Saturday, 26 January 2013

An outstanding lesson is...

An outstanding lesson is... nobody noticing that the bell has gone.

An outstanding lesson is... "Miss that was good today, can we do it again?"

An outstanding lesson... asks why.

An outstanding lesson is... empowering

An outstanding lesson... moves beyond levels.

An outstanding lesson... sees mistakes as opportunities to learn

An outstanding lesson... delights in the journey not just the destination.

An outstanding lesson is... "After yesterday I went and  found this out- can you
have a look?"

An outstanding lesson is... spontaneous heated debate among students about the correct method to solve an equation.

An outstanding lesson is..."Sir, Mohammed explained how to do that question to me- can you give him a Vivo?"

An outstanding lesson is... GCSE pupils creating something on the A- level syllabus on their own initiative, unawares,  as a response to a fellow pupi'ls question.

An outstanding lesson is.... "Sir, I've prepared a lesson for today after that thing we did the other week. Can I teach it tomorrow?"

An outstanding lesson... allows students to cut their own keys to their own lock.

An outstanding lesson is... a lesson where the teacher doesn't say a single word for an hour but the students all move forward in their understanding.

An outstanding  lesson is... a series of what ifs?

An outstanding lesson... always follows the learning but it may not follow the plan.

An outstanding lesson is... so much more that a check list.

This post was inspired by the "Love is..." series that used to be in our Sunday paper when I was a child.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Practitioner-Led INSET: Casting the Net Wider

I have already blogged about last Monday's INSET Day here, but that was merely about the opening session of the day on Marginal Learning Gains.  Whilst that was a wonderful start to the day, I have to say that the real magic happened once I stopped speaking at the end of that session.

Up until last Monday our four Outstanding Pedagogy Project INSET Days since June 2012 had all been fabulous in terms of content and had been extremely favourably reviewed by our wonderful staff, but they had lacked two vital ingredients that I think make a truly exceptional INSET Day:  an element of choice for those on the receiving end and the corollary of wider engagement of in-school expertise in the delivery of the day's sessions.

And so it was that when I sat down with my Pedagogy Leader colleagues Aarti Sharma, Rebecca Howard (@MissHowardCHS) and Joe Freeman (@biomadhatter) to plan the details of the day late in November that there were only two elements of the day that I felt were non-negotiable. The first of these was the theme of 'Evaluation' (more on this below) and the second was that we ran enough sessions during the course of the day to enable our teachers to have a significant amount of choice about what it was that they went to see and hear and experience. They were, as Joe has said to me in the past, on it like tonic (No? Me neither!).

Having spent INSET time on the Accelerated Learning Cycle, on key classroom techniques for learning, upon collaborative planning and upon coaching for both pedagogy and leadership we had agreed that this last major planned INSET day would be on the topic of in-class evaluation. Earlier this year, and following two years of Masters study into assessment practices, I launched our school's "Evaluation, Appraisal and Assessment Policy". The three-pronged title of the policy was related to an underestimated document produced by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families on Assessment for Learning that identified three core timings of assessment: the day-to-day, the periodic and the transitional. My belief in writing the policy was that the focus in our classrooms had become too level or grade oriented and that there was a loss of focus on the qualitative nature of day-to-day assessment.

For this reason the policy includes the statement "we believe that the primary mode for helping students to improve their understanding and, as a consequence, their performance against national expectations, is day-to-day teacher, peer and self-evaluation".

Further to this the policy (which spans only two sides of a bright green sheet of paper) lists seven elements of what our priorities are for in-class evaluation of student performance. These are written in a form of preferences, and are:

- Qualitative information about achievement is more powerful than quantitative data

- Open-ended tasks offer better learning opportunities than closed-ended ones

- Collaborative working enables students to develop better than individual working

- Teacher observation of learning is more effective for students than teacher marking

- Instand feedback and feed-forward is more engaging than retrospective evaluation

- Self-discovery, through exploratory learning is more powerful than teacher-led learning

- Interdependent interactions stimulate learning better than independent thinking

The policy then warns against a 'false dichotomy' approach and says "while we value those features of teacher evaluation shown on the right hand side of each statement, we place more value on the features shown on the left hand side". For this reason we decided that our INSET Day on in-class evaluation should be practitioner-led (always the case these days at Canons) and about all those left hand side statements. Presented on the morning of the INSET they looked like this.

