The guidance bookshelf

Through the threshold library

The guidance bookshelf

Useful books that I use for university guidance.

How to raise an adult – by Julie Lythcott-Haims – my review.

There is life after college – by Jeffery Selingo

College (un)bound – by Jeffery Selingo

Colleges that create futures – by Robert Franek

So you want to go to Oxbridge? Tell me about a banana – by Oxbridge Applications

Thinking skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (CIE) – by John Butterworth (I bought this for students planning on taking the TSA).

Looking beyond the Ivy league – by Loren Pope

Colleges that change lives – by Loren Pope

HEAP Guide – updated each year

Fiske Guide to Colleges – updated each year

Good university guide – updated each year

Strength finder 2.0 – by Tom Rath

Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition – by Tina Quick

What should I do with my life (card game) – by the school of life

The biologist’s bookshelf

Through the threshold library

The biologist’s bookshelf

One of the first things that I did when I started this blog was to publish the bio reading list, basically a list of books that I considered useful for biology teachers and their students to read. That post is a little tired now, so I update it to the biologist’s bookshelf and include all the books that I have read since it was published.

Bad Science – by Ben Goldacre

The sixth extinction: an unnatural history – by Elizabeth Kolbert

Thirteen things that don’t make sense – by Michael Brooks

The magic of reality – by Richard Dawkins

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks – by Rebecca Skloot

Creation: the origin of life/the future of life – by Adam Rutherford

The language of life – by Francis Collins

The rational optimist – by Matt Ridley

Quantum evolution: the new science of life – by Johnjoe Mcfadden

The diversity of life – by E.O. Wilson

Impossibility – by John Barrow

Collapse – by Jared Diamond

Thinking, fast and slow – by Daniel Kahneman

The self illusion – by Bruce Hood

The selfish gene – by Richard Dawkins

Genome – by Matt Ridley

Your inner fish – by Neil Shubin

The secret life of trees – by Colin Tudge

The man who mistook his wife for a hat – Oliver Sacks

The Handmaid’s tail – by Margaret Atwood

The Inheritors – by William Golding

The Baroque cycle – by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves – by Neal Stephenson

Aping mankind – by Raymond Tallis

Getting Darwin wrong – by Brendan Wallace

The vital question – by Nick Lane

Life Ascending – by Nick Lane

The greatest show on earth – by Richard Dawkins

The song of the Dodo – by David Quammen

The lives of a cell – by Lewis Thomas

Why evolution is true – by Jerry Coyne

Faith vs fact – by Jerry Coyne

The Serengeti rules – by Sean Carroll

Being mortal – by Atul Gawande

Patient H.M. – by Luke Dittrich

A brief history of everyone whoever lived – by Adam Rutherford

I contain multitudes – by Ed Yong

Fifty ideas you really need to know – by Hayley Birch

The violinists thumb – by Sam Keen

Neanderthal man – by Svante Paabo

The serpents promise – by Steve Jones

The education bookshelf

Through the threshold library

Education bookshelf

These are all the books that have impacted my thinking about education for better or worse since I started teaching. I include the year I read it and titles in bold mean that I would currently recommend it. If I have written a review of it this will be linked.

I include all the books about teaching that I have read (with the exception of some from my training year), firstly as a record of my own CPD and secondly because of even those books that contain arguments and ideas that I now disagree with, I recognise that my thinking about education is still fluid, open to change and these books will still have provided me with some basis for my own reflection and development.

2018

  1. What if everything you knew about education was wrong? – by David Didau – my review.
  2. Cleverlands – by Lucy Crehan
  3. Seven myths about education – by Daisy Christodoulou
  4. Making good progress? – by DaisyChristodoulou
  5. Why knowledge matters: rescuing our children from failed educational theories – by E.D. Hirsch
  6. Ouroboros –  by Greg Ashman
  7. What does this look like in the classroom? – by Carl Hendrick and Robin MacPherson

2017

  1. Why don’t students like school? – by Daniel Willingham
  2. What every teacher needs to know about psychology – by David Didau and Nick Rose
  3. The battle hymn of the tiger teachers: the Michaela way – edited by Katherine Birbalsingh

2016

  1. How to raise an adult – by Julie Lythcott-Haims – my review.
  2. What is the point of school? – by Guy Claxton
  3. Making thinking visible – by Ron Richhardt – my review.

