Does Blogging Empower Teachers?

cazzypotsblog

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Late in 2012, I decided I’d start writing a local history blog. Although, having been an English teacher for the last 19 years, this possibly wasn’t the most logical choice. I did write one history post, but it wasn’t long before I realised that I had far more to say about issues that were happening In the world of education.

In order to provide myself with a bit of anonymity, I removed my real name from my Twitter account and drafted an article about the GCSE exam boundaries. The article was published in an online political magazine, and I was delighted.

Over the next few months, I had several articles published online. However, because they were featured in a general politics mag, the audience for these was sometimes very small. So in July last year, I decided to set up my own blog site. Thanks to the support of several…

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Some Ofsted comments from reports – new things to look out for?

missdcoxblog

Check uniform

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The school was given ‘good’. Data not everything?

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Speaking ‘ad hoc’ to parents. Wouldn’t be as accessible in secondary?

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Adult behaviour was watched. Does this define British values as listening, communication and respect?

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Check uniform standards again

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Don’t celebrate inappropriately

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Don’t tell children their answers are ‘brilliant’ when they’re not!

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Make sure classrooms are ‘attractive’ and ‘clutter free’

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And organised

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Ensure broad and balanced curriculum

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Ensure behaviour is ‘superb’

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And finally don’t shock your staff!

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The #CultureBox Experience – The story so far…

I had been scrolling idly through my Twitter timeline one evening and stumbled across a tweet from Amjad Ali (@ASTsupportAAli) using the #culturebox with a link which I duly followed as it had perked my curiosity.

The link led me here:  http://cheneyagilitytoolkit.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/culturebox.html

(or somewhere close!)

An opportunity to link with another school somewhere in the world?

That sounded exciting and I signed myself up immediately!

Time passed and I eventually discovered that I was unlucky – the odd man out so to speak, the only teacher not to be paired up with another school (to be fair, my potential partner school had pulled out.) I was disappointed but happy to wait until the next opportunity…until I received a Tweet from Amjad, offering me a pairing with Brett Salakas (@MRsalakas), one of the top names in #aussieED, the massive Sunday morning twitter chat… I was delighted to accept!

Brett Salakas #aussieED

Brett Salakas
#aussieED

I honestly don’t think I could have been paired with anyone better.

It has already opened my eyes to new technologies. I had my first ever Google Hangout chat with Brett, and spend an hour laughing and chatting about our schools, jobs, different contexts, sharing information about our classes, teaching philosophies and more. Brett came across as an eminently likable and engaging character, who I not only shared a great deal in common with but we also look ever so slightly similar!

Perhaps the biggest lesson for Brett was what was to become our catchphrase “Don’t say Bloody!”

In Australia, an innocent word used by teachers, adults, pupils and children alike, in the UK a swear word, albeit a very mild one. That one gave us a giggle!

Speak No Evil! pixgood.com

Speak No Evil!
pixgood.com

We realised that the only disadvantage of our pairing was the timezone difference: 9-10 hours (depending on daylight savings). It was highly unlikely that the children in each school will ever get to meet each other. The UK school day starts at around 6pm for Australia and the Australian day starts at 11pm.

We decided that this shouldn’t stop us as we were too excited to get started and do some live broadcasts to each others schools. Especially Brett – he was literally buzzing with excitement and to be fair it was infectious. If the children couldn’t meet each other, they could certainly meet us!

I set my class a piece of homework: #CultureBox

This got them thinking about their own culture and that of another country – the children were as excited as we were.

I put a display in a shared area of school:

#CultureBox Display

#CultureBox Display

Hangout 1:

We set a date and time to have Brett link up to our school, but the time zones cursed us and unfortunately he missed the call.

He may or may not have been asleep! (Curses Time Zones!)

After a stream of apologetic DMs on Twitter, Brett was forgiven and we tried again a few days later this time at the start of our day.

Brett was fantastic!

We chatted for a bit and spoke of time zones, animals, Aboriginal history, British Colonization, Christmas tradition in Australia, as many children in my class thought the whole of Australia go to the beach!

#AussieEd Blog – Brett’s reflections on the 1st CultureBox meeting

It was a great experience for me and for them.

When it ended they wanted to know when we would be doing it again!

It wasn’t long.

Hangout 2:

My class had been learning about traditional tales and fables and other short stories, so we used another live link for Brett to share a ‘Dream Time’ story about Tiddalick the frog:

What a great experience – tales shared from another country, literally as far away from them as you can go without leaving the planet!

Even more exciting this time was that the Hangout was recorded live and streamed to YouTube – Brett felt his nerves let him down and he removed the video – he shouldn’t have.

#AussieED blog – Brett’s reflections on our 2nd CultureBox meeting

Hangout 3:

My turn followed a week or so later once the Aussie kids had returned to school.

It was my turn for a late night!

At 11pm Hangout went live into Brett’s classroom – delightful children – we had a great chat and a laugh too. The conversation and questions that came at me were almost identical in content to the questions my class had asked – if Culture Box teaches me nothing else it is that children are the same wherever you are!

WatsEd Live to Sydney

WatsEd Live to Sydney

It is not often I find myself without something to say, but I was genuinely lost for words when the link up started – such a cool thing to do. The children nursed me through and by the end we were mimicking each others accents and discussing farming, weather, food, hobbies, all sorts of stuff.

I with my ‘cultural’ cup of tea and digestive biscuit in hand!

We discovered:

a) The children didn’t know what a Badger was

b) The children didn’t know what a Yorkshire Pudding was (!)

and

c) I sound weird to them. (Fair enough – I sound weird to everyone!)

The chat ended with me being left with a challenge… share and traditional english poem, and discuss the features and why I chose it.

That’s going to be a tough one… but I am looking forward to it!

Oh, and the class told me they “had a bloody great time!”

I told them I had done too, and that if I said that to my own class I’d be in LOTS of trouble – they thought that was bizarre!

 

Now we are in discussions with our children to think what we can put into a parcel to send to Mr Salakas and his class that sums up ‘Being British’, their homework activity gave a few thoughts. It will be great to share a real life #CultureBox!

 

To those who dreamed the idea up Amjad and Maggie @madgiemgEDU – thank you. You have opened a window on the world to my class and hopefully a class in Australia.

You have linked me with a teacher who is an all round nice bloke and given the children I teach a chance to meet him too.

I can’t wait to keep the project moving!

UPDATED POST – Literacy Shed Conference – Lincolnshire

A Trip Too Far?

This is a great example of when an Educational Visit adds tangible and genuine value to the life experiences of children.
Well prepared and supported by informed and knowledgeable staff the children were able to move beyond their difficulties and experience a day that made their learning real and in context.
My feelings on this are very corporate – but as I have a vested interest in children’s experiences of learning outside school, I wanted to share this with as many people as possible.

cazzypotsblog

An English Trip to Shakespeare’s Birthplace

imageFor the last fourteen years I have taught English to secondary-aged pupils at a Pupil Referral Unit in the Midlands. Many of these students are vulnerable and complex, some are in care, and a large number have severe behavioural difficulties. All of this means that we must be especially cautious when choosing a location for school trip. Notwithstanding the risks, last summer I made the decision to take a KS3 group to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, in Stratford-upon-Avon.

This was as part of an English topic we were doing on the theme of ‘Performance’. We’d already studied The Globe Theatre, in context, and learned about some of its fascinating history. More importantly, perhaps, we’d looked at extracts from some of Shakespeare’s plays and also studied plot synopses and analysed a selection of quotes.

Now, I must confess that I was dreading this trip. As the…

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To plan or not to plan? Please RT as there are misconceptions.

