Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Guardian Version of Marking Matters

The Guardian asked me to write for them this week and I happily obliged!  I rewrote my Marking Matters post and it seems to have been quite popular. Feel free to have a look. 

I'm one happy teacher :-)


Five ways to reduce the stress of marking and save time

Teacher and 'super marker' Sarah Findlater shares her tips for time-saving and good-quality marking

Now I'm no expert in the field of assessment and marking that's for sure, but I have done enough of it as a teacher to know a thing or two about doing it well. But I was not always a great marker. As a PGCE student I struggled with the best of them. It was like raw hell to me, I just could not understand how anyone could possibly do this marking malarkey on a regular basis.

As I began my NQT year I began to keep up with the marking load, just about. I was happy with my progress, until one day I was dealt a foul blow. Half-termly book monitoring had just taken place and I had been very good, got all the right books in to the right teacher at the right time. Then my head of department came around with a photocopied booklet and handed it to me. As I looked through the booklet of top tips and things to avoid I began to see that all the things to avoid actually applied to me. I felt so embarrassed and a little ashamed that I was getting it so wrong when I thought it was so right.

So began my mission to be a 'super marker.' I took every bit of advice that was given to me and made it my new marking Bible. So below are the top five marking techniques:

Marking and reflection

I can remember the lesson that I realised that full-on marking is simply not necessary all of the time. I had been up late once again marking a heap of year 9 books. I had marked those books to within an inch of their lives, nearly killing myself in the process. The lesson began. I handed the books back to the pupils and allowed them time to mull over the mountain of comments filling every possible space. A silence fell over the room. I stood at the front of the class smiling and nodding to myself about what a wonderful job I had done. Then one kid raised his hand: "Miss, I'm not being funny but is my work shit coz you have bloody ripped it to shreds here! I can't see much I have done right. You have written more than me, miss." I was gutted to say the least. But he was right. I had done too much. Where on earth should they start with a book marked like that?

There is a place for in-depth, all inclusive marking perhaps once a term, no more. However, most of the time I stick to focused marking because I find it is much easier for the students to digest. I find it is much better that teachers find a key focus, something that will really make the difference and move them on and focus on that. Share the focus with the students before they complete the task and break it down, then off they go. They will know what you have marked for and be able to connect with is straight away. Manageable for us and them alike, everyone is happy.

Rewarding achievement

When I began teaching I was so concerned with making them stay in their seats and finish the task that I very rarely thought about rewards. The reward is the acquisition of knowledge and the sense of achievement students gain from getting a concept, right? Well, yes of course, that is true, but we all need motivators. I remember the first sheet of stickers that were given to me, with the hushed words: "I'm not supposed to give these to PGCE students so don't tell anyone."

I don't care what anyone says, everyone loves a sticker. I now use stickers every time I mark work be it year 7 or year 13. I will only reward someone with a sticker if I feel they have really progressed in their work, I let them know this and they always love it. A little sparkle in their eye appears even if they then pretend not to have noticed. I'm sure there is room for some sort of teacher sticker scheme, I know it would motivate me.

Student-centred marking

I honestly do not think I did effective student-centred marking until I was a good few years into teaching. I remember being observed in a lesson where I used peer marking as part of it. My observer asked why I did the peer marking section of the lesson and what I wanted to achieve. I suddenly realised I had missed the point of peer marking.

Now I use peer marking frequently with all key stages. I will share with them the marking criteria I must use when mark their work, get them to reword it or highlight most important things that are being assessed prior to the task. I do this as standard at all ages with all ability groups. We discuss the skills and levels as a class or in groups. I allow them to choose the levels they are aiming for and connect with that level in some manner. Once the task is complete we will revisit the mark schemes they have deconstructed, clarify any issues with it now the task has been completed. Then peer marking will take place with their study buddies. I always model the task and the marking, talking them through the thinking process. I focus them on how I mark their books for guidance. We use green pen for peer/self-marking and a different consistent colour for my marking. Works like a dream if you keep practising it.

