Monday, April 03, 2006

LILAC Conference (3)

This is the 3rd report from the LILAC conference earlier this week. The photo on the right show freebies from said conference. I will talk about a session I attended about the schools sector, namely Rebecca Jones' talk (Malvern Girls College) on Embedding information skills into the Year 9 PSHE/Citizenship curriculum. She described an exercise which was focused on the "Citizenship" syllabus, which is compulsory but not assessed. Students worked in pairs to prepare presentations. The issues were taken from the citizenship syllabus (e.g. Teenage pregnancy, domestic violence) and the students had to find out some facts, but also research some questions to do with the issue (e.g. "what is the best way of lowering the teenage pregnancy rate").

The interesting twist was that each pair of students was allocated a way of presenting, focusing on one of the multiple intelligences described in the CHAMPS software ( I will say here that it seems to me that CHAMPS is built on Howard Gardiner's idea of multiple intelligences, but it is produced by a different company and talks about them as learning styles. Someone said at the end of the talk that there was a free cut down version of CHAMPS on the Birmingham Grid for Learning site ( but I've not been able to find it in a quick search (if someone finds it, please let me know!)

The end result were what sounded like interesting presentations from the students: for example the students looking at "gambling" had to present using musical intelligence, and they did a rap on gambling. The students researching domestic violence were told to develop their "intrapersonal" intelligence, and they asked the audience to imagine what it must feel like to experience domestic violence. Altogether, it sounded like it was giving the students an opportunity to develop and use talents and "intelligences" that they might not normally have used in a "safe" traditional presentation.

It is always interesting to compare this sort of exercise against things you do yourself. This exercise had things in common with an exercise I do with 1st years (an exercise with a topical real-world problem, lasting over a few weeks, and involving an element of peer critique). The Malvern Girls School exercise had the "learning styles/intelligences" angle (and I'll be thinking how I can use that somewhere in my teaching!) and mine has the element of reflecting on the information-literacy part (a core element of the presentation they have to do for me). Rebecca was saying she wants to introduce a reflective element. An issue is of course that if you try to cram too much into one exercise it becomes ..too much. So I'll think about whether I can really introduce another element into this particular exercise for my 1st years (they already have to present mindmaps in it, so perhaps something on the visual intelligence, hmmm....)

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