All entries for December 2018

December 20, 2018

Wishing our readers a Merry Christmas

Christmas tree in blue

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our readers and our authors for their continued support throughout what has been a very busy year. There will be no new posts across the Christmas period but we will be back bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the new year with fresh topics such as using Mendeley and the importance of pastoral work.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

The WJETT Blog Team

December 17, 2018

How I have used ICT to enhance my students’ learning – Danielle

ICT can be used in a variety of ways to facilitate and enhance students’ learning and includes: using data loggers; online assessment resources such as Kerboodle; mobile phones; and communicating information via software such as PowerPoint (Capel et al. 2016). Although each of these has been used within my own practice, further discussion will focus on the use of software and data-loggers.

ICT has been used with a Year 8 class to encourage student-led learning and to introduce them to the concept of research. Working in groups, students used the internet to investigate how the Earth’s atmosphere had changed over the past 4.5 billion years. Prior to conducting the research, the class was informed that they would be creating and delivering a two-minute presentation of their findings. Sharing this aim with the students helped to encourage a conscientious attitude towards their work and motivated them to progress in their learning; this was evident in the quality of the presentations that were produced. Further to this, students then used the ICT skills they had learned within lessons on a different topic.

According to Scheme of Works, and the KS2 National Curriculum, pupils had previously had minimal tuition on the composition of the Earth’s early atmosphere. Therefore, when planning this series of lessons, students’ prior learning and knowledge was taken into account. In-line with Vygotsky, Bruner, and Wood’s learning theories, a set of questions were designed to help guide the students with their research, and teacher support was provided to those who needed further scaffolding(Bruner & Watson 1983; Vygotsky 1962; Wood 1998).

ICT was also used for a research project with a Year 10 class; however, the activity was more student-led. Triple Science students were asked to write a 700-word journal article on a scientific discovery of their choice. Following a lesson on this project, students were set this task as homework, and were required to extend their knowledge past that of the National Curriculum, and that which they had already learned. As the students were required to conduct research using online journals, and use Microsoft Word to create an academic article, ICT enriched their learning by enabling them to work independently and take responsibility for their learning (Jedeskog and Nissen 2004). Furthermore, as the research related to an aspect of science that they were passionate about, this project promoted intellectual curiosity. The benefits of using ICT as described above relates to Bruner’s theory of ‘discovery learning’, whereby pupils use the knowledge that they have already acquired to help them develop new ideas and progress in their understanding of a topic (Bruner 1966; Capel et al. 2016).

Data loggers have also been used to improve students’ learning of a number of topics, such as pH and neutralisation. Data loggers are electronic devices which record data over a given period of time, and in some cases, plot the results on a graph. Using technology in this way was found to be particularly useful for pupils with low numeracy skills as it reduced the need to read, and devise, an appropriate scale for a graph. Moreover, it enabled SEND pupils to focus on the Science rather than worrying about using lots of equipment.


Bruner, J.S., 1966. Toward a Theory of Instruction, Belknap Press of Harvard University. Available at:

Bruner, J.S. & Watson, R., 1983. Child’s Talk: Learning to Use Language, W.W. Norton. Available at:

Capel, S., Leask, M. & Younie, S., 2016. Learning to Teach in the Secondary School: A Companion to School Experience, Taylor & Francis. Available at:

Vygotsky, L.S., 1962. Thought and Language, M.I.T. Press, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Available at:

Wood, D., 1998. How Children Think and Learn, Wiley. Available at:

Jedeskog, G. and Nissen, J., 2004. ICT in the classroom: is doing more important than knowing?. Education and information technologies, 9(1), pp.37-45.

December 10, 2018

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? – Mike

What can be learnt from a lesson observation? How does this impact upon your strategies for behaviour management?

The term ‘Lesson Observation’ often connotes being observed for quality assurance and feedback on practice. However, as a trainee, observations offer an excellent learning opportunity to see different pedagogy and strategies that can later inform your own teaching. Although focused on university teaching, Bell, Hendry and Thomson (2013) highlight the usefulness of watching colleagues teach for your own practice. They mention that pigeon-holing ‘observation’ in terms of peer review means that staff miss out on the important learning gains that can be made by watching another person’s practice. When observing simply for one’s own learning, their qualitive and quantitative research showed that 19 of the 20 people who participated in the study later implemented something new that they had observed into their own practice.

Being at the start of my career, lesson observations have proven valuable learning experiences. It allows one to reflect on different styles and what sort of things may work for you. Entering another’s classroom comes with a certain etiquette that Peter Master (1983) highlights. As the foreign agent in the room it is important to not be too imposing. Master points out that making endless notes will detract from you being able to fully observe the lesson and so short sentences that can be expanded on later are best. This is approach I myself took while observing.

I believe that it is probably natural as a trainee to want to observe with a special focus on behaviour management as this, in my experience, was the most daunting aspect before beginning to teach. Observing colleagues offers a useful chance to pick up key strategies and tricks. I noted in observing a Citizenship lesson that picking students to answer questions as opposed to asking for hands created a calmer learning environment where the teacher seemed to be in complete control of the discussion. This was something I later implemented into my own practice.

