Thursday, April 26, 2012

TED-Ed Beta Website Launches - WOW!

The long awaited TED-Ed website has launched, promising to help teachers get the most out of video in their lessons. The wonderful website, currently in its Beta form, provides an innovative and structured approach to using video in the classroom. The website is based around providing excellent curated educational videos, created by collaborations between teachers and animators, and in providing a structured lesson around them- which includes quizzes, extra materials and big questions! The new platform will also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED's but from YouTube perhaps, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student. It's genius! The video below actually explains things better than I could (showing the power of video, perhaps!)

The Beta version of the website currently has 62 curated videos, from a range of curricular areas, on their system with 670 "flips" or personalised lessons based on those videos. One of my favourites is this short video on "just how small is an atom?", a tricky concept for some kids which is presented in simple terms in this excellent animation. Of course, TED-Ed also provides you with a quiz and other learning tools to effectively use the video in class. There is also the the option to "flip the lesson" and edit it to suit your own class. It is such a brilliant idea but more importantly TED, having taken their time developing this, have created a portal that teachers will feel comfortable using. I'm looking forward to getting involved! Visit TED-Ed now!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Share Your Innovative Lessons with O2 Learn

Have you got an innovative lesson that works? Would you like to share that lesson with other teachers and students? Would you be willing to make a short video about your lesson? Would you like to win some cash for your troubles? The O2 Learn Awards are a brilliant initiative which allows teachers share their inventive lessons online with thousands of other teachers and students. They're building a video library of great revision lessons, on a range of subjects, from teachers across the UK to help connect people to great teaching. These curriculum focused mini-lessons can help students catch up on some subjects that they can't remember or might have missed and give teachers new ideas for their own classroom!

The lessons are rated by the students and judged by expert teachers, with cash prizes awarded to the winning teachers. So far, O2 Learn has awarded over £300,000 directly to teachers and schools in the UK. A £1000 is awarded each week to the best lesson uploaded to their website with amazing overall prizes awarded at the end of the year for the three best lessons submitted. Every teacher that submits an entry will received a mobile broadband starter pack - although this is limited to UK teachers? Sadly teachers in the Republic of Ireland are not eligible for the cash prizes.

Their excellent website has all you need to know about submitting your video, with tips on creating your video, designing your lesson and uploaded it to the website. There is also a clever section with requests from students on what they would like to know about! You can also explore the lessons on the system and get some ideas for your classroom! Science teachers might find the following lessons of interest but there are loads of other subjects covered too.
Watch the video below for a little more information and check out O2 Learn now! You can also follow O2 Learn on Twitter.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Want to be a teacher? Why bother!

I love being a teacher. I enjoy almost everything about it - the interactions with my students inside and outside the classroom, the comradery of the staff room, my involvement in school sports, drama & other extracurricular activities. I love my subject (science) and learn something new about it everyday. I love the opportunity my job gives me to explore new ways to teach and I enjoy collaborating with my colleagues to ensure we provide the best education possible in our school. I also enjoy collaborating with like minded teachers on twitter, ensuring my approach to teaching doesn't stay stagnant and constantly keeps evolving to keep up with new technologies and philosophies. In my role as guidance counsellor I get a great sense of satisfaction when speaking to young people about their future careers and helping them develop the tools to deal with personal troubles when they arise.

I'm not rich and I'm not poor. The past number of years have been tough for everyone in Ireland and I am very lucky to be working full time in a wonderful school. However, I have endured a pay reduction of around 15% in that period, through the combined effects of pay cuts and pension levies, and like everyone else things have become much tighter of late. 

But this compares little to the plight of newly qualified teachers - who have endured a cut in pay close to 33%. I simply can't believe that our government has allowed the introduction of this two-tier system through these drastic pay cuts (10% on top of our 15%) as well as the removal of allowances for newly qualified teachers. The starting wage for a full time newly qualified teacher is now just over €27,000. The average industrial wage in Ireland in 2011 was just shy of €36,000 (CSO). 

Let's put that in perspective. Teachers are highly qualified individuals. All must have a three or four year primary degree and a post graduate diploma in education (which will be two years long from 2012). The cost fee alone for the five or six years could top €15,000 and of course there are living costs involved too. (Trainee teachers do not get paid in Ireland). Then, on completion of their training they begin their working life on €27,000. Well not exactly.