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.


New school, new ideas and many, many acronyms…

… and too many commas apparently, according to my PLC (Professional Learning in Context) feedback, which was positive but rather vague. My PLC tutor pointed out that it;s hard to assign a mark to a mere 1,000 word commentary, since our slides/ presentations aren’t assessed.

This is a bit of a shame, since I felt that our collaborative PLC1 project was of a high standard, since our teaching timetables allowed more time to invest in the research, whereas PLC2 may prove more difficult. It involves planning a series of lessons (now) and teaching these (before Easter). School Direct pupils are changing school back again after Feb half term however, and as I wont have a timetable ’til then, and it wil be much fuller, it put s abit of a squeeze on.

Still, if you gotta squeeze, make lemonade or something like that – so sure it’ll be fine/fun/fantastic* (*delete as applicable depending).


I’m thoroughly enjoying my time at School 2, much positive energy, progression tactics and sky high expectations that actually level the playing field so that each child can achieve. There’s also a fantastic literacy focus on reading to enjoy reading, great resources and team.

My first training session at School 3 was also great, which was all about Kagan structures and the SOLO taxonomy, which the wonderful HOD at School 1 introduced me too. (She also got me hooked on the Learning Spy, who is everyones secret best blogging friend, and I’ve got an entire file made up of his blogs, printed, lovingly annotated and categorised).I really really like SOLO, and I have a feeling it;s the way for me, hopefully back in school 1 – although it might be difficult to really embed this in my practice with new classes, half way through the year, so one to talk to my mentor about. I’m itching to start next year, with clean books and complete classes and a much better idea of where we’re all going, and how to get there!

I’ve also been cataloguing the smart group work ideas of Mr Alex Quigly, and today tried out Home and Expert groups with a year 7 class. Team work really does make the dream work!

It took a lot of resourcing but worked really well, and the class quickly understood that coasters would be swiftly ousted and each rose to their part of the challenge and engaged, producing work with evidence of a depth of knowledge I was pleased with.  I’m looking forward to breaking into a class and then reusing it as a much quicker way of developing reading, informing, explaining and summarising skills. Like.


The Big Write

Seven years of water have swept under the academic bridge, and it’s been some time
since I’ve squirrelled myself into a corner, complete with a family-size box of crunchy nut cornflakes and the crazed look of a damsel in deadline distress.

Thankfully, the boy, some babies and a good few years of business experience has taught me that getting ahead is the new going under, and my assignments have been completed with less drama.

Here’s what I’ve been writing…

TTT1 – all about deep thinking: pedagogical theories and practice – it took me ages to get my groove on and lock that learned writing style down. Now a converted constructivist and a sold-out social-scenario linker, I was so relieved to get positive feedback, and a celebrated a distinction with… a trip to the library to get the books out for the next essay. Yay.
T1: I really had a chance to examine my expectations of pupils, their learning styles, experiences and manner of constructing knowledge. I’m really looking for ways now to build ‘chunking’ in my lessons, and ensure that each stage of my plans is a build on the previous.
T3: The essay also gave me a chance to deepen my understanding of the impact of subject knowledge, and how to express this to a class. I think I err on the romantic side of reasoning, and certainly was very captured by the challenge to bring wider, global significance to the texts that I teach. As a result, my remaining lessons on the Private Peaceful theme has links to modern warfare, with an age appropriate consideration of child soldiers, and Remembrance Sunday. I also examined the relationships between militant Fathers and their Sons in both Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and contemporary photography captured of Iraqi warfare.

PLC1 – a group project with 2 other students at my school, focused on ‘What Makes Outstanding Homework?’ Felt a lot more at home with this one –it was basically a project to run with a presentation, and my background is in recruitment projects and graphic design/events. I enjoyed learning about Active Research, and although it was too intense to re-conduct a solo project in the near future, it did demonstrate the benefits of working in collaboration with colleagues in CPD groups in the future, and hopefully one day I’ll complete an in depth study for a Masters.


T2/T5: Can you believe that none of the teaching standards mentions homework? I found this so interest

ing, especially because the study really taught me homework is often an under-utilized tool in managing effective differentiation, and the importance of setting it in a considered fashion, so that each piece of work developed subject specific knowledge AND skills (such as writing to persuade), and also generic transferable skills (such an analysing). It’s another half hour of progress that can be made! Yes! I actually can’t wait to try some our ‘tool kit’ suggestions out. Here’s some of the slides we used…

Slide02 Slide04 Slide06 Slide08 Slide10 Slide12

I’ve also literally just submitted TTT2 (tick) so I’ll write a bit more about this later once I’ve had feedback.

Skellig (7A)

How come I didn’t know about this? Doesn’t it look gorgeous? Going to have to try and get hold of a copy pronto pronto… I’m hoping to use as a supplementary Skellig resource that would engage the girls in the class a bit more, inspire some AF1 writing that imaginatively uses the correct voice, and maybe even (oh please please please) inspire some extra curricular reading…. I might even give the book away as a prize toward the end of term.


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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.