Our Understanding the Child short courses provide information, guidance and opportunities for reflection on the problems young people may face. Available as part of our CPD Library, these courses are suitable for all school staff and leaders, as well as Virtual School teams.
Click on the covers for more information and to preview the content. Get in touch on 01223 350555 or email@example.com if you have any questions or would like to find out more.
A massive thank you to all the young people who participated in the CreativeMe writing competition, and to the virtual school staff who supported them to do so.
We are delighted to announce that we have now selected seven winners and seven runners-up, and they will be receiving their prizes very soon. All fourteen entries will appear in a special anthology on the nimbl app, along with entries from Coram Voice's Voices 16 competition.
Everyone involved in the judging process was really impressed with the high quality of the entries and the different writing styles and ideas of the young people. We are looking forward to publishing the anthology early in 2017.
Professor Bernard Barker discusses leadership topics in a series of seminar clips in our new mobile CPD resources, with background theory and self-reflection activities. Click on the image to preview!
Our KS2 Library is soon going to be invaded by hoards of Vikings! Our new resource features audio recordings of Old Norse, the language the Vikings spoke more than 1000 years ago.
The Vikings left a huge legacy in terms of language and culture. This week we have a guest blog from Dr Sara M Pons-Sanz, Lecturer in Language and Communication at Cardiff University and member of the Gersum Project investigating the Scandinavian influence on English vocabulary:
"It is rather ironic that the Vikings, who are often portrayed as brutish marauders ready to plunder and pillage, actually left behind precious, long-lasting treasures that we use on a daily basis. Words like they, though, sky, skin, skirt, skull, leg, window, ugly, die, ill and call are loans that made their way into the English language as a result of Anglo-Scandinavian contact, particularly from the ninth to the twelfth century. It is estimated that there are between 600 and 900 words of Scandinavian origin in standard Present Day English.
The study of loans from Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings, in English can lead to very interesting discussions on various aspects of the history of the English language (and comparisons with the current multilingual situation in Britain):
If you would like to discuss further teaching ideas on the presence of Norse loans in English, feel free to contact the Gersum Project team (firstname.lastname@example.org; www.gersum.org)."
Thanks Sara! Other Gersum project members Dr Richard Dance and Dr Brittany Schorn feature as real-life Vikings in our new app coming soon - conteact email@example.com for more information.
We've been busy shortlisting entries for the CreativeMe writing competition for Looked After Children. We received around 50 entries from Virtual Schools all over the country and they have been an absolute joy to read. Our team here were wowed by the young people's work, which we found to be creative, moving and thought-provoking.
The competition theme was left open, so we received poems, stories and multimedia pieces on a variety of topics. However, some topics proved more popular than others, with many of the young people choosing to write about their families, their experiences of school, care and fostering, and, perhaps inspired by Tim Peake's recent stint aboard the International Space Station, adventures in outer space! Entrants also used their creative writing to share inspiring messages of peace, positivity and love.
All fourteen shortlisted entries will be included in an anthology called Creative Voices that will be available via the nimbl app by early 2017.
The competition has now entered the second phase of judging, and we're almost ready to announce the winners... watch this space!
With special thanks to our expert judges:
Roger Hurn, children's author
Gareth Williams-James, education specialist for children looked after and in need
Carrie Herbert MBE, founder and chief executive of Red Balloon Learner Centre Group
This week we've had intern Victoria working with us. She's taken on some challenging tasks:
My internship at Pearson Publishing, though only brief, has definitely altered my preconceived ideas of what publishing is and what it can do. It has been very different from previous work experience I have undertaken, which has revolved around manuscripts and proofreading. Editing and producing online revision guides for the nimbl app has been a challenging but exciting experience.
So far I have been given the chance to work on a varied mix of interesting programmes, from a CPD resource on attachment theory, to the new Ancient Greece and Anglo-Saxons learning apps, through which I learnt the origin of the modern Marathon and practiced some Old English grammar. It has been exciting to learn the processes that go into producing the nimbl apps, and I am pleased to have played a very small part.
My work has involved proofreading as well as formatting content, converting it into an app. While daunting to begin with, I soon got the hang of the patterns and logic behind the coding, the rule that every instruction must have an end command. As someone who gets confused by my own mobile phone, I was extremely surprised by how easy and fun this was. I think I have been able to hide my technological inadequacies well so far! (Though who knows, my time isn’t up yet…)
It has been satisfying work to take a blank canvas and create something new, especially using a media far outside my own comfort zone, challenging my own abilities. The benefits of using new technology to educate in place of traditional methods is still debated, but I believe the nimbl apps are great tools to get children interested and actively involved and in their own learning. Pearson Publishing has embraced these changing parameters of publishing, creating some wonderful revision and teaching guides. They have made the most of all the devices and tablets now available to young people, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the world of publishing.
