Today is World Religion Day

World Religion Day is an opportunity to promote understanding and harmony between different faiths. It was started by the Bahá’í faith, which itself promotes respect and understanding between religions.

Here is a fabulous table that breaks down the proportion of religious followers in every country in the world, providing an opportunity to learn about religions and percentages simultaneously!

https://www.infoplease.com/world/social-statistics/world-religions

Countdown

There are a number of ‘Countdown’ simulators on the net – this one has some added functionality and features the letters and conundrum games, as well as the numbers.

Have fun using it, either as a starter or as a buffer between sections of a lesson.

Digital Inequality

Here is a link to an interesting – though not particularly surprising – study on the importance of hands-on computer usage on digital self-efficacy and positive attitudes to STEM learning.

It states that we as teachers need to go beyond modelling behaviour through our increased use of ICT in the classroom, and effect change by providing more opportunities for students to use the technology themselves.

Those of us who have been teaching young people online have come to realise that confidence in using technology for social use does not necessarily translate into wider competency in ICT. Those of us who have taught ICT previously were already aware of this at a certain level. The declaration “I know how to use Word” doesn’t necessarily signal competency to a professional standard. And so we shouldn’t assume that hours spent texting and surfing social media translates directly to digital self-efficacy.

The four distinct access gaps highlighted in section 2.1 of the report are important considerations, with perhaps the most concerning being the lack of any access to ICT itself. Digital poverty is a very real problem that disproportionately affects those from deprived backgrounds, with its negative effect on possible STEM careers a definite inference from the study.

The college I work at has been excellent during this epidemic in identifying learners who need hardware to be able to access learning from home, as well as providing additional support for those who have struggled with its use.

We must continue to avoid making assumptions about young people’s competence with, and access to, ICT in order to provide students with the best chance of success in this increasingly digital world.

Today is ‘World Braille Day’

Louis Braille was born on this day in 1809. His invention is a writing system that allows blind and partially-sighted people to communicate, using patterns of raised dots that can be identified as letters by touch.

There are a number of opportunities to raise awareness of Braille in the maths classroom:

  • There are a limited number of configurations of dots in a Braille cell. Can you work out how many?
  • Can you describe the layout of dots in a Braille cell in words? (Promotes use of language such as ‘parallel’, ‘rows’ and ‘columns’.)
  • Which letter in the Braille alphabet has the most lines of symmetry?

You can find out more about Braille and its usage here:

https://www.afb.org/blindness-and-low-vision/braille/what-braille

And here is a very engaging maths activity that use Braille to encourage mathematical thinking:

https://www.stem.org.uk/resources/elibrary/resource/32312/braille

Maths from Home

Terms start up again in many places on Monday, which means parents may be looking for ideas for home-schooling.

One great source of activities is the NRich website, which has a wealth of maths resources for ages 3-18.

They’ve published a special page giving information on how you can work with children at home during the lockdown using mathematical activities and games to enhance engagement and learning.

They’ve also hand-picked activities for different age groups (11-14, 14-16, 16-18) that are suitable for working on without the help of a teacher and are asking parents/guardians to tweet resulting work using the hashtag #nrichmathsathome

Be warned! A quick ‘dip’ into the activities may mean you lose a substantial amount of time, as happened to me with ‘Charlie’s Delightful Machine‘…

Have fun!

Improve Your Digital Skills

If you’re one of those teachers for whom technology is a constant source of bewilderment, or would like to discover what’s changed in technology since calculators became smart and started doing graphs, then you might want to pay a visit to ‘Enhance’ – the Education and Training Foundation‘s online training offer.

It supports the Digital Teaching Professional Framework – a competency framework for teaching and training practitioners in the FE and Training sector.

The main offer is a free suite of modules offering training on EdTech (educational technology) that covers the range of strands in the DTPF. Each module features a short video introducing the module’s concepts, including one or more case studies illustrating the main points. There are then 2-3 activities that provoke the teacher to think of how the concepts introduced affect teachers and learners and how they can be incorporated generally into teaching and learning practice. Finally, there is an opportunity to record reflections on how the teacher might change their practice using their own resources or teaching practice .

To enhance motivation, digital badges can be earned for completion of modules, which can be tracked by reference to a profile page.

The quality of the modules is variable; some modules introduce general concepts that fail to provoke much useful thought beyond what most teachers will consider to be core knowledge and skills. Others are extremely thought-provoking and motivating, opening up innovative ways of thinking about how technology can be harnessed to improve teaching and learning.

New categories of modules have recently been introduced, including ‘Creating Content Fundamentals’, ‘Engaging Learners’ and ‘Innovation and Change’ – all of which are vital strands of knowledge, especially in the current situation in which remote teaching and learning has become a core requirement.

The Education and Training Foundation has produced an excellent introductory video to the Enhance system, which you can view below.

I’ve really enjoyed working through the modules and found many of the modules extremely motivating, especially where they’ve provided additional ideas for introducing creativity into the teaching and learning process.

Enjoy discovering!

An Unprecedented Situation

First of all, I hope that wherever and whenever you’re reading this, you’re OK. A global health crisis in which people are dying is no time to moan about the first-world problems of working from home, even though the effect on mental health is very real and a problem for many people.

There’s no denying that ‘normal’ life has all of sudden become much more difficult – even for people who haven’t suffered the direct effects of the terrible disease.

These past few days, there has been little time to focus on this blog when learners and colleagues have struggled to deal with a sudden need to utilise technology as the primary means of learning. Up until now its role has been supplementary; now, it’s crucial.

The technology is not the main stumbling block, though. Many learners have been struggling, not only to find their way around unfamiliar technology, but to become independent learners who solve problems, interpret instructions and make decisions for themselves without teacher input. The situation has highlighted how far we still need to go to empower learners with a skill-set that enables them to drive their learning forward.

I’ll endeavour to explore possible answers to some of these problems in future posts and how we can apply what we learn during this crisis to future learning, whatever form it takes.

In the meantime, look after you and yours. See below for a resource that may help if you’re struggling to cope. Best wishes.

Visit actionforhappiness.org

http://www.actionforhappiness.org