Author Archives: eddiewhite

Positive Engagement through restorative approaches

I joined a group of colleagues in getting advanced training in restorative practice about 5 years ago. It was the best training I have ever received – and any of my colleagues will confirm I am a bonafide grumpy pants so I don’t offer praise on CPD stuff openly!

As a standard issue bloke, five foot ten, size ten shoes (but with safety packaging added around the waist) I was always able to pack an intimidating figure if I needed to. If a child yells at me, I can shout over them, arch slightly over them and make them defensive. Why? It was what I was trained to do.

My first acknowledgement of how this didn’t quite fit in education was when I met an American colleague who never shouted and operated what she called a ‘safe classroom’ which sounded impressive but, when she got threatened by a group of angry teenagers who clearly didn’t operate such a classroom policy, she yelled for me to ‘save her’ from the unsafe experience. It was my ‘classical’ training that indeed saved her.

Over a decade later, things have changed. I have since worked in three regions, three schools and for six head teachers (plus a few acting HTs) and have had a flavour of current and evolving behaviour strategies. I have read and listened to a lot of dialogue regarding behaviour management over the years and before Restorative practice, I had one other gem from Andy Vass. That was to instruct, when a child is being a pain and maybe throwing insults (or bricks), you should rise above it. ‘Two reasons. One – He/She is a child. Two – you are not.’ That always stuck with me. So beautifully put.

When I explain my day to day interaction with restorative practice as ‘behaviour management’ I fear that I undersell it. It is about building relationships and trust and success and, the word we fear using in high schools, love. We need to build up our pupils. Some arrive in school with a significant need to be built up.

It is those pupils who misbehave and get into trouble can be categorised into different groups. I will let the reader divide them into groups as suits themselves, but I want to declare one group. This is the, ‘just yell at me and be done with it’ group who have grown up with anger. It is a skill they learn, switch off and let the adult scream. When they are finished, nothing actually changes. The adult is more stressed, the pupil is more stressed, but it is a way of life. Lessons learned by pupil through yelling? Be bad. People will yell. Life goes on. Nothing actually learned there.

Yelling at a pupil also introduces the Amygdala Hijack. This is not something I am an expert at, but I understand the theory through my own experience. If you have ever been yelled at by an irate or grumpy boss, colleague, parent, wife etc, that feeling of “woah…shut up…I can’t think here…” kicks in and processing ability reduces. So yelling at any pupil creates only negative lessons. Adults hate me…teacher is awful…I hate school…I hate learning…life’s unfair. They may not do the ‘crime’ again, but we aren’t there to police them, we are there to engage with and nurture them, even in later years of high school (and even with the ‘bad boys.’)

I found the principle outline of restorative practice allowed me to develop my pupil relationships the day I started introducing it. Those pupils who just want a yelling at to get back into class and get on with it hated the question, ‘What were you feeling when you said/did…’ Not asking what they did, not asking why. Asking what they were feeling and have the focus on feelings on them, their ‘victims’ the whole class. Wow, what a difference. On my class registers this year, I have perhaps two pupils who don’t engage well with this method. And two more who struggle a little – and I focus on the disengaged pupils as part of my remit.

What was even more surprising for me was this: with the improved relationships and higher expectation of engagement, and my deeper understanding of how anger comes from fear (The Anger Onion….), I have been able to get the poorest achievers in my school to attain more. Every single S4 pupil (including the ones who are ‘Special cases’ or ‘not our fault that…..’) have achieved something this year and many exceeded their own expectations.

I know that many readers will think that last paragraph is nonsense. Me too, I removed it three times and wrote it back in three times. There is more to that success and perhaps another posting as it involved intrepreneurship (google that word if you need to – I believe every teacher is, or should be, one), working with social work, empowerment by Head Teacher, PT, families etc etc. But if the ethos of the restorative classroom/school isn’t there, what do we have to build on for those kids who don’t traditionally love school because the rules say we should?

If we want to make outstanding, non-faddy, differences in our classrooms, it really has to start with the relationships with the children.

Still twittering but what changes? 3 years on.

Twittering in the classroom, that was a long time ago.

The cohort that I wrote that blog about left school last week. They were just starting S4 at the time.

It has been a fair fast flowing few years and we have seen social media grow over that time.

Am I going to be annihilated by the bosses for using twitter? Well no, I wasn’t.

Still, some colleagues gently patted me on the head, smiled and said something along the lines of “The GTCs would fry us!”

