Tag: teachers

Learning objectives: the importance of trigger verbs

Right arrowI’m not sure whether it was because I was new to the profession, but it was during my teaching practices that I attended two in-service training events that have had a profound inuence on my teaching. The first, about the use of body language and voice in the classroom I shall share in a future post. This post builds on Learning objectives: the basics, and concerns the second: the use of trigger verbs when framing lesson objectives.

It’s important to use these ‘trigger verbs’ – words that relate specifically to actions – when framing learning objectives for (or indeed, with) students. Sometimes, however, it’s difficult to know which trigger verbs to use. Is, for example, interpreting a high-order skill than categorizing?

The document below () is based on an original by Ron Rooney of the Education Development Service and provides some clarification. Let me say in advance that I’m aware that some people believe that Synthesis and Evaluation should switch positions from that given in Bloom’s original taxonomy. I’m just providing the document largely as it was given to me. 🙂

You should have the options to both download this as a Microsoft Word-formatted document and print it using the buttons below the table. ‘KS3’ and ‘GCSE’ stand for ‘Key Stage 3’ and ‘General Certificate of Secondary Education’ respectively. You can remove or change these if they are not relevant to where you are or what you’re doing!

What do you think? Is this useful? Is it out of date? :-p

Learning objectives: the basics

Bullseye

A combination of my ongoing mentoring of an M.Ed. student, a request by a commenter (Ian Guest) and some broken links on the newly-restored teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk has spurred me to write this post.

As a teacher, I’ve never really known a world before learning objectives. It was certainly something that was expected of me during my PGCE at Durham University and from then on in my teaching career. And, to be fair, it’s fairly obvious why. If a learner knows what’s expected of them, and then can ascertain whether they’ve achieved a learning goal, then they’ve been successful.

However, I’ve seen learning objectives used really badly. I’ve seen a ‘learning objective’ that ran something like:

To know who the Romans were.

How would a learner or teacher know whether any type of meaningful learning has taken place with this as a learning objective?! A far better one would be:

To list 3 ways the Romans have influenced life in the 21st century.

This is SMART – i.e.

  • Specific – ‘list 3 ways’ tells students exactly what to expect.
  • Measurable – both students and the teacher can tell whether the learning objective has been attained.
  • Achievable – the learning objective is open-ended enough to allow for effective differentiation.
  • Realistic – this particular learning objective doesn’t really require any prior learning.
  • Time-related – students need to have achieved this learning objective by the end of the lesson.

Even better practice would be to use ALL, MOST and SOME with learning objectives. This allows for even more differentiation and sets and explicit baseline for all learners.

To use the above example again:

ALL students should: list 3 ways the Romans have influenced life in the 21st century.

MOST students should: decide which Roman innovation has been most profound.

SOME students should: explain how Roman innovations have changed/evolved over the last 2,000 years.

It’s only after the learning objectives have been formulated that lesson activities and resources should be prepared. After all, if the activities and resources aren’t focused on learning, what are they focused upon?

Do you have a view or some advice on learning objectives? Share it in the comments below! 🙂

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Politics: the biggest problem in education

The biggest problem in education is political interference in the work of classroom teachers. This post has been brewing for a while. One long-term influence is dissatisfaction with the current education system. This dissatisfaction is one of the reasons I entered the teaching profession in the first place, and also a reason I’m in favour of the Conservatives’ idea of independent state schools under the Swedish model. More short-term influences include Vicki Davis’ excellent blog post Administration Should Be Like The ‘Pit Crew’ and a meeting/confrontation I had today. As usual on this blog, I’m not going to mention where I work nor individual names there.

Although with the recent financial turmoil this is turning into a less illustrative example, the delegation of responsibility by the UK government to the Bank of England for some financial matters I see to be a great idea. It puts those with the greatest knowledge and experience in charge of something very important. Education, on the other hand, is a very party political matter with endless tinkering of the system to attempt to win the support of middle-class voters. I’m a believer in government being as small as possible: whilst the state needs to intervene in the ‘big picture’ of education, I think there are other organizations and bodies eminently more suitable to deal with assessment and examinations, for example.

Ever since the Conservatives introduced a free market into UK education in 1990, schools have become more and more like businesses. I’ve seen the good and bad side of this system. In 1990, the new rules allowed my parents to take me out of the local, very poor, middle school (at my request) and install me at a much better school. I’m not against parental choice, per se, but I’m certainly against the endless analogies and comparisons of schools to businesses. Educating children is not like making products to sell at a profit. Instead, I think a better model is schools as charities.

If schools were seen as charities they would be:

  • Independent
  • Able to raise money from various other organizations
  • Focused on process as well as results
  • Diverse in nature

The type of leaders needed in charities and NGOs are different from those required by business. I’m generalising monumentally here, but those at the helm of the former tend to have inspiration and drive quite unlike those in the latter group.

