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Dan Lyndon

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  1. We recently held a gifted and talented day with an outside speaker / facilitator and the topic that we were looking at was about genetic disease and DNA. However we somehow got onto discussing diseases such as the plague and one of the students asked this question: Is it true that the bubonic plague might not have been spread by fleas after all?
  2. Dan Lyndon

    Information is not learning

    ‘Information is not learning’ Using the Internet as an effective teaching tool Dan Lyndon The World Wide Web has given teachers and students of history access to an ‘information superhighway’ previously unparalleled. However, whilst there are obvious advantages in terms of the resources now available on the Internet, this has not necessarily been translated into the effective teaching and learning of history. This paper will look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet as a teaching tool. It will highlight the benefits of using webquests as a method for ensuring the use of higher order thinking skills when using the Internet. The paper will conclude with a case study looking at a webquest that I have written about the contribution of black and asian soldiers in the First World War (www.comptonhistory.com/ww1webquest.htm). This was taught to year 9 students in January 2005. There are a number of advantages of using the Internet as a teaching tool. The most obvious concerns the amount of material that is available to both teacher and pupil and the speed of access that has been facilitated. As an illustrative example, when I was preparing the ww1 webquest I was able to find fascinating and inspiring material about the soldiers that fought in the British Army as members of the British West Indies Regiment (BWIR). This included interviews with some of the surviving veterans, Eugene Clark and George Blackman as well as details of the Taranto Mutiny when soldiers from the BWIR demonstrated their anger against the racial discrimination that they faced at end of the war. In the absence of access to the Internet this would have involved extensive and time consuming research. The fact was that I was able to sit at my desk and spend a few hours searching via Google and poring over extracts from Jamaican and British newspapers amongst other websites. Some of the other advantages of the Internet include the improvement in ICT skills that it provides. A research study (http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/TIPS/gilmour.html) carried out by Nick Gilmour, a teacher in Cambridgeshire found that ‘(the Internet group) produced some excellent project work and demonstrated high levels of ICT skill.’ and that the use of the Internet ‘often stimulates and raises the levels of motivation. The quality of project work is greatly improved with the use of computers.’ Gillian Mead from Chesterton Community College argues that the effective use of the Internet ‘enable(s) students to develop as independent, effective, efficient and discerning electronic information gatherers rather (than) remain as serendipitous and credulous surferbrowsers’ (http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/TIPS/mead.html). However, there are undoubtedly a number of concerns about the use of the Internet as an effective teaching tool. The most striking observation is that ‘information access alone, without a means for learning the information ‘effectively’, or, a means for turning information into knowledge, results in numerous design faults, namely information overload and navigation problems.’ (Jones and Scully http://webjcli.ncl.ac.uk/1998/issue2/jones2.html). Another problem is that the use of the internet can be a frustrating learning experience with the pupils lost in a web of irrelevant and inappropriate material. The vast majority of material on the Internet is not designed for pupils of a school age and unless pupils are taught the skills necessary to search the internet effectively they often become frustrated as they search in vain. There is also the misconception that the answer to everything can be found at the end of a Google search. Some pupils also find themselves far too easily distracted by the pop ups, banners and games, cars, music, football etc sites that are only a URL away when the teacher isn’t looking. However the most pressing concern is the passivity of many pupils involved in Internet research. The temptation to cut and paste chunks of unread text is seemingly too hard to resist for many pupils resulting in the acquisition of knowledge without the processing that is so vital for a deeper understanding. The Internet is not a substitute for the good teacher; whilst it can deliver a wide amount of resource material it can not adapt to the needs of the individual student. There are a variety of ways that these disadvantages can be overcome to enable the Internet to become an effective teaching resource. The problems of passivity can be solved by creating teaching material that forces pupils towards information processing rather than research gathering. The most obvious example of this is the use of webquests to which I will turn to shortly. The problems of pupils getting ‘lost’ can be overcome by a number of strategies: pupils can be trained to use search engines more effectively, particularly by honing down the searches with the use of keywords. Alternatively the use of a ‘portal’ which guides the pupils towards pre-selected websites can allow the teacher to direct the pupils to the most appropriate resources. Finally there needs to be an increase in the number of teacher created websites, with differentiated material and tasks that encourage higher order thinking skills and are adapted to the needs of the pupil. A webquest is an online lesson or series of lessons using the Internet as a resource bank. A successful webquest engages the student with an enticing ‘hook’ and requires students to complete a task, often using other ICT applications, that encourages the development of higher order thinking skills. The structure of a webquest follows a particular format; Introduction – This is the initial stimulus material that acts as a ‘hook’ for the student and engages them with the task. This could be either a real life situation, for example the Amistad slave ship case or a fantasy scenario, for example a time machine has been invented to take the students to a place or event in history. Task – This is the opportunity for the teacher to be as creative as possible. The task must have a realistic and achievable outcome but could take any variety of formats ranging from a whole class debate to a multimedia presentation to a simple written description. Process– As a tool for enhancing independent learning the Webquest guides the student through a series of step-by-step processes to enable the task to be completed. This may involve working individually or as part of a larger