So I contacted the GTCs and got a very supportive response. Essentially telling me I am not going to be in trouble with the GTCs, so long as my bosses are ok with it.

The framework we were using was approved and, these years on, I think we are safely using twitter appropriately.

How has it developed?

Now, several parents follow the feed

This is a very important, if unexpected, development. Some children tell me they are not permitted to use social media. By using this life skill in our work, parents are letting go a little but also following themselves. The fact we can help pupils understand when they make a mistake and tweet something poorly thought out.

In fact, in that time, I have had two pupils make comments that were a bit “off” but nothing major. For most people, Social Media is rather self-regulating.

We link with local community

So, imagine when the local MP or councillors tweet a link or comment about Pay Day loans. My local MP, whose office is right across from the school, is Fiona O’Donnell who is a big campaigner. The numbers are interesting, the links to poverty and to modern studies etc.

This lets us get that message out to the kids. Maths is awesome (stop singing that song!)

I also follow the local sports teams of every sport, it gives me a heads up when a pupil gets a gold medal in a swimming contest or similar. I can’t rely on the kids telling me (they ARE teenagers after all) but they do love getting praised, so long as thy can whinge about it too.

Banter is good

Banter, or “Bant’r” with a strong east coast accent. This is important for teenagers. We don’t instigate Banter with kids, but we do with other departments. When the English department tweeted a photo of the debating team standing in the Disney store with kermit and Miss Piggy. It was my DUTY to tweet “who is the muppet on the right?” And yes it was a DHT and no I didn’t get sacked. Maths and English having a laugh together. Suddenly pupils see the maths and English department are not great enemies. This stuff matters to some kids.

24/7 support when it is needed

That is not a by-product of the experiment. It is the reason for being.
Pupils don’t panic about my homework, they don’t worry about what day a test is one. And as three teachers now use the same account, I no longer have to answer all the queries by myself, and I also get to help kids I don’t know. It is like a Quality Assurance exercise, and it helps children.

A little nuclear weapon in parental discussions.

“I have had to get a tutor as he struggles with his maths homework”
“He knows he can tweet me any time for help. Take a photo of the page and…”

“Wait ’till I get home and see him!”

Every department has it now

Culture has changed. The pedagoo power of positivity became a critical mass. No longer am I the geeky one (I never was geeky, mind!)
Some people were afraid I was letting kids use their phones in class. This was not true, because it was against the school rules. If I wanted people to trust me, I had to use their familiar boundaries in general. Once they realised I was not against the grain, really, people joined in.
Now we really have feeds for parents from the main school account and kids can “tune in” to what ever school feeds they feel helpful. No point in getting chemistry feeds if you don’t study it or find it interesting.
PE, Sport, RE, Maths, English, Chemistry, Physics, the list just kept growing. That is fab.

Keeping up foreign relations.

I don’t mean the other side of the world, but other maths departments locally. Most teachers don’t see the council boundary lines as reasons to avoid talking either so tweets to and from maths departments in the region and beyond just enrich the learning experience. It also builds up resources and links. “See how you tweeted that you had just finished a Nat 4 homework book….”

Just interesting to see how it all changed.

And now from being the hunter, to being the hunted. This is the first pedagoo post that I have had to await approval of. #pedagooAdmin (RTD)

Teach hexadecimals to 8 year olds, but don’t have a cow man!

Numeracy week. Every primary school in our catchment has a numeracy week. Of course, they look to the local high school for maths teachers as experts. We are somehow perceived as more capable of sharing the numeracy story than our primary colleagues.

I just like escaping the building during the day. It is like truancy whilst getting paid. Stolen fresh air is always sweeter somehow.

Last year I had a lifetime supply of spaghetti and jelly babies. That is well blogged, it seems, replicated. That is a fantastic element of pedagoo. Share the love. The love of the job.

There is always a challenge to keep it fresh. How can I go along to a new year with a new yet fresh idea? Time for think and a chat with colleagues. What would my exciting yet easy to deliver lesson be? To make it more complex for me, and as I don’t hold a drivers licence whilst the fracture heals, I will have to work with a partner. Eep.

It occurred to me when I was completing a sociology CPD (watching the Simpson!) it struck me. “Imagine what the numbers world would have been like if we only had 8 fingers?”

The lesson then started to write itself. The pupils had completed a topic on place value. Units, tens and hundreds.

We visualised the units with one hand of ten fingers replacing the tens column and ten sets of hands for the hundreds column.

