Dust off Your Text Books

In every staffroom up and down the country there is the group of ‘superteachers’ huddled in a corner drinking quadruple espressos and making snide comments about ‘teacher X’ whose ‘kids just work out of the textbook every lesson’. Fast forward to the weekend; Mr X is spending time with his family, flying a microlight, trout fishing or doing whatever else normal people do at the weekend while the ‘superteachers’ are spending hours and hours  re-writing huge chunks of textbooks to make booklets, handouts and worksheets, occasionally misinterpreting theories and concepts in the hope of dumbing them down, or because they are just too tired to think about what they are writing.

If you are the ‘superteacher’ type PLEASE STOP this nonsense NOW! Not only are you affecting your own mental wellbeing but you are also not helping your students to learn. During hours and hours of martyrdom spent making a variety of differentiated tasks and activities for each topic, it is the teacher who is preparing for the exam in 30 different ways rather than the individual preparing themselves. Worse still, it makes very little difference to student performance and can actually make it worse.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with textbooks.  They are written by experts in your subject who know the specification and are more often than not approved by the relevant exam board.  Decades of recearch into memory shows us that long term memories are laid down when students actively engage with the material to be learned, be it presented in a textbook or any other form, and that effective learning depends on regular recall of that information.  This means that it is the students who have to interpret, apply and analyse the information they need, not you.

Instead plan lessons and prepare activities for students based on their textbook.  For example, ask students to summarise a theory in 6 key sentences or sketch-note a key study as you read it to them. Ask them to respond to a picture as a lesson starter or write one multichoice question as a plenary.

You can find more details including activity, resources, format, differentiation and teacher/student input using the link below. I hope you can adapt, use and develop them so that the students are the ones doing the work.  A good rule of thumb for any planned activity is: If the teacher input is more than or equal to student input; scrap it now!

Textbook Activities

Oh and, by the way, I have a family, 4 granchildren, horse ride every week and practise cello every day. I do not and will not work evenings and weekends on a regular basis as that is my time.  Happy textbooking!

 

Getting the Buggers to do More

boy-with-booksIt is very tempting, especially with a difficult class, to try to control everything that goes on in the classroom so that students stay firmly in their seats and do not wander around. After all, if they do not move, they cannot flick pieces of paper or rubber bands at the heads of other students they pass by on the way to the book cupboard (with the accuracy an Olympic archer would be proud of) or give a student a ‘friendly’ dead leg, steal his rubber, his book, his pen and so on and so on (the list really is endless).

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Are You Reinventing the Wheel?

wheelMy blog this week was inspired by an article written by leading educator, Colin Harris, published in the TES, 5th January 2017

https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/too-often-teachers-spend-every-night-planning-lessons-early-hours

In his article, Harris states, ‘All teachers need to aim high but they do need to stop aiming for perfection all the time… The difference in the two is so time consuming and is just not achievable with everything a teacher does.’

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Ten New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Teacher Well-being

New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour (source-Wikipedia).

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Blancmange Brains Vs Blooms

I recently joined a social media Psychology teachers’ group in the hope of sharing and gaining ideas for the teaching of my subject.  In one such post I was horrified to read that the writer had her blancmange brains all made and ready to be transported into school for her students to label in their A level  lesson.

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Know Thyself

Mastering others is strength; Mastering yourself is true power.” -Lao Tzu, Chinese Taoist Philosopher.

My question this week is how do we get students to master themselves and to know their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to writing essays?

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Let Them Go

Plato called Socrates “the wisest, and justest, and best of all men whom I have ever known” (Phaedo) and yet Socrates did not write down his lessons nor stand at the front of his class imparting the results of his experience, personal study and reflection. Instead he questioned his students and, once they came up with an idea, he questioned them again!

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From Little Acorns

Behaviour Management, Differentiation and Worksheetless Bottom Sets.

When it comes to teaching science I’m rather like an old and decrepit NQT!  Having taught A level Psychology for twenty years, last year was my first foray into the wonderful world of little people who refuse to stay in their seats, tap you when they want attention and speak all at once at a volume level that would fill a concert hall.

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Worksheetless in Gaza

‘Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves.’ (John Milton, 1671)

My title this week is inspired by Milton’s most quoted line from his play, Samson Agonistes.  Poor Samson, through his physical blindness, eventually comes to find an inner, spiritual sight which reveals to him his true purpose as a martyr.

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