Posts Tagged ‘TES’

TES Science is going to help learners doing their GCSE exams by setting one challenge a day until the day of the last Science exam on the 24th May. These challenges will be sent through Twitter using the hash-tag #tesSciGCSE and we are hoping you and your learners will engage with this exciting daily challenge.

Taking part is easy:

1) Follow @tesScience

2) Search for #tesSciGCSE and save that search

3) Read the #tesSciGCSE challenge that will be posted each day

4) Reply to the challenge by tweeting your answer including the text #tesSciGCSE in your tweet

What’s in it for me?

If you are a learner, this is a great opportunity to do some revision wherever you are and any time during the day and you could win a £25 book voucher, if you answer most challenges correctly!

If you are an Educator, you can get involved by letting your learners know about this challenge and offer to moderate one of the days of tweets!

How does it work?

It is pretty simple. The people who are moderating the challenge will check your tweets and favourite the best answers, as well as sending probing questions back to help you learn your topic better. The person that gets favourited most wins the book voucher!

So, who’s in it? The first challenge will be issued on Tuesday 8th May 2012 and we will focus on Yr10 GCSE Science. Spread the word!

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It was great to moderate the Twitter #addcym chat tonight as the topic that was picked was one I am really passionate about, i.e. Peer Coaching! We also had the privilege to have Les Foltos (@lfoltos), a World leader in Peer Coaching, joining the chat for a while and Stuart Ball (@innovativeteach) who gave some real experiential insights on the process of Peer Coaching as well as offering to run the course for teachers, and we hope to be able to take him up on that one 🙂

Another late contributor was Gavin Smart (@gavinsmart) who promised a link to his school’s video on the Peer Coaching GROW model.

There were so many contributions tonight that I am bound to omit something, so I will just give a list of the main points (according to my understanding of the chat) as bullet points!

– Some asked if the Peer Coaching process should be formal, or informal and there seemed to be a general consensus that Peer Coaching should encourage relationships of trust and non-judgemental support

– Some felt strongly that Peer Coaching shouldn’t be tied to Performance Management in order to remove the “fear” of failure and judgement. The main reasons behind this view seem to spring from the need to let the individual teacher identify targets according to their needs and interests. A set of targets prescribed from the top differs from coaching because it does not encourage reflective practice some felt!

– This led to the view that Peer Coaching should be a bottom up process, initiated by the Coachee and facilitated by the Coach. Some also identified the need to have the full commitment of SLT in terms of time and funds allocation in order to make Peer Coaching genuinely effective. Some believed that without SLT full commitment to Peer Coaching only the enthusiasts will take the lead and this would not bring whole school improvement, but only pockets of good practice!

– A good model was given by Gavin Smart’s School (Priory Community School) where “Half of all staff attend the GROW program during twilight inset at PCSA focusing on using coaching with students and staff” suggesting that a large percentage of CPD dedicated time is committed to Peer Coaching!

– Another interesting thought that was raised was whether the Coaches should be the “Experts” or ordinary teachers. This divided the discussion a bit into those who see the need to have technology savvy Coaches that are always ready to offer support and solve problems and those who believed that an “Expert” could be too threatening for some Coachee and inhibit their process. In particular, some were concerned about the potential danger that “it’s too easy to get the coachee to do what you do, rather that letting them identify their own needs”. I believe behind these reflections there is the fundamental question to be asked: “What is the role of a Peer Coach?” Les offered some truly refreshing and useful insight on this point by saying about Coaches: “Not expert with answers. Raise questions, provide support encourage teachers to solve issues. ” I am inclined to agree with this view, because if the Coach plays just the part of the expert and if they have a solution to the problems the Coachee is facing always ready, who are they encouraging the Coachee to engage in reflective practice? And without reflective practice how can the Coachee make real progress and learn to walk on their own?

– Latching on to the last point someone suggested that it is important that the Coach becomes the Coachee at some point in the Peer Coaching process. In this way the circle is closed and the “Expert” complex can be avoided.

– Some other really valuable contributions included the idea of Coaching Learners and having Learners Peer Coaching each other and/or Peer Coaching teachers. I see that idea similar to the many examples of Digital Leaders that are beginning to surface in many schools these days. Some felt that some teachers would resist the idea very strongly and feel quite uneasy about it!

