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Grid(un)locked-inspiring creative poetry analysis

After 18 months in Special Measures and being constantly under scrutiny (a particularly devastating blow to our department – we’d just attained 81% A*-C against a target of 69% when it happened) we’re always looking for new and interesting ways to bring engaging ideas into our classrooms. This idea came about in February as we were bracing ourselves for another Ofsted visit and has been a massive success with Year 10 and Year 11.

Here’s how it works:

1. Students work in pairs/groups with a poetry grid and two dice (tip-use foam dice!)
2. Take it in turns to roll the dice and answer the question. Others can add to/ expand an answer to raise to overall level of response once they’ve exhausted their ideas
3. If a double is rolled, talk on the topic area for 30 secs without hesitation, deviation… (you get the gist)

It’s simple, effective and fun but there’s more to it than just being a grid with pretty colours. Firstly, the questions are all linked to the mark scheme descriptors for the exam. The one in the picture is designed for the AQA unseen question and I’ve also created an adapted version for the Anthology poetry. This allows students to respond to the poems in a way that is directly beneficial to the exam skills they have to demonstrate.

Secondly, The colours aren’t random. Each colour is linked to a different area: pink=structure, purple=feelings and attitudes/mood and tone, yellow=language, blue=themes and ideas, orange=talk for 30secs, green (without doubt the favourite with students)=creative connections and ideas (not directly linked to a specific mark scheme area but to access the poem in a different way and just maybe come up with something that unlocks the poem in a way they wouldn’t have considered).

Thirdly, the way they choose the question to answer is differentiated. Say they roll a two and a four. If they take the larger number horizontally across the grid and the smaller number vertically, the question will be more challenging than if they do it vice versa. All the questions require thinking about but I think that to access discussion and ideas at the highest levels students often need to ‘warm up’ and this is one way they can do it.

You’ll see in the picture I also made a vocabulary grid to use alongside the game. Eight of the boxes link to the question areas, one includes the tentative language (could, may, might, possibly) we’d encourage students to use when exploring Literature. Whilst the words on the vocabulary grid are pretty comprehensive, I also made sure they fully covered anything students might need for the ‘Relationships’ cluster in the AQA Anthology.

For Year 11 who have studied all the poems and are preparing from the exam, they have used the grid in a few ways. Sometimes we focus on two specific poems. This is particularly useful prior to writing a ‘powergraph’ (more on this another time but it’s transformed the approach for our more able students). I mentioned creativity earlier. Combining the questions with a pick-a-poem style (ie pick two poems randomly from a bag/spinner) has generated all sorts of links and connections that students might never have thought about otherwise.

In whole class feedback, there a couple of ways it can been taken further. I usually ask what the most perceptive point is that someone in a group has made so everyone can benefit from different ideas. I’ll also ask which question has promoted the best discussion in the group-it can vary for different poems. I’ll then give students extra time to continue discussions, possibly looking at questions mentioned in the feedback part but they can also look at questions of a certain colour if the dice have missed out any areas or even just choose a question they fancy.

One of the other benefits that my less confident students have found is that certain questions really help them unlock ideas. These are the questions they revise and when going into an exam they can consider them if they are stuck. Many of my Year 10s reported this was the technique that helped them the most in their recent Unseen Poetry mock.

It’s interactive, fun and relevant. The responses are genuinely worth it and encourage students to think in a way that isn’t gimmicky but genuinely higher level. That’s been my experience anyway!

I’m happy to email the resources via DM.


Thought Bombs: Splinter Cell

I love the smell of thinking in the morning…

I came across this idea from @lisajaneashes and was instantly hooked.  It seemed like a great way to add a bit of extra excitement into lessons so I thought I’d give it a try.  Like any new toy I wanted to see all the different things I could do with it; a sentence which probably explains a large number of Accident and Emergency admissions.  These are a few of the ideas I’ve tried and a few more I’m planning to try next with my general reflections.

Classic: Basically you cut a hole in a plastic ball, give the learners some information to have a discussion on then drop in more information that will support, challenge or change the direction of their thinking in the bomb and throw it in.  The original blog post to explain this properly is here…http://thelearninggeek.com/2013/08/thought-bombing/

Challenge: Another way in which I’ve used them is to place surprise tasks inside.  This way if a learner needs and extension task or has a choice of activities as part of the lesson they can select a Thought Bomb.  I’m trying to make the bomb tasks focused around creative or metacognitive tasks to give them a specific flavour and expectation.

