Category Archives: Magic Moments

Reflections on the first month in the job!

After spending hours over the last few months reading David’s Learning & Teaching blogs I feel slightly overwhelmed by the thought of contributing! They are genuinely funny, incredibly open and provide great examples of the fantastic work being done at MCHS. I am going to try my hardest to cover at least two of these characteristics (I am not renowned for being funny!).
What I have loved about my first few weeks at MCHS, apart from the friendly atmosphere, love of learning and brilliant children, is the willingness of staff to share and the desire they have to continuously make themselves the best teachers they can be. Having decided upon what great teaching at Meols Cop looks like they are now doing all they can to make this an everyday reality. I have been welcomed into classrooms on a daily basis and staff genuinely want to “show off” the learning taking place in their subject areas. This was so evident on Open Evening, when hundreds of people flocked through the doors to see the school alive, showcasing the great work that goes on every day. Pupils were an integral part of this and it was fabulous to see teachers stand back and let their students run the show, from dissecting hearts and eyes in science, to code breaking in Maths, to performing Shakespeare in drama the list goes on of the wonderful activities they were leading during the evening. The feedback from future MCHS students and parents has been overwhelmingly positive.

As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time using social media for CPD I was keen to ensure that I shared the best bits of these with staff. Through a weekly teaching & learning newsletter, based around a specific theme,Newsletter 1 I am sharing links to blogs and websites as well as providing staff with paper resources to read, taken from some of the latest pedagogical books (I am keen to develop an educational reading group, but that will come soon). The newsletter has also become a place for staff to share with others things that have gone well or that they have tried out during the week. I have  been inundated with photos, emails and PowerPoint slides from staff willing to share their great teaching and learning moments. It is a true privilege to be on the receiving end of these and for staff to feel truly comfortable to share their great work. I even had a video recording shared with me last week, through our IRIS technology. It is lovely that people feel comfortable to share these with me, even after only being at MCHS for such a short while.

History are used to sharing ideas though twitter but were keen to get themselves into the first L&T newsletter with the example of using “hexagons” to demonstrate the causes of the American Boom as well as their “purple pen of progress” to get students to act upon feedback. GT has set himself the aim of making it into every L&T newsletter and continued the trend in week two with tarsia for revision.

BK MindsetMaths are another department used to sharing, with BK also an active twitter user and frequenter of #pedagoofriday, but again it was nice to see staff re-visiting the growth mindset from day one and asking their forms about their hopes for the school year.

rivers 2TM in Geography has been getting creative with students making models to show the processes of a river. Something that was continued on open evening, when the Geography department got year 5 and 6 pupils making masks!


The Languages department have been hot on the heels of History with their contributions to the L&T newsletter, with Marion showcasing her work with year 7, aiming to embed questioning and also to challenge them to understand direct and indirect articles. HH has also been trying out some new questioning techniques to teach Year 11 the future tense, linked to her work in the learning hubs.








JD in RE is renowned for her, some might say, out there ideas, and within a few days of being at MCHS I had the pleasure of hearing all about the “waves” project, including JD herself in a wetsuit delivering RE revision! You will have seen from previous blogs that she is not one to rest on her laurels and the results speak for the success of these innovative ideas. This year she has chosen the theme of diamonds and has already set about changing the displays in her classroom to reflect this.

What I have been marvelled by in my first few weeks, is that besides all of the amazing things going on from day to day, so many staff are involved in helping to support colleagues from other schools, national research projects and in trialling new systems and processes within their own departments.

Maths, a fabulous department, full of innovative staff are working hard to embed interleaving into their schemes of learning across all year groups.  The passion of subject leader Jen to ensure that no student says that old line “I can’t do Maths” is inspiring – she is trying to change the mindset of not only the students but also their parents! A very difficult task in itself – I expect many of us have heard our own parents say things such as “Oh I was never very good at Maths”, and on both the year 7 and 11 parents’ information evenings Jen made it very clear that this was not going to be acceptable practice!

Interleaving is something I was keen to hear more about, and look at how we can develop this further not only in my own department, History, but also across the school. Jen kindly agreed to talk me through a presentation she had made (of which you can see some slides here) to deliver to staff at Range High School about the great interleaving work going on in Maths. Interleaving 1The use of 5 a day seems to be widely embedded across the department and if you walk down the Maths corridor at the start of a lesson you will undoubtedly see a 5 a day on every classroom IWB. This allows interleaving of topics and revision and BK has been developing this further with students writing their own 5 a day and then answering each other’s questions. As part of the RISE research Jen and Alex are really putting interleaving to the test. Both have year 9 classes and have “mixed” sets 3 and 4 together to create somewhat mixed ability groupings. Alex is teaching her group in a traditional way of one topic which, when completed, is then followed by the next. Whereas Jen is teaching a topic for a lesson at a time and then moving on to a new topic, revisiting the previous one later on. Interleaving 2I have spent a bit of time is Jen’s lessons and students have said to me that they are enjoying the quick movement between topics, as they don’t get “bored of it.” For Jen there are some clear frustrations with the method, as at times she feels she is leaving something at a pivotal point, unable to go back to it until a week or two weeks later! Something which will no doubt appear in her evaluation. This is something that will continue to feature in future blogs.

It is great to have the opportunity to continue to work with NQTS, something I have always enjoyed. Charlotte, our new History NQT has keenly signed up to twitter and is already sharing her highlights proudly.

LIZ MAs the terms gets in to full swing I look forward to writing about our upcoming “Breakfast Jams” and our “Bring, Show and Share” – opportunities to build great CPD by teachers for teachers.



A different approach to literacy in science

Carmel, our subject leader for science sent me a Sunday morning treat to read to add to our collection of subject specific literacy Magic Moments. As my partner is also a physicist [but one who loves to write!] I’m fascinated to find out what other scientists think and to hear from other schools who employ similar of different approaches. I’m delighted to see my colleagues trialling new ideas and am sure that others within our own school, possibly in science, but certainly within Carmel’s learning hub, will offer their views/share their own literacy trials. Over to Carmel……

Literacy Magic Moments.

Apologies for such a long piece, as I have done something a little different from photographing activities or pieces of good marking, I wanted explain a little about my ideas behind it too.

I am a physicist, and as such, my numeracy and logic skills are very very good, however I have always struggled with spelling and find it quite difficult and time consuming when having to produce extended pieces of writing, whether they are departmental reviews or the current terms ‘literacy moments’ for sharing amongst staff. It’s just not my strength and I find myself reading and rereading the piece over and over and probably have about 10 draft versions before the final one is ready for public scrutiny (this of course means it takes me 10 times longer than everyone else and why you are only just receiving it now!). This does not mean that literacy is not a fundamental feature in my lessons, moreover that I appreciate first hand how difficult it can be to get your ideas down on paper when your brain fully understands the subject, you are overflowing with ideas but just can’t seem to get the across as quickly and easily as others can.

As standard practice I will provide scaffolds, use sentence starters, connectives, keyword lists etc but it still doesn’t always allow some pupils to get their science understanding across as fully as I’d like them to. I have seen that misconceptions can be implied by weaker literacy or worse still, hidden. I have a class of year 7 pupils who, on the whole, have quite weak literacy skills, and as always there is quite a range within the group, this does not mean their scientific potential is weak. Some pupils cope very well and will produce pages and pages of ideas and explanations and have done really well to get over their fear of the blank page. I do have a few who are very reluctant writers and produce very little evidence of their learning although verbally they get their understanding across well. In between these two extremes I have a number of pupils who’s literacy is quite ‘out of balance’ with their scientific understanding and should be following scientific careers when leaving school as long as the literacy demands of the subject doesn’t put them off and these are literacy demands that would not necessarily be there in the workplace.

New technology is fantastic and I find spell and grammar checks invaluable. I see friends of mine whom I graduated alongside, in science and engineering careers chucking away their pens and simply speaking into their iPads and phones and recording info by photo and video.

So this term….

I wanted to find a way of making sure that my pupils with weaker literacy skills produced evidence of their learning that was in line with actual scientific understanding, and that in collecting this evidence, they were still improving their literacy and perhaps moving their subject progress even further than they would have previously.

What I did……

The topic was acids and alkalis, over the course of one lesson I was expecting pupils to identify some clear liquids as acid or alkali simply by using universal indicator, then perform a simple neutralisation reaction to get experience of the pH scale and moving from acid to alkali back and forth. Then finally to work on naming a range of salts and produce word and symbol equations for those reactions. The aim was to move them to the stage of performing a titration in the next lesson. This lesson was also carried out partway through our independent learning trial so pupils were given very little support, only independent materials, including an instruction sheet, some questions to help them summarise their learning and some simple introductory slides. I told them they needed to provide evidence of their learning but this could be in whatever format they liked. They had voice recorders, video and cameras and their normal lab books.

What they did…..
All pupils used the camera to take photos for identification of the liquids,  this took about 5-10 mins of the lesson (once they had collected equipment and figured out what to do). They added labels like ‘red-acid’, which I was happy with. In a more traditional lesson I would have expected pupils to record these results in a table, which probably would have doubled or even trebled the activity time for some pupils, and I would have ‘lost’ the reluctant writers along the way.Pupils quickly moved on to a simple neutralisation. Again they all photographed their evidence. Some did before and after pictures, some just the end result and some at various stages. I would have liked them to video this part so they could demonstrate their practical techniques but I did not want to interrupt them as this was also part of our independent learning trial and some pupils are quite self conscious and unsure of this way of working. Normally I would have expected pupils to draw and label the scientific diagram for this part and write a description of what they did (I would not normally bother with a full experiment write up for this investigation). This group would probably only get this part completed by the end of the lesson. But we still had about 20 mins left!
The most successful part of the lesson was the questions, pupils tend to dislike this part but it is the most important. The questions were structured so that when all answered, they summarised all the learning pupils needed to make before moving on to titrations. Majority of pupils recorded their answers on voice recorders, some still preferred to write their answers as they said they didn’t like the sound of their own voices.

