Mimanifesto – Jaye’s weblog

Archive for May 2009

I’m using the Turning Point interactive voting system with a first year class at the moment. Were just trying it out and getting used to working with it, but I plan to do some classroom-based research during the next session. The plan is to use the voting systems with two first year classes (and with another class acting as a ‘control’) and see if higher-order questioning can be used to raise attainment. Many multiple choice-type questions used with such systems are pretty basic, just testing recall of facts rather than deep learning and understanding. My intention is to use questions which, rather than asking…is the name given to such and such a process…? followed by four choices of answer, instead using a question such as…process x is called such and such…it works by….and then four explanations. You get the drift…higher order questioning testing understanding rather than memory.

I’m going to start lessons off by using the questions as a form of learning objective starters, with the aim of engineering a Vygotskyan Zone of Proximal development over which the students’ learning can progress, and utilising peer-assisted learning to provide ‘scaffolding’ (a construct of Bruner and Wood) to help them bridge the gap and facilitated by the teacher at least at the start of the lesson. Dr Steve Draper at Glasgow University wrote a paper last year in which he proposed the idea of using questions in this way as a catalyst for learning (he calls this Catalytic Questioning). Full copies of this paper are available from Steve on request

I have been using peer assessment with my current first year classes this term along these lines, trying to help them learn how to construct higher order questions which they then enter into Turning Point slides. The reaction when one group’s questions come up for voting is evidence of how engaging this type of activity can be, and again, the intention is to develop learning and recall which is deeper and long-lasting and promotes understanding rather than just shallow memorising of facts which may be quickly forgotten once a topic test has been taken.

Together with the continuing work on the ‘Will the lights stay on –  Using ICT/GLOW to raise attainment’ project ( More on phase 2 of this in September with some quite significant findings which we’re just working on at the moment) as well as the ‘BrainBoosters’ games-based learning project report and paper (here and here) the next school year is shaping up to be one very much focussed on using classroom pedagogies to raise attainment and achievement across both primary and secondary sectors and the application of cutting edge research and innovative practice to the everyday learning and teaching in our classrooms.

In the feeding-frenzy that is GLOW and A Curriculum for Excellence at the moment, it’s sometimes all too easy to forget that any classroom approach to learning or set of tools to deliver such approaches  must be founded on the rock of  well researched and thought out pedagogical theory as well as existing good practice. I hope that my work over the coming year can contribute to this process as well as impacting upon achievement in my own school.

………..Pushing GLOW and ICT across the curriculum.

I seem to have spent most of the last week involved in staff training and development. As GLOW gathers pace, colleagues are taking advantage of examination study leave to get to grips with their own development. Six colleagues are hoping to attend the various subject  ‘Building Communities’ events run by RM/LTS @ Stirling management centre over the next few months. These events look to be very interesting and based, as they are, on classroom practice, should be a very useful professional development opportunity for all involved. The Stirling event I attended over a year ago now was certainly incredibly useful for my own practice development. The training and facilitation expertise of the national teams from both RM and LTS never fails to help make events such as these a huge success, inspiring delegates to go back to their schools, get cracking with GLOW and build up their own PLN’s to help their own future practice and networking skills.

Of course, such events are also important to the national team as it perhaps gives them a chance to work with folk who are trying to use GLOW in their classrooms day in day out. Useful for a national team to absorb current hands-on experience of using GLOW regularly in a classroom as a part of everyday practice with students, (as opposed to training others to use GLOW) with all the challenges and potential that this entails. Whilst a major function of the LTS/RM team is the training to facilitate the LA roll-outs, extending the practice of recent ‘trainees’ is becoming more and more important in my view as the end of the beginning of GLOW (according to Laurie O’Donnell) hoves into view, and this perhaps would benefit significantly from the presence of  experienced classroom GLOW practitioners. The review of the literature and research on the issue of adoption of ICT into regular classroom practice which I did last year as a part of my GTCS-funded project certainly repeatedly threw up this issue of credibility and prior experience of the trainer. Maybe this is an issue of balance which could to be addressed by future recruitment programmes. It would be good to see at least some folk in the national team who have experience of using GLOW in their own classrooms to supplement this training and technical knowledge, particularly on the back of successful roll-outs and examples of excellent classroom practice  by teachers from many areas of the country.

I also did a couple of workshops. The first was for student teachers. We had a virtual walk-through some useful ways of adopting ICT into secondary school subjects. Use of photo-sharing sites as lesson starters and revision, GLOW, social networking (thanks to the Twitteratti for contributing live on the morning , by the way). I love doing these sessions each term for our visiting students – the passion for teaching is so fresh and we usually end up turning an hour into two or even more as the questions lead to more ideas and examples of good practice. I always find myself learning so much from working with the student teachers as they talk about their experiences of life, ICT and practice in different schools they’ve visited as a part of their courses of study.

The second was a workshop for Biology teachers, organised by the development team from my own LA. This had a group of Biology teachers from different schools in the authority come together for an afternoon to explore how GLOW might be useful to them in their own schools departments and faculties. We’ve set up an authority GLOW group and plan to have regular get-together of some sort to move this project forward into becoming a real community of practice, sharing expertise, advice, and a move in the right direction in sharing resources between schools and colleagues. Huge potential for development work, saving time and duplication of resources, and CPD, both subject-specific and general. A really great example of  LA advisory service colleagues targeting  and organising appropriate training activity for specific user-groups and bringing in focussed classroom practitioner experience to help when necessary, to seed future training and development, building capacity and knowledge transfer within the LA. In time, I’m sure this model could be extended to other subject areas…

Quite a few events coming up over the next month or so…both professional and personal so I’m not sure how much more writing I will be able to do. One thing stands out though, and that’s the Education 2020 unconference on Islay in June. I’m really looking forward to this – it’s the first part of my CPD programme for 2009/10 and it will be really great to put faces to the names and conversations we so often have through web 2.0 and catch up with those who I see far too rarely.

A beautiful place which I’ve always wanted to see as well. I think it’s testament to the high regard in which Ian and Andy and Islay HS are held nationally that nearly 50 folk are making the journey  to Islay on June 12th….


I was invited to take part in the Scottish Government School Science Summit earlier this week. Thought-provoking questions, some great discussions, and very good to see all stakeholders engaging in the debate on a change agenda for science. Interesting speech from Fiona Hyslop and some great stuff from Jack Jackson. And great to network, and catch up with some old friends🙂

Check the LTS blog for a fuller precis… 



One thing did make me think a little though. When Sir Andrew Cubie showed the ‘Wordle’ pictures based on the discussions we had around the three ‘Big Issues’ up for debate on Tuesday, I was very surprised and not a little disappointed, I have to say, to notice what I believe to be a glaring omission on each of the three…

Have a look and see if you spot it as well…

1. CPD


2. Pupil’s learning


3. Teacher training



Whilst you might expect to see the word ‘Teacher/s’ writ fairly large, I’m disappointed at the almost total lack of what I consider should have been the biggest word in all three…

Over to you…

May 2009
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