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The Interconnected Model – Part 2 March 28, 2015

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, research.
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As I mentioned in the preceding post, I wanted a way to explore the RiskIT Week programme we recently undertook in school. This is our third year of RiskIT and I felt it was time to focus in a little more closely on how it works, so wondered whether the Interconnected Model might provide a useful lens. Let’s consider how the Model might look for a particular individual then.

During the preliminary week of RiskIT, colleagues offer brief sessions sharing interesting practice where they enjoyed some measure of success. Let’s imagine Sarah attended a session where Paul was showing how he’d used Google Slides to on a collaborative group project with his Y10 class.

riskit1Sarah was sufficiently inspired to try it out in one of her Y9 lessons (1) and could then add that technique into her professional repertoire (2), becoming slightly more capable as a user of learning technology and having a new way through which to undertake collaborative work. Subsequently whilst reviewing a project she had done with the same Y9 group, she found that several of the students had transferred what they had learned in the RiskIT lesson to help them complete their project (3). This caused Sarah to reflect on the consequences of the lesson in a deeper way and helped to further embed what she had learned about collaborative work and Google Slides (4).
Of course different participants might have completely different models.

riskit2James was recently at a subject co-ordinator’s meeting where someone had demonstrated using Socrative as a lesson exit ticket system (1). Having been concerned for a while that he wanted a quicker way of scanning his classes for how much they had understood during lessons, he decided to try it with his Y11’s to establish how well the group had understood the introduction of difficult concept (2). The intention was to use the feedback from the class to prepare the follow-up lesson. Unfortunately, he hadn’t allowed sufficient time at the end of the lesson for the students to power up the laptops, log on, access his exit ticket, then log off and put the laptops away. He got very little usable information. Following a rethink (3), in preparation for a repeat with his next group, he asked if those who had them would use their smartphones (4). This time everything was completed in a few short moments (5) and he had the feedback he needed (6).

Although reflecting on the activities in this way is useful for me, it would be so much more powerful for colleagues to reflect on their own undertakings with a view to exploring what went well and what might need further attention (and how to go about that).

As I’ve started to look at our RiskIT in this way, I can see where our emphasis might need to shift for next year. Although the project closes when we share our Risks amongst each other, what we don’t do so well is to share our reflections on the outcomes. But then again, would people be able to find the time to read or hear about their colleagues’ experiences? Perhaps the most important bit of all?

In the concluding post of this series, I’ll consider some of the implications that taking a perspective using the Interconnected Model has revealed.

PD – professional or personal development … or both? October 6, 2013

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Musings.

Given the continuously shifting landscape1 as far as technology in schools is concerned,  professional development (PD) of teachers is an area to which I regularly return. As I recently mulled things over and over, a few common threads emerged of which I tried to make sense. PD is an area which merits and has received attention from a goodly number of learned people and institutions. In their research, some studies focused on strategic planning and evaluation of PD2, some on the challenges associated with PD3 and others on the outcomes and changes brought about by PD4. However, here I wanted to explore the nature of professional development in the use of learning technologies and how it might be structured, within the school context.

I’d suggest there are three levels at which PD might be required; at the two ends of the spectrum are the  individual and the school, then sandwiched between these comes the departmental or faculty (or perhaps a year group) level. At each of those levels, professional development might address one or more of three strands:

  • Skills – how particular tools and applications function
  • Pedagogy – how, when and why to deploy those tools in a learning context
  • Literacy – developing an awareness of the use of those tools in a wider context and what the implications of their use might entail.

The following matrix summarises those levels and strands, providing an example for each.

PD matrix

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Ian Guest: http://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/10105029443/

The upper left of the matrix is the ‘Googleable’ area; here teachers can and should direct their own professional development. Solutions, advice and ideas are no more than a short Internet search away. I’m always surprised when colleagues email a query to me along the lines of  ‘How do I …,’ when typing that as a search term would invariably provide a faster answer … and more options from which to choose. Lower down and further right is the zone where the PD is more likely to be organised for you, perhaps as a result of the need to address whole school (or national?) developments. The area between these two zones shifts depending on local circumstances; different projects and initiatives making different demands, different schools, departments and individuals having different approaches. The question arises of course, are different approaches to PD more appropriate for different areas within the matrix? But that’s for a future post …

If you feel I’ve missed an area or provided weak examples, do please add a comment to this post. My thinking is still in fluid form and is yet to crystallise!