I will split pupils into three types (although I don’t like putting people in boxes!).

Type 1, reluctant writers.

These pupils completed the entire lesson (there is normally a risk of losing them a third of the way in, unless I’m constantly with them, they stop), they enjoyed it and were fully engaged independently.  They felt they had done well and got their understanding across and were very happy with their progress. In our BSG system I would have given them gold for independence and silver/gold for the scientific understanding. Their use of scientific keywords and statements were mostly correct, I did prompt these pupils several times to describe their ideas and mostly they did not just give one word answers although they weren’t quite speaking in full sentences.

Type 2 Good scientists – weak literacy.
This approach worked very well for them. They completed their work quickly, scientific level achieved was definitely gold and they got to the point of recording symbol equations in their books, although some still tried to record these verbally, which I’m not sure I would encourage longer term. This way of working was a real success and the group this trial was aimed at.

Type 3 All ready writing quite well and making good progress (although the majority are dyslexic) –

This was the group that surprised me, although with hindsight I’m not sure why I didn’t realise this would happen before the trial. They also chose to record their answers verbally as they do find writing slows them down but because they are committed they don’t let this hold them back. What I wasn’t expecting was how long they spent working out and discussing exactly how to phrase their answers before attempted to speak in full sentences with lots of detail and explanation. In discussing their ideas before they recorded them they actually addressed any small misconceptions they had between them in their group. This is the type of learning I aspire to make happen and I’m sure they would not have discussed the detail quite so thoroughly had they been writing their answers even when given the opportunity, or as part of peer assessment.


We covered a lot more in the 1 hour lesson than normal, we gained about 20 mins which is 33%! Could we really be looking at a potential significant gain in curriculum time?

  • I did not lose my reluctant writers, having evidence they can look back on over time, and them engaging in the ‘questioning and thinking’ part of the lesson could really move their learning on more than I believe they would have done normally.
  • Good scientists who get put off the subject by the writing were fully engaged and moved their learning on in line with their ability, which does not always happen.
  • The pupils whom I would categorise as already doing well used it as powerful tool, exciting now to think how much further they could go!

Next step.

How do I store and manage all this information. Clearly, recordings are not as easy to mark. I have been experimenting with iPads and looking at what real scientists and engineers do in the field. Siri looks great, we can use dictation rather than voice recording. In applications such as ‘pages’ (apples ‘word’ equivalent) whenever you get the keyboard option you can dictate instead/as well. Pupils can add in or correct using the keyboard when necessary and of course add in photographic evidence with comments. Pupils will then still be used to seeing written words, but won’t be held back by pencil skills and spelling. Documents can be shared and managed using Dropbox or google docs although a lot of thought needs to go in to the organisation. With regard to marking, there appears to be some nice annotation apps available for feedback comments too although I’ve not tested any yet.
First indications are that we would gain learning time, which we could use to consolidate the more demanding scientific ideas.

More reasons to do it ……
This is how engineers and scientists work in industry as I’m sure many other sectors do, and the primary driver being that it saves time. Collecting ideas, evidence and understanding together in a variety of formats and compiling them into summary reports is an essential skill in the workplace and one we try to use as part of their learning. I’m sure we all expect pupils to do project work on computers embedding many different features into documents but there is so much opportunity to go further with handheld devices. It is also worth bearing in mind too, that the pupils are probably better at this than us!

Drawback – each pupil need access to their own iPad for the duration of the lesson.

This leads on to the dream of the electronic lab book….. And a paperless classroom…..

Carmel answered a few of my questions after I read her email and she placed the trial in the context of her own leadership of science and  reactions to external and internal changes, philosophies and student needs.  Back to Carmel…..

I wanted to record this journey to demonstrate (hopefully) how to bring about fundamental culture change and progression, albeit at a department level, and how to deal with the obstacles as they arise along the way (building resilient staff as well as resilient pupils). I know that these are philosophies and changes you are bringing about from a whole school perspective, however, as a middle leader, at the coal face, the day to day issues we will face will be very different and a journey I feel is well worth recording and sharing.

Several of us took part on an online CPD with the exam board last week, where they shared their new specification and sample exam questions. Personally I was delighted to see that quality of written communication is no longer being assessed on the papers and the 6 markers are now testing pupils ability to draw together several scientific ideas rather than it becoming an exercise in interpreting the question. They stressed that questions are now being designed to identify good understanding of science, something our department can do well. The more difficult skill of application of knowledge will be addressed on a weekly basis when drawing their conclusions from practical work and linking it with ideas covered in previous theory lessons (great opportunity to get a bit of interleaving in!). It is also interesting that exam papers in combined science must contain 20% mathematical skills, which we are very happy about.

With regard to the reluctant writers in their final exams, throughout their time with us, we will still work with them towards being able to get enough of their ideas down in writing to get the GCSE grades they are capable of. The benefit this project could (hopefully) offer is that they should remain fully engaged for 4hrs per week for 5 yrs before hand. A lot of time to master a lot of science or a lot of wasted time if they switch off and miss part of every lesson.


Summer Literacy and Numeracy Magic Moments Part 1


Each week since Easter, our Friday rota of shared ideas has focused on sharing literacy and numeracy ideas used in our classrooms. Faculties are given a date on the rota and each member sends an example of their work to me and I collate the responses and share them in internal blogs to all staff [and externally too!] Our teaching assistants are also on the rota and 2 or 3 each week add their magic moments of intervention success.

I began with our MFL faculty and Helen H our subject leader shared some of the work she has been working on in her lesson study.

My ‘magic moment’  was the result of planning a new style literature lesson for my Nten lesson study with 7 set 1.

The new KS3 curriculum advocates using literary texts in the language [such as stories, songs, poems and letters], to stimulate ideas, develop creative expression and expand understanding of the language and culture.

It took me a while to find a suitable piece of literature.  I had the idea of looking on a French primary school website to see what sort of poetry French primary children studied.  From this website I discovered the poetry of Maurice Carême, a Belgian poet who writes nice simple rhyming poems for children.

I selected his poem called ‘Bleu et Blanc’ about a dispute between a blue cat and a white rat.

As the new curriculum advocates the literacy skill of translating, I gave the students the poem jumbled up and they had to match up the French prose with the English meanings.


Students were then asked to put the poem back in the correct order and to give the poem a French title.  (I didn’t tell them the original title until later.)

We also listened to the poem being recounted on Youtube.

I was delighted with the way students took to the task and most pairs were able to find the correct translations for the French poem. There was quite a lot of repetition in the poem so this helped them with the translation.

The poem titles they came up with in French were really creative too! Each pair managed to come up with a possible French title for the poem drawing from the language within. Some pairs even managed to hit on the correct title of ‘Bleu et Blanc’. Other wonderful guesses included ‘chat bleu et rat blanc’ ‘le chat et le rat’ and ‘la guerre.’

Following on from this we listened to other French short poems based on colours.

For the final part of the lesson I wanted them to be creative with the French language themselves and to come up with a poem of their own based on colours.

As they haven’t done all the verb conjugations and tenses yet, I structured the poem to be an acrostic type poem. 

I gave them the title ‘Ma Trousse’ to work around and they had to recall items they might find in a pencil case and give each one a colour.

This in itself was a challenging task because they had to recall the vocabulary, the genders of the nouns and the words for colours.  In addition they had to remember that colours go after the noun in French and also that colours agree with the noun (gender/singular and plural)

I was very pleased with the class’s response to the task.  Here is an example below produced by Esme Goodson.


A week later I surveyed the class to see if they had enjoyed the lesson as much as I had.

Feedback from Year 7 NTEN Lesson Quiz

7 set 1 French with Helen Hallmark

Please answer the following questions honestly

28 students replied anonymously to this survey.

Think about the French poetry lesson last week. How does it compare to your usual French lessons?

7.1% 1 = Less interesting
25% 2 = The same
64.3% 3 = More interesting

3.6% = void

In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you learnt more or less French words than in usual French lessons?

14.3% 1 = I learnt less words
28.6% 2 = I learnt the same amount of words
53.6% 3 = I learnt more words

3.6% = void

In the French poetry lesson, do you feel you made more or less progress than in usual French lessons?

7.1% 1 = I made less progress
50% 2 = I made the same amount of progress
39.3% 3 = I made more progress

3.6% = void

Would you like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories?

14.3% 1 = I wouldn’t like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories
86% 2 = I would like to do more lessons looking at French poetry and stories

What is the best way to learn vocabulary for you?

I allowed multiple answers to this question and additional answers.

57.1% 1 = Through the teacher, listening, repeating and writing it down
21.4% 2 = Looking it up in a dictionary
39.3% 3 = Seeing and using it in a poem or story

3.6% said through activities and games

3.6% said by writing notes and revising at home on own

3.6% said visually.


I also tested them on the vocabulary learnt the previous week to see how much they had retained.  The test showed that between 75 and 100% of the students had retained the majority of the vocab.  The only words from the text which proved a bit difficult to recall were ‘eyelash’ and ‘spots’.

I felt the results were very positive and it has encouraged me to think of doing more literary pieces and to include more skills of translating and creating their own poetry in future lessons.”

Bronagh our Spanish subject leader told me “I don’t really have a main numeracy moment aside from doing the usual tarsia, bingo and sums I haven’t found any great way to get numeracy into my lessons yet- but we’ll keep trying! Her literacy ideas are here;

“Year 9 have been completing a mock controlled assessment for the past few weeks. One of the main problems we have found with the controlled assessment tasks is that the students struggle to be independent and do not have confidence to work alone without needing reassurance that their work is correct. Although we use normal peer assessment they can be quite self-conscious about letting their peers mark such a task and do struggle to make it specific enough. So I wanted to devise a way in which we could have a full class assessment which was student led. This started the “Literacy legends!”