Another favourite tool is my verbal feedback stamper. I carry this around with me to all my lessons. I generally use it as I walk around when pupils are working in groups or individually, I discuss an element of whatever they are doing in depth, stamp their books and ask them to note bullet points down.

Individual marking meetings

A few years ago I was teaching a very challenging year 11 class. We were studying Macbeth and working on a question about how a key character was presented. The students could gather points about the character and collect quotes but when it came to finding their own ideas to explain these points and quotes they were completely stuck. I began to meet each student individually to discuss their draft essay feedback and see if I could get them thinking on their own. One-by-one they began to gain confidence.

I love these sessions. Once each half-term I hold individual marking meetings with all my classes. I set the class up to do some silent work or reading, often with some classical music in the background and set about meeting each student one by one to quietly discuss their work and progress. I time this so that it falls just before to reports going home so that they can fully understand where they are before a barrage of levels come at them in their report card. It is really special, you get to see them in a completely different light and is really effective for making all your students feel valued.
Happy marking.

Sarah Findlater can be found on Twitter @MsFindlater. She has worked in London schools since she began teaching. She has been KS3 coordinator for English, head of languages and communications faculty (English, media and MFL) and is now an assistant headteacher.

I've only gone and done a thunk!

I am happy to say that I have guest blogged for the wonderful @teachertoolkit

Please do have a look and find our why I think it is so important to get our young people asking 'why?'.

Thunk 19: Why should you encourage your kids to ask ‘why’? by @MsFindlater

Answer below:

As the end of the half term break draws nigh, I’m left thinking about the return to school and all that this entails. My mind buzzes with lesson planning, resource-creating, teaching, assemblies; duties, students, teachers, parents, paperwork, meetings; the highs, the lows, the drama and the laughter… The list is endless.

The familiar shift from off-duty to switched-on has begun. Through this heavy mist of the things to plan before the term starts, poses one particular question to me, as clear as crystal as ice-water; the word ‘why’.

This word is the one thing that really stays in focus for me through all my preparations. Whether I am lesson planning or organising meetings, it won’t leave me. The question hovers overhead, smiling knowingly and nodding. If the answer to that question makes you happy, then I guess you are one with the world, even on difficult days. I question ‘why’ most of the time, because it keeps me in check; it keeps me focused and relights my passion on the darkest days; I want this to be the case for my students also.

I wake up every day wanting to hear that question burst forth from the mouths of my students. Your classroom being abuzz with curiosity, the desire to learn and question, with ‘what we are learning’, is very special. This question, if encouraged and embraced in lessons, can lead to a classroom ablaze with those precious light bulb moments….
“…give meaning to the onslaught of information and skills our young people are presented with…”

A student asking ‘why’ leads us as educators and them as students, to give meaning to the onslaught of information and skills our young people are presented with each day. In each lesson and in each activity. We must make them care about their learning, whatever the subject may be. We can foster this desire by encouraging them to ask ‘why’. That illusive curiosity about the learning that we all seek to inspire in our students only comes when they know they will not be ignored, laughed at or told off for questioning and wanting to know more.

We create the climate.

We teachers are often so focused (and pressured) into getting through the content of our courses that we can skirt over the ‘why’. Of course, the content of any course it important and needs to be carefully crafted, well thought out and interesting, but it is all just a sea-of-stuff unless we keep in focus the ‘why’. We can often be seen levering in the ‘why’ of learning at opportune moments chosen by us, not the students.

Today we will be learning about… we are covering this because…”
“…deep learning takes place and ‘bing!’, the light bulb is lit…”
We remove the thinking for the students and leave them with the correct answer – job done. If we are brave enough and slow down for a second, to allow the students to ask ‘why’, get them helping one another to answer the questions, I believe you can see great things emerge. Whenever we create the opportunity for our students to do this, they become more confident in the answers they can give, deep learning takes place and ‘bing!’, the light bulb is lit. If we do not create these opportunities we run a huge risk of creating a room full of robots spewing out our opinions and a set of facts.

