Sunday, 11 December 2011

Session 4 - Wednesday 7th December

A tied voted meant that this session of #NIedchat would be in two parts. Part 1 would look at what difficulties teachers were having in incorporating “the 5 Es” of the UICT framework into their lessons. The second half of the chat would look at strategies for promoting independent learning.

It quickly became apparent that “Exchange” was the element of the UICT framework that our teachers were having the most difficulty with. A number mentioned that it was “meaningful” exchange opportunities which were hard to plan for. From experience exchange has meant e-mailing a document tot the teacher or sharing ideas within LNI although often this type of exchange is” manufactured” and isn’t born out of necessity. Examples were given of how exchange could be achieved. Edmodo, Voicethread and Quad-Blogging were all mention. Information about Quad-Blogging can be found here. Many of our teachers are getting excited by the possibilities of using Elluminate as a means of Exchange and collaboration. The suggestion was made that or next #NIedchat could be through the medium of Elluminate and an agreement in principle was made.

UPDATE: NIedchat Elluminate session on Wednesday 14th December at 8.30!

“Exhibit” was the next E to come in for some scrutiny. Participants were asked how their schools were managing with the requirement to store a portfolio of pupil work for assessment. It seems that schools are improvising with external hard-drives and shared areas as well as LNI workspaces. None of the respondents mentioned bespoke e-portfolio builders such as Mahara. Many of our teachers seem to like the functionality offered by dropbox and free websites like Wikispaces however it was hinted that e-portfolio building software could be on its way for NI schools.

The conversation then moved on to “Independent Learning”. How can it be encouraged in the classroom.
  • Group work to encourage learning from peers and to take ownership of the learing process @katebook
  • KWL grids @mrmalcontent
  • Addressing all learning styles @medv2
  • SOLO taxonomy @amandasalt
  • Offering choice of learning materials/styles @dmchugh675
  • Making learning relevant through “authentic” texts and examples @amandasalt
Tweet of the Week

Links Shared during the discussion

An “Independent Learning” popplet was shared by @amandasalt.

Video shared during the discussion

from  @katebook

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Session 3 - 30th November 2011

"NI schools are good at attaining exam results but poor at promoting thinking." Discuss .

A really wide ranging discussion this week which touched on the issues of selection, streaming, differentiation, thinking skills, active learning, assessment, parental involvement and multiple intelligences.

Chats shouldn’t really be so wide ranging but the *facilitator* decided on a change of tact this week and opted for a “free-for-all” approach to discussion management which may have to be reviewed before the next #NIedchat.

With regard to selection it was felt that Primary Schools felt under pressure to prepare pupils for the transfer test to the detriment of other learning activities. If primary schools refused then parents would take their children elsewhere. It was mentioned that some parents were asking questions about school policy on transfer test preparation as early as the Y1 induction! I was generally held that parents expect selection as it is the system they experienced however one participant remarked on how strange he felt selection was from an outsider’s perspective.

The traditional method of rote learning was next under the microscope. Rote learning was seen by some participants to have its uses, for the learning of tables for example however I was interesting that a lot of the tweets mentioned ideas like active, independent and life-long learning. There was a big input to this part of the debate from languages teachers and the general vibe was that in order to be proficient with a language rote learning would never be enough. The NI Curriculum came in for some praise however it was remarked that it was having little impact upon practice in some classrooms. Basically it was felt that it was left to individual teachers whether they embraced the ethos of the NI Curriculum or not.

The debate veered towards streaming and differentiation. It was suggested that mixed-ability teaching could help teachers think more about learning strategies and less about content. There was a lot of support for streaming by ability although the question was asked as to how this was different from selection. A debate for another day maybe!

A number of other issues were touched the unfairness of using exam data to assess the effectiveness of schools. It was generally felt that there needed to be an overhaul of how education was viewed by the general public and by government. In closing the group felt that the NI education system as it stands does not equip our children with many of the skills that they need.

Tweet of the Week

A system that worships at the altar of academic selection is always going to be results-led, and not child centred.


Stimulus Article

The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook

Shared by @amandasalt

Changing Paradigms##

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Session 2 - 23rd Nov 2011

We had 21 (!) contributors to this week's discussion which is an all-time record and the quality of the debate was very high. 

Q1: Aside from Twitter where do you get a chance to share ideas and learn from other teachers?

It was obvious that the #NIedchat community is a pretty 'geeky' lot. Most respondents talked about blogs and forums that they read or participated in. A number mention Google Reader as  a good way of organizing reading material. I was suggested a few times that teachers prefer to learn from other teachers and that initiative like #TMBelfast were to be welcomed and encouraged. An interesting initiative was mentioned by @cnicaodha . Her school operates a sharing good practice event where 20 teachers are given 20 minutes to describe their best activity. 

Is self directed CPD through blogs and discussion forums the norm in your place of work?

As was expected the answer to this was a resounding "NO!". Reading blogs and engaging in online discussions is  a minority sport among NI teachers. Having seen the benefits that professional networking has had for their own professional development a number of teachers have attempted to get blogs and forums up and running in their schools...with little success. The problems suggested were that many teachers feel overwhelmed by weekly meetings and demands on their time and that blogging and engaging with Twitter can seem daunting for the uninitiated. There was a suggestion that there should be some central resource for teachers to tap into which would open up a number of avenues for exploration. @medv2 suggested that Elluminate on the LNI platform would be a good vehicle for CPD and she indicated that she would be willing to host an Elluminate meeting for interested teachers. 

