Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A great site to improve your teaching!

A magnificent display of work from several classes at Opunake Primary School that cooperatively worked together to explore an interdisciplinary and inquiry based project on Life in Ancient Egypt. The study involved research based on key questions, the making of paper and food, pyramid building science, integrated a range of information technology, and involved creative language, art and modelling work.

For schools who are interested in powerful pedagogy there are lots of excellent sites to explore on the Internet. Possibly my favourite site to assist teachers to gain understanding about a range of 'learning centred' teaching approaches is the Concept to Classroom site.

The initial funding for the site was provided by the Disney Learning Partnership and it is an award winning site offering free professional development workshops covering important 'hot topics' topics in education. These can be explored in your own time. All have clips from such people as Howard Gardner who talks about his idea of Multiple Intelligences. Video clips allow you to view actual classrooms if you wish.

All the workshops include some theory, the history of the topic and ideas, both for and against, allowing you to make up your own mind. There are plenty of tips and strategies to help anyone apply ideas to their classrooms.

A number of the workshops would make ideal professional development 'action plans' for individuals, or groups of teachers, to explore.

Four I particularly like are:

Inquiry Based Learning.
Constructivist Teaching
Tapping into Multiple Intelligences
Interdisciplinary Teaching

The other Topics are:

After School Programmes
Assessment Evaluation and Curriculum Redesign
Cooperative and Collaborative learning
Making Family and Community Connections.
Teaching to Academic Standards ( Teaching to learning objectives!)
Web Quests. Why use them -and how.
Why the Net? An Interactive Tool for the Classroom.

To give you an idea of the format the Constructivist Teaching unit covers:

1 What is constructivism - this simply explains the theory.
2 How it differs from traditional idea about teaching
3 What it has to do with your classroom.
4 An expert interview with an author of a well known book on the subject
5 The history of constructivism
6 Some critical perspectives
7 Benefits of constructivism.

For teachers , or principals who want to inform their parents about any of the topics, the site is invaluable to develop into a parent information pamphlet, or better still to simply direct parents to. Innovative schools could link topics on the site to their own website and to add them as links in their school belief systems.

Such ideas would certainly clear up parent misconceptions. Better still, if parents were appreciative of what the school was trying to do, they would become powerful allies - or at the least informed critics. Knowledge is power and is the only way to clarify those with opinions but no substance.

Take my advice - take a look at what is on offer.


Jody Hayes said...

Thanks for the link Bruce. It looks good!

Bruce Hammonds said...

Enjoy back to teaching next week.Have fun.