We create the climate.

The ‘why’ in my work and preparation is vitally important to me. Every day I remind myself of why I’m doing this crazy and wonderful job. I choose to work as a teacher and a leader in school because I want to make a difference. I want to help develop young people into confident, well-rounded and passionate adults. I want them to see them become the adults we all want to be, running the country when we are old. I want to look at the future generation with pride and be able to say, ‘I helped them be who they are today’; reminding myself of the reason why I do the job I do, makes me a better teacher and leader.

When I make the time to question why, everything becomes clearer, my passion embeds deeper; my resilience becomes stronger; my desire to better things becomes more pressing and my sense of humour returns to carry me through the tough times.

The students we teach on the other hand do not choose to be in school, it is just something they have to do; a place they have to be. Students are very often at a loss as to why they should be bothered about learning this or that in class, when there possibly much more going on in their life right now.
What important issues in their everyday life could possibly take priority over their learning I hear you ask?

We all know that as a student walks through your classroom door their minds are clouded with issues such as, ‘Who won the match last night? What are you gossiping about? What’s the latest fashion? Who looked at them in the playground? Who are they walking home with after school? The argument they had with their mum… their list is endless.

For those of you that think I am being flippant about young people’s lives, I’m not. I get how important all that stuff is, it is part of the process of growing up and a vital part at that. It is because of all this that it is crucial that we get the students to consider why they are learning what they are learning everyday in school. Our job is to get them to make those connections, link it to their lives without dumbing it down – make it relevant. It is so important that we create the space to allow the students thinking-time to connect the learning that takes place in class to the real world, to other subjects and them as individuals. Our students will focus and connect in lessons if they feel like they have a stake in what is being learnt, they have a voice to be heard and that there is a point to it all. They should demand to know ‘why’ and not rest until they know the answer. This is one of human-nature’s life-skills we can teach them.

We create the climate. What do you create?

Written by @MsFindlater and edited and posted by @TeacherToolkit.
Sarah Findlater, @MsFindlater is an Assistant Principal and a Headteacher of a College at a London Collegiate. She is an English and Media teacher, who tweets far too often and blogs far too rarely – but she says she is working on that…


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Marking Matters

Now I'm no expert in this field, but I thought I would share with you what works for me in my classroom on a daily basis. My results have always been good, significant positive value added and all that jazz, so I can't be going far wrong. I was not always a great marker and it took a teacher who was to show me the way and I've never looked back.  If you use marking and feedback well in class your students will hugely benefit and you will see real progress from all.  Below are some techniques that I find effective with my students.
Focused marking:
I think there is a place for extensive all inclusive marking perhaps once a term. One piece of work you can really go to town on and mark for everything can be useful and very interesting. However most of the time I stick to focused marking because I find it is much easier for the students to take in. The whole point of marking work is to provide feedback to allow them to develop and if there is too much to work on it becomes a very daunting experience getting marked work back. I feel it is much better that we find a key focus, something that will really make the difference and move them on and focus on that. Manageable for us and them alike, everyone is happy.

Reflection Time:
There is simply no point in your pouring over a pile of books every evening marking everything in sight if you do not give them time to look at what you have marked and plan for progression. So many times I see a beautifully marked book but the student is never given time to engage with what the teacher has written. Why, why, why? What a waste of your time teachers! I make sure that I give guided time for reflections during lessons after a marking spree. This can take many forms like silent reading of the words you have written for a set time, reading the comments out aloud to one another, writing out elements of your marking feedback. However you do it, just do it!