Next we produced a set of paper gloves. Four fingered hands. (I was given strange looks when I casually said that I was off to photocopy my hands)

We replaced the pictures with one set of 8 fingers and the. 8 sets of 8 fingers.

So now, 4+2 is still 6 (use your 8 fingered gloves)
But 5+4 = 11 (1 set of eight and 1 left over)
I gave a differentiation sheet for pupils who were struggling. I also created a few tarsia puzzles if pupils found it too easy.

The Simpson world of Numbers was a hit. In fact, not one child needed the sheet. (We renamed units as “Maggies” Eights as “Lisas” and 8×8 as “Barts”

Many pupils answered 5+4 as “1 Lisa and 1 Maggie”

It seemed a real challenge with a class of 24 pupils aged 8 but then, just to crank it up to eleven, we cracked open our Qwizdom devices we had brought to the school and invited them to try a few questions. Almost every child was getting right answers.

The exciting lesson for these kids resulted in a unanimous decision to have their lunch time delayed to allow more time to play with the handsets. That was rewarding in itself.

We didn’t have time to scare them by calling it the hexadecimal system. We didn’t have time to extend to binary systems or link to computational science.

What it did do though was open their minds to new ideas. They were also less afraid of high school teachers. They have teachers who are keen to take this forward themselves.

So, if I had been asked to successfully teach hexadecimal number systems to 8 year olds (happy co-incidence there!) then I would have laughed at you.

Pedagoo is about sharing ideas and concepts. Please share this and please add to it. What can I improve? What would you do differently?
Do you have an idea of a great lesson? Please share it. Even if it is just a little different, or just a little bit of you said, “hey, that was quite nice!” Please share it. We all need your help. Collegiality is more than a corporate buzz word.

Your “Obvious” is my “Inspired!”

One of my favourite elements of my #PedagooAdmin duties is  going hunting.

The @Pedagoo feed flashes up hundreds of great ideas a month and some may well get lost (an educational version of “Can’t see the woods for the trees!”) and I work with the team to try and make sure we encourage as many people to expand their ideas from tweets to blogs.

One of the most common responses to any requests is “But that’s not exciting!” or “But it wasn’t my idea.” Sometimes people are happy to create a post without prompting. Those posts make us smile a lot. Indeed, often people who put up a post on Pedgaoo are creating their first ever blog.

I know from posts that I have shared, particularly examples of lessons that I have completed myself, that the feedback is both encouraging and inspiring. Usually I will try something, blog it and the feedback I receive means I have a fresh handle on IDL or differentiating the lesson more so that when I teach it next time, I teach it even better and it makes more of an impact. Not a bad reward for about 30 minutes of typing, really.

Today I tried the Blackout Poetry that Jennifer Ludgate @MissJLud had tweeted about in her #PedagooFriday. Thankfully, she agreed to expand this in to a post for us and the tweets have been  quite clear – people love this idea. It may not have originated from Jennifer, but if she didn’t share it on a blog, this would not be shared in time for people to plan interesting lessons with it this week.

In my classroom, we tried this with a Maths theme – being a maths teacher after all – for the annual Department poster competition. If we don’t win this year, I will create a schism and start my own poster contest next year.

My demo poem, as it was a low set class, turned out to read as follows :

One Escape for 1000 years

In 1840 prestige

128 Delux. Two zones. Two Thermals.

Enjoy Roman with 12 separate area.

The Perfect Trio

Two and Four with Temperature on 60 Degrees.

Set off just 15 minutes by car.

Offering discount of up to 60 percent.

Ok Relax, I am a better teacher than a poet, but they are hunting for how maths is used in the Times and the Edinburgh Evening News. (And a random French Language Magazine which has been untouched by the class!)

They are unaware but they are finding out how much the press depends on Numeracy to discuss the news.

Now, I would never have thought of this if Jennifer had not shared her post.

I have a plea. If you can, and you have 30 minutes, please write up a Blog post about one lesson that you think went fine. Even if you don’t think it was brilliant, others will.

Can Literacy in the Maths Classroom be Taken as Read?

I posed a question, whilst sitting on the East Lothian coast line staring at the choppy waves. This was posed to fellow math and science teachers.

What Literacy do you cover, and how?

The responses were wide and varied. The responders were from wider than just Scotland too, clearly this is a topic of interest beyond CfE.

Before I do go in to the responses, I should outline some of my own experiences first.

Writing letters.

Okay, this was more of a “bolt on” and I knew it at the time. It was, however, tackling a wider point than just using words. I got my classes to choose an author and write to ask for the author’s experiences of Maths and their reflections on Maths now.

