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Presented and produced by Seán Delaney.

On this week's programme I bring you an interview with Liam Murray who is secretary of Ficheall, a network of teachers around Ireland who teach chess in primary school. Among the topics discussed and the resources mentioned are the following:

  • Is chess a curricular or extra-curricular activity?
  • What students learn from playing chess: developing their social, cognitive and mental fitness skills
  • How he organises chess teaching in his own classroom, using the lesson plans on the website and adopting a “(mini-) game-based” approach
  • Organising a school chess tournament
  • Helping students lose and win gracefully
  • Using a points system to decide who wins a game of chess with limited time to play
  • Describing the game of chess (what is meant by checkmate and castling?)
  • History of the game
  • How chess compares to draughts
  • How children respond to playing chess
  • How Liam first became involved in teaching chess in schools when he was a student teaher
  • How different children respond to learning or playing chess
  • Playing face to face versus playing on apps or computers
  • Children getting better at chess over time
  • The “Masters” competition (for fifth and sixth class) and the “Budding Masters” competition (for third and fourth class).
  • Children playing chess from first class onwards
  • Why it’s good to play chess with players who are better than you (“If you’re not losing, you’re not learning”)
  • Resources available on the Ficheall website
  • The Ficheall network of teachers
  • How inter-school chess tournaments are organised (the “Swiss System, ” timing games)
  • The role of chess arbiters in inter-school tournaments
  • Relationship of Ficheall to Moves for Life
  • How Liam got interested in chess himself
  • Follow-on opportunities for children to play chess
  • Opportunities for playing chess in post primary schools (Leinster Schools Chess Association)
  • The use of clocks in professional chess games
  • What is school for/what are schools for
  • Volunteering with Graham Jones and the Solas Project
  • How he is inspired by the selfless dedication of teachers
  • Evidence-Based Teachers’ Network
  • Anseo podcasts
  • Book Bounce by Matthew Syed.
  • Book Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed.
  • Book Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

On this week's podcast I speak to Professor Nell Duke from the University of Michigan School of Education about literacy education and project-based instruction. Professor Duke was a keynote speaker at the 43rd Annual Conference of the Literacy Association of Ireland. Among the wide range of topics we discuss on the podcast and the resources mentioned are the following:  

  • The role of project-based literacy in promoting reading and writing development
  • The importance of purpose and audience for children’s writing
  • Sources of project ideas: Edutopia, PBL works, Nell’s website
  • Identifying sources of project in local communities
  • Incorporating student voice and choice into projects
  • Teacher preparation to design the flow of a project work with students
  • Nell’s website – Inside Information Downloadables
  • The importance of audience beyond teachers, parents and grandparents
  • Working alone versus working in groups on projects
  • At what age can children begin to work on project-based literacy?
  • The ideal duration of a project
  • The balance of literacy goals and cross-curricular goals in project-based literacy instruction
  • Educating children from an early age about trustworthy sources. The use of the mnemonic WWWDOT (Who? Why? When? Does it meet my needs? Organisation of site/text? To Do List for future)
  • Molly of Denali
  • Helping students move beyond bland responses to peers’ work
  • Various templates mentioned available here.
  • Why reading is so hard for many students to master
  • The DRIVE model of reading (Deploying Reading in Varied Environments)
  • The value of teaching sound-letter relationships; deliberately teaching phonics, morphology and text structure
  • Gaps between research on reading instruction and the practice of reading instruction
  • Reliable sources of research evidence for teachers: Institute of Education Sciences What Works Clearinghouse; Practice guides.
  • Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators General Education Leadership Network Early Literacy Task Force and Literacy Essentials.
  • International Literacy Association.
  • Literacy Association of Ireland.
  • Responding to differences among students in a literacy classroom: small group literacy instruction
  • Why it’s important to teach reading and writing together. See work by Gram and Hebert (2010).
  • What parents can do in the home to promote literacy achievement
  • What a typical working day is like for her and how she manages her time
  • Knowing what not to do in teaching
  • Not this but that book series.
  • What schools are for
  • She loves reading: Reading Research Quarterly (Journal of the International Literacy Association), Scientific Studies of Reading, Review of Educational Research.

In her keynote address Nell referred to the following websites, which were not mentioned in the podcast. I'm listing them here because they may be of help to some listeners.

High Quality Project Based Learning

Pow+Tree Writing Strategy

She also referred to this article which was a meta-analysis of process writing.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

This week on the podcast I speak to Michael Moriarty, who has been leading in education and other sectors for a number of decades, as a teacher, a principal, Head of Education and Training Boards Ireland and as CEO of a local radio station. His new book, Every Leader's Reality Guide: Strategies to Release Your True Leadership Potential has been released and it distills the lessons about leading that Michael learned through mentorship, training and self-reflection on his various roles. Among the topics we discuss on the podcast are the following:

