Msc Tasks

Mini Project 1 – Historical and Strategic Context

 

This mini project will focus on the 2008 BECTA report ‘Harnessing Technology for Further Education, Skills and Regeneration’. This report will be used as a basis for an investigation into the theme of e-assessment in Further Education. The impact that this policy is having on Adult Numeracy and Literacy courses in the Further Education setting will be summarised.

 

Current Policy

BECTA (2008, p.7) states that a key vision for the future of e-learning in FE is ‘personalised learning pathways, programmes and assessment (that use) technologies to respond to the diversity of learner needs’. It is clear to see the impact that this report has had on the design and delivery of Skills for Life courses as all L1 and L2 courses have moved away from paper based assessments and are now using an electronic model. This has helped to personalise the assessment as exam scheduling can now be dictated by the student rather than by the exam board.

 

Ashwin (2005, p.27) implies that,

‘e-assessment is a move towards a more personalised learning agenda where assessment can be carried out on demand, where students can be assessed when they are ready rather than at times dictated by the awarding body’.

This is certainly true on the adult courses because with just a few days notice the exams can be booked for a time and date suitable to both the candidate and the assessment centre. However, this is not the case for the Functional Skills courses where there is a strict exam window and if the candidate misses or fails the exam they may have to wait up to six weeks before they can re-sit it.

 

What is e-assessment?

The JISC have provided a broad definition of the term e-assessment which covers a range of activities in which digital technologies are used for the assessment. Such activities include the designing and delivery of assessments, using the I.T. tools or humans assisted by scanners to mark the assessments, and it also includes all the processes of reporting, storing and transferring data associated with public and internal assessments.

Ashwin (2005, p. 26) states that,

‘e-assesment is exactly what its name suggests, an  assesment through electronic means. This (takes) two main forms; on screen assesments and on-screen marking where the student does the e-assessment in a traditional way but the marking and administradtion will be done onscreen by examiners’.

The key difference between the JISC definition and that of Ashwin’s is in the scope of what they believe e-assessment involves. JISC seems to point towards e-assessment being an end-to- end process including the preparation and reporting of assessments whereas Ashwin takes a more traditional view of the word assessment, indicating that the actual task is still an ‘exam’ though it is either undertaken or marked using e-technology.

 

The impact that e-assessment is having on Skills for Life courses

Hill (2008, p.63) identifies ‘feedback is the key to effective learning and the I.T. facilities will happily mark tests and give learners the appropriate feedback’. However, these facilities are only capable of providing feeding on what questions the student got right or wrong and what the right answer should be. The computer cannot provide an insight into any incorrect reasoning resulting in the student giving the wrong answer or what the learner needs to do to learn from their mistakes and improve their score on the proceeding exam. However, as Hill (2008, p.74) explains e-assessments offers,

‘potential advantages over traditional forms of assessment, including the speed of marking, speed of feedback and the fact that computer marking is natural and objective so there is less chance of prejudiced scoring’.

 

 

References

Ashwin, A. (2005, Autumn) ‘E-assesment. What is means for teachers andstudents?’

Teaching Business and Economics, 26-31.

BECTA (2008). Harnessing Technology in Further Education Skills and

Regeneration. Coventry: BECTA.

Hill, C. (2008). Teaching with e-learning in the lifelong learning sector. Exeter:

Learning Matters.

Dermo, J. (2009) ‘E-assessment and the student learning experience: A survey of

student perceptions of e-assessment’. British Journal of Education Technology, 203-

214.

 

Mini Project 4 – Design of e-learning

 

This mini project will analyse the directions resource using Biggs (1999) constructive alignment principles.

 

Directions

The ‘directions’ resource is an interactive Word document that supports English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL) students with learning the language used for asking directions. The resource encourages students to:

 

  1. Give directions and instructions
  2. Construct simple sentences
  3. Listen and respond to requests for information

 

The language on directions such as up, on your left, go straight ahead are, presented in a text box at the start of the worksheet. The student is then presented with a map and an audio icon. Once the audio icon has been clicked an audio recording asks the student for directions to a certain location on the map. The student then uses the map to find the directions before writing these down in an embedded text box.

 

Constructive alignment principles

Bigg (1999) states that there are two aspects to the constructive alignment theory; the constructive and the alignment.

