Become a Magpie!

By Sarah Hosegood

twitter image 2Following our Learning Lunch on getting to grips with technology, several staff decided to get signed in with a twitter account. When starting out in Twitter it is always good to have a few people to initially follow. Once you have followed them for a couple of weeks you can see who they follow and re-tweet and then start to branch out. The list below gives you some people who tweet general teaching and learning ideas which can be then adapted to lots of different subjects. It is also worth looking out for people who specialise in your subject.

@teachertoolkit – the most followed teacher in the UK. He also has a blog with lots of articles related to a wide range of teaching and learning www.teachertoolkit.me

@ASTSupportAAli – also look at his blog which has a lot of free teaching and learning ideas www.cheneyagilitytoolkit.blogspot.co.uk

@Tombrush1982 – a PE teacher who posts some good teaching and learning ideas which can be adapted to other subjects

@OTeaching – authors of the books Engaging Learning and Teaching Backwards. They also work in a lot of schools and post pictures of ideas they have seen

@Gemmaharvey73 – a Sandringham teacher who also has a blog with lots of teaching and learning ideas www.gemmaharvey73@blogspot.co.uk

@Wendy21brown – she attended our teachmeet and works in a variety of schools across the country. She posts lots of ideas she sees.

@hannahtyreman – is in charge of teaching and learning at Reading College

@ICTEvangelist – specialises in using technology and Google in the classroom

@rlj1981 – teaching and learning co-ordinator who also has an excellent website www.createinnovateexplore.com

@pedagoo – has an excellent website as well www.pedagoo.org and look out or the #pedagoofridays when hundreds of teachers share good ideas

@FullonLearning – a member of SLT at Clevedon School and in charge of the Clevedon Learning Hub

To search for these accounts use the magnifying icon on the top right when you click on ‘home’.

Reviewing a Test

By Helen Wilson

One type of lesson which necessarily has to take place, but which deep down, until recently, I would dread, is the “Here is the test/exam paper you recently sat, and your results” lesson. It seemed that no matter what I  tried, these lessons always seemed to go one of two ways – either I would spend a great deal of time talking at the front of the class, trying to highlight where mistakes had been made and what ideal solutions for questions would look like; or the lesson would result in me feeling dragged from pillar to post, as student after student wanted me to look through a particular question with them and discuss what they needed to do to improve their score. Invariably, there would always be a number of pupils who would use the lesson to check and double check and, yes often, triple check my allocation of marks and adding up, in the hope that they would find an extra mark and feel good because they had done so. This seemed to serve no sensible purpose at all, and I would leave the lessons wondering how I could make them actually look at the paper to find areas where they needed to practise their skills further, or even better, start coaching each other in how to improve their scores on the test.

Luckily, through my trusty twitter feed, I came across this fabulous article by @TheMathsMagpie which explained a great collaborative activity for reviewing exam papers, called Ask the Expert. I have used the activity 3 times now, and each time have been astonished by the amazing amount of intense activity generated – pupils genuinely trying to coach each other in how to improve their score in order to reach their target grade.

I’ll leave you to read the details of the activity yourself, @TheMathsMagpie explains it far better than I could, but I will just note a couple of changes I made to fit with my classes:photo

1. I did give pupils the grade boundaries and asked them to calculate how many marks they would need in order to reach their target grade – for those who were already there, they had to calculate how many more marks they would need to exceed their target.

2. I didn’t give pupils a long grid to complete, simply 3 pieces of post-it notes on which they had to write down their name and a question on which they achieved full marks.

3. They then had to use the chart created at the front of the room to find an expert to ask to help them get closer towards their target. I emphasised the need to coach each other – it should not be just one pupil teaching the other but a collaborative effort to increase the marks of all pupils in the class.

Although the system seems complicated on first reading, it really does run like a dream, even engaging the pupils usually most reluctant to work with their peers in seeking support.

I’ve thought a lot about why it works and I think there are a number of factors:

  • Everyone is an expert somewhere – and the fact that their name is up on the wall as such, encourages everyone to talk to others to share their knowledge;
  • It fits in with our whole school approach to Skills for Success (which Nat Moody spoke about at the November TeachMeet) and uses all the skills which pupils are becoming more and more adept in using on a day to day basis;
  • It gives a very specific task to do – getting the marks to reach (or exceed) your target.

