The ‘applied methods*’ question appears in paper 1 of the AQA’s Education with Theory and Methods exam (paper 7192/1). This is out of 20 marks, and students are expected to apply their understanding of any of the six main research method covered in the A-level sociology specification to any conceivable topic within education.
An example of an ‘applied methods*’ question is as follows:
‘Applying material from item B and elsewhere, evaluate the strengths and limitation of using participant observation to investigate truancy from school’ (20)
Here’s how I revise these questions with my students… NB I don’t introduce the item until later…
Warm up with the method
Firstly, I get students to talk through the theoretical practical and ethical strengths and limitations just of the method. I do this because students need to know they method anyway, and they can get 10/20 just for writing a decent methods essay (without applying it) – see the mark scheme here.
Warm up with the method generally applied to the topic
Students brainstorm the general ethical, practical and theoretical issues you may encounter when researching this topic with this method… I think it’s good to be as open-minded as possible early on… It’s easiest just to get them to do this on paper.
Do a plan applying the method to the specific details in the item
I use an A3 sheet for this, with the item and question in the middle, students now read the item.
Write a detailed flow-chart
Here I get students to add in analysis and evaluation points to each original lead-point, showing a chain of reasoning (side 2 of A3 sheet).
Repeat stage two with a different topic, to emphasise the difference in answers for the same method applied to a different topic
DO NOT go over the whole process again, once is enough!
Issues with Revising Applied Research Methods
There’s a very real possibility that students will just not ‘get it’, because they have to be so nit-pickingly overt about relating the method to the specific topic. Drilling this into students is a painful and thankless task, induced solely by the demands of this specific form of the assessment.
There is also the possibility that students may lose the will to live, especially when some past papers have examples that even I find intolerably dull, and I’m actually interested in this stuff!
*These are sometimes referred to as ‘Methods in Context’ questions. This was the term originally used by the AQA for many years, but (much like this question format itself as a means of assessing application skills) it’s pretty clumsy, so the new ‘applied methods’ phrase is IMO much better.
For teachers, ‘teaching to a question’ is often the most efficient way of organizing a lesson, and it’s something I found especially useful when I first began my teaching career, 146 years ago.
In this post all I’m doing is re-visiting this basic strategy in preparation for teaching the next block of theories of crime and deviance, and simply asking myself what are the best ‘starting point’ questions to get students thinking along the line of Marxists, Interactionists and Realists….
Any of these questions can be used as useful starters… as kind of ‘what do you already know’ starter if you like. You could always add in a brief data response task to each block of questions to bring them to life a bit more.
Marxist theories of crime – four basic questions
Does Capitalism cause crime?
Do the police disproportionately target the working classes?
Are elites more likely to escape prosecution by the courts than the working classes?
Do Corporations cause more harm to people, society and the planet than ‘actual’ criminals?
Interactionist theories of crime – four basic questions
Do teachers/ the police label students/ people based on their class, gender and ethnicity?
Does this create a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Are teachers/ the police to blame for the deviance of their students/ the crimes of criminals?
Right Realist theories of crime – to tap into rational choice theory…..
Really simple..brainstorm anything the government might do to reduce crime in society (prize for the most solutions)
Any series of questions relating to ‘Rational Choice Theory’ (future post on this) – e.g. here’s a scenario, such as it being late at night, no guards, no ticket barrier, would you bunk the train…
All things being equal, do you think harsher punishments generally reduce crime?
All things being equal do you think more police on the streets is an effective way to reduce crime?
NB – the questions above aren’t supposed to be exhaustive, just the simpler ones to kick start the topics.
Station based lessons are those in which the teacher sets up a number of different (and differentiated) tasks on different tables in the class room and students spend a set time at each table, moving from task to task.
I find these are most useful at the very beginning of the Winter and Easter terms, after students have done sufficient sociology to enable them to work through said tasks largely on their own, with the teacher acting only as a facilitator…
This is precisely what I’ll be doing with my Upper sixth groups when I face the horror and terror of going back to school on Thursday…. Station lessons make things a little easier…
A3 photocopies of pages 2-4 above for stations 2, 3, and 5.