So those in charge in schools shouldn’t be good managers, they should be great leaders. Instead of flaunting their power within the ‘corporate hierarchy’ they should, as Vicki Davis states, support teachers – those on the front line:

To me, times are lean and mean.  The classroom should be like a well maintained car and administration should be like the pit crew. They should give the classroom the tools they need, encouragement, a mission, and quick “pit stops” to improve and keep them going…

If you’re not helping the cause of education, you’re hurting it.  And with times being tough, those who count themselves leaders need to take a hard look at their own rolls when asking teachers to make cuts.  For, to ask teachers to make sacrifices when you aren’t willing is unfair and breeds contempt.

Although I’ve been accused of it for the first time today, I’m not one for manipulating others and playing politics within my organization. Not at all: I’m there to make things better for the system – locally, nationally and internationally. The problem with a strictly hierarchical system is that it is nothing like a meritocracy. I’m certainly not questioning the overall ability of the senior management at my school, but I have felt, at times, and in my career overall, times when my ability as a professional to make decisions and put forward opinions has been undermined somewhat.

I’d like, as Vicki again mentions, school hierarchies to be as ‘flat’ as possible. Obviously, there’s a need for management. But now, more than ever, teachers need to be given freedom and be shown trust to exercise their professional judgement over issues affecting them. Not to do so would be to play politics for politics’ sake and to undermine potential educational experiences for a great number of children.

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10 ‘Home Truths’ about Schooling and Education

I was frustrated last night as dougbelshaw.com wasn’t working and I couldn’t post the following. These came to me at various points yesterday and kind of melded themselves into a blog post.

So here’s what’s on my mind:

 

 

  1. For there to be ‘good’ parents there must be ‘bad’ parents. The same is true of teachers.
  2. It is almost impossible to effect a fundamental change in worldview in an individual whom you see as part of a class of ~30 for less than an hour per week.
  3. To learn how to ride a bicycle you have to take the stabilisers off at some point. In the same way, Internet safety cannot be taught effectively in an artificially closed, filtered, environment.
  4. More content ? more achievement.
  5. Being good at passing examinations does not mean an individual will be of benefit of society or ‘flourish’ (in an Aristotelian sense)
  6. Technology often serves to magnify talents and, moreover, weaknesses in pedagogy.
  7. If some pilots knew the same about flying as some teachers know about ‘real’ teaching, the aircraft would never get to its destination.
  8. It may be a cliché to cite time-motion studies that show that the majority of time in school, children are waiting for something to happen. This does not mean, however, that the situation has been rectified.
  9. If the school is a business, then each department should know how the others fit into corporate aims and philosophies. If it is not, and is child-centred, it needs to have a holistic approach. Either way, most schools need to improve communication between subject areas.
  10. One of the chief functions of schools in the 21st century is to babysit children for ever-increasing periods of time (think: extended schools).

3 ‘well, duh’ BBC Education articles

BBC EducationSometimes there’s some articles on the BBC News Education pages that make you wonder who’s paying for the research they’re based upon. Here’s 3 just from yesterday:

  • 71% of pupils admit being a bully – and the other 29% are liars if, as I suspect, ‘bullying’ has been very widely defined. Real bullying can blight lives and should not be condoned under any circumstances. Minor name-calling and fallings-out, on the other hand (although some will no doubt disagree), are all part of growing up. It’s the human equivalent of play-fighting in animals.
  • Some exams ‘harder than others’ – really? My goodness! Groundbreaking news. And surprise, surprise, they found History GCSE is harder than Geography GCSE. Perhaps historians’ jibes that Geographers do nothing but colour things in have some credence after all… 😉
  • Unions ‘protecting poor teachers’ – this is something I feel strongly about. There’s a lot of talented people out there who should be in our schools rather than some of the no-hopers I’ve come across in previous schools. I haven’t (thankfully) come across any in my current school, but that’s why we’re a high-achieving specialist school. Having recently received the latest issue of my union’s magazine it’s clear that a great deal of the time they ‘protect’ whinging teachers who really need to get out of the profession and do something to which they’re more suited. That’s not to say that unions don’t do a good job some of the time – both my Dad and myself have had positive experiences – but they really do need to face up to the fact that some teachers aren’t up to the job. There’s only so much ‘professional development’ people can do! :p

What do you think?

5 things School of Rock can teach us about real education

School of RockI watched School of Rock a couple of nights ago. Unbelievably, given that I absolutely love High Fidelity – which stars Jack Black in a somewhat similar role – I’d never seen it before. The film was great and I really enjoyed it; I also thought it gave some pointers as to what real learning experiences should look like. :p

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I don’t like paper

Stack of paper

I don’t like paper. You can probably tell that by my desk at school which tends to be cluttered. I don’t mind that too much (my Dad’s desk used to have a sign on his saying “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius”) but it’s unnecessary in this day and age. Most of the stuff I receive in my pigeon-hole I either look at, remember, then throw in the bin (yes, we are without a whole-school recycling scheme at present) or keep until a certain date, then throw away.

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