Learning & Teaching Blogs

‘It is by virtue of being an artist that the teacher is a researcher’
  • Learning & Teaching
Dee Saran

(Stenhouse, 1970)

Recently, the idea that teaching should be an evidence-informed profession seems to be everywhere. It is then important to ask what this actually means for teachers’ classroom practice and, most importantly, for students’ learning? Is being an evidence-informed teacher just another trend that will, ultimately, be short-lived?

The core grounding of evidence-informed teaching is that decisions made by teachers to support student learning should be informed by the best available evidence on ‘what works’ in their educational context rather than on ‘hunches’ or long-established practices. By drawing on evidence, teachers’ practice, and in turn, students’ outcomes, can then be improved.

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Practical Pedagogies
Dee Saran
 
DC Learner Profile

Part One: THINKING

Thinking is a central part of our DC learner profile. The ability to think clearly and rationally is important whatever we choose to do. Research shows that critical thinking skills are not restricted to a particular subject area. Being able to think well and solve problems systematically is an asset for any career. Critical thinking is championed by the World Economic Forum as being central in developing 21st century skills, and plays an important part in creating valuable character traits.

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Practical Pedagogies
Dee Saran

Part Two THINKING

How to promote thinking in the classroom....

Ensuring that pupils engage critically but constructively with each other’s ideas and viewpoints... Prof Hattie identifies classroom discussion, where students are given the opportunity to respond to challenging questions posed to them, as being integral to accelerating students’ learning. Robin Alexander, in his book Towards Dialogic Teaching, highlights the over-reliance on IRF (initiation-response-feedback) in the British classroom. Much classroom discussion centres upon the teacher initiating discussion by asking a question, choosing a student to answer and then acknowledging whether the answer is correct.

This cycle is repeated several times with different students. Apart from the issue of how time-intensive this model is, there are two ways it obstructs challenge.

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Workload Reduction
Regina O'Dwyer

Whole class feedback is an idea that has been gaining in popularity in the UK as a technique to reduce the workload on teachers but also to make reviewing student work more meaningful. A recent TES article describes how it allows students to break their 'to-do' lists into manageable tasks and a teacher to use formative assessment of students' work to help their future planning.

As part of our group, we have been exploring ways to incorporate whole-class feedback into our weekly classroom routines.

  • Workload reduction
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Stretch & Challenge
Rebecca Dibble

Dr Kathryn Burn presented staff with an informative and interesting take on ways in which the highest ability learners could be encouraged to work beyond their comfort zones to engage with their subjects at a higher level. Underpinning the philosophy of stretching and challenging our learners is Hattie’s idea of the ‘rope’ model of self-concept. Dr Burn highlighted to staff that our “major purpose of schooling is to enable students to back themselves as learners of what we consider worth knowing”. It is our job as facilitators to learning to find ways to engage the students in two-way dialogue where they see the value in each lesson and what is to be achieved.

  • Stretch & Challenge
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Harkness
Sarah Lambert

All too often I find myself explaining that Harkness is an approach to teaching and learning that develops soft skills. At the same time as learning more about their subject whilst sitting around the oval table, deepening their understanding through rich dialogic exploration, students are also honing, refining and developing their ability to challenge, to question, to look one another in the eye and to think. Soft skills. Yet they aren’t soft, they’re hard.

It is not easy to confidently assert oneself in front of fifteen other people, to publically lay bare your thoughts, exposing them to critical dissection and potential disagreement. It is not easy for students who now spend increasingly more time isolated on devices, staring at screens, to look across a table into the eyes of a peer to endorse an idea or constructively challenge it – it would be easier to type or write their response. It is not easy to stop looking to your teacher for endorsement every time you speak, to stop relying on them for the development of your ideas and to vocally do it yourself, with your peers, collaboratively. And it is not easy for teachers to relinquish control, to allow students the freedom and opportunity to build their own understanding and to construct their own solutions to the problems posed at the table, or on the walls. Their solutions, their ideas, knowledge that they own. Hard skills.

  • Harkness
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Digital Pedagogies
Jeremy McIlveen

The classes of 7BST, 8CRI, 8LRU & 8MAB are currently working with Mr Mcilveen in Geography as "digital leads" as part of the wider Dubai College "measured approach to digital learning". The students are approaching lessons with enthusiasm and creativity, are beginning to take risks and fully explore the power at their fingertips.

There are challenges and frustrations. Let us not be naive - it is not all plain sailing. Yet, at the same time, the students are rising to the challenge. We are 5 weeks in to term 1. Here is a selection of work we have produced. 

Year 8 have been doing a unit on Coasts - processes, landforms, & management. Year 7 have been looking at Mapskills. Work has so far been completed on OneNote, YouTube, Powerpoint Office Mix, Pen and paper, and sites such as www.sketchtoy.com - well worth a look!

  • Digital Pedagogies
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Creative Thinking
The Creative Learning Team

Dubai College Creative Learning Team are a group of teachers who are passionate about creativity in learning and teaching. Amidst the current zeitgeist of performativity - targets, tests, tables and accountability, often creativity suffers. Our students can be more concerned with passing exams, achieving university places and conforming to the external pressures imposed upon them by our neoliberal economy than on following their interests and pursuits passionately. The 21st century skill which is valued so much by global organisations in the fourth industrial revolution, like the OECD, the WEF1 and more localised employers, is sacrificed in favour of perfecting the technique required to satisfy the requients of Pearson etc. As teachers, we can often feel like pressurised2 (and at times 'randsomed') to deliver what is required for success rather than what we as professionals believe is of value in developing the person and their creative potential. DC Creativity Action Team therefore aims to advocate the value of creativity in the learning processes and, expand understaning of this phenomenon, and over time, help to make creative learning and teaching (curriculum, pedagogies and assessment) a more central feature of our school.

  • Creative Learning
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Century Tech
Dee Saran

Century.Tech has ready-made learning content for English, Mathematics, and Science. The available lessons are suitable for KS3 and KS4.

The easiest thing to find out more about using the Century.Tech LMS is dropping an email to either Stuart Forsyth or Mahmoud Yacoub. Both of us will be glad to help you with setting up an online class for your students to see and test the benefits of adopting it in your teaching practices.

  • Century Tech
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Video by Pearson Edexcel

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