Archive for May, 2014

TeachThought

As I’ve continued to explore the geek side of teaching over the past few years I thought I had come across most of the useful websites out there. The likes of schoolshistory, thinkinghistory, theoryofknowledge.net or tutor2u politics were all part of my weekly routine for ideas and inspiration (but never at the last minute of course). Twitter too was a source of valuable snippets and, through #ukedchat, curated snippets. But TeachThought was a new one on me this week and I like it alot. Partly this is because of the Buzzfeed-esque articles, ’25 Tips for teaching with Apps’ and the like but mostly it’s because there is lots of sensible, positive advice there, dispensed in a supportive way. Like any could CPD it assumes you want to get better at teaching and gives you a variety of tools and suggestions to achieve this. An INSET day spent reading articles would be cost effective and productive.

Challenge walls

An INSET or two ago one the speakers made reference to the idea of having a ‘challenge wall’ in the classroom. The concept was simple but inspired for those with their own classroom. Instead of loading brighter students up with extra work why not have a noticeboard covered with accessible folders in which you dump interesting articles, that way when students finish up the material they are working in they have a choice of what to do next, and you can either stretch them in subject specific ways or just provide interesting material that will challenge reading comprehension. The tragedy of this great idea is that in a school where teachers don’t have individual classrooms the whole concept falls down. However having allowed this to percolate, and redefining the goals a little, I’ve realised that the key point, getting students to read challenging material that stretches and broadens them, isn’t just something that should be locked into my classroom. As a result this summer will see a challenge wall/board going up in the History department with plenty of material for students to choose from. In order to keep a ready supply up I have started collecting material using delicious but there’s no reason why other aggregators shouldn’t be equally effective. Brilliant tools like Instapaper, Pocket or even Evernote may mean that you already have oodles of great material whilst those who get theweek could easily drop in the excellent ‘Briefing‘ section to ensure students that want to be up to date can be. Adding QR codes could even make it accessible to the paperless contingent.


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