I have spoken to a few teachers on my placement about this subject, and have found that some of them (even more experienced teachers) lack confidence and would prefer a specialist to lead this learning. I wondered whether this is a common feeling, and therefore have decided to open these questions up to a larger audience via social media. I created a simple survey with questions are based on those used in the Hallam study. These questions include:
How confident do you feel about teaching music?
How important is music to children’s learning?
Do you consider yourself to be musical? and
Do you think that music should be taught by a specialist?
I have never used this type of software, or conducted a survey in this way, so this will be an interesting learning experience for me. I hope that the responses will give me a greater understanding of how current primary teachers feel about the subject of music.
As I do not have experience with conducting a professional survey, I have ensured that all responses to my survey are completely anonymous and the results will not be posted, rather they will simply be used to inform my own professional understanding.
Hallam, S., Burnard, P., Robertson, A., Saleh, C., Davies, V., Rogers, L., and Kokatsaki, D. (2009) ‘Trainee primary-school teachers’ perceptions of their effectiveness in teaching music’ in Music Education Research, 11(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14613800902924508
Over the last few weeks, I have come across 2 online resources which I feel could be really useful in my future teaching career. These have been shown to me by university lecturers, and in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would write a little post about them to hopefully inspire some of my fellow course-mates.
The first of these resources was comes from the website ‘Chrome Experiments’. This is “an online showroom of web browser based experiments… and artistic projects” (Wikipedia.) In other words, people have been creating all kinds of weird and wonderful things and uploading them to share with the world.
The particular experiment which appeals to me and that I can imagine using within the classroom, is Chrome Music Lab.
Chrome Music Lab
Within music lab, there are various different activities, all connected with music. For example, the first activity (entitled ‘Rhythm’) you can experiment with having the characters beat their drum (or ting their triangle, or knock their wooden block…) at different times according to where you place a marker. This is a great introduction to simple rhythm and patterns, it also gives children a very basic, first introduction to how music can be represented on a page.
Another part of Chrome Music Lab is ‘Arpeggios’ . Here you can click on any letter to hear the arpeggio played in that key. You can also adjust the speed in which the arpeggio is played. I think that this could be a great tool for looking at how music can be used to provoke feelings and emotions – for example, the arpeggio in d#, playing at a slow tempo could be perceived to sound slightly sad/ melancholy whereas playing in G, at a faster tempo may sound happy and joyful.
The second resource was introduced to me through a TDT task which was sent earlier today. Again, I’d never seen it before, but it got me quite excited and I just had to try it out.
Padlet is a virtual space where you can add ‘post-it’ style notes, as well as photos, links and media from your own computer or from the web. What I really like about it is that it can be used as a collaborative space.
Each board can be set to be private (for your eyes only), public, or password protected. This means that it could easily be used for students to work together on a project – collecting their research or sharing ideas together.
HERE is my example Padlet board (pictured below). To access it you will need the password: uodedu. Feel free to add/ remove/ change things if you would like to.
Having this information stored in a secure online space means that pupils could continue to add work or ideas to it outside of school hours if they so desire. It is also attractive (customisable backgrounds and icons) and easy to use, which may help to engage the children.
THIS article from Education World has some more ideas about how you might use Padlet within the classroom. I particularly like the idea of having a question wall – with children perhaps adding questions about what they are currently learning and showing any gaps in their understanding, or perhaps adding questions which show what they would like to learn next.
Of course, an issue with this is that not all children have access to computers or the internet at home. Therefore I would not use a resource like Padlet for any homework tasks or compulsory work unless there is time allocated to it within the school day.
I always love discovering new resources and I would urge you to have a play with these. Let me know what you think of them in the comments below!
Thank you to Derek Robertson and Wendee White (the lecturers that inspired this post).
This morning my brain is buzzing with a thousand thoughts. Through a connection on Twitter (did I mention that I love social media?) I was advised to listen to a wonderful show on BBC iPlayer entitled ‘My Teacher is an App‘.
This is a fascinating piece about the ever increasing role of technology in education. Much of it is centred around America’s ‘Silicon Valley’, but the points made are equally valid in a UK context.
On the show, various professionals discussed their opinion of where education is headed. At the beginning of the show, it was mentioned that we are moving towards a society of one to one computing in an educational situation. Some of the proposed advantages of this include:
high levels of engagement
Up to date information and resources (as opposed to textbooks which quickly date and become obsolete)
The radio program introduced us to Salman Khan; the creator of Khan Academy. Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation which provides short instructional videos/ lectures in the form of Youtube videos. This means that they are accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Khan proposes that our current models of teaching (involving grouping students and standardised testing) are vastly outdated and suggests that the Khan Academy model is more suited to the learners of today.