Question Bomb: This is a very simple adaptation of the theme,

1)       Throw in a challenging question linked to the theme being studied.  You can even differentiate the questions for different ability groups.

2)        One member of the group reads it, 3 minutes to discuss.

3)        Then everyone in the group writes down the question and their answer in their books.  This promotes a focused, time controlled discussion followed by a bit of literacy.  The writing is supported by the group sharing the ideas before they start writing.

Different coloured pens or the word thought bomb next to this will evidence it if necessary.

Holy Hand Grenade:  I like to count to three before throwing these.  When the learners are working on a task or exam style question and look like they are struggling or slowing I’m experimenting with throwing scripture quotes linked to the topic for them to use to develop their ideas further. What I like best about this method is keeping the expectation and challenge high for completion of exam style tasks and adding in extra support when they need it rather than scaffolding so heavily that they’re not challenged.  These have seen a very positive response with learners asking for them when needed.

This could be easily done with chunks of content from other subject areas but you’ll need a subject specific dramatic name for them.

What Next?

Propaganda: That’s right I plan to bombard them with positive messages.  Will it be useful to put specific praise in a Thought Bomb and drop it into a group for one of the learners to read to the rest of the group?  The intent being to reinforce specific positive learning behaviours and strategies in the class by explicitly sharing them.

Pass The Bomb: As a plenary task I’m planning to have groups make their own bombs.

1) Each group will create a challenging question which can be answered using the learning from the lesson.

2) They pass their challenging question to another group who read it and try to answer the question to demonstrate their learning.

Reflections: Although a lot of the same tactics could be utilised in a wide variety of ways the Thought Bombs are certainly highly engaging.  The learners have been very enthusiastic about these and have demanded that we use them again.  The small amount of time invested in the making of the bombs was well worth the fun and excitement.

Finally I’d like to publicly thank the awesome Technicians in Seaham School of Technology who built my showpiece ammo crate above.

LEGpO (or Po-Lego) – Genius Idea

Like nearly all of my recent great ideas this one was magpied from twitter.  The genius (no inverted commas) behind the idea is Rachael Stevens @murphiegirl whose very clear explanation for it all can be found here.

I can, however, take ALL the credit for renaming it LEGpO or LEG-PO if you prefer, as opposed to PO-LEGO.  I know, I’m clutching at straws.  The simple fact of the matter is whatever you want to call it – it works.  It works brilliantly in fact.

LEGO is engaging – everyone likes it (and those of us who’ve received a tweet from @LEGOBennylike it just that little bit more).  If you’ve piqued interest in kids then you’ve already won – or at least you haven’t lost..yet.

Start off with two LEGO structures you made earlier (I know I should reference Blue Peter  here, but I was always more of a Children’s Ward/Press Gang kid) and from there on it’s straight forward.  You suggest what the structures could represent, and at this stage it is all very abstract – you’re talking about themes and ideas as opposed to specific poems.  ”If these represent two love poems what do we expect from them?” Students’ prior knowledge, suddenly flows back to them, “the perfect one is like a sonnet ’cause the form is rigid”, “yeah, but the other one is like ‘Hour’.  You think that’s gonna be a sonnet because it’s fourteen lines, but the rhyme scheme is off.” “That’s because they’re lesbians!” Like i said – straight forward.

Then the fun really starts.  You need enough LEGO to go around – I don’t suggest you leave it until the morning of your lesson to negotiate with your own children if you plan on borrowing it.  I had a very upset seven year old on my hands when I tried to help myself to his, he actually wanted to count out the number of pieces I was taking in case they needed replacing!

Armed with a copy of the GCSE Anthology and free rein to choose any poem they had studied, pupils created their own structures.  We did have to stop after a few minutes, in order to explain that building “the most awesome spaceship ever” was not on-task behaviour, despite the very strong argument that in ‘The Manhunt’ there are couplets and “this is a two seater!”.

Eventually, every group stood and presented their creations – justifying the reasons for their choices.  And that element of the feedback was probably the most useful.  By now they all considered themselves ‘Master Builders’ as well as ‘Poetry Experts’ and they grilled each other.  Each time a group presented the questions got tougher – as they tried to trip each other up.  Each time a group presented the reasoning became stronger and more closely matched to the requirements of a Band 5 response.

I noticed a tweet that described LEGpO as ‘genius’ (complete with the inverted commas of the skeptic).  Well, I really do think it is genius. I think anything that engages twenty-five Year 11 students who’ve already spent the whole day studying English, when the rest of the school have a day off, really is genius.  But then I would think that. I did , after all, build the most awesome two seater spaceship ever!

