we’re sticking here. that feels alllll right.

here’s the one you might have missed from my alter-blog

Hush on the blog hasn’t been deliberate but a sensible sort of silence – we needed some time to settle down, be still, ask questions, hear answers, change. Not especially fun reading, at least not easy writing, but definitely essential experiences.


I’m so grateful for having Ben around, our toddler has been, er…. toddler-ing a lot, and having backup has been a great blessing. From Ben and Pastor Cesar and Pastora Claudia! It seems Mattias and Stella are of a similar temperament; strong but big hearted. The Pastors have helped Mattias develop into such a sweet natured child so I’m confident the babe will  get there soon. My rhema for her life was based on the story of the stick turning bitter waters sweet… she’s got the strength to move in the power of the spirit to bring change, through the cross, and the end result is always sweeter. Praise the Lord as the boy would say – which he regularly does, about anything that makes him happy – particularly being able to wear in green t shirt and shorts so he’s camouflaged on the fresh florida grass. He’s finding all sorts of ways to be brave – swimming well, scrambling lots and I even took him on a roped-up sky-trail, with obstacles set high over a play park, and actually are MY stomach churn. He aced it. Like a big cat.


Lily came to visit for a few days (she’s still here because we are soooo cool ;) She’s just celebrated her 25th in Bogota so we had a second little tea party in the woods to welcome her. We also celebrated Sara’s 22nd birthday with a Despicable Me party and lots of minion related fun. Can you believe I STILL haven’t seen that movie?!

Then, unfortunately I left my beautiful clutch bag in a family bathroom, and it was swiftly lifted – along with my purse, driving licence, bank cards, boots card (boooooo) and all those important things you hope not to be parted from. C’est la vie. I was actually most upset about the purse and the bag than the contents, although the man spent a good few hours secretly scouring the net for a replacement bag which he bought me! Love it! Love him.



My blog came back! Sort of… I lost the domain name a while ago but it’s pending release or reknewal so here’s hoping – but in the meanwhile I got quite attached to WakeMummyMake … maybe I’ll just put things out there twice until I can decide.

More importantly… welcome to the world baby Esther  Joy Elizabeth! My new baby niece arrived to the adoration of her parents, 3 siblings, 4 grandparents and numerous aunties, uncles and friends.

And congratulations also to all the new mummies I’m privileged to know – Rachel J, my long life friend whose also seen the abundance of God … 2 beautiful girls born so close together! What an answer to prayer, I hope Lily and Neve strengthen each other as they grow, and bring beauty and grace to you and Matt and Josh.

Joy – He IS an Albie! I knew you;d find the perfect name, and he perfectly fits into your family, and I love how it feels like we’re welcoming him into a real community, a future, a togetherness, a turn-around. You’ve never let life’s struggles overcome it’s successes, and this little boy is going to live life to the fullest of the promises of God. Please meet us at the airport for a cuddle….

Rachel S – you are an example of grace through trials, and your gorgeous little caterpillar ted has already started his story of the glory and goodness of his maker.

Maria R – Michael is so sweet, he belonged in your arms even long before he arrived because your huge heart has always been turned toward knowing God and nurturing others.

Heather CF – we’re soooo pleased for you and Simon and Michael – the family that was always meant to be – I hope your little man grows up secure in the knowledge of the depths from which he was wanted. You are such a focussed, devoted couple and I hope he learns how to take hold of life in the way that you both have.

Please all keep posting your pictures – every, EVERY new baby brings a blessing. To their family, to the world… I love to see the way yours are making this life more loving for everyone.

So, baby Doherty Number 8, we’re sending you so much love from Miami. I’ve been on the hush – but somehow, little lady, the birth of your new voice inspired me to find mine again.

We named Stella for her destiny, so that she would always dare to dream high – and Esther is also the persian word for ‘star’ – I hope that you, Stella and all of your cousins will encourage each other towards the heavens.


Your hebrew name is Hadasseh, or myrtle tree. Did you know, new baby niece, that these evergreens are known for their deep, deep roots? They drawn minerals up from the soil that are out of reach for other trees, and this rich soil gives them such an abundance of blossom, and a beautiful grain of wood. Esther, we pray that you’ll plumb the depths of God’s love drawing up strength and wisdom that will bear fruit in your life, in all seasons.

