I was asked by my group of NQT’s….Can you give us some simple but practical ways to improve our teaching and in turn enhance the learning ?
So prior to the meeting I took a list of practical but simple ideas and modified them to fulfil the Roding Valley objectives:
Create thought provoking starter activities (the hook ) – have it ready as soon as they arrive on the desk/whiteboard – get them to start as latecomers arrive.
Instil good habits, planners and equipment out on the desk at the start of every lesson
Use a single lesson objective but plan a different journey for students within the class to reach that objective or,
Use tiered / progressive learning objectives: maybe colour coded to help students realise progression from green to orange to red means difficulty increases. Use learning objectives not task based objectives.
define/recall/describe/summarise (green L/O)
explain/compare/discuss/compose (orange L/O)
analyse/evaluate/investigate (red L/O)
Refer to learning objectives consistently throughout the lesson – not just the beginning and the end and check progress towards these objectives at regular intervals, ensure you know where the learners are with their progress (AFL)
Planners ,traffic lights
Web cam /visualiser– show student work, suggest improvements
If students simply aren’t getting the content of your don’t soldier on in fear of deviating from your plan lesson plan. Instead re-model and re-shape your lesson, think on your feet PACE
Use hinge point questions (questions to test understanding before allowing students to move on to the next learning objective)
Have mini-whiteboards on the desk most lessons-even if you hadn’t planned to use them, you might find them invaluable when you have to re-model a task and think on your feet.
Take all opportunities for self and/or peer assessment / marking – use a web cam/visualiser show student work during the lesson and ask for feedback, positive and next steps learning. Model exemplar pieces but also show common misconceptions.
Make sure any resources are creative but don’t get lost in them, focus on the learning.
Avoid getting students to copy out definitions/key information- get them to work for this information themselves.
Consider and make use of any literacy opportunities including speaking and listening. Encourage students to answer in full sentences.(verbally and written)
Step back from being the expert in the class from time to time and let students show their ability to learn independently (here’s the answer- what was the question?)
Use different types of activities from lesson to lesson – aim to keep students on their toes each lesson so they do not know what to expect.
Re-model tasks verbally to help differentiate – you can verbally scaffold tasks for individual students without having to have 5 zillion different worksheets.
Ensure that you speak to every student in the room at least once during a lesson (say hello, ask them a question, praise them, comment on their work).
Ask probing, open-ended questions – ask them to the students without their hands up- even better- apply a no hands up policy from time to time.
Be consistent with behaviour rules/discipline with every student in the class.
Always have an extension task or two ready – students should never sit idle.
Ensure that you complete a plenary, make sure you know which students have achieved the learning objectives.
Use this information to inform your planning for the next lesson – Big Picture
I was quite pleased with these. practical tips and presented them to the assembled NQT’s.
“ What else do I need to consider when planning my outstanding lesson?”
The responses came thick and fast, with discussion and examples given:
Know all your students, progress data, SEN, other groups
Consider appropriateness of home learning to ensure progress over time (in line with the new school timetable )
Planning for behaviour – seating plans, knowing in advance the internal on-call arrangements
Planning for the other adults in the room – talk to your LSA , discuss what you want her/him to do, don’t just leave it to them
Next steps…….. to write some practical tips for each of these
We then discussed the importance of the phrase ‘progress over time’ and its implications for us in the classroom. This led us into the importance of marking and effective feedback to the students. We discussed how it was no longer possible to achieve good /outstanding if your feedback and marking did not equip your students with the means to improve and make progress over time. We are currently writing up some examples of best practice marking and methods at Roding Valley High School and these will be published soon.
To conclude I wrote the word progress on the board and we brain stormed what this actually meant to us…
Its been a long day but great to work with such inspired and keen NQT’s…
Computer/video games have no place in education. Or do they?
For the past year students in my upper school lessons have been using the Zondle service to support their learning.
What is Zondle?
Zondle can be summarised as a web-based platform that allows students to learn/check their understanding through playing games. Zondle engages my students really well and the fantastic mobile app means many of my students can use the service whilst commuting or sitting in front of the TV. It takes learning out of the classroom into a fun addictive portable format.
Zondle works by allowing teachers to create question sets which are then transformed into an interactive activity. When students log on they are able to see what topic(s) they have been set and are then presented with a vast range of games which incorporate the question set. Activities available include the very popular penalty shoot-out egg catching in battery chickens through to pizza baking.
Gameplay tends be addictive as the system makes good use of gamification techniques such as collecting Zollars. Students can also see the progress of their classmates which motivates them further to be the best.
