Monthly Archives: September 2011

9 / 11 and the historical record

There’s so much online about 9 / 11 and the anniversary.  The stuff that has moved me is the personal – as exemplified by the things on this bbc page.  However, it is interested that the interpretation of the day, and the war on terror has gathered pace during the anniversary events and memories.

Prezi and collaborative learning

This isn’t rocket science, but I was really impressed by the easy way in which Prezi worked, the students were enthused and were able to easily share their knowledge using Prezi’s ‘edit together’ set up.  I was so impressed, I thought I’d share it with you.

The scenario is this.  I’m working with a small year 10 group.  They’re keen on history – but they don’t like writing copious notes.  Neither do I for that matter, so we have something in common.   I have made a deal that we’ll do lots of writing of answers, but not a great deal of writing of notes.

So, how to record what they’ve learned, if we’re not allowed to do lots of note-taking?  Well, we’ll try the usual things – spider diagrams, tables, highlighting and making posters and stuff.  I thought that prezi might make a nice way in though, as an activity early in the year.

Prezi, if you don’t know is a zoomable presentation editor.  You can make presentations that zoom in, allowing you to represent the big picture, and precise detail.  For this lesson I created a base presentation – which you’ll find here.

For homework, students visited prezi on their own and created themselves one of the free prezi accounts – this meant less faff when the lessons started – though there were one or two who needed help in creating their accounts. Whilst they were being helped, the class read a sheet about the different countries involved in the first world war, and how they were affected – highlighting some key points.

When they’d done that I shared an ‘edit this together link’ to the presentation with them on our blog. They clicked, logged in and we were away. Their task was to use their exercise books and the highlighted sheets to build the presentation – specifically the precise detail they’d need to really understand the topic and get the grades they wanted.

Whilst they were editing they could see little avatars of their classmates, telling them who was working on which bit.

Prezi in action

What they came up with was:

Which I’m really pleased with. We ended the lesson with a go at improving an answer, using the specific detail in their presentation – they printed their improved versions out and stuck those in their books. A quick go with the class tools fruit machine as a check for understanding and memory and we were done.

Ebacc and Social Mobility

moving walkway by bartb_pt (flickr)

They do say that as you get older you become more right-wing (unless you’re Tony Benn, in which case the process works in reverse).   But I didn’t think it would happen to me.  I’m not sure if I am becoming more right wing, or if Civitas, the teeth clenchingly right wing think tank is becoming more left wing.

Evidence such as their support for books like this, and a look at the usual posts on their blog suggests not.  Their use of alis data to suggest that the rising attainment of students at A Level is not a recognition of better teaching or harder work by A Level students but of a diminution of standards, is a good example of why I don’t usually find myself in agreement.

However, this morning I came across this, and nodded in agreement, well sort of.  Civitas argues that if we want more students to study ‘solid’ subjects like history, geography, languages sciences etc then the bacc might be a useful way of doing this – but not whilst it is linked to attainment.  The bacc should be measured on entry – not on the grades obtained – otherwise resources and opportunities for students to study ‘solid’ subjects will be focused on those likely to pass them and therefore likely to contribute to the school’s place on the e-bacc league tables.

I’m not sure that all students should be encouraged to do e-bacc subjects, and (pause for reflection) I’m still not sure that all should be made to study history post 14, and certainly not post 16 as some are suggesting.  However,I do think that those who do want to take it shouldn’t be forced away from history because of the requirement of schools to improve their league table performance.