Archive for February, 2010

A typical day for a learner using Life could be…

As Jessica gets ready for school in the morning she checks MyLife on her handheld device. Having recently moved to the area Jessica is new to her school but is able to quickly see which lessons she has that day through her timetable, what materials she needs to bring with her to each lesson through her updates, which pieces of homework she should have submitted, and which assignments have now been marked and are available for her to see through her assessment space. Jessica is delighted that she has achieved high marks in both her effort and attainment in her recent science investigation and enjoys listening to the podcast feedback that her teacher has provided on areas for her to develop in future.

Yesterday during tutor-time, Jessica updated her profile to show that she is particularly interested in the forthcoming Olympic Games, and today when logging into Life again is delighted to see invitations for her to join Olympic Learning Spaces on Life, suggested Olympic films to watch, and activities to participate in, and suggested Olympic athletes who she can follow on Twitter, or engage with through Ask-the-Expert learning spaces. Jessica can also see that Life is specifically recommending an activity and support group for her to join based upon her Maths target for an area that she is struggling with as part of her functional skills maths development.

Given that she is struggling to find her way around her new school Jessica uses her handheld device to access Life so that she can see the virtual map created by the school council which has labels, films and annotations identifying which subjects are housed where on the school campus. She is also able to see the latest whole-school news bulletin for the morning on her My Life overview page, so that she is aware of the fire-practice due later that day.

Jessica arrives at her first lesson, which is part of her Society, Health & Development diploma line of learning. This lesson, Jessica’s group are video-conferencing with a nutritionist from Royal Hospital about some of the challenges surrounding healthy eating, as they have been exploring the impact of diet on the lives of young children from different socio-economic backgrounds. Prior to the video-conferencing session with the nutritionist Jessica’s group have been asked to take part in a discussion forum with each other to identify the questions that they already have, and to respond where possible to each other to filter down the questions upon which the nutritionist session will focus.

After her Society, Health & Development lesson, Jessica moves on to her English class where she is able to enjoy Shakespeare’s works by downloading the podcasts of the A Midsummer’s Night Dream scenes that the class are currently analysing to her iPod, from Life. Jessica notes that in A Midsummer’s Night Dream there are many elements of ‘fairy story’, a genre that she has been exploring in her Society, Health & Development work placement at a local infant school. As she is particularly enthusiastic about this genre, Jessica takes part in the themed debates in the forums within Life which look at themes within the play; specifically contributing to the fairy-tale debate! S Jessica is able to develop both creative writing and reflective learning through these themes, and so she also uses this opportunity to create a fairy story version of A Midsummer’s Night Dream using media-rich wiki pages in Life for the children in her work placement at a nearby infant school. Jessica takes advantage of the opportunities to embed graphic illustration and sound recording for young children alongside presentational text.

As a result of these activities developing a wide range of cross-curricular skills, Jessica is able to evidence and reflect upon her achievements in her MyLife portfolio, referring specifically to aspects of the PLTS framework, which can then be viewed and annotated also by her teachers and parents. In this way, Jessica is able to connect her learning in subjects such as GCSE English, with applied and work based learning in her diploma line of learning, and also her PLTS and functional skills, in one central place, for her own self-assessment, as well as for teacher assessment and parental engagement.

A typical day for a teacher using Life could be…

Mr Smith is reminded by his handheld device during his break-duty that he has a PE lesson next with a Year 8 group of students. The reminder, coming from Life, tells him that he will be teaching passing skills as part of a unit of work developing rugby technique, and has his lesson plan and associated resources attached to it so that he can quickly review what he intends to cover whilst on his way to the lesson; he doesn’t need to take folders of notes with him which is fortunate as it’s raining!

Whilst his students are getting into their sports kit in the changing rooms, Mr Smith synchronises his handheld device with a projector in the briefing room next door. He clicks on the link on his Life lesson and is ready to show his students a demonstration of a Premiership rugby player’s tackle, upon which the skills developed in this lesson will be modelled. The students identify the components of the rugby tackle that make it successful, and proceed outside to the rugby pitch to begin to practice their own technique.

During the lesson, Mr Smith captures photos and video of successful adoption of the key skills that are being learnt using his handheld device, and tags them with the student’s names and comments in relation to their personal development targets. These assessments are then seamlessly sent to the students MyLife portfolio so that they can self-assess their skills development once they have finished the practical elements of their PE lesson. The assessments are also available to Mr Smith to help him identify successes and areas for next-step development with this class of students which he can use to aid planning for next lesson. In addition, the assessments aggregate to provide an overview of Year 8 student’s development for the students tutors, heads of year/department and school senior leadership team. Alongside this, the students parents are able to see their own child’s progress and linked targets in order to scaffold conversation with them at home, and provide opportunities for practice and development beyond school; for example through rugby club.

When Mr Smith brings his students back inside he encourages them to review their own tackling skills. The students are able to review their learning outcomes in relation to the objectives set for the lesson and their personal targets. Using their own handheld devices the students watch back their own skill development and annotate with self-assessment so that this film joins the other learning captures in their MyLife portfolio. Through their linked MyLife learning blog, students identify next-step targets using the syllabus and teacher guidelines for progression and attainment provided in the lesson plan and objectives from which they have just been working. The student, their teacher, their tutor and their parents are able then to see clear links between the qualifications that the students are working towards, the syllabus that they are following to help them achieve this, the specific lessons and learning objectives within these syllabi and the activities that they carry out in addressing these. The assessment of the activities then provides evidence of the student having met each learning objective, the aggregation of which evidence their achievement in relation to the syllabus, and all form a comprehensive portfolio of evidence to support the assessment for their chosen qualification; both for exam revision purposes and modular assessment.

