Posted by Edward Upton
We’ve really valued your contributions over the last few years, but since we have increased the number of subscribers by 50% over the last year we have lots of demand for fresh material.
As a special Christmas bonus (not affecting your future royalties) we are offering
- £25 cash for the first new file you upload by New Year’s Eve,
- and £4 for every subsequent file you upload.
If the files meet our conditions below we will pay the bonus by 5th January to pay off some of that Christmas splurge – and you will still go on to earn rewards as your files are reviewed and downloaded.
Get uploading and have a Happy Christmas!
- Your new files must be uploaded and in pending or ‘on trial’ state by midnight on 31st December 2013
- A qualifying file must reach our pricing threshold: be more than 1 page for a Word / PDF document and 3 pages for a Powerpoint / presentation
- Files can be attached to one or more resources – there is no extra bonus for splitting them into different resources if they are related to the same lesson
- The bonus is not dependent on the resource being reviewed or rated – we’ve already seen the quality you produce, so we know other members will like it
- Files must be substantially your own work – see our usual contributing guidelines
- To qualify you must have previously contributed files to Teachable
- By Monday 6th January you will be notified by email of your files counted, and the bonus paid. If you do not receive an email by that time, but have tried to upload, please contact us.
December 11, 2013 at 9:42 am | Uncategorized | No comment
Posted by Edward Upton
One of my favourite cartoons from Tottering By Gently has got Dicky (older aristocrat) sitting in his London club with a half empty bottle of whisky in the foreground.
I felt I was hearing more of the same sitting in the Edtech Summit this morning, including watching a clip from Spielberg’s Warhorse movie, where the cavalry charge (read traditional school system) gets mown down by machine guns (read new technology). The Future of Education is not what it used to be.
Of course the reason for spouting dubious nonsense at 10am was not excess whisky, but a desire to court controversy. So let me unpack some of the more contentious statements for our level-headed audience!
“Teaching is facing an unprecedented challenge to prepare students for a new world of technology”, Lord Puttnam
Yes, the world is changing – but then it always has. Teachers two generations ago had to prepare students for a post-industrial society where jobs used abstract desk-based skills rather than predictable factory tasks. Was that not also a challenge?
And worrying too much about the world our children will grow into is futile. I remember a futurology book from 1985 which had many accurate predications like flat-screen TVs, electric cars and GPS watches – which are just coming true 20 years out. But the real social revolutions of the mobile phone and internet were missed completely.
A tech-obsessed teacher back then may have been teaching the inner workings of a fax machine or Casio watch … which would have been less useful than a good grasp on Shakespeare for 2000s office life.
‘Teachers in 10 years time will spend a lot less time creating resources – they will just pick the top content from around the world’ Jose Ferreira, Knewton
This is partly true. Through Teachable and other sites teachers are already cherry picking the most useful material to reuse.
But our member teachers constantly tell us how they see creating / adapting resources for their students is part and parcel of their role. That’s why Teachable allows you to download most content in an editable format.
What will emerge our online tools like Zondle which enable you to build your own ‘content’ which students can use interactively on mobiles or other platforms.
“Textbooks have a very poor form factor and won’t exist in 10 years time”, Jose Ferreira, Knewton
Five years ago I would have told you of the imminent death of textbooks – and the imminent switch to Teachable downloads. However, textbooks are still around today, alongside lots of digital content. Indeed printing text on dead trees turns out to have enduring attraction:
- Textbooks can be dropped from any height and still work
- Textbooks wear out, so publishers can make a sustainable living off re-publishing the same niche content
- Textbooks don’t need a reliable internet connection or power to work
Most importantly, textbooks free up your tablet / laptop to be used for interactive. Visiting The Cedars School in Greenock last year, I was surprised to see one of the first iPad-only schools with books all over their desks. “Don’t you want the content on the iPads”, I asked the teacher naively. “Oh no, because it much harder to switch between writing on the iPad and reading the text on screen.”
