What we actually said….

1 05 2008

I think I may be getting a bit obsessed with blogging!  I really wanted to put on here the things I said on Tuesday as I am certainly no IT expert and through things outwith my control I have not been able to use Glow chat and meet yet but yet was able to explain how I was using Glow in other ways for learning and teaching.

I had initially put info, news, web links, photos and learnnewsdesk@LTS on my pupil, staff, school and class pages so there were things there to make it interesting when the children first logged on.  Once we had their passwords changed the pupils in my class found it easy to navigate around and liked the fact they could change their theme and had their own page to customise.


I then set up two glow groups – one for our African rich task and one for our electricity which was an active learning open area topic.  Again I put the news, whats on, photos and web links on the pages initially and then we began using the discussion pages.  The pupils were desperate to use Glow Chat but the java updates would appear to still not have been done properly for this.  I used the web links and documents pages to give help for the pupils to answer the questions I set on the discussion pages and I really like this part of it as there is so much document space on this and really saves photocopying etc.

The two kids with me then said a little bit about how they got on with the discussions – like how they started off just saying hi etc but gradually they began to answer the questions I set.  We used it to discuss some of the things they had learnt and how they had got on working in a group – they thought it was good to have a safe way to talk to each other.  They also felt less threatened having a discussion on glow as they said when people could not disagree with you to your face it did not feel so bad.  I think they were a bit more honest about how they worked together when writing it rather than discussing it in class.  And because it is recorded I have got the evidence for as long as I want it!

On these glow groups I have been able to embed video, put RSS feeds in, use web page viewers for our blogs and email and have used text editor to put in lessons for the children.  For example I put in a punctuation exercise that the pupils could then cut and paste into a word document to work on.  A lot of these things could be done through the documents page or web links but it is fun trying things out to see what works best.  I love the fact that I can embed video so easily as I had never tried to do that before for my class in any other way as it seemed tricky!

I also set up a gallery page within my African rich task glow group.  This has photos in it that I could then use for discussion within glow or orally within the class, or as starters for writing or art for example.

I had set up a couple of surveys in my African rich task; one about the knowledge the children learnt from the topic and one on self-assessment of how they had worked in a group.  I really like these as there are lots of different ways to answer from full written answers to mulitple choice, options of being compulsory or not, anonymous or not and you can set so they can answer more than once if you want.  You can then see all of the individual answers or together with percentages.  Again this is giving me lots of evidence without a huge pile of paper.Some of the questions I set in the self-assessment task were:

At the start of the rich task how well would you say you worked in a group?

What role do you think you are best at and then why did you think that?

Do you think you have improved in group work during the topic?

Have you learned any strategies to improve your group work?

Group work was a major part of this rich task so this was really useful and I again I think they answered more honestly than they would have in front of everyone.  I think these are great for less able pupils as they will hopefully feel less nervous about doing tests this way.

The kids talked about how they thought doing the surveys on glow was easier and simpler than having a written test.  One of them said how they liked doing the surveys as it felt more like a fun quiz.  They thought that doing the self-assessment survey was a good way of thinking about how they had worked themselves and in a group without having to talk about it in front of everyone.

They have had some funny answers in the survey about why they were best at which role, most of them said they were best at being chairperson because:

“Because I suck at the other two and I like to take charge”,

“because I take charge and am not a wimp” and


I was then at the stage of putting lesson plans onto Glow with WALT and WILF.  I loved this because my class are not good at listening and this means I am not having to repeat instructions multiple times.  The kids that need challenged got to do more and I was able to spend more time with those that needed it.  I loved what one of my kids finished with, which totally summed it up for me:

“As for me, I think it is fun and challenging, especially doing the surveys and I cannot wait to use Glow Meet.  Stuart in our class said he likes glow because it is an online community.  We really like the idea of having this in school.”

I am now ready to move on by developing my use of lesson plans etc on Glow, using glow chat, meet and learn and by starting the staff off this term by using the whats on, news and calendar.  I am really looking forward to starting off a cross-authority glow group on something to do with my Malawi trip this summer, at present there are 5 authorities across the country interested in this.  This will really start to develop learning and teaching within an online community spread throughout Scotland which is surely what the purpose of Glow is.

I know a lot of the people reading this will already be using Glow and will know all of this and be doing far more things than I have been doing but maybe this will help to stop some of the fears people who have not started using it might have.

