The more you delve into the fascinating world of education, the more exciting it becomes – educators across the UK are dreaming up new, creative ways to awaken students to the joys of learning through strategies like student-negotiated learning, critical questioning and original activities. These are some of the Top 10 Education Blogs in the UK, both in terms of popularity and quality content.
1 Ewan McIntosh’s edublogs.com: This would have to hold pole position in our list of must-read blogs on education. Founder, Ewan McIntosh, is a pioneer in creative education. He was a French and German high school teacher for many years before founding NoTosh Limited, a startup company which develops groundbreaking products and services alongside forward-thinking companies and takes the lessons gained from these experiences back to schools. NoTosh works with literally hundreds of schools, providing teachers with new ways to engage students and ‘addict’ them to learning. McIntosh and his team teach educators valuable lessons like how to get kids to ask “great questions”, how to provide the feedback students need and how to empower children in the learning process (‘negotiated learning’, for instance, encourages kids to determine class content and structure to a great extent). This education blog is peppered with cutting-edge ideas for changing approaches to learning. Check out this project, which teaches children how to research with a more profound outlook, by searching for ‘NonGoogleable’ content.
2 Reflections of a Learning Geek by Lisa Jane Ashes: There’s something about Lisa Jane Ashes’ blog that is young, fresh and clearly fuelled by passion. This teacher provides a host of practical ideas that will without a doubt keep kids fascinated for the entirety of the class/tutoring session. Take a look at her Thought Bombing exercise; it is a way to explore topics in a deeper manner than kids are used to, encouraging them to think wisely and critically about a great number of topics. She says this activity can be used to teach poetry, history, etc., but in the actual example provided, she gives kids a typical ‘Our ship is sinking… You can only save one person… Who would you save?’ scenario to solve. Little by little, preconceptions are slashed through ‘thought bombs’ which give new, surprising information on the different ‘contenders’ for rescue…
3 Pragmatic Education by Joe Kirby: English teacher, Joe Kirby, is a prolific blog writer whose extremely well-researched blog delves into how to improve learning and inspire students. Posting blogs at a rate of around once a week, he asks and offers well-researched answers to important questions like ‘How might social media help teachers improve education?’ ‘What makes a great school curriculum?’ And ‘What makes great teaching?’ Rather than providing generic and opinion-based answers, he refers to the answers given by prominent educators and thinkers and strives, with every post, to provide a better framework for children to succeed.
4 Full On Learning by Zoë Elder: “I am a learning and teaching geek. Unapologetically so,” says Zoë Elder, whose education blog is a collection of “sparkling gems” the teacher comes across and doesn’t necessarily know what to do with, but which merit sharing with fellow “geeks”. Elder, who recently published a book on the topic of education, encourages a pragmatic approach to learning. She invites educators to focus on their students, and aim to create the type of worker that top companies seek: fast, creative thinkers who can take a difficult situation and turn it on its head. It isn’t I.Q. that necessarily make people successful, she says; rather, it is their ability to think creatively. A very worthwhile reading experience providing good material on learner motivation.
5 Scenes from the Battleground by Andrew Old: Andrew Old’s no-frills take on teaching makes his blog particularly popular with teachers and parents alike who are not afraid to face the biggest flaws in current education in the UK. He provides his own caustic commentary but also includes interesting entries from other teachers, like this poston the inadequacy of current history teaching. Old encourages readers to question the educational system and its most resilient myths and provides thoughtful discussion on current buzzwords in education like the ‘skills vs knowledge’ debate.
6 Box of Tricks by José Picardo: This award-winning technology and education blog is written by a high school languages teacher with a Masters Degree in ICT and Education. It reveals how to most effectively use the Internet to increase motivation and engagement.This post, for instance, shows how apps can be used to increase vocabulary; another postintroduces handy new assessment tools like Glogster; a third entry encourages teachers to create learning playlists; this is absolutely cutting-edge stuff!
7 The Whiteboard Blog by Danny Nicholson: Danny Nicholson boasts over 15 years’ teaching/training experience and his passion, like José Picardo above, lies in supporting the use of technology in the classroom. He offers some incredibly fun ideas (like how to extract iron from cereal with a magnet), how to use technology to create beautiful artwork and how to teach Biology with an interactive human body browser!
8 The Lives of Teachers by Darren Elliott: This sensitively written blog is written by Darren Elliott, a languages teacher who has worked for many years in Japan and the UK; it is sparked by his interaction with and interest in other teachers, who have inspired him to find out more about them: How do they develop their knowledge base? What motivates them? What factors influence their work?
9 Don’t Waste Your Time by David Hopkins: This blog was started as a result of Learning Technologist, David Hopkins’ interest in connecting with educators, facilitators, technicians and designers whose interests like in eLearning, mLearning, simulation-based learning, technology in the classroom, Web 2.0 and much more. Despite its authors specialised knowledge, it is a highly accessible blog which offers both general and specific entries on a host of topics, including the advantages and disadvantages of technology in education, enhanced learning and the future of education.
10 Hunting English by Alex Quigley: This blog is written by an English teacher “on the hunt for great teaching and learning strategies” yet he provides so many good ideas that rather than a hunter, he is very much a provider! Take this post on how to encourage students to ask more questions, or another entry on how to encourage students to develop‘true grit’: that burning desire to learn that differentiates a mediocre student from an excellent one. Quigley is a prolific writer whose regular entries merit the keen following they have. Discover everything from the importance of giving adequate feedback to the advantages of starting your own blog!