group with individually assigned roles. The student should also be given guidance in how to complete the task. This may take the form of ‘scaffolding’ whereby the student is able to build up knowledge through a series of smaller task, or may involve the use of directed questions, concept mapping, tables and worksheets. Resources - One of the fundamentals of the Webquest is the use of the World Wide Web as a resource bank. A crucial aspect is that the student is guided to the most appropriate resources and not left to drift aimlessly in ‘hyperspace’. This may involve differentiated resource pages with a page devoted to the key websites and a second page for additional resources. Students are not necessarily limited to using the Internet. There is a wide range of (electronic) resources available including e-mail, videoconferencing, using databases and forums. Students could also use material from their school and local libraries or from their teacher. Evaluation – This provides the student with the marking criteria and allows them to understand how they will be assessed as an individual and part of the team. This insight encourages the student to become self-evaluative and provides the ‘critical steps’ that are needed to make further progress. Conclusion – This allows the student to evaluate the progress that they have made and provides an opportunity for further exploration. This may be achieved through the addition of further questions or stimuli that may arise from the original task. There are many advantages to the use of Webquests; q The creation of the Webquest is straightforward for any teacher that has a basic competency in ICT – there are various templates that can be used such as this one from the Webquest website: []http://webquest.sdsu.edu/LessonTemplate.html] q The teacher can adapt a task to the appropriate needs of their classes and to individual students. This can be done by varying the complexity of the task and by allocating different roles within the Webquest. q The use of Webquest is an excellent motivational tool. Students can engage in real-life enquiry based activities and have the opportunity to create a valuable end product. q Webquests can encourage team building skills in order to achieve a collective task as well as enhancing individual skills in a wide variety of ways; literacy, ICT, numeracy, communication, problem solving. q Webquests often depend on the use of higher order thinking skills. Students will need to synthesise material from a wide range of sources and the task may require the evaluation of a particular interpretation or event. Case study – the black and asian soldiers in the First World War webquest http://www.comptonhistory.com/ww1webquest.htm I wrote this webquest over a period of three days in the Christmas holidays 2004 and subsequently spent a few hours tightening up different sections after receiving feedback from colleagues and members of the History Teacher’s Discussion Forum. I tried it for the first time in January with two classes of year nine pupils in the top and middle ability sets having previously studied the causes of WW1 and Trench Warfare. The students were in the computer suite for three lessons. The black and asian soldiers in the First World War webquest asks students to imagine that they had been commisioned to write a booklet for primary school children about the contributions that soldiers from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean made to the war. This task meant that pupils had to use higher order thinking skills to synthesise the appropriate material and produce an outcome that was different from the original material they had used. They were guided to the best resources via this page (resources page) which was differentiated to allow access to the key resources as well as being hyperlinked to further resources if needed (extended resources page). I also included a self assessment sheet that can be looked at here (assessment page) which required the pupils to grade themselves on different criteria ranging from how many websites they used (this was deliberately scored to encourage them not to use too many), how appropriate their language was (I was hoping to cut out as much cutting and pasting as possible) and their effort. I now realise that I should have also included a section about their ICT skills. I was fairly disappointed by the majority of the results, but I will add the proviso that this was the first time that any of the students had used a webquest before: - too many of the students had simply lifted chunks straight from the various websites that they used. - those who had 'strayed' from the websites that I recommended often went completely off the track - one student ended up writing about Franz Ferdinand! - There was little thought put into the presentation of the booklets - they were good at making it look colourful, but the layouts were cluttered and (a personal bugbear) the text was not justified and hyphenated as it stretched across two lines. Some didn't even bother with any colour at all and wrote it in Word - v dull. - some of the lower ability students found the webquest too daunting and in their words 'too long'! This was despite my attempts to really narrow the resources to a bare minimum with a differentiated page for those who wanted further research However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. One of the best booklets was produced by a dyslexic pupil who really thought carefully about what to include, kept the text to an appropriate amount and in accessible language, clearly presented the work and made good use of images. The best booklet was produced by a student who managed to cover a range of contributions and presented his work effectively: http://www.comptonhistory.com/ww1%20webque...%20soldiers.pdf So, my overall thoughts about this series of lessons. Well, like everything I will not be put off because it didn't work first time, I shall continue to give the classes experience of webquests and I am confident that they shall get better at working with them. I also think that our pupils are now so much more ICT savvy that we can really focus on the historical content and allow that to engage and drive the pupils further in their ICT work. One other positive that I can take out of this is that the vast majority of the pupils genuinely were interested in the topic and learned a lot - probably, no certainly a lot more than they would have learned from a worksheet. Whilst there are obvious advantages to using the Internet in the classroom, such as the speed of access to a wide range of sources, it is imperative that students are encouraged to process the material they find rather than passively accepting it at face value. One of the most effective ways to do this is to use webquests as a vehicle for developing higher order thinking skills and using the Internet as a resource for guided research. Information is not learning, it’s what you do with it that counts.
  3. Dan Lyndon

