Author Archives: lisajaneashes

Development of Research into Professional Practice

You choose the seat furthest away from the front so that you can talk to your friends and take the mick out of the speaker (I’ve witnessed this enough from others to know it’s not just me). You write notes to each other, whisper and attempt tasks with minimal effort to both get a laugh and avoid looking stupid. Educated professionals can be the worst students because, like the students they teach, they are often gifted and bored.

Just because we are older does not mean we are suddenly capable of learning without limits. We are human. As humans, we get frustrated and bored when faced with unproductive learning experiences. Just like that PP student from a poorly educated family sees no point in learning to write academic essays, teachers who see no immediate purpose to their professional development will find it difficult to engage.

After being subjected to three hours of CPD dedicated to underlining dates and titles (I’m not joking), I can understand very well why pupils whose prior learning is not taken into consideration, pupils who are not challenged or directly engaged through contextualised approaches and pupils who are gifted and bored may get disruptive. We study learning in the classroom to improve outcomes for students and then sit teachers in rows and expect them to respond like sponges to the research presented. This is not the case at every school in the UK. There are many wonderful examples of excellent environments for teacher learning. Unfortunately, such environments are the exception and not the norm.

This week, I visited the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the launch of research commissioned by the Teacher Development Trust. The research tells us what inspired, actively involved teachers already know. Teachers, like all learners, need time, clarity and structured outcomes; they need opportunities to collaborate as professionals in order to hone their trade; teachers need to study pedagogy and subject specific literature to inform their knowledge and practice. Learning needs to be purposeful, high quality, contextualised and continuous.

Many teachers (despite the CPD on offer in house) already make time, set themselves clear goals and develop extensive learning communities through social media and events. This happens out of a desire to improve and takes place in teachers’ own time.Would teachers need to take professional development into their own hands like this if the development on offer ‘in house’ was adequate?

The research produced with the TDT is a great step in the right direction to guide CPD leaders towards doing the right thing. However, professional development leaders (both internal and external) may need to look at teachers as the disillusioned learners they most likely are. Barriers to learning that have built up over years of poor quality CPD will need to be carefully removed if cultures and beliefs are going to change.

As a CPD leader, a learning coach or CPD provider, how can you reengage the disengaged? I am training a team of future coaches over the next six weeks. We will be unpicking this question as part of the process. I will reflect as we go but for now, here are some ideas linked to the research.

“Achieving a shared sense of purpose is an important factor for success.”

Link to the full report

Step 1: Listen, observe and get to know the context

“A didactic model in which facilitators simply tell teachers what to do, or give them materials without giving them opportunities to develop skills and inquire into their impact on pupil learning is not effective.”

One size never fits all and generic approaches rarely inspire. Getting to know your learners shows that you are investing time in them as human beings. When we make connections with other human beings, we find it easier to learn from them. This is true of students of any age. If you are delivering professional development in any form, questions first, imparting knowledge later. Nobody likes a “know it all” but when you respect, connect with and feel respected by that “know it all”, you are more likely to engage in what they have to say.

Step 2: Collaborate

“…successful facilitators encouraged and/or helped teachers take on a degree of leadership of CPDL, and, according to the strongest review, treated them as peers and co-learners. This relationship enabled successful facilitators to share values, understanding, goals and beliefs with participants, but also to challenge them successfully.”

Knowing what learning is helps. If observation of lessons is going to make a difference, you need to be able to dissect the learning that is taking place and develop a clear path towards successful outcomes for both teachers and pupils. Teachers often complain about being observed by leaders that are poor teachers, which leads them to distrust the conclusions given about the lesson observed.

Targets for improving pupil outcomes should come from knowledge of pedagogy and subject related issues rather than a list provided by an outside agency. Use subject and pedagogy knowledge to question lesson observations against teachers’ intended outcomes; work together to develop future steps based upon formative discussions. Do not have improved practice in one classroom, or indeed one lesson, as a single end goal to professional development. Have the teacher recognise this process as something that can have an impact upon the wider school community. Develop coaches and CPD leaders as well as better teachers. Plan long term goals together.

Step 3: Follow up on improvements

“…create a rhythm for CPDL, regular school meeting times such as departmental and phase meetings are used as opportunities for following up and tracking learning from CPD sessions.”

