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Archive for August, 2019

Getting Your Revision On: The Appliance of Science

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Although revision is probably the last thing on anyone’s mind at the start of a course, the science suggests that taking a structured, long-term, “little and often”, approach is the way to go…

Retrieval Practice Guide
Retrieval Practice

While any revision is arguably better than no revision, I’d also suggest some forms of revision are more effective than others. And if you’re looking at introducing a more-structured approach to student revision in your classroom – one that’s built-in to a course of study rather than bolted-on at the end – you might find ideas like Retrieval Practice and Spaced Study interesting and useful.

These are ideas I’ve written about in a previous post,  based on the work of the Learning Scientists and the short video-explainers they’ve produced to introduce these ideas.

read more about retrieval practice

The Rules of the Game

Friday, August 9th, 2019

How “predicted grades” and the “personal statement” contribute to the relative failure of high-performing disadvantaged kids in the “game” of university entrance.

The Rules of the Game - click to download this pdf document.

While a-level sociology students do a lot of work on education and differential achievement, the narrative in relation to social class tends to focus on “middle class success”, “working class failure” and the various reasons, material and cultural, for this general situation.

While this is a useful and valuable focus, it does mean students can lose sight of a further dimension to educational inequality, one that is less visible and less researched but which has significant consequences: how even relatively successful working-class kids still tend to lose-out to their middle and upper class peers in the transition from school to higher education and, eventually, from H.E. to the workplace.

In “The Rules of the Game“, a recent (2017) Report for the Sutton Trust, Gill Wyness looked at two dimensions of inequality experienced by high-performing students from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds:

Predicted grades

While there has, over the past few years, been a great deal of debate about whether University places should be awarded once A-level results are known (the Post Qualification Admissions (PQA) system), in England and Wales the “predicted grades” system (school students apply to University before their A-level grades are known and Universities, in turn, make conditional / unconditional offers partly on the basis of the grades “predicted” by their teachers) is still a crucial part of University application.

Read on macduff…

Tech4Teachers: Backchannel Chat

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

YoTeach is a free browser-based Chatroom – think of it as a combination of a Facebook Group – people with a shared interest  – and text messaging if you’re not over-familiar with an idea whose heyday was probably somewhere around the beginning of the century.

Basically, it’s a private online space (or room in YoTeach parlance) you create, give others the entry password to and exchange real-time text messages with whoever’s present at the time.

So, you may well be thinking, what’s the point of a tech that’s ancient in internet terms and which functions very much like the most popular social media site in the known universe?

Well, chatrooms can be a little more private and exclusive, hence the idea of a “Backchannel” – a private form of communication that operates beneath more overt forms of communication (such as a classroom).

With a chatroom you only invite those you know or who are present for a particular purpose, such as exchanging teaching ideas, discussing homework problems, reviewing lessons and notes or whatever you decide is the primary purpose of the room (or rooms – you may want to create different rooms for different purposes) you set-up.

Backchannel chat has, in this respect a number of potential uses:

1. Teacher – Teacher networks where teachers from different schools / colleges meet to exchange teaching ideas, tips, or simply to support each other. This can be particularly useful if you’re the only subject teacher in your institution or you’re teaching something like sociology as a second subject.

2. Teacher – Student groups allow teachers and students to interact as necessary outside classes. This may include things like homework help, personal coaching for students who are finding things difficult or simply a little extra class teaching on a difficult topic. While these types of groups may be set-up to cater for a particular course in a single institution it’s also possible for different schools and collages to “meet” in this virtual space, so that students from different institutions can discuss common problems and different experiences, exchange ideas, notes and the like.

3. Student groups for things like end-of-course revision study, discussing areas of the course that are causing problems and the like.

Next: setting up your chatroom