All entries for April 2011

April 30, 2011

Teacher Training Day…Core Professional Development – Using literacy across the curriculum.

The aim of today’s session was to see how the use of literacy can be increased throughout the curriculum. It was very interesting. The general view was that most departments are already trying certain methods but that we shouldn’t let focus slip.

A couple of very good ideas that I took –

The idea of a pocket display

This has about 8 pouches and you hang it near the front of the class. Once a new word has been discussed a pupil writes it down on a bit of card and this gets slotted into one of the pouches. This remains on display, clear and visible and pupils can make full use of this.

The L- Shaped Tables

So that pupils can work alone, in pairs or in fours. And minimises distractions.

K-F-L    -      Know, Find, Learn

This was an interesting concept where you use grids to frame learning. There are three sections:

“what do I know?”

“what will I find out?”

“”what have I learnt?”

The middle column is a set of questions/objectives the teacher will want to meet. The first column allows pupils to write what they may already know or what they feel may be relevant. Once the topic/lesson has been taught, they go back to the grid and fill it in with what they have no learnt. Encouraged to be as detailed as possible. The idea of the EXIT TICKET works well with this too as that would allow levels to be given to the amount a pupil has learnt.

I really liked this and I hope to use something like this next term.

More directly addressing the point of the session, the department worked together to devise something that could be done to increase the use of literacy in mathematics.

Some of the department thought that this could be done through song, poetry and rap.

Another idea was to focus more on where the concept came from or a bit more on whom discovered it. E.g. by telling the class how the Cartesian coordinates were created succeeded in securing the interest of a rowdy year 8 class whilst allowing the expanded use of literacy in the maths classroom.

One of the teachers and I came up with the idea of furthering the KFL concept. We thought it would be a good idea if we created a mind map at the start of a topic with subheadings and asked pupils to fill in which bits they knew. Then at the end of the topic we give it out again and see if they can fill in any more. This would assess their ability and allow the pupils to write in their own words what they have learnt.


If the topic was Pythagoras the mind map would have the following subheadings –

Key Definitions – Opposite, Hypotenuse, Adjacent, Squared, Square Root,

About Pythagoras –

Theorem –

Diagram –

And anything else suitable.

The blank document is given out and pupils fill in what they already know, realise that they will need to be able to fill in all of the boxes, and at the end of the topic they fill in what they have learnt. This leaves room for the teacher and pupil to also know where the pupil is struggling. 

Mentor Meeting

I had a very good mentor meeting today. This week the focus was on how my planning is not brilliant, and if I have a good lesson idea it doesn’t often execute very well. So this was the focus of the discussion.

My mentor spent a good while sitting with me and explaining all the key aspects he tries to cover in all of his lessons. This included things like ‘Key words’ and always linking each task to the objectives to show progress.

He gave me a structure to a lesson. How to start it, when to move on, etc..

You’d think I would know this all by now.

One of the tips I have been given is to write the objectives in “All, Most, Some” form. This would improve the differentiation aspect and tighten my lesson.

This was another thing I need to work on, tightening the lesson, so that every pupil has something to do.

Pace is always something I have struggled with. It is about me taking charge of the class and leading them forwards with me.

This meeting was something I should have encouraged earlier. The content was very useful and has given me a lot to think about.

AP2 Form Reflection

So my performance has gone down a grade. I am expected to end the placement on a 2/3 but am currently missing on quite a few sections. This is based mostly on my Lesson Observations.

Professional Knowledge and Understanding Q10 – Q21 is the one section which I am doing ok in at the moment but I need to work on the other sections - Professional Attributes – Q1-Q9 and Professional Skills Q22 – Q33.

For section one I would make my key target to include

-planning well in advance and communicating ideas with the class teacher and mentor. This would eliminate the concern in this section and would push me to a higher level of teaching.

For section two my target is:

-      make sure all pupils are always catered for, SEN/ EAL/ high performers/ weaker pupils.

-      Keep on improving assessment techniques.

For section three I am working on:

-      strong lesson objectives so that they apply to all pupils and set the pace of the lesson.

-      Pupils should be aware of their learning journey – what did they know, what did they learn. This can build a strong learning process.

I don’t doubt that this is an accurate analysis of my performance this term. By the end of the term I was almost losing the will to live and my lessons have a lot to be improved on.

My illness hasn’t helped at all but there is nothing I can do about that – now I just have to make improvements for next term. The best part for me is that all of a sudden everyone has jumped in and is giving me solid steps on what to do to improve. I have had meetings with my mentors and Warwick and have actual steps to follow to make the improvements I need to. I am quite motivated for next term and I am sure it will all make a great difference.

Year 9 Joint Teaching with my Teach First Colleague

There is a member of the department who is doing his Teach First training at my school and we thought it would be a good idea if we did some team teaching with a year 9 class.

Due to external circumstances there wasn’t enough time to make it the best planned lesson but we thought we would give it a go just to see how well it worked.

In the end the lesson worked out ok. It wasn’t the best, but also not quite the worst.