Of course, with your daddy’s infectious laugh, your mums ready smile (and Caleb’s cheeky, charming, grin) you’ll live joyfully. We can’t wait to discover what delights you’re going to bring to your family, as you model the goodness of God and his warm, fun heart for families.

And then we’re back to blessing – because Elizabeth means God is my oath and my fortune, and represents the abundance of God. So, small one, we’re praying that you always walk sure of the promises of God, and live joyfully in their blessings. That like your namesake, you walk right with Him, always quick to say YES to all that he places in your heart.

Honey, you were born for such a time as this.

And what an all american time your cousins are enjoying! Hush on the blog hasn’t been deliberate but a sensible sort of silence – we needed some time to settle down, be still, ask questions, hear answers, change. Not especially fun reading, at least not easy writing, but definitely essential experiences.

Frame Collection 1

I’m so grateful for having Ben around, our toddler has been, er…. toddler-ing a lot, and having backup has been a great blessing. From Ben and Pastor Cesar and Pastora Claudia! It seems Mattias and Stella are of a similar temperament; strong but big hearted. The Pastors have helped Mattias develop into such a sweet natured child so I’m confident the babe will  get there soon. My rhema for her life was based on the story of the stick turning bitter waters sweet… she’s got the strength to move in the power of the spirit to bring change, through the cross, and the end result is always sweeter. Praise the Lord as the boy would say – which he regularly does, about anything that makes him happy – particularly being able to wear in green t shirt and shorts so he’s camouflaged on the fresh florida grass. He’s finding all sorts of ways to be brave – swimming well, scrambling lots and I even took him on a roped-up sky-trail, with obstacles set high over a play park, and actually are MY stomach churn. He aced it. Like a big cat.

Frame Collection 2

Lily came to visit for a few days (she’s still here because we are soooo cool ;) She’s just celebrated her 25th in Bogota so we had a second little tea party in the woods to welcome her. We also celebrated Sara’s 22nd birthday with a Despicable Me party and lots of minion related fun. Can you believe I STILL haven’t seen that movie?!

Then, unfortunately I left my beautiful clutch bag in a family bathroom, and it was swiftly lifted – along with my purse, driving licence, bank cards, boots card (boooooo) and all those important things you hope not to be parted from. C’est la vie. I was actually most upset about the purse and the bag than the contents, although the man spent a good few hours secretly scouring the net for a replacement bag which he bought me! Love it! Love him.

Frame Collection 3

The cousins are all much in love – Noah and Leo look like brothers,and Stella-Boo loves to fetch his food, change his …diapers… and they sing the sweetest of songs to him. Broody? Me? Noooooooooo ;)




Scoring a Hit? EOY Assessments and a T5 case study

So, 2 key things happened this week. In marking all my books I realised that I was going to miss these kids, these classes, these relationships at the end of my training. And why teachers put up with all the hard work and often heartache – because these kids are growing, and you get to be part of that.

Mid Term Re-Plan 

Secondly, I decided with a heavy heart to scrap my more motivational mid term plan for my tired Y9’s. The EYO Assessments have been moved to an earlier slot, starting this side of half term while I’m still teaching them. I lost 100m with them due to the bank holiday, and scoring a hit seems, sadly, more significant that inspiring them to write poetry. So it’s go go go with practicing unseen poetry and reinforcing the persuasive formula…

I’m actually having to do this for all my KS3 classes. It’s less problematic with my 2 x Y7 classes, since we’re doing ‘Accent, Dialogue and Autobiography’ at the moment, so there isn’t a thematic context that needs to be condensed.

T5: Adapting Teaching to repsond to the Strengths and Needs of ALL pupils: A Y8 Case Study.

With my lower ability Y8’s the challenge is to prepare for the Assessments alongside motivating engagement, and finishing the novel by Half Term without losing the class comprehension of events in the process! I’ve found this really challenging but beneficial, as I’ve had to constantly interrogate the purpose and benefit of each task, for both curriculum skills and cohesive contextual content. I’ve also maximised my plenaries to facilitate the consolidation of learning during this faster pace of lessons. As a result my last 3 lessons have felt very sharp and focussed, with much more aggressive differentiation designed to progress each individual pupil toward what I have ascertained their potential achievement level. Plus, the set moves have meant that I’ve inherited 3 new pupils into the class, plus a new starter, whose profiles I have had to quickly and rigorously assess. With the set-movers, it was a case of downloading their data from ASPEN and using this to create a TARGET card as the rest of the class have, allowing pupils to stay focussed and aware of their targets, and allowing me to move them in Kagan allocated gorupings for relevant tasks. In spite of being placed centrally in the whole class profile, the 2 set movers from the lower set are really struggling with the format of the lessons, which the LSA informs me are much pacier and more complex in terms of activities and processing expectations, so I’m incorporating them into my strategies for Lower Ability learners in the class (see below).

