Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Is Microsoft Powerpoint killing creativity? How I rekindled my love for teaching

So following on from my latest blog post, I did try the Flying start activity and it worked with a large amount of success! It was really fun to run the activity with the different teaching groups and everyone gave it a really good go (even if I did get hit in the head by paper balls several times!) Check out my previous post about technology to use within the FE Classroom, I've been trying to get to grips with the staff visualiser with no success whatsoever! Any tips would be appreciated!

My monday was incredible, I felt that although I didn't have a regimented plan for what they were going to cover, I was responsive to the needs within the classroom and what they wanted to cover. As we approach the exam period for Functional Skills Maths, it is evident to me that students are becoming more stressed and antsy about the looming prospect of being put on show in their mathematics ability. This has been shown to me through the repeated questions on how their exam will run throughout their individual session.

I realised one major thing within this practice, I rely too much on Powerpoint to cover content in my classroom, not only was this killing my creativity, but it was also sucking the energy out of my teaching. Rather than treating all my individual groups as individual groups, I gave them the same content without considering the student needs within the groups I had. A prime example of this happened a few weeks ago, where I delivered a Level 2 Functional Skills Maths lesson to a group of Level 1 learners, not only did the learners feel deflated but they also didn't appreciate coming back to their maths lessons soon after for fear of criticism. This has me concerned about the value I am providing my learners for their maths lessons.

- Am I killing the creativity in my class?

After a few lessons on monday, I was buzzing with excitement, eager to tell everyone how amazing it was to be free from the powerpoint that I had created and shackled to for comfort. I knew my subject! I know enough to talk around the subject in detail and I can help any student to tackle their mathematics problems. I know different ways to engage students interests, I know what these kids value, and finally I know what being a good teacher is all about, it certainly isn't about making students complete mundane activities for the sake of completing activities but to get them invested in their own learning to use in the future and how to apply that same learning to real life contexts.

One of the biggest alternative softwares I use is Promethean's Activeinspire which is fantastic for showcasing maths working out, alongside the ActivSlate device, it has been a real winner for applying mathematic concepts to the education of my learners in the classroom, it also has the ability to change to graph paper and other grid options to reflect what students would have to complete within their exam practice. This software has also been helpful for incorporating ICT within my lessons as students can be eager to write on the slate device to show their own working out.

- Activslate, a really great piece of kit that had some students in awe. Just watch for the occasional rude drawing...

How do we as lecturers respond to the different needs within the classroom? I know for a fact that a lot of lecturers have complete sets of lessons prepared (which don't get me wrong, is fantastic for consistency of delivery), but I would encourage you to deliver your own twist on these resources so that you can get the most from your groups. In further education, it may not be that your students seriously struggle with their mathematic ability, but that they struggle within a learning environment. We have a duty within further education to enable students to benefit from being within a supportive, fun and active learning environment, not only to encourage activity but to promote the idea of lifelong learning. I feel that everyone can be a lifelong learner providing we set up creative and interactive ways to work with their subjects they study in further education.

Your task this week is to find a new way to interact with your students in your classroom, I have checked to see what items are available within the library for me to borrow so that I can adapt and change my own teaching style (consider it my own challenge as such), if you want your students to think differently, you have to be willing to do the same as well. I also have a second challenge, attempt to deliver a single lesson without the use of powerpoint, this may help you to work actively on being creative and active within your classroom. It may be the jump you need to remind yourself why you loved being a teacher in the first place. Leave a comment to let me know how you get on, I would interested to hear your own experience of your powerpoint-free delivery.

- FE Maths Guidebook, Less powerpoint, more teaching

Enjoy the rest of your week teachers!

- Matt