There were predictions I agreed with, such as ‘teaching in the class will increasingly focus on what robots (self-learning activities) can’t do well – grey or complex topics’.
But the future has always been changing. And always will.
Posted by Edward Upton
How to make maths interesting? The best talks I’ve heard on inspiring maths teaching are about making maths relevant to real world problems. And yet all the real-world maths problems worth solving use computers.
Conrad frames real-world maths problem solving (such as how do we predict weather patterns for the next week) as involving these steps:
- Pose the right questions
- State the question in mathematical terms (as an equation or formula)
- Run the computation
- Verify the result against the real-world data
The crazy thing about school maths is that 80% of lesson time is spent trying to teach how to do step 3 manually and abstractly. On paper, or if you are lucky with a scientific calculator – something I’ve never seen in a real office!
So maths lessons and tests are all about your ability to do hand calculations, whereas even Siri (the iPhone assistant) can compute equations well beyond A-level standard on the fly. Computers are just better at doing computation than humans. Any human on the planet.
So the real value-add for humans in problem solving is steps 1,2 and 4, which CAN’T be easily automated. That’s where the teaching time should be spent.
Conrad’s radical suggestion is that ALL maths lessons should involve computers and programming – ‘Maths need to be computer-based, not just computer-assisted’.
Remove the computer and you remove the context.
I have recent experience of this, doing an excellent course on Machine Learning through Coursera. I’d understand the derivation of many of the equations used better understood if I’d be taught calculus (which is wasn’t) but I’m still able to follow the course (and write the code) by understanding the principles. I just need to understand in principle what linear regression using gradient descent is… and then call the right function in the computer program.
Yes, it’s nice to know some maths from first principles, but if we can accept Pythagoras’ without having complete proof, then we can probably accept a whole lot of more complex maths without being able to run the calculations on a side of A4.
Jobs in the real world demand maths skills in increasing volumes. And those jobs are necessarily jobs with computers.
So let’s train the next generation of mathematicians to work with computers, not see them as a lazy alternative to a stick of graphite.
Posted by Violetta Konar
At Teachable we receive content submissions from all over the UK, and as far as the US and Australia. As part of our initiative to highlight teachers who have grown our bank of resources to thousands of files, we invite them to share a little bit about themselves on our blog.
This month we had a chat with Toby Tufton who’s been with us since the very beginning and has 63 pages of Science resources for ages 11-18. Toby grew up in a small village in rural Worcestershire. He gained Natural Sciences degree at Cambridge, PhD in Evolutionary Biology at Sheffield, PGCE in Bristol, and then NQT in 1994 at a large state comprehensive in Leicestershire where he’s been ever since. Now Toby’s the Head of Science and a member of Leadership team.
Toby, what encouraged you to start sharing your teaching resources back in 2008 when you first joined Teachable?
TT: I saw a flyer and thought sharing resources made a lot of sense. It seemed pretty stupid that everyone was reinventing the wheel. I liked the idea that I got something for uploads and that this depended how popular they were.
What gets you up in the morning to face the day of teaching?
TT: Radio 4 / iPad / Pint of tea / cereal – and then, after going through in my head how I think the day will pan out, it’s up and out. I’ve never had any doubts that teaching kids is important and it’s the part of the job that I enjoy most, by far.
If you were to advise colleagues, what would be your best advice for keeping students interested in the subject?
TT: If you’re enjoying it, they’ll enjoy it. Trust, mutual respect and humour are essential. Try and get the students doing things and provoke them with questions and new ideas as much as you can.
Your Science resources have consistently the highest ratings on the site. What are your top 3 resources of all time and why?
TT: It’s a hard question. Different resources suit different groups – often for no obvious reason. Experiments are always the best way to spend a lesson, but of the written resources I’ve made (Biology A-level):
- The “Action potential slider” is challenging and makes something the students are entertained by (largely because they can’t believe I was sad enough to work it all out). It was also quite satisfying to have had the idea and made something quite unlike anything else.
