Saturday, 26 April 2014

Flipped Learning Mats using Comic Life

Ok, so I've been pretty inspired over the past few terms by the amazing @PE4Learning.  So I've decided to do what anyone does when they are inspired...STEAL, STEAL, STEAL.

What will follow over the coming weeks is a reflection on how my stealing and adapting of the PE4Learning flipped learning mat goes with my year 10s. 

Here is the journey so far:

1.  Bored over the hols so went surfing again through twitter to find something to inspire all know the drill :-)

2.  Hit up PE4Learning's dropbox of amazing resources (  Found the flipped learning mat...gasped...was in awe...then went for the STEAL.

3.  Looked through the Comic Life website ( to learn how I could make it work like PE4Learning did - found it was a free trial and felt bliss.

4.  Spent a total of 2 hours looking for youtube clips to match to our Geography spec (1 mat per topic was my goal) and adapt the template already begun by PE4Learning.  That's it...2 hours...12 learning mats later:

5.  Got to grips with using QR Code generator:; and made jpegs of all the videos I wanted - added these to the mats.

6.  Uploaded the learning mat for Globalisation to Show My Homework...previewed the homework to my year 10s in the lesson before it would be assigned and told them to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to the next lesson so they could get to grips with using the flipped learning mat in my presence...yes I am a control freak, but I'm ok with it.  Out of 27 pupils, 23 brought their own devices and showed me they could use the QR Codes to access the video I wanted them to watch on their devices.  For those 4 who did not bring in devices because they don't own them or can't bring into school, I have uploaded a link to the video onto Show My Homework.  For those who can't access the internet at home, we have a running appointment during the week that homework is due where they have free access to the Geography department computers to be able to complete their work.  All bases covered...let's see if this produces a homerun!

More to come next week...what happens when you review the flipped learning?


Thursday, 20 February 2014

Our first learning lunch!

After the fabulous MiniTeachMeet twilight, we embarked on our first learning lunch of the year!!!  The Best Practice team cannot take credit for the Learning Lunch, this was an idea nicked from Beaumont School in St. Albans, who have a fabulous teaching and learning team I have stolen a great many ideas from. 

Sian Hampshire was super excited to be running her side of the Best Practice programme of #sharingiscaring - like the uber-stationary geek she is, she was prepared with all her best pens/post-its/sugar paper to kick the session off!

We started the session with everyone's best ideas for using tech in the classroom, split into 5 minute, 10 minute, 15 minute and a bit longer! ideas.  The image below shows how many ideas were gathered in the learning lunch session:

Loads of fantastic ideas were shared and talked about in small groups, before the Best Practice Team took the lead in sharing to the whole group our ideas.  Sian began this with her experience of using apps in the classroom like Stick Pick, which she uses like a virtual pot of lolly-pop sticks to pick pupils to answer questions or for presentations.  Sian also shared the types of apps she's used on her phone to allow pupils to assess how long they will live, Test of Life. 
I followed up with how I use Ted Ed for flipping my classroom - and in general how I like to use for inspirational/informative video clips to bring an expert into the classroom. 
Graeme shared how he uses Classroom Tools random name generator and  how he is beginning to use Symbaloo.  Quick links to his ideas can be found here:
Again so much sharing led to time flying by and before we knew it lunch was over and period 4 beckoned!
Thanks to all who joined us and took the time to share their great ideas.

Our first mini-teach meet!

On Tuesday, February 11th the Best Practice team ran our first mini-teachmeet and it was an awesome success.  We had a fantastic range of presenters who shared what they're doing in the classroom and at Fulston Manor School to drive forward outstanding practice.

The afternoon twilight session kicked off with an interactive presentation from Claire Forster, who explained how she is working in her classes to 'feed forward' with focused assessment criteria, teaching pupils how to effectively provide written and oral feedback and taking the time to allow pupils to respond/reflect/re-engage with the feedback they've been given.

Next up was Graeme Bowden, who shared all the amazing activities he has magpied from Twitter in his classroom/department - see link for his #sharingiscaring ideas:

Sian Hampshire followed up with her out of the box thinking in terms of using the classroom environment, including using different coloured electrical tape to turn her classroom floor into an interactive world map - see link for her presentation:

Claire Williams then shared her engaging lesson ideas, including one the Best Practice team keenly nicked from our first TeachMeet experience (TMKent and Medway November 2013) - the TV plenary! Her brilliant ideas on engagement can be seen here:

The last of our first set of presenters was Honor Robbins who shared what the Skills SIG team have been developing - the WIGWAM: What is going well at the moment - an opportunity for pupils to self-assess at a mid-point in a piece of work, which has the opportunity for application in PSHE as well in terms of self-reflection.

When all our first presenters finished we had a quick Q&A session, where the presenters were asked what from their shared ideas they felt had greatest impact so far on their own practice.  Following this we had our audience break-out into working groups to see what they could come up with using #PoundlandPedagogy resources.  The purpose was to allow the smaller groups to use the resources available to plan ideas they could take away to their own classrooms.  There were some fantastic ideas in the making, however because of our tight twilight schedule we weren't able to share at the end what all the groups had come up with.

