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Cleaning your work
How to washHow to wash

Hi all!

This is my first ever blog about teaching! Please apologise for my ramblings – if anything is unclear then don’t hesitate to tweet me @MrRDenham . Or even better, if you have a go at this, then tweet me some pictures to the above handle.

Context of the class:  Students have come a long way in recent times. It is the first time we have seriously considered entering a set 3 class into higher tier – normally only sets 1 and 2 get this chance. School has had the mantra of ‘safety in numbers’ when it comes to getting a C. Thankfully, this all changed now we are measured on progress. A change I am really glad of. Now the whole school has to focus on all students. Not just the ‘C’ grade ones. Students in this class range from an E to a B (got high hopes for one girl even getting an A) so differentiation is key.

Cleaning Your Work! The idea came to me when driving home… I felt that I was banging the same old drum with my year 10 class when it came to successfully analysing thoughts and feelings within a text: look at a text; show good examples; they attempt it; we mark it; I mark it; repeat! This was becoming very monotonous for me and the students – some were not excelling. I needed to attack this at a new angle.

The task:

The task involves students reading a text and then answering a question on it – developing sustained responses. We were answering a ‘thoughts and feelings’ style question. Using the washing up instructions provided by me, students had to ‘clean their clothes’ and create great examples of text analysis. They were tasked with creating 5 clean clothes. Along with this they had to purposefully create 2 dirty clothes – these were rubbish examples. I recommended they took out a step from the ‘washing instructions’ to help them achieve this. I feel that the latter part was the most successful for lower ability students as they were now able to recognise what a bad answer looks like. They were having to think how to make a bad piece of work, rather than concentrating on creating excellent examples and stressing themselves out with keeping up with the rest.

How to wash

How to wash

During the washing process, I also provided washing up ‘tablets’ to enable students to break away from just saying ‘suggests’ all the time. Like when we wash clothes, we lose a tablet to the process, thus eliminating a ‘suggest’ word. This helped them to increase their vocabulary and enabled them to stop their work sounding repetitive (C – E grade students were struggling to get out of this habit).

Then it was…walla – peg, or throw out (I used my working board to stick a bin bag on – always find that it’s good to have a blank display for you to use in class) your work as you go along.

Bin bag used to get rid of dirty clothes

Bin bag used to get rid of dirty clothes

These are two 'clean' examples pegged out to dry

These are two ‘clean’ examples pegged out to dry

To finish we stuck our work into our books: 1 clean, 1 dirty. They had to then reflect and state why the clean work is ‘clean’ and the dirty ‘dirty’, once again reinforcing their exploration in the lesson (it took us two x 50 min lessons to achieve this).

Reflection

Reflection

Note: During the final lesson of the week we did a ‘mock’ exam to help consolidate their learning further – a number of students requested the tablets to help them. If you have read down to here… then I thank you for your time. Hopefully this blog isn’t as bad as I fear! ENJOY YOUR WEEKEND FOLKS – I’M OFF TO MARK THEIR (AMAZING) WORK!

Creative Thinking @ PedagooPrimary
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On Saturday morning I joined a room full of enthusiastic primary teachers for the long awaited #PedagooPrimary, a chance for primary teachers to get together and share thoughts, ideas and strategies… and chat, laugh and generally be enthusiastic about education.

This was my third teachmeet experience, last year I attended #PedagooGlasgow and pedagoo@PL which were incredibly uplifting, inspiring events, this time, I thought I’d be brave and lead a learning conversation.  That’s part of the brilliance of Pedagoo, it is about teachers sharing things they do, things they enjoy, things that have had an impact in their setting.  It is a very inclusive community that makes you feel like you have something to contribute.

