In December I started this blog. The idea behind it is outlined in my first post, but since then, my blog has remained somewhat silent.
Why is this? Because teaching takes time. A lot of it.
I do not want to use this blog to join the many other teachers around the country complaining about the long work hours and heavy work loads that we endure. Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud member of the NUT and fully agree with everything that they stand for. However, that wasn’t the aim for this blog originally so I am going to try and avoid those topics, other than to say that I have not updated this blog since December due to the seemingly endless courseworks and mock exams that form part of the spring term.
And now here I am, sitting on my couch, contemplating the beginning of the summer term tomorrow morning. We’re getting closer and closer to the exams and the pressure is on, not just for the students, but for us teachers as well.
Making sure that students are putting in the required time and effort at home is difficult. And if they are putting in the work at home, occasionally, they will encounter difficulties, such as a problem that they cannot get the correct answer to. There are four possible scenarios in this situation.
1) They will simply give up at this point and go on to something else.
2) They will bookmark the question and ask you to help them during the next lesson.
3) They will email you asking you for help there and then.
4) They will spend hours of their time going over and over it, not wanting to admit defeat.
A lot of the time, both scenarios 2 and 3 will occur at inopportune times for you, be it during your lunch break or late in the afternoon when you’re trying to leave, meaning their questions might go unanswered for days. Scenario 1 is never good. Not only does it mean they are not bothering to think it through, but it also means that if a similar question comes up in their exam, they will be unable to complete it. Scenario 4 is also generally not good. If they spend hours of time on a single question and yet still fail to answer it, this can not only frustrate them, but also uses up precious time in the lead up to the exams.
One of the many effective techniques we use as teachers within the classroom is group work. Unfortunately, this resource is not used enough outside of the classroom. So I have decided to get my A level students to help themselves, and help each other, outside of the classroom. Although there are many ways to do this, I have found a great app that lets me do this, while keeping an eye on their discussions, and adding my own input whenever necessary. Edmodo is a social network style app that allows you to create “classrooms” with your students where you can upload content, set up quizzes, polls, assignments and alerts. Your students can post questions to each other and reply easily, creating threads and conversations about their question. It is available on the internet, on iPads, iPhones and Android devices, although many of the features available on the internet are not available on the mobile apps, both Apple and Android.
It is easy to use and gives your students a space to talk to each other about their work whenever they want. Warning: it does not make your marking any easier. If you set an assignment on Edmodo you will have to open each assignment individually, which can take up quite a lot of time.
Get it here: Edmodo