Honeyguide and Tanapa visited Year 6 to raise conservation awareness.
To help us put together the special conservation message as part of 'The Circle of Life, we had several guest speakers come and tell us about all the amazing projects that are happening on our doorstep.
Our first guest speaker was Danny from Honeyguide. Honeyguide developed a Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) Toolkit that uses a sequential order of methods to prevent crop destruction. The objective of the HEC Toolkit is to cause elephants, over time, to react to some of the less confrontational deterrents, such as spotlights, chili fences, and bullhorns, thus decreasing the frequency of times needed to use more expensive and intrusive techniques and also enabling community volunteers to increasingly prevent human-wildlife conflicts themselves.
Philbert Ngoti, the National Rhino Coordinator from Tanapa, came to share some interesting facts about this history of Rhinos in Tanzania. The best news of all is that they are again on the rise. Philbert was one of the lucky ones that got to travel with the Rhinos from SA. He shared some great footage with us.
It was so enlightening to learn about all this exciting initiatives and to be reminded that we all play a part in saving our planet!
With only one more week to go, the Christmas holidays loom. For most of us, it is a time to kick back and enjoy a relaxing time with friends and family. But for our A Level and IGCSE students, they have their mocks straight after the holidays so for them, it is a time to revise and prepare for these very important exams. Many people think the mock exams are not that important because they are not the ‘real’ thing, but they are equally, if not more, important than the final exams because it is here where students get a taste of what is to come.
For us teachers, we are able to identify the gaps and weaknesses and patch up any holes in our sinking ships of success. For parents, it can be a stressful time because we want to know how we can assist our children to revise effectively. This article by Marc Smith might prove to be very helpful for students, teachers and parents alike.
Most pupils are not studying for their IGCSE’s and A Levels effectively, explains Marc Smith, despite there being plenty of evidence about what works. Marc Smith is a chartered psychologist and teacher. He is the author of The Emotional Learner and Psychology in the Classroom (with Jonathan Firth). He tweets @marcxsmith
We are now pretty clear on what study habits make a difference when exam time rolls around.
Back in 2013, a group of cognitive psychologists published a paper looking at the effectiveness of a range of common study strategies. The researchers – including John Dunlosky, professor of psychology at Kent State University in the US – concluded that many of the most common study techniques weren’t very effective, while some of the most effective were rarely used.
The least effective methods included rereading material, highlighting and underlining, while practice testing and elaborated interrogation (asking "why" and "how") were found to be the most successful. (You can read Dunlosky’s findings in full here.)
Effective IGCSE revision approaches.
The list of effective strategies also included wider techniques that required an overhaul of the very way in which students are taught, most notably the interrelated techniques of distributed practice and interleaving.
The 2013 paper caused modest ripples within education, especially among teachers who were eager to embrace more evidenced-informed methods drawn from cognitive psychology.
And since then, further evidence has supported the notion that these specific learning strategies are linked to exam scores, such as a 2015 study by Brianna Bartoszewski and Regan Gurung (2015).
But how much of this advice is getting through to pupils?
How students are really revising
Kayla Morehead, another Kent State University psychologist, has found that teachers and lecturers endorse both effective strategies (such as practice testing) and educational myths, including learning styles (Morehead, Rhodes and DeLozier, 2015).
And even when students know which strategies are most effective, they don’t necessarily use them. One study, for example, found that students who said they planned to use certain strategies (such as self-testing and flashcards) over the coming months rarely did and tended to fall back on less effective methods like rereading and highlighting (Blasiman, Dunlosky and Rawson, 2017).
A 2019 study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology expands on this earlier research and makes it more relevant to secondary school teachers (Dirkx, Camp, Kester et al, 2019).
Kim Dirkx and her co-researchers chose to question 318 Dutch secondary school students about their study strategies. The study differed from previous research in two interesting ways.
First of all, the researchers narrowed their focus towards the strategies students used when they were on their own, such as at home or during self-study periods.
Secondly, rather than having students identify their study behaviour from a list of pre-set strategies, Dirkx and her colleagues didn’t place a limit on the number or variety of strategies students reported using.
After eliciting responses from the students, the researchers placed each strategy into a category that most closely corresponded to those in the Dunlosky study. They then further divided these into strategies the students used as primary methods and those they used less often.