Thanks Victoria! Our CPD library for schools is growing, and our History apps are nearly ready for the big wide world - follow us @PearsonPublish or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
This week we hear from Helen, who's been working with us on Science, CPD and more.
'On my first day at Pearson Publishing I was introduced to the nimbl library, which is a collection of apps for interactive educational resources. After playing around with a tablet for a while, I was thrown into software development. This involved programming, which (although initially a little daunting) was surprisingly easy to pick up. Soon I was able to insert content and format the apps. I was also given the task of selecting relevant education news from TES magazine, which made me realise the difficulties many teachers face when trying to find good resources in the ever-changing landscape of education.
Having previously interned at a more traditional publishing company, I found editing content for nimbl to be a very different experience. Not only did I have to think about the quality of the content, but also about how it was going to work with nimbl’s unique format. Fitting the text into a limited space while still maintaining sense was sometimes challenging. However, I think that this need for brevity enforces a clear writing style, which is essential in educational resources.
As a former psychology student, I know how important having a variety of sensory stimuli is to learning, and this is definitely something that nimbl provides. I was really impressed by nimbl’s professional yet user-friendly interface, and I found myself wishing I could have used it in my own school days (rather than dusty old textbooks with missing pages).
There is some debate surrounding whether expensive technology can make education more accessible to all, but I think that the benefits of nimbl far outweigh the problems. nimbl’s revision quizzes and lively layouts are much more engaging than reams of static text, and its compatibility with tablets and mobile devices makes it an exemplar for publishing in the digital age. During my time here I’ve seen how passionate Pearson Publishing is about providing fun and accessible resources for learners and educators alike. I only hope that I’ve been able to bring some of my own enthusiasm to their innovations!'
Thanks for all your hard work, Helen! Helen spent most of her time working on our new Biology app for GCSE Science - if you'd like to know more about our apps for Biology, Chemistry and Physics, get in touch at: email@example.com.
The current model of CPD used in most schools, which relies heavily on face-to-face training, has some drawbacks. Most obviously, there is the cost: a Government study found that 46% of schools’ CPD budget is spent on supply teachers to cover the time spent out of lessons instead of actual training. There has to be a better way.
Pearson Publishing’s CPD Library is exciting because it leads schools towards a radically different model of CPD - but even the most eagerly anticipated changes generally have worries and wonderings attached. The benefits of mobile learning are obvious to a lot of people – flexibility of time and place, personalisation and automatic reporting in addition to cost savings – so I’m not going to talk about those here. Instead I though it might be interesting to discuss three possible concerns that school leaders might have and look at how CPD on mobile devices will compete in areas where face-to-face training might normally have an advantage.
How can we make sure staff are doing it properly?
Just like with pupils, independent learning for staff requires a degree of trust. The nimbl system has automatic tracking so that you can see which courses staff are using and how far they’ve got, but it’s fair to say that you can’t be 100% sure that each staff member has given the courses their full, diligent attention.
However, teachers and other school staff are professionals, and as such it’s right that they should be expected to take responsibility for their own development. We believe that professional freedom is a good thing, and that the vast majority of teachers will enjoy the chance to direct their own learning and choose the courses that they think are most relevant and important.
Also, face-to-face training isn’t exempt from this problem. It’s perfectly possible for some staff to turn up to an INSET session in switched-off mode and not get much out of it. By letting staff study what they want when it suits them, you’re actually likely to minimise the chance of staff tuning out or going through the motions.
This isn’t the problem it might have been a few years ago, since most people have a smartphone or tablet, if not both, if not several of each. Compatibility may be an issue for some systems, but the CPD Library runs on our nimbl app which is fully compatible with most Android and Apple devices. And for people who may not have access to a device, or who might not be comfortable using it, nimbl also works on laptop and desktop computers.
What about the human touch?
Self-directed learning suits some people down to the ground, but others will miss the human element that comes with face-to-face training, even if it is a less efficient and more cost-intensive way of doing things.
There are a few ways that schools might address this problem. One is to use the CPD Library in a coordinated way so that a good number of staff complete the same course around the same time, and encourage them to talk through what they have learnt and share their views on it. Or you could ask staff to recommend courses to colleagues, or become experts and use the material as the basis for internal INSET.
The simplest solution might be to supplement the CPD Library with more traditional face-to-face training. The library is such a cost-effective option that there should be funds left in most schools’ CPD budgets to organise face-to-face sessions as well, and having fewer of them allows you to be choosier and make sure the ones you do run are the best around.