Card sorts for task 4 (I don’t have these to hand, but you simply need cards with concepts, and pictures and perspectives – this is more of a general recap rather than a consensus theory of crime recap),
Station 1: White Board Station (AO1 – Knowledge)
Explain your one of the consensus theories of crime in picture form – you may use three words also.
Station 2: AO1 Concepts Station (A01 – Knowledge)
Research and write in the definitions for two-three of the concepts
If you finish, add in an example or piece of supporting evidence which illustrates the concept
Station 3: Data Response Station (AO2 – Application)
Read the item, then for one theory write in how that theory would explain the case study in the item.
Station 4: Card Game Station (AO3 – Analysis)
Game 1: Shuffle the concepts and theories cards – pick two (or three!) at random, suggest a link between them.
Game 2: Rank the ‘case studies cards’ – rank them in order of how well they support your assigned theory.
Station 5: Evaluation Station (AO3 – Evaluation)
Add in as many evaluation points as possible for one theory
If you finish, then add in counter-evaluation to the previous evaluations of theories
There’s not a lot else to say really… this was just a New Year’s post for all the sociology teachers out there, happy new year!
Kahoot is an online quizzing platform which allows teachers to create multiple choice quizzes which can be played in-class by students, who access the quiz on a mobile device.
Students need to go to Kahoot.it and need a pin (unique to each quiz, and only available once the teacher makes the quiz live) to enter…
There are a few different ‘game’ options (there’s a matching/ ordering version) for example, but here I’m focusing just on the ‘classic’ Kahoot….
How Kahoot works…
NB – I recommend you go check it out for yourself, nothing like practice to get your head around it! (If, of course, you think it’s worth the time investment…)
Questions are projected up like this
Before the screen below just the question appears, for a set amount of time (I like to set this at 10 seconds) – this is thinking time!
And students see the coloured options on their phones like this..
They simply tap the option they think is correct.
Students get points for correct answers and for how quickly they answered, and their ranked at the end of each question in a leader board, and yes of course, there’s an overall winner after all the questions have been answered…
I like to set up a Kahoot with 15-20 questions, which is ENOUGH! Although I’ve seen some with dozens of questions.
You might also like to read the following two posts to see how Kahoot compares to…
Christmas in coming, and I don’t know about you, but if it’s a toss up between starting ‘experiments in research methods’ or playing Kahoot on that slack last day of term… well let’s just say Milgram can wait until January!
It’s possibly the most fun you’ll have in class in all year…
The background ‘data entry’ side of Kahoot is very easy to use – it’s basically the same as for Quizlet, and, as with Quizlet, you can duplicate, modify and repurpose other people’s work.
What I don’t like about Kahoot…
Oh how the children lold all term, yet oh how they wailed when they came to their exams and realised they had no clue WTF analysis was.
Unlike Quizlet, you don’t end up with nice Flashcards which the students can use to review knowledge, and the quizzes aren’t available offline afterwards. IMO Quizlet is far better a time investment for A level sociology teachers.
It actually has quite a discouraging effect on those in the bottom half of the leader board!
There are four main problems of the increasing role of large technology companies in education, all of which stem from the incompatibility of the values of Silicon Valley Digital Capitalism and Public Education:
The algorithmic approach to education cannot take into account the social and moral complexities of real world education.
The idea of ‘learning through failure’ is incompatible with supporting every child to develop
The focus on individualized entrepreneurialism may be incompatible with ideals of social cohesion, justice and equality of opportunity.
The influence of technology companies in public education undermines the democratic process.
Challenging the Benefits of Commercial Education
Large technology companies and their enthusiasts have made grand claims about both the problems of traditional public education and the potential benefits of disrupting business as usual through digital innovations such as MOOCs.
However, many of the technological disruptions of the last decade have simply failed to deliver positive results – in short, they have promised much but delivered far less.
The tech companies may well blame public education officials for failing to embrace their technologies (and/ or ideologies), however Neil Selwyn argues that tit is more a case of technology companies failing to ‘get’ public education, and the enormous complexities which surround the realities of educating people.