My conversation was focused on ‘Creative Thinking’

If we aim to develop a passion for lifelong learning then children’s first experiences of education need to inspire curiosity, introduce interesting problems and encourage creativity. I also think it’s essential that we as teachers get the chance to be inspired, solve problems and be creative as much as possible, it is difficult to pass on a passion for learning if we are uninspired.  It is however, unrealistic to think that we can be producing fabulously creative and inspiring opportunities all day everyday, and at times it is easy to feel caught in the flow of routines and demands that exist in every school.  My conversation aimed to encourage others to find one little thing everyday that makes you think creatively and makes you and your pupils smile.

I shared a number of experiences and projects that we have developed at my school @grandtullyps . Grandtully is ‘A Wee School With Big Ideas’ and I see my role as supporting the pupils (P1-7) to develop their ‘Big ideas’ so they become a reality and a lot of the time in order to do that I need to stand back.  This is not easy! as a self confessed ‘ideas’ person with a strong inclination to control it’s really, really hard not to dominate but to let them explore, create and learn from their mistakes.  However, once you start you’ll never go back.  The process of working together with the pupils, listening, watching and providing well thought through guidance (that’s essential!) has allowed us to develop some really creative (and extremely enjoyable) learning experiences.

Macro Fun

A friend of mine purchased a little clip on macro lens for her iPhone so I had to have one too…. and then I realised its school potential!  After we had spent some time exploring the classroom carpet (uurrrghhh) pupil’s shoes and eyeballs…. we ventured outdoors but something odd happened… we had shrunk.  Younger pupils (P1-3) linked this to ‘In the Garden’ the Oxford Reading Tree story and then wrote their own magic key adventure, while older pupils (P5-7) developed their ‘exciting sentence’ writing using their images as a stimulus.  (If you search for iPhone Macro lens on Amazon you should be able to pick one up for about £5-£6)

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Ten Pieces Project

We were keen to take part in the BBC Ten Pieces project this year.  Pupils listened to and watched a short film introducing 10 pieces of classical music, we then developed creative responses to each piece.  Pupils came up with a whole range of ideas for how we could respond, we then linked them to experiences and outcomes which became our planning for the term.  Holst’s ‘Mars’ inspired a science topic on Space, we visited Dundee Science Museum, watched the Eclipse (good timing!) and pupils wanted to write some space themed stories too. P1-3 pupils looked through a range of picture books before deciding on a Lauren Child style collage approach, while P5-7 listened to podcasts of NASA astronauts before creating characters for their own suspense filled graphic novel.

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Finding an audience for our work is very important, so we shared our books at our community showcase.

For our response to Stravinsky’s Firebird we were lucky enough to work with Clydebuilt Puppet Theatre https://www.clydebuiltpuppet.co.uk.  Each pupil wanted to create their own bird and then P5-7 created a ‘Mega Bird’  they had to work together as a team to fly it.  Check out the flying skills via BBC Ten Pieces site. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02p4n7r  P5-7 also created a bit of a storm in response to Britten. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02p6ktt .

It’s hard not to smile standing in a field, listening to Stravinsky, watching pupils flying a giant bird.

Happy Creating.

@ciaracreative @grandtullyps

 

 

Boarding Pass – @FernwoodDT
Used as a starter (Boarding Card) and plenary (Departure Pass)Used as a starter (Boarding Card) and plenary (Departure Pass)

I saw this idea on Twitter originally and like most of our resources it was amended to our students. The concept is simple the ‘Boarding Pass’ is given to students as they enter the classroom and are instructed to fill in their name and ‘One fact from last lesson’ the teacher then goes through some of the answers with students writing them on the board. G&T students and students that finish early are encouraged to write down a ‘key word’ from last lesson too. Again these are reviewed and shared on the board. This is a great way to link previous learning.

Lesson objectives/todays outcomes are then presented to the class by the teacher. Students are asked to digest this information and fill in an individual ‘target for todays lesson’ and ‘what level I aim to achieve’ these are kept by the student throughout the lesson.