As a teacher I am able to access an automatically created mark book which enables me to monitor progress of students and identify areas for intervention. I am also able to add some challenge into activities by declaring my high score on different games – this seems to really motivate them to beat me. Of course in the process of playing the games they have to answer questions correctly and are therefore re-enforcing what they have learnt and hopefully developing their memory of the concepts.
Developing Zondle further
At the end of the Autumn term, one of my classes was set the task to create multiple choice questions for Zondle. There were some teething problems at the time but I would like to do this again. In allowing students themselves to author the questions, they are able to demonstrate higher order thinking along Bloom’s taxonomy whilst also being given a platform to share their work across the Zondle community.
In light of the publication of the Department for Education’s digital strategy in December 2012 it seemed fitting to reflect on my own use of digital media both inside and outside the classroom. Having trialled numerous different ways to get GCSE History students to engage with Roding Valley High School’s VLE with little success, it would be easy to blame student apathy or lack of ICT skills. However, the students in my GCSE groups are intelligent, hardworking and tech savvy. The students have no difficulties handwriting a tweet of 140 characters with appropriate hash tags for keywords and concepts. The students were also happy to email work to me and ask for questions or advice via my school email. So why were they failing to make the most out of the school’s dedicated VLE.
The answer came from the automatic email signatures attached to work emailed to me. Almost every email I received from students was signed “Sent from my iphone/ipad” or “Sent from Samsung Mobile”. The students were not using large stand alone computers or even laptops to produce their work or access the documents I sent to them. They were using small handheld devices with touch screens. The text in emails, Facebook and Twitter can easily be manipulated by these devices to clearly and legibly fit the screen. The school’s VLE on the other hand, with its small buttons and wide size, was both difficult and clumsy to use.
My new year’s resolution this year is to go back to basics with virtual learning environments and try some of the forums and spaces available online like Google Drive, Edmodo and Prezi to give students access to a host of resources and revision materials that will help bring history to life. The advantage of these websites is that they come with easy to download apps making them usable even on the smallest of screens and most importantly they are free for both the students and the school. With a whole host of free online services designed to make both virtual teaching and learning easier it is not just the Department for Education that needs to consider its digital strategies. I think we could all benefit from a fresh approach to virtual learning environments.
Written by Matt Cocker (expressing his personal view)
History teacher – Member of the DAZ group Zest via Media
The English Department at Roding Valley High School are working hard to improve literacy skills and have joined the Carnegie Children’s Book Awards to inspire and challenge young readers. Students have the opportunity to engage and encourage young readers to read more widely than they might usually, introducing them to new and more demanding literature and illustration. Young people engage in an intense period of reading and vibrant discussion in a supportive environment through which they gain confidence and communication skills. They are encouraged to share their opinions online, talk about books, to debate and decide on their favourites.
The scheme fosters a sense of community formed around reading – helping to enrich and reinforce a reading culture. Taking part in the scheme enables young people to meet new people, both in their own school or library and in other shadowing groups through organised events. Pupils can post their own reviews and comments about books and read those of their peers.
Find out more about the scheme and read Roding’s Home Page by clicking here.
We have just started to work on our vision for the spring term. Our T&L groups will be working on the following:
Group A – Teaching and Learning e-newsletter
The aim is to publish at least 3 newsletters this academic year. These e-newsletters will be available on our website and twitter and will publicise the excellent work here at RVHS.
Collate examples of best practise – student questionnaires
Track journey of new marking policy and current evaluations
Impact on progress
Review of best practise at RVHS
Research current practice – focus SEN/ students arriving on 4c
Trial innovative ideas, paired observations
Writing frames , showcase literacy across the curriculum, literacy intervention, accelerated reader, promote use of key words, use of reading ages to aid progression in the classroom
Group B – Digital Leaders
Consider… Do the students know more about the technology than most of us?
What can we learn from the students?
What will happen if we give the students a voice in their learning?
How can we use technology in the classroom?
What ideas can groups trial in the classroom:
Create a group of digital leaders – Work with students to identify areas of the curriculum that could be enhanced – ‘Zest’ by the use of technology
Students help to plan lessons in these identified areas, train the teachers in the use of technology
Case study – students i.e. Gaming in media
Trial the use of tumblr.com , Edmodo or google.docs as a platform to run a group project
More Able students – working independently on extended project using platforms such as Tumblr, WordPress, Wikispaces or Google docs
Imagine this. One evening you are eating your Supper, after a long day at work and school, and Sonny Jim suddenly complains that his teacher refused to help him in such-and-such a lesson.
“I’m sure that can’t be right, Sonny. Your teacher wouldn’t deliberately not help you. You must have got it wrong”, you reply.