Below I summarize four ways in which the culture of technology firms are incompatible with the culture of public education, as identified by Selwyn (2016)
The problem of viewing education as a ‘computational project’
Innovations such as Coursera, Thiel Fellowships etc. tend to see education as a discrete computational project, that is a set of variables which can be manipulated and programmed so as to avoid any bugs or inefficiencies.
The problem with this ‘reductive approach’ is that education rarely contains variables that can be adjusted or manipulated to achieve optimal cause and effect – in reality, the social complexities of the real-world contexts in which learning takes place cannot easily be included in algorithmic models designed to make learning ‘more efficient’.
Similarly, it is questionable whether a computer can be programmed effectively to answer moral questions about the content of what a student, or students should be learning more generally.
The problem of ‘learning through failure’
In the Silicon Valley world of hi-tech start-ups, it is expected that the vast majority will fail, but the handful that survive will go on to be game-changers.
However, this ‘fail fast, fail often’ approach does not necessarily translate well into education, as the start-ups will be gambling with the futures of individual students, schools, or even districts… As Bill Gates reflected on his Foundations forays into education reform… ‘it would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we probably won’t know for a decade’.
This approach clearly does not fit in well with the ‘supporting every learner to succeed’ model advanced by the social democratic ideals of education.
The Problem of Focusing Too much on Individualised Learning
Silicon Valley idealism is also rooted in a libertarian belief in the values of personal freedoms and the individualization of action, with a skepticism towards ‘experts’ working within traditional institutions (such as education) which are generally seen as inefficient.
Innovations such as the MOOC or Flipped classrooms are examples of educational transformations which have emerged out of this individualist philosophy. Such disruptive technologies can, at one level, be seen as tackling inefficiency in the provision of existing educational provision.
However, such disruptions might undermine a number of the traditional social democratic values inherent in public education, such as those of promoting community cohesion, communal responsibility and the public good, rather than just emphasizing individual gain.
Such innovations may also undermine the ideal of equality of opportunity. Some research suggests that MOOCs for example are primarily accessed by people from privileged backgrounds, who already have degrees (source forthcoming).
Big technology companies might undermine the democratic process
When the executives of companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have something to say about education, education ministers tend to listen. This has led some commentators such as Joel Spring to suggest that such companies operate as ‘shadow education ministries’ – the problem here is that large tech companies are playing a role in shaping our education systems, they profit from it, and yet they have no accountability!
It’s unlikely that technology companies are going to stop trying to disrupt education, and it’s unlikely that our increasingly neoliberal public managers are going to stop them. However, it’s also unlikely that the public are just going to give up on the ideals of social democratic education that easily, and so at some point stakeholders in education are going to have to figure out a way of reconciling the approaches to education advanced by Silicon Valley digital technology firms and those which persist in our public education systems.
Nick Selwn (2016) Is Technology Good for Education?
My weekly ‘Monday teaching and learning’ post: I’ve been thinking about questioning in A-level Sociology recently,* in particular I’ve been asking myself ‘what are the best quick-fire questions to ask students about theories and concepts’ and ‘what’s the best way to present these questions’?
By ‘best’ I mean what kinds of questioning style will most effectively develop knowledge recall, understanding and the skills of application, analysis and evaluation? And how can this be done quickly!
I’m only really interested here in questioning as a review activity (not the kinds of question you ask during a regular lesson), so this is meant for recapping previous lessons work, as part of a plenary, or as part of a revision lesson.
As I see it, the most effective way to ask questions is to do so in a hierarchical order, starting with basic recall, and moving up through application, analysis, and evaluation, and you could even tag on a conclusion type question at the end.
I tend to ask eight questions to recap any theory or concept… In the example below, I used these questions on a PPT with the headings as titles and the prompts in the main body of each slide. This was a simple, verbal pair-work recap task (with the usual further development questions tagged on). There’s also nothing from stopping you dumping these questions onto Socrative.
I also use prompts to speed things up, and you could of course make these prompts as cards and for each slide get students to do ranking/ sorting exercises.
