Monthly Archives: May 2018

Blog of the Week: 25 May 2018 – My Teaching: Nine Things I’ve Changed

We’re well over a week into exam season, so I thought now would be a reasonable time to reflect on the things I’ve done differently this year.  Below is a list of some of the stuff I’ve focused on, along with a few resources.  A folder with everything in can be accessed here so you don’t have to click on the individual links.

1. I’ve got rid of lesson objectives

Typically, each of my lessons now open with a broad question.  How is Macbeth’s state of mind presented in A1S7? – that sort of thing.  Sometimes, the same question spans a number of different lessons.  Typically, towards the end of each unit of work and beyond, I review the key ones with the class.  Examples here.

2. I’ve used knowledge organisers

I’ve pinched quite a few and constructed a couple of my own.  I’ve also got students to…

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Blog of the Week: 18 May 2018 – This much I know about…subject specific pedagogy

johntomsett

I have been a teacher for 29 years, a Headteacher for 14 years and, at the age of 53, this much I know about subject specific pedagogy.

Recently, I have been posing a question to anyone who teaches which goes something like this: “What are the specific hallmarks of pedagogy in your subject?” It is a question which initially stumps most people. General responses, such as “modelling”, are not really specific – most subject teachers use modelling techniques as part of their pedagogic armoury. If someone offers “modelling” in answer to my question, I then ask, “But what modelling technique is specific to the subject content you are teaching and how does that modelling technique you use in your subject differ from how another colleague teaching a different subject might use modelling as a pedagogic tool?” That usually results in the person I am interrogating saying that they need to…

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Blog of the Week: 11 May 2018 – How should students revise? A brief guide

chronotope

One of the biggest lessons from research is that many students don’t really know how to study. Various studies have shown that students rate re-reading and highlighting as the most effective ways of revising when in reality they are often a waste of time giving an illusion of competence in the short term at the expense of long term gains.

Students may spend large amounts of additional time studying despite no gain in later memory for the items, a phenomenon called ‘‘labour-in-vain’’ during learning (Nelson & Leonesio,1988). Recent research with educationally relevant materials has shown that repeatedly reading prose passages produces limited benefits beyond a single reading. (Karpicke, Roediger, Butler, 2009)

In contrast, retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving are some of the most productive ways of revising material but how many students are familiar with this? I think there is often a tendency to focus too much on what teachers…

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Blog of the Week: 4 May 2018 – Teachers’ time is our most precious resource

I’m lucky to work in a school that invests in freeing up teacher time for the important things. We have centralised detentions, whole class feedback and we are building centralised schemes of work around our own textbooks for reading and Shed Loads Of Practice. Teacher time is too precious to be spent chasing detentions, writing comments in exercise books, or doubling up on planning.

Teacher time is our most precious resource and we must use it wisely. Leaders are responsible for making this happen but there are things we can do as individuals too, things that make a big difference even when your leaders and systems are great.

There are five principles I use in order to protect my time and get the best from it:

  • Hornets and butterflies – such an important concept from Joe Kirby here
  • The Pareto principle – the 80:20 rule
  • Economies of time
  • Environment management
  • Attention…

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