How to use technology to supercharge your English teaching
Hayley Draper, Strategic Lead for the Most Able at Kingsthorpe College, Northamptonshire, shares how English teachers can supercharge their teaching using technology.
As an English teacher, there are many components to teach with both English Language and Literature to contend with at GCSE, and within that a variety of plays, novels and poems. It can be challenging to cover and revise these all in the classroom regularly, especially in the lead up to exams – as by the time you have reached the last item in rotation, it has now been a couple of weeks since the first item.
At Kingsthorpe College, we joined CENTURY at the start of 2020 and it is proving a great piece of software, especially for revision purposes. CENTURY’s short nuggets allow students to keep all aspects of the course fresh in their minds, from the first time they encounter them to throughout the revision process.
It has been especially helpful using CENTURY over the half term holidays, as I can set personalised tasks to target students’ specific areas for improvement, as well as keeping track of any additional work that they are doing. This gives me an indication of the topics that they are lacking confidence with, so I can address them when we next meet in the classroom.
I use the data that CENTURY provides to plan my lessons to the greatest effect and then through retesting on the platform, reassess whether students have made the improvements required or whether further time should be designated to this topic.
All in all, this has been a great time saver for me, ensuring that my time is spent on planning for quality lessons rather than finding hundreds of resources to send home with my students.
Using personalised learning to help students
It is vital that we can personalise learning as much as possible for students. In the classroom, we are able to adapt lessons to the needs of our students, and CENTURY provides the opportunity to give that same level of attention to students’ needs at home too.
Particularly as when we get closer to exams, it will be necessary for students to be working on individual areas for improvement, not completing generalised tasks that may not continue their learning due to being on a particular level of difficulty or topic. CENTURY streamlines this process for teachers and students alike.
Improving revision using technology
My students have found that CENTURY has helped to guide them on how to revise, as many students had used less effective revision strategies such as simply re-reading notes or answering lengthy exam questions. The short nuggets are very specific and help to address topics and skills in more manageable quantities.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive as the AI makes suggestions about which topics need to be revised next.
Making parents aware of available technology
For any teachers considering which technology to use, I would advise that you look at the technology from the students’ point of view first: is it easy to understand and is it easy to access? CENTURY is very clear to the students and as most of our young people are very tech-savvy anyway, they pick up the software quickly.
CENTURY has been very helpful in training teachers on how to use the software which has eased the introduction to the students. I have found that making parents aware of the technology available to help with their children’s learning has made a significant impact as they can see assignments that have been set and the tasks outstanding for students to complete.
Helping students to learn throughout disruption
During the lockdown period, students engaged really well with CENTURY and found that the AI aspect helped to tailor their learning experiences outside of their normal classroom environment. The accessibility of the platform was also helpful, particularly with students whose siblings needed access to computers as they could each access at different times of the day and still get the same learning experience.
As a teacher, it was also useful to match CENTURY nuggets to the work that we were teaching to ensure that we were still able to assess the students and monitor their progress.
CENTURY continues to be a useful tool for us as a way for students to keep revisiting and revising topics covered. It also provides a quick resource for students who are self-isolating and want to complete some additional tasks to keep on top of their learning and to reinforce lessons that they have accessed from home.
Changing attitudes to technology and English teaching
Before COVID, we used CENTURY with just our Key Stage 4 students, but from March, we started using the platform with students across the whole school. Our Key Stage 3 students found it very easy to use and made good use of the AI recommended pathway feature to ensure that they were accessing work that was specific to their individual needs.
Technology is now a much more prominent part of our teaching practice and CENTURY coincides well with our use of Microsoft Teams to provide quality teaching and learning provision for our students.
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