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Archive for March, 2018

Office Online: For Free (and Quite Legal)

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

The free version of Microsoft’s Office Suite may have a reduced functionality when compared to the desktop version but for “no money” it has to be a bit of a bargain for both teachers and students.

While applications like Word and PowerPoint are probably staples of any teaching toolkit, they can be expensive, even when you take into account the various “Teachers and Students” discount versions of the Office Suite currently available: “Office Home & Student 2016 for PC”,
for example, can set you back around £90 for access to just 4 programs (Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel).

For a-level students this cost can be prohibitive, which may go some way to explaining the plethora of cheap “Word” clones on the market and the popularity of free online apps like Google Docs.

Another problem if, like me, you prefer to use desktop versions of these apps, is their lack of portability. If you want to move your work freely and easily across different platforms it’s a real pain because you don’t have access to online versions of programs like Word or PowerPoint.

Microsoft’s “solution” is Office 365 – the online version of their Office Suite. Once again, however, this is expensive. Office 365 Home will set you back around £80 per year for the privilege of access to the above four apps plus:

• Publisher (Microsoft’s expensive, Very Ordinary and Just-A-Little-Bit-Clunky DTP).
• Outlook (an email client that has better and cheaper (i.e. free) competitors such as Mozilla Thunderbird) and
• Access (a very good database but, be honest, how often do you use a database in your everyday teaching / learning?). (more…)

Psychology Studies Mat

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Neat Notes!

The idea for Psychology Study Mats came to me while idly browsing Pinterest and chancing upon Emily’s blog.

I was initially struck by what may well prove to be some of the neatest and well-organised Psychology Notes I’ve ever seen and while exploring further I came across an interesting idea in the Printables section: a Study Template students use to summarise the studies they need to know in detail.

The Template, however, is in pdf format and I guess the basic idea is to print the file (hence Printables – very little gets past me) and complete it by hand. Alternatively, it’s possible to enter text directly into the Template using something like the Acrobat Reader, but personally I find this a clunky method, particularly if there’s a lot of text to position and enter.

So, while the basic structure and content seemed sound, I thought I might be able to add something to the Template by adapting it slightly to fit it the format I used for the PowerPoint-based Sociology Learning Mats I’d previously developed: (more…)

More Criminal Pages

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

If you’ve been following the saga of the crime resources put together by the University of Portsmouth you’ll know that when I first started posting these I had to link directly to each page in a set of resources because the menu that bound everything neatly together was “missing” (in the sense that “I couldn’t initially work out where it was hiding” rather than the sense of it having disappeared, never to be seen again). This, as you’ve probably discovered, was a bit of a pain.

• For those of a non-technical disposition, or who couldn’t care less about such things, skip the next paragraph.

• For those of a technical disposition, the site used a Frames set-up where a menu in one window used javascript to change the appearance of a second, related, window. Because each window has its own unique Url, this meant it was possible to address each page individually outside of the menu system. What should have been coded into the pages was an instruction that if the frameset was “broken” (i.e. an individual window within the frameset was directly addressed) this page should have been forced back into the original frameset. For some reason, the pages weren’t coded this way, hence the problems I encountered.

Since I knew there must be a menu system somewhere it was just a matter of being able to find it and, after a bit of detective work, I did – at least for some of the individual chapters. I’m still convinced that “somewhere” there is a main menu that details all the materials in the complete resource and that, if I could find it, it would just mean posting a single link. However, since I haven’t found it I can’t, so if you want to review the following crime resources you’ll have to use the individual links.

This is not as bad as it might sound, however, because each of the following categories includes a number of pages that a-level students should find useful. Although the resources don’t seem to have been designed for a-level, per se, they seem broadly fine for a-level sociology students.

You may find some duplication with these resources and some of the other resources in this series that I’ve posted.

This mean I either thought it might be useful to have all the related material in one place or I can’t remember what I’ve previously posted and can’t be bothered to check.

How you interpret this probably says a lot more about you than it does about me…

(more…)

Sociology Revision PowerPoints: Crime and Deviance

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

The second part of the Crime and Deviance Revision series (the first, if you missed it,  involves revision booklets) is devoted to a range of PowerPoint Presentations that I’ve collected from various places. Just have a look at the document properties if you want to know who created them.

