Speed dating takes sharing good practice to a new level

 Good practice

Last week the staff at Upton shared their good practice through the medium of speed dating. Thanks to the excellent PowerPoint provided by the teacher tool kit (http://teachertoolkit.me/2015/01/21/speed-dating-cpd-bring-and-brag-by-teachertoolkit/) which I have adapted for our purposes, see below.

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 Art

Mrs Bennett: I use an App called 123d creature to effectively engage middle to lower achieving boys.  Due to confidence issues I find some students are reluctant to engage in practical tasks such as drawing.  By allowing use of the app (it is a virtual kiln where students can add pattern and colour etc), students are dealing with an interface they are familiar with (virtuality).  The quick and effective results they achieve on the app (used as a starter). Gives the students the confidence to move from the virtual to the physical process of making and problem solving. Below is an example of a sculpture created by a student using the said app.   

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Miss French: I use a minimum work list which boys in particular really like and promotes independence. Click this link to download:Minimum Work List 2014-5

Design and Technology

Mrs Sievers: The aim is to encourage pupils to become more confident, read the recipes, help each other and problem solve. I use this with yrs 7-11. Pupils are given 2 laminated hands at the start of the lesson. The hands can be cashed into the teacher for help during the lesson. However the aim is for pupils to keep both hands, and work with more confidence, read the recipe and help each other, which results in them earning a merit. The pupils seem to enjoy it and often request the hands now. See below:

give me a hand pleaseMr Collis: My Bring & Brag Idea –Use QR Codes to link to website URLs/pictures/text etc. QR Codes work really well for starters/plenary activities.  Students can scan QR codes as soon as they enter the classroom. Students do not need to type in a complicated website address; the codes are very simple to scan.

  • Download ‘QR Reader for Ipad’ from the App store.
  • Use http://www.qrstuff.com/ to generate your QR code (Link from QR code).
  • Add QR codes to worksheets. Alternatively, project QR codes onto your whiteboard.  Students can scan them.qr

English

Mr Crozier: The idea is that it is an entry task which appears not to be linked to the lesson, but might be through themes. It takes no explaining, so I am able to remain at the door to greet stragglers and monitor behaviour while the students can settle down to work. This one worked really well as the students didn’t even realise that they were considering the themes of Romeo and Juliet and this led to a good discussion about the characters. Click on the link for a copy: Personality quiz (1)

Mrs Johns: Evaluating through a Fantasy Five Aside! For revision after reading a novel, students identify five different characters from their text. Organise your five characters into relevant positions (goalkeeper, defenders, attacking midfielder and centre forward. Explain and give reasons for each position/ role you have selected.
Choose a team captain and a player manager. Explain your choices, comparing and contrasting qualities. Reflect on your choices, how does this team relate to characters’ actions in the text? Create a team name and consider the most influential player. See below:IMG_1168

Mr Eunson: Use snakes and ladders to encourage competition between middle ability boys when answering questions. See below

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Mr Waite: My idea involves the use of the app Vine. Vine is a social-networking app that allows users to upload 7 second videos that then ‘loop’ continuously. I use it with KS4 classes specifically when it comes to revision. They can create 7 second summaries of chapters, characters, quotes, etc. that they can then upload to Vine (and can be accessed on phones or the computer). As long as they use a # to enable others to search for their video (for example #heroesnovel) the rest of the class can then share and watch each other’s videos.This can also be accessed on the iPad and watched over AppleTV.

vine

Miss Farnin:  Unscramble The Words 1. At the end of the lesson I gave my Year 9 boys a sheet with 12 ‘scrambled’ keywords on it. The words were from the chapter of the novel that we had studied that lesson. The boys were given 5 minutes to unscramble them. 2. What the boys didn’t know was that I had made up the last word & therefore it was impossible to unscramble. The boys became very competitive, desperate to win the task. 3. Once the time had run out, I revealed on the whiteboard the 11 words individually. When we got to No.12, the words, ‘YOU SUCKERS!’ appeared on the whiteboard. 4. Now when I set a task like this they never quite know whether I’m lying or not. Are there 15 words to find in the wordsearch? It really is keeping them on their toes.

