Stuck for plenary ideas… read on …

Plenaries from the Technology Faculty

In Technology we have been looking at a few ways of incorporating exciting and new plenaries into lessons. Some ideas we are trialling at the moment:

Pictionary: Pupils to draw the keyword without speaking or writing for others to guess what it is.

Hot seat: One pupil to the front of the room for questioning in the hot seat. Questions must relate to the current topic and come from the whole class.

Order me: Teacher puts 5 stages of a process on the board in the incorrect order. The class then puts them in the correct order.

Mystic mind: The class predict the future by stating what they will be learning in the next lesson or what will be completed by the end of the next lesson.

Brainstorm: The properties of any material or ingredient that have been used in the lesson. Ideas for a project using Access FM.

• 60 secs: Give the class 60 seconds to come up with a brief summary of a process, technique or a keyword from the lesson.

• Help: Ask the class to design a help sheet to give advice to other students about what has been learnt in the lesson.

Blurb: Ask the class to write a blurb about their product that will help it sell.

True or False: Write down some true and false statements about key aspects of the lesson. Pupils to hold thumbs up if they think it is true or thumbs down if it is false.

Application of information: In groups mind map where else pupils can use information learned in lesson-link in with other subjects, homework and real life situations.

Making a statement: Ask the class to come up with two statements in one minute about what they have learned.

• Missing words: Write a summary of key aspects of the lesson, taking out the key items, asking the class to fill in the blanks.

• Label: Find or draw an image of a tool, piece of equipment, a machine or a process. Ask the class to label each part.
• 551: Ask the class to summarise the lesson in 5 sentences, then reduce to 5 words, then reduce to 1 word.

• Role change: Tell the class to imagine they were the teacher. Ask the class what questions they would ask and why.

• Partners: Arrange class in pairs. Ask them to discuss each others work and look at their targets. Ask pupils to write a target for the next lesson in their partners book.

Open ended: Run a question and answer session about the lesson. Do not allow the class to answer with a yes or no.
Timeline: Ask the class to produce a timeline showing the different stages of the current project so far.

Move from good to outstanding -practical tips

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
    • Questioning
    • Teacher circulation
    • Web cam /visualiser– show student work, suggest improvements
    • Model answers – self marking – green pens
    • Peer marking – provide student speak criteria
    • Whiteboards
    • Post it notes
    • Thumbs up
    • ipads (video ) PE
  • 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:

  1. Know all your students, progress data, SEN, other groups
  2. Consider appropriateness of home learning to ensure progress over time (in line with the new school timetable )
  3. Planning for behaviour – seating plans, knowing in advance the internal on-call arrangements
  4. 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…progress

Its been a long day but great to work with such inspired and keen NQT’s…

Sharon Jenner

Assistant Head teacher Teaching and Learning

Zondle for Zest

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.

Images of Zondle in action

Example games to try:

Play a 5 question example of Battery Chickens

Play a 5 question example of Designa Pizza

Play a 5 question example using Penalty Shootout

Next steps

I am convinced that there is a place for games in education and as a result, over the next 2 terms students in my upper school lessons will benefit from:

  • Lessons making use of Zondle Team Play  (Whole class learning based on neuroscience)
  • Trial run MinecraftEdu to further assess the usefulness of game based learning for our students.
  • Audit the access our students have to internet connected devices using the YOTS service in order to best inform how we can best support their needs

Written by Mr Hussain (@rvhshussain)

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