The story of an outstanding lesson. I’d want to make clear at the outset of this post that I no longer believe there is such a thing as an ‘outstanding’ lesson and would like to refer you to this post.
Outstanding lessons are all alike; every unsatisfactory lesson is unsatisfactory in its own way.Leo Tolstoy (and me) It’s all very well writing a book called The Perfect Ofsted English Lesson, but it does rather set you up for a fall. People expect you to be able to bang out Grade 1 lessons to order. Anything less than outstanding would be a bitter disappointment. I’ve reflected a number of times that it must seem like the most appalling hubris to have written the damn thing; teaching a great lesson becomes a minimum requirement. Ntrolled assessment and why I hate it. Yesterday I took a break from ploughing through my Year 10 controlled assessments to exhort myself to “bloody well get on with it” and stop moaning about my work load.
Marking is virtuous. You know it’s important so you get with it. Plus, it produces a warm satisfying glow when you finally get the bottom of the stack and scribble your last improvement target. Students hard at work on an extremely worthwhile piece of controlled assessment. Except, I got to the bottom of my pile of summatively assessed controlled assessments and thought, what was the point of that? Work scrutiny – What’s the point of marking books? Marking is an act of lovePhil Beadle If you’ve never taken part in a whole school book scrutiny, I’d recommend it.
Seeing how students treat their exercise books across different subjects is very revealing. Some thoughts on silent reading. Is silence is golden?
“And Johnny, what makes you think that is suitable for silent reading?” “Because Sir, you really would not want me to read it out loud”Jim Smith, The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook Apparently silent reading hasn’t been around as long as you might think. The 4th Century church leader Saint Ambrose’s reading habits were unusual enough for Saint Augustine to note in Book 6, chapter 3 of his Confessions that: When [Ambrose] read, his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still.
But is it art? No. 5 – Jackson Pollock I’m a big fan of art.
I wouldn’t claim to know a lot about it, but it speaks to me. Whether it’s standing, enraptured in front of The Ambassadors, climbing Louise Bourgeois’ towers, peering into Tracey Emin’s tent, or trying to mentally piece together Cornelia Parker’s exploded garden shed it grabs something inside me and compels me to be present. To pay attention. To be interested. Building challenge: differentiation that?s quick and works ? The Learning Spy. UPDATE: These two posts represent my latest think on differentiation: Is differentiation a zero-sum game?
April 2015 Why do we overestimate the importance of differences? November 2014. Effective group work « The Learning Spy. Just another example of effective groupwork OK.
I have 3 points to make: Group work does not make us more creative and it does not make us work harder.Learning is social and effective group work (apparently) doubles the speed of students’ learning.Almost all teaching in schools depends on a teacher’s ability to create effective groups because, wait for it, classes are just large groups. Let’s deal with each of these in a bit more detail. Firstly, as I’ve discussed before, when we try to work together to work towards a collective goal we get, what is known as the Ringelmann Effect. What’s the point of INSET days? « The Learning Spy. Recently, I overheard a colleague say that they had never attended an INSET (IN SErvice Training) day that wasn’t a complete waste of time.
I have to admit that I felt rather startled by this as, with some notable exceptions, I generally enjoy these days. You get to natter to people you don’t see everyday, you get a break from the kids and often there’s a free lunch! But how often do I learn anything? Well, that all depends on the type of INSET day it is. All too often the only requirement for staff is that they sit and listen. Hopefully though, this type of INSET doesn’t happen too much anymore. Go with the flow: the 2 minute lesson plan « The Learning Spy. NB: This post does no longer represents my latest thinking.
I’ve updated my approach to planning here. Like all teachers, my main aim in life is to run, whooping, out of the school gates by 3 o’clock. My time is therefore precious and I can’t be wasting it mucking about planning lessons. Fortunately for us skiving scoundrels, SMW recently told us that as far as Ofsted are concerned there is no need for lesson plans. As long as lessons are planned. Some thoughts on Learning Styles « The Learning Spy.
The rusting can of worms that is Learning Styles has been prised open again and the wriggling mess is crawling all over the educational twittersphere.
And on that note I will stop extending the metaphor. A visual metaphor for the visual learners who didn’t get my first sentence Last week Ian Gilbert wrote Learning Styles are dead, long live Learning Styles. How to subvert target grades. Target grades are good aren’t they? They must be otherwise why would Ofsted be so damn keen on them. How effective learning hinges on good questioning « The Learning Spy. Hands up who likes asking questions? Questioning is an essential part of helping students to make progress but only if it causes thinking or elicits evidence that informs our teaching. And the thing with asking questions is that while there are some kids who know how to make the system work for them and actively participate in lessons because that they way they’ll learn more, there are those who don’t.
Dylan Wiliam claims that the students who are sufficiently engaged to put up their hands and answer everything we ask them are “actually getting smarter. Their IQs actually go up.” Outstanding teaching & learning: missed opportunities and marginal gains. I work at an ‘outstanding’ school where the teaching and learning is ‘good’. As such we are squarely in Wilshaw’s sights and almost certainly due an inspection at some point this year. We were last inspected in November 2011 but a lot of goal post moving has gone on in the intervening months. The new inspection framework is widely seen as a ravening beast out to devour schools that are not delivering to the lofty standards of our hero, the saviour of Mossbourne Academy. Much Ado About Marking and Progress. The Road Not Taken Before I started my PGCE course, I was faced with a difficult choice: should I take a Drama PGCE or an English PGCE? If I took Drama, I would be faced with lots of extracurricular activities of shows, plays and rehearsals.
Each thing is fun but a drain on my free time. If I took the English path, I would be faced with lots of marking as I faced roughly 150 items of marking per week. Is teaching cheating?