19Aug/13Off

Leaving Cert results 2013, A year later – the transformation of The Homework Club to Confidence Club

So it is one year on - our first state exams results since transforming The Homework Club into Confidence Club and I have been asking myself what are the real results? 

In the past I found myself dancing around the real issues with students - as parents and students alike thought they were attending some form of "grind school" we spent more time by stealth in the background getting to the real reasons behind what was going on ... it was often a case of me waiting for an opportunity in the hall to chat casually to a student or waiting for the chance when a parent collected their charge. 

Now it is all a lot more straight forward and upfront - which means less time waiting for the chance to talk about what is really happening. All too often the maths result or other challenge is just a factor in what is really happening in a young persons life. 

This means a year later I can say that we have worked with real people, real problems and in record time. Many of the students I have met have required no more help from me or my team after the initial hour and a half meeting. Their whole lives have improved not just the "maths problem" or the "english essay rows". The time my team have spent in peoples house has been less that we would have needed in the school for greater return. 

All round as what we do is not conventional in anyway it didn't make sense to continue with a conventional school model. I felt often that we had a revolving door as we got results too quickly and now we get them even quicker with a wider spectrum of people. 

Another change for me is that I have often felt that we work with students that everyone else has washed their hands of - now we work with the really outside the box stories that no one has thought of! I truly enjoy the challenge and nothing has ever shocked me. I think there is no way now we can be seen as a simple "grind school". 

I'm looking forward to what this year brings and all the amazing young people I will meet along the way. 

Dr. Naoisé

Expression Developist™

15May/12Off

Puppet Workshop – creating characters with stories

This lesson is created by Sinead Cunningham who is an Arts facilitator.
As a practising Artist she creates an abundance of crafts, paintings and also makes music.
Her Art is ever evolving so to find out more follow her Facebook Page

Puppet Workshop

Puppetry is a great way of creating a story and literally building a character.
Firstly we discuss materials, the main materials being wire, paper and tape.
Then we draw up our puppet and write a short story about our character.
As we are making our puppet we are visualising and discussing the puppets character and the building of his /her story. They might sing, dance, be an astronaut or live on Mars!
To build the story we use the 3'P's: Person, Problem and Place.
These element are the basic ingredients of our story. Our puppet is a blank canvas when constructed and we can decorate according to the story we have created.
Its so much fun we don't even notice we are doing work or writing so much!

I really like this lesson because it appeals to both practical students and kinaesthetic ones - you make a puppet to tell a story and write around the making - a great way to get over the blank page but also there is a personal character for the puppet, a way to have real emotions in a physical way beyond the 2-D story! Dr. Naoisé

 

 

9May/12Off

Ireland as a land of Learners

One of the great difficulties of education is we try to fit everyone in to the same box - it's generally accepted that this doesn't happen but - there's the "but" how else can we teach the masses?

Well that's the 1st mistake - thinking about the "teaching". If we instead look at the learners - the students and look at the world from their perspective we may begin to not only accommodate everyone but have them reach their full potential. Most of all have them be happy and enjoy doing it!

So if we take the learning nation of Ireland - what are they like?

Well we have a nation of sociable chatterboxes that have a huge number of successful athletics when you think about the size of the country.  We make an impact wherever we go. We are also very generous again for the size of Ireland we contribute hugely in charity donations, peace keeping and volunteer work . We are hugely proud of anything irish!

So in simple terms that makes us Auditory, Kinaesthetic learners that need huge amounts of encouragement and praise. We really care about what everyone thinks of us, so like most other parts of the world we are a largely extrovert society. We need to work with others in social settings.

The hugely interesting fact about auditory learners is that they don't need to just listen - they need to talk as well! The idea of them starting school at 5 and learning to be quiet is ridiculous. We work our way through so much in Ireland by gossiping. The chatty taxi driver, the toilet queue or the local shop. It makes us able to cope with the weather if nothing else. One of the real difficulties with being an auditory leaner (besides just being in trouble for talking all the time) is the rambling way we work - there is no structure. This is the most common difficult many of our students have - especially all the talky kinaesthetic boys who are brilliant on the sports pitch and feel rubbish at everything else in school - they simply have no idea how to structure an answer or to focus their thoughts on to the page. It's ok to write the way you talk too.

The best way to work with auditory kinaesthetic learners is through role plays - this is sociable group work that allows us to talk out scenarios - we get to put ourselves in the situation - we all do great in this part of the oral exams! We are a country with lots of political views - it's important for us to get to talk about these! Students drop off the chairs when we ask them what they think - but it is so much easier to write about what you feel, especially when this is what matters to you when your kinaesthetic. Normally boys just get to run this off on the sports pitch rather than working through it in English or History class!

It's equally important to allow us to talk about it in our own way - The Irish have a great "gift of the gab" - the wit that has a name for every object, landmark and sculpture! We talk about creativity and innovation - this is a wonderful example of innovation with words! We can express any situation as a joke.

We have always been gifted story tellers - young kids who start school before they are made to feel self conscious about talking have this in bucket fulls.

We are hugely competitive - hence the sports heroes - the mark we leave what ever we have set our mind too ... Competition is such a great way to inject energy to any learning environment.

There is a pride deeply engrained in Irish and as a result we can never cope with being made a fool of in public - we may try to joke and slag our way out of any situation but it hurts deeply. Everyone I have ever spoken to in this country has a school story where they lost face - they never forget!

This is why we have to focus on the learners always - the real people we are helping to grow and develop. Every one is different but we all fall into patterns of behaviour that can be accommodated but you can't just take an education model from one country to another and expect it to work - especially since the models are always developed for the teachers and governments not the students. I have really begun to feel like The Lorax - who speaks for the (trees) students! There are very simple patterns and learning styles but you have to look for them and you have to use each nations strengths and values to achieve what is important for them!

Dr. Naoisé

 

 

23Jan/12Off

Our experience being brought to others outside of The Homework Club

 

A short clip of some of our very valuable findings at The Homework Club

   

Point of Blog

Our motto is that "we don't do normal". Everyone who comes to The Homework Club is different and is here for a different reason. It's not important if they are dyslexic, have reduced hearing or simply don't "get-it". This Blog is about creative teaching that suits everyone, all of the time! No one needs to be "special". The work is done in groups, so students avoid stigma and don't feel only they need help!

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