The “not another initiative” staff will be provided with ammunition if professional development conversations are one off and never followed up. No matter what fiddly bits of school life must be done, make sure that time is planned in advance to review learning progress. Teaching and Learning is the core business of any school. Keep it at the core. Deep learning does not happen in one off lesson observations and feedback. Continuous professional collaboration can result in a deeper understanding of specific learning targets but not if it is at the bottom of the “to do” list.

Cross-posted from The Learning Geek

Thought Bombing

Good times in Edinburgh #tmlovelibraries Manglish session

Good times in Edinburgh #tmlovelibraries Manglish session

#tmlovelibraries, which took place in Edinburgh last weekend, gave my positivity stores a huge boost! Thank you to the brilliant @fkelly for organising such a great day, and for inviting me to be a part of it. Manglish was the topic of my workshop, an approach to cross curricular collaboration; Manglish about avoiding missed opportunities and empowering teachers of all disciplines to include purposeful reading, writing, Mathematics and communication in their lessons.

As I am still working on the book version of the workshop, I will avoid writing about the ins and outs of Manglish and instead share with you one simple idea for encouraging effective communication. This idea seemed to go down very well both in Edinburgh and at the recent #TMeng in Leeds so I thought it might be well worth sharing.

Thought Bombing

Below is a generic example of an exercise that you could base your own ideas for thought bombing on. This example could be translated into introducing characters from novels or poems (English); exploring the lives and decisions of historical figures (History); looking at cause and consequence (PHSE); Exploring bodily functions (Biology). The list goes on. The idea is that pupils are given a small amount of information to get them hooked and then the thought bombs are thrown in to blow their minds.

image for stim

This opening question must be thought provoking enough to get pupils talking, providing  just enough information to get them interested and to generate discussion but also holding back enough back to make the bombing worthwhile. If you were to give too much away at this stage, a decision could be made very quickly and no further discussion may be necessary. In the above exercise, pupils are asked to discuss each character and note down their reasons for or against saving or sentencing each one. They were asked to agree on a survivor; Marni is usually top of the list to begin with as she is young and has her whole life ahead of her… before the first thought bomb is thrown that is.

What is it?

The thought bomb is a plastic ball, the kind that you find in children’s ball pools. It has a small hole cut in the bottom, has been painted black and a little glitter has been sprinkled on just for added beauty. Inside the bomb, I roll up slips of paper with new knowledge about the given situation. For example, inside one thought bomb for the above idea, the paper reads: “Marni is a convicted killer.” And in another, we are told of Roberta’s charity work and of how she fosters children with disabilities. This new information makes the pupils go “Ooooooo” and changes the situation entirely, as now they have much more to take into account when making their decision. The thought bomb has exploded current understanding and forces pupils look at the situation from a different point of view.

Earlier example of thought bombing when teaching An Inspector Calls

Earlier example of thought bombing when teaching An Inspector Calls

Thought bombing is about gaining pupils’ interest and their own ideas, allowing them the freedom to explore. If you are introducing a topic such as the life of King Henry VIII, which requires pupils to know key facts, you are still introducing the key facts through the thought bombs but you are encouraging pupils to explore their own interpretation of events. How do they as individuals feel about the topic being discussed? How would they have solved problems differently to historical figures or characters? Thought bombing allows them to engage with the topic on a personal level but still allows you to introduce the key information required to cover your topic. Thought bombs are fun! Yes, they get thrown around the room (this is actively encouraged) but pupils are engaged in relevant discussions, thinking critically, communicating their own ideas and gaining valuable new knowledge in the process. 

#pedagoosunshine A Cabinet of Curiosities

cabinet of curiosities

As an aside, before I begin this post, if you are looking for inspiration to create your own awe and wonder, look no further than this wonderfully different little book. It is filled with an array of wonders that will leave you thinking differently about this magical world in which we live. A welcome addition to any bookshelf that will leave you feeling inspired to explore.

My Maths teacher would be found, only too often, manically squealing, “Why don’t you get it Lisa?” The truth is that I probably did ‘get it,’ I just didn’t give a crap about his uninspiring text book full of numbers. At school, I wasn’t the geek that I am today. The naughtier things in life appealed to me far more than any Maths class because I was young and wanted to have fun. Fun and learning didn’t seem to belong in the same sentence and I’d choose fun every time.

After being seriously uninspired by school, I became a teacher because I knew that there was a better way. However, sitting through one particularly dull CPD session years later, I found myself back in that uninspiring place; the text book had been replaced by a Powerpoint but my reaction to it was similar. The only notes that I wrote that session were the words: “Note to self, never expect pupils to sit through something this dull and behave.”

