Thursday February 16, 2017
The great debate rages on, how do we ensure that the pace of improvement and the pace of learning are rapid and sustained in our classrooms, for all children.
How can we juggle those that need intensive support with those who, seemingly, have no limit to their knowledge?
Of course at the same time we must be target setting, providing impact feedback, attending countless meetings and updating our forms to include the latest acronym.
Ensuring that we meet the needs of 30 different children who are often at different stages requires several adults, well planned groups and setting up a clear ethos within the classroom. What I am suggesting is a way to do this quickly and easily. I use Google Classroom as the hub for my classroom, however any learning platform would work. (If your school has gone down the Office 365 route, check out their new online classroom feature.)
I use Google Classroom as a learning hub, where I put resources, commentary and instructions for the children. This, in itself, is nothing new and may seem quite simplistic. However the way I use the Classroom is to deliver instructions and resources quickly to those who are more able and do not necessarily need further input from the teacher. This style does two things: firstly the more able pupils benefit by being able to develop independence skills and I have more time to support those pupils that require further support.
It is important to note that high quality formative assessment is essential here. I do not send off the same children each time to work independently and I also can develop activities if I want to specifically work with some of the more able pupils to really push them on. The underlying ethos remains the same: that I want to deliver focussed and targeted support to those pupils who actually need it, rather than leading all pupils through the same input.
I am a passionate believer in meeting children at their level and then leading them through the objectives that I want to teach them. Children, if they are anything like mine, love interacting with technology and more specifically love using video to learn new things. There is so much content available on YouTube and actually it is so quick and easy to create small videos to upload to the Online Classroom. These can be mixed with a range of scanned texts, flipcharts, worksheets, images or internet links to provide all of the resources that pupils will need to achieve the desired objectives.
Finally, if you try this out for the first few times, it will be chaos - especially if the use of technology is not part of your regular teaching style. Do stick with it though, because the outcomes can lead to greater independence for your children, greater problem solving skills and allows you to target your support, and the support from any other adults – if you are lucky enough to have one, to those children who you have identified during formative assessment.
Ben Cornford is Head of ICT at Thomas A Becket Middle School. Follow him on Twitter @mrcICT.