Author Archives: Lucie Golton

Foldable Fun… Pedagoo Sunshine… TMlovelibraries

Ok – this post has been a long time in coming, but since Pedagoo Sunshine more and more have been asking about foldables…

I came across them via @KDWScience at the ASE Conference. I wasn’t fortunate to attend the workshop but Karen’s successful trials with this in her classroom sent me off on another hunt and I managed to get hold of a foldable manual freely available on the internet. Go to my blog post here to download it.

From this I have then applied it to my subject – science. The initial reaction from the pupils was enthusiasm as this was something different and in fact they were somewhat amused that a ‘science teacher’ could do ‘art’.

foldable 1

I had already made examples for the pupils and used these to show them the variety of foldables that they could complete.

The first step is to actually demonstrate how to make each type of foldable. That way they can actually see the process; then let them loose! So as a teacher – master it first… then model… then let them go! I gave them possible topics they could use for example, 4 factors affecting the rate of reaction.

The idea is that they put something on the front for example, a question, a title and underneath the flaps they write summaries, key ideas etc that they need to know. The ones here show rates of reaction factors for year 11 and covalent and ionic bonding. Any topic that can be divided into sections can be used. Two flaps – cause and effects, 10 flaps – 10 key terms on the top, with definitions underneath. The list is endless….

Pupils relished an alternative method of creating revision material and I was told by another member of staff that they were using the same methods in a different class so foldables clearly made an impression on them.

My favourite foldable was designed for pupils to use to revise the formulae they needed for their exams. Having made this one many told me that they were using it to test themselves!

Of course, you then get the customisation level as seen here where one year 11 proudly announced he had added handles to his ‘doors’.

photo 2However, I’m not the only one on the foldable fun…

Below is the ‘accordion foldable’ created by @JOHNSAYERS and he needs to blog post on this – when it pulled it out of his pocket at Pedagoo Sunshine there was an audible gasp… and he spent the day turning down valuable offers for it… I however worked out how to create one and then showed it to my year 10 – one pupil’s response

‘Miss, Will you run an arts and craft session at lunch so we can make these’ – this was a year 10 boy would was desperate for me to give him my model – but we resolved it by teaching him how to make his own… if it motivates my year 10 boys – it must be good!


My parting advice… try it for yourself… even if you only master 2 or 3 – then see what they do with them. And if I’m doing a teach meet, pedagoo etc near you – come along and ask me how to make them :o)


photo 5


Teacher Learning via Twitter – part 2

So after being left with a series of questions and problems at the end of research paper two (handed in, in May) I was trying to solve the methodological issues of exactly how to capture informal learning in action between individuals.

At the time I was writing up research paper 1, I had reactivated my Twitter account and begun to follow teachers and others who were tweeting about teaching and learning. Here, I discovered a group of individuals interacting and sharing knowledge and ideas informally. What made it really special was I could see it happen on the screen in front of me.

When my supervisor – the wonderful Prof Alan Dyson, was presenting a workshop to us he stated ‘this paper is where if you want to try something different, you can, even if it all goes wrong’… never say that to me… I love doing something different…

Research paper 2 has focused on using a problem structuring method to illuminate the complexity of the interactions between individuals in the virtual community. Soft Systems Methodology conceptualises a situation where people are undertaking purposeful action as a system. As a group we are undertaking purposeful action – trying to improve our practice, to solve that problem of teaching better and better. Soft Systems structures this process in that we get involved in this action, but we are unable to predict the outcome from undertaking this activity. We cannot say predict what will happen to each individual in the system, merely that there will be an output – whatever that may be for the individual.

Without overloading you with the whole method and its underlying assumptions and ideas, there are two main stages that I undertook. Firstly, the building of a rich picture about the situation and then building ideal ‘systems models’ or ‘human activity systems’ that show the steps to achieve the transformation (in this case, the teacher’s practice).

So with this in mind, I had to spend rather a lot of time on Twitter watching the interactions and discussions that flowed through my timeline. What I was looking for were people sharing their ideas, knowledge, skills, or advice with others and then other picking up and using the ideas in their own schools. Sometimes the final stage was that the second person then fed back into the community how successful an idea was, how they modified it and what they saw as the benefit. I also looked at the types of things that were retweeted and the general discussions that happened. When I chose to tweet it was as a teacher, not as a researcher and I often forgot that I was researching this community as well as being a member of it.

What interesting tweets did I see? Well @oldandrewuk always provided an alternative viewpoint and caused at least one debate over teaching pedagogy. There were the stream of ‘fish jokes’ that also appeared and yes – I got them in the research paper. There was a lot of sharing little tips of knowledge but more importantly people then took those tips, used them, modified them and tweeted feedback into the community. This was brilliant for letting me see the impact of a particular idea on someone. Often it was modified, sometimes it set people off to produce new resources using a template, but was important was the feedback that showed that this had impacted on your practice.