Wise words.
Which I hope are headed by those that are either mistaken, or trying to over control and micro manage.

cherrylkd

I’m not an authority on education matters but I do try and keep myself up to date with the latest decisions affecting teachers. So when I see a misconception on twitter I generally choose to ignore it and move on. We’re all entitled to our own opinions and that’s fine by me. Just sometimes you see something that is blatantly wrong and shouldn’t be ignored. Some things are detrimental to the profession and some things are detrimental for our work life balance. 

It all started on Tuesday morning with a tweet from @Vickiteaches

‘How often do you hand your planning in? Anyone else do it on a weekly basis like me? This is before we have taught the lessons!’

I answered her by asking why she had to hand her plans in. Did her SLT not trust her? 

This simple statement from me unleashed a debate which lasted for two…

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Are you a Pit-Pony or a Show-Pony?

normsteachersblog.com

normsteachersblog.com

As I drove home from another meeting that ended at 6pm – I reflected during my long drive, on something that was said on the 1st day of term.

A colleague of mine, whom I respect greatly and who is a high quality teacher (avoiding the the grade there!), had been to visit a school which was graded ‘Outstanding’ by OfSted as part of her CPD.

She said how she was greeted by the HT, who quickly after told the visiting teachers – that her staff were not ‘Show Ponies’, but were ‘Pit Ponies’.

They were hard working staff who delivered everyday for their children.

My colleague felt that this was a great mindset and a proven methodology for success. I can see why, it sounds great but let’s consider this analogy in an Education context:

My school is RI and has it’s problems, we are a tough, hard working staff, who are committed to making the improvements that we need.

The Pit Pony:

Pit-pony

  • Works hard in unpleasant conditions
  • Beaten and mistreated
  • Undervalued
  • Need to be able to churn out performance/quality is less important
  • Failure results in punishment and possible abuse
  • Made to do more work than is healthy
  • Given just enough nourishment to survive
  • Little support/training
  • Works until facing a cruel death in the workplace
  • Little rest or chance to regain fitness

 

The Show Pony:

ShowPony

  • Protected
  • Supported
  • Given the best of everything
  • Under pressure to perform/expected to be the best
  • Held up as an example of the best of its kind
  • Failure results in care, attention and training
  • Trained to the highest most exacting standards
  • Coached, groomed and developed professionally
  • Given time to rest and recover/best of care

So,  based on this analogy, it is best to be a Pit Pony?

The pit pony is the model of success and excellence?

Pit ponies worked hard and did their best in the very worst of situations, day in, day out and this is something to be respected. But it isn’t sustainable.

A show pony can have a long, successful and healthy career – when that comes to an end they are invariably used to create more excellent show ponies.

The news that 90% of teachers have considered leaving the profession in the last 2 years do to excessive workload surely damns this idea.

I like working hard, I want to work hard but every week I am spending less and less time, NOT working. My family are seeing less and less of me and I am seeing less and less benefit. (1% pay rise? £1 a day extra?) Thank goodness I’m not in it for the money.

I find myself working longer hours, having more meetings, giving me increasingly less time to actually do the job!

Is all the work I am doing getting the best out of me?

Work hard and work smart, they say.

OK, but that’s Show Pony mentality.

A Pit Pony would work hard and then work harder.

I have my PPA and Leadership time (2 x 1/2 days a week) and I am both very grateful and lucky to have it, but it is full and there is always more to do!

Perhaps this is just a blog at the end of a long day. But I think I would really thrive given the chance to be a Show Pony for a change.

Which you you rather be?

Superhero Poetry Ideas

This will prove to be the single most niche blog post ever written.

But I have never been one to let that kind of thing stop me!


sploid.gizmodo.com

sploid.gizmodo.com

A shout out to the #geekteachsquad came out last night from:

A range of suggestions were made.

  • Adverb poems – starting each line with either the same or different adverbs
  • Simile poems
  • Tele-Stitch from @redgierob

I had never heard of that one – but gives a great opportunity for creative and challenging sentence/phrase writing.

 

Personally I went for Superhero Limericks:

My ideas (of which I am rather pleased as they were written very quickly) are here:

 

Hulk/Bruce Banner

The once was a Dr called Bruce,

Got zapped by Gamma “What the deuce?!?”

His muscles did swell,

He screamed ‘What the hell!?’

What’s worse he’s the colour of spruce!

 

Thor

There once was a Norse God called Thor,

He fought, what a terrible bore,

He could control lightning,

Which Loki found frightening,

Though his hammer he feared even more.

 

Iron Man/Tony Stark

There once was a rich bloke named Stark,

Who’d build weapons up for a lark,

His suits were all iron,

He could even fly ’em,

That eccentric rich fella Stark.

 

Wolverine

There once was a man named Wolverine,

He wore leather jacket and jean,

From his hands came sharp knives,

He had lived many lives,

James Howlett, the great Wolverine.

 

Superman

There once was a man called Kal-El,

He was from Krypton and Earth as well,

He was fast as a bullet,

A Freight Train? Could pull it!

Metropolis was where he did dwell.

 

What Superhero inspired poetry ideas have you or could you try with your class?

Key Instant Recall Facts for Mathematics (KIRFs)

Very grateful to Michael Tidd (@MichaelT1979) for this post.

I have used KIRFs in my school for just over a year – I will be adding my personal experience of their use and impact to this post very soon.

I think they are excellent!

Watch This Space!

Ramblings of a Teacher

I am a massive fan of drilling and practice for children who need to learn number facts. And the reality is that that’s all children. Whether it’s the earliest number bonds, or the prime numbers, the new curriculum is very clear that fluency in these areas underpins much of what else is done in mathematics – and it’s right to do so, in my opinion.

Key Instant Recall Facts (Y2 example) Key Instant Recall Facts (Y2 example)

I was, consequently, thrilled when the documents below were sent to me by Jo Harbour (@joharbour) of Mayfield Primary School. As a maths subject leader she has taken the time to set out a programme of teaching and learning to secure those essential number facts that runs from Year 1 through to Year 6. Beginning with the basic number bonds to 6, and developing to the knowledge of equivalent fractions and decimals by the end of KS2…

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Twitter EdChats – #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy Part 3(ii) The End?

This is it – the end of the line … The final part of Part 3 of the #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy. Like the last Harry Potter films, I had to spin out the last bit for maximum effect!

In #CupofTeaCPD1 I explained why I think teacher should be on Twitter.

In  #CupofTeaCPD2  I gave my Top 10 tips for starting out with Twitter.

In #CupofTeaCPD3i I looked at trying to collect Twitter EdChats. It was Pokemon-esque attempt – “Gotta Catch ’em All!”

In this blog #CupofTeaCPD3ii, you will find the list of edchats collected.

Thanks to all contributors:

@gazneedle

@MRsalakas

@mrkempnz

@educationbear

@gtchatmod

@goodman_ang

@WatsEd

@tim_jumpclarke

The Google form is still open at: #CupofTeaCPD3

Please feel free to add any further chats to the list.

I will then update this blog post.


 

Here is the list, hopefully there is something for everyone. Enjoy.

