Retention, Retention, Retention: Beyond the 5 Year threshold

Children benefit from being taught by experienced teachers. This is a pretty uncontroversial and unremarkable statement.

Schools are finding it more difficult to retain their most experienced teachers and teachers are continuing to leave the profession altogether. Sadly, in the current education climate, this is also a pretty unremarkable statement.

I shan’t bother to quote the extensive research published on the recruitment and retention issues in this post. Or indeed the research on working hours and teacher well being. Instead my own thoughts turn to a solution.

Before any solution can be found we must first explore the causes of our inability to recruit and retain teachers who are fit to serve in our profession – and I would emphasise the last point here. We don’t just want bodies in classrooms – we want talented, intelligent and inspirational people in classrooms up and down the country.

Of course, an enormous amount of hand wringing has already taken place regarding this matter. Colleagues with far more talent, experience and skill with the written word than I, have attempted to offer their own insights. I would offer my own in any case.

A number of attempts have already been made to offer solutions to this problem. These range from economic solutions such as more pay or the writing off off student loans to ‘softer’ solutions that suggest ways in which workloads and bureaucracy can be reduced. To my mind, although well intended and logical, these solutions only chip away at the edges of a problem that runs far deeper. The issue of recruitment and retention lies in the heart of the system itself. Much has been written recently of the global neo-liberal approach towards education reform, particularly in the excellent Flip The System; Changing Education From The Ground Up (Evers & Kneyber), and of the Standards Movement (Sir Ken Robinson). I believe that the issues with teacher retention can be directly traced back to the system itself and here is where solutions can be found.

For those not familiar with the concept of neo-liberal reform, such reforms take their lead from the market orientated reforms that many governments have imposed as a way of increasing efficiency in markets. Initially limited to energy supply and rail travel, there is now a movement to implement  in public sector areas such as education and healthcare. To simplify further, the rationale is that competition breeds efficiency. A competitive education system that incorporates league tables and parental choice should, so the theory goes, raise standards. The result is a high stakes game where the risks are far too great for educational leaders to dare to afford the sort of autonomy to teachers that many of them were expecting and promised when they came through their training. Instead teachers often find themselves on a ‘systems treadmill’, plugged into a educational Matrix where they have no control over curriculum and very little real control over delivery. In short their professional autonomy, and in fact their very professionalism itself, is non existent.

Highly hierarchical organisational systems, viewed as being necessary in a high stakes neo-liberal educational system,  further erode what little autonomy teachers have left.

So how can this be addressed? How do we move beyond this system? Put bluntly – we cannot ‘bend’ this system. The politicisation of education and the high stakes for educational leaders makes this impossible. The only solution is a new system altogether.

However, I would like to suggest 3 policies that might help (to paraphrase Yoda) to restore balance to the system and, at the same time, help with recruitment and retention of teachers in the UK.

Proposals;

  1. Teachers receive incremental pay increases for their first 5 years in the profession- this is dependent on them successfully meeting the teaching standards in each of these years
  2. Upon completion of these 5 years of service teachers are ‘tenured’ – their performance will be loosely monitored by educational leaders, but they will be afforded far more professional autonomy whilst they remain in the profession. Salary equal to the upper point on the upper pay range (roughly £38,000 today)
  3. Publish school performance data showing a 4 year average only. Remove all annual data from national league tables.

The proposals suggested are, admittedly, very narrow and hardly constitute a revolution in education! However, a brief rationale for these is offered below;

  1. There is, of course, a requirement to monitor and support all new entrants to the profession. The overarching aim here must be to support them to improve to be the best teachers that they can possibly be. The incremental pay increase acts as a monetary reward in recognition of the tremendous efforts that these young teachers will invest in their chosen profession.
  2. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! Teachers will know that if they continue to sustain a high standard in their first 5 years then the reward will be a true recognition of their talents and will be given a degree of autonomy befitting of a professional with 5 years experience.
  3. Ideally all externally published league tables would be done away with! However, this is probably a little too unrealistic – even for a harmless blog! A four year average should at least serve to provide school leaders with a little more breathing space and allow them to briefly jump off the ‘accountability treadmill’ and focus purely on classrooms.