As a class we went through the main areas where students struggle and lose marks and then they were divided into 5 groups:

  • Word order warriors
  • Spelling superstars
  • Grammar gods
  • Memorising marvels
  • Accent army

Each group had the task to find as many mistakes as possible related to their area. With their designated coloured highlighter they had the challenge of reading every task in the class and identifying errors.

By being responsible for only one area the students were able to pinpoint and highlight a lot more errors and became more confident in their own knowledge of their literacy point. As everyone was continually moving around groups students were too busy to be aware of who was looking at their work. Using only a colour kept the feedback anonymous and by working in groups with the challenge of finding the most mistakes the students were a lot more critical. 

As this was the first time we have done it, it did take up more time than we had planned for and so students didn’t have the chance to use their feedback yet. So next lesson will begin with dirt time in which they can correct their work and act on the advice given.

This was only the first time I’ve tried this but I am keen to roll it out into more lessons as I found this a really successful method of peer assessment as it was completely student led and every student got really useful and specific feedback. Below is a few pictures of the lesson.



The spelling superstars excited to find mistakes.


To fully embrace their role each group had 5 minutes at the start of the lesson to transform into their legend, this is the accent army.


The “word order warriors” highlighting any inaccuracies in purple.


One student’s book with feedback e.g. the accent army have given them tips on how to pronounce words (hay- eye) to ensure they get the top speaking marks”.

My partner is a “grammar god” and would love Bronagh’s idea! Her ppt is attached and can be adapted for other subjects.


Eddie sent me these ideas he has been using with his French classes.

“Magic moment: One thing I have found very encouraging this year is students’ improved retention of key vocabulary. This has been helped by usage of “DIRT” techniques. For instance, if a class is introduced to 10 items of vocabulary one lesson, the students will begin the next lesson with a short test on these vocabulary items to jog their memory. The students are then tested on these vocabulary items the following week and the following month. Results as regards retention have been very encouraging.

Literacy : I have been looking to try to help students work out the meanings of words in the foreign language themselves rather than asking me or me just saying to them “look the word up in the dictionary “ (dictionaries are not allowed in the reading and listening sections of the GCSE examination). I have tried using the following structured approach to help the students:

  • Does the word in the foreign language / part of the word in the foreign language resemble an English word, Kinésithérapeute = physiotherapist
  • Does the word in the foreign language look like any other word in the foreign language that you have already come across?They had already come across cuisine = kitchen
    1. Cuisinier = chef
  • Verbalise the word , on occasions this can help  
  1. Ingénieur = engineer

Numeracy : One thing the students have particularly enjoyed is playing Reverse Bingo to support their learning of numbers!! Numbers can be substituted for items of vocabulary to consolidate.” I asked Eddie how to play RB -“It’s when all the students stand up at the start of the game. When their number is called out, they sit down. Last student standing wins the game!!

Helen F, our other Spanish teacher shared her ideas she has been using with her form and in her lesson study.

“In form time I encourage silent reading. I use the website quite a lot as they enjoy the brainteasers and jokes but I also make them do the grammar and mental maths sections then perhaps reward them with one of the videos from the BBC.

We have played Countdown recently. I have attached both of the PowerPoints to the email. I find the letters rounds much easier than the numbers. When we do the numbers rounds there are two figures for them to aim for. The number in the green box is the one that they should all try to work out. The figure in the red box is for the more able members of my form (those in 7.1, 2 & possibly 3) to try once they have worked out the green box. They enjoy coming up to the board and acting as Carol Vorderman/Rachael Riley and writing the answer on the board for all to see.


Recently for our NTEN lesson study both myself and HH worked together on the proposed curriculum changes of including more literacy and authentic texts in the target language.

We looked at the following poems about autumn and the pupils studied them in groups. They completed activities such as putting the poem in the correct order, matching it to an image, giving it a title, translation and then finally writing their own acrostic poem in Spanish.

Otra vez está mi calle… 1 Otra vez está mi calle salpicada de dorado, el otoño está de vuelta, el otoño ha llegado.

Las hojas de otoño… Las hojas de otoño que están en el suelo, cuando llega el viento, levantan el vuelo.

Otra vez está mi calle… 2 Otra vez está mi calle hecha una alfombra amarilla, otra vez llegó el otoño, otra vez mi calle brilla.

La brisa hace llover… La brisa hace llover una lluvia amarilla: ¡son las hojitas de otoño que vuelan, bailan y brillan!

Las hojas de otoño… Las hojas de otoño todas se han caído y rumbo al invierno volando se han ido.

07 08 09 10


At the end of the lesson I tested them on the following vocabulary. It was interesting to see whether they remembered more vocabulary after this literature based lesson compared to a normal vocabulary drilled lesson.

  • Calle
  • Dorado
  • Otoño
  • Llegada
  • (de) Vuelta
  • Hoja
  • Suelo
  • Viento
  • Alfombra
  • Brilla
  • Brisa
  • Bailan
  • Caído
  • InviernoThe following lesson we asked the pupils to complete a survey of what they thought of a more literature based lesson. These are the results.Year 7 NTEN Lesson Quiz
  • Think about the Spanish poetry lesson last week. How does it compare to your usual Spanish lessons?
  • Please answer the following questions honestly
17% 1 = Less interesting
50% 2 = The same
33% 3 = More interesting

In the Spanish poetry lesson, do you feel you learnt more or less Spanish words than in usual Spanish lessons?

4% 1 = I learnt less words
38% 2 = I learnt the same amount of words
58% 3 = I learnt more words

In the Spanish poetry lesson, do you feel you made more or less progress than in usual Spanish lessons?

8% 1 = I made less progress
71% 2 = I made the same amount of progress
21% 3 = I made more progress

Would you like to do more lessons looking at Spanish poetry and stories?

46% 1 = I wouldn’t like to do more lessons looking at Spanish poetry and stories
54% 2 = I would like to do more lessons looking at Spanish poetry and stories


What is the best way to learn vocabulary for you?

46% 1 = Through the teacher, listening, repeating and writing it down
12% 2 = Looking it up in a dictionary
21% 3 = Seeing and using it in a poem or story

21% ticked more than one option with answers 1 and 3 being the most popular combination

Overall the pupils found it just as enjoyable as a ‘normal’ lesson and felt they made the same amount of progress. However they felt they had learnt more words and would like to do more lessons where they studied Spanish poetry/stories.

In Spanish it is quite easy to include something literature based as our subject lends itself to that. Numeracy is something that I find I do struggle to include other than when we do something surrounding learning the numbers/saying how much something costs in Spanish.”


Our 2nd faculty on the rota were our tweeting historians and geographers, who have been gaining numerous followers with their brilliant ideas and onslaught on pedagoo Friday-what have I unleashed!  Martin doesn’t send so many tweets out but as the elder statesman he gets to go first here albeit with a joint history effort including our NQT Greg as well.

11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Not to be outdone, our geography NQTs, sent theirs, but separately due to the amount! Ladies first-from Toni.

23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33

Andrew added his ideas.

34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52

The 3 NQTs are making great progress and although not all the ideas here are their own, I’m delighted to see them searching, researching, adapting and sharing. [As I am with all colleagues young and old!]

Did I mention age and experience? I’ll chuck in my ideas last because I want to highlight everybody else’s contributions. Just a couple I’ve used last week to reinforce skills with lower ability year 8 students.

The year 8 historians produced an empathetic piece using the PCs on the topic of evacuation. They found photos of evacuees, chose 1 of the children in the photo and then used their knowledge and creativity to produce an autobiography of the child during the war years. A scaffold was provided to help and then to push the ‘it isn’t completed until excellent’ theme, they devised their own literacy checks to self-critique/peer critique to help to re-draft work before I get to mark it.

53 54

I tempted them with sweets and the opportunity to deprive their peer assessor by finding all of the errors the first time of asking before their critical friend had their turn! We were also looking for accurate history and a clear understanding of what they had said-no copying and pasting.

My small class of geographers told me that had ‘done’ graphs in maths and we had a good discussion about the benefits of using different types of questions to elicit responses that made for interesting graphical data and made surveying the rest of the class easier. We decided that getting all of the answers on to 1 piece of paper would be good and that yes/no answers and open-ended questions weren’t great for graphs. This was my discussion sheet and we went through each type of question at a time chatting about the positive/negative aspects of it.

Which supermarkets do you shop at?

Do you shop at?






How many times do you shop in town?

How many times do you shop in town?





Are you allowed to go to town shopping on your own?

Which shop do you go to most?

What do you buy most from shops?







What do you spend your spending money on most?




Going out


Which is your favourite shop?

How do you get to town to shop?

Walk              Bus           Car            Bike           Other

The graphs produced were basic but we focused on getting every aspect accurate enough to receive a mark-title, labelled axis, correct number etc. Vital marks are lost every time our students complete assessments and lose their concentration on getting the basics right.


The faculty found themselves leaderless and a man down this week after Tom picked up an injury so I’m grateful to them for finding the time to share a couple of their ideas in their week on the sharing rota.

Sam sent me some things she has been working on with lower 8 rounders and her G.C.S.E. class during this shortened week.

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GCSE PE Literacy

Aaron shared his recent work too. The students peer evaluated each other’s leadership skills when they lead the lesson in the Sport’s Leaders class. COP LEADERS-wonder who came up with this great idea! The scaffold supports speaking and listening skills too.

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C clear

O organised

P praise, project + plan

L loud

E enjoyable

A analytical

D demonstrate

E enthusiastic

R relevant

S strong!!

Identify strengths

Identify things to improve

Rosie-PE and dance

Rosie emailed me some images of work she is currently trialling in both PE and G.C.S.E. dance. The word mats are used to encourage oral discussion and feedback and she began to develop these as part of her lesson study last year, which proved very popular when share on twitter! The use of scaffolds to support the students with their key words has proved to be valuable when they answer the theory aspect of dance and we are expecting some superb results this year after a very promising practical moderation.