2015

  1. The brain at school: educational neuroscience in the classroom – by John Geake
  2. Classroom-based research and evidence-based practice – by Keith Taber
  3. Ways of learning: learning theories and learning styles in the classroom – by Alan Pritchard
  4. Pedagogy of the oppressed – by Paolo Freire
  5. Visible learning for teachers – by John Hattie

2014

  1. Good work – by Howard Gardner, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and William Damon
  2. Intelligence reframed – by Howard Gardner
  3. Contemporary theories of learning – by Knud Illeris
  4. Teaching as if life matters – by Christopher Uhl

Through the threshold library

Through the threshold library

My second daughter was born at the end of January 2017. I found the experience of adding a fourth person to our family, and the subsequent adjustment much, much more challenging than when my eldest was born, especially when we threw a house move into the mix when she was four weeks old!

A really tiny part of this whole process was my realisation in April that I had basically stopped reading since she was born. This thought really worried me. So, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what I managed to read last year. That thought then evolved into the idea of publishing a library on my blog. So here it is

The library will be broken into bookshelves, each one published in the next few days:

Education bookshelf

These are all the books that have impacted my thinking about education for better or worse since I started teaching. I include the year I read it and titles in bold mean that I would currently recommend it. If I have written a review of it this will be linked.

I include all the books about teaching that I have read, firstly as a record of my own CPD and secondly because of even those books that contain arguments and ideas that I now disagree with, I recognise that my thinking about education is still fluid, open to change and these books will still have provided me with some basis for my own reflection and development.

The biologist’s bookshelf

One of the first things that I did when I started this blog was to publish the bio reading list, basically a list of books that I considered useful for biology teachers and their students to read. That post is a little tired now, so I update it to the biologist’s bookshelf and include all the books that I have read since it was published.

The guidance bookshelf

Useful books that I use for university guidance.

Fiction bookshelf

Simply a list of all the other books I have read recently that has nothing to do with education or biology. Quite often, especially during term time, I just find I need an escape from thinking about learning and teaching. Horror and Sci-Fi/Fantasy is where I tend to go. Now that I am moving to China, I have parted company with many of my books and so want to keep a record of them here.

My reads by year

A list of the all the books I have read each year.

BridgeU: review

This is the third and final post of three. You can see the first here and the second here.

BridgeU intro

BridgeU was set up with the international student in mind. Their founder noticed that there was a gap for supporting students from outside the US to apply to the US, and from the outset of working with them, it has been obvious to me that the platform has been set up with the student user experience in mind. In fact, BridgeU began selling its products directly to students before it moved on to targeting schools and this was probably due to the fact that their founder ran an educational consultancy focusing on supporting students in their university applications before founding BridgeU.

As well as supporting the application process, BridgeU’s philosophical approach has been to try to help match students to potential universities by using an algorithm that takes data that the student inputs and producing matched results based on that student entered data. This is the defining part of BridgeU. Note this is more than just a database, BridgeU’s algorithm will make recommendations to a user about the fit of a university for that user. With the international student in mind, BridgeU currently matches applications to US, Canada, UK, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and we are promised that matching will be available to Australia soon. Recently BridgeU announced global shortlisting and users can now add any university from any country in the world, although they can’t match to all these universities. This free-form shortlisting is a new feature and adds a huge amount of flexibility to the platform.

The student side

Once set up and logged in, students input data into the profile builder; this ranges from personal preferences to the countries and locations that they want to study in, as well as the type of university experience that they would like to have and the courses that they wish to study.

When this is completed they can view university matches on the appropriate tab. These matches are presented nine at a time grouped into three categories, reach, match and safety. Each choice is presented as a card on which students can click to gain more information about the university as well as the matching scores.

In each category, to be able to see more choices, students have to either “shortlist” or “discard” each choice before more are shown. This feature has caused some issues with student users I have worked with, either thinking these nine options are all they have or not liking the feeling of commitment in “discarding” or “shortlisting”. To get around these issues, each of the categories now states how many options there are underneath the category label and students are able to find any courses that have been discarded again via a link on the top right of this page.