We had decided to split the lesson so that he would settle everyone, introduce the topic and I would go through some examples and then set pupils some work. That was he could circulate and I could make sure all was going well.

The experience was strong as it allowed Sir to mingle with his class on a one to one basis and I was in front of a class I didn’t know. We discussed it after the lesson and had a lot to learn from each other.

The success for me included getting along with the class, who were struggling to work well with their teacher. There was one point when the pupils started discussing a pupil who was cutting her hair off for charity and it looked as though the class attention could be lost. I knew what they were talking about and so I joined in from the front of the class saying that it was an amazing thing she was doing and everyone should support. Everyone nodded and got back to work. Sir picked up on this and said it worked really well as it took 20 seconds away from the lesson, but ended the chatter and they went straight back to work. It worked as an approach as yelling “be quiet” wouldn’t have got any of us anywhere. Good relationships were formed between all of us and progress was made.

The topic we were teaching was one that we could have allowed a lot more exploration with, i.e. the pupils could have been left to discover the corresponding or alternate rules themselves through experimentation and it could have been extended to proofs and triangles.

If I do a lesson like this again I will ensure I explore as many concepts as possible.

Also, I found this team teaching a very good experience and we hope to do this again next term, with the same class and more rigorous planning. 

The role of charity

Red Nose Day is always something I remember from school. This school is making a big investment into this day and have got all sorts of activities on. I really enjoy being a part of this as I feel there is a larger community that I am a part of. It is taking away from the fact that I am at this school as a guest and I feel really welcome. Its taken long enough I guess, but it is always a nice reminder to feel a part of something.

The school takes charity very seriously and encourages this amongst all pupils. This really shows me the strong social aspect and interests of this school to make pupils incredibly well rounded. 

Citizenship – teaching

So far I have taught a few Citizenship lessons on the topic of Democracy and the conflict in Darfur. The point was to encourage pupils to see the struggles of other children across the world.


The pupils had no idea where Darfur was and struggled to relate to the children there. Probably because they had no was to see how it could be real. The stories were so terrible that I could understand why the pupils couldn’t quite view it as ‘real’.


I got carried away by this topic and really enjoyed teaching it as I got to bring out my Politics knowledge. The class ended up in a debate about whether voting was good or not. I was pleased to probe and we got as far as talking about how streetlights should operate on a vending-machine principle so that tax is avoided!

Citizenship is fun - I got the pupils writing stories and working in pairs and coming up with all sorts of solutions and potential causes. They were quite excited by the topic of Darfur by the end but it did take some work. I ended up doing some acting to try and encourage a response.

The generic PowerPoint that was given out on Darfur to everyone was bland and there were some things I wasn’t happy with so I made my own and sent it to my mentor. I didn’t realise but he then sent it around to all the teachers and the school ended up using my PowerPoint! This was nice =)

Observing an English Lesson – pace

To try and improve my idea of pace I observed an English lesson today with an assistant head with the objective of addressing pace. It was quick moving and they got through a lot of work with a lot of different task types.

I wondered how this was done. My classes lack this movement and this needs to be worked on. Still slightly unsure about how to do this…but I think it goes down to me taking control and leading the class forward based on what I feel is appropriate, levelling the work at the right stages so that what I think, really does happen.

My lessons need to be tighter. So that if I do an active activity I can pull the pupils back in and calm them down. The ordering of tasks is important. 

Lesson Observation Feedback – target for the week – Pace

My lesson plans are much better now and i have been told that i have improved upon quite a few of my targets.

This week I am focusing on pace of lessons. This is linked to my target of lesson planning with plenty of days to spare so that I can get enough feedback on them. I am struggling to keep up but have to try. 

Multiplication Project


(i can only upload this example - the others are similar)

The year 8s can’t do any multiplication. It is bad. Every Friday they have number lessons to try and boost their basics.

That is why the class teacher and I have come up with the idea of the Multiplication project. This is where for 4 weeks their homework is to learn a particular set of times table and at the end of each week they will get certificates.

Have a look –

I hope this goes well.

Tutor time

Tutor time so far has not really done much for my imagination. It hasn’t been so productive and I am not quite sure about how much impact I can have at the moment. So far I have seen it as a time to relay any messages and for the tutor to keep an eye on everyone – in terms of having their diary, good uniform, etc.

Once a week they watch the news on Oddbox, which is very good for them as they gain access to the goings on in the world through an interactive means and this always works very well. The pupils find it funny and do take a lot from it. I like this.

Building on this I have started to show some videos that I have come across in my time. Some funny videos that keep the class engaged and cause a discussion. I would like to carry on discussing the graphics or the song and this is working well as those who often misbehave have a lot to say in regards to it.

The class wanted to listen to a pop song, Friday, and so I played it to them and we discussed why it was so awful. This led onto a whole fact giving session by each member of the class about how pop songs are made and how businesses are started!

I like the idea of bringing general knowledge in to tutor time. Although I am sure there are tutor time resources available on the school drive somewhere…I have yet to find these.

April 2011

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