Miss McKevitt: A strategy I use is to have students come to the front of the class at the end of a lesson to conduct the plenary. This also involves summarising the lesson and questioning other students. This can be effective with middle boys in developing their confidence and leadership skills.

Mrs McCarthy: I have used the idea of a human continuum in discussions and debates to gauge shades of opinion in the class, where students use a space or a line to indicate whether they agree, disagree or are neutral about an issue or a pair of choices. It is also a controlled way of allowing a little bit of movement and thus benefits learners who find it hard to sit down for an hour. Quieter students also benefit because the teacher can ‘walk the line’ and ask students their opinions without them having to speak in front of the whole class.

Mrs McGregor: My idea was related to extended individual writing tasks, which middle boys often dislike. It is to reward periods of sustained focus and production with a raffle ticket every so many minutes – this can vary according to levels of engagement – so that the more they earn, the greater their chances of winning a prize draw at the end of the lesson.

Mrs Owen: ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ I give them list of quotes/information and they have to highlight them in a piece of text. I have a ticking time bomb stop clock on the interactive whiteboard and they record their score, which they must try to improve each time.

Mrs Connor: I use a lot of visual devices, such as maps like the one below. Students read the set text (in this case ‘Wolfbrother’), are able to track the progress of the character in spatial terms (which particularly appeals to boys), predict where the character may venture next and why. This activity then lends itself to producing writing like survival guides, etc.image

Science

Mr Caine’s Key word game:

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Key Word Mind Map Game

Mr Bell’s chemistry models

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Mrs Bradbury: Laminated cards with questions on e.g. I can name the 4 chambers of the heart.  Students are given cards at the start of the lesson they have to put them in three piles. Confident, I think I know, I do not have a clue! These are placed on a laminated sheet .  The task is then completed at the end of the lesson to demonstrate progress made. Students must be prepared to answer a question if they place on confident.

Mrs Scutter: It is called the post it challenge. For a revision lesson, the class gets separated  into groups. Each group gets a different colour post it pack. Pupils can use as many post its as they like but it is in their group benefit to use fewer post its and have more information. They have to work as a group to create very informative post its for recapping a topic ( they have to work together to ensure they don’t all cover the same material). They can use their books or fact sheets provided by the teacher, or even homework/ revision guides or all of the above. The more informative or obscure information on the post it the better as it is a competition. Nearing the end if the lesson each groups shares a post it and sticks it on the board under their group number.( Each group can share a set number of posts it’s not including the trump post it.) Other groups can trump each other’s post its if it covers the same fact/ information and is better ( the Teacher decides which is the most superior post it, the better post it goes up on the board under their group number and the original post it goes in the bin). It has a lot of psychology as pupils try to keep their best post its until last but before they run out of time.  If a post it is particularly fantastic the teacher can stick an extra post up on the board ( to equate to an extra point). The group who wins has the most post its on the board at the end of the lesson and the winners get chocolate. Classes love it as it is competitive and on the board you can visually see who is winning.

Mr Rutter: Genetics with a smile. Click on these links to download:

Genetics_with_a_smile_worksheet

Mrs Risi: Plasticine to model the Earth. Different colours for the different layers then. In this way a 3D model is made which can be cut in half or a segment removed so that the inside detail van be viewed. This idea can be extended to making a 3D cell showing the organelles or making a DNA helix with complementary base pairs of different colours.

Ms Kam: Reinforcing key words and scientific ideas: Apparatus needed ethanol, dropping pipette, Bunsen and splints. Changing state – evaporation, flammability, volatility, viscosity. Draw smiley face or shape with ethanol, show how ethanol ignites without flame touching liquid. pupils to explain what’s happening using key words. Think, share – good answers rewarded by allowing pupils to choose a shape and light the ethanol.

Mrs Woodward: ​Mine was modelling using sweets to demonstrate processes or molecules e.g. skittle diversity – mutations, natural selection, making model DNA from marshmallows and jelly babies, adaptations using plastic cutlery to eat chocolate chips out of cookies etc
Mrs Rogers: Laminated questions related to the lesson objective and green red and amber piles to put them in. Try both at beginning and end to show progression. The second idea was for bottom set small group of boys I have, that as a treat they do some target practice by firing a Toy rocket at the correct answer of three answers on the board.
Mrs DeCosta: It’s the game of guess who to teach pupils how to classify organisms.

