The Pedagoo Xmas party is over for another year, but hopefully the spirit of Xmas sharing will stay with us a while! I chaired the “Literacy for Life” breakout session where we shared ideas and discussed how they could be adapted.
Going The Extra Miles For Sport Relief
This is an account of a unique pilot project designed and delivered by Andy Mouncey to a selection of schools in the north of England. Andy is not a teacher – he is a record-setting endurance athlete who is a professional speaker and trainer across sport, business and education. A list of participating schools, reaction and film clicks can be found www.bigandscaryrunning.com This account was written by Andy not long after Sport Relief day earlier this year:
Unless you were the TV personality Davina McCall, most people ran a mile for Sport Relief back in March. What Miss McCall didn’t know as she called into Edale primary school during her Edinburgh to London fund-raising triathlon was that pupils, staff and parents were also near the end of their own endurance challenge laid down by me some five months previously:
- Run 268 miles – the equivalent length of The Pennine Way (TPW) – with the final mile as the Sport Relief Mile
- Raise money for Sport Relief
- Record their experiences in a training diary
In return I would teach them how to think and behave like an endurance athlete so that they could:
- Raise aspirations and learn to persevere through setbacks
- Develop a goal-orientated mindset
- Experience the challenge and pride of working together to help others
Skills they could use to make any future challenge – like sitting exams or moving school – seem simple, straightforward and compelling.
It just so happens that Edale primary school sits directly opposite the end of The Pennine Way national trail. This is important because the catalyst for this challenge was my attempt to complete The Spine Race, Britain’s most brutal ultramarathon in which runners have seven days to cover the full length of TPW most walkers take three weeks to complete. The catch? The race takes place in January in winter and I had already failed once – only getting as far as 105 miles in 2013. For Edale primary school there was another hurdle; with a total number of 13 pupils there were not very many children to share the miles around. Step up mums, dads and members of staff…
By the time race day arrived in January I had recruited 13 schools along or close to TPW and 1600 pupils to my ‘Cracking The Spine’ challenge. I had visited all those schools three times which made for an awful lot of new friends. Pupils could watch the race in real-time online and send messages via social media because all the runners wore tracking devices. Despite the combined will of 1600 children urging me on I dropped out of the race at 160 miles having battled creeping hypothermia for most of three days. My visits back to the schools after the race were ‘interesting’ to say the least!
To the staff, however, my failure to finish for a second time was an unexpected bonus because it challenged some of the key messages children see and hear via the media:
Success is easy, quick, and it’s something that someone else gives you
I – who they had got to know as someone who did some mad stuff and was really quite like them as well – had just made personal a lesson that we all come to sooner or later:
‘(Meaningful) success isn’t easy, it rarely happens in a straight line or when you want it, and it’s something YOU need to work at. So when it does happen – as it will if you practice the skills of perseverance – it is a life-enhancing experience.’
I will be back at The Spine Race in January 2015.
I have to because I am also making a film of the whole project and every film needs an end. There is also 1600 children who want to see me finish the job. ‘Cracking The Spine’ will be an improved version available to schools from September. A first grant has just been awarded by Big Lottery Awards For All scheme and other grant funding routes for participating schools are opening up.
Outcomes from the pilot? Money raised £7,200. All the schools reached their 268 mile target and many clocked up much more. Total miles run stands at 4572.
One secondary school pupil ran the full 268 miles on his own, one primary school pupil covered 100 miles and raised £1000, four families from one primary school clocked up over 300 miles per family, and a group of secondary school girls made a film about their weekend runs.
There was race week themed lessons plans and related learning on history, geology, physiology, maths, creative writing and speaking, science, and technology.
I was formally adopted as a Learning Hero role model, there are at least three school running clubs now set up, and many schools formalized the project into learning menus and creative curriculum design. As many of the schools were rural and relatively isolated it was, said many of the staff, just a relief to have something brand new and exciting for everyone to get involved in during the dark wet winter months.