Recording and Reflecting on Achievements and Targets:
When my students are getting freshly marked books back they have some little routines that they know I follow, this one is mainly KS3 but works for all. My pupils know that I tick in specific places where they have done well and write the skill the noticed on in the margin allowing them to see exactly what and where they are doing well (e.g. 'vocabulary' or 'style'.) I will then relate my positive comment at the end of work to one element I noted in the margin and expand on this. They have an on-going list of positives at the back of their books and know to fill this in every time their books are marked. I will also place a target or two at the bottom of the work clearly indicated and related to the focus of the task. The students will add these targets to their on-going list of targets at the back of their books. These positives and targets lists are frequently reviewed, used and referred in lessons. They have no choice but to connect with the feedback I have given them. They can really take ownership of this as trends and common positives and targets are easily noticed by them and me.

Targets Related to the Objectives Set That Lesson:
Too often I see targets such as 'underline your titles' or something just a generic written in books. Now I am all for excellent presentation in books but this is not a learning target in my mind! Underlining their title is not going to move them forward in their levels, I have never seen that phrase in the level descriptors! Make the targets relate to the learning objective. If you are focusing on sentence structure then give them a level related target that will help them move forward with their sentence structures. If that is what you have asked them to focus on then that is what you should feedback on in your marking. Students can feel cheated if you shift the goal post. (We all know about that this year hey English teachers!) Keeping targets focused makes the marking meaningful for all involved.

Individual Marking Meetings:
I love these sessions. Once a half term I hold individual marking meetings with all my classes. I set the class up to do some silent work or reading, often with some classical music in the background and set about meeting each student one by one to discuss their work and progress. I time this just prior to reports going home so that they can fully understand where they are before a barrage of levels come at them in their reports. We sit together for a few minutes speaking in hushed tones and flicking through a half terms worth of work in their books discussing their targets and levels. It is really special actually, you get to see them in a completely different light and that private moment shrouded in classic music so the others can't really hear. Students completely up to moving forward. Really effective in making all your students feel valued and that their voice is being heard in the craziness of the school day.

Verbal Feedback Given:
I started doing this with KS3 last year and have now moved on to use it with KS4 and KS5 also. I have a stamper with the phrase 'verbal feedback given' embossed on it that I carry around with me to all my lessons. I generally use it as I walk around when pupil are working in groups or individually, I discuss an element of whatever they are doing in depth, stamp their books and ask them to note bullet points down that we discussed and tick them off as they address them in the lesson. This is really good for capturing a conversation and allowing them to come back to it at a later date.

Peer Marking:
I use peer marking frequently with all key stages. I will share with them the marking criteria I must use for their work, get them to reword it or highlight most important things that are being assessed prior to the task. We will discuss the skills and levels as a class and in groups often. I allow them to choose the levels they are aiming for and connect with that level in some manner. Once the task is complete we will revisit the mark schemes they have deconstructed clarify any issues with it now the task has been completed and peer marking will take place with their study buddies. I always model the task and them also model the peer marking. I also direct them to how I mark their books for guidance with this marking process too. We use green pen for peer marking so that they can look back and see when I mark(various colours but never green) and when it is peer or self marked work.  Works like a dream if you keep practising it and clearly explain and discuss the reasons and processes they must go through. Complete focus on what they want to achieve and allowing them to directly see how to get there. I'm a big fan.

The Power of the Sticker:
I don't care what anyone says, everyone loves a sticker!  Don't deny it now.  I use stickers every time I mark work be it Year 7 or Year 13. I will only reward someone with a sticker if I feel they have really achieved in their work, I let them know this and they always love it.  A little sparkle in their eye appears even if they then pretend not to have noticed.  I'm sure there is room for some sort of teachers sticker scheme, it would motivate me!

Happy marking!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Art in the English Classroom - Poetry and Painting

I had a lovely A-Level class a couple of years back who were actually a little scared of poetry.(You know who you are!). So I got thinking... How could I take the fear out of approaching poetry and make them look at it from a different perspective? Then in a light bulb moment I thought of an idea, a crazy idea. I mulled it over that evening and came to the conclusion that it just might work dagnamit!
We were studying Wilfred Owen poetry for an exam they had in the January of their AS course so they needed to get the skills for the exam up to speed and fast. Every time we looked at a new poem they would say the same old things. 'Where do we start miss?' 'There is too much to take in.' There was no time of confidence flagging so I took the analysis skill away from the poems to take the fear out of it. I wanted them to see that the analysis skills they needed they already had. The class were all really visual learners and had responded to visuals really well in the past so I knew we had to start there.