Isn’t it crazy? Even in an ability ‘set’ class with identical results, kids are SO different.

The 4th new pupil is a school mover, whose EOY target fits the class profile (5c), but he’s come in on a 3a! I can only hypothesise that he’s been set for hisEOY rather than his actual progress, and  it’s quite an ambitious target considering that he’s joined us with a term to go. Still with a reading age of 11, I figured that our boy-friendly novel could be a a good stimulus for development. Following a class reading strategy, it became apparent that the reading age was not a match for the class and asked the LSA to do our own tests, which ascertained a reading and writing ages of 8 and 9. As a result I’ve moved him onto my ‘intervention’ table (which is obviously, not obvious. I hope! Merits, tough questions and lots of vocab challenges and praise go this way, as well as writing homework into their diaries and frequent mini-table AFL checks), and my LSA is incorporating him into her focused activities with our other literacy weak pupil. By the time the EOY’s come along, he will have been part of the same preparation process, so I’ll take his transition into consideration alongside the results and if necessary have a chat with the LSA and class teacher about additional support.

A tangible example of how I’m adapting teaching with this class then – teaching Writing to Describe in the last lesson…

Presentation1I would normally expect to spend a fair amount of time ensuring 1/3 the class had managed to draw a KPT, during which the attention of the middle 1/3 would wane, whilst the top 1/3 would be finished and ready to move on. This time, I pre-printed a KPT template. I distributed this to the lower 1/3 to eliminate unproductive time struggling to structure their responses. I  targeted the middle 1/3 for on the spot feedback for examples to ensure they engaged out of anticipation for a response, and I included a second line of harder challenges on each slide for the top 1/3 to ensure they were being stretched. It worked! The class variabley and appropriately progressed AT THE SAME PACE! HOORAY!

To make sure I reaaaallllllly got them focussed, I also designed this homework sheet to ensure that the kids were actually incorporating the success criteria into their writing, by simultaneously self-assessing. I’ll post once I get it back and can make a call on if it worked…

Whilst we’re on hoorays, it was a wonderful birthday bank holiday,  and since I’m feeling all smushy, I can’t let this post pass without wishing my beautiful little girl a special second year X

weekend wonder

Can’t see the World for the Walnut?


One of the teachers I share a class with is a bit seriously brilliant. She recently shared this brilliant motivational clip from SOUL SURFER with me, which I’m going to use with my tired Y9’s as a stimulus for discussing and discovering the POINT of EOY Assessments. Followed by a dazzling growth mindset pep talk. Yes. My cup is still very much half FULL.

I’m also going to use google maps to re-inforce the idea in the clip, that we all need some wider world perspective to motivate us to focus on the challenges in front of us – so I’ll flash up super zoomed in satellite pictures of familiar local buildings for the pupils to guess, and zoom out to locate. Final one will be the English department, housing our looming EOY assessment, with a big reveal to the world as our oyster … love it … and admit it, we all need cheese sometimes :D

KS4 Standardising, Speaking and Sharing resources

KS4 – CA’s, Speaking and Listenings and Standardising

This has been my first experience of standardising – a huge amount of Y11 folders, a slightly frantic department, and ultimately a question of timing. There’s not enough to do all the written CA’s in Year 11, AND teach to the exams, yet our Y10’s don’t possess the fluency to write in a ‘sophisticated and impressive’ (mark scheme quote) style. It’s a hard call to make. I found it really helpful to read through so many essays however, and found myself developing the ‘feel’ factor as to which band each belonged on first reading, and then scrutinising for specific marks on the second reading, and was pleased that I was able to do this successfully inline with the rest of the English team. Moreover, it’s helped me get a real feel for marking my own Y10 CA’s. That’s next week’s job! A quick scan satisfied me that the class have done a great job on a really complex, integrated, multi modal task.

