Tips for A level students. Lesson ramblings for teachers (helpful ideas too!)
Author: Aimee Horsley
I am an A Level Philosophy, Ethics and Religious Studies teacher. I have taught between 80 - 150 R.S students for the past eight years. I also manage a small team of Coaches dedicated to enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment. Two years ago I completed a MEd (Masters in Education) focusing on Dialogic Learning. After huge success on SlideShare, with my power points being viewed over a quarter of million times, I started to think that I have so much more to share that may be of interest to other students and teachers outside my college. So this Blog will document my on-going findings, reflections and tips for both teachers and students.
I have been fortunate that lockdown has enabled me to explore those things on my ‘to do list’ that I never quite get chance to do. This includes reading pedagogical books, watching educational live streams (see ResearchED ) and signing up to my first MOOCS (a free online course database).
After enjoying browsing through the vast amount of courses available, in what seems like endless subject areas from institutions all over the world, I decided to choose: Testing Times in the Classroom: Challenges of 21st Century Education, provided by the University of Exeter through Future Learn. This seemed like a good choice in the current climate, I wanted to explore the pedagogy surrounding current education but also hear the thoughts and views of teachers and educators across the world during the crisis. I am currently only in my second week but so far it has lived up to everything I had wanted.
Each course works differently but this is a four week course, which releases tasks, articles, interesting questions to consider, polls and discussion forums each week. There are a number of activities that are easy to work through, manageable, engaging and you can easily stop and start according to busy schedules. It outlines a requirement of four hours each week, however this could go up or down depending on your level of commitment to the discussions, reading and adding to the comments as you go. It also doesn’t matter if you fall a little behind as you can still access the previous week’s activities.
During a routine learning walk last year, I observed a teacher mastering the use of a Surface Go in his Maths lesson. He passed the small computer around the students, who added their equations and workings out via a touch screen pen. These annotations were directly projected onto the main classroom board for the teacher to make further comments on. This ended up being an expensive observation! I left the lesson thinking of all the different ways this technology could be used within a humanities subject, from modelling essays to peer assessment strategies.
After researching the different styles and sizes, I decided to purchase the Microsoft Surface Go, a small, compact and entirely efficient touch screen computer. I now had this exciting piece of equipment, lots of ideas, students always willing to try new things and then I lost my nerve. I didn’t quite dare break the established routine of my lessons and I just didn’t know where to start! Then lockdown happened, every teacher had to reinvent themselves virtually and I had no choice but to think differently. And I had just the computer to help…
So how does the Surface Go differ from other technology and virtual learning programmes?
1. For face to face feedback with individuals or small groups then Zoom works well. You can share your screen with students and therefore go through PowerPoints or essays. However, I have huge issues with students sharing their locations with me and other students, they could be in their bedrooms or with family members during these meetings, so seeing their faces raises privacy issues for me.
2. For live streamed lessons with comments but no student faces, then YouTube works well. These videos can be unlisted so only students who you share the link with have access, plus you can store and share your video via YouTube for future classes.
3. What is missing from both options though, that the Surface Go provides, is a way to edit a document directly through the touch screen capabilities. This means that you can mark an essay or piece of work like you would normally, the only difference is that you do this onto a word document rather than paper. Now I know that you can highlight and add typed comments to a word document and share your screen via Zoom but this could be tedious and time consuming. The Surface Go allows you to provide written feedback as if a student were sat in front you and the verbal explanation can be recorded or streamed alongside it. This mirrors the feedback interactions given in lessons. This works by combining the Surface Go (writing equipment), filming software (OBS Studio) and YouTube (sharing platform).
So how do you use a Surface Go to give live feedback?
Please comment on each section of the essay with your feedback. What is good about it, needs work, could be improved and how, how does it meet the requirements of the mark scheme and your general thoughts?
‘Everyone deserves to be saved and go to Heaven’ Discuss.
Taken from Matthew 25, when discussing the afterlife Jesus states ‘Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life’. This clearly eludes to a Divine judgement about which afterlife is suitable to each individual. But how is this decided? Is it possible to change your afterlife or is it unescapable? This essay will explore why not everyone deserves to be saved and go to Heaven and what other options there are.