- The “Oxidative phosphorylation” colouring-in activity is simple and works.
- The “Succession” Powerpoint is a favourite largely because it’s set in Dartmoor where I spend most holidays. Each photo has many memories – occasionally, they’ve been cropped to hide the children!
Why did you get into teaching and in which direction do you picture it to go?
TT: I first realised I’d enjoy teaching when I was a post graduate in Sheffield helping to run practicals for undergraduates. Having said that, my friends assure me it was written across my forehead for years before that.
Which direction… much to everyone’s horror, I like teaching where I am. I live in the middle of the catchment area (This is genetic. I grew up opposite the school my mother taught in). My kids go to my school. As long as new and interesting challenges keep cropping up, which they always have, there seems little reason to move.
What’s your approach to creating resources for your class?
- Help, I’ve got a lesson on Monday! They need something to do and everything I can find is useless or boring.
- What do they like doing?
- How can they learn what they need to learn in a nice way? I then mull it over, and look at past exam questions, relevant books and Google for inspiration.
If I need to use Powerpoint, the key is big trigger pictures and very few words. Worksheets need to be relevant, in the right order, decent font size and relatively easy to mark. If I’m doing an experiment I don’t want them to have to write aim/method etc, I want them to get on with it (unless I’m trying to teach them how to write aim/method etc) so it needs to be included on their Worksheet. The students need to be challenged and doing something interesting.
How do you make the most out of free time (if you have any)?
TT: Five kids and I’m the only driver – which accounts for most of it!
I have done pottery (throwing) since I was at school at weekly evening classes. This is non-negotiable.
I’m a scout leader (although I’m trying to wriggle out of it!).
I chain-read novels (often while sat at music-lessons or swimming-lessons), grow vegetables and cook while listening to very loud 70’s soul with #4 on Saturday evenings.
Thanks, Toby! We enjoyed learning more about you and hope others do as well.
Previous Contributor of the Month:
Posted by Violetta Konar
One of our contributors, John Hesnan of Inspired Solutions, is offering his recently-published Kindle book “Happiness Skills” for free for only two days this week. You can get your copy between Wednesday 10 July – Thursday 11 July on Amazon.
In his book John looks at practical tools to improve the quality of life through managing stress, resolving conflicts and other essential skills:
“ An essential Book for all Teachers / Educators, filled with practical tools you can use at any time in your life. Help yourself and your students to develop new ways to create a happier and more fulfilling way of living. The skills of happiness can be learned by anyone, at anytime. This book will help you become more optimistic and motivated in the knowledge that what you are doing is your choice. It will help you to build strong relationships, overcome challenges, and succeed at work and in life. My life was one of struggle until I discovered my purpose in life and was then able to set meaningful goals based on my values”
John is an award-winning entrepreneur who has also developed an animated and interactive music learning resources MusiCan, which are available to download on his page.
Posted by Violetta Konar
Bring some fun into your classroom with these time-saving resources that teachers have spent hours to make. I hope you will enjoy them as much as other members, as shown by the great reviews left on each resource.
Give your students a flavour of summer, sea, ice-cream and sandcastles with a fun problem-solving Maths game. Suitable for KS2 and KS3 students, and adaptable for other ages.
Created by Susan Byrne
These A-level Chemistry games are very popular with students and add some variety into teaching. Cover most topics and include two free samples for you to try out.
Created by Stuart Barker
A simple but fun game to engage English KS2 students with nouns. Works great as a template to create other games.
Created by Alison Stewart
Aimed at improving basic, fundamental dribbling and passing skills for football but equally suitable for many other invasion games, such as hockey or basketball. Ready to print immediately and easy to use.
Created by David Smith
Two interactive whiteboard games for A-level Physics to increase the knowledge about the Universe, gravitation fields and escape velocity.
Created by John Hudson
Your KS3 Physics students take a role of an electron travelling around the circuit board with an aim to collect the most energy units.