I’m in on the first year of teaching the CA task (Explore How relationships are presented in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Sylvia Plath’s poetry) in this style, so have had to create resources that have drawn heavily on my Shakespeare on Film module at Uni (bearing in mind that this was 8 years ago!). The department loved them though, so they’re hopefully going to get lots of use. Here’s some of it…



I’m also working with the Y10’s on their Discussion based S&L (Although AQA is devaluing these next year, so that they are required but not rewarded!). I’m using the debate challenge cards that I got from a R&D session at my second placement school back in January, and they are PEACHY perfect! I sequenced the tasks so that the groups first had to categorise the cards to ensure cognitive processing, followed by using them in debate to live, ‘self-scaffold’ a model of good debate practice. It worked so well,and produced quality discussion and interaction.



Whole class engagement

What to do with a Y9 lower band class lacking in motivation to learn? Well, I tried one strategy with a level of success, and planned a second with the class teacher.

Strategy = Home and Expert groups, with a Dweck inspired pre-task chat about the importance of whole group buy-in. Each member fo the class had a 2-sided poetry placemat (below) which they had 2 cycles of info gathering and sharing poetry techniques to complete. I worked hard with the pre-identified, work-shy boys to ensure the rest of the group we’re disadvantaged. The majority of the class performed well, particularly in the 2nd cycle. Having split friendships/communes/allies/parters up, I wonder on reflection if friendships groups would have been a better way to approach this, since friends are more likely to support each others learning efforts. Or just talk. Tough call. The boys who didn’t buy in at least, with supervision, became experts and shared info, but failed to capture techniques shared by other classmates. So as not to penalise the keen beans, I made the info and placemat available online and set a homework to add further details to the mats.

Poetry PlacematPoetry Placemat 2

Strategy = Hearts then Minds. Fresh and green perhaps, but this is off the back of the CRB training, and taking stock generally, and trying to win this group back round to English rather than feed them to the machine. They most engaged during the last few lessons of Boy In The Striped Pyjamas – having accessed a theme they found to be personally interesting and relevant. With this info on board, I’m working to build on our EI/PLC project about inequality and social awareness, and the SOW about unseen poetry, which I’m focussing on poems from other cultures with congruous themes. Result? Bring a folk singer into a lesson to sing protest lyrics, inspire the class to write their own, using their placemats for technical direction, and then grade their commentary for reading levels.  So, after that we’ll do a persuasive writing project about supporting poverty abroad, and I’ve hopefully hit all the assessment bases, put some energy back in the class and tied it up with an appropriately thematic ribbon. Mixed metaphors much?! The class have made great vocab progress, with increasing sophistication in word choice however, the er, cherry on top of this mid term plan will be grammatical. I’m thinking a huge push on extended starters with grit for grammar – particularly punctuation, sentence construction (adverbial starters) and conjunctions to aid argument expression and develop.

Parents Evening (T8 and PPC)

A happy blog to start the first teaching day of term off….

During my mentor meeting, we went through some of the targets from before the break, one of which was to prepare for a Y7 parents evening which took place just before term ended.

Talking about it again reminded me how buzzy I was during and after – I really enjoyed meeting parents, being able to talk about their children in depth, and understanding more about the journey that each of them comes into school from. At the start of the year I shared the class with my mentor and another teacher who helped me get into it, but were so encouraging in pushing me to take the lead on dialogue with parents, commenting that I was able to make insightful and personalised comments about the individual children – which in turn indicated a high level of responsibility that I have taken to understand their progress and targets. It was so rewarding to know that our lessons had made an impact on the pupils, and I was really encouraged to hear that the pupils have been using and sharing our class specific blog with their parents.

In particular, I enjoyed speaking with the parents of 1 child, who is very bright and engaged in class, a natural leader and enquirer, and who makes intelligent contributions with enthusiasm. I felt that I had lots of evidence to share about his progress, and so was surprised to hear that he’d previously professed English to be his least favourite subject, and one that he lacked motivation toward. His parents were really positive about his change in attitude and increased enjoyment of the subject in Y7. Goofy high-five moment? Yes. Definitely.

On the flip side, but also rewarding, was the opportunity to communicate with a different set of parents with the help of a HOD. They wrote to me expressing concern over their daughter’s misunderstanding about the PLC2 project. I’m really glad they took the time, and felt confident about explaining and unpacking the situation professionally to the parents. My mentor and the HOD were satisfied that they were well informed and I had a chance to chat to the pupil too. She later commented on the blog asking for additional help, which I was happy to do. Actually a few pupils from different classes did this during the break – more evidence to suggest that using it as a central access point for homework and questioning is time well spent.