I hope I have given a good account of the discussion, but feel free to correct me and add things I have missed out. Please continue the discussion in this Forum Thread on TES.

I was privileged to be at the ASE Conference last week and meet so many great Science Educators in the flesh! In particular it was lovely to meet so many who regularly tweet at the #ASEChat.

It was also great to run, for the third consecutive year, my Modulated Laser Pen workshop which is always very well received and attended. This year, as usual there were quite a lot Norwegians and several from other parts of Europe, which shows again how good the conference is to attract educators from so many parts of Europe!

Coming back to the workshop, it consists in building a modulating circuit to add in series to the laser diode in a laser pointer and the whole kit costs less than £20, but the IoP provides it for all participants free of charge! The receiver is simply a small photovoltaic cell plugged into a Radio Shack mini-amp through a Jack lead. You can find the instructions to make your own and some teaching ideas in this resource I uploaded on TES (just click here). Most parts can be found from Rapid Electronics and the mini-amp from Amazon.

Another cause for celebration and enjoyment was the 10th Anniversary of the Institute of Physics Teacher Network, which has run very successfully for all that time and of which I have the privilege to be part as the Network Coordinator for the area of Gloucestershire!

It’s been a while since my last post on Android apps for the classroom and I thought the upcoming BETT show 2012 would be a good excuse to write something about a few really interesting apps I have used to create resources about the Solar System. Another reason for blogging about this is to inform you about a series of workshops I will run on the ASUS stand at the BETT Show on the use of Android devices in Education. So, if you are going at BETT and if you are interested in how Android apps can be used in the classroom, join me any day from Tuesday 10th to Friday 13th January 2012. You can download the resources to run some of the activities described in this Blog post from this TES weblink. We will demonstrate other TES resources that can be used with Android devices at ASUS workshops and I will represent TES as the TES Science Lead starting this January, but this gives a good idea of some of the activities we will consider!

The resources in the link above were created with the ASUS Eee Pad tablet in mind, but they would work very well with other Android devices.

Google Sky Map

This app is just great! It lets you point your Android device at the sky in front of you and it shows a map of the stars and planets for that particular place and time of the year. But the most impressive feature it the Time Travel function, which lets you set a particular date and time in the past, or future, to see what the sky would look like. So, for example, you could ask your learners to describe what stars and planets Prince William and Kate would have seen on the night of their wedding. You can also search for a particular object in the sky, so if you want to find the position of Mars, you can can type Mars in the search and an arrow pointing at the planet will appear and you can then follow the arrow with your device until you find the object you searched for!

My Solar System

I have already blogged about this app, but I have added it to this resource because it gives good opportunities to develop Numeracy Skills in your learners by comparing magnitudes, orbital period, etc…

Solar Sizer

This app is even simpler than the previous one, but it is a great way to visualise the size of the planets to scale.

Have a look at the resource I uploaded on the TES website and leave a comment with your thoughts about it, please.

I hope to see many of you at the ASUS stand during the BETT Show.

 

Last night we had our first TeachMeet entirely dedicated to the teaching of Physics in Gloucestershire and despite the inclement weather and illnesses a few teachers from the region managed to come and give some great presentations! A particular thank you goes to Helen Rogerson (@hrogerson) who took the time to record two videos for us to watch. And that’s what we did! In fact, the TeachMeet began with Helen’s 7 minutes video which showed some great stuff she does wit their learners and parents with revision. Of particular interest to the participants was the part on Electromagnetic Induction, which sparked a series of interesting discussions and caused us to go back and watch the lovely demonstrations several times. This was indeed a lovely part of our TeachMeet that I believe stood out from others I have attended and organised in the past. In fact, it is quite easy to rush through all the presentations trying to fit everyone in and forget about allowing the participants time for discussion and to network. But last night ideas on alternative ways to use the equipment and extensions to the demos were freely flowing and created a very relaxed atmosphere from the very beginning.

Next, IoP award winner Kevin Betts showed a great demo of “Dancing Waves” on custard on the cone of a speaker. You can see his Magic in the video below.

Steve Rice was up next showing us how he uses  a sparkler attached to a drill to simulate the gravitational attraction between the earth and the moon. As the sparkler spins around the drill, the sparks fly along the tangent to the circle drawn by the sparkling tip, which helps the learners visualise what would happen if the gravitational pull between the two heavenly bodies suddenly disappeared. I liked this demonstration because it allows the learners to think outside the box and stretch their understanding in the realm of the abstract.

