Monday, 6 November 2017

Collabourative Essay Writing - Self Assessment.

Google, Microsoft Office 365 and various other programs online have a collaboration feature that allows students to work together on the same document. This is pretty cool and can be invaluable for developing essay writing skills in a social constructionist point of view.

This is a great activity, I like to pair strong and weaker students together as it allows for mutual learning - Pedagogically I am thinking of Lev Vygotsky's  'Zone of Proximal Development.'


 Before carrying out the activity, you must have the students in groups plan out the essay into paragraphs including notes about what they plan to say. Before setting the task, have each group member pick a paragraph to work on. You must also consider a grading rubric that can be given to the class afterwards to enable them to grade the work.

1. Set up a document on Office 365 or google drive. Share the document with a small group of students, and give each student editing access in the share feature.

2. Give the class a timed period to finish the essay.

3. Have the group then grade the essay as a whole document. Get the group to identify three weaknesses and three strengths.

4. Finish the activity by asking the students to write a reflection about what they have learned about essay writing through the procedure. I normally set this as a homework activity.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Music to enhance concentration in class

New forms of music exist with Binaural beats which help to improve concentration and focus. I have used them before when the class is focusing on projects and I have found the music quite helpful. Here is an example from below.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Make promises not threats...

This is a simple but important classroom management technique.

Firstly, we have all been in the situation as teachers when a student misbehaves and as a consequence we react emotionally and make a threat to the student, either in an aggressive tone or in an exaggerated response that we deep down know that we can't follow through on. I believe it invites confrontation from students.

I recall once when a student wouldn't stop talking, I lost my patience and said to the student, either behave or I will kick you out of this room. Not only was I not focused on the solution,  I had also demonstrated to the student that I was losing control of the situation.

Instead keep calm and focus on the solution to the behavior. I suggest taking the following approach.

1. Remind yourself, you don't want an argument, you simply want the solution to this behaviour!
2. Calmly speak one to one with the student and make a promise to the student with a choice laid out. - "If you repeatedly shout out, I will ask you to leave the room  or if you choose to stop shouting out you will be able to stay"
3. Say it slowly and calmly so that it is communicated authoritatively.
4. Then follow through depending on the students response. If the shouting out continues, then act! This is fair because the student was informed and given a choice.
5. Do not engaged in any argument or debate with the student - simply respond,, "I gave you a choice."

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Silent Discussion

I had a very successful lesson activity that I read about in a book. Basically the class have a discussion about a topic without talking.

Set Up:Print sources out on the topic, have enough for each member.
Use a timer

The set up is as follows:
1. Around the entire class are a series of sources on the topic being studied. At least one source per person, although I added more than this.
2. A timer is projected onto the wall.
3. The class spend two minutues on each source where they highlight, make notes and jot down questions onto the source.
4. When the timer runs out, the class move to another source and make notes and highlight, if they are able to answer a question previously jotted down they can.
5. At the end of the lesson all of the sources are pinned up to the wall at the back of the classroom and the class bring all the sources together by producing a piece of work, either a writing piece, a poster or another piece of work.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Video Wall

I has a success with this activity on a Friday afternoon after a tiring week. The students were tired and so was I, but I was able to make good use of the lesson with this activity - The video wall

This is easy to make, it can be on a website or on a powerpoint. Basically, give the class a note taking template and make a collage of videos related to the topic and let the class individually work through the videos on their own or as an entire class by watching all of the videos and complete the note taking template.

Below is a Video Wall I created today on ISIS as part of a World Studies unit on the Middle East.

Advantages of Video Walls.
1. Its interactive, multi sensory and stimulating.
2. It is student led, the students can work through the videos independantly.
3. It can be created in a powerpoint slide or on a website.
4. It is ideal for those topics that you might not be so sure about, or not confident enough to teach. I taught the rise of ISIS but I wasn't sure about the Syrian Civil War and its contribution to the rise of ISIS.

I gave the class two tables to complete on the note taking template.
1. What is the most common explanation for the rise of ISIS according to the videos.
2. What do American sources, Wikileaks and Russia say about the rise of ISIS.
3. Compare and contrast the American and Russian explanation for the rise of ISIS.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Talk less....

We say it all the time to the kids.... "Quiet please" - why not do it as well? This is a simple classroom management technique that I like. Basically instead of the typical 'compete with the kids for silence'; the conversation that usually goes like this...

"Ok.. Johny.. sit down... Stephen... stop talking... Mike... put away the phone... Clarise.... stop talking..."

Furthermore it usually takes place while the teacher is at the front of the room. The result is for the kids in the back row, the teacher is 'all the way up there.'

Try walking around the room and non verbally tap students on the shoulder... remove distractions... give non verbal gestures for silence. A brisk walk around snap fingers for attention, make non verbal cues, and so forth.

It saves your voice, generally gets the same results and I believe walking around the room gives you a bigger presence in the class. I also believe in the old mantra... noisy teachers have noisy classrooms.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Design an Assessment

This is a great task that combines, Exam skills, assessment and a lesson activity. I have used this with my IB Diploma History class. It is a great way for students to learn from each other as well as developing their exam technique.

Time frame: On double period for preparation and completion of the paper. One single lesson for marking.

Set up:
1. Split the class into three or four groups.
2. Give the class a generic rubric with the criteria that you wish to see such as knowledge, critical thinking etc.
2. Get each group to put together an assessment that can be used for the other group.

1. Have the class site each others assessment. (Bearing in mind that with the same rubric the criteria will be the same)
2. In the follow up lesson have the class in groups mark the papers that they have created including writing three pieces of feedback on what needs to be revised more or improved.

Example: I have used this with my Diploma History class where the group have put together Paper 1 source papers for each other and answered each others source exams.

With younger students I usually give them a much wider scope on the nature of the task.