Mr Bates (Music) – Year 8 students were busy practicing a scene from a common nursery rhyme. Students were challenged to think about their placing on the stage using technical language and in small groups were developing a scene. After a period of practice (during which Mr Bates gave students feedback and further challenge) students were then asked to perform their scene. This is something students often find difficult or are reluctant to do but Mr Bates had built a safe environment in which students could perform. Strict rules were enforced so that the audience respected the performers. Mr Bates questioned the audience following the performance to elicit feedback to the performers based on the success criteria discussed earlier in the lesson. The questions often probed deeper and challenged students to elaborate on their answers giving reasons.
Mrs Horrill (Business) – Year 10 students were working on a piece of coursework as a result of a series of lessons leading up to some extended writing. Students were able to work independently and made good use of the course textbook. Students worked in silence which in this particular situation appeared to enable students to work to depth. If they needed help they were able to consult the textbook first before asking the teacher. Whilst this was going on Mrs Horrill was giving 1-to-1 verbal feedback to each student to ensure they understood how to improve. The set up for this lesson showed clear planning that focused on students practicing the skills and knowledge they had built up over a series of lessons.
Mr Ferguson (Technology) – Mr Ferguson began this lesson with some retrieval practice in the shape of an exam question. Students were given time to complete the question before going through possible answers. Mr Ferguson questioned students to depth asking them to offer answers and give reasons for their answers. He also modeled the thinking behind the approach and asked students to explain how they approached the question and came to an answer. Mr Ferguson had really high expectations of student responses and encouraged them to always a give a reason for their answer. In the lesson students had also been making use of a knowledge organiser to start assessing what they knew and what they needed to revise.
Ms Campbell (History) – Year 8 students were acting on feedback from their most recent assessment – an extended piece of writing. Before students got started Ms Campbell spent some time recapping the PEE (Point Evidence Explain) method for tackling long answer questions. She did this really well by modelling a paragraph on the board and then asking students to pick out the different parts of the PEE method. Ms Campbell used questioning to challenge students to think about how this might help them with their own work. With a clear understanding of what was expected of students they were then given time to act on the feedback Ms Campbell had given them. She had used ‘code marking’ to reduce marking time and students were being trained in how to do this. Students then worked in silence to improve their work whilst Ms Campbell circulated the room to give more verbal feedback.
Ms Harry (Drama) – Year 9 students were being introduced to a new topic about ‘Developing empathy.’ Ms Harry started by questioning students of the word ’empathy.’ She then followed this up by giving students the example of young homeless people to discuss: “What are the common assumptions we make?” This led to a rich discussion partly due to the choice of example planned for this discussion – something all of the students were already aware of. The talk in small groups was really purposeful and when Ms Harry got the class back together to feedback some wonderful responses were shared. Student oracy was really strong in this lesson which was down to Ms Harry’s high expectations of student language.
Mrs Dixon (Maths) – Year 9 students were revisiting a topic from a previous topic and were given time to practice their skill in substituting numbers. This was great retrieval practice. Student voice suggested that students could remember the topic but were a bit ‘rusty’ when it came to application of the skill. Retrieval practice is absolutely vital for learning so it’s really encouraging so see this happening in many lessons across the academy. Whilst students were practicing Mrs Dixon was able to move around the room offering 1-to-1 feedback and further challenge. The task had been designed so that it gradually got harder as students moved from left to right.
Mrs Atkinson (Computing) – Year 8 students were engaging with some DIRT time following a recent written assessment. They had been given feedback on their assessment and were now practicing skills based on knowledge gaps identified through the assessment. The class was quietly working and being supported through additional resources and feedback from Mrs Atkinson. In order to dissolve some common misconceptions Mrs Atkinson spent time modelling the process of converting binary numbers on the board so that students could revisit the process. This then enabled a number of students to work independently through the practice materials.
