Sunday, February 16, 2014

Progress Report


If you take proper exercise three or four times per week, then have kebab and beers on a Friday night, they probably won't do you much harm. If you have kebab and beers three or four nights a week and go for a run once, well, the run probably doesn't do you much good.

What matters is what we do consistently.

Since I last blogged I have been using my lolly sticks and persistent questioning consistently. I have been very pleased with the results.

Sometimes I meet staff who don't like the lolly stick approach because they feel they want to direct certain questions to particular students. But the two approaches aren't mutually exclusive. I use the sticks to ensure a spread of people are asked and that by the end of the lesson everybody has been spoken to at least once. However I am still at liberty to pursue a line of questions with any pupil  I feel will benefit from it.

So, these two approaches are now embedded into my practice. I don;t really need to think about  them any more; they are just what I do.

So, as I approach the end of this first half term, I am beginning to plan for my next area of improvement. Kaizen is a never ending process. I have returned to Teach Like A Champion mentioned in my last post.

I will post again shortly and outline my next Kaizen project.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Current Kaizen

At Marple Hall School, where I am an English teacher, we have recently re-established our Teaching and Learning Community. We meet and work together to develop our practice.

I am working on a couple of areas at the moment, both related to asking questions.

First, I have bought some lolly pop sticks, a set for each group I teach, and allocated one stick to each pupil. The idea, which I first saw prompted by Dylan William, is that instead of deciding on which pupil to ask a question, or responding to hands up, I will pick pupils at random. This ensures that I don't use the same pupils all the time. It is very easy to resort to simply asking the pupils who you know will come up with the right answer rather than enduring a long wait (and we know already that most  teachers do not wait very long between asking a question  and revealing, via a pupil or themselves, the answer. It also keep the pupils on their toes since they have no idea who will be asked next. Of course, I can still select particular pupils to answer if I wish.

The other strategy is that I am not allowing pupils to opt out of answering a question. When I receive a shrug or a 'I don't know;' I refuse to let them off the hook. My first response is to say, 'Well, I know you don't know but I'm asking you what you think' or 'I know you don't know, but what do you think I think?' If that gets me nowhere then I ask another pupil the answer. If this is correct, then I ask the first pupil to tell me the answer now. This encourages them to listen to their classmates.

If neither pupil can answer then I teach the point and again, come back to those who couldn't answer and have them tell me the correct response. This a) shows that they can only delay answering  and not avoid it entirely and b) develops some sense of self-esteem as they find that they can answer once they have learned.

I have been trying this for a couple of weeks and am impressed by the results. I realize how much in the past I've been relying on a relatively few pupils. By persisting with my questions today a pupil really pushed himself to find an answer and when he succeeded the look on his reaction was a delight. Not only did he get the answer but he could see why I had pushed him. .

I have been working on asking pupils to answer in complete sentences to help develop their skills at articulating an answer.

I have come across these ideas on various blogs and twitter accounts I follow. Many refer to Doug Lemov's a very useful book called 'Teach Like  A Champion'. It has 49 techniques that have been used successfully by staff  in USA schools, under challenging circumstance. You can find it on Amazon and  read a sample chapter. I bought  a copy and expect to be delving into it a lot in the coming weeks.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

A Model Lesson Part one

David Didau's 'The Learning Spy' is a superb blog fiull of ideas for teachers who want to improve their practice.

In today's post he describes how he demonstrated a 'model lesson' on his first day at a new school in front of the entire teaching staff. So, no  pressure!

You can read about it here. His explanations for what he does in the lesson contain plenty of practical advice. For experienced teachers the account will act as a quick refresher; for those who are new you will certainly find some ideas you will want to apply in your own work.

Friday, August 23, 2013

End Point Planning

As we approach the start of a new term many of us will now be in the early stages of planning. This video from Mr. Bruff has a helpful strategy to keep you on target and avoid getting into a mess.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Learning Spy on Marking

I blogged back in June that our department is changing the way it approaches feedback. I have come across a very interesting post on this here.

I particularly like the simple three stage approach advocated in the middle of the post.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Never Underestimate

Never underestimate the power the following can have in a classroom: 1. Getting out the highlighters 2. Getting out the scissors 3. Metaphor 4. Team Building 5. Praise to Parents 6. Modelling 7. Distributing new folders 8. Telling pupils about a story from your life 9. Letting a pupil type on your laptop/PC 10. Using mini whiteboards

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Haiku Deck

John Medina emphasizes the importance of the visual when learning.

So, I  have tried out my first presentation on Haiku Deck, a free ipad app.

Here is a summary of the advice I give students who are writing advice. Of course, like the best presentations, it needs the speaker there to make complete of it.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Interview with John Medina

John Medina is scientist whose research has thrown up lots of ideas for ensuring what we teach is more memorable.

He is an engaging speaker on his subject. listen to him here.