Below is a ‘Ted Talks’ video of Salman Khan discussing the use of his videos in learning:
As Sarah Montague (the radio presenter) points out; one of the huge benefits of teaching in this way is that pupils can learn at their own pace. A video can be paused, rewound or re-watched as many times as a learner requires in order for them to grasp the concept. There is also no fear of ridicule from peers, as no-one needs to know how quickly or slowly you are learning.
Within his talk, Khan mentions the idea of the ‘flipped classroom’. This is a model where traditional teaching and learning methods are reversed. Students are required to watch short educational videos at home before the lesson, and in class time they undertake tasks which are more like traditional homework activities. It is suggested that this method will allow teachers to spend more time addressing children’s individual needs, whether that be support for specific problems, or challenge for the more able.
The BBC radio show also discusses the use of video gaming in learning. Nolan Bushnell, the “father of modern video gaming” and founder of Atari, discusses his online resource: Brain Rush. This is a website full of short, educational games, designed to allow learners to develop skills quickly. Bushnell speaks about making learning fun and addictive, claiming that children can learn almost anything through gaming. It is also suggested that gaming can help pupils to review and memorise information, although these claims cannot yet be substantiated.
One group of schools in America which have embraced the use of technology is Rocketship Education. In these schools, children spend around a quarter of their school day online. Results in these schools are said to be very high and Rocketship suppose that this model of teaching will help to close the attainment gap. One of the issues of this model of teaching and learning is that the use of technology means that fewer teachers are employed. On the other hand, those teachers who are employed, are paid very competitive rates compared to standard teachers.
Taking digital learning even further, is the idea of ‘Virtual Schools’. In this situation, students do not attend school in the traditional sense, rather, they are responsible for undertaking their own learning via the internet and technology.
I find the idea of technology gradually replacing teachers rather unsettling. While I am completely on board with personalised learning and tapping in to the tools which engage children, I do not feel that the social and emotional aspects of development can be met without building the strong and important relationships with teachers and significant adults. In my opinion, technology and digital tools should be used alongside teachers and lessons, in ways that extend and deepen pupils’ knowledge and understanding.
When discussing Virtual Schools on the radio show, Sarah Montague raised the same issue that immediately popped into my head – what is keeping the children from becoming distracted and going off to do something else? While pupils may be motivated to learn about subjects that interest them, I cannot imagine them maintaining the self discipline to persevere at more challenging subjects, when temptations such as video games or TV are close by.
Never the less, virtual schools are a concept which may be appearing within the UK. In 2014, the Telegraph posted THIS ARTICLE proposing plans for a state funded ‘virtual school’.
Towards the end of ‘My Teacher is an App’, listeners were presented with a theory of learning and education which contrasts completely with the previous, highly technology based models.
The Waldorf approach places focus on child development through free play and expression through art, music and nature. These schools emphasise playing and exploring through natural and organic experiences. In this type of education, the use of technology is discouraged until children are older (around 13 years) and it is even suggested that technology could impact negatively on children’s ability to form relationships and express themselves creatively. Find out more about the Waldorf approach HERE.
Shields and Behrman (2000) also believe that excessive use of technology may have numerous dangerous effects on children, including access to unsuitable content, and reducing physical activity which may lead to obesity. In THIS JOURNAL, they discuss the need to limits and strict controls on the use of technology with children.
I am fascinated by the idea of the Khan Academy, Brain Rush, and the flipped classroom, and would love to see it in action within a real class. Despite this, I have to wonder whether it could actually work in our schools. While many pupils do have access to computers, tablets, phones or other devices to access the internet, there are those who do not. How does this model of teaching and learning support those who cannot access the videos before the class? Maybe a school which uses this model would provide access to ICT facilities before/ after school so that all pupils have the opportunity to access the resources?
Another issue of using technology in education is that many schools do not have the budget to provide computers/ devices for all pupils to use. Or, some schools do have computers, but they are old, slow, outdated machines which take an age to load and are perhaps cannot run the software that you want to use. I wonder if the rise of technology in education will create further inequality between schools, where some can access resources which others cannot.
I find it interesting that there appears to be a divide between the big push for outdoor learning and learning through nature (such as Forest Schools), and the growing role of technology in education. My opinion is that, like everything in life, there needs to be a balance. I firmly believe in the value of free play and natural play, but can also see that technology has an important and increasing role to play in children’s learning. It is the role of the teacher to provide opportunities for both.