As useful as these observations are, when it comes to behaviour management, I have found that the best type of observation to learn from is actually ‘the unseen observation’ that is, an observation of yourself. Immediately after the lesson I will jot down my thoughts about what went well and what didn’t. Later, typing and expanding on these notes into an established reflective framework allows for true reflection to occur. In one particular lesson I faced behaviour management issues that I was able to see where down to an unclear task which was frustrating for pupils to complete. Rather than remedying the situation with sanctions, I went back to the drawing board and redesigned the task so that it was differentiated and clearer for those who had proved difficult and I told the class that they were to complete the task again. This time, without the confusion, I faced nearly zero behaviour issues. In this sense, my behaviour management was not improved by a strategy observed in another, but a failing of which I had observed in myself.


Bell, A., Hendry, G. D. & Thomson, K. (2014). Learning by observing a peer's teaching situation. International Journal for Academic Development. 318-329

Master, P. (1983). The Ettiquette of Observing. Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc (TESOL). 497-501

December 03, 2018

Short, medium and long term plans – Danielle

Within a topic that you are teaching this year, present a selection of short, medium and long-term plans. Demonstrate within this topic what progress is achieved by three different types of learners in your class. You should show what actions you took to facilitate this progress by including evidence.

Pupil A: High Achiever

Pupil A is studying Triple Science and is predicted to achieve a Grade 7. However, initial track-point data gathered from summative assessments (TS6) implied that he was working at a Grade 5. Upon conducting an end-of topic test, as outlined in my medium-term plan, it was found that the student had regressed in their learning. Using questioning as a form of formative assessment (TS6), I identified that Pupil A’s grade was not representative of his subject knowledge; rather, it resulted from not being able to identify what was required from an exam question.

Within the next lesson, rather than starting a new topic, I set the class a research task and worked with small groups to build confidence and model exam technique. Following this lesson, Pupil A was provided with the opportunity to re-sit his test. According to a principle outlined by Willows, allowing a re-test emphasises that the teacher’s main goal is to help the student learn (Willows 2012). It also helps to build self-confidence and highlights the usefulness of feedback (ibid.). Upon marking the second test it was found that Pupil A had made good progress in comparison to both track-points and moved from a Grade 4 to a Grade 5+ (TS2). Throughout the next scheme of work, the student implemented some of the revision tips and highlighted his notes.

Pupil B: Middle Achiever

Pupil B is also studying Triple Science but is predicted to achieve a Grade 5-. Initial track-point data gathered from summative assessments (TS6) implied that she was currently working at this grade. Within my lessons and the scheme of work, I provided ‘stretch-and-challenge’ tasks to furthering Pupil B’s understanding of the topic. As some of these tasks related to the course content that was only relevant for Triple Science students(AQA 2018), this shows that I have secure knowledge of the relevant curriculum areas (TS3). Moreover, as the assessment data showed that Pupil B progressed past her target, this shows that I can set goals which stretch-and-challenge pupils (TS1).

Pupil C: Low Achiever with ADHD

Pupil C is studying Combined Science but will be sitting the Foundation Tier GCSE. As this student had less content to learn in comparison to Pupil A, I had to adapt my long and medium-term plans to suit his needs (TS5). Furthermore, since Pupil C has ADHD, I liaised with the SEND department to become aware of the factors which could inhibit his learning (TS5). To help Pupil C learn effectively, I implemented a range of strategies within each lesson (TS5). For example, I used task management boards to break information down into small ‘chunks’ (Blotnicky-Gallant et al. 2014); this helped Pupil C to focus on his work. Additionally, this strategy helped the student to see the progress that he was making as he could remove a task once it had been completed. Overall, Pupil C progressed from a Grade G1+ to a Grade G2+; this shows that I am able to differentiate effectively (TS5). However, using differentiation consistently and efficaciously, is something which I need to develop further.


AQA, 2018. GCSE Science Specifications. Available at: [Accessed May 18, 2018].

Blotnicky-Gallant, P. et al., 2014. Nova Scotia Teachers’ ADHD Knowledge, Beliefs, and Classroom Management Practices. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 30(1), pp.3–21. Available at:

Willows, D., 2012. Effective Data Management for Schools, John Catt Educational Limited. Available at:

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  • Very interesting, thank you for sharing. Great CPD reflection. by Joel Milburn on this entry
  • Hi Lucy, Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of diverse assessments. I hope you have inspired o… by Anna Tranter on this entry
  • Hello Lucy, I totally agree with everything you have said here. And well done for having the energy … by Natalie Sharpling on this entry
  • Thank you for setting up this Learning Circle. Clearly, this is an area where we can make real progr… by Gwen Van der Velden on this entry
  • It's wonderful to read of your success Alex and the fact that you've been able to eradicate some pre… by Catherine Glavina on this entry

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