Below is a video of these two lovely demonstrations.

After that it was my turn to talk about how I used one of the best iPhone/iPad apps I have ever come across, the Vernier Video Physics, with my learners. You can find this resources on the TES website here. It was also the first time I publicly announced my new role as Science Lead at TES commencing in January and I explained that, although I occasionally use it already, I will actively interact with the Twitter sphere using @TESScience from then.

We closed the TeachMeet with our sponsors’ raffle, which included a very generous box full of Nelson Thornes books, ranging from GCSE revision guides to a Muncaster tome 4th edition. ThinkBuzan also offered a free copy of their Mind Mapping software iMindMap 5 Ultimate (the last two links are affiliate links, so Google iMindMap 5 instead, if you are bothered by this sort of thing).

Two other teachers emailed me apologising they couldn’t attend due to illness, but they sent links to interesting stuff that they would have shared in person, if they had been there. The first is the YouTube video below about mixing colours with glow sticks shared by Bernadette Willey.

The other tool is Poll Everywhere shared by Lewis Matheson, which seems a really neat tool to use with mobile devices!

I thoroughly enjoyed myself last night and I learnt a lot (as usual) from innovative colleagues in the Gloucestershire Network. I hope to see many more at our next events in the new year.

Reading this excellent blog post from @Chickensaltash and the more complete article from TES rekindled my passion for Tablet PCs in the classroom. Though I believe IWBs are a great tool to enhance Teaching and Learning and I agree with Dan Roberts when he tweets that we have to do with what we have got, I find it difficult to understand why very few schools went down the road of installing Tablet PCs instead of IWBs (I am talking about schools that installed IWBs after the first boom and when Tablets were already well known). Here are my thought on why I believe Tablets are a much cheaper and more versatile option.

1. I bought my first Tablet (a Toshiba Portege’) 2nd hand for £400, my second one (Toshiba Tecra M7) new for £800 and my current Toshiba Portege’ M400 for £890. This is to say that they are quite cheap. In fact, most schools would have at least a projector per department (if not per room) these days, so a tablet PC is all you need to go with it to have a fully interactive kit to share with your pupils. Buy a normal PC/laptop and you still have to buy a multi-k £ whiteboard. Moreover, the newest Tablets are multitouch, giving a more interactive experience than some IWBs.

2. Tablets are fully portable. Ever had to fight to book the only room with IWB in the department? And having to put up with the dirty looks of the teacher (often the least likely to actually bother using an IWB and that uses it as a post-it holder) being kicked out from his class? It is understandable that departments start with what they can afford, but this unpleasant situations would be avoided if the department had bought two Tablet PCs for the price of one IWB (and you still have to buy a PC/laptop with the IWB, so you might be able to fit three Tablets for the same price). This way it is the Tablet that moves rooms, not the teachers. This is a lot better for everyone (teachers and students) and the lesson can start on time.

3. You can’t pass an IWB around, but you can send the Tablet around the classroom for the pupils to use and contribute actively to the lesson (well, you either need a very long projector cable, or a wireless projector).

4. You can place your Tablet PC wherever you want, so you can stand away from the line of view of the children and you don’t project your shadow on the screen. The latter is really annoying for both the audience and the person using the IWB, because it makes it really hard to write, as you don’t actually see what you are writing (I know there are some projectors that project right from the top of the board and get rid of this problem, but I have seen hardly any in the schools I have visited).

5. You can actually work on your interactive resources even when you are away from your classroom, as a Tablet PC allows you to write on the screen just like you would do on an IWB. It’s just not as big and as heavy! I have used it to annotate and mark pupils’ electronic work, draw mind maps (one example on my previous blog), etc, and obviously get my pupils engaged with the same rich experiences.

6. You can download free software for IWB on your Tablet PC. KindleLab is an example, but you can also try the free trials from Promethean and SmartBoard to compare and then decide to buy the software if you want, so your Tablet PC is just as good as an IWB on the Software front.

I really think Tablet PCs are a fantastic tool in Education and I wish more schools used them. I thought they deserved at least a mention in the TES article, but they didn’t, so I felt the need to write about them and share what a great asset they have been in my practice.