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

at Leicester and UN

October 2, 2015
by Jean
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Pobble365

Every day a new picture is revealed on the Pobble 365 website. It is run by the very popular Lend me Your Literacy (LMYL) website. It emerged from Jonny Davies’s experience as a classroom teacher – he explains that he would look for a striking and extraordinary image to inspire thinking and discussion in his classroom. This is what Jonny says:

And this is exactly what happened in our classroom: each Friday morning at 09.05 I would reveal one of these unique images. As it appeared on the board, I looked around the classroom and I could see a mixture of open mouths, excited whispers and animated discussion. The children talked about whether the giant that was crawling out of the ground was searching for a companion or baying for blood, or whether the mysterious forest of eyes contained fairies or werewolves. The pictures I chose were surreal, abstract or conceptual. To the children these images were weird and wonderful, fantastic and bizarre.

Imagine your favourite children’s book: when you read it your mind becomes full of fantasy and colour as you paint a picture in your mind, bringing the pages to life. This is what these images did, even for the children who didn’t enjoy reading.

The provoked conversation gradually became filled with rich vocabulary as I channelled the children’s thinking towards describing a character or a setting. Their imaginations ran wild, and poured out onto the paper. I can still remember the goosebumps on my skin as the teacher in the adjacent classroom and I would sit down with a coffee at 4 o’clock and read through the writing produced. I thought to myself ‘this is what teaching is all about’. These are the moments that we must cherish as educators.’ (Davies, 2015, lines 20 to 46)

You can sign in to Pobble with your Facebook, twitter or Google account or by creating a sign in with your email address and a password.

Each day a picture appears and along with it some resources to help you use it with pupils. These include story starters, questions, a link to exploring sentences and other ideas. You can download the picture and ideas as a PDF or if you join as a teacher you can use the images in your lesson more directly.

Here’s a link to the picture for today, October 2nd. How would you use it?

There are many other interesting aspects to the Pobble website including, if you join as a school, being able to share your pupils’ writing and make and receive comments about it.

Comment below if you use Pobble365 or to share ideas about using pictures in learning and teaching.

 

 

Reference

Davies, J. (2015) Going Global: from Picture of the Day to Pobble 365. [online] Available from: http://blog.pobble.com/picture-of-the-day-to-pobble-365/ [Accesed 25/09/15]

 

September 7, 2015
by Jean
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Mind Changers

Carol Dweck and Growth Mindset

(Radio 4 Wednesday 12th August and on iplayer and BoB)

‘Claudia Hammond presents the history of psychology series which examines the work of the people who have changed our understanding of the human mind. This week she interviews Carol Dweck, who identified that individuals tend towards a fixed or a growth mindset regarding what they can learn and achieve. She also showed that a fixed mindset can be changed, and that once people adopt a growth mindset, they can achieve more.

Claudia visits a UK primary school where growth mindset is part of the curriculum, and sees how children who don’t like maths soon change their attitude at a summer camp in California, once they’re shown that getting the wrong answer actually makes their brains grow more than getting the right answer.

She hears more about Dweck and her work from colleagues Greg Walton and Jo Boaler at Stanford University, and executive head Dame Alison Peacock at the Wroxham Primary School.’

(BBC, 2015, screen 1)

This is an interesting programme for you as students to listen to as it explores how the ideas and research of academics are applied in the classroom. Some of you may be experiencing the application of a growth mindset approach in your schools or your children’s schools. Do you think it also has an application to yourselves as university students?

Reference:

BBC (2015) Mind Changers: Carol Dweck and Growth Mindset. [online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b062jsn7 [Accessed: 03/09/15]

September 3, 2015
by Jean
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Boosting your child’s IQ

Boosting your child’s IQ

(Wednesday September 2nd at 9am and available on radio 4, iplayer and BoB)

Programme description:

‘As summer ends and children trade flip flops for school shoes, Mariella Frostrup starts the new academic year exploring what can affect a child’s IQ.

Parents who read to their children, talk at the dinner table and help with homework might have happy offspring, but will they be making them smarter?

In the light of research into the influence of genes, Mariella and her guests debate the role of parenting on intelligence. They explore recent research into the effect of exercise and sleep and ask what difference can breastfeeding, flashcards, violin lessons and superfoods really make.

For the first in a new series of Radio 4’s parenting programme, Mariella is joined by Dr Stuart Richie, Postdoctoral Fellow in Cognitive Ageing at the University of Edinburgh, writer and consultant Sue Palmer, Dr Sophie von Stumm, Lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths and Director of their Hungry Mind Lab, and Hilary Wilce, writer, advice columnist and coach.’

(BBC, 2015, Screen 1)

This programme is interesting for you as students to listen to because you can hear people with a range of views discussing and debating the research and evidence surrounding this issue. Listen for how they express their views, how they use evidence to support or dispute views and think about how you are swayed by their arguments. Is it what they say, or how they say it?