Eight Questions About Dependency Theory
(which could be asked about any other theory or concept)
(AO1) Explain why poor countries are poor according to Dependency Theory
HINT: Use the following concepts…
(A01) Give some examples which best illustrates Dependency Theory
Try to think of one ‘developed’ and one ‘less developed’ nation
(AO2) Apply Dependency Theory to something else…
Use Dependency Theory to evaluate Modernisation Theory
What do you think the function of education in poor countries might be according to Dependency Theory?
(A03) Analyse Dependency Theory: How does the theory/ concept relate to the following concepts below:
Marxist theory more generally
(A03) Analyse Dependency Theory
Who developed it (where did it come from)?
If you could convince everyone it’s true, then whose interests does it serve?
(AO3) Evaluate Dependency Theory using evidence
Identify as many pieces of supporting evidence as you can
Identify as many pieces of counter-evidence as you can…
(A03) Evaluate using other theories
HINT: What would Modernization Theory say about this theory?
(AO2) Interim Conclusion – How useful is Dependency Theory?
HINT: Where ’10’ is explains everything and 0 is explains nothing, what score would you give Dependency Theory out of 10 in explaining why rich countries and rich and poor countries poor?
Asking these eight questions in relation to other theories and concepts…
Other topics I’ve used this template with recently include (with different prompts) The Functionalist View of Education, The Correspondence Principle (focusing in more deeply on just one Marxist concept of education), The Neoliberal Theory of Economic Development and the concept of Gross National Income as an indicator of development (the kind of concepts this 8 question hierarchy works well for might actually surprise you).
Of course this won’t work for everything and will need tweeking, but to my mind, this is a nice general questioning structure that ticks my 20-80 rule – spend 20 mins prepping to get 80 mins of students doing – NOT the inverse!
*I’m fairly sure this is a big contributor to mental illness among teachers, it’s exhausting.
‘Ranking is an academic exercise; through the exchange of opinion thinking is exercised and personal understanding is achieved of key issues and concepts. This results in deep rather than shallow learning.’ (1)
Ranking research methods, concepts, or even simple value-statements against some pre-set criteria is (IMO) one of the most efficient and useful* ways of developing students’ evaluation skills.
As with just about everything in life – all of this is explained much better through the use of examples, below are a few of my favourite ranking exercises:
At some point, hopefully very soon I’ll get around to putting the actual resources I use online somewhere so you can download them!
EXAMPLE ONE: Rank the RESEARCH METHOD according to the criteria…
Obviously provide students with the above cards so they can sort them!
Additional instruction/ criteria slides might include ‘validity’, ‘representativeness’ etc.
EXAMPLE TWO: Rank the RESEARCH TOPIC according to the Methods criteria
Very useful for Methods in Context this!
(Display on PPT):Rank the following topics according to how easy YOU would find it to gain access to conduct research.
Cards you could use (each bullet point on a separate card)
Researching how the values, attitudes, and aspirations of parents contribute to the achievement of certain groups of children
Why boys are more likely to be excluded than girls
Why white working class boys underachieve
Exploring whether teachers have ‘ideal pupils’ – whether they label certain groups of pupils favourably
Looking at whether the curriculum is ethnocentric (racist/ homophobic
Exploring the extent to which sexist ‘bullying’ disadvantages children
Examining how ‘gender identities’ enhance or hinder children’s ability to learn
Assessing the relative importance of cultural deprivation versus material deprivation in explaining underachievement
Example 3: Rank the ’causes’ of the social change
(Display on PPT):Rank the following reasons according to how significant they are in explaining the long term decline in the birth rate.
Cards you could use (with this topic I might actually include a bit more detail on the backs)
Changes in the position of children
Changing gender roles
Example 4: Rank the Example to how far it applies to men and women AND how liberating/ oppressive it is
I’m claiming this ‘double whammy’ ranking exercise – never seen it before. NB If you ‘spatialise’ this by making students hold one card each and go to different places in the room, you can even add in a third axis by getting them to hold the cards high or low.
