Our summer observations are well under way now [and a few interviews observing visiting teachers too!] so naturally I’m keen to share amongst our own staff, and colleagues from other schools who follow our blogs, some of the great ideas I’ve seen.
Hannah and I observed Katie teaching year 7 set 4 and this was a really challenging and interesting lesson and an opportunity again to observe Katie using her peer verification technique which, I feel has high expectations of the learners and is great preparation for the G.C.S.E. skills which are required in year 9 and beyond and which we will incorporate and assess from year 7 in our new assessment system beginning in September.
I liked the gold challenge built onto every slide and learning episode that offers a good extension stretch and tweeted the idea out, along with the original in an up-dated blog last Friday.
There was a lot of interest again and this resulted in a conversation between some scientists and myself who adapted Katie’s original idea and shared their adaptation back-showing the power and utility of tweeting! firstname.lastname@example.orgPEE was then added. Worth a few minutes on twitter to gain so much!
Year 7 beginning to peer -Critique using Katie’s guide. By attempting to follow the guidelines, they will grow in confidence and the idea will bring high level evaluation skills, connecting nicely to G.C.S.E. skills-we have to have the highest of expectations and keep encouraging FISHy evaluations.
I wasn’t able to observe Hannah with Katie due to the interviews so Leon took my place and was delighted to see Hannah analysing poetry with 7 set 3 and developing their peer critique skills [and as a consequence their own analysis] Hannah told me that she used the visualiser to model the process of gradually improving peer critique for her class as you can see below. Showing them the different stages of a developing skill is really interesting piece of teaching and her bronze, silver, gold simple criteria gives the students criteria that they can work with and understand.
I observed Rebecca with Eddie and we enjoyed her use of ‘The Voice’ to engage with her year 8 Spanish class.
Even within one set there is a wide difference in ability, often based on which language was studied at primary school-hence the quite wide level difference [last observations to use them!!] Interestingly the examination entries for Spanish continue to rise as French and German decline. More students now choose Spanish at Meols Cop as we begin year 9 and Helen, our MFL subject leader did use our student voice to see why those choices were being made. As subject leader she loves having talented Spanish teachers but as a French teacher, she felt that a small piece of research might help her to unravel the mystery of the current trend. I’ve attached the questions and results [without teacher names and sets] for others to see and consider.
We were interested to see the whole class peer assess the presentations from class volunteers based on the following criteria they were looking out for.
The written task was supported by a vocab mat, although some didn’t need this and I suggested that the mat should be withheld unless asked for by the weaker linguists-the success criteria for Gold/Platinum/Scorching/Sprint would include ‘without the scaffold!
Alex has been trialling functional skills lower ability resources and ideas as part of her NTEN lesson study and Jen and I observed her with 7 set 7 as she related percentages and fractions to real life money!
The students loved the challenge of halving various amounts of money to share out and kept a basic self-progress check on how successfully they felt that they were grasping the key concepts. We sometimes forget how difficult some of our students find very basic functional maths, especially dealing with coinage. They are primary skills, which we tackle in lessons and with intervention-if our students leave us without them; they are not prepared for some of the basic life skills they need.
Alex used her NTEN functional skills slide to help them with their questions and both Jen and I were delighted to see the students challenged to devise their own questions and to use simple subject specific literacy to help their maths skills/terms stick in their memory.
Rachel introduced her year 7 art class to a brand new technique-Notan!
She used an overlay placed over 2 drawings to provoke discussion
And then introduced the new technique which she had filmed herself modelling- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvhVxGX0RhM
By using the film-shown a few times as they worked on their piece, Rachel was able to allow the students to check themselves that they were on task and she also modelled her other year 7’s work for them. Katie, more of an expert than I am, praised the quality of the product produced and the students peer critiqued the learning at the end.
Sarah, our new English subject leader, told me that her favourite female character in literature is Curley’s wife-I thought she meant Sarah Lancashire from Coronation St, but was pleasantly surprised that she was referring to the ‘Of Mice and Men’ character that Karen was going to discuss with her year 9 lower set class. The students began reading their feedback and I liked Karen’s awarding of Progress Stars for interesting individualistic skills;
Unique point of view
Expressing personal viewpoint and accepting alternatives
Independent reading to further class work
Use of literary devices
Development of explanations
It was also interesting for me as an historian to see the character being placed in an accurate historical context [often inaccurate when I observe-apologies!] Without an understanding of the attitude towards women at the time of the novel [of many people], it would be difficult to consider her portrayal accurately. Karen asked us to observe, for her subject specific criteria-‘encourages the separation of ideas about what a character’s intentions are and what they are perceived to be by others’-this was a concept demonstrating the highest of expectations and Sarah, in her feedback, in the section that asks the observer “What did you learn most as a teacher form today’s observation” told us ‘that low attaining students can achieve their learning objectives through challenging subject matter”
Karen used a Learning Line to chart the changing views of the class and introduced visual images of Hollywood screen sirens to ask the students to try to link quotes about Curley’s wife to them. We enjoyed observing the students, using their texts and flicking back through their notes to speedily match characteristics with the images-this was obviously a well-established learning routine that allowed the students to access connecting information and build confidence when faced with the concluding written task.
