I didn’t fully engage with educational research at the start of my career but in recent years it has transformed my teaching practice and further built my confidence in the classroom. As a trainee teacher I was told that educational research informed us about VAK learning styles and the idea of the learning pyramid! This so-called research is now better known by many in education as edu-myths, theories that have been debunked because they are not supported by the science and research as initially claimed. This post isn’t about debunking myths but if that is something you are interested in then I can highly recommend the work of Pedro De Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner and visiting the popular blog by US educator Blake Harvard.
The comic strip has often been a popular go-to resource and activity for teachers. They can provide an overview of events, tell a story and so on. However, the comic strip task can also be an activity that is a time waster and not support learning – wasting precious lesson time and simply keeping learners busy which of course is not good. The issues with the comic strip are that pupils can spend too much time on the illustrations and colouring rather than focusing on the captions and information, although many pupils can effectively communicate their understanding and knowledge through illustrations too. When using technology to create comic strips pupils can again place the focus on the layout, design and other features rather than the actual content. Dual coding ( combining written information with visuals to support) has become a widely recognised as an effective strategy to support learning and comic strips are a great example of this. I do believe that with guidance, clearly explained success criteria and a modelled example the comic strip can work very well in the classroom. You can watch an excellent video explanation of dual coding by the learning scientists here.
I am delighted to be featuring a guest blog post by Carmel Bones. Carmel is a former History teacher, Head of Department, Teacher trainer, AST and she is now an education consultant providing CPD for teachers across Europe. Carmel is also a well-known author amongst the History educational community and Fellow of the Historical Association. It was at TMHistoryIcons 2017 where I first heard Carmel share the idea of summarising pyramids. In a short amount of time Carmel managed to explain the resource with such enthusiasm and show various examples. I think this is a great idea and resource for the classroom. Carmel has kindly agreed to explain summarising pyramids in more depth. You can read her post below:
I was actually reading The Secret of Literacy by David Didau when I decided to purchase Don’t Call it Literacy! by Geoff Barton. Didau often praises Barton and credits him as being the inspiration to write his own book about literacy. I was really enjoying The Secret of Literacy, so I felt compelled to read this book by Geoff Barton, after the references made by Didau. I only recently became aware of Geoff Barton when he was involved in a very public campaign to become the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) – and he was successful. Barton received a huge amount of support online, illustrating how he is highly respected across the educational community. Barton was previously Headteacher and Teacher of English, of course. Barton really does have a very impressive CV!
QR (quick response) codes are not new and certainly not just for the classroom but they have so much potential for teaching and learning – I think they are great! There are a wide range of websites and apps to create and read/scan QR codes, I would recommend the app QR Reader. If you haven’t created QR codes before they are very easy to do so, I was surprised by how straightforward and quick it was! If you haven’t tried QR codes in your classroom then it is worth trying, because again its very simple yet effective so here is another blog with some advice to get you started.
Learning grids are a fantastic resource that can be used across different subjects and with different year groups/key stages. If you are not familiar with this resource it is simple; it is a grid consisting of 36 boxes ( 6 vertical and 6 horizontal). Dice are required – dice can be bought cheaply online or at stores such as Poundland or Tiger. Pupils will roll the dice twice – to give them a number they can use for the horizontal and vertical line (for example 2 across and 4 down). I have used learning grids in a variety of ways; to re-cap previous learning, support literacy, as a plenary and much more! The idea of a linking learning grid is more complex and challenging.
My iPad has become an essential part of my teaching toolkit; for various reasons. I am an advocate for using technology in the classroom. I always keen to learn about new technologies and share apps that can be used in the classroom to support and enhance learning.It is important to add that I believe in using technology purposefully and effectively, not for the sake of using technology or as a “gimmick”. I have undertaken research and further reading focusing on how best to use technology in the classroom to support and engage learners. I would recommend reading Perfect ICT Every Lesson by Mark Anderson, to build confidence, discover different strategies and find out about the SAMR model. You can read my review of his book here.
The app Typorama is a simple and easy app to use and I have used it in so many ways in my classroom!
I thoroughly enjoy creating teaching and learning resources. I’m also keen to embrace technology in my classroom and lesson planning. Typorama app ( a free app but it does cost to remove the watermark) transforms photos and text into amazing typographic designs on iOS. Images are provided on the app or you can upload your own from your camera roll. The images are powered by Pixabay search engine, where all images are released free of copyright. There are also over 40 different typographic styles available with photo filters, overlays and adjustment tools. I have used this app in a variety of ways. I wanted to share ten methods to use Typorama focusing on teaching and learning.
I regularly use apps for teaching and learning. Apps that are quick, simple and easy to use but have an impact in the classroom. WordFoto does that. The app does cost £1.49 but in my opinion it’s a good investment!
I recently presented at the Jumeriah English Speaking School in Dubai, JESS Digital Innovation Summit, where I discussed and shared various WordFoto examples. I wanted to share on my blog different ideas and examples how this app can be used in the classroom across the curriculum. The app allows you to combine a photo with words, using different styles, fonts and features. The image will need to be on your camera roll or there is the option to use the camera in the app. There is a section “Add new word set” and then you add any words of your choice. There is a word limit of ten words. However, the fewer words used the more they will be repeated and visible in the image. I think that too many words can be lost in the image so for more impact input fewer keywords. Words are also limited to twelve characters, as the app states ‘shorter words often look better’. Despite those factors this is a very clever app that can create visually impressive and beautiful typographics.
I recently read an interesting article on the TES online by Alex Quigley, English teacher and Director of Learning and Research, entitled ‘How to plan for and teach tricky vocabulary’. Introducing pupils to new vocabulary takes place in all subjects and as Alex explained it is essential to the success of pupil progression. Grasping subject specific terminology naturally increases vocabulary and provides pupils with a deeper level of subject knowledge and understanding. In the Humanities subjects I teach pupils are regularly introduced to new vocabulary, it is a key feature and skill within the subject. Subject specific vocabulary can often be very challenging for pupils. Difficulties can occur with reading and pronouncing the keywords, which is why modelling is an excellent starting point such as repeating the words for pupils. Also, understanding the terminology in a contextual setting can be a struggle. Alex offers a lot of great advice and strategies. I wanted to share some resources that I have created and used with pupils, across the curriculum and with different key stages, to help expand their vocabulary whilst linking to their subject knowledge and further developing their Literacy skills. All of the resources in this post can be used and adapted for different subjects, as shown with my examples. Keywords within our subject area can also be particularly challenging for both SEN and EAL pupils. A useful strategy with EAL pupils is to encourage them to translate the word, using a dictionary to check if they are already familiar with the term in their first language. I am also working with the EAL department at my College, they offer so much support and have a wealth of experience working with pupils understanding of keywords. I have differentiated the resources to suit the needs of my pupils or seen differentiation by outcome in regards to level of depth, detail and understanding.