The ‘constructive’ aspect refers to the idea that students construct meaning through relevant learning activities. That is, meaning is not something imparted or transmitted from teacher to learner, but is something learners have to create for themselves. Teaching is simply a ‘catalyst for learning.’ This idea is the same as the constructivist theory that students construct their own learning. As Haung (2002, p.2) explains, ‘Dewey (1916), Paiget (1973), Vygotsky (1978) and Bruner (1996) each proposed that learners could learn actively and construct new knowledge based on their prior knowledge’. Asking for and giving directions is a regular part of life therefore ‘directions’ is a relevant teaching activity as the resource contextualises the learning objectives into everyday situations. Rather than knowledge being simply passed from teacher to learner, the learner is encouraged to construct their own ‘meaning’ of the question and reply accordingly. This is a clear example of the ‘constructive’ aspect of the constructive alignment theory.

 

Biggs (1999, p.2) states the ‘alignment’ aspect refers to what the teacher does to set up a learning environment that supports the learning activities appropriate to achieving the desired outcomes.’ The key is that the components in the teaching system, especially the teaching methods used and the assessment tasks are aligned with the learning activities assumed in the intended outcomes.

 

The resource aligns the learning environment to the desired outcomes by putting in place a series of tasks where the learner is asked to listen to an audio clip of someone asking for directions and then write a short reply in a text box. This simple resource has aligned some basic tasks in order to practise the expected learning activities needed in order to achieve the desired outcomes. This alignment enables the teacher to ‘point’ the learner in the correct direction to construct a relevant meaning from the question and achieve the desired outcome.

 

References

Biggs, J. (2003) Aligning teaching for constructing learning, HE Academy

Haung, H. (2002) ‘Towards constructivism for adult learners in online learning environments’ British Journal of Education 33 p. 27-37

 

Mini Project 6 – Role of Games in Education

 

This mini project will focus on the BBC Skillswise ‘Bargain Hunt adding game’ and the constructivist learning theory and it will analyse and investigate what features make the game a useful teaching tool.

 

 

The Game

The ‘Bargain Hunt’ game has been devised as a tool to help students practise their mental addition skills. David Dickinson, from the Bargain Hunt television show hosts the game and provides the player / players with a sequence of either two or three numbers to mentally add together. There are two ability levels with each level containing three stages of increasing complexity.

 

Constructivism

Many constructivists believe that knowledge is constructed and not transmitted. As Petty (2009, p.4) explains ‘learning occurs when students construct their own meanings, usually out of prior learning and experience’. ‘Bargain Hunt’ compliments this theory as students use their prior knowledge of the Bargain Hunt TV show where two teams compete against each other to buy antiques and sell them for the greatest profit and it puts the game into a real life context helping them to construct meaning from their prior experiences of adding sums of money together. The ‘Bargain Hunt’ context provides the game with a real world atmosphere as the players are more likely to relate to adding two sums of money together rather than just adding two random numbers together for the sake of it.

 

In 2005, F and M investigated the associationist / empiricist theory of learning which is based on the constructivist philosophy of learning as doing. F and M’s findings found that knowledge is gained by mastering individual components and understanding their associations to a more complex idea. ‘Bargain Hunt’ supports this theory as the game is designed like a set of building blocks: low ability students first master a series of number problems based on adding two, two digit numbers before using the knowledge gained in this activity to move onto more complex three number sums. Built into these levels are further building blocks as for each variable there are three levels of complexity with level A the simplest through to level C which is the most difficult.

 

At each stage of the game students are provided with individual feedback about their answers and performance. At the end of each sum, before the student can move onto the next question, feedback is provided as to whether the answer they have just submitted is correct or incorrect. This process assists students with developing connections with different number bonds and mental arithmetic strategies as they are able to see whether their prior workings out were correct or incorrect. As F and M (2005, p.8) explain feedback is extremely important as ‘learning is the formation, strengthening and adjustment of associations, particularly through the reinforcement of particular connections through feedback’

 

References

BBC Skillswise (2011) [online] available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise/game/ma08addi-game-bargain-hunt-adding [Accessed 20th October 2011]

Petty, G. (2009) Teaching Today, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes

 

Mini Project 9 –Assessment of learning in a digital age

This mini project will assess the ways in which technology is being used to support and enhance formative assessment during the City and Guilds Adult Certificate in Literacy.

 

What is assessment and feedback?

