Thursday, December 10, 2015

Using Surveys in the Classroom for Comparative Study

Having had my last class of Japanese with the Transition Years this Thursday (10th December), I took 2 surveys of the class for comparative purposes.

Firstly, I wanted to compare the answers this class would give compared to the first group of TY students to do Japanese. I gave them almost the same survey, although the last two questions were no longer limited to a selection of activities – instead, students were able to state their own preferences.

Secondly, I gave these students the same Teacher Review survey that I recently gave my 2nd Year music class. I wanted to see how this class viewed my teaching compared to the 2nd years, and I was particularly interested in the behavioural questions.

In response to the Teacher Review survey’s behaviour questions, it was almost a complete mirror of the 2nd Years’ responses. This TY class felt that I gave the right amount of punishment and was able to manage the class’ behaviour very well. The 2nd year class felt the opposite in last weeks’ survey. I think this is mainly due to the maturity and respect generally from the 4th Year class. Though of course there was some messing – mainly immature jokes, they did not disrupt the classes overall so I didn’t punish this except for a few times when I asked students to cut it out. The only time I had to strictly reprimand the class was for a ‘mildy racist’ comment made in the first class.

In response to the other survey which was more about the subject and curriculum I set, students this time were slightly more likely to choose Japanese as a Leaving Cert subject than the previous group. ‘Anime & Manga’ was by far the most enjoyed topic, as opposed to ‘Television’ in the previous group. These differences may be in part accounted for by the changes I made to the lesson plans and content of the lessons after the 1st group completed their surveys.

I think one of the important things to learn is that students’ opinion of a subject can be greatly influenced by the teacher and methods of teaching used in class. Since I took the opinions of Group A on board when they finished their Japanese module, I was able to better understand how my teaching would be received by the next group and adjusted the lesson plans accordingly.

Things to think about:
1.     Why are TYs more innately respectful and responsive to discipline than 2nd Years? Is this even the case?
2.     Could there be some well-refined set of activities that would encourage students to pick a certain subject for their Leaving Cert?
3.     What else besides the subject itself is enjoyable for students? (Teacher’s humour, other students in the class, games, competition etc.)

Links To Survey Results:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Use of Improvisation in the classroom!

Recently Mr. Martin Murphy, actor, director and educationalist came in to do a workshop on the advantages of creating "group flow" in the classroom through improv! This method can help to facilitate a more dynamic learning environment where the teachers and students are all learners. It generates better listening skills, confidence, team work and creative thinking!

Learning through Failure!

"Success is failure turned inside out" "Why do we fall? So we can get back up!"
In a rapidly changing world  where creativity and critical thinking skills are paramount it is important to realise we will not always get things right and the path to success is challenging! We can learn so much from our mistakes and failings. Through educators and students learning about the value of process we can generate greater resilience and composure in our classrooms. Recently Mr. Jim Finnegan presented the TEFCAS model to success which we have talked about in our classrooms.This can help students in their approach to their learning to realise it often is "one step at a time!"

Entrepreneurial Education!

As teachers it is important that we view learning from different lenses. Recently we have been working with Edward de Bono's Six Thinking hats to help us on our voyage of discovery!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Brain Storms - a book of Short Stories by 25 CBC Transition Year Students 14/05/15

The renowned Irish novelist, screenwriter and dramatist Roddy Doyle has been busy fostering the talent of aspiring teenage authors. As part of the “Fighting Words” programme, Roddy and his team have helped 25 Transition Year students from CBC Monkstown Park write, edit, develop and launch a book of their short stories entitled “Brain Storms” that will now be available nationwide! CBC Monkstown  was the only school selected in the country to be involved with this project this year!

Founded in 2009, Fighting Words believes that creative writing is an essential part of every child's education. They wanted to provide a free dedicated opportunity to let children explore the vast potential of their imagination and as a result inspire self-expression, literacy and self-confidence in young people.

The Transition Year students of CBC Monkstown Park were the lucky participants of a unique year long programme run by Fighting Words which offered them a weekly space to come and write short stories in the presence of the volunteer writing team. Each week they worked on creating, developing and enhancing their individual short stories with the view to putting them together as a collection.