I scoured the internet for interesting WWI paintings, of which there are plenty. I chose Over the Top by John Nash but any painting with detail would work.

Preparation prior to the lesson - I had four copies of the painting printed off in colour on A3 paper. I then got four pieces A3 white card and cut a small hole in each piece of card, I called this the micro-viewer. Each hole was carefully placed in a different position in order to show a different section and blue-tacked to the painting to keep it in place - creating new mini paintings from the different sections.

Starter - I differentiated the learning objectives using the handy old 'all,' 'most', 'some' and linked it directly to the A-Level mark scheme. So the 'all' objective covered analysing skills to E at AS, the 'most' objective to the C and the 'some' A. Micro-analysis was what we were aiming for this lesson. I informed the class of this fact and asked them to choose their own objective for the lesson being honest about what they thought they would achieve this lesson or what they would push themselves to - They expressed the usual fear of analysing poetry. 'Where do we start miss?' 'There is too much to take in.' But this time I knew they would be better.
We started with a diamond 9 activity using words that are useful for essay analysis such as connotes, reflects and symbolises. They were asked to rank the words in order of sophistication and keep the diamond 9 still formed in a safe place on their table to use in the lesson orally and in written form whenever they could.

Connect - I then put up the full version of 'Over the Top' on the board and told the class we were going to use our analysis to look at this painting. We analysed the atmosphere created on a basic whole painting from a distance level. I then eked out of them through class discussion and questioning that this is like when we first look at a poem as a whole, after our first reading. They liked that and saw the link - Eureka! I thought, it's working! 'But that is it Miss. We have finished the analysis now.' On that note I flicked the painting off the board, brought the objective back up and refocused them on where they thought they were at present.

Then I handed out the different micro-viewers to each group and asked them look carefully at their section and break it down using analysis again and the key words from their starter, thinking again about atmosphere. There was a flurry of action as they idea stormed around their new micro-image as a group. When we fed back about this section the pupils shared their ideas orally and expressed the fact that they had not noticed the detail of the section they were allocated from the micro-viewer when they first saw the larger painting. They had been given a whole different perspective on the picture and the atmosphere it created. Each group had new revelations about this painting we thought we as a class had analysed fully at the start of the lesson. I then asked them how they could apply this to poems, and by golly they got it. They told me that they could analyse it on a large scale as well as on a micro scale and link it all together. Yippee! I thought, it's working again! I again brought up the learning objectives and we reviewed whether they felt they had moved on.

Development - Now they had practised micro-analysis with images we moved on to looking at one of their exam poems. We repeated the process , we had completed with the painting. We read the poem as a whole class and analysing the bigger ideas. Then took the poem away and I handed out different lines to different groups to analyse on a micro-level. We tiered it up a notch this time though and passed the lines around to different groups to build the micro-analysis up by looking at different foci such as imagery, verbs, adjectives etc... We finished off the lesson with 10 minutes of silent analytical writing in an essay format. They were asked to refocus on the diamond 9 vocabulary to ensure they were varying their analytical vocabulary. Full on and fast paced but all useful!

Plenary - Focusing on the lesson objectives one last time we reviewed the journey they had been on and they all felt a lot more confident with their analysis skills. Last thing we did was to stand up and tell four different people in the class something we had learnt or used in this lesson that you felt would help you when you analyse poetry in future lessons.  They all buzzed around the class sharing their experiences as I sat back and watched the show – amazing students!

My job there was done. It worked because I really took the time to get to know the learning styles and needs of my class. I also clearly chunked up and explained the lesson at every junction.  You can't rush through a complex idea or you will loose them.

