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First meeting

23 September 2010

Welcome to the course!

This blog will initially focus on the Professional Practice 1 module (Unit 4), and it provides an opportunity to provide the “minutes of the meeting” so you can follow up on links and material from each session. You are of course also welcome to comment and to add your own material and ideas.

Here is one I prepared earlier, for Unit 2 in the Spring Term this year. (Graham–that’s where you will find what you were asking about.)

And here is the general programme blog.

This was the presentation which accompanied the introduction to the module.

(Incidentally, several of you asked about the presentation package; it’s called Prezi, and you can use it here. I’ve also mentioned it with some other free or cheap tools which may be of use on my blog here. Wandering even further from the main track, I mentioned in discussion of reflection that that blog was started in order to provide some specimens of reflective writing for people who want to know what it looks like. We’ll return to that topic later.)

The presentation was just an expansion of stuff in the Handbook, of course.

One thing which came up in the presentation was the importance of feedback. John Hattie’s prescription for effective teaching is “dollops of feedback” (in both directions) (Hattie, 2009). You can read an introduction to Hattie’s work and references at

Another concerned the issue of reflective practice and the professional journal, and we briefly discussed my heterodox thinking on that. The paper I referred to can be found at

After the break we did a post-it notes exercise on the class as a group, itself. You put notes on the white-boards about what you brought to the group (Contributions):"Contributions" white board.

(Click here for a version you might actually be able to read.)

and what you were looking for (Expectations). Larger version here.

The two meshed well. You concentrated on the “softer” points on both boards, such as support and friendship, and on the basis of the atmosphere in the group, it look as if people will find what they are looking for.

However, there were also some more concrete contributions mentioned, including assistance with ICT packages and scuba-diving buddying! I’m sure you’ll discover more as you get to know each other better.

Incidentally, I said at one point that the kind of teaching approach which we adopt on the course is not intended to model that which you might adopt with, say, much younger learners. If I had been working with them, this exercise would probably have taken the form of a much more explicit negotiation of the “ground rules” for the class. But you are all mature adults, and I tend to find such a discussion deeply patronising. The rules will grow out of the culture of the class, in our case, so it seems more appropriate to explore the basis of that. But I did have to mention “just one conversation at a time, please”; that’s in part a function of the room layout as we found it. Gathering round separate tables encourages sub-group interaction which has both strengths and weaknesses; we’ll explore such variations as we go on.

As we were concluding, Jackie P asked me about journals to use for the course. Good point. We tend to recommend specific articles rather than academic journals, but the best way to find what you are looking for within the journals is either through Google Scholar or –specific to education, but US-based– the ERIC database. Note that–if this means anything to you already–the university no longer subscribes to the Athens access system. That means that if you get to an article abstract via Google Scholar, you can’t go straight to the full text with an Athens password. You will need to access the Library’s e-journal stock via BREO and look for the specific volume, which is something of  a pain…

Apart from the academic journals of course, keep up to date with developments through papers and magazines; there are links to some of the most useful from the side-bar of the programme blog. Relevant links will also get posted here from time to time.

Now for the rest of the term…

Nest week; we shall prepare for the Micro-teaching exercise, and also look at author/date referencing (a.k.a. the Harvard system).

Podcast on referencing

From 5 October to 23 November (with no session on 26 October because of half-term) we shall do the micro-teaching exercise, which will involve two people teaching each week.) So next week I shall be asking people to sign up for their slots. This will be quite a tight squeeze to cater for an expected fourteen people, but the group is not quite large enough to split, and it has worked well before.

The remaining sessions will afford us an opportunity to explore in more depth any matters arising from the micro-teaching experience.

Sorry that two of the email addresses failed; we can correct that next week.

See you then.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 24 September 2010 8:39 am

    All, I’m up for presenting my micro-teach early on, I have most of the material ready, and always find its good to do these things early.

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