 Maths

Dr Rees uses the Mangahigh website to differentiate at all levels from primary to secondary:

mangahigh

Mr M. Jones says split worksheets question by question. Then either turn it into a relay race (they must answer one question correctly before they can have the next one. Pair with the most correct answers get rewarded at the end) or dot the questions around the room to keep them moving and active.

Miss Ewing: Pupils are split in teams. Each team has a set of cards that you keep on your desk.  One person from each team gets the first question, they answer as a team and bring it back to you to mark.  If they get it right they get a point and the next question if not they try again.  They race to get the most questions answered in the lesson and there is a prize for the winning team.

Mr B. Jones: Treasure hunt idea- I hide all the questions around the room and students in pairs go around the class finding the answers. Students get very competitive and the Middle boys enjoy it.

Miss Baker: ​In small groups, Top Trumps game. Share the cards between the group. Complete the calculation on your top card then choose the highest value to compete against other students cards. Highest value wins the cards. Winner is the person with the most cards. Click on this link to download: Top Trumps Averages 3levels cartoons

Miss Spencer: Murder mystery- pupils design a revision sheet based on a murder mystery. Each module of work covered is the ‘Who’? where? when? weapon? Etc. for example , the murderer is the person who has not made an error in the calculations given. See the example below:IMG_0313

 Mr Tock: My idea was to take maths out of the classroom outside. There is a maths topic called Loci that is all about the paths and position around points and lines.
For example you place a cone or get a student to stand at a point on the playing field and ask the class to place themselves 2m away from the cone/student. This gives the opportunity for collaborative learning and is kinaesthetic in nature.

Mr Biard: I demonstrated Map Draw, free i-pad app. Students can plot their journey to school either on map or satellite image.  The app tells them the distance.  They can also measure the time it takes.  This data, relevant and real, can be used to make frequency tables of distances travelled to school and speeds.  These can be used to compare groups who walk, cycle, are driven or come by bus. See below:

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Mrs E. Thompson: My idea was to be as practical and make lessons more using hands then writing.  I did a lesson this week with year 9’s that worked well. Instead of giving them data from experiments they did the experiments themselves by throwing the dice or coins. Once they got the data they had to work out the probability of the events.

Mrs Atkinson: Maths blockbusters I use a class activity as a plenary. Click on this link to download: Brackets blockbusters

Mrs Christianson: I have used maths murder mystery games with middle/low ability boys, They like the challenge, competition and team work. It can make some good display work, again motivating. See below:

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Mr Cadman: I have created a treasure hunt to motivate middle ability boys. Click on the following to download.:Treasure Hunt 1 Treasure hunt 2

Media Studies

Mrs O’Brien: Review triangle, useful with middle boys as they often don’t like having to admit they don’t understand and still have questions. I use it as an exit task and then it helps me plan for my next lesson, ensuring I address any questions students I have and looking at what tasks they have enjoyed or that have helped them.(Double click on the image below to make it bigger)

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Mrs Hewitt: Useful idea for revision. Collaborative whole class semantic map of topic studying. The students can then take a picture of it for future use. They can also develop it further in study sessions. This enables all students to get a wide range of facts/statistics/ideas about a topic even though they only have to find one, which works well particularly for ‘middle boys’. Outcome: all students have sufficient, yet independent revision material.image-1 image

Modern Foreign Languages

Mrs Granville: 1.  Bilingual songs for starters. Students enjoy the songs and learn not only key vocabulary and also stances.  I also send the songs to them by email so they can listen to them at home. 2. Bingo – good to learn key vocabulary or used for revision.  Students all have to ask 1 student the question in full sentence in target language and the student will pick one answer and reply with full sentence.  Students take turns till someone has won.  They love the prize.

