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Friday, May 05, 2006

Redundant Time

I had a meeting this morning in Edinburgh with Mark Adams of Microsoft, Malcolm Knox of Prodigy and Ian Stuart of Islay High School. Ian is presenting with Mark at a conference in the Lighthouse on designing schools for the future (sorry if that’s not quite right Ian!) on the 25th May. I joined them as it was an opportunity to be shown the new ‘Benchmark’ tool by Malcolm from Prodigy.

I have to say that I am impressed.

The notion of having a tool that assesses in an informal way what a student knows, and then automatically creates a personal learning plan for their development is great. It also addresses the problem that we face at the moment with such a disparate spread of knowledge, levels and ability in pupils ICT when they make the transition from primary to secondary. When you realise that this would work out to be around £8-10 per pupil (including the materials!), then this sounds a great deal to me. This is a great example of how ICT can be used effectively – it’s a shame the subject matter is ICT though! What we need now is people creating similar things (with similar functionality for all other curricular areas)
Thanks for taking the time to show us, Malcolm.

The title for today comes from the discussion that we had about many things in education. Mark pointed out that if you watch kids they don’t have ‘redundant time’ – if they aren’t doing something, they quickly pull out the mobile phone and send someone a text, or listen to something on their MP3 player. It is curious how we have to manage them in schools in timetables though – which creates for us ‘redundant time’. How often as a teacher do you discount the first few minutes of a lesson and the last few because of ‘travel time’ (in the secondary school?) How often do you encourage learning to go on after the period bell has sounded (aside from the classical notion of ‘homework’)? Using technology, time doesn’t have to be redundant – have questions/activities up on your screen as your pupils are entering/leaving the room. What about a presentation full of quotes as pupils arrive/leave to make them think? What about a blog or a wiki for the ideas you and your pupils have had during the lesson? Instead of making notes of the pupils comments on a chalkboard or whiteboard, why not type them straight into a blog or wiki? What’s the worst thing that could happen – your pupils never look at it again? What’s the best thing that could happen – they do, and continue discussion after your allotted ‘period’ is over?

I thought about Mark’s comment on the way home on the train – redundant time – I’m not sure if pupils have a notion of redundancy – is this just an adult concept?


Blogger Ewan McIntosh said...

Students always use their time. As they walk talking to their mates they listen to music. As they watch the TV they play video games. As they sit in class they think about what they would really like to be doing... ;-)

I don't think redundant time exists, just playtime.

8:28 pm  
Anonymous marlynmo said...

We had a staff meeting tonight about Picasso and learning diaries from P1. Our Head was a bit taken aback by the resonses, to a system not yet readable by the secondaries, that is supposed to aid transition and AifL, relies on the children's ability to type and has currently no actual curricular space. A new version is imminent we are told. Well wowee! Imagine the time it might take to have a P1 think through and explain what they are going to do about a particularly badly scribbled drawing, and who is going to read about their intention to make it better next time by staying inside the lines to improve pencil control...and who is going to scribe/type that into their system held profile, for whom to read? The informal, teacher interchange/ assessment at that age, is really the only suitable. AiFL at any stage takes quality time to impliment and I am ever hopeful that the 'NEW' CfE will leave some space for quality teachers enhancing quality learning by having quality time with their pupils evaluating their own qualities and taking small steps to be involved in their own valuable assessments. The danger I feel with 'tools' is that they can miss a nuance, a hint, an expession, a stress, and can value the ability to use the tool itself, if you see what I mean. I would, however, be interested to explore(particularly what it can do for ICT in transition) and I do, already use various 'tools' myself, both on computer, and off, to assess, for creating individualised learning plans.

10:58 pm  
Anonymous Lynne said...

Picasso - when I first saw I thought it had potential, but then I tried it and was less impressed. Our working group on PLPs came up with a list of strategies already being used, or being implemented in both primary and secondary here, so have pretty much left Picasso to one side.

7:37 am  
Blogger Morag Macdonald said...

Yesterday at maths time I sat with two of my able primary 3's with the maths plannners in front of me. I told them the possible choices for what we could do next, having completed work on money. They selected 'Time! cos we're really good at that" and they liked the look of the pages in the text book. That is a realistic way to target for maths with those particular pupils.
We completed target diaries as a pilot for last term. To be honest I enjoyed the time I sat with each child (quality), but really I had to tell them what to work on or remind them of things I have already told them they need to do. Some of the boys told me they would like more time to work on technology kits so I have tried to build in more time for that.

As I worked with each child (minimum 20 minutes) my classroom assistant kept the rest busy. Multiply that 20 minutes by 15.....or 26 in Marlyn's case.

We have now been told we do not have to continue with the diaries. If an electronic version costs £8 -£10 per pupil I can think of lots of other things I would like to buy for £150.

7:22 pm  

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