I recently blogged about Moosing about, a table cloth I used with my Year 7 SEN Class. The ideas and stories generated from this were fantastic and it really helped them with their paragraphing however they all started pretty much the same way- The, Then, I and She/He.
So I decided my class needed to do some more work on making their sentences interesting and the thought processes/ editing that takes place.
This is where Sentences Pong comes in, I have used ‘sentence roll a dice’ exercises and I have a few laminated boards in my classroom with mixed success. So I decided to cut up the boards and put them into yoghurt pots and then students could throw a ping ping ball into the pot which would generate a sentence opener/starter.
This is how it worked
Before the lesson
- I cut up sentence criteria for example use alliteration, a metaphor, simile, indicate a location, personification ( If you Google sentence roll a dice activities some fantastic ones pop up)
- I put them into the yoghurt pots
Start of the lesson
- Went through the terms with the students to refresh/ recap what the terms mean and why they are used
- Explained the classroom rules and that if there was silly behaviour with the ball then they would not participate
- Students ( I only have 8 in one SEN class and 6 in the other) throw the ball and aim for a pot
- Once landed in pot, the group stopped and came around the table
- As a group they then came up with a sentence, I then wrote this down
As the game went on, they decided they didn’t want to do it one at a time and instead wanted to write a few sentences together, they worked collaboratively and generated some fantastic creative writing.
I have now typed up the writing that was on the table, so next lesson they can D.I.R.T and write their own paragraph using the techniques used during the group lesson (they will have the sentence openers/starters grid with them).
I really enjoyed this lesson and so did my class as for once on Friday P5 they were not rushing for the door to leave
There’s still something special about receiving a letter; I mean a real letter too, not bills or junk mail as we get plenty of those. I think it’s a wonderful tradition that still has real value in this world of technological marvels and instant communication. It’s because of this I like to run my ‘Letters for Leaders’ project from time to time. Students write a letter to influential public figure about an issue that matters to them and we wait for responses, simple.
I’ll admit there is a little more to the process but the benefits are worth the effort. Once the students have crafted their letters they develop their editing skills, working through multiple drafts and really focus on the method of letter writing. Let’s be honest writing to a real world leader has a bit more gravitas when asking for multiple re-drafts than pretending to write to someone. It makes it real, it makes it matter.
1) Get them angry/passionate. Use a powerful stimulus to get them involved, I like to use Amnesty International (@AmnestyOnline) as they campaign heavily for human rights issues which are both important and relevant to my subject area. Scientists could be getting students excited about cloning or genetic engineering, IT teachers about internet safety or privacy, PE teachers about drugs issues or technology in sport.
2) Decide who would be good to write to about the issue. There are a lot of opportunities to interact with influential figures for the price of a stamp. Your local MP is obliged to write back, there are the leaders of the other parties, The Queen, The Pope, Sports Managers, basically anyone with a lot of influence who might write back to your students.
3) Draft a letter. Students write their first attempt at a persuasive letter.
4) Edit. Talking through with the students give them advice on developing their letter.
6) Repeat 4 & 5 until both the students and you agree it is an excellent piece of writing.
7) Post to the leader. Wait. (Remember to have it posted back C/O your school.)
As I mentioned your local MP is obliged to respond and generally will with a high quality letter. We’ve also had success with a number of others including the Prime Minister and the head of another political party. Sadly we’ve had no luck with President Obama as yet. The students are always hugely excited upon receiving their replies and it’s a special experience for them. Make sure you get a copy of the letter, and then give the originals to the students; it’s their letter after all.
1) You can use this as a literacy learning experience by analysing the letter.
2) Sticking copies up on a wall display next to pictures of those who write back makes for an excellent celebration of the project for students.
3) Use it as a stretch activity to challenge your hardest working students.
4) You could even use it as a #unhomework or #takeawayhomework task.
This is by FAR.. the BEST 80p I have ever spent!! and this lesson had me hanging off the edge of my seat…. but also in fits of laughter!! and turned out to be one of the highlights of my Y7 (SEN/LA) class.