Miss Elliot: All students have flashcards with French phrase on one side and English on other side. They then take turns to quiz each other. If their partner doesn’t know the phrase they teach them the phrase. When finished they trade the flashcards and move on to quiz or test another person with their new card. An added element is to collect signatures. One signature if they have been a supportive & encouraging coach. Another signature if they knew the phrase and didn’t need to be taught. At end of task, discuss with the class who was a good coach to give peer feedback and praise.

Mrs Trott: In languages I split the class into groups of 4 and one person from each group comes out to collect a strip of paper with a phrase/ word  / tense  and take it back to the group to translate. They then bring it back to me for checking and if it is correct they keep the strip and get a new one to take back to group again. If they get it wrong then I take it off them, but they still get a new strip to take to the group. Once all strips are gone (or after a certain time limit) the group with the most correct strips are the winners. This is very active as students are coming out to the front and very competitive too!

Miss Stedmans: To motivate middle boys I use a variety of competitive style games when introducing / revising new vocabulary structures. Bingo  – with single words in the foreign language or longer phrases / short sentences. Pictionary –  use mini white boards to draw a picture to represent a word or phrase and give points to the winner, either the fastest to draw picture or the best picture to represent the word / phrase. Slam – two students come to the front of the class and compete against each other.  There are pictures on the white board and pupils have to hit the picture which represents the word or phrase I say.  Winner is the student who hits the picture first. Middle boys respond very well to any element of competition and kinaesthetic activities.

Mrs Critchley: My idea was a behaviour / motivation technique.  French football teams: Divide your class into football teams and students ‘score goals’ for positive behaviour and hard work.  Exceptional effort and participation can mean a scoring a hatrick. Equally students can be given a penalty for poor behaviour/lack of concentration.  Team transfers are possible during the transfer season for teams that have performed well.  The team that has won the most number of matches every two weeks wins a prize.  This encourages students to work together in teams and promotes positive engagement and good behaviour.  Students see their efforts recognised and rewarded quickly and regularly.  I have a red, yellow and blue (hatrick) cards laminated and use to replace or support verbal warnings as a visual aid.  Any argument with the referee incurs a further penalty.  This can support any classroom activity and I have used this system for a full academic year before with classes and helps students to make good progress.

Mrs Stanisstreet: I have a SAM Leadership board for my mixed ability Year 11 Spanish group that I display outside of my classroom aimed to create a competitive spirit amongst the middle boys.  I reward movement up the chart.  A middle boy is leading it and a  middle girl is in second place!

Geography

Miss Conner: Photos of my Middle boys ideas from the speed dating. The focus is on kinaesthetic: use of playdoh, Lego, making pop-ups and card sort competitions.

 

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Mrs Mitchell: I have designed a iTunes U course on rivers which can be accessed by the students on their iPads at home and in school. iTunes U provides updates and allows the students to post comments. (Double click on the image below to make it bigger)

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Miss Wragg: My idea is a league table that I use with my foundation boys revision session. They receive a point per mark in the questions we go through in the session. They get very enthusiastic due to the competition and they start to revise and to go to revision sessions. It’s not a fancy table it’s just written on the board and I take a picture with the iPad.

Mrs Oliver: ROW RACE: Used when students need to learn and annotated diagram eg oxbow lake formation, waterfall or longshore drift. In rows/tables/ small groups students collectively draw and label a diagram in rough. A nominated student from each row comes to the board and from memory must recreate the diagram and annotated appropriately. The rest of the row cannot help them at this point.

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Mr Casstles: I had a photocopy of one of my year 10 boys work from when we did Antarctica. A variation on mix and match and card sort format – the idea was a they had pictures, a problem and a solution. The problem was linked to the picture so was more straight forward with some thinking to work out the solution. Ideal for middle boys with no writing required (and it can look neater). Can also be differentiated so colours can be used to sort problems from solutions.

Business Studies

Miss McLean: I use key word chop to motivated the middle ability boys. Click on the link to download the Powerpoint slides: Key Word Chop WOW v2

History

Mrs Vianello: I use cymbals to quieten the class, control behaviour and move pupils on from one task to the next.  When I use the symbols to quieten class they have 2 dings to be quiet if I have to do a third ding then those talking will be in a break detention – I rarely have to do 3 as the rest of the class encourage each other to be quiet.