As Mr Smith leaves this lesson he takes a moment to prepare for the next lesson in this sequence of work. He returns to the learning space that he has been using in Life@School and uses the semantic learning engine (LifeWizard) to find materials for his next lesson. The LifeWizard uses key words from this lesson to suggest useful and relevant resources such as demonstration films, experts such as rugby coaches available for dialogue within the Life learning cloud, Twitter feeds of premiership rugby players, rugby tackling eBooks and interactive online rugby strategy games.

Mr Smith also notices that there is a Rugby Tackling Teacher Help learning space which has been set up by other PE teachers as a place to share practical tips and advice on teaching and learning strategies in this area. He joins this learning space and begins to enter into dialogue with other teachers who are teaching the same objectives; swapping advice, sharing further personal resources and making links for later friendly rugby games.

Once Mr Smith has identified the lesson resources, content, people, spaces and connections that he wishes to use for his teaching, he makes most of these available to the students in his class so that they are accessible prior to the next lesson. This means that the student can benefit from the personalising of their learning sequence that their teacher has provided. However, some of the more able children in the class also use the LifeWizard in the same way that Mr Smith did, to be able to seek out particular resources, learning spaces and people who they feel will help them with their specific personalised learning needs in this area. Life, also suggests a range of linked ideas that this student might also be interested in learning about based on their previous searches and activities; suggesting that “You might also like…”

At the end of the day, once Mr Smith has finished teaching each of his timetabled lessons he has time allocated for planning, preparation and assessment purposes. Using this time, Mr Smith reviews the communications and enquiries that have been directed his way by parents of his students. He notices that there are some recurring patterns in these questions, such as “My child is enjoying rugby at school. Is there a club that he can join?” and “My child is having difficulty with goal kicking”. Mr Smith creates simple responses to these questions, linking to local rugby clubs, and including demonstration films and suggested practical activities that the students can do at home in their garden to practice. He then links these to the lesson objectives so that these parents see these resources and responses, but they are also seen by other parents or students from other classes, and even other schools who are also asking similar questions or who would like extra support. 

These assessments are then seamlessly sent to the students MyLife portfolio so that they can self-assess their skills development once they have finished the practical elements of their PE lesson. The assessments are also available to Mr Smith to help him identify successes and areas for next-step development with this class of students which he can use to aid planning for next lesson. In addition, the assessments aggregate to provide an overview of Year 8 student’s development for the students tutors, heads of year/department and school senior leadership team. Alongside this, the students parents are able to see their own child’s progress and linked targets in order to scaffold conversation with them at home, and provide opportunities for practice and development beyond school; for example through rugby club.

When Mr Smith brings his students back inside he encourages them to review their own tackling skills. The students are able to review their learning outcomes in relation to the objectives set for the lesson and their personal targets. Using their own handheld devices the students watch back their own skill development and annotate with self-assessment so that this film joins the other learning captures in their MyLife portfolio. Through their linked MyLife learning blog, students identify next-step targets using the syllabus and teacher guidelines for progression and attainment provided in the lesson plan and objectives from which they have just been working. The student, their teacher, their tutor and their parents are able then to see clear links between the qualifications that the students are working towards, the syllabus that they are following to help them achieve this, the specific lessons and learning objectives within these syllabi and the activities that they carry out in addressing these. The assessment of the activities then provides evidence of the student having met each learning objective, the aggregation of which evidence their achievement in relation to the syllabus, and all form a comprehensive portfolio of evidence to support the assessment for their chosen qualification; both for exam revision purposes and modular assessment.

As Mr Smith leaves this lesson he takes a moment to prepare for the next lesson in this sequence of work. He returns to the learning space that he has been using in Life@School and uses the semantic learning engine (LifeWizard) to find materials for his next lesson. The LifeWizard uses key words from this lesson to suggest useful and relevant resources such as demonstration films, experts such as rugby coaches available for dialogue within the Life learning cloud, Twitter feeds of premiership rugby players, rugby tackling eBooks and interactive online rugby strategy games.

Mr Smith also notices that there is a Rugby Tackling Teacher Help learning space which has been set up by other PE teachers as a place to share practical tips and advice on teaching and learning strategies in this area. He joins this learning space and begins to enter into dialogue with other teachers who are teaching the same objectives; swapping advice, sharing further personal resources and making links for later friendly rugby games.

Once Mr Smith has identified the lesson resources, content, people, spaces and connections that he wishes to use for his teaching, he makes most of these available to the students in his class so that they are accessible prior to the next lesson. This means that the student can benefit from the personalising of their learning sequence that their teacher has provided. However, some of the more able children in the class also use the LifeWizard in the same way that Mr Smith did, to be able to seek out particular resources, learning spaces and people who they feel will help them with their specific personalised learning needs in this area. Life, also suggests a range of linked ideas that this student might also be interested in learning about based on their previous searches and activities; suggesting that “You might also like…”

At the end of the day, once Mr Smith has finished teaching each of his timetabled lessons he has time allocated for planning, preparation and assessment purposes. Using this time, Mr Smith reviews the communications and enquiries that have been directed his way by parents of his students. He notices that there are some recurring patterns in these questions, such as “My child is enjoying rugby at school. Is there a club that he can join?” and “My child is having difficulty with goal kicking”. Mr Smith creates simple responses to these questions, linking to local rugby clubs, and including demonstration films and suggested practical activities that the students can do at home in their garden to practice. He then links these to the lesson objectives so that these parents see these resources and responses, but they are also seen by other parents or students from other classes, and even other schools who are also asking similar questions or who would like extra support.

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