If you choose to do this sort of lesson, expect to be amazed. When I handed in my notice in Edinburgh as I had a new job in East Lothian, the order of requests were 1) Can I have your room 2)Can I have your fan 3) Can I have your arm chairs (long story) 4) Can I have your letters.

I got a letter from Harry Hill, now deceased, who was the original Goodfellas gangsta. He extolled to one of my pupils the wonders of Maths and how he loved the subject. There was another one (hand written) from David Attenbourgh explaining how the statistical research in Natural History makes Maths one on his biggest draws. Then I had authors write to say how they had to learn to fly a plane – to kill off a character in a series – and discovered the Maths involved almost blew his mind. The list went on, and on, and the office staff started to hand me the mail and stand longingly next to me as I may open it and let then read another famous person’s response. The display eventually ended up in the Holy Rood library so may still be there today.

The purpose of this was as much to do with engaging those who preferred literacy to numeracy, who did not want numbers to get in the way of words, who were going to hate Maths simply as it wasn’t English. Did it work? The parents thought it was great as their children went home talking about Maths in the wider setting. I would venture this may be classed HWB as much as literacy, all in.

However, it was a “bolt on” and bolt ons are baddies in this busy curriculum.


Maths has this section in the CfE Level 1-4 where we expect them to research and present, in various media, topics involving history or current Maths people or topics. Great chance to talk about the subject we love and the history that made it the powerful subject it is today (Helps I did History of Maths in my degree, mind, to make me love this bit)

Some people, I don’t particularly distance myself from this either, may think this topic is a bolt on by the writers of the course. Many schools, I have found, “shove” this to the end so if there is a bad winter or a problem earlier on, the course can omit this topic. Not my own school, I must say!

So, my point in asking the question was to find out what natural Literacy links are being made within the science and math section of the curriculum.

Steven Wilkinson (@S__Wilkinson)
I’ve tackled literacy using creative writing, “What would the World be like if America lost the Space Race” etc…

Blair H (@TwentySeven11)
major point for us is scientific literacy. Ability to read and understand scientific text and to use approp vocab.

Alice Clubb (@AliceClubb)
Stats investigation on variety of literature- they decide HOW to compare the word lengths etc & what this actually means 4 reading

Robert Jones (@jonesieboy)
group work and learning logs cover loads of E&Os: 3-02a, 3-09a, 3-28a, 3-29a etc etc.

There were several people kind enough to add even more comments but I think this gives a great flavour of what is happening.

The point of Literacy being an overarching term to cover all types of literacy was also discussed by some, noting that literacy is a much richer topic than Grammar and Spelling. Sure we have word banks for our subject, but Literacy is as much about the group work as it is about the words. Robert Jones’ comment above expressing this view.

In fact, we even let an English teacher join in with the discussions.

Neil Craik-Collins (@ngccollins)
Any English department should be able to show you how to teach Listening/Talk. Easy to assess if you had a framework.

When I last did my History topics, we used a basic grid of what we were assessing, (clarity, eye contact, engaging with the audience etc) and a video camera so people could self-and peer- assess their work. Never had someone sing their Maths homework to me before but if you have not heard my old S1’s song about the history of the calendar, you have not lived!

What did come out in the discussion was very positive.

We use timetables, graphs, charts (and other types of Texts) that mean we can deliver :

Before and as I read, I can apply strategies and use resources independently to help me read a wide variety of texts and/or find the information I need.
LIT 4-13a

We lead class discussions and have the following impact on their Literacy Skills :

When I engage with others I can make a relevant contribution, ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute and encourage them to take account of others’ points of view or alternative solutions.

I can respond in ways appropriate to my role, exploring and expanding on contributions to reflect on, clarify or adapt thinking.
LIT 4-02a

In fact, if you go and re-read your big green folder (or the website, probably) you will agree, as everyone above has contributed, Maths and Science are all about communication of ideas and how we learn is a further opportunity to hone the skills required in Literacy.

Indeed, another excellent point made by Robert Jones sums up the excellence of the current set up :

Robert Jones (@jonesieboy)
I don’t lose sleep over the gathering of evidence Eddie. I’m more interested in feeding the pig than weighing it.

Nothing of what we do with Literacy needs assessing, in Maths and Science, but reflecting on the Outcomes and Experiences may well help with our Learning and Teaching maybe?

The point coming across is almost “Literacy is a non-story for us, it is so well embedded (from years ago) that it is impossible for us NOT to deliver most of the Literacy Outcomes in a normal Maths course.”

