Throughout the UK, outdoor learning is gaining a lot of popularity but there is still work to do before it becomes widespread across the country. At the moment Scotland seems to be leading the way when it comes to learning beyond the four walls of the classroom, with England, Northern Ireland and Wales currently quite far behind.
So, it’s the beginning of July and I find myself on train zooming through the French countryside back to Toulouse after an important sporting occasion up in Lille. After quite a late night, my phone buzzed this morning at 6am and through heavy eyes, I saw that Penny, mother of one of my Year 12 students, had just let me know that her lad Jonathan and his best friend, Patrick, had just left Toulouse airport and were on their way to Madrid. Sounds like nothing overly special, as Madrid is reasonably close by. However the exciting bit is that they were then catching a connection flight to Miami before taking a short hop to Kingston, Jamaica, where they will stay for the next three weeks. At the same time, another of our Year 12 students, Grace, tweeted that she was sad to say goodbye to Rio de Janeiro after spending the last four weeks there. Shortly, one of our Spanish students, Bernardo, is heading off to the Galapagos too.
Lee Parkinson is a prominent voice in the British education community. Known through his Twitter (@ICT_MrP) and blog (mrparkinsonict.blogspot.co.uk), Lee shares a huge amount of ideas and inspiration with peers far-and-wide. He’s a Primary teacher based in Manchester, and spends the rest of his time being an author, trainer and family man. His most recent book is entitled ‘15+ Ideas For The Emoji Keyboard In The Classroom’.
Let me begin by firstly explaining that this is a somewhat bizarre article to write, in the sense that it is not an ‘against all the odds’ battle to succeed in the style of Nativity (you’ve seen that film, right?) or Leicester City’s Premier League success of 2016. It’s more the story of a young student with very rare natural capabilities to shine and achieve, with or without the input of her Geography teacher.
I have recently started a couple of pieces of research into different aspects of teaching (and they say men cannot multitask!), but as I did this, one thing became very apparent to me. It is not the innovation itself, nor is it the strategy deployed, or even the relevant policy / guidelines / handbook / manual / research that aligns with it, that makes innovation successful. No, it is the attitude of the innovator and their peers.
Edu-software experts Busy Things have been bringing the curriculum to life in Primary schools for the last 10 years, and now their award-winning online resource is even bigger and better. With an ambitious redesign and introduction of hundreds of new resources stretching from the Early Years into Key Stage 2, the new resource aims to delight teachers and pupils alike.
There seems to be a recurring theme to my lessons of late: I can link any learning moment to a Disney and/or Pixar reference. Some may see this as a distraction or a problem, but I’m in constant contact with my inner child and honestly, the students almost always get it. I was particularly proud of my efforts in a single Year 7 Science lesson one morning. We have been learning about food chains and webs and relationships between organisms. Enter the first reference:
In my opinion, amid OFSTEDs 2000s obsession with four part lessons and accelerated learning, some facets of History teaching have been undermined, underrated and castigated. One of those is storytelling. Never underestimate the power of a good story in the classroom and the impact one can have, not only on pupils learning in school, but their enduring memory of you and your subject. I recently heard from a Geography teacher who’d spent a 60 minute lesson telling his Year 9 students a story about the evolution of a rainforest. He said it was his favourite lesson (and theirs). When those same students were in Year 10 and 11 they would ask him to tell them the story again! Like 6-year-olds love their favourite nursery rhymes, students love experiences.