Jamie’s Flipped: (almost) a year with a flipped classroom

There are lots of different ideas about Flipping your classroom, see this TED talk for more. But essentially you provide your learners with resources and videos to allow them to ‘learn’ the material as homework and then build on this with skills in your classroom. Starting in September 2013, and as part of my MSc research, I have implemented my own interpretation of a flipped classroom with really interesting results. This post is a brief into to the research behind the flipped classroom and then I discuss how I have implemented it and the power of blogging to engage students outside of the classroom.

Flipped learning? Flipping mad?

Flipped learning is “…a form of blended learning that encompasses any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing” where the instructor provides “an opportunity for academics to provide more personal feedback and assistance to students, but also to receive feedback from their students about the activities that they are undertaking and what they don’t yet understand.” (Wiley and Gardner, 2013).


Several papers have reported on the impact of ‘flipped learning’ on undergraduate psychology courses and suggested that there is a positive impact of this on students’ attitudes toward the class and instructors as well as on students’ performance in the class (Wilson, 2013). There are far too many technological changes to how we are teaching and learning to list here, but they all suggest that same fundamental question: How do students learn best? (Halpern, 2013) and the possibility the flipped learning could be a step forward should be considered.

Using videos to support students’ learning has attracted the attention of a large number of researchers (Young and Asensio, 2002) and a key concept within the idea of flipped learning is the use of new technologies to support learning; or as some would label: blended learning (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). To successfully implement the flipped classroom approach, a change is needed to the existing traditional teaching approach. These changes have been conceptualised by Hamdan et.al. (2013) into four important elements referred to as four Pillars of F-L-I-P. These four pillars stand for Flexible Environment, Learning Culture, Intentional Content, and Professional Educator.

An interesting comment from Wilson’s (2013) action research where she attempted to flip her classroom is that she suggests that what she implemented was not totally a flipped classroom:

Although I have attempted to ‘‘flip’’ my classroom, what I have achieved is really a half- or three-quarters flip. I have removed much, but not all, lecture content from the course. (pg. 197)

This raises the idea that a flipped classroom is a binary entity – it is either flipped with no teacher delivery of knowledge or it is not. This I disagree with. Flipped teaching is just another tool which teachers should embed into their lessons when and where appropriate. Especially at post-16 level it would be difficult (impossible?) to completely flip ones lessons and expect all learners to assimilate all of the knowledge of A Level  outside of the class.

The Power of Blogging

For the best part of a decade I have been using blogs to stretch my students and have given several lectures, INSETS or workshops on the topic. This started with PsychBLOG in 2007 where I hoped to provide wider reading and current research for my students – now a site getting ~25,000 views a month. Moving on our department has had a blog and posted notes and extra tasks for the last four years with great success.

Blogging software is becoming more advanced with each  day and now it takes nothing more than a few clicks to create your own part of the internet. There are really an infinite number of uses for blogs within the field of education: writing and collating new and relevant news for your students, giving students a summary of what was covered in that past week, leaving homework assignments, and so many others. Not only can you write your blog posts but students, other teachers and colleagues can comment on your writing and start discussions about what was raised.

There are many kinds of blogging software but the two most popular ones are WordPress and google’s Blogger. Both of these sites allow you to set up your own blog online and post articles or general musings through a web-based interface allowing access wherever you have the Internet. If used well blogs can provide to be a central part of teaching and independent learning, however, general rules of web etiquette still apply and all users need to be aware of this.

With this in mind, I decided that a blog would make an excellent platform for my flipped classroom

Jamie’s Flipped…

I’ve written before about flipped classrooms and how you can flip your classroom with Resourcd. This year I have partially flipped my classroom with one flipped task each week for students to complete over the weekend before their first session of the week – you can see it at jamiesflipped.co.uk or @jamiesflipped. I talked a little about my experiences of my flipped classroom at a ‘teachmeet‘ back in October (notes and video here)

My approach to flipped learning involved giving students a ‘task’ each week to compete which introduced the topic for the next week. This flipped task involved reading a chapter (a few pages) from their course reader, watching a video clip and completing a quick multiple-choice quiz (see the gallery for screenshots).

One reason the flipped experiment was so successful was the addition of the quiz each week. This ensured that I could monitor the completion of the tasks. It is also good to stand by the classroom door and know before the students arrive who has not completed their homework task. After a few weeks the students knew there was no escaping it.