What appears as a stream of tweets actually has more patterns than I ever expected. I used those patterns to construct a ‘rich picture’ of some of the things that were happening in the community. This can be downloaded here…and notice that it is version 7 – it was modified with more and more data. This rich picture helped me see what key processes and actions were being undertaken by people in their ‘purposeful action’ to improve their teaching. That is not to say we all agreed about how to go about it and that we all viewed everything the same way.

The main idea is that we are all acting purposefully in trying to improve our practice. The next stage of SSM is to construct model of human activity systems – ideal models of how to carry out this activity.

For our network to be successful we have to share what we know, have tried or understand and for someone to pick up and use an idea that someone has shared, they have to evaluate it and implement it in their classroom against the criteria they set for success. If we did not share our knowledge then it wouldn’t be passed to another individual, equally not all pieces of knowledge are collected by others and used – there is a selection and evaluation process at that end.

However, from all of this there are more questions…

Kenny Pieper and I had a discussion at Pedagoo Christmas Party about some of these models and he commented about ‘do I trust the source?’ – this was something that I had never considered. How do we build trust in our network? How do we decide who to follow and who we don’t?

Further on in this, more questions emerged.. how do we know that we know something and then decide to share it? Why do we choose to share in this community? How do we choose what ideas to use and reject? How do we evaluate the tweet responses to our tweets?

So just as I finished research paper 1 with a stream of unanswered questions – I’m left at the end of research paper 2 with another bunch. But this is the great thing about EdD research – it takes you wherever you want to go with your interests.

This was perhaps the hardest piece of academic work I have EVER done. I had to read up on a new methodology, apply it in a setting that had not been done before, with a new data set (tweets) and make some sense of it… in the words of my supervisor – ‘you made it difficult for yourself’.

Yet the feedback from my supervisor and second marker has boosted my confidence – original and exciting – the two things you want to hear about your doctoral research. That said… I’ve still got lots of work to do.

If you want to read it… try here..

Teacher Learning via Twitter part 1

As many of you know if you follow me on Twitter I am studying for an EdD (Doctorate in Education). My route through this consists of three research papers in the first two years before the final research and thesis taking the remaining four years of the course.

Research paper one was a literature review; a scoping exercise to see what the current research says about the area I was interested in – in my case – teacher informal learning. So what was out there? Not very much that focused on how teachers learn from each other in informal settings, most research on teacher learning focuses on traditional or formal CPD. This meant that I had to widen my search to look at informal learning in other contexts including engineering and nursing.

Out of this came two main theoretical approaches – the work of Etienne Wenger and the communities of practice theory and Engestrom’s activity theory. Honestly, I didn’t read that much into the activity theory as it didn’t focus on informal learning so much as collaboration between professionals. While the communities of practice framework provided a more fruitful avenue to venture down. This is where as a doctoral student you start realising that no research is perfect. Research comes with assumptions, from particular viewpoints, sometimes to describe and sometimes to explain phenomena. Any method has its advantages and disadvantages and a good researcher takes this into account when selecting a particular approach.

So then I started picking apart research papers, looking at those assumptions, viewpoints, advantages and disadvantages, finding gaps that have not been explained or described, bringing together multiple papers to synthesise into a whole that then generates yet more questions. Wenger’s communities of practice framework came from the idea that ‘if learning is not the result of teaching, how does it happen?’ and while unpacking the research in this area I was somewhat unconvinced by it. Wenger’s website now describes it as

‘A community of practice is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’

but at the time I read the book and papers – he hadn’t put it quite so clearly! This still left me with the question – how do ideas move from one person to another?

I looked outside this to research into workplace learning and found the work of Michael Eraut, whose research projects have interviewed and analysed different activities that individuals undertake in the workplace. They learn from many of these and more importantly for my research, many of them involved interactions with others.

So I reached the end of paper 1, unconvinced that communities of practice really existed, with a list of workplace activities that help people learn, but with no real explanation of how, when and why ‘knowledge’ was transferred between individuals. If I was to capture interactions between individuals to see ‘knowledge’ transfer – how could I do this as most interactions are informal, casual and often fleeting in a school day? Diaries? Observations? There was a problem I needed to solve to look at informal learning…

Then I joined Twitter….

to download the full paper go to


Why I love the 5 minute plan…

Ok I admit it… I’m a perfectionist… I can either plan the lesson in micro detail or walk in and do it off my head. While this may seem like a good idea I will tell you it is not because either the lessons go badly or they go brilliantly; there is no middle ground.

One of the problems for me is as a dyslexic – I have a poor memory (yes – as bad as a goldfish!) so while I may have a brilliant plan in my head when I come to put it on paper – it ends up being a micro detailed master plan that becomes inflexible to respond to my pupils needs for fear of forgetting anything. Equally walking in without a plan is never, ever a good idea. Only with experience have I ever been able to pull it off and to do it well happens equally rarely.(see previous blog posts for how I’ve sometimes managed it!)