I was reading numerious tweets about #poundlandpedagoo and decided that I wanted to go on a hunt and track down all the bits and bobs I had seen. So off I went and got the post it notes and eggs etc and then I found this… an 80p party table cloth (from Wilko).
So… how I used it! I simply put across the table and gave each student a multi link and advised them that today we were going on a journey… where we went was completely up to them….
This is how I set it up…..
- Students placed their counter on a location
- Then roll the dice and move across the squares in any direction
- They then need to describe the journey, surroundings, use 5 sense, adverbs, adjectives and to try and create a vivid image and engage their audience (me and class mates)
- Students were peer assessed throughout, as class mates could hit the buzzer if vocabulary could be improved, sentence could be improved or if they had any questions.
- On some of the squares I had placed prompt cards- if they moved to one of these they had to include this in their story
- I also had a buzzer that sounded like a klaxon, when I pressed it ALL students had to include what ever I said into their story (a text message- used laminated Iphone post it notes, seeing something or simile/ alliteration etc.)
- All the sentences (mainly in green) are the fabulous sentences, vocabulary that my class generated. They then copied these into their books (some drew little pictures) so they could be used when they start to write up their story next lesson.
The students really enjoyed the lesson, they stretched each other, engaged each other and I was able to listen and be transported into their stories.
This could be easily adapted, as students could create their own table cloth.
Revision and reviewing does not have to be boring… it can simply be a game!
My Year 8 class (SEN/LA boys) have been working extremely hard to not only recap the poetic techniques they learnt last year but also locate them in the poem and construct PEE paragraphs. Their assessment is to compare two poems (Hard Frost and Winter) the class started the comparison by completing an interactive Venn Diagram and this brought up gaps in their knowledge and ability to lengthen their responses.
I could have made a work sheet got them to complete a table but I wanted to do something different, where I could sit and listen to their answers…. SO I came up with this.
Its really simple (buy and outdoor snakes and ladders game- this one is from Amazon) put questions on as many squares as you like and then play Snakes and Ladders.
I chose to use the questioning stems from the thinking dice and then the students generated 10 questions of their own relating to the 2 poems (these tended to be questions that they still had about the poems).
Students then played the game, answering the questions they landed on. The rest of the class listened to the answer and told them whether they were right/wrong or needed to add more to their answer. If a question arose that they could not answer, we then paused the game and had a class discussion ( some of the questions became the starters for the following lesson to check).
My class played the game for a whole hour, and were thoroughly engaged, answered the questions in FANTASTIC detail and really stretched and encouraged each other. It was a delight to witness.
This is my first blog post for the Pedagoo team, as I mentioned in my #Nurture1314 post I’d really like to get into blogging so I’m starting as I mean to go on.
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to attend David Didau’s Whole School Literacy course – having just been appointed Literacy Co-ordinator it was a perfect place to start! Didau’s course gave me so many different ideas that I could try out in my lessons and also feed back to the staff at my school from a literacy perspective. What struck me most was that these ideas weren’t just for literacy, these were fantastic teaching and learning ideas that ALSO supported my students’ literacy. After the course I decided to work on several ideas that I was introduced to during the course, one of those was ‘The Critique Gallery’.
I’m sure most will agree that peer assessment is a regular feature in our lessons, it helps develop our students’ confidence in knowing what is right and what is wrong and determining what they need to do to improve; I think subconsciously it helps them to absorb the lesson objectives better too. Didau’s ideas confirmed my growing suspicions that peer assessment in my lessons was becoming a bit dry and unexciting; it’s highly likely that if I’m getting bored of doing something then my students will be too – I’m a technology teacher, I like to mix things up often! The Critique Gallery was a perfect ‘refresh’ to peer assessment and has had an excellent impact on the quality of student to student feedback.
How does it work?