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Miss Suter: I use a take away homework with year 7. Click on this link for a copy: Takeaway homework Year 7 student copy

Mr Mulhall: This can be used for any topic / subject. Good for boys because it involves movement around the class and talking to each other.Group Revision Activity

Mr Doherty: My idea was for a year 7 History lesson. Students have to recreate their own interpretation of a Medieval town or village. Instead of using “traditional” methods, they use Play Dough instead. They love using something different like that in a lesson.

Miss Main:  The idea is that you put an important activity in the middle and a range of activities around the edge. Students have to complete a straight line through the middle. Pros for middle boys. 1. Personalisation of learning – allows students to complete a challenge which best fits their skill set 2. Students often feel they have been successful at “playing” the system as they may have picked homework they feel is easier (whereas each of the liens is judged equivalent – the placing of options is quite deliberate) 3. The homework tends to have a high completion rate and this high completion helps narrow the gap for students. This homework would last 6 weeks. Click on this link to download the resource: Year 9 Tic Tac toe WW2

 Religious studies

Miss Summers:Reaping rewards: Students can offer to help someone that doesn’t know the answer by volunteering as tribute, they should say this to alert the teacher they would like to attempt to earn an extra credit to be placed in the reaping bowl. Students earn credits throughout the lesson for contributing either when targeted by the teacher or when offering an answer. When a student earns a credit they will have their name written on a card and these should be placed in a male and female reaping bowl. The Reaping Plenary:At the end of the lesson the reaping is acted out for students to win a reward, you can go as far as you like with this, even having the students ‘battle to the death’ in a quiz etc or it can be as simple as offering the students a merit for contribution to the lesson. For more information click on this link: The Hunger Games rewards

Mrs Smale: 1.Revision Catch Ball , numbered ball students pick number as it it thrown, question is asked, competitive for middle boys.  2. Review bingo, again competitive . Bingo cards, can be key words, either just read out the definition then students cover the word or read the word, then in order to cover it , students have to give you the definition.

Mr Petty: The ideas are on slides 6 to 10. Slide 6 was used to provide the key ideas. Slides 7,8,9,and 10 contained the same pictures with a different picture missing on each one. It is a Powerpoint Kim’s game. It was to help mixed ability boys focus on a list of points to allow them to build up a detailed knowledge:

How do Buddhists worship

Miss Clarkson: Name: flashy ball : Props needed: flashing ball : The idea is to promote developed answers from middle ability boys. The ball flashes for 25-30 when they catch the ball they have to give an answer that lasts the entirety of the time the ball flashes. This means no one word answers.

Mrs Benson: Competition activity for middle boys. It is called the elimination game. This can be used as a starter to recap, plenary or a mini plenary during the lesson to assess learning.
Every student is given a number between 1 and however many are in the class but they are not to share this with anyone.  All students remember their numbers and stand up.  The teacher asks the class a question and the first person to raise their hand will be chosen to answer (any student that raises their hand before the question is finished will not get to answer).  They have to answer within 5 seconds of the question being asked otherwise they are eliminated and sit down out of the game. If they get it correct they get to choose 2 numbers and the students with those numbers are eliminated and sit down (teacher will cross off the numbers on the board that have been said). The game continues with the same process until only one person is left standing -this is the winner. A prize of some sort is given to the winner.  This could be a merit or I use a lucky dip bin with a variety of prizes, like quirky stationary. Quite often the boys get very competitive and are desperate to answer the questions.  The teacher then has flexibility to ask students to extend their answers when they have been chosen.  If you ask a bonus question with more challenge and no one left in the game can answer, the question can be opened up to those who are out. If they get it right they can join the game again.

ICT

Mrs Larkin: I got the students to do the Hockey Cocky.  This was to teach a new concept.  Students broke the instructions down to write an algorithm and then, due to the repeating nature of the song, we then put it to subroutines which we repeated in a loop.

