A blog for students on the FDLT and BALT courses at the University of Northampton

at Leicester and UN

April 16, 2019
by Jean
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A new online course from DLAB!

Our team from the University of Northampton would like to invite you and your staff to join our free online course on What if the sea level rises? Exploring language and culture in a future setting. This course has been developed as part of a European funded project, ‘Digital Learning across Boundaries’, that brings together teachers, student teachers and lecturers in Norway, Denmark, Belgium and England to connect classrooms, and to explore and share technology-related themes.

This is a fantastic FREE resource for primary and lower secondary teachers. It includes case studies of lessons and an international online community sharing ideas. We hope you can join in to develop and share your own ideas on our themes of survival, communication and sustainability. 

The course runs for one week starting on May 6th and will remain on our website for teachers to dip in and out of as much as they want.  

We hope that this is of interest. You can find out more and sign up here: 

http://dlaberasmus.eu/courses/what-if-the-sea-level-rises-exploring-language-and-culture-in-a-future-setting/

 

Alongside this free opportunity, I would like to let you know that we are recruiting for a new Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Leadership, starting on 20th May 2019. This is a one-year, part-time, fully online course that leads to 60 Master’s credits and can form part of an online Masters pathway open to an international audience. It is intended to develop both subject and leadership expertise, and is designed to accommodate complete beginners as well as those with some existing knowledge in the field. You can find more information here: https://www.northampton.ac.uk/courses/postgraduate-certificate-in-digital-leadership

 

Do contact me if you have any queries about either of these courses:

helen.caldwell@northampton.ac.uk

All best wishes,

Helen Caldwell

(And the DLaB team at the University of Northampton)

June 13, 2018
by Jean
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FDLT year 1 field trips

Last week the FDLT year 1 students went on field trips to explore different ways of supporting learning outdoors. Led by Ken Bland and Georgina Hand, they explored fieldwork around a river including mapping the meander, measuring depth; testing speed of flow and exploring water quality. They also took a kick sample of the animal life in the water and used magnifiers to look at the creatures they had found. They explored the clues to the history of their location around the landscape.

Students also used the outdoors as inspiration for poetry and art. As a starter the students played a digital find it activity in pairs. Each pair was given a grid with things to look for, photograph and present as a PicCollage. The grids were based around subject content, subject specific vocabulary, and could be differentiated to the learning of the pupils. It is a good way of getting a group to explore the outdoor where they will be working in without unnecessarily collecting and damaging the environment. 

We also looked at the work of artist Richard Long. The students then had a go at making walking poetry by setting a rule to walk, collect words and explore the outdoor environment. Some students walked ten steps and then looked up and looked down; others set rules related to collecting certain groups or patterns of words. This gave them the opportunity to use grammatical knowledge in a creative context. 

Students also collected one leaf and tried to identify it using books and an identification app on the ipad. After this they had a go at writing a poem around the edge of the leaf. We discussed using scientific as well as poetic language. 

We also looked at The Lost Words – see earlier blog post. 

This day connects forwards into the PDT2016 learning beyond the school site module that the students will study in 2018/19. 

December 21, 2017
by Jean
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Good deeds!

I came across this great idea from Action for Happiness on Twitter.

Its a calendar encouraging people to be kind throughout December (and beyond). Its also available in Italian, French and in a decoration free version.

The organisation Action for Happiness says:

“If we agree that for all human beings it is important that they experience happiness and escape misery, then it follows that the best society is the one in which there is the least misery and the most happiness.

On this basis, everyone’s happiness counts equally. This includes the happiness of everybody now alive as well as that of future generations. So it is important that we act in a way that takes the happiness of all into consideration. If we can agree on this then we’re one step closer to achieving a happier society.” (2017, lines 25 – 31)

They have designed a resource for schools called “Keys to happier Living Toolkit for Schools” for children aged 7-11.

You can see information about this here.

You can follow Action for Happiness on Twitter @actionhappiness and on Facebook here.

We wish you all happy holidays and enjoy your break!

 

 

References:

Action for happiness (2017) Why happiness. [online] Available from: http://www.actionforhappiness.org/why-happiness [Accessed 19/12/17].

Action for Hapiness. (2017) Kindness Calendar. [online] Available from: http://www.actionforhappiness.org/kindness-calendar [Accessed: 19/12/17]

September 22, 2017
by Jean
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Changes to assessment in primary schools

Last week the government published plans for changes to the way pupils are assessed at primary schools. You can read the announcement here.