 

Chat: SLTChat

#Hashtag: #SLTchat

Moderator: @SLTChat

Based: UK

Date/Time: @TeacherToolkit

 

Chat: ukedchat

#Hashtag: #ukedchat

Moderator: @ukedchat

Based: UK

Date/Time:

 

Chat: AussieED

#Hashtag: #aussieED

Moderator: Rotational Host (@MRSalakas)

Based: Australia/New Zealand

Date/Time: Sunday 8:30pm AEST

 

Chat: Asia Ed Chat

#Hashtag: #asiaED

Moderator: Rotational Host

Based: Asia

Date/Time: Slow Chat – one question per day

 

Chat: What is School

#Hashtag: #whatisschool

Moderator: @mrkempnz & @candylandscaper

Based: Global Chat

Date/Time: Thursday 7pm EDT / Friday 9am AEST

 

Chat: PrimEdChat

#Hashtag: #primedchat

Moderator: @educationbear

Based: UK

Date/Time: Wednesday 8:00pm – 8:30pm

 

Chat: gtchat

#Hashtag: #gtchat

Moderator: @gtchatmod

Based: USA

Date/Time: Fridays 7/6 C (US)/Midnight UK and 3rd Sunday 4/3 C (US)/21.00 (UK)

 

Chat: New Teachers 2 Twitter

#Hashtag: #nt2t

Moderator: Rotational Host

Based: USA

Date/Time: Saturday 2pm

 

Chat: EduTweetOz

#Hashtag: #edutweetoz

Moderator: Rotational Host

Based: Australia/New Zealand

Date/Time: Slow Chat – one question per day

 

Chat: Primary Rocks

#Hashtag: #primaryrocks

Moderator: @redgierob / @gazneedle

Based: UK

Date/Time: Monday 7pm-8pm UK Time

time fo dat

 

Still trying to track down:

 

Chat: Headteacher Chat

#Hashtag:

Moderator:

Based:

Date/Time:

 

Chat: Behaviour Chat

#Hashtag:

Moderator:

Based:

Date/Time:

#CupofTeaCPD Reference Point

I place this here for your attention and viewing pleasure!

Nine teachers who tweet – alot.

Artwork by Gaz Needle

Artwork by Gaz Needle

Thanks Gaz – I think this is great.

We need a statistical update for this based on experience and specialism.

The “Geek Teacher Squad”

Here to help you with your needs!

Cup of Tea CPD

Extrinsic Rewards Feel EPIC! by @gazneedle

My Twitter friend and colleague @gazneedle got here first – but I want to add my thoughts on his post:

Friendly Neighbourhood Teacher – Extrinsic Rewards Feel EPIC!

#CupofTeaCPD

I created that phrase and if I am honest, I am really quite pleased with it! It pops up now as a known #hashtag when I type it in. I did that.

As I have said before, back in April I didn’t ‘get’ Twitter, what it was, what it did, how it worked, none of it.

Now here I am, in September, nominated by my peers on Twitter via @Ukedchat as one of the Top 100 UK educators on the Social Media platform. How bonkers is that?!

Now, I am a realist.

In the big picture, it doesn’t mean a lot, but to me it is a really special moment. People who I don’t know, think what I have to say is useful and they like it enough to say something about it. I didn’t even know there were nominations or I would have made some!

So, like Gaz, I saw the notification on my Twitter feed and saw some friends getting excited: @gazneedle, @redgierob, @grahamandre, @bryngoodman so I followed it back to this tweet:

https://twitter.com/gazneedle/status/508296924659974145

And there we all were sitting proudly on #Ukedchat Magazine’s pages.

You get a badge and everything!

I was quick to add it to my page, because I want to see it! I told my wife who smiled and said “Well done!” (She doesn’t do social media and thinks I am wasting time!)

I now have a badge, and a link and I feel incredibly proud.

I have just over 700 followers and think, like Gaz, if this is how a 36 year old man feels, about being told he can share a little gif file, how important is it that we reward the children we teach?

We all, as human beings, like to be made to feel special, valued or important. It is why headteachers walk into classrooms and make a positive comment – it makes us more productive people.

It isn’t about the big things, it’s the little comments that make them proud, send them home with a smile or make their parents realise that their little person has done something special – those things count.

I feel rather like the jolly geezer in my opening animation – I suspect that I might be overselling it, but I feel good and I want people to know that!

To whoever voted for me – thank you, that minute spent has made me a very happy tweeter.

Maybe there is something to this Twitter thing – I think it might just catch on!

Your Friendly Neighbourhood Teacher

Baby Smile Should I be this happy?

It took me until I was 18 and in university to realise that I had to ask if I didn’t know what someone was talking about so I have grown to not feel ashamed to ask ‘stupid’ questions or admit that I am ignorant on a topic.  This blog isn’t about the merits of extrinsic rewards in the classroom as I haven’t read in depth any research about it, but it’s about today’s experience.

As I was twittering with the telly on in the background, I saw that @ukedchat had published a list of the UK Ed Chat community’s favourite UK educational tweeters

I scoured the list for anyone I knew and was delighted to see @bryngoodman on there (it was alphabetical order) so I tweeted him that he was on there. I was genuinely pleased that a nice chap like Bryn, who freely shares…

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My 10 Book Challenge…

So, thanks to Bryn Goodman (@bryngoodman) I have been nominated to list 10 books that have meaning or significance to me.

Here goes (in no particular order):

10 Michael Rosen’s ‘Sad Book’

A more poignant and beautiful piece of writing about something so tragic I don’t think you’ll find. It is wonderful to behold.

 

The Terbulent Term of Tyke Tiler – Gene Kemp

I remember this from Primary School, the style is unusual, the plot is easy to identify with if you were at secondary school in the 70s and 80s. Tyke’s character is so well developed from the very beginning to very end.

 

The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

Quite a modern book, but the way the author combine literary and visual story telling is wonderful – just like watching a silent movie. It also led me the the work of Georges Melies in late 19th century cinema. Brilliant.

 

The Watertower – Gary Crew

The most suspenseful picture book you will ever read. Your questions never quite get answered!

 

La Gloire de mon père – Marcel Pagnol

5 Le Château de ma mère – Marcel Pagnol

The next two go together as Marcel Pagnol’s autobiographical tales of his childhood. The reason I include them is that they are books that I can proudly say I have read in french.

 

Reaper Man – Terry Pratchett

This was the 2nd book by Terry Pratchett I read. It was after this that I realised I was hooked. I have since read EVERY discworld title (except the most recent two) at least twice. #massivegeek

 

The BFG – Roald Dahl

In my opinion Dahl’s best book. Others argue. It doesn’t matter. Dahl gives a reader free range to use every silly voice you can create and if you don’t read the BFG with an outlandish West Country voice, you are doing it wrong!

 

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

I read this as a core text for GCSE english – it was terrifying and I loved it. So much so I haven’t watched Daniel Radcliffe’s film as I don’t want to be let down.

 

1 The Goalkeepers Revenge & Other Stories – Bill Naughton

One of those books that a boy read at Primary School. Spit Nolan and Sam Dalt felt like friends, I even tried to separate the change in my pocket using pieces of cotton wool. I never worked for me like it did for Spit!

 

10 Books, 10 memories, 10 moments to enjoy.

Those are my books: I nominate.

Karen Watson, Sally Watson, Steve Woodhouse @stevewoodhouse4, Elissa Vigus, Catherine Mason (@catatonic34), Stuart Spendlow (@Mr_SJS) Sorry no Penguin Pig in this list, Nigel Pantling, Jon Brown, Simon Dodge and Jonathan Fitzgerald

Any readers feel free to consider yourself nominated too!

Twitter EdChats – #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy Part 3(i)

Part 3 of my #CupofTeaCPD Trilogy – It has been long anticipated by some!

So here is Part 1 of Part 3!

In #CupofTeaCPD1 I explained why I think teacher should be on Twitter.

In  #CupofTeaCPD2  I gave my Top 10 tips for starting out with Twitter.

Part 3 is going to be about really taking the opportunity to get the best out of Twitter and creating genuine, personalised professional development.

Improving knowledge and understanding of the up to date issues of education nationally and internationally. Taking the opportunity to discuss with colleagues globally.

How to do this?

Twitter Chats

In Part 2 of the trilogy I made reference to Twitter Chats and how interesting and useful they can be.