In his Introduction, IMPAC award winning novelist Kevin Barry says 
"This is a fantastic collection and it's one to be savoured – don't gorge on all the stories at once. Spread them out over a long while, like delicacies. I think we'll be hearing from many of these new voices again and again and again."
The official book launch will take place on Monday 18th May 2015 from 7.30 – 8.30pm in CBC Monkstown. We would like to invite you to our event. If you would like any further details please do not hesitate to call CBC Monkstown


Saturday, May 9, 2015

"Take a parachute and......"

Debate Games and Exercises

1. "The Parachute Game"

This game is inspired by the Father Ted episode "Flight into Terror" where the priests are trapped on a plane and they have only two parachutes to get people off the plane. In order to decide who will get them, Ted asks all the others to write a speech about why they should the parachute. Essentially, you are getting the students to recreate this situation.

This debate is primarily about develop the skill of making arguments in favour of a motion or an idea. It is particularly useful as grounds them in the real world (by getting them to advocate for a real person or thing) before they end up debating more abstract ideas.

1.       Students will be able to argue for a particular position
2.       Students will develop their research skills and learn to use evidence to promote an argument
3.       Students will be able to convince their audience of the correctness of their position

·         This is best used as a prepared exercise. Tell students a few days in advance that they will be speaking, so they can research their speech properly. This game works best with four or five students.
·         Explain to the students that they are to imagine they are on a plane full of famous figures from history. The plane will soon crash and there is only one parachute available.
·         Students are to imagine that they are any person from history and they have to write a speech (2 to 3 minutes) explaining why they should get the parachute.
·         Students then deliver their speeches to the whole group and the group votes for who they think should the parachute after they have all spoken.

After you've done the above exercise with students, there are a number of ways that you expand it to use it in the future as students become more confident and skilled.
·         "I deserve it more than them" - after they've all spoken, get each of the speakers to explain why they should get the parachute over the other people. They must make reference to what other speakers have said and explain why their historic figure is more important than the others. This helps students work on their rebuttal.
·         Narrow the focus. Tell the students they have to pick someone from a particular category like sports stars or American presidents or Irish independence leaders etc. This allows for greater comparative arguments between the speakers.
·         Make it a life raft. Change the imaginary scenario to one where students have to advocate for the inclusion of something on to the last life raft which is leaving for humanity's new home. They have to argue for the importance of things like subjects in school, scientific inventions, films, sport teams and so on.
·         Use it in the classroom. This game can be used across the school to get students to engage in various aspects of subjects they are being taught: students arguing which character is most important is whatever play they are studying in English, which scientist has had the biggest impact on life through their work in science, what city students would want to live in geography and so on.  

Written by Mr. Gregg O'Neill

"I couldn't disagree more"

2. "I couldn't disagree more"

This is great little activity to get students into the debating mood at the start of a training session or a fun way to wrap up a session at the end. It is intended to get them to work on their rebuttal skills and also gets them up and thinking on their feet, which is important for them which they are offered points of information during debates.

1.       Students will be able to respond to or rebut arguments given by other speakers
2.       Students will be able to engage with the debate going on around them
3.       Students will work on their listening skills
4.       Students will learn to develop new and different arguments during a debate

·         This is a game for everyone in the group.
·         The students all stand in a circle.
·         The first speaker speaks for one minute in favour of a particular idea or motion.
·         The next speaker has to immediately respond by saying "I couldn't disagree more....." and explaining why they disagree with what the speaker before them has just said and, if necessary, giving a new argument for their side.
·         Each speakers goes in turn around the circle. They all must speak for a minute and they cannot repeat an argument that has been made before them. If they break either of these rules, they have to sit down.
·         The game continues until there is only one student left standing.

After you've done the above exercise with students, there are a number of ways that you expand it to use it in the future as students become more confident and skilled.
·         Rather than going around the circle to each student in turn, get the students to pass a ball around the circle, which means that they won't be able to predict when their turn will come so they have remain engaged throughout the whole exercise. 

Written by Gregg O'Neill