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Archive for October 2019

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's Inside Education I bring you another chance to meet with Jane Shimizu where she tells us about her participation in Science on Stage over the midterm break. We also discuss the participation of her class in the Scoil Féile Drámaíochta. From research I bring some insights around education and sleep following my reading of Matthew Walker's book, Why We Sleep.

Among the topics I discuss with Jane Shimizu are the following:

  • Her participation in the Science on Stage Festival this week in Portugal, representing Irish teachers.
  • Getting children interested in science through space using projectiles and rockets
  • How she makes mouse, toilet roll, air, straw and foam projectiles with her class
  • The science and maths that can be based around foam projectiles
  • Making predictions and recording answers to questions
  • Using controls and the importance of fair tests
  • How she times activities to coincide with Space Week.
  • Sharing work with other classes and hosting a space display day for parents.
  • Structuring lessons around projectiles and rockets and how they provide integration opportunities with several other curriculum subjects.
  • What happens when questions arise to which she does not know the answer.
  • Online resources: https://www.dltk-teach.com/, https://www.safesearchkids.com/.
  • Her school’s website. Here are some of the links Jane recommended.
  • Recommended sources for ideas and materials for teaching about space and science from ESERO and Science Foundation Ireland.
  • Her class, which is in a school serving an area traditionally associated with disadvantage, participates in An Féile Scoildrámaíochta by entering a musical each year. Because many of the available scripts are intended for students in Gaelscoileanna and Gaeltacht schools, Jane writes her own scripts for her class.
  • How she prepares the class during the school year for staging the musical

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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I discuss several matters related to teacher education with Professor Ian Menter from Oxford University's Department of Education. The topics we discuss are the following:

  • The Teacher Education Groups study of teacher education policy across the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
  • How England is an outlier in attempts to weaken the link between universities and schools in teacher education.
  • Work he’s doing in Ireland with the National Institute for Studies in Education (NISE) based on collaboration across the three teacher education institutions based there.
  • His overview of developments in teacher education across the five nations.
  • The Teach First model of teacher education and its impact on the wider system.
  • Teacher retention and teacher burn-out
  • Evidence-based Teaching: Trials conducted by the Educational Endowment Foundation. The work of the Chartered College of Teaching in England, which has a remit similar to that of Teaching Councils elsewhere; its CEO, Alison Peacock, is committed to evidence-based teaching.
  • How teachers can develop research literacy through their initial teacher education courses and through continuing professional development that is oriented towards evidence-based inquiry.
  • A tendency for post-holders in schools to be “research leads” – people who overview what is happening in school in terms of research and development, who seek outside research that could inform practice and who liaise with universities on research. In some cases there may be research committees in schools.
  • How these ideas can be traced back to the writings of John Dewey and Lawrence Stenhouse – the latter was writing about the “teacher as researcher” in 1975.
  • An increased range of publications now in which research is published for a teacher readership.
  • The need to fund longitudinal research studies into how teachers learn teaching and independent, large-scale studies into teaching and teacher education to inform practice and policy.
  • Envisages greater interaction between the practice, policy and research communities
  • Teachers as researchers
  • Economic (preparing for the workforce), citizenship (engage in community and political system) and cultural (ideas, history to have a sense of the meaning of the world around us) have been the historical purposes of education. Different forces operate behind each of the aims and the balance among them can vary.
  • Research training schools in Finland, linked to universities could be explored more systematically elsewhere.
  • Teacher as a researcher v teacher as a reflective practitioner: Phases on a four-point continuum:
    • Effective teacher
    • Reflective teacher
    • Inquiring teacher and
    • Transformative teacher
  • The kind of initial preparation needed for future primary teachers
  • Difficulties in assessing a student teacher’s preparedness for success in the classroom.
  • Comparison between difficulties in evaluating a teacher’s potential and evaluating potential elite players in sports.
  • His views on having common standards for teachers – benefits and limitations
  • How he came to begin his career as a primary school teacher – the intellectual, emotional and personal challenges of teaching
  • Making the transition from being a teacher to being a teacher educator
  • What schools are for (and not for)
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him
  • Favourite writers on education: C Wright Mills The Sociological Imagination, which is about the relationship between personal experience and problems in society. Paolo Freire on education for liberation and education for democracy.