But, no. Sonny Jim is adamant that his teacher did not help him. When Sonny asked his teacher something, they refused to give him the answer. Shock! Horror! What a terrible teacher. You promise to phone school the following day to find out exactly what happened.
Well, in the coming weeks and months I hope that this might be a familiar conversation around the dinner table. As part of our latest INSET teachers and Learning Support Assistants have been looking at questioning skills, and how we support students to become more independent thinkers. Part of this is not providing answers, but to encourage students to think for themselves and work it out independently. We have looked at the oddly named “Blooms Taxonomy”. In 1956 Benjamin Bloom developed a way of ordering questions of increasing difficulty. At the start you have questions relating to Knowledge (“ Tell me three things you know about…”) and at the end you have questions that ask for viewpoints ( “Can you give me reasons for saying that…”). As teachers we sometimes miss the opportunity to develop these vital thinking skills in our efforts to complete a task, or get something finished. Questioning is also a way of checking understanding, of course, and of challenging students of different abilities.
So, the next time you are sitting around the dinner table, and Sonny Jim pipes up that his teacher has refused to help him, just reply, “ Well Sonny, can you give me three reasons why that might be the case?”!
A copy of the recent INSET presentation on differentiation:
We have enjoyed a lively parent’s forum meeting on the topic of home learning. It was fantastic to have such a committed group of parents expressing much valued opinions and contributions in the consultation process of the schools new home learning policy. Opinions of students are also currently being sought.
Our new marking policy is now in operation across the curriculum, parents/ carers should have noticed the change in the way that the teachers are providing feedback to the students. Our aim is to provide consistency across the curriculum and ensure that your child knows how to progress and make improvements in their work.
The DAZ group (our Teaching and Learning group of excellent teachers) collaboratively organised a training session, whereby they shared their good practise with all the teachers and learning support staff in our community. The focus was on the different ways of providing effective feedback to our students to enable them to make accelerated progress. Some DAZ members have also attended an Essex Teach Meet which saw some of the most inspirational and forward thinking teachers in the county meet and share ideas and innovative practise.
A whole school Literacy focus has been launched, high lighting the importance of written and verbal communication to the ultimate success of a child’s future. The accelerated reader programme for the year 7 is now in full operation and they are loving it. Some students are already on the way to becoming ‘millionaires’ , an acclaimed student who has read 1,000,000 words on the programme.
Watch out for the new Teaching and Learning Blog where you can find out out about all the on-going and new initiatives at Roding Valley High School.
Mrs S Jenner
Assistant Head teacher Teaching and Learning
You are the final piece of the Learning Puzzle
Following our return from the half term holiday the focus was on ‘expectations’. We have been talking to the students about the expectations we have relating to behaviour, uniform, equipment and effort across all lessons. It is vital that students take responsibility for the manner in which they approach school and their learning. We have been talking about the need to be properly equipped for lessons, to ensure that all homework is completed and that students try their best in every lesson to ensure success, students need to understand that they are the final piece of the Learning puzzle.
Launch of DAZ Vision for Teaching and Learning at Roding Valley High School
This term has seen the launch of DAZ ‘Bringing the pieces together’
This is the fresh face of T&L at Roding Valley High School and provides the focus to achieve our constant aim and drive to make every classroom and learning space ‘OUTSTANDING’, each with an atmosphere that encourages independence, a thirst for knowledge and a lifelong enthusiasm for learning.
What is DAZ ?
Differentiation – match the content of every lesson to the individual needs of the students, ensure progress and challenge for all
Assessment – to ensure that all our students receive regular and effective feedback on their learning, so that they know what is expected and how they can improve
Zest – Enjoyment! Interest ! Pace!
These are the ingredients, put them together in every lesson and the result is Outstanding T&L
Some DAZ initiatives this autumn term:
DAZ working party – a group of excellent teachers working collaboratively to share good practice across the curriculum, providing inset for other teachers and coaching
Coaching is now embedded in our teaching practise – providing a support network for our teaching staff to drive forward standards, building on teaching success
Launch of new marking policy – a consistent approach to providing students with their next steps learning
We are currently testing every student’s reading age and comprehension skills, we will use this data to target students where intervention may be necessary but also where additional challenge and enrichment is required
Faculties delivering T&L assemblies, to raise profile of subjects across the whole school, students and subject prefects encouraged to take an active part
Use of web cams for assessment in the classroom
DAZ posters on display in every classroom
Review of homework policy – updates to follow
Accelerated reader programme – see Literacy focus
DAZ will be an ongoing focus and commitment to all in the Roding Valley Community
S Jenner September 2012
Assistant Headteacher Teaching and Learning