Tag: education

Student Self Direction

One of the key design goals behind the Free Learning pedagogy was encouraging students to direct their own learning. Based on the experience that many students lack the skills to make the most of pure inquiry-based learning, Free Learning makes use of a map of …

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I Hate Grades

I recently gave a 2-minute nano presentation at 21st Century Learning’s Hong Kong TeachMeet, entitled I Hate Grades. It was a pleasure to be able to speak openly about something very close to my heart, and the reception from the assembled teachers was really positive. …

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Gamer Spotting For Teachers

wasdThis post was originally posted on the #teachICHK site at ICHK.

As in any school, our students do sometimes get distracted in class. However, rather than traditional distractions of days gone by (passing notes, firing spit balls), we see that distraction often takes the …

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End Of Year Assessment 2014-15

ScalesAs has been my practice in the past, I recently unleashed an end of year survey on my students, with the aim of having them tell me what I can improve, and what they appreciate and enjoy. The survey, which can be viewed here

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Teach A Teacher 2014 - Poster_web


The Learning Zone

When we are too comfortable we do not need to learn. When pushed too hard, we are not capable of learning. In between is the small zone, different for each of us, in which learning takes place. This theory of the learning zone (or as Vygotsky said, the Zone of Proximal Development), is widely used at my school, and reminds us that in any class we will have kids spread over all three zones. Hopefully, with skill, we can pull our students into the learning zone for more of their time, thus helping them become more effective learners.

As there were no good Creative Commons version of this graphic, I have produced the one below, so please feel free to use it.

The Learning Zone

Free Learning

Free LearningFree running* invites participants to use creativity, skill and strength to find new ways to navigate a landscape. It is fun, engaging and highly motivating for those who participate. It takes a space (urban or otherwise) and turns it on its head, drawing new function …

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Assess This Teacher

Gress LessonYesterday I put together an end-of-year survey for my students. Instead of focusing on lots of questions on different aspects of my teaching, I simply asked students to grade me in the same way I grade them: a comment, an attainment score and an …

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Visual Assessment Guide

What started last year as a Self Assessment Guide, has been reworked into a more general tool for assessment. This new guide is suitable for teacher, peer or self assessment and also offers a visual map of what we want students to learn (with highlighting of which concepts are most important). Although still ICT specific, this guide could be adapted to any subject by changing the attributes and keywords. Visual Assessment Guide - ICT & Media_web

Printable Version (PDF)

So, what's changed? Well, after a year of experience with student self assessment using the original guide, I have come to the following conclusions.
  1. Self assessment is great, and students really learn a lot by revisiting concepts learned, and writing about them. However, students get bored of self assessment, so using it more than 3 times a year with one group is not so great. The assessment tool should thus by more general, useful for teachers and peers to use.
  2. The old guide was based around "strands", which were essentially high level learning outcomes. The new guide focuses on "attributes", as I really want to be centered around the kind of students I want leaving my course after three years. The two schools I am involved in (ICHK Secondary and ICHK HLY) include formal ICT learning from Years 1 to 9, and we have tentatively decided to use these attributes across the entire age range. Hopefully this will lend consistency to what we are doing, allowing us to be more effective.
  3. In the original guide there was mapping from the ways of learning (a Bloomsian set from knowing through creating), allowing these to be turned into numeric scores. This was never ideal, as it is too reductionist and focuses attention on the grade, not what has been learned. The new version dispenses with the levels, and just focuses on the ways of learning. It has been tentatively agreed that next year I can experiment with reporting the top way of learning achieved in a particular piece of work. Hopefully this will help
  4. The old category of "becoming" connotes a moral element to what is being taught, and means assigning levels based on my own world view. Whilst I might find this appropriate, others may not. This point was raised by Toby Newton, and whilst I was initially hesitant, I can see the value of his point that we need students to be more critical of what we say, not just accepting and applying everything automatically.
I am really keen to get feedback on this style of assessment, and on the ICT content included and omitted from the guide. I don't doubt that collaboration will make this idea more useful and usable.

Carpet Picnic

CarpetTry as I might, there are some things I simply cannot teach without a fair amount of talking. I can throw in some visual stimuli, get the kids involved in discussion, add some inquiry and generally try and be student-centered…but there are just too many …

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