At the end of the lesson students are asked to fill in the ‘Departure Card’ (which is eventually torn off via a perforate edge). Students write ‘One thing they have learnt’ and ‘What level did you achieve’ based on the learning in todays lesson. Students then love tearing off the Departure Card with the perforated edge and handing it to the teacher as they leave the lesson. The ‘Departure Card’ can then be used at the beginning of the next lesson again linking prior learning/showing progression and/or stuck in a work book. Questions can be changed to suit the lesson/subject I imagine it could be used in all subject areas it has worked particularly well in our schools MFL lessons too. This shows fantastic knowledge and understanding of a topic in an engaging yet simple method!

Here is a link to a presentation that shows how the boarding pass is used/presented to the students – Boarding Pass – PowerPoint

Here is a link to the guillotine we use – http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/A4-Paper-Trimmer-4-in-1-Card-Crease-Wavy-Cut-Straight-Cut-Perforation-/281181932948?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item4177bfcd94

See @FernwoodDT and @Me77ors on Twitter https://twitter.com/FernwoodDT for more ideas and resources

Any questions/feedback please email m.mellors@fernwoodschool.org.uk :)

Pedagoo Primary: Learning Superheroes
Some of the 'learning superhero' artefacts shared by Lynsey and Alison.Some of the 'learning superhero' artefacts shared by Lynsey and Alison.

Lynsey Binnie and Alison Adams teach at Lasswade Primary School in Midlothian.  They led a learning conversation at #PedagooPrimary entitled: Using ‘Learning Superheroes’ to develop growth mindsets in the Early Years.

They shared their work on developing growth mindsets in the Early Years through the use of ‘Learning Superheroes’. They drew upon relevant theory and research to discuss how this impacts upon what children perceive a ‘good learner’ to be.

Listen to the audio from Lynsey and Alison’s first conversation of the morning: 
 

 

Plenary spinners – a quick and easy way to end the lesson.
image

image

 

A very simple plenary that can give a whole class, table, pair or individual option. I made the picture using Moldiv (which I love), laminated them and used spinners I had bought from Amazon. The students simply love spinning them,  although I think they already have their favourites! Some of these I have already put on my blog with more appearing soon.

  • Time capsule – I have a time capsule door in my class and the students have sheets onto which they add a key point from the lesson that they feel we should keep.
  • 2 truths and a lie…if we have time we use some at the end of the lesson but if not we use them as a starter the following lesson.
  • Explain it like Einstein – write a summary to explain the lesson to a 6 year old.
  • How do you feel? – we use magnets on a full size version of the Lego poster and students choose the face that best represents their learning. They write this in their book with a reason for either peer or teacher response.
  • Plenary for a head – used to compare the importance of factors, students draw a pie chart, hold it in front of their heads so that we then take a panorama for discussion.
  • Exit ticket (below) – using a ticket I adapted from Twitter which has lots of options around the side.

imageimage

String Thing – A way to stretch , challenge and engage
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Last week staff who are part of the GO Barnwell coaching project @GOBarnwell were each set their respective GO Gold teaching and learning missions. Some staff were allocated ‘string thing.’ I deliberately kept the title rather vague so that it could be open to a variety of interpretations allowing for creativity and an individualization of the task. My colleagues, Emma , Jackie and I have written up three different activities we devised within our own subject specialisms. We all found that our individual string thing activities stretched our students ,encouraging them to develop and use their high order thinking skills.