 

 

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Technologies for learning

In June I had the pleasure of attending the annual EBEA conference at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham. One of the most striking things about this year’s conference was the emphasis on collaboration. Delegates were keen to get stuck into each workshop that they attended and share their own brilliant ideas about how they approach their teaching practice. One common theme that I noticed across the maelstrom of collaborative discussion taking place was the willingness to embrace technology.

I suspect this may be a side effect of many of us being forced to make up a teaching timetable with the delivery of some ICT lessons, or it may simply reflect the fluid nature of our subject matter and its relevance to current events? Regardless of the reasons behind this change it is undoubtedly the case that many in the Business and Economics teaching community are right in the vanguard of pedagogues willing to embrace technology and take risks.

Below is just a selection of the many wonderful ideas that were shared at the conference.

socrativeThanks go to Keith Hirst and Andrew Redfern who introduced us to this little gem in their workshop.  Socrative is a student response system that allows teachers to set educational exercises and games for students to complete via smart phones, tablets or laptops. It is unbelievably easy to use and the website contains a good instructional video that explains some of the different ways in which Socrative can be utilised. I have already started using it with my classes and the students have found it extremely simple to grasp.

http://www.socrative.com/

popplet

Popplet is a brilliant little piece of mind mapping software that I use on a regular basis with my students. It takes seconds for them to sign up and it couldn’t be simpler to use.

The technology allows you to easily create colourful mind maps as well as draw or insert photos into the mind maps to enhance the overall impact. Students can also collaborate on the same Popplet by hitting the Share button. The mind map saves automatically and students can return later and add additional content, building a map of their learning over the course.

http://popplet.com/

scoop itScoop.it!  is a superb website that enables you to easily ‘scoop’ content from webpages and place it into a ‘virtual magazine’ that can then be shared with students. Upon signing up to the website there are clear instructions on how to insert a handy button onto your toolbar that allows you to ‘scoop’ content quickly and efficiently with  just the click of a button. You are provided with a link to you page which can then be emailed to students. You can also stimulate discussion underneath each scoop in a handy comments section.

http://www.scoop.it/

quizletQuizlet is a free website that provides a learning platform for students that includes flashcards, multiple choice, matching and true/false quizzes. You start by creating your own set of key term definitions. Once you have completed these Quizlet does the rest and will automatically jumble these key terms up to create a variety of tests for students to complete.

http://quizlet.com/

go animate

Go! Animate is a great little website that allows students and teachers to create mini cartoon animations. Choose your background and main characters and then start to write their dialogue. This resource is particularly useful for those Friday afternoon lessons as an alternative to a handwritten or typed exam question. Simply ask the students to type their response into the dialogue boxes and get the characters to speak their words! You can also create your own videos and these can be saved and accessed later as a handy revision resource.

http://goanimate.com/

jingJing is a piece of free software that allows you to make live recordings directly from your laptop screens. Plug in a microphone and you can also record a voiceover at the same time. Once completed, this mini-video can then be easily exported as a Flash file, which the students can access at their convenience. I find it particularly useful when teaching diagrams in economics as it gives the students a visual and verbal description which they can refer back to at a later date as a revision resource. It is also particularly if you are planning to ‘flip’ your classroom.

http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html

triptico 2

Thanks go to Kirk Dodds and Ben Cox for introducing us to this little beauty in their workshop. Triptico is a superb piece of software that can easily be downloaded to your desktop. It is literally a treasure trove of interactive resources that work well on a range of technologies. At the moment I am enjoying using it through my interactive whiteboard running some of the interactive games which Triptico provides templates for.

http://www.triptico.co.uk/

Please feel free to leave your own suggestions for new technologies in the comment section.

Independent Learning

KEEP CALM 3INDEPENDENT LEARNING…hmmmm sounds great in practice. But what about all of these exams students have to sit? What about these targets I have to help students to meet? Surely there’s a inherent conflict in pursuing a strategy of independent learning and the far narrower requirement for students to transmit their learning in an examination?

dont go back

I have recently finished reading a very interesting book entitled ‘Don’t Go Back To School’ by Kio Stark.

