Posted in School Blog on Apr 4th, 2008
I have finally started one of my classes blogging. I decided to use a wiki from the excellent Wikispaces for this purpose rather than a blog. I took inspiration from Kristian Still’s excellent wiki at his previous school (which seems to have dissapeared now Kristian has moved schools?). I also made the choice as I’m a big fan of wikispaces, our Scheme of Work is now completed in a basic form on a wiki and I would like to get the pupils to add resources to this over time, so it seemed logical to keep the pupil blog on the same platform. I find that the ability to add code of almost any description means that you can embed a fantastic variety of resources using wikispaces.
At present I am simply letting 1 or 2 pupils per lesson be our blogging scribes, recording the details of the lesson and then afterwards I am adding copies of anything that I think useful (for example photos of pupils work and copies of the IWB pages). This has proved fantastically useful at the start of each lesson as a means to recap what we have done so far in the topic.
At first I asked pupils to sign up to wikisapces themselves as a homework, this was not successful and I ended up with only two users. Instead I spent a little time setting up accounts for each pupil using the gmail address trick, each pupil having an address of myclass+THEIR NAME@gmail.com. This also has the advantage that any messages sent via the messaging function in wikispaces automatically get sent to my email account.
I must admit that wikispaces messaging function hadn’t crossed my mind at first, it is effectively an email system within wikispaces. The pupils found it within about 5 mins! This was a concern at first, especially as I read this at the same time the issue arrived at my door. However after a little reflection I decided that it shouldn’t be a great problem and sent a simple message to all pupils asking them to use it responsibly for discussion on topic and nothing else. AS I was receiving copies of all messages I was rather pleased to see a “maths has become cool” replied by “yeah!!!!! this is better than doing work” which made my day.
Please head over to the blog and leave the pupils a comment if you feel inspired, I’m sure they would be delighted. I plan to continue with this for the next half-term and if successful I’ll roll it out with some other classes. Some ideas in the pipeline at the moment are getting each pupil to add something as part of a homework, and also to get them all to take pictures using their mobiles for use with one of the forthcoming topics.
Posted in Ed Technology, News, School Blog on Feb 28th, 2008
DownloadSquad reports that Google has finally released it’s new version of Jotspot as the rebranded and updated Google Sites, all part of the Google Apps suite. More to come when I’ve had a play around with it. could be a real contender for the educational wiki crown which currently sits with the excellent Wikispaces in my humble opinion.
Posted in Me!, School Blog on Apr 15th, 2007
Well tomorrow is the first day at my new school and I’m really looking forward to it.
Things have been a little quiet on the blogging front as the last term wound up and a well earned rest was had over Easter.
Hopefully once settled in my new school I will throw myself back into it. The success we started to have with the Maths blog at my last school has given me plenty of food for thought. Initial reactions were great but keeping up the momentum was hard. I think that more input from pupils is key and I’ll be thinking how best to do this over the next few weeks. I’m leaning towards individual class blogs with a designated blogger each lesson, these could then feed into a wider department blog. This may be something best started in September but we’ll see.
Posted in Homework, School Blog on Jan 28th, 2007
I was reading an interesting article in the Observer this morning about homework not working.
Specific reference is made to a book called ‘The Homework Myth‘ by Alfie Kohn. This is the first I have heard of this book but to quote from the Observer:
“The study, by American academic Alfie Kohn, has sparked a huge debate on TV and radio and in hundreds of newspapers. Last week it reached the Wall Street Journal, where it was reported that some of America’s most competitive schools were cutting or eliminating work beyond their gates.
‘What surprised me is not the downside of homework, but the fact there appears to be no upside,’ said Kohn. ‘No study has ever shown an academic benefit to homework before high school.’ “
I believe that this book is focussing on primary schools, however this got my attention as our secondary school has been reviewing the use of homework recently and will be implementing a new direction after Easter. Previously homework was set to a loose timetable of once a week per subject, and the specifics of this were left to Departments/Teachers. The idea of scrapping homework was mooted but didn’t get far once suggested to the school community. From Easter we will move to a fortnightly system of “Individual Assessments” on pre-agreed topics, with timetables sent to parents at the start of each term, grades recorded centrally and communicated to parents each term.
I do think that this will probably improve the quality and consistency across the school, and it should improve participation levels. The overwhelming problem previously was the number of pupils who did not complete the work, which in turn devalued it and turned it into more of a ‘tick box’ exercise for staff.
It was these low levels of completion, and parental concern that in part inspired us to start our departmental blog in an effort to re-engage pupils and parents with learning outside of the classroom.
Personally I believe that, in Maths at least, there is a need for quality homework to be completed in a peaceful environment away from the classroom. I think that as well as engaging, investigating type projects there is still a scope, and a need for the traditional practice of core mathematical skills. Solving 20 equations is never going to be a thrilling task but the confidence it gives pupils who put in the effort is vital for them to go on and attain at the higher end of school Mathematics.
Posted in School Blog on Jan 26th, 2007
Well our first 2 weeks of blogging for school have been very interesting. We seem to have developed a growing core of pupils who check the blog regularly. On a personal note the little snippets of recognition from other teachers around the web have been very welcome. In fact, I guess, I would have to say they have been inspiring in that it it is they that have inspired me to start this personal blog.
I’ve been reading blogs for a while now and never really considered writing myself, I must thank my colleague Ben for the inspiration of starting our department blog (Mr Hill over at ChorltonHighMaths).
I’m excited by the potential I’m starting to see in taking the classroom onto the web 8)