Contemporary educational ideas all my staff should know about

Originally posted on headguruteacher:


Key ideas from different sources.

Key ideas from different sources.

As I look ahead to starting my new job at Highbury Grove,  I’m thinking about all the conversations we are going to have about learning.  To a large degree I want my teachers to be as up-to-date as possible within their own subject domains. They should know the latest OfSTED position ( eg with Moving English Forward or Mathematics: made to measure ) and be up to speed with exam specifications and assessment requirements.  Subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogical knowledge are going to be key drivers of everything we do.

However, in order to fuel the collaborative effort of reaching the ambitious goals we have for the school, we’ll need to establish a shared conceptual language for talking about teaching across the school as well as within departments. Inevitably, different teachers will have engaged to different degrees with certain ideas depending on the books…

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Great Lessons Series

Tom Sherrington’s Great Lessons Series:

Part 1: Probing
Part 2: Rigour
Part 3: Challenge
Part 4: Differentiation
Part 5: Journeys
Part 6: Explaining
Part 7: Agility
Part 8: Awe
Part 9: Possibilities
Part 10: Joy

DiRTy Technology



Use the Showbie app to provide feedback for students – as explained by Mark Anderson on his blog

Feedback Starter

Feedback for Starters by Calderstones Teacher’s Toolkit.

Easy Differentiation

Fail-safe differentiation from Calderstones Teacher’s Toolkit.

Instead of…

instead of...

Silent Debate

Whilst not a new idea, this is great for getting students thinking together, reflecting and building on ideas from other students and is also great for reluctant writers, as ideas written down are not permanent (perfect when you don’t have a mini whiteboard available).

Essentially, using whiteboard markers and desks, write down a focus question – one question, or perhaps different questions on different tables – and have students create mind maps with their responses. You can have them come up one by one whilst working on another task, or have them rotate through if you’ve got different questions. It’s great for planning before starting a task as well. For example, using it to gather ideas together before writing:



The point is not to discuss first – just write down responses. It’s easily differentiated as more able students can build on responses from those who are struggling.

Read how other people do it here and here.

Think Tax

gold_coinsA similar idea to the Question Cards written about previously, this takes it a little further.

“At the start of the lesson students are given Gold Coins- the amount depends on you/the student- I gave 3…

The task is then set- students must try to earn as many coins as they can and obviously not use up any!
They do this by answering each others questions or expanding on points made by others.

The twist is- if a student answers another students question- they take that students coin!
If they ask me a question- I will charge them a coin- THINK TAX! I will shout this out!

The may also use a coin to buy an independent learning strategy- such as an iPad? Mini Laptops? Textbook? Folders? Revision Guide?

Most importantly the aim of the coins are to make the students think for themselves and not get charged THINK TAX!”

Click here to read more about it.

Questioning Strategies

On top of the various questioning techniques already available on the blog, such as the question quadrant, here are 10 other strategies to use when questioning from Alex Quigley.

Question Cards

In Skills for Learning this week we have started using Question Cards with students. Each student has been issued with two cards, each with their name on the back. These have also been laminated. Students are responsible for bringing these cards to each lesson, and, if they’ve been used, collecting them again at the end.

We felt that we needed a solution for students generally not bothering to think before they ask questions. As there are 60 students in the class, it can be difficult to manage answering every question and deal with every issue, as well as deliver the lesson effectively. A card is surrendered when they ask a member of staff a question. Students sit in groups and are encouraged to ask their peers questions before asking us. A lot of the questions, such as where resources are kept and what the date or heading is, or which dinner they are on, are questions that they can work out for themselves or are irrelevant to the learning taking place.

The blog post this comes from suggests giving 3 cards to students; as there are generally six students per table, we are finding that students who have used up their two cards are now discussing issues with their peers more than with us. Several times students have used up their cards, discussed it with students at their table and then decided together to use another student’s card to ask the question. We anticipate better communication and collaboration when we begin our new group project next week.

A few things to keep in mind:

* Taking the card from a student is discretionary. We have realised several times that we have forgotten to include a particular instruction and so have not taken the card from the student asking. Some of the students who find learning more difficult and those on the SEN register are generally given more leeway with it.

* We won’t turn away a student who genuinely needs help; the onus is on them becoming more independent and using their peers as resources instead of coming straight to us to solve their problems.

* When students are unsure if they should ask us or not, we have them ask the question and then we’ll inform then whether or not the answer will cost them a card.

Students are definitely taking more time to consider their learning and how to solve their own problems before approaching us for assistance. They are working towards balancing their immediate desire for help with dealing with the issue themselves. We are aiming to cut the number of cards per table later in the year as students increase their independence.

If you’d like to see this in action, feel free to pop down to the Zone to see us.

Gemma Beniston, Jayne Jolly and Sarah Bedwell.

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