The central premise developed by the author is that today’s education system is not designed to teach young people how to learn and is far more concerned with jamming their heads full of facts, figures and knowledge that can then be regurgitated at the appropriate time. Whilst this may provide students with a set of qualification certificates it does not provide them with something far more valuable – a set of skills that allow them to learn and acquire new skills in the future.

Knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do

independenceAs I read the authors words I realised their relevance. I consider myself to be pretty good at learning things. I have an inquisitive mind and also possess the skills to be able to find out new information. I also realised that I possess something much more valuable – resilience. If I don’t quite understand something I will stick at it and find a way to make sure that I do. I then realised that I only developed these skills in adulthood. Upon leaving school and, to a lesser extent, through my time at university I was pretty inconsistent in my approach to learning. It would seem that I had to actually leave education in order to learn how to learn! I’m certain many reading this will have had a similar experience. Most of us spend out lives refining our own learning processes through a kind of ‘trail-and-error’ process – what works for us we continue to use and what doesn’t work we discard. But is there anything we can do as teachers to speed this process along? How can we help you people to develop more effective learning skills and a degree of resilience that will allow them to become effective lifelong learners?

It would seem that I actually had to leave education to learn how to learn

I have recently been thinking about independent learning strategies in preparation for a presentation I am due to deliver at a national subject conference. I have made a list of potential independent learning strategies for delegates to discuss and have included this list below.

Please feel free to add any strategies that you have employed successfully with your students

Silent lessons – divide them into groups and put all of the lesson instructions onto the board. Students have to follow the instructions and solve problems themselves

Silent debate – give each group/pair a large sheet of paper. Teacher poses a question and students have a written debate on the sheet of paper.

Fish Bowl – a small group of students demonstrates or explains something to a larger group of students

Think Aloud – students are grouped and given a piece of text alongside some questions. One student reads the text whilst the others stop them to discuss as the answers to the questions become apparent from the text

Group Presentations – ask students to conduct some research on a topic and then feed this back to the rest of the class by presenting their findings

Give them a choice – provide students with a choice about how or what they complete in a lesson.

Problem Based Learning – provide students with a problem to solve. Students work in groups to establish what they already know, what they need to know and how they will access this new information

Go beyond the classroom – develop a culture where students willingly engage with your subject outside of their lessons (in addition/conjunction with homework). This could be through the use of news articles, books, video clips etc…..

Learning Tokens – students are given 3 tokens at the start of each lesson. Each time they ask a their teacher a question they have to hand over one of their tokens

Students set lesson objectives– encourage students to set their own lesson objectives. If possible require them to use learning language (describe, analyse, evaluate). Give students a list of verbs, adjectives and key words as prompts

Reflective culture – develop a culture where students are encouraged to reflect on their learning throughout the lesson. Develop strategies to support this

Embrace social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Scoop.it – amongst many others!

Use technology for collaboration – Scoop.it, Wikispaces, Go Animate, Wordle, Proboards, Popplet, your schools VLE

Peer and self-assessment –     enough said! But how do we make this more effective?

Students develop success criteria-  ask your students work as a group to develop a mark scheme for a question you have set

Think-Pair-Share – teacher poses a question, students think about the questions, pair up with a classmate to discuss and then share their discussion with the class

Critiquing – teacher poses an idea or an argument from a particular point of view. The class then work together to find flaws in the argument presented by the teacher

Carousel questions – place large pieces of sugar paper round the room each containing a question. Students divided into small groups and spend a few minutes at each question adding their own ideas to the piece of paper

Exam rubrics – develop students understanding of assessment criteria. What strategies can we employ to support students?