“The reforms will:

  • improve the way that writing is assessed, so that teachers have more scope to use their professional judgment when assessing pupil performance
  • introduce a new assessment at the start of reception from September 2020 to act as the start point for measuring progress, so we can give schools credit for the progress they help pupils make in reception, year one and year two
  • remove the statutory status of end-of-key stage 1 assessments at the earliest possible point, from the 2022 to 2023 academic year, once the reception baseline is fully established
  • reduce burdens for teachers by removing the requirement to carry out statutory teacher assessments in English reading and mathematics at the end of key stage 2 from the 2018 to 2019 academic year onwards
  • improve the early years foundation stage profile, including revising the Early Learning Goals to make them clearer and align them more closely with teaching in key stage 1
  • introduce an online multiplication tables check, to be taken by pupils at the end of year 4, from the 2019 to 2020 academic year onwards.”

(DfE, 2017, lines 8-24)

The announcement also refers to the Rochford Review (2016). This will be of interest to those of you working with pupils working below expected standards.  It also provides links to revised teacher assessment frameworks, with further guidance and exemplification materials available later in the year.

If you are in FDLT year 1 you will be exploring assessment in the coming term so you will be interested to read the DfE announcement and follow the links to the Rochford Review and the teacher assessment materials.

Reference:

DfE. (2017) Improvements to the primary assessment system announced. [online] Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/improvements-to-the-primary-assessment-system-announced [Accessed: 22/09/17]

Rochford, D. (2016) The Rochford Review: final report. Review of assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests. London: Standards and Testing Agency.

 

August 25, 2017
by Jean
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No more boys and girls

Over the last two weeks BBC2 have screened ‘No More Boys and Girls – Can Our Kids Go Gender Free?’ and it is also available on iPlayer until mid September. You can read more about it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1

Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender?

In two hour-long programmes, Dr Javid sets out to find answers in a bold but simple experiment. He is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend Primary School on the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of gender-neutral treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.

Episode 2

Dr Javid Abelmoneim poses some of the most profound questions facing the UK today. Is the way we treat boys and girls in childhood the real reason we still haven’t achieved true equality between men and women in adult life? And could stripping away the pink and blue – and the other more subtle ways that boys and girls are shaped to be different – be the way to raise kids with abilities and attitudes that are the same regardless of their gender? Dr Javid is taking over Year 3 in Lanesend primary school in the Isle of Wight, aiming to remove all differences in the way boys and girls are treated and to see if, after a term of ‘gender neutral’ treatment, he can even out the gaps in their achievement across a range of important psychological measures – from self-confidence to emotional intelligence.

Before he begins, he wants to understand what the kids themselves think – and their comments are shocking. Aged just seven, these kids have already absorbed the idea that boys are more important than girls, that strong is a word than only applies to boys and that the only thing that girls are better at than boys at is being pretty. As a doctor, Javid knows that there are basic biological differences between the sexes, but he believes our biology can’t fully explain why men and women’s life chances in the UK are still so unequal. He believes that how we treat our children in childhood has to be the deciding factor – and the latest research in how brains develop backs him up.

A visit to Prof Gina Rippon at Aston University, one of the UK’s leading experts in brain imaging and neuroscience, reveals that there is no such thing as a male or female brain type. Instead the brain is a plastic organ, shaped and moulded by experiences in which childhood is key. Giving boys and girls different toys to play with and different experiences as they grow up means that the genders develop different skills and different behaviours. So in theory, giving kids a childhood in which their gender doesn’t define how they are treated should enable to them to develop more equal abilities and attitudes – and ultimately allow them to forge their own paths in life regardless of their gender. But to be sure that his changes really do make a difference, he commissions Dr Stella Mavroveli from the psychometric lab at University College London to record what level of difference there currently is between the boys and girls across the spectrum of school subjects, but also in a range of behaviours and psychological traits from confidence and self-esteem to empathy and social skills. However much he was expecting to find differences between the boys and girls, Dr Javid is shocked by the test results. Girls show a consistent pattern of underestimating their academic abilities and lack confidence and self-esteem in comparison with the boys, while the boys demonstrate a worrying inability to express their emotions in comparison with the girls. The test results are enough to convince class teacher Graham Andre to adopt a broad range of changes and to eradicate from the classroom anything that reinforces the idea that boys and girls are fundamentally different. From the books the kids read to the way they are spoken to, the mission is to emphasize to the kids that gender makes no impact on what they are capable of achieving.

To achieve deeper transformation, Javid designs a series of focused interventions to target some of the children’s mostly deeply held views – from transforming their view of which jobs men and women are able to do to shocking them with the fact that contrary to what they have always believed, girls at their age are just as strong as boys. An emotional breakthrough for shy and under-confident girl Lexi convinces Javid his gender neutral approach is starting to work, but if he is to achieve real change he realises he is going to have to take his mission out of the school gates and into the kids’ home lives.

Out of school, Javid is astonished at how much childhood has changed since he was growing up. Clothes and toys have become a tsunami of pink and blue – ensuring that boys and girls play with toys that encourage very different behaviours. Boys playing with construction toys develop spatial awareness skills that girls simply don’t while surrounded by princess play outfits and dolls. He challenges the parents of Mr Andre’s class to clear out all of the gendered toys and clothes – and to change the way they divide housework and childcare. Will the parents get on board? And will Dr Javid’s gender neutral mission have produced meaningful change when he repeats his tests at the end of term?