I moved quickly from Karen to the other side of school to join Helen and find Martin’s year 7 historians ‘description bidding’ before revealing the big question for the lesson:
The use of slaves on the plantations was a crime against humanity?” Do you agree?
The students were assigned group roles, with the history leaders being judges [they had to look at 2 points of view/2 interpretations-not just 1] and others being slaves, owners, overseers and English shoppers! Sources were laid out for the groups to visit [example below- and they recorded their views in the role they had been given on their ‘scales’ sheets.
This was the last lesson of the day but the students and Martin were on fire! Scorched earth around the room before a great silent debate task which is well worth stealing by everybody else!!
Placed into assigned groups with a representative from the previous groups in them, the students debated silently e.g.’ by writing their views onto sugar paper in the colour their name is in on the slide. Thus all views could be seen and all contributions evaluated. As one of Martin’s subject specific criteria he wanted us to observe was,
Students recognise how interpretations of the past have been made and why they may have changed.
I was pleased to see the lesson end with each student using their red pen to add an interpretation from their own character against the opinions of others. I was shattered at the end of the lesson just watching it! The follow up to this could be in the form of a written assessment which would link nicely to the G.C.S.E. 1-9 tracking that will begin in September.
Fortunately the rain held off for my jaunt on to the field to co-observe with Rosie, Aaron’s first NTEN lesson study adventure. They have decided to try to improve the quality of feedback in KS3 with low attaining students and from our internal sharing of ideas [Chucklevision/NTEN science and a learning hub] they decided to adapt a science overlay to see if that will help the students to use far more specific terminology when they are feeding back advice to each other and thus begin to sow the seeds for GC.S.E. skills which will be assessed in year 7 next year. Focusing in on 3 students of differing abilities, the teacher predicts what they think will be the learning response of the students. You can see part of the lesson plan and predictions below. The observers record the actual learning that occurs and feedback afterwards. The session was filmed by Stephen the PE technician to aid discussion afterwards and the 3 boys completed a questionnaire asking for their opinions of how the new idea had supported their learning. This morning, Rosie used the same techniques with the girls and despite the cold [I had to don my hat!] they used the key words well and modelled the techniques to support each other and improve their shot putting. TA Christine filmed, although the windy conditions may have an adverse effect on the sound quality. Rosie and Aaron will discuss their lessons after half-term and then plan together in directed time for the next 2 lessons.
2nd Learning episode:
Pupils will be shown a breakdown of the discus technique and expected to remember it in phases.
They will also be told the different roles they must take up which are used in all athletics lessons:
- · Performer- Performs the skill and listens to feedback.
- · Assessor- Gives feedback to performer (using PEER resource).
- · Official- Records distance of throw.
Pupils will then practice their technique and roles with teacher support.
A: Will remember all of the phases showing good technique in most. He will remember two or three key words when giving feedback.
B: May forget one or two phases of the skill and may be prompted by peers to perform correctly. He will show good technique when performing the skill. He may remember one or two key words when giving feedback.
C: May forget one or two phases of the skill and may be prompted by peers to perform correctly. Will show poor technique when performing the skill. He may struggle to remember key words when giving feedback; he may also look to others for help.
All students will remember their roles.
I was equally interested to see the boys return to the changing room and look at 2 different visual resources. The PE Ladders of Glory which show best performances nationally by age for athletics events and our own PE faculties’ ‘Wall of Fame’ where current best performance are recorded and scrubbed off if they have been beaten in the lesson. This fosters good competition and I thought it was worth sharing!
When we ask the question in interviews, “What skills and qualities will you contribute to our….department”, in other words why should we give you the job-most candidates seem to feel that enthusiasm, commitment and making the lessons fun and engaging will be enough-it isn’t! The term ‘reflective practitioners’ has been somewhat over-used but if the reflection is about the learning that has occurred [and learning is usually damned hard work and not always enjoyable!] then we might begin to think-‘we have a teacher for us here’ Our move away from lesson grades and into lesson study, subject specific criteria for the observer to look for and feedback about the learning is mirrored and shared in our blogs-it’s the right way to go for our school and whilst we may not always get it right, the growth mind set we ask of our students is becoming embedded in the professional development minds of our teachers too. That’s a good thing!