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Teaching Assistants

Who better to talk about the impact on learning that penny dropping literacy and numeracy moments have than our TAs! In many cases they stay with the same students for the majority of the day [sometimes 5 years!] and they understand how improved literacy/numeracy can help to break down learning barriers. We have 2 special bases in school-1 for students with Asperger’s syndrome and 1 for students with dyslexia-and have built up a wealth of experience in supporting the varying but specific learning needs of an above national average number of students. These are the first ones on my rota!



Before a student begins to write, I always remind them about capital letters, full stops etc. I encourage the students that I work with to check back over their work, checking for capital letters, full stops, commas, etc., and double check their spellings. If necessary I will suggest that I read it back to them, but only if they request me to.


I tend to always take down notes and write my own examples, so if a student doesn’t understand the task that they have been given to do, I will try to explain what I have written down. If there are more than a couple unsure, then I will catch the teacher’s attention to explain again.


I work 1:1 with a student in a year 10 maths lesson and have known (since year 7) that this student needs repetition until he can retain the formula needed to work things out.  The maths homework, usually 25 similar questions each week, was a real problem at first and his results were around 9 or 10 out of 25.

When marking homework in class I found the best way to help him was correct any mistakes on the homework sheet.  By showing all the stages of working out and writing simple notes of what stages to take to get the correct answer.  I tried to do this over and over each week and asked him to refer to the sheet to help with the homework for the following week.

This student now regularly achieves marks in the high teens/early twenties. Maths used to be the subject he found most difficult, but achieving good results has given him much more confidence.

Sarah [Asperger’s base]

During social times in the base the students may choose to do independent reading and some of the students will visit the library. We also have ‘Social and communication’ board games and card games out on display so that students can pick these up and play. This can lead to discussion and encourage them to share interests with each other and with staff.

One example of this is student A who would for a while routinely pick up the General Knowledge quiz and fire questions at me almost every lunchtime. This encouraged his literacy and his speaking and listening and really boosted his confidence being quizmaster. This started as a 1:1 but he has now begun to speak up more in small groups in the base and will even challenge some of the other students during debates, giving his own opinions and he will now sometimes greet me with ‘Good morning Miss’ which is great to hear.


Literacy – using a revision board game to assist learning.

B was struggling to grasp the plot and characters of An Inspector Calls, I had tried various strategies to help such as little character cards and work sheets.

I decided to use a board game of An Inspector Calls to aid his learning and help him to focus on the characters.  B understood the board game as the group asked questions and discussed the characters together, which gave HIM a greater understanding of the characters, which gave Nathan extra confidence with the understanding of An Inspector Calls.

When we were reading Heroes, he found it hard to differentiate between what was happening ‘now’ and what a flashback was. He was getting very frustrated, as we went through the book so I made sure that every time we began on a new chapter, B was aware of what had happened and what was happening.  I constantly prompted him to reinforce the timeline of the book.  This did help B to have a greater understanding of the book.


The only thing at the moment I can think of is An Inspector Calls board game that was from one of the emails you sent. I put together the game for year 10 and 11 revision with quotes, themes, characters and content cards. On the other side of the board was a past exam question with hints and tips on how to answer it with the language devices. The students, I have been told, enjoy them very much and they are learning at the same time.  As we are doing different texts in each teaching sets I have since devised Blood Brothers and A Christmas Carol!! During the summer I will be busy devising a Trivial Pursuit poetry game for the students to try and remember the 15 poems, quotes and poetic devices used for their exam. A game for each Year 10 set.

Sara [maths intervention]

In the groups I work with I always ensure the students take turn reading the question, then highlight what they feel is important and relevant and then in their own words describe what is being asked of them to solve.

The work sheet handed to them in the session will concentrate on one particular topic. This provides me with the opportunity to observe if they are managing it.  After a period of approx. 5 weeks they are given a summary sheet comprising of several topics, already covered, and their answers are rated red, amber, and green.  This helps us to monitor their understanding and ensure that progress is being made, if their target is not met it can then be addressed by the teacher in the lesson.

A huge thank you to colleagues for sharing their ideas and good practice. Magic Moments 2 will be out after half-term as our rota spins onwards!











Autumnal Hues

For most teachers, the autumn term leading to the short days and worsening weather of winter, is hard work and the aspirations and hopes of the beginning of term, are a distant memory. The complexities and challenges of school life act out as we relentlessly cajole and nudge the mind-sets of the students towards hard work and learning progress [the same thing?] and school leaders embark on observations, book monitoring and general accountability analysis and evaluation. Our students need to be learning well, our teachers teaching well, our support staff supporting well and our leaders leading well-simples! Older teachers and staff may think that the pressure is far greater these days and the pace non-stop and unforgiving. Younger colleagues know no difference but for both workload, well-being and work-life balance are crucial and we are constantly trying to ensure that we get them right with planning, marking, collaborative support and much more being discussed to ensure that we look after our staff so that everyone is in the healthiest body and mind possible to support student learning and each other. With 100 staff, this isn’t easy and each and every one of us has a commitment to our school and students and to each other too. It’s an aspect of leadership that has always interested me [out of school too in my sporting interests]-how do we get the most out colleagues? Motivating and engaging other adults, sharing a vision and getting them to ‘buy in’, sometimes having to have difficult conversations, always trying to minimalize necessary workload without causing inefficiency, the constant pressure of being a ‘role model’!-hard work being a leader of any pay-scale BUT autumnal hues within school bring so much colour and different characteristics when you seek out the wonderfully positive aspects that leap out of the classrooms!

Observations began last week and for the first time ever we have just over half of our teaching staff involved in a lesson study project of their choice with the others ‘enjoying’ a line-manager developmental observation. I missed the first one due to it clashing with one of my lessons but Jen wandered down the corridor to call in on Janette and I enjoyed reading the feedback. Just 1 section below and then the final observer comments.


Subject chosen pedagogy Observer feedback comments to support development.How did each chosen strategy impact on learning? Anything you spotted for future dept advice? Teacher view-did your teaching of each priority meet your predicted outcome and impact on student learning? Did you have to change tactics?
GCSE questions 

Students are challenge above and beyond.



Students were presented with common GCSE Pythagoras questions that increased in difficulty. It is clear that from your previous lessons students have understood the necessary processes for this task. This task met your objective in preparing students to practice GCSE questions and develop the ability to attain full marks for these questions. Not one student (from what I could see) just wrote the answer, following the mark scheme exactly. ALL students in the class worked well and were eager to get started. 

I spoke to a number of students on what they enjoyed in your lessons and this was followed by the answers ‘Miss explains things really well and if we’re stuck we look at other examples to help understand’.


It was evident during this lesson you’ve built a classroom that builds confidence in students and tackles student resilience for challenging tasks.


This is a great task that could be adapted to build maths oracy skills? 

You explained your next steps for pushing students further and looking at Pythagoras in 3D which is great to push the class to beat their targets and work on a grade B task.


You discussed how A surprised you during this task and how well she handled the work.



3 bits of great teaching that inspired and that you are definitely going to use tomorrow! Your favourite piece of student learning-best penny dropping moment-what and with whom! What did you learn most as a teacher from today’s observation?
  • Great use of mark schemes!
  • Peer assessment comments from the girls and leaving this task open for students to identify issues.




  • B ‘1.2² = 2.4’ Your interaction between B and then the class was excellent. Relaxed learning atmosphere addressing misconceptions.
  • C (so a telly that is 52” is across the hypotenuse …’oh!!!’
  • D discussing how to handle Pythagoras on a coordinate grid.
Loved E’s response to ‘what do you like about Miss Ashton’s teaching? His response ‘Her personality!’ Loved this.


I wasn’t going to let our NQTs join in lesson study as yet because they have enough to be planning and thinking about in the hectic first year of teaching. They joined in regardless and hopefully will see how useful the method is in helping them [and all teachers] to collaboratively plan, reflect together, trial, consider impact and adapt-great teaching qualities! Last year much of the lesson study CPD was aimed towards our lowest ability learners-this time, early plans show that the emphasis has changed with colleagues wishing to consider enquiry questions to support high attainers. Beth and Greg paired up; to assess strategies to further engage higher ability learners in the classroom through the use of the ‘Lead Learner’ role.


They chose 6 students currently showing great ability in maths and history and gave them the opportunity to become ‘Lead Learners’. 3 of the students were chosen to observe and one was one of our asperger’s students to add an extra dimension to the study. Greg gave out his instructions to his leaders at the beginning of his lesson on ‘Who Should Be King [1065-6]’ and the leaders were primed to lead group discussions and conclude with a speech.


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Beth and I observed and it quickly became apparent that Greg’s predictions weren’t going as expected. A did take the role very seriously and often stood up to assume control, pointing at group members in turn to elicit responses. They weren’t quite as dominating as Greg thought [although they were in the maths lesson!] whilst B tended to sit back and let their group get on with it rather than delegate. C was a revelation and I’d sign them up now as a potential teacher here! They delegated, supported, checked understanding-you name it-they did it! My overall feedback follows.

I predict that A will dominate the conversation here and rather than pulling ideas together, they will merely use his own

I predict that B will really lead their team and ask for their input before making a decision

I predict that C will discuss with other pupils but may struggle on making a decision without support from their peers.

I predict A will be confident in delegating out roles but may struggle in offering support as they will ‘tell’ pupils what is right.

I think that B will give out roles and will allow pupils the chance to collaborate whilst ensuring they complete their work.

I predict that C will allow pupils to complete the work themselves, and then ask to contribute at the end


We discussed my advice afterwards and the main things about the lesson were to;

Teach as normal with the knowledge [kingship connect to prior Roman learning]/questioning aspects-don’t miss any learning opportunities in a haste to cut to the lesson study part.