Videos – create your own videos for use as a learning aid. Make this available to students so that they may access these at their own convenience

Flipped Classroom – deliver core content to students prior to the taught lesson. Students assimilate this content independently. This should allow the lesson focus to be switched towards the application and discussion of the content

Diagnostic assessments – students complete a self-diagnostic assessment of their progress. They can then develop their own learning plans to address areas of weakness

Writing mnemonics – develop class or individual writing mnemonics. These can then be used by students when self or peer assessing work. Particularly powerful if students develop their own versions

Group Research Project – students work collaboratively to research a topic and then present their findings to the rest of the class

Reflective Journal – encourage students to keep a record of what they have learnt this week in your lessons. Students could set up a blog to record this information

Students write starters – as a plenary get students to create a starter based on that lessons learning that could be used to recap next lesson

Slow writing – ask students to pause every few minutes (time set at your discretion) and review what they have just written, making an necessary corrections and adjustments

OFSTED 2012 – Embedding RWCM

Embedding RWCM – Anthony Steed

OFSTED’s 2012 framework first published for implementation January 2012 and then later revised for implementation September 2012 builds upon many of the key components identified in previous Inspection Frameworks.

This post will focus on the main changes in the framework that will be used to judge the quality of teaching.

The new inspection framework for implementation in September 2012 is, in some regards, a case of ‘more of the same’ with respect to judging the quality of teaching. It builds upon many of the key elements contained in the 2009 framework and carried through to the January 2012 framework. Familiar points about the use of assessment, planning, subject knowledge, questioning and feedback are replicated from the frameworks of yore. The most significant difference I noticed when reading was that the points of consideration were fewer in number when compared with January 2012 (10 points down to 7). This appears to be an attempt to simplify  and streamline the framework in order to make its interpretation easier for teachers and to provide more focus to all in the teaching community. In this instance such changes should be welcomed.

So what has changed? Well actually, between January and September 2012, very little. The most significant changes took place between the 2009 and January 2012 frameworks. In the authors opinion, in addition to the familiar elements mentioned above, there are really two significant areas of change in 2012. The first of these is discussed below. The second point will be developed in a subsequent blog post.

The 2012 framework now contains the following line with respect to overall judgements about the quality of teaching.

  • reading, writing, communication and mathematics are well taught

The interpretation of this may seem straightforward to some and less so for others. The reality is that regardless of the subject taught this line of the framework will require some discussion simply because this expectation is cross-curricular. The expectation from OFSTED is that these core skills will be developed and well taught in all subjects – that is to say that Mathematics lessons will need to also develop reading and writing skills as well and English lessons making some provision to develop Mathematics skills.

This will require some prior planning on the part of subject teachers to ensure that, where possible, provision is made for these core skills. It may be worth approaching staff with a particular area of expertise to get help or advice on where core skills can be implemented and whether students are familiar with these skills beforehand. For instance, before asking students to calculate a percentage change it would be worthwhile checking they have covered this in their Maths lessons! It is also important to include any provision of these core skills into your lesson plans/schemes of work as evidence of a sustained and consistent approach.

As a non-specialist in either Mathematics or English I have taken some time to think about different approaches to these four areas. Below is a list of different generic strategies that could (in theory) be applied across all subject areas.

Tips for including core skills for non-specialists;

Reading

Ask students to identify key words before using search engines (reading)

Identify key vocabulary from a piece of text i.e. students make a list of what they think are key words from a text and discuss/compare (reading)

Ask students to use glossary to find what they need (reading)

Ask students to reference their work (reading)

Show evidence of prior planning by asking less able readers to read less challenging text and more able to read more challenging text (reading)

Ask students to find evidence from books/websites independently to back up an opinion (reading)

Asking students to read a piece of text out loud to the class (reading)

Use challenging vocabulary when explaining concepts and highlight to clarify understanding (reading)

Writing

Ask students to write about a topic using a ‘Six word story’ – this teaches them succinctness as well as encouraging them to identify the most pertinent information in a topic (writing)

Ask students to identify key words to be included before undertaking a piece of writing (writing)

Discuss writing strategies that could be employed i.e. how would we evaluate/analyse? (writing)

Model writing strategies for students i.e. write an example response to an examination questions and ask them to identify the evaluative paragraph (writing)