Listening to the radio show has opened my eyes to some of the wonderful digital tools and resources which exist, and ways in which technology may start to change the way in which our education system works. Whether or not Virtual Schools take off, or the ‘flipped classroom’ begins to appear in more schools; I can see how teachers and educational professionals must continue to be flexible and reflective as discover the best ways to teach their pupils.
Recently, I was lucky enough to be asked to host #ScotEdChat. This is an hour long Twitter discussion, where teachers and other professionals can share their thoughts and ideas on a given topic. Our topic was the use of blogging and social media in a professional context.
(Click the image to read the ‘Storify’ log of the evening’s tweets).
#ScotEdChat was a brilliant experience with a lively chat. Many people participated by Tweeting about their own experiences with social media and blogs, both personally and professionally.
Following the chat, I’ve been thinking about the value of social media and online digital spaces for the purpose of shared professional practice. The Standards for Registration (GTCS) note the importance of sharing and collaboration. This can be seen in Professional Values and Personal Commitment:
Engaging with all aspects of professional practice and working collegiately with all members of our educational communities with enthusiasm, adaptability and constructive criticality.
Committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.
and also in 3.4.2. Professional Reflection and Communication:
Adopt an enquiring approach to their professional practice and engage in professional enquiry and professional dialogue.
As a student teacher, I feel that any support, advice, guidance and ideas which I can gather from experienced professionals is invaluable. Of course, these can come from my lecturers and teachers in my placement schools; but why not extend my knowledge even further by discussing pedagogy with teachers and experts around the country or even around the world? That’s where Social Media comes in.
There are numerous different forms of Social Media which a teacher may wish to become involved in:
Facebook is a site where users create a profile and can share statuses, photos, videos, links etc with other users.
Pros: As you probably know, Facebook is hugely popular and widely used. In 2013, 28.9 million UK users accessed the social network (statistica.com) and this number is projected to continue to grow. Facebook includes groups which can be public or private. Some teachers choose to share ideas for activities as well as teaching advice through these groups. Here is a list of some teaching Facebook groups.
Cons: While many people like to use Facebook for personal use. There are concerns about privacy on the site and it is vital that teachers take precautions to protect themselves online.
Yammer is accessible to anyone with a glow login. This means that it can be used by teachers, professionals and pupils alike. It is a space where individuals can share posts and links; enabling collaboration as well as discussion.
Pros: ‘Public’ posts are still only viewable by other glow users. This may be appealing to those who are not comfortable sharing with everyone on sites such as Twitter. Yammer also includes groups and hashtags so that posts can be directed to specific audiences. One major advantage of Yammer is that it can be a place for pupils to connect and share.
Cons: Although it is growing, Yammer is still relatively small. This means that there is currently less sharing than on larger sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter is a place where you can follow other professionals, creating a ‘feed’ of their posts. You can also share short, 140 character, updates including text, links or media.
This is my personal favourite social media site to use on a professional basis. As an Early Years Practitioner, I have engaged with thousands of like minded individuals and have found twitter to be an invaluable resource. As a student teacher, I am continually discovering useful articles which others have shared.
Pros: Twitter is a popular website for teaching professionals to connect and share. Hashtags are used to collect ‘tweets’ together (for example: all tweets with the hashtag #uodedu appear in one search/ list) and this is the way in which twitter chats are organised. With millions of users, Twitter allows individuals to easily connect with practitioners all around the globe.
Cons: Twitter can be a little hard to get into – with chats being fast paced, as well as many people using short-hand (due to the 140 character limit) and specific lingo. It can appear daunting for new users.
One of the wonderful things about social media is the accessibility. Around 76% of adults in the UK own a smartphone (deloitte.co.uk, 2015) which means that they can access the internet (and social media sites) almost 24/7. Whereas in the past, a teacher may have had to wait until the next day to ask the advice of a colleague, they can now post a question onto Twitter/ Yammer/ Facebook etc and often receive an answer very quickly.
Another positive aspect of professional sharing and connecting in this way is the support which teachers can offer each other. It is no secret that teaching is a difficult profession, but having a large support network of like-minded individuals can help to reassure and encourage.
Professionals in the education sector are required to undertake continual professional learning such as attending training courses or professional reading. I have also seen professionals in the Early Years sector using Twitter chats as CPD – keeping records of the conversations using Storify and then recording their own reflections. I feel that this could be a valuable additional resource for teachers.
