Sunday, 29 September 2013

DKLs, planning and marking

This week brought new meaning to the term 'Door Knob Lesson' as described by @judeenright in her blog ( I arrived at school on Thursday morning to find that none of the computers in our block were working and that all the lovely schemes of work, lesson plans, objectives, resources, etc were completely inaccessible. I had a double year 10 lesson to start the day where my planning had been reduced to a few scribblings on a bit of paper in my planner ("revise C1.5, start C1.6"). The reaction to the news in our department was varied to say the least, from loud, shared panic to others who immediately sought out a pair of 80s glasses and spent the day embracing the retro feel of being without technology (my other half, who else?) I went along the route of trying to carry on as normal without the students noticing that I now had no real plan or resources and was rewarded when one of my year 10 girls stated half way through the less "your lessons are so creative Miss" (I wish I could have recorded it...)

I'd had a lovely new title slide inspired by Zoe Elder (@fullonlearning) ready to roll out that was reduced to me writing it on the white board (I still love the 'we are learning to ... so that we can ...') alongside success criteria and key words.

Powerpoint should be up on TES - search 'helenlochead' in resources

I then allowed my responding to feedback starter to take longer than I normally would have done and this is something that I actually want to make sure I repeat in the future. I'd marked students books using a feedback table that was created by a colleague in our department as a result of looking at how we give feedback last year. The idea is that the teacher spends less time writing out the same few WWW and EBIs and just ticks/crosses whether the success criteria was met or not. The written feedback should be a question or a small task that helps the student to meet the remaining criteria, rather than just stating which criteria they did not meet. The LfL part (language for learning, our whole school literacy policy) is used to highlight the first three spelling mistakes and students are asked to write out the correct spelling. Students are also given 'sentence starters' to help them get going with their feedback and corrections. 

We are asked to mark books twice a half term and I'm trying to make sure that I purposefully set a task that I know (and the students know) I will be marking instead of just doing work in lessons and then choosing a piece when I flick through the books before marking. Copying and pasting the graded success criteria from our Chemistry schemes of work and adding a few sentence starters means that the feedback sheet is quick and easy to create. I then print out four on a sheet of A4 and guillotine them up before sticking into students books. Ideally I'd get students to stick them in themselves but I've not managed to be organised enough yet!

Spending (nearly) a whole day without computers was definitely a challenge, but I think it was enlightening in a way to know that you don't need to spend hours and hours planning lessons or making resources in order to create a great learning environment. Coincidentally, Jim Smith (@thelazyteacher) is coming to do whole school training with us on Thursday, and I've also just submitted my tagline for the 'inspiring teachers' group I'm leading at school this year: "Investigating ways of creating high impact lessons efficiently – working smarter not harder in order to achieve a work life balance whilst ensuring high quality teaching and learning."

Blog post on my three "this week I've tried" activities to follow...

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