Remembering my notes, I try to stay true to my word. The curriculum, as with everything in life, is what you make of it. Having fun is still at the forefront of my mind but I know that combining having fun with purposeful learning experiences is the best way forward (there has to be a balance). As teachers, we all have the power to create an environment in which children can laugh and learn so why the hell not? Just because you are enjoying yourself does not mean that you are not learning. The power to turn poetry revision into an Apprentice style board room or develop communication by creating new worlds is only your imagination away. It would be far easier (planning wise) to recite a text book but wouldn’t you rather ignite young minds by showing your pupils that their world is a cabinet of curiosities full of awe and wonder which they are free to explore?

When asked why we felt the need to include jugglers, unicyclists, hoola hoopers and a pop corn vender at Pedagoo Sunshine, I replied, why the hell not? Sunshine had an awesome line up of teachers ready to impart their knowledge on peers. The easiest way to get this information out to the participants would have been to line them up in rows and lecture them for the day. It would have taken far less organisation and the same message would have been delivered but how many teachers would choose to turn up? The people attending were all university graduates, well capable of sitting still, behaving and listening for long periods of time, so why didn’t we take the easy option?  Because CPD is what you make of it too.

The world around us in an amazing place, full of awe and wonder! Like the pupils we teach, we want to feel inspired and, like the pupils we teach, sitting in rows and having a Powerpoint read to us just isn’t going to cut it. For Pedagoo Sunshine, thanks the generosity and imagination of our new Head Teacher Heather Scott, we had the power to do something different, the power to transform our empty school street into an inspiring setting for an inspiring day. We had the power to create our own cabinet of curiosities and so we did. “Follow the windmills and music” our fantastic students told gob smacked visitors as they entered our ‘outside inside’ street scene, complete with gazebos, garden furniture and lashings of bunting.

John Sayers' tent was over flowing

John Sayers’ tent was over flowing

The scene was designed to create awe, the sessions for sharing, inspiration and new learning. The balance between learning and fun was just right. This party wasn’t just for show. Practicing teachers delivered practical sessions on project based learning, apps for the classroom, questioning and display to support learning to name but a few. This CPD was delivered by teachers who are at the chalk face, willing to share and inspire their peers, willing not just to deliver but to discuss ideas and share practice beyond the day itself. Participants could tailor their CPD to their individual needs by choosing the sessions that suited them best.

As an enthusiastic teacher, you can often feel like a lone geek, the only one wanting to do extra homework; Twitter, Teachmeets and Pedagoo have unearthed a community of geeks all thirsty for new knowledge to improve their practice.  Such geeks are already inspired to learn more; it is the teachers that we can liken to teenage Lisa that we really need to reach, teachers who have lost their enthusiasm, teachers who see CPD as being done to them (much like my experience in Maths). Events like Pedagoo Sunshine demonstrate that just because we are grown ups, does not mean we have to stop having fun in order to learn. Developing as professionals is vital if we are to keep standards high in schools but this does not mean sitting in rows…tents will do just fine.

No longer lone geeks but a whole community of em!

No longer lone geeks but a whole community of em!

The future of CPD is ours for the developing and if you missed out this time, don’t worry, there are far more Teachmeets to come(keep December 7th free for Pedagoo Wonderland not to mention the last Thursday of every month at Blakes coffee shop Newcastle #TMblake13). Pedagoo Sunshine is not meant to be a one off explosion, impressive but easy to forget once you return to your daily routine. It is an invite to all teachers, no matter how experienced, how new, how enthusiastic or how dissolusioned, to begin to explore the cabinet of curiosities that is our amazing profession.

Me n' Fearghal inviting you all to blog on DO IT!

Me n’ Fearghal inviting you all to blog on DO IT!

Grow, Inspire, Share, Shine #pedagoosunshine

Sunshine that is…


We teach in a world much like Dillydale. Like the Mr Men, we are all very different. In classroom 228 you might find Little Miss Magic who, like a sorceress, is able to magically organise assessments to support students’ learning but who struggles to make learning fun. In the opposite classroom, you might find Mr Messy who creates the most inspiring learning experiences for children but cannot organise his assessment data and therefore fails to differentiate to support his students’ needs. We all have strengths and weaknesses and that is why we need effective collaboration to share expertise and support each other’s growth.