Reference:

BBC (2015) Boosting your child’s IQ. [online] Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0680g5x [Accessed 03/09/15]

August 17, 2015
by Jean
0 comments

Thinking about education and learning

The Educators

theedTo start you thinking about education you could find this series of radio programmes on the BBC website at this link:

The Educators

In each of the eight programmes Sarah Montague interviewed a contemporary educator about their ideas. Here is the episode list:

1. Sir Ken Robinson

2. John Hattie

3. Tony Little

4. Daisy Chritodoulou

5. Paul Howard-Jones

6. Sugata Mitra

7. Jo Boaler

8. Salman Khan

You could listen to several of these through iplayer or download the podcasts. As you listen think about how what the educator is saying relates to your setting, your role and your own experience of education. You might like to add a comment below.

March 26, 2015
by Jean
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Minecraft – can it support learning?

Next Monday (30th March) there is a programme on Radio 4 called ‘Minecraft: more than a game’. Its on at 11am and than available on iplayer and on Box of Broadcasts if you a university student.

minecraftIn this programme the presenter, Jolyon Jenkins, explores the computer game Minecraft. Children have the opportunity to create and manipulate in the digital world. Recently a school here in Northampton tapped into the creative potential of Minecraft in a whole school project.

You can read more about this experience here at the Bridgecraft Blog

You can find more about the creative potential of Minecraft here.

Have you got any experience of Minecraft in school or at home?

What are your thoughts about the radio programme or about Minecraft generally?

Post your comments below.

March 17, 2015
by Jean
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20th March – Solar Eclipse!

On Friday March 20th (if it is not too cloudy) we will be able to view a solar eclipse. An solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the earth and the sun blocking the sun’s light from reaching the earth. This is the only total solar eclipse of 2015 and the last total solar eclipse on the March equinox occurred  in 1662 on March 20th

solar eclipse

Meteorwatch 2015a

The picture on the right shows what a total solar eclipse looks like. This will be visible in the North Atlantic. In the UK we could see a partial solar eclipse similar to the picture below.

sl

Meteorwatch 2015b

A partial solar eclipse is when the sun, moon and earth don’t quite line up from the observer’s location.

The timing of the eclipse over the UK is around 9.30 to 9.35am on Friday 20th March. You can read more about the timings and see the progress over the UK on a map at this link.

This week, starting on Wednesday 18th March, on BBC 2 the Stargazing programme is focusing on the eclipse and includes a live broadcast on Friday morning from 9am.

If you are going to observe the eclipse it is important to do some research and make sure that you are properly prepared. There are some useful resources and activities at the Stargazing website that can be used at school or at home.

It is most important that we do not look directly at the sun, but rather use special glasses, a pinhole camera or other projection devices. Below is an idea from the Radip Times Magazine website for viewing the eclipse through a colander.

Projection through a colander

Simply hold up a kitchen colander during an eclipse and you will see that myriad small crescents – corresponding to the eclipsed phase of the Sun – are cast in the shadow. Each hole acts in the same way as a pinhole camera, projecting an inverted image of the Sun, and this works even if the holes are not round. This effect can also be seen when sunlight shines through leaves on a tree or other foliage, with the gaps between leaves acting as pinholes and creating crescents of light in the shade on the ground.

Casting the image onto a white piece of card held about 50cm away will increase the contrast, making the event easier to see, however any light-coloured surface will work. Try varying this distance to find the sharpest image, as the size of the holes in different colanders will affect the view. This method is the cheapest and easiest way for a group of people to simultaneously view the eclipse and its progress with no risk to either eyesight or equipment.

The results can be easily photographed using any conventional camera. The only downside is the size of the crescents are quite small. Increasing the distance between the colander and the projection screen will make the crescents larger, but also less defined. As such, other than the crescent itself, no details such as sunspots can be seen.

Pros: Cheap and easy, great for large groups of people

Cons: Views are quite small, no detail can be seen apart from the crescents (Radio Times staff, 2015)

If you or your school are doing anything special for the eclipse do let us know by posting in the comments below.

Reference list:

MeteorWatch (2015a) Total solar eclipse. [online] Available from: http://www.meteorwatch.org/solar-eclipse-march-20th-2015-easy-guide/#more-5998 {accessed: 17/03/15]

MeteorWatch (2015b) Partial solar eclipse. [online] Available from: http://www.meteorwatch.org/solar-eclipse-march-20th-2015-easy-guide/#more-5998 {accessed: 17/03/15]

Radio Times Staff (2015) Experience the Eclipse. [online] Available from: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-03-09/how-to-watch-the-solar-eclipse [Accessed: 17/03/15]

March 10, 2015
by Jean
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Next Northampton Inspire network meeting

On Monday 23rd March we will be holding our next Northampton Inspire Network Meeting.

This will take place in the Sulgrave building – go to reception and you will be directed from there. it will start at 4.30pm although refreshments will be available from 4pm.

We will be creating immersive sensory experiences around a theme.

IMG_5936-z64choThis session explores cheap and effective ways of creating multi sensory environments for visual and sound stimulation using portable dark and white rooms. We will experiment with a wealth of light and sound equipment, create images using luminous paint, and project sensory iPad apps and video onto 3D objects. The aim is to create controllable experiential activities that encourage engagement and interaction for all learners, and to think about creative ways of theming these. We have been inspired by the work of Richard Hirstwood: http://youtu.be/ihMSw8BIXF4 and http://youtu.be/PkIKpOn7y98.