It’s been a while and a lot has happened… this is more of an aide memoire for me and my evidence file really, but here goes…

* 2 x observations with a mid ability Y10 class that have frankly been loosing me sleep due to their controlled assessment, the subsequent mass of extra reading and prep it’s taken, and challenges of motivating a class to write for 3 hours. Oh, and marking. But the feedback was super helpful, and really highlighted the need to maximise tasks and resources, and sequencing. Has the last task developed skills that are required in the next one?

*T4 PLC2 project on Emotional Intelligence. In theory, this was meant to be streamlined into a sequence of 4 lessons alongside normal content. In practice, it took over my 9.7 lessons and required a lot of tweaking to line up with an already content heavy English curriculum.

In a CPD session we discussed potential micro-enquiries within our subject areas, but inevitably any expanded creativity, off-road research risks or extended meta-cognative learning processes are at the mercy of the TIMETABLE. Business has brainwashed TIME is MONEY into me – so can we afford to take up time doing pupil led enquiries? How can you be confident it’ll be beneficial? You’ve got to have some serious perceptivity to go off-piste. And so, 97 and I are now playing catch up with functional writing skills and unseen poetry. Go go go!

*T5 Exit strategies. This is really working with YO. Half the class seeks constant reassurance and needs to develop independence and confidence, whilst the other half tends toward the know-it-all approach. Taught explicitly as an exit strategy, the 5B’s are making a big difference (Brian, Book, Board, Buddy, Boss) I’ve taken this further, after understanding during my TTT3 research, that one of the benefits of formulating and articulating is increased awareness. So pairs are given a yellow (optimistic I though) sheet of A4 paper at the start of every lesson. ANY, any ANY any and ALL questions (including toilet/tissue/trash related ones) have to go through the 5B’s, and be written out clearly on the paper before the Boss will answer them. Often they are solved prior to this, frequently they are solved in the process of writing the question, and should the question need the Boss, it has been considered and shaped toward intelligent questioning. Moreover, a hand up to signify a written question enables me to answer individuals at an opportune moment, rather than the previous barrage of questions disrupting learning flow. Merits for the most interesting questions inspire the know-it-alls, as does answering other people’s questions AND you’ve got a pupil led homework waiting to go for all those unanswered ones. Questions tend to be spelling, homework, word meaning, character scenario orientated – and have been pretty impressive – such as ‘Could Ariel be Prospero’s spirit somehow?’


*T5 Spotlighting – I was pretty pleased that this technique which I practiced with a Y10 class was picked up on in a CS session at Uni. It’s essentially about listening to group learning dialogue and discussion, and then allowing the rest of the class to do the same by focussing attention on this model group. Its a great way of demonstrating good practice to other pupils and showing them what good learning looks like. I then used the groups discussion to bounce deeper questions around the other groups, refocussing us all on the key messages, before sending groups back again.

*CPD day – tonnes of interesting stuff – highlights…
T6 Marking for Progress – some great ideas to trial here from a CPD day, such as
Leaving the left hand side of the page blank for assessments and levelled work, so that comments can be fully responded to, paragraphs improved etc – with a post it tab on the relevant page that cannot be removed until the teacher signs off on satisfactory progress.
Actually the tabs system would work on any marking. I will try, photograph and post on this….

T2/T5 Stretch and Challenge Strategies for successful, individual, meaningful challenge, with encouragement to run a collaborative micro enquiry, with deep analysis on 2 or 3 pupils. I think I’m going to be doing this with 8.8, as a lower ability class but with a range of pupils who need widely tailored approaches. My project is to trial ‘Accelerating students thinking through talking.’ IAnother post on this, er, post event. Other things…. great acronyms to help teachers plan challenge: SKIVE and PIECE, and some very inspiring case studies. One ins particular reponded to research that pupils perceptions about lack of relevance is a huge demotivater for challenge, so spent time with his Y7’s researching famous mathmeticians who used algebra to change the world etc, working out their skill-sets and characteristics, and transferring these to class success criteria. Constructivism. I wanted to do this for a year 7 class following a conversation with a boy (previous post), and I’m going to do this with them now, but around embracing the bard instead. This week, not planned yet, but I’ll, post, naturally. Hopefully.