Once students have completed the matching they can view all of the options they have shortlisted under the shortlist tab. On the shortlist tab students can also directly add in any courses that they know about that they are considering, bypassing the matching tab. It is this feature that allows students to add any university on the planet – quite a powerful feature. After populating the shortlist tab, students then decide where they will apply by clicking on the “apply here” feature next to each shortlist.

When a student selects a university to apply to BridgeU will give them information about deadlines as well as the documentation that they need to submit as part of their application. The system will also alert the advisor to any required documentation that the school will need to submit. Another really nice feature, just released but still needing some development is application tracking. If you have used UCAS adviser track then you will get a sense of why this is such a good feature for a counsellor. Essentially this simple feature provides a space for students to mark when they have finished preparing and sending their application, as well as mark when they have received an offer and any decisions that they make. This means that the advisor is easily able to keep track of all the application statuses of all their students.

In addition to these research, matching and application tools, BridgeU also offers a “writing builder” to support students in writing a personal statement, or college essays for the US. These tools are still a little basic and I am not convinced that the functionality is any better than google docs, in fact, google docs may be a better place to write if students want to receive comments and input from teachers – I will be testing this out more in a couple of months. To support students in this process there are also annotated exemplars available for the students to view but these don’t provide the level of scaffolding that as a teacher I would like to see and the annotations are a little weak.

Finally, BridgeU has recently developed a careers tool that students can view but unfortunately, teachers can’t at present. The careers tool is ambitious and adopts BridgeU’s global approach by aggregating data on careers from many different countries. The data is supplied by burning glass. The careers tool works a little like the matching program and allows students to view data from job groups and select jobs they are interested in, before viewing a career report that gives some data about earning power, monthly demands for the job and its sector.

The teacher side

BridgeU’s teacher side is still under development, it is obvious that the platform was originally designed with the student user in mind, and BridgeU has had to work hard to make the platform fit into the school ecosystem. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all, we are all here to support the student applicant. I just believe that one of the best ways to do that is to support the work of teachers and schools.

BridgeU is aware of the issues from the teacher side and is working to address them. They have recently partnered with iSAMs and ManageBac which, to my mind at least, gives them the potential to hugely improve some of the issues that they have. Because of this integration, it is now very easy to add students and advisors to the platform if you use either of these systems. If you don’t, adding advisors and students is a little bit cumbersome, but no more or less than any of their competitors.

The reference writing tool is currently undergoing user testing in BridgeU’s beacon schools and allows advisors to easily assign report writers to an individual student. A little like the students writing builder; there are no exemplars of completed comments or references for teachers to view and the writing functionality itself is minimal in its current state.

BridgeU has worked hard recently to allow document sending as a function, giving schools the ability to send transcripts and other documents directly to US and Canadian universities. The document sending function is powered by Parchment and is built directly into the system. This is a much-needed function for many schools, particularly those with many applicants to North America. When a student selects to apply to the relevant country, the documents that need to be sent are added to the advisor’s task list. From here the advisor can upload the necessary documents and send with just a few clicks.

Finally, BridgeU has recently provided a reporting function for advisors under the analytics tab. From here advisors can easily see which universities are shortlisted and applied to most frequently by their student body. The analytics function will also provide reporting on student offers, rejections, predicted scores, final scores, document sending and an analysis of historical data.

Conclusion

The platform has come some way since I last wrote about them but not as far as I would have imagined in that time, indeed some of the functionality that they were keen to point out they were working on in their response to that article, is still not visible within the system. Added to that they have developed a slight reputation for aggressive marketing, particularly amongst the schools that I communicate with, which is a shame because they are a lovely team (I know, I’ve met them).

That said they have a powerful product that will be ideal for schools that manage a very diverse student body, whose students apply to many different HE systems each year. It’s matching algorithm, global or free-form shortlisting, document sending and its application tracking and reporting are it’s greatest assets currently, and ones that set it apart from competitors.

Areas for development on the platform include the careers tool which is still in their infancy. It is promising that this is being developed but I would like to see more from this section, perhaps even a CV builder or some form of personality assessment.

Personally, I still have some reservations about the platform, as I do about all platforms of its ilk. When working with a product that is being developed, you have to be prepared to work with it and understand that certain aspects may not be delivered in the timescales that are promised all the time. Having said this, this platform does the heavy lifting when it comes to helping students make sense of all university the data that is out there.