The quality of the Presentations is “variable” at times so it’s probably a case of having a look at any that take your fancy to see if they’re something you can use. You also need to keep in mind the date when some of these were created (again, just check the document properties).

Although most of the Presentations are just a relatively simple mix of text and graphics, some include links to YouTube videos (which you can, of course, edit accordingly if you want) and some are a little more interactive in terms of their content (posing questions, setting short exercises and the like).

Although I’ve signposted the Presentations as a revision resource there’s no reason why you couldn’t incorporate some of these into your everyday teaching if you like to use PowerPoint. They can, of course, be edited to your particular requirements.

The Presentations (all 25 of them…) are as follows:

(more…)

Sociology Revision Booklets: 4. Crime and Deviance

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

As you might expect, given its status as one of the most-popular a-level sociology options, when it comes to revision resources for crime and deviance both teachers and students are rather spoilt for choice.

I’ve decided, therefore, to split this post into two parts (probably – there may be more): the first (this one) has a range of Word / Pdf resources aimed at students, while the second focuses on PowerPoint resources teachers are more-likely to find useful for delivering revision lessons.

As ever, if you decide to use these resources you need to check:

• the Specification: is it the one you’re following?
• the date: has the Spec. you’re using been updated since these resources were created?
• the content: even if you’re following a different Spec., there may well be a fair bit of information crossover which means revision material produced for one Spec. may still be useful in the context of another.

Once you’re happy with this, I’ve found what I think are a number of useful revision resources:

(more…)

Sociology Revision Booklets: 3. Mass Media

Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

The third in our occasional series covering free revision resources on the web looks at the Mass Media (as you’ve probably guessed from the title).

The number of resources is substantially less than previous offerings on Theory and Methods and Beliefs in Society but what they lack in number is more than made-up for by the depth of their content.

Possibly.

I may just have been making that up.

Anyway, you can see for yourself by downloading any, or indeed all, of the following:

1. Media Revision Pack [Word version | Pdf version]: Although I’ve called this a Revision Pack (because that’s what it is…) it wasn’t originally created in that form. Rather, it’s an amalgam I’ve put together of a range of media revision documents, authored by Mark Gill, that cover:

• Ownership and Control
• New Media
• Representations
• Audiences
• Social Construction of News

Part of the reason for making the Pack available in different formats is that if you’d prefer to break the document down into its constituent parts it’s a fairly simple job to do this in Word. It’s possible to do this with a pdf document but that would mean faffing around with software that splits pdf files and you’re probably much too busy to bother with stuff like that.

The Notes themselves are coherent and competent, with good coverage of the major Specification areas (although it’s aimed at AQA there are parts that apply to other Specifications). (more…)

Your Own Personal (YouTube) Examiner: Part 2

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

A couple of months ago I posted about TeacherSociology’s YouTube Channel and its AQA exam technique videos and on the basis that if, in these testing times, you just can’t get enough of Sociology Examiners (particularly Senior Examiners – I’m not altogether sure what the difference between these and Non-Senior examiners might be, but I’m sure it must be Important) walking your students through exam papers, Mr Blackburn’s new YouTube Channel does exactly that.

The format is a simple screencast focused on an on-screen exam paper, with Mr Blackburn highlighting, annotating and talking you through the questions. This includes:

• how to decode exam questions

• exactly what the examiner is asking you to do for each question

• how to write high mark answers that covers everything required by the examiner.

At the time of posting there are two screencasts available, each lasting for around 15 minutes:

1. AS Paper 1 (Education) , covering all the questions.

2. A2 Paper 2 (Global Development), covering both 10 and 20 mark questions.

If you’re teaching or studying either of these AQA Sociology Units, this Channel is well worth a little of your time.

The Extent of Crime and How It’s Measured

Monday, March 19th, 2018

Another trawl through the Crime and Deviance pages from the University of Portsmouth reveals this set covering, in the main, the measurement of crime through official statistics.

The information in the pages is generally short (or, if you prefer, to-the-point) and gives the impression that either they’d run out of money, couldn’t really be bothered or just couldn’t find that much interesting and / or useful to say on the topic.