As ever, Pedagoo is a great start point for sharing details and I would love to see comments or tweets to @pedagoo with your own experiences of good practice in Literacy in the Maths and Science classrooms

What did you do differently to improve results?

At the start of each year, there is a reflective discussion surrounding grades and success.

For many, there is an element of the “told you so!” happening in both directions.

Should someone who attained a grade three ever be allowed to take higher? I can not remember the actual statistic but I recall is it somewhere around 17% pass higher from a grade three. Even at double this chance, you would only have one kid in three pass.

I got a grade three in English then got my higher. If I ever see “In The Snack Bar” again, I am sure it will bring back a lot of nervous memories as well as the first time I ever heard the word “Formica.” This was when Twin Peaks was at its height and I always think of one of the strange characters from the Blue Rose cases saying that word over and over in undulating tones, perhaps promoting the dullness in to something I was interested in.

So, do I champion all my grade three pupils to sit Higher? No.

The results we achieve are rarely disparate from what we expect and usually relate year on year.

Having completed my first year in my new region, I was particularly keen to make sure I had an outstanding set of results although for the last nine years, in my only two other schools, I was just as obsessed – it is the most quantitive part of our business after all.

My S4, a wonderful class, had several strong characters in it who were just under confident with the world of maths. There were two pupils who were not even aiming for credit so I needed the remaining 21 to achieve gold standard. I am hardly going to write about a major failure in this way so you will be right to assume the 21 get their credit grades.

Positivity makes all the difference, but sharing ideas (often through Pedagoo!) allows me to be more driven to try out new things.

In the past, I have been frustrated with targets. For example, in my last school it was statistically the case that top set class got apx. 75% credit, second set may get 1 credit pupil then third set got no credit pupils.

So what happens when the S4 have 50 more people in it one year? The target remained the same and based on past experience.

It upset me when pupils were placed in set three and their parents knew they could get credit. The choice of textbook is almost zero by the third set, the behavioural expectations were poor so focus was not always there for many nice kids.

I made a “sound” suggestion to the department one year, why don’t we fail everyone?

It is not as daft as it sounds. See, if you fail everyone one year then the target for next year is easy to beat. Then our results increase and we look great.

The suggestion was not taken up, but my point was. And I was promptly given set three for the following year – where we made more credits from set three than set two.

Why? My theory follows shortly.
Setting, in maths, is a fabulous thing if used properly. The argument from the “set three pupils don’t DO credit” believers was that I simply had kids in that set who should have been in the set above, even though the NfER and our own standardisation tests showed this not to be the case.

I am actually a believer in the football style “Transfer Window” with pupils in these situations. If a kid starts to work well with me in set three, why should I punish them by given them different peers, making them bottom of the set above and having a completely different teacher to lead the learning. Some changes are needed, obviously, but one (now retired) colleague always said “you always leave a mess when you support too many kids – weak credit passes who think they should be allowed higher and the STACs look poor the following year as less people pass the int2.”

So my success with set three? An article I read in the Tess around 2004/5.
A school in the Wirral had a policy of knowing the targets for each set and then told teachers they must now teach set three with the targets of set two, etc. the instruction was simple, if not ridiculous. The results were amazing.

I don’t just look to see how many of the Pedagoo Admin crew , or the Pedagurus , are named in the paper each week, I look for simple and effective solutions to targets.

What made the difference with the S4 class this year? Without a doubt, it was using Twitter. You will perhaps recall this from October time. I shared Learning Intentions with my classes on twitter and, in return, they could tweet me questions they needed help with. If I was free, I would answer.

The use of twitter was one I was happy to let evolve, pupil lead but within the EL guidelines. The results, all credit focus pupils got credit. A significant number from the set below passed too. I don’t carry all the merit for the results, as with everything in teaching, it is about blending our approaches.

Your turn now.

New term, results in hand. What did you do to improve your results? Can you share it as a blog or in 140 characters?

Let’s show what impact the positivity of Pedagoo is having.

Can we improve parental engagement by “teaching” them?

The staff room is an awful place sometimes. That is a place to vent frustration or even anger at events that have happened. 

Quite often I find the frustration quite justified. We have all had complaints from parents, some of us physical threats and the knowledge that an hour or so of our already little time is going to be wasted on going through the motions of due process. Sometime, the reason for parental complaint lies deeper than legal rights and wrongs. I want to pick up on that further down.

There is, however, another side to the staff room that I love. It is the “bigger half” (don’t strike me down, god of sums) which is often outweighed by the darker, smaller side of the staff room. 