Q3. Many teachers are reluctant to share what they do. Why is this?

Most agreed that a reluctance to share was a problem within the teaching profession. A number said that in their experience teachers are unwilling to share resources that they have created as it is seen as 'unfair' that someone else would benefit from their effort. This has had an impact on the  efforts by some to promote VLE's and wikis as shared resource areas. Others mentioned that he culture of teachers is not to accept any acclaim for outstanding work. This makes teachers reluctant to come forward and share their good practice with others. This 'culture' is changing according to some as evidenced by teacher actitvity on Twitter, on blogs and through the web in general. One point made was that if teachers could see the benefit of collaboration then they would be more likely to give to a community. On a positive note it seems that languages teachers are very good at sharing resources as evidence by their wikis and twitter groups. They did however put this down to the fact that they are under-resourced and therefore feel compelled  to consolidate! The idea of having a central place for sharing resources was mooted. Many felt that with the explosion in sharing options what is now needed is a central repository for resources to assist teachers' professional development. 

Q4 Best place for sharing ideas and resources

Sharing networks




Teaching Tools

Blogs / Wikis

Other Issues

A proposal was made by @daithimurray that the #NIedchat community should  produce a podcast version of the discussion. The idea has grown wings and like magic it has developed it's very own wiki which you can visit here.

Tweet of the Week

A tough choice this week again but I felt that no one can argue with the sentiments and need expressed in Damian's tweet:

 tmbelfast is a great step forward, I think we have to organise something. Inset is generally v.poor.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Session 1 - 16th November 2011

It was with a certain degree of  trepidation that I sat down at my desk on Wednesday night for the first ever #NIedchat. Would the people who thought this was a good idea really turn up or would I be left like a man shouting down a well…"Helllllooohoooooh…"?

I needn’t have feared because turn up they did and the first every #NIedchat got of to a flier.

Question 1

What are the biggest issue facing NI educators?

Participants in general thought that we were in a period of great change in education and the feeling was that many teachers had not grasp how seismic the changes would be. The rationalisation of the school estate, the transfer system and the likely impact of ESA all got a mention. It was generally felt that rationalisation could be a good thing in terms of creating a more holistic approach to CPD but school closure, redundancy and lack of opportunities for newly qualified teachers were also envisaged.

Question 2

What have been the success stories in NI education?

Many teachers welcomed the freedom that the NI curriculum gave them to be creative and to incorporate new methodologies and technologies into teaching and learning. There was some debate as to what extent  all teachers had entered into the spirit of the NI curriculum with some suggestion that lip-service was being paid to it at times. Others suggested that a balance was required between skills acquisition and knowledge and that it was difficult to do this. Another issue raise was that of parental attitude to the curriculum. There was a fear that parents would not appreciate how education had changed and would expect to see children receiving a traditional type of schooling. A way around this was is to involve parents more in the schooling of their children through effective communication between teachers and parents. Many also welcomed the recent relaxation of web filtering by C2k through “grey filtering” Well done C2k (there…I said it!).

Question 3

What do you hope to gain from #NIedchat and how can we promote it?

Some suggestion was made that we should produce posters and have C2k promote or forum through their portal. The general view was that #Niedchat should be a supportive and friendly environment for teachers to share ideas. It was generally held that although we shouldn’t shy from controversy it would be a better idea to let the forum develop before more challenging issues were tackled. The term 'supportive environment' was mentioned by a few and it is what we aim for.

Question 4

How often do we want to meet?

Most participants who responded to this question felt that a weekly twitter chat would work fine. It was generally held that we should have another chat next week.

Question 5

Any volunteers to host next week’s chat

No reply!

Thanks to all who took part. We hope you can all make it for the chat next week. If you have a topic you wish to have discussed please send it as a tweet or DM to @niedchat.

Top Tweets

MrMalcontent Barry Corrigan
Rationalisation within all sectors is surely a pertinent one for teaching professionals. Fearing for jobs?

medv2 Donna Vaughan
Well just in from a BoG finance meeting, budget cuts has got to be up there at the mo :(

ict4mfl Edmund Ellison
Budget and funding cuts here are causing a lot of anxiety amongst colleagues n PGCE students I've spoken 2

AnGaeilgeoir1 D Mac an tSionnaigh
I've a feeling we may well see the end of training during term time. These could well be organised into agreed staff days.

Nic5Harrison Nichola Harrison
I'm feeling overwhelmed - 6 new ICT initiatives this year, Emergent leaders course, cross curricular assessments, AB involvement

medv2 Donna Vaughan
@MrMalcontent do parents understand the value of this or is it not learning unless its sums and reading homeworks all the way?

AnGaeilgeoir1 D Mac an tSionnaigh
Another successful change is being allowed access to YouTube in the classroom. It did take a while though!!

he4therw4t5on Heather Watson
 its about getting balance right between traditional&creative to embed the knowledge& trans skillsmedv2 

ict4mfl Edmund Ellison
I think that CPD is def an important element to support colleagues and should maybe take priority #NIedchat

Tweet of the week.'s a toughie but considering it was our first chat I think that Tweet of the week should go to @medv2 for

#NIEdchat Keep at it! its a great forum for sharing ideas about what matters others will benefit - it will grow ;)

Links shared in this discussion