The second half of the twilight session was kicked off by yours truly!  I decided to share all the techy treats that keep me sane, with a focus on using Prezi as an alternative to PowerPoint and reinforcing the #sharingiscaring mantra already begun by Graeme's presentation.  My quick ideas can be found here -

After my manic presentation we heard from the Coaching SIG, Gemma Davis and Louise Hay, about what they're doing to help teacher's at FMS help themselves through mentor-coaching. 

This was followed by Jasmine Mulligan's exciting ideas from a 'flailing NQT' (her words, not mine...I think she's completely rational and level headed :-) on motivation in the classroom.  Her wonderful ideas can be found here:

Danielle Baker and Liz Heatley then shared what the AFL SIG has been working on in terms of Assessment for Learning - to be updated with link to their Prezi.

The afternoon was drawn to a close with a great presentation from Martin Waterman about his use of SAM Learning to engage and motivate GCSE pupils in terms of homework and to cut down on marking time. 

Overall the twilight miniteachmeet was a great success and the Best Practice group are looking forward to our full scale project with the consortium next month.  Thanks to all those who presented and all those who attended.  Any feedback on the twilight please to Graeme Bowden, Sian Hampshire, Claire Williams or me (Vicky Mitchell).


Monday, 2 December 2013

Display for Learning

Guest Post from @Mrs_Hampshire


Display play a vital role in the classroom, not just to promote a positive and inviting learning environment but also to develop individual’s learning.  Displays should be interactive and be incorporated into students’ day to day learning experience.

Interactive displays: Some examples

1)      Climbing the level ladder

This works by monitoring student progress throughout the academic year.

Students design their own counter (in this case I asked students to design their own flag).  This is then given a code (for teacher reference) and placed at the stage students are working at after the first data capture.  Throughout the year students take responsibility for moving their counters as they progress throughout the level.  This allows students to get a deeper satisfaction from their achievement and allows them to track where they are in relation to others in their year (each flag is backed to illustrate year group), adding an element of competition.

       2)      Have you hit your target grade?

This works in a similar way to the level ladder, although aimed at KS4 students.  If students are on or above their target grade they should be on the bullseye.  For every grade below their target students are moved a ring out.  This can take the same format as the level ladder (with students having counters) or names can be used.

3)      How successful were you in achieving your objective?

This works as part of a self-evaluation task at the end of lessons.  Students should evaluate their learning in the lesson by considering WWW and EBI.  They should then relate this to their objective and decide how successful they were in achieving their personal objective.  On the way out of the room they place their name on the target to illustrate their success (e.g. place on the bullseye if they feel their objective has been fully achieved)

4)      Short thoughts

This works by giving students a resource to provoke their thought on a topic related to the lesson (this could be an image, graph, question, key term etc) and students are to write their initial ideas onto a post-it note.  This post-it is placed on the short thought board (can be discussed as a class) and then returned to at the end of the lesson.  Students are, at the end of the lesson/activity, to reflect on whether their initial thoughts were correct and can use ‘purple pens of progress’ (previously discussed) to improve their work.  This is an excellent way to illustrate progress throughout the course of a lesson.

5)      Student of the month

This is designed to praise student achievement.  Names are clearly displayed in the classroom for the month with an explanation for choice.  This promotes a positive attitude to learning and increases student aspirations.

6)      Word wall

Try having a wall of subject specific key terms or connective words.  These can either be as a visual aid to refer to at different points in a lesson or can be a resource from which students can go and select words which are relevant to the task and their target level.  These words, sentence starters etc can then be taken back to their desks and be used to aid the development of written pieces.

Displays don’t have to be where work completed is evidenced.  Yes it is important to show exemplar work but it is equally important that it stands out (try making 3-D displays) and is a tool for student development.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Wordscapes to support Literacy

What is it?:
An activity which allows pupils to display their understanding of a key concept in a unique way, whilst supporting/improving literacy.  Wordscape = a landscape made of words. Wordscapes are a blend of written words, phrases and images. An example within the wordscape would be to use the word 'sad' drawn like a frown. 
How's it work?:
Wordscapes are often used in Geography to promote literacy and develop pupils' ability to describe places using extended details and phrases, however this activity can easily be adapted to show a freeze frame of a concept or key idea in any other subject. 
First you have pupils investigate a key concept or idea.  Next you have them write down 15-30 words or phrases that describe or link well with the concept they have explored.  Then explain to pupils what they will create with those words - I usually show this using the idea of a slum dwelling made of wood and corrugated iron.  I draw the words slum housing, corrugated iron roof, and poorly constructed in the shape of a typical slum dwelling.  I emphasise usually at this point that spelling is very important in this activity and offer pupils the opportunity to get their spellings correct using textbooks or myself.  I also offer pupils an image on the board to act as stimulus for the 'landscape' element.

