It’s at a Premium January 4, 2012Posted by ianinsheffield in Management, research.
Tags: attainment, learning, pupil premium, research, sutton trust, toolkit
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The Pupil Premium is one way in which the Government is attempting to address educational inequality.
We know a good education is the key to improving young people’s life chances, to enable them to progress into adulthood with the skills and confidence for success. The Pupil Premium will provide schools with the resources with which to address inequalities in the system and raise the attainment of those pupils from low income families.
I was having a look through the Pupil Premium Toolkit, commissioned by the Sutton Trust, which seeks to guide “teachers and schools on how best to use the Pupil Premium to improve the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.” By reviewing educational research, the toolkit compares different strategies used to improve pupil attainment (Assessment for Learning, One-to-one tutoring etc); exploring impact, cost and the strength of the evidence. You’ll see from either the online version or the downloadable PDF, that the information on each intervention is presented first in a summary, then subsequently in more detailed form.
I got to wondering which approaches might be most cost-effective in terms of greatest gain per £ – not a difficult calculation to do and mere moments of effort to produce a spreadsheet. But then I thought how we might also factor in the strength of the evidence; after all would it be wise to spend money on an approach producing a high attainment gain per £ if the evidence which suggested that approach isn’t quite so robust?
Which all led me to this bubble chart:
Gain in attainment on the horizontal axis, cost on the vertical and width of bubble indicating the strength of the research which produced the findings. So the sweet spot is the bottom right-hand quadrant where we get high gains for low (moderate?) cost. And what do we see? Providing effective feedback, meta-cognitive strategies, peer tutoring and homework (?!) all figure prominently. Sadly, ICT only produces moderate gains and at a high cost … but there’s a whole other post could come from that!
Does that reflect your day-to-day experience though?
Kindle. Noun … or verb? November 2, 2011Posted by ianinsheffield in Teaching Idea, Tools.
Tags: blog posts, kindle, PDF, reading, research
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Amazon’s recent release of new versions of the Kindle finally tipped me over the edge and I shelled out £89 for the Kindle 4.
The Amazon Kindle 4 (aka Kindle 4th Gen, Kindle Touchless or just plain Kindle) was announced as a sidenote to the colour Kindle Fire and touch-enabled Kindle Touch. But in many ways it was the most significant of the three, because of its extraordinary price. (TechRadar)
And those who know me well will know how important the last two words there are to me! (Even if we here in the UK are being stung in comparison with our cousins across the Pond!)
So what is there to add? Well after just a week’s use, let’s move past the functions and features and look at what this pocket-sized wonder has done for me. I read books and it let’s me do that very effectively, though it also lets me add highlights, bookmarks, clippings and notes. Further still I can share some of those annotations with the wider world and can check out what others are ‘posting.’ Given that in addition to sharing notes with the public at large, you can also ‘follow’ people of your choosing. That set me wondering if there was any mileage in Language Arts or Librarian colleagues being able to have students ‘share’ their reading experiences with one another? Of course that can be done in class or through a book club, but surely the asynchronous opportunities present an affordance not available from paper-based media?
Perhaps surprisingly though, reading books was not my first consideration in getting a Kindle. It was more about the chance to read journal articles, research papers and even blog posts at a time and place to suit. Getting PDFs onto the Kindle couldn’t be easier really. I can either plug it into the computer with the USB cable (supplied) and drag and drop the files into a folder on the device, or rather interestingly I can email them direct to my Kindle account, which then synchs those files. To get blog posts across, I have been using an online service called SENDtoREADER (registration required, but free) which provides a one-click bookmarklet to send any web page direct to the Kindle – easy-peasy!
So barely a week in and I’m loving the ease of use, from both the reader and user perspectives … and there’s still plenty more to explore!
Dusty, dank and dead …. or vibrant and alive? October 23, 2011Posted by ianinsheffield in Musings, research.
Tags: academic, library, open access, publishing, research
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I guess there are two kinds of publishing:
- formal, in academic journals and
- informal, making your research available to the world at large through the media which have become available through the WWW.
Then there’s also (well OK, three kinds!) the bit inbetween. I don’t know about your course, but we’re required to have our dissertations bound, so they can be shelved in the University stacks. Never to see the light of day again? Oh, and it costs somewhere between £10 & £20 to have this done … for which we have to stump up the cost. Now remind me, what were our tuition fees for?
In addition my tutor wants another two copies, for which I also have to pay. So that’s about £50 to put my thoughts into print so they can spend their days languishing on bookshelves gathering dust.
Why in heavens name are we clinging on to the traditional notion of recording knowledge in this way? What are the odds of someone, some day pulling my work off the stacks and reading through it? What might they learn, agree with or contest? And more importantly, how will I know? And how will what they think feed back into developing and reshaping the knowledge I formulated?
So I also published my dissertation online using a Google site which cost nothing and brings with it several advantages:
- it’s easily amended so if I do spot any typos I or my tutor didn’t pick up, they’re easily corrected. Or indeed if any links change, I can update them.