The Critique Gallery is like a giant peer assessment. It is a longer exercise than a typical peer to peer assessment, students move around the classroom taking time to read through their peer’s work and provide constructive feedback (I usually devote about 15 minutes of the lesson to do it properly). Clear boundaries and expectations need to be set out by the teacher (more on that shortly…), especially when laying the foundations of this new activity, after all the feedback needs to be constructive so that our students can improve. Students use lesson objectives/success criteria (just like they would a normal peer assessment) to give feedback on other student’s work; they give this feedback a number of different times as they move around the room.
What’s so good about Critique Gallery?
Firstly it encourages ALL students to engage, they are up and out of their seats moving around the room; sometimes something as simple as moving around/a slight change of scenery can improve a student’s productivity or engagement. Students have the opportunity to see more than just their partner’s work, if like me you have seating plans then your students are sat next to the same faces day in day out…therefore seeing the SAME quality of work day in day out, for some this is great but for others not. The Critique Gallery allows students to see all levels and abilities and make judgments for themselves about the feedback they want to give. It helps quiet the inevitable “Miss, I don’t know what to write…” especially if done as a mini review during the lesson. This activity also frees you up to wander around the classroom to support students that you know will struggle with this activity, it allows you to carefully question them as to what is good about the work and what needs to be developed further, in turn improving the quality of feedback that they give to other students.
How do I make this happen?
I think it’s great when students have a record of the feedback that they have received all in one place instead of scrawled over their work, I’m OCD – I’m sure my students don’t care!! When doing a critique style activity direction needs to be given to students to ensure that the feedback they are giving is productive and useful i.e. NOT “write neater” or “finish it” (don’t get dispirited though, you’ll always end up with one, I know I do!). Full credit to David Didau here as I use his pointers for students when doing the critique, I go through these points with my students each time we do a critique activity just to remind them of my expectations and then we’re ready to get started.
My final thought on this…I was astounded to hear that 80% of feedback given to students is student to student feedback – as teachers we HAVE to ensure that we model excellent feedback so that our students are doing it right.
0530 on a Saturday morning is difficult, cold and after another long night of the ashes, very miserable. However, I was off to a Pedagoo event, packed with exciting speakers, thoughtful teachers, inspiring individuals and I was pretty confident that my chosen Saturday CPD event was going to be brilliant. It was…
The first thing that blew me away (after registering with the very welcoming pupils of the school) was the amazing building. It was bright, clean, tidy and very much the type of modern building I come to expect when I go ‘somewhere nice’. Just as our children know when they are being shortchanged as regards use of windows XP on old PC’s, they know it when they walk into a dingy building which is in desperate need of a paint job. Michael Gove said that the building and environment of a school makes no difference. I drive past these buildings at Fettes and Stewart’s Melville on the way to my school every day. Clearly, environment makes a difference.
The other thing about the building I loved was the use of images of Joseph Swan children working, often with ideas about how they work, or slogans/quotations about respect, reading etc behind them. That is something I will try and create in the next couple of weeks if energies allow as it looks so good and inspires.
Whilst having my complimentary tea and danish pastry (which would contravene the bring your own tea and biscuits policy of many councils) I set about reading my welcome pack. I loved the Happy Mondays leaflet which contained loads of great, ready to use, ideas for enhancing and reinforcing learning in the classroom. The Happy Mondays reference is because the teachers at Joseph Swan receive and e-mail every Monday, with a new idea or resource in it from their SMT. I love that idea!
MY first session of the day was in the Reading Room (and what an amazing space that is…) with David Hodgson. David talked about how we learn and how we can use techniques in the classroom to help children learn and remember how they learned things. As a primary teacher I get asked lots of questions from the children and my most frequent answer to them is good question. I don’t believe in throwing the knowledge confetti about for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’m not convinced the children will remember it whilst they walk back to their desks and secondly I (or A.N.Other teacher) will not always be there for them when they have a question or want to learn something. The things we did in his session were all practical examples of an NLP approach, and I was so impressed I bought his book for my Kindle this morning. He used this pupil feelings graphic in his session too which I find a useful tool to have by my desk in the class room. Something David said which rang a bell was that we should ensure our children ‘Have a get out clause for children when they don’t learn’. This is vital, so often our children get way more stressed than we ever do about a wrong answer. We need them to take risks, get it wrong, change it and get it wrong again, smiling all the time! That is a successful learner right there.