If you'd like to find out more, check out the CPD catalogue on our website, get in touch on 01223 350555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as Science for all ages, we're working on history resources for KS2 and KS3. Working with experienced historian and children's author Stewart Ross, we're creating fun, interactive introductions to ancient Greece, Roman Britain, the Anglo-Saxons, the Vikings, the Tudors, the Victorians and Britain since 1930.
What makes these apps different?
Written by an experienced teacher and writer for children, our resources are lively but not gimmicky. The content is comprehensive, authoritative and based on what teachers have said they want, and has been thoroughly school-tested.
As well as being fun and engaging for pupils, the resources run through the nimbl system so teachers can see pupil's test results and progress through the activities. This means our resources can be used as a quick and easy measure of engagement and improvement.
The resources are fully interactive and encourage independent learning. Each pupil can move at their own speed and get a real sense of achievement as they move through the stages.
Prizewinning author Stewart Ross is a UK-qualified teacher with three degrees and wide experience working in a variety of schools and universities in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the USA, Saudi Arabia, France and the UK.
I have been writing history books and other material for school children since 1985. I taught history at school level to 1989, and since then I have been a frequent provider of history and literacy workshops in schools in the UK and overseas. For five years I was Chair of Canterbury Branch of the Historical Association and worked hard in that capacity to develop history in local schools.
Stewart became a full-time writer in 1989, since when he has published some 300 fiction and non-fiction books for all ages. His most recent awards, in the UK and the USA, were for his book on exploration, Into the Unknown (Walker 2011). As well as giving talks and workshops in a wide range of schools, Stewart speaks at literary festivals and on cruise liners, and teaches creative and professional writing in Britain and France. He is a former chair of the Society of Authors Educational Writers Group and has recently worked for a London academy chain, writing all primary and secondary material for the new history curriculum.
To find out more or preorder, get in touch on 01223 350555 or email email@example.com
You can preview our other mobile learning resources here: www.pearson.co.uk/mylibrary-catalogue
We're working hard on new learning resources for GCSE Science. Let's hear from intern Tess, who's been helping us:
This week I have been working at Pearson Publishing for four days in a gap between my GCSE exams for work experience; although my visit was short I was able to do many different activities. There was always a wide range of things to do to keep me interested and it meant that I learnt lots of new skills. A few of the different things I did include proof-reading resources on many different topics from Anglo-Saxons to global warming and giving feedback on where I thought improvements could be added, making quizzes and fun activities for the students to complete and writing descriptions of the resources to go on the catalogue online.
Whilst improving the science revision guides, I got to learn the mark-up language, which is used to create and display the resources on the screen. It was really interesting to see the hidden mechanics of how the program worked and it was great to see the changes and improvements that I made immediately take effect and improve the resources. It was interesting to see an alternative method of learning and revising from the traditional ways of reading from a book and it showed how education is changing and adapting to improve as more technology becomes available.
As I am almost finished with my own exams it was good to work on a project that could hopefully help people succeed in the future in the same exams that I had just done and I could see how the resources could have been useful to myself. I also found that as I have spent the last few weeks revising I felt that I could give relevant and useful suggestions for improvements.
Thanks Tess, you've been a great help!
If you'd like to find out more about our mobile resources and preorder Physics, Chemistry and Biology GCSE apps, get in touch on 01223 355055 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the next few weeks may seem to drag on forever, it's very nearly time to say goodbye to 2015-16 and start enjoying the summer holidays. But we all know a teacher's year doesn't end in July. There can be a million things left to plan and implement.
In an ideal world, the long holiday would be the perfect opportunity for young people to catch up on any curriculum work they may have missed, to read extensively and to develop their understanding of the wider world. In reality, this is a time when gaps, particularly in reading, open up between disadvantaged students and their more privileged peers. But organising catch-up sessions, collating resources and keeping students engaged are difficult and time-consuming tasks.
If you're planning summer schools, transition programmes or any other extra provision, we can help.
Our mobile learning libraries cover core topics in literacy and numeracy and include enrichment materials for other subjects. Students can catch up and consolidate their skills and knowledge wherever they are and can work at their own pace. They can work either on their own personal device or on a distraction-free locked down tablet provided by us.
See MyLibrary for more information on mobile learning resources and tablet schemes.
Of course holidays are also a time for young people to relax and recharge. But for many older students, decisions about university applications are looming, and planning ahead can help to relieve some of the stress. Hannah wrote a couple of weeks ago about open days, online research and other preparatory activities that will help students feel calm, confident and in control of the process.
Accessed via phones, tablets and web, University Applications covers all this and more in detail.
We’re excited to announce the launch of CreativeMe, our first ever creative writing competition for virtual schools.
If you're a virtual school head, simply download the poster from www.pearsonpublishing.co.uk/info/CreativeMe.pdf for more information. Then add your email address in the space provided on the poster and distribute to your young people.