Having said that, some of the pages may be a useful starting-point for a-level students. (more…)

Why Don’t More People Commit Crimes?

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

In a world where most theoretical approaches to crime either focus on the socio-psychological backgrounds of criminals (most conventional criminology), the social contexts in which crime plays-out (labelling theory) or a combination of the two (radical criminology), one particular strand of criminology stands-out because it focuses less on trying to understand and explain why a minority of people commit crime and more on understanding and explaining why most people do not.

Control theories are, in this respect, a little different to most conventional forms of criminology and this set of pages from the University of Portsmouth looks at different aspects of this general perspective on crime through the work of different writers working in this tradition. In this respect it’s worth noting two things:

1. Control theories have a relatively long and persistent tradition – going back to the 19th century at least – in the explanation of crime and deviance.

2. The broad theoretical sweep of the general theory – explaining why most people obey laws and rules – means it has been interpreted in different ways by different writers, a diversity of opinion reflected in the following pages:  (more…)

Quick Quizzing

Friday, March 16th, 2018

This simple ungraded quiz idea, one that can be used to test how much your students have actually understood by the end of a teaching session, has been adapted from (or, if you’re a stickler for accuracy, shamelessly half-inched) the University of Waterloo’s “Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE)”.

The reason I don’t feel bad about this – apart from the fact I am literally without shame – is that the idea itself just a simple variation on the Exit Ticket quizzes popular in American – and increasingly UK – schools and colleges.

Be that as it may, like all good ideas it’s very simple and although it will involve a little more preparation than some other forms of feedback the information gathered will be worth the extra effort.

The basic idea here is that, near the end of each class, students take a short quiz designed to test, at a very basic level, how much they’ve understood about the work they’ve just done. You should, however, make it clear that the test is diagnostic: its purpose is to inform your teaching not to grade your students with passes and fails (which is why the CTC calls the quizzes ungraded tests).

The only interest you have in their answers is to help you understand what parts of the lesson were clearly understood and which aspects may need more work or explanation. The test is just a simple way to do this while everything is still fresh in their minds (or not, as the case may be). (more…)

Further Five-Minute Feedback

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

Whatever teaching methods you use it’s not always easy to know whether your crystal-clear, carefully-crafted, teaching has actually been understood by all of your students.

This is something I’ve previously addressed with the original Five-Minute Feedback Form that allows you to quickly and efficiently collect some very simple, useful, information about the most important things students think they’ve learnt during a class.

One drawback with this Form, however, is that although it can be used to inform your teaching – are students taking-away from a class the most important points you’ve made about a topic and, if not, what can I do about it? – the format means you can’t easily explore deeper questions:

• What are my students learning?
• What are they not learning?
• Does my teaching always have clarity?
• How could something be taught better?
• What could students do to improve their understanding?
• What teaching techniques do my students like?
• What teaching techniques don’t my students like?

To remedy this omission, the Further Five-Minute Feedback Form – an idea I’ve adapted slightly from “The One-Minute Paper” developed by the University of Waterloo’s “Centre for Teaching Excellence” – lets you ask different types of questions depending on the specific feedback you want for each lesson.

• On some occasions you might want to ask a direct question to test student understanding (“What did you not understand in this lesson?” or “Was there anything in the lesson you found confusing?”). For this type of question where you might need to do some follow-up teaching with individual students, there is space on the form for them to add their name.

• At other times you might want to ask more general questions (“How could the lesson have been improved?) that don’t require students to identify themselves by name.

The Further Feedback Form follows much the same general principle as the original Form: you set-aside 5 minutes at the end of each class to allow sFurther Feedback tudents time to think about and complete the Form.

While it’s possible to use both Forms at the same time this is probably too much to ask of your students – and having to sift through a lot of feedback at the end of each class probably defeats the objective of the exercise.

If you keep the time students spend giving feedback to a minimum, a short, regular and expected session that closes the class for example, you’re more-likely to get honest and useful responses – particularly if your students can see you listening to and acting on their feedback. (more…)

Leave Nothing to Chance: An Education Simulation

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

“Leave Nothing to Chance” is, unless I’m very much mistaken (and I probably am), my first real attempt at a “proper classroom simulation”.