As well as the flipped tasks, each week I would publish the work that was going to be completed in class, the powerpoint and extension tasks on Jamie’s Flipped. I was surprised how many students actually read the articles, watched the videos or completed the extra tasks. Many commenting that they would do them on the bus on the way into college or while sat watching television.

At the first consultation evening of the year I canvased opinion as to my new approach and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive with students stating that they liked the format of the tasks, it was more ‘fun’ than usual homework, and that they found the lessons easier as they had an underlying knowledge about what was going to be covered. More than this it gave me more time in class to complete tasks and develop my students understanding of the content and experiment with other activities that I would not usually have had time for.

My experience of ‘flipping’ my classroom this year has been a really positive one and it is something that I will continue to develop and use in future years. As well as all the benefits of the flipped classroom my students know that all of their resources, homework and guidance is going to be ‘on flipped’. They know where to go if they miss a lesson to get the resources, and where to get extension exercises from when revising. It has required an investment of time – but nothing horrific – and now that I have the lessons for this year, as with everything in teaching, I can adapt and reuse these next year.

Flipping great!


I have had loads of emails and tweets from people that would like to flip their classroom but don’t know where to start.

Here is a short (~15 minute) video that I have made that will take you from nothing to having a blog with your first flipped task containing text for your students to read, a document for them to download, a video for them to watch from youtube and a quiz to check their progress.

Here are links that I mention in the screen-cast:

resourcd.com – teacher resource sharing site
resourcdblogs.com – where it all takes place
wordpress.com / blogger.com / edublogs.com – other sites you can set up a blog
If you are considering flipped learning or just giving your students a different type of homework once in a while then this could be an excellent opportunity to experiment.

I could have spent hours talking about wordpress and all the ins-and-outs of it – so it might feel a little rushed. The best thing you can do it set yourself up a blog and spend an hour experimenting and seeing what you can achieve.

Let me know how you get on

Post original written on jamiedavies.co.

Taking risks in the classroom/studio

Education very much these days is about getting it right, achieving and moving on. But when did getting it right all the time make for the best outcome?

Certainly in the art classroom and in the life of many artists and designers, getting it wrong can be as much a learning experience as getting it right.

Read more

Source overlays

These are something I have been using this week, which started with the fabulous question matrix by @JOHNSAYERS.As a history teacher I spend a lot of time using my Ipad as a visualizer for sources in textbooks or searching the internet; so that we could discuss, annotate and question the content. I created A4 sheets which we have used to annotate sources and then compare propaganda posters. I also have smaller ones that students can use over textbooks.

I have plans for different versions and I am looking forward to seeing how many uses I can find for them. I am going to use them with post it notes, by having a range of sources which students have to annotate and then mix them up to match the source and overlay.

Yes they are a bit fiddly to stick and cut out to make them double sided and yes because it is just normal laminating they are a bit wobbly. However I think that they will really help my students develop their questioning skills and better still I am sure they will be useful in other subjects. A technology colleague left my room yesterday planning how to adapt a version for product design.

If you manage to use or adapt them let me know and we can share the different versions and uses on pedagoo.org.

Happy making.

Carol (self confessed geek)

source grids

overlay example

Hung out to dry: Your life in pictures

Nantes Triptych 1992 by Bill Viola born 1951

Bill Viola, Nantes Triptych 1992

Imagine a washing line stretched across your lifetime. One end of the line is tied to the hospital bed that you were born in, the other to your gravestone. – Use your mother’s ankle or an urn of ashes, if you prefer. Hopefully you get the idea.

Now, at the start of the line, and in chronological order – from your first to last breath – peg up every photograph of you that has ever been taken. Yes, EVERY photograph. Imagine that: Your life set out before you, swaying in pictures.

picsLee To Sang, Studio Portrait. Unknown image from Awkward Family Photos. Martin Parr, Weymouth 2000

Take a slow walk along the line reminiscing on your life suspended. There are lots of thought provoking questions to be asked, and not just “What was I thinking with that haircut?” but questions to make you consider photography in previously unthought-of ways.

Ok, social networking sites, most notably Facebook, already bring such timelines to life, but no wandering off task seeking digital ‘profiles’. These crowd-sourced trails – tracking and tagging you 24/7 – certainly raise plenty of lines for further reflections. But not now. Read on; this is an exercise in your imagination. As a young photographer, it’s your most valuable asset.

erwittElliot Erwitt

When does a conscious relationship with photography begin?

