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Reading all the books – Powerpoint

27 Mar 2017, Posted by admin in Latest News

PowerPoint

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Before training as a teacher, I’m genuinely not even sure I was aware of the existence of PowerPoint. I’d certainly never used it, nor was it installed on my computer. I’d never encountered it as a pupil in school or a student in university (although I do recall images being used in lectures, which could easily have been delivered through a PowerPoint format).

It was in my second week of teacher training, in what is called a ‘Second School Experience,’ I first was made aware of the programme. Preparing to teach a lesson for the first time, I met with the class’s usual teacher whose opening words were, ‘here’s my log-in so you can make a PowerPoint. Obviously you’ll want to make a PowerPoint.’ It didn’t seem too obvious to me then. I spent an hour or so painfully working out how to use the programme, painstakingly copying and pasting images I found at random using clipart (I hadn’t yet understood how to get images from the internet onto a slide), and changing the fonts at random. During the lesson, which was obviously a disaster for far wider ranging reasons than the existence of PowerPoint, I remember finding the slides a hindrance rather than a help, as I awkwardly pointed to a slide from time to time, only really to justify the time that had been poured into making it.

Looking back on my first term of teaching, my early PowerPoints were four slide affairs. They had a title, a learning objective (it was 2010), and then a series of questions for kids to answer, split into different slides which vaguely corresponded to different parts of the text we were learning (normally, the heading was a page number, the bullet points questions).

But I learned fast. My PowerPoints soon exploded into twenty, even thirty slide affairs for a single 50 minute lesson, packed with animations, images and coloured backgrounds as standard. At peak-PowerPoint, I could knock one of these out in under ten minutes.

But I’ve since reneged, and I’ve come to believe the use of PowerPoint is misguided. Why?

  1. Life in a dark room

The first time I visited a school, after 6 interim years of work and study, my first thought was how dark it was. It was the end of the year, and so bright and beautiful outside, but in classroom after classroom it was beyond winter. It was hellishly dark, and with the blinds drawn the classrooms were sweltering. I wondered how the kids could even see what they were reading or writing. Much like modern family life, everyone seemed orientated towards the bright screen at the front. It’s depressing.

  1. Split focus

PowerPoint splits kids’ focus. You want them to focus on you, and your instruction – but instead, they are focused on the screen that bears the remnants of that instruction. You want them to focus on the text and what they are learning, but instead they have to keep looking up to find out what the question is before they write again.

  1. It stops teachers teaching

Even ten minutes to bosh out a PowerPoint is a waste of time. But more than that, it actively impedes my preparation. I’m thinking about slides instead of thinking about content. I might put twenty questions on a PowerPoint, but actually I need to be thinking about a hundred questions to ask pupils. At Michaela, we ask each of the 32 pupils in our classes at least three, and often more, questions in a single lesson. I need to spend my time planning those micro-questions as well, not just the few ‘big questions’ they might answer at length in discussion or writing.

  1. Technology fails you

If I haven’t persuaded you with the preceding arguments, perhaps I will have more luck here! Hands up who has ever had technology fail them in the classroom? That’ll be every teacher ever.

And it’s awful. You stand there at the front. You have nothing. You could write your questions on the tiny actual whiteboard that is awkwardly positioned so not all kids can even read it, but then you’d have your back to the children and we all know how that pans out. Plus, what if half your questions are about the gorgeous images you’ve meticulously selected? You’ve got nothing. You do a little dance. You pray you can contain them.

We teach a poem in year 7 by William Carlos Williams called ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.’ It’s a poem about a painting by Pieter Brueghel, so obviously I felt I needed to show the kids the image in order for them to understand the significance of the poem. It was in my early days at Michaela, and I was already nervous as a visitor I knew vaguely from the world outside Michaela would be in my classroom. (I think we’re all desensitised to visitors now, as we have about five a day wander in.) I cued the image up ready. And then it transpired that my board was not connected to my computer. I absolutely panicked.

Back-up could not arrive in time, so I taught that lesson without my picture. I just explained the picture, and why it was important. The kids got it, wrote about the poem; happy days. It was fine. But by the afternoon my board was fixed. So, the second time I taught the lesson to the other year 7 class I taught, I had the image ready to go.