In order to identify and assess how assessment is being used in teaching basic literacy skills to adults it is beneficial to identify and define what is meant by assessment. As Petty (2008, p.479) explains,

‘the main use of assessment for teachers is the ongoing or formative assessment. This is used throughout the course to form judgments on whether and to what extent, learning has been successful and to pinpoint difficulties so that remedial action can be taken’.

This mini project will focus on the use of the on-line practice papers from the government’s ‘Move On’ website. The practice assignments are used throughout the literacy course to assess the students understanding and retention of the information that has been taught. The ‘Move On’ website is used because its format, questioning style and feedback system represents that of the end of course exam.

 

Effective technology based assessment

For effective assessment and feedback to take place the JISC (2010, p.10) defines the process as a, ‘practice that equips learners to study and perform to their best advantage…without  adding to the assessment burden on academic staff’. The Move On assessments achieve this in the following way,

  1. The software helps the students to perform at their best as the appearance of the practice exams mimics that of the real test so students are familiar with the layout and style when they sit the real exam. This helps to focus the concentration of the learner and alleviate nerves about using the live exam software as a lot of my learners aren’t confident with using computers.

 

  1. It reduces tutor planning and marking time as the practice exams are alreadycreated and feedback and results are created immediately once the student finishes the exam

 

The positive and negative effects of technology based assessment

Although I.T. technology can be used to enhance assessment there are also many negative aspects to I.T. based assessment. The positives and negatives are outlined below:

Positives

  1. Time restraints, for example learners being unavailable for certain exam windows, this can now be overcome as examinations can be booked at a time suitable for the students
  2. A personalised approach to assessment can be created as exam scheduling is dictated by the student rather than the exam board
  3. Feedback and exam results are instantaneous allowing students to find out the outcome of their examination instantly. As the JISC (2010, p.10) explains, ‘rapid feedback can then correct misconceptions and guide further study’.
  4. Students are then able to use this feedback to concentrate on their areas of weakness and focus their studies.

 

Negatives

  1. The feedback only tells the student what questions they have got wrong or right and doesn’t give detailed feedback as to what the student needs to do to rectify their mistakes
  2. As the questions are multiple choice the results are not necessarily accurate as the students could have simply got lucky with their choice rather than making informed decisions in order to choose the correct answer.

 

References

JISC (2010) Effective Assessment in a digital age Bristol: JISC

Petty, G. (2009) Teaching Today, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes

Mini Project 12 –  Social software

 

This mini project will analyse the use of a module blog as a tool for building an on-line learning community. Anderson (2007) explains, ‘the term web-log, or blog …refers to a simple webpage consisting of brief paragraphs of opinion (or) information, personal … called posts’.   Anderson’s description of a blog is quite basic as today blogs can now contain pictures, slideshows, videos and many other attachments. The module blog, Explore and Learn (2011), has gone beyond the basic text model and has used text, hyperlinks, pictures and videos as a tool for encouraging students to build and develop an on-line learning community.

 

The design

To encourage participation the blogging tasks followed Salmons (2004) 5 stage model for effective teaching and learning on-line.

Stage Blog   Tasks
1.Access   and Motivation Setting   up your WordPress blog

Posting   a picture and or video to the blog

2.Online   Socialisation Your   skills
3.Information   Exchange Blog   roll

Reflecting   on blogging

4.Knowledge   Construction Design   project ideas

Design   project comments

5.Development Harvard   referencing

Salmon’s   five stage model

Maintaining   a blog

 

Stage one succeeded in developing a sense of community as the course tutor, the e-moderator, uploaded a link to each participant’s blog in their blog roll. This allowed the participants to easily find each other and encouraged interaction between participants before they met face-to-face at the first day school. At this stage the course was new and participants were excited therefore there was a peak of activity as most participants created and engaged in blogging. Engagement continued to be high during the first part of the third stage as participants created a blog roll. It was during this activity that a real sense of community began to develop as participants referenced each other in their blog rolls presenting the connections that had been made earlier in the course. However, after this task engagement with the blogs began to decline, a small number continued to blog and comment on each other’s posts which succeeded in creating a small on-line community, however, a large number of participants have no engaged with the activities.