This was the start of a number of slightly ‘out there’ lessons that I trialled on them - like regular little guinea pigs  - they humoured me every time, so thank you Year 12. All the pupils in that class gained a grade or two above their predicted grade in this unit and I honestly think that because I took risks in my teaching with them they were more willing to take educated risks in their writing and analysis. (Or at least I hope in part this last fact it true)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Active Reading Strategies - Visual Notes and Character Bodies

We teachers can sometimes forget that just because we are excited about the new challenging but engaging book that we are about to share with the class does not mean all pupils will immediately feel the same way. For some pupils the new class reader will evoke excitement and curiosity, for others it will bring them out in a cold sweat and a feeling of dread will creep through their veins. It is our duty to make any class reader accessible and enjoyable for all our pupils regardless of their ability and reading habits outside of the class. I have tried many things over the year to ensure I engage all pupils with all texts I have taught and now try and mix them all up whenever I read a book with a class. I have found that one of the key things that will help pupils engage with the events and characters fully is active reading strategies. Below are four of the fun ways I keep reading active and engage my pupils when we read together.

As always ground rules, your enthusiasm and clear and full explanations are necessary for these activities to work well. I usually get all pupils in the class to read a page with me taking a few pages after every 3 pupils have read when we have extended reading in class to allow pupils to be involved while still moving the text on with my slightly faster reading.

Visual Notes:
All pupils should have a copy of the book each, and an A4 piece of paper and colour pencils. While you, one pupil or a recording of the novel is being read aloud to the class pupils are asked to draw whatever comes into their mind as they listen. You can change the focus of the images if you choose to do so with a class if you wish. You could ask them to draw images of only literal words that are read aloud that stay in their mind, they feel are important or are repeated. For a higher ability group you could ask them to draw literal words read aloud as well as connotations or implied meanings that are brought about. I often model this for the first two pages being read so the pupils get the idea, while also having an opportunity to laugh at my drawings. It is important to emphasise that it is not about their drawing ability so stick figures are fine etc... I will pause the drawing frequently through the lesson and get a random pupil or two to stand up and show the class their images and talk through why they drew them prompting them to delve deeply into their selections. If your pupils find it difficult to share the reasons with the class you could get them to study buddy up and talk for a minute to one another about what they have drawn to get ideas flowing and build confidence. Once again this has the pupils learning and developing without even realising they are doing so. I have not found a class that does not enjoy this.

Character Bodies:
All pupils should have a copy of the book each, and A4 (or larger if working as a pair or group) piece of paper and colour pencils. This works well with pupils working in a pair or group but can be done individually on smaller paper or in books. I use this with all my students 11 years old to 19 years old and it works really well with all, just up the challenge or change the focus for different age groups and abilities. I usually get the pupils into groups with some large paper in the centre of the table and all pupils holding pens or pencils. I then get the students to write the name or the character I wish their group to focus, different one for each group, on top of the paper and draw a large outline of a body on the page with space to write inside and outside the shape. Then as the novel is being read aloud the groups are asked to write in and around the body shape. They should write any factual information they learn about the character around the outside of the body shape such as events and relationships. They should write any emotions, feelings and internal thoughts they learn about inside the body. We pause a few times during the reading and the groups feed back what they have found and we discuss as a class to develop ideas. We keep these Character Bodies and take them out a number of times to update them. There are many ways you can vary this activity to shape it for your class or topic. Great activity to get students to build up a really detailed understanding of the characters they meet in the text.


Sunday, 19 August 2012

Having Fun with Learning - Teaching Writing Through Games

So, this is a lesson I have already done with an amazing Year Seven class. We were in the middle of a project based writing SOW based around spies that was inspired by and Hertfordshire Grid SOW. The pupils were in groups and in the middle of creating their own spy manual and all extremely excited - bless them right? One of my Year Seven pupils did ask me privately if they actually would be a spy at the end of the unit - oh to be eleven again.  Their writing needed a boost before they started to pull together the final product so I thought I'd mix it up and havesome fun with improving the skills they needed for the types of writing theywould be using in the spy manuals. I wanted to make them see that the skillsthey need in their writing are being used all the time in everything they do, not just when they write.