Miss Stanley: These are 2 sheets that I have developed for middle boys. The Race Car Feedback is used half way through the unit and then Game feedback is after they have created their own game. Click on the links below for the resources:

Mrs Welsh: 

After discussing it with other schools, for practical work we produced a Pseudo Task for them to complete, this was a similar but different task that enabled us to teach them exactly what they needed for the actual controlled assessment. When we started the controlled assessment I produced a work sheet that guided them through the construction of the program and then another to help with the write up. Click on the link to download: breakdown (1)
Mrs Evans:“Family Card Games” Resources – Several packs of cards, tailor made to topic.

The cards will have either:  An image, A word, A description/explanation/definition. The students can be sorted into pairs/small groups.

Game 1 – Snap : Aim – to end up with all the cards.  Images can be snapped with the same image, the word or the definition. This can be used as a starter or plenary.  It could also be used during the lesson as a fun way to test progress to date.

Game 2 – Chase the Ace: Aim – Not to end up with the ace. Or in this case Virus! –  this could start a discussion of viruses, Trojans, worms etc.

 Game 3 – Happy Families : Aim – To collect all the “Family” . This could be parts needed to build a computer.

 **The cards could also be used as flash cards or guess what we are doing today cards.  A card could also be dealt out to each student at the start of the lesson which could enable questioning/researching/prize giving at random. You could basically adapt any card game you already know, run through the rules with the students and away you go.

Mr Windsor: I completed a word search with my year 10 Computer Science class. The key words were based on database terminology. Students had to give definitions for at least 10 terms and then create a word search. Please see some attached documents that they completed. Click on the links to download: WORD search Andrew Webb Wordsearch and Key Words Jamie Russell

PE

Mr Wearden: Key Word Knockout – Divide the class into even teams of about 4 students per team. One person comes forward to represent the team. Using a tennis ball, or other similar item, the person holding the ball has to say a key word or term from the current topic or previous lesson. When they have said their word or term they pass the ball to another player, then this person must remember another key word or term. If anyone hesitates or repeats a word or term already used then they are out, to be replaced by another member of their team. When a team has run out of players then the whole team is out. The winning team is the one who does not run out of team members.

Mr Owen: I have been doing multiple choice style exam questions as a starter to my GCSE lessons which engages middle ability boys.

Miss Downs:  First is speed dating – so in GCSE dance and a level PE I set a 10 mark question and then they pair up in a line. They have thirty seconds to discuss one point they would put in the answer and then move on to another person. With the next person they share an idea and then try to gain an idea. Works quite well. Second is something I got from the TEEP champions a few weeks ago that really works. I have renamed it ‘What would Downsy say?’ Rather than teach talk about as I felt it was then more personal to the students. So I put an exam question on the board and then ask the students to bullet point what I would say if I was answering the question. I will then say my answer and they either get a point if it is right or gain knowledge if it is wrong. Its group work as well so they can all learn from collaborative learning.

Mrs Collinson: I use a tennis ball within my theory lessons to throw at those people that don’t like to answer questions. I use the term “throw at!” because that is the case…it makes them answer!

Performing Arts

Mrs Tobias: Laminated questions related to the lesson objectives with green red and amber piles to put them in. Try both at beginning and end to show progression. The second idea was for middle/low ability boys I have, that as a treat they do some target practice by firing a toy rocket at the correct answer of three answers on the board.

Mrs Thompson: I use this to start a conversation about performance technique. This is the info I then share with the students. In the TV series Futurama, a holophonor is a musical instrument that is also a hologram projector, but the catch is that you have to play it well to produce holographs. Harrison Krix made this fictional instrument a reality. He converted an old clarinet by adding 54 LEDs and various other parts to get the look right. You see it here displayed as being held by two robot devil hands.

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Mr Tierney: I uses humour and controversial images  to engage and motivate middle ability boys.

Miss Stevenson: Keyword bingo. The cards are laminated and on one side there is a keyword and on the other side there is a definition to another word. Pupils have to match the keyword to the correct definition. Click on this link to download: year 7 unit 1 keywords

Social Sciences

Mrs Quinn: Role play: Task to consolidate learning of ECT in line with the specification. Includes AO1, 2 and 3.

roleplay1

 

 And the winners are…

1st Place: Miss Clarkson from the RS department with Flashing ball

2nd Place: Mrs Spencer from the Maths department with Murder mystery

3rd Place: Mrs Johns from the English department with Fantasy Five Aside!