 

Positives and negatives of blogging to build a community

Positives Negatives
Participants   can view how many people have viewed their blog and where their views are   coming from e.g. referred from a blog or a google search. Lack   of email subscription widgets. This prevents bloggers who don’t have an RSS   feed from knowing when a blog has been updated.
Ping   back – lets the blogger know when someone has referenced their post. This   establishes links between bloggers. Writing   blog posts, viewing other blogs and commenting takes a lot of time. Therefore   time restraints prevent participants from updating their blog.
Blogroll   – being included in a bloggers blogroll provides a sense of community as it   implies that your blog is being read and is valued by another participant. Insecurities   about their language skills prevent some participants from posting. As WMJA   (2011) commented ‘I find written words hard’

 

Overall effectiveness of blogging

Overall, blogging has been an effective medium for building and fostering an on-line community as a core group of participants regularly read each other’s blogs and comment on their posts. However, the slow pace at which most participants have updated their blogs, the lack of subscription methods to inform participants when new posts have been posted and the participants insecurities about posting have prevented the whole group from engaging with the tasks.

 

References

L. Bennett, (2011) Explore and Learn [online] available at: http://exploreandlearn.wordpress.com/ [Accessed on 11th November 2011]

P. Anderson, (2007) ‘What is Web 2.0? Ideas, technologies and implications for Education’ JISC’

The University of Newcastle Australia (2011) [online] available at: Teaching in the online environment,http://www.newcastle.edu.au/ctl-resources/Teaching-in-the-online-environment/Starting/Course_design.html [Accessed on 11th November 2011]

 

W Adams (2011) Honest Dyslexic Task [online] available at:  http://wmja.wordpress.com/2011/10/10/honest-dyslexic-task-5/ [Accessed on 11th November 2011]

Mini Project 14 – Multimedia affordances learning

 

This project will analyse the use multimedia in Would’s(2011) interactive e-learning resource ‘Spell Months, Seasons and Days’.

 

Introduction

In order to analyse the use of multimedia in Would’s (2011) resource it would be beneficial to clarify the meaning of multimedia in an e-learning context. Dong (2011) defines multimedia learning resources as learning tools that consist of a variety of media including text, graphics, image, animation, sound and video. However, Mayers (2003) defines a multimedia e-learning resource as a ‘presentation consisting of words and pictures that are designed to foster meaningful learning’. Although Mayers definition is very broad the base concept is the same as that of Would’s. Would simply appears to break the ‘words and pictures’ definition used by Mayer into the various components that could be taken to be the underlying context of Mayer’s definition. Would’s (2011) resource fits into both of these definitions as the resource contains text, images and sound.

 

Sound and Text

The first task in Would’s resource asks the students to ‘spell the months of the year’. To assist the student with writing the correct answer an audio box has been embedded so that the students can hear the correct word before they try to spell it. As Mann (2008, p.4) explains in education, ‘the role for sound from a computer was (is) to …represent that which would have otherwise been least effectively communicated as text or numbers.’ As the purpose of Would’s resource is to encourage students to correctly spell certain words, writing these words above the box would have been inappropriate and therefore sound is the most effective medium of communication in order to support the students with writing the correct word.

 

Broadbent et al. (1978, cited in Mann, 2008, p.2)  has found that ‘memory for material presented in sound is more durable and resistant to interference from other modalities than visually-presented material’. Therefore, students who listen to the words are more likely to remember the information compared to students who only visualise the information. However, Mann (2008, p.3) states,

‘there is also empirical evidence that the verbal-only method does not always work … Research shows, on average, that students who listen to (or read) explanations that are presented solely as words are unable to remember most of the key ideas’

 

Images and Text

Mayer (2008) continues to explain that there is also empirical evidence that the verbal-only method does not always work so well. His research has concluded that students who listen to (or read)explanations that are presented solely as words are unable to remember most of the key ideas and experience difficulty in using what was presented to solve new problems.’

Learners who use Would’s resource will not experience the problems linked to verbal-only or sound-only learning as the worksheet contains a variety of text boxes, sounds clips and imagery therefore stimulating both the visual and auditory senses Mayer (2003) explains,

‘meaningful learning occurs when learners engage in active cognitive processing including paying attention to relevant incoming words and pictures, mentally organizing them into coherent verbal and pictorial representations, and mentally integrating verbal and pictorial representation with each other’.

 

Conclusion

Mayer concludes ‘a basic requirement in multimedia learning situations is that learners be able to hold corresponding visual and verbal representations in working memory at the same time’ and the designing of Would’s resource encourages learners to use both their visual and verbal memory at the same time through the use of sound clips, text boxes and clip art images.

