Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Can I be that little bit better......in 2014?

2013 was the first full year engaging with Twitter and blogging.  It's been a little different from 2012 due to the fact I have a 1 year old.  Family time means that tweets and blog posts have slowed down a little (31 posts in 2012, 12 posts in 2013) and I have had to be more selective in what I can realistically get around to write.  Many things I have written have been either influenced by current reading or tied into my professional development.  Everything I have written though has been done so to make what it is I do that little bit better.  The response to many of the posts online has also been great and it has been nice to see various people have conversations around them.  As 2014 arrives, I thought it might be nice to reflect on some of the posts I have been most proud of in 2013.  So here is my top 8 from 2013

8 - The Great Big PBL and SOLO Mash Up

Towards the end of 2013, after reading An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger, I picked the brains of Darren Mead (@DKMead), Tait Coles (@TotallyWired77) and Martin Said (@saidthemac) and began putting together a plan to run a PBL project with my Year 11 GCSE class.  This has to be one of the best things I have ever done, and one experience that really made me reflect on the way I teach my students.  As a result of what I was doing, I was kindly asked to talk about this in a workshop at #PedagooLondon by the amazing Helene Galdin-O'Shea (@hgaldinoshea).  Here is a overview of how I ran my PBL project, including the 10 principles I followed.  Even if PBL isn't your thing, it may get you thinking about how you approach teaching and learning.  Read here

7 - Engaging students with texts

In March our school ran an INSET with a focus on literacy.  The day was all run in house (it's what we always do) and I attended a session which focused on how to get students to pick up a text before you even ask them to do anything with it.  How many times had I given out things to read but never actually thought whether they would actually do it.  This session made me really think about how I chose texts, how I presented texts and how I planned to get my students to read the texts.  The post summarises some ideas about how to do just that.  Read here.

6 - Making revision work

For a few years now, a colleague and I have run various 'How to revise' sessions for the students at our school.  These have come in the form of assemblies, parents information evenings and classroom based lessons.  A lot of it has been based on various principles batted around in books/internet, but this year I thought I would look at actual methods that we could use that work.  The post looks around some cognitive science/psychology ideas, combined with a few teaching and learning strategies I magpied, that came together to create one of the most effective revision lessons I have ever run with my GCSE classes.  I still use this now.  Read here.

5 - Can I be that little better at......planning lessons?

No one has ever really taught me how to plan and deliver classroom based theory lessons.  If you're wondering why, it's because I am a PE teacher and most of my subject is practical based.  PE teachers around the world will probably hate me for saying this but......I actually prefer teaching classroom lessons.  In fact I love teaching them.  They are the thing I look forward to the most every week.  So as part of my T&L role I did some pretty in depth reading, covering authors from Petty, Hattie, Wiliam, Hook, Bjork, Cullan and Willingham.  I condensed their various principles of planning great lessons into one post.  I still refer to it now!  So here are the 15 things you should think about when planning lessons.  Read here.

4 - Can I be that little better at......using cognitive science/psychology/neurology to plan learning?

Nothing has interested me more over the years than how our brain works.  In particular, this year I have really read up on how our memory works.  I still know there is a lot to learn, and am fully aware that some of the findings so far might not be exactly as we first thought, but having a basic understanding of how our brain functions can be a vital tool as a teacher.  In this blog post I summarise 11 cognitive science/psychology/neurology principles that we should be aware of if we want to help students remember what we have taught them.  Read here.

3 - Can I be that little better at......helping teachers yearn for the vast and endless sea

This one hits my top three because of the emotional attachment I have to its content.  My responsibility in school, my involvement in our Teaching & Learning group and general interest in pedagogy has meant that I have worked with a lot of teachers over the years.  Some of this has come in the form of collaboration, focus groups and professional development.  Others have come where I have been tasked to coach or support teachers who require their practice to be moved forward.  At #TMCowes, I was asked by the lovely Claire Doherty (@wclou) to kick the evening off.  I chose to talk about how we can all be that little bit better at what we do.  This is an overview of my speech and talks about how we can all play our part in moving our teaching and learning forward.  Read here.

2 - Can I be that little better at......making feedback more effective?
Part 1
Part 2

2013 was a time that I thought about feedback....A LOT!  I had read so many great posts through Twitter and turned many a page in educational books but really wanted to unpick the mechanics of how to give effective feedback.  This was a 2 part post which I delivered at #TLT13 on 19th October.  I looked at the three angles of feedback: The teacher providing it, the method they choose to provide it and the students receiving it.  It covers lots of reasons why the feedback we give sometimes never gets acted upon.  It pulled out principles from Willingham, Wiliam, Nuthall, Hattie, Berger and Carless.  It also includes my own student research within school.  It's one of my proudest posts and one that has definitely had the biggest impact in my classroom.  Links are above.

1 - Creating a culture of critique

My favourite post of the year.  Back in April I delivered a morning T&L briefing to all staff talking about using the process of Critique to improve students work (and make all elements of feedback better).  It is inspired by the work of Ron Berger and had input from Twitter teachers such as Martin Said, Russell Hall, Tait Coles, David Didau and the amazing Darren Mead.  It pulls apart the process of Critique into 7 stages and has a huge amount of links and resources throughout.  Even if you don't go all out and use everything, the various stages will definitely tweak how you teach.  Read here.

So there you have it.  All that there is to say is it's been a fantastic year.  One that has seen my own practice finally going in the direction I want it to.  I hope 2013 was equally as good for you all and may it continue into 2014!