Finally, becoming involved in social media can allow teachers to keep up to date with current issues, legislation and changes to the curriculum. As students; even if we do not yet feel in a position to comment on these issues/ changes; it is essential that we remain informed while beginning to develop our own professional opinions.
It must be noted that not everyone is convinced about using social media as a tool for professional development. Pregio (2011) writes that “perception and usage of social media varies wildly, and due to the inherently fluid and malleable nature of the platforms themselves we are still in the process of assessing all their possibilities.”
During #scotedchat, it was mentioned that some people do not feel comfortable putting their own opinions and perspectives out there. HERE is a wonderful blog post from Susan Ward, who discusses the fear and unpleasantness associated with negative comments, feedback and even bullying over the internet. This anxiety is an idea that many of my fellow students have explored when discussing feedback on our ePortfolios. I can fully sympathise with this as I often worry about what others think of me, and whether I am ‘good enough’. However, I feel that in order to develop and grow as professionals, it is important that engage with important issues. During another chat, last night, this issue was again raised and the common consensus was that very often there is no RIGHT answer or 100% correct way of doing things.
As teachers, it is our responsibility to prepare pupils for life and the wider world of work. In today’s society, this increasingly involves the use of digital technologies as well as social media. I believe that, In order for us as teachers to be able to engage and support students, it is essential that we have an understanding of the tools ourselves. While I am confident with some aspects of these, I know that there is much more that I can learn. In my next post, I will explore some of the uses of digital and online resources in primary schools. I look forward to discovering more of the Office tools through Glow, while reflecting upon how I may use these resources to further teaching and learning in the classroom.
This came as quite a shock! With the constant development of new technology and brilliant educational software, I had assumed that more and more teachers would be embracing devices (mobile phones, tablets and laptops), however this article suggests otherwise.
The figures within this article suggest that; while teachers acknowledge that technology can have a positive impact on teaching and learning, the level of distraction is a huge concern. On reading some further comments on the subject, it appears that mobile phones are often ‘blanket banned’ in schools as they are seen to be the biggest distraction. One commenter writes that ipads are used in their classroom with success, while another states that classrooms are about interpersonal interaction and expresses concern that personal devices are too individual. (Read the comments here.)
Despite the negative attitudes of some, it is clear that many educators are welcoming devices and technology within their classrooms. Sources such as this post from Teach Hub point out the many benefits to allowing personal devices, including:
Teaching children to use and make the most of the technology that is available to them. In a society which is increasingly technology driven, these are important skills.
Addressing important issues (such as cyber bullying)
Differentiation as more able children may be able to take their learning further
and student engagement. We know that children learn the most when they are engaged and interested. This means that teachers should aim to use resources that stimulate and excite their pupils.
There are, of course, disadvantages that must be considered (besides the distraction aspect!)
This post from Bright Hub Education points out that if children are encouraged to bring and use their own devices, it could raise issues where some children may not have the ‘best’/ newest devices (if they even have one at all!) This could lead to bullying and can impact negatively on a child’s self esteem. Theft may also be an issue if children are bringing expensive devices into school. The above issues could perhaps be avoided if the school is able to provide devices, however budgets often cannot accommodate this.
The Bright Hub Education post also makes a valid point; that ‘old school’ teaching should not be forgotten. I agree with this sentiment because, as great as technology and devices are, they should be used alongside other varied teaching and learning methods in order to meet the needs of all children.
The use of technology within the classroom will be an area of interest for me when I go out into my placement schools. Previously, I have seen smartboards and PC’s used effectively, but I have yet to see the use of personal devices. I would be interested to see how a teacher can tackle the problems of distraction and of division between privileged and less privileged pupils.
During a brilliant ICT input with Sharon Tonner last week, we were shown how to use various pieces of software to teach children about Animation!
My favourite part of the session was to create a ‘Wallace and Gromit’ style, stop motion animation. We were introduced to a piece of software called ZU3D, which (when hooked up to a webcam) allows the user to take the frames of the animation, even adding the ‘onion skin’ effect so that you can see the precious placements of each model and movement.
My partner and I created this short animation:
Within the curriculum, a similar lesson/ set of lessons could cover the outcomes of:
I explore and experiment with the features and functions of computer technology and I can use what I learn to support and enhance my learning in different contexts. TCH 2-04a
I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways. TCH 2-04b
Alongside the ICT skills; children may also develop numerous other skills including;
Creative modeling (Working out what kind of models work best for this purpose),
and problem solving.