Created by Sayed Fathy
Play Henry’s “Most likely to…” game on your last lesson to predict what the future holds for each person in class. Suitable for all subjects.
Created by Henry Cordy-McKenna
Science quiz with 8 rounds of questions, including 2 sound rounds that are students’ favourites.
Created by James Ferguson
Posted by Violetta Konar
Each month we have a chat with one of our many impressive teacher-contributors. This June we’re featuring an award-winning John Hudson who’s committed to uploading only his best and highest quality Science resources for ages KS2 to A-level.
John, thank you for taking time to answer my questions. Firstly, let’s start with a bit about yourself.
JH: I studied Natural Sciences at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University. Following this I did eighteen months of uninspiring repetitive laboratory work and decided I wanted to have more fun and to make a difference to young people’s lives. I did my PGCE in Bristol, taught at a girl’s school in Twickenham for five years then moved to Burnham Grammar School four years ago. I was promoted to Head of Science this January. I enjoy showing off presenting grand experiments in science week shows. I won second prize in the O2 learn video awards last year with a naked eye astronomy video “Seeing Stars”. Thanks to anyone who voted last December and a big thanks to Teachable for all your support.
You joined Teachable in 2010. Could you tell our readers what attracted you to start sharing your resources?
JH: I really enjoy creating resources for lessons and experimenting with students. I try to make a brand new extra special resource once a week. These quickly build up over the years. A friend introduced me to Teachable and the concept of sharing the most polished and interesting resources appealed to me.
What made you choose Science and what do you like most about being a teacher?
JH: Working with children is fantastic as they are hungry to discover new things and also make me laugh every day. I became a teacher as I wanted to inspire young people. I genuinely enjoy discovering new things and hope this rubs off onto students as much as possible. Science is the most interesting school subject as it can be presented and taught in a huge variety of creative ways.
If you were to advise another teacher, what would be your top tips for engaging students?
JH: Students really engage with practical work which lends itself to deeper learning. Ask an adult what lessons they remember best and more than likely they will involve practical work and/or fire. I recommend working as many impressive demonstrations and practicals as you can into your teaching. Take every opportunity to get students up and out of their seats. Take risks with new ideas – if you are interested in trying out something new and exciting then it will draw students in.
You have some superb games and other resources available to buy and try on your Teachable page. Please name your top 3 resources of all time, and why you think they’re the best ones?
JH: The Science of Seeing Colour – this is a stunning optical illusion involving colour after images. Students are really amazed by this. An attention grabbing and entertaining lesson starter. This is often the first thing I show new classes – excellent for the Science Week assembly too.
Power Station Card Game & Quarks Card Game. These were amusingly renamed as “card clash” after a popular competitive two player card game asked for the name to be changed. Students don’t realise they’re learning when having fun.
Matching Pairs and Two Player Interactive Whiteboard Games. I’m very proud of making these, they alone justify having an interactive whiteboard. They are the student’s favourite type of quiz as they are really competitive. These took me to Paris to the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Awards. There were five or so Welsh representatives but I was the only Englishman that year. I made a couple of exemplar games free to try on the download page.
John, could you tell us more about your involvement with O2 Learn and how creating videos has impacted your teaching in the classroom?
JH: There are a huge range of skills involved in film making that really put the minutiae under the microscope. The researching, scripting, directing, scoring music and editing really bring the best out in students and give them an enormous sense of pride. I try to use student-led learning as often as possible. Being confident and able to do presentations are crucial skills to leave school with.
See my previous post on how John engages students through creating science films.
In which direction do you picture your teaching to go next academic year, or even beyond?
JH: We are fortunate and excited to have brand new class sets of iPads in school. I’m just beginning to uncover some of the exciting potential uses. My favourite free apps which I strongly recommended are ShowMe (students make and share presentations – but nothing like Powerpoint) and Socrative (voting and class testing whilst racing spaceships).
What do you do to unwind after a hard day’s teaching work?