How do the experiences shown in these episodes relate to your school and the pupils you support?

July 24, 2017
by Jean
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Looking out for opportunities to learn

As a student of education there are many sources that you use to gather information to support your studies. As you begin your course you will be introduced to university resources to help you access academic books and journal articles that will be crucial to your study. before that though you can look around for other sources of information and research.

This evening, for example, there is a documentary on Channel 4 called ‘Excluded at Seven’.

Inclusion and the management of behaviour is an issuer of concern to everyone who works in education. If you watch this documentary try to take an objective view, rather than a subjective or emotive view. Ask yourself how the scenarios shown relate to your experience and also how they relate to your school policy and education legislation.

There is a link here to take you to the government’s School discipline and exclusions information page.

 

On the radio there are more opportunities to begin to think about areas relevant to your study. A series called ‘Bring Up Britain’ on Radio 4 explores issues such as nuturing critical thinking in children, raising happy children and summer learning loss in the summer holidays. There is a list of episodes here. You can browse this list and find a few that interest you to listen to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you watch and listen remember that these are sources made for an audience of the general public, not for students who are studying education. As a student of education you need to consider where the information that underlies these documentaries comes from and how reliable it is. In some of them, or in the supporting information about them, you will find reference to research and academic studies and it is these that you should find and read to more deeply into the subject.

Look out for other interesting opportunities to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the wider world of education on Tv and radio.

June 12, 2017
by Jean
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Stop motion animation

Last week Sophie Burrows, from Into Film, came to work with the FDLT year 1 groups to introduce stop motion animation as a technique for engaging learners.

Sophie introduced the group to the basic principles that underpin stop motion animation: persistence of vision. We looked the work of Eadweard Muybridge, an early pioneer of photographic and moving image projection. We also looked at making thaumotropes as an easy way into to demonstrating this concept to children. You can read more about this and other optical toys here: thaumotropes.

Sophie introduced us to three types of stop motion animation:

  1. paper cut
  2. silhouette (using a light box)
  3. claymation (using plasticine)

and the free app Stop Motion Studio. After playing a little with app to explore its functions the students worked in groups to make a short animation using any of the techniques above. They then edited the films using the app iMovie which gave them the opportunity to add sound and music.

Making stop motion animations draws upon a huge range of skills, knowledge and understanding and can be a great opportunity to plan meaningful and engaging learning opportunities across the curriculum for learners. Here’s a padlet of examples to get you thinking!

May 12, 2017
by Jean
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Y1 visits to Newton Field Centre

This week both FDLT Year 1 groups visited Newton Field Centre in Northamptonshire.

They explored how a visit to a Field Centre could support learning in geography, science,history and art. The Field centre teacher, Georgina Hand and a University of Northampton lecturer, Ken Bland, led activities such as measuring the flow of the river, measuring the profile of the river, collecting and classifying invertebrates from the river and using them to measure the environmental quality of the water. The subject knowledge associated with these areas is crucial when supporting learning and this is an area where visiting a field centre with specialist teaching staff can be invaluable to schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The students also explored the molehills in the field to collect rocks and stones an these were compared and classified later. The app iGeology and large scale maps of the area are useful resources for this kind of activity. They explored the field for evidence of human use in the past – the pond and the dovecote both being sources of food for the large house that used to exist on the site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst in the field the students created land art using just the resources available to them in the large field. Because of the time of year there were lots of dandelions in flower and as clocks – a great source of material for making. It was interesting to see of the range of art made featuring circles, lines, colour, contrasts, using techniques such as weaving, placing and pressing down. By now it will all have changed and returned to nature. Finally the students collected leaves to make their own key to the vegetation at newton as a model for making a key on their school sites using the plants around them.

 

 

April 5, 2017
by Jean
1 Comment

DLAB Erasmus free online course

Some of us who teach on FDLT, BALT and other education courses along with students and local teachers are part of an Erasmus+ project called Digital learning Across Boundaries – DLAB for short. We are working with educators in Belgium, Denmark and Norway.

In May we are sharing a free online course based around our theme this year; using digital technology to support learning outside. The materials will be based around our themes:

  • art in the environment
  • creating trails
  • science outdoors
  • wild writing

You can read more about the course and sign up here.

If you are working in schools you will be able to access stimulating and creative approaches and activities that you can use with your pupils. Part of the course will be based around online sharing of activities and outcomes through a Google Community.

The project has a twitter account: @DLAB_Erasmus and a website where you can find more details and examples from the project.

February 3, 2017
by Jean
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Thinking about teaching to the test.

You might be interested to here this short radio piece broadcast as part of ‘A Point of View’ on BBC Radio 4.

Teaching to the test

It asks you to consider some important larger issues that come from the current focus on testing in schools.

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