Saturday, 15 March 2008

Blogs as a teacher's reflective diary

Are you

  • a new teacher?

  • on a teacher training course?

  • an experienced teacher starting a new project?
If so why not consider keeping your own reflective diary in blog form. Not sure what a blog is? Well you are looking at one now. Watch this 3 minute video to find out more in plain English.

Why use a blog?
Well, it is an easy space to organise your thoughts. You don't need to let anyone have the link if you don't want to, but it might be a useful thing to share between a group of peers or for mentors or the teacher trainers to check regularly. It could be a way, of others offering support within the college, to tap in easily to help you with issues you are facing in teaching.

Building a community
Once a few teachers start to use this as a way of reflecting it could be a powerful tool to share how they are feeling about or coping with the pressures of teaching in the first year, how new teaching strategies they tried in the class actually worked (or didn't) or how they are finding studying on teacher training courses alongside work. Teachers often feel they are the only ones facing certain issues. The use of blogs may help them to see that others are also having similar problems, concerns and eureka moments. The blog will offer a way of sharing your experiences with others.

Creating a blog
Watch a video tutorial here on setting up a Blogger account.

Follow this link to create your first blog or contact an ILT trainer via email or by leaving a comment here, to organise an introduction to blogging session.

Blogging in the classroom
If you don't want to use it for your own refelctive practice then consider your students using it. Here are some video clips to get you started.

This video clip explains one teacher's view on blogs from University of Padua 2 minutes.

Blogging in the classroom 5 minutes

CNN World report Blogging in the classroom 2 minutes

Please comment (just below this article) if you have anything to add or discuss about it and / or use the poll at the top of the page to let me know if it was useful to you. It will help to improve future tips. There will be more on building student communities in a future post.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Teaching tips for using Interactive Whiteboards

Get the most from your Electronic whiteboard. Why not use it to:

  • capture handwritten board work (images, notes and mind maps) for recap at the end of the session or later revision sessions. Captured board work can be saved and linked to a scheme of work for revision (must be saved in a way they can access it i.e. webpage or image. As you can add pages there is never any need to erase the information you write. A big advantage over a traditional whiteboard and it is also reusable.

Here's a video clip of the basics and one that shows a little more

Captured board work may also useful for colleagues teaching similar classes to exactly see what was covered in a session and the way it developed. This may be used to promote good practice amongst teaching teams if it is shared with and discussed with colleagues.

  • convert hand writing into typed text for creation of handouts which can then be printed directly from the board. Images drawn on the board can be exported and used in other packages such as Hot Potatoes, Word and PowerPoint or inserted into your blog or web page.

  • display visuals - Photographs, pictures, charts, graphs, diagrams, handouts, worksheets, timelines, clips can be accessed instantly.

  • play audio-visual materials. You can use them to explain difficult theories or concepts - Try accessing videos from or I know there is some rubbish on there but there are also some gold nuggets too. Try a search for "blogging" on you tube and see what you get (Blogs in plain English is a great resource - and commoncraft do a whole range of these videos). Do a search for "podcasts" in your subject area and see the amount of material you have at your fingertips.

  • demonstrate how a webpage is laid out (The student portal for example) or how a particluar piece of software works.

  • instantly access online resource banks. This should always be your first move. Don't recreate the wheel. You can access video libraries, newspaper articles, free discussion boards, Newsgroups, subject specific resources from National Learning Network and many other providers, access image collections, e-books and much more.

  • display the onscreen keyboard and work in any software application.

  • capture screen grabs from the web

  • add simple games and onscreen activities to your lessons to get the whole class involved.

If you would like to know more about Interactive Whiteboards please visit the ILT > Training > Trainer's notes area of the Intranet. There are some SMARTBoard ideas for Business and Health Care and a full document about Interactive whiteboards with activities for you to work through. You could also contact Wendy Peskett or Tony Welch or leave a comment below. Never used a Blog - Welll you can click on the comments link below and follow the instructions on screen. If you haven't got an account select anonymous. Make sure you see the message which reads "your message has been posted" If you don't see this it hasn't worked. You could also complete the poll - top right of the screen to let me know what you think of the tip. Happy voting!