Character Lesson Material

Just sharing a quick link – a series of 12 lesson material downloads based on different aspects of character that are specifically designed for home lessons. Each character trait is approached through a separate plan, based on the experiences of a particular person who exhibited that trait:

Character at Home Lessons – Northampton Academy
(To  open in a separate tab or window, simply click on the link above)

As these are the product of someone’s hard work, appropriate to attribute them if you should choose to use some or all of them.

 

 

Bett – Contributing When We Can’t Meet

Bett and Remote Learning

The Bett Conference in London and the Bett Asia Conference in Kuala Lumpur are among the biggest dates in the year for educators to come together, see and hear the latest ideas for what’s happening in education and network with peers. However, in these times of the pandemic, we’re all denied the ability to experience such events. So, it’s good to see the Bett aren’t simply sitting on their hands, but are seeking to still share thoughts and ideas for educators.

Bett Conference – Community – Bettcast
(Click on the link above to open the website in either a new page or a new tab)

On the page above you’ll see the opportunity to register for upcoming webinars.

Further down the page, you’ll see links to recordings of some important and valuable material they’ve already put out. The Bettcast #1 was on the vitally important aspect of Safeguarding. The inputs come from a variety of educators working in different countries and have some important thoughts on maintaining similar rigour to safeguarding online to the efforts we practiced in our physical schools.

Bettcast #2 and #3 will look at student engagement and health and wellbeing in a remote learning environment.

Also, on the same page is a link to an April webinar that was a collaboration between Bett and Learnit exploring the leadership priorities of education leaders as they adjust rapidly to ‘the new normal’. Understandably, the urgency of the pandemic has meant that, up to now, most of the emphasis has been on teachers; what they need to do, the tools they need to use, how to approach remote learning effectively etc. However, the role of school leaders and how they handle it is critical, but so far the leadership aspects haven’t been given as much attention.

For most, this will be their first experience of leading remotely. For many, their school cultures (more in some countries than others) will have treated their role as highly status oriented, where people are very deferential and they are used to micro managing many aspects of the work. leading remotely will be putting many of these leaders under considerable strain. I intend to return to this topic myself in the coming weeks.

Reinventing School

 

Sharing here another great resource for educators who want to stimulate their own and their team’s minds in considering where we are now – thinking about the most effective ways to approach education now and in coming months.

Above is the first of three episodes that have been issued so far. There are more to come through the remainder of May and June. They can either be accessed through the Youtube channel or through the dedicated website:

Learning Revolution – Reinventing School
(Clicking on the link above will open the web page either in a new tab or a new window)

I like the idea in the panel discussions that they’ve tried to draw in the viewpoints of some students. All the students included in the first three episodes are erudite and highly intelligent, but i do still wonder whether they come across a little like rabbits caught in car headlights when posed with challenging questions that require quite a lot of insights in to education and the factors that shape it today.. The viewpoints and perspectives of some parents might also be valuable.

I believe, in this moment as I have generally over the last 10-15 years that, as educators, we need to be very cautious about just talking among ourselves. Somewhere, we need to be investing far more time and effort in talking with parents, students and the wider community about our beliefs for where education should go.

I’m finding increasingly in recent months when talking with other educators that we may all be saying that we never want things to go back to the old normals when it comes to how school education is done. However, if, when schools reopen, frustrated and anxious parents meet relieved stressed teachers  the impulse and temptation will be to want to replicate as much of what we used to have as possible, as quickly as possible. This is especially the case because those of us who have long wanted change haven’t really spent enough time and energy talking in the language of the public about why they should not want anything like what they were getting before for their children. We need to invest the time and effort with both teachers to help them to see the visions we see for what the future can be and why it will be better and more worth having for all concerned.

Learning Resources for Remote Learning

Learning Keeps Going

The sudden sweep of the coronavirus across the world has brought about the most phenomenal and amazing shift in how schools, teachers and pupils operate. Within weeks millions of children across the world moved from learning with teachers in classrooms to a scenario whereby the relevance of the school as a physical location evaporated and all moved to various forms of remote learning.