Pedagoo is an awesome place to make effective collaboration happen. The growth of Pedagoo from a conversation between Scottish educators on Twitter to what it has become is amazing. Now Pedagoo provides a platform for teachers to blog and share their expertise, a reason to come together and explore ideas about the future of education and providing inspiration to grow. Little Miss Magic does not even need to be in the same school as Mr Messy to learn from his strengths; they can come together in the positive staffroom that has been created by this awesome space.

Pedagoo events are on another level again. Inspirational but everyday teachers give up their time to provide sessions that attendees can take from and use to support the growth of their practice. These events are fun and free. Little miss Magic is able to provide simple strategies for Mr Messy and, the very next session, Mr Messy is able to return the favour by creating a master class of fun ideas. Of course Miss Magic isn’t the only one to benefit from Mr Messy’s brilliance as Mr Grumble also takes from Mr Messy’s approach to return the fun back to him room that was taken away by his excellent behaviour management techniques. Do not be fooled by his name as Mr Grumble, like every educator,  has plenty to offer; he puts on a surgery to inspire ITT students who are worried about controlling their classes. His experience is valuable and appreciated.

Pedagoo isn’t passive; it isn’t about listening to what others do and feeling inadequate about your own practice. It is about real life collaboration between nationwide colleagues who all have something to offer no matter who they are. We all arrive as equals; we are all there to grow our practice and learning community, to be inspired by the positivity of other professionals, to share thoughts, ideas and resources.

Our next event (for details and sign up follow this link) Pedagoo Sunshine, takes place on May 18th at Joseph Swan Academy and promises to well worth attending. This festival of collaboration will include lots of fun, prizes, a BBQ and of course inspirational educators sharing their expertise for your growth.  Every Monday, during staff briefing, Joseph Swan’s Head Teacher Heather Scott reminds us that this is a school where “everyone can shine.” If we take the time that Pedagoo events offer us to grow our practice, share our ideas, inspire and be inspired, no matter whether you are Miss Sunshine or Mr Grumpy, we all have the ability to shine. 

Our Next Event Will be the Best Yet! Get involved.

Pedagoo… to Infinity and Beyond!


Above is just a tiny selection of tweets from teachers wanting to share great ideas from their week in the classroom. By teachers, for teachers, Pedagoo rocks! Pedagoo is the reason why I drove north (who knew there was anything further north than Newcastle) for five hours on a Saturday to join in with the very first Pedagoo Fringe event in Glasgow – I know it does not usually take that long…I got lost. It was more than worth the time and the weekend!

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounded by like minded educators, all as thirsty as you are for new and exciting ideas to enhance their practice. It is this very enthusiasm, passion and excitement about the possibilities within our profession that make Pedagoo’s heart beat. We want more and more people to catch the Pedagoo fun bug so that each event brings together even more great educators and great ideas.

Whether it be collaboration through following and contributing to #PedagooFriday with your weekly classroom ideas, contributing to the blog at (new bloggers always welcome), joining in with #PedagooResolutions and contributing to the forums creating a focussed online TLC, your collaboration is wanted and will be well received.

Pedagoo originated in Scotland but its positivity is now reaching far and wide. I did offer to personally visit sunny Australia and spread the word there but it turns out that, thanks to our wonderful digital world…they have already received the message!

It does not matter if you are a student teacher, an NQT, a teacher, a member of SLT or even head of the school; perhaps you are a teacher from England, Scotland, Australia or Zimbabwe, it does not matter, Pedagoo wants you!

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

My Favourite Lesson of the Year #PedagooReview

Inspiration for 2012 Favourite Lesson


As luck would have it, after hearing about the #pedagooreview (share your favourite learning experience from 2012 on , I happened to have my favourite lesson of the year. This lesson was inspired by Hywel Roberts’ amazing Oops! This wonderfully inspiring book is packed with fun, ideas, lists and laughter; I am now desperately trying to avoid a cliché but if you are struggling to think of a good Christmas gift for a teacher friend, this book is one of those gifts that keep on giving!

My favourite lesson of this year came from a chapter named Accidentally Learning, in which Hywel took the idea of a mountain range and transformed it into a myriad of learning experiences. This is where I took it…


Year 9’s ‘class reader’ for the term was Lord of the Flies. This novel depicts the carnage that is a group of school boys shipwrecked on an island creating their own laws and society. The SMSC possibilities that arise from exploring narrative are so rich! After a term of exploring democracy, dictatorship, Freudian concepts such as the id, ego and superego, the pupils were armed and ready to create their own society.