  • How leadership begins with self-awareness and self-reflection.
  • How leadership in education differs to other leadership roles
  • The source of authority
  • How he looked to leaders he admired for inspiration
  • Power comes from respect rather than position
  • His experience of being bullied in post-primary school and how he learned the importance of standing up for himself
  • Being isolated in his professional role
  • The importance of allies and alliances
  • Building a media profile
  • Establishing credibility as a leader and the ability to communicate
  • The importance of having mentors
  • How a leader shows they value people
  • Reading leadership books and biographies (e.g. Boris Johnson’s book on Churchill)
  • Leadership and influence
  • The stance he took in a job interview for a leadership position
  • Why you should hire people who are better than you
  • Why leaders need to be able to say “sorry”
  • Learning leadership through union politics
  • How he came to head up a radio station
  • His ongoing pursuit of challenges in his work

Michael mentioned a number of inspirational resources during the interview, including the following:


Senator Ted Kennedy’s 1980 Convention speech

Stephen R. Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People

John C Maxwell Talent is Never Enough

Search for the Hero by M People

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

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.

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:


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.


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

Presented and Produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

This week my guest on the programme is Leadership expert Professor Andy Hargreaves. Andy Hargreaves is Research Professor at Boston College, Visiting Professor at the University of Ottawa, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University, Professor at the University of Stavanger, and Honorary Professor at Swansea University. 

Over the course of our 42-minute conversation, we covered a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • The effect of wealth inequality on people in many countries and the implications for education
  • Negative effects the international test PISA has had on education systems and why the focus on such results is changing in some countries
  • How the focus has now moved to matters such as identity and belonging
  • Three things have happened which have led to a revised agenda for schools to respond to:
    • Existing methods and strategies have become exhausted in seeking additional marginal gains on international tests
    • People start to sense that something is amiss (backlash against testing from middle-class parents – “coasting schools” in the UK and mental health issues among children and problems of teacher recruitment and retention)
    • Changes in society as an impetus for change: People are asking how do refugees and immigrants affect our curriculum and sense of community? How do we respond to school shootings and violence in North America? Anxiety among adolescent girls associated with social media
  • (Irish primary) teachers’ preparedness to respond to matters such as equity, identity and wellbeing.
  • Why identity is more important than achievement (with reference to Franco-Ontarian community)
  • Responding to conflicting identities
    • Welcome all children and every aspect of their identity
    • Recognising that many reasons may underlie why students struggle with their learning other than being unable to master a concept
    • Understanding that most identities are flawed and that societies have values which people are expected to subscribe to
  • How anxiety, narcissism and hopelessness are impacting on young people’s wellbeing.
    • May be related to lack of mobility/lack of opportunity. Public services (library, education, health service and housing) may not be as strong as in the past. The need to reinvest in public life, including teaching to promote mobility
    • Ideas of success have become skewed. The need to see success in ways other than monetary value and having a sense of fulfilment.
    • He refers to the work of Jean Twenge: With advent of smart phones adolescents (especially girls) are less prone to experience violence, to drugs, to alcohol and to early pregnancy but much more prone to anxiety, depression, self-harming and suicidal thoughts, mainly because they’re not going out. Instead they’re getting less sleep, digitally enhancing pictures of themselves and comparing themselves to others, and responding to postings from others (including mean ones)
  • Why he disagrees with schools banning mobile phones.
  • He would like to see more outdoor education, more adventure, more working in the community, more connection to the environment and more face-to-face interactions.
  • What is wrong with wellbeing? (Seeing it as an individual solution to a huge systemic problem; schools creating wellbeing in one part of their work and creating “ill”-being in another part; wellbeing can be interpreted differently across cultures e.g. happiness, fulfilment, duty to parents, respect for elders, loyalty to the group, attention to your family, delayed gratification, etc. Being calm, which is often prioritised by schools, is only one way to be well – exuberance, physical engagement, and happiness are others.)
  • What is wrong with growth mindset? It can detract attention from other factors that affect learning (poverty, disadvantage, prejudice) but growth mindset is still a powerful idea.
  • How teacher collaboration can help schools respond to the problems outlined.
  • Teachers who collaborate with colleagues do better, on average, than those who do not. Children learn more, teachers are more motivated and engaged, it’s better for implementing change
  • Professional Learning Communities – tended to be liked by administrators but considered to be contrived and constraining by teachers in some countries.
  • A question Professor Hargreaves asked in his research: “If collaboration is good sometimes, but not always, how should collaboration be designed?” Build trust and relationships and establish helpful procedures and protocols around collaboration.
  • Sometimes collaboration is most important where it is most difficult – in difficult to serve areas or in areas experiencing rural poverty.


Presented and produced by Seán Delaney

Theme tune by David Vesey

This week's programme is the last for the school year 2018-19. We look at topics relating to the end of the primary school year: school tours (in a continuation of my conversation with Caitriona Cosgrave and Martin Kennedy from last week's programme), summer courses for teachers (with my colleague, Dr. Gene Mehigan), and presents for teachers (again with Martin Kennedy and Caitriona Cosgrave).

I wish all listeners to the podcast a great summer. I always love to get your feedback on it by e-mail (insideeducation@dublincityfm.ie) or through Twitter. Similarly suggestions for future topics or guests are always welcome.

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