Planning is probably the most disliked word in the teaching profession (apart from inspection, that is). From my experience it dominates your time as a teacher. You have a variety of planning to undertake: lesson, weekly, short, medium, long and individual, to name just a few. You have endless planning meetings -- even meetings to plan for planning meetings. Planning can suck the life out of you, and for me (and I suspect many of you), it became a real chore. (Even now, when Kristen calls a ‘planning’ meeting, I break out in a cold sweat.) But I may have found the answer to every teacher’s planning woes: The Random Event Generator created by John Davitt.
I first encountered John Davitt when I heard him speak at an Innovative Teachers Event held by Saltash.net Community School. I was totally wowed by his ‘off the wall’ style and his thoughts and approaches to learning struck a real chord with me. But it his Random Event Generators that I think are a stroke of genius. A Random Event Generator is an application that generates a series actions you 'Do' and end products you do them 'As', to help you create an activity for students to undertake. You can get the idea by visiting here. The Do and As activities are randomly selected from a list. This list is always being added to and updated, so it always worth checking the wiki for future additions. There are a number of different ‘flavours’ of generators, these include the web-based versions on John’s website, a twitter version (follow @raggler), and an iPhone version, still in its early stages of development. I am just not clever enough to adapt these (and I don’t have an IPhone), but there an Excel version, which is fantastic, created by Richard Clarke and available here. The Excel version enables you to very easily change the DO and AS lists. I have been using it to make generators that focus on different activities for teachers at our recent Innovative Teachers forum in Vienna and at meeting of primary school teachers in North Wales. It also means you can create lists that have a specific focus and context, such as for a subject, theme or revision. Here are some examples generated for a science theme day.
I think these Learning Event Generator have a real place in developing 21st century skills and thinking in the curriculum, but here’s a real scary thought: What if you could use Random Event Generator to plan a week’s teaching. Could it be done? Would it be productive? I don’t know the answer, but how exciting would that be? Maybe a week or even a day is not feasible, but I think some lessons could be created around using Random Event Generators. Once exam pressures are out of the way, it may be a good experiment to try with your students.
You can find out lots more about John Davitt’s thoughts and ideas at his website, www.newtools.org and his blog. I would also strongly suggest you get hold of copy of his book ‘New Tools for Learning’, as it will challenge the way you think about learning.