1Beggs, P., Shields, C., Telfer, S., Bernard, J.L., 2012. A Shifting Landscape : Pedagogy, Technology, and the New Terrain of Innovation in a Digital World. Ontario Ministry of Education.

2Cordingley, P. (2008) GTC qualitative study of school level strategies for teachers’ CPD. London: GTC.

3Daly, C., Pachler, N., Pelletier, C., 2009. Continuing Professional Development in ICT for Teachers: A literature review. WLE, Institute for Education, University of London.

4Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., Fung, I., 2008. Teacher professional learning and development.

The best things in life are(n’t always) free December 24, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Inspiration, Resources, Tools.
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money sign

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by 401(K) 2012: http://flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6870882811/

Since viewing the first one, I’ve always been impressed with the simplicity and clarity of Commoncraft videos, so when I became aware that the originator, Lee Le Fever, had released a book, I thought I’d check out how he approached their production. I also wondered whether the contents might have something to say about teaching … but that’s for a future post. Having thought about the tools and techniques that Lee suggests, I just needed a reason to put what I’d learned into practice. Fortunately I had just such an excuse which arose from the resources I’ve produced to support our forthcoming RiskIT professional development programme. In attempt to provide some background and history I included the video available on the RiskIT site, but got a little pushback from colleagues who said it was rather long to watch in its entirety. At atound 40 minutes I guess they had a point, but there didn’t appear to be anything snappier … so there was my opportunity to attempt a Commoncraft-style production, given that one of the primary goals is brevity.

Following Lee’s helpful advice, my starting point was to establish my intentions and decide the nature of the problem the video would solve; in this case it was to provide an introduction to RiskIT. From there I had to flesh out what would be the crucial points to convey, then write a script to cover them. The text has primacy, but given the constraint of an upper limit of 4 minutes length for the video, it was then a matter of editing the script until that criterion was achieved whilst still retaining the essence of the message. My ‘recording studio’ was Audacity which allowed me to record the narration and export it in mp3 format. Next it was on to the imagery which would be used to support and enhance that message and in the Commoncraft spirit, it needed to be simple, accessible and free from background noise. Although Lee advises the use of hand-drawn, expression-free characters, that was a little beyond my artistic skills, so I chose to draw a little help from DoppelMe, an avatar creation tool. The remainder of the images were then either screenshots or photos which were traced in order to extract the meaning and leave behind the noise.

With all my cut-outs ready to go and script by my side, I used a video camera (Kodak Playsport Zx5) mounted on a tripod and began shooting. A couple of hours later, everything I needed was in the can and I could begin editing. MovieMaker was the tool of choice, mainly because I had no other option … but it proved to be a costly mistake. To cut and fit the footage to the recorded narration took about four hours, after which I attempted to finalise the movie. Oh dear! Despite repeated attempts and in defiance of the fact that there was more than ample space on the hard drive, MovieMaker kept telling me that either there was insufficient space to store the video, or that one of the clips I’d used was corrupt (though naturally not which of the 30+ clips was at fault!). So I converted the source files from mp4 to avi, Googled a way to swap them without starting from scratch, then tried once more to finalise the movie. Still no joy. OK, one more try; resample the avi’s into wmv’s. Nope. Next it was onto another computer running Windows XP and the older version of MoveMaker and go right back to square one. Three hours later and I still couldn’t render the movie, so I wondered if I could produce it smaller parts, then stitch them together to produce the whole. Aha! MM would allow me to finalise the first 45 seconds, so I did that and then moved on to the next section. Nope. I trimmed it and trimmed it, even down to a single 5 second clip, but it still wouldn’t render.