We began with the question “What keeps our world calm?” Their answers demonstrated a wealth of social and moral content that studying this novel had provided; my favourite answer was “fear.” One boy explained how each thing that keeps our world from breaking out into chaos is born of fear. We are afraid of the consequences of our actions and this keeps our society as it is; he explained how very few people allow their id to rule their existence as the id can result in negative consequences. 

During our discussion, we used a thought bomb (an idea also born from the Oops book) to keep the peace in our microcosm by passing it from person to person as the shipwrecked boys did with a symbolic conch shell when creating their democracy. Pupils were only allowed to speak if they held the bomb and, as it was passed around the room, our thoughts exploded into amazing ideas.


Just an image and storytelling required

No sooner had conch calm fallen, when I suddenly wrecked the peace with the revelation that Christmas 2012 saw the destruction of our planet. Humans had finally gone too far; the world had blown up. All that remained was a small section of England, surrounded by nothing but an expanse of water. Pupils were hooked by this story! These pupils are thirteen and fourteen years old but their imaginations are still alive. There’s nothing quite like an apocalypse to get the imagination cogs whirring. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have heard that the world is going to end (I totally remember believing it when I was young) and you could see the pupils had that “this could actually happen” look in their eyes.

This lesson was not designed to create mass panic; the idea was to enthuse the students to WANT to learn how to speak persuasively. I was keeping that fact a secret for the time being. They needed to draw the outline of their island and draw five things of their choice which had survived the blast. This wasn’t an art lesson and this task did not take very long to complete. Conscientiously, they discussed ideas and possibilities in pairs, creating a really positive vibe in the room.

An Island

Some pupils thought very carefully about the consequences of their choices and drew fresh water lakes filled with fish and working farms complete with livestock to ensure the survival of their species. Others drew establishments such as Macdonald’s, ADSA or Pizza Hut. This was a fantastic opportunity to explore what good decision making looked like and helped us to begin to decide on the qualities of a good leader.

The pupils had a real purpose for exploring leadership qualities as the next step was to become the leader of the other survivors. We looked atEngland’s leader David Cameron for a moment and explored what kind of leaders we wanted to become. They all agreed that they wanted to be honest and trustworthy….qualities of which they decided Cameron was not a great role model for.

After using a version of QFT to get a fuller image of their island (I became God for a moment and allowed them to ask me anything) they were told that their people were in panic! Much like the littuluns on the island, their people had become afraid of the future. They feared famine, disease and even each other! As leaders, they would need to gather their people together and use their powers of persuasion as fair and just leaders to restore calm to their island.


It was amazing! The pupils seemed to genuinely care about the plight of their imaginary people. They cared enough to analyse a speech by Martin Luther King to ensure that they got their speech just right. They wanted to learn from a true leader so that they could become great leaders and take their nation forward to a happier situation.

Independent Analysis


This ‘Oops learning’ idea had resulted in high levels of engagement, students acquired the knowledge required to create their effective speeches rapidly and their final products were outstanding. If an Ofsted inspector had been sat at the back of my room, they might have wanted to see more checks for learning every few minutes or that I had created a bar chart of progress to evaluate the impact of this task within an inch of its life. However, there is no doubt in my mind that this learning experience was, for them and for me, outstanding. They enjoyed the lesson, they achieved, they felt awe, wonder and passion over the topic and WANTED to do well.

My favourite thing about this learning experience

This exploration could result in so many other learning experiences! From the idea of a new world we could have debates over decisions that have to be made, develop creative writing or develop ideas in role as characters. I think that the possibilities with this kind of learning are endless. Thanks Hywel! You’re on the good list for sure!

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

Pedagoo Fringe Reflection on SOLO Workshop 8

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

What is SOLO?

How is SOLO different to Bloom’s?

How can SOLO be used to support learning progression?

As the sun rose on Glasgow’s Easy Hotel (recommended) this Sunday, my enthusiasm for my profession was as high as it has ever been and I remain full of excitement today! What a wonderful first ever Pedagoo Fringe! The atmosphere was amazing, the venue was amazing but above all the people who both organised and attended the event were and are amazing! In our reflection session we agreed to go forward and infect others with our enthusiasm and I certainly intend to do just that.