At that first meeting with the three Ped Leaders, having established the focus on evaluation and the principle of choice I left it up to them to identify how we would go about doing it. They decided that what they really wanted to do was throw it open to as many people as possible and create a series of four workshops with six choices: a total of 24 sessions for our teaching staff of 68. They like a challenge do our Ped Leaders!!

And so began the period of arm-twisting. Within a matter of a couple of weeks they had informed then discussed then persuaded then nagged then bribed then whatever else they could think of to get takers. We were helped by the fact that a number of our Heads of Departments wanted time with their teams in the afternoon and so we limited the workshop slots to three, meaning only 18 sessions were needed, but it was still some effort. Their main persuasive technique was to reassure staff that they weren't looking for something out of the ordinary in terms of either content or delivery style. Instead what they wanted was for the teachers involved in delivery to show what they do and in the way they do it: proper practitioner-led stuff.

Along the way we also decided that we wanted some mini-TeachMeets on the day, with 5 minute micro-presentations to complement the 45 minute workshop slots. We hoped we might get enough for one of these sessions but ended up with two (mainly because the Peds 'let people off' a longer session if they were willing to do a TeachMeet slot instead!!).

And so the running order for the workshop sessions ended up looking like this:

In all, including the TeachMeets, there were 19 members of staff (almost a third of our teachers) leading sessions to demonstrate their in-class evaluation strategies and techniques: from Punk Learning to Trajan's Column and from SOLO (at beginner and advanced levels) to CRESS feedback and from a Culture of Critique to Green Pen Policy. The contributions came from across the curriculum, across the range of experience and across the leadership spectrum and were all coordinated by three young teachers who had contributed to some of our previous INSETs but had never before led the organisation of one.

At the end of the day we asked staff to fill out two post it notes with What Went Wells and Even Better Ifs. Having had fabulous feedback from our previous three INSETs this was the bit that had me more than a little nervous. You see, when you cast the net wider in order to have more contributors to INSET in order to generate meaningful choice then you also have to let go: you have to sacrifice the certainty of tight quality control mechanisms and instead place your utter trust in the professionalism of your colleagues, all 19 of them.

When I saw the EBI flipchart sheet fill up my heart sank but I made myself (and my Ped Leader colleagues) look at the jam-packed WWW flipchart sheet first. What I saw there was amazing. Less sparkly than the praise for our previous INSET Days (although still sparkly enough) this praise was richer and deeper and altogether more satisfying. Twelve of the nineteen contributors were mentioned positively by name, eleven respondents mentioned the Punk Learning sessions and eight mentioned the TeachMeets as a positive part of the day.

On a more qualitative note, powerful phrases such as the day being a "chance to see excellent practitioners showing what they're good at" and being filled with "more hands on activity rather than listening to information" were extremely rewarding. Teachers repeatedly talked about the "variety" of workshops and the "thought-provoking" nature of them, with one colleague being particularly positive in saying "I would have liked another day to attend more sessions". The positive feedback fills two pages of a narrow-margined Word document and is a delight to read in terms if both immediate impact and phrases full of future intention such as "I felt that I had picked up bits of good practice that were marginal gains for my practice" and "some ideas that the English Department can definitely adapt".