 

String thing – MFL

This string activity asks students to use thinking skills and categorise vocabulary. I prepared six grammatical categories (verbs, cognates, false friends, nouns, adjectives, pronouns). Each category must be linked to another with a piece of string. On this string students must place an individual item of vocabulary (which had already been cut out and placed in an envelope). For example, if one of the items were ‘visiter’ to visit, students attached this word to the piece of string that connected VERB and COGNATE. The task became harder when students had to use translation skills, discuss grammar and watch out for false friends (words that look/sound like English words which do not mean the same thing). Students had to use a range of skills involving, dictionary use, knowledge of grammar (both in French and English), guess work and team worThis activity was a huge success, students felt motivated, challenged and each had a role to play in their team. All Groups discussed grammar at length which enabled me to ask more challenging questions about the grammar system or play devil’s advocate. After preparation of this task, the whole activity was student led and independent. I would highly recommend this activity with the following advice: include sticky tape in your packs for vocabulary/ string to sit properly, include blank cards for students to write their own vocabulary (I gave bonus points to students that could include as many of these as possible)

 

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String thing – Geography

My GCSE Geographers were at the end of the Urban World topic which had included a large number of case studies. I was keen to draw out the similarities and differences between the different locations. I colour coded the case studies to show if they were in the developed or developing world and then stuck them to the two rows of tables. I then connected the locations to each other with string forming a sort of web. Students were then asked to come up individually throughout the lesson on a rotation basis and either note a similarity or difference between examples. Similarities were recorded on yellow and differences on green. Students then stuck their respective post -it notes onto the string which connected the two case studies they’d been asked to compare and contrast.I was able to differentiate by asking different students to work on particular combinations which were more tricky. This activity encouraged them to not only think about content linked to the current topic but also material we’d covered in the rest of the syllabus previously.

 String thing GeogGCSE 2

String thing Geog GCSE 1

String thing – Biology

My gold mission was to complete a “string thing” activity. I chose to create knowledge webs with year 11 to support their revision of the B1 and B2 units and help them to develop a deeper understanding of how biology “fits together”. I separated the students into pairs and gave them a topic within the units. They had 10 minutes to create a mind map of information about that topic. I then asked students to link their map with others with string and explain the link they had made on a placard stuck to the string.  They found the concept challenging and initially found it difficult to understand how the topics linked together. The students were really engaged in the activity and worked hard to find the links. Upon reflection, I think I left the task too open, I might improve it next time by providing some links that students can then put in the correct places to begin with. I will certainly use this activity again, it was an enjoyable and visual way to link concepts together to develop an holistic understanding of biology.

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Stop motion videos to demonstrate learning
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We recently have been lucky enough to get the use of five iPads in our biology department and we have been trying to integrate them into the classroom.  I recently came across the Lego stop motion app when making movies with my own kids and thought about applications for use in the classroom.  The app is free and I very easy to use.  My s4 class has used it to create videos to show their understanding of pyramids of energy, biomass and numbers.

My advanced higher class have used the app to demonstrate their understanding of cell and tissue culture.  

Both classes loved it.  They were very engaged in the activity and were on task throughout.  They shared ideas about what to add to the videos and showed me a few new features in the app that I didn’t know about.  

The advanced higher class worked in groups of 3/4 each choosing a different cell type to culture. They then shared their video with the rest of the class (using a vga cable and adapter linked up to the projector).  It made a great explanation tool for each cell type as well as a good revision tool.  It can be used in so many areas of the course and I plan to use it more and allow pupils to be creative in explaining what they have learned.  I have added a few of the videos (the ones without the kids in them) to let you see what they did.  We have to learn how to slow the videos down a bit but I’m sure the pupils can teach me this! Hope this helps

Sarah Clark

Arts learning resources from The Fruitmarket Gallery
Installation view Possibilities of the Object at The Fruitmarket GalleryInstallation view Possibilities of the Object at The Fruitmarket Gallery

The Fruitmarket Gallery is an art gallery funded by the taxpayer displaying exhibitions of work that are not for sale. The Gallery brings the work of some of the world’s most important contemporary artists to Scotland. We recognise that art can change lives and we offer an intimate encounter with art for free. The Gallery welcomes all audiences and makes it easy for everyone to engage with art. Gallery facilities include a bookshop and café. The Gallery is physically accessible and family-friendly.

As part of our learning programme, we produce free resources to help teachers, families and community groups to get the most out of each exhibition. Links to our resources are below.

