On the 11th and 12th of January, staff from Field Studies Centres all over the South East region came to Juniper Hall for regional training. Very exciting! Two days of lectures (and lots of FSC fun) lined up, with speakers from Juniper Hall, other centres and outside guest speakers too. All fun for us at the centre, and visiting staff from the other London centres (Amersham, Epping Forest and the London Projects), Flatford Mill, and Slapton Ley.
Tasty insect snacks on the tables- Yum!
The day kicked off at about 10am with an overview of the geography specification updates, and sharing of resources for new A-level biology. Everything’s changing this year in the exam specifications, so we’re updating all our teaching resources. We’re trying to get away from using powerpoints, as they’re a little overused at the moment, and instead trying out programmes like SMART notebook, and apps like Popplet and FreezePaint. With any luck I might get a chance a bit later on in the term to write another blog post about those!
Next, Jo from Flatford Mill talked about “Immersive Ecology”, an exciting new session to engage students with ecology. We’re very excited about this, and eager to implement it at Juniper Hall- it’s a new session at the start of residential courses, designed to get students thinking about ecology and how amazing a topic it is, rather than throwing them right into hardcore coursework or controlled assessments. Hopefully we’ll get to teach it very soon!
After, we had a look at some of new resources, we moved on to looking at Field Network Systems, which allow immediate upload of data collected in the field to the web, using a remote wireless network that can just be put in a safety sack and turned on. This was very exciting to investigate by the ponds- we did a little data collection ourselves, recording the water boatmen, daphnia and flatworms wriggling around in our nets.
Heading back inside for a while, we investigated some new apps to use with tablets (such as freeze paint, like I mentioned before). There are some really cool teaching tools I’m excited to use in the future.
After lunch, we took a walk up to Broadwood’s Tower as a group and back down through Happy Valley, slipping and sliding our way through the woods. It’s quite muddy at the moment, but thankfully outdoor tutors are always prepared with their walking boots!
Looking out over the Burford Spur
Back in the Templeton Room, we covered peer observation and how it can be used for personal development, how courses can be reviewed effectively to make them more engaging and relevant, and how to implement questioning in sessions to get the best out of students. This session was led by external speaker Caroline Upson, who gave us valuable advice on illustrating standards of work. In the future, we intend on making “success criteria” for different presentation methods, to show the level if detail required to achieve different grades.
Success criteria for drawing cross-profiles
It was a good high to end the day on, having created some useful new resources to use in teaching. After dinner, we headed as a group to the local pub to catch up on news and enjoy different company. The hardier of us headed later to the Ice House for a campfire under the stars- I was told it was lovely, but very cold!
Day two started off with something a little different; guest speaker Lisa Minshull came in to update our maths skills beyond the statistics we all know (and love!!) to teach. It was pretty tough at times- my maths is not quite as good as it’d like to be- but very rewarding when even I managed to get some of the answers right! Hooray!
The maths wall
The last session of the day pulled together everything we had learned over the past day and a half. Working in our centre groups, we looked at what we could take from training to put into resource development and teaching. There were a lot of really great ideas flying around, and I think we all got a lot out of two days of training- certainly I did!