(Display on PPT): Along the horizontal axis rank the cards according to whether it applies exclusively to men or women, or equally to both; along the vertical axis rank according to whether the experience is oppressive or liberating:
Suggestions for cards (I use about 20 for this)
Becoming a police officer
Becoming a nurse
Becoming a soldier
Going to jail
Becoming a politician
Becoming a CEO
Being the primary child carer
Being a victim of sexual harassment
Hints and tips for using ranking activities effectively
Use them – they are very efficient – all you need is a set of cards with the words on that need ranking and a power point slide with the criteria and instructions **.
I recommend having no more than 8 cards (it gets tiresome with more than 8), and you probably don’t want to do more than ‘4 rounds’ of matching with the same cards, students tend to get a bit sick of it after that.
Technically I’m sure you can match and rank nearly anything against anything, so mess around with it, you might even get some lateral thinking going!
Do I really need to remind you to make yer cards real perty and laminate ’em???
Sources and Further Notes
(1) Ginnis (2002) Teachers Toolkit
*There are maybe more useful ways, but for the busy teacher in mainstream state education, ranking exercises are extremely quick to produce.
**You could do this on paper, and just get students to write in the order (say 1-10), or I’m sure there are online versions too, but personally I like cards – they’re nice and tactile!
Matching exercises or ‘sentence sorts’ simply involve students matching the concept/ sociologist/ perspective/ method to a definition/ statement.
Decide whether the sentences are below are Functionalist or Marxist – simply write ‘F’ or ‘M’ next to the sentence.
1. Education reproduces inequality by justifying privilege and attributing poverty to personal failure.
2. The education system plays an important part in the process of encouraging individuals to have a sense of loyalty and commitment to society as a whole.
3. The teaching of subjects such as history enables children to see the link between themselves and wider society. The National Curriculum, with it’s emphasis on British history shows pupils that they are part of something larger than their immediate social group.
4. Although school presents itself as being meritocratic, the hidden curriculum produces a subservient workforce, who accept hierarchies of power.
The easiest way to format these is simply as above – a title, brief instruction, and anywhere from 10 (or less if you like) to 20 (more is probably too many) statements/ definitions. You might like to use a grid (as in example 2 over page) for paper versions as it provides a more obvious space for students to write into. For more difficult topics, provide a jumbled list of concepts at the bottom.
Obviously if you’re designing your own, do the answer version first, then just delete the single or short-phrase answers. Numbering the definitions/ statements makes feedback easier!
Topics matching exercises work well especially for
After Functionalism, Marxism and Feminism, or all the perspectives for any of the topics within A-level sociology.
For material deprivation/ cultural deprivation and social/ cultural capital in class and education.
For the main changes with different waves of education policy
For strengths and limitations of any research method – one of the best I’ve seen is a range of sentences which are either strengths or limitations for either lab or field experiments.
Any sub-topic that’s very conceptual – such as childhood within the family.
Different ways of administering sentence sorts
Personally I still like the one-side of paper method – simply needs about 12 definitions/ statements and students just write in the concept/ method or whatever next to it.
These days of course, you can always put sentence sorts online – Quizlet, or Socrative work very well for this.
A way of adding in ‘stretch’ to this is to add in a third column in which you ask students to ‘give an example’ or ‘the opposite’ or to provide supporting evidence, or even criticise the concept/
NB The ‘gap fill exercise’ – don’t be fooled by a gap-fill paragraph exercise, it’s basically just a matching exercise/ sentence sort in disguise.
Three examples of Sentence Sorts for A-level sociology
The examples below show three typical applications of this method…. perspectives, ‘match the stat’ (which is quite good to introduce a new topic) and concepts. Unforunately they don’t format very well on a blog, but they’re just to give you an idea – they’ve all been designed to fit on one side of A4 paper.
Example 1: Sociological perspectives on the role of education
Sort the following statements into either Marxism, Functionalism or Feminism, simply write in F/M or Fem….
Girls may follow the same curriculum as boys, may sit side by side with boys in classes taught by the same teachers and yet emerge from school with the implicit understanding that the world is a man’s world, in which women take second place.
Education reproduces inequality by justifying privilege and attributing poverty to personal failure.
The education system plays an important part in the process of encouraging individuals to have a sense of loyalty and commitment to society as a whole.