#CupofTeaCPD Part 2

“4: Use #hashtags

There are so many #chats to join in with. These are 30-60 mins of VERY intense tweeting about specific topics.

  1. #ukedchat
  2. #edchat
  3. #education
  4. #behaviourchat
  5. #SLTchat
  6. #headteacherchat
  7. #MLTchat
  8. #aussieEd
  9. #usedchat
  10. #whatisschool

The list goes on.

Many of these have the discussion topics chosen by the users. These all have an appointed day and time, so if you are prepared, you are good to go.

When you tweet to start with, include these #hashtags in what you say, people who follow them will get to see what you say and may well follow you or reply.”

rocketpost.com

The education chat on twitter provide contributors an opportunity to share ideas and practice with other educators. Contributors include teachers, leaders, inspectors and consultants – all offering answers to the proposed questions/themes. It is fast paced, hectic and tough to follow at times! Definitley a need for a Twitter Client like HootSuite or TweetDeck (@gazneedle).

I have been involved in several chats but more often I miss them as I don’t actually know when they happen, or I am too late and am out of the flow and find it hard to jump in as it can be tricky to find the initial questions.

There is a clear schedule – #aussieED and #whatisschool, which usually trend globally, are on a Sunday. (I think!)

But there are lots that can be checked out. Individual states in USA have their own and they welcome overseas teachers to jump in and contribute. There are several in the UK too.

So, my project for the next couple of weeks is to try and find out what happens when and who is in control!

I will then use this to catalogue a timetable of @Twitter #edchats and post it here.

This will hopefully be a useful resource that can be added to and amended over time.

Please fill in the Google Form below if you know of a #chat and add it to the list.

I have given the ‘option’ to rate the chat – don’t feel that you have to.

It might be a way to help people prioritise the chats they want to get involved with.

Thanks everyone!

How to ensure impact with blogging! By @ICT_MrP

I know that I have done this a few times, but not only do I want this blog to be useful to other others, but I also want it to be useful to me.

If that means collecting together interesting, useful and/or thought provoking ideas then that’s precisely what will do.

Over time there will be a balance between shared and original materials.

This post was shared on 31-8-14 on Twitter by Lee Parkinson (@ICT_MrP) from his blog:

http://mrparkinsonict.blogspot.co.uk

I liked the ideas in the post and wanted to put it somewhere that I wouldn’t lose it!

This seemed a sensible place!

Thanks to Lee for the idea – Something that I can store away and introduce later this term.

@ICT_MrP has a fantastic range of resources for innovative and creative ways to use tech in the classroom.

Hope you like it – and please visit the original post.


How to ensure impact with blogging!

The idea behind children blogging is simple – give them a platform to write for a real audience and this provides a purpose to write. When children have a purpose, it impacts on the quality of writing.The most difficult part for teachers trying to encourage children to blog, is to create an audience for children to write for. There are a few websites teachers can sign up for an use to really help build an online audience:

100 Word Challenge –  Simply an amazing way to promote and showcase children’s writing. Each week a prompt is given which the children need to write a blog post of 100 words about. The post is then linked from your blog to the 100wc.net website where it can be seen by the thousands of schools, teachers and children that visit the site each week. A group of willing volunteers have the busy job of trying to comment on as many posts as possible. As the site now gets around 1000 entries a week they are crying out for people to help comment on children’s work. I think a lot of Secondary school teachers should encourage their students to comment as it is a great way to really promote themselves as responsible digital citizens. As a class we sometimes will do the 100 word challenge as a lesson, look at children’s examples from around the world before having a go at writing their own.

Quadblogging – Created by David Mitchell, this termly project groups your blog with another 3 schools from around the world to create your quad. The idea is to then have a focus school for that week with the other schools visiting and commenting on work on the site. A really great way to ensure children’s writing is seen and commented on and also teach children responsible use of the internet.

Lend me your Literacy – If you are not blogging but want a way to have your work seen and commented on, Lend me your Literacy can provide that service. They will come and deliver a day with a class, publish all their work on their site and promote it so it receives comments from people all around the world. Within the package they will also publish other examples of work throughout the year to continue to inspire children to produce quality work.

Using these three tools will definitely build an audience and light up the globe on your blog. However they can’t guarantee that every post that the children write will have feedback and be equally valued. It is comments from people outside of the classroom that has the biggest impact on children’s work. Therefore creating a way to guarantee comments will create an encouraging environment throughout the school.

This idea originally came to me from Mr Osler and Miss Gardner who had the idea of recruiting a group of parents to ensure every child’s work is commented on. I thought this was a great idea however for maximum impact, I didn’t want the children to suspect it was parents commenting, instead other special visitors who were ‘experts’ at writing. And so the “Guardians of Grammar,” was created.

The real identities of the GoG will remain anonymous, they are only known as their literacy superhero alter egos. Their mission, to leave no posts on the Davyhulme Primary Blogs without constructive and useful feedback.

How we set it up – A simple Google Form was set up for parents to sign up with an email. I then created log ins for each parent so they can comment under their new superhero identity.

Thanks to twitter I was able to acquire a number of superhero names that can be used (thanks to Bryn Goodman@JwjmcdonCeltic Hippie, @RedgieRob,  @AlanPeat and @InspiredMinds for all their suggestions) here are some you could use:

  • Razor-Clause.
  • Adverbigirl.
  • Capit-Al.
  • Admiral Adjective.
  • Professor XYZ
  • The Red Margin.
  • Inverted Commander
  • The Vocabularmy.
  • The Determinator!
  • The Ellipsis of Evil
  • The Credible Hulk
  • Wonder WhatHappens aka Paige Turner.
  • Night-Vowel.
  • Diction Harry.
  • The Forward Slasher.
  • Grapheme Girl,
  • Dr Digraph,
  • Captain Complex,
  • The Modal Master
  • Comma Bomber.
  • Director Speech
  • The Fiction Phantom,
  • SpagMan.
  • Doctor DotDotDot aka Eric Ellipsis.
  • Optimus Time Connective.
  • CinderSpeller
  • The Ascender,
  • Colonel Colon,
  • The Guardian of Grammar,
  • Metaphor the Merciless
  • Agents of Alliteration,
  • Aunti Nim,
  • Meta4,
  • Ben Pen.
  • Captain Noun-sense.
  • Verbot.
  • The Full Stopper
  • Subordinate Mariner
  • The Dark Determiner
  • Dash
  • Subordinator,
  • The Comma-dore,
  • Super-lative.
  • The Eraser.
  • Alliteration Boy
  • Preposition Man
  • The Comma Chameleon
  • The Magnificent Metaphor Man
  • The Terrific Tenses Woman
  • Kid Flashback
To make this even better I sent all the superheroes this link for them to create their own SuperHero Avatar – Click Here.
It was important to inform the children about these superheroes who were now visiting our blog. Where were they from? Who are they? Why were they visiting our blog? These questions filled the children with excitement to get writing. When it was revealed that these superheroes find excellent pieces of writing to reward and comment on. This has filled the children with enthusiasm to have their writing seen and commented on by real superheroes!
As for building connections with parents and involving them in children’s learning this has been a great tool to use. By all means try it! But make sure that the parents can be trustworthy enough to keep the GoG a secret!

Life without Ofsted

A friend of mine (catatonic34) and also a friend of the author of this post directed me to this and I thought that it needed sharing.

So here it is!

This post, in it’s entirety, is taken from:

susanwalter7942.apps-1and1.net/life-without-ofsted/

Susan is currently Deputy Head of Primary at Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She believes passionately in education; making learning relevant, challenging and exciting for all learners, children and adults alike.

Enjoy


Life Without OfSted

The one thing I’ve not missed whilst being out of England this year, has been the constant cloud of Ofsted.
The constant cloud of Ofsted.