Once you start receiving competition entries, forward them to Sarah at email@example.com.
Make sure to anonymise entries to first name only and indicate which age group the writer belongs to: 4-7, 8-11, 12-15 or 16+.
The deadline for entries is 30th September 2016.
It's exam term and the summer is in sight. For those supporting students hoping to go to university in September, lots of luck from us!
It's also time to get year 12 thinking about their choices. Most universities have their open days around this time and heading to these is the best way of choosing a course and university.
The first choice to make is what subject to study. Courses for the same subject vary between different universities, so it's important that students do their research.
Once they've picked the subject area and a few courses they are interested in, it's time to visit. It's best if students pick their top three universities and courses and just visit those - if they take too much time out of school or college then it could affect their exam results.
Before they go to any open days, encourage your students to think of questions to ask lecturers and students - it's the best way to find out more about the course and what life at that university is like. It's also important that students think of practicalities: if they don't want to go to a university near their home town, how will they get there and back every term? What are living costs like in the university town?
Over the summer
It's a good idea for students to get a headstart on their UCAS applications before and during the summer break. Most of the online form can be filled in and saved easily, and you might like to ask for draft personal statements to be submitted before the holidays.
It's really important that your students understand the point of their personal statement. As most universities and courses don't interview, the personal statement is the only way admissions tutors will be able to see evidence of a student's interest in and suitability for the course.
Personal statements can be tricky to write and a recent report from the Sutton Trust showed that teachers' views on what makes a good personal statement can be very different from those of university admissions tutors. Don't let your students waste time defining their subject or using flowery language - anyone who consults a thesaurus for other words for 'enthusiastic' needs to stop! Admissions tutors have so many applications to look through that they have very little time to spend on each individual personal statement - so help your students make it clear, to the point and convincing.
Check out our University Applications app - it's got loads of questions to help your students make their choices and links to all the information they'll need. Also available on the Play and App stores.
An unavoidable topic in education this month is SPaG, or as the grouches at the DfE insist on calling it, “grammar, punctuation and spelling”. Without the Oxford comma, instantly alienating around 30% of the test’s natural supporters. And that was a sentence fragment, and so is this, so I may only be emerging at the required level myself.
Happily, the tests are now over. In theory, that means that a whole cohort of 11-year-olds can now decide whether they want to remember what a fronted adverbial is or not. Teachers, though, have no such luck and have to start steeling themselves to do it all again next year.
My own son is currently four, so he doesn’t have to think a great deal about grammar terminology at the moment. (He may never have to, if the current SPaG test has the same lifespan as other recent assessment concepts.) But I still fret. He has a reasonable grasp of metaphor: after I tried to explain what people mean by “the cat’s pyjamas” he started saying things he liked were “the moon’s hat”. But how would he react to writing a story and being told to put more fronted adverbials in it?
I suppose I would advise him to use my own favourite all-purpose fronted adverbial, “With no thought for his own personal safety”, as popularised by the trailblazing television star Timmy Mallet in the late 80s. Let’s take the start of a rather dull, insufficiently grammatically complex story:
Bert got up. He went downstairs and put the kettle on. He walked through to the living room and sat down in an armchair. He stroked his pet dog, Buster.
Not very good. Not many wow words. But if you add “With no thought for his own personal safety” to the start of any of those four sentences you create instant excitement, making it, I would say, at least 12% better. If you can come up with three more all-purpose ones, you can have a paragraph like:
With no thought for her own personal safety, Bertha got up. Disregarding every shred of advice she had ever been given, she went downstairs and put the kettle on. Bravely, she walked through to the living room and sat down in an armchair. With a steel found only in the finest of people, she stroked her pet cat, Sergeant Snuggly Ears.
That’s the moon’s hat. Actually I’m starting to have some sympathy with Michael Gove or whoever it was insisted that these arcane structures should be taught. Then again, if your adverbials are good enough, maybe you don’t even need to front them:
Zorlag got up, with no thought for her own personal safety. She teleported to the refreshment bay and initiated the beverage drive, disregarding every shred of advice she had ever been given. She glided through to the leisure pod and bravely sat down in a Comfortron 9000. She stroked her pet space-cat, Krunz’qik, with a steel found only in the finest of galactic officers.
Too much? Or exactly the kind of thing the DfE wants our children to be writing? Honestly, I’m not sure. Either way, the above musing probably isn’t a great deal of help in preparing next year’s blameless Year 6s for the SPaG test. What might be more help is our range of mobile SPaG resources (see here and here. With no thought for our own personal safety, we are currently revising and updating them, but of course if you order now for September you will get the new versions as soon as they are available.
Fronted adverbials: 10
Wow words: 5
Total marks: 16