The next session was with Rachel Orr who is HT at Holy Trinity Rosehill Her workshop was about developing writing through Primary Learning and specifically using Pie Corbett’s talk for writing work. I had worked on a Pie Corbett workshop for writing day before (January 2007??) and it was amazing. I’ve bought a few of his books and love his approach to writing. There is a lot of material on the internet too to supplement his written work. I also liked the punctuation sounds and actions which children are to use when they are talking and can then reinforce the assessment process in class. Rachel has used Pie’s work in two differing schools now and shared with us examples of the successes her young writers had, and these examples cal be seen on her school blogs. Rachel gave us a disk with loads of fantastic resources on, many her own work (the learning keys are a great idea!).
During lunch I met some great folk including @spiceweasel77 who is doing some brilliantly exciting things with his class!
After lunch it was on to Hywel Roberts session. Hywel spoke passionately and humourously about creating contexts in the curriculum, allowing the children to view the learning they are given through their own filters and engaging children in their learning. I made loads of notes during Hywel’s session and later tweeted many of them. Here’s the quotations I tweeted:
‘It’s our job to get the World thinking.’
‘We need to dig learning holes for our children to fall into.’
‘we are the people who make sense of the curriculum we are given. ‘
‘Have a what’s great 2 mins at the start of staff meetings’
‘we need to induct our kids into learning’
‘all of these things are just doing the job we’ve been asked to do. That we’re paid for. ‘
I’ve got Hywel’s book and it’s a great read. I need to do more of this in my classes. It’s great stuff. I was incredibly impressed with Hywel and the way he works in schools.
Finally, my last session was about using enquiry based learning in maths. Stephanie Thirtle took this session, she is a maths teacher at Joseph Swan. (I’d love The Girl to have her as a maths teacher, lessons would be so interesting!)
We did some enquiry based openers which really got us thinking and she talked about the approach of letting the children work things out for themselves, rather than an I teach then you do model. I love the work things out idea and think the way she’s bringing it to maths in a high school works really well. Much of the rationale for enquiry based learning was on her presentation and clearly showed examples of enquiry based learning which we could use as one-off lessons or develop for a maths topic. Such things investigating square numbers, straight line graphs using algebra, and one which P7 will be seeing soon – 12 Days of Christmas maths.
Her room displays were wonderful and I snapped many of them on my phone and you can see them here. I particularly liked that ways she put maths into context making it real for the children.
That chimed so well with the session from Hywel previously.
I came away with my head full of wonderful ideas and a bag full of goodies!
So, what next…well before Christmas I will make some posters of children and their ideas about learning to go up in school and I will also make some musical posters for the music room.
After Christmas I will take loads more of these ideas and run with them. It’ll be different, fun and learning will happen.
As requested by @fkelly , I’ve decided to throw a quick post together about www.nationalmoderation.co.uk – a service I created to allow Scottish teachers to share their own unit assessments for the new National Qualifications.
Essentially the creation of this website was spurred by one glaringly obvious reality – the unit assessments provided by the SQA are simply not up to scratch, and as a consequence everybody is creating their own material and hoping that it meets the standards. Ón the face of it, this may be no bad thing – if we create our own unit assessments then we can tailor them to our own courses and our own pupils, and surely that is good idea?
To give an example, I have consciously themed my entire National 5 English course around the concept of ‘Coping with Conflict’, selecting texts which can be woven together across the whole year (‘Spiritual Damage’, ‘War Photographer’, ‘The Man I Killed’ and ‘Bold Girls’) – now that I am no longer forced to use a few set NABs I have also created reading assessments which follow this theme, thus enhancing the pupils’ overall understanding of what we are studying this year (at least this is the idea).
