Are you a discussion ‘Log or Hog’?

I love planning my summer term lessons because it is the time to re-connect with your subject and take your students down a journey of interesting tangents and topical themes, that the new spec AS content just does not give time for. So my plan for today’s lesson was a selection of engaging discussion questions with a hard hitting documentary. I wanted my students to discuss their views on the topical issues surrounding evil such as – are people born evil? Does upbringing determine behavior?  This would then be linked to the James Bulger case and relevant links made to new spec materials of Behaviorism, Freud and Problem of Evil.

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Progress Plan: What is your current location?

In order for students to progress, they need to have an honest and clear representation of their current location. Teachers spend countless hours marking essays, tests and other assessment pieces in order for students to know how they are doing. But do they really know? Do students equate marks, grades and feedback on work to their current performance outcomes? I wasn’t convinced, therefore to guarantee that my student were on the same page as me, I designed the sheet below which is easy to complete and effective for highlighting current performance.

You will notice that students fill in their latest essay mark and their result from the KKE (see Assessing the Obvious: Key Knowledge Tests). This is because students sometimes have excellent knowledge recall but struggle with essays writing, other’s pick up the technique but don’t have the knowledge. By finding the average of the two, this gives students an honest reflection of their current progress and also highlights which specific area needs more practice/ revision.

Students then fill in their own clear strategies (targets) to improve and the grade they wish (need to) achieve in R.S.

This once again gives ownership to the students. It is their grade therefore their responsibility to put in the work, achieve their targets and thus leave with the grade they deserve.

 

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Please let me know if you would like a copy of this sheet by leaving a comment at the bottom or following the ‘contact me’ details on the Homepage.

“Put your mobile phone away!”: Are you Kidding?

Some educational institutions have a  very clear rule: no mobile phones in lessons.  I’m not disagreeing with this. What I am doing is taking a reality check. Students are literally… 13557800_1416481335035387_4218592803150921702_n

So rather than wasting time as a teacher constantly telling students to put their phones away or students thinking harder about how they can read their latest message without been spotted rather than the lesson itself (by the way teachers know the book tilt to cover the phone or the interesting light up lap stare – who are you fooling!) why not use mobile phones as part of the learning?

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“You haven’t done the reading!” How to avoid Flipped Learning Flops

Let me start by saying that I’m not really sure why it is called ‘Flipped Learning’. At the end of the day the learning has not been flipped because the students should have always been doing the learning. What has been flipped is the working roles, by which I mean who is doing all the work: student or teacher?

With flipped learning you are placing the responsibility for learning the material onto the students, rather than the pressure being on the teacher to cover the material (and teach the content, set activities, engage all students, differentiate over abilities, ask a variety of different questions and assess that learning has actually taken place …not to mention all this with new linear specifications and intense content coverage.)

So why use Flipped Learning?

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Bringing back the Red Pen: Effective Feedback

If you type into goggle ‘red pens in schools’  you are bombarded with newspaper articles of red pen.pngschools who proudly declare that the use of red pens are BANNED! My response: I think education has bigger issues. So why is this move deemed necessary? Well some believe that marking in red pen appears more threatening (like writing in capitals), demanding attention from the reader in a warning manner (you don’t ignore road signs in red for example). Well I don’t mean to be blunt (but I’m going to be anyway) but that is exactly why I mark in red pen. Marking students’ work is one of the most significant ways that they improve their independent essay writing technique, so I want them to take notice of my comments.

I can see the benefits of marking in different colours such as green for praise or highlighting spelling mistakes or grammar errors but I want actual feedback for improvement to be as blatantly obvious as possible. Look at me, read me, take me on board!

So here are some tips for handling ‘red pen marking’:

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Who said ‘you can’t teach teachers’: TeachMeet

I attended my first TeachMeet event at Scalby School recently and it was fantastic. Don’t get me words.pngwrong I love teaching and learning anyway but after a long day at work and three more hours of ‘school’ it has to be pretty good to engage me. And it did! The buzz of sharing ideas through quick, snappy sessions was structured and organised (my favourite sort of learning) but more than that I picked up a hoard of teaching ideas that are just golden! Ideas that are so simple you immediately know which class and topic you are going to try them with. So here is my summary of the key ideas from the evening:

Learning Menu
Differentiated classroom activities written as a menu with starters, mains and desserts comprising of differentiated tasks and extension sides. This technique enables students to develop independent learning through challenging themselves.Revision Clock
Using the face of a clock, split the sheet into timed segments to focus revision on short, snappy pointers. This technique maintains focus and pace when revising. I’ve already tried this!

 

revision clock

Achievement Display: Inspiration Board
Straight forward really – reward the little things (best piece of work, most improved) rather than just top performances.

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