Provide writing frames where necessary showing evidence of planning for prior attainment (writing)

Use self and peer-assessment to enable students to reflect on their writing. Emphasise narrative, prose etc. – not just subject specific content! (writing)

Communication

Ask students to write a blog (communication)

Encourage students to take part in debate that are ordered (communication)

Show students examples of real world communication and ask them to evaluate/discuss their effectiveness/tone/purpose – as well as subject specific content (communication)

Use podcasts/videos as a way of delivering content  (communication)

Allow students to choose the ‘most appropriate’ method of presentation for their work (communication)

Ask students to make presentations (communication)

Ask students to consider the effectiveness of any PowerPoint presentations with respect to target audience (communication)

Mathematics

Highlight any mathematical key words and make provision to explain/question students understanding of these i.e. percentage, trend, volumes (mathematics)

Graphs to compare changes in data over time (mathematics)

Comparing different ways that data could be presented (mathematics)

Please feel free to add any further suggestions below.

Source:

http://www.fromgoodtooutstanding.com/

http://www.usethekey.org.uk/popular-articles/grading-of-lessons-under-the-new-ofsted-framework

Applying learning theory in the classroom

Applying learning theories in the classroom

How many of us are aware of the multitude of learning theories that have been written and published over the last fifty years? Furthermore, how many of us actively attempt to apply these theories on a day-today basis in our teaching? With the possible exception of the enduringly popular Bloom’s Taxonomy, we can hazard a guess at very few. However, theories of learning should not be treated as some vague piece of academic reading that you undertook whilst completing your teaching qualification. Moreover, they should certainly not be treated as the sole domain of university academics sat in comfy offices and not having to contend with 9C on a wet Wednesday afternoon. Learning theories can be an excellent resource for developing ideas, resources and strategies that can improve the outcomes of our students and make our own experiences as teacher more interesting and rewarding.

The first thing to note is that the most popular learning theories are not some flash-in-the-pan hypothesis from an academic that has never been anywhere near a modern secondary school. The most well-known theories will have undergone the scrutiny of rigorous tests in schools up and down their country of origin. They will have been picked apart by other academics, eager to point out the flaws in a competitor’s idea. Put simply, we can make the assumption that the ideas put forward are pretty reliable. The second thing to note is there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all-circumstances learning theory. The authors themselves are often very clear about this. Think of learning theories as a Schmorgas board of ideas which can be selected or rejected at will and you will be on the right lines. Thirdly, once you get past the highbrow language, the theories themselves are often remarkably simplistic and easy to apply to your day-to-day teaching – indeed it’s highly likely that you are already using many of them!

I will focus on two of the most well known theories – Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory

Blooms Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning is on theory that many of us will be familiar with – not least because our subjects models of assessment closely follows the ideas set out by it author Benjamin Bloom in 1956. Bloom’s idea – which was remarkably novel at the time – was to classify different types of thinking and then to place them into some kind of hierarchy, with the most simple at the bottom and the most difficult at the top. Rote learning of knowledge (are you listening Mr Gove) was viewed as being the most simplistic, so was placed at the bottom with more challenging skills, such as evaluation, placed at the top. Bloom’s model has a number of useful applications in the classroom. It provides a set of ready-made objectives that can be easily adapted to just about any topic that you might find yourself teaching (see Fig.1).

Fig.1

Bloom’s is also particularly powerful when thinking about how we can ask better questions and how those questions can be differentiated for different ability ranges (See Fig.2)

Fig.2 – Examples of low and high order questions using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Following on from the last point, it provides a very effective model for differentiating worksheets, exam questions or group work. By asking weaker students to focus on learning the names of different methods of pay motivation, asking more able students to explain (analyse) how and why each method will improve motivation and asking the most able to focus on evaluating the relative merits of each method and making judgements about which are the most suitable it is possible students to make excellent (I hate the word ‘outstanding’ so we’ll use excellent instead) progress against their own prior attainment.