I had really wanted to put in snapshots of some of my Glow pages within this post so it showed what I was showing on Tuesday and so it was not just all writing but wordpress does not want to let me paste the snapshots in so I will make up an animoto or something tomorrow probably and post that on. 




17 04 2008

Finished reading the book last night (I let pacepusher on my laptop to write up his blog on the marathon and he spent 4 hours on it so I had plenty of time!) so here are a couple of ideas for challenging activities:

  • Beat the teacher – the teacher goes over something like a concept or procedure, or they look at a piece of writing etc and work out mistakes themselves, then go over these with a partner and then have a class discussion on it.
  • Be the teacher – give the pupils 15 sums, some correct and some wrong and the pupils have to work out the answers and correct them as a teacher would.  They should write in comments, especially thinking about feedback that would be useful to the child who did the sums.
  • What number am I? – Have a secret number and the class have to guess it losing as few marks as possible.  A direct guess would cost 3 marks but a good question would only cost 1 ie is the number even.  You could later use decimals or negative numbers and then let a child pick the number.  To introduce the idea you could give out a few random numbers and ask the pupils to group them how they think.
  • Cross out game – Children write five different 2 digit numbers on a whiteboard and teachers gives statements to get them crossed out.  Can reinforce concepts by having a 100 square next to you.  More able pupils will pick higher numbers, less able can stick to numbers under 20.
  • Talk about numbers – put a sum on the board and ask the children to work out how they know it’s true.
  • Children teaching – Have five groups of 6 and give each a different task/procedure to produce a summary on ie different things about WW2 or different maths concepts.  Then change the pupils to six groups of 5 with each group now having a different person from each of the initial groups in it.  The children now teach each other from their summaries. 

Thought some of these would be really interesting to try, particularly the last one.

Extra question:  Are any other teachers out there also regular marathon (or ultra) runners?  I am beginning to think they are not very compatible as by the time you have got to the marathon (particularly a spring marathon) you are so tired from the intensive training and teaching that you are unlikely to perform at your best.  Then of course there are also all the germs flying about all the time and if you are training hard for the marathon you can be more susceptible to getting things as you are riding a thin line from doing too much.

Shopping went better than the marathon!

16 04 2008

Just got back from London last night and am still trying to get over the marathon (thats psychologically rather than sore legswise).  I was bitterly disappointed to only run 4.32.17 when I had been going for sub 4.10 but you will have to read my running blog to learnn more (be warned – it’s a lengthly post!).  In it I probably beat myself up about it quite a bit, I would say I have stopped doing that to myself so severely about teaching but definately not in terms of running.

I did take some work with me and despite meeting two fellow runners on the train on the way down on Friday I started to fly through writing my presentation for the HT conference.  It was really flowing and I am sure that it is because like the presentations I have done on Malawi I know what I am talking about and it was easy to put in the structure.  Unfortunately waves of sickness suddenly came on and I was forced to stop for a couple of hours.  Instead of going back to it later I spent the time doing some reading of AIFL stuff, which I found really interesting and took a lot of notes on, and reading gossipy mags that Debs brought on the train.  By the time we finally ate dinner at 9pm that night after being on the bus, train and underground all day I had motion sickness and the whole restaurant was moving!

I made up for the lack of a good time in the marathon by visits to the amazing Imperial War Museum (It would be amazing to be able to take your class there during a WW2 topic) and the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum.  Then there was the shopping where I did walk a lot of miles (on Monday and Tuesday) which actually helped my legs with their recovery, don’t get me wrong though they are still not right and won’t be for a while and I was a fine sight going down stairs sideways (believe me if I could have gone down backwards I would have but I thought was going to look just a bit too odd!).

Some things I picked up or was reminded of from my reading (‘Asking Better Questions’ by Ian Smith) were:

  • Ask the pupils to identify ‘fat and thin’ questions
  • Don’t give the question – give the answer and ask why it’s correct ie Why can 7/9 not be simplified?
  • Turn the question into a true or false statement and ask why its true or false
  • Ask big questions ie philisophical
  • Ask for 5 ideas – it stretches those that need it
  • If someone says they do not know ask “What would you say if you did know?”
  • Get an answer and gather others, then go back to the first pupil and ask ‘which answer do you like best?”

I have not quite finished it, the last section is the most interesting.  It is titled ‘How to devise Challenging Activities’ and has some good ideas in it.  I will post them when I have finished it.