Last night Alessio spoke at a WordPress Users Wales meeting about his blog and how he’s been using blogging in education. Here is his blog, please go and visit you won’t be disappointed (check out The Hidden Particles of Fishy Tank, brilliant).
Just to give you a taste of why I found it so inspirational, here’s an example of the sort of thing he does.
Last year he was teaching physics to Year 12 students (16/17 year olds). The subject area was photoelectricity and energy levels. As a past A Level physics student it rings distant bells but I don’t recall it being particularly exciting….. How wrong could I be?
What Alessio got the pupils to do, was write an ‘Ode to Photoelectricity’, a poem. Not what we did back in the day, but something that certainly gets you thinking, and requires considerably more effort than a ‘cut and paste’ from Wikipedia. So far so good. Next, the poems are posted as blogs, and the homework ‘marked’ (opened up for comments). This is great, everyone gets to see what everyone else is doing, and you get some helpful feedback. This is more than just learning physics; it’s acquiring the ‘giving and receiving feedback’ skill that just about every workplace I’ve experienced values greatly.
What happens next is even better. The assignment was about energy levels and photon emissions. This would also be blogged and then reviewed by the Year 6 (10/11 year old) kids in the local primary school. This is a real challenge in terms of understanding the science, and also the ability to communicate what you understand (great life skills again).
The best way to see the impact of this is to view the outputs via Alessio’s post on collaboration cross phase through blogging. Have a look at this very scientific presentation from some of the pupils. Standard power point stuff; similar to what many of us get served daily at work.
The solitary response from Year 6 pupils says it all.
As a contrast here is a link to another piece of homework, which makes full use of colour and animation to communicate the message. The comments speak for themselves, here’s a selection.
Interestingly, today I was at a conference where the message was being given that public service organisations in Wales need to develop a culture of accepting challenge and feedback. Perhaps Alessio is already developing these people for the future by teaching them physics in a fun and inspiring was. He certainly inspired me, thanks Alessio.
So, what’s the PONT?
- Inspiring teachers really do make a difference.
- Having fun at what you do is a key component to learning and engagement.
- Blogging is much more than just broadcasting your views. Looking for, accepting and giving feedback is a skill lots of people (I know) could usefully develop.