In common with previous studies, the most-used strategies were rereading and summarising, and this was the case for both the primary method and the ones used less regularly.
Very few students (0.3 per cent) used highlighting as their primary method but over a quarter did say they used it. Practice testing was only used as the primary method by just over 8 per cent of students but this rose to slightly over 60 per cent as a strategy used less often.
More importantly, perhaps, distributed and interleaved practice was reported by less than 1 per cent of respondents as their primary strategy, while in the less-often-used category, just under 4 per cent of students used distributed practice and only 0.3 per cent used interleaving.
Also, students reported using methods that didn't fit into these categories, including copying, thinking of real-life examples, cramming and completing practice problems.
Apart from this last technique (where just over 7 per cent said it was their primary strategy and nearly half said they used it less often), there were relatively few students who used these methods.
More work needed
Secondary school students are, therefore, continuing to use suboptimal study strategies even though there is now a greater awareness and understanding of the most effective techniques, and the reasons for this are bound to be multifaceted.
It could be that many students are simply unaware of what works and have little in the way of formal induction into these techniques. Many teachers may also be unaware of the evidence base or are still clinging to the learning myths that appear annoyingly resilient.
However, even when students are aware of these strategies and may well apply them in the classroom, when it comes to private study they appear to be reverting to the strategies that require less cognitive effort and are, therefore, less effective.
Students may, it seems, benefit from a formal program of study skills training with guidance on how to implement them both in and beyond the classroom. It might also be useful to inform students that, although rereading and highlighting can result in the illusion of learning, such methods invariably lead to short-term retention. On the other hand, while self-testing and distributed learning may appear slow and less effective at first, they are more likely to result in more durable long-term retention.
The research does currently suggest that both students and teachers are yet to fully capitalise on the wealth of information available from cognitive psychology. However, by doing so, schools can greatly enhance and extend their current pedagogical repertoire.
This term’s Arts Evening, where Years 10 – 13’s got to perform their coursework to an invited audience, was a great success. The performances took place in the newly refurbished drama room, which doubles as a black box theatre.
The Year 10 Drama students performed an extract from ‘Teechers’ by John Godber, an hilarious look at life in a school with scruffy, unmotivated teenagers and a range of different teachers.
The interactions between these characters were all performed by just four students who swap and change characters at the drop of a hat.
The highlights were Michel Herssens with his perfect comic timing as the naughty Salty and the new teacher Mr Nixon and Oscar Baker as the flamboyant Mrs Parry.
The two Year 11 Drama groups performed their thoughtful, creative devised pieces, which form the third and last part of their drama coursework.
A shout out to Vaidehi Soni who arrived back in school on Wednesday and performed on Thursday evening – successfully managing to squeeze a term’s work into a few hours!
The first piece was about the effects of social media, a thoughtful and relevant piece that really touched the audience.
The second devised piece, a beautifully abstract commentary on dreams, the crushing of dreams and the rebirth and healing that comes with sharing.
They are both wonderfully sensitive, mature and well-crafted pieces, delivered with great skill and empathy.
Janina performed a thought provoking and powerful dance about stress and balancing all the pressures she feels in her daily life.
To end the evening, the BTEC Performing Arts class showcased the Artaudian acting style, ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ with an extract from ‘Macbeth’, Act 4 scene 1.
Their current unit, Unit 20 – Applying Acting Styles, requires them to showcase two different acting styles, so this was one half of this assessment, the other acting style will be showcased in the touring production of ‘Macbeth’. Artaud was a theatre practitioner who was part of the Surrealist movement, and believed that theatre should transcend language. He wanted to shock audiences, make them feel uncomfortable, to allow them to ‘feel the unexpressed emotions of the sub-conscience’ (Justin Cash). In order to really explore this we chose to set the scene in a mental asylum, where Macbeth is admitted and driven crazy by his actions.
We explored the idea that perhaps the ‘witches’ were fellow patients or perhaps merely a figment of his imagination.
The evening was also a chance to showcase some of the wonderful artwork by the BTEC Art and Design students. On show was mixed media work by Charis Pulei and Gabby Doria,
and observational still life studies by Robyn Ayling and Mona Sentabyo.
All in all a great evening and one very proud drama teacher!