Ideas to implement in schools in 2012

 

Below is a list of ideas I have pinched, borrowed and stolen, along with some of my own.  I am a great believer that great ideas that can improve the educational experience for students, teachers and parents should be openly shared; indeed I think it’s our responsibility as educators.

I will reference, as accurately as I can, where I first saw an idea that was not mine.  If I don’t I’ll try and find the original source.

These ideas come with a warning though, from someone very clever (I can’t remember where I saw this):

‘An idea is only as good as it’s execution’

So, some of these ideas may work brilliantly in your school environment, some may not – but there is no harm in trying to improve!

  • Transform your school’s homework policy – ‘We’ve decided ahead of time that students will have to do something every night (or several time a week)…. later on we’ll figure out what to make them do’.  A  quote from ‘The Homework Myth’ by Alfie Kohn.  Refer to previous homework blog.
  • Regular ‘Innovation Days’ embedded into the curriculum – 1 every 2 weeks / half term.  Based onGoogle’s 20% time.  Google gives its employees 20% of their time to work on their own pet projects independent of their regular responsibilities. This time for innovation, reflection, and creativity allows technicians to follow their passion wherever it may lead. It might become the next great Google product or it might lead to nowhere. Google doesn’t mind. Google has embedded into the weekly schedule time for ‘Limud Lishmo’, learning for learning’s sake.
  • Cross Curricular Teaching – embedded into the curriculum.  Teaching punctuation (English) through karate (PE)? ‘Dancing About Architecture’, Phil Beadle.
  • Meaningful Projects – see the paragraph titled ‘Meaningful projects’ for more information – Meaningful Projects
  • The Aquarium Project (Finland) & Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI – Canada).  Schools reported improvement through networking and self- regulation during economic downturn.  Create regular local inter -school networking opportunities for teachers that promotes sharing of good practice & local collaboration not dependent on finances (‘Finnish Lessons’ by Pasi Sahlberg)
  • Character & Creativity reports – KIPP schools in the USA.  To supplement traditional reporting.  See link to article: KIPP ‘Character’ reports
  • Creativity lessons – projects in small, diverse groups embedded into your school’s curriculum
  • Learning 2 learn lessons – students understanding how they learn, how their brain works and what motivates them.  Carol Dweck’s Mindset research and Daniel Pink’s research on motivation should be shared explicitly with all stakeholders in your school
  • Flipped classrooms – Khan Academy: Flipped Classroom: Khan Academy
  • Teacher led research on best practices in the classroom
  • Teacher Challenge days –  teachers not allowed to use powerpoints, worksheets, desks in rows, or allow students to work individually for an entire day.  See what happens, the results may be surprising!
  • Student feedback questionnaires every half term to inform your future planning.  This will lead to increased engagement, mutual respect and achievement.  I have just started doing this with my A2 PE class.
  • Parents Days for KS3 students – Parents can share and be actively involved in their child’s learning experiences for a day in school. (@stumpteacher / Stump Teacher’s Parent’s Day Experience)
  • No levels needed until KS4 – replaced with regular, specific, high quality feedback on where & how to improve in subjects rather than just assign students with numbers and grades.
  • Increased use of school & class twitter accounts – for information, marketing, classroom discussions & more
  • Create your own School iPhone app – for school information, sport results, student & teacher work & blogs to share with the local community
  • Regular time allocated for ‘in house’ pedagogical CPD – sharing of excellent practice in the classroom will lead to increased engagement & deep learning which will consequently increase achievement.  Cramlington Learning Village’s school day ends at 2.15pm every Wednesday to facilitate such an idea – check out their website for further information = Cramlington Learning Village
  • Google Docs & Dropbox use – for paperless assessment & sharing of work between staff & students
  • A school community reading list – everyone encouraged to read books by the following authors; Carol Dweck, Daniel Pink, Matthew Syed and Geoff Colvin
  • Google 20% time IN lessons –  This is where an innovative classroom teacher in the USA has assigned 20% of every class to students to work on an extended project that they design and research.  This is a simple but profound idea that is easily implemented.  Here’s link to the blog: Classroom 20% time

That’s all folks! If you would like to share any good practice or adapt a few ideas for your school or business, then by all means, please feel free to do so!

Please get in touch if you would like any additional information

Cheers, Matt

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