The teaching of subjects such as history enables children to see the link between themselves and wider society. The National Curriculum, with it’s emphasis on British history shows pupils that they are part of something larger than their immediate social group.
Classroom interaction reflects the sexist attitudes and male dominance of the wider society.
By transmitting and reinforcing the culture of society to new generations, education helps to ensure the continuity of rules and values.
Although school presents itself as being meritocratic, the hidden curriculum produces a subservient workforce, who accept hierarchies of power.
The classroom is a ‘mini-society’ which provides a training ground for the wider society and eases the transition from childhood to adulthood.
Education has an important role of society reproduction, meaning that it is involved in the reproduction of new generations of workers appropriately schooled to accept their roles in capitalist society.
Schools help to abridge the gap from the ascribed status of the family to the achieved status of society as a whole.
Schools promote the shared value of achievement – at school young people are rewarded for academic achievement with good exam results. This, in turn, socialises young people for their adult roles.
The education system is the main agency for ideological control. People accept their situation in life because at school they have learn that capitalism is just and reasonable.
The hidden curriculum, including the social relations in the classroom and the attitudes and expectations of teachers, prepare girls for male domination and control.
Schools prepare pupils for their roles in the workforce. Most are trained as workers and are taught to accept future exploitation and are provided with an education and qualifications to match their future work roles.
The hidden curriculum produces a fragmentation of knowledge so that ordinary workers do not become educated and overthrow the ruling class.
Schools reinforce gender inequality in wider society.
Example 2: Key facts and stats about families and households in Modern Britain
Match the stat to the question. All of these issues come up at some point over the next eight weeks of the course.
What percentage of marriages end in divorce? 42%
How many children do the average family have? 92
How much does it cost to raise a child to the age of 18? £230,000
What is the average age which women have their first child? 30
When did rape in marriage become illegal? 1991
On average, how much more money a year does it cost to live a year if you are a single person living alone? £250,000
What percentage of households with children in are single parent households? 25%
What proportion of relationships consists of same-sex couples? 152 000
What percentage of men have been victims of domestic violence? 13%
OBVIOUSLY I’ve given the answers here, the numbers would be at the bottom, I’ve also been lazy and missed out sources.
Example 3: Key Concepts in the sociology of the family
The number of babies born per thousand per year.
The legally or formally recognised union of a man and a woman (or in some countries two people of the same sex) in a committed relationship.
Two people living together in the same household in an emotionally intimate, committed relationship without being officially married.
The number of deaths per thousand members of a population per year.
Thinking about the emotional well-being of other members of the family and acting in ways which will be of emotional benefit to others. For example, hugging and reassuring children when they have nightmares, organizing Christmas and birthday parties so that everyone feels included and has a good time.
The process where individuals have more freedom to make life-choices and shape their identities because of a weakening of traditional social structures, norms and values. For example, secularization means people have more choice over whether they should get married or simply cohabit.
The provider or breadwinner role which involves going out to work and earning money for the family – the traditional male role within the family.
A family structure in which mothers are the heads of household and fathers have less power and control in family life and the allocation of resources.
The difference between the numbers of people immigrating to and emigrating from a country.
A man and a woman and their dependent children, either their own or adopted.
A society where men hold the power and women are excluded, disadvantaged or oppressed. An example of a patriarchal society is one which women are not allowed to vote, but men are.
The first stages of learning the norms and values of a society; learning basic skills and norms, such as language, and basic manners.
Where an individual has a string of committed relationships, one after the other.
Social Construction of Childhood
The idea that the norms and values and social roles associated with childhood are influenced by society, rather than being determined by the biological age of a child.
Where social changes, especially the invention of new technologies, does increasing amounts of harm to children. For example, the internet and mobile phones results in screen saturation with increases anxiety and reduces attention spans.
NB – If you print this off, the grid format is much easier on the eye than the non-grid version.
How useful are sentence sorts in teaching and learning sociology?
Open question.. please do lemme know what you think!
Producing engaging written and audio visual resources
Evaluation and decision making based on standardized criteria
Presentation and communication skills
Simultaneous independent and collaborative working
Reflexivity, which incorporates flexibility.