T3 Literacy across the Curriculum and Reading strategies – wow, so many great ones here to try, love the idea of Sketch and Stretch to transfer comprehension into a more memorable context. Big win with lower ability ans especially with my 100m lessons. Also going to use the SMART and INSERT strategies to ensure more meaningful comprehension, and the 5W’s as a good way to enforce factual absorption whilst re-enforcing a basic functional writing skill. PIcs to follow.

Ok, guess what? Lessons to plan! More regular posts to follow!

P.S All my uni assignments are completely and absolutely IN. This feels good. And I feel good after an actual break – it was so nice to leave and come back to the same place, which meant the easter break was a lot more relaxing. Lovely.

Learning Motivation

The data for Y7 is in from module 2, so I started scanning the stats, with one boy in particular causing me concern, His behaviour had already marked him apart, and his target grade was slipping away from him he dropped rather than climbed sub-levels. Intervention time. We had a chat. Turns out he’d had a chat too – last night in fact – with a parent, about how schools do things the wrong way round, and don’t bother finding out what knowledge kids want, or would find useful, to learn.
We agreed that I would find ways to make learning more relevant, and focus on linking it to real life learning and really working the constructivist pedagogy. Challenge accepted. Starting with a de Bono thinking hats reflective exercise, and moving into a more varied and mulit-modal approach to the Shakespeare play we are studying, and making more explicit the life skills that the pupils employ during Kagan structure activities, drama and peer work. Sounds right, but also looking for really simple pegs to hang things on for this kid in particular. Keep you posted when I’ve come up with a row…

Cycling – musings relatively related to emotional intelligence

27cfd_Cycling Cities report graphicJFK declared that ‘education is the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there IS a private hope and dream, which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.’

My private hopes and dreams are essentially that. Private – finding secret expression in certain elements of my teaching journey  – filling me with fizz or frustration but staying resolutely put even as my practice improves to facilitate their fulfilment. They are something like this:
To connect with pupils and to cause effective communication.
To inspire, impart and gain continued insight. To be a good teacher that gets better.

I suppose its a cycle of sorts…
To give, to gain and to grow
To teach and be taught
In blessing to be blessed.

Sometimes, the stars collide and force a pause to question whether we’ve  fundamentally cracked, or clicked. A moment, maybe once, maybe daily, and we adopt, adapt.

oxygen_mask_During my 2nd placement I began to feel the ‘click’ – I was coming together as a teacher somehow. As part of our Emotional Intelligence PLC2,  I was really struck by a journal that discussed the myriad of factors that act upon a teacher to form their mentality, their motivations and subsequent pedagogy and practice, and the importance of considering this as an essential element of our teaching ability. It’s the airline oxygen mask approach really- get your own mask on before you attempt to help a child affix theirs – because losing your own air supply will wipe you clean off  JFKS  ‘benefitting others’ educational agenda.

We’re becoming increasingly familiar with Kolb’s approach to the reflection process and whilst it is cyclical, it is also highly impersonalised  toward the user. Rachel Lofthouse’s 8 interrelated Professional Aspects are more orientated toward personal professional development with one focus on confidence and ‘teaching’ identity. However, the aspects suggest a balanced approach to each of the 8 elements, or a targeted focus on a few as our training progresses, and ultimately assume a professional uniformity of end product that doesn’t seem to provide for factors that influence and enrich each individual ITT.

In business I became very familiar with the virtuous cycle of

Happy Staff produce Happy Clients produce More $

that led one Examining Board that I worked for the be named as one of the UK’s top 100 SMES to work for. Hearing a similar comment from an SLT member at my second placement school was a real ‘click’ moment for me. He remarked that so often we focus on making pupils happy, but this has to start with happy teachers. Seriously simple, seriously smart.

Happy teachers produce Happy students produce Progress…

Obviously personal factors beyond pupil progress will influence the ‘Happy Teacher’ , but this is the essential starting point. I’m sure I’ve spent way too long musing about this, and should have cracked through all the SOWs for my next placement, but somehow I feel that understanding my own cycle and improving my personal emotional intelligence is time well spent at the beginning of a half term. I’m not sure if this will translate into a viable PLC2 project, but it is bedrock.

More cycling excellence in teaching here: Olympic cycling inspired learning and David Didau’s useful evaluation.