Well done!

 

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DIRT for boys, active learning and differentiation

Good Practice

Dedicated Improvement Reflection Time (DIRT) Resources by Mrs Johns

English Dirt

My Year 11 did a ‘Lego Movie’ ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ DIRT response today. Students then ‘Build upon their work’ with the Lego builder Emmit! (See the PDF below- It is still a work in progress!)
Above is a students work as an example, as he is a classic borderline C/D student.
Mrs Johns

Formal Letter DIRT (1) (1)

Click on the links below to see other DIRT resources created by Mrs Johns:

DIRT self assessment

DIRT Peer assessment

DIRT self assessment KS3

Brain Food
Poster by Nana Adwoa Sey. Contest winner.

learningpyramid4

Differentiation – Making it Happen:

Five steps to improve teaching   Explore -> Experiment -> Improve -> Celebrate -> Embed

Explore:Explore the context: Given our course and our students etc, what are the key issues and problems in ensuring success for all? Explore present practice: How do we differentiate at present? Explore the pedagogy :What other learning and teaching strategies could we use to differentiate better?

Experiment:Plan Experimentation and implementation: Decide as a team and as individuals how you will differentiate better.

Improve:Improve and ‘coach-in’ strategies: teachers develop strategies for themselves and the team, while receiving support and coaching from the team and others.

Celebrate:Celebrate Success: Teachers report on their experiments and share their strategies.

Embed:Embed practice: Schemes of work, assignments, worksheets, lesson plans etc are changed to embed the changes

Remember!

  • Only teachers can change teaching
  • Changing teaching is itself a learning process
  • Learning requires support, practice, and feedback

Article of the week: 

Active Learning Works: the evidence by Geoff Petty

“Active Learning? You must be joking, there’s no time for entertainment – I’ve too much content to cover.”

We have all heard such views in staff rooms, yet in official circles active learning remains the orthodoxy. Professors queue up to insist upon it, inspectors require it, and conference speakers chant its praises. Many of us also remember long lectures about its effectiveness during our teacher training! Yes, we all know the theory — but does it actually work in practice? 

Many researchers have asked this question, and have tried a ‘let’s suck it and see’ approach to answer it. These are rigorous control group studies with real teachers in real schools and colleges.

Hundreds, or even thousands of students are divided between:

  • an ‘experimental group’ which is taught with active methods and
  • a ‘control group’: which is taught the same material without active methods.

The control and experimental groups are carefully composed to be identical in their mix of ability, social background, and so on. The control and experimental groups are taught for the same length of time, by the same teachers, or by teachers of the same ability, and the students are tested to see which group has learned best. In study after study of this type, active learning produced much better learning.

Never mind the theory – does it work in practice?

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Active Learning adds a grade and a half to achievement.

Professors John Hattie and Robert Marzano have independently used careful statistical methods to average the findings of many thousands of the most rigorous studies on active learning. Their findings show that, for the best active methods, if you put a student in the experimental group, then on average, they will do more than a grade and a half better than if they had been placed in the control group.

The time the teacher has to teach the topic is not a factor here. Remember that the groups taught with active learning methods were taught for the same amount of time as the control group. While the experimental group was engaged in the active learning methods, the control group was receiving more content and fuller explanations from their teacher. But the control group learned less.

Many teachers say active learning would be great ‘if they had the time’. But the research shows that if you make the time for effective active learning by doing less didactic teaching, then your students will do better. It may seem strange not to be able to say everything you know about the topic you are teaching, but it won’t help if you do. You know too much!

Active learning works best at every academic level. Peter Westwood, summarizing research on how best to teach students with learning difficulties argued for highly structured, intensive, well directed, active learning methods.

What active methods work best?

Any activity will not do. We need to set activities that require students to make their own meanings of the concepts you are teaching, and that get them to practice important skills. Ideally the activity is highly relevant to your goals, is an open task, and is challenging. Lets look at some examples of methods that have done particularly well in these rigorous trials.