Last term, my department was joined together for a lunchtime coffee. Between sports duties, corridor duties and revision classes, this is rare. We were chatting about various pieces of nonsense (due dates for the expectant parents in the group, how much rain there would be in the holidays, who was teaching what levels next year, when would the results be in etc etc) when the conversation turned to a discussion with a parent from a few months ago. 

The parent had bounced an idea that the maths we teach is probably not beyond them, but as the parent was unsure of the exact content and the parent had not been involved in learning for many years, they just felt under-confident to offer their services to their child.  

We discussed this over our coffee (I firmly believe Nescafé has more to do with successful CPD than the swankiest of hotels ever can) and found there would be enough interest in this to offer an hour a week as an after school engagement. 

The costs? Do you remember the days we got paid for offering CPD? You are getting old. Number of cups that need dishwashed? Approximately 100ml of milk and 10-20 spoons of coffee. Printing, but we would not be teaching the parents the course, that would be impractical. Perhaps?

I have just spent the best part of three weeks getting my head around moodle, this will help my students as it will also engage them with blog writing and help us reduce the volume of paper we use. Several features of moodle blow glow out of the water for me, for maths. Perhaps once I have these features nailed in my learning, I will be happy to use glow for the other features. Who knows!

It then struck me. Moodle is a good option for parents. A page to outline what we teach followed by a few questions to demonstrate what we assess. Feedback is provided and a copy available for the teacher who enrolled them. An option is available to not give feedback should that be preferred. 

Putting this together with some guides to support families with Maths will also be a major resource. For example, how can parents help with estimation and rounding?  Learning the rule “5 or more round up” is great but getting the child to estimate the weight of sugar when making a cake or measure of milk when cooking (2 very simple thoughts) embed the spirit of CfE better than any text books can.

This is not an overnight thing, planning and co-operation may well be required.

So, an easily created log in to a slightly augmented set of online homework resources, a copy of a short list of activities that could be fun yet helpful in enriching the child’s Maths experience and a weekly coffee/chat/Maths discussion. Are these going to go down well? Are we going to get parents to get involved? Will it help with their understanding of what we are teaching, and why? Will it make for a better relationship between school and parent? 

This questions are not rhetorical, I look for your views. Please let me know if you have experience of this and (regardless of your experience or subject) let me know what your thoughts are, before I spend too much time working on it. Your views are crucial in moving this forward. Please respond either by tweet or comment?

Sharing our sharing of LI and engaging every pupil?

In my last post, I asked you to tell us all what your thoughts about sharing learning intentions were. All replies were going to be interesting as they reflect the Pedagoo Collective and not just one or two people.

I would love to see some of the recipients writing up a little bit more in a blog post (email if you want some help with this!) all views are important and it would seem that, in some context, Balance for the kids can only be achieved by teachers being different.

At the bottom of this post, I have listed as many of the responses as I could fit in. I have not put them in any order, obvious or surreptitious. The views of each respondent reflect what helped Pedagoo win the title “Most Influential” as we are working together to share ideas. Responses came from student teachers right up to Head teachers. I don’t think we got any Head of Education people responding, although it would be great to get as wide an input as possible.

Below is a now diverse and professional cross section of our views regarding the sharing of these. I have kept them to the very end of the post for convenience.

We have all shared our views and thoughts very successfully. One question I want to put across now is this. How do we extend this to pupils with specific learning difficulties? For example, if we ask pupils to write down the LI at the start of the lesson, a dyslexic child may be more upset at this than engaged. I assume that, in this case, we would all hand a print out to the child but your views and experiences in such things is invited.

Does this sharing idea only work for more academic children, for example?

Have you had experiences of where it works perfectly with children who are less interested at schools?

Have you had experience of where it just doesn’t work?

Perhaps you have changed your view, or your practice in this matter. Why?

As before, either a reply to this blog or a tweet to @Pedagoo would be a great way of helping each other learn.

Please take part!

Some of our responses to the use of LI and SC were :

@RosieSheldrake: learning intentions differentiated: to succeed, to excel, g & t kids to write their own excel statement, teacher checks challenge

@scotsbioteacher: Intrigued by #SOLOtaxonomy for LIs. ( but yet to try it. Considering simplifying language (pre-structural,etc)

@charlainesi: SC and LI –  SC to give an outline of learning for the lesson and LI to link the learning skills to the context

@barbaragray58: actually takes quite a bit of skill to create good quality LI and related SC, but powerful if learners are involved!