P.S Here’s a cycle for free I put together based on the Jackie Beere approach to lessons

JB lesson cycle

Boarding Passes, Trading Games and Think to Link

Bit of a blog-bomb here of highlights from placement 2…


I really enjoyed the last lesson I had with a Y10 class. Wed done poetry in detail together, and so I wanted to go with an unseen approach to the last lesson, but make sure there were really in the mood first. The poem was James Fenton’s In Paris With You, and as the calendar would have it, we wound up exploring this on Valentines Day. I started the lesson by giving each pupil boarding cards from this great site: http://omatic.musicairport.comAir Ticket
I went with a class name, the truly committed could input individual names. I did put relevant flights and a time for that lunch, and led the class through a series of consideration conversations about whether they would use the ticket or not as we revealed more about the poem and its circumstances.


Trade UpWith a Y9 class we were examining a poem that uses wealth imagery to explore the value of objects, with water ultimately being revealed as the most precious. I started the lesson by giving each pupil a trading card with an object on it. The class had 5 minutes to move around the class and persuade one another to trade items until they ended up with the highest value item that they could. Back in groups, they choose the highest value from that which they had collated, and I stuck this to the board.

9C1 Module 2 Lesson 12Later in the lesson, once the meaning of the poem had been discovered, tables could choose to trade their item on the board for one form their remaining stash, so long as they could explain WHY. All the groups did, humbly and eloquently swapping gold and skull candy headphones for bottles of water, food and medical supplies. It was awesome! Another winner in the student voice survey, and could easily be adapted to teach other poems – such as valuing time in Duffy’s hour, or relationships in many others.


I’m also LOVING Triptico’s new Think and Link

I recently used the hexagons to make a random selection of characters and quotes from Skellig, and each pupil had a hexagon grid in front of them.

They generated an impressive list of key themes, of which they had to choose 2. These were written at either end of the hexagon sheet, and pupils had to use the hexagon prompts form the TRIPTICO screen to make a link bridge across the page, writing explanations for the link in the spaces around the bridge, to ensure genuine HOT.

Sounds a little complicated, it wasn’t in practice though, and the pupils loved directing me in reconstructing their theme bridges in screen. Very satisfying Triptico click/think noise too!

Quotation Donation

I had to share this as I had so much fun putting it together and working it in the classroom with a Y9 middle ability group,. We’d been working on 2 poems with poverty themes, although very different contexts (Indian drought vs South African Apartheid). The next lesson was going to teach ‘Compare and Contrast.’

Quotation Donation

I started by giving each child a fake dollar and a post-it in the line up outside. When the lesson began and we got ‘I need a dollar’ pumping, they had to work back through their poems to decide which poet presented the strongest impression of poverty, and write a quote to support their deduction on the post it. With pictures of each poet on opposite sides of the board, the class then came forward to stick their post it on the relevant side, and their dollar in the relevant tin. We had a class count up, and used the post it’s to scaffold PEED paragraphs later in the lesson.

On a student voice survey I gave out, this ranked pretty high, so I’m hoping to use it again somehow.

*sparkle* an obs week gem

Although teaching Wednesday to Friday, I found that my practice really benefitted from being in a focussed school environment for the full week. As well as watching some experts at work, I was on the look out for top tips on how to manage and maximise classroom time. A winning gem included…

A focussed, low resource starter with productive output that can be sown into the remainder of the lesson as scaffolding, thus providing the teacher with breathing space to set the lesson up, order reosurces and switch into this lesson, which in my case below, was the third in a row.

With 9e2 I pre-prepared a technique card sort, with a blank card to stretch and challenge the early finishers, and an additional ranking instruction for the truly bright to have a go out, securing myself a steady 6 minutes to get plugged in, PowerPointed up and prepared. Less flustered teacher = smoother more settled class. WIN! I need a repertoire of ‘bells’ now that don’t require being plugged in. I remember using a pack of picture cards with a mentoring group of teen girls I worked with a while ago. I used to ask them to choose one and either relate themselves to it, or link it to a situation, or even one another – so am going to develop this idea. Actually, I might use this as the foundation of my emotional intelligence series of lessons for PLC2. Hmmmm!

Assessment for … aching?!



After 3 solid hours of marking, I was very pleased with my pile of proof. I’m not as familiar with these classes which has pros and cons…

PROS: Genuinely unbiased marking
CONS: Not able to be as perceptive or tailored as I would have liked

This was a maintenance marking cycle, but I still endeavored to make comments and set improvement targets where possible – particularly with a year 8 class whose test results next week may be influenced by the feedback I provided. I also had a chance to practice levelling some rich assessed work with my mentor last week, and am hoping to get a chance to practice further with the APP tests that we’re doing with our classes next week.