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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's programme I bring you a special episode for Maths Week and to mark the seventh conference of Mathematics Education in Ireland held last weekend in Dublin City University's Institute of Education. First I speak to Dr. Siún Nic Mhuirí (from 1'43") from Dublin City University about the Maths4All project she's working on. Among the topics we discuss are:

  • The Maths4All website and resources
  • Alan Schoenfeld's Teaching for Robust Understanding (TRU) framework
  • Challenges of developing video representations of teaching
  • Pre-service teachers’ self-efficacy in teaching mathematics
  • Her thoughts on this year’s Mathematics Education in Ireland conference
  • A message about the importance of believing that maths is for all students

Next I speak to Dr. Natthapoj Vincent Trakulphadetkrai from the University of Reading (from 15' 51") about using picture story books to teach mathematics.We discuss the following:

  • His goal to have mathematics picture story books used in both primary and secondary schools to teach mathematics
  • Why picture books can help students learn abstract topics
  • Handa’s Surprise
  • Sir Cumference series
  • Using a picture book to provide context for a lesson
  • Reading a story to apply learning to help characters in a story solve a problem
  • How to use a maths picture story book in a mathematics lesson
  • Benefits of using maths picture story books
  • How children react to using maths picture story books in maths class
  • Children writing their own maths picture story books
  • Papert’s theory of constructionism
  • When should maths picture story books be used in mathematics teaching
  • His website mathsthroughstories.org
  • His view of effective mathematics teaching
  • The journey that brought him from Thailand to England
  • Why he likes the Times Educational Supplement

The episode closes with a rant from me about teaching mathematics. I refer to the following books:


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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's programme I discuss how research can inform teaching with Professor Chris Brown from Durham University's School of Education. Professor Brown discusses his work with teachers in professional learning networks, how teachers can apply research in their schools, and the barriers to doing so.

Among the topics discussed are the following:

  • How frequently do teachers consult research to solve problems of teaching?
  • The need to draw first on teachers’ knowledge and experience
  • How does research add to, challenge or deepen teachers’ knowledge?
  • The importance of teachers collaboratively engaging with and looking at research
  • Having an “evidence champion” in a school and partnerships with higher education institutions
  • The quality of research available to teachers (original, significant, robust methods)
  • Different kinds of research (Stokes’s quadrant)
  • Carol Weiss and instrumental research use, conceptual research use and symbolic research use (9’22” – 10’08")
  • Drawing on research to develop theories of action
  • Teachers’ access to published research
  • Networks of teachers and effective change management (17’36). The focus of the four whole-day workshops each year is:
    1. Vision and engagement with research
    2. Trialling
    3. Change Management
    4. Impact
  • Leadership and degree centrality (24’53”)
  • Evaluating “best practice” (27’58”)
  • Areas of research that have been particularly helpful in informing teachers’ practice (30’26”)
  • Factors that influence what and how research influences policy (31’49”)
  • Professional Learning Networks (34’45”)
  • The role played by encouragement, trust, social influence, and innovation in promoting research-informed practice (35’59”)
  • Avoiding edu-myths or other dead-ends in research (39’39”)
  • What are schools for (40’51”)
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on him (42’17”)
  • What inspires him (43’17”)

Among the people named by Chris Brown in the course of the interview are Stephen Ball, Jean Baudrillard, Alan Daly, Jim Spillane and Carol Weiss, some of whom have appeared on previous episodes of Inside Education: Ball, Spillane.

The paper that I reported on in the research section is Fan, H., Xu, J., Cai, Z., He, J & Fan, X. (2017). Homework and students' achievement in math and science: A 30-year meta-analysis, 1986-2015.


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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune: David Vesey

My guest on the programme this week is my colleague in Marino Institute of Education and the person behind the social media identity, Little Miss Teacher. She is Clara Fiorentini and we talk about play, literacy, phonics, early years education and much more. Here are the topics we discuss and the times at which they appear.  

  • Why she started posting on social media (1’33”)
  • Her thoughts on the new language curriculum and her interest in literacy, especially early literacy (7’00” and 24’11”))
  • A typical day in her classroom (with a focus on literacy activities)
  • Different kinds of play 12’03”
  • The kind of stories she used in her teaching (14’35”)
  • Phonics and literacy instruction (16’22”)
  • Literacy in more senior classes (21’42”)
  • The phonics programme she participated in developing, Sounds Like Phonics (23’46”)
  • Her approach to teaching (26’48”)
  • Returning to study for a master’s degree in children’s literature (29’50”)
  • What schools are for 33’41”
  • A teacher who had a significant impact on her (34’48”)
  • Who inspires her (39’13”)

Among the resources and materials mentioned by Clara were the following:

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell

Goodnight Mr Tom by Michell Magorian

David Walliams

The book with no pictures by BJ Novak

Rita Pierson – Ted Talk – Every child deserves a champion

Jen Jones on picture books


My recommendation:

Podcast: Speak-Up Storytelling with Matthew and Elysha Dicks

Book: Storyworthy: Engage, teach, persuade and change your life through the power of storytelling by Matthew Dicks

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