Category Archives: Technology

Do Children want to learn?

The Guardian posed the question ‘Is the curriculum putting students off learning?’ which lead to ‘Do children want to learn?’

Isn’t it a condition of basic survival that we are created to learn? So, of course children want to learn but, should it be enough that we say ‘You need to know this’ and they sit down and learn it? Isn’t it our job to put them in a situation where they realise they NEED to learn something – other than to pass a test?

I’m new to expressing these ideas but… isn’t the process of learning and wanting to learn cyclic? We use something until we exhaust its possibilities and then we look for something more appropriate/sophisticated which we use until we exhaust it. If a replacement doesn’t exist, we have to be creative and invent it. For example, we use apps until they no longer satisfy our needs when we look for a new one. If the new one doesn’t exist, then (if we know how) we create it – and if we’re lucky, we’re quids-in.

Similarly with punctuation (got a problem mixing semi-colons and 12-year-olds at the moment), we use full stops capital letters until we can do joined up thinking then we need something more and the more our thinking becomes joined up, the broader our need of punctuation.

Maybe I think like this because I raised sons who were very selective and economical with their commitment to school work but quickly learned computer games, musical instruments and software, photography and graphics programs from Youtube, blogs and forums – and books. They needed to learn for a project they’d set themselves (nothing to do with school) – so they learned. And I’m sure this contributed to them becoming more literate young men – building on what teachers had started of course.

I will have to develop this idea further with more joined up thinking, but at the moment it meets my needs. And, although it exposes the limit of my ‘achievement’  in this area, I know where to find it when I feel ready to show ‘progress’.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.

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Learning Objectives and the English Strands of Progression

Knowing what the students should be achieving and by when is, more than ever, nationally prescriptive. Although some people grumble about this, rather than seeing the framework as constraining, I use the strands (see under ‘AFL’ tab on this site) as a kickboard to spring from and for regular reality checks to make sure, with all these new tools where the technology could take over the lesson, that I am teaching English and not applied IT.

Alongside the APP assessment descriptors, the strands are shared with the students so they discover and apply these skills. In the last couple of years, I have started using the strands to set a learning objective at the beginning of each lesson which, along with differentiated lesson outcomes drawn from the APP grids, have generated some good student discussions about progress and achievement.

Getting these objectives and outcome targets onto the IWB and worksheets is always a faff because mostly, .gov.uk like to use Adobe to post their information. This might be convenient to them, but not for the classroom teacher as I find PDF files are fiddly to manipulate. Using the ‘AFL‘ tab at the top of this page to access a ‘copy and paste’ friendly version of the strands, I can now easily use these descriptors on worksheets and the IWB in my lessons.

Tweet me, Facebook me, comment on this post – let me know if and how you set learning objectives for your lessons.