Eventually I plucked up the confidence to turn to the EBIs. I needn't have been worried as fifteen of them were about departments being given more time "to put new ideas into practice" or "to develop the good ideas from today". This could hardly be called criticism and of the eighteen developmental comments not asking for more departmental time, seven were asking for more workshops or longer workshop sessions. Two others were asking for the materials for all the sessions to be made available and two others asking for outside speakers tonbe involved in the INSET. Only four of the comments were specifically negative about an aspect of the day. The old adage of not pleasing all the people all the time rings true, but this was as good as I've ever seen in terms of feedback for such a wide-ranging INSET Day.

So well done to the Ped Leader trio for their triumphant INSET Day. And well done too to the almost score of teachers who certainly hit the back of the net with their contributions to a fantastic piece of peer-led professional development.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Trajan's Column 1, 2 & 3

Last year I attended Cramlington Learning Festival and attended a session on large group activities run by Fergus Hegarty. During this session I took part in a Trajan's Column activity with around 20 other people. I never would have believed that a whole class could engage in a group task where they all contribute to one final product. I was wrong. In 20minutes we had created a column of information mapping the life of a Gorilla: birth, diet, habitat, old age etc. Our column included written information, key words, images and an object on the top reflecting the work as a whole. Since then, I have been working on this activity in lessons and with teachers as a way to engage large groups in interdependent learning.

Trajan's Column with Staff:
In the most recent INSET I delivered a session on Trajan's Column to a group of teachers. Their task was to recreate, in 20minutes, the play of Romeo & Juliet going up the column using a summary of the play (parts cut up like a card sort), key quotations and images. They also had to create an object to go on top. One member of staff quickly took charge, reading out the 1 set of instructions and starting a discussion of what tasks to tackle first. The group then split into 2 smaller groups with the females working on the play summary and quotations while the male teachers worked creatively and practically to create an object to go on top.

During the course of the activity the male group worked together and quite quickly had discussed and decided what they were going to create. The female group spent a lot more time discussing the events, re-reading instructions and making sure that they were on task. It was interesting to witness the discussions that occurred, watching questions being asked to seek clarification and affirmation that people were on the right track. Instead of sticking the summary parts and quotations onto to the column itself and reducing the lengthy summaries to key words and phrases, the group decided to create a paper chain of information, interlinking the summary and quotes together. The final object included two houses with daggers stuck to the top - an interpretation on the quote 'a plague o' both your houses.'

In discussion afterwards, the group discussed how the activity could be used as an evaluative tool at the end of a scheme but could similarly be used to introduce a topic. It was acknowledged that the males had perhaps 'opted out' slightly in that they did not come into contact with the summary details or quotes and this is something which would have to be considered in a classroom setting, perhaps by having smaller elements to the whole task which could be delegated or by removing the 'object' element altogether. Despite this, the discussion was rich and teachers were animated in talking about how the activity could be amended and tailored for their own subjects. One idea was to split the class into two groups and have two columns to allow more students to have more involvement.

Hence the next time I did Trajan's Column, it looked something like this....

Trajan's Column - An Inspector Calls
Today, with two different year 11 classes, I set about starting revision on An Inspector Calls for their Literature Exam. Having read the play last year I wanted a way to refresh their memories on the details of the play without tedious re-reading or research. I re-arranged the classroom before the lesson with tables in two separate groups and chairs all around. As the students came in I instructed them to sit with others that they felt they would work best with. In the morning lesson (a C/D borderline class), I ended up with a group of girls and a group of boys while the afternoon class (top set) was a lot more mixed. To start the lesson off I used some excellent audio files from TES of all three acts. The class listened and made notes in a study guide on the key events and details of the play.

Once finished with listening to the act summaries I introduced the main activity. The plastic poles were placed in the middle of the two groups with instructions on the top. Resources were left at the front of the room on desks for groups to collect as they needed. In the morning lesson, the two groups approached the task very differently. Both groups started off working together to organise the parts of the play. In the boys group, two separated quite quickly after this to set about making an object while the others started sticking paper to the pole and finding appropriate quotations to use. In contrast, the girls worked consistently together till very near the end. Only with 5minutes to go did 2 girls start cutting out objects for the top whilst the others set about making finishing touches using images and quotations. The end result was very different. When a colleague (@lLeahMirandaM) popped in to take a look she commented that the girls column was a lot more structured whilst the boys was more creative (see below for their interpretation of Inspector Goole, Nike trainers included!).