It’s not been there.

 

I’ve been working under a clear, sunny, Malaysian sky, and I love it.

I’ve not been able to move from under the cloud completely though as many of my friends, both teachers and parents, in England have still been in its shadow.

This blog therefore is for all those teachers and parents who, like me, just know there has to be a better way.Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 8.29.18 AM

When I was an exchange student in Kansas, I came across the character called Pigpen from Schulz’ Charlie Brown cartoon. Pigpen was a rather down-trodden, weary character who was always followed by a cloud. Kansans particularly related to him due to the unpredictability and harshness of their weather which meant they, like him, often felt they had a constant cloud companion.

As a teacher in London,  I often thought of Pigpen when Ofsted was mentioned in meetings; the metaphorical clouds would appear above everyone’s heads and block out the sun. You get the picture? Now hold it as I describe what I feel the impact of the constant cloud of Ofsted is:

1. Everything becomes subordinated to the Ofsted report

Everything.

If a school doesn’t get a good report everybody loses. Everybody is tainted. School leaders, teachers, students, parents. Everybody. De facto.

The stress this puts on schools adversely affects everything, as school leaders and staff prioritise time and other scarce resources to Ofsted preparedness in the knowledge that this is the metric by which they will be judged should an inspection occur. As inspection dates become more imminent, notices containing key facts and reminders start to appear in staff toilets and above the sink in the staff room. These messages are reiterated in parent news letters and notices with the uncomfortable feeling of ‘you should already know this‘ about them. Individual students suddenly move from being children with their own specific needs and uniquenesses to being 2% in attainment data. And if that ’2%’ is a level 3 in Year 6 then they are all of a sudden not doing well enough. Let’s do more booster maths, more booster writing, more spelling and grammar practice – and of course do less of everything else that might just motivate that child to come to school more ready to learn, or that rewards the exceptional progress they have made since joining the school in Year 4 with no English at all!

The constant cloud is moving closer…

 

2. An excuse culture is created and re-enforced

Do as I say – not as I do.

This must be the one phrase or type of behaviour guaranteed to most quickly destroy adult authenticity, and with it trust, in the eyes of students.

Therefore, when students see schools seemingly prostituting their ethics and standards as they prepare for and pander to criteria they don’t necessarily believe, it’s not surprising they ignore the rhetoric and decide they can pick and choose too. I know that sounds really harsh, but it is true. If children are reminded what to say and how to say it when an inspector comes to visit, then what is that telling our brilliant young creative thinkers and independent inquirers?  These qualities are great everyday in the classroom, but the message has gone out loud and clear that when it really matters, repeating the party line is actually more important.

I am beginning to feel more and more like Pigpen…

Life’s not fair

OK it’s a fact, but we all know how much time and energy we all spend coaching, comforting and cajoling students to arm them with the tools to overcome the fact that life is not fair and not use it as an excuse. Ofsted reports are in danger of actually institutionalising the excuse though as we see some schools with strong cohorts achieving expected attainment levels with satisfactory progress outperform those with weaker cohorts whose students soar but have not yet quite made the attainment grade seen as ‘average’ by the time they are eleven. Let’s not even start the argument about the additional support given everyday by school staff to children from poorer backgrounds and more challenging circumstances just to get the children to a point where they are at least ready to learn.

 

3. The collapse of common sense

One of the most frequent comments teachers make about the joy of working with their students is their unbridled, untainted, uncompromising, honesty and enthusiasm. They tell it like it is. When they get it they get it. And they do get it! They realise early that when Ofsted come to visit a game is being played and that they have a role to play in that game.

Some know that they might get two unexpected days at home to help with their ‘behaviour choices’, others need to remember what their brand new maths target is and that if they say the right thing to the visitors, they will probably get an easy merit. They get that their unique, inspired, and individual opinions and ideas are not trusted. Not to be shared. They get it. Our kids are smart.

Tragically, I know of a school who won a days visit by Frank Lampard, Chelsea hero to some and England hero to many more – an inspiring role model to most primary aged boys and girls. Anyway, the day that he was available to visit the school, there was already a trip planned to the local park so they turned Frankie down. They turned him down because the school trip had more academic value than a kick about with one of the top England players at the time. Come on! Common sense is being squeezed out here. I can’t say that was because of Ofsted, as I am sure that any inspector worth their salt would see the value in such an opportunity, however in the school’s panic about results and attainment levels, a football day did not fit into their plan.

 

SO HOW HAS IT BEEN DIFFERENT WITHOUT THE CLOUD?

I like to ask questions. I ask lots of them. The biggest difference I have experienced in my new life without Ofsted is the answer to most of these questions.

‘We do this because we believe it is best for our students!’

It is as simple as that.

No cloud. Just an intrinsic motivation to do the right thing by our children.

It means that we have the freedom to look at exactly what we want our students to achieve, and decide on how best to support them in that achievement. I was, and still am, so excited about this that I did not immediately factor in however, the immense responsibility that comes with that freedom.  There is no government intervention.  Just us.  Brilliantly liberating but actually quite a challenge to ensure we really do get things right.

Without the extrinsic model imposed by the ever changing Ofsted framework, we can actually focus everything on what we believe is best for our students. No sudden additions, changes or u-turns, but a school defined purpose and clear direction.

Lucky you I hear you shout.  Well yes!

A year ago, I might have just been talking about the exciting opportunities to choose what to teach and how to teach it; the benefits of having specialist music, art, PE, MFL, Learning Support and EAL teachers; the opportunity to continue to develop our own unique curriculum which is relevant to our international cohort. All pretty reasonable I think.

Today I still believe all those things are hugely important but there is a catch.

When a concerned parent comes to me and asks me how I know that our curriculum is going to equip their child with the skills, knowledge and understanding they will need for the future I relish the opportunity to highlight all the unique opportunities we offer our students. I talk about the curriculum content and our approach to holistic education, and then move on to the detail of their child’s individual progress and well being.

A year ago I believed that this would be enough but sadly it is not.

I am now beginning to understand the immense responsibility that comes with our freedom from Ofsted.

Much as I am respected in my professional capacity, I am after all, only one teacher who thinks they know what they are doing. Many of our parents want much more than this. And as a parent, I actually understand that.

So, without the dictat of the UK government, league tables and the ongoing ‘validation’ of Ofsted, we seemingly have little to go on at the Primary level here.

Except that we do.

 

1. Responsibility not subordination

We take full responsibility for the choices we make at our school.

We choose to teach the National Curriculum of England and Wales in the most part, not because we are told to, but because the content for the core subjects is good and we believe it is the best for our students.

We choose to use externally validated tests to measure student’s potential and actual attainment. I can’t believe that after never being a fan of SATS testing, I am now saying that we need these tests. But we do. We use them to support our teacher assessments and demonstrate that we are setting appropriate challenge and supporting progress for all of our students.

We choose to publish our academic results on the school web site too. There are no league tables published but our parents have a way of working that out for themselves when they want to.

We choose to do these things, not because we have to, but because we believe that external, trustworthy benchmarks are important, and because they give parents the validation they need.

 

2. Ensuring common sense becomes common practice

We might not have Ofsted, but competition and common sense dictates that we ask for external feedback and find ourselves a critical friend to ensure that we are on track and remain focussed on our key purpose which is: ‘To educate the youth of the world to take their productive place as leaders in the global community.’ A big ask and again, a reminder of the responsibility we have taken on.

We choose to be accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) to both endorse and insure the quality of education we provide, and to support our ongoing school improvement planning process.