JH: We have an eighteen month old boy, James, who has little interest in going to bed or sleeping until very late at night. Playing trains with my son is my relaxation time lately. He’s always full of beans and in love with the world.
Since making the O2learn astronomy video I’ve become really bitten by astrophotography and I’m often capturing the stars in time-lapse when the boy finally goes to bed.
Thanks again for your time and sharing the insight, John!
Readers, check out his games, puzzles and other interactive teaching resources, ready for you to download and use immediately.
Previous Contributor of the Month:
Posted by Violetta Konar
Have a look at this next batch of topics and resources you probably haven’t seen yet. With over thousands of teaching materials found on Teachable, I’m not surprised!
I love Michelle Walker’s resources! Her bonds and tables workbooks, and monster problem solving activities are perfect for your KS1 and KS2 kids.
Henry Cordy-McKenna’s “Role Of A Form Tutor – Training Session” is broken into manageable chunks. Explanatory information included in the presentation, and whilst you’re browsing the topic you’ll also find great resources from Pearson.
A limited amount of free worksheets from Jasmin Baxter on osmoregulation, thermoregulation, and types of microbes. Hurry and grab your copy!
Wondering how to teach your students about the high street and retail? James Yeoman’s Powerpoint “High Street Geography” will be a perfect time-saver for you and a topic-starter for your students.
Aimed at GCSE Level, “Generators 2″ worksheet is useful as a gap-fill summary or starter. Created by Emma Wilson-Downes, this 2-page document has 12 FREE downloads left.
Is there a specific topic or age group you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments.
Posted by Violetta Konar
It’s difficult to find all the newest resources on Teachable so we’ve rounded up a selection of topics that have had recent additions.
A few of the resources you’ll find there are still available to download for free. All we ask is that you leave a fair review for other teachers browsing the site.
Scroll to the bottom of the page to find a great set of resources created by Gareth Butcher, from First World War One to the summary sheet on the USA (also great for revision).
Look out for Louise Edgeworth’s lesson materials on such topics as antibodies, vaccination, and the immune system.
The most recent materials have been submitted by Julie Hearn and are targeted at KS2 students. “Grammar Tools”, “Sentence Cards”, and “Write Right” exercises are great for printing out and using on desks.
You don’t have to look too far for Chris Wintle’s Powerpoint with a practical explanation of the 4 basic loci.
Stuart Barker’s resources are easy to find here – they are distinctive with their rich blue colour. Make sure you check out his “Domino Games” as well as they’ve been very popular with students.
James Yeoman is one of the most known Geography contributors. He has a vast amount of high-quality contributions that include well selected images to accompany the topic.
“Nuisance & Dangers Of Static Electricity” by Henry Cordy-McKenna (he was out first Contributor of the Month back in December 2012) is designed to get kids working and researching together with a number of useful links to start with.
A well organised Powerpoint “Pets” by Lea Ottocento has only 9 free downloads left. Hurry up and get a copy whilst you can!
Jessica Wright’s “Apoptosis” covers the mechanisms and reasons for apoptosis with a discussion opportunity to engage students. Comes with a “gory pictures” warning.
Last one to top off the list is a comprehensive resource on sustainability in design. Created in collaboration with the experts, it boasts an impressive selection of content.
Posted by Violetta Konar
Recently published Demos report by James Park suggests to scrap Ofsted inspections and instead use opinions of teachers, students and parents to evaluate and improve schools.
The paper calls the current exam and test system ‘toxic’ and recommends a multi-perspective model where collecting the views and experiences of those involved with the school on a daily basis would provide a more honest account.
The report has also received a very warm welcome from the National Union of Teachers:
”The report is quite right when it states that Ofsted as a measure of accountability in schools is both ‘toxic’ and does not lead to an improvement in education. The NUT has long called for an inspection system which supports, not punishes, schools.”
If you’re interested to read further, the paper “Detoxifying School Accountability” is available to download for free on the Demos website.
James and his colleagues have also developed an online tool Progress to help with assessing your school’s learning environment. Do give it a try!