You might wish to brief the leaders before-think Beth is doing-interesting to ask the kids if this helps them more or not.

Seek group-work ground rules before you begin your first group-work-their ideas-then add a couple and roll them out every time you do group-work. Division of tasks/group roles impt

Similarly, whole class discussion of skills a good group-work leader should possess [all will have a go over the year] may help too

Swop their groups next time-focus the questionnaire on how much their experience today helped them in Beth’s lesson, did being briefed before the lesson help or not, did the group dynamics [change of group members] change their leadership style and so on

Hope this helps

I was interested to see if B had found their group too domineering, whether C could lead any group in the same fashion and how A would cope with a less subservient group. What did the student leaders think?

Post Lesson Questionnaire

What did you learn in the lesson?
What did you think of your role as Lead Learner? Did you enjoy it?
What worked in your role as Lead Learner?
What didn’t work in your role as Lead Learner?
Did this role provide a challenge for you?
Would like you to take this role again?
What would you change about the role of Lead Learner?


Beth ‘flipped’ her learning with the 6 lead learners giving them information to take home and prepare to teach to their groups. She began by checking they had ‘got it’ before giving them a task card to help them. [Very bravely filming herself using the IRIS cameras!]

Starter:Whilst other pupils are completing their 5 a-day, I will speak to lead learners. I will check their knowledge of algebraic fractions (They have asked to complete some reading of this topic prior to the lesson) They will be presented with a task card, and told that they can teach the other members of their group in whatever way they choose.

Lead learners will return to their seats and we will discuss 5 a-day as a class.

B: Will be quietly confident in their knowledge of how to simplify algebraic fractions. 

A: Will be very confident in their knowledge of how to simplify algebraic fractions. May feel nervous about teaching other pupils, and could ask what they can use to teach other pupils.


C: Will be confident in their knowledge of algebraic fractions. Will appear keen to teach the other members of her group.

ActivityLead learners to use their task cards as prompts to teach the other pupils in their group firstly what an algebraic fraction is, and how to simplify algebraic fractions.

They are provided with some examples to discuss.



B: Will give a quick explanation of an algebraic fraction. Will show examples on the task card and will tell other pupils in their group how to do each one. 

A: Will be very vocal and articulate in their explanation of an algebraic fractions, will give examples of algebraic fractions. They will show examples of fractions that can be simplified and tell pupils how to do each one with an explanation of why.


C: Will give a good explanation of an algebraic fraction. Will then talk through examples given. Explaining how to simplify each one and asking for input from other group members.


The card was a great idea and helped the leaders in different ways. B passed it round and again took a back seat whilst the other 2 followed the routine. This time A, obviously in a subject where they felt very confident, did get a little impatient if their group didn’t understand quickly and kept the hard question cards for themselves, despite a couple of group members offering to have a go at them. C again led magnificently and democratically!

The group taught was 7 set 1 so I expect to see some high flying history and maths. Beth was telling me that there are a few level 6 primary mathematicians in the group-the NTEN study may provide some of the stimulus for ideas to push them towards platinum assessment skills and regardless of the lesson study element, I observed great maths discussion and thinking throughout. I always like ‘Beat the Teacher’ that the maths teachers play-showing sums the teacher has completed and the students check them to see if there are mistakes.



Beth and Greg will meet to feedback to each other and plan their next lessons together. It was great for me to see 2 new to the profession teachers thinking about their practice and learning from what was happening. I’ve observed both of them in an ‘ordinary’ lesson but the lesson study format gives far more depth to their learning of a new craft and to the feedback conversations. I’m pleased that they chose the development of able students in lessons-the days of giving students a couple of extra questions when they have finished, is long gone and I’m interested to see where their ideas take them. The big questions around this type of trial usually include; does using the students  as ‘teachers’ prove to be more effective than teacher only led lessons, would the teacher using whole class instruction prove more effective than groups of flipped learning and so on. I suggested that Beth might try a flipped learning exercise with all of the class for homework and then try it in the conventional way of setting tasks that rely on utilising the newly acquired knowledge-students finding it difficult can be supported by Miss-those moving on quickly can have extension tasks.

I also suggested further questionnaires aimed at the whole class and their perceptions of what student leadership should look like in practice and suggestions as to how they would like it to be used in future-when would it be most appropriate to learn in this way. I do wonder whether B’s might appeal more than our preferred leadership style of C! Both teachers can now see that should they decide to use group-work/student leadership; there are so many teaching skills involved in supporting the processes-they are student skills which need careful teaching to make the most of them.

Alex had a very different class to Beth and Greg’s when Jen and I observed her teaching decimals to a very low ability year 10 class. A couple of years ago when teachers planned lessons they use to have a space for planning activities for gifted and talented students-these were usually only completed then they had the highest sets-it was a way of keeping Ofsted happy in the main part! I expect to see challenging activities and the opportunity to lead/support others in classes of all abilities and was delighted that Alex had planned for her leading mathematicians to be active in helping their table and Alex told me that the students love being able to do this. I was surprised at how difficult many of the class found some of the concepts and Miss used real life examples such as her own car’s dashboard and measuring each other to find out the class height chart.


Using an idea Clair brought back from a meeting she finished the lesson by giving each student a card with a question on it-you can see the instructions below. This was really interesting [I know I’ve knocked the T off different!] to watch them trying not to cheat! This is an activity that can easily be adapted for any subject. The students began to write out their own similar questions to be placed in Miss’s Pot Luck bag for the start of the next lesson.



It’s the first time I’ve seen the new G.C.S.E grade criteria appear on learning objectives and Clair, as usual, pushed the students hard with some challenging questions on ‘real life’ maths and an excellent rally coach which took some time for them to master. Our post-lesson feedback discussion focused on marking in general and this went to all teaching staff for internal discussion-this is just a very brief picture of the lesson for once!


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Josie worked on her KS4 classes in art in last year’s lesson study. This time Katy and I observed Miss teaching textiles to year 10. Josie had focused on sewing machine skills, as she explained on her lesson plan.

Is there an area of their learning/your teaching that you have found to be challenging?
I have found this class lack a basic understanding of sewing techniques, which has meant that I have needed to spend the first part of the G.C.S.E. course covering the basics of sewing and design.


Getting your skates on! Which is the biggest anticipated risk/chance of failure you have planned to take in the lesson? How can we help?
The anticipated risk for this lesson, is the use of sewing machines. Having worked with this class for several weeks, it is clear confidence on sewing machines is low and needs to be improved before starting the controlled assessment.


I observed Rachael in summer use a you tube video she had made herself to talk the students through an art skill and Josie had photographed herself modelling the sewing techniques the girls needed. This was on the IWB and on paper for them to follow and check.

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This worked really well, although I’m not an expert on sewing techniques! Josie finished her lesson with a nice Progress Pyramid to allow reflection on the skill progression.



I’ll come back to the ‘great teaching’ conversations faculties had [mentioned in previous blog] but just wanted to share a couple of PE Magic Moments they shared with me. I was absolutely delighted to see this photo of their office with each person’s CPD focus for the term clearly shared.



PE and written marking haven’t always sat comfortably with each other! BUT Tom and Sam have worked really hard to encourage the development of WRITTEN marking/feedback strategies to support the theory element of G.C.S.E. PE. I liked Rosie’s dance ingredient revision help and her PEER marking used with her year 11 class.


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A simple enough DIRT answer but the key is that the teacher checked that ‘Evidence Successfully Met’ and DIRT was used to support the feedback.

Leon went to the SSAT NW information session in Macclesfield this week and I was surprised to hear that of the 30 plus schools there, only Meols Cop was trying something different in response to ‘assessment without levels’. From trawls of twitter/blogs I keep an up-date across the country and staff have seen regular ideas from Durrington and Chew with their similar [ish] approach and from our friends at St Mary’s in Blackpool who are discussing their move. Most seem to be playing a waiting game and I explained internally why I felt that we should use the opportunity, coinciding with the new NC and changing G.C.S.E to go backwards in terms of thinking about the skills and knowledge we want our students in each subject to possess to gain an ability appropriate mastery-then planning schemes of learning and assessment that fitted our needs. Of course whatever any school comes up with isn’t that different to levels [minus sub levels I would think!] and the proposals for KS1/2 performance indicators have angered many. The discussions that have taken part in every corner of school and our approach of encouraging flexibility and adaptability as we develop our BSG ideas are great aspects of professional development for all of us, especially our leaders! Parents and students have seemingly agreed and liked BSG so far but the progress reports will provide the first ‘customer satisfaction’ check and we may have to re-think. [Hopefully not too much!]Maths have already changed and it’s important that nothing is set in stone and imposed whilst this crucial aspect of learning and teaching is developed in the classroom and then evaluated by all concerned. If it doesn’t work-change it!

My Magic Moment from the twilight inset session on assessment last week was to see RE developing a practical aspect of ‘progress measuring’ on their parental progress reports. I know there is lots of cutting and pasting of G.C.S.E grade descriptors/NC old levels that goes on to help create the new system, and that’s a sensible method provided that it fits 2014 and beyond needs. RE, and most other subjects, are always concerned with the students’ ability to answer 6,8,10 mark questions so I liked this from Jennie and Anne, that was shared around the staff and can be easily adapted by other subjects. Make your assessment criteria fit our student needs-this does.

Skills required to achieve target grade Emerging Developing Mastered   Not yet Covered
Exam skills.
Ability to offer a full, developed explanation and example in the 2 mark questions
Ability to offer two expanded points of view, both with religious examples and explanations in the 4 mark questions.
Ability to offer two examples with development, from both the religion of Islam and Christianity in the 6 mark questions.
Ability to offer two expanded, clear points of view with religious teachings in the 8 mark questions.  The argument is covered extensively through discussion and summed up with a final judgement.