    Forum Fantasy Football League

    More like a complete lack of funds left having blown it all on the first team! I have to play the long game as I won't have many opportunities to play about when I am in deepest India!
  4. Dan Lyndon

    Forum Fantasy Football League

    I've signed up with a team called Arsenal (I didn't realise that you couldn't change your name after submitting otherwise I would have something more interesting!). My team is: Peter Cech Gael Clichy Martyn Skrtel John Terry Jonathon Woodgate Michael Ballack Nigel Reo Coker Stephen Pienaar Cesc Fabregas Peter Crouch Fernando Torres Reserves Ben Foster John Spector Nigel Quashie David Connolly Total Cost 100 million.
  5. Dan Lyndon

    Walter Tull

    The two films that I made for Teachers TV will be shown on May 19th at 15.00 and 15.15 and you can find out about them here
  6. Dan Lyndon

    Walter Tull

    That's very interesting John, I wonder if the army could suggest any reasons why there was no Black Officer in the Infantry before Tull (I believe there were 2 Black Officers in the Medical Corp during WW1). Surely it can't be because there were no other Black British soldiers before Tull who were capable of being in command of White soldiers.
  7. Dan Lyndon

    Walter Tull

    By a wonderful coincidence, I happened to be filming a lesson for Teachers TV about the death of Walter Tull on March 25th and it was only when one of the boys pointed out that it was the 90th anniversary of his death that I realised. We finish filming tomorrow and I will post up details of the two films that we have made as soon as I know any more.
  8. Dan Lyndon

    Eduardo

    Really!? when was that?
  9. Dan Lyndon

    Eduardo

    I totally disagree John, that was a block rather than a tackle and Terry broke his foot as a result of the impact of his own action rather than that of Eboue. And I am not sure what you mean by this Stephen what old boys network? I don't see how a bit of petulance is bringing the game into disrepute?
  10. Dan Lyndon

    Eduardo

    I hardly think that we are comparing like with like, a pathetic piece of idiocy from Eboue, which may have scratched Evra's thigh, with a leg breaker of a tackle.
  11. Dan Lyndon

    Eduardo

    I have to say that I find it absolutely astonishing that so many people have decided to have a go at Wenger and Gallas when they were simply reacting like human beings in the heat of the moment (Wenger retracted his statement in anycase, which is as usual overlooked). Is is just unlucky or just a coincidence that two Arsenal players suffer almost identical, potential career ending injuries? I am sure that those players and managers never set out to harm Edu or Diaby, but would it surprise me if they had it in their minds to rough them up? not really. Is that what football is about? No. Football should be played the way that Arsenal play it, not kicking the crap out of other players and the ball. As for Gallas, I saw a man of passion who was clearly very frustrated, as all Arsenal fans were, that we had dropped two points which should have been ours, and who was also aware that one of his teammates was in hospital. So what if he sat down on the pitch, no big deal.
  12. Dan Lyndon

    Eduardo

    I think that this is one of the most sickening tackles (or at least consequences of) that I have seen, at least since another Arsenal player, Diaby was kept out of the game for nine months. You have to question whether a 3 match ban is anywhere near enough for something like this, where a player clearly is not going for the ball and must know that he is going to injure his opponent. What a tragedy it would be for Eduardo if his career is over, as a season ticket holder who has seen most of his games, he is definitely a class act.
  13. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    It is also worth remembering the English players that Arsenal bought up in their youth system who are now playing at other Premiership teams as they were not good enough for us - Steve Sidwell at Chelsea, Harper at Reading, Pennant at Liverpool, Bentley at Blackburn, even Ashley Cole at Chelsea.
  14. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    There's a long way to go yet, but I can't be happier with the start we have made. I shall ignore Walker's jibes and look forward to our trip to Anfield in a few weeks time, scene of our famous victory in '89.
  15. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    "It's all gone quiet over there!"
  16. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    Always there John lurking if not posting ! The glorious run continues, Fabregas is becoming an absolute icon, Adebayor gets stronger every game and bear in mind that we should have beaten Blackburn if it hadn't been for Lehmann's cockup so I am confident our Northern bogey is over. The only downside is the form of Theo Walcott - he had a shocker yesterday, totally lacking in confidence, making the wrong runs and poor passing - he needs a good run in the reserves. Bring on the Hammers!
  17. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    Great result tonight 3-0 against Sevilla, the impressive run continues against one of the top teams in Europe.
  18. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    Indeed we have not yet met one of the 'Big Four', in fact we don't until the end of October, by which time we will hopefully have enough points in the bank not to worry - but don't forget that last season we had the best record of all the top four teams against each other and dropped points against the weaker teams ..... like West Ham. Revenge is a dish best served cold, or in Fabregas's case spicy hot!
  19. Dan Lyndon

