Thursday, January 19, 2006

If only .....

Oh dear. I really shouldn't read all these edublogs - and I shouldn't take private pupils either. Why not? Because I start enthusing about things I'd like to do in the classroom (as well as bemoaning what people still do in the name of education). I hope some digital natives take the time to read what I'm about to write - because I want to know if they see it as a Good Idea.

If I were back in my old room, even if the laptops at my disposal *were* the nasty little PCs we had, and even *if* our every move was monitered by the dastardly IGear, this is what I see. Topic: let's take Shakespeare. Julius Caesar (my hapless pupil is doing this just now). We've studied the play and now we have to get our heads round the mistakes made by Brutus so that we can write a thoughtful critical essay on the subject.

Now at this point I might well have used Group Discussion to help them share ideas. Good for the assessment of Group Talk - but less good for the retaining of ideas shared *unless* the groups get some quick-witted soul to write notes on flip chart paper. It's also quite noisy.

But what if I, at my laptop, kicked off a blog entry with the question - and perhaps a starter prompt? Now everyone in the room, each at his/her laptop or sharing between two, thinks about my starter. Perhaps they blog a quick response. Perhaps they ask a question. Everyone has to click the "refresh" button each time, say, they put something in. I suppose they could do it to command if need be. The online discussion continues till the end of the period.

At this point, normally, great chunks of what has been said are lost, supplanted by something fascinating like ... oh, let's say some demanding mathematical problem. By the time the pupils have to write that all-important piece for their Standard Grade folio, they can only remember vague snatches. "Miss - what did you say ...". But Miss has forgotten, because she says so much in a day and besides, she's not Miss, she's Mrs and she's finding senile decay creeping in.

But if it is all on the blog'll all still be there! And they can access it in the Library, at home, in the class a week, a month later - when they need it for the essay, or for the redraft, or months later when they're scrabbling to make a good folio, having just realised how important it is. And the teacher would not have to rummage in the Record of Work :-( for the original question to put on the SQA label, and the pupils wouldn't need to ask, or borrow the jotter of the better-prepared sucker sitting next to them. Brilliant!

There's only one problem. I never did this. And now, I probably never will. Bum.


  1. Anonymous9:20 PM

    Well, I hear there is still a shortage of English teachers in Scotland...

  2. Actually, I think he'd have been fascinated - right to the end of his career he was interested in the new educational ideas of the day. And he *did* love gadgets!

  3. I came across an Amircan High School student who started a kind of "What I learned in Math today" blog called AP Calculus Peer Help. It looks like it could be a useful exercise for her and for the other pupils in her class. Unfortunately she didn't make many posts and hasn't done anything since November, but I thought it was an interesting idea.

    She has some other blogs that she seems to be still working on but I haven't had time to check them out. A similar idea that I saw somewhere else was to use a Wiki to write a class text book. Can't remember where I saw this idea, but I said a bit more about it on a recent blog post.

  4. Oh dear - I looked at the calculus and it made my brain hurt. It always did. I used to copy from a girl next to me who went on to get hons BSc. The teacher knew I was doing this but never actually caught me.
    I got Higher Maths - just - and promptly forgot all about it. Sic transit ....

  5. Anonymous3:18 PM

    Come and be one of my lecturers for education. I need someone who is thinking in the same direction as me and someone who actually gives a monkey's.

    ps - Good to hear you have private pupils!