Retrieving my dummy after spitting it out, I knew I had to ditch MM and look for something more robust but inexpensive, and came across Serif MoviePlus SE which is free to use for a limited period. Duly downloaded said item, installed it and another couple of hours later was relieved to have a finished movie. Woohoo! I was more than happy with the features and capability that MoviePlus offered and when the 14 day period expires, will happily shell out the princely sum of £4.99 to download the codecs pack to keep it working.

And the final product? Here ’tis:

Look out for further musings on how RiskIT develops as we get closer to our programme becoming ‘live’.

ASETeachMeet … Back to the Future … and meeting a hero! November 23, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in Inspiration, Teaching Idea.
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Having taught Physics for 20 years, the majority in the days pre-Internet, the Association for Science Education (ASE) was one of the main ways in which I was able to draw inspiration and ideas from enthusiastic and knowledgeable colleagues. When the local regional group posted about a TeachMeet they were to hold in Sheffield, how could I turn down the opportunity to revisit my past, even if only for an evening?

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo by ianguest: http://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/6391455401/

A TeachMeet with a very different focus from previous ones I have enjoyed then; one where the theme was firmly in a curriculum area, rather than around ICT and its affordances … well apart from my contribution obviously! What would it be like? Well, neither micro- nor nano-presentations were the order of the day; the presentation length was set at 5 minutes (if memory serves, there isn’t a prefix between μ and n!). More PowerPoints than at other TeachMeets and no camel! But then the latter wasn’t needed since, being scientists, these folks aren’t given to flights of fancy and know all about time (and relative dimensions in space!).

What did I learn? As always – LOADS! Including, but not exclusively:

  • Having not seen it (yet!), that there’s a whole terms work around the science to be found in the film “Avatar.”
  • About the wealth of resources available through STEM, to turn our students on to science.
  • About Darton College‘s mission into space … on a budget!
  • The Science Without Walls professional development opportunities for science teachers, linking with research scientists at the cutting edge.
  • A real demo. illustrating the usually difficult to envisage concept of earthing.

    Demo. of the principle of earthing

So in some ways, very different to a ‘conventional TeachMeet, if indeed there is such a thing. And that’s a good thing – evolution. But what it had in common with all the others was the warmth of welcome, the supportive and encouraging atmosphere and above all else, committed, passionate and enthusiastic practitioners.

I also go a bonus, finding out right at the end that I’d been sitting next to a hero I had for most of my teaching career. Someone I’d never met, but who’s work I’d read avidly in each copy of the School Science Review and from whom I drew much inspiration for my teaching – Geoff Auty, now editor of the SSR. Thanks Geoff for all the great ideas you gave me and doubtless many others.

And finally, in case anyone who was found anything of use in my humble offering, here is the presentation with links to the resources (bottom left of certain slides).

An innings to be proud of? April 12, 2011

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD, Musings.
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I just wrote a post across on Posterous into which I embedded an interactive timeline showing some of the theories of learning developed during last century. (Would have done it here if WordPress had allowed the embedding)

a century of learning timeline

A century of learning

As I constructed the timeline summary, I found myself reflecting on a couple of things. Firstly how little I knew about learning theories prior to the research my Masters lead me to. Sure I’d heard about a bit about Multiple Intelligences and knew some of Bloom’s Taxonomy, but very little else. The history of developments in learning theory was an area perhaps beyond the scope of an already jam-packed PGCE. Furthermore 40% of the learning theories included in the timeline have been developed since I began teaching in 1981 – my PGCE could hardly have helped me learn about what was yet to be uncovered!

Now during the whole of my career, I felt obliged to keep up to date with developments in Physics specifically (since that is what I taught) and Science more generally. Actually it was no obligation; I loved my subject (still do) and keeping up to date seemed just a natural part of being a Physics teacher.  But what about the last bit? The ‘teacher’ bit? Why didn’t I keep up to date with developments in my chosen profession? Apart from those undertaking further study, does anyone? Shouldn’t there be a professional responsibility to keep up to date with developments in theory and pedagogy? And if so, how would we manage that?