Important here to acknowledge that, almost completely, what children are currently experiencing is remote learning and not online learning. It’s important to differentiate that the latter is designed very specifically for the online arena, harnessing the unique and special advantages offered by online learning. To greater or lesser extents, schools have rushed to train and equip their teachers to deliver remote learning in various synchronous or asynchronous ways.

The urgency of the situation has led to an outpouring of sharing, collaboration and flexibility on the part of technology companies, edtech companies and those producing/ developing educational content (particularly online content).

So, with all of that in mind, I was really keen to share a vast resource that I came across. Edsurge 9s a US-based platform that incorporates a number of newsletters, a podcast and a valuable collated source of knowledge and up to date information for what’s happening in education. Whilst it’s US-oriented it also pays a lot of attention to what’s happening all over the world. Their reporting includes updates on the big deal making around the world in edtech. A few months ago they were the story as much as the reporters as they were taken over by ISTE.

In response to the covid-19 pandemic they’ve set up a separate portal site called  – “Learning Keeps Going” In it they’ve collated a vast collection (I believe it’s close to 900 resources!). The site can be found here: It covers the whole range from pre-school through to tertiary education.

Learning Keeps Going Portal
(To open, click on the link above  – the portal should either open in a new window or a new tab)

At the top right of their homepage are a number of links. One leads to a section containing a growing selection of webinars and podcasts related to educators’ responses to the covid pandemic. There are past recordings and details of forthcoming online events.

The most useful headings for teachers and school Heads are ‘Free Tech for Learning’ and ‘Teachers and Leaders’.

In the first, it’s very easy to filter to find what you want or might be interested in. One of the interesting features is to see whether a resource is offered free for the longer term, or if it’s only being offered free for a limited time. You can sort by the age group of students, subjects or topics. An important filter for all educators outside America is the last on the left – where the resources are available for use in regions of the world outside the US.

The teachers and Leaders tab has resources related to training teachers for remote learning facilitation, Teacher professional development (that shouldn’t grind to a halt at this time) and other resources of value as those in leadership roles seek to carry out their roles remotely.

BBC – The Learning Revolution

 

BBC LearningThere are many educators around like me (we have ways of identifying each other 🙂 ) who have spent years seeking to find ways to bring real, significant change in school education, but needing to surreptitiously nibble around the edges.

There are probably few areas in life that have greater inertia against change than education. Even major influences like Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk about education stifling creativity have been watched by millions, but have brought really very little change. However, suddenly, now, this massive black swan event that is the coronavirus has turned the world of children’s learning upside down.

A few days ago I had a conversation with a colleague from 8-9 years ago, remembering conversations at that time. In the school Group where i was Director in the space of a couple of weeks we had two special sets of circumstances that came up. Firstly, there was a student who was recovering from a course of chemotherapy for cancer. He was doing well and recovering well, but couldn’t risk leaving his home. He missed his classmates and was bored with just receiving worksheets etc sent home for him to study. Then, another young boy, a promising soccer player was invited to go on a long 3-month training camp away from home. His parents had approached the school to ask in what ways we might continue to support his learning during these months away.

I challenged my leadership team – we don’t take a fee from parents to provide a physical place, but to support their child to learn. Shouldn’t we be able to harness available technology to support their individual learning needs and requirements regardless of their physical location./ What followed was some encouraging creativity that enabled some skype sessions. These were appreciated by the two students and their parents, but didn’t really open up significant innovation around how learning could be impacted on a bigger scale.

What’s happening now is messy – it came about so fast that it couldn’t really be anything else. However, in this sudden and enforced change lie the seeds of major and significant change that may yet see the biggest shifts in mass education in well over 100 years. What children are receiving right now isn’t really remote learning, but covid learning under intense circumstances where teachers, parents and the students themselves all have high degrees of anxiety.

As the debates go on it’s vital that educators clarify what we want to see come out of this. Certainly, those who talk in terms of just getting through this short term aberration before ‘return to normal’ are missing vital points – including the fact that the old normal wasn’t working very effectively. We’ve also seen the evidence laid bare that it lacked equity and fairness of opportunity.

In coming weeks I’ll be writing and talking about the possibilities for what that future can look like. Out of this tragedy can come some thing good and exciting if we are bold, brave and ready to think creatively about what we want to see.