Sarah and Karen have planned together in an English lesson study to consider their Enquiry Question: Can students independently employ higher order thinking skills? Sarah took first go and she wanted her class to Move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose. If the students can access this higher level of thought, higher exam grades will follow. The faculty have embarked upon some radical set manoeuvres to try to provide the best support and intervention. Deliberate staffing has made smaller classes and single sex classes in a couple of cases. Sarah has a small boy only class and support is provided via Annette our pastoral AHT to help Sarah teach in a very intensive manner-digging deep, pushing hard to get the lads the grades they potentially can achieve. When Karen and I joined in, adults almost outnumbered the students!

There were some really interesting teaching strategies employed and they began with writing down who what they thought was responsible for the tragedy in Blood Brothers.


They would return to their original thoughts a couple of times throughout the lesson to make changes, should they wish to. They then worked in 2 groups on a tarsia activity. I was pleased to see them use the blank cards to add their own ideas.



Sarah chose her 3 students for the study and made her predictions for Karen and I to observe.


Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
  1. Move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose.
Target BCurrently working at B Target BCurrently working at C Target BCurrently working at D
Stage Predicted Response Actual Response
Who or what is responsible for the tragedy? (independent) Limited, text base response that focuses on characters or theme. Character based – Mrs Lyons Theme based – superstition Character based Mrs Johnstone
Tarsia inquiry.(group)




Text based connections but start to link quotes to characters. All boys should be able to link quotations with characters. B should take a lead role in discussion and might focus more on themes/begin to explore writer’s implications.  C will make straightforward obvious links between quotes and characters. Remained quit during this activity and let D take a lead role in organising the shapes. Did contribute links that probed the sub text and knowledge of the play as a whole was secure. Focused on character motivation. Started to explore the ‘bigger’ picture from D’s comments about the impact Mr Johnstone’s departure had on Mrs J and her decision to give Edward away. He also let D take a lead role in organising the shapes. Did contribute links that probed the sub text and knowledge of the play as a whole was secure. Focused on character motivation. Started to explore the ‘bigger’ picture from D’s comments about the impact Mr Johnstone’s departure had on Mrs J and her decision to give Edward away. Immediately explored how the theme of social class was to blame and probed the sub-text confidently exploring how the policeman treated the two families differently because of their social class. Took a lead role in the discussion and effectively justified opinions with evidence/reasons from the text.
Ten quote tumble.(independent)


Begin to make moral / social links C might struggle here to make relevant links. B and A should be identifying the writer’s intention and linking quotes to the wider implications. The majority of the quotations selected placed blame on characters and themes. Discussions focused on the theme of jealousy and started to make links to social injustice – difference in lifestyle, education and job opportunities. The majority of the quotations selected placed blame on characters and themes. Discussions focused on the theme of jealousy and started to make links to social injustice – difference in lifestyle, education and job opportunities. The majority of the quotations selected placed blame on characters and themes. Discussions focused on the theme of inequality and started to make links to social injustice – difference how the boys were treated by the policeman because of their different social classes.


They then worked individually to select and prioritise quotes to support their opinions before discussing in pairs and then preparing for their final individual piece-could they move beyond the text to think about Russell’s wider motives in writing the play? The students peer critiqued and highlighted positive examples of what Miss had asked for!

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Karen being an optimistic soul and progress manager for year 11, believed that the students were capable of this level of thought-Sarah wasn’t so sure! This was her summary;

Dave and Karen, now I have had the opportunity to read their work, I am pleased with the progress on the whole. They knew the novel well and considering we haven’t looked at it together for a while, that was great. They linked characters to themes effectively and justified their opinions.


In terms of LOs –

  • LO: Independently employ higher order thinking skills – they all achieved this.
  • LO: Effectively communicate a point of view – they all achieved this.
  • LO: Move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose- Owen Fowler made the best connection – poverty and job loss in Liverpool at the time. The others began to connect ideas to characters, themes and the bigger picture but often in term of social injustice.

Karen, thanks for being so optimistic as this meant I didn’t have to use the model answer slides!

Excellent knowledge of text.  Did move on from a character answer and started to explore the wider implications of social class and the effects of being working class at that time. Secure knowledge of the text. Moved from a theme based answer and started to link social injustice of working class Liverpool to lifestyle and its limitations. Effectively moved from a character answer to a theme and linked this to social injustice effectively justifying his answer from the policeman’s behaviour towards the two different social classes.


Both colleagues hadn’t been involved before in lesson study, Sarah joining us at Easter and hopefully they will be able to see the value in this form of CPD as they plan and consider their next moves. They are both keen to transfer the skills taught today [and tomorrow for Karen] after Xmas when the students begin another text.

Zoe and Sheila worked together in a lesson study triad in summer and this time they paired up to continue their work with low ability year 7 and 8 mathematicians. Enquiry Question – How effectively can we improve conceptual understanding of operations with Low Attainers?

Success Criteria Pupil A  Pupil B  Pupil C 
  1. All students should be able to describe each operation using at least a keyword.
  2. Students will begin to identify the required operation for worded questions, with reasons.
  3. Students will show appropriate methods to carry out such operations.
Easily distracted and loses focus. Will attempt to answer questions even if he is not confident, but has weak problem solving skills. Strongest in multiplication tables knowledge, weakness with division and subtraction. Low confidence, reluctant to answer questions he is uncertain of the answers to. Comfortable with addition methods and certain multiplication tables knowledge but weaknesses in division and subtraction methods. 


Comfortable attempting most questions but weaknesses in multiplication tables knowledge, and poor consistency across division, subtraction and multiplication methods.


This was the first lesson looking at operations with the class so that Zoe could see how they could cope with what was needed. She used the overlay the lesson study maths triad had produced last year to see if that would help the students with functional skills type questions. To get them use to the maths literacy involved she asked them to describe the key words.


They then tackled up to 10 problems around the room by following the method suggested on the overlay.



Some students were able to get all of the functional skills problems correct but not necessarily by using the overlay. We aren’t sure that this works for all and Zoe is thinking about alternative tactics. The level of ability was very low and problems such as; “if there are 7 days in a week, how many days are there in 10 weeks?” and “if a spider has 8 legs-how many legs do 5 spiders have?” caused some issues and these were the easier ones. Zoe will teach students who will achieve good university degrees 2 minutes before teaching students who struggle with the most basic division and multiplication sums-an interesting mix and all with their own learning challenges for Miss to overcome. There is an interesting discussion re mixed ability teaching v sets/bands doing the rounds again and questions raised as to whether growth mind set fits easily with setting. I’ve taught both ways at KS3 and mixed at KS4-don’t forget though that some schools are far more mixed in their in-takes than others, as has become apparent when  digging  beneath the league table figures and looking at the percentage of high, middle and low attainers and the average KS2 scores of students coming into our schools!  Ours is the lowest average score of all the schools in Sefton and this presents us with the kind of teaching challenges lesson study can help us with so that our students get the most appropriate learning and teaching we can give them.

Karen and Sheila were busy teaching their first NTEN lesson at the same time and I wasn’t able to drop in on them as I was with Emma to observe our newest NQT Toni. Toni has already established a lovely working relationship with her year 10 geographers and they engaged well and moved sensibly around the room to find information. Our conversation afterwards was an interesting one and worth sharing-I think-because it touched on a few of the tactics I’ve seen used by lots of NQTs, especially geographers!

There does seem to be a set lesson structure that they learn on their P.G.C.S.E. course and I think that it dates back to the issue of the desire of Ofsted [which they usually deny ever existed!] of having to see progress in 1 lesson. It seems to be that some new knowledge will be gathered-usually interactively by the students gathering bits from different stations around the room-they then check each other’s notes and add whatever they have missed before new knowledge is tested via an exam question/mark-scheme-hence progress is observed and measured!

Toni sensed that the students wanted to delve further into non-renewable energy and felt that a deeper discussion would have been better-at this point we talked about the lesson structure she is use to and I hope that she was relieved that I told her to forget about it-absolutely no need to cram everything into 1 lesson with a test at the end to show me that progress is being made. Lots of great opportunities are missed for Miss to develop her teaching so we thought about;

  • This could be a lesson study on its own but over the next term and year, find out which are the best methods for you and your classes to make notes [find out new information] and to retain it-is this method the best?
  • It might be if we refine the gathering of information process or other methods [I’m not getting involved in the text book debate!] may prove to be more effective. If we use the information gathering around the room method we have to stop them simply copying everything they can-it’s good to encourage note-taking but it is a skill we have to teach. When they check their notes afterwards with their partner, the temptation to copy everything that they haven’t got-occurs again!
  • If you are doing this for the sake of showing ‘student interaction’-think what interaction actually means in the learning situation-for me it is the student reacting with the knowledge or skills to cause a ‘learning’ effect. Make the students cut to the chase in activities like this-use a word limit, time limit, 1 sentence. They will find it tough to begin with but will soon begin to select relevant information and if in the pair follow up they both ‘black-out’ any irrelevant information-they will learn vital examination skills-how many times do they write waffle and waste time?
  • No need to show progress with a test every time-let them have the deeper discussion-they will probably recall more information over time by having memorable current examples and data.
  • I thank Toni for letting me share our discussion-if this sounds like it didn’t go well-it did BUT she is eager to develop into the best teacher that she can be and lifting a few P.G.C.S.E. shackles and letting her experiment will support that. I’m delighted with the progress our NQTs are making and will soon have them all tweeting out their ideas and sharing their own ideas both internally and externally!


Thank you for reading.












Magic NQT Moments 2

Our final NQT Magic Moment of the first half-term comes from Helen, our Spanish NQT who has shared her first attempts at dot marking with colleagues. This came after our big marking blog and opening inset day of the year talked about a host of ‘fast feedback’ tactics and a conversation Helen and I had after her first lesson observation with me when she raised her anxiety over providing feedback and beginning self and peer critique at a very basic level. This is the email she sent, which was then shared with all staff.