 

References

Broadbent, D. E., Vines, R, and Broadbent, M. (1978) ‘Recency effects in memory as a function of modality in intervening events’ Psychological Research, 40 p.5-13

Mann, B (2006) ‘The evolution of multimedia sound’ Computers and Education 50 p.1157-1173

Mayers, B. (2003)’The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media’ Learning and Instruction 13 p. 125 – 139

Woulds, S. (2011)Spell Months, Seasons, Days’ MSc Multimedia and E-learning 2011/12 2011, CD-ROM, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield

Dong, Y. (2011) ‘The reflection for multimedia teaching’ Asian Social Science Vol 7 p.165 – 167

Design Project

As part of the first module for the MSc in Multimedia and E-Learning I have been asked to design and create a resource that can be used as part of my regular practice. From the design rationale page on this blog you can see that I decided to create an alphabetical ordering resource for adult literacy learners.

Pasted below is the final copy of the resources. The publisher based documents have been designed for the students to print off then write their answers down using seperate pen and paper. Audio versions on the E2 and E3 resources have also been created using Power Point. If students struggle this version of the resource has audio buttons so the students can hear the instructions and words being read out.

Entry Level 2

Entry Level 3

Audio Versions of the E2 and E3 worksheets are also available. A demonstration video of the resources being used can be accessed by clicking on the following link:

http://screencast.com/t/ddEOGYEpVsB

Level 1

Level 2

Copies of both the printable and audio versions of these resources have been uploaded to Skills Workshop and will be available to download shortly.

Design Rationale

Context

The learning resource is aimed at entry level learners on the City and Guilds Adult Basic Literacy course at CTS Training in Rotherham. CTS Training is a privately run training provider that specialises in basic skills training for young people and adults. The adult literacy qualification is sat as part of the Program for Unemployed which is designed to up skill unemployed adults in order to secure paid employment.

The interactive Wordle resources have been inspired by the Entry Level 2 and Entry Level 3 adult literacy core curriculum. The curriculum specifically states that E2 learners should be able to ‘use initial letters’ and E3 learners should be able to ‘use first and second place letters to find and sequence words in alphabetical order’. Therefore resources have been made for both of these levels.

Spiral Curriculum

Since I began teaching the adult literacy qualification six months ago there has been an alarming trend where learners have been able to order alphabetically a list of words when each word has started with a different letter of the alphabet but they have seriously struggled ordering lists of words when there have been two or more words that start with the same letter. Being able to order words that start with the same letter is an essential requirement for E3 learners therefore the ‘A-Z’ resources has been designed to address this problem.

The curriculum for the adult basic literacy qualification has been developed using a spiral model, which is based on the idea that knowledge is a process, and so too are the acquisition of skills and attitude formation. Therefore the work for each level of the literacy qualification builds on the knowledge that the learners would have learnt during the previous level, for example in order to successfully complete the E3 qualification learners would need to build on the knowledge gained at E2. As Tummons (2009 p51) explains ‘in a spiral curriculum sequence, the different areas or topics that make up the curriculum are studied more than once. At first they are covered at a relatively brief level and then they are returned to so that they can be explored more critically, usually over a longer period of time.’ The adult literacy core curriculum specifically states that E2 learners should be able to ‘use initial letters’ and E3 learners should be able to ‘use first and second place letters to find and sequence words in alphabetical order’. As the E3 requirements are more complex but still build on what the learners have learnt at E2 the spiral model has been adopted for the design of the ‘A-Z’ resources as the resources for each level increased in complexity whilst building on the knowledge base gained by using the previous resources. However this can be problematic as learners haven’t always studied the lower level and haven’t therefore achieved the knowledge base to build upon. As I am creating individual resources for each of the entry levels if learners do have gaps in their knowledge the issue can be overcome as the learners can use the previous worksheets to develop their knowledge base.

The promise of multimedia learning

The design for this project draws upon Mayers (2003 p125) ‘The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media’. Mayers (2003 p125) research has shown that:

  1. Student learn more efficiently from words and pictures than from pictures alone
  2. Students learn more effectively when non-essential material is excluded rather than included
  3. Students learn more effectively when words are placed near rather than far from corresponding pictures
  4. Students learn more effectively when material is presented in conversational rather than formal style

These four main principles have all been take into consideration in the design process of the interactive Wordle resources.

1. Words and Pictures

Each of the Wordles has been adapted using Microsoft Publisher to include pictures that represent the written job titles. As a lot of the students have low level literacy skills the pictures will help to aid learner understanding of the written text. The class contains a large proportion of non-native speakers so the pictures will contain vital clues for these learners as to what the words mean and will hopefully lessen the need for these learners to use an electronic translator. This will speed up there performance and encourage these learners to work at a similar pace to the native learners.