The afternoon class worked in a very similar way with groups discussing and delegating the tasks; some working on the summary, others on quotations and the rest on making objects and decorating material. As the class is a lot bigger the groups managed to complete the activity much quicker, in around 20minutes. Again their columns looked a lot different and in some ways I think the morning class took more pride in their work, the top set favouring speed over aesthetics. But the point is that it doesn't really matter what the columns look like. In both lessons the whole class had been involved in an interactive activity for an extended period of time where they were able to work together to create something that they could be proud of. They had to use their own notes from the first part of the lesson to reorganise the summary and the activity actually worked as a consolidation exercise. I definitely think that having two groups as opposed to one encouraged a higher level of participation from pupils and they were able to contribute a lot more, an idea which came from the INSET day.

The feedback I got from both classes was positive. They said that they enjoyed doing something more interactive and felt that creating something was a much better way of revising a text. The top set felt that the lesson was a nice way back into the text, especially after all the revision and essay writing that they'd been doing recently in preparation for their poetry exam - it wasn't even something I had considered when I was planning.

I truly believe that this acticity is fantastic for encouraging interdependent learning. I didn't answer one question in the time the pupils were working becuase they collaborated together to find answers, solve problems and ensure that they had completed all the instructions on the task sheet. This is defnitely an activity that I will be doing again and one that I believe can work well in any subject.

Pedagoo London

On Saturday I presented this activity at Pedagoo London. After much thought and deliberation I decided on the topic of fairy tales. I condensed Propp's morphology of a fairy tale into 14 key elements and provided these mixed up. In addition I chose 'Jack and the Beanstalk' by Roald Dahl and provided the 14 stanzas to the groups (also mixed up). The tasks were as follows:
  • Re-arrange the structure of a fairy tale in the correct order.
  • Re-arrange the fairy tale in the correct order.
  • Re-create the fairy tale going up the column starting at the bottom using text, images and/or objects.
  • Display the structure of the fairy tale down one side and if you can match these with the corresponding sections of the fairy tale. (This was a challenge as the fairy tale had violated the structure in many ways!)
  • On the top create an object which represents the information displayed around the column.

In 15 minutes both groups had created completely different columns and had interpreted the instructions differently. The first group had attempted to match the structure to the story whilst the second group had focussed on the story only. Furthermore, the second group highlighted an issue with language and asked why if the fairy tale was going up then why would the structure go down. Although they eventually understood what I had meant, it shows how even the most basic of instructions can be interpreted in different ways. Afterwards, we discussed why it didn't matter that the structure couldn't be matched to the tale and how it could be used as a springboard to explore fairy tales and their structures in more detail. I also highlighted how this activity is probably best used at the beginning of a topic as a way in or as a revision tool.

For me, the session was great because all members of the group got involved and contributed their ideas in some way or another. Perhaps they didn't learn much content but for the purpose of the session my focus was to show how the activity could be used in the classroom and how it could engage large groups, something which I'd like to think I was successful in showing. This activity is so adaptable and so easy to set up. For one group, toilet roll holders were transformed into a beanstalk with leaves while in the other they made a bath filled with gold coins - it doesn't take much to get the imagination going!

    I'd like to hope that this session has encouraged other teachers to use activities like this in their own pedagogy and am pleased that I was able to share this at such a great event!