So why do I love the five minute plan from @TeacherToolkit -(download from here and if you want to see examples check out his excellent blog here ) well quite simply because it prevents both my planning problems. It prevents my complete over planning to the nth degree that not only is time consuming but quite frankly, a waste of my precious time. It also prevents the ‘what am i doing?’ of not planning (rare). But the most important thing it is the plan that enables me to overcome my dyslexic memory issues in a classroom.

I can fill the plan with the most important details of the lesson – for example my learning objectives and outcomes (using solo taxonomy of course), differentiation, assessment for learning and key words. As a scientist, I added a little box for practical orders – because I never remember what I’ve ordered never mind what I get! Finally there are a series of boxes for the lesson activities.

The size of boxes, the limitations of an A4 sheet mean that there is no over planning – simply the salient details of what I am doing and what I need to organise. In line with my twitter profile I added the bunnies so i had something nice to look at – the bunnies make me smile ok?

Purple Elf’s Bunny 5 minute plan if you wish to see and download ‘my bunny version’ here it is Bunny 5 minute plan. The bunnies actually have significance – reminding me to remember what I am trying to achieve – the aww and wonder effect of the starter, to use practical, cooperative learning and extended writing tasks. Oh, and making sure something on a post it note sticks somewhere!

So the first few times that I used it, it took longer than five minutes to fill in, but with familiarity it is easier. Make no mistake, there is a lot of thinking time that goes into the lesson planning and structure before I commit it to paper, but that mental planning is liable to disappear in my dyslexic memory – so being able to commit it to paper prevents data loss. What happens when I don’t use it? Well my lessons are never really that great – there is a lack of focus, it descends into mediocre rather than meeting my high standards s0 I know it works.

Now recently the five minute plan has come into its own. If you don’t know I have been directed to do ‘death by powerpoint’ as part of my role as Head of Physics – yes I have to write 50 powerpoint slide shows for colleagues to teach from (the wisdom of this is not for discussion in public – but if you ever meet me – ask me about it). So I took the five minute plan sheet and photocopied 60 copies, added 60 sets of learning objectives, key words and levelled outcomes (as required by the boss) and started to plan each lesson using the sheet. I’ve be able to plan coherent lessons with key activities to achieve the key outcomes without getting bogged down in micro planning or just producing a bunch of powerpoint slides that don’t really help the pupils make progress towards the outcomes. I’ve added details of the resources that need to be added or used and the practicals to get them there.

So when I come to write the bloody powerpoints I at least know why I’m doing them, what the pupils need to achieve and how to get there. Why is that important? Because if I’ve got to write fifty of the things I at least want to make it coherent and my dyslexic memory has a great plan to refer to when I can’t remember why I’m doing it.

Yes… an entire scheme written on the five minute plan – its great for over planners, under planners, and those who have dyslexic memories and can’t remember that great idea we had last night…. just don’t have a go at me for doing death by powerpoint.. that wasn’t my idea!

Teach Meets and the Power of networks…

It’s the morning after the night before…. And again, like Kenny Pieper, amazed and humbled by the commitment and passion of the teachers who attended the Pedagoo Christmas party.

What you have to remember is for many of us, we have never met outside the virtual world of Twitter and a game of ‘Guess Who’ was played throughout the day and evening particularly for those of us who don’t have photos for our avatars. My final ‘who are you?’ came at 1.30am in a club in the middle of Newcastle on Saturday night.

I had gone with a BIG dose of imposter complex – am I good enough to be here? I left knowing that this is not how it is viewed by anyone. Everyone has something to contribute, however big or small, technical or paper based. I cannot single out any individual as there was just so much I took from everyone via presentations or just conversations through the day and evening.

Teach Meets are also about the contacts. I have a couple of email addresses, more blog posts to write (Yes Kenny, I’m writing them all this holiday) and the knowledge that I have a few more people who I can call on when I need a discussion, an idea or someone to bounce ideas off. Impressive, when you realise that for many, we walked into a room full of strangers on Saturday morning and parted in the early hours of Sunday morning feeling like we have known each other for a long time.

On a more personal note, the Pedagoo Christmas Party provided me with a key time to get feedback on some of the conceptual models for my doctorate research. Thank you to Kenny Pieper, Laura Sutherland, Samantha Farr,  @Lovelinkous for their detailed feedback on the ‘scrappy, handrawn, flow charts’ that I turned up with. While I knew the decision making process that I undertook when picking up ideas from Twitter, it was important to the whole process that other people gave their views and quite remarkable how consistent the answers were.  This feedback and discussion (as well as many other discussions) provided more food for thought in my quest to understand how teachers learn from each other in informal settings; an under researched area of teacher learning.

So what was the best bit? For me… the look on everyone’s faces when Mark Anderson demonstrated augmented reality – it was a jaw dropping moment!

For individuals who work in schools such as mine, where I am trying to implement small incremental changes in pedagogy, teachmeets provide that boost of positivity to keep us going in those dark times. So thank you to all of you.. it was a real pleasure.