And it was a much weaker lesson. Because we had split attention. We had a request to pull the blinds down so they could ‘see it properly.’ They were confused by other aspects of the picture I didn’t want them to focus on. It was, all in all, a massive distraction.

  1. Work less, achieve more

Why have a resource and a PowerPoint? It’s the same argument I used to make against lesson plans – why do I need one when my PowerPoint shows my planning? Well now – why do I need a PowerPoint when my resource – poem, novel, play – shows my planning and thoughts about how I will teach these children?

At Michaela, all children have the same resource, and so does the teacher. The teacher’s is annotated with questions and key aspects to bring out in instruction. What more do we need?

A caveat

Ok – I actually do use PowerPoint. One slide, one lesson a week, for ten minutes. It is for our weekly quiz. We put the questions on a single PowerPoint slide, and the kids write their answers on paper. We then sort the papers using comparative judgement.

We’ve tried to come up with ways to avoid this, but so far everything considered has meant considerably more work for teachers than just sticking the questions up. We’re still brainstorming how to eradicate this last remaining slide. One PowerPoint slide one lesson a week. I look on that slide as a necessary evil.

Come Lunch With Us!

26 Mar 2015, Posted by admin in Latest News

Come Lunch With Us!

Family lunch at Michaela is one of the ways we ensure pupils really bond with one another. It’s all about instilling good manners, helping one another and taking on responsibility. It’s a time when every single pupil has a role. Each pupil either lays the table, or serves food, or clears away at the end. It really is something to behold. The pupils really work together as a team. It’s quite heart-warming.

Here are some comments, very typical in fact, made by a mother who recently visited us for family lunch:

“Your charming pupils could not have been more polite, helpful and informative. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and pride was immense.”

“I have never, ever, been in a school where, without exception, every single pupil behaves in such a courteous and confident manner. They truly are a credit to the school and their families.”

Again, I would urge all parents to take the opportunity to visit the school, to observe lessons, to stay for family lunch and to see for yourselves how much pupils enjoy both lessons and lunch and how much they learn every single day at Michaela. I guarantee you’ll be immensely proud of your sons and daughters and their enormous maturity.

I recently read a rather worrying report on the BBC, where, according to research, more than half of children in the UK don’t eat a single portion of vegetables a day.

As you doubtless know, the government recommends that everyone should have at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. But the BBC survey showed that 52 in every 100 kids don’t have any veg, and 44 in 100 don’t have any fruit, on a daily basis.

What we eat is a big issue at the moment because one in three children in the UK is obese or overweight. That figure has trebled in the last 25 years.

So once again I’d urge parents to come to lunch, to eat with the kids, to witness their manners and maturity and see how much they enjoy their time at Michaela. Please find below our daily menus for the half term ahead.

Remember too that we are always ready to discuss your child’s academic progress over the phone, or in person, at a mutually convenient time. Just contact info@mcsbrent.co.uk and we can arrange a time and date.

Half of kids don’t eat veg each day

25 Mar 2015, Posted by admin in Latest News

More than half of kids don’t eat a single portion of vegetables a day, according to Newsround’s food survey.

The government recommends that everyone should have at least five portions of fruit and veg a day.

But the survey shows 52 in every 100 kids don’t have any veg, and 44 in 100 have no fruit on a daily basis.

What we’re eating is a big issue at the moment because one in three kids in the UK is obese or overweight.

That figure has trebled in the last 25 years. Read more about it by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to Michaela’s First Newspaper

04 Feb 2015, Posted by admin in Latest News

Michaela Matters – Our first school newspaper is out!

Our pupils have worked extremely hard to publish our newspaper ‘Michaela Matters’. Have a look and find out what we have been doing during our first term. Our aim is to give the children at Michaela a voice and at the same time provide exciting articles of interest to everyone! There’s plenty for everyone to enjoy – download our free newspaper here.​

Visit us any time

21 Oct 2014, Posted by Becci Roach in Latest News

Missed our Open Events?

Visit us any time and discover why you should make Michaela your first choice for 2015!