You can book free tickets here and feel free to let others know about the meeting – it is for students. teachers, teaching assistants and other interested people.

March 6, 2015
by Jean
0 comments

Two perspectives on Autism

Over the last few weeks on the One to One programme on BBC Radio 4 John Harris, a journalist on The Guardian, has been talking about autism. His son is autistic, in these two programmes he talks with an expert on autism (Professor Simon Baron-Cohen) and an adult who was diagnosed as autistic in her thirties (Penny Andrews).

one to one 1In the first programme John Harris talks with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. In this conversation the development of understanding about what autism is is discussed. Its interesting that he talks about discovering people with autism who could talk about the experience, something that at the time was new as it was assumed that people with autism would not be able to function in day to day life.

In the conversation John Harris discusses how difficult it is for him to conceive of how his son understands the world. Simon Baron-Cohen suggests that we do inhabit the same world in some respects and that we do have things in common. He uses the example of structure, repetition and routine where he comments that many people with autism need but so so many other people, something John Harris agrees with.

Simon Baron-Cohen discusses the concept of neuro diversity – there are different types of brains in the population rather than a single ‘normal’ brain, similar to the concept of biodiversity, that we encounter in the classroom. He talks about how some of the traits or qualities of autism can be seen as areas of strength – remarkable attention to detail, fascination with patterns and an ability to persist and go deeply in one topic.

one to one 2In the second programme John Harris meets an adult who has been identified as autism in adulthood and who works as a university researcher – Penny Andrews.

This is an interesting conversation – John Harris picks up on some of the points made by Simon Baron-Cohen and that he has notices in his own experience with his son. He is keen to have her perspective as his son is to young to be able to articulate and explain his feelings and needs.

Towards the end of the conversation they talk about how Penny’s employer is able to adjust and support her so that she can work effectively.

It is also interesting how Penny explores the connections between herself and people who are not autistic and people who are considered to be severely autistic.

For many of you who work with children on the autistic spectrum both these programmes are of interest, giving you some background and perspective on autism historically, theoretically and personally. From a student point of view it is interesting for you to notice how John Harris compares the research of Simon Baron-Cohen with experience of Penny Andrews – we often ask you to make these connections between research and practice in your academic work.

Both programmes are available on iplayer here They were broadcast on 17th and 24th February 2015 and  can be found in the episodes list. They are also saved in Box of Broadcasts if you are a university student.

If you listen to these programmes and have any comments please add them below.

 

February 23, 2015
by Jean
0 comments

Get Creative! (part 1 of 2)

Last week creativity was in the news as the Warwick Commission launched their report ‘Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth’ and the BBC launched their ‘Get Creative’ celenration of the arts, culture and creativity across the UK.

warwick‘Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth’ is based upon a year long investigation by people working in the arts and culture, supported by academics at the University of Warwick.

It was chaired by Vikki Heywood, CBE, who said:

‘The key message from this report is that the government and the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.’ (p8)

The report can be downloaded here – Final Report You can read tweets about the report and join in the discussion here #enrichinggb

For those of us working in education and schools it is interesting to note that  the report calls on the Government and Ofsted to ensure all children up to 16 receive a broad cultural education and urge that no school should be designated “outstanding” without evidence of an excellent cultural and creative education.

Goal 3 (of five goals) is focused upon fully harnessing the importance of creativity in education and skills development.  Goal 3 states:

A world-class creative and cultural education for all to ensure the wellbeing and creativity of the population as well as the future success of the Cultural and Creative Industries Ecosystem. Education and skills development are essential in order to maximise our nation’s full creative and cultural potential. The key to enriching Britain is to guarantee a broad cultural education for all (through arts skills acquisition, participation in arts and cultural events and enhanced appreciation), an education and a curriculum that is infused with multi-disciplinarity, creativity and enterprise and that identifies, nurtures and trains tomorrow’s creative and cultural talent. The English education system does not provide or encourage either of these priorities and this will negatively impact not just on the future of the creative industries but on our capacity to produce creative, world-leading scientists, engineers and technologists. As the evidence in this report demonstrates, children born into low income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to: be employed and succeed in the Cultural and Creative Industries; engage with and appreciate the arts, culture and heritage in the curriculum; experience culture as part of their home education and have parents who value and identify with the cultural experiences on offer from publicly funded arts, culture and heritage. (p15)

 

If you are seeking to preserve and enhance and culture in your setting this report contains powerful evidence and arguments to support you.

February 9, 2015
by Jean
0 comments

TV recommendation – The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds

On Tuesday evening (10th February) at 8pm on Channel 4 there is an interesting TV programme – The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds.

secret lifwe

 

It is an observational documentary that follows ten four-year-old children at nursery – the nursery is rigged with cameras and microphones to capture all their play and interactions. You can read an interview neuroscientist Dr Paul Howard-Jones about the programme here.

You can also see some clips from the programme here – clips. (teaching a song, the chocolate cake test and den building)

I’m sure this will be an interesting to watch for all of us involved in education, whether in early years or in other age phases.

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