Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Go On, Bore 'Em by Terry Freedman

I wanted to write a quick review of this book by Terry Freedman which is available here which talks about why some ICT lessons can be excruciatingly dull.

Whilst very much aimed at secondary ICT teachers, I actually think a lot of his ideas can be transferred to primary school teachers, and not just for ICT.

The starter activity
The logical and scientific way that he explains the need for a starter activity is superb. When I work with trainee teachers I will pass them the book so that they can read this chapter to help them to understand the need to plan an engaging starter activity.

"In one lesson I observed, as part of an ICT inspection I was undertaking, it was 8 minutes between the first student entering the room and the last one entereing the room... The first student to enter had 8 minutes in which he was expected to sit down and say and do nothing. The second student had slightly less than 8 minutes for the same thing, and so on. In other words, by the time the last student entered the room, most of the students already in the room were now virtually unmanageable."
Doesn't that make sense? I think it really highlights the importance of planning a starter activity.

The myth of students' superior technical knowledge
I thought that this chapter would help me to get through to teachers who plan activities in ICT without planning a purpose for the challenge. It will help to show the need for the need to plan a task where pupils can apply their skills and knowledge and show real understanding of ICT.

The chapter on too much talking by the teacher will also be invaluable advice for students. I guess we all have lessons where we 'go on a bit', but again the logical reasons he uses to justify his advice are spot on!

Moving to Year Three next year is something that's on my mind. I'm not quite clear yet what the homework routine will be in this year group, but the advice about homework in this book will be useful. He argues that homework is not a bolt-on, but should be an integral part of the lesson. He writes that homework, "Should help ensure that what goes on in the lesson itself is useful and meaningful and that the time in the lesson is well-spent." This is great justifucation for making greater use of our learning platform and its forums and wikis at home to form part of the homework routine.

There's more great advice which I will offer to trainee teachers about good plenaries, but I also found the chapter on data to be very interesting, particularly after my work on data in my Leadership Pathways course.

Go On, Bore 'Em by Terry Freedman is a worthwhile read. It can be purchased here.

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