Hi Dave,

Just a quick email to let you know how I am getting on with the dots marking and a few other marking bits and bobs.

When we start a new topic in languages it often leaves us with nothing meaty to mark and it is mostly just new vocabulary. So it was important to think of a way of getting the students involved in marking their own work.

When marking their books, if I see an error I put a coloured dot on the page depending on what the error is. I have also made a display in my room so that the pupils know what the coloured dot refers to.


I then hand out the purple pens and let the kids do the rest. The lower ability sets need the support of a textbook, myself or the TA but they all get there eventually.


The best thing is that it really speeds up my marking too. I find I don’t get bogged down correcting hundreds of spellings or missing accents. The pupils seemed to really enjoy it. One of the pupils in 7.6 excitedly asked “Miss, what are all the dots for?” It becomes a bit of a game of Spot the Dot. They also get quite competitive about how many dots they’ve got in their books.


Here are some examples:

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I have also started to get the pupils to decide whether one of their classmates has achieved bronze, silver or gold. Again they use the purple pens and then ask me for the correct coloured star sticker to stick in. Granted, 7.6 need more support in how to structure it than 7.2 but they all produced some good peer feedback.

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Think that’s about it – starting on my Challenge Wall display next!


My reply

Great stuff Helen-good to see you trying out different ideas with your classes as we discussed and great to see you developing marking which gets the students thinking for themselves and involved in the process!  Where can you go next with this to develop and refine your marking? A few ideas and questions for us to chat about;

  • Can you get the students to think in terms of platinum-how could they add to their gold skill/knowledge to make it even stronger-always interesting to ask them where they think their learning should go next
  • How are you or the self/peer checkers going to make sure that advice/feedback is met successfully?
  • How are you or the self/peer checkers going to make sure that the knowledge has stuck in a couple of lessons time and then in a month’s time? Could DIRT help?
  • Could you adapt this for KS4 and higher ability students? I wonder if you could invite the students to devise their own dot marking scheme or any other marking scheme based on their perceptions of which types of marking/feedback really help them. Different groups within the same class could try to devise different methods within an agreed structure decided with them beforehand-e.g. what is the purpose of marking/feedback, what should their role be, how should it help their learning, how will they know it has had a successful impact-be prepared for them to say they would prefer you to do it all! [usually for accuracy]


It’s an exciting, if very tiring, first half-term of a new career for our NQTs. When I went to the SSAT conference in Manchester last December, I came back and mentioned watching the deputy head of Cramlington School speak and raised this question;

What are they doing that is so special and how can we learn from them? They began with a quote, “Imagine a school in which you taught better simply by being virtue of being in that school. What would such a school be like” [Judith Warren Little] Cramlington, I guess! But wouldn’t it be an achievement for our learning community if that was Meols Cop-why shouldn’t it be!

Why shouldn’t this be the case for our NQTs or for any of our teachers-have we built the systems of collaboration and professional development to make this so? If we haven’t yet, and they should be constantly evolving anyway, we need to crack on! Have each and every one of us accepted the accountability of always being the best that we can and helping others to access professional excellence? It’s an eventful, challenging but ultimately rewarding journey for us all whether it be the start of a career or a dazzling denouement-welcome to Meols Cop and have as restful a half-term as you can. Thank you.

Magic NQT Moments

I’ve now observed all of our NQTs in early term action and they have begun their CPD journey by informally dropping in on more experienced teachers, having a set of after school training sessions, choosing a lesson study project and attending year 7 information evening in their other key role-learning tutors. Beth shared some of her thoughts and ideas in our Growth Mind Set blog and this week Greg and Andrew share theirs. To complement the innovations and trialling of exciting learning and teaching by our youngest colleagues, the oldest teacher will also offer a couple of tactics too! In the last blog I explained that the choice of marking strategies and trialling of different ideas rests with the faculties and individuals-science have been trying fast feedback whilst history have been working on peer verification as you can see from Greg’s examples below. The idea stems from my frustration with peer critique and the inaccuracies involved and my desire to, if we were to persevere with self and peer feedback/dialogue, make it a worthwhile experience. My humanities friends have taken the original thought and made it their own!


1] Have you tried an idea with your classes that you have been really pleased with and think it helped their learning? How do you know?!

  • Peer Verification – This has allowed pupils to really develop their understanding of GCSE past papers and the mark schemes. Pupils were initially wary of this, as they are with peer assessment, but once they got into providing feedback they took to it. Some feedback was rather basic, but I believe this will come with more practice and increased knowledge of the mark schemes for each type of question.

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  • Peer Providing – A good little way to get pupils to collaborate and share understanding. I have used it so far to improve essay questions, add information to notes, review source analysis and general opportunities for peers to support each other’s development. I now try to bring in peer providing into a least every lesson, be it 2 minutes or 20 depending on how students will benefit.


  • Essay writing tutorial with Y7 – Another idea pinched from Dave that I witnessed whilst you were teaching in my class. I have utilised with 7.7 and I felt that the results were very encouraging considering this was the first piece of writing they have had to do this year. Combined with the fact pupils were ranking causes of the Roman Invasion, it allowed pupils to rearrange their answer if they had changed their mind on the importance of a cause. Please find attached pictures

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2] What’s the best idea you have heard about at a] school b] social media or other means lately. How do you plan to use it/what do you feel that it will bring to your teaching and student learning?

  • Misconception Quiz – Just a simple starter to test pupils subject knowledge and to work on common misconceptions and issues with the key subject knowledge. I plan to use this in my GCSE classes to test subject terminology, especially in the America in the 1920s and International Relations topics
  • Dot Marking – I really liked idea of using dot marking for my KS3 lessons and I have ordered 4 colours of stickers to use across my different classes. I think it will allow pupils to develop there SPaG awareness but for them to develop their historical skills, so I aim to use ones for ‘explain in more detail’ ‘ develop your opinion further’ and possibly one to ask pupils to challenge their own opinion, or to ask pupils to peer assess a conclusion.
  • ABC Feedback – I found this simultaneously on your blog and on twitter myself. I have begun to use this in my lessons already, particularly in plenaries and progress checks during lessons. I have already found that giving the pupils the ‘heads up’ that I will be asking for ABC Feedback on their answers gives them the opportunity to provide well thought out responses and ripostes. Using at both High and Low ability and received well. (Please find attached pictures)


3] Is there an area of your teaching that you feel is tricky for you and would like to see another colleague teaching? Let me know so I can arrange a drop in informal obs for you.

  • Peer work, I feel it was under used at my previous placements and I have little experience of it (hence trying PV and PP in my lessons) and I would really like to develop this
  • Extension tasks/activities for mixed ability sets as I am used to set classes. It is just ensuring that the higher ability students stay challenged and are kept busy whilst the slower pupils are catching up

4] It is a sign of strength [and GMS!] not weakness that you let us know if any classes or students are bothering you and causing you to worry-let your subject mentors or me know a.s.a.p. We can talk, give advice, team-teach, model or pop in to have a look.

  • No issues with behaviour but I do struggle a little with my 9C class as they are so low level at pitching the right GCSE work to them. This would obviously come with experience of teaching them, but some thoughts and advice would be great
  • This would be the same for my 7.7 class too


  • Last week I tried a 5 word poster with Year 9 GCSE classes. Each group was given information on a negative effect of climate change from around the world. They had to produce a poster with no more than 5 words on the poster (drawings, symbols, signs etc. allowed) before they carried out a marketplace exercise. One ‘expert’ was left to explain their poster (and effects of climate change in that area) to each group at a time while the others made their way around each poster making notes of what the ‘expert’ was telling them. After each poster the group would return and feedback to their expert what they have learnt. Once all information was collected each student highlighted any key information that would help them in an exam. I’ve attached some photos. They then attempted a 6 mark question which showed good results!

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  • I’ve been reading ‘100 ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons’ and noticed an
  • idea called ‘But that’s another story’. Basically using props and dressing up to highlight and explain a particular story, I’m thinking of using it with Year 9 regarding flooding in Bangladesh. Not sure how good of an actor I can be but thought it would keep the pupils engaged and give them something to relate to when it comes to exam questions and checking their progress.
  • The only issue I have at the minute is I’m having a bit of a mind blank, not sure if it’s with having to take so much in these first few weeks but am looking at organising to observe some other teachers to get some ideas and help me out a bit!

There are lots of great ideas out in the land of twitter and blogs that offer sensible advice to NQTs but not always advice as to how other teachers and leaders should support their development. We do like to involve all new teachers as soon as possible in our collaborative sharing and also in our conversations about learning. I’ve noticed in job interviews, that some candidates, and often quite experienced ones, have little to say about their own teaching; it becomes apparent that they haven’t been asked to reflect, to share or to talk about their own practice in any depth before. No wonder that many young teachers leave our profession if their views aren’t sought or valued! For our most experienced practitioners it would be easy for us to be cynical-“I’ve heard it all before-nothing is ever new!” or “We didn’t have BFL in my day, a bit of struggle is good for the soul!” We were young once and should remember the mistakes we made and be open to ensuring any new teacher at Meols Cop gets the best possible start to their teaching career. The plethora of ideas that come into school, are shared by internal blogs, coaching, mentoring and hubs or accessed as Greg and Andrew have done via books and social media do provide a wealth of free CPD support-the NQTs [and all staff!] have to play their part in the supportive culture by finding time to find and trial them-it is so worthwhile! [Have I said that before?]

I’ve been enjoying the company of 2 lovely groups in year 8 and I have to say that I’ve been itching to get my hands on my little special needs group, having seen them in action in so many lesson study projects last year. I do get asked many times about how, as teachers, we can support this group, taking into consideration their diverse needs, and help them to progress as learners and socially too. I have 2 wonderful teaching assistants who understand the needs of the children and their potential learning barriers and are in tune with what I am trying to achieve with the group. To become GOLD learners, each student will be able to achieve by summer;

I can describe several characteristic features of past societies and periods. [From memory]

Literacy – I can employ both key historical terminology and structure when producing written assignments.