How could you not be inspired by this space?

Here is a brief overview of the discussion in the SOLO workshop and how we went about answering the above questions. We began by looking at what Bloom’sTaxonomy looks like in practice. As pupils gather knowledge and comprehension, much like the uni and multi levels of SOLO, they are gathering ideas on a topic (illustrated in the Macbeth example below). Application is using the ideas you have gathered in a task such as writing an essay on the topic. However, once you began to move on to analysis, you were once again gathering knowledge and then returning to applying that knowledge while synthesising.

The verbs and structure of Bloom’s Taxonomy are useful and can be organised into effective learning outcomes and effective questions by teachers (explained on the day in another workshop help by @GarethSurgey. Fantastic for us but not so easy for pupils to grasp.

Very Basically Bloom

SOLO is different as the steps are a far clearer path of progression for pupils. A number of people asked if pupils were put off by the terminology which, upon first hearing, appears to be a little space age. In my experience, pupils appear proud to be using the terms rather than put off. SOLO is to them something a little different but something they quickly get used to using. It creates a common learning language.

Anyone had this? I haven’t!!

One group discussed how the terminology is not important. It is the clear progression path that pupils can follow and understand that is the key to using SOLO successfully. Some people said they wouldn’t use the terms but would use the hand signals and symbols (particularly in primary schools). Others suggested allowing pupils to make up their own words for the symbols to give pupils ownership over using them.

Each level in a very basic nutshell

After sharing how my classes used SOLO in differentiated tasks and to become independent in their progression (found here) the worry over how much extra time would be spent planning using SOLO was expressed. Because the symbols can say so much:

Moving on up

Marking time is significantly reduced without removing any of the quality in the feedback. I can read the work and apply the symbol that best describes their current position – they do the rest. Also, once you have your head around each of the levels, it just becomes part of what you do and therefore time spent planning is just the same as before.

I also shared some generic examples of how this might really look and sound. Here is just one of these examples:

Example of SOLO in Generic Lesson

Pupils have been asked to create a presentation all about shoes. The teacher has asked for feedback and receives varied responses. Have a look at how the teacher uses SOLO to help each pupil to make more progress in this lesson.


As this means the pupil has missed the point there are no action verbs to accompany this stage

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I know nothing about the topic; I have never heard of it before.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Shoes are worn on your hands.

TO MOVE ON: The pupil must begin to gather basic information on what a shoe is.


Follow simple procedure

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I know a little about the topic but I have not done much research.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Shoes are worn on your feet.

TO MOVE ON: To become more multistructural in their response, the student must conduct research into types of shoes and their different purposes.


A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME Combine, Enumerate, Describe, List

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I know lots of different brands of shoes, types of shoes and their different purposes.”

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Shoes can be worn to exercise, to dance, for comfort, for style. Different types of shoes include, stilettoes, trainers, pumps, wedges. Different shoes were popular at different times.

TO MOVE ON: The pupil must begin to make links between the information they have found about different types of shoes, their purposes and when they were popular.


Apply, Justify,
Argue, Relate, Compare/contrast, Explain causes A PUPIL MIGHT SAY “I have an excellent understanding of shoes and their purposes; I can see how modern shoes have evolved from a range of styles throughout the ages.” AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: Trainers are the most effective shoe to wear for exercise. This is a direct result of using a softer sole and adjustable straps to aid foot support. In contrast to this, a modern platform is more often used for style, having evolved somewhat since its first introduction to the high fashion scene in 1960… TO MOVE ON: The pupil must begin to question further their findings. They should use their expert knowledge to create interesting and individual ideas about the future of shoes.


A TEACHER MAY ASK FOR THE OUTCOME Create, Formulate, Generate, Hypothesise, Reflect, Theorise

A PUPIL MIGHT SAY: “I am very confident in my exploration of shoes. I can use my expert knowledge about their evolution to theorise about the possible future of shoes and their uses.“

AN EXAMPLE RESPONSE MIGHT LOOK LIKE: The platform rose to the height of fashion in 1960 and evolved over time to become far more sleek in its appearance. Similarly, the humble trainer began as rather a crude creation with the simple idea of comfort at its heart. Indeed, over time shoes continue to evolve and adapt to become sleeker, more appealing and above all far more ergonomically designed. Could the future hold a pair of stilettoes that actually shape your arches instead of destroying them? Let us look to the history of stilettoes to investigate this idea further…

TO MOVE ON: The pupil should never see their work as done and should always seek out new ways to apply their learning.

