Monday, March 18, 2013

Learning by doodling



Okay, I may be setting myself up here for a few educational 'traditionalists' to embark on a tirade of proving that doodling is not an effective learning tool but I'll just take that chance and say, it is. 

Why? 

Well, thousands of years of human history have shown us that doodling has helped us in our learning as it has helped us to make sense of the world around us. From Cave drawings in France to Leonardo DaVinci's sketches doodling and those little doodles you do during a meeting, doodling is universal and will continue to make an impact for years to come. Which is why I have found the recent Doodle Learning Apps from iOS development team NineTwentyEight to be an intriguing mix of learning and doodling. And before we go on, I was involved in the development of the apps as an Educational Consultant.

Doodle Learning has released three iOS iPad only apps - Doodle Learning Maths, Doodle Learning English and Doodle Learning Times Tables. The apps are aimed at 7-11 year old children but they do contain easier levels which can be used by younger children too. The apps premise is to mix doodling with learning, creating a fun learning environment that children respond to effectively. I used the 3 apps with my class over the last couple of weeks and the response has been fantastic. Children loved using the apps and they found each helped them in improving specific Maths and English skills. 



Breaking down the apps.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Twitter hiatus

There be light image by taylorschlades
I've been an avid Twitter user for 6 years. I found this out yesterday when some tweetbot messaging service tweeted me about it. So I've decided to acknowledge this 'milestone' by not using Twitter for the next 6 months. 

It's also got me thinking about why we shouldn't use Twitter. It's an incredibly useful platform, don't get me wrong but there comes a time when you just need a break. Here's why.

1. It can take over your life - think about it, when you wake in the morning and reach for your Smartphone do you check Twitter first? Do you do the same last thing at night before going to bed? It's happened to me on occasion and if you take it to the extreme, some people need their daily tweet fix to see them through the day.

2. You use Twitter to check up on the news not a news site - yep, it happens, it happens regularly. Which is why media outlets have a huge presence on Twitter so they too can pick up on the news as it happens wherever it happens, instantly. News sites? So last century.

3. It's 140 characters, decent conversations can't be had with so few characters.

4. Blogs are slowly losing out - I've found that plenty of users I follow have blogs. They will tweet  a link to a latest blog post, their Twitter followers will check it out and reply. But not on the blog, they reply on Twitter. Every reply on Twitter is eventually lost in the timeline unless it's been hashtagged, but then that shortens the conversation even further.

5. You will eventually get to that stage on Twitter where you think if you don't check often you will miss out on something and that is sad.

I'll spend my Twitter time focusing on reading and replying to blog posts, I'll relish in what bloggers have to say, dissect it over time and not worry that something has passed me by. 

Note - I will make every attempt to ensure 3rd party apps don't post on my unknown behalf, if they do, ignore them.


Friday, March 8, 2013

How would you design a school?

Image by Jade 
Picture this - you have the power to design a school, what would it look like? Would it have classrooms? What would they look like? 

Some of these questions were asked by Graham Brown-Martin at the TEDxEastEnd Event in London, October 2012. They are as relevant today as they were in October 2012 and they will continue to have relevance for as long as there are schools. 

Here is the presentation he gave at the event. 

Enjoy. 

Think.



How would I design a school? 

I would remove timetables.
I would remove the insistence on detailed planning.
I would remove walls and have an open plan, free flowing learning environment.
I would have teachers able to teach and not be restricted by management to follow checklists.
I would ensure children are involved in their learning and learning revolves around them, not what's best for the school.
I would involve parents and community further.
I would share everything we discovered so others can benefit.
I would have no timetables, no planning, no scrutinies. 
I would foster professionalism and trust and push every teacher to teach according to the strengths.
Teachers would be teachers not robots delivering stale curriculums.

These are a few thoughts and more are no doubt in my mind. Contest them as you see fit.


The best teaching job advert ever?

I'm currently seeking new employment and I've been scouring teaching posts advertised on various websites and school sites for a possible school to apply for.  Some ads are brief whilst others go on and on with a number of 'must read' attachments whilst many have very similar wording throughout. 

That is until I saw the following ad from a school in Nottingham and I thought, this has to be the best teaching job advert ever.

I love this ad and if I lived in Nottingham then I would jump at the opportunity. So school management teams, leadership teams and governors, take a good look and learn. This is how you write a recruitment advert.