Saturday, 14 September 2013

This week I've tried...

Returning to school this September for my third year of teaching (or fourth if you include the NQT year) I'm determined to find ways of working smarter instead of working harder. In order to keep juggling the various different responsibilities I have this year I want to carry on thinking of ways that I can (no doubt sometimes desperately!) try to maintain a work life balance.

One of the things I've started is deciding three activities a week to use with every single one of my classes. Doing this should allow me to improve my teaching of a particular activity but should also reduce the amount of planning needed. I remember starting as an NQT and feeling like I had to do different activities with every class before realising that those classes are probably never going to talk to each other, and even if they did the generic activity would have been about a different topic anyway!

So, this week I tried...

Points progress/Rapid progress by @teachertoolkit
A great way of checking and showing progress. you can find more detail in the TES resource by @teachertoolkit but essentially you ask students to write down what they know already about a topic/idea (no success criteria given!) then show them the success criteria as points. They give themselves an initial score and then continue to improve their work throughout the lesson before giving themselves a (higher!) points score at the end. I used this in a lesson observation at the end of last year that was graded outstanding by a current Ofsted inspector who came in to do some work with our department so it's worth a try (and I think it works brilliantly irrespective of what Ofsted think!)

Quiz quiz trade
I described this activity at the Hounslow Teachmeet and it's still one of my favourites (thanks to our Language for Learning coordinator at school for introducing it to me a couple of years ago!) Essentially all youhave to do is write 6 questions with the answer underneath each question and print them off a cut into slips. Each student should have a slip with one question (and the answer) on it. Students circulate around the room and spontaneously pair up and in their pair ask each other their question. The activity can be used as revision (where students should know the answers and their pair is just checking) or as a way of introducing new information (where the pair tells them the answer if they can't guess it). Once each student has asked their question (Quiz, Quiz) the pair trade slips (Trade) so they have a different question before finding someone else to pair up with. With my higher ability sets I did this using bits of information instead of questions and answers so that students have to teach each other a bit of information before trading (Teach, Teach, Trade as one of my year 9 students named it).

20 second summary
At the end of the lesson students are given a few minutes individual preparation time to come up with a 20 second summary of what they have learnt today. Once the time is up you select a few students to share their summary with the class.

I'm going to be completely honest and say that I did actually struggle to remember to do all of the activities with all of my classes. Even though some of them are so simple to do (the 20 second summary for example) I still find myself getting caught up in worrying about whether I've covered all the content or whether every child is behaving and making progress... I guess I'll just have to become a bit more disciplined about sticking to my 'three activities a week' diet!

In other news... All the students at our school are getting tablets as part of a trial programme and I've been lucky enough to be given a Motorola Xoom to aid my teaching. I'm going to try and find something new to try with the tablets every week as well.

Tablet trick for this week: A colleague in my department recommended "Teacher Aide Pro 2" (£7.99 from the Google Play store) which is fantastic for keeping track of homework/assessments as well as for creating and changing seating plans. There are quite a few other features that I haven't got to grips with yet but there are helpful video tutorials and I think if you ask any of the other teachers in our department that have invested in this app they'll say it was £7.99 well spent.

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