Photographs, courtesy of hospital scans, might have existed prior to our birth but the chances are we did not strike knowing poses. With time we have graduated from passive subject matter to willing (or unwilling) participants. Stood before a wide range of recording devices, we have been coerced, encouraged, directed, cropped and temporary blinded. Not to mention the subsequent consequences: processed, developed, downloaded, uploaded, adjusted, manipulated, tagged, shared, treasured and trashed. Photograph a child of 3 or 4 years old today and a request of ‘can I see it’ will undoubtedly follow. In almost every instance they will be proud to recognise themselves. In a child’s eyes that singular portrait exists within an immediate, uncomplicated moment. But regarded later – suspended on their imaginary timeline perhaps– the same image becomes loaded with significance.

Memories, hopes, and fears can swell and circulate around a photograph. Each suspended moment has the potential to take on new meaning as time passes, reframing and re-contextualising as it goes.

wearingGillian Wearing’s Self-Portraits 2003 (using prosthetic masks)

Consider this: A parent of a four year old is looking at an image of herself (or himself) at the same age. Physical comparisons are inevitable. A parent will instinctively look for resemblances between themselves and their child, and obviously these could never be made prior to parenthood. However, over time, as the photograph is re-visited, more complex emotional knots can emerge. Memories from the past will tangle with hopes and aspirations for both of their futures.

Photographs do not only show something to us; they do something to us: A photograph challenges the viewer to consider the past in relation to their present, and in doing so can shape motivations, ideas and hopes for the future.

A conscious relationship with photography might begin at an early age – a child quickly learns that a camera records their image. However, over time a heightened awareness of the potential of an image emerges, and instinctively we strive to control it -constructing ideal scenarios with carefully selected locations, faking confident poses, fighting against undesirable portrayals by shrinking into the background, shielding faces or even refusing to co-operate with a photographer’s demands. These behaviours will be familiar to everyone – from our own past actions in front of a lens, and from our experiences behind it. It is an early lesson learnt, parallel to our growing self-awareness: The camera can be a powerful tool – welcomed and celebrated; treated with fear and suspicion. Young photographers, take note: Develop sensitivity to the behaviours a camera can provoke, and in turn you will be better equipped to negotiate, persuade and manipulate. Useful skills, particularly when it comes to dealing with people.

selfie_fakesCaught out:Fictional girlfriend ‘Selfies’

Our relationship with photography begins with that initial wink of a camera’s eye. When history – our own personal, malleable history – is first fixed as an image. For new photography students: A deeper consciousness awaits – studying photography should not only change the way that you consider past photographs, but also how you engage with the world itself. Your future timeline will certainly be richer for it. Now, imagine that.

This text was written to encourage KS5 Photography students to read and reflect on the role of photography within their lives. For teachers it might form the basis of a valuable group activity or discussion. The following questions may support with this.

Additional questions to provoke reflection and discussion:

  • When were you first confronted with a camera? What is the evidence of this?
  • At what points does your imaginary timeline hang low to the ground, weighted by the significant moments in your life that have been photographed?
  • How have the physical attributes of photographs changed over your lifetime? –The quality of print, the texture of the paper, the emergence of digital imagery etc.? How has camera technology evolved?
  • Which images of your life are by ‘professional photographers’ such as school portraits, wedding photos etc.? And do these have more, or less,‘value’ than the other photographs of you? (Are they technically more proficient? Do they lack the spirit or spontaneity of other more vernacular images?).
  • Which photographs have the most personal
    significance? Which most accurately represent
  • How might your individual timeline compare with someone else’s, such as a friend, a teacher, or a grandparent? …Or against wider contexts: compared across locations, class divides or cultures?
  • Is it important for a young photographer to reflect on the emotions and actions that taking a photograph can provoke in people?
  • Is it valuable for photography students to reflect on their own photographic histories?…To unearth their own family stories?

Do you study or teach Photography? This is part of a series of texts I have been playing with. Any use? Thoughts and feedback appreciated.

Using Canva in the Classroom

or “Class-pic Civilization” Sorry about the pun.

I tried using Canva.com in the classroom with my AS Classical Civilization group today. Part of what they need to learn for the exam is key quotes from each book of the Iliad, and I wanted to find a way to make the quotes more memorable. The text is written in the Greek Epic Poetry style, and not all that easy to memorize.