Seven transferable skills which teachers can take with them to kinder careers
Given the depth and breadth of skill which teaching requires, combined with the unbearable amount of stress which teachers are expected to soak up, teaching is without doubt one of the most undervalued professions in the United Kingdom, and I’m fairly sure this is also the case in pretty much every country outside of Scandinavia.
Evidence for this (at least in the UK) lies in the fact that 30% of teachers quit within five years, and the thought of quitting is no doubt at the forefront of the majority of teachers’ minds towards the end of a long summer holiday; and no, a six week summer holiday is not enough compensation.
Just in case you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of undervalued teachers thinking of moving on, here’s a list of transferable skills which you can use to promote yourself to your next employer….
Producing written and audio visual resources that engage a differentiated audience for a sustained period (over month or years) – teachers are required not only to produce quality written ‘work sheets’ which are clearly written and structured, they also have to incorporate a range of audio visual (video/ podcast/ websites/ online tests) within these in order to engage learners. A related benefit is that teachers tend to have both sound levels of knowledge in their specific fields and excellent spelling, grammar and punctuation.*
Emotional Sensitivity – working with vulnerable children requires teachers to pick up on the special needs of students early on, which may not be communicated verbally by the students themselves. An extremely useful skill when working with a range of colleagues and clients in any profession.
Judgement and decision making – the ability to evaluate students’ work according to standardized criteria and provide constructive oral and written feedback to help students/ colleagues/ clients improve their performance in a timely fashion
Presentation skills – teaching requires the ability to present complex information in clear, concise and accessible manner, communicating the goals of lessons clearly to participants at the beginning of a particular session. It also involves the use of humor, analogies, examples, metaphors, stories, and delivery methods other than lecture or PowerPoint to engage an audience.
Facilitating participation through small and large group discussions – teaching involves doing a range of pair-work and discussion work in groups of 3-6, with feedback being given to the whole class. Teachers are experts in making sure everyone feels like they are participating and having a voice.
Independent and Collaborative working – teaching involves both working independently to plan lessons/ mark students work, while simultaneously working collaboratively with colleagues to share information about students in order to deliver the best outcome for students.
Reflexivity – The ability to continually reflect on one’s own performance and respond to constructive criticism based on feedback from peers and supervisors in order to improve one’s own performance. All of this has to be done within the context of shifting parameters of educational policy, so one also has to pick up new skills and knowledge in order to respond to systemic changes.
Sources and comments on other people’s lists of teaching transferable skills
I derived this list from the two lists below. Mine is better, but thanks to those who gave me a leg up!
Gina Smith from Branden University suggests the following list Of Top 20 Transferable-Skills:
Complex Problem Solving
Judgment and Decision Making
Lesson Plan Development
How useful is this list?
To be blunt, I don’t find this particularly useful – somehow the list manages to include too much information and not enough specificity both at the same time. If you were going to write a new C.V. in order to transition out of teaching, you would probably include all of the above words, but you’d be better off re categorizing them so you had fewer key-skills.
4. demonstrated problem solving skills/ability to learn new things quickly
5. demonstrated ability to work under pressure/in a fast paced, deadline-driven environment
How useful is this list?
Well it’s better than the above list because they’ve thought about the key ‘skill sets’ better – personally I think this is a nice, general list, and full disclosure, this guy also has another list of ’12 skills which teachers have’ which helped me a lot with writing the above post!
If, like me, you’re also thinking about quitting teaching, do get in touch.
*If you call me out on my own slightly dodgy grammar it WILL NOT be appreciated, in fact, regard yourself as having received a virtual slap if you’re one of the smug.
Below is an overview of broad structure I use to teach every topic in the A-level sociology syllabus, and it’s my first post directed at sociology teachers rather than students.
I typically stretch the structure below over four hour long lessons in a week (I think the norm is 3-4 lessons in most schools and colleges), meaning that lesson one would be an ‘intro lesson’, lessons two and three ‘exploring lessons’ and lesson four the formal or informal ‘assessment lesson’.