We also recognise that going it alone is not always the best choice, so value our collaborations with many other schools in the area. We choose to affiliate ourselves with:  Association of International Malaysian Schools (AIMS), East Asia Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS) and Federation of British International Schools in South East Asia (FOBISSEA) to give our students and teachers the opportunity to engage with, learn from, compare and compete with others from similar schools.

External validation and engagement, however, is not enough to instil common sense and reward those who use it. That can only come from our students, teachers and parents. They can’t do it by themselves though, so we support them with constantly reviewed systems and support mechanisms.

For example, teachers are setting next steps targets for their students, assessing learning and monitoring children’s progress and attainment every day in our classrooms and we get to share that with parents during only three parent evenings and an end of year report.  We are about to introduce a new reporting procedure which will proactively share this information with parents every half term, with the next stage formally bringing the students into this process too. This type of ongoing review and change to internal school systems will ensure we continue to make common sense common practice.

 

3. No excuses

There are none.

Do as I do.

That is what we say to our brilliant young creative thinkers and independent inquirers, and as teachers, we have to ensure that we model these qualities everyday in our classrooms and around the school. It is not always easy, but our message has to be that the development of the key learner skills every day really does matter, and that means we have to take risks in our teaching and give the children constant opportunities to share their ideas and thoughts freely and without judgement.

So, there are no excuses. We can’t blame Ofsted. We have the freedom to choose and we need to take on the responsibility that brings with it.

 

So my Malaysian skies are Ofsted clear, but I fully recognise that we have ourselves put in place many of the external validators that Ofsted bring in the UK,  but there is a difference.

Our motivation is always ‘What is best for our students now?’  ‘How can we improve now?’

Not ‘When is our next Ofsted due?’

It is not always easy, but there is no cloud.

The ‘Crazy Professor’ Reading Game

I leave this here for you to look at and consider.

I wonder what you think…

I was part of a Twitter chat recently that was looking at way to teach/encourage reading.

Several ideas came up:

  • Extreme Reading,
  • Read Around the World,
  • Reading Races and so on.

It reminded me of this:

I first came across the Crazy Professor Reading Game (Chris Biffle), when I was trying out some Power Teaching ideas in 2008-09.

If you haven’t come across Power Teaching it is a Elementary School teaching style from America relies heavily on Learning Styles.

(Please don’t hit me! **Ducking for cover**)

preparingyourfamily.com

preparingyourfamily.com

Look up Chris Biffle and Chris Rekstad.

I tried it out a few times and did have some success with it. Children certainly enjoyed it and they did want to play.

I was thinking about giving it another go.

I am not sure I would use the format used by Rekstad in the video, but I would go along with the core principles.


The 4 Stages of the Crazy Professor Game

STAGE 1:

Read your text using as much expression as is possible

STAGE 2:

Read again using lots of expression and physical gesture

STAGE 3:

Teach Your Neighbour – Summarise your reading to your partner, show you understand what you have read.

STAGE 4:

Crazy Professor vs Eager Student: The ‘professor’ gives an excitable summary, being expressive and asking the ‘student’ questions. Meanwhile, the ‘student’ listens attentively, answers the questions and encourages the ‘professor’ to give more and more  feedback.

hpotterclass.wikia.com

hpotterclass.wikia.com


Pros:

I can see how this might aid children’s comprehension skills

I can see how the use of expression and gesture might encourage enjoyment

I can see how the paired feedback and questioning would support mutual understanding of the text

I can see how this might be one way of teaching a whole class reading session.

It allows for differentiation of text to higher and lower levels

It would allow the teacher to join in and work with whichever group of children were the focus for that session.

It  would quickly show those children who might need help, or are being passive.

Cons:

How sustainable would playing the game be?

Could it lead to genuine and significant progress in children’s reading?

Would this just lead to children shouting out stories?

One to try in the new term perhaps.

Could be great for reading comics, including speech which might then lead to drama and performance.

I really would like your thoughts to be added to the comments section:

Pros and Cons of the Crazy Professor Game.

If it was that awesome wouldn’t we all be doing it?

Another Review Game – “Beachball Baffler”

Again, this is not originally my idea but I have adapted it from an email I received years ago from Classroom Power.

It’s a fun one and I thought I would share!


In addition to Memory Football, I suggest you try Beach Ball Baffler as a reward that children work for.

All you’ll need is a beach ball or Balloon (Balloon Baffler).

Here’s how to play:

  1. Throw the ball toward the class. One (or more people) bounce it into the air.
  2. While the ball is in the air, ask a short question, “What is 4 times 4?”, or “What is the capital of Brazil?” … any question you wish (It can be helpful to have a list in front of you so you don’t have to think them up)
  3. The class must answer the question in chorus before the ball comes down.
  4. Then the ball is batted into the air again by the next person … you ask another question … and so forth.
  5. The goal is to see how many times the ball can be batted into the air before either the ball hits the ground or a fair number of the class aren’t answering or are giving a wrong answer.
trainingtobealifecoach.com

trainingtobealifecoach.com

To increase the tension:

The class only gets three tries (their goal is to break their previous best class record)

Increase the difficulty and interest in the game by posing harder questions

Wait until the ball is drifting down before posing a question (and thus your students have a shorter time to answer)

Have half the class volley the ball to the other half of the class, etc.

Introduce the idea of levels and keep making the game harder and harder.

Beach Ball Baffler could last for months!

One final note:

If anyone complains about anything, your score keeping, a classmate’s failure to hit the ball, anything … it automatically reduces the number of hits earned.

So, for example, the class kept the ball in the air for 10 hits … but Rick complained about Dale’s miss-hit, Carl said that Maggie never answers a question and Carole complained that the ref, you, weren’t throwing the ball properly… those three complaints reduce the score to 7 …”

live4liverpool.com

live4liverpool.com

This one can be a lot of fun.

It can be use effectively in nearly any subject area, with any age group and can be a great way to reinforce learning, vocabulary or key points of a lesson.

For additional change ups you might substitute a large balloon if you are in a smaller or younger classroom

Make sure you have spares for either a balloon or a beach ball!

gifsoup.com

gifsoup.com


 

This is a really quick simple game that makes for a good plenary activity, mini-plenary to re-invigorate if needed, or for a maths starter game. Practicing multiplication tables… you can come up with many uses I am sure!

It is so easy that children could run it themselves, or even as a small group task with a balloon.

So, there you are ‘Beach Ball Baffler’.

Have fun

There are lots of crossover rules with Memory Football too.

Adapt it and make it fit your own purpose!

 

Knock Knock! Who’s There? Reality! – Preparing to be an NQT.

Have I got your attention?

It has been a while seen I was an NQT, but I have worked with a few and mentored several successfully along the way.

I still feel like this as I get ready to start a new year, I always will. I think if I ever stop feeling like this then it is time for me to consider my options! It should be a time of nervous excitement. You are keen to impress (aren’t we all?!). You don’t want to mess it up. Don’t worry you’ll do something daft early on! Just ask around the staff room – if anyone says they never did anything they look back on with their palm firmly on their face, is a liar – keep your eye on them! (I’m kidding – that’s probably just the ambitious DHT!)

There are lots of blogs out there now about how an NQT should get ready for the start of their first term in teaching – and lots say the same kind of things, some are painfully obvious and if you needed to be reading a blog about then perhaps it is a bit late.

So, you’ve done your training, through whatever programme. You have a certificate and a photo of yourself in a funny hat! I have one too!

Me & Mum June 2000

Me & Mum June 2000

Now you’ve got it – what are you going to do with it?

I am going to throw together 10 things that I would recommend. It isn’t perfect. I haven’t spent hours thinking it through. It is just my thoughts on some things you might be well advised to consider. But you already have haven’t you!