As a contribution, here’s a very good three part radio series made by BBC Radio 4.  Alex Beard explores the considerations and issues that will need to be foremost in our minds. The three half hour sessions explore – knowing, teaching and learning.

BBC – Radio 4 – The Learning Revolution
(Click on the link above to open the page in a new tab or window. From here, you can access all three episodes)

All Learning is Social and Emotional

SEL

A lot of people have enjoyed the ASCD webinar I shared a couple of weeks ago. So, here’s another one.

This comes from Nancy Frey, a Professor of Education Leadership at San Diego University. She’s written many books on education and in this webinar drew on material from her latest.

Quite rightly, many educators have been recognising the importance of children developing their social and emotional skills – not only so that they can function effectively in the classroom and school, but also because these are vital skills for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately, in some places the temptation for teachers has been to believe that the solution is an SEL syllabus or curriculum – that SEL is somehow something to be treated separately. I believe quite rightly Frey emphasises the desirability of integrating the concepts of SEL in to everyday life in the school, the classroom and lessons generally.

The webinar does a very good job of summarising where SEL concepts have developed from and how far they have reached. This idea of weaving the SEL learning in to the general day to day learning can be daunting for some teachers. The website does a good job of giving pointers for how to embark on such a journey as a teacher. The content is delivered at a very accessible level.

ASCD Webinar Log In – Nancy Frey – All Learning is Social and Emotional

Some may find the content of this webinar excellent for running teacher training and CPD sessions, discussions and dialogues, or even within professional learning community small groups where teachers see SEL as an important area on which to focus.

 

Teaching For Deeper Learning

Deeper learning

ASCD is the largest organisation in the US for teacher and educator professional development (formerly known as the Association of Superintendents and Curriculum Developers). They are a great source for new books and an extensive back catalogue on all aspects of teaching. There’s a very good newsletter geared for school leaders. There are regular webinars (some public, some for members only) There are a variety of email newsletters – one US oriented and one Worldwide that provide links to the significant stories of what’s happening that’s education related.

Some of these things are available to all free of charge, others are subject to membership fees. An electronic (online) membership fee isn’t so expensive, especially as it includes a few new ebooks each year from those newly published by ASCD.

Today, I watched the recording (about 1 hour) of a very interesting webinar that was first broadcast a few days ago. The two presenters discuss material from their new book. Jay McTighe has been writer of many books, including the highly influential “Instruction by Design”. his co-writer, Harvey Silver is also a highly reputed educator responsible for writing a number of books focusing on teaching methodologies that support effective learning.

ASCD – Link for Webinar – Teaching for Deeper learning

They start with dealing with the issue that lately it seems like every education expert is talking about deep learning, but the reality is there are many different definitions. They get clear about their own definition that makes sense. They move on to the issues of why children aren’t learning deeply often enough and what can be done about it. Their focus is on knowledge acquired that is transferable, building on learning for understanding – that can be applied in other contexts from those in which it’s initially introduced.

I had one issue. They emphasise the issues about the speed and rate at which knowledge in the world is increasing and the temptation of curriculum developers to attempt to pack in more and more content – leading to syllabus that is a mile wide, but only an inch deep, with which i fully concur. However, driven by the overriding drive of standardised testing, their solutions are all still predicated on ideas of all the students learning all the same content. As a result, they don’t touch on the critical issues of student motivation.

I agree that there are some aspects of curriculum that are critical for all to learn, because they are applicable and relevant across many areas of learning and are foundational. However, beyond that, I believe that there are some areas of learning where some students will only be interested to dip in superficially, whilst their motivation is high to take their new-found skills and apply them to going very deep in other areas where they have high levels of interest. In my view, this tapping in to motivation is key to high quality deep learning, but it requires an acceptance in education that we don’t need to have every child learning all of the same ‘stuff’ to the same depth – just so that we can measure them against each other with standardised testing later.

It’s a good webinar, well worth watching, and thought-provoking. Finally, I am all in favour of their ideas about overtly setting out to develop children’s thinking skills. Not only do these support the children to understand their learning in school, but are the critical skills that will support them to go on as lifelong learners after school.

 

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