils for this. For this to occur, it is important for teachers to hand control of ICT over to the pupils. This will give pupils the chance to find out strategies for themselves and become independent learners. A step on from this is to give pupils clear criteria and then allow them to select the most appropriate mode of presentation. This can throw up some interesting results, with pupils exploring the possibilities of technology as diverse as Flash and mobile phones. In order to manage such situation, I find a flexible classroom model the most helpful. Rather than taking pupils to a suite of computers, six are installed in the teaching room. This allows teachers and pupils to experiment with group dynamics and computer time. For example, a class of 30 could be given a problem and then split into groups of five; they can be told that they can access one computer per group over three lessons. This will focus their attention on what can be achieved and force them to think of alternatives to ICT. Whatever strategies are employed, the most important section of any task is the ‘debrief’ and looking at transferable skills. This type of metacognition allows pupils to build on their skills and continually move forward. This is what ICT in education should be about. Neal Watkin
  9. My presentation will be on the following topic: 'Using ICT to strengthen Independent Learning' Rationale for Independent Learning Powerpoint and peer instruction Using Movie Maker Using Captivate Podcasts - mock broadcasts The aim of the session is to show how a tight focus and rationale makes the most effective use of ICT.
  10. I agree that youtube.com seems a little superfluous at times, and it is true that the footage that generates the most interest is the clips that offer something new. I have talked to a few students who use it and they mostly look for live recordings and rare tracks by their favourite bands - 21st Century equivalent of the guy that used to sell bootleg cassettes on the edge of Camden Market! Others add video clips for fun. As John points out, it does show that young people are willing to communicate. Despite this willingness to be on film, I have found that communication skills are something absent or under-developed with pupils arriving at secondary school and I have made it a focus of my work with Year 7 this for the past few months. On arrival, they could structure written work perfectly well and understood about paragraphing and even signposting to some extent. What they lacked was the ability to adapt this for oral presentation work. We have spent a good few hours working with powerpoint, digital footage and even mobile phones to improve the experience for the audience. I doubt if many people outside our class would actually want to see our Black Death powerpoints or Becket Trial film, but looking at communication as a skill and working with pupils to improve their ability to communicate is valuable in itself.
  11. I have been a History teacher since 1997 and worked in two large comprehensive schools in East Anglia. I am currently working at Neatherd High School, an 11-18 in Norfolk. I resigned my Head of History post three years ago to become an AST and I now do work within school and across the county. My specialisms include using ICT within the classroom, Thinking Skills, Gifted & Talented Education, curriculum planning and making school trips memorable. This means I get to work with a range of staff on a one-to-one basis and develop good practice within schools. This year I have been working with the DfES and Specialist Schools Trust on a G&T programme and have undertaken a post-graduate course in e-learning. I have also created a number of interactive Captivate files that target exam skills in order to aid revision and I am currently developing a set of revision Podcasts in the form of mock radio shows. As well as this, I have been using Moviemaker with pupils to enable them to create short films. This allows them to focus on the skills of inference and selection. I am keen that ICT not be an end in itself, but a way to motivate students and draw out key historical skills. Beyond the classroom, I am involved with an international schools project to create a multi-media exhibition about ‘Children Living through War’ and the school’s Drama productions. Also, Johannes Ahrenfelt and I have just finished writing a book on essential teaching skills for Continuum Publishing where we have devoted a chapter to innovative use of ICT in teaching.
  12. I have been a History teacher since 1997 and worked in two large comprehensive schools in East Anglia. I am currently working at Neatherd High School, an 11-18 in Norfolk. I resigned my Head of History post three years ago to become an AST and I now do work within school and across the county. My specialisms include using ICT within the classroom, Thinking Skills, Gifted & Talented Education, curriculum planning and making school trips memorable. This means I get to work with a range of staff on a one-to-one basis and develop good practice within schools. This year I have been working with the DfES and Specialist Schools Trust on a G&T programme and have undertaken a post-graduate course in e-learning. I have also created a number of interactive Captivate files that target exam skills in order to aid revision and I am currently developing a set of revision Podcasts in the form of mock radio shows. As well as this, I have been using Moviemaker with pupils to enable them to create short films. This allows them to focus on the skills of inference and selection. I am keen that ICT not be an end in itself, but a way to motivate students and draw out key historical skills. Beyond the classroom, I am involved with an international schools project to create a multi-media exhibition about ‘Children Living through War’ and the school’s Drama productions. Also, Johannes Ahrenfelt and I have just finished writing a book on essential teaching skills for Continuum Publishing where we have devoted a chapter to innovative use of ICT in teaching.
×
×
  • Create New...