    Wednesday, 9 January 2013

    Practitioner-Led INSET: Marginal Learning Gains at Canons

    On Monday we welcomed our staff back for the start of a
     new term and new year and for the fourth of our crucial Canons OPP INSET sessions of the year.  For this INSET day our main focus was  on in-class evaluation processes, but we wanted to start the day with an activity that involved all teachers in understanding the concept of Dave Brailsford's Marginal Gains ethos that underpinned the successes of cycling's Team Sky and Team GB in 2012.
    The start of the session involved asking staff to identify Dave Brailsford (I've never seen PE staff so keen to contribute to an INSET Q&A - Thanks Alex!).  We then watched the video of Brailsford explaining to BBC Breakfast the theory behind Marginal Gains and how it helped his teams achieve success this year.  A summary of the key points outlined in his interview can be seen to the right, which was shared with staff in the context of Canons.
    Work has already been done at Canons to disaggregate the Ofsted outstanding criteria.  Following a suggestion by Alex Quigley at Huntington School (@huntingenglish to the twitterati), the aim of this session was to 'crowdsource' these ten disaggregated criteria, disaggregating Ofsted outstanding even further to allow it to be conceptualised in terms of concrete classroom practice.

    The key point made throughout this session was that as an already outstanding school aiming to become great, we need to be looking to Marginal Gains to help us on that journey.  We also insisted that the vast majority - if not all - of these Marginal Gains were already present somewhere within the school in the classrooms of our colleagues.  This informed the first part of the 'crowdsourcing activity'.
    Identifying Marginal Learning Gains

    Teachers were asked to take ten minutes to consider the ten disaggregated areas of the Ofsted outstanding criteria and consider what aspects of their own classroom practice they were proud of and that would constitute a potential Marginal Learning Gain to other teachers.  They were asked to "sweat the small stuff" and "look after the pennies to save the pounds", concentrating on the 1% gains that would be relatively easy for colleagues to take on. 

    Good ideas from our own classrooms
    Over the course of the ten minutes some staff got straight to it, whilst others spent time considering their contributions.  Some moved around a large number of tables whilst some decided to stick with one or two.  The aim was to have at least twenty suggestions for each area, requiring a contribution of at least four ideas from each teacher in the room.  The best oral feedback I have had so far is that the focus on our own strengths was really heartening for staff.
    Literacy, oracy and numeracy highlighted
    Of course, during this process there were a few areas of the Ofsted outstanding criteria that received more comments than others.  To help ensure all areas received equal attention I buzzed around shouting out where we could do with more comments and reminding colleagues of the wonderful work that they had done or were doing that I had seen or heard about: Not a bad way for any member of SLT to begin the year, shouting out positives.
    Once the ten minutes were up I called for staff to stop and, as they expectantly and longingly looked at their chairs, asked them to find an area of the disaggregated Ofsted outstanding criteria where they felt less confident and, in discussion as groups to go through the suggestions made in the first activity to identify the Top Ten Tips on the sheet that could be passed on to all teachers, including newly appointed NQTs and our next wave of PGCE students.

    Interdependent learning
    Over the next ten minutes each table identified their own ways to reduce down the suggestions that they had inherited.  Some got straight to it and circled the ones that stood out most to them.  Others took time to consider how different suggestions could be amalgamated to ensure that no good idea was lost in the process.  Some groups appointed someone to make decisions for them and some gravitated towards a powerful personality.  Some bickered and others agreed wholeheartedly.  Some struggled to complete the task so rounded were their discussions.  It was not unlike watching learners of any age complete a task rooted in interdependence and collaboration: a pleasure and a privelege.
    Reducing lists to Top Ten MLG tips
    The point of asking the teachers to create a Top Ten Tips was to ensure that the final ideas were refined enough, and by asking them to lead on this distillation process in an area of relative weakness or uncertainty for them was to ensure that the tips created would be relevant to those most in need (or in want) of their development.  Having involved them as experts in specific areas we wanted to engage them as the critically reflective practitioners we know them to be.
    The purpose behind the whole activity was twofold.  Firstly, to take the time at the start of the new year to remind our staff that they are outstanding at what they do.  Secondly, to support them in their individual and collective quests to get ever better.  We asked them, in their own time after the day to look over the Top Ten Tips in the ten disaggregated areas of Ofsted outstanding criteria and identify eight areas of practice the would like to tweak.
    Very much a labour of love

