Discover measurable ways to promote equality in the classroom

Thomas Courtley, ex teacher and LessonUp education specialist

Thomas Courtley

Education Specialist

Cover image blog_ Discover measurable ways to promote equality in the classroom

Belfast Metropolitan College is the largest Further and Higher Education College in Northern Ireland, and one of the largest in the UK. During this interview with one of its teachers, we explore effective ways to promote equality in the classroom with the support of our digital teaching platform.

10 questions about Madeline’s experience in the classroom

1. Hi Madeline, what do you teach at Belfast Met? And how long have you been teaching there?

I am a Film & Media teacher at Belfast Met. I have been working there with pleasure for two years.

2. What’s your core mission as a Belfast Met teacher? 

I love teaching, being in the classroom, and working with young people. I strive to motivate them to get involved during my lessons, and ultimately to create their own Film & Media content. 

3. Could you describe your biggest challenge in the classroom, and how LessonUp supported you in overcoming it?

One of the agendas we have as a school is to include everybody in the classroom, also kids who may have special education needs.

There is a student in my class that is very shy by nature. If he was ever given a chance to work with his peers, he would hold back. I wasn’t sure how he was doing, nor if he understood my lessons, because he tried to avoid verbal communication. It was frustrating for me, for his parents, and surely also for him. 

4. Why did you choose to work with LessonUp?

I researched the internet, looking for a technology app, something new, to apply to my teaching and help me with promoting inclusiveness and equality in the classroom.  Eventually, I came across the LessonUp digital teaching platform. 

Like most teachers, I had an extensive archive of Powerpoint presentations. I was able to pull them into a LessonUp lesson, and add components to make them more interactive & gather feedback from my students. 

5. How did you start implementing LessonUp in your daily teaching?

During my next Storyboarding class, I proposed working with LessonUp. My students were asked to take out their mobile phones, when they were normally asked to put them away. It instantly hooked them. They were enthusiastic, curious and excited. It got them engaged right from the start of the lesson. 

I asked my students to draw their own storyboard. After completing the illustration, I asked them to take a digital photo of it, and feed it back to me. The resulting drawings were shown on the central screen, for everybody to see.

Curious what LessonUp could contribute to your school? Book a call with Alice and find out more.

6. How has your experience been with implementing this change?

During a normal lesson I would have to walk around the room to check how everybody was doing and, of course, other students would get distracted… Whereas if you have one place where everyone can see all of the feedback, it gives you a clear snapshot of how all your students are perceiving your lessons. 

At a certain point I implemented a few open-ended questions, and encouraged my students to type their answers on their own devices.  It was great to see my students typing away on their phones, totally concentrated and committed.

7. What have your students said about their first experience with LessonUp?

At the end of that first lesson, after a very successful experience using the platform, I decided not to ask for feedback. It was evident that my students had really enjoyed working with LessonUp. Yet some of my students came up to me to say that they really enjoyed it. What a great compliment for me as a teacher!

8. Now you work a lot with LessonUp during your lessons: have you seen improvements in student performance or engagement? 

As stated before, I was having some problems in understanding how a very shy student of mine was doing. I wasn’t sure if this student was learning, absorbing and processing information. I also didn’t know how he was feeling when working with his peers, nor what his emotions were in relation to the learning process.

To stimulate him, I decided to implement some open-ended questions in LessonUp. I set the timer to 2 minutes. Students had to come up with their answers to the questions within the appointed time. Everyone was concentrating, and quietly typing. And the results of my shyest student were great! 

I was able to see what he’s really capable of, as I discovered that he thrives working in a digital environment. While afraid of being in the spotlight, he enjoys answering questions in his own words without having to talk in front of his peers.

9. What has been a clear benefit for you and your team?

During my latest parent-teacher conference, I was able to show the student’s  parents their son’s positive results directly from the LessonUp reports. 

LessonUp stores all students’ results in automatically generated reports, making it easy for me and my colleagues to consult and communicate student data. That also comes in handy when preparing for meetings, or before writing student report cards. 

10. Have there been any bonus benefits that have come out of this?

After a few weeks working with LessonUp, I became faster in creating lessons, testing my students, and implementing the whole range of interactive features

While doing so, I bumped into another unexpected benefit: LessonUp has cut my lesson preparation time. I found a lesson structure that worked for my class and once I had that in place, it became easier and easier to create new lessons. 

Curious to learn more abut Belfast MET and their experience with LessonUp?