- Links can be ‘live’ so a reader can jump straight in if an outbound reference takes their fancy.
- If anyone does visit the work, I’ll know from the site stats.
- If someone disagrees with what I proposed, can offer alternative explanations or observations or can suggest extensions to the ideas, then they’re easily able to do that through the comments … and I get the chance to reply! Dialogue. Constructivist learning even?
So OK, I guess I’m prepared to accept a printed copy on a library shelf, but why aren’t Universities also providing electronic repositories to celebrate and share the knowledge their students are developing? Another form of Open Access perhaps?
Levelling up? …. perhaps not. March 12, 2011Posted by ianinsheffield in research, TELIC.
Tags: coding, dissertation, grounded theory, LinoIt, research, stickies, TELIC
I thought using LinoIt might provide a more efficient way of storing my changing thoughts, adding to them and allow categorising in different ways. (They also might be less likely to get blown off the wall when I open a window!) Not surprisingly, there’s also a LinoIt app which allows me to download my walls onto my iPod Touch and view and think about them whilst I’m out and about.
Well what have I come up with so far? My first impressions are that pupils don’t seem to think about learning consciously; there’s little evidence of metacognition. When charged to do so through these interviews, using photographs as stimulus material, they tend to associate learning with other activities i.e. it happens as a result of doing something else … reading, making notes, listening, discussing etc. They also feel they are engaged in those processes whilst involved in a range of tasks which can be practical, physical, interactive etc. There’s also some recognition of activities which support the learning process and somehow supplement the primary activity.
I wonder to what extent this is indicative of the way we do things in school. We may say we’re going to learn about the different styles of WWI poets for example and then go on to undertake a sequence of activities which will allow our students to do just that. But maybe we then get so involved in comparing and contrasting, and all the other elements of language and literature, that the act of learning is forgotten; consigned to the ‘Learning to learn’ lessons they had two years ago in Y7. So when the students are asked to describe the learning they see going on in photographs, they simply see the activities they associate with learning. There’s no idea what was going on whilst they were ‘discussing’ that resulted in some change or other … or perhaps I simply haven’t dug that deep in the interviews as yet?
The next step for me is to produce a similar pinboard with the codes *I* produced from the interviews, rather than the in vivo codes of the participants. Will I see similar patterns? Am I seeing these things because of my preconceptions? My grounded theory approach will require me to take these initial concepts back to the data and explore the degree of fit, bearing in mind those concerns. I’ll also be comparing the two sets of codes and whether the conceptual codes apply equally across them all – these are elements of the constant comparative process. My next interviews will be focused on testing these emergent ideas, exploring their boundaries and seeing whether what hasn’t been said is simply because I haven’t asked the right questions, we don’t have the images to hang explanations on or that my notions of what is missing simply shouldn’t be there anyway.
Horizons near and far … February 12, 2011Posted by ianinsheffield in research.
Tags: 2011, Horizon, report, research, timeline
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The 2011 Horizon Report1 was released recently, so it was time to revisit the timeline summarising the predictions made by this yearly ‘state of the nation’ style annual report. Each year the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative explore emerging technologies and their ‘potential impact on and use in teaching, learning and creative inquiry.’
Last year I created a timeline summary of the findings to help see which predictions were coming to reality and to explore the extent to which our school fits in with the developing trends and emerging technologies.
Clicking the above image will take you to the interactive full-size, scalable version.
I then thought I might focus in on 2011 to see the extent to which our school is adopting the technologies predicted to be of significance this year. Mobile technology in the form of phones and e-books feature heavily and it is right that we should have begun our first tentative steps in exploring the affordances of this tech. Our iPod Touch study is well under way and we should have the infrastructure in place (enterprise wireless solution) to support connection of student devices in the near future. Our library is undertaking a study of e-books and what place they might have within our provsion of learning resources. Use of a few QR codes in public places around school is barely even dipping our toes in the waters of augmented reality, but it begins the process of awareness raising amongst our community. The potential offered by educational gaming continues to suffer little penetration in school with few colleagues aware of its potential. This is one area which really needs a champion before it can gain credence with colleagues. An increasing number of schools and teachers are beginning to recognise the impact that blogging and wikis can offer both for collaboration and providing an audience for student work as evidenced superbly by the work taking place at Heathfield CPS and many other schools. Another area we have yet to explore more fully and another which would benefit from a passionate advocate.
In the previous post, I also looked at the range of technologies emerging in the reports to consider the penetration they are making into our school:
A little bit further foward, but not as much progress as we might have hoped for, owing to one or two technological challenges which became manifest. Time to get stuck in!
I often wonder where we are on the spectrum of adoption across the whole range of schools. Are we behind? Doing OK? I try to rationalise things by saying that what matters is what’s right for us and what our aspirations are for the learning of our students … but then again, I sometimes wonder what those aspirations are based on. I clearly need to think and talk about this much more. Damn the Horizon report for making me think!
1Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report.
Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.