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Gardner’s was interested in how people learn. He argued that all hold seven different types of intelligence; Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Body-Kinaesthetic, Musical-Rhythmic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal. They key to Gardner’s idea was his argument that each of us holds these seven intelligences in varying amounts – some of use will be good with numbers but have poor spatial awareness, some of use will be musical but have poor verbal skills. Many of us will instantly recognise these different groups of students within our classrooms. The child that cannot sit still (Body-Kinaesthetic) who is sat next to the child that will sit diligently and take notes. Whilst one of these students will excel in our classroom (no prizes for guessing which) the other will struggle to fulfil their potential. However, get the same two students out on the football pitch and the roles are reversed.

Where Gardner’s is often used best by teachers is as a way of enfranchising those students who do not possess the linguistic or logical-mathematical intelligences in a great abundance. These two types of intelligences are well catered for in classrooms up and down the country. However, other types of intelligences are often overlooked by teachers when planning lessons. Of course, this is partly due to the methods of assessments in our subject’s areas – the AQA Economics exam makes no provision for students being able to sing about cross-elasticity of demand! However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to make our classroom more interesting places for all groups of students. Gardner’s ideas can be easily adapted to provide a variety of classroom activities that will address the different needs of students. Role plays, news reports, making up a song or rap, the use of mind maps and group debates are all excellent ways that teachers can provide students with a varied and enriched curriculum in Business and Economics.

Try This!

When planning a new scheme of work, try using the grid below to ensure that Bloom’s and Gardner’s idea are being addressed in your classroom. The results should be lessons with more depth, challenge and variety

Knowledge Comprehension Application Analysis Evaluation
Visual-Spatial
Bodily-kinaesthetic
Musical
Interpersonal
Intrapersonal
Linguistic
Logical-mathematical 

Further Reading

Some other theories have been included below

Learning Theory Explanation Classroom application
Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer) A cognitive theory of multimedia learning based on the assumption   that there are two separate channels (auditory and visual) for processing   information and that learning is an active process of filtering, selecting,   organizing, and integrating information. Get students to match images to terms or key theory“What does this image represent?”
Problem Based Learning Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional method of hands-on,   active learning centred on the investigation and resolution of messy,   real-world problems. Set students an open-ended question such as ‘How do we get the UK   economy moving again?’ Students and teacher investigate how this could be   solved – teaching of concepts such as demand side policies takes place   through the investigation
Experiential Learning (Kolb) A four-stage cyclical theory of learning, Kolb’s experiential   learning theory is a holistic perspective that combines experience,   perception, cognition, and behaviour. Using an on-line simulation of an economy, ask students to simulate a   cut in income tax. Students then record the impact of this on key economic   variables. Next ask students to predict what will happen if interest rates   are cut. Get them to run the experiment again to see if their prediction was   correct
Discovery Learning (Bruner) Discovery Learning is a method of inquiry-based instruction;   discovery learning believes that it is best for learners to discover facts   and relationships for themselves. Before teaching a students a topic ask them to research. For   instance, before teaching them motivational theory, set them the task of   research key motivational theories (don’t tell them which ones!). Students   feedback their findings at the end of the lesson
Multiple Intelligences Theory (Gardner) Multiple Intelligence Theory posits that there are seven ways people   understand in the world, described by Gardner as seven intelligences. Linguistic,   Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Body-Kinaesthetic, Musical-Rhythmic,   Interpersonal, Intrapersonal Students learn about production methods by forming a real production   line, perhaps making paper aeroplanes (Kinaesthetic)Students write a song/rap outlining the external influences that a   business will encounter

 

How to ‘Flip’ your classroom

Flipped Classroom – Anthony Steed

Are educational paradigms beginning to shift? The digital age has meant the way in which we access information has changed immeasurably. The answer to pretty much any question is now at our fingertips or at the end of a mouse or the tap of a tablet screen. This seemingly limitless access of information has irrevocably changed the way in which students approach their learning and will continue to so in the future – we teachers must simply endeavour to keep up!

