3 easy ways to to use ICT in your lessons

1. Engage your class with Socrative (socrative.com)

Socrative is a smart student response system that empowers teachers to engage their classrooms through a series of educational exercises and games via smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

2. Manage your class with Class Dojo (classdojo.com)

Improve specific student behaviors and engagement by awarding and recording real-time feedback.  Print or email beautiful behaviour reports to easily engage parents and staff.  Save time by recording behaviour and accomplishments right in class, with just one click: NO extra data entry required.

3. Support your class with a blog (wordpress.com)

Sometimes a student is absent or away on a school trip and they need to know what the work was that you covered in class.  Well now you don’t have to answer that question anymore, just post it online and the students then have to check it for themselves.  You can also post videos (your own or from youtube) that can explain concepts or examples covered in class.  This is not only helpful for absent students but also for those who didn’t quite understand it in class.  Think of it as your first step towards blended learning.  Welcome to the future!

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 07.32.15Click on the picture for a helpful reference sheet
from USC Rossier School of Education.

The Marking Monster returns…

After almost 30 years of teaching, I am still looking for ways to please everyone when it comes to marking.  I can see a huge monster again, moving closer, coming down the mountain and across the water towards me.  First I’ll do some reflection, then find some helpful links, and then finally I’ll just stop worrying and do some marking…

For my students: I want to give honest, helpful and accurate feedback that will inspire them to work harder, improve or be proud of their progress.

For my colleagues: I want to find new or improved ways to mark and become an example of good practice and effective / efficient assessment.

For parents: I want them to see that I am working hard to help their child and to pay attention to the details of their child’s work because I really do care about their progress.

For the leaders of my school: I want to follow their policies without being angry and thinking that I would rather be spending more time preparing lessons than preparing for an SLT member or an OFSTED inspector to walk in and page through a student’s book to determine how much learning is going on in my lessons.  

For me:  I want to do what I know works, despite the non-negotiable rules that are imposed on me, I want to focus on the important aspects of each student’s learning rather than on pleasing someone who might come and look at their books.  I want to mark out of genuine concern for my students rather than out of fear of being told that I haven’t done my marking the way that I should.  I became a teacher for many reasons, but mainly because I like helping people and I really enjoy empowering or guiding those who find maths difficult.  But here I am again, doing my job in a way that I am far from what is my true essence, I’m doing things that are not out of love but out of fear.  Fear that I will not do it properly, fear that I won’t do it according to the exact procedures, fear that I will get a bad grading from an inspector, fear that I should have spent more late nights marking rather than watching 20 minutes of TV while nodding off from exhaustion (with tests on my lap that I should be marking) and fear that I will not be seen as the truly passionate, caring, dedicated teacher that I have always aimed to be every day of my life.

Here are some more links to help all of us think about how we do our marking:

1. From Tom Sherrington: Making Feedback Count: “Close the Gap” | headguruteacher.

2. From HuntingEnglish:  http://www.huntingenglish.com/2013/06/16/improving-written-feedback/

3. From Suffolkmaths: http://www.suffolkmaths.co.uk/pages/1Marking.htm

No Child Left Untableted – NYTimes.com

To get the most out of educational technology, teachers must combine those traditional classroom skills with new ones. And their repertoires will have to expand as the tablet’s powers grow. This fall, mastery might mean giving a quick quiz, then breaking up the students on the fly into groups based on their answers and sending each group a different exercise from the teacher’s tablet. In not too many years, it might mean using sophisticated pattern-recognizing algorithms to analyze data from homework, games, leisure reading, social media and biometric indicators to determine that one student should be guided to an interactive simulation of coral-reef ecology, another to an essay exercise built around a customized set of coral-reef-related vocabulary words and concepts, and others to something else.

via No Child Left Untableted – NYTimes.com.