There are wiser people than me who will, without doubt, add to or change this list and they might well be right, but this one is mine and I stand by it. If you want to argue, then please argue nice! I might end up agreeing with you!

Here we go…

10. Displays 

Plan it out on paper or in your head.

What do you want?

Where do you want it?

Where will it be seen?

What do they need?

Can it be accessed?

And other such important questions.

Is it interesting? Will they like it? are good ones too!

Make sure things which you display are clear, purposeful and useful.

I have to be honest here. I really don’t like a ‘SparkleBox’ or ‘Twinkl’ classroom!

Those resources have their place but please, they are not a panacea – just because they have it, doesn’t mean you have to have it on the walls and windows!

Don’t be afraid to be a little bespoke – make some things yourself and if you do use commercial printed resources – please trim the logo off. It’s a classroom not an advertising hoarding!

Remember to celebrate learning as well as support learning. I was once part of a meeting in a school which was having some issues with their results, we were all discussing how to develop the environment for learning and it was very late on before someone (me) asked whether we should celebrate children’s success. It was deemed really important, so I asked why it hadn’t been mentioned?

I like ideas like this:

thoughtfullysimple.blogspot.com

thoughtfullysimple.blogspot.com

Just keep it fluid – always adding more, it builds a portfolio of things a child should be proud of. (Helpful at parents’ meetings too!)

Another idea I am considering trying out is a graffiti wall.

Cheap wallpaper and children can record thoughts, questions, ideas, images suggestions – anything they like. It just needs to be purposeful, even if it only is to them.

adventuresofroom129.blogspot.com

adventuresofroom129.blogspot.com

9. Use of Space and Seating

There is no hard and fast rule about how to arrange the furniture.

All the methods of arrange tables have their pros and cons. Groups, Rows, Horseshoes, Single Islands or a flexible approach where you move them around for different purposes and different lessons.

I apologise for stating the obvious, but ensure that whatever you have there is room for the children to move and that there is room for you to get to them. If you are zoning your room, then make it clear to children by how you use labeling, resource placement and space. Have you got an area for reading? Maths? A puzzle or independent extension?

Open space is also important – Y6 children CAN sit on a carpet, they are still children, not grown ups.

Have yourself a seating plan.

Where do you want children to be? Tell them, show them and as time passes you can modify it to improve it.

If you are going to group children in lessons, have a plan for who sits where and when. If there is going to be more flexible grouping then again have a plan for how it will work. Doing it on an ad hoc basis will just create more work in the long run!

8. Labels – By hand, by computer or just Buy?

I assume that like most teachers, your class room will be labelled to within an inch of its life!

That’s fine – but how are you going to do it?

Will it be, or does it need to be multi-lingual? It is a good way to show everyday vocabulary.

Are you going to hand-write them? Is there a correct style and letter formation you should use?

(Although it is important that children see different fonts and forms over time of course!)

Are you going to type them? Is there an agreed font?

There is always the option to buy them pre-done! Check on eBay!

empoweredbythem.blogspot.com

empoweredbythem.blogspot.com

7. Your Desk – Are you having one?

If you do, be sure that you don’t build a barrier.

It may seem obvious but I have still seen it done, indeed once upon a time I did it myself. Although this isn’t me, the teacher here has built walls to hide behind (whether they sit here is lessons or not, like a little bolthole), be open not defensive.

teacherweb.com

teacherweb.com

I think it is important to maintain a small space that is yours, even if quite quickly it disappears under piles of paper, sticky notes, marking, lists and other such things. You need a place to put your things. Children do, why shouldn’t you?

To the left hand side of  a focal point (IWB/Screen/TV etc.) is most common and seen as a position of control, the right hand side is seen as less formal. I read that somewhere, see @TomBennett71 I think. Mine is on the left of my IWB. What matters is that there is somewhere you can call ‘home’. If you choose not to have one, or your school has a policy where you don’t have desks for teachers. Consider where you will be putting things you need quicker than in a cupboard or a box.

6. Planning – Know what is expected of you – before you go nuts!

This one is a no brainer.

Are there agreed set formats everyone has to plan on?

If not, what exactly do you year leaders or SLT require in terms of planning?

It should be a pretty fluid document really, so how are you annotating and using this to move learning on?

(OK? Do you feel confident in egg sucking now? Good!)

Make sure you have the Long Term Overview – if you are being left to make it up for yourself, someone has missed a job! Especially in these changing times!

Remember, you are planning for the children, not the Head – s/he isn’t in your class as a learner – but if they are – make sure they’d have a great learning experience!

starfishmoccasins.wordpress.com

starfishmoccasins.wordpress.com

5. Know the policies/Behaviour Management

I once worked with a ‘Policy Writing Policy’ – Yep, you read that right! We try not to speak of it and it was ‘unofficially official’.

There will be so many policies that it will be next to impossible to know all of them inside out, but you will need a working knowledge of all of them. So, start with the Key ones:

Behaviour Policy: See Point 2 below.

Teaching and Learning: How should things look? Planning expectations should be in here too.

Marking and Feedback: How much? How often? 3 Stars and a wish? Pupil reflection etc? What does marking look like in your school? It is important to get this right.

Internet/Web Access: What can you do and what can’t you? What can children do and what can’t they? Blogging, use of Social Media should all be in here, if they aren’t ask about it.

If you are getting these ones right, you’re probably on the right track!

silsschools.org

silsschools.org

4. The 3 Rs: “Roles, Responsibilities and  Routines”

@MrsPTEach puts this one really well here: Classroom Management – My tips for NQTs

She is absolutely right, that the early development of a clear routine will help you enormously. It will take some organizing to start, but will be well worth it in the end. No amount of repetition is too much if they get it right without you asking them!

And I quote:

“Routines – For certain parts of the day, having routines mean you don’t have to spend a lot of time dishing out instructions.  It takes a bit of time at the start of the year but it is worth it.  End every lesson the same – I choose for them to tidy, put books away and stand behind their chairs. This gives me an opportunity to extend any plenary activities and continue questioning those who are ready to go.  It makes it easy for children to leave as chairs are already tucked in.  It’s a small thing which makes life easier for me.  In the same way, they know what to do when they walk in the door in the morning … We have routines for lining up, collecting and handing in homework, using the laptops and handing out books and work.”

and

“Jobs – make them work harder than you. Give over time (5 minutes a day) for children to do jobs. Handing out letters, jumpers, writing tomorrow’s date on the board, sorting the timetable, tidying and locking the laptops, stacking chairs, tidying tables and picking things off the floor. That 5 minutes will save you 50+ minutes at the end of the day tidying, sorting and organising and will mean you can put your time into assessing and re-planning. If, throughout the year, you find yourself doing the same meaningless thing over and over, simply add it to the jobs list.”

I have been a little naughty in lifting this section, but if I didn’t there would the risk of being accused of stealing it, when I would just have written the same thing – there are more very good tips on classroom management on Jo’s blog: http://www.mrspteach.com/

stefaniesjourneyintoteaching.blogspot.com

stefaniesjourneyintoteaching.blogspot.com

3. Get connected – inc. Twitter/Blogging

You are reading this, that tells me that you have started.

To be honest, I have covered this before on this blog.

Why should Teachers be using Twitter? Cup of Tea CPD Part 1

How to get started with Twitter – Top 10 Tips Cup of Tea CPD Part 2

Finding the best teachers to follow on Twitter

Make sure though that you connect with your colleagues too – make sure that you talk to them and make the most of what they know. They have the inside track on the children you teach. You are all there to make things better for everyone, you can’t do it on your own and the rest of the staff can’t do it without you.

I once worked with a new teacher who tried to work in isolation. They didn’t really join in with the staff, despite encouragement and open doors, they found it hard. They weren’t interested in the advice that was being shared. They came round eventually, but it made everything a little uncomfortable for everyone.