@ezra1962: Sometimes they can speculate at the outset as to the SC. “I’ll be able to…”.

@RosieSheldrake: sharing learning intentions broken up in content, process and benefits,often front loading lessons writing learning outcomes at end

LI are essential – quite simply learning should be planned. SuCcess criteria arE powerfuL when LearNerS aRe invoLved iN craftInG Them

LI & SC really important yet I started to think that despite the best of (L) intentions the classroom may be more complex – so I have been giving more time to reflection (whilst still using LI & SC) – what did you learn? It often surprised me what the pupils felt the most important / relevant/ engaging, thing about the lesson had been.

Pretty much embedded across the school and pupils now ask if they are not up during regi as they copy them in to planner (Secondary)

2) Usually put up LI and, where possible, they come up with their own SC. Depends on the task though (Secondary Computing)

3) LI for every topic but not every lesson. Done verbally and not for ever lesson. Usually give the kids the week or month view/expectation. (Secondary)

4) Done every lesson but nine times out of ten it is done verbally as I hate the idea of kids copying them off the board. (Secondary Chemistry)

5) I share learning intentions in primary, as a class we discuss the success criteria so we know what need to do to achieve L.I. (Primary)

6) I do at the start of a new unit of work and frequently revisit them to ensure we are on track – not necessarily in every lesson (Secondary)

7) Not at the start of the lesson but at the end where pupils build their own SC. It makes pupils consider what they are doing and why when working on a problem. (Secondary)

A document, from Northern Ireland, that helps us focus the LI and SC is found here

Starting a lesson and sharing the intention of the lesson.

A few years ago, a parish church worried that their original tradition was lost. The new priest and some parishioners went to visit the oldest, original priest who had set up the parish fifty years earlier.

“Father, when we say, ‘Let us Pray’ we all then kneel down. Yes?”

“No, no my child!”

“As so, I was right?” Asked the young priest. “That is when they all stand up?”

“Not at all.”

Worried the old priest’s last breadth was about to leave him, the young parish priest explained the problem.

“The problem right now is that every time I say ‘Let us pray’ half the congregation stand and half them kneel.”

The old priest beamed with delight. “Now THAT is the tradition!”

I found this story particularly funny as a church goer having experienced this sort of confusion several times.

The relevance to teaching? Ask a group of teachers about the sharing of Learning Intentions and Success Criteria and some will kneel, others will stand. Whatever happens, most do something.

Having completed several observations over several years, I know the start of a lesson tells you so much about the lesson ahead. Maths teachers do seem obsessed with starter questions. Many of them giving questions that either provoke twenty minutes of off-topic recaps. I witnessed one (promoted) teacher make the starter questions last more than half the lesson (35 long minutes out of 60) then tell me to notice the starters took only five minutes.

My personal conclusion was that every teacher was able to offer a “normal” outline of how their lesson goes and was prepared to justify the rationale behind this. Many departments, or even entire schools, have a policy. These departments sometimes even bravely use the phrase “Well Embedded” to describe policies on such strategies.

My own observations suggest this term must mean “Those staff who are still here from when we did the initial whole school Inset still do it”

I met with a very insightful set of teachers at a school last week where I had been part of a team delivering a session on Higher Order Thinking (I shared a self evaluation tool in an earlier post.) This session was the feedback so was more informal. Our naturally occurring topic was Learning to Learn. Blooms Taxonomy is a good topic to evolve in to L2L.

Before any time, we were talking about the use of Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.

What is a Success Criteria, rather than a LI?

To find the answer to this, you are more likely to find success in the Primary sector. Why? I do not know it is even true. I have been told by several primary colleagues they are secure in their understanding. I have been told by some secondary colleagues they “don’t have a clue” what a SC is at all yet I have never met a primary colleague who doesn’t know.

Personally I use LI and SC but with the headings WALT and WILF (We are Learning To and What I’m Looking For) as it helps us all focus what the difference actually is. Some people may use Outcomes and Objectives. Some of my pupils hate WALT and WILF as they met this at primary school in the form of a pair of characters personifying the terms. Another unexpected problem with WALT and WILF? “Sir, you showing us a MILF too?” (google it, I had to!)