Each time I have run the lesson, I have had time to focus on pupils who perhaps needed some specific guidance or support, and yet have seen all pupils completely engaged and not spending a lesson surreptitously checking the adding up of marks for a fourth time.

Thank you to @TheMathsMagpie for another winner idea – saving me from dreading test paper return days.

The End of the Term

tl-team-logo

by Helen Wilson

When we all got together for the first time at the end of the summer term in July 2013, I don’t think any of the members of the newly formed Beaumont Teaching & Learning Team realised what lay ahead. We knew that we could all sit around and enjoy talking about something we all felt passionate about – education and making the learning experience of pupils at Beaumont School the best that it could be – but we didn’t really know whether or how we would be able to have any impact. I think we all felt that the main aim of the team would be to facilitate the sharing of ideas and the good practice that are prevalent across the departments in the school, so that everyone could benefit from the creativity of many, and the enthusiasm and commitment of all, to making learning opportunities in the school the best that they can be.TeachMeet Nov13

When we now look back at the term, I think we will all feel as if our work has had some impact. We have held 3 very well attended Learning Lunches, 2 twilight INSETs and a fantastic TeachMeet. We have set up a busy Teaching & Learning blog, established a twitter account and started to develop a pearltree of our favourite T&L websites. We have provided staff with a Black Box of Teaching & Learning ideas on cards, which we try to add to on each INSET; a Take Away board of ideas for quickly helping pupils demonstrate their learning or progress in a lesson; and an amazing advent calendar of quick ideas which appear day by day throughout December. But most of all, I’d like to think that we have helped teachers to see that they are all brimming with ideas for wonderful things to do in the classroom – so much so that we need lots of different ways to share those ideas. It seems to me that there are a lot of “T&L conversations” happening both within and, more importantly, across departments, and teachers are regularly talking about resources that they have seen or found and have adapted to use in their own subject area.

If the enthusiasm before, during and after the TeachMeet was anything to go by, talking about Teaching & Learning is high on the agenda for many of us. We hope that we can continue to provide opportunities next term where those conversations will be just as plentiful.Do it

In the meantime, if you are doing something in your classroom which you would like to share, why not drop us an email (beaumonttl@gmail.com, or anyone on the Team – see the list in Who’s Who) or send us a tweet (@Beaumonttl) or talk to one of us (the photocopying room seems to be a good T&L chat place these days!) and we will help you to find a way to share your ideas widely across the school.

Daring to change

By Laura Hawkins

Two weeks on from #Beaumontteachmeet and I’m still buzzing.   I have gained so many things from the event.  Not only great ideas on the night but a host of new people to follow on twitter so that the great ideas just keep coming.

When I was asked to present, I struggled to know what to present on.  Should I just show a teaching idea, or talk about the coaching work that I’ve done to help colleagues and students?  In the end I decided to present on some books which have inspired me in the past 18 months and which have, in some ways, changed all my thinking, both personally and professionally.  So my presentation was about three books that have helped me to move a little closer to solving the issue of confidence, or rather lack of confidence.  I’m not talking about confidence to socially interact.  I know lots of adults and children that would ostensibly appear to be very confident, but who actually lack that deep inner confidence which has held them back from achieving as much as they could in their life.  The students who never put their hand up or take part unless they are certain of success. The students who don’t attempt anything so they can’t fail.  Not just the real underachievers, but also the ones who do ‘okay’ but never excel.

bounce

 

The first book I talked about was ‘Bounce’ by Matthew Syed.  His book describes the power of practice – the idea that anyone can be good at anything if they practise enough.  He certainly has lots of compelling examples in his book from chess champions to marathon runners to budding artists (who all claimed they were not artistic!).