I decided to try using Canva.com, a new design website, which is free to use to have the students make graphic representations of the quotes. The website has great flexibility in how the backgrounds, images, text and formatting can be manipulated, as well as a large selection of free creative commons images that can be imported. It also has the facility to upload images, so the graphics you produce can look really polished and professional. You can use the templates provided, of which there are many and produce work only using content from the website. Here are some examples of my students work using the content from the website:










You can also import images from your documents, or other sources if you need to produce more specific content. Here are some examples of my students doing that:










There is a lot of creative freedom in the graphic you can produce here, and I think it could be used to great effect in many subjects. The plan is next lesson I will have had these printed out, and the class is going to arrange the quotes in the order they appear in the text. A nice way to make a very dense text visual, which I hope will assist in them learning the quotes.

Just a quick post, but I was really impressed with the work that they produced. What do you think, how else could you use this tool in your classroom?


Cross Posted from createinnovateexplore.com

Flipping Maths!
Another Flip adapted from flickr.com/photos/82684220@N00Another Flip adapted from flickr.com/photos/82684220@N00

Time after time in my classroom I run out of time. I then ask pupils to complete tasks at home that are extensions of the work done in class to stretch them and help them progress in their learning. This is the way it has always been, instruction in class, practice and then homework to consolidate, but what if this idea of what is best is turned completely on its head? You’d get pupils engaging in well thought out and prepared instruction at home, coming into class prepared to engage in activities and, most importantly, pupils get far more time working with their teacher on more conceptual and challenging work. Well… this is the idea behind the flipped classroom and I’m trying it out!

The idea for me came from speaking with a colleague who had been to a session on this at #pedagoowonderland. That one conversation was enough to have created my first screencast lesson within a week and have two of my colleagues involved too.

The principles of this approach are that the homework prior to a lesson will be that pupils watch a screencast lesson that I’ve prepared and take notes. The lesson will have a couple of built in quick questions at the end so that they have attempted something before the class. To do this, I’ve used www. screencast-o-matic.com and recorded my Promethean flipcharts. This allows me to use a familiar visual for the pupils and the ability to write over each screen as I would usually. I record my voice over this using a microphone plugged into the computer. This is our first ever attempt of a flipped lesson that I prepared and my colleague has delivered, enjoy! (The sound before about 2 minutes in is a bit dodgy, stick with it)

So what happens when they appear in class? The plan is to reflect on what they learnt form the video and discuss how we would apply it. This should give us the opportunity to engage the pupils in higher quality dialogue about the learning as they will have had time to reflect on it and absorb it. Also, it will hopefully allow us to provide more complex and conceptual tasks to do in the classroom where they are supported by their peers and the teacher.

This is what we are trying at the moment and it would be great to hear from people who have flipped their classroom or are trying it out just now as well.

Public Critique: A practical example

A recent post on creative learning environments Pimp my Classroom: 8 ways to confuse the cleaner provoked lots of interest and some very positive feedback. One suggestion, the personalised ‘critique’ space, or gallery, is a very straightforward idea that is easily transferable across subjects. It’s not a complicated concept and has been extensively written about: Read here and also here. I would encourage all St Peter’s staff to follow these links. Both examples, by English teachers, cite Ron Berger and his work ‘Ethic of Excellence’ as the initial inspiration. Berger’s video ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ has certainly done the rounds, and more on that can be found here.

As previously explained, students were each given a display space. My Year 12′s customised theirs with a previously made self-portrait. Not essential but heightened their sense of ownership. We had the benefit of exhibition boards but this exercise could work equally well with noticeboards or designated wall spaces.

gallery critique_boards

The groundwork prior to the session is of particular importance. Before commencing the critique students had already been introduced to the concept via ‘Austin’s Butterfly’ video. Importantly the specific focus of the critique was outlined, and support materials were accessible.


Click on example above for pdf

Students were presenting ‘first draft’ photographic experiments in response to ‘The Selfie’ and contemporary approaches to self-portraiture. They were asked to pin up their work, initially annotating alongside it, justifying and explaining their decisions using coloured pencils and colour coded key vocabulary to comment on different areas, in this case Technical, Contextual, Visual or Conceptual Values of the image. These resource sheets are double sided and include examples of colour-coded analysis. They are laminated A3 size and kept easily accessible by students as required.


Students then circulated adding feedback (Honest, Helpful & Specific) for each other in the relevant colours also ensuring the use of correct subject specific vocabulary. Time was then provided at the end for students to read, discuss and take on board the peer feedback provided. Examples of these first drafts can be found here. Subsequent time is then provided for development and further critique.

‘Students need to get used to drafting and redrafting their work with regular Public Critique sessions where students offer each other advice and guidance on how to improve their work’
@LearningSpy with reference to Ron Berger