I recently asked for input from the teachers who follow me on twitter. The responses I received were as follows :

Pretty much embedded across the school and pupils now ask if they are not up during regi as they copy them in to planner (Secondary)

2) Usually put up LI and, where possible, they come up with their own SC. Depends on the task though (Secondary Computing)

3) LI for every topic but not every lesson. Done verbally and not for ever lesson. Usually give the kids the week or month view/expectation. (Secondary)

4) Done every lesson but nine times out of ten it is done verbally as I hate the idea of kids copying them off the board. (Secondary Chemistry)

5) I share learning intentions in primary, as a class we discuss the success criteria so we know what need to do to achieve L.I. (Primary)

6) I do at the start of a new unit of work and frequently revisit them to ensure we are on track – not necessarily in every lesson (Secondary)

7) Not at the start of the lesson but at the end where pupils build their own SC. It makes pupils consider what they are doing and why when working on a problem. (Secondary)

Indeed, I have involved teachers from other parts of the world in a separate list and get results that follow this pattern too.

I look forward to your input. New, old, middle aged. Please comment and let me know what works for you. In fact, fitting this response in to 140 characters and tweeting to @pedagoo would be a brilliant help. If we start a discussion or debate, all the better!

A document, from Northern Ireland, that helps us focus the LI and SC is found here

So, keeping in mind my focus was to look at the way lessons are started and how intentions are shared, I now ask for your own input. Either responding to this post or by tweeting to @pedagoo would be a good way of reflecting on our own teaching practice as the term nears to an end. Do you stand or kneel?

Pedagoo in my annual review.

This was the week for my annual review. Way back, when I had more hair, I used to anticipate the meeting. What if my own view of my work was poorer than my PTs view? What about the (now annual) question about why I am not going for a PT post? Why not interested in guidance as a career? So many questions, so many discussions.

Then there is that bit when I have to hand in my CPD hours. My “time sheet” for professional development. Did I make the magic 35 hours?

The answer to that is “yes!” Indeed, I think I made it to 35 hours by about end of October.

Accurate and easy hours can be calculated by adding up the hours for each CPD event one attends. Probably add one hour for prep time per course and then grab a calculator (metaphorically, before you think I am that bad at my sums!)

The problem with attending courses comes with time. When I first started, I went to the courses. The one on parents’ evenings, the one on marking higher, the one on teacher AH, the one on Blooms’ Taxonomy, the one on Emotional Intelligence. You get the picture.

Five years down the line, I struggled to find the courses I had not been to. I got sent to a nice posh one in a posh hotel (£450 the council will never see again) and the following year I went to the same hotel and it was ICT and a free pen drive (£450 – a 1Gb pen drive = £449.50 +/-) which I did leave with my now former employers before I start a crisis in perks of the job. These course only gave me one hour CPD each, though, as they only ran during school days and finished at 5pm.

How do we actually make up these hours? A (literally) three minute chat at the kettle about dyscalculia gave me a glorious three hours getting my brain under the bonnet of the condition. Also, in between waxing my bald patches, I have run a few CPD sessions (Higher Order Thinking, ICT, L+T) at school and region. These don’t fire up my brain as much. If I spent the rest of my career iterating my current knowledge base to a finely honed point, I would be both bored and frustrated by the end of year, never mind the end of my career.

My excitement, my fired up brain and my (mostly) content teaching is largely thanks to Pedagoo. At today’s PedagooAdmin meeting, we all agreed many of you read pedagoo posts but don’t comment. That is not a problem, if all 1650 of us talked at once, it would be very noisy in this joint. People are welcome to talk if they want, they are welcome to listen. But we ALL learn.

I could mention literacy in the form of the One Minute Writing, I could mention how my active learning was shaped by a post I had read about an Egyptian project. I could say how my twitter post was expanded thanks to feedback from readers across the UK and it even had a part in giving Gareth a chance to run his on feeds from his school in his region. I saw even pleased to see a HOTs resource on Blooms’ Taxonomy reach across to Australia and down to London. It is the feedback that comes with the posts that I found helped me focus my future thinking and helped my evaluation process.

All in all, I counted a little over twenty hours learning through Pedagoo and that is excluding my PedagooAdmin work. I didn’t put a total down in the column, I didn’t need to. The figures, as they say, spoke for themselves.

Pedagoo is an organisation by teachers and for teachers. It costs the taxpayers nothing and it gives the tax payers lots. I even paid for my own coffee today, there was not so much as a free pen drive! We will only move forward as a body of teachers if we work together and share ideas. We must be prepared to reflect on what works and what doesn’t. We can make mistakes if we reflect and learn! We have to share ideas or we will take longer to improve.

If you made use of pedagoo either directly or otherwise please retweet this post, even reply (or by commenting below) with an idea of how it has played a part in your CPD?