Call us on 020 8795 3183 

 

High challenge, appropriate support and precision teaching

14 Jul 2014, Posted by website administrator in Latest News

Click on the image to read the article.

Michaela is staffed by highly motivated teachers, true experts in their field, passionate about their subjects and 100% committed to really challenging every single pupil. Too often labels limit pupils, give them an excuse to give up when the going gets tough. Not at Michaela. High challenge, appropriate support and precision teaching ensure that pupils are pushed not pandered to. In the words of Sir Michael Wilshaw, Head of Ofsted, ‘we give them love but it’s tough love.’ Ask yourself this, if a child can complete a task easily whilst half concentrating and absent-mindedly chatting to a friend, was the task worth doing at all? At Michaela pupils learn the power of focus, concentration and sustained effort every lesson. They learn that persevering and eventually succeeding feels amazing and is the foundation for all of life’s successes.

Click on this image to read the article.

This is yet another example of how online bullying can seriously impact upon our children. At Michaela we’re not anti-technology, but we are very much pro sitting around a table, talking at length to our children, teaching them the right values and protecting them from harmful outside influences.

So, as ever, our message remains: let’s talk more, read more, discuss current affairs more, let’s help our children develop empowering habits, let’s actively teach them to manage their time and avoid procrastination.

Michaela pupils have long school days. They work hard every day and in every lesson. When they come home from school they’ll be brimming with all of the knowledge they’ve encountered across the curriculum. That’s why we urge every parent to talk at length with their children about what they’re learning, how they’re feeling and, maybe, where they could do with some extra support and help from you, their family.

And please, never accept just a shrug or a one word answer. We’ll never accept that in lessons and we need families to support our high standards by insisting upon courtesy at all times, full sentence responses and correct grammar.

Remember, we are preparing your children to compete with the very best of their generation. We need you to model the courtesy, the full articulate responses and the attention to detail that we will be modeling every single day in school.

A zero tolerance approach to bullying

03 Jul 2014, Posted by website administrator in Latest News

Cyber-bullying: Horror in the home

Every parent needs to read this very harrowing article. Every family needs to sit down and seriously discuss the issues of cyber-bullying with their children. You can’t ignore the potential of cyber-bullying. Cyber-bulling comes into your home – but only if you invite it.

At Michaela we have a zero tolerance approach to bullying, whether it be physical, verbal or on-line. We teach pupils to work hard and be kind. That’s what being at Michaela is all about. But we, as teachers, can only do so much. We need every single parent to be vigilant, we need every single parent to take their responsibility, in terms of preventing cyber-bullying, very seriously indeed.

Social networking can be addictive, massively time-consuming and, quite frankly, vicious. That’s why we insist that every single Michaela parent monitors their child’s use of the Internet very closely. No Michaela pupil should ever have more than two hours per day of screen time, be that TV, Internet, games consoles, texting or any form of social networking. It’s simply too easy to send a message or a photo in the heat of the moment that one might later regret.

By far the easiest way to keep your child safe, happy and free from bullying, is to restrict and monitor their screen time and to simply ban them from social networking sites. Rather than fritter time away on social networking, or playing computer games, encourage your child to take up a sport or other character-building pastime. And remember too our message at Michaela – ‘the more we read, the more we know.’

Through firm but fair discipline and a 100% ban on mobile phones we will keep your child safe at school but, to keep your child safe when s/he is not at school, every single parent must monitor their child’s Internet usage and texting. As the adults in their lives we need to protect them through clear parameters consistently applied – there is no other way. One day they’ll thank you for it.

Our advice is:

  • No child should have access to a Facebook account
  • Families must discuss, be vigilant, and if necessary, ban their children from using, social network sites.
  • Let’s encourage our children to have healthy hobbies, to read, to sit with us around the dinner table in discussion and to watch the news with us –  together as a family.
  • Let’s not allow our children to become isolated, obsessed by social networking, texting, computer games – activities that isolate and break the family connection.

Click here to view a short video that demonstrates what cyber-bullying is, and how you can deal with it.

As teachers, we’ll do our bit, but pupils, parents, teachers, we must work as a team.