In order to allow the children enough time to grasp the different elements involved in this project, the learning should take place over a series of lessons. I found it really helpful that Sharon showed us ways in which we could engage the children and make connections between each section of this learning; leading up to the finished product.
A teacher may face a variety of challenges when delivering ICT lessons of this type. One challenge may be that the children are over excited distracted when allowed to use the equipment. This issue can be tackled by the teacher spending time explaining their expectations and making clear the rules.
Another challenge could be a lack of resources. There are many schools which do not have the facilities to allow every student in a class to work on a computer simultaneously. This means that the teacher would need to schedule time when groups of children could use the ICT resources.
Despite the challenges; I can see how these lessons can inspire and stimulate children to learn. I felt very proud of my animation and can imagine that a child would experience similar satisfaction. I also feel that ICT skills are invaluable within the modern world, and fun lessons like these can help children to embrace technology and its many possibilities.
Following a really important albeit slightly terrifying input from Derek yesterday, I have been reflecting on the use of social media both within a professional and personal context.
I can see why some teachers may choose to have separate accounts for their personal and professional lives. Using just one account for both could be seen to be risky; if privacy settings are not carefully monitored, you could be allowing others into areas which you may not want on display. This was the case for some unfortunate primary school teachers recently, who enjoyed a night out and, as many of us do, decided to post the photos onto facebook. Sadly, these photos were seen by a student who proceeded to distribute them. Such photos can call into question a teacher’s ‘fitness to teach’ and can also destroy their good reputation among pupils, parents and colleagues; a reputation which may have taken years to build up.
Another aspect that must be considered when using social media is casual comments. When posting a status update intended for friends, it may be easy to speak in a way which could be taken completely differently by an outsider. The GTC Scotland have identified this risk and therefore suggest: “Teachers (therefore) need to be alert to the risk that actions which might, on the face of it, seem quite innocent can be misunderstood and misconstrued by others.”
This article reinforces the idea that professionals should think carefully before posting anything online. The phrase that struck me is “Once it’s out there, it doesn’t come back.”
After reading these articles, I decided to check my own social media pages. I currently use 2 social networking websites: Facebook and Twitter.
When checking my Facebook profile I felt reasonably confident, as I take care in the way that I portray myself and what I post online. I have decided that I do not want pupils or other people to be able to find me and therefore have changed the name on my account. I also used the Privacy Check-up option to ensure that all of my posts are private and that I cannot be tagged in any other posts without my knowledge. I was surprised to find how many aspects of my profile are automatically made to be public unless I specifically go to change them. I found this site to be a useful resource because it points out any aspects that you may not have considered and gives instructions as to how the audience for such posts can be altered.
My Twitter account (@EarlyYearsIdeas) is purely for professional purposes. I started using it while I was working within nurseries as a way to share ideas and good practice with other early years workers. I enjoy using twitter as it has allowed me to become a part of various communities, follow relevant ‘hashtags’ and even host some evening chats. I feel that this is a brilliant way to share, encourage and support others who are working within the education sector and I have been truly inspired by the passionate individuals who I have connected with from around the world. Here is a wonderful blog post about connecting on twitter and one of the discussion evenings that I am regularly involved in.
The media often portrays social media in a very negative way, highlighting the dangers and minimising the benefits. I do believe that children, as well as their families, must be made aware of the potential dangers of online communication however I do not feel that these dangers should cause us to shy away from a potentially engaging and inspiring resource.
I have seen many positive uses of social networking in a professional sense. Numerous classes, schools and youth groups now have their own websites, blogs, facebook pages or twitter feeds in order to communicate with members and share information. Within a school this can be used to inform parents about what the children are learning, allowing an insight where before only a snapshot would have been available at parents evenings or on report cards.
It is clear that schools are beginning to recognise the importance of teaching children about online threats. This article from Herald Scotland introduces the idea of a formal award taught to older children. While I think that this is a step in the right direction, I strongly believe that safe habits and an awareness of dangers should be taught to children from the moment that they begin accessing the internet independently. Younger and younger children are now possessing their own devices meaning that cyber safety is an area which primary teachers must be able to address with confidence.
While conducting my reading, I came across this page with links to social networks for younger children. I think that directing children towards other sites such as these, away from the widely used ones such as facebook and snapchat could help to avoid some of the dangers young people face however the threats will never be completely eradicated.
I believe that, in order to be effective teachers, we cannot keep our heads in the sand when it comes to social networking and the internet. If a pupil is experiencing an issue or is looking for some advice, it is our responsibility to help them and this is only possible if we have a good understanding of what they are going through.