Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.
When the English GCSE exam was described as ‘not fit for purpose’ four years ago by then education secretary Michael Gove, a widespread concern about GCSEs was reported by the national press. In fact, many educators already believed that traditional GCSEs were dull and insufficiently challenging, and a few independent schools had been developing their own Middle Years curricula and examinations, including Bedales, Malvern College and Sevenoaks School.
With the drive for 21st Century skills, we're often discussing the importance of real-life learning in education. This could come in the form of practical hands-on activities, or even just using news stories and contextual examples to enrich the topic. But what if we could take this one step further and actually get students involved in real scientific research?
Introduction: Why get out of bed in the morning?
I do not think there is such thing as a ‘motivated person’ or a ‘lazy person’ - we are just motivated by different things. Motivation is not linear. I was, and remain, motivated by learning. I love reading widely and learning more about the world in which I live. I am really not motivated by team sports, singing or marking books. There are some things that I really want to do (and see value in) but have to be persuaded to do; I want to be good at the piano and I want to run half marathons in a vaguely respectable time. I REALLY want to do these things. I have all of the equipment needed. I have peers who will practice with me and I have access to people who will give me expert feedback and teach me.
Successful school leaders are those who find ways to reach and exceed the continuously rising expectations of teaching and learning improvement. However, providing students with the very best learning experiences requires an investment in teachers. As educationalists ourselves at Veema, we know the challenges this presents. Budgets, inspections, choice of approach and the requirement to measure impact, all constrain and shape what we do.
The standards of a pupil’s literacy should, in my opinion, be not only measured by how adept they are at reading written texts, but also their ability to read media texts, too, especially in this case film. However, when the 2016 Programmes of Study for English were published, all mention of film, indeed of most media texts, had vanished and instead we were handed a throwback curriculum full of, well, dead white dudes.
The educational range and educational opportunities offered by a grid are endless. To meet the challenges of the New Maths Mastery and Synthetic Phonic Curriculum, we are told we need to adapt and embrace change. With the ever-changing Curriculum, teachers feel stressed and exhausted. Now is the time for some stability and consistency in teaching and learning. The research by Carol Dweck, Jo Boaler, John Hattie and others needs to be put into active practice. We know now, as highlighted in the 'Life Chances for All' speech, so much more about how children learn effectively and the importance of children's health and wellbeing in this pursuit. How can we now effectively and efficiently achieve successful outcomes for all?
This approach to teaching critical thinking (CT) makes use of the ‘descriptive-not-prescriptive’ principle I introduced in this article for Innovate My School. In other words: teach by showing them (the students) what they already do rather than telling them what they should be doing but aren’t. Though I will talk about philosophy sessions, as that is my background, the principles and procedure that you will find outlined here apply to any teaching context where the teaching of CT skills will be of value, whether maths, English or P.E.
Around five years ago, a colleague suggested I set up a teacher account on Twitter. I was reluctant at first, anxious about the implications of having an open profile as a teacher. Now I am a self-confessed teacher tweep, using Twitter for free CPD, connecting with colleagues around the world, sharing good practice and organising events for teachers. I also have a class Twitter account, which I’ve used to enable pupils to share their learning with parents, pupils and the world!