    In order to show teachers the value of the activity that they had participated in and the importance of their contribution to that process we made a decision very early on to have the 100 Marginal Learning Gains identified by our staff during the day printed professionally on the day itself.  Using the artwork and the same quality paper as we use for our school brochures we commissioned our usual printers to undertake the task for us.  The aim was to use the plenary session for the day to give this quality product back to its authors.  The big shame of the day was that technical hitches at the publishers meant that they arrived 30 minutes late!!
    Intro & contents of our MLG booklet

    As well as using the artwork of our school brochure we decided to lace the booklet with images related to cycling, Team Sky and Team GB to retain the theme that had dominated during the presentation and to reinforce the notion of excellence (or greatness) that is at the heart of what we are doing.  Using shutterstock for selecting these images ensured that we were copyright-safe.

    MLG booklet printed the same day!!
    The work that was put into the booklet by myself and our school Office Manager, Jackie, was well worth the time and the very reasonable price.  A photocopied booklet printed in school could not possibly, however lovingly crafted, have conveyed the same sense of quality and professionalism.  Having collated the ten groups of Top Ten Tips for each area of the disaggregated Ofsted outstanding criteria, we typed them and sent them off to the publisher where they were aligned with fabulous pictures of our staff and students.

    MLG Wheel for Self-Evaluation
    The main focus of the booklet, though, is the Marginal Learning Gains wheel that sits at its centre in between photos of Bradley Wiggins (representing individual success) and Team Sky (representing school success).  With thanks to Zoe Elder (@fullonlearning) amongst others, we have borrowed the ideas of others to produce a beautiful 'crowdsourced', expertise-laden, development-focused booklet that is all about the Marginal Learning Gains and I couldn't be any prouder of the process that our staff went through in this INSET day or the product that they created.

    Adventures in pupil and teacher interdependence

    This post is a direct follow up to my last one which ended with my colleague AP giving me some feedback  that I'd requested about a lesson that she'd popped into.  I wanted to share with you how our email interactions have shaped some of what I've been trying with my classes regarding interdependence.
    For background, AP is a mainscale English teacher who has is in her 2nd year of teaching.  I am a currently a senior leader who also Head of Maths and have been teaching for around 8 years. The content of the  following emails is only edited for spelling and I have AP's permission to use them.

    From: IS
    Sent: 11 December 2012 11:20
    To: AP
    Subject: further adventures re pupil interdependence

    Thanks for the feedback.
    You are right the maths links were tenuous. It was more to see how they approached a whole-class task and to observe what roles students naturally took.  Also I’ve never tried one before so I wanted to bite the bullet and give it ago.  I also wanted to try it and contemplate how I could use it for a more mathematically rich activity it the future which brings me on to today…

    Tried a whole group task again with my year 11s

    There are about 18 in the class.
    This time much more maths focus.

    We’d started the lesson doing surface areas.  Each as a group had to work out the surface area of the textbook on their table as they came in (4 min)

    Then discussed ppl’s answers and approaches (5 min)  Ensuring that everybody got the concept  of surface area

    Next I put the pole in the middle of the room

    Along with a ball of string, some rulers and calculators.


    Task “ As a class find the surface area of this pole. Everybody in the class must have a worked solution by the end of the time” – 4mins.

    I wandered around capturing answers and questions that diff groups asked on the board.  Wish I’d taken pics but I forgot.

    Some of the kids responses that I wrote up on the board...

    ·         “What is the height”

    ·         “ how do we find it”

    ·         “what is the radius”

    ·         Do we do the diameter”

    Whenever I heard somebody say something that might help the rest of the class I asked them to write it on the board (1 person knew the formula to use)

    Really interesting to see how they worked.