For me, while it made me stop and think, it did not answer the question of motivation.  Yes, if we can get students to practise lots they will get good, but how do we get them to practise lots?  What made Tiger Woods happy to practise his swing from the age of 3, or motivated David Beckham to kick a ball repeatedly till he mastered his set pieces?  However, despite, in my view, not having all the answers, he mentioned repeatedly the work of Carol Dweck, so I busied myself reading ‘Mindset’.

mindset

 

This is it!  I drove a few people mad telling them that this was the answer, and that everyone should read it and that we need to make people understand that there are different mindsets.   We need to be educating students, parents and teachers about mindsets.  Carol Dweck’s basic premise is that there are two mindsets: fixed and growth.  Those with a fixed mindset tend to avoid challenges and see their ‘intelligence’ as static.  They see little point in working hard and deflect criticism rather than learning from it.  As well as understanding that these two mindsets exist and that education about them is required, I also took from the book the very strong need to only ever praise effort.  Also, that it is important to avoid any labels such as ‘gifted and talented’, which seem to imply you are given an ability to do something, rather than having to work for it.

daring greatlyI thought that I had all the answers I needed until somebody recommended that I watch some TED talks by a lady called Brené Brown.  She is a university lecturer and researches shame and vulnerability.  When I read her book ‘Daring Greatly’, I knew that I had another piece of the puzzle.  She talks about the differences between guilt and shame.  Guilt – I did something wrong.  Shame – I am wrong.  She has researched all the different ways that people feel shame and how it holds them back from achieving what they should in life.  She talks about the defence mechanisms that we use to stop ourselves dealing with the shame: perfectionism, crazy-busy, numbing (any activity designed to stop us thinking about what we really feel about ourselves), viking or victim – the list continues.  The point for me was that in her book she explains a way to build up ‘shame resilience’:  ways of talking to students to, again, avoid labels; ways to make people understand what their shame might be and how it is holding them back.  She also writes of how we need to deal with the shame so that you can ‘dare greatly’ (a wonderful Roosevelt quote that is at the end of the article).  Through educating students and teachers alike about these issues, we can start to give those students more opportunities to get involved in school, rather than standing on the outskirts of school life, never taking part (unless certain of success).

What’s next?  Well, I’ve already discovered that lots of schools are already doing great things relating to ‘mindset’.  As with all things, I plan to build on what they have done (standing on the shoulders of giants) and develop resources which can be used in schools to educate students about ‘mindset’ and about ‘daring greatly’. I am lucky to have a few colleagues who are keen to work with me on this little project and I plan to continue to follow like-minded people in the twittersphere, to find out what works and what doesn’t.  Watch this space.

If your school is doing anything, I’d love to hear from you. As I said at #beaumontteachmeet, this is a work in progress.  It is a dream to unlock the door to confident living that holds so many students back.

It is hard to give more than a hint of the content of the books in a 6 minute presentation and also in a short article, but I wholeheartedly recommend 3 great reads…

 

TED talks:

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame.html

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  Theodore Roosevelt

 

You can follow Laura and her journey into changing mindsets on twitter – @BeaumontCoach

The Beaumont TeachMeet – A Week On

By Helen Wilson (and lots of other people)

On the afternoon of Friday 8 November, there was a whole new feeling in the hall at Beaumont School. We are used to preparing the hall for big events – chairs out, screen up, programmes at the ready and some staff and pupils on standby to meet and greet – but this was a dark, and very wet Friday (school events are never usually on a Friday), the event did not involve an audience of parents and did not have any pupils to sit back and watch or be proud of. We were hanging out a washing line with pegs, putting strange objects such as coat hangers, dominoes and uninflated balloons with attached luggage labels on chairs and preparing for our first TeachMeet. There was a palpable tension in the air as we really had no idea how the event would be received.

Jo-intro

As the first few teachers from schools across Hertfordshire arrived, the Beaumont Teaching & Learning Team kept mouthing to each other “there are real people here – they have actually come!” and we realised that we had arranged something special.

Unusually for a school event, we were encouraging the audience to get out their phones and tweet throughout the evening and a live feed (#beaumontteachmeet) appeared on a screen. There was a buzz in the air and everyone was frantically asking questions, sharing ideas and making new friends and contacts.

Live tweets

I felt proud to be a teacher amongst these enthusiastic and skilled professionals and came away from the evening wondering in what other walk of life you find people giving up their time, for free, to develop the skills of a profession about which they are so passionate.