2. Consistency

I was just in the process of writing this section on this post and this appeared on my Twitter feed from @LearningSpy (David Didau)

www.learningspy.co.uk – Back to School Part 1 – School Rules

While his approach is from a Secondary point of view and mine is Primary – I agree almost entirely with the message! David’s key points are: (Read his blog for expansion!)

                        1.  Know the school rules and stick to them.

                        2. Never let pupils sit where they want.

                        3. Use agreed consequences fairly and consistently.

                        4. Never let pupils work off punishments

                        5. Make 3 phone calls every day – talk about progress not behaviour

There are apps/websites such as Class Dojo, which can help. I will be trying it out this year.

However you intend to use and apply rules and expectations – BE CONSISTENT!

There will (hopefully) be a set of agreed and applied expectations, the children will know them (unless you are in YR perhaps). You need to know them, older children will expect you to know them and if they think you don’t, be sure they will try to change them and you will find it harder to get them back again.

The old adage is: ‘If you say it, mean it’.

If you are keeping someone in from break for 5 mins, then don’t do 10 (It is your break you’re wasting!).

Please don’t say: “I’ll let you off this time.”

queenbeeberta.blogspot.com

queenbeeberta.blogspot.com

1. Don’t be too prissy!

Relax.

Don’t be uptight!

Remember, children make a mess, just make sure that you make them responsible for tidying it up again.

Your classroom will look amazing at 0830, but by 1047 it might not be!

Don’t worry, it’s all good!

Children need to feel comfortable in their space to learn and that is why you put the effort in. The trays and books are labelled. The reading area is stocked with fun and interesting materials, perhaps some comics too!

You have put the time in and you’re ready.

Enjoy it.

Even though we all know what the pressures of teaching today are like – it is still the Best Job in the World!


 

Well, there you have it!

10 things to do, think about or reflect upon before you start.

As I always say:

“Is it perfect?” No.

“Is it without fault?” No.

“Am I an expert with professional research to prove any of this leads to success?” No.

I am a teacher and Senior Leader with 15 years of experience.

These things help me and have helped those I have shared with before.

By all means share and leave your comments, feedback, additional ideas in the comments section.


Additional (20-08-14):
It is fab and you can download it free here
or as a free eBook here

 

 

As the Premier League Starts! A Game for the Classroom – Memory Football!

Not originally my idea but I have adapted it from an email I received years ago from Classroom Power.

It’s great fun and as it is rather topical, seems a good time to share!

footballold.wikia.com

footballold.wikia.com


This game can be used at any level and you can use ‘Memory Football’ to recap any subject material.

Your class will love the game so much that you could even use it as a reward for good behaviour.

Purpose:

Like football, Memory Football is played between two teams.

The purpose of the game is to score goals.

Goals are scored by quickly answering questions posed by the referee.

 

Rules: There is only one rule in Memory Football. Keep The Referee Happy. You’re the Referee!

refarbiter.wordpress.com

refarbiter.wordpress.com

Equipment:

An IWB or Wipe Board, a marker and a set of short answer, often one word, review questions that you have created. You will be reading the questions from this list; arrange them in groups from easiest to hardest.

trainingtobealifecoach.com

trainingtobealifecoach.com

The Set Up:

Draw a horizontal line, near the bottom of your board. Mark off the line in 11 equidistant vertical marks. The horizontal line stands for a soccer field; each end of the line is the goal; the vertical marks divide the pitch into units.

Place a marker under the vertical mark in the middle of the field. The marker is the ball.

(This could easily be created in SMART or any presentation software.)

How To Play:

Divide the class into two teams.

(We’ll use boys against girls, but it could be right side of the class against left side, etc.)

Each team chooses the other team’s captain.

To start the game, the captains stand face to face at the front of the room. You pose one of your review questions and, just as in “Family Fortunes”, the captains slap their hands down on a desk as quickly as possible if they know the answer.

The captain who is quickest, gets the chance to answer.

If they are right, his/her team gets the ball. Otherwise, the opposing team’s captain gets the ball.

Assume the girls’ team wins control. Picking one player at a time, ask review questions to the girls’ team.

If the player’s answer is correct, loud, fast and with an energetic gesture, that counts as a “strong kick.” Advance the ball, the marker, almost a full hash mark down the pitch toward the boys’ goal.

If the answer is correct but too quiet or slow or doesn’t have an energetic gesture, then that is a “weak kick.” Advance the ball a short distance toward the boys’ goal. If the girls’ answer is wrong, shout “Possession Lost!” and now the boys’ team gets a chance to play.

If you like a rowdy classroom, encourage teams to cheer when the ball is going their direction and groan when it isn’t. Thus, every time the ball moves, you’ll have cheering and groaning.

simplytelevison.wordpress.com

simplytelevison.wordpress.com

Use the following to add excitement to Memory Football:

Tackle!

Whenever you, the Referee, want to reverse the direction of the game, shout “Tackle!” This means the other team has suddenly gotten control of the ball. Of course, you will shout “Tackle!” whenever you want to generate an intense amount of excitement … like when one team is very close to the goal and just about to score.

Foul!

Whenever one team or the other misbehaves in the slightest, complains about the ref’s call, anything, you shout “Foul!” As the Ref, you then have three choices. You can award control of the ball to the opposing team; you can move the ball up or down the field, penalizing one team or the other; or, most exciting, you can declare a Penalty Kick.

(Encourage teams to cheer or groan as appropriate.)

Penalty Kick!

Move the ball to the first mark in front of the opposition’s goal. The attacking team chooses a kicker, usually the team captain. The defending team chooses a goalie, usually the team captain. Goalie and kicker face off in front of the room, like the initial kickoff. You ask a question; the player who slaps a hand down first gets first try at the question. If the goalie is first and correct, the penalty kick is blocked. If the goalie is wrong, the penalty kick scores. If the captain is first and correct, the penalty kick scores. If the captain is first and wrong, the penalty kick is blocked.

If a goal is scored, the scoring team shouts “Gooooooaaaaalll!!!” like Andres Cantor, the famous Mexican announcer.

Free Kick!

Often in football, neither team is in control of the ball.

When you shout “Free Kick!”, anyone on either team can answer.

Fire questions at your students; when one side gets several questions in a row correct, point at them and say, “You won the Free Kick!”

Then start giving questions to individual players on the winning team.

Read The Ref’s Mind Free Kick!

For hilarious excitement, say, “I’m thinking of a key concept we covered. Free Kick! Read my mind!” Both teams shout answers at you, energetically covering enormous quantities of revision material … give them hints as you wish.

Award control of the ball to the team that reads your mind, or, failing that, that has the most attempts at reading your mind.

Your strategy:

You will use an enormous number of review questions in Memory Football; thus, it is important to have a list so you can keep the game moving along quickly.

You can use any question, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, national capitals, key concepts from science, names of characters in stories, anything.

Keep the ball moving up and down the field.

Make the game as exciting as you wish by shouting Tackle!, Penalty Kick!, Free Kick! or Read The Ref’s Mind Free Kick!.

 

Never let one team get more than one goal ahead of the other.

Give the weakest players easier questions; stronger players get harder questions. If you like award answers that are particularly good, or where a child does particularly well a “very strong kick.”

Play for only a minute or two every few days.

Make your class work hard to earn the right to play Memory Football.

If you use it infrequently and briefly, the game will be a tremendous motivator for positive in-class behaviour.

 

Think about that.

Your class is working as hard as possible to earn the right to revise what you have wanted them to learn!


It is a simple game, good for plenaries and intermediary times like lining up.

Easy to adapt and change around for different outcomes.

Hope it’s useful.