I have less than 2 weeks left of my two year secondment as a Curriculum Support Teacher (the title has changed a few times since I first took up the post) and all the secondees who are leaving the team to return to class were asked to put together alumni presentations to share any changes/successes that we have influenced – or been part of – in our particular area of practice.
On Friday afternoon, the wider Curriculum Support Team members were treated to some very imaginative, fun activities such as: fairy stories; poems; games.
My own presentation probably seemed bland in comparison :-).
I chose to tell the story (as best I could) of a few of the changes I’ve made that I’m most proud of and I shared four of these …. there are more, but we only had 5 minutes
How it Began
I intended to begin my presentation by talking about what I’d been up to before I embarked on my secondment journey – but, as I missed out some of the important stuff, I’ll take this opportunity to add it here.
Just prior to the secondment post being advertised, I’d completed a case study of my experience of having given learners their own blogs and wikis. Very soon afterwards some work colleagues mentioned that an ICT Support Officer secondment opportunity was available and I decided (was persuaded?) to apply for the post in order to share what I’d learned.
I don’t know how many applied, but there were 8? candidates interviewed. I must have said something to convince them that I was the right person for the job because I here I am two years on writing this blog post about my secondment. My main remit was to introduce others to any online resources that could improve the learning and teaching experience.
Success Number 1
The first success I talked about was the number of class blogs I’ve helped to create.
The screenshots on the powerpoint slide show just a small amount, and in some schools every class has their own blog.
I’ve also had lots of feedback from teachers telling me about the positive impact of having a class blog has had on their classroom practice.
Finding the right host to recommend was a learning curve but finding http://primaryblogger.co.uk/ was a godsend. The support is second to none – check out johnmclear on twitter. He’s on a mission to improve learners’ experience via ICT.
Success Number 2
The second success I mentioned was having had the opportunity to spread the news about the host of freely available online tools. These tools can greatly benefit both online and offline classroom learning. Digital Storytelling, active learning, parental involvement and collaboractive activities are just some of the areas they can help enhance.
Sharing how using simple inexpensive tools such as mp3 players with built in microphones or digital cameras can make a difference to the quality of the learning experience was made easier because I was able to demonstrate by showing real life examples from my own class blog (capably looked after by others until my return).
Success Number 3
The third success on my agenda, was the changes to Falkirk’s Virtual Teacher Centre (known as the VTC). Part of my original remit was to oversee the day-to-day management and maintenance of the website. As a class teacher, I wasn’t very familiar with the VTC. I knew that it had links to great resources, but as I could never remember the password, I opted to use Google searches or the LTS website instead.
I was aware from talking to other class teachers that the VTC was not the first port of call for them either when they were looking for online resources. I managed to persuade my new colleagues that it would be a better idea to have the VTC more accessible by taking away the need for a password.
As an added bonus, the Staff area of the VTC is now the default homepage for every primary school staff teacher in Falkirk – what a great vehicle for sharing news, websites, case studies, etc.
Success Number 4
My next choice for a ‘Success Story’ was the realisation half way through the secondment that teachers are not always the best recipients of CPD sessions. When I began hearing statements like:
“This looks great, but I’m not sure I could manage to do this with my class”
I offered to work directly with the children – this was very warmly received..
“Can you do that?”
.. was the typical response.
When she heard about this approach, my new line manager was convinced that this was the right path to take and gave me the ‘thumbs up’.
Working with a few students, and allowing them to become the ‘experts’ – who then spread their new knowledge to create other ‘experts’, who then spread their new knowledge …….
Where to Now?
Last summer I stumbled upon the idea of giving learners their own eportfolios and I’ve been trying to sell the idea ever since. My musings led me to writing this:
“When I mention this to others in my own Local Authority – and to others outwith the Authority – the first question I’m typically asked is : “So … what is an ePortfolio?”
I find the answer to this question difficult. I think it’s because when I first heard about the idea, I was so attracted to it that I began reading any available relevant literature. This led me to writing a blog post about what I understood about the concept … but I can’t regurgitate all the bullet points in that that post every time someone asks me to explain in a few sentences what I mean by an ePortfolio, so I’ve tried to reduce them again to get the main points (as I see them) across.
1. What is an ePortfolio?:
- It’s a collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievements
2. What should they look like?
- There should be evidence of self-reflection
3. What’s the teacher’s role?
- They need to plan carefully to provide clearly defined criteria
- Effective feedback should be given to students, to encourage them to observe their own learning journey
4. What about the pupils?
- Comments should go beyond “I think I did OK” or ” I think I have more to learn.”
- Pupils should be monitoring their own learning so that they can adjust what they do when they perceive they are not understanding.
The next question that I need to prepare for is: ” How do you manage something like that?”
Whilst on secondment, I’ve only been able to ’play around’ with the idea and I’m looking forward to trialling it ‘for real’ when I return to the classroom in August. I’ve been very encouraged, however, by the motivation shown by the children I’ve helped set one up for so far. Because I set up the wikispace eportfolios, I receive an email every time a change is made to one of them.”
Back to the Future