Our school group met on Monday to prepare our starter activity. We decided to focus on the riots of summer 2011 and community cohesion. We made a worksheet for each of four pictures (the young boy being mugged, a woman jumping from a building, tea being poured into cups on a police officer's riot shield and an army of people holding sweeping brushes) for four groups asking the groups to describe (what the picture was), reflect (on how it made them feel), speculate (on why this might have happened and what comes from it) and to write a newspaper headline. After creating these worksheets, the power went out, so I had to remake them Tuesday morning (which was very annoying). The activity was well received and I found the second session much more useful than I had found the first.
1. Quick Recap of Session 1
We were straight into it this week and were asked to write down 1 thing that we'd taken from last week into our practice over the last week. I've been reflecting more on my practice, whereas others had given more time for student reflection in lessons and others had gained in confidence. We were asked to share these with a couple of people around the room, and once done, were asked to share someone else's answer. I felt that this was a rather good way of getting student (the role that we essentially take) answers and ensuring that the students would be discussing with one another.
2. Starters and Plenaries
This was the major part of the day and discussed what an effective starter (or plenary - two starter groups, two plenary groups) was. My group were given the plenary cards, an element of my teaching that I am aware requires development and discussed our findings with the starter group on the table next to us. The cards that were prompts for discussion were along the lines of 'Does an effective plenary have to be delivered to the entire class?' or 'Does a starter necessarily have to lead in to the lesson being taught?'.
My thoughts were that a plenary isn't necessarily delivered within the same lesson - I always begin the next lesson with a starter linked to our previous lesson to consolidate learning and I believe that this is more beneficial to the students having had at least a day to allow the concepts to settle. I'm quite happy with the way that I begin my lessons (learning objective and starter on the interactive whiteboard as kids enter so they can begin upon entry) but I must develop my use of plenaries.
I wrote a few notes:
Make use of plenaries and mini-plenaries - if we're progressing through topics, ensure that we recap as we continue through and make sure that time is made for a plenary at the end of a lesson.
Secure time for plenaries - I've toyed with the idea of setting an alarm on my phone for 9:50, 10:50, 12:10, 13:10 and 14:50 so I always have ten minutes at the end of a lesson, but I am yet to go through with this. Maybe this week.
'How have you learnt it?' - we seem to focus on what pupils have learnt a lot, but rarely on how they've learnt it.
Set individual objectives - an idea I thought would be very useful in revision lessons in the lead up to exams. Provide each pupil with a sticky note and have them write a lesson objective for themselves on the piece of paper. This can be differentiated by each student who will write 'I will... (definitely do this)', 'I should... (get this done too)' and 'I might... (get on to this if I get through the other two'.
After discussing this we were asked to write, on a sticky note, one of four things: a question, a good idea, a concern or some new learning. I put my latter note (the individual objectives) up as my 'good idea'.
3. Improving Teacher Audit
We then filled in our audit booklet, which (for me) indicated a great need to develop a bank of plenaries to allow for consolidation before pupils leave the room.
4. Lesson Observations
Our lesson observations this week were two 30-minute observations in our groups of three. We were sent to an English literature lesson for the first half and an RE lesson for the second. The focus built on last week's 'engagement' and 'challenge' by adding 'starters and plenaries' and 'assessment'.
The English lesson was with top set year 11. A starter was on the board as the pupils entered and they discussed as they stood behind their chairs waiting for the lesson to begin. The teacher got their attention and after one answer from a pupil revealed that she was correct. I was impressed by the pupils discussing this as they waited, but felt that this could be even better if (EBI, a thing we use on the programme) if more discussion was allowed to get other pupils' ideas (even if the first answer was the one we were after). I applied this to a year 7 lesson this week and gave the pupil with the right answer a full-class round of applause when we revealed. The lesson itself was the pupils acting out 'The Crucible'. I believe there were many groups in the class and they took it in turns to act out a scene (this meant that they were thinking of how they might do it while the other groups were acting it out, and also meant that they had to keep up by reading along). The teacher ended this section of the lesson with a good discussion of what just happened in the play. The second half of the lesson was to watch a film version.
The second lesson we observed was an RE lesson with (what I believe was) a mixed ability year 9 class. I picked a lot up from this session and wrote a lot down. In terms of engagement there was a lot of short times given for tasks and in terms of challenge there was the introduction of GCSE-type questions. Pupils were assessing themselves at all points throughout the lesson and the teacher used mini-plenaries excellently ('Pass the parcel' style discussion with the speaker holding an object that is thrown around the room, a quick revisit to the lesson objectives after moving on and the use of mini-whiteboards for pupils to quickly feed back. At the end of the lesson she used the document camera on her desk to show a pupil's work on the board and had him talk us through it, had the pupils (all at once) recap the five major points of the lesson, walking around taking in their answers and went back to the 'pass the parcel'/'hot potato' activity where pupils were to share one thing they'd learnt or one question they had.
The observations encouraged me to reflect on whether I could use a document camera, whether I should rearrange my classroom to accommodate more group work, to give pupils 30 seconds of reflection time before asking for answers and for pupils to check their answers with those from other groups (and to discuss why the other groups' might be wrong/right).
I also picked up that I could probably do more with checking my form's planners by looking at the displays on the walls.
5. First Session's Post Session Task Delivery
As the next part of our session the starter activities for a citizenship lesson were delivered. There were a variety of them, ranging from a discussion over smart phone applications and how students and parents might use them to contact school, community cohesion and the impact different events have, what defines 'being British' and different forms of abuse, focusing on Lance Armstrong and Jimmy Savile.
From this session I picked up the use of movement around the classroom for PHSCE sessions ('Yes', 'Maybe', 'No'... find someone to discuss with... does that change your mind?).
We assessed each session using the DR. ICE acronym, discussing where deepening thinking might be improvement, where the learning was modelled, and so on and so forth.
6. Post-session Task
This session's task is to observe two good lessons (in pairs or more to allow for discussion) in the school prior to next Thursday's session with a focus on 'engagement', 'challenge', 'starters', 'plenaries' and 'assessment'. I'll have to do this on Monday and Tuesday in two of my 3 non-contacts.
The third session takes place on Thursday (18th October).