2. None essential material

As in their end of course exam the E2 students will only have to order four words alphabetically and the E3 learners only need to order six words alphabetically the worksheets have been limited to these numbers. Reproducing the same questioning technique that is on the exam paper will help the students become familiar with the  exam practice and will provide a much needed opportunity to learn and practice these skills.

3. Location of pictures

The pictures have been placed near the text in order to foster deeper learning. As in point one, placing the pictures near the text will again help to aid learner understanding as they can use the picture clues to work out what the text says.

4. Conversational rather than formal

As the learners on this course have often struggled at school and through various reasons have low self-esteem the course is purposefully run in a very informal way. To continue in this style and to compliment Mayers (2003) research the Wordles have been created using an informal font and colour scheme. Using pastel colours not only creates an informal feel compared to the business like white backgrounds it also compliments an inclusive learning approach as the backgrounds can be adapted to the preferred colours for students with Special Educational Needs. Adapting the backgrounds means a new Wordle section of the resource needs to be created each time. However this only takes a few minutes as the words from the previous resources have been saved and just need to be pasted into the Wordle generator in order to create a new resource. If the learners are using paper copies the resource can simply be printed onto different colour paper.

References

Mayers, R (2003)The promise of multimedia learning: using the same instructional design methods across different media, Learning and Instruction 13

Tummon, J (2009) Curriculum studies in the lifelong learning sector, Exeter; Learning Matters

Reflections on blogging

I started ‘Gemma Teaches’ in February 2011 as part of a PGCE project. At the time I had always wanted to be a blogger but had never managed to get any of my earlier sites off the ground. Therefore I was really excited about the blogging project as I felt that if I was forced to blog regulary I would finally be able to get into the process and create a sucessful site.

I was first emerged into the blogosphere when I joined Twitter in August 2010. As I read the ‘tweeters’ bio’s  and clicked on their links I was introduced to numerous weird and wonderful sites abut various aspects of teaching, these ranged from lesson resources, teaching ideas and reflections about lessons and teaching in general. As a newbie into the teaching profession my mind was like a sponge soaking up all of this new and wonderful infomation. I loved it.

When I first started the blogging project I already had two failed attempts at blogging: one where I posted about ‘West Yorkshire ESOL’ my tuition/video production business and one where I reflected on my teaching practice. I found the reflection blog too personal and I worried about how I came across and the infomation that I revealed so this put me off posting. When I started the blogging project I was determined to try a new approach. I’d spent a lot of time at uni sharing lesson ideas and resources and really enjoyed this element of my practice. I’d also found a wealth of lesson ideas and resources on other peoples blog and really enjoyed the ‘treasure chest’ element of looking at other eduactors postings. Therefore I decided that this time I’d try blogging about lesson ideas and resources. 8 months and 33 posts later my blog is still going strong so I must have made the right choice.

All of those 33 posts relate to teaching and most of them are used as a way of sharing lesson ideas and resources, like the post about a fight between an apple and a potatoe, the links to Super Teacher worksheets and thevarious ideas obout team building tasks. I have really enjoyed blogging and hope to continue posting long into the future. Now that I work full time and am studying two part-time college courses the frequency of my postings has decreased. I use blogging as a relaxant, it’s a way of defuzzing my mind of the teaching related thoughts that constantly whiz around it. However at the moment I find posting regularly as more of a chore, after I’ve spend the day teaching, filling in learner reviews, writing reports then have come home and wrote various short essay and tasks abouts teaching the last thing I want to do is spend my precious free time sitting and writing more posts about my practice. After all that wouldn’t be a great work life balance and I’d be burnt out before anyone could shout ‘trick or treat’. Although I hope to continue posting regulary I feel that this academic year will be the slowest in terms of frequency of posts as I work my way through the mountain of work from the first year of the Msc and the specalist qualification in teaching numeracy. However I’m sure I’ll continue to blog at least once a month so don’t worry 😉  I have a post about the different ways to teach mulitplication just itching to get out.

I’m glad I started my blog. So far it’s been a very interesting journey and I look forward to seeing where it takes me in the future. I also look forward to looking back on my posts in 6, 12, 18, 24 months time and seeing how I’ve developed as an educator.I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my blog as much as I’ve enjoyed posting

My skills

I’ve just started an MSc in Multimedia and E-Learning at the University of Huddersfield and as part of the course I have been asked to reflect upon my skills in the e-learning and multimedia world.

