Nick Hitchin, Head of Learning at the The Falcons School for Girls will be speaking at both our Birmingham conference on Tuesday 7 June and our London conference on Thursday 23 June. Here’s a sneak peak on what he’s presenting….
Frog and a Knowledge-Rich Curriculum
The challenge facing schools following the changes to the curriculum and exams, is how to balance acquisition of knowledge with creativity. Engaging activities that develop pupils’ capabilities and creativity is key. Knowledge acquisition is vital – but knowledge acquisition activities need to be engaging in their own right.
Most teachers adopt a balance between skills and knowledge acquisition, but how we do this needs to be made more explicit. The process that is working for us at the Falcons School is starting with knowledge acquisition, progressing to questions and challenges around this knowledge, and then applying what we’ve learnt in more creative and imaginative tasks. In other words, start each unit with traditional, didactic methods; finish with ‘progressive’, independent tasks.
Getting content online
Frog is the ideal tool for specifying what you want your students to learn. It’s very easy to add content to Frog. Once teachers have taken the files out of their cupboards and put their content online it becomes more accessible and can easily be shared. This encourages learning outside of school and involves parents who can easily access the content from home. Teachers creating ‘knowledge’ pages that are easy to amend and develop can be the start of changing the teaching and learning process. The entire online and class-based learning journey can be made much more explicit.
Using games to check student knowledge
FrogPlay is a great tool for setting low – or no – stakes quizzes to ensure that knowledge is retained. For the pupils, the quizzing tool makes the knowledge acquisition process fun and enjoyable; the quiz is a ‘game’, not a ‘test’.
Training our teachers
We focus our training on the teachers who are in the middle when it comes to using technology: not those most attracted to using technology, but those who want to see pages that present their subject knowledge clearly and accessibly.
Changing the culture of teaching is a long, slow job, so we start with tackling teachers’ workload, then we provide a simple structure in Frog that they can use to present the key knowledge goals that they need the pupils to know and understand. We can also capture things that happen in the classroom to create the memory links that help students retain knowledge. For example videoing pupils engaging in memorable learning activities brings back the linked knowledge.
Transferring to long term memory
To learn, students must transfer information from working memory to long-term memory. However, we know that our limited working memory capacities can be easily overwhelmed by tasks that are cognitively too demanding. In other words, we need to ensure that knowledge must be stored in the long-term memory. Frog can help you do it.