Archive for the 'Politics' Category

The Power of #hashtags

I’ve blogged a little before about the amazing power of twitter and it has been brought home to me again of late as the result of two incidents, one huge, one tiny. The events in Tunisia and Egypt are, of course the huge one, and reflect how information is freeing itself from the control of governments. The tiny one is the fact that I have a friend staying at the moment who is coming to my school tomorrow to observe. She’s doing a PGCE in English and I wanted to show her the power of twitter so posted a quick query to my PLN (Personal Learning Network ie. people I who follow me on twitter) about which would be the best hashtags for English teachers. The result was exceptionally swift and accurate and came from @lmsahistory, a history teacher in Chicago. Amazing and par for the course for the twitterati.

The experience got me thinking about the usefulness of hashtags in finding information and people to follow on twitter, I certainly found the service useless until I started following the right threads and hence found the right people, so I thought I’d blog some of the useful hashtags I’ve found in case anyone else is searching:
Education Technology
#edtech #ukedchat

#historyteacher #sschat

#politicsteacher (although I think there are only a few of us using this!

MFL teaching

English Language & Literature
#englishteacher #engchat

Those are the ones that spring to mind, I’ll add more to this post as I come across them.


Exam system in disarray

The Guardian covers the idea that the exam system is in disarray with a focus on the fact that standardised testing is removing soft skills from students and even A* are being let down on the creative side. A far more pressing concern is the quality of marking in subjects like History and Politics where, despite the in depth nature of the indicative content provided, glaring errors are still made on an annual basis. The reality is that many of these are in favour of the candidate, I have several students this year whose A grades are highly unrealistic and contradict my 2+ years of experience with them. These, of course are never questioned as they show the school, department and teacher in a good light. However for the second year in a row I have an outstanding student reduced to a B in Govt and Politics owing to the incompetence of a marker and subsequent intransigence of the board. Last year it didn’t cost, this year my student awaits a priority remark decision on a place to read PPE at Oxford. I don’t have any perfect answers to this question  but I suspect many examiners wouldn’t recognise one if I did.

Charlie Brooker on how to do TV news feature

Brilliant analysis from Brooker’s NewsWipe show of how TV news now works

Econ 101

If only every topic leant itself to the academically accurate 7 minute hip-hop video as well as the ongoing argument between the economic theories of Keynes and Hayek does.

Hookers and Prisoners: The Pros and Cons

Russell Tarr tweeted this fantastic site earlier today, It has over 1000 contentious issues debated using the pro/con technique favoured by Franklin, with all evidence referenced and no political bias (according to its remit). Potentially of huge value to critical thinking classes, PSHCE and debating clubs.

Waving hello to SMS

Having watched some of the videos introductions to Google Wave it’s power as a collaborative note-taking and essay writing tool for teachers of humanities subjects seems very exciting but getting access to begin experimenting with what it can do has been very frustrating. So I’ve come up with an alternative. In my current school we are both blessed and cursed with technically literate and wealthy student so Blackberrys and iphones are ubiquitous. While there is a blanket ban on them being used in school I though I would attempt a Wave-esque exercise by getting groups of three from my politics set to produce an essay on ‘Have Prime Ministers become more Presidential in recent years?’ using Blackberry Messenger, SMS or another mobile technology. The learning goal being to force them to break down their work into sections where one student makes a point, the next provides evidence, the third explains the evidence and the first then links it bakc to the question. I’ve no idea how this will work but I have high hopes that it will make essay structure more obvious to those who are currently struggling.

Truetube, a more reliable youtube

During a periodic cruise through the BECTA site I came across truetube which was a BETT Awards Winners 2009 in the Secondary digital content category. It’s a good site with lots of well put together video resources, excellent for citizenship and politics lessons. Here’s an example of one on alternatives to prison.



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