Use or try using the wordfoto app for iphone/ipad for a digital version of this activity (@johnsayers has an AMAZING example of wordfoto used to describe sand dunes -
Where did this come from?:
I first came across the idea of using wordscapes while looking through a dog eared copy of 'Thinking Through Geography' - but I know the use of it predates that book as well.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Purple Pens of Progress

What is it?:
A way for pupils to improve their work and overtly show PROGRESS before/during/after a lesson. 
How's it work?: 
1.  Get at least 16 purple pens (KCS sells multi-coloured pens in plastic candy jars which include purple pens as well as orange, green, teal, pink, red and black, or individual, cheap purple pens can be found at Wilkinsons).
2.  Provide time within the lesson for pupils to respond to feedback.
3.  Explain to pupils how purple pens of progress work - they must respond to any marking comment made by the teacher or by a peer to show their understanding of how to improve their work.  Then, pupils must make the improvement(s) suggested using the purple pens to show a difference between their previous work and the improvement

What does this look like in a real lesson?:
This worked a treat when helping year 8s understand how to describe and explain survey results on peoples' perceptions of India. 
The focus of the lesson was to take the data presentation of survey results pupils created in a previous lesson and try to analyse what their results meant for how people viewed India in the UK.  In Geography our experience has been pupils struggle to extend beyond the descriptive when looking at data, so the entire lesson was devoted to drafting and improving their analysis. 
I modelled describing and explaining and then I set pupils off to describe and explain what their results meant in 10 minutes.  Then pupils passed their analysis to a peer who had a green pen and a pink pen for feedback (green for what they did well in their analysis and pink for what they could improve on and any spelling or grammar mistakes their peer marker could find).  Pupils had 7 minutes to read their partner's work and provide peer feedback (feedback techniques were modelled before pupils attempted this technique, to ensure the feedback was accurate and constructive).  Pupils then received back their draft analysis with peer comments, which they had to respond to using the purple pen - responses from the year 8s were mostly very good, examples included: 'Thanks for your feedback, I'll try harder to use better grammar next time' to 'I thought I was explaining clearly, but now I know I have to look back over my work to see where I went wrong.'  One pupil, without prompting, went back and extended one of his paragraphs of analysis, acting on his feedback that he needed to provide more reasons to back up his explanation.  Pupils then reflected on what the results overall meant for our key enquiry question 'How do people in the UK view India today?'  When I took their books in for marking I was so impressed with the results - their analysis was far better than what I expected based on experience with the previous year 8 cohort.
Where did this come from?:
I found this idea while checking out the following website -  Have a look to see how much further this idea on showing pupil progress can be taken.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Speed Dating

What is it?

A revision technique or way of getting pupils to teach each other about a new concept/theory.

How does it work?

Step 1:  Provide pupils with a number as they walk into the lesson - for the more courageous, ham it up and act like the most enthusiastic speed dating host/hostess that has ever existed.  Pupil numbers will correspond with a seat in the classroom, which has on it a sticky label with the name of a concept, case study, key term you want pupils to know.  Pupils must wear these labels during the lesson and 'become' that idea/key term/concept/theory.

Step 2:  Provide pupils with 10 minutes to become the expert on their sticky label - you could provide them with specific things they must know about it or you could leave this open to interpretation to create challenge.  Around the room you could create knowledge bars where pupils can pick up information about their sticky label - for year 11 revision I provided textbooks, computers, revision booklets and revision print offs - pupils needed to find the information for themselves from the knowledge bar.

You may want to use music to set the 'mood' - I have seen some teachers throw Lionel Richie on, however I've found using the following from classroom tools works just as well:

Step 3: The speed date - have the classroom set up in either a horse shoe or circle shape (this allows for the flow of pupils around the room in an organised manner).  Have the outer part of the horse shoe or circle move around in a clockwise direction, meeting and greeting other pupils and taking notes on
what their 'date' has to tell them.  This can again be open, with pupils choosing the information from their dates they think is most important, or can be more prescriptive with a graphic organiser provided for pupils to fill in when they meet their dates.

Timings - I've found 2 minutes with each date provides a sense of urgency and keeps pupils on their toes, however if covering a more indepth concept, it might be best to give pupils 3-5 minutes with each other.

Step 4: Reflect and re-meet - Pupils now need to be given a reflection card covering
1) Who did I meet that I really got along with (the key concept they are now very confident in their understanding)? 
2)  Who would I like to spend more time with (the key concept they feel they need to revisit to gain further understanding)? 
3) Who did I not get along with at all and why (the key concept they still don't understand and find difficult to explain)?

Pupils then take their cards to those three dates and meet back up to discuss further.  Timings here can be more flexible to meet the needs of pupils to gain confidence.

Step 5:  Group date - Pupils will now need to either be given an exam question including the information they have learnt or will need to create something from their learning - you could have pupils group themselves according to what information is linked together and create a product based on their group understanding.

Possible adaptations???
  • Pupils choose their topic, rather than having that assigned, based on their confidence levels.
  • Pupils provide peer feedback on their dates and set targets for learning (an 'it's not me, it's you' moment)