I can identify, describe and rank in order of significance both causes and consequences of events and situations.

I can identify change and continuity within and across different periods of history and I am able to describe a number of similarities and differences

I can give reasoned explanations about a source’s motive and select information from a source to support my investigation.

These are our BSG guidelines for our lowest ability students in year 8 so that they can all aim to achieve GOLD by summer. They are quite rightly challenging and I wanted to focus on retaining enough knowledge to be able to describe features of the period and link them together with causes and consequences. Literacy, both in generic and subject specific terms, is an immense learning barrier for most of this class and I wanted to support them with structuring their work, basic SPaG and using the key historical terms; spelt correctly! My challenge that I announced at the beginning of the lesson was to ask if they could write me an essay-‘Why did Britain become the first industrial nation’ [from memory] Of course none of them was imbued with confidence, although we had spent the 2 lessons before using visual stimuli and their own drawings of key factors to reinforce the main facts that would be needed.

The repetition and quiz style games began to bear fruition as with minimum prompting they were able to add key information in separate paragraphs on coloured post-its [cost me a tenner to get ones with lines on!]-fact-cause-consequence to build up their ‘essay’ Greg, our NQT, saw the books and tried the same tactic with his year 7 very low ability class finding similar results. You can see two of the student’s work below.

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You can see that I have used DIRT-dedicated improvement and reflection time-work on basic literacy and simple questions to check knowledge gaps. [None of my long feedback/feed forward stuff on these-YET!] For this class the spot is next to the line where the spelling error is so that the students can find it and ask for the correct spelling if need be OR IN Max’s case, his DIRT was to, with the help of his TA, structure his words into sentences. Max has the oral ability to recall all of my facts and information-he loves history and gets more of my praises and sweets than anyone-writing it down shouldn’t be the frustrating barrier that it is.

The reality for probably all of the students in this class is that they will have scribes for their internal and external examinations. Whilst the art of scribing is a difficult one that becomes easier with practice, so the skill of orally telling the scribe everything that you want to have written down to get the best possible marks; is an even harder one for our students. Over the last couple of years we have prepared them for this in KS4, practising with the TA who will scribe so that both parties are comfortable when it comes to the harsh reality of the exam room. We do need to consider developing these skills in lower school, not just for examination purposes but because writing should not be a learning barrier to the thoughts that are in their heads. Too often I’ve heard low level questions being targeted at students because someone has decided that because written answers for them seem to be difficult they should get a simple question-NO! Challenge them orally to provide evidence to the tough questions you would ask of the more able writers. Make them speak their answers to each other, to you, to their TA-give all of your learners the opportunity to think BIG! Both Greg and Andrew when I observed them used talk tokens to reward great student talk/conversation and I stopped the lesson to make the students listen carefully before attempting any writing up of the conversation. These are key skills for all students but for our lower ability students they are often mistakenly forgotten. Obviously writing should be developed too!

I guided year 8 conversations by putting them in pairs, looking at some images of working children before raising ‘Big Questions’ for the pair to discuss one after the other-e.g. was working in the factories worse than working in the countryside? Would you rather be a chimney sweep than work in the mines? They had to listen and had a prompt to support the listening and subsequent write-up-“Wayne thinks that it was worse working in the factories/countryside because…….they then chose a connective/conjunction from my list……however I think that………………because……….” Killing two learning birds with one stone allowed them to have a short verbal dialogue and to justify their choice with evidence to each other before they used their listening and short term recall skills to write me a balanced answer. We then counted how many lines we had managed to write using this method and the reward lollies were quickly out as they realised that rather than the usual 1 or 2 sentence [or word!] answers, there were now some with 17 lines or nearly a whole page! Some of the students joining us struggle desperately with even short term memory issues. This presents us with a real teaching challenge!

I see 8 set 7 twice a week because I have them for both history and geography-Monday and Friday-and to help their retention of knowledge, I just teach 1 subject for a block of weeks before swapping over. For the subjects with only 1 lesson a week, the gap between lessons, especially for the lower ability students, can be an issue in terms of recall. 8 set 5, who have slightly more students than 8 set 7, also have plenty of SEN students and I have tried similar tactics with them by visualising ‘stories’, recall quizzes and DIRT, post-it essays and plenty of both verbal and written dialogue between the students and myself. I lost a week with Open Evening and yet they were able to remember our picture story, with prompts 2 weeks later to write my post-it essay. They now have to spot if I have missed any spellings after mentioning too, where, were etc.-key spellings which we know cost our students dear in SPaG at G.C.S.E., as Graham Tyrer pointed out in his excellent Literacy Leader’s toolkit and not necessarily the big key words which are rehearsed many times.

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There has been a growing amount of research into which teaching methods work best to help students learn and retain knowledge. Expert voices are vociferous and strong in support of their own opinions and evidence BUT unfortunately there is no definitive answer and nor should we seek one. I’ll continue to send out the latest evidence and it’s great if you can find time to read it but your own professional reflections will help you equally in trialling and deciding which methods work best for classes, individuals and yourselves. Its isn’t that long ago that we were all told to always consider the ‘learning styles’ of our students-that is ridiculed by many now and even John Hattie who has become popular and widely read by teachers keen to use his research of effective teaching methods, is under fire already from some critics. There are strong arguments for teaching mixed ability classes rather than the sets that we currently use-would that better support all of our learners-what do you think-your opinion matters based on your experience!

With my other class and for Greg with his classes of higher ability, spot marking has endless possibilities for self and peer critique/marking. The dot can be anywhere on the page and no clues given, different colours can represent different SPaG, different aspects of the subject knowledge e.g. inaccurate historical fact, they can use spot marking of each other with their own criteria –ideas are in the external blogs or just have a go and let me know how you use it.

I have also been to Poundland, to buy little note books [3 for a quid] so that we can draft sentences, check SPaG, record facts etc. in rough so that our books show EXCELLENCE with finished work. I’ve bought journalist jotters for English colleagues plus Hollie and Marion so that they can all re-draft before committing to the finished work to be marked and commented on. They tell me that these are working well, although the students sometimes complain at first when asked to re-draft but soon give in when they see their finished product becoming better!


Our latest sharing of ideas via this blog, 30 second marking and a fair chunk of our lesson study has focused on developing our lower ability teaching. I’m delighted that this term I’ve already been approached by colleagues to use their lesson study to research approached towards higher ability teaching. For instance early examples and requests include;


Sarah C and Karen R-Can students independently employ higher order thinking skills.

Success criteria = move beyond the text to recognise the wider implications of the writer’s purpose – hopefully commenting on: social justice, inequality, accountability, morality and mental health.

Greg and Beth-My focus in my lesson is going to be how higher-ability students can utilise the ‘Challenge Wall’ to extend their learning, I will be creating new resources for this. Beth will be focusing on using a more open ended task for higher ability pupils

Adele and Katrina-researching A level music and drama skills that they can use to enable their most able G.C.S.E students to move beyond the confines of the syllabus and meet student needs.

Science faculty-analytical skills

Bronagh and Marion-grammar!

Katie and Laura-KS3 SPaG

Hannah and Andrew-motivating high ability male students.

Helen and Helen-The new KS3 curriculum – delivering literature and using skills of transcribing and translating.

Sheila and Zoe will continue with their functional skills research with year 8 low ability students and the other mathematicians will look at resilience and problem solving at G.C.S.E. in spring.


Thank you as always for reading and hopefully you may have spotted ideas you would like to try out tomorrow!

Magic Butterfly Moments-an individual teacher’s contribution

My magic moment was watching our year 11 students embrace the butterfly theme.  The theme used the process of metamorphosis to act as a creative way to encourage the students to change.  For each student the changes they were required to make were unique to them.  Once they had faced the changes required to leave the caterpillar world they were faced with the cocoon of decisions.  In this cocoon they were encouraged to imagine how they could progress in R.E with the correct mind-set.  Many were too scared to reach for aspirational targets as they feared failure.  I too identified with that fear as R.E was facing linear changes.  This was a scary concept as we were forced to keep lesson content fresh.  With no controlled assessments to cushion our task we faced the challenge head on.  Each time I paused and worried, I gained a deeper drive which I wanted to pass on to our students.  We all learnt what it was like to live in a NO EXCUSE CULTURE as we took risks ‘together’ in learning and teaching.

Furthermore, our students were challenged to overcome emotional, social and circumstantial difficulties which threatened to interfere with their transformation into powerful butterflies.  The theme was summed up with the quote; ‘If you want success as much as you want to breathe then you will be successful.’ They began to see that despite difficult circumstances, they could hold the tension of the cocoon and fly.  The tension point included dealing with tragic loss and processing grief.  Every child’s journey was unique and each cocoon trial was as valid to us.  I hope for their sake to see measurable results in their GCSE grades.  Yet my personal magic moment was watching glimpses of growth, these images are imprinted on my mind forever.  When fresh challenges arise in years to come I hope they draw from butterfly strength, and this moment will be refreshed again.  The class of 2014 has left a legacy behind with our current year 10 desperate to know their theme.  At the moment all we will reveal is it is certainly not a butterfly!  Miss Heaton is worried Meols Cop will become famous for butterfly exhibitions.

This theme did not emerge from a recent teaching article, or my TES subscription or one of the many ideas sent through from Mr Jones.  All of these play a vital role in raising standards.    Part of me would have loved to have used a theory tried and tested with scholars guiding the way, but my heart ruled my head.  Michael Gove may be busy dusting off old English literature classics to replace American writings in the English classroom, but I doubt backbenchers  could get their head around butterfly wings.  Thankfully for me Meols Cop did, with many staff getting on board and even dressing up!  Thank- you as without that the butterfly would have been squashed.  Meols Cop powered it through as it created a supportive environment for students and staff alike.