The Learning Through Exhibitions series helps schools and community groups to explore exhibitions before, during and after a visit to The Fruitmarket Gallery. They can also be used for arts activities at any time alongside our other resources documenting the exhibition. Developed with artists and teachers, the series suggests ways to think with and through art and be inspired to make it. Creative Challenges are open-ended and adaptable to any age group. Covering artists including Louise Bourgeois, Gabriel Orozco, Jim Lambie and our current group exhibition of modern and contemporary Brazilian art Possibilities of the Object, resources cover curriculum areas including Expressive Arts, Literacy, Social Studies, Religious and Moral Education, Health and Wellbeing and Languages. Activities include dance, storytelling, poetry, drawing, sculpture, installation, music, film and photography.

Little Artists are activity sheets for families and primary school groups to explore and respond to the exhibition together. Activities include colour poems, storyboards and designing a display of sculpture.

Possibilities of the Object:

Stan Douglas:

Jim Lambie:

Tania Kovats

 Louise Bourgeois

 Gabriel Orozco

“I am very impressed by the learning resources available which accompany the exhibitions. They are comprehensive and motivating as well as being relevant to the curriculum.” Kathryn Malcolm, Teacher of Art and Design, Inverkeithing High School

“Mission Statement Morning”: Organising a whole-school, off-timetable event.
scott

Developing a true sense of community is a crucial yet challenging task for an international school. The wide mix of cultures, nationalities and religions, combined with a relatively swift turnover of students, makes it difficult yet essential to find a unifying set of values and objectives which helps students feel secure and respected.

Here at the International School of Toulouse, we gave serious thought about the best way to produce a school Mission Statement that the whole community – students, staff and parents alike – could formulate and therefore support. We were also keen to integrate this as far as possible with the IB Learner Profile to ensure that this too became an inspiring driver for school development rather than just a document in a handbook.

Our decision was to take the entire school off-timetable for half a day. During this time we engaged in a series of stimulating activities to get everyone thinking about the sort of school we are and want to be. We also used our Live Twitter Image Feed to share photographs of the work as it evolved. The result was a wealth of ideas and an initial mission statement that has given us an exciting sense of focus and direction for the new school year. The structure of the event is easily adaptable for other schools and we would strongly recommend that other schools try it out for themselves.

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We began the day with a short school assembly that outlined the importance of framing a mission statement and provided an overview of the main steps to be taken. The first of these steps involved tutor groups meeting in their form classrooms for forty minutes with a teacher acting as the chairperson. For fifteen minutes, students brainstormed the question “What are the essential features of an excellent school?”. They did this silently as individuals, and then discussed ideas in small groups, before the teacher started listing ideas on the board. We found it particularly useful to encourage older students especially to think in terms of both objectives and methods by phrasing these ideas in the form “A good school aims to [do X] by [doing Y]”. For a further ten minutes, the class was given the challenging of reducing these ideas down to a ‘wish list’ of just nine points. We helped students do this by asking questions like “Are some of these ideas repeated on the board?” (in which case, we wiped one of them off and rephrased the remaining one as needed) and “can some of these ideas be categorised under a bigger heading?”. Finally, each student was given a copy of a “Diamond 9” template on A4 paper and arranged the nine ideas now agreed upon from the most important (at the top) to the least important (at the bottom).

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The second stage of the event, lasting for one hour, involved turning these ideas into an actual mission statement. Students moved to different classrooms, taking their completed sheet of prioritised ideas with them. Rather than form groups, these new classes consisted of students of different ages that had been decided in advance and announced during the morning assembly. At this stage too, the teachers sat to one side of the rooms and a prefect chaired the discussion. In small groups, students started by comparing their diamond 9 diagrams to identify the most popular ideas that were starting to appear across the school. The prefect then asked each group in turn to contribute what appeared to be a popular idea until a list was built up on the board. This process lasted about fifteen minutes, after which the prefect provided each group with some examples of mission statements from other schools and the IBO Learner Profile. This led to a fresh round of discussion as we considered whether these materials anticipated our own ideas, or whether there were fresh ideas in these that we wanted to include. At this stage too, prefects invited ideas about what fresh elements we should add to the IBO Learner Profile, since this is something encouraged by the IBO itself. Finally, in the remaining twenty minutes each group in the room framed their own mission statement on a piece of A3 paper in jumbo pen based on their ideas, and then stuck these up on the outside of their classroom door to share with the rest of the school.

