I try to get the students to talk through their understanding and ideas as much as possible. Some days I’m more successful than others. It can be challenging to deal with long text book passages and making the info on those pages ‘stick’. The other day I tried a new activity, I call it Study Group Tabata. It worked well. It is roughly based on Ron Ritchhart’s MicroLab and allows students to talk through new information from a textbook, and then work towards answering a central question. It can be adapted to any subject.
- Aim of the task: To understand a complex issue (in this case Gleichschaltung in N*zi Germany) and then answer a central question (“How successful was Gleichschaltung?”)
- How: Break down the complex issue into elements. (In my case, political parties, trade unions, regional states: This was based on pages and topics in the textbook)
- Groups of three.
- Student 1 discusses subtopic 1 for 45 seconds.
- Student 2 discusses same subtopic 1 for 45 seconds.
- Student 3 summarises subtopic 1 and highlights the key issues and knowledge. Student 3 could be a note-taker too.
I have really enjoyed reading Jim Knight’s “Better Conversations”. It is inspirational in the way it makes you mindful of what we do all day: Talk. We talk at, about, with and to each other. We all know how great it feels to have a truly wonderful, productive and invigorating conversation. What if more of our conversations could be even better? Knight provides some common sense approaches, but to call it ‘common sense’ is unfair because if having great conversations is common sense and easy, then why do we have bad/unproductive conversations, or conversations which could have been better?
I picked the 5 chapters I found most interesting and relevant, and used the mindmaps Knight provides at the beginning of each chapter as my guide to form my own notes and understanding. For this I used the software package MindJet Mindmanager, which our school provides for our students and created this mindmap overview: Better conversations Jim Knight (also see below)
- Better conversations (Ch1)
- The Better Conversations Beliefs (Ch 2)
- Ask better questions to foster inquiry (Ch5)
- Redirecting toxic words and emotions (Ch8)
- Building Trust (Ch9)
My key takeaways: Continue reading
I had heard of the 20/80 rule, but had never really looked into it deeply. It’s such a great strategy for teachers in many ways. Basically: “Find out what is vital, ignore what is trivial, and you can maximize results.” When making a to do list (which I do often), identify the top 20% and focus on finishing those off first. Here is a distillation of my reading and understanding (all links provided) : Continue reading
- https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2015/10/01/the-80-20-rule (back)
Twitter continues to be my favourite form of professional development. The networking and ideas I get from it are just invaluable to my teaching practice. I had another go at hosting @edutweetoz for a week (from 24/11/19 till 01/12/19). It was great fun, but it also made me realise how used I am to my own posse of people on Twitter. It felt quite different to interact with a whole new (and much bigger) group of people. One of my themes for the week was to run lots of polls because they are easy to interact with and can start some interesting conversations. Below are the polls I ran. Some interesting data about the working life of teachers:
- 43% of respondents work through recess
- 45% of respondents stay at work until after 5pm
- 47% of respondents eat lunch at their desk
- 65% of respondents use Sunday to prep for Monday
- 77% of respondents are a member of a teachers union
See more polls below, in random order: Continue reading
Here is a great way to diversify the professional development offerings at your school. During Term 3, I held a ‘PD Bingo’, based on an idea by @nbgreene, found via @cultofpedagogy (also see bottom of post).
This Bingo poster contained a mix of 24 teaching ideas, strategies and PD choices. The aim was to inspire staff to try new things, and to get a sense of what they found easy or challenging to implement in their classes or in PD. I got the Bingo sheet printed on A2 size and hung it in the staff room for 3 weeks. Here is what it looked like:
Many staff members participated and it got some great conversations going. Below is an analysis of the results: Continue reading
Today we built an ‘argument tower’ in class. The idea was found by my colleague Sara, on this AP Word History blog, written by Jonathan Henderson. There are also a few Tweets about “argument towers”.
I used the ‘Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis‘ argument structure to help students construct an effective paragraph or essay. You can also use “Contention – Example – Evaluation” etc. Works for English, Philosophy, Geography or any area where students have to argue something.
What’s needed: Continue reading
Here is a great article by Pamela L. Bacon: “Effective Studying is a Science, Not an Art: Teaching Students Scientifically-Based Study Techniques” (2017). You can read the article and see my highlights and annotations here in Kami, If you like, you can add your own comments / highlights to it.
Bacon is very clear and honest about what did and didn’t work when she tried to convince her students to use these scientifically proven techniques to study better.
- What didn’t work: Simply telling the students about these techniques.
- What did work: Attaching an assessment task to the techniques > forcing students to use these specific methods in a task which was then graded, although the weighting of those tasks was quite low.
The three effective study techniques which have been supported by most research are: Continue reading
This worked well with my small IB History class. The students created the questions and ran the game themselves. It’s a bit gimmicky, but they had fun and hopefully it was a bit of a break from the endless practice essays and note taking at the end of the year.
Questions can be found here
And PPT with circles (PPT smart art) here: Revision Twister PPT Continue reading
The History Council of Australia has recently adopted a wonderful new statement on the value of History.
This fantastic manifesto deserves to hang in each classroom in Australia, but unfortunately the layout of the original PDF was a bit plain. I have recreated the statement as posters in Canva so that you can print them off and have something colourful and visual to put up on your classroom walls. The originals are A3-sized, but they will also work well in A4.
Download all the A3 PDFs here. It is a large file.
The image files (Large PNGs) are below. Just right click and save as…. Continue reading
Why is the French Revolution still relevant today, 230 years after the fall of the Bastille? The Living Revolution symposium will explore this question. The symposium program can be found here: https://arts.unimelb.edu.au/e/living-the-french-revolution
(WORK IN PROGRESS. I am still getting all my resources together…..)
I read some research about measuring the efficacy of Feedback. I enjoyed reading it because it made me think more deeply about my own “Assessment Literacy.” . This reading was part of the #edureading group on Twitter. Each month a new article is chosen and readers either record their responses on FlipGrid or they just participate in the Sunday night Twitter chat. I have missed a few articles but I am back on deck with this one.
The title of the article is: “Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect?” . You would have noticed the click-batey question, so, what is the answer? I’ll come back to that later.
The main objectives of feedback is to: Continue reading
- thanks to Alistair Sproal for that link (back)
- Organised by Steven Kolber (back)
- Written by Margaret Price*, Karen Handley, Jill Millar and Berry O’Donovan (back)
- 6pm on Sunday, I have things to do, and Twitter chat is on soon anyway (back)
In order to make classroom visits a bit easier, I started the ‘open classroom days’ this year. Sometime in week 3 of each term, for two days, teachers are asked to either leave their door open or put a ‘welcome’ post-it note on their door. Colleagues are then allowed to pop in for a few minutes to observe the class. The rules for our latest iteration were:
We have been using Ron Ritchhart ‘Eight cultural forces that define our classrooms’ when we were involved in the ‘cultures of thinking’ program. These 8 categories are also very suitable as lenses for classroom observation. Continue reading