Although I am a novice at creating my own interactive resources such as the video documentary series ‘The Yorkshire Yarn’ I am very skilled in the use of web 2.0 tools.

Since starting my PGCE last September I have used web 2.0 tools such as blogs, Diigo, Scoop.It, Twitter and Facebook as a way of enhancing my own personal and professional development and as a way of sharing my own resources and practices with the teaching world at large.

I absolutely love web 2.0 and have learnt so much more over the last year than I ever could have from books, courses or seminars. Unfortunately now that I have just started a full time teaching post, an MSc and a specialist numeracy course I do not have as much time to spend on the internet as I would like.

For people new to the web 2.0 world, or for people who are interested in the way I work  here’s a quick guide to how I use web 2.0 to enhance my teaching.

Twitter and Blogs

I use Twitter as a way of connecting with teachers from all over the world. By following these ‘tweeters’ I am able to have access to the links and resources that they post out. By doing this I have discovered numerous fantastic resources and websites such as ESOL Courses, EFT Pics, when promos go wrong and five card Flicker. There is an enormous sense of community between educators on Twitter and as long as you are willing to share and comment there is always someone willing to help you out with a problem or an idea when you’re stuck for inspiration. As the only NQT in my establishment I have found Twitter to be a great help for connecting with other NQTs. After a rough day is nice to be able to log in, glance through my twitter stream and see that I am not the only person feeling down or frustrated.

A lot of ‘tweeters’ also have their own blogs documenting their careers. NQT bloggers is a fantastic site for anyone new to, or thinking about getting into teaching as the posts are written by a collection of primary and secondary school NQTs. Posts range from issues with parents to behaviour management control and reflections on lesson observations. Other educators use their blogs to post lesson ideas, resources and reflections. Mike Harrison and The Mantras of a Mad Man are interesting blogs to follow if you are interested in teaching ESOL.

Bookmarking

Another web 2.0 tool that I couldn’t live without is Diigo. Diigo is a social bookmarking tool that allows you to save links to your favourite webpages whilst being able to access them on any computer that has internet access. As well as increasing the availability of your bookmarks to you, you can also use Diigo as a way of sharing your own and seeing others bookmarks.

Scoop.it is a similar tool though it is a lot more aesthetically pleasing. As the name would suggest it is a way of ‘scooping’ information from the net. By installing the bookmarklet whenever you come across an interesting article or web page you can scoop it from the internet and save it to your account. You can share these links with your on-line community via email, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Post a picture/video

Quizzes

My learners are often drained towards the end of a lesson therefore I’ve started using quizzes as a fun way to bring all of my students together at the end of the session.

Quiz rounds have included sport, guess the chocolate bar (using pics of cross sections of chocolate bars as clues), true or false, general knowledge and guess the musical intro. To make the activity student centred and to cut down on my planning time, I’ve encouraged ss to write their own questions. These have then been used in the following weeks quizzes. The ss love this as they are able to guarantee that the questions are focused on their own areas of interest and they are more likely to score high in these rounds.

YouTube is also a fantastic resource for finding ready-made quiz rounds. I recently used the ‘Guess the 90s Kids TV Themes’ but there are a wide variety of resources available including the ‘Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of All Time’.

Reading Game

On your mark, get set, go! is a reading comprehension game where the students compete against each other to be the fastest team to correctly answer a series of questions based on a short piece of text. This is a fast paced activity that can be used as an individual or small group game. I only had three students in my class when I tested this idea so the students competed as individuals which worked really well.

What you need to do is:

Choose a small piece of text, no longer than one side of A4.

Write a series of questions based on the text.

Print off one copy of the text and questions per group (colour coding each group saves a lot of time if you want to reuse the material)

Laminate and cut each question out individually.

Give each group a copy of the text and the first question.

Facilitate the game from your desk.

Rules for the students

Once the tutor says ‘Go’, one person from the each group runs to the question desk, takes a question and then runs back to their group with it.

Using the text that you have been provided with, as a group, find the answer to the question and then write this down on a separate piece of paper.

The next person in the group takes the answer to the tutor to mark. If the answer is correct you will be given the next question if not you will be have to go back to your group to try again until you have the right answer.

The winner is the first group to correctly complete all of the questions.

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