Since the previous blog the ‘Engaging students’ strand of the Chew Valley teaching and learning initiative has been busy working at improving the level of student engagement. Initially, the group discussed a range of strategies to grab the attention of learners through stimulating and challenging starters. To share best practice, staff were paired across subjects and asked to observe a number of lessons, while I was able to observe all the staff involved.
A summary of some of these starters include:
Snake – Teacher held a live snake (local Chew Valley resident) and asked students to identify its characteristics and explain why it had them (Science).
Noah’s ark – Students worked collaboratively to name the animals in French (Languages).
Money – Each student was given a slip of paper with an annual wage written on it. This linked into a class discussion on the gap between the rich and poor wages in different countries (Geography).
These starters exemplified the range of activities used by Chew Valley staff to effectively engage students at the beginning of lessons. From my observations it was clear that students were quickly on task, challenged and focused on the lesson. As a result, students were observed to be discussing, debating and critically evaluating each topic within minutes of entering the classroom. This efficient start helped in developing flow, as the students progressed from the starter to the main activity with ease of transition.
Another session looked into the factors behind a lack of student engagement. Specifically, the group focused on a particular class or group of students who struggled to engage with the curriculum. Initially, staff wrote down the reasons why they believed students lacked the required level of focus to learn, before discussing these items with the rest of their group. Working in a carousel format, staff then wrote down their solutions to each of the problems.
The current stage of the teaching and learning initiative has involved staff researching a range of resources for the main activities in the lessons. A number of staff have attempted a wide range of ideas, worksheets and activities in order to discover which work most effectively. Last Monday, each staff member chose what they believed to be their best engagement method and explained it to the group. This information will now be collated and used to create a generic and easy to use ‘top 10 engaging students in the classroom’ booklet which all staff can use. It was decided that the booklet needed to be generic to allow staff to utilise it quickly in lessons and give them the opportunity to make it specific to their subject if needed.
‘It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously hat you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default’ J.K. Rowling
Great TED talk from Carol Dweck herself:
1. Outline of remaining T&L group sessions
2. Showcase event format (18/5/15)
3. Staff outlined current progress to the group on their areas of research
4. Staff completed action plans to enable completion of research projects
Climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell remind us that, if you set your mind to it, anything is possible. Eight years of planning and nineteen days of climbing have seen them ascend the Dawn Wall of El Capitan using nothing but their fingers and feet to climb with.
The pair suffered bruising falls, when their grip slipped, and they would bounce off the mountain face. Only their safety ropes saved them from further harm. At one point on the climb, Jorgeson had posted online: “As disappointing as this is, I’m learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I’m not giving up. I will rest. I will try again. I will succeed.”
And succeed they did.
Sharing good practice
There is a folder for any useful resources or plans in: staff share > general staff info 14 15 > teaching and learning > differentiation group > lesson plans and resources. Please add to it any link/plan/resource/tip etc that might be useful to others.
To see the videos that SJP has developed, go to: student resources>ICT>help videos
‘Show and tell’ sessions were thought to be a positive initiative… but not next term.
UXI shared the progress with the cross curricular (MFL/Art) work with Steve.
DAM gave an update on an innovative differentiated maths lesson where pupils recorded themselves explaining equations.
WEI described the implementation of differentiated homework across a whole year group.
RJB made us aware of a two tiered approach to differentiation used in humanities.
PHH shared the ‘walk, run, sprint’ themes that she had been using in English to distinguish levels of challenge and we discussed whether a whole school approach to this was beneficial. The ‘Pizza menu’, ‘Standard/advanced’, ‘Bronze, Silver, Gold’ are alternatives.
We are all expected to share something that we have worked on in the T & L team. A ‘Dragon’s Den’ style format was suggested as we discussed the format. Some suggestions for our focus might be:
Analysis of an English lesson and resources
Attended: SEJ, ANA, PSC, JEB, CJB, LAG, TIH
Apologies: MTT, JH, LP
This year every member of our teaching staff belongs to a Teaching and Learning team. These cross curricular groups are working together to improve pedagogy as described in my post Teaching and Learning Leaders. There are six teams: Research, Feedback, Independence, Engagement, Differentiation and Mindsets, and the work of each team is posted on our […]
Here is the presentation from the Feedback group refreshing strategies for Assessment for Learning.