Several months ago, however, I realised that if EVERYONE does the same thing then there will be hundreds – perhaps thousands – of unit assessments being created across the country and many of us will be replicating the work that colleagues are doing (or have already done). Frankly, we all work too hard as it is to be reinventing the wheel hundreds of times over, so a system for sharing material is essential.
Of course, Education Scotland and the SQA are providing something along these lines, but there are two reasons why I believe it would be helpful for a service which is independent of these bodies. Firstly, the websites of these organisations (especially Education Scotland) are – to be kind – not particularly user friendly, and I (like many others) don’t have the time or the willpower to fight my way through Glow to find material on a regular basis; secondly, I firmly believe that the only way for us to ever really become confident in the development and delivery of our own materials is for us to move beyond a dependence on official bodies to confirm that every little thing is up to scratch.
If – or, depending on your philosophical view of the amount of fluid in a glass, when – Curriculum for Excellence fulfills its potential it will be because of the incredible work of teachers, not Education Scotland, the SQA or the Education Secretary, and I hope that NationalModeration might play a small part in that development.
Basically, it works like this: teachers upload their unit assessments, other teachers moderate them by leaving comments, alterations are made as required and, eventually, gradually, standards become clearer and are met across the country.
At present the site only has English assessments but it would be great if other subjects could begin contributing materials as well (I’ll create however many subject specific pages are required in this instance). In order to sign up you must be teacher in a Scottish school (and verify this, usually by means of an official email address) – this means that the material can be kept secure, allowing us to continue to use it in our classes as our official unit assessments.
If you think that the site would be of any help to you as you continue to develop your approach to the new qualifications please do sign up – the more people are involved the more effective our approach will be.
Cross-posted from http://justtryingtobebetter.net/
This may or may not have happened.
He handed me his first piece of writing homework and, of course, it was illegible. ‘I’m not good at writing’, he’d told me. We’d been working on lists: Things I lost by the time I was ten or Things I’d been given by the time I was ten. He wanted to tell me about his hamster. He’d stayed behind to tell me all about it: how he lost it in his garden and feels sad about it; how he’d look after it more if he still had it. I told him to write it all down at home.
Being ‘not good at writing’ wasn’t a surprise. The notes I’d been passed from the ASN team told me that. He would feel better if he was given a laptop to write his work, something his previous teacher echoed. He had great ideas but there’s no point in him writing it in his class book as you won’t be able to read it. Better to type it up. He’ll feel better about it and you won’t need to struggle to decipher his handwriting. And I thought to myself, ‘No. It’s time to stop this nonsense.’
He’s twelve and the most important thing he has learned so far in seven years of school is, ‘I’m not good at writing.’ And that’s not good enough, is it? We might dress that fact up by giving him a nice laptop to do his work. We might constantly remind him that his ideas are great and he can express himself very well at times. Perhaps that’s fine when you are twelve. His work nicely typed up, perhaps pinned on the class notice board. His teacher might tell the other pupils to read his work because it was one of the best in the class.
But what happens when he gets to fifteen, sixteen, twenty, twenty five? Who is there to tell him that his ideas are great; when he realises that his inability to write legibly will exclude him from any number of things that others can do? So when we condemn some children to a life of illiteracy because it is difficult – not for him, although it is, but for a system which can’t find the time to help him with his problems- we cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility when he enters society after he leaves us. ‘I’m not good at writing’ does not sound quite so cute from an adult who has been through twelve or thirteen of formal schooling, does it?
I spent perhaps five times as long deciphering his handwriting that night as anyone else’s in the class. I returned class books and explained the feedback process and that everyone had their own improvements to make. Then I sat down next to the boy who told me ‘I’m not good at writing’. I asked him why that was. He said it was something he’d never been able to do. I sat with him and looked him in the eye and told him that I would do everything I could for him to get better at writing. He wrote out one sentence in large rounded letters. He looked at me and smiled.
Remember, this may or may not have happened.