This week’s wins #2

1. TG Blog
They were a bit slow to contribute to start with, but in the end we actually ran out of time as so many of them wanted to say something. I think it will be really nice for them to be able to look back over it as they get older, and it will be good to share with year 6 pupils who maybe feel a bit nervous about starting secondary school.
And on Friday, I helped to set up 7-2’s blog! We might get the whole set by the end of the year.

2. Boy learning in Y10
We have a big boy/girl discrepancy at GCSE. This week, I really thought about my Y10 Native Americans work. Normally we do a series of worksheets and it takes 5-6 lessons to cover the whole lot and it’s not what you would call inspired. I do try and have a variety: there are some dull gapfill bits, some comprehension Qs, an annotated picture and a creative writing piece, but it’s not very interesting to teach and I haven’t especially noticed good retention.

This week, I jazzed it up a bit. I flipped my room into 4 nests of tables and each one had a different worksheet. Pupils worked in teams and had 2 minutes at each table; when the timer went, they had to move to the next table and work on the next sheet. They rotated, every 2 minutes, until everyone in the team had completed the sheets, to my satisfaction. The prize for the first team to complete this: a bag of Haribo.

Unsurprisingly, the chatty boys who can’t ever seem to focus won, by a fairly large margin. They completed 5 lessons’ worth of notes in an hour. The rest of the class were less enthusiastic but they all, with the exception of 2 girls, said they enjoyed the activity. We concluded it could be improved by keeping to one table and passing the resources around; though then, I would not have been entertained by L doing a tuck and roll across the middle of the classroom to get to the next task.

Retention will be tested with a quiz this week. I hope they have remembered it, because it was way more exciting teaching it this way than the old way.

3. #UKEdChat
I am not usually around on a Thursday night but made an effort this week to be on Twitter, as the focus was boy/girl learning. There was a lot of chat about how gender shouldn’t matter, since it should all be personalised learning now; I found this frustrating. I think everyone knows it should be personalised learning, but a lot of teachers need a way in and this is a good one. I also don’t think talking about the nature of the question is a profitable use of what isn’t a very long period of time to discuss ideas.
However, I was pleased to pick up some ideas and offer some of my own; and I was pleased to see two of my school governors participating after I let them know about it.
It also created a number of questions for me, which I have started writing about; those might show up this week some time.

4. Active Learning with Y9
I have a very mixed ability Y9 class and I am still trying to get to know them. For our second lesson together I was unsure where to pitch my worksheets; thus, I found myself scrawling on a Google map of Europe, trying to explain the long-term causes of the First World War. I was pleasantly surprised to find they were all on the edge of their seats, so I decided we’d skip the Days That Shook The World Assassination of Franz Ferdinand clip and we went out onto the triple jump square to re-enact it. The Black Hand Gang played their parts admirably and when ‘Franz’ shouted, “I hate Serbia now, you killed my baby!” (though technically from beyond the grave) I realised it was a win.
We went back inside to write stories of the day, with reference to the text. The boys excitedly pointed out I had got a couple of key story elements wrong, oops. I said I’d done it on purpose to test them. Then they wrote stories in silence for nearly 15 minutes, while I worked individually with one pupil and the TA worked with another. It was a thing of beauty.

Luckily no fail this week, though I have learned that it is not a good idea to schedule a 90 minute meeting on the same day one teaches 6 hours in a row and has a governors’ meeting until 10pm. That was a day I really felt lasted for about a week.

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