    Arsenal

    I am off to the home of football on Sunday for the third time this season (Fulham and Sparta Prague were the other 2) and I have been very pleased with our start. Compared to last year when we were dropping points left right and centre, we are now much more solid, and getting a bit of luck too. I hope that Wenger doesn't pick Lehmann for a while, Almunia is looking much stronger and gives the defence a lot more confidence. We also need Walcott to get more confident about taking defenders on and getting to the byeline. Our new signings have certainly impressed, Sagna is great and Eduardo is going to be a star - great passer of the ball and scored a lovely goal on Wed. All in all it just goes to show that 'Arsene knows' and you don't have to shell out obscene amounts of money to play lovely football and win games. Come on you gunners!
  20. Dan Lyndon

    Teaching Slavery: Interpretations

    I almost choked on my soup in the staffroom at lunch time today when one of the History teachers said that this apology stuff is nonsense, they should be thanking us for stopping the slave trade. I couldn't bring myself to argue with him, particularly as we have to co-exist and have been down a lot of controversial journeys before - he had been apopleptic (?) with rage when I wore my white poppy!
  21. Dan Lyndon

    Black History

    I think that is an excellent article John, and thanks for posting it as I missed the Saturday Guardian. I am very concerned, as are many colleagues of mine in the Black and Asian Studies Association (BASA) about the way in which the Bicentenary is being commemorated. The emphasis on Wilberforce to the detriment of all others is totally unacceptable and belittles the important contributions that African made to their own liberation as well as the mass movement that sprung up against slavery in this country, as the article rightly points out. The worst example I have come across so far, was ashamedly from my own Local Authority where I teach, Hammersmith and Fulham, who put out a pitiful attempt to 'celebrate' the Bicentenary with an essay competition to be run in two schools (both of which are inner city comprehensives where the uptake for such a 'competition' would be derisory and deservedly so). When I offered to run a competition across the whole borough to design a memorial to commemorate the end of the slave trade, including an offer to INSET all history teachers in the Borough, I got no response other than to change the competition to writing poetry instead of an essay. Pitiful.
  22. Dan Lyndon

    Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway

    My sentiments exactly! If you want to see some extracts from the show, you can see them here
  23. Dan Lyndon

    Tories name the 12 who shaped our nation.

    You can hear the debate that I had on the topic here
  24. Dan Lyndon

    Fortune: Million Pound Giveaway

    It certainly will be! And thanks to John's email there could be 40 extremely fortunate Year 9 students going on an all expenses paid trip for 3 days to the First World War battlefields in France and Belgium. You will have to watch to find out if we are successful! The journey to the last 100 (who were filmed for the programme out of the 2000 that applied) was an interesting one. After John emailed me, I just knocked off a quick email to Amy outlining my proposal, and she rang back instantly, literally within 15 seconds of the email being sent. Amy invited me to an audition the following saturday in a hotel in Russell Sq where I had a minute to make my pitch. However I couldn't make the date so instead one of the production team came to school and we filmed the pitch there. This was followed by a further email asking me to fill out an application form. A phonecall asking me for dates that I was available for a recording was followed immediately with the disclaimer 'but it doesn't mean necessarily that you are on the show'! Eventually I was told that I was through to the last 100 and could I bring some students to help with the pitch. So about six weeks ago myself, Tony Cotton, one of our learning mentors and 6 boys set off for the 3 mills studio in Bromley-by-Bow. We arrived at about 3.30 and were ushered into a corridor with all the other hopefuls. Fortunately we managed to get a room and the boys were happy enough to eat the chocolate biscuits and crisps that were provided. We were called for a dress rehearsal and told where to stand, and then made our way to one of the spare studios for a final run through and more crisps and chocolate biscuits. At about 7.30 we made our way into the back of the studio, watched the contestants in front of us get hammered by the panel (they were twin illusionists who wanted £15,000 to invent a new illusion - they didn't get the money) and then it was our turn....
  25. Dan Lyndon

    Biography: Tanya Carlile

    we all have our crosses to bear.
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