NB – the week long, 3-4 lesson structure doesn’t work for all topics as some topics within A-level sociology are too short or long, but for shorter topics, you can stretch this structure over just one hour long lesson, just cutting out a few stages (or get students to do some of them at home) for longer topics (perspectives) you can just split the perspectives up.
Any of the stages can be extended or reduced, or omitted as time allows/ doesn’t allow.
Some people might balk at the idea of such a generic structure, but there’s a lot of variety within each section to mix things up.
If there’s enough interest in this sort of thing then ‘ll post some specific examples of a week’s worth of teaching for certain topics. It’s probably worth mentioning that I use ‘learning packs’ which integrate all of this btw.
Also, you might note, I’m a big fan of note taking – you can make this as creative as you like, but it needs to be done!
Lesson one – introducing the topic/ stating aims/ getting students thinking/ Clarifying difficult material/ note taking.
State Aims/ Provide an overview of the topic
Normally on a PPT.
Could take the form of a ‘question’
For difficult topics you could even spend 20 minutes lecturing.
Getting students thinking –
Find out what students know already – simply provide a question, they think up quick answers… or further questions!
Provide a data response with questions
Do a true/ false activity
If possible provide some questions that link back to previous, related topics.
Preferably outside of the lesson – students do their own notes/ or a grid/ or simply answer questions – Provide Hand-outs/ text books with core knowledge
Getting students to structure their own notes is the most effective way of them learning.
If you’ve got them, you could use ‘learning packs’ with analytical questions.
I use summary grids all the time at this stage. Research has shown that all students love summary grids, although there’s no actual evidence to support this.
Quite a nice activity is to get students to compare notes/ suggest improvements/ even vote on the best set of notes.
You could of course do NOTE TAKING IN THE LESSON – 20 minutes once a fortnight/ once a week is hardly a crime against humanity (just a crime against OFSTED).
Lessons two and three – first informal assessment/ data responses/ researching, exploring and discussing
First wave of Assessment for Learning (PAIRS/ GROUPS) – assessing concepts/ explanations/ evaluations (NOT elaboration at this phase)
Sentence sort – e.g. match the perspective to the statement.
Ranking – I’m sure you all know about cards
Brief summary writing – show a question on a ppt, include 10 concepts underneath, get students to write a brief paragraph in answer to the question (one of my favourite activities)
Quick posters passed round – different pairs take (for example) one of Marxism/ Feminism/ Functionalism – first pair add in concepts/ second pair evaluations/ third pair selects the most important idea (there ar lots of other versions)
Quick group quiz – of course, you could get the students to write the questions too.
Video or data or music response case studies! Normally individual work, focusing What these suggest about a question/ concept
Get students to watch/ read/ listen the ‘item’
Discuss as a whole class or in groups – any of – what concepts does this demonstrate/ what perspectives does it support criticise/ etc…
If we’re doing methods/ education, this where I’ll do Methods in context planning activities.
If you’re watching a video, you can easily set it in advance, and show a brief clip at the beginning of a lesson to lead into this.
Exploring in More Depth/ researching something in pairs or small groups (the easiest way to include Stretch and Challenge) – students basically produce something and then share it with the rest of the class
Straightforward web-search with question sheets
Produce a nice poster for the wall.
For anything about social policy – a ‘what would you do?’ type activity.
Write a letter to a government minister/
Actually go out and do some research
Feedback findings to the rest of the class or to another group
If I’m doing full-on class presentations, I’ll always be selective.
I also get students to upload whatever they’ve done to a Moodle Forum so their work can be access later.
Lesson four – informal or formal assessment
Second wave assessment for learning – more complex that the first wave earlier – covering most of the topic or sub-topic
Define these concepts, and explain them questions
Complete Venn Diagrams to show differences and similarities
Outline and explain questions (taken from the exam)
Marking and improving exercises (based on what they’ve previously done!)
Essay planning tasks – using essay planning grids
Formal Assessment Work – Focussing tightly on the exam, without notes (usually done in the following week)
Moodle/ Socrative Quizzes
In-class Short answer tests
Essay paragraphs – focussing on explaining/ elaborating, analysing or evaluating