I’d like to say I’m excited about it, but when all’s-said-and-done it’s only a simple simulation.

On the other hand, I very much hope you like it, use it, develop it and share it.

Not necessarily in that order, but you probably get the idea.

Aside from this, if you need a bit of convincing about the content, the sim is designed to illustrate differential educational achievement and uses the mechanism of a lottery – or to be more-precise, a series of Key Stage lotteries – to explore how differences in achievement are, for sociologists, the result of material and cultural factors that occur both inside and outside the school.

The lotteries, although a central feature of the game (there can only be one winner. Unless you decide otherwise), are the device through which students are encouraged to explore, with your help, direction and guidance (you know, the teaching stuff), how and why different social groups achieve differently in the education system. They are, in other words, the glue that holds the lesson together.

(more…)

Sociology Sim: An Exercise in Inequality

Friday, March 9th, 2018

As you may have gathered, I rather like simulations and this is another one I’ve found that can be added to the expanding list.

This particular one was created by Chris Andrews and is interesting, at least to me, because its focus on social inequality means it has applications right across the sociological spectrum; you can use this sim just about anywhere you need to illustrate structured social inequality.

Apart from its flexibility, it satisfies what Andrews’ calls four criteria for running a successful in-class exercise. A sim should:

• be simple and easy to learn,
• sensitise students to central motifs or aspects of sociology versus specific theories or methods,
• involve minimal preparation and resources
• be usable within one-hour length class periods or less.

You can, if you want, download the original article containing the full documentation for the sim that:

• Provides a general overview of and rationale for the sim
• Describes how to run the game
• Includes a debate and debrief section that explores how the sim can be used to illustrate different aspects of structured social inequality.

Alternatively, if you just want to view the instructions for running the sim and view some short Notes I’ve added about using the sim to illustrate and discuss structured social inequality in the context of Education, I’ve created a short booklet for just this purpose…

 

Psychology Learning Tables | 5

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any Psychology Learning Tables (Knowledge Organisers by any other name) so I thought I’d make a start on the backlog I’ve collected so far (if you want to see the previous Tables you can find them here).

If you’re unfamiliar with the format, Learning Tables are used to summarise a section of the course onto a single sheet of A4 (although some Tables do take minor liberties with this basic format). While the general focus is, as the name suggests, “knowledge” many of these tables interpret this quite widely to include examples, applications and evaluation.

Which, as far as I can see, is Quite A Good Thing.

If you’re not as convinced – or you want to edit the information contained in each Table to your own particular teaching and learning preference – I’ve left the Tables in Word format for your editing pleasure.

Slavishly following the precedent I foolishly set for myself, this next batch of Tables are in no particular order other than alphabetical:

(more…)

Sociology Revision Days with Dr Steve Taylor

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Crime & Deviance: updated to 21st Century

Dr Steve Taylor, University of London & ShortCutstv

Examiners reward students for writing about contemporary society but there are very few examples of contemporary theory & research on crime in the textbooks. This Workshop aims to fill that gap by linking the ‘familiar’ with the new.

Approaches to Crime & Deviance: Key theories & concepts, consolidated, compared & evaluated.

New Research: clear, easy to understand, up to date research examples to illustrate approaches.

Globalisation & Crime: green, organised & state crime made accessible & illustrated with up to date examples.

Theory & Method: simplified & illustrated.

Handouts: include concise summarises of research examples used.

Exam technique guidance, including introducing newer material into exam questions.

Brand new free video “Sociological Theories of Crime” included.

What Teachers say
Our students came away inspired and were talking about the session for the rest of the year
David Gunn, Camden School
Excellent Day. He brings in contemporary evidence and great links to exam skills
Ann-Marie Taylor, Coleg Cambria
The students loved it. I’d recommend Steve to any teacher wanting to organise a revision day.
Ian Luckhurst, Bridgewater College

Cost (inclusive & regardless of no. of students):
Day: £500
Half Day £300

For more information:
Email: steve@shortcutstv.com
Call: 07771-561521