‘Same and different’: Tasks that require the learner to identify similarities and differences between two or more topics or concepts, often one they are familiar with, and one they are presently studying: ‘Compare and contrast viral and bacterial infections’

 Graphic organisers: The student creates their own diagrammatic representation of what they are learning, for example in a mind-map, flow diagram or comparison table. They get out of their place to look at other students work, to help them improve their own. Then they self-assess their own diagram using a model diagram provided by you.

 Decisions-Decisions: Students are given a set of cards to match, group, rank, or sequence. For example: ‘rank these advantages of stock taking in order of importance, then sort them by who benefits, customer, business, supplier, or investor. Students are asked to reject your ‘spurious’ cards that do not describe an advantage of stock taking.

Feedback: There are many feedback methods including self assessment and peer assessment. Ask students to decide on what was done well, and what they could improve.

 Hypothesis testing: You give students a statement that is partly true, but partly false: “The more advertising the better”. “Cromwell was religiously motivated”. Then you ask them to work in groups to evaluate the statement. When the groups are finished you get one reason in favour of the hypothesis from each group in turn, continuing until all their reasons have been given. You nominate the member of the group to give the reason and to justify it: ‘why did your group think that?’. When a reason has been given say ‘thank you’ but don’t agree or disagree with it. Repeat for reasons against. When all the reasons are in, ask the class as a whole to try and agree reasons for and against. Then give your thoughts on their ideas.

I expect you can guess why these methods work: they force students to think, and into making sense of what you are teaching them.

Let’s not confuse good explaining with good learning. The delivery of content does not guarantee its arrival. In the end it is perhaps no surprise that students only get good at doing it — by doing it!

References

Hattie, J.A. (2009) ‘Visible Learning a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement’. London: Routledge

Marzano R. Pickering, D. Pollock, J. (2001) “Classroom Instruction that works” Alexandria: ASCD

Petty, G. (2009) ‘Evidence Based Teaching’ 2nd Edition. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes See also www.geoffpetty.com

Westwood, P. (2003) Commonsense Methods for children with Special Educational Needs. 4th Ed. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

Recommended Reads

secrets of teenage brain

1. Secrets of the Teenage Brain: Research-Based Strategies for Reaching & Teaching Today’s Adolescents  by Sheryl G. Feinstein

“Teachers will relate well to the many observations and vignettes about teenagers and will see many of their own students in these descriptions. The science and research-based evidence is explained simply and in easy-to-understand terms with connections to teen behavior clearly established. Readers can easily appreciate how the strategies described in the book link to the neuroscientific findings and research. The newer research, ideas, and supplementary material greatly enhance the book—particularly the new stories, vignettes, and other teaching strategies.” (Barry Corbin, Professor of Education, Acadia University 2009-01-23)

9781408504154 2. Teaching Today by Geoff Petty

This is the best selling teacher training text in the UK because it is so practical. Lots of detail on all the common teaching methods, classroom management etc. Lots of ideas for established teachers not just NQTs.

3. Make it stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown

make it stick

Drawing on recent discoveries in cognitive psychology and other disciplines, the author offers concrete techniques for becoming more productive learners. Memory plays a central role in our ability to carry out complex cognitive tasks, such as applying knowledge to problems never before encountered and drawing inferences from facts already known. New insights into how memory is encoded, consolidated, and later retrieved have led to a better understanding of how we learn. Grappling with the impediments that make learning challenging leads both to more complex mastery and better retention of what was learned. Many common study habits and practice routines turn out to be counterproductive. Underlining and highlighting, rereading, cramming, and single-minded repetition of new skills create the illusion of mastery, but gains fade quickly. More complex and durable learning come from self-testing, introducing certain difficulties in practice, waiting to re-study new material until a little forgetting has set in, and interleaving the practice of one skill or topic with another.

Useful links

1. 5 minute lesson plan

https://www.5minutelessonplan.co.uk/try

2. Blogging for teachers

http://teachertoolkit.me/2014/08/09/10-tips-for-blogging-teachers-by-teachertoolkit/

3. 101 great teachers to follow on twitter

http://teachertoolkit.me/2014/11/30/101-great-teachers-to-follow-on-twitter-by-teachertoolkit/