John Mitchell (@Jivespin), a History Teacher and Deputy Head of 6th Form, was one of the presenters at the event and wrote about the event on his own Teaching and Learning blog here. “The real value of the meeting was to meet with teachers from other schools who were like minded in wanting to find new ideas and improve their practice. This generous and positive atmosphere was fostered by the Beaumont School’s Teaching & Learning Team” – Thanks John, we are so pleased you enjoyed it.

What follows are thoughts and reflections of others who were there.

“What struck me was how many amazing teachers we have in the area. I’ll be using the plenary grids, google forms, pre-lesson learning (getting 6th formers to make the videos on key grammar points rather than me!), Passport and hopefully some of the ideas from the washing line (can’t wait for the update on all the ideas from there).”              Laura

Moody presents

“The phrase I took from the keynote speaker was “No excuses, be legendary” which I thought was a good tag line for both staff and students. It might be a bit cheesy but reminded me that teaching is about the bigger picture of day to day and not just about observations and Ofsted! From the washing line I took a couple of good ideas using balloons: 1)For a plenary, students work in pairs and one has the balloon and attempts to blow it up. In the time it takes them, the other student has to talk about what they have learnt in the lesson and then they swap. 2) Balloons have clues inside them to help with a task or their learning and are stuck up around the room. At certain times in the lesson, a student is allowed to pop the balloon and read out the clue to the rest of the class. If only I could blow up balloons!”                         Sarah

dave presents

“After visits to Poundland on a Sunday, numerous emails and planning meetings, the day finally arrived. After decking the hall with boughs of dominoes, playing cards and plastic coat hangers we awaited our guests.  As real people were escorted to the hall by Year 8s clutching Beaumont brollies we were like a group of kids in a sweet shop. Bouncing around and tweeting like we have never tweeted before. During the evening I quickly evolved from sweetshop child to proud parent. As the Beaumont T&L team got up to host and present, I have to admit a tear came to my eye. This is what Beaumont is all about. Learning, Laughing and Loving what we do. Inspiring stuff.”                                                                                                          Zoe

“I was particularly struck by the speaker (Ben Hayes) who talked about the work of John Hattie. If this is a scientific study (insofar as an examination of pedagogy can ever be scientific) then it is worth its weight in gold.”                                 Graham

Laura presents

“ I was inspired from Laura’s presentation to read Mind-set by Carol S. Dweck. I am 10% through (as my kindle tells me) and already can’t put it down. I think it is very important to encourage students to have the mind-set that working hard achieves results and not to stick with a fixed mind-set of a label or test score given to them. This requires students to be resilient and have a go. Having this growth mind-set will inspire students to ‘be the best they can beeven when they get a knock.”                                     Fiona.

I really like the plenary grid shown by Sarah. I can see that it would work well with Sixth Form or perhaps as KS4 home learning – I like the idea that they can test each other’s understanding.                                                                        Frances

“I came away with so many practical and useable ideas from the #beaumontteachmeet, as well as confidence in what I am actually already doing. Why reinvent the wheel when you can tweak something someone has already produced?  Be a magpie!  Twitter and blogs are really useful places to find resources you can adapt and make your own.  I have already created a ‘Biology Brain’, where students monitor their progress during a lesson and try and fill their brains up – maybe just with key words or useful information.  I’ve produced a ‘Think Tank’ for students to colour in and mark off their progress throughout the lesson. I will also definitely look at using Google forms as a way of monitoring progress quickly and easily without the monotonous marking of multiple choice questions. Myself, Helen and Fiona in science are also keen to adapt the ‘Passport’ for our classes, to encourage sixth formers to take it upon themselves to go to lectures at University, do background reading and share current news articles.”                             Sarah

washing line

“An inspiring and enjoyable evening. I found Sarah’s presentation really useful and have used learning grids in my year 11 lesson this morning for revision. The key note speaker was really engaging and it was comforting to hear that his schools ethos of creating a learning culture was similar to the work we are doing with skills for success.”         Nat

So, what do you think? Should we do it all again? Well we will all need to recover first. But I’d like to think that it was our FIRST TeachMeet, rather than a stand alone event. Let us know if you would be interested and if you have an idea to share – 3 minutes to present – go on, have a go!

