The overall design of a toolkit would fit into Burkhardt’s ‘tactical’ design, which, as explained above, is guided by the underpinning principles of the toolkit and focuses on the internal structure and coherence of the product. We provide some examples, below, of the decisions made in terms of overall coherence and underpinning principles of various toolkits we have already described and go on to discuss FaSMEd’s position.
For Mascil, some of the underpinning principles were made explicit (e.g. at the consortium meeting in Crete, December 2013, where it was stated that toolkit would a) build on what we already know about teacher learning b) be flexible as one size does not fit all, and c) adopt a ‘professional learning community’ approach which assumes that the community is committed to inquiry into their own practice.) Others were less explicit, such as that it should be visually attractive and easy to navigate.
In terms of coherence, the Mascil toolkit was designed around three ‘domains’, the first of which (‘Ways of working’) reflects principle c) above. The other two were derived from the overall project concept: that inquiry approaches in mathematics and science learning and connecting classroom learning to the world of work are desirable.
Paul Ginnis, author of ‘The Teacher’s Toolkit’, told us in an email interview that, for his toolkit, tools need to enhance teaching and need to be useful in different contexts and should therefore not be subject-specific. He says that he believes some tools should be easy to use but others are more difficult and require training. He adds:
‘It is important to have a range of tools, some more sophisticated than others to suit more skilled teachers.
I think that conceptual tools for teachers are ultimately more important than practical teaching techniques. What I mean is tools to help teachers to think about lesson or topic design. That’s why my book has Section 1 given over to educational ideas and research.’
The authors of the ‘FAB’ toolkit are explicit about aspects of the tactical design of the toolkit, stating that it has taken into account not only the concepts introduced but also the learning needs of students. They say that the resources have been designed to allow the educator to choose those most useful for their teaching. The toolkit is divided into three main areas: Where does food come from?; Know your food; and Know yourself.
The FaSMEd consortium has begun to agree on the underpinning principles. Some are explicit: for example, it has been agreed that the toolkit should provide flexible, stand-alone tools that can be easily modified or adapted for the particular contexts of the teachers who use them. It has also been agreed that the toolkit must be visually attractive and easy to navigate.
The concept of FaSMEd determines to some extent what the actual tools might look like: they should support teachers in using formative assessment in their classrooms effectively. The description of work also suggests that the power of technology should be harnessed but that a range of technologies will be trialled.
The consortium has therefore agreed that the toolkit itself will not be technology based but that consortium partners will use technology as appropriate in the versions of the toolkit they create for their country and local contexts.
In terms of the range and types of tools within the toolkit, there is not yet general agreement. For example, there is not yet clarity about what a ‘tool’ will look like, how many tools there should be, and what areas of mathematics and science they will address. As the toolkit will be developed over time and in conversation with teachers, many of these decisions will be crystallized over the course of the project.