With this in mind perhaps it is time for us to re-evaluate the role of the classroom in the learning dynamic? Schools continue to employ an instruction based model of education which involves the teacher delivering information to their students. “Today we are going to learn about oligopolistic market structures” routinely translates as… “Today I am going to spend the limited time we have together as teacher and student telling you about the features of an oligopoly market – I expect you to process and make sense of this information in your own time, although I will make some time towards the end of the lesson to support you with this”. Sound familiar?

Teachers will endeavour to support students in their learning and, for the most part, do a pretty fine job working within the limitations of time and students numbers. It seems unlikely that class numbers or the amount of time we get with our students will change in the near future so the question is …. Is there a better way?

Fig. 1 – the ‘Traditional’ model  vs. the ‘Flipped’ classroom model

American college’s have begun to adopt the flipped classroom approach and a way of circumventing these restrictions. The flipped classroom model involves the teacher delivering the ‘taught’ element outside of the classroom. Students complete this element of their learning prior to attending the lesson. This allows the teacher to spend more 1:1 time with students in lessons consolidating their learning and allowing them to progress to more challenging tasks quicker. Doubtless many of you who are reading this will ask what is so new about this idea? Indeed many of us have been employing a ‘flipped classroom’ model for years, setting reading or research homework’s prior to the delivery of a topic (although without the snazzy Americanised name).

It is the variety and accessibility of modern technology that has made ‘flipping’ the classroom a more exciting experience for both teachers and students alike. Video clips, podcasts and blogging are just three tools that can be effectively used to deliver a flipped classroom. Students will often be more enthusiastic about learning through these technologies than through reading a traditional textbook and taking notes (although I believe these methods still maintain significant value). Moreover, these technologies can often be effectively delivered via those annoying little gadgets that seem permanently attached to the students palms and have little white wires that snake up from the uniform towards the ear, meaning that these learning resource can be stored more conveniently and accessed at will.

Where to begin?

My advice is to start small. Select one lesson from your scheme of work to try out before even thinking about delivering an entire topic. Next select a method of delivery. There is no ‘best method’ of delivery – only what’s best for you. Some will be familiar with recording their own voice or themselves teaching on video. Many of us will have written blogs for students. However, the good news is that there is a wealth of resource material available through sites such as YouTube (the excellent pajholden is highly recommended for economics). Textbook pages can be easily scanned and made available to students as PDF’s, as can lesson notes. Powerpoint still works perfectly well despite the programme being increasingly viewed as the perfect cure for insomnia. If you really want to push the boundaries programmes such as Go Animate!, Storify, Camstudio and Jing allow you to create video that can be used to the lesson content. The point is to use whatever works best for you and your students. The most important thing is that whatever resource you provide allows them to learn independently.

Now for the delivery…..

Now that you’ve created your resource it’s time to give it to your students. This should be done before you attempt to cover the topic in a lesson – in other words the information should be new. Make it clear that they are expected to watch/listen/read the resource and make sense of the information themselves. Now to plan the lesson itself. Ideally all students will have engaged with the materials, processed what they can and arrive at your lesson with questions. You may want to ease them into this at first by providing a 5-10 minute recap at the beginning of the lesson. The important thing is not to teach them the topic over again. This defeats the purpose of flipping the classroom in the first place. I would recommend some scaffold questions that will support their progress and act as an effective AFL tool for you to see how much they have understood. You should find yourself presented with a highly differentiated classroom (fingers crossed). Those that either didn’t access the materials or didn’t fully understand the content can get additional support from the teacher, whilst those that fully understood the content can quickly make progress in term of accessing higher level questions from pretty much the beginning of the lesson and don’t have to spend the first 15 or 20 minutes of precious lesson time listening to the teacher explain a topic which they already fully understand. I could dredge up that ominous phrase ‘outstanding progress’ at this point but I’ll leave that to the reader!

The beauty of the flipped classroom is that it allows the teacher to move away from the traditional role of instructor and become more of a ‘coach’ moving from student to student providing support or guidance where it is needed. This can happen for pretty much the entire lesson – not just the last 20-30 minutes, maximising the time we get to spend working with our students directly. The other great thing about flipping your classroom is that students have permanent access to these resources and so can go back to review them after the lesson or as part of their revision.