    A couple of kids took up the job of measurers – telling everybody else the relevant dimensions and some started looking up the formula in the textbooks to help their tables . Some just asked questions , which although they didn’t’ know it- helped to structure and direct the thinking of others and moved them forward as a class.

    As a class they had solved it by the end of the 4 mins ( with no factual inout from me at all) and I used the questions that I heard them asking during the task to frame the discussion at the end.  Asking why the information that ppl had asked for was important etc and how it helped them to solve my problem.

    Very pleased with how it went.

    I really must return your pole at some point!



    From: AP
    Sent: 11 December 2012 11:28
    To: IS
    Subject: RE: further adventures re pupil interdependence



     This sounds fantastic – I can’t believe you only gave them 4mins to complete the task and they actually did it!

    In TLCs next week it would be great if you could share some of the experiences you’ve had so far but only if you’re happy too.

     I’m currently trying to think of how I can do the Trajan’s column activity with my year 8 class but until then you can keep hold of the pole J - yesterday I had 10 sheets of A3 paper stuck on the windows and walls and had the pupils carouselling around writing quotes and themes from poems. Now, their filled sheets have been photocopied into a revision booklet – so simple, no planning and they did all the work!


    Thanks for all your feedback and updates on group work.




    From: IS
    Sent: 11 December 2012 11:32
    To: AP
    Subject: RE: further adventures re pupil interdependence


    I love that idea re a revision booklet.  I’ve been considering how to effectively  capture info from the whole class when they are working on separate topics and it was the one bit of negative feedback that my y10s came back with yesterday  when we did a whole class group thing.   Can I see it?  I’ve got videos that they made showing others how to do things but not sure where to put them.  The following class used them for revision and found them v helpful.  Is there some sort of school youtube?


    From: AP
    Sent: 11 December 2012 11:39
    To: IS
    Subject: RE: further adventures re pupil interdependence

    I actually think there might be. There was definite talk of Keven having set one up – maybe ask him? It’s really useful to have it somewhere where students can access but also teachers so that they can see what others are doing and use ideas in their own lessons. Could you perhaps do a carousel after they’ve done their individual topics, maybe home and away groups or 1 pupil as the teacher going round to other groups and sharing what they’ve done?

    Yep there are literally just 10 brainstorms into a booklet but you can come take a look. Doing the same activity on Thurs morning with lower set but I’ve put the names of the poems on the sheet as well so all they have to do is find the quotes.


    From: IS
    Sent: 11 December 2012 11:50
    To: AP
    Subject: RE: further adventures re pupil interdependence

    Yeah, they are usually brilliant with their own bits but it breaks down when finding out from others if there are more than two topics as they get bored listening to each other (even when I do it in groups-rather than whole class feedback) I find the learning breaks down as they kind of just copy the answers after a while rather than understanding how it works.

    Something I want to crack this year. They are used to being sent as experts or envoys to other tables during normal lessons though so I maybe need to develop that.

    From: AP
    Sent: 11 December 2012 17:01
    To: IS
    Subject: RE: further adventures re pupil interdependence


    Yeah I know what you mean, they’re on board when they are the main focus but when they have to listen to others…I did home and away groups last week and the first thing they did was try to copy each other’s tables – I had to stop them and explain again what I wanted them to do.


    I’d maybe focus on envoys and see how you get on. Perhaps you can add an incentive where the group judges their expert and vice versa on key skills like communicating ideas clearly, asking appropriate questions, listening etc…



    From: IS
    Sent: 13 December 2012 14:47
    To: AP
    Subject: Re: further adventures re pupil interdependence + TLC



    Sending apologies re Mon, I've got leave of absence for the day so won't make the TLC. Or else would have been happy to share what I've been up to.

    In the mean time I stole and amended your revision idea today.

    Year 9 and 10 have a test tomo and my year 11s are winding down so I gave my year 11 class the following task

    " My year 9 and 10 are having a test tomorrow. Can you look at it and give them hints/ information that will help those who get stuck on the piece of paper I've given you? 