A powerful idea that was born from the discussion that followed was that pupils need to have a mirror held up to them to allow them to understand the learning processes that we all go through as human beings. SOLO helps this to happen as the pupils can see how one stage is necessary before another begins. Learning should not be “done” to anyone; that includes teachers! CPD should not be “done” to teachers…a thought I am taking back home to England!

To reflect on the initial three questions, we used the superb meeting room space and wrote all over the walls with our thoughts:

I would love to hear how everyone takes SOLO forward and cannot thank the Pedagoo team enough for inviting me to such an awesome event.

Purposefully Creating Friction

Cross-posted from Reflections of a Learning Geek

I knew from my findings last week, trying to get Year 9 to analyse social class divides and their implications upon Blood Brothers was always going to take more than just reading the text. We had some more fun today…


As the pupils entered the room, they were given a small slip of paper and asked not to open it until I gave them permission to do so; they were told that I would let them know by saying the word “now” and from that moment on, until told otherwise, they were unable to say anything other than what was on the slip of paper that they held.

They were to begin by walking around the classroom and just greeting each other as they passed one another on their journey. When I said: “NOW!” they were to find at least three people of a similar social class to themselves and stand under the appropriate signs which were situated at opposite ends of my classroom: upper or lower.

When the pupils opened their papers, they found sentences not unlike the following: “3. y’all reet?” and “1. Good day good fellow” which they began reading out loud to each otherallow for raucous laughter and extreme volumepupils found their comrades and congregated under their newly appointed social class signs. The numbers which were printed at the start of their slips of paper corresponded to the tables that I wanted them to sit at, making for an easy transition from standing to sitting with no argument.

The Challenge

The pupils’ challenges were all the same (to create an artistic interpretation of social class divides) but what they had available to them to complete the challenge differed greatly. I had purposefully planned for a larger percentage of pupils to be lower class and I provided them with very little. They had one piece of paper per group, one pair of scissors between them all, one pot of coloured pencils and one highlighter.


Whereas, the upper class had a multitude of resources including paints, glitter, sparkles, highlighters, scissors, glue, and different coloured papers…the list goes on. The rich were allowed to leave their seats and ask for any resource they felt they needed, after all they could afford it, leaving the poor to make do with what little they had. They were not allowed out of their seats at any time.


The Outcome

I presented pupils with the following outcomes:

WHAT? To investigate the implications of social class divides

HOW? Through immersing ourselves in one of these roles

WHY? I left the why blank for them to work out for themselves. I wanted to use this as a starting point for their review discussion.

As the pupils worked, I observed their behaviours carefully, noting down any discussions which helped me to make my point. Here is a snippet of what I heard:

“It’s so not fair that they have all of that stuff and we have nothing!”

“We could steal something from them because we need it.”

“We are totally better than the lower classes.”

“I hate the upper classes.”

“I’m just going to take their rubber, they’re only lower class.”

“We’re stuck here and they can do whatever they want. It’s not fair!”

“There’s lots more of them than there are of us…probably because we are special.”

Without realising it, pupils began to display behaviours which occur in real social class divides in societies like that of Liverpool in the 1980s. The pupils found that with difference came jealously, suspicion, self importance and even crime. There were positive behaviours too; lower class pupils began to improvise when they found that they did not have the materials they need. I was slightly horrified to find one of my pupils putting gum in his mouth and using it as glue but he definately gained points for improvisation. When I stopped them to review at the close of the lesson, I left plenty of time to reflect on these behaviours and how it felt to be part of a fractured society; afterall, the lesson was not to “create a perfect representation” it was to “investigate the implications of social class.”

I returned to the why of my outcomes and asked pupils, “Why have we been learning like this? How has it helped us with our understanding of Blood Brothers?” The answers came with confidence: “This has helped us to feel what it is like being Micky and Eddie.” “We can understand what it was like to be in a fractured society and we will be able to see it better in the story.” “We can analyse social class better when we know what we are talking about.”

The pupils now had a real life experience to draw upon; they felt jealousy, they felt lack, they felt self importance and abundance. They could picture life in Micky and Eddie’s Liverpool because, for one lesson, they had lived it.

One week ago, the pupils told me that Blood Brothers was a boring play; Fingers crossed, I think I am beginning to change their minds.