Thursday, 29 October 2015

Evaluation, reflection and communication

Write a blog post choosing two technologies and how you have appropriated them into your practice. Choose one technology that has not had a significant impact on your practice and say why.

Online document Creation – such as Google Docs

For a long time I’ve been frustrated by the model of things like Microsoft Word where you write something, send it to someone and – well you lose control over it other than the fact that you still have your copy. Using Google Docs I’ve worked with primary classes to have pairs and groups work together on documents, but more usefully, give peer feedback on a piece of writing before a teacher sees it. This works in a number of ways

  • It motivates the writer to speed up – to get the feedback and meet the deadline, it also motivates them to write better as there is a real audience (see also blogging below) 
  • It improves their understanding of the assessment criteria – having to look at what is required for a piece of work, and give feedback to someone stretches the student and helps them better understand what ‘good’ looks like – and apply it to their own work. Feedback from all abilities of student was that they got better at things as a result of giving feedback and the more they did it as a routine, the more it helped them.

Google Docs doesn’t make this possible – you can do it in loads of ways – but it made it simple, quick, free and made it possible to do it on demand and from home.

Beyond the classroom I've found the same approach (which is little more than a Wiki done in a more user friendly way) invaluable for project planning, meeting agendas and minutes and working with colleagues.


Another obvious choice would be blogging – writing for a purpose for a real audience. The fact that the text being written would be seen by people other than the teacher is hugely motivating, and blogging gives the school a nice simple way to achieve that safely, without spending a huge amount.

Learning Journals such as Tapestry

Tapestry is one of the simplest, most revolutionary tools I’ve seen. The idea is simple – take a set of early learning goals, each with a tag. Take a set of children and give each a tag. As the working week goes in the early years setting take hundreds of photos, audio clips and videos of learning happening and tag them with the learning goal and the people so that:

As a team leader I can review evidence for the group of a particular goal (moderation, session planning, assessment records, professional development, appraisal).

As a practitioner I can review progress for a particular child to plan, review, assess, record.

As a parent I can share the progress of my child in a much more real and rich way.

Choose one technology that has not had a significant impact on your practice and say why

Interactive Whiteboards

I was one of the first teachers I know to get an IWB – as I was “good at IT” I got one through a grant-funded piece of work. At first the wow factor made it really powerful, and the ability to recall and review previous lessons and share with students by email was brilliant. But it ultimately still involved standing with my back to a group of teenagers for extended periods, and was not always easy to read from the back of the class or reliable to use and… progressively it became less and less interactive. Not everyone was always that keen to come to the front, so it became more and more just a tool for me as a teacher and it didn’t make me any better as a teacher.

I stopped using it other than as a projector, and haven’t missed it after moving on. I have seen good teachers really make IWBs work – especially blending pre-built material and games in with their own materials – I think they can be a huge labour saving device, but those benefits don’t need the big touch sensitive thing on the wall, there are far better ways of achieving the same end.

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