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The final stage of the event, which took place after break time, enabled the whole school to share their ideas and vote on the most popular mission statement that had been produced. For twenty minutes, each group of students was guided around the school by their prefect and teacher to read the different mission statements and decide upon their favourite. At the end of this allocated time, students worked individually to choose their favourite mission statement and stand next to it. Prefects added up the votes for each statement and handed these to the teachers in charge. We then ended, as we started, with a short school assembly in which the prefects shared some of the suggested additions to our own version of the IB Learner Profile (ideas such as ‘hard-working’ and ‘creative’ were particularly popular). The mission statement from the group that gained the most votes was announced and then read out by one of its younger authors. This was also a chance for the school to give a round of applause to the prefects and teachers for their help in co-ordinating the event.

scott

The end result of this highly structured but stimulating event was that the first draft of our new mission statement has quite rightly been formulated not by senior managers working in committees, but rather by the students themselves. The next phase of the process, which will provide the focal point for the next 12 months of school development, will see the student council working alongside parents and teachers to develop a final draft of the mission statement and consider how it should be expressed in the everyday life of our school community.

Overall, the “Mission Statement Morning” was straightforward to organize, provided a refreshing change to the normal structure of the school day and produced some excellent ideas and insights. I’d strongly recommend other schools to give it a try and to contact us here at the International School of Toulouse (ist@intst.net) if you need any further guidance.

Links

A picture gallery of the Mission Statement Morning at the IST, June 2014

Handout: Instructions for teachers

Wonderful word towers!
German word towersGerman word towers

With a bottom set Year 9 German class, we had watched the film ‘Lola rennt’ (Run Lola, run) and were using the perfect tense to describe what had happened in the film.  We had spent quite a few lessons on this (it felt like an eternity!) and the class seemed to be getting it, slowly.  They had started to adapt the sentences to say other things too  The only problem was, they were getting really sick of it; any mention of the film title and their groans would fill the room!  As I entered the classroom on this occasion, I had some exercises planned, some whiteboard activities, even a cartoon strip, but I must admit that even I was starting to grow weary.  I spied a couple of bags of big ‘Mega Blox’ style building bricks that I had bought very cheap from Wilkinson at Christmas and on the spot I decided to change my plan and an idea started to grow!  I asked them to write on their bricks with dry wipe marker, using one brick per word and see who could create the longest sentence and therefore, the tallest tower.  They had also just learnt how to use connectives, so their towers had the potential to grow to quite a height!  They were mainly working in pairs (it is only a small class) and I dished out a handful of bricks per pair.  Once they got going, they started to get quite competitive and almost forgot that there were creating quite long and complex German sentences in the past tense; something that causes headaches for quite a few pupils!  They were even going around ‘borrowing’ bricks off each other to make their towers taller!

The atmosphere was, although competitive, quite serene; you could almost hear the quite buzzing of busy brain cells.  At the end of the activity, I took photos.  The pupils were so proud of their towers that they asked me to wait until they had run out of bricks!  On this occasion there was no prize.  They were simply happy to have the glory of creating the tallest tower in the class, and in doing so, creating fantastic, complex past tense sentences.

I learnt that you’ve sometimes just got to go with it; take a risk and wait to see what happens.  Also, I learnt that you should keep your eyes peeled for cheap children’s toys; I’ve got quite a collection now!

Original tweet here

German word towers

German word towers