100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers

100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers

Outstanding Lessons

by Ross Morrison McGill100 teaching ideas

A book review

by Zoe Shepherd

Since becoming a lover of all things Twitter related about 2 years ago I have followed @teachertoolkit.  Ross McGill – the man behind the mask- has arguably been a crucial part of the growth in ‘tweaching’. As previously posted by Sarah Hosegood the Beaumont T&L group has several secret and not so secret tweachers amongst us. I have followed @teachertoolkit with admiration, interest and occasionally annoyance. The annoyance came with the crazy amount of retweets about his book and all these people saying they had ordered it. Eventually it all got a bit much so I went for the “if you can’t beat them join them approach”, and ordered my own copy.

On the day it was delivered to school I ran straight to the Chemistry prep room to wave it with excitement at Jo Cavanagh, as we share regular @teachertoolkit updates. The first thing I think I said was that the book not being rocket science. Much as this may sound like a negative the more I have read the book the more this thought fills me with joy.

Nothing in the book is especially difficult. Some of the content I find myself saying “I do that” or “when I watched Teacher X they did that”. It is this that makes the book a sound purchase.

I was in our staff mark room the other day and one of our trainee teachers had the book and we got into a bit of a chat about it. He was finding it very useful due to its size and ease of use. Over the years I have ploughed through many books on teaching and learning and some of them are a slog. 100 Ideas is not. It’s the sort of book my dad would like. My dad isn’t a teacher; he was a prison officer (make any links you wish) but he likes picking up a book flicking to a page having a quick read and putting it down again. He is not a cover to cover kind of guy. This is the great advantage of this book. Easy to use. Easy to read.

I have taken a few ideas from the book to put into my own ever evolving drama studio but the main thing I take away is reassurance. The reassurance, that for several years now, we have been doing the right thing. Our drive and belief at Beaumont to put teaching and learning at the heart of everything we do is something of which we are all proud. There is no formulaic structure that all lessons in all departments must follow to the nth degree. Instead we have always encouraged teachers to own their lessons, own their classrooms and most importantly know their students. If your lessons are creative, well-structured and focussed on the adoring little faces in front of you, you are pretty much there.

Thank you Ross for the ideas, passion and confirmation.

An Inspiring Evening

On Wednesday evening at 6.45pm,  two different laptops in two different homes in St Albans were logged on to a Webinar. The speaker was Isabella Wallace, author of Pimp my Lesson. For an hour we listened and watched a presentation entitled Poundland Pedagogy and Pupil Participation. Teachers were logged on from all over the world to get some top tips from the Poundland Princess.

Top Tips flowed to promote enjoyable participation.

The Secret Spy Cards are distributed at the start of the lesson so that students remain tuned in to what each other are saying.

Secret Spy

The cards can either be handed in at the end of the lesson or you can ask a selection of students to say what they observed and then the rest of the class have to guess who they are the Secret Spy for.

The String Thing

A favourite of Hosegood’s. When you are letting small groups discuss a topic, give them a ball of wool or string. The person who speaks first holds the end and the ball gets passed around creating a discussion web that shows the path of the conversation. Great for encouraging everyone to contribute as it is harder to opt out. At the end you can look at the web and discuss the behaviour it illustrates.

Other ideas included Talk Tokens, Mystery Learners, Landing Cards, Boarding cards and Exit passes.

Isabella then went onto a section on #poundlandpedagogy. This is a great hashtag to search on Twitter. Tweachers have started to pace the aisles on poundstores looking for lesson inspiration. Some of the things that can be used in lessons are…..

Blank dice, Cake stands (can be used to show hierarchy if you add postits), paper plates, Paper tablecloths, luminous jackets, papercups,bunting, paperchains, clothes pegs, plastic eggs in 2 sections, Lego.

It was an hour well spent and if you haven’t investigated the work of Isabella Wallace we would encourage you to get involved.

You can follow her on twitter (@WallaceIsabella) or visit her website here.