The key to this lesson working is you staying in role and having fun with it, clear instructions and resources organised and set out ready in advance so you can focus on the lesson progression.

Starter – I asked them to discuss in groups what skills they needed for describing, instructing and informing.  I used the fruitmachine name selector to choose which groups fed back ideas to the class. They came up with some great ideas.  We discussed the fact that they knew what they should be doing but were not always getting it into their writing.  We decided as a class that they need to practise the skills more in a fun way - so they became more confident with them.

Introduction - I put on some classic James Bond music and scuttled into a dark corner of the room to dress up as a spy, as you do.  I adopted my new role as super spy Agent Findlater.  The music faded away and I introduced myself to the class and was greeted by a sea of gasps, wide eyes and giggles (all good fun.) On the interactive whiteboard an ipad flashed up with a message from MI5 headquarters with their mission. “Trainee spies, in order to help you create a top notch spy handbook we think you need some field training.  You will be asked to take part in a number ofactivities in today’s training camp.  Allthese activities will help you get on-the-job experience.  Good luck budding spies. Agent Findlater.”

Development – I then split the time for the main section of the lesson into three equal parts, one for each game we would play for the three different writing styles.  Taboo for describing, blindfolded jigsaw for instructing and Information Relay for informing.  Taboo involved one member of the group describing a word from a card that only they could see without saying the word.  The group had to guess as many words as they could from the description. I played the classic bond music while they played the game and wondered around enjoying the buzz as they played. This worked well and they had lots of fun.  We paused and fed back at the end of each game, linking it back to how it could help with our descriptive writing. Blindfolded jigsaw was actually inspired by a training session I had while on the teaching leaders course last year, thanks TL.  This requires some prep but it is worth it.  A simple cardboard jigsaw is placed in the centre of each table for the group to see, all of the group bar one are then blindfolded and the jigsaw is mixed up.  The jigsaw in its made up format is displayed on the board for the non-blindfolded member of the groups to see.  All blindfolded members of the group must remain completely silent and only do as the non-blindfolded group member instructs.  The idea is to get the jigsawback to its original state, much harder than it seems and very funny towatch!  We then paused and talked aboutwhat worked well and how we could apply that to their instructional writing.  Information Relay was a simple game, one member of the group was given a full colour image, I chose a clip art detailed picture of a crime scene because it went with our topic, that only they were allowed to look at.  The picture holder was not allowed to correct them and only allowed to give factual information tothe team.  The rest of the group had towork together to draw the picture from factual information relayed to them from the picture holder.  Then they placed the original and team created picture together to see the result.  Some of the pictures that came out were hilarious!  Again we paused and linked this activity to their informative writing and how they could apply this.

Plenary – I ended the lesson with another message from MI5 HQ from the ipad template on the interactive whiteboard.  “Trainee spies, You have done the company proud today.  We trust that you will treat these tasks andthe things you have seen as completely confidential. You can however share the information with the people in this room. Tell your study buddy what you have learnt today and how you will apply it to your handbook.  You are one step closer to becoming fully fledged spies. Agent Findlater." 

It was a brilliant lesson and one of those moments when you really appreciate why you got into this crazy profession. They were inspired, enthused and felt empowered after that lesson.  I felt privileged to have been a part of that experience.

Over and out.

Ms F

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Ms Findlater's Teaching Blog - Intro

Morning everyone!

Ok so today is the first day of Ms Findlater's Teaching Blog, the official opening. I am a London based Secondary English Teacher and have been for many years. I love my job and am looking forward to getting a bit more high-tech and opening a new web-based area of the profession to myself. I will be posting teaching and lesson ideas on here that I have used or am planning to use and really welcome feedback and ideas from all my fellow professionals out there.

I’ll post up my first lesson idea later today.

Over and out

Ms F