Posts Tagged ‘welsh’

Topic – Reporting: What do you tell parents and when?

I had the really nice role of moderating the #addcym discussion group on Twitter tonight. If you don’t know what #addcym is, you should try to spare the hour between 8-9 on a Tuesday evening and search for the hash tag #addcym on twitter! To join the discussion keep following the hash tag and, if you want to contribute, simply send a tweet with #addcym somewhere in you 140 letters tweet. In this way, everyone else who is following the discussion can connect with what you are saying! #addcym is the Welsh discussion group for Education and we would love to see more people joining in and sharing their views and experiences with other Educators to form their PLN (Personal Learning Network). Many on #addcym have never met in person, but many others have and connect with each other through a wide range of tools, e.g. Twitter, Emails, TeachMeets, face to face meetings, collaborative projects, etc… So I am not saying that the Twitter hash tag is the only way you can connect with other Educators and create your PLN, but that Twitter is an enabler that could help you getting started and link with a wider community than your department, or school, or LEA, etc… In fact, quite a few people who took part to #addcym tonight have a PLN that stretches beyond Wales and U.K. and are part of a worldwide PLN and for many Twitter was not how these PLNs started.

On #addcym we are trying to discuss about topics that are relevant to Education in Wales, so if you are interested in some of these topics, join in. You can even vote the topic you would like to discuss with the weekly Tweet Poll, that gives you a choice of different topics to choose from.

Sorry for the digression, but I thought you would find it helpful to have a bit of an introduction to the concepts of Twitter, hash tags and #addcym, if you have not use these tools before. But this post is supposed to be about a summary of the #addcym discussion from tonight, so read below to find out what came up!

The main points from the discussion were:

– More personal comments are needed and we should get rid of statements banks, reports software, mail merging, etc… some thought those are useful as long as you spend time personalizing the reports.

– Too often reports are impersonal and full of ticks and comments on academic progress alone, with reference to levels and the curriculum, which for some parents can have little meaning. So, comments on how to help child improve skills and performance would be more helpful for parents, i.e. know how they can support their child.

– Not enough parent involvement in feedback on reports and pupils’ work is not celebrated enough. Some thought we should have more opportunities to send pupils’ work at home so parents can support and encourage their children. Some suggested that blogging and other ways of making pupils’ work available online could be a good way to engage parents. Parents’ who comment on Blog posts from their children’s class Blogs seem to have a positive effect on their child’s motivation! Other forms of sharing pupils’ work online suggested were broadcasting work live, or recorded. Getting pupils to present their work to the parents in a sort of Open Evening was another suggestion!

– Many thought that comments on reports should include social and pastoral aspects of the child’s life in school as well as academic progress and the first should be a responsibility of the classroom teacher and not only the Form Tutor, or the Head of Year (in a Secondary setting).

– A well established and confident School Council can make a real difference and voice their views very well and maturely. That could be used to gain feedback from learners on what they want reports to include. Some would like to see an “Unschoolcouncil”, where learners who are often not given the opportunity to voice their concerns are listened to. Also, feedback from parents should be taken into consideration.

– In Secondary schools often reports are disjointed and teachers from different departments haven’t got much opportunity to discuss the overall progress of a learner (both from a pastoral and academic point).

The above is a fairly poor summary of the many contributions we had tonight and my best attempt at summarizing clusters of tweets in single bullet points. But I think in conclusion we could say that it sounds like more involvement from parents and learners was felt as a need in reporting by many tonight and that less impersonal comments, but real personal knowledge of the child and their achievement would be enough to justify less reports per year, i.e. quality, not quantity is what parents would appreciate more. That applies to written reports, because maintaining a good relationship with parents is also very important! I am sure I have left something out, so if you can think of something else I should have added, please add it as a comment to the Blog post.

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Yesterday it was quite strange not to walk in a classroom for my first day of work. After teaching for six years I am seconded for a year to work with National Grid for Learning in Wales (NGfL Cymru) as a Field Officer. I feel excited and refreshed to be part of this valuable and interesting project!

So what is NGfL Cymru and what do we do?

NGfL Cymru is a non-profit organization funded by the Welsh Assembly Government for the development and sharing of teaching and learning resources. Membership is free to any teacher and to download most of our resources you don’t even need to be logged in. Having a membership is useful though, because it gives you access to quicker and easier ways to organise and find the resources and topics you are interested in!

One of the great things about NGfL Cymru is that almost all the resources uploaded are available both in English and Welsh and this makes NGfL Cymru a unique portal for Technology-rich Leaning in Wales. And if you teach in a school in Wales you will be glad to know about our partnership with eChalk. In fact, they have agreed to allow all schools in Wales to use their resources free of charge and without the need of subscribing to anything. So, next time you find yourself in a school in Wales have a look at the resources that are available to you via eChalk, many are very good IWB lessons starters/enders.

Well, my role will mainly be that of Content Developer, which is like a dream come true for me. I will be focussing on Physics and Science, but I am hoping to have the opportunity to coordinate projects from different schools and subjects too… Oh, didn’t you know? If you are teaching in a Welsh school you can apply for an IRF (Innovative Resource Fund) which means that you can submit the proposal for the development of an innovative learning resource and either your school will be paid to release you for the time needed to develop your creative resources, or you could be paid for the work done in your own time. That is how my relationship with NGfL started! I submitted two IRFs and eventually applied for the secondment as Field Officer, and because they were so fed up with my nagging they gave me a job I suppose 😉

Please, have a look at the NGfL Cymru resources and enjoy using them with your classes, because they are there for you!