    I gave each pair a plain sheet of A3 paper and a copy of the test. Then they got on with it.

    After a while they started writing things on the board ( without prompting from me) then near the end we discussed which info was useful and which wasn't , the reasons why and whether it was phrased in a way the other class could understand.

    The finished article is attached. Really useful task as it helped my year 11s to revise too and the G and T kids were really challenged to explain things in writing in a way that was understandable to somebody of a diff ability ( who wasn't there with them). 


    I've asked Dan to photocopy it for tomo and will give it to my classes as a crib sheet during the test. Then I think I'll ask them to give feedback re how useful it was and how they improve it.



    From: AP
    Sent: 14 December 2012 15:59
    To: IS
    Subject: RE: further adventures re pupil interdependence + TLC


    Hi Iesha,


    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Thanks for letting me know about Monday.


    Love the way you used my revision idea – even better by then using the products with another class – shows how learning in one lesson can support a totally different lesson/year group.


    Did they find it useful in the end?

















    Monday, 7 January 2013

    iTeachFreely: Applied Learning 1 - what is applied learning?

    As you may or may not be aware, here at Canons, one of the ways we share our good teaching and learning practice is during Teaching and Learning Communities directed time (or TLCs for short).

    I head up the Applied Learning TLC and thought it would be a good opportunity to distill some thoughts on here of what it means and why it's important.

    So what are the aims of the year in the Applied Learning TLC? Well all TLCs are running in a similar format. It's all about Joint Practice Development (JPD). We want to make sure as much good practice is transferred between teachers as possible. After receiving training in how to coach each other (thanks @ieshasmall) we utilised this new skillset to break into "coaching triads", allowing staff to focus on where they want to head with their pedagogy and how to get there.

    So what is applied learning? BASICALLY: applied learning is a style of learning which equips and prepares people for life, learning and employment. As a product of the modern GCSE system myself, I find myself only now understanding how to learn. I found GCSEs challenging but excelled in them in terms of grades, then A Level came along with the requirement to self direct my learning and think about my subject synoptically. In retrospect I now know my failures at A Level were completely down to my inability to link my ideas together. I wasn't being challenged to deepen my thinking and was simply memorising facts and processes. It is this hindsight that makes things like SOLO taxonomy and @Totallywired77's Punk Learning so attractive to me. They truly prepare our students for lifelong learning. It would bring me no end of pleasure to think students in the future will look back on their time under my tutelage and feel I taught them more than just science and bad puns.

    Applied learning is a very broad focus (is that an oxymoron?) but I want to direct my TLC towards Punk Learning which incorporates project based learning, student set objectives, creativity and life enhancing skills, all scaffolded by SOLO's excellent structure of progression to constantly challenge.

    I supplied my TLC group with the following manifesto to get them thinking about applied learning. I can't remember how much of it was taken from another source, apologies if it was from you, please get in touch so I can give you credit.

    Applied learning:

    • links learning to the real world making it more relevant to students and giving a greater sense of purpose to what they are doing.
    • places equal emphasis on knowledge, understanding and skills.
    • gives students increasing opportunities to use and apply their learning so that they can see their learning in action and extend and develop it still further.
    • requires students to be more active in their learning so that they are partners in the learning process rather than passengers or spectators – there is strong evidence that learning is much more powerful and lasting when this is happening.
    • places greater emphasis on ‘deep learning’ that builds on, and makes connections with, students’ prior learning and experiences, as opposed to the simplistic rote recall of facts and what has been called ‘shallow learning’.
    • requires students to increasingly take responsibility for their own learning, planning and organising progressively more challenging tasks and extended activities, so they are better prepared for future learning and life.
    • supports students to reflect upon and develop their learning skills so that they become increasingly more effective as learners and better equipped for the future.
    Watch this space for more musings on Applied Learning soon!