Key lesson learned with my Y7 – be clear that they can answer the question on the board without copying the whole thing down – starting to understand where some of the time seems to slip away from us. I appreciate this may well be a confidence issue, so will continue to use sentence starter options to ensure a speedy exit from the blocks on extended writing.

Meaningful Marking
This s the big one -and I chatted to a GTP who passed on some great ideas about how to engage in the dialogue of improvement with pupils by using simple Student / Teacher / Student  comment boxes after written work or an AFL orientated KLL grid at the introduction of a topic to record what pupils already know (apparently thats about 40% of what we go on to teach them!) to inform the baseline for progression, then what would like to know how to do, and finally, at the end, what they have learned.

Low tech, effective and purposeful.

Last up – at Uni the other day we also had a go at marking KS4 speaking and listening video exams with an AQA mark scheme…. HARD! Hattie. Need I say more?!


Analytical mulberry bushes

Any excuse to air the ever stylish Alexa and her named bag of beauty…


Back to life/reality/etc…I spent some time with my mentor today to find solutions for approaches to poetry that made the density of analytical work engaging in a small group setting. She modelled one of these ideas today – for a reading anaylsis question – and I’m hooked! I give you …. co-operative analysis! 

Essentially, it’s pass the parcel: pupils pass A3 sheets around with a quote written large an central. When the music stops (get the tune right and improve your emotional intelligence), use one of your stack of post-its to add an insightful interpretation. Each pupil contributes, and also collates ideas, which scaffold individual PEEL paragraphs (QED) following the activity (ensuring autonomous deep thinking). All the passing even gets the brain gym going for the noughties grads out there.
On reflection, the activity could become even more purposed if required, with the teacher designating a topic for each round, such as structure, tone, layers of meaning etc, to ensure breadth and depth of interpretations (for instance, only two pupils wrote about structure and there is the potential for pupils to re-iterate the same comments if they encounter repeated quotes). Great activity though. The kids were super smiley, busy and wrote well afterwards.
La mentor conducted an edited version later in the day in which quotes were taped to the outskirts of the room, and pupils circulated in a orderly fashion (naturally) until the music stopped, at which point they added comments to the quote in front of them. She also directed the topic of the comment and decided that this worked much better. Sorted! I took this tack when I tried the same exercise with a Year 9 class later in the week. I pre-selected the quotes to major on the theme of poverty, in order to scaffold a PEED later in the lesson about the poet’s presentation of this theme. My management style was stretched to the max in order to co-ordinate music, movement and productive comment making, but the result was that each child had a visually stimulating scaffold for their PEED paragraph. By using this quote with 4 different, detailed perspectives on it, students successfully demonstrated much more insight than previously employed.

I also experimented with the concept by merging it with a student gallery for my Apprentice class who produced excellent persuasive posters which I invited a top salesman to join us in judging… a later post on this!

Differentiation in action…

We’re in school for the full week. Which gives me a chance to do some observing for 2 days before my timetable kicks back in on Wednesday. I feel able to focus my observations more meaningfully now, so it was fantastic to watch my mentor teach the same lesson twice, but aimed at two different ability classes.

Afterwards we were able to talk about the change in her style and her expectations. My scribbled notes are attached (oh yes, I now have a combi Printer/Scanner…and did I mention that my sister also bought me a laminator – which I think will give me an edge in interview no?)

Anyway… here’s a summary of my reflections on the lessons:

– Always have high expectations, regardless of the class ability level

– Make scaffolding subtle, to encourage confident autonomy (even if, in fact, you’re masterfully manoeuvering the class)

– Silent work, post-discussion, benefits articulate classes, as it focuses their efforts and captures their conversations

– Increase depth of evidence required by higher ability students, but require the same effort from everybody, all the time, me included.

Back to lesson planning then…Lesson Obs 4 Feb 13 v2


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Me and the minis

A little bit about me

I'm training as a teacher on the School Direct route. It's new this year and puts me in the classroom more than a traditional PGCE. I'm also training for a marathon and really enjoy running. But not so much in winter. I've been blessed with a gorgeous hub and 2 awesome kids who are 3 and 1 and being total dudes about me going back to work full-time. And that is pretty much that.