Ms Jenkins (Science) – Year 8 students were investigating how mass effects the speed of an object falling. Ms Jenkins had used the example of aid agencies dropping food parcels into hard reach areas of the world. This example gave students a concrete starting point for understanding the concept they were learning about. Next, students built mini paper helicopters for an experiment that involved dropping the helicopters from a set height multiple times, adding more weight after each drop. Before carrying out the experiment students were asked to make a prediction as to what would happen as more weight was added. They then went out into the academy to test their predictions by dropping paper helicopters from the first floor to the ground floor. Students had been put into groups and assigned roles to carry out this experiment. As students conducted the experiment Ms Jenkins visited each group to question their method and challenge them further about their results and what the results meant. Students appeared to enjoy this practical but at the same time felt challenged by the science!
This weeks blogs of the week look at challenge and how this can be achieved in various different ways across the curriculum. Both posts nicely summarise what is meant by challenge and ‘challenging work.’ They also provide a number of strategies to use in the classroom tomorrow.
- Challenge – success for all: https://classteaching.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/challenge-success-for-all/
- Great lessons number 3 – Challenge: http://headguruteacher.com/2013/01/31/great-lessons-3-challenge/
This weeks BOTW comes from the ever resourceful blog of Shaun Allison – ClassTeaching.
The post in particular is called – Subject knowledge matters and is a summary of why subject knowledge is important for effective teaching but also provides lots of resources and ideas for improving your subject knowledge. My favourite tip is: ‘get advice from an expert.’
The school was able to secure some support from the ‘Institute of Physics’ in the shape of a superb ‘Teaching & Learning Coach’ Colin Piper. Colin was a fantastic resource. He met with Bex on a regular basis, went through the topics she was going to be teaching at a very high level, broke it down and explained the best way to teach it. He would also discuss misconceptions and how to address them, as well as unusual and interesting practicals and demonstrations to support her explanations.
Below are a few organisations that provide support for teachers to improve their subject knowledge:
- National Association of English Teachers – https://www.nate.org.uk/
- Association for Teachers of Maths – http://www.atm.org.uk/
- Association for Science Education – http://www.ase.org.uk/home/
- Geographical Association – http://www.geography.org.uk/
- The historical association – http://www.history.org.uk/
- Association of Physical Education – http://www.afpe.org.uk/
- Design & technology association – https://www.data.org.uk/
- Association for citizenship teaching – http://www.teachingcitizenship.org.uk/
- Association for Language Learning – http://www.all-languages.org.uk/
This weeks #BOTW is from Doug Lemov’s hugely successful Teach Like a Champion blog which explains and analyses lots of different teaching methods.
In particular these blogs look into the idea of using student work (both past and present) to model expectations and de-construct answers with students.
Blog 1 – Forget the rubric, use student work instead – In this blog Dylan Wiliam suggests that rubrics quite often mean little to students and that using student work to model expectations instead is far more powerful.
Blog 2 – ‘Show call’ technique – In this blog Doug has captured on video a teacher making great use of student work in the moment to model answers during a maths lesson. If you don’t have access to a visualiser in your classroom you could use the work of students from previous years to model and de-construct success criteria.
With the start of new school year already underway, the first Blog of the week for this new academic year goes to Andy Tharby for his post Three ways to become a teacher again.
…the greatest teachers I have worked with seem magically to combine both – a wonderful depth of subject knowledge and an acute empathetic understanding of how school makes young people feel. That’s what I’m gunning for this year.
This weeks blog of the week isn’t a blog but a video of David Weston’s recent TedX talk.
In the talk David outlines the principles of great teachers by drawing parallels with great doctors and dancers.
Worth 20 minutes of your time!
Two blogs this week that have helped with reflecting on what great teaching may be…
If you are looking to reflect upon a particular